While visiting today’s Volgograd, you may see the ruins of famous Pavlov’s House. It is named after a man who took part in the Battle of Stalingrad.
The Soviets had been successfully defending the house for two months. From time to time the Nazis managed to seize a storey or two, but the defenders always shattered their assault.
According to different sources, one house was defended by twenty or thirty people. The figures differ since it is unclear who should be regarded as defenders. For instance, there were soldiers and nurses.
By all means, the squad of defenders was truly international, including the Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Tatars, Kazakhs, Georgians, Uzbeks and soldiers of other nationalities.
However, Pavlov’s House would have been lost if its defenders had not been supported by soldiers from neighboring buildings.
The defenders of Pavlov’s House organized an additional terrain. If needed, they could retreat without any casualties, repelled an assault and then executed a counterattack.
It is believed that due to efficient defense the squad of Pavlov’s House lost only three soldiers in two months.
Pavlov’s House after the liberation of Stalingrad (1943). By an unknown author
Demoralization of the Nazis
Another German soldier sent home a bitter letter: “Don’t worry, don’t be upset, because the sooner I am under the ground, the less I will suffer. We often think that Russia should capitulate, but these uneducated people are too stupid to realize it” (cited by A. Beevor)
During the Battle of Stalingrad hundreds of thousands of soldiers were killed on the city streets. The Nazis were especially demoralized as they managed to win a few hundreds of meters in two months. A blow to their morale was worsened by the fact that the most efficient German troops were sent to Stalingrad. The troops of less powerful Axis Powers, namely Romanians and Italians, were positioned on the flanks of the offensive German divisions. The military authority of the Red Army chose the Italian and Romanian troops as the aim for a counterattack and trapped the German army near Stalingrad in the cauldron.
Fighting on a plant floor. Stalingrad. By an unknown author
A German lieutenant said: “We will never get away from here” (cited by A. Beevor)
On November 19 the Red Army launched an offensive and caught the enemy divisions into the so-called cauldron. The plan succeeded, and the German flanks were practically rolled up. Some divisions of Germans and their allies were completely destroyed. Others suffered great casualties, were demoralized and discontinued.
Although the Germans tried to break through the Soviet blockade, they failed. The Red Army captured a three or four times bigger group than they initially planned, namely 300,000 elite German troops (according to other estimates, 220,000).Then the Soviets managed to hold the cauldron for quite a long time.
The Nazis put up a stout defense as they believed surrender would mean certain death, but they finally surrendered on February 2, 1943. Due to their resistance the number of Germans in the so-called cauldron became three times smaller.