After weeks of desperate fighting 100,000 surviving Germans went into Russian captivity. Six thousand survived, returning to Germany after the war. Of them, 35 are still alive today. We visited ten of these veterans, to trace the memories of the battle in their faces and voices.
Since the 1980s, searchers have found more than 35,000 bodies, but only 1,500 have been identified. The remains of some of those identified are buried in a cemetery about 30 minutes from the city.
Only 90,000 German soldiers were still alive, and of these only 5,000 troops would survive the Soviet prisoner-of-war camps and make it back to Germany.
The exact number of civilians killed is unknown but was most likely very high. Around 40,000 civilians were taken to Germany as slave workers, some fled during battle and a small number were evacuated by the Soviets, but by February 1943 only 10,000 to 60,000 civilians were still alive.
Did You Know? In Stalingrad, the average life expectancy of a Soviet soldier was 24 hours. Stalin prohibited evacuation from the city, including of children. Soviet soldiers serving as reinforcements had to cross the Volga River, and many drowned as a result of the weight of their clothing and weapons.
German POWs in the USSR
The German 6th Army surrendered in the Battle of Stalingrad, 91,000 of the survivors became prisoners of war raising the number to 170,000 in early 1943.
Forbidden to break out by Hitler, the Sixth Army endured until February 1943, when its exhausted remnants surrendered. The Germans lost a total of 500,000 men during the Stalingrad campaign, including 91,000 taken prisoner.
The Most Deadly Battle In History: Stalingrad
Running from August 23, 1942 to February 2, 1943, Stalingrad led to 633,000 battle deaths.
On 10 November 1961, Nikita Khrushchev's administration changed the name of the city to Volgograd ("Volga City") as part of his programme of de-Stalinization following Stalin's death.
The Battle of Stalingrad, with its five months of fierce fighting, began exactly 80 years ago, on Aug. 23, 1942. An estimated 750,000 Soviets died defending the city, delivering an enormous blow to the seemingly unstoppable German war machine, a psychological turning point of World War II.
Even then, a further 26,000 POWs and civilian internees classified as 'war criminals' were only released in two main waves; in 1953–54 and 1955–56 (p. 45). All in all, 2 million POWs returned from the Soviet Union.
German POWs in the USSR
Weakened by malnutrition and ill-equipped for the Russian winter many froze to death in the months following capture at Stalingrad; only approximately 6,000 of them lived to be repatriated after the war.
After World War II, German prisoners were taken back to Europe as part of a reparations agreement. They were forced into harsh labor camps. Many prisoners did make it home in 18 to 24 months, Lazarus said. But Russian camps were among the most brutal, and some of their German POWs didn't return home until 1953.
The German War Graves Commission estimates there are still many thousands of German unmarked war graves throughout Russia and areas of the former Eastern Front but has successfully located and reinterred over 600,000 in German sponsored cemeteries like Sologubovka since the end of the Cold War.
When the war ended, graves registration soldiers still had work to do—scouring battlefields for hastily buried bodies that had been overlooked. In the European Theater, the bodies were scattered over 1.5 million square miles of territory; in the Pacific, they were scattered across numerous islands and in dense jungles.
In the second half of November 1942, the influx over Stalingrad particu- larly strong cold – below –40°C. This paralyzed all German, it is highly fa- cilitated the Soviet counteroffensive taken Nov. 19th to the north and south of the city. Army fighting in Stalingrad, soon found themselves in besetment.
Definition of oblast
: a political subdivision of Imperial Russia or a republic of the Soviet Union or of Russia.
Grad (Cyrillic: град) is an Old Slavic word meaning "town", "city", "castle" or "fortified settlement". Initially present in all related languages as gord, it can still be found as grad, gradić, horod or gorod in many placenames today.
The Battle of Verdun, 21 February-15 December 1916, became the longest battle in modern history. It was originally planned by the German Chief of General Staff, Erich von Falkenhayn to secure victory for Germany on the Western Front.
The heaviest loss of life for a single day occurred on July 1, 1916, during the Battle of the Somme, when the British Army suffered 57,470 casualties.
Napoleon benefited from the large number of battles in which he led forces. Among his 43 listed battles, he won 38 and lost only 5. Napoleon overcame difficult odds in 17 of his victories, and commanded at a disadvantage in all 5 of his losses. No other general came close to Napoleon in total battles.
The Soviet Union endured more than 3½ years of hard fighting at an average of 19,000 soldier and civilian deaths a day.
The remnants of the German forces in Stalingrad surrendered on February 2, 1943; 91,000 tired, ill, and starving Germans were taken captive. To the delight of the Soviet forces and the dismay of the Reich, the prisoners included 22 generals.
How the Russians took advantage of the winter. Even to the well-prepared Russians, the conditions were brutal. The winter came in, and the temperatures dropped to as low as -40 degrees, leaving the German tanks frozen and their diesel engines dysfunctional.