"Stalingrad" by Antony Beevor

I finished reading this book a few days ago. It was fascinating.

The importance of Stalingrad to victory for the Allies is explained well in this book. Much of Russia's food, fuel, weapons, and other crucial supplies
came through southern Russia, mostly by the Volga River at that particular time. The whole country was barely able to feed its soldiers and population during the entire "Battle of Stalingrad". Occupation by the Axis forces for a substantial amount of time in the southern region could have put Russia out the war. It could have allowed the Axis to get desparately needed Caucasus oil for the Nazi aspirations of conquest.

Adolf Hitler's obession with huge Stalingrad, even willing to take it house by house - contrary to sound military doctrine, is explained by Beevor. Another blunder
was dividing the strategic objectives, Stalingrad and the Caucasus, while weakening the forces sent to accomplish them. Meanwhile, the timeframe was
expected to still be met. There were delays caused by Hitler himself while he blamed his soldiers and mostly his generals. He could never admit his own mistakes or that
the enemy had far more reserves than he assumed. Antony Beevor explains how the decisions by Hitler drove the course of events to the unnecessary suffering of
soldiers and civilians of both sides. Everything was directly or remotely connected to the decisions of Adolf Hitler. The Fuhrer believed that an army could get everything it needs if it succeeds in advancing. In desperation of orders to stay on schedule and the realities of an army with a ravenous appetite, the Germans took everything that they needed or could use from civilians or those abandoned by Russian forces . Hitler counted on his Allies of Italy and Romania to guard his flanks and keep pace, even on crowded country roads. The German supply lines extended too far with a crippling winter coming to hinder Blitzkrieg, Hitler gambled everything on winning southern Russian before the onset of the worst weather.

Joseph Stalin had his own set of obsessions. Ironically, Stalin had nearly given victory to Hitler's blunder by believing that a German offensive was coming farther north - probably flanking the Moscow region from a southerly direction. Stalin hesitated for weeks; reasons are given by the author. It was nearly a catastrophy for Russia because of this. Advanced German troops were reaching the Volga River in several places on the east of Stalingrad, having crossed the city, as Russian reserve forces were only beginning to enter the fight on that same day. Orders to shoot anyone who retreated actually caused some to surrender to the German army. Lack of equipment and supplies forced surrender sometimes in mass to the Wehrmacht especially in areas surrounding Stalingrad in the region. Commands for frontal attack caused many Russian soldiers to die unnecessarily. The order to shoot retreaters and deserters also had the effect of making the common Russian soldier endure far beyond what was thought possible, which allowed the Russians to win many critical smaller battles or endure longer than the German troops, dying in masses on the path to ultimate victory. The irony is that the orders of Stalin which could have caused catastrophe were mitigated by Hitler's blunders.

Despite local Romanian commanders who tried to warn feverishly of a Russian build-up for offensive operations and the lack of containment ability in the thin Romanian line, no significant German reinforcements were sent to aid them. Even after an open break in the Romanian line to the north, after a brave but futile Romanian resistance, with Russian tanks and infantry in fast advance in open country, orders from Fuhrer headquarters were for German forces to continue pushing east. However, Hitler seldom viewed detailed descriptions of battlefield conditions, therefore the Russian trap was sprung without the Fuhrer's awareness. By the time the danger was clear to everyone with Russian armor cutting the path of retreat, still Hitler ordered advance! A relief operation by General Von Manstein came too little and too late.

The conditions of Russian and Axis forces were appalling as the arrival of a very hard Russian winter compounded all problems enormously. Commanders and officers on both sides struggled to keep control of the battles, their own troops, domestic and enemy prisoners, and deal with civilians. For many, the most difficult challenge was the winter itself with sub-zero temperatures, late or cut supplies, and often late, little or no medical attention. Common soldiers were thrown into the furnace of war with often little concern, awareness, or ability to improve their state of being. Russian forces entered this conflict already on meager food rations while German forces began fairly well but saw supplies in every category slowly slip into little or nothing by the end of the campaign.

In Stalingrad itself, the front lines were blurred with enemies often in the same block, trench, or building and the firing upon friendly troops being a constant risk. There were millions of cases of intrigue, disobedience, atrocities, and acts of compassion among units of all forces in the region, all grotesquely effecting the cruel outcome in Stalingrad. Added to these are the rivalries of commanders and officers, which Beevor cleverly uncovers with interesting insight. A number of civilians, perhaps in the tens of thousands from outside and inside Stalingrad, took shelter in the city during the battle. All the while, artillery and aircraft rained death from the sky.

The campaign took victims by starvation, disease, combat, and exposure to the weather. It must have seemed like one hellish mess to most people directly involved in the region. Uncertainty must have been among the worst things to endure.

It was a shock to Adolf Hitler that so many of his soldiers would disobey him and surrender. It was equally a shock to Joseph Stalin how many of his soldiers would wear German uniform and how common civilians would collaborate with the Axis forces, some being imagined or mistakingly reported as such. It is difficult given the amount of information in the book to determine which regime was more paranoid. Many innocent people-soldiers and civilians-were persecuted or suffered directly otherwise because of this.

Never the less, Adolf Hitler and his regime deteriorated, while Joseph Stalin learned from his mistakes and his regime would bring Russia to Super Power status after the war.

By the time of Axis collapse in the region, the end of the suffering was far from ended. Some of the costs, casualties, and consequences of the campaign
for Stalingrad are given with sophisticated insight by the author, Antony Beevor, in the final few chapters of the book. There is, the author seems to offer, justice of
various kinds in life - and in regard to Stalingrad.

Published in 1998 and possibly revised later, you may find your fine copy of "Stalingrad" by Antony Beevor in bookstores, public libraries, and the Internet.


You are quite right, he was a great help to the Allied :twisted:

Good morning Fireskull, Gentlemen,

thank you very much for your review.

The history of the Battle of Stalingrad will be discussed for many years to come.
With a lot of different point of views as well, I suppose.
For all of us – unbelievable....

My father was 20 years old in June 1941, just finished “his” conquest of France, an ordinary soldier and had the dubious honor to conquer Russia from the very start until the end.
He was not in Stalingrad but somewhere in the Middle or North, I can't remember where exactly.

Because of this brainwashing and education, from one's youth on, all the Germans truly believed the Russian people and soldiers were inferior – Untermenschen – Sub-human.
The Germans just marched through Poland, parts of Scandinavia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium … and France in a couple of weeks.
They tried to clobber the Brits as well – and because they couldn't beat them and of course they couldn't joined them neither, they might thought: “Allright Tommy, see you later, cheerio!” - And went Eastwards...

When my father, from a little village, just saw the world for the first time in his life with the age of 20, and then saw this unbelievable huge country, he knew – impossible. And it was already summer.
They had success, huge success at first.
They stood before Stalingrad, Moscow and Leningrad and by then they did learn a bit what a Russian soldier is, really.
After that – they learned a lot about the Russian soul, bravery and fierce attacks and fights. For a good reason.

My father told me, many years ago, a story about a wounded Russian soldier, he'd reached out to help.
For him an unarmed soldier wasn't a soldier anymore but a human being. Not very common then and sounds a bit strange.

But as he was just a few steps away, he saw a glimpse of metal piece and knew it was a hand grenade.
The moment he dove into the mud, the thing blew off. This Russian soldier tried to die, taking along as many Germans as possible.
My father was so (sorry for my words) pissed off, he stood up in the middle of the fighting and screamed and shouted to this then dead soldier like mad – he was, my father!

He learned as well, and for him the Russian soldier were the absolute master of camouflage, you might smell (garlic) them (if) before you saw or heard them.
For how long I don't know, but he had a so called "Hiwi" (Hilfswilliger) with him. [non-German volunteer in the Nazi forces at the Eastern front].

They became like brothers, they shared the last piece of bread and the last cigarette. And the “Hiwi” risked his life many of times to save that of my fathers....
The Hiwi knew a word or two in German and vice versa - but it was somehow enough.

And now imagine Russian winter, -40° even down to -50° Celsius – and in summer uniform!

And you're in Stalingrad! STALINgrad! Hitler wanted this town like nothing else, and Joseph Stalin did anything to prevent it.

You're in the 2nd. or 3rd. floor of a building and the Russians are in the floor up or down – or even in the next room!
You can't raise your voice or your head – you are dead instantly.
They fear the Russian snipers like nothing else between heaven and earth, not even the Devil personally!

You've been waiting for winter clothes, for food, for ammunition...
You order desperately needed ammunition and all you get is a medal.
You order just a bit of food and you get headgear...
and around you, all the time, your pals are starving, freezing to death, or getting killed in action....

Imagine you are a Russian soldier! Those bastards killed your people, your family, wife, kids.....
What would you do?

The next winter, I mean like really cold winter - for the most of us, like -1° or -5° Celsius you may put on your bathing clothes and walk a couple of hours through deep snow and ice.
It should come very near to this daily, unimaginable, out-of-the-body experience these soldiers from every side, lived through... And some idiot is shooting at you too.

When I grew up as a kid, some 20 years after World War 2, I still remember nights when my little brother and I woke up, shaken, because my father in the next bedroom, shouted and screamed once again names and things....!

I am and I'll be ever so grateful that my generation, me, could grow up in peace, because of the sacrifices and suffering of so many people and soldiers from so many great countries!

We should remember this! Every single day!

True peace is so unusual and a human being so valuable.

Jambo :wink:

P.S. Wish you all a very nice weekend!

Wow !!! What could we say after that post...

Jambo you are right,
Quote:We should remember this! Every single day!

True peace is so unusual and a human being so valuable.


Thank you for sharing this with us, Jambo.


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