Operation Hubertus.
Operation Hubertus – Ljudnikov's Last Stand in Stalingrad

By Wolf Höpper taken from http://www.flamesofwar.com

I would like to thank Mr. Wolf Höpper a lot for this excellent and very interesting work about Operation Hubertus.


Most of the time, when a student of military history stumbles across a subject, he is not aware of the significance of the information he has just read.

Back in my younger years, I stumbled across a magazine-sized publication named “Sonderheft II. Weltkrieg – Pioniere” (lit. Special issue WWII - pioneers). I was hooked, since it featured an in-depth (from my point of view back then) history of the German combat engineers in WWII, and in it a special operation in a well-known city was “detailed”.

In most publications about the battle of Stalingrad the different small scale combats and actions are covered only with slim, often too personalised, chapters. The reader usually gets a good feeling about the vicious, humanity defying fights that took place. This should not minimise the suffering of anybody who was involved directly or indirectly. However, on the historical side, the reader most often doesn´t get enough information about specific parts of the battle.
The intention of this article is to flesh out the detail of the operations of the German pioneers in Stalingrad.

The last offensive efforts of the German 6th Army to conquer Stalingrad between 11 and 19 November 1942 are mostly covered within two or three sentences in books that are at average 250 pages long! Most of the time no details about this time period can be found at all in many, often highly acclaimed, publications by well-known historians. Even a highly praised German TV historian (I don’t want to name him for fear of reprisals), states only 4 sentences about this subject in one of his best sellers.

By writing this article about this last offensive, codenamed "Operation Hubertus", I will try to fill the holes found in the history books.

A Brief History of the Battle for Stalingrad...

I. Prologue

On 8 November 1942 the commander-in-chief of Germany announced his plans to Germany for an offensive to take the last part of Stalingrad.

“I wanted to come to the Volga at a specific location at a specific city. By chance it carries the name of Stalin himself. So don’t think I marched there for this reason – it could carry another name – but because there is a very important goal... this goal I wanted to take – and you know – we are very modest, we have it already.

There are only some very small places remaining. Now the others say: ‘Why aren’t they fighting faster?’ – Because I don’t want to have a second Verdun there, I’d rather take it with small assault groups.” - Adolf Hitler 8 November 1942 in his annual Bürgerbräukeller speech (Author’s translation)

Several thousand of miles away in the nearly levelled city of Stalingrad many German soldiers also heard this speech over their radios, among them about 3000 assault troops forming into “small assault groups”. What was so specific about this speech and the reality behind the words of the announcer?
At the time of Hitler’s speech the German troops held nearly 90% of Stalingrad. Only small islands of resistance were still held by the Soviets:

The 39th Rifle Division defended parts of the Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) steel factory, supported by the 284th Rifle Division on their left flank defending the workers housing area.

The few remaining parts of Krasnaya Barrikady (Red Barricades) ordnance factory was defended by shattered units of 138th, 308th, and parts of 244th Rifle Division. They held less than 10% of that factory.
The workers housing area of this factory was also defended by remnants of the 138th Rifle Division, particularly its 768th Rifle Regiment.

Another hard fought for area was the chemical factory "Lazur" and its surrounding train yards, the so-called "tennis racket". The name was derived from the look of the railway tracks depicted from aerial photos. An amalgam of units from 284th Rifle Division, 9th and 38th Mechanized Rifle Brigades and other already shattered rifle and tank units defended this area stubbornly.

These remaining strongholds were connected by the thin defensive lines of the 161st Rifle Regiment and 95th Rifle Division (241st Rifle Regiment) in the south, and the 37th Guards Rifle Division (118th Rifle Regiment) in the north.

In between these more or less cohesive units a number of soldiers from various shattered units were mixed: 42nd Rifle Brigade, 347th Rifle Regiment, 685th Rifle Regiment, 895th Rifle Division, 45th Rifle Division to name but a few.
The German 71., 76. , 79. , 94., 100. Jäger (Light), 305. and 389. Infanterie divisions who, supported by other major units (14., 16. and 24. Panzer divisions), had been assaulting the city for weeks. Supported by massive artillery, air and tank support, they were not able to sweep the stubborn and fearless fighting Soviet defenders into the Volga and thereby end the atrocious house-to-house fighting, which was taking a bloody toll on both sides.

The Germans especially were unable to start a last effort to take these few remaining strongholds, since most of their combat companies were so weakened. Many of them were down to about 50, some 30 or 40, rifle carrying soldiers. German commanders doubted if “these divisions should be used in such a manner at all”. The 14. and 24. Panzer divisions were particularly low in manpower. On 2 November at 1800 hours, Chief of Staff of 6th Army General Schmidt, reported that 79., 94. and 305. Infanterie divisions were no longer able to attack as whole cohesive units.

Some of these units were very low in strength, for example the 94. Infanteriedivision had a combat strength of only 535 men. The 6th Army ordered at this point to disband units, reduce the guns per battery to three, reduce the staff strengths, signal battalions and other support units to 10% of their manpower. Additionally Russian "Hilfswillige" (Hiwi or willing helper) should be increasingly employed in non-combat roles to free German personal for strengthening the decimated combat units.

Additionally as a last resort 10 battalions of Turkic soldiers from the Caucasus were to be sent to the Stalingrad area. This order from 6th Army high command was dated 6 November. All divisions would receive their Turkic battalions at the end of December.

II. First Steps, First Plans

Hitler agreed on 2 November to send additional pioneer battalions to Stalingrad. The Chief of the German Army General Staff, Zeitzler, made this proposal, and Hitler probably envisioned an assault attack with small storm-trooper units, much like the German tactics at the end of WWI.

But Zeitzler was not the initiator of this idea. On 1 November Oberst-General Freiherr von Richthofen, commander-in-chief of Luftflotte 4 (Air Army), operating mainly over Stalingrad, contacted General Jeschonnek in Berlin and made a proposal. Richthofen recognized that the ongoing bombardments and close support missions of the VIII Fliegerkorps were taking their toll on machines and men alike. During a conference earlier the same day with von Paulus and Schmidt, he complained, that his air support was not fully utilized by the infantry units of 6th Army. Since he was not rebutted by Paulus, Richthofen was convinced his point was right. From this grew a deep mistrust between Richthofen and Paulus, especially from the former's point of view.

Zeitzler spoke with Hitler on 2 November during the daily conference and the latter agreed. Another proposal, to send the 29. Motorized Infanteriedivision into the city, was denied.

After Oberst I.G. (Oberst in the generals staff) Werner of 6th Army heard this on the phone, he replied to the chief of staff of Army Group B that reinforcement with some pioneers will not end the fighting, since missing covering infantry was the problem.

Why pioneers and not a fresh infantry division? This question is very easily answered: The German pioneers were the masters of demolition, highly trained specialists in house-to-house fighting and the use of explosives. The regular Grenadier was not very versed in these areas and up to this point used tactics of bombardment-advance-close combat that led to horrible losses for the attacker. The Soviets in particular were the ruling masters of defence during this period of the war. Their ability to camouflage fortified positions, combined with an above average training in the use of the bayonet and excessive use of hand grenades, even at the risk of injuring their own comrades, allowed them time and time again to throw attackers back.

The Soviets, to some extent, had the psychological upper hand. The German Grenadiers did not have the same deep desire to repulse the fascist aggressors, further enhanced and cultivated by propaganda.

Together with the cruel handling of so-called deserters, cowards and fascist collaborators, by the NKVD, the normal Red Army soldier had but one choice: fight and maybe survive or don’t fight and die by the hands of the NKVD. Stalin’s well known order of “No step back” reminded them that their choices were very narrow.

The Pioneers on the other side had the special training in the above mentioned fields, which made them far better suited for taking the remaining, well fortified, positions from the brave Soviet defenders.

As for additional infantry divisions, there were none! The only probably possible infantry division, which would have been able to be transferred to the eastern front, the 334. Infanteriedivision, was just forming at Grafenwöhr, Germany. They were later transferred to Africa.

So General of Artillery von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, Commander of LI. Armeekorps proposed the following idea for the upcoming attack:

First attack to the Volga bank in the area of 295. Infanteriedivision, then attack out of the metallurgic factory to the south. Another proposal was to take the chemical factory “Lazur” itself (“if the Führer orders”). The later was approved by the 6th Army high command. On 3 November the 6th Army issued the order for LI. Armeekorps to first attack the northern part of “Lazur”“ on 10 or 11 November.

At first LI. Armeekorps considered attacking the factories and the Volga bank with groups “Seydel” and “Scheele” simultaneously, and gave out order no. 109, dating 7 November. However, since even the most optimistic commander could see that this was to be a suicide mission, the Chief of Staff of the 6th Army and Chief of Staff of LI. Armeekorps conferred and a new attack plan was proposed (7 November 1215 hours).

So order no. 109 was revoked and the new corps order no. 110, dating 8 November 0400 hours, was issued. In this new order the seizure of the factory halls and Volga bend in the area of group “Schwerin” was not even mentioned.
For that attack LI. Armeekorps had to regroup its forces. On 4 November they raised the group Schwerin, under the commander of 79. Infanteriedivision’s Major-General von Schwerin. It consisted of 79. Infanteriedivision and all infantry and infantry-like troops of 14. and 24. Panzer divisions. From the panzer divisions only the infantry, and comparable units like recon, Kradschützen (motorcycle infantry) and pioneers remained in the area. All other units were sent to the rear areas for regrouping and refitting. The artillery of these units was placed under command of artillery regiment 179. (Armeekorps order no. 105 dating 5 November).

III. The final plan

On 5 November General von Sodenstern contacted AOK 6 (6th Army command) and asked if an attack against the eastern area of the metallurgic factory and the gun factory could be started. After von Paulus conferred with Army Group B, and then with Hitler, he ordered that the proposal should be set into action. Planning for the attack was coordinated between LI. Armeekorps and 6th Army and von Seydlitz-Kurzbach issued on 8 November his order to attack, codenamed Operation Hubertus.

As the proliferation of confusing orders, and especially attack objectives, of the upcoming operation were changed and changed again, Army Group B contacted 6th Army on the evening of 6 November and informed them “that the Führer has decided, that the bridgeheads north of the gun factory and the metallurgic factory should be taken first”.

The attack plan was finalised as the following: The whole area from the Volga bank east of gun factory “Red October” to the fuel depot to south east of the brickyard will be attacked with all available forces simultaneously.

In detail:

The 305. Infanteriedivision, reinforced by the pioneers, along with the reinforced 389. Infanteriedivision would attack with a lightning blow on the left flank and reach the Volga bank.

The 71., 295. Infanterie and 100. Jäger divisions together with group Schwerin were to undertake prepared assault attacks to confuse the enemy about the true nature of the offensive. Strong forces of VIII Air Corps should support the attack. After that first act the Volga bank east of “Lazur” should be taken, and finally the chemical factory “Lazur” itself.

The question arose, who should plan and execute the crucial part of the operation, the pioneer attack in the north of this last offensive? After long discussions between von Paulus, von Seydlitz-Kurzbach and Oberst Herbert Selle, commander of pioneers of 6th Army, the later proposed (an up to this point quiet man during the planning) one of his Pioneer officers, “an expert in his field.”

The man proposed for the task was Major Josef Linden, a 38-year old professional officer from Essen, commander of army Pionier Bataillon 672. His unit was mentioned in the Wehrmachtsbericht (armed forces report) after their grand bridge operations over the Dnieper and the clearing of large mine fields in front of the Stalingrad fortress lines. At Kalatsch he was building up the pioneer training school of the 6th Army.

Linden received the order from Oberst Selle on the evening of 6 November to report the next day at 0900 at liaison point X for a special mission. He left Pionier Bataillon 672 behind and 14 hours later he reported with his staff personnel at this point X, the so called “ring-binder”, the command post of 305. Infanteriedivision in Stalingrad North. The division’s Chief of Staff Oberst Steinmetz informed him of the special mission. He was to clear the remaining Soviet bridgeheads on the western bank of the Volga river: the ordnance factory “Red Barricade”, metallurgic chemical factory “Lazur”, the “tennis racket” (the train yards), the “White house” (chemist’s shop) and the “Red House” (Commissar’s house).

For this difficult task he was assigned the following troops as an assault force:

Pionier Bataillon 50 (mot), Hauptmann Gast, from 22. Panzerdivision
Pionier Bataillon 162, Major Krüger, from 62. Infanteriedivision
Pionier Bataillon 294, Hauptmann Weimann, from 294. Infanteriedivision
Pionier Bataillon 305, Hauptmann Traub, from 305. Infanteriedivision
Pionier Bataillon 336, Hauptmann Lund, from 336. Infanteriedivision
Furthermore Pionier Bataillons 41 and 45 (the later under Hauptmann Drewitz) were also assigned to Oberst Linden from Pionier Regiment Stab 604 (pioneer regimental staff).

Additionally he was to command Pionier Bataillon 389 under Hauptmann Pfitzner, which had already been fighting for several weeks in this area.

Oberst Selle estimated a mere 6 to 8 days duration for this final operation.

So on paper this made up for an impressive eight pioneer battalions. Numerically major Linden should have about 4800 assault pioneers at his command.
But the following points give another picture entirely:

1) Pioneer Battalion 50 (mot) contributed only 2 companies since their 3rd (panzer pioneer company 140) remained, along with their half-tracks, with the rest of 22. Panzerdivision. The unit was dispatched to the LI. Armeekorps about 2 weeks before the scheduled attack for street fighting, so after serious combat this unit was not at full strength.
2) Pionier Bataillons 305 and 389 had been already fighting for weeks in Stalingrad and they were down to more or less company sized battlegroups.
3) Pionier Bataillons 41 and 45 had also already suffered causalities, since they took part, alongside Pionier Bataillon 295 in the forced Don crossing earlier in the campaign. The 3rd company of Pioneer Battalion 45 was especially under-strength. They participated in the earlier fighting for the grain elevator and southern railway station, so the 3rd company was held back. Both battalions were combined into one battlegroup under Hauptmann Sprenger, designated Pionier Bataillon Sprenger.
4) Pionier Bataillon 162 was drawn from their positions behind the Italian 8th Army. They were just scheduled for a rest and refit phase. The exact strength can’t be verified, but the unit must certainly be considered less than “fresh”, although the last weeks before their front were relatively quiet.
Therefore the only relatively “fresh” units were Pionier Bataillons 294 and 336, but they, together with Pionier Bataillon 162, were several hundred miles away. Pionier Bataillon 294 was behind the Don bend, Pionier Bataillon 162 with the Italian 8th Army and Pionier Bataillon 336 with XXIV Armeekorps with the 2nd Hungarian Army near Voronezh.

Although the exact strengths of the transferred units can’t be verified 100%, available sources are not very specific here, one seems to be quite correct: According to the diary of general Oberst von Richthofen the strength of the battalions were as following (officers/NCOs/ranks):

Pioneer Battalion 45 9/30/246
Pioneer Battalion 50 (mot) 10/44/405
Pioneer Battalion 162 7/31/281
Pioneer Battalion 294 4/29/275
Pioneer Battalion 336 8/38/336

So they totalled only 1753 men. None of these units were at full strength.
After the numbers became obvious, General Schmidt from 6th Army made a last plead to the Army Group on 3 November at 1100 hours demanding, in addition to the pioneers, that the infantry from 29. and 60. Motorised divisions be made available. He, like the rest of the commanding frontline officers, foresaw the problem of holding the newly gained ground with their depleted infantry units. Army Group B’s General von Sodenstern, denied this request since “it is not approved by the Führer”.

The greatest problem for bringing the units into Stalingrad, was the bad road situation, combined with the always scarce transport capacities.

After conferring with von Richthofen, major Linden was informed, that it would take about 3 days before this units would become available, because some of them had to be flown into the Stalingrad area to meet the time schedule for the attack. Again the train transportation capacity was so low, that only Pionier Bataillon 336 was considered to be sent to Stalingrad by train. After close examination of the available transport space, this unit also had to be flown in by air.

Additionally von Paulus, after realizing the lack of infantry support and conferring with General-Leutnant von Seydlitz-Kurzbach ordered, that 10 battle groups should be formed from the 71., 79., 94., 100. Jäger, 295., 305., 389. Infanterie and 14. and 24. Panzer divisions, to back up the assaulting pioneers and take up the newly gained positions.

These battle groups, as far as can be ascertained, were formed as follows:

1) 14. Panzerdivision: Parts of Panzer Regiment 36, the half-track battalion, and Panzer Artillery Regiment 4 were withdrawn to Kotelnikowo. All non-mobile panzers, vehicles and weapons were transferred there. The Panzergrenadier regiments were ordered to stay at Stalingrad, holding their positions and they contributed a roughly oversized battalion combat group. Besides that the 14. Panzerdivision was ordered to build up a panzer company and artillery battalion as a mobile reserve. This group was designated “Kampfgruppe Seydel”. They had (without staff and the heavy company) a personal strength of 11/60/507.

Weapon strength: 43 light MG, 13 heavy MG, 5 mortars, 9 light infantry guns, 3x 3.7cm anti tank guns, 6x 5cm anti tank gun, 5x 7.5cm anti tank guns, 6 Panzer III long , 1 Panzer IV short.

2) 24. Panzerdivision: On 11 November Panzergrenadier Regiment 26 formed an assault company under Oberleutnant Beyersdorff. Additionally Kradschützen battalion 4 (KB 4) was reinforced with companies 3, 4 and 5 of the armoured recon battalion (Panzeraufklärungsabtielung, PzAA 24). Their strength was 3(34)/23(197)/98(953). The numbers in parentheses are the required strength! 1st and 2nd companies (armoured cars and half-tracks) of KB 4 were withdrawn to the great Don bend. They were attached to the 389. Infanteriedivision.

3) 24. Panzerdivision also formed "Kampfgruppe Scheele" with a total strength of 23/122/640.

4) The Croatian 369. Grenadier Regiment received a newly arrived battalion (4 November) and was boosted up to the strength of a reinforced battalion. They numbered a full infantry battalion (the arriving reinforcements) plus the remnants of the original regiment: 1 infantry company with 98 men and 8 light MG, 1 heavy MG company (73 men and 11 heavy MG) and 1 anti-tank company with 20 men and 6 guns.

They were first attached to 212. Grenadier Regiment (79. ID, 6 November), then later to the 305. ID (11 November).

5) 79. Infanteriedivision withdrew its Pionier Bataillon 179 under Hauptmann Weltz and reinforced it with the following units: 1 heavy mortar detachment, 13./208., 13./212., 13./226. Grenadier Regiment (the light infantry gun companies of these regiments), 2 groups of Radfahrabteilung 179 (bicycle riders),1 platooon of 2cm Flak38 guns from 4./37., and 2 heavy infantry guns (sIG 33). On request they were allocated fire from I./Artillerie Regiment 179 (1st battalion artillery regiment 179). They were later to be attached to the 389. Infanteriedivision.
6) 79. Infanteriedivision also formed on 5 November, from its II Battalion, 212. Grenadier Regiment, Sturmkompanie 212. Strength: 3/28/146, weapons: 9 light MG, 2 heavy MG, 4 mortars, 2x 3.7cm Pak36 guns.

7) 79. Infanteriedivision also withdraws I./226. Grenadier Regiment out of the front line (6 November) and places it as reserve behind II./226. Grenadier Regiment. This enables them to form Sturmkompanie 226.

8) 94. Infanteriedivision withdrew parts of their 274. Grenadier Regiment along with Radfahrabteilung 194 (bicycle riders) and put it under command of Hauptmann Brendel. They were also attached to 389. Infanteriedivision.
9) Since 578. Grenadier Regiment (305. ID) was so badly mauled, its 2nd battalion for example only had 41 men left, Kampfgruppe 578 was formed, where all survivors of the regiment were concentrated. The commander was Hauptmann Rettenmaier. They were later reinforced with Pionier Bataillon 50 (mot).

10) The other regiments of 305. Infanteriedivision (576 and 577) also formed similar battlegroups, although they were reinforced with personnel from their service units.

Before Major Linden planned his attack he took a look at the upcoming battlefield. His illusions about the operation, if he ever had them, were blown away. Through the Scherenfernrohr (periscope binoculars) and binoculars he saw a giant field of debris. The area was littered with rubble heaps of blown up walls, levelled buildings, loosely formed roofs of hanging steel plates, gigantic bombshells, piles of semi-finished gun barrels, bent steel supports, destroyed machines and electrical devices.

Where the ground was not open, he could only see craters and earth ploughed up by explosions. All of this unnameable chaos was bristling with bunkers, fortifications and trenches. A truly shocking sight, a “snake pit”, for every troop commander who feels responsible for his men. Behind all of this the ground smoothly sloped to the Volga, where it stopped on the eastern bank of the river. This bank would later prove impenetrable and from above it gave the viewer the impression that it was cut with a giant sword.

After his recon tour major Linden spoke with von Seydlitz-Kurzbach. He outlined that an offensive with his pioneer battalions split between the different assault units would spell doom upon the attacking soldiers. He convinced his superior commander that the pioneers should attack one enemy position after the other. Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach then split the planned operation in to two stages, “Schwerin I” and “Schwerin II”.

He planned to let the Group Schwerin assault force attack, with the to be assigned pioneer battalions attacking from the north, on 13 November between metallurgic factory and ordnance factory. On 20 November the second attack was to take the ground from the fuel depot southeast to the “Red October” factory and simultaneously destroy the enemy in the Martin oven hall (no. 4) of “Red October”. For the second attack he held whole of group Schwerin in reserve and it was not initially to be committed for the opening phase of “Operation Hubertus”!

Soviets and preparations.

By Wolf Höpper

IV. The other side of the battlefield

How were Soviets placed? Vassilij Tschuikov was forced to move his army command post four times in seven weeks. Finally he took up a position in a tunnel system in the north behind the lines of 45th Rifle Division.

His Soviet units were not in much better shape than the Germans. His 95th Rife Division (Polkovnik Gorischny) was badly mauled, most of the remaining soldiers had to be assigned to neighbouring units, the 37th Guards Rifle Division (Polkovnik Schodulov) was disbanded and the survivors assigned to 118th Rifle Regiment of 138th Rifle Division (Polkovnik Ivan Iljitsch Ljudnikov). The later also received the rest of 308th Rifle Division (Polkovnik Gurtjev).
Another difficulty arose when the STAVKA (Soviet high command of Red Army) withdrew many batteries of the long-range artillery from the east side of the Volga to other parts of the front. This major defensive factor, which contributed so much to the “successful” defence of the last weeks, was weakened. Tschuikov also concluded that these movements, and the lessened barrages, would be recognised and utilised by the Germans to their advantage.
The most crucial difficulty for Tschuikov to overcome was that the shipment of supplies and reinforcements across the Volga, it had become more and more a battle of its own. Not only were the advancing Germans gaining further parts of the Volga bank daily, which enabled them to better coordinate their artillery and air attacks, but the weather itself turned against him. On 9 November the thermometer dropped to minus 18 degrees Celsius and the great river began to carry ice flows.

The shipping would have normally been stopped, but nonetheless the boat crews and sailors still undertook trips across the dangerous water and supplied the remaining defenders with the much needed food, ammunition and reinforcements. Later a German soldier recognized the sound of the colliding, cracking ice flows as spooky and doom spelling. The death knell was rung, but for whom?

On average Tschuikovs soldiers had about 30 rounds per rifle and only received 55 grams of dry bread per day. Sometimes not even these scarce food rations were available.

V. Before the Offensive

In the first nine days of November the Germans only undertook small, but nonetheless very vicious, local assaults. In one example the Germans attacked the main Volga crossing point and a company of the 347th Rifle Regiment, only consisting of nine soldiers, dug-in 200 meters before the Volga. When the Germans attacked, the Soviet commander, Leitenant Andrejev, collected his surviving men and counterattacked with sub-machine guns. They fought the Germans to a standstill allowing time for an arriving task force to help them hold the northern ferry point.

These small islands of resistance were proving time and time again a true fortress of impenetrable strong points. Nonetheless the Germans maintained these attacks to keep up the pressure and not to give the defenders rest.

Another major disadvantage for the Germans lay in their dwindling artillery ammunition from 31 October. The assault troops support and the night disrupting bombardments could not be sustained at the levels they were conducted the previous weeks. Worsening was the situation with hand grenades and mortar ammunition. Paulus complained to the Army Group about this and recommended that the operation should be postponed until 15 November. The Army Group headquarters, under General von Sodenstern, considered this “a total time catastrophe”. The time schedule was not changed.

During the whole of 8 and 9 November Major Linden and his command staff spent planning the attack based on his recon tour. Since the orders from the higher command were changed several times during the last days, he conferred with von Seydlitz-Kurzbach and came up with a final plan, which was, again after several phone calls (including with Hitler), approved. During one of these phone calls, von Seydlitz-Kurzbach also assigns Sturmgeschütz abteilungen 244 and 245 (Assault Gun Battalions) from 79. and 71. Infanterie divisions and an additional two pioneer companies from Pionier Bataillon 635 to the attack.

His plans were laid down as following:

Pionier battalions 294, 50 (mot), 305 and 336, backed up by several battle groups, are to attack on 2500 meters broad 305. Infanteriedivision sector towards the fuel depot and into the gun factory.

Pionier battalions 162 and 389, in the combat sector of 389. Infanteriedivision, were to attack directly towards the Volga bank. All other neighbouring units, along the whole front of LI Armeekorps, were to undertake supporting attacks in their sectors, so that no enemy reserves could be moved toward the northern sector.

These “mock attacks” were to be coordinated between LI Armeekorps and the responsible sector commanders seperatly.

Major Linden wanted the pioneers to blow holes into vital Soviet defence points, especially bunkers and fortified houses. The following battle groups would secure connecting screening lines to the attacking pioneers. He would then clear, with parts of both assault forces, the strong points and attack the next cornerstone until their goal, the Volga bank as a whole, was reached. Only specific, very dominating, points should be attacked directly, connecting front lines were to be bypassed.

Thereby he wanted to concentrate his scarce forces into narrow attack corridors to maximise the pioneers’ firepower. The bypassed units were to be constantly attacked by air, and the directly adjoining Soviet infantry units would be forced to mostly only defend their own lines. The result would be that small isolated pockets of resistance would remain, which could be mopped up bit by bit.

The attack of the pioneers would be initiated by a massive air/artillery strike, this short lightning-like barrage would then move 50 meters forward to enable the storm pioneers to get out of their cover and into the positions of the still pinned, demoralized and probably dislodged Soviet defenders. Direct air support would only be flown on special request of the assault pioneers and against strong point targets.

After all the preparations and troop shifting, both sides were ready for the final act of this drama on the Volga.

Part Three: Day by Day account.

VI. The operation – a day by day account

9 November:

Attacks in the sector of 79. ID – capture of the oil refinery

In the area of 79. Infanteriedivision the Soviets flew strong bomber sorties against the factory positions. In the same sector of 79. ID, between 0310 and 0420 hours, the Soviet 180th Guards Rifle Regiment undertook a number of weak recon thrusts against factory hall no. 2. All were repulsed. During the day the 138th Rifle Regiment attacked no less then 12 times against hall no. 10. The strength varied, but on average 200 men attacked each time. Most of them were repulsed in close combat.
Some local breaches into the hall itself were cleared with counterattacks. In the morning Sturmgeschützabteilung 244 was withdrawn from the division and sent north to the upcoming attack.

During the night heavy air raids accompanied by artillery bombardments hit the German lines of 79. ID. The 79. ID was suffering more than their neighbouring units under the constant bombardments, since it was covering the right flank of 24. Panzerdivision, which was guarding the vital Mamayev Kurgan hill preferred by German artillery and air observers for coordination on the shipping on the Volga.

Since the Germans here also threaten large parts of chemical factory “Lazur”, the Soviets constantly attacked their positions. German assault activities in this sector were also weakened for the upcoming attack. The Soviets saw a chance for a local counter-offensive, not realizing, that 79. ID and 24. PzD were withdrawing and regrouping their forces for the upcoming attack against the factory.

In the sector of 295. Infanterie/100. Jäger divisions, Pionier Bataillon 100 and 295, together with assault groups of their divisions, managed to capture the oil refinery and breakthrough the left flank of Soviet 284th Rifle Division to the Volga river. Otherwise only some houses were conquered and the attack comes to a standstill. Here the Germans have gained another foothold on the Volga bank, from where they intended to attack north to finally take “Lazur” and the “tennis racket” itself.

24. Panzerdivision finally managed to assemble the ordered assault company and sent it immediately to the 389. Infanteriedivision.

10 November:

The Soviets kept up their constant attack against 79. Infanteriedivision – Major Linden worried about infantry strength.

The 79. Infanteriedivision’s reported that during the night the Soviets again bombed their positions.

At 0730 hours the Soviets attacked with stronger force of 138th Rifle Regiment out of the fuel depot against hall no. 10 and penetrate the southern part. At 0845 hours this attack was halted, but resumed one hour later after reinforcements. Although 79. ID started an immediate counterattack, the penetration could not be cleared. The 79. ID simply lacked the reserves for a strong counterattack. The reserve battle groups were not committed because von Seydlitz-Kurzbach denied the request from the division’s commander to release them. He didn’t want the assault forces to be weakened. Since the Germans were not effectively counterattacking, the Soviet commander, Polkovnik Batjuk, threw more troops into the arena in six more attacks, each about 200 – 300 men strong, to further the initial success. None of the attacks gained substantial ground.

In the morning the Soviet 180th Guards Rifle Regiment attacked, with between 30 and 40 men, hall no. 7 three times and tried to increase their penetration into the hall, but the attacks were deflected. In the afternoon four more similar attacks were undertaken, but all of them were unsuccessful, the last after bloody close combat.

From 7 November the Soviet positions in the sector of 79. ID had been hit every day by fifty 21cm shells of I/Artillerie Regiment 733, to neutralize specific targets. This brought some relief and certainly disrupted Soviets plans, but they were still able to fortify their defences and bring in their scarce reserves.

The Martin oven hall (no. 4) was hit twice with very good results by German Stukas, each flight 15 planes strong.

The constant Soviet attacks in the sector of 79. ID certainly disrupted the German plans for an offensive here. Although the Soviet commander, Polkovnik Batjuk, was not aware of the German plans, he realised that his positions were vital for the survival of Stalingrad and taking of the important Mamayev Kurgan hill. He constantly sought to improve them so a counter-offensive in his sector could be started. Tschukov also saw a slim chance at this point and constantly shipped reserves into the area of 284th Rifle Division so they could keep up their efforts. Other sectors, like that of the 138th Rifle Division, suffered because these measures.

Major Linden was very concerned about the low attack strengths of some infantry units, he constantly contacted von Seydlitz-Kurzbach to demanded reinforcements. Even his observation, that too many highly trained specialists would be lost in the attack and be missed in the upcoming spring offensive, were swept aside and ignored.

11 November:

The Germans attack – chimneys of “Red Barrikady” are levelled – Slow progress by the attackers – chemist´s shop is captured – Attack against “Commissars House” fails – first breakthroughs to the Volga river – “Red October’ factory is attacked – Casualities for the Germans are running high

Shortly after midnight assault groups moved as quietly as possible into the machinery halls of “Red Barrikady”. The pioneers were burdened with satchel charges, explosives, machine gun belts, tons of hand grenades and additional pioneer equipment like large wire cutters, ignition boxes and flame-throwers. All were quiet and they knew exactly where to position themselves.
These hardened veterans had done this over and over before. Some of the hard nerved even smoked in anticipation of the soon to start bombardment. As Hauptmann Rettenmaier of 578. Grenadier Regiment remembers, they were confident that they would throw the Russians into the Volga. He commented to his troops that the Russians fight here harder than in other cities, they answer “We saw worse in Rostov and Voronezh!” Even Rettenmaier himself thought that this operation might just succeed.

Suddenly an explosion was heard from a neighbouring room. One of the pioneers had stepped on a Soviet land mine. He and 18 of his comrades had died before the operation was even underway. They didn’t have much time to think about what happened, it was 0330 hours and the German artillery had begun an immense, not seen for a long time, artillery barrage on the Soviet positions of 138th Rifle Division. All the artillery of LI Armeekorps fired on a thin line 3000 meters wide right before the pioneers’ eyes. The earth shook under the massive pounding of the German artillery fist.

The Soviets answered with a barrage of their own. General Voronov immediately ordered all available batteries on the eastern Volga bank to counter the bombardment.

For nearly two hours Germans and Soviets alike were held in their positions as the gods of war exchanged their wrath.

In the morning at 0630 hours, during the bombardment, von Richthofen’s Stukas managed to hit the chimneys of “Red Barrikady” directly and levelled them. This robs the Soviets of their superb artillery observation posts and some very good sniping positions.

The first aim of Pionier Bataillon 305, in front of Rettenmaier´s Kampfgruppe 578, was the White House, held by parts of 768th Rifle Regiment (138th Rifle Division). Pionier Bataillon 50 attacked the Red House, defended by 241st Rifle Regiment (95th Rifle Division).

The reinforced II Battalion/576. Grenadier Regiment, under Hauptmann Kemper of about 150 – 200 men strong, attacked the fortified positions of 650th Rifle Regiment (18th Rifle Division) in the left sector of the Red Barricades factory.

Although they were supported by Pionier Bataillon 294, they made slow progress. During the first day they only gained an average of 30 meters. They dearly paid for that ground with heavy casualties. The most vicious fighting was centred around hall no. 7. This large 700 x 100 metre multi-story building, and its neighbouring heating plant, were well fortified and stubbornly defended by the Russians.

Obviously the barrage had some effect on the Soviet defenders. The I and III/576. Grenadier Regiment, intended as flank covering forces for their II Battalion, manage to break through at the 161st Rifle Regiment (95th Rifle Division) and partially reached the Volga bank. They immediately tried to smoke the retreating Soviets out of their river bank dungeons, but the hand grenades rolled uselessly into the Volga. They had to stay and guard the exits, since at night the Soviets would pour out and counterattack.
The attack against the White House proved to be well planned and executed. At first the pioneers overcome the weak defences of the remaining Russians and gain good ground. It was not until they reached the area surrounding the chemist’s shop that the Soviet defenders scrapped-up some reserves, among them staff and signal’s personal from 37th Guards Rifle Division, and attacked the pioneers on their right flank. Suddenly the storm troopers had to seek cover. For many long minutes the situation was desperate, the Germans were under fire from two sides. The covering infantry, Kampfgruppe 578, was held back by still active and often lone Soviet soldiers (308th and 344th Rifle Divisions) fighting for their lives from hidden and changing positions.
The commander of 3rd platoon, Pionier Bataillon 305 drew up the following plan: The whole company fires on their two side threats and thereby covering a group of five men with a flamethrower. The remaining three groups set up heavy machine guns and fire at the window holes and known positions of the defenders to force them to take cover.

They could only manage to keep up this fire for seconds, the Soviet snipers were a real menace for the attackers and shot very precisely. The flamethrower crew rushed, with sub-machine guns blazing around them, to the main entrance of the big austere building, the only point of cover and out of the sight of the hated snipers.

They discover the entrance was blocked and they shouted back to their comrades and demanded a second hail of covering fire. One reckless pioneer ran back to the old positions for the shaped charges. After a few seconds, that seemed like minutes, he returned. The remaining pioneers waited in anticipation. There was a sharp explosion followed by minutes of silence. Suddenly there was a sound like a beast crying out its rage and agony. Black smoke came out of the building’s openings. The flamethrower moved room to room, floor to floor, spaying doom on the poor, hapless defenders.

Finally Kampfgruppe 578 arrived, and the combined two-side attack routed the Soviet snipers. When the Germans advanced and took the few surrendering, frightened and shocked Soviet prisoners, the building was already ablaze and started to crumble into debris.
Further advance towards the Volga bank was abandoned, since the Soviets, 768th Rifle Regiment and 42nd Rifle Brigabe had taken up positions and dug in only 200 meters from the Volga bank. After what they just experienced, they were still willing to defend to the last bullet and man.

Even the Germans were worn out and decided to regroup for the next day.

The attack of Pionier Bataillon 50 was less successful. They crawled more than they were advancing upright over the debris, cutting their way through remaining barbed wire towards the Soviets. They were not able to infiltrate the house itself, since here the Soviets had the building uniquely fortified. The ground floor didn’t have any entrances, all of them were walled up! Although the pioneers reached the house, they were unable to get in since the debris was not high enough to support them up to the second level. After several direct assaults the Germans retreated to safe positions and their intention to attack further was abandoned. Major Linden decides to regroup for the next day.

Pionier Bataillon 336 was able to take several blocks from 344th Rifle Division and 308th Rifle Division in their sector, but had to abandon the gains later, since they had totally run out of ammunition.

Pionier Bataillon 389, reinforced with Pionier Bataillon 162, attacked straight and partially reached the Volga bank. They were able to drive back 118th Rifle Regiment (37th Guards Rifle Division), but otherwise the southern aimed attack came to a standstill. Russian resistance proved too stiff.

At 0355 hours 79. ID attacked the Soviet positions of 120th Rifle Regiment and 117th Guards Rifle Regiment at the Martin oven hall (hall no. 4), in conjunction with their lefthand neighbours.

The plan: They assigned reinforced Pionier Bataillon 179 and Pionier Bataillon Sprenger (41st + 45th) for this task. Their first goal was the southeast side of this hall.

They attacked in the following order: right flank: Pionier Bataillon Sprenger, centre 1st and 3rd companies, left 2nd company. The southwestern hall wall was designated as dividing line for the responsible sectors. The northeastern hall wall was assigned as the dividing line between 3rd and 2nd company.

Artillery Regiment 179 and the assigned infantry guns shelled the nortwestern part of hall no. 4 for 5 minutes to hold down the defenders, after that the assault groups advanced quickly locating and fighting local nests of resistance. The artillery observers advanced with the leading assaulters to provide effective fire support on the spot.
The artillery spotters were assigned to Pionier Bataillon Sprenger, the observers for the light infantry guns with 1st and 3rd company, Pionier Bataillon 179.

2cm FlaK38 guns hold down snipers in the roof from their positions at the ladder house.

Croatian Regiment 369 was to conquer and secures the newly gained ground behind the assault groups. One company was held in reserve.

Assembly was to be completed at 03.00 hours under codename “Martin”.
But all did not go the plan:

Assault group 1 was not able to get out of its assembly positions. Groups 2 and 3 only advanced with heavy flamethrower support about 30m inside the hall. Group 4 advanced on the northern side of the hall, but had to retreat at dawn towards their starting positions due to heavy fire from the Soviet positions of the 120th Rifle Regiment. Groups 2 and 3 suffered heavy causalities, during their dangerous advance over the debris, rubble, old machinery and wrecked iron parts.

The Soviets employed a number of unique defensive measures. They reinforced positions with steel plates, so only small slits remain from where they fired their weapons. These fortifications were very difficult to spot and even harder to suppress and destroy. The attackers did manage to capture some badly wounded Soviet soldiers. After interrogating them the commander of Pionier Bataillon 179, Hauptmann Wenz, learnt that the Soviets themselves planned an attack inside the hall no. 4. The Germans had simply thrust with their assault groups into the assembling 112th and 120th Rifle Regiments.

At first no substantial breakthroughs were achieved, but after a redirection of the attack axis, both assault groups broke through on the right, northern, side of the “Red October” factory and reached the Volga bank. This, together with the successful thrust on the northern part by Grenadier Regiment 208 and Grenadier Regiment 226 against the Soviet 339th, 347th and 685th Rifle Regiments of 99th Rifle Division, established a cauldron in which about 2000 Soviet defenders of 95th and 99th Rifle Divisions were trapped.

This success was highly regarded by the German 6th Army and seen as the beginning of the end for Tschuikov’s forces.

Together with their neighbours, 79. ID, the 14. Panzerdivision ordered a local attack in the sector of Motorcycle battalion 64 (MB 64) south of bread factory no. 2, to reach the Volga in the sector of 241st Rifle Regiment. After a short bombardment from the division’s artillery at 0345 hours the Germans stormed forward and reached the river bank with one group. They were quickly cut off and counterattacked. A second volunteer group, assembled to relieve their comrades, attacked and broke the resistance of Soviet 241st and 161st Rifle Regiments, but was later also cut off. Both groups were annihilated by the Soviets, only one wounded man escaped and reported the fate of his comrades. The goal to reach the river and hold the positions here was not achieved.

After the reports of the causalities floated into the 305. Infanteriedivision’s headquarters, General Major Oppenländer contacted von Seydlitz-Kurzbach and demanded the attack be aborted. At this point the German assault forces had already suffered up to 30% casualties. Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach was not willing to do so and remarks “This is a Führerbefel!”, Oppenländer resigns from his post and is replaced by the Chief of Staff of the VIII Armeekorps, Oberst Steinmetz.
Major Linden listened to the battle reports of the different unit commanders and drew the following conclusions:

1. The pioneers were heavily burdened by their clumsy and awkward combat equipment. These street fighting specialists were thereby unable to carry enough ammunition for their infantry weapons to successfully keep up the fire-fight in the long term. They simply ran out of bullets.

2. The debris filled, many times bombed, ground proved to be very helpful for the defenders and often blocked line of sight.

This slowed the advance to a mere crawl for the next cover and prevented the coordinated attacks of the different assault groups.

3. The following infantry units were not able to provide ample fire support and it took them too long to clear isolated pockets of defenders.

He reported these points to von Seydlitz-Kurzbach and demanded immediate infantry reinforcements. But all he received was a sharp denial from his superior with the remark that nothing could be taken away from other divisions, since the Soviets were preparing for an offensive in the Romanian sectors. Nonetheless he reconsidered the ups and downs of the day and ordered that the full attack in all sectors should only be revitalised after a regrouping and it should be started on 13 November.

At about the same time the attack was started in the northern sector, between 0310 and 0420 hours the Soviet 138th and 180th Guards Rifle Regiment undertake minor attacks against hall 2 of “Red October”, in the area of 79. Infanteriedivision. These attacks were countered with close combat actions. Shortly thereafter they attacked in the same area of hall no. 10 twelve times with approximately 200 men each time. Some units managed to invade parts of hall 10, but were thrown out again by spontaneous local counterattacks. The old main line of resistance was re-established and several weak counterattacks with tank support were repulsed by the Germans.

In the evening the Soviet 95th Rifle Division undertook a counterattack southeast of the “Red October” factory, but raging German mortar and artillery fire immediately stopped this attempt in its tracks. The intention of Schtscherbakov was to hinder the Germans from taking troops from his sector and reinforcing their advancing flanks.

12 November:

79. Infanteriedivision is constantly shelled and attacked – The “Commissar’s House” or Red House is captured – minor advances by the Germans

During the night the Soviets flew aggressive sorties against the positions of 79. Infanteriedivision.

At 0500 hours the German artillery laid a firestorm on the Soviet positions for one and a half hours.

The Germans learnt from the mistakes of the previous day and equip Pionier Bataillon 50 with ladders. This battalion was moved into the former attack sector of Pionier Batailon 305. The later was moved towards 79. Infanteriedivision.
The attack from the previous day was resumed. The 2nd platoon, Pionier Bataillon 50, managed to get to the house walls and set up the ladders, while the infantry together with the remaining pioneers set up precise screening fire to hold down the defenders. The pioneers suffered horrible losses while climbing into the rooms, with hand grenades and flamethrowers in use, they defeated the Russians room by room fighting. When the situation became more and more hopeless for the defenders, they retreated to the first floor and finally into the cellar. The German attackers were not able to penetrate the cellar through the descending stairs, so they broke the wooden floor open with picks and threw fuel canisters, smoke grenades and explosives into the darkness below them. Thick smoke starts soon appeared, indicating, that intense fires were raging. This was too much for the defenders and they evacuated themselves through prepared escape tunnels to the positions of the 138th Rifle Division. The result was nonetheless a success for the Germans, they removed this strong point from the Soviet defensive line, which had dominated the Volga bank and connected areas for several hundred metres.

After a brief break, the Germans regrouped and called in another artillery bombardment for their next advance. They intended to clear some neighbouring housing blocks to secure their positions.

After they received their support, they assaulted a row of houses. At house no. 78, the attacked was halted by a Soviet machine-gun in a trench that had pinpointed the Germans’ positions. Leutnant Kretz of 578. Grenadier Regiment gathered some men, stormed forward, firing his sub-machine gun and took the enemy position.

The final act of the attack came from a Red Army soldier to his left, who fired his PPsH and downed Leutnant Kertz.
He was the last leutnant of 578. Grenadier Regiment to die on this day on the Volga. This loss shocks his men and nearly halted the whole attack, but they overcame their horror and took house no. 78. Shortly after they took up positions in the house itself, the sharp eyes and ears of one machine-gunner saved this newly gained position. From the second floor he noticed a strong Soviet force sneaking up to the house. He opened fire, which alerts the rest of the Germans, and with a counterattack they were able to hold the building.

After they received some fresh troops at 0950 hours, 305. Infanteriedivision gained control over all of the area east of the gun factory. The 389. Infanteriedivision reached the Volga bank on a 500 meter broad strip. The fuel tanks were taken and cleared by Pionier Bataillon 294 of all enemy resistance. During German attack, the 768th Rifle Regiment was split in two parts and it drove a deep wedge into the Soviet positions and divided 138th Rifle Division of Ljudnikov into two parts. One of his battalions only had a combat strength of 15 soldiers. The Soviets were partially driven back to within 70 metres of the Volga bank.

Ljudnikov decided to commit his last reserve battalion and threw them against the advancing Pionier Bataillon 294. This cleared the situation for the moment. Another platoon fought until only 4 men were left and ammunition was running out. One of these brave men was sent back, already wounded, to order fire on their own positions.

The 14. Panzerdivision and 79. Infanteriedivision resumed their attack from the previous day, this time together with Panzergrenadier Regiments 103 and 108, and gained the Volga bank. They were supported by Pionier Bataillon Sprenger and the usual heavy air/artillery barrage. The Soviet 241st Rifle Regiment was totally destroyed and the few survivors fought their way to neighbouring units.

The battle groups of 24. Panzerdivision repulsed a counterattack by 284th Rifle Division against the chemical factory “Lazur”.

The advance of Pionier Bataillon 162 and 389 (389. Infanteriedivision sector) ground to a standstill.

Only minor advances, often less than 20 metres against stubborn and unforgiving resistance by 138th Rifle Division and 37th Guards Rifle Division, forced the Germans to halt their offensive in this sector. The northernmost part of the offensive had failed after the first day.

During the morning the Soviet 138th Rifle Regiment undertook several hazardous attacks in the area of hall no. 10, but a vicious melee develops, by which the Germans repulsed the Soviets with the large-scale use of hand grenades. A similar attack at 1350 hours against hall no. 7 was also repulsed. The front line soldiers in this sector observed strong movements between hall no. 10 and the fuel depot. They reported this back to their division headquarter and where it was rightly concluded that the Soviets were moving reserves into the area. They immediately warned 305. Infanteriedivision of this new danger. Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, without knowing this fact, ordered the Panzer company of group Seydel (group Schwerin) to be withdrawn to the great Don bend to reunite with the parts of the 24. Panzerdivision.
At this point of the battle the situation was very serious for Tschuikov. His northern defensive strong point, the 138th Rifle Division under Polkovnik Ljudnikov, was split, severely thrown back and held only partial frontlines. Around “Red October” no gains were achieved and the connecting units between this two strong points were more and more reduced to thin, most often non-cohesive, improvised lines. A cohesive defence of the Volga bank was not guaranteed and the measures he was able to implement were less and less coordinated.

After this second day of bloody combat von Seydlitz-Kurzbach reported to the headquarters of 6th Army that the newly arriving infantry replacements, especially for 79. Infanteriedivision, were insufficiently trained and therefore suffer high casualties.
Part Four: 13 to 19 November (live 17 Dec)...


By Wolf Höpper

13 November:

Germans regroup – attacks partially stopped – in several sectors German successes – “Red October” finally cleared – 138th Rifle Division isolated - Situation for Tschuikovs troops worsens

During the night Major Linden ordered Pionier Bataillon 162 to be withdrawn from the 389. Infanteriedivision since their progress was not looking to be very successfully.

He attached them to the Kampfgruppe 578 (Grenadier Regiment 578 and Pionier Bataillon 50). He doesn’t change their objective although, they were to tighten their grip around the encircled Soviets and finally eliminate this strong pocket so as to free forces for the southern attack against “Lazur”.

The assault groups attacked again and broadened their hold on the Volga banks. Here the Germans supported the attack with assault guns from Sturmgeschützabteilung 244. Although most of the vehicles were knocked out, they reached their objectives. One objective was house no. 81. It was taken after heavy room to room fighting. The Soviet 344th Rifle Division, which was basically a battalion sized combat group, were forced to retreat. Pionier Bataillon 162 managed to split the bridgehead behind “Red Barrikady” and reached the Volga. Thereby elements of 308th, 344th and 45th Rifle Division were isolated.
Pionier Bataillon 336 attacked on the left side of the Pionier Bataillon 162, but was stopped at a road junction where the Soviets had set up cross-fire positions to control the whole area. A further advance seemed very unlikely at this point.

The supporting attacks were more successful. Pionier Bataillon Sprenger in conjuncture with Pionier Bataillon 305 and the assault forces of 79. Infanteriedivision cleared the rest of “Red October” factory and set up a connecting, but brittle frontline.
The Germans were now not more than 100 meters away from the Volga! At 0850 hours elements of 138th Rifle Division, 650th Rifle Regiment, undertook a strong counterattack out of the fuel depot against the assaulting Pioneers of 305. Infanteriedivision, but it was repulsed.

These successful attacks finally cut off any chance of the defenders receiving any supplies at all. Success was now dependent on holding the Volga bank strips, but the Soviets were far from surrendering. Where even small groups were still alive, they fought on, especially one group of Russians, 3 men under their commander Rolik, who drove the Germans crazy. They were not simply holding a position, but roamed their whole sector.

They undertook small guerrilla style actions, firing upon unwary Germans, cutting telephone wires and even cut off hand grenades on wire, which the Germans intend to direct into the command post of Tschuikov himself. Their example was spreading to the other defenders and evolved into an indicator for the whole battle itself. The Soviets believed as long as Rolik fights they can fight.

The Soviet commander, Polkovnik Ljudinkov, demanded heavy artillery support so his soldiers could re-establish a line of supply. The artillery answered his request, they laid a devastating, very precise barrage on the Germans.

Shortly thereafter, the Soviets attacked. They managed to destroy the Germans and only one badly wounded man returned to tell of the fate of his comrades. A second group of volunteers was also gunned down to three men. The German attempt to hold the sand bank was aborted, but only after the gained ground was totally mined.

In the sector of Kampfgruppe Scheele the Soviets, 39th Rifle Division and 284th Rifle Division, made weak recon attacks, which were again repulsed by hand grenade and close combat.

During the entire day in the southern sector of 79. Infanteriedivision disrupting heavy barrages by artillery and mortars were reported. The high point was reached around midnight.

At 1030 hours all regimental and group commanders met at the command post of 79. Infanteriedivision to confer about a possible attack in the sector of group Seydel to reach the Volga bank. Since the Soviets were again attacking halls no. 7 and no. 10 at 1100 hours, and the necessary forces were still with 305. Infanteriedivision, the attack was cancelled. At 2030 hours an order from LI Armeekorps arrived, which demands an attack for the next day between the debris heap and fuel depot to gain the Volga banks. The staff of Pionier Bataillon 179 was ordered to blow up the underground passages behind hall no. 7 for the next night.

At the end of the day Tschuikovs troops were divided into several distinct pockets and islands.
138th Rifle Division was totally isolated from its neighbouring units. They still defend parts of Barrikady and one 350m by 200m bridgehead in the north. Polkovnik Ljudnikov conferred with Tschuikov and desperately demanded reinforcements. The later promised to do so, but it was only lip service, since the ice flow on the Volga still prohibited all major traffic. The situation was so desperate, that the phones were not encrypted, but both participants didn’t state their names.

At the end of the day 305. Infanteriedivision could only report the capture of two house blocks. All major goals, the elimination of the cauldron and connection with the southern battle groups, were not achieved.

14 November:

“Red Barrikady” is finally captured – Tschuikovs command post under threat – Overall situation for the Soviets very precarious

The night remains quiet. The commander of 79. Infanterie-division met with the commander of Grenadier Regiment 517 (295. Infanteriedivision), and discussed a possible attack to reach the Volga bank on 17 November.

The regiment was so weak, that they could only muster one assault company with some heavy weapons, so the plan was aborted.

II Battalion/Grenadier Regiment 576 with pioneer support under Hauptmann Kemper finally took the remaining parts of the “Red Barrikady”. The most vicious fighting occurred in the underground tunnels of the factory. For about three days only the heavy use of flamethrowers, explosives and hand grenades finally secured the German victory. The Germans themselves lost about 60% of their assaulting forces in this sector. The 650th and southern part of the 768th Rifle Regiments (138th Rifle Division) were driven towards the Volga bank.

The message came as good news in the headquarters of LI Armeekorps. Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach was very pleased and believed from this point (until the catastrophic 19 November) that “his” pioneers would take Stalingrad.

Assault groups of 305. Infanteriedivision took two houses in the morning, but they were lost during the day.

Pionier Bataillon 294 defended their positions around the fuel depot against strong flank attacks from the 241st and 650th Rifle Regiments, their planned attack in this direction therefore had to be aborted.
In the sector of Pionier Bataillon 50 the attack was slow, but progressing. They were pressing forward in an eastern direction to further minimise the cauldron. They partially reached the Volga and the battle was on a knife edge. They, together with Pionier Bataillon 162, were right above Tschuikovs command post! On their left flank soldiers from the 45th Rifle Division were attacking the German pioneers with furious support from the Soviet artillery. The Germans tried once more to smoke out the Soviet defenders, and once again the hand grenades roll right into the Volga without doing any damage.

Tschuikov was aware of the situation and ordered all of his staff personnel to take up arms and repulse the aggressors. While reclining with his staff chief in his private rooms he proposed that staff chief and himself may have to clean their weapons. In the damp, wet and nearly dark room he awaited the Germans, but they never came.

The efforts of the desperate soldiers, staff officers, clerks and the rest of units fighting in front of the command post pushed the pioneers back and secureed a small 200m x 100m defensive zone before Tschuikov’s residence.
At about the same time units of the 305. Infanteriedivision noted Soviet difficulties shipping supplies to the centre sector of 138th Rifle Division. The Soviets began to use air lifts to provide supply.

Between the fuel depot and hall no. 10 troop movements and three tanks were observed at 1830 hours. The Soviet commander, Polkovnik Batjuk, was shifting some forces for an upcoming counterattack the following day. Grenadier Regiment 208 reported at 0400 hours that the moment of 40 men toward the Volga was observed from the Martin oven hall. An artillery barrages was ordered and the movement stopped. Shortly afterwards a up to this point unknown Soviet bunker was hit by a shell and explodes.

Kampfgruppe Scheele was attacked by 40-50 men, this attack was repulsed.

6th Army Chief of Staff, Schmidt phoned at 1145 hours the headquarters of 79. Infanteriedivision and ordered II Battalion/Panzerartillerie Regiment 4 and the observation battalion to withdraw. The division’s commander, von Schwerin, protested against it, he saw his chances for a successful attack against “Lazur” dwindle, but the order remained in place. The II Battalion/Grenadier Regiment 226 was badly mauled during the last days of counterattacks and it was considered for replacement with the Croatian Grenadier Regiment 369.

When the assault groups of 79. Infanteriedivision take up their positions around “Red October”, they faced the remnants of eight shattered Soviet divisions.

Right behind “Red Barrikady” the steamer “Spartakovets” arrived and 400 soldiers and 40 tons of supplies were delivered to Ljudnikov. On its hazardous return trip it evacuated 350 wounded.

East of the “Red Barrikady” two house blocks were captured by Pionier Bataillons 179 and Sprenger. An immediate Soviet counterattack by 150 men was bloodily repulsed.

Tschuikov contacted his front headquarters and complained that for three days he hadn’t received any supplies and was running out. What he did not mention was that despite the emergency he had 12 tons of chocolate on hand. According to the calculations of his supply officer, if they handed out ½ bar per day per man, they could hold out another two weeks.

The day remained, compared to the previous days, quiet, if smaller attacks were not taken into account. Major Linden carefully read the incoming reports and took telephone calls from the different front commanders.

The picture he was getting was not as happy as his superiors, especially von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, wanted it to be.

Although his pioneers reached several points of the Volga bank, encircled the main defensive forces and partially split Tschuikovs 62nd Army into isolated islands and pockets, he lacked the forces to eliminate the defenders altogether. The pioneers had to be used to cover their own flanks and the lately formed infantry assault companies were suffering high casualties holding ground against the constant Soviet counterattacks.

15 November:

Meagre reinforcements for the Germans – Soviets fly air lifts to support their isolated troops – desperate German attacks against 138th Rifle Division – Only small pockets held by the Soviets

The houses that were lost the previous day were recaptured.

The 79. ID received two march companies of returning wounded men from XII/79/4 and XII/79/5. Each company was 24 NCO´s and 159 soldiers strong. They were at once incorporated into the assault groups, since this division planned to attack the remaining positions for the next day.

At 0930 hours several weak attacks against the German held halls of 79. Infanteriedivision were repulsed. A strong Soviet group assembled in front of Kampfgruppe Scheele of about 80 men was destroyed by artillery. Another attack in the afternoon, 1530 hours, against hall 10 was repulsed by Kampfgruppe Scheele. One anti-tank gun, which was brought forward by the Soviets, received a direct hit from a light infantry gun (leIG18) and was destroyed.

Other Soviet attack efforts against hall 2, held by Grenadier Regiment 226, were also repulsed. German Grenadier Regiment 212 was withdrawn to the reserve and Croatian Regiment 369 took up their positions.

The Soviets continued to fly airlifts to supply the units of Ljudnikov’s split division. The strips and bridgeheads held by them were so narrow and close to the Germans some supplies land in the sector of 305. Infanteriedivision. The Germans opened them and only find meagre rations of greasy bacon and dry bread and wrongly concluded that the defenders must certainly be at their end.

Major Linden decided to undertake one last desperate attack against the 138th Rifle Division in the south of the “Red Barrikady”. He shifted his remaining forces again, drawing them partially from other divisions, like Pionier Bataillon 305, and set them up in front of the 138th Rifle Division. The combined attacks of Pioner Bataillon 50, 294, 305 and 336 fell upon the 768th and 650th Rifle Regiments. The Soviets fought for every inch, every trench and rubble pile, like they had done the previous days and weeks in their besieged city.

The attack gained minimum ground and proved too weak. Both sides were worn out. The final attack against the southern bridgehead of “Krasnaya Barrikady” was aborted, the German casualties were running too high. Major Linden considered aborting the operation in the northern sector altogether.

However, the position of Tschuikov’s 62nd Army was precarious:

The 62nd army was surrounded at three parts. Their resistance lines were thinning, the still heavy ice flow on the Volga prevented supply shipments on a large scale, and the air lifts can only provide scant food and ammunition supply for the brave and fearless soldiers.

124th Rifle Brigade (Polkovnik S.F. Korochow) held a small bridgehead in the north, two bridgeheads around Barrikady were held by 138th Rifle Division. The size of the largest was only 250m by 100m deep. The largest, but thinnest, was held by 14th Guards Rifle Division under General Rodimzev.

The broadest part was around Mamayev Kurgan, where 2000m of depth was held, but otherwise only a few hundred metres could be occupied.

Only the steep Volga bank was saving the Soviets. When the Germans broke through the Soviets retreated behind these banks, reformed and counterattacked. Even the German artillery was not able to hit these positions as their shells could not target accurately the thin beach strips. Into the bank itself, the Soviets drove deep tunnels where they could store supplies, let their men recuperate and assemble some reserves from stragglers and mauled units. They were able to form and reform shattered units for counterattacks and keep up a kind of cohesiveness for their hard hit Army.

16 November:

Conferences and complaints on the German side – local counter-attacks – minor successes for the Germans

The first snow falls in Stalingrad

Since this last offensive was taking more and more time, an angry von Richthofen phoned Zeitzler at the Führer’s headquarter and demanded either the necessary combat actions should be ordered or the attack altogether aborted. He more or less says that the commanding officer, General Oberst von Paulus, was the wrong man in this position. The underlying animosity against von Paulus was not unheard even by Zeitzler. The later spoke for von Paulus and put von Richthofen back in order with a sharp rebuke. Although on the difficulties of the offensive he agrees with von Richthofen.
In the sector of 305. Infanteriedivision at 2300 hours the Soviets fired from at least eight newly established machine-gun positions from the island in the Volga. Lights were seen about a kilometre further up the river, and the Germans realised that the Soviets were bringing in new reserves and supplies by steamer. The next night they moved a 7.5cm anti-tank gun to the steep bank and destroyed the boats. No further shipping efforts were made and this marked the end of any supplies for Ljudnikov’s 138th Rifle Division.

During the night Soviet airlifts dropped supplies over hall no. 4 in the sector of 79. ID. The II Battalion/Grenadier Regiment 208 was withdrawn and replaced by III Battalion/Grenadier Regiment 212. It was also intended that 79. ID should man the positions of 305. ID up to the fork balka. Hereby 305. ID should be able to free forces for another attack on 17 November.

Otherwise the Germans and Soviets alike stayed relatively quiet in their sectors. Only Kampfgruppe 577 attacked together with Pionier Bataillon 336 and captured two houses in the so-called 70-es row. At 1245 hours the 95th Rifle Division started an attack against Kampfgruppe 517. The combined artillery of III Bataillon/Artillerie Regiment 179 and the division’s own guns nearly halted that attack, but a local breach was achieved, which could not be cleared by the Germans.

After a brief, but intense artillery barrage, the assault company of 24. Panzerdivision, supported by Pionier Bataillon 389, finally broke through to the Volga. Their objectives were the bridgeheads of 37th Guards Rifle Division east and northeast of “Red Barrikady”. However, the rest of 389. Infanteriedivision did not follow up, since they were held down by flanking fire from 118th Rifle Regiment. A third of the company died and their commander, Beyersdorff, was badly wounded. Their objective, to split both bridgeheads was not achieved. The remaining combat worthy parts of 24. Panzerdivision were still in the “Lazur” factory area.

In the sector of group Seydel a flamethrower tank was destroyed by heavy infantry guns in what can be considered close combat. In this sector, the boundary between 305. ID and group Seydel was attacked by the 161st Rifle Regiment with about 350 to 400 men. They were repulsed and finally abort the attack, but only after heavy casualties were sustained by both sides.

At night, between 2000 and 2100 hours, the Soviets dropped supplies to the defenders in front of hall no. 4 of “Red October” by air.

17 November:

Germans fool Soviet pilots – changing orders – new plans

Freezing rain and blowing snow allowed only perhaps 50m of ground to be gained by the Germans in the sector of 79./305. Infanterie divisions. This resulted mainly from the very small scale of the actions against 95th Rifle Division. Even this division was finally at the end of its power. The Soviets started to retreat as no reinforcements were forth coming. When the news of such “retreats” reached Tschuikov, he became concerned about the morale of his troops, more so than he was the days and weeks before. He wondered if his soldiers’ morale will finally collapse.

Meanwhile the German soldiers of 305. Infanteriedivision started fires to confuse the Soviet pilots who flying supplies for their encircled comrades.
The Germans were aware that the nightly fires set up by their Russian counterparts were meant for the pilots to indicate their positions. They decided to trick the Soviet aircrews and “cut” the air lifts. It worked, instead of supplying their hard fighting ground soldiers, they drop the goods right into the hands of the Germans.

At this point a wireless order reached LI Armeekorps’ headquarters, Hitler demanded that at least the gun factory and “Lazur” should be taken. This was the direct order for von Seydlitz-Kurzbach that his planned “Operation Schwerin I” must be executed.

The moment seemed right, since the Soviets hadn’t started any attacks that day and their normally very active artillery was firing only sporadic disruptive fire. The German front line commanders noticed no substantial troop movement or any aggressive activity from their opponents.

After some necessary regrouping, both battle groups, Scheele and Seydel were put into readiness. The troops were ready, the planes loaded, but at 1900 hours LI Armeekorps was informed, by the commanding officer von Schwerin, that due to fog and strong snow falls, the attack could not be started. Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach postponed it for the next day. Otherwise the day stayed quiet for both sides.

18 November:

Changing tactics – last efforts – regroupings and final plans

After a short barrage, the Germans lacked artillery ammunition after days of fighting, groups Scheele and Seydel attacked. The encircle forces of 95th Rifle Division in the leather factory and eliminate all but 2 men. Otherwise the attack started to slow, the weak, but determined, Soviet defenders were able to pin the attackers by carefully placed machine-gun posts and mobile defence. Houses could no longer be defended as stubbornly as the days before, so the responsible commanders abandon them instead, retreated to safe positions and counterattacked the Germans’ exposed flanks.

Thereby they drew German forces from their newly gained objectives to fight the threat to their flank. The Soviets retreated again and attacked the weakened Germans to regain their old positions. These see-saw battles occurred mainly between forces of 20 to 30 men on each side. The German attacks were basically meant to gain better positions for their upcoming general attack against chemical factory “Lazur” and the tennis racket.

In the sector of 295. Infanteriedivision, I Battalion/Grenadier Regiment 517, raised a reinforced assault company and sent it to 305. Infanteriedivision. There it reinforced Kampfgruppe 578. Before 0400 hours the Germans were able to take house no. 83.

This attack was not as bloody for the Germans and they concluded rightfully that their opponents seemed to be almost spent.

Otherwise the whole sector of 305. Infanteriedivision stayed quiet. Ljudnikov’s defenders saw that the Germans were moving reinforcements forwards, drawn from rear area service units, to their front lines. When Ljudnikov received this information, he was absolutely and rightfully, sure that the Germans would renew their attacks the next day. His soldiers held a few hundred square metres and his division was down to a couple of hundred men. In front of their lines the bodies of 118th Rifle Regiment lay. They had thrown themselves against the assaulting pioneers to repulse them, but were gunned down. Their sacrifice saved the remaining defenders, only 6 out of 250 men survived. About an estimated 600 soldiers held the last hope for Stalingrad. Polkovnik Ljudnikow knew that the next day might be his last, but he was not willing to give up. After ordering all possible preparations for the next day, he retired to the quiet of his command post and contemplated the coming day.

19 November:

That night Stalingrad stayed quiet. Only sporadic artillery fire was exchanged. Both sides were weary and recuperate, like beasts in their lairs, knowing that one of them will be jumping out in the morning to rip the other to pieces.

The temperature dropped to –25 degrees Celsius, a freezing and bone chilling wind was blowing through the rubble of the city. Snow was only lightly falling, but the wind ran through the ruins like banshees howling. The ice flows on the Volga crashed against each other and again struck up their cracking, unholy sound of doom. The soldiers of both sides sat in their trenches, holes, or behind crumbling walls and waited, some with fear and some with anticipation, for the morning light.
Slowly the sun rose, the dimmed light seeped through the fog to create an unearthly twilight. Together with the sound of the wind, the rubble of Stalingrad created a scene like the forecourt of hell itself. The soldiers on both sides were filled with determination and the inextinguishable fire of will. Their nerves were stretched to the limit in anticipation of the upcoming fight for survival. Every soldier on each side knew that this day would decide their fate.

It was 06.00 hours in the morning and the Soviet men and women of Ljudnikov’s 138th Rifle Division gripped their weapons tightly, holding down their heads in anticipation of the expected artillery and air barrage. Many of them prayed that they would not die without taking the lives of one of the enemy.

Polkovnik Ivan Iljitsch Ljudnikov sat next to his staff comrades, his nerves calm and prepared. He peered through his binoculars observing the German positions, checking his maps again and again. He, like the other soldiers at the last positions in front of the Volga, waited. No word in the command post was spoken. They all waited for the inevitable to come.

Both sides waited for the gods of war to open the gates of hell. The minutes crawled by on the wristwatches of the German assault group leaders, without the usual roar of incoming artillery shells. The attack never came.

By 19 November the Soviets had launched Operation Uranus, which immediately brought Operation Hubertus to an end. The 6th Army’s focus switched to the situations developing on their flanks out side the city.

Note: For this special day only "sporadic attacks" are mentioned by several sources, but no specifics can be ascertained. No reference is found within the relevant German unit histories that they attacked the last positions of 138th Rifle Division, especially a grand all-out offensive is not mentioned. Besides some detailed information about the weather no other important references about the activities in Stalingrad, other than some unit regrouping within 79th ID, can be 100% ascertained. So this last day has to be more or less fictional, but it might have been like that.

Conclusions - Part five
By Wolf Höpper

Evaluation and Conclusions

Operation “Hubertus” was doomed to fail from the beginning. The following points explain.

1) The constant bombardment and artillery shelling created a battlefield in which the Soviet defenders largely held the advantage over the assaulting Germans.

The fields of rubble and craters were perfectly designed for defensive actions and could be improved with relatively little effort. This also provided ample hunting ground for the ever-present Soviet snipers. Like many surviving records and accounts of survivors indicate, they proved at points more devastating than the actual combat actions. Although it sounds theatrical, the role of the snipers therefore can’t be underestimated.

2) The Volga riverbanks proved over and over again impenetrable to the German attackers. The Russians dug tunnels into the banks like moles. This enabled them to move supplies, reserves and command staffs out of the reach of German artillery and air bombardment. The command structure of Tschuikovs 62nd Army stayed, considering the desperate situation, relatively intact. Most of the time he had a good overall view of the different situations. Even when telephone lines were cut, the banks enabled runners to move with relative safety from point to point.
3) The Germans lacked infantry support. Although before the final plans were drawn up the senior commanders, up to von Paulus himself, complained about inadequate infantry support for the assault pioneers. Often they advanced, fought down the main resistance only to lose their new positions because the Soviets counterattacked their overstretched and thinly held flanks.

4) The numbers of arriving German replacements was also very low. Mainly drawn from supply and rear area units, these nonetheless brave men lacked adequate infantry experience, and many of them hadn’t fired a weapon since their basic training. The unique problems of urban combat were absolutely alien to them.

Therefore they suffered high casualties. Their Soviet counterparts were often no better trained, but gained great experience during the previous fighting.

5) During the course of the operation von Seydlitz-Kurtzbach ordered large units of the attacking forces to be moved to other sectors, especially the panzers and artillery. Although panzers are not perfectly suited for urban warfare, they often brought relief to the hard fighting foot soldiers. The panzers from 24. Panzerdivision often stopped Russian attacks against their neighbouring units. His intention however cannot be misinterpreted or misjudged, since he read the reports about the developments on the 6th Army flanks and prepared for the likely Soviet counter-offensive. This only reinforces the lack of German reserves.
6) The operation was not executed according to the wider plan. The battle groups Seydel and von Scheele were mainly held back and didn’t attack to relieve pressure on the assaulting pioneers. Thereby the original intention, to stop the Soviets from retaking the lost ground, was not executed and enabled the Soviets to counterattack effectively and stop the attackers.

7) The assigned assault forces were too small and weak for the difficult task. Although at points substantial gains occurred and important bridgeheads were captured, the Germans simply lacked the necessary forces to finally annihilate their opponents and capture the city.

One final personal opinion:

The Germans were simply running out of time.

The duration of the German effort to take the city was too long and badly coordinated between the different higher commanders. When the Germans started to thrust into the city suburbs they changed their attack axis several times and objectives changed accordingly. The repeated shifting of several divisions, for example 24. Panzerdivision, prohibited the Germans in the early stages from taking the city relatively easily.

The Germans also didn’t coordinate the efforts of the single divisions correctly and individually they had to take their assigned parts of city. This bleed the divisions white and led later to great problems holding their lines and prevented them from assisting the assault pioneers accordingly.

Von Paulus seemed simply not the right commander for this task. Although he reported the high running casualty reports to his superiors, he didn’t make any substantial proposals for solving the Stalingrad “problem”. He simply manoeuvred units around, couldn’t decide on a final attack plan and therefore threw his soldiers uselessly into a bloody mill that rivals the senseless massacres of WWI by von Falkenhayn. When the daily objectives and the relevant division orders were examined it is astounding that large units like regiments were assigned to gain microscopic aims, such as single houses, factory halls and, considering the overall picture, similar unimportant objectives. On this point von Richthofen was probably right when he attacked von Paulus verbally. Von Paulus’s later hesitation and unwillingness to break out of the encirclement seem another indication for this.

The final and most important reason for the operations failure is probably far simpler. If the Russians hadn’t had started their famous relief operation, the Germans would probably have swept Tschuikov’s troops into the Volga on 19 November. The last attack never happened, so all thoughts from this point on are purely hypothetical.


After all German attacks had halted in Stalingrad Major Linden resigned from his command in this sector and was assigned to the construction pioneers. His responsibility until the German surrender was to keep roads free from the snow, to keep the runways of the airports clear for supply flights and maintain the efficiency of the overall infrastructure of 6th Army during the encirclement. He was captured at his command post in the “Jäger-Park” 30 January 1943.

After he returned from captivity he retired to a pensioners’ home in his hometown of Essen. He never overcame the grief of the senseless sacrifice from his men.

The remaining assault pioneers were combined into a battle group under Hauptmann Krüger, assigned to 305. Infanteriedivision and were amongst the last to surrender in the northern cauldron. Only 35 walked out on 2 February into an unknown future. One amongst the few returning home after long years of captivity was Eugen Rettenmair, the commander of battlegroup of Grenadier Regiment 578.
State of historical research at the point of writing

As I stated in my foreword, I am not a professional historian, so the following is based upon my own opinion, experienced through my own research.

At the time I wrote this article, it was very difficult at best to gather any information about “Operation Hubertus” at all. In most books, as I mentioned, the events are described sketchily at best. Only Manfred Kehrig in his unfortunately out-of-print book “Stalingrad, Analyse und Dokumentation einer Schlacht”, dedicates a whole chapter to the subject. He quotes only original transcripts and orders. Another great asset in this book are the highly detailed and accurate maps and orders of battle. For every military student this book must be considered the definite source about the whole Stalingrad campaign.

The historical interest in military nature of the battle of Stalingrad seems to mostly centred on either the early part, the combat actions in front of the city, or the events at and after the encirclement. The fighting in the city itself, and the specific actions, are most of the times neglected or, from a military historians point of view, only vaguely examined and pictured. For the subject of this article most general books can be ignored.
Even the publications from veteran organisations, mostly former members of the Stalingrad divisions, are unfortunately most of the time not too accurate. They cannot be blamed, since their intentions to write about their history are probably different. Nonetheless such literature is always recommended for some in-depth analyses.

As a basic staring point for researching the Stalingrad battle two classics are recommended: William Craig’s “Enemy at the Gates” and Antony Beevor’s “Stalingrad”. They give mostly general overviews of specific events, but nonetheless provide ample information, some parts in-depth.
Always a good source is the edited version of the German Army’s war diary. Here the decisions and measures that were taken by Hitler are detailed and it can definitely serve as a first hand account for the greater picture. It partially provides detailed information about the different service branches. This eight-volume monster reference covers basically the period from 1940 to the end of the war.

Very helpful for every student of military history concerning the German side is following Internet-Site: www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de. It is mainly based upon the multi-volume edition of Georg Tessin “Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmacht und Waffen SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1935”

Unfortunately I was not able to visit the German Bundesarchiv where there is certainly more original material, like orders, diaries, maps, sketches from commanding officers and the like. Another source for WWII subjects are the Russian archives. Certainly the Russian archives, especially the one at Volgograd itself, still contain vital, and up to this point mostly unexplored, information.

The Russian point of historical examination cannot be ascertained, since not many Russian historical works have been translated so far. Many sources, like “Battle for Stalingrad” (The 1943 Soviet General Staff Study) edited by Louis Rotundo, seem too exaggerate and give mostly wrong information concerning the involved combat strengths and casualties. Modern historical research might differ nowadays, but were not available to me.

A single book, which features and analyses the operation as the only subject, could not be found.
Disclaimer & References

The author is not a graduate historian. This article doesn’t lay claim to be the final examination nor the final historical analysis of the Operation Hubertus. The author wrote this article as correctly as possible without bending historical accuracy or changing events, times or other relevant parts. It was intended as a try to provide the eager military student and every-day reader alike with a detailed telling of the events in the subject period and analise it from a mostly military point of view.

All facts, as far as they can be ascertained by more than one independant source, were taken from books written in German and German written web-pages. So any mistakes which might occur through misinterpretation, wrong translation, wrong counter-checking the different sources, or other circumstances, are the author’s alone.

Wolf Höpper,
Neu-Ulm, Gemany

References (in alphabetical order)


Beevor, Antony "Stalingrad"
paperback edition
Goldmann Verlag, München, Germany 2001
Original by Viking, London 1998
ISBN 3-442-15101-5

Carell, Paul "Unternehmen Barbarossa - Der Marsch nach Russland"
Verlag Ullstein GmbH, Frankfurt am Main, Germany 1963

Craig, William "Die Schlacht von Stalingrad"
Verlag Kurt Desch, München Germany 1974
ISBN 3-420-04692-8
Original: "Enemy at the Gates"
Harper & Row Publishers, 1973

Hauck, Friedrich Wilhelm "Eine deutsche Division in Russland und Italien,
305. Infanteriedivision 1941- 1945"
Podzun – Verlag, 6364 Dorheim/H., Germany 1975
ISBN 3-7909-0031-1

Haupt, Werner "Die deutschen Infanterie-Divisionen"
Band 2
Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, Markt 9, 6360 Friedberg 3, Germany 1992
ISBN 3-7909-0445-7

Band 3
Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, Markt 9, 61169 Friedberg, 1993
ISBN 3-7909-0476-7

Kehrig, Manfred "Stalingrad. Analyse und Dokumentation einer Schlacht"
3. Auflage Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1979
(Beiträge zur Militär- und Kriegsgeschichte Bd. 15)
ISBN 3-421-01653-4

Kurowski, Franz "Stalingrad. Die Schlacht, die Hitlers Mythos zerstörte"
Bastei-Lübbe-Taschenbuch, Band 65099, Lübbe Verlag GmbH, 1992
ISBN 3-404-65099-9

Manitz, Hans Horst "Erinnerungsbuch 94. ID 1939-1945, Einsatz in Rußland
1941 bis Anfang 1943" published by Kameradschaftsverband 94. Infanterie Division
(veteran association), Germany 1985

Piekalkiewicz, Janusz "Stalingrad, Anatomie einer Schlacht" Lizenzausgabe für Bertelsmann Club GmbH, Gütersloh Germany
Buch Nr. 0400 5
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Riebenstahl, Horst "Die deutschen Pioniere im Einsatz 1939-1945"
Edition Dörfler, licensed edition
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Sänger, Hans „Die 79. Infanterie Division“
Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, Markt 9, 6360 Friedberg 3 Gemany, no year
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Schlager, Ferdinand "Pioniere in Stalingrad ’Mit ganz kleinen Stoßtrupps’"
in Sonderheft der II. Weltkrieg
Jahr-Verlag KG, Burchardstr. 14, 2000 Hamburg 1 Germany
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Schramm, Percy E. (Publisher) "Kriegstagebuch des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht
1942" (partial volume 1942, part 2)
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Bernard & Graefe Verlag, Bonn Gemany no year
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Schulz, Hubertus "Die Aufklärer (Rf. 1, K4, PzAA 24) der 1 Kavallerie-Division/24.
Ernst J. Dohany Verlag, Groß Umstadt Germany 1993
ISBN 3-924434-07-7

Selle, Herbert "Die Tragödie von Stalingrad", Hannover 1948

Dr. F. M. von Senger und Etterlin jr. "Die 24. Panzer-Division 1939 – 1945"
Edition Dörfler, licensed edition
Nebel Verlag, Eggolsheim, Germany no year

Stoves, Rolf "Die gepanzerten und motorisierten deutschen Grossverbände 1935 –
Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, Kohlhäuser Str. 8, 61200 Wölfersheim-Berstedt Germany
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Tessin, Georg "Verbände und Truppen der deutschen Wehrmach und
Waffen SS im zweiten Weltkrieg 1939 – 1945"

Band 5
Verlag E.S. Mittler & Sohn GmbH, Frankfurt am Main, Germany 1972

Band 6
Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück, Gemany 1972
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Band 9
Biblio Verlag, Osnabrück, Germany 1974
ISBN 3-7648-0872-1

Band 10
Biblio Vrelag, Osnabrück, Gemany 1975
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