Hitler issued his New Year's message to General Paulus and the
men of Stalingrad.
"You and your soldiers should begin the new year with a
strong faith that I and the German Wehrmacht will use all
strength to relieve the defenders of Stalingrad and make their
long wait the highest achievement of German war history.
The front was stirred by action again. All the human and horse
meat piled up around
the battlefields inside the pocket had caused the rat and mouse
population to explode and the rodents to become bolder and
bolder. In the daily hours the Germans fought the Russians and
at night they fought mice and rats. The rats attacked the
soldiers while they slept. One infantryman with frostbitten feet
lost two toes to a rat one night and did not even know it until
The German held airstrip at Morozovskaya, under the same orders
not to evacuate as was Tatsinskaya, is seized by 3rd Guards
Army. As the need for more supplies for the freezing, and
starving troops inside Stalingrad grows, the ability of the
Luftwaffe to provide them shrinks.
General Rokossovsky was ordered by Stalin to destroy the German
pocket at Stalingrad.
(Operation Ring) German observations reports told that the
Russian were building up a major force on the southern and
western borders of the encircled 6th Army. (Preparation of
Operation Ring). Hundreds of T-34 tanks, kashyushas (Stalin
organs) and thousands of heavy artillery pieces like.210 mm
Howitzer. There was no reaction from the German side, they were
short of ammunition.
General Rokossovskiy had 212.000 men, 6500 pieces of artillery,
250 tank and 300
aircrafts to destroy the German pocket. In their enormous
field-kitchens the Russians prepared hot meals for the Red Army
soldiers. The smell of food prepared by the Russians, knowing
that the Germans were powerless against them, was smelled by the
Germans who were dying from starvation.
Manstein's attention was focused on the specific problems of
extricating Army Group A from the Caucasus. His method was to
leave General Hoth's 4th Panzer Army in position south of
Stalingrad, with freedom to pull back gradually toward Rostov
while keeping open the line of retreat for Army Group A. But
this too depended on the ability of Paulus to hold out for one
month. Hoth was doing a magnificent job of fighting a delaying
action, moving a little bit toward Rostov and stopping to delay
the Russians again. But this was not Hitler's way of fighting.
Hoth must stand firm said Hitler. When Manstein got that message
he promptly offered to resign his command. Hitler backed down
and Hoth's campaign of evasion and attack went on.
Army Group A continues to withdraw in good order, and the
Stalingrad front is quiet.
Though 6th Army reported deterioration in the supplysituation
and condition of the troops, critical shortages of fuel and
The order was given to transfer six divisions from the Western
Front to Army Group Center or North in the East, so that
experienced eastern divisions could be transferred to Army Group
South of the Eastern Front, commanded by Field-Marshal Erich von
Manstein. In the meanwhile the Red Army were building up forces
around the surrounded German 6th Army.
Because the Russians knew that the Germans were still very
powerfull within the pocket, and that the process to defeating
them would be extremely costly in terms of lives and material,
they made one last attempt to avoid the battle. General Voronov,
on behalf of the Red Army supreme command, and General
Rokossovsky, commander of the Don Front, called the Germans to
surrender. In the morning, under a white flag of truce, three
Russian representativs walked through the German lines and
delivered an ultimatum to the 6th Army. If the ultimatum was
rejected "the Red Army and Air Fore will be compielled to
wipe out the surrounded German troops." (Operation Ring)
The ultimatum stated that General Paulus's representatives were
to travel by car with a white flag to the Russian lines at ten
o'clock on the morning of January 9.
The Russians waited through the whole they but no answer came.
Paulus asked Hitler again for freedom of action but it was
Hitler told Paulus that every day the 6th Army holds out, it
helps the entire front.
What that meant was that as long as the 6th Army tied up
hundreds of thousands of enemy troops at Stalingrad, Army Group
A ,in the Caucasus, had a better chance of escaping a Russian
trap (Russian Operation Saturn). Paulus refuses to surrender,
committing the Army to fight to its death.
But when now answer came at eight o'clock in the morning the
Russians started Operation Ring. The Russians had prepared well.
In some places the density of guns and mortars reached 170 per
kilometer-0.6 miles, General Rokossovski, commander of the
Russian Don Front, with seven armies at his disposal, launches a
drive across the Volga to relieve Chuikov’s heroic soldiers
defending Stalingrad. Due to the typically smaller size of a
Russian Front, and the extraordinarily large size of 6th Army,
the opposing forces
are not quite as widely disparate in manpower as the number of
opposing formations might indicate. Still, Rokossovski has
212,000 well equipped and provisioned men, compared to some
191,000 starving wretches in Paulus’ much weakened command.
After an hour long bombardment by thousands of artillery pieces
and mortars, supplemented by the attack of Soviet aircrafts,
bombing the center of the pocket, the Soviet ground attack on
6th Army begins.
The Germans suffered enormous casualties. The 76th Division, for
example, was now
reduced from its pre-Stalingrad strenght of ten thousand men to
six hundred men.
Since 25 November 1942 untill today 24.910 wounded(?) soldiers
left the Stalingrad pocket by plane. Also since 25 November, the
daily average of supplies brought in by the luftwaffe was 104.7
tons. At least 550 tons a day was needed.
General Malinovsky's 2nd Guards Army command was south of the
Allied newspaper correspondents were allowed to visit the
General. They asked
him question about the drive to crush the 6th Army. The General
"Stalingrad is an armed prisoners camp and its situation is
Surrounded inside Stalingrad, the German 29th Motorized
Division, along with the 3rd Motorized Division faces a
concentrated attack by several divisions of Russian armor, and
together they manage to destroy dozens of the enemy tanks in
their fight to the death. The Russians compress 6th Army to the
east, up against 62nd Army and the Volga. In much the same way
as he had assigned Manstein the absurd task of rescuing the
trapped army with little more than the already beaten remnants
that were supposed to have been guarding 6th Army in the first
place, Hitler now appoints Milch to personally take command of
the aerial resupply effort. Upon his arrival at Richthofen’s
Luftflotte 4 HQ, at Taganrog, he finds less than 30% of the
aircraft are operational.
General Paulus issued orders to his men to stand fast at their
positions. He sent congratulations to the 44th Austrian Infantry
Division, which was holding the approaches to the airfield at
In the early morning the 1st Battalion of the 134 Infantry
Regiment held its position
with some help from two antiaircraft guns which they turned
level. During the morning they had to withdraw and leave the
guns behind. They had captured jeeps but they had no fuel to run
them. One gun after another was blown up.
The situation at Pitomnik airport was disastrous. Dead men,
wrecked aircrafts, dead horses and dead vehicles were
everywhere. Two dressing stations were crammed with wounded men,
some of them being hit by incoming Russian shells. And all the
while aircraft were coming down, unloading, loading up and
flying off again.
Pitomnik; the primary airstrip needed to supply Stalingrad is
taken by the Russians. The Luftwaffe now resorts to airdrops,
and attempts to fly supplies into Gumrak, which is under
General Milch had taken personal charge of the airlift, and he
decreed that it should go on, no matter the cost to the
From this day on, untill the surrender of 6th army, 364 German
soldiers were executed, a penalty for theft, insubordination,
murder, self-inflicted wounds, etc...
The Russians completed the first phase of their attack on the
Stalingrad pocket., stabilizing along a line that ran from
Rossoshka on the north to Voronopovo Station in the south. The
Stalingrad pocket had been reduced about two-thirds.
After the 18 th of january the 29 Mot. Div were still able to
destroy, north of Karpowka and south of Pitomnik, 137 Russians
The 9. Flak Div. has shot down their 63rd Russian aircraft. The
Russians on the Voronezh Front continued to make progress.
Vauyki Vrazavo fell to the Russians and the Hungarians were
driven from Ostrogozhsk.
Aircrafts carried out hundreds of men who were not wounded and
not sick, whose papers were in order. Valuable personnel who
were being sent out of the pocket to go back to Germany and form
new divisions and fight again. Some of the Generals went out
too. General Erwin Jaenecke, commander of the 389th Infantry
Division and the 4th Corps who was badly wounded with sixteen
shrapnel holes in his body and General Heinz Valentin Hube,
commander of the 16th Panzer Division, and also lesser officers,
one of them, Captain Eberhard Wagemann, carrying General
Schmidt's will. Major Coelistin von Zitzewitz was carrying a few
medals of General Paulus.
Hitler called up from the Eastern Front the Death's Head
Panzers, who only two weeks before had been told they would
remain in Germany. The reason the Death's Head was so sorely
needed was that there was almost a collapse of the Axis armies.
Paulus began to realize that the German forces in the Caucasus
had retreated to
safety and were not immediately treatened. His attention was now
focused on the idea of surrendering to the Russians. He was
losing one man every seven seconds and his army was no longer of
any value to the Reich.
After another huge Soviet artillery barrage announcing the start
of renewed attacks, Sixth Army’s airstrip, at Gumrak, is
assaulted by the Russians, and is soon lost, as Paulus evacuates
his headquarters and moves into the city itself. (Univermag
department store) He asked Hitler the permission to surrender.
"Absolutely not" thundered Hitler. Manstein backed the
Paulus request, but Hitler would not budge.
Italian and Hungarian forces in Russia were placed under German
command, their own Headquarters being withdrawn to
Paulus added the argument that his ammunition was almost all
gone, and repeated the request for authority to negotiate a
surrender of 6th Army. Hitler refused again. He argued that it
must fight to the last in order to gain time. (for what is not
so clear), and informed Paulus of this personally by radio.
The Russians again offered surrender terms.
Paulus reports that his Army can only hold out for another
couple of days, and asks for permission to try and
save some of his men, by filtering them out to the southwest.
Again, Hitler resolutely refuses even this attempt to salvage
anything of 6th Army, in spite of the fact that they are
literally without food and ammunition. Now, the fighting in
Stalingrad is sporadic and hopeless.
General Schmidt reported Paulus that a number of the generals
were conspiring to disobey orders and arrange a mass surrender
of the troops.
He went to the NKVD prison, where a number of the German
generals were housed. He told them they would do nothing of the
sort and that they would continue to hold out.
Then he turned his back on them and left. The plan to surrender
was not discussed again. Again Manstein telephoned to Hitler
explaining him that the 6th Army was no longer able to tie down
any appreciable Russian force and pleased Hitler to order Paulus
to surrender and save the lives of those who were left. But
Hitler would not relent. The 6th Army must continue to hold
Rokossovski’s tanks from the 21st Army have reached and taken
the heights of Mamayev-Kugan, that overlook Stalingrad, just
west of the north/south rail line.
In the hell that has been Stalingrad, General Stempel,
commanding the 371st Division, shoots himself in the head,
General Drebber of the 297th Division takes the 1,800 survivors
of his 10,000 man 297th Division, and leads them into Soviet
captivity, and General Hartmann, in charge of the 71st Division,
stands erect on a railroad
embankment and fires into the Russian lines, until he is cut
down. The Russian 65th Army is first to establish a link from
the west with Chuikov’s tenacious 62nd Army inside the city.
Soon afterward, the 21st and 64th do likewise.
General Paulus received a letter from General Drebber, who
surrendered to the Russians the day before, telling him he was
being well treated. Paulus wanted to believe it, but General
Schmidt persuaded him the letter was written under compulsion
and that the Russians would kill them all if they surrendered
The Russians divided the city into three sectors. In one sector
the Russian XI Corps surrounded the tractor factory, the VIII
and the LI Corps were in the Mamayev Hill area
and the IV Corps surrounded the downtown business district.
Inside Stalingrad, the Germans stop feeding the wounded and ill,
so that the men capable of fighting may have something to eat.
Where there were German wounded, and this was everywhere in the
city, the doctors
placed the most serious cases in the hallways and near the
doors, where they would
frreeze to death quickly.The temperature was 39°-40° below
zero (Celsius). Hundreds of wounded committed suicide, most of
them using pistols and hand grenades.
The tenth anniversary of the "Thousand Year Reich".
Hitler gave the honor to speak
to the nation to Marshal Goering, who lionized the men of
"Rising above the gigantic battle like a mighty monument is
Stalingrad. One day it will be recognized as the greatest battle
in our history...
General Paulus sent a message to Hitler, congratulating him on
the anniversary and swearing that the Stalingrad battle would be
a lesson to future generations that the Germans never
surrendered.General Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach is taken prisoner by
the Russians in the middle of Stalingrad. He will go on to help
form a group of Germans in Russian captivity dedicated to the
defeat of Hitler.
General Roske's 71st Division manned the posts around the
Univermag department store
told General Schmidt that the division could no longer help.
Russian tanks were coming toward the department store. Shortly
before midnight Pauls slept.
Hitler, in a bizarre effort to get Paulus and his men to die
where they stand, promotes the General to the rank of a Field
Marshal, since no-one of that rank has ever surrendered before.
118 other officers were also promoted, many of them had already
surrendered. But Paulus surrendered to a Russian lieutenant who
came into the 6th Army headquarters. Paulus was taken away by a
car to the Headquartes of General Mikhail Shumilov, commander of
the Soviet 64th Army. There he was offered food from an enormous
buffet, but refused to eat until he had been assured that his
men would receive rations and medical care.
While the Russian were promising these things, other Russians in
Stalingrad were cleaning up the ruins. They set fire to the old
Soviet military garrison building which the Germans had
converted to a hospital. Hundreds of wounded were burned to
Russian soldiers wandered around the town taking prisoners and
stripping them of
their valuables. In a cellar north of the Red Square fifty
German wounded were doused with gasoline and turned into human
At the Fuehrer headquarters in East Prussia Hitler was furious
when he heared of the
surrender of Paulus and vowed that he would not create another
Field-Marshal because nobody could be trusted. The center pocket
was wiped out and their was no longer communication with the
southern pocket in Stalingrad.