Stalingrad, Battle of 1942–43

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Stalingrad, Battle of (1942–43)


combat operations by Soviet forces during the Great Patriotic War of 1941–15, beginning on July 17, 1942, and continuing to Feb. 2, 1943, to defend the city of Stalingrad and defeat the major strategic grouping of fascist German forces in the region between the Don and Volga rivers. The battle is divided into two periods: the defensive period (July 17-Nov. 18, 1942) and the offensive period (Nov. 19, 1942-Feb. 2,1943).

Defense of Stalingrad of 1942. The objective of the fascist German command for the summer of 1942 was to crush Soviet forces in the south, take the petroleum regions of the Caucasus and the rich agricultural regions of the Don and Kuban’, cut lines of communication connecting the center of the country with the Caucasus, and create conditions for a favorable conclusion of the war. Army groups A and B were assigned to carry out this mission.

As a result of Soviet military reverses in May and June 1942 in the Crimea, along the Voronezh axis, and in the Donbas, where the General Headquarters and the High Command of the Southwestern Strategic Axis did not have the necessary reserves, the enemy was able to take the strategic initiative. In late June fascist German forces began an offensive against the weakened forces of the Briansk Front, the newly reformed Voronezh Front, and the Southwestern and Southern fronts and broke through their defenses. By mid-July, they had thrown the Soviet forces back across the Don from Voronezh to Kletskaia and from Surovikino to Rostov. The fascist German command sent Army Group A (to which the Fourth Panzer Army from Army Group B had been added on July 13) to the Caucasian axis and the Sixth Army, part of Army Group B (commanded by Colonel General M. Weichs), against Stalingrad to secure the left wing of the assault group. The enemy was confident of capturing this important strategic point quickly and easily because only insignificant Soviet forces lay in the path of the advance.

In this situation the General Headquarters of the Supreme Command took urgent steps to organize a defense along the Stalingrad axis. On July 12, the headquarters of the new Stalingrad Front (commanded by Marshal of the Soviet Union S. K. Ti-moshenko, replaced on July 23 by Lieutenant General V. N. Gordov, Military Council member N. S. Khrushchev, and chief of staff Lieutenant General P. I. Bodin) was formed on the basis of the headquarters of the Southwestern Front. The new front included the Sixty-second, Sixty-third, and Sixty-fourth armies as well as the Twenty-first Army and Eighth Air Army of the Southwestern Front, the First and Fourth tank armies, which were formed later, and certain units of the Twenty-eighth, Thirty-eighth, and Fifty-seventh armies. The Volga Military Flotilla was assigned to operational subordination. By July 17, the front assumed the defensive in a 530-km zone along the line Pavlovsk-na-Donu, left bank of the Don River, Serafimovich, Kletskaia, Surovikino, and Verkhniaia Kurmoiarskaia.

On the approaches to Stalingrad work was stepped up (it had begun as early as October 1941) to build defensive lines between the Volga and the Don. Responding to the appeal of party and soviet organizations thousands of residents took part in this work. The oblast and city party committees (A. S. Chuianov was first secretary of the oblast committee) did a great deal of work to form and train the home guard and worker self-defense detachments, reorganize production for the needs of the front, and evacuate children and state treasures from the city.

From July 17 to 22 forward detachments of the Sixty-second and Sixty-fourth armies fought stubborn battles against the enemy on the Chir and Tsimla rivers line and then withdrew to the main defense line. On July 22, the enemy had on the Stalingrad axis 18 divisions, with a total of 250,000 troops, approximately 740 tanks, 1,200 aircraft, and 7,500 guns and infantry mortars. Soviet forces had 16 divisions, with a total of 187,000 troops, 360 tanks, 337 aircraft, and 7,900 guns and infantry mortars. The ratio of forces in favor of the enemy was 1.2:1 in personnel, 1:1 in guns and infantry mortars, 2:1 in tanks, and 3.6:1 in aircraft.

On July 23, 1942, forces of the Sixth Army (commanded by Colonel General F. von Paulus) began the offensive with the objective of capturing Stalingrad and Astrakhan and consolidating their hold on the Volga. On July 26, large German tank and motorized units broke through the defense of the Sixty-second Army and reached the Kamenskii area. The Soviet command delivered a counterstrike with the forces of the First and Fourth tank armies, which had not been completely formed and had only 240 tanks and two rifle divisions. These forces were unable to stop the enemy, but they slowed the advance somewhat.

Heavy fighting also developed on the front of the Sixty-fourth Army, but there too the enemy was unable to break through to Stalingrad on the run. The increased resistance of the Soviet forces, who fought with exceptional heroism, forced the fascist German command to narrow the zone of advance of the Sixth Army by bringing the Eighth Italian Army (commanded by Colonel General I. Garibaldi) to the Don on the left and, on July 31, by taking the Fourth Panzer Army (commanded by Colonel General H. Hoth) from the Caucasian axis for the purpose of striking from the southwest to help the Sixth Army take Stalingrad.

On August 5, the main forces of the Fourth Panzer Army reached the Abganerovo and Plodovitoe area, where they were stopped by forces of the Sixty-fourth Army, which had been brought in from the Don. Because Soviet forces were spread over a front up to 800 km long and difficulties in control had arisen, General Headquarters of the Supreme Command, on August 5, took the Fifty-seventh, Fifty-first, and Sixty-fourth armies, the First Guards Army, and the Eighth Air Army from the Stalingrad Front to form the Southeastern Front (commanded by Colonel General A. I. Eremenko, Military Council member Brigade Commissar V. M. Laiok, chief of staff Major General G. F. Za-kharov). The Sixty-third, Twenty-first, and Sixty-second armies and the Fourth Tank Army, as well as the Sixteenth Air Army, which was being formed, were left on the Stalingrad Front. From August 9 to September 28, Colonel General Eremenko commanded both fronts.

From August 7 to 9 forces of the Sixth German Army pressed the forces of the Sixty-second Army back to the left bank of the Don; its four divisions were surrounded west of Kalach and carried on the fighting until August 14, when they broke through to join up with the main forces. The forces of the First Guards Army, coming into the battle, inflicted a strong counterstrike and stopped the enemy advance.

As a result of the fighting, which lasted almost a month, the enemy’s plan to take Stalingrad on the run was foiled by the stubborn defense of Soviet forces. General Headquarters gave special attention to reinforcing the fronts and armies of the Stalingrad axis with its own reserves. In view of the exceptional importance of the events unfolding at Stalingrad, the State Defense Committee again sent Colonel General A. M. Vasilevskii, chief of the General Staff, to assist the fronts and coordinate their operations and then, on August 29, sent Deputy Supreme Commander in Chief General of the Army G. K. Zhukov.

The fascist German command decided to take Stalingrad with simultaneous strikes by the Sixth Army and the Fourth Panzer Army on converging axes. With a 2.2:1 superiority in guns and infantry mortars, a 4:1 superiority in tanks, and a 2:1 superiority in aircraft, the enemy on August 15–17 renewed the offensive along the entire front of the external defensive perimeter to which Soviet forces had withdrawn.

After bitter fighting between August 17 and August 20, the enemy managed to force the Don in the Trekhostrovskaia, Vertiachii, Peskovatka sector. On August 23, the German XIV Tank Corps broke through in the Vertiachii area and, splitting the Stalingrad defense into two parts, reached the Volga in the Lato-shinka and Rynok area. The Sixty-second Army was cut off from the other armies of the Stalingrad Front and on August 29 was assigned to the Southeastern Front. Fascist German air forces subjected Stalingrad to barbaric bombardment. On August 24, part of the German XIV Tank Corps passed to the offensive in the direction of the tractor plant, but without success. Detachments of the home guard from the Stalingrad plants took part in this bitter fighting, and with the support of the Volga Military Flotilla they stopped the enemy. At the same time, the forces of the Stalingrad Front, which had withdrawn to the northwest, attacked the enemy from the north and compelled him to divert significant forces that had been intended for the capture of Stalingrad. The XIV Tank Corps found itself cut off from the rear areas and was supplied by air for several days. On the southern approaches to [Illegible], the forces of, the forces of the Southeastern Front were stubbornly repulsing attacks by the German Fourth Panzer Army. Only on August 29 was the enemy able to break through the front and reach the Gavrilovka area, southwest of Krasnoarmeisk. In early September forces of the Stalingrad Front—the First Guards Army and the Twenty-fourth and Sixty-sixth armies—passed over to the offensive twice; they did not meet with great success, but they drew off enemy forces and somewhat eased the position of the defenders of the city.

In this way, during the fighting between August 15–17 and September 12, Soviet forces had again thwarted an enemy plan and stopped the enemy in front of the city defensive perimeter.

From September 13 to 15, disregarding losses, the fascist German forces continued their offensive toward the Volga, delivering the main strike toward Mamaev Kurgan and the railroad terminal. By late September 14, the enemy had broken through to the terminal and reached the Volga in the Kuporosnoe area, at the southern outskirts of the city. The Sixty-second Army (commanded by Lieutenant General V. I. Chuikov as of Sept. 10, 1942) found itself cut off from the Sixty-fourth Army (commanded by Lieutenant General M. S. Shumilov). A. I. Rodim-tsev’s 13th Guards Rifle Division (transferred from the General Headquarters Reserve) was moved across the Volga from the left bank. Now, having entered Stalingrad, the division went directly onto the counterattack and on September 16 won back Mamaev Kurgan. The furious struggle for the railroad terminal lasted until September 27, during which time the terminal changed hands 13 times. The Stalingraders received substantial help in the form of air strikes by air forces under the command of Generals A. E. Golovanov and S. I. Rudenko and attacks on fascist German forces and artillery shelling from the north by the forces of the Stalingrad Front.

On September 28, the Stalingrad Front was renamed the Don Front (commanded by Lieutenant General K. K. Rokossovskii, Military Council member Corps Commissar A. S. Zheltov, chief of staff General M. S. Malinin) and the Southeastern Front was renamed the Stalingrad Front (commanded by Colonel General Eremenko). Fighting for the workers’ settlements of the Krasnyi Oktiabr’ and Barrikady plants began on September 27, and for the factories themselves, on October 4. In mid-October the fascist German forces undertook a new offensive, but again met stubborn resistance by Soviet forces. The fighting in the streets of the city, in the buildings, at the factories, and on the banks of the Volga continued unceasingly for several days and nights. The fighting was especially heavy for V. A. Gorishnyi’s 95th Division, V. G. Zholudev’s 37th Guards Rifle Division, I. E. Ermolkin’s 112th Division, S. F. Gorokhov’s group, I. I. Liudnikov’s 138th Division, and D. N. Belyi’s 84th Tank Brigade.

To assist the defenders of Stalingrad, engaged in heavy fighting, the forces of the Don Front on October 19 went over to the offensive from the north. The enemy was forced to divert a considerable number of airplanes, artillery, and tanks away from the assault on the city and direct them against the forces of the Don Front. At the same time, the Sixty-fourth Army delivered a counterstrike from the south against the flank of the advancing enemy units in the Kuporosnoe-Zelenaia Poliana area. The offensive by the Don Front and the counterstrike of the Sixty-fourth Army eased the situation of the Sixty-second Army and prevented the enemy from taking the city. In November the enemy attempted several offensives, but without success.

By the end of the defensive period of the battle of Stalingrad, the Sixty-second Army was holding the area north of the tractor plant, the Barrikady Plant, and the northeastern blocks of the city center, while the Sixty-fourth Army was staunchly defending the approaches to the southern parts. Between July and November the enemy had lost up to 700,000 troops, more than 1,000 tanks, more than 2,000 guns and infantry mortars, and more than 1,400 aircraft. The offensive of fascist German forces along the Stalingrad axis was gradually brought to a halt. Vigorous combat operations were under way at this time in the North Caucasus near Nal’chik and Tuapse. Thus, the fascist German command failed to achieve its strategic objectives in the summer and autumn campaign of 1942 and was forced to give its forces the order to pass to the defensive. The operational position of the fascist German groupings that had attacked Stalingrad and the Caucasus became difficult: there were no reserves, and the flanks of the front of Army Group B included the less effective Rumanian, Italian, and Hungarian forces. Soviet forces on the Don occupied favorable positions for a counteroffensive by the Southwestern and Don fronts.

Stalingrad counteroffensive of 1942–43. The fascist German command planned to hold the lines its forces had occupied until the spring of 1943 at any cost and then renew the offensive. Hitler did not think that, after heavy fighting in the south of the country at Stalingrad and in the North Caucasus, Soviet forces would be able to mount a major offensive in these regions.

During the battle of Stalingrad the Soviet command was accumulating forces and means for the counteroffensive, and in September the General Headquarters of the Supreme Command and the General Staff began working out the plan for it. On November 13, the plan for a counteroffensive by three fronts, code-named Uranus, with the objective of encircling and wiping out the enemy assault grouping in the Stalingrad area, was ratified by General Headquarters under the chairmanship of J. V. Stalin. The forces were given practical help in studying the plan of the counteroffensive and methods of carrying it out by General Headquarters representatives G. K. Zhukov and A. M. Vasi-levskii, General N. N. Voronov (for artillery), Generals A. A. Novikov and A. E. Golovanov (for aviation), and General Ia. N. Fedorenko (for armored forces).

According to the strategic plan of operation, the Southwestern Front (formed on Oct. 25, 1942, and commanded by Lieutenant General N. F. Vatutin, Military Council member Corps Commissar A. S. Zheltov, and chief of staff Major General G. D. Stel’makh)—consisting of the reinforced First Guards Army (Lieutenant General D. D. Leliushenko), Fifth Tank Army (Lieutenant General P. L. Romanenko), Twenty-first Army (Lieutenant General I. M. Chistiakov), Second Air Army (Major General of Aviation K. N. Smirnov), and Seventeenth Air Army (Lieutenant General of Aviation S. A. Krasovskii)—had the mission of delivering deep strikes from bridgeheads on the right bank of the Don in the Serafimovich and Kletskaia areas. The assault grouping of the Stalingrad Front, consisting of the Sixty-fourth Army (Major General M. S. Shumilov), Fifty-seventh Army (Major General F. I. Tolbukhin), Fifty-first Army (Major General N. I. Trufanov), and Eighth Air Army (Major General of Aviation T. T. Khriukin), advanced from the Sarpa Lakes area. The assault groupings of both fronts were to link up in the Kalach-na-Donu and Sovetskii area and surround the enemy’s main forces at Stalingrad. Simultaneously the Southwestern Front struck to the south and southwest with part of its forces, and the Stalingrad Front struck to the southwest to support the offensive of the assault groupings of the fronts and form an external front of encirclement. The Don Front, consisting of the Sixty-fifth Army (Lieutenant General P. I. Batov), Twenty-fourth Army (Major General I. V. Galanin), Sixty-sixth Army (Lieutenant General A. S. Zhadov), and Sixteenth Air Army (Major General of Aviation S. I. Rudenko), delivered two auxiliary strikes, one southeast from the Kletskaia area and the other south along the left bank of the Don from the Kachalinskaia area.

In addition to combined-arms and tank armies, a number of separate tank, mechanized, and cavalry corps and brigades and separate units took part in the Soviet counteroffensive. In all there were more than 1 million troops, 13,500 guns and infantry mortars, more than 1,000 antiaircraft guns, 115 rocket artillery battalions, about 900 tanks, and 1,115 aircraft. The main forces of Army Group B, which had operated in the Middle Don-Stalingrad region and areas to the south, included the Italian Eighth Army, Rumanian Third and Fourth armies, and German Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer Army. This grouping had more than 1 million troops, 675 tanks and assault guns, and more than 10,000 guns and infantry mortars. Army Group B was supported by the Fourth Air Fleet and the VIII Air Corps, totaling more than 1,200 aircraft.

The offensive by forces of the Southwestern Front and the right wing of the Don Front began on the morning of November 19 after a powerful artillery preparation. Forces of the Fifth Tank and Twenty-first armies broke through the defense of the Third Rumanian Army. German units that were positioned behind the Rumanian forces tried to stop the Soviet forces with a strong counterattack, but they were smashed by the I and XXVI Tank Corps, which had been brought into the battle. Forward units of the tank corps reached the operational depth, advancing to the vicinity of Kalach-na-Donu. Forces of the Sixty-fifth Army of the Don Front, overcoming stubborn enemy resistance, cut off the enemy’s path of retreat to the west from a small bend of the Don. On November 23, forward units of the XXVI Tank Corps took Kalach-na-Donu. On November 24, forces of the Southwestern Front, after smashing groupings of Rumanian forces that were surrounded in the area southwest of Raspopinskaia, took more than 30,000 prisoners and captured a great deal of equipment.

Forces of the Fifty-first, Fifty-seventh, and Sixty-fourth armies of the Stalingrad Front went on the offensive on November 20. After the enemy’s defense was broken through and Rumanian and German forces were smashed, the IV Mechanized, XIII Tank, and IV Cavalry corps were brought into the battle. The enemy transferred two panzer divisions from Stalingrad and tried to block the path of the Soviet forces, but without success. On November 23, the IV Tank Corps of the Southwestern Front and the IV Mechanized Corps of the Stalingrad Front met near the khutor (village) of Sovetskii, closing the circle around the enemy’s Stalingrad grouping in the area between the Don and Volga rivers. Within the encirclement were the main forces of the Sixth Army and part of the forces of the German Fourth Panzer Army, a total of 22 divisions and 160 individual units, or 330,000 men in all. By this time, the forces of the Southwestern and Stalingrad fronts had created an external front of encirclement that was 40–100 km away from the internal front.

From November 24 to 30, the forces of the Don and the Stalingrad fronts, waging bitter battles against the surrounded fascist German forces, reduced the area they occupied in half, forcing the enemy into an area 70–80 km from east to west and 30–40 km from north to south. In the first half of December, the operations of the forces of the Don and Stalingrad fronts to wipe out the encircled enemy developed slowly, because of the enemy’s dense battle formations and organization of the defense on lines that had been prepared in the summer of 1942 by Soviet forces.

After recovering from the confusion caused by the unexpected major success of Soviet forces, the fascist German command took steps to break the blockade of the encircled grouping. On November 24, Hitler ordered his forces to hold Stalingrad. The fascist German forces operating against the forces of the external front of encirclement were joined into the new Army Group Don (commanded by General Field Marshal E. von Manstein) in late November. This group was reinforced with troops from other sectors of the Soviet-German Front and with some units taken from France and Germany. The encircled grouping was also made part of the Army Group Don. Two major assault groupings were formed in the Kotel’nikovskii and Tormosin areas.

On December 12, the assault grouping from the Kotel’nikovskii area (Army Group Goth, consisting of part of the forces of the German Fourth Panzer Army and the Rumanian Fourth Army) went over to the offensive along the railroad to Stalingrad without waiting for the other assault grouping to assemble in the Tormosin area. Making use of an enormous superiority in forces, the enemy pushed the Fifty-first Army back across the Aksai River, where the advance was stopped on December 15. On December 19, after forming a strong panzer grouping, the enemy renewed the attack but was stopped at the Myshkova River by forces of the Second Guards Army (commanded by Lieutenant General R. Ia. Malinovskii) and Fifty-first Army. As of December 23, the enemy had not been able to break through to the encircled grouping, which remained some 40 km away.

On December 16, forces of the Southwestern Front and the Sixth Army of the Voronezh Front, which had been transferred to the Southwestern Front, launched an offensive by striking at Morozovsk and Kantemirovka with the objective of smashing enemy troops in the Middle Don area and reaching the rear of the Tormosin grouping. After three days of desperate fighting, the enemy defense was broken through on five axes. The enemy was compelled to send in forces from the Tormosin area that had been intended for the assault on Stalingrad.

By December 31, forces of the Southwestern and Voronezh fronts destroyed the main forces of the Eighth Italian Army and the German Task Group Hollidt and completed the rout of the Rumanian Third Army. As a result of the stubborn defense of Soviet forces on the Stalingrad axis and the successful offensive on the Middle Don, the fascist German command’s attempt to break the blockade was foiled. On December 24, forces of the Stalingrad Front went over to the offensive and by December 31 had completely wiped out the Rumanian Fourth Army and utterly defeated the German Fourth Panzer Army. The Southwestern and Stalingrad fronts had moved the external front back 200–250 km to the west. The Fifty-seventh, Sixty-fourth, and Sixty-second armies of the Stalingrad Front were made part of the Don Front, which was given the mission of mopping up the encircled enemy forces at Stalingrad. Colonel General of Artillery N. N. Voronov was sent to the Don Front as a representative of General Headquarters.

On Jan. 1, 1943, the Stalingrad Front was renamed the Southern Front and was given the mission of developing an offensive along the Rostov axis. In early January the situation of the fascist German forces trapped in the circle sharply worsened: Soviet artillery dominated enemy territory and supplies were running out. Enemy attempts to supply the Sixth Army by air were thwarted by Soviet aviation and air defense forces.

On Jan. 8, 1943, the Soviet command sent the German Sixth Army commander an ultimatum to capitulate, but under orders from the Hitlerite leadership the ultimatum was rejected. On January 10, Soviet forces went over to the offensive (Operation Ring) to wipe out the enemy. Bitter fighting developed. The enemy resisted stubbornly, but the forces of the Don Front advanced and by January 26 had split the surrounded enemy grouping into two parts: the southern part—in the city center—and the northern part—near the tractor plant and the Barrikady Plant. On January 31, the southern group of fascist German forces was eliminated. The remnants, led by Sixth Army commander F. von Paulus, who had just been promoted to general field marshal by Hitler, surrendered. On February 2, the remnants of the northern group also surrendered. The battle of Stalingrad had ended.

In the course of the counteroffensive, two Rumanian armies and one Italian army were crushed in addition to the two German armies. The enemy lost 32 divisions and three brigades entirely; 16 divisions lost between 50 and 75 percent of personnel and were no longer combat-effective. Total losses for fascist German forces between Nov. 19,1942, and Feb. 2,1943, were more than 800,000 troops, nearly 2,000 tanks and assault guns, more than 10,000 guns and infantry mortars, up to 3,000 combat aircraft and transports, and more than 70,000 motor vehicles. Over the entire course of the battle of Stalingrad, from July 17,1942 until Feb. 2, 1943, the armies of the fascist bloc lost approximately 25 percent of their personnel operating on the Soviet-German front. As many as 1.5 million enemy soldiers and officers, including air force losses, were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. The enormous losses in forces and means were disastrous for the overall strategic situation and shook up the entire military machine of fascist Germany.

Until the battle of Stalingrad, history had never known a case where such a large grouping of forces became encircled and was completely wiped out. The utter defeat of the enemy on the Volga marked the beginning of the turning point in the Great Patriotic War and in World War II as a whole; the expulsion of enemy forces from Soviet territory had begun.

Results. As a result of the battle of Stalingrad, the Soviet armed forces gained the strategic initiative and retained it until fascist Germany was completely defeated. The battle of Stalingrad created favorable conditions for the development of an offensive by all fronts along the Southwestern axis. The defeat of the Rumanian and Italian armies marked the beginning of domestic political crises in those countries. The victory in the battle of Stalingrad was a great boost to the international reputation of the Soviet Union and had an enormous influence on the development of the resistance movement in the occupied countries and aroused a feeling of profound respect for the Soviet people among millions of working people in foreign countries. Many governments that had not had diplomatic relations with the USSR hastened to establish them. Turkey and Japan refused to come out against the Soviet Union.

In November 1943, at the Tehran Conference of the leaders of the three Allied powers, the prime minister of Great Britain gave an honorary sword to the Soviet delegation as a gift from George VI, king of Great Britain, to the citizens of Stalingrad in commemoration of their victory over the fascist aggressors. In May 1944 the president of the United States, acting on behalf of the American people, sent an official proclamation to the city of Stalingrad, which noted that the glorious victory of the defenders of the city had been a turning point in the war of the Allied nations against the forces of aggression.

Evaluation. The enemy defeat at Stalingrad demonstrated the great military art of the General Headquarters of the Supreme Command, the General Staff, and Soviet military leaders, the might of Soviet arms, and the moral superiority of the Red Army over the army of fascist Germany. Soviet operational art was enriched by the experience of encircling and wiping out major enemy forces, achieving operational surprise, correctly choosing the axes of main strikes, accurately determining weak points in the enemy defense, calculating forces and means for a rapid break through the tactical defense, and steadily developing an offensive to great depth. The decisive role of Soviet artillery as the main-fire striking force was demonstrated in the battle of Stalingrad. In commemoration of the role of the artillery, the date on which the counteroffensive at Stalingrad began, November 19, is celebrated as Rocket and Artillery Forces’ Day in the USSR each year. Tank and mechanized forces and aviation were extremely important in the swift pace of operations to complete the encirclement and wipe out the enemy. The Volga Military Flotilla, which provided fire support and transported reinforcements, wounded, and various cargoes under the most difficult conditions, played an active part in the battle.

Hundreds of thousands of Soviet fighting men demonstrated unprecedented heroism and great military skill in the battle of Stalingrad. Fifty-five various-size units that distinguished themselves in battle were awarded orders, 179 were assigned the honorary title of “guards” units, and 26 received honorary names. Approximately 100 fighting men were given the title Hero of the Soviet Union. On Dec. 22,1942, the medal “For the Defense of Stalingrad” was instituted and was subsequently awarded to more than 707,000 participants in the battle. Later, Stalingrad was given the title hero-city.

In 1963–67 a memorial complex was built on Mamaev Kurgan to commemorate the feat of the heroes of the battle of Stalingrad (sculptor E. V. Vuchetich, architect Ia. B. Belopol’skii).

The victory at Stalingrad was achieved as a result of the superiority of the Soviet social and state order, the firm friendship of the peoples of the USSR, the mighty economic base of the Soviet armed forces, and the solidarity of the Soviet people around the Communist Party, which organized the efforts of the people and the armed forces and directed them to the enemy’s defeat. Stalingrad became a symbol of the steadfastness, courage, and heroism of the Soviet people in the struggle for the freedom and independence of their socialist motherland.


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Chuikov, V. 1. 180 dnei v ognesrazhenii. Moscow, 1962.
Doerr, H. Pokhod na Stalingrad. Moscow, 1957. (Translated from German.)
Wieder, J. Katastrofa na Volge. Moscow, 1965. (Translated from German.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.