Posted: April 16th, 2010
Deadliest Battle
About This Episode

The Battle of Stalingrad is known as one of the most pivotal actions of World War II. More than a million lives were lost in seven months of unrelenting fighting, and the eventual German defeat destroyed Hitler’s dream of commanding a global empire. For decades after the war, the battle was seen as a defining victory for a cunning Joseph Stalin, whose military acumen and carefully executed withdrawal baited Hitler’s invincible army into a closed-range, urban battle of attrition that slowly decimated the German forces. But now, newly-released archives from behind the Iron Curtain are allowing a more detailed analysis of the fighting, and revealing a very different picture of the battle that changed the course of history.

The documents, combined with rare archival footage, detailed eye-witness accounts from survivors on both sides, and commentary from Sergei Khrushchev, whose father Nikita served on Stalin’s Military Council before becoming leader of the Soviet union himself, reveal a tale of complicated campaigns, titanic clash between the armies of two egotistical leaders who refused to back down, and poor decisions that cost hundreds of thousands of lives. More than a half-century later, the full impact of the horrific battle is finally being revealed.

THIRTEEN’s Secrets of the Dead: Deadliest Battle uncovers the evidence that described a forced retreat by the Russians, not a tactical one, in addition to much fiercer fighting in the countryside than previously thought. The battle not only turned the tide of the war in the East, it established the Soviet Union as an emerging superpower for the looming Cold War. The film premieres nationally Wednesday, May 19, 2010 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings). Actor Liev Schreiber (Taking Woodstock and X-Men Origins: Wolverine) narrates.

Preview this episode:

“The Battle of Stalingrad is a classic case of history being written by the victors,” says Jared Lipworth, executive producer of Secrets of the Dead. “The Soviets won, so the historical writings make Stalin out to be a great military leader who made all the right decisions. But when you look back at the first-hand reports from the front and examine the orders he gave, you see a very different scenario and a far more inglorious Stalin.”

With vivid archival footage, Deadliest Battle brings to life this unforgettable chapter in war history. The documentary features survivor accounts from Germany’s 6th Army Lieutenant, Wigand Wuster, soldier Walter Guenther and Red Army Commander Anatoly Merezhko, as well as detailed analysis of declassified records by retired U.S. Army Colonel and military historian David Glantz. Sergei Khrushchev recounts colorful stories about the tense relationship between his father and the testy, egomaniacal Stalin. In June of 1941, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union with the largest troop offensive in military history. The offensive, called Operation Barbarossa, employed over four million Axis soldiers. Within ten weeks, Nazi forces had occupied most of Eastern Europe. But they were stalled by bad weather and a Soviet counterattack before they could capture Moscow. A year later, Hitler, determined to take down the Soviet Union, embarked on a new campaign to encircle and destroy the Soviet forces in southern Russia and capture the country’s valuable oil fields. The new offensive, called Operation Blue, proceeded so well that Hitler decided to capture the strategically irrelevant but unfortunately-named city of Stalingrad, just to embarrass his nemesis, Stalin.

Popular misconceptions focus on Stalin’s strategic retreat as the Nazis advanced. This organized withdrawal is said to have lured the Germans into a trap within the confines of the city. It’s an ingenious plan, but it didn’t happen. In fact, recently disclosed documents have revealed that Stalin gave strict orders for his men to resist at all costs—never to retreat. And he even ordered the creation of ‘blocking detachments,’ which were instructed to shoot any soldiers who abandoned the front. One report indicated that these detachments detained more than 600,000 of their own troops, and killed more than 10,000.

With the offensive going so well for the Nazis, Hitler prematurely declared victory and diverted his forces, including the 4th Panzer tank army, to other locations. This gave the Red Army a chance to regroup and counter-attack the remaining German forces near the village of Kotluban. History has all but overlooked this action because of the huge number of Soviet troops who were killed, but in actual fact, it set the stage for the victory in Stalingrad and sealed the fate of Hitler’s forces.

By the time the campaign was over, 750,000 Soviet and 850,000 Axis forces had been killed. And more civilians died in the battle of Stalingrad than in the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. The battle was a turning point in world history, and now, the way it actually played out can finally be told.

THIRTEEN’s Secrets of the Dead: Deadliest Battle was produced by Timeline Productions for THIRTEEN in association with WNET.ORG. Brian J. McDonnell is producer/director/editor, Michael Eldridge is producer/writer, Michael L. McKimmey is producer/editor/camera-person, and Jim Hayden is executive producer for Planet Pictures. At THIRTEEN, Jared Lipworth is executive producer. William R. Grant is executive-in-charge.

  • Jared

    It’s stunning to think about the loss of life in some of these battles.

  • Christy

    It’s mind boggling.

  • Michael S

    All of this history is mind boggling. Considering Human Nature, I doubt these PBS lessons will ever teach us in our present times, how stupid it is to die for some one’s ego driven madness. It happens regularly nowadays Even the citizens of Stalingrad obeyed orders instead of questioning their leaders.

  • Jared

    The people who questioned authority in the Soviet Union were shot, if they were lucky and sent to the Goulag if they were unlucky.

  • calamity

    read anthony beevor’s book “Stalingrad”…it’ll low yer mind on what calamity was nleashed in this battle

  • priscilla wolf

    would i be able to order this documentary for our school library?

  • colin fitzpatrick

    Hi Priscilla -

    You can order this episode from Shop PBS here:

    Thanks for watching Secrets of the Dead!

  • Garry

    I had previously gave a concise summary of Stalingrad several yrs ago, publ. in a newspaper , called “BATTLE OF THE CENTURY,”…following are my comments as appeared in a Wisconsin newspaper in the year 2000…” Battle of Stalingrad”:
    Beginning with quote from “Seize the Night,” by Dean Koontz…,
    ” ‘ Passing the site of the carnage, he kept
    his eyes on the street ahead,not glancing even once at the dead flock.’

    For Americans, the landing at Normandy, the D-Day invasion, on June 6, 1944, was the most formidable military campaign of World War II.
    However, another important WWII land engagement may well be one where no American soldiers died. Countless others, mainly Russian and German, gave their lives in one of the most brutal conflicts of all time, the “Battle of Stalingrad.”
    The brunt of this battle occurred from Sept. 1942 until Feb.1943.
    Hitler’s sycophants, stymied in efforts to make Russia a teutonic vassalage of the Third Reich, were nonethelss obesessed at any cost to seize the cithy named for their arch-adversary and competitor in tyranny–Joseph Stalin.
    Between the implacable warlords, Hitler and Stalin, the long winter struggle became a battle of annihilation, a test of opposing demonic wills, as neither despot wanted to be humiliated upon the world state.
    Although the Wehrmacht wantonly laid ruin Stalingrand, a city of a half-million and 86 public libraries, Stalin adamantly refused to relinquish an inch of her rubble. His bodyguard [ NKVD ] unheitatingly executed those who did.
    Yet, before reinforecement of the beleaguered Red Army arrived under General Chuikov (not to be confused with Soviet Marshall Zhukov), the first to resist were the city’s own residents, involving whole families of men, women and children, who bravely fought the Nazi onslaught.
    Weeks of relenless bloody street combat, often seesawing to no military advantage, resulted in numerous desertions from one side to the other. (Note: Whether “Secrets of the Dead” will mention this will be interesting as it is presented with narration by Nikita Khrushchev’s son.) What bullets and bombs couldn’t do, disease and starvation accomplished. Virtually all the original defendents persished in the carnage.
    Because retreat was not in Hitler’s lexicon, German forces, exhausted and desperate for relief, found themselves encircled by hardened Soviet troops.
    Presented ultimately with comitting suicide or surrendering, Field-Marshall Friedreich Paulus chose the latter, to his fuhrer’s chagrin. (Note: Paulus is often incorrectedly referred, even by historians, as ” von Paulus,” he was not a “von,” and was made field-marshall by Hitler only days within his surrender.)
    After the battle, there were 200,000 German, Italian and Romanian casualtiesm, plus an equal number of Russian and Ukrainian losses. Incredibly, 91,000 Germans were taken prisoner, remnants of the once swaggering VI Army.
    The war lasted two more years, but the Nazi juggernaut was finally halted on the Russian steppe, with Hitler’s failure at Stalingrad. This was, using Churchill’s words, the beginning of the end.
    Today there a new city, built on the grave of the old, called Volvograd.
    {This was written in memory of Boris Pasternak.} ”
    Garry S. Peterson, Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, U.S.A.

  • Garry Peterson

    NOTE correction to the above, “Battle of the Century” ;”… upon the ‘world state’ ” should read “…upon the ‘world stage’,”…e.g., unhesitatingly, relentless , casualites, etc., are typo’s from the original, apologize for these or other errors…

  • Wigand Wüster

    I am very glad that this exciting documentary , in which I took part as an interviewed Stalingrad veteran
    of German 171 artillery regiment ( 71th infantry division ) will be on air now .
    I appreciate the objectiveness of historical research in other countries very much .
    Germany still has a great problem with this .

    Wigand Wüster – the “Artilleryman in Stalingrad” ( title of my book )

  • PAUL

    I feel the need to make a few points here. First, Stalin was a lousy general. He got his hind end kicked royally in the first six months of the German invasion. This wasn’t any baiting of a beartrap. Germans employed encirclements and captured vast Soviet armies–how does 600,000 at a time grab you? Not a baiting nor a beartrap, nor a fighting retreat, it was a thrashing. What’s worse, his intelligence sources gave him full and complete and accurate warning that Operation Barbarossa was about to begin, yet he did nothing. When Operation Barbarossa did commence he practically had a nervous breakdown and didn’t make an appearance or radio broadcast for three days. He was stunned and traumatized. No military genius there, none whatsoever. One of his greatest mistakes in the first six months was to order his troops to not surrender or retreat. That made it easier for the Germans to encircle and destroy vast numbers of Soviet troops.

    Russia lost 1.5 million soldiers at Stalingrad. They would never divulge how many until long after the Soviet Union was dismantled.

    The Normandy invasion did not win the war for the allies. It helped the Russians by providing a second front which they had long been asking for. By June 6, 1944 the Red Army had been steadily driving the German Army back to Germany for a year and a half. THE RED ARMY BEAT THE GERMAN ARMY, THAT IS HOW GERMANY WAS DEFEATED.

    HItler was no military genius either, that is always portrayed correctly. He was an idiot, frankly.

    I’m grateful for this new PBS documentary. I think the entire world needs to know that humanity (or inhumanity) did this and is capable of vast murder, carnage and atrocity.

  • Larry

    The trailer said that Stalingrad was the deadliest battle or biggest
    battle of WWII. The battle for Moscow was the biggest and deadliest
    battle in world history. An excellent recent book provides all the
    details you need :
    The Greatest Battle: Stalin, Hitler, and the Desperate Struggle for
    Moscow That Changed the Course of World War II by Andrew Nagorski

  • Alan

    Germany was handicapped- on all fronts throughout the war- but not by Hitler’s military decisions, as “Paul” above, thinks. Paul should read the Memoirs of Otto Skorzeny. In it, he will learn (perhaps for the first time) of the effect of the actions of one Richard Sorge. As just one example of what was taking place behind the scenes, and apparently outside of today’s simplistic Spielberg/”Great Generation” view of history, Sorge, a committed Communist of German extraction, spied for Stalin in Japan. It was Sorge’s information that the Japanese would not be joining Germany in an attack on the USSR (an attack on Stalin’s rear) that was sent to Stalin at the critical moment when the Germans were driving toward Moscow. Assured by Sorge’s intelligence that his eastern flank was not threatened by Germany’s “ally” Japan, Stalin was able to commit and move his Siberian troops to the Battle for Moscow and prevent a collapse of its’ defenses. I could mention as well Wilhelm Canaris, the “Red Orchestra”… the “Black Orchestra”, “Werther”… and the effects these entities had on the outcome of major battles of the war.

    As for Hitler’s capability as a military leader, I think I’ll go with Skorzeny’s assessment, not Paul’s. Unless Paul has contributed to the development of Special Ops, or unconventional warfare in some way I’m not aware of…

    The planning behind the shatteringly effective German offensive in the West in 1940, including the use of gliders for the first time in war to seize the key fortress of Eben Emael owes much to Hitler. But oh well…he’s “an idiot, frankly”, eh Paul? Uh-huh…

    By the way, regarding Stalingrad, Skorzeny has a chapter devoted to what transpired – and why it transpired.

    And to address “Gary” who said “retreat was not in Hitler’s lexicon”, I would first point out Gary’s government’s policy, explicitly stated in the Morgenthau Plan, that pretty much cleared up any doubt the average German had for what an Allied victory would mean for German men, women and children, and thus stiffened German resistance accordingly, regardless of Hitler’s “lexicon”. But let me quote Skorzeny on Hitler’s frequent decisions to “tough it out” and fight on:

    “Nevertheless, and I would like to stress this once again, there was no other solution for us but to fight on. Even the disappearance of Hitler and the national-socialist regime could not change anything about our enemies’ decision [keeping in mind the aforementioned Morgenthau Plan]. The comments of several historians, who always label Hitler’s orders to “offer maximum resistance” as “absurd”, are not really correct. Any German head of state who was conscious of his responsibility to history would have issued the same orders in the face of the enemy’s demand for an “unconditional surrender”. “

  • Tom

    The titanic clash between the Nazis and the Red Army is the most significant historical event in the last 100 years. These two powerful countries exhausted themselves while America was able to escape the war virtually unscathed and emerge to dominate the post war world. Although the Soviet Union appeared to be a superpower after the war she never recovered from the devastation inflicted on her. The world as it exists today and our freedom is to a great extend due to our good fortune with how these events played out. Hopefully this show will help to educate Americans and keep us humble.

  • Wigand Wüster

    There are many interesting postings to this thread .
    I want to add some book recommendations for understanding that war better : Alan Clark’s “Barbarossa” , Walter Kerr’s ” The secret of Stalingrad” , Catherine Merridale’s “Iwans war” and , recently , the website and the publications of the Russian historian Mark Solonin , who presents a lot of interesting facts on Stalin’s offensive plans against Germany b e f o r e Barbarossa ( deepening Suvorov’s “icebreaker” )
    My unit ( German 71th infantry division ) met well-equipped ( with T 34 tanks ! ) and ready-for-action soviet
    assault troops ( under the command of later famous soviet general Vlasov ) just 2 days after the beginning of barbarossa at Nemirov ( Western Ukrainia ) .
    The German offensive was a surprise because Soviet Union was prepared for an own offensive , but not for
    a German assault .
    Too , I want to remind of the ten thousands of brave soldiers who survived the Stalingrad pocket but died
    in the first weeks after surrender . There are many publications on the battle , but only few on that time after .
    Adelbert Holl ( 24th Panzer-Division / “leaping horseman division” ) , me and many other German officers
    where deported to Yelabuga / Tatarstan , where we spent the first years of our P.O.W. time in USSR .

  • Tom Mac

    WWII was won with Russian blood, American industry, and increasingly after Stalingrad Hitlers mental instability along with his drug addictions. See the quack Theodore Morell.

  • Phil Jackson

    As Tom said above, we finally might learn that if we had it so good after WWII, it was because of the Soviet people victory.
    The US fought 3 percent of all the battles, and created the myth of a “just war” that it did not even fight…

  • Phil Jackson

    About the comment above about the “American industry” only 5 percent of the material in the USSR came from the US. This is another myth about our generosity, but it was never the reality.

  • garry petrson

    this regards “Alan’s” 5/15 posting above…we could discuss until the cows come home, what was the biggest of the best…but let me address “Alan” about his taking issue with my, “…>.retreat was not in Hitler’s lexicon<" first of all this was not a reference to fight-on because of the unconditional surrender demand made by FDR at the Casablanca meeting, which caught even Winston to drop his big stoggie…& that Morgenthau's plan you mentin for post-war Germany was never accepted as an official policy but one of many suggestions for post-war Germany, and this idea came about near the end of the war, whereas Hitler not retreating at Stalingrad would not have known about any "Morgenthau's plan," at this time …by the way, Morgenthau was FDR's Sec. of the Treasury and of a wealthy German Jewish-American background…also, retreating at Stalingrad for the Wehrmacht would not be based on any surrender of Nazi Germany , in early 1943, but at this time, but rather a strategic move to save the VI-th Army to fight on another day, but Hitler would have none of it & he was not concerning himself with the Allies unconditional surrender when he would not allow Paulus to retreat his forces back from Stalingrad…Hitler was never for retreating in his strategical military thinking, if you can call it that, and was based on his one bizarre military theories, not on what FDR & Churchill called for at the Casablanca Conf. early on in the war. Incidentally, Pres. Roosevelt also got his idea from Gen. Ulysses S. Grant who would only allow for Gen. Robert E. Lee to surrender his Confederate forces unconditionally.
    However, what "Alan" states about the info provided by super-spy Sorge to Stalin is correct, taken from factual sources; altho, a partner of Nazi Germany & Facist Italy, as the 3rd-member of the Axis powers, Imperial Japan & Nazi Germany were anything but coordinated in their strategy in fighting the Allies…the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese was much of a surpise to Hitler as to was to Americans. on Dec. 7th, 1941 …he did, however, cause der Fuhrer to hence declare war on the U.S….not also, in retrospect, a wise move…altho, he explained himself that for all intents & purposes Germany & America were already at war as we were very much committed to helping the British fight Nazi Germany..

    …also some else above referred to Stalin not being a good general, he never was a general but later made one by his cronies at the end of the war but refused the title …he ,however, did learn very quickly and appointed competent generals, after the beginning failures at the front, and one can say (& many old timers in Russia do) that if it was not for his brutual but also steadfast leadership , the USSR would have lost the war to Germany..Stalin, whatever else can be said about the evil tyrannt, had the stamina to endure, & in the process so did Soviet Union, for good or for ill..

    ..but what i find most intersting of all these postings above & the best of them all, is the ones here by an actual survivor of it all, former Wehrmacht artillaryman Wigand Wurster!!!

  • garry peterson

    Alan, Hitler could not have known anything about any “Morgenthau plan’ in his decesion to hold fast at Stalingrad, for Morgenthau did not propose his idea until late into the war and it never became offcial U.S. policy…and inrrespective of the unconditional surrender demand FDR surpisingly announced at the Casablance Conference early in the war, which caused even Winston’s big stoggie to fall from his mouth, Hitler’s military beliefs of no retreat , as stated was not in his lexicon for sure, to dig in & never give up space, where undoubtedly based due to his experiences as a corporeal fighting in the trenches on the Wester, Front in the First World War, and not based on any unconditional surrender demands by the Allies…however, when finally realizing the end was near, in l945, Hitler & Goebbels had the German people to fight harder in desperaton for a lost cause because they w ould have nothing to loose, (but their lives in defending their homelands), not knowing what unconditional surrender meant,..what it would come to mean, in fact, for many a German women of Berlin, it would mean massive rape by the Red Army as punishment. … well, of course, neither Churchill or FDR, figured that into the equation, at their meetings with “Uncle Joe,” at Tehran & later at Yalta. However, “Alan” you right on with the Sorge info…as you base that on yr historical accurate sources..just to add a note, FDR got his unconditional surrender idea from Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, who would not accept anything short of unconditional surrender of the Confederal forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee…

  • Jim Hayden

    One of the more interesting conclusions to be reached from the facts as they unfolded is that the Normandy Invasion may have been just as important in deterring the Soviet Union from taking over more of Europe than they actually did as it was in presenting a second front in the war with Germany.

  • garry peterson

    to Wehrmacht artillaryman “Wigand Wurster , brave soldier ; what exactly was yr officier rank? I recall Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus returned from Soviet POW camps in mid-fifties & became a spokeman for East German; he is , as you know, often mistakenly called “von Paulus” by wester, historians; he was no ” von”..& fuhrer made him a field-marshall only within days of surrender as pointed out in my first posting above, etc… i much appreciated the most yr solid, historial & accurate comments, right-on! with the true history, from yr side of the equation; your postings i find the most interesting here & will look into this more, wish could communicate with u in an e-mail but email exchanges here are not allowed…maybe can find yr name elsewhere on some other website…? what by the way, you of course mean Catherine Merridale’s “Ivan’s War,” & not as mis-typed, ” Iwan’s war,” just to let the folks know the right title… imake these same typo’s because i have much else to do & make these remarks always in haste..i familar with all those books you otherwise refer… cheers, Garry

  • Paul

    Just a small correction to original post…..the city now is called Volgograd not Volvograd.

    I think the decision to counterattack the Germans at Stalingrad was Zhukov not Stalin. Stalin conferred to Zhukov’s military judgement. Also the decision to hold on at Stalingrad was General Chuikov’s who was in overall command at the battle. Stalin did issue the “Not a Step Back” order but it was Chuikov’s determination to hold on, even with the German’s capturing 90% of the city. It is a myth that all soviet forces were determined to fight to the death as recent interviews and information has determined but not true that 10,0000 Russian deserters were executed by the NKVD, the numbers were much lower as admitted to by soviet historians and survivors.
    Another factor which played a major role was that Chuikov issued his orders right at the front (his headquarters was at the Volga river embankment) where Paulus was over 100 miles away until he moved it to the city.

  • Paul

    Let’s not forget that the USSR fought it’s major battles on its home turf, whereas the US fought thousands of miles away in Europe and the Pacific, a fact often conveniently left out by those who downplay its role in WWII. They may seem as “Smaller” contributions to the overall effort but important none the less since Japan was a very powerful adversary. The efforts of the code breakers and coast watchers should not be forgotten as well.

    I don’t think the US survived the war unscathed as one poster said but stronger, certainly more battle tested. Don’t forget the US homeland was not attacked by Germany but may have been if Germany succeeded in developing its strategic bombers.

  • garry peterson

    Paul, thanks for the correct sp. on ” Volgograd,” that was mis-typed on my part, & was correctly spelled from the original on that… however, there is another city with the name of Volvograd…but i did bring it to yr attention that the city was changed in name from Stalingrad, (this took place during the destalinization period)… i also pointed out in my posting above the names of both Chuikov & Zhukov & not to be confused (even when talking to a young Russian student about Chuikov, they did not know of this “Chuikov,” thinking i all along meantZhukov, who is still considered a great hero of Russia….i am sure in no battle everyone fights completely to the death even when so ordered to do so…

    ..certainly , the U.S. did not survive the war “unscatched,” many Americans died in it, what fool posted that…? my uncle was a vet of the South Pacific, receiving both the Silver Star & Purple Hearts…again, in speaking with my Russians friends, i always point out that we lost more men in the South Pacific theatre of the war as they lost more fighting in Europe than both American & British forces combined (not forgetting that German casualities were as heavy)…it is still ignorance that our school history teaches students how we ( & to some extent the British) did all the real fighting & won the WWII ..i knew idiots who even thought that Stalin & the Red Army were the ones that killed the European Jews, not the Nazi’s, in fact, it was the Red Army that liberated the most infamous death camp Auschwitz, not the Americans or British…altho, the Allies liberated others, coming into the heartland of the defeated Reich from the West..but this does not of course excuse or condon the Red Army from soon conducting their official compaign of raping en masse innocent Gemran women & children after the fall of Berlin..!!!

  • garry peterson

    this regarding the “Morganthau plan” for defeated Germany: just to go back abit to the references previously made above to the so-called ” Morganthau plan,’ i see where neither Alan or myself actually mention what it was all about; in trying to figure out what was best for a post-WWII Germany, FDR’s Sec. of the Treasury for 11 yrs, Henry Morganthau, suggested that Germany become a nonindustrailized , a totally pastoral land, an agricultural, rural land, in that way Germany would never arise again as a strong military power threatening its neighbors .. Morgenthau’s idea was tossed around for awhile by FDR but was of course soon dropped as impractical, fortunately..!
    ..incidentally, Morganthau came from a rich German Jewish-American background, German Jews that had long immigrated to the States, not as recent refugees, fleeing the rise of European fascism …his other ideas, however, were put to good use as he was one of the main architects behind post-WWII international monetary policy.

  • Wigand Wüster

    To Garry Peterson :
    You are right : The correct title of Merridale’s book is “Ivan’s War” ( was mis-typed in my German copy ) .
    My officer rank in 1942 was first lieutenant . You can find more informations , my report and my aquarels
    easily by google search ( try “Wigand Wüster” or “Wigand Wuester” ) .
    Regarding Morgenthau’s plan : I recommend Freda Utley’s book “The high cost of vengeance” .

  • James Farmer

    The show was good especially the old photos but the main reason the the germans lost the battle was not mentioned in the program. The 6th army needed tons of supplies to be flown in every day, something like 100 tons. Herr Hitler went to Herman Goering and asked him if and for how long could he supply the 6th army. Goering told him it would not be a problem which was a lie to start with. Hitler’s main short coming was his faith in Goering and he believed in him. The Russians fought like the Germans during this battle but the Germans were not able to operate without their supplies that Georing never even came close to delivering. General Paulus did all he could with what he had. The battle was lost because of H. Georing, period.

  • Alan

    Mr. Farmer has it right, when he sums up the German loss at Stalingrad as finally being due to Göring’s failure to deliver promised supplies by air. And that, if any, was Hitler’s “military” misjudgment: trusting in Göring. Hitler can be faulted for that. Göring progressively fell out of favor (due to the course the air war took) and ultimately was replaced by Ritter von Greim, although by that point a change of leadership was obviously too late. Günther Rall once remarked that Göring really didn’t “run” the air force anyway; the day-to-day operational decisions were handled by others, especially later in the war.


    Nowhere did I say or imply that Hitler’s decisions or actions during the Stalingrad crisis were influenced by the appearance of the Morgenthau Plan. That would be impossible – for obvious reasons. I was addressing what is a common criticism of Hitler: that his reluctance to give ground was based on fanaticism or incompetence.

    No less a military historian than Liddell Hart wrote that Hitler’s orders to hold their ground -after the Soviet counterattack at Moscow in 1941- was responsible for saving the German Army from a dangerous -and uncontrolled- withdrawal. His generals urged a retreat back to a line which would have given up over a 1000 square miles to the Soviets. And carried with it the possibility of turning into a rout. Hitler did not listen to his generals and was proved right. His decision saved the army and restored their morale.

    Why you feel the need to explain to me who Morgenthau was…or what “the Plan” entailed …is kind of …well, out of place, at a minimum. Did you think I do not know who Morgenthau was? Or when the plan “appeared” on the world stage? I assumed you knew of it… and if you didn’t, I had to believe you would then educate yourself by looking into it.

    As for implementation of The Plan, it was indeed begun, and if Morgenthau had had his way it would have been carried through to completion. Is there a doubt? Only the realities of the Cold War stopped that planned vengeance from being carried forth into the 1950’s. With Eisenhower’s attitude -”God, I hate the Germans”- and Roosevelt’s speaking of “castrating the German people”, is there a doubt about the malevolence of (at least the early ) Allied occupation???

    Do you think by using a wartime familiarity like “Uncle Joe”, or a sarcastic “Der Führer”, that it adds color or historical authenticity to your comments? It does neither. It shows you can parrot the phrases of all the other pseudo-historians who also use terms like “juggernaut”. Jesus, how many times have I heard that… even in this silly program..”juggernaut”… Seems any successfully advancing army -German, Russian, American…Alexander’s Macedonian… should then rightly be called a “juggernaut”.

    I watched some of this PBS program… But then quit and watched the news. When it came to the point where the Red Army “veteran” said the Germans tried to get the Soviets to give up and that to induce them to surrender “they marched 5 (?) naked prisoners out in front of their position, and shot each one, saying that if we (the Russians) don’t surrender, that is the fate that awaits us…” Oh, please. Do the producers of this show seek out the liars, or do the liars seek out these shows? No army -not even Stalin’s idiotic/fanatical politruks- would suggest something so silly as to threaten a retreating enemy with such a self-defeating tactic. It never happened.

    Since you mention and thus open the issue of the “killing of the European Jews”… Can you state how many (Jews) were killed in this “Holocaust”?

    Please state a number, and then give your reference for that number.

  • Deb

    great historians. Would like to see more of David. M. Glantz’s work.

  • Theodore Walling

    As a former German soldier in the Waffen SS I have to admit that so many of your comments were accurate. WE knew of them all. Hitler’s oders not to retreat served from preventing the army starting to run and never come to a stop. How much better is it go stay put iin winter than fleeeing from the enemy’ and seeking shelter in his waste land. . Think of the tremendous distances. and the weather in winter.
    One subject I didn’t find is how much the Germans soldier had confidence in his leadership. In my comrades I found a blind trust. Yes Goring let us down.. WE knew if we had a second front we would lose the war too. I still don’t know how we pulled it off, I had to be the fighting skil of the German soldier.
    . .

  • Michael Patterson

    There was a “von” at Stalingrad. The descendent of the best Prussian officer tradition. He was General der Artillerie Walther von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, Commander of the LI Korps, the largest single battle group on the scene. He is, in my humble, but well-read opinion (including mountains of works on him in German), a genuine, if also tragic, “hero” of the “Cauldron”.

    In a memorandum (Denkschrift) written by his Adjutant Col. Clausius and Von Seydlitz and signed by him on
    25 November 1942, recommending a breakout to the west AGAINST Hitler’s Igelstellung (Hedgehog order) was in true Prussian (and his forebears) tradition, that of disobediance (Ugehorsam) in the face of impossible orders from a command so far from the real situation, that their instructions had no grasp of the reality of the situation of a quarter million German soldiers (also human beings, we are not going to get Talmudic here)

    The memorandum shocked General Paulus and his “Evil Spirit”, Arthur Schmidt. who were blindly obedient to the “Gröfaz” (Grösster Führer aller Zeiten” or “Greatest Leader of all Time), the name they called Hitler behind his back. Among the other “Kadavergehorsam” (blindly obedient) generals were Heitz, Edler von Daniels, Von Hartmann, Strecker and others. They waffled and quivered before Hitler and as Paulus infamously said “Ich tue Nichts!” (I shall do nothing) along with another, “Ich stehe hier auf Befehl!” (I am staying here on orders!).

    Walther Alexander von Seydlitz-Kurzbach never had a chance. Ironically, Hitler, not knowing of this insubordinance (Paulus, to his immense credit quashed it) promoted von Seydlitz to full command of the Northern defence of the “Cauldron”. His hands were truly tied, he had to obey.

    The snake Schmidt made sure Von Manstein recieved a copy of the von Seydlitz/Clausius Memorandum, which he simply filed.

    Von Seydlitz went into 13 years of Russian imprisonment and arrest, was sentenced to death by BOTH Hitler and Stalin, worked toward the overthrow of Hitler and the NS State while in Russia.

    On returning home to West Germany and his wife and four daughters, found himself pilloried in the German Press as a traitor, proscribed in public, he withdrew. In the 60s and 70s, things began to thaw, he was indoctrinated in the League of German Resistance. He died at 87 in 1976.

    ER WAR DER LETZTE PREUSSE! He was the last Prussian!

  • Eugene

    I’ve just watched your new episode on the Battle of Stalingrad. Second time, to make sure my impression was correct. It was.

    What was your real reason behind this shameful and dubious exercise? Sensationalism? Help to sell some books by an obscure “historian”? Whitewash of Hitler? I’m puzzled.

    You announced you’d uncover some secret facts of the battle, including “technological advances”, and reveal a new historical view on it. Empty promises. What new view? That there was no “strategic entrapment”? And who says there was? Any references as to that is the current view anywhere? May be Stalin said so 68 years ago. But Khrushchev denounced him already in 1956 and did say most truth about Russia’s WWII, including Stalingrad. Marshal of Victory K. Zhukov (unmentioned by you!!!) never indicated Stalingrad was an “entrapment” in his writings. It was not view of late USSR, nor is it of current Russia. All this pretence made you look uneducated and ridiculous.

    You failed to actually spell – WHAT made T-34 the best tank of WWII. FYI: novel electrical wielding methods (= strength, production speed), sloped walls (= better defense, less steel, less weight, and less cost), diesel engine (= they did not burn as much as gasoline-powered German tanks), and speed. You could have mentioned other tech. advances the Russians/Soviets had, i.e., missile technology (Katyusha multiple rocket launchers), or cheap, simple, and deadly anti-tank rifle.

    Worst of all, you failed to mention the main reason (and secret) behind Stalingrad victory – the superior Russian soldier with his extreme bravery, resilience, readiness for self-sacrifice and patriotism.

    Could not help noticing the people (persons) that appear on the screen: several Americans, 3 or 4 Germans, and only 2 Russians, one – Krushchev’s son (very important – why exactly??), and another – the only one supposed participant in the Battle on Russian side, apparently currently living in Brooklyn, NY.

    In addition, very telling was the fact that you named bunch of German generals (Paulus, Manheim, even Guderian, etc.), but you TOTALLY FAILED TO even MENTION those who actually were responsible for turning the tide of WWII at Stalingrad – marshals K. Zhukov, Chuikov, Shaposhnikov, etc.

    So, what was your purpose? Re-write/revise history? Put down the Russians? Or dumb down the American viewer?

    P.S.: Wrong pronounciations of names and places also tells a lot about the low quality of your historians and sources.

  • Eugene K.

    To Theodore Walling and such:

    You did NOT pull it of, remember? You lost it bad, you SS!

    Stalingrad area was not wasteland before you came – you did it so!

    Do not lie here about harsh weather! Stalingrad is at the SOUTHERN steppes, with warm and dry climate. It CANNOT have harsh cold “typical Russian” winter. And in 42/43 winter was warmer than usual, because it followed the record cold winter of 41/42.

    You had from July through November of 1942 to win, all warm months (and the documentary proves it!). But you failed. The Soviet Counteroffensive started on November 19 and 20, and by November 29 you were done, the Russians had won the Battle, way ahead of a winter there. Paulus’ surender in Feb. 1943 was the end of POST battle mop up operation.

    And do not bragg about your skills – you lost the battle and the war. You lost because you thought (and still believe?) that you were a superior race, whereas the Russians were the superior people and superior soldiers. And incomparably humane people and soldiers. German soldiers were good only at murdering unarmed civilians – about 15 to 17 millions of them in the USSR only.

  • Eugene K.

    stop lying about “official compaign of raping en masse innocent Gemran women & children after the fall of Berlin..!!!” . I know where it comes from, and it is not true, it is the latest russophobic revanche attempts by those having interest in whitewashing current German allies and in simply getting paid for some sensational scandals printed. There was no such “official campaign”. Read Gen Gorbatov’s memoirs (first military comandant of Berlin; and you better know what man he was!). Unlike Wehrmacht, Red Army prohibited to have sex with foreigners. Rape was punishable by shooting squad. Catching STD was equalled to a desertion (i.e., = shooting squad). There were incidents, of course, but Gorbatov harshly captured and punished those. He shot many of his war comrades. One case involved a well known war hero, and soldiers were infuriated (after all, remember of millions civilians killed, millions of mothers, sisters and daughters raped, enslaved, and murdered during the 3 years of German invasion). Stalin learned of the conflict and reprimanded Gorbatov for being too harsh with his own. Stalin’s dark joke about Gorbatov became famous.

  • Theodore Walling

    My comments to this guy Eugene K. is that I can’t believe what I had to read. Where you there? I personnally wasn’t in Stalingrad, but I was in actual Russina combat in the winter of 1943 and untill I was wounded. I lost several relatives in Stalingrad. I experienced success and also retreat. It was like fighting against 25 to one soldier. So thin were our lines. It wasn’t nice. Eugene seems to want to glorify the Russian soldier and his decency and degrad the German soldier. All I can say is that he is so blind to the truth. Stalin should give him a metal. There was no comparison between the cultures of these men. Were the majority of the Russian fighters came from way out in Asia. They were so primative What could you expect. Eugene evidently never spoke with the German women for what really happened to them, It was horrenduos I was so glad that I was able to read so many decent commentaries, that it made up for the onesideness what this man had to written. I still feel sorry for the Russian people for what they had to endure under Stalin, and also for all the Jewish and the Germans adn others that this war had touched, which had its origin with the Versailles treaty. It is so nice to be able to read all these commentaries.

  • Tom

    I enjoyed this program, overall I thought the quality was excellent. Hard to cover everything in a 1 hour show but it would have been worthwhile to mention at the same time this massive battle was going on another huge battle (Operation MARS) was going on as the Soviets tried unsuccessfully to destroy Army Group Center. Because it was a huge defeat the Soviets covered it up for decades. See David M. Glantz’s book Zhukov’s Greatest Defeat: The Red Army’s Epic Disaster in Operation Mars, 1942 (Modern War Studies).

    Also would have been helpful to briefly mention the role of the other Axis armies (Romanian, Hungarian, Italian) as it was one of the keys the the campaign.

  • Phil Jackson

    The enemy of the US was Germany not the Soviet union. Hitler made Stalin a world hero who fough against evil ! It helped the USSR to remain a dictatorship for another 50 years.
    In the West our history had to be rewritten after the war, so new generations would not know how little we fought, and it was easy to justify ourselves by denouncing the abuse of communism as the last refuge of hypocrisy.

  • Phil Jackson

    About the comments of Theodore Walling, a former nazi victim of the offensive his country angainst all of Europe, who presumably fought WELL as a German nazi soldier but feels a little bad about how the Russian treated the poor Germans during their counter offensive: Also I did not like the way you compared the Jews that you and your buddies murdered in cold blood and should NEVER compare German women to this SHAMEFUL Holocaust that obedient morons like you created!!!! I hope you stop enjoying these nice comments now.

  • Paul

    I just wanted to say I did not see the documentary so my comments are not influenced by it.

    If I recall correctly irrespective of what Hermann Goering said about supplying 6th Army with 100 tons a day I think was what he said, he could only deliver 50 tons a day or something close to those numbers. One thing I think is forgotten or not mentioned here is the fact that the Gumrak airfield had been captured during the Russian counteroffensive so how could the Luftwaffe supply the trapped Army? As far as I know it was the only available airfield……and the planes could not fly into Stalingrad.
    I think the Germans created the disaster by their poor strategic planning and Hitlers’ consistent meddling not the failure of a despot like Goering. The bombing of Stalingrad created a better defensive position for the Soviets and attacking the Romanian and Italian flank armies led to their defeat, and the fact the Germans were getting very low on manpower reserves. That, coupled with the failed relief attack by Manstein. But will we ever know for sure?
    History is always written by the victors as they say.

  • Karl

    To Eugene K. :
    “Good old uncle Joe” ( Stalin ) made many “dark jokes” on the lives of people !
    And his main strategy ( same as Hitler’s ) always was “No retreat” .
    For that reason , Soviet union installed the blocking detachments ( barrier troops / anti retreat detachments )
    who shot many of their comrades , especially at Stalingrad .
    For showing this on screen , the Stalingrad sniper movie “Enemy at the Gates” was banned by Volgograd authorities some years ago .

    At Stalingrad , the Soviets for the first time practised real “total war” , using even women and children for battle
    action . Their sacrifice enabled the Soviets to hold the city during the first crucial days .
    Regarding the mass rapings by Soviet soldiers ( by the way , not only to German , but also to eastern
    european women ) : they were a fact , there is enough evidence . For example , the famous Lev Kopelev ,
    wrote about it . He was punished for having criticized the Red Army’s atrocities against German civilians .

  • Karl

    P.S. : Read “The return of Uncle Joe” ( Stalin ) via google

  • Eugene K.

    It is amasing how a nazy, a former SS (or is it a closet nazy speaking on his behalf?) can crawl out on these revisionist (and nostalgically-revanchist) sites and proselitite – in 21st century!!!
    For the younger folks: SS is recognized by Nuremberg process (and by the UN, including the USA) as a criminal organization. So, you SS is a criminal, and allowed to speak only to apologize.

    Don’t want to give any value to his fables by discussing them, but it is funny how he CONFIRMED that I was right and he was/is a lier. He was NOT at Stalingrad (see his own admission above), so all his contribution to this discussion of the Stalingrad battle IS A LIE. (And I’m glad your relatives were killed there – should not ever tried to invade and conqer Russia. Actually, should not elected your dear Hitler to power at the first place). WINTER OF 1943 elsewhere in Russia could have been cold: USSR stretched from North Pole to Turkey!!! But every idiot can open a book and find out, that Stalingrad is at 48° 42? 0? N Lat., which is, btw, way more to the South then Berlin (52° 30? 2? N Lat.)! An idiot can also find (e.g., Harbottle/Bruce Dictionary of Battles) that Stalingrad battle was held during summer and fall of 1942, not winter of 1943!!! It started on July 23, 1942, and ended on November 23, 1942 with complete encircling of the 6th and 4th Panzer Armies (330 000 men, including Italian, Hungarian, and Rumanian facists). By November 30, Russo-German front was 100-200 miles to the East, by Rostov-on-Don, and Germans also hastily ran from North Caucasus, including SUBTROPICAL areas of Sochi and Tuapse (Russian subtropics were also too cold for brave nazi-ss supermen!).

    For my American friends, just to put it all in a perspective: only at Stalingrad, not the biggest battle on the East front, Russia captured MORE facists than ALL allies lost on the Western (and African) fronts in 1940-1945.

    Further, it is well established (e.g., Harbottle/Bruce) that Germany managed to concentrate at Stalingrad about 250,000 troops and 750 tanks, whereas Russia managed only 190,000 troops and ~350 tanks. As a German general-turned historian … (forgot his name now) wrote in his (quite apologetic, of course) 2-volume study of East Front, – at a time, Paulus could put about 150000 troops against Chuikov’s 100000. It is well documented that Chuikov repeatedly demanded fresh enforcements, while Stalin was sending them, at Zhukov’s request, to the North (Gen. Rokossovski) and South (Gen. Vatutin) of Stalingrad in preparation for the strategic counteroffensive of November 19-20.

    So, yo Karl and that Alzheimer’s nazi-ss, do not feed us with that garbage about overwhelming Russian numbers at Stalingrad. Your best proof? That movie “Enemy at the Gates”! Laughable!!! Although it has some good moments, the movie is sadly incorrect historically. It was not banned in Volgograd, but WWII veterans were hurt and outraged by its insult and lies about the courage and heroism of actual victors at the Stalingrad. I read a lot of discussions, point-by-point, well referenced, and with first-hand witnesses about that movie, and it is clear that we should believe those veterans who liberated us all from Hitler, rather than you Karl or former ss.

    You are pathetic, you invent and hold on to any false reasons for your loss of the pivotal battle – 1 to 25 men when there was 3 to 2, or horrible winter during summer and fall at warm and dry suth Russia – instead of admitting to a simple truth: Soviet soldier was better than German, Soviet generals were better than German ones, and thus the superior Arian race shamefully lost to Slavic (Asian?!) untermunchen!

    BTW, Russia did show that Western rendering of the Stalingrad widely in its theatres despite even its insult to the country’s heroes. How many Russian or Soviet movies on Stalingrad or WWII have you seen or can name as been widely shown here in the US or in the West?!?!?!? Why Russians or Commies never made a propaganda film about shames of D-day or Iwojima?

  • Eugene K.

    The documentary we discuss here made a statement that the blocking troops killed 10000 of own Red Army men. Not substantiated by any evidence. This is ridiculous on its surface. What blocking batallions in July-August if Red Army was retreating all the time, all the way from Kharkov?! Then, what blocking troops in September – November DURING URBAN BATTLES INSIDE the ruins of Stalingrad??!! Where you put those blockers during building-to-building, basement-to-basement battles?! Who would trust that except for pro-nazi dummies? By November, Paulus captured 80-90% of the city. Where do you put NKVD troops on that 300 m wide, 2 km long stretch that Chuikov held for 3 weeks? Not even considering that Chuikov never had 10000 men to spare.

    I spoke with many veterans, and they easily aknowlege the fact that there were some NKVD blocks, but these were not significant, mostly because Soviets there and then were so mad at hated Germans, were so determined to stand and win, that no blocking was needed.

    I also spoke to many Germans. Most of them are good and decent people who hate nazis and Hitler and very much regret the horrors that Germany brought on Russia and on itself.

    Recently, results of the Russian inter-branch Comission on War Losses (established by Medvedev) were publish. I recommend to read them. They mostly confirm the findings of similar Gorbachev era comission. Both studies are well supported by evidense and openly published. Bottom line: Total demographic losses of USSR were 26.6 mln people (!!!). They included military losses of 8.6 mln troops. These include 3 mln POWs killed by Germans in camps/captivity. “Civilized” Germans did not apply Geneva conventions to Soviets (unlike to Western troops). 30% of military losses occured during 1941, when millions were encircled and surrendered.

    You know why they so easily surrendered in 1941? Because Russian, Ukrainian, and other peasants did not want to fight for Stalin! They hated him for what he did 10 years before during collectivization campaign. But by 1942 people saw what “civilization” facists brought, and partisan war started, and Red Army did not need much encouragement.

    Partisan and urban resistance losses should be added to the military losses, I believe. So, Soviet losses due to the armed struggle against German invaders and their European allies would be between 9 and 10 mln (!). Germany claims it lost 6.6 mln troops. Huge Hungarian, Romanian, Italian and other allies’ losses should add up to 7.5 to 8 mln troops. So, the ratio of the Soviet to Axis military losses is about 1.3 to 1. Again, 30% of the Soviet losses were captured in 1941 and then killed as POWs, not in fighting. Therefore, the myth about Russian victory through troops numbers does not stand – the numbers disprove it.

    What is really shocking, is that these numbers mean that invaders murdered over 16 mln unarmed civillians, mostly women, elder, and children!!! That’s what Arian supermen were good at – not at fighting on the battlefield man to man, but at mass murdering civillians!

    Finally, about Russian barbarians and German gentlemen. Just few examples. Germans (besides murdering POWs and civillians): put horses and horseshit inside Leo Tolstoi’s estate Yasnaya Polyana; blew to pieces ancient Novgorod, XVIII century Peterhoff; ruined and looted countless museums, monuments, and national treasures; planned to ground St.-Petersburgh and Moscow. Russians: saved and preserved Vienna, Budapest, Prague, Krakow (Warsaw was grounded by Germans), Leipzig, even Berlin was not as much ruined as could/should had been; preserved, restored, and even returned Drezden Gallery; during the battle of Berlin, Hitler ordered to send waters of Spree river into subway system, which would kill tens of thousands of women and children hiding there, but Soviet troops prevented that orders from being executed by eager SS and thus saved lives of those women and children. That figure of the Russian soldier holding a german girl in Treptov Park (Berlin) is based on actual incident. German soldiers were throwing Russian children on byonets – established fact. So, it is absolutely clear who were barbarians there and then.

  • Eugene K.

    On the “MASS RAPINGS”

    Yes, there were incidents of rape by Soviet soldiers, as I stated above. But they were considered crimes, and were harshly prosecuted. How many Germans were there in 1945 under the Soviet command? 4 mln at most (millions of Germans flew to the West before Red Army came – they knew what they did in Russia). Half were females of all ages. So, when I read accounts of 2 mln German women raped – I laugh. Several Russian veterans explained to me: first, we hated all Germans so much – we could not get hard-on on their ugly women (don’t forget – Russian and Ukrainian women are much prettier then German ones, it’s common knowlege); second, those who could have were afraid of court marshal; third, there were plenty of German whores around giving it free or for bread, vodka, and cocaine (!!); fourth, we were really afraid to get tripper or siphilis from the Germans; and finally, most important, most of us had wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters at home, and we thought of them, which did not turn us on for the German whores. In addition, we all knew what Germans did during their occupation, so we were very proud not to behave like German barbarians. To me, these accounts sound more believable than recent accounts of “millions” German weman mass raped.

    On the other hand, in German army – Wehrmacht – rape of the non-German women on occupied lands was never considered a crime, and was never prosecuted. Many women were forced to sleep with officers for fear of being killed or sent to camps or to Germany. Unlike Red Army, Wehrmacht had official whore houses for front troops. Women were captured and sent there by force. During 3 years of German occupation, ~3 mln youth were captured and sent to Germany for slave labour. 3/4 of them were young women they were repeatedly raped by capturing squads, in filtration camps, and in Germany by their elder married owners.
    Finaly, as western humanitarians care about rape more than about mass murder, it must be pointed out that of those up to 17 mln civilians murdered by Germans in the USSR, majority were women, and many, if not most of them were first gang-raped and then shot or hanged by Germans. All these are not fables – they are well established and documented facts. (I also have personal accounts that Hungarians were even worse than Germans; Romanians were much better and gentile; and Italians were very civilized, never beatten, never raped a woman.)

    I saw that recent German movie with Russian actors about Red Army raping and looting. It’s based on an account by ANONIMOUS. That account was questioned by German scholars, and caused outrage by German women as utter lie. I also read an account ascribed to a jewish girl who was raped by Russian cossaks on horses in Warsaw after Red Army liberated Warsaw in January 1945. It is a moving fabrication. By January 1945, 90% of Warsaw was destroyed, and there were almost no people there, especially no Jews – they were all murdered before and during the Getto uprising in 1944; there were no cossak troops in Red Army; and there were no Cavalry men in Red Army in January 1945. Such are the bases for the myth of the Russian mass rapes. Yet there are mass efforts and funds applied to its creation and spreading. Oh, well…

    Good night, and good luck.

  • Karl

    The annoying thing with Eugene’s endless postings is that he prefers “anti-fascist” propaganda , glorifying “Uncle Joe” Stalin and Red Army ( including apologies for war crimes ) and
    personal insults , instead of facts and observe the PBS rules for comments .
    In his eyes , soviet veterans are generally reliable ( what is explicitly questioned for good reasons in Merridale’s book “Ivan’s War” ) .
    There was sufficient opportunity for action of soviet blocking units at Stalingrad in the first weeks of battle ,
    but I understand that this contradicts the “heroic” conception .

    Regarding the questioned mass rapings , I recommend Helke Sander’s “Befreier und Befreite” ( book and film
    documentary ) . Soviet propaganda statements are not helpful in this issue .

    I know Soviet films on Stalingrad that were shown in U.S. theatres , for example “Stalingradskaya Bitva” ( 1949 , production details see IMDB ) – rather poor , although they even had genuine German soldiers ( POWs) as extras .
    By the way , there is no need for “commie” propaganda films on D-Day : Saving Private Ryan shows
    killing of surrendering German soldiers ( fact , no fiction …! )

    Anyway , interested people should better read some good books instead of reflecting not objective and
    historically incorrect postings ( Are there any books nominated by Eugene ? )

  • Theodore Walling

    A message to Leroy if you are still out there. Your opinion of the Soviet soldier is one sided. I have wanted to inform you more truths about my German experience, but my writings never made it thru the system, Probably because this blog is already cancelled. Therefore I am writing this just for a test..

  • ed fast

    Enjoyed the program and the comments. My reading of events from D-Day through to the end of the Battle of the Bulge was that there was a major German shift of men and equipment to the west because of the threat of the Allies to Germany. The combat companies often had 200% turnover in the fighting in Western Europe but the leadership was sensitive to the number of killed and wounded which meant that the Allied military used their men in a way to minimize casualities having learned lessons from WW I and the first modern war viz., the American Civil War. While the allied leadership had flaws, there was a strong presence of democracy unlike what the Germans and Russians suffered with their leadership.
    As far as I know the only tanks that had stabilizers in WW II which allowed them shoot on the move were the American tanks but this fact is rarely mentioned in the comparisons.

  • Theodore Walling

    I am glad to see that there are still people out there reading this blog. I have wanting to answer Leroy for his remarks of the SS and German women. First, that the Nuremberger trials collectively classified all SS as a criminal organisation was wrong.The court was poorly informed. The word SS emcompasses a whole gamet of organisations From diplomats, various police organisation, secret and not so secret,, men’s organisation similar to the Brown shirts like SA, and to the several million volunteers to what was called the Wafen SS. These volunteers, at wars beginnng, and at the end , were made up of many european nations. It was a method Germany could enlist non Germans to their war effort against the Soviet Regime. So it was at wars end, a division named Charlemagne, of French men, defended Hitler’s in Berlin. I enjoyed meeting all those brave and decent men and women, who took up the batttle against Communism.. Calling them all criminals was not fair. I had heard, at wars end, that several units of the existng German Navy and Airforce units were transfered to the Waffen SS. But not to the regular SS. I never saw any one, but heard of it. There previous units were not any more needed,
    What was unique, was that they fought under their own banner. There is liteatur out there about this event.
    Also, what bothers me is Leroy’s cruel assessment of the Geman women. I know of a mother, when Soviet gangs banged on her doors , pleaded with them to take her and spare her two daughters ,No female was safe. From the youngest infant to the really oldest women, what was female was raped and gang raped. until dead. It was like Ghingis Kahn returned to life. My dear Leroy not every female could out run the Russian tanks,, Soviet troops did occupy part of Germany. If you had a daughter you would not expressed yourself like you did. Amongst the millions of Soviet troops, there surely were decent individual. Those that were, were deeply Christian, for sure.. Did German soldiers rape women in the occupied zone, I believed they did. If he was a Waffen SS soldier, he would have been shot if detected. WE were not allow to mix with them. A fellow German told me what he had expected, It was sad. Did American soldiers rape, they surely did. If caught they were convicted, AS an interpreter, I know of a real person that was raped and then murdered. There is something about wearing a uniform, Some men think that gives them a right. What happens in civilian life is magnified when the rapist is in a foreign country. No body is perfect. The Soviets were realy bad, because they have been granted permission by Stalin. Leroy, this is a fact,
    They also dismantled what the could carry away. toilets and all. . Thanks God that America stood up , in the cold war, to this evil empire,


    I was researching public auto auctions when I ran across your blog. I want to say I spent a lot of time reading both the blog and the comments. My grandfather was in WWII as a MP at a German POW camp. I tremendous loss if life is sad, but I thank everyone who was in the war…then and now.


  • Ben

    does any one agree w/ what hitler did?

  • alice


  • Ferg

    I have found the above thread stimulating; it has prompted an idea about how to integrate it into my teaching. I teach a course called World War II Goes to the Movies (along with a more traditional political, military, social history of WW II). I tell the students: if you want to learn about history, don’t rely on movies (commercial or documentary). Inevitably they tell us more about the preoccupations of the film makers, consultants, producers, etc. than they do about “history.” Their intentions are sometimes commendable, some times not, but the results are always incomplete, if not one sided. Let’s see, this documentary movie was about 55 minutes long. The narrator spoke at about 125 words a minute, for a total of 6875 words. That’s about the length of a short chapter in a book, around 25 pages. I doubt that there exists a 25 page “history” of Stalingrad that a group of non-German or Soviet historians like Bevor, d’Este, Weinberg, Citino, Hayward, Glantz, Keegan, Davies, Wall, Overy, or Hastings would dub to be the last word.
    Perhaps movies become part of the historiography of a historical period and should be viewed and discussed as such. Building on this perspective: I have an idea for an exercise in historiography. I’ll have the students watch this documentary (outside of class). I’ll also have them watch the well-known crossing the Volga and attack (no retreat) scene from Enemy at the Gates. Then I’ll have them read the contents of this thread. We’ll discuss some of the issues in class. Then I’ll assign a short research paper in which they’ll pick a phase of the battle strategy, operations, tactics, “meaning”). Then I’ll ask them to find some relevant scholarly works and integrate all of it all into an essay about the importance of qualified, tentative historical conclusions and judgments. As William Faulkner wrote: The past is never dead. It’s not even past.

    I’ve used a similar approach when teaching about Richard III. I’ve gotten some interesting essays.

  • Karl

    Great idea , Ferg

    Please keep us informed on this interesting project !

  • Jordan

    You should search out the books by Jason Marks.Leaping Horsemen books has some of the best Stalingrad battle information done in a great way.Couple that with the David Glantz books on Stalingrad adn you get both sides.Glantz’s new Stalingrad trilogy of which two books can be bought.

    I own hundreds of Eastern Front books,films, and documentaries.
    to Theodore Walling:
    I would love to converse via email with you sometime.I have questions for a German soldier to ask of.I have no hate in me for the things that happened to my family.It is now history and it is better to learn from those times than to repeat the hate.I am jewish and run a small memorial site for my family.I have wanted to interview a soldier from those times.I do promise to respect your fighting spirit.your loyaty to your comreades,etc.I just have questions that can not be found out at this point by reading more books.
    My name is Jordan Kratz.
    Have you written a book on your WW2 experieneces ???

    And for those who put Theodore down realize many of the German youth were brainwashed into a world of hate.Brainwashed by their own teachers,parents,society,etc. It was a bad time in our world history and the climate was perfect for WW2 or as I call it World War One Part 2.For all you know Theodore served his time fighting men and not killing civilians which is quite possible.Depending on the time & area served in it is pssible for a Waffen SS Soldier to have only “fought” in war and not particapated in massacres.

  • Eduardo M.

    Indiscutiblemente Stalingrado fué una ciudad que está cubierta de gloria. Pues fué invadida, arrasada y cási totalmente destruida. Con el consecuente martirio y merma de su población civil. Leningrado y Moscú no fuéron arrasadas ni destruidas. La gloria radica en el hecho de que a pesar de haber sido destruida allí mísmo se pudo vencer al enemigo. Cualquiera que hayan sido las causas de la derrota y de la victoria. En toda la historia de la humanidad hay muy pocos ejemplos similares y de tal magnitud. Además Stalingrado resurgió de sus cenizas. La persona que verdaderamente conozca esta historia y que se considere honesta, tendrá que reconocer que en esta batalla los alemanes perdieron y los rusos ganaron la guerra. Sólo con sinceridad e imparcialidad, todos podremos disfrutar de este apasionante tema.

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  • Paul

    One of the best and most recent books on the Battle of Stalingrad is: Stalingrad How the Red Army Survived the German Onslaught, Michael K. Jones (Forward by David M. Glantz)

    Written from the Soviet perspective with quotes by those who fought there. Much of the information is from Soviet interviews and survivors…gives many of the real reasons the Russians won, and not clouded by Soviet Propaganda as admitted by the survivors themselves. The book gives much credit to General Chuikov, who inspired and led his men to victory.

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