The surrender of the 6th Army Staff at Stalingrad.




By Oberst Gunther Ludwig.

Commander 4th Panzer Artillery Regiment.

Last commander of the 14. Panzer Division.

During the final days of January 1943, I lay on the western edge of Red Square with the 
remnant of 14th Panzer Division. According to an order by Army, the division had been 
'disbanded', the few remaining combat-worthy formations assigned to other units. 
With this measure, however, about 2,000 wounded and missing had become homeless and,
more importantly, deprived of sustenance by the stroke of a pen. There was no legal way
for them to obtain any more food. I had collected these men at Red Square in order to 
organise their supply (incidentally, I was not able to have these men that had been
'written-off put back into the normal chain of supply!) and to put together new combat 
teams as far as this was possible.

On 30 January the defence in the Tsaritsa sector had broken down and the Russian front 
line was approaching Red Square from the south. By the afternoon, only the width of a 
single street still separated it from the square. I was occupying the row of ruins that bordered
on Red Square on the south with a minimal force. The command post of Commander-in-
Chief Paulus was about 100 m to the rear in the so-called 'department store'.

In this situation I received the assignment from the Chief of Staff of Sixth Army, General 
Schmidt, 'under all circumstances to prevent the Russians from entering Red Square and 
from taking out the Commander-in-Chief in his command post during the night.'

The spearheads of the Russian 69th and 29th Divisions stood on the southern edge of the
square. I had about 50 men available who were still barely able to lift a rifle. The assignment 
was impossible. General Schmidt would not listen to my objections. The assignment remained 
in force.

My command post was in the corner building on the south-west corner of the square. 
This ruin was the key to the defence of the square. Across from me on the other side of the 
square was the theatre, held by Russian forces and full of hundreds of wounded. At 18.00 
hours German time, three Russian tanks moved to the front of my command post. Even
though they were only 5 meters away, we were helpless against them, because the only 
defence we had were rifles and pistols. At the same time I was called upon by name from 
the theatre to evacuate my corner building within 10 minutes, otherwise the tanks would
open fire.

Evacuation was irreconcilable with my assignment. Should the tanks open fire, this would 
mean the deaths of uncounted wounded who would be buried in the cellars. The only way 
out I could see lay in negotiating. I gave my adjutant the job of establishing contact with the
occupants of the theatre under a flag of truce. This was successful but he was sent back
with the directive that I would have to present my wishes in person.

In the meantime twilight had fallen. Accompanied by my adjutant and orderly, I went across 
to the Russian side and was taken to the command post of a battalion commander of 
29th Division. Having been received correctly and pleasantly, I made the request to refrain 
from having the tanks open fire in the interest of the many wounded. The commander 
said that he was not authorised to take such a decision and offered to have me speak
to his divisional commander by radio. The connection was made and I made my request.
I was answered in German with deliberate politeness, but was immediately offered terms 
of surrender. I replied that I had not come to discuss surrender but only wished to clear up 
a local situation. At this point the radio link broke down and could not be re-established. 
With regard to my assignment, I now agreed a truce with the local Russian commander 
until daylight at 04.00 hours next morning. That was the only way to prevent a hopeless 
fight around Paulus' command post. After this agreement was reached, I went back to my
command post.

Shortly thereafter, an officer with a steel helmet and heavily armed with rifle and
hand-grenades, which we no longer had, appeared and said that he had been ordered by
General Schmidt to conduct me to Army. A pregnant exchange of glances with my adjutant 
confirmed that nobody was in doubt about the reason for this. I went on ahead. However, 
I only needed a few quick steps to lose my escort in the darkness of the field of ruins with 
which I was familiar. I wanted to account for my action before my own conscience and then 
take the necessary decision.

In an unbelievable contrast to the noise of the last few days and nights, a deep silence lay 
over Red Square. Through the deep snow I again walked around my 'position' on the southern 
edge of the square. A few of our sentries lurked in the shadows of the ruins. They had been
without a warming fire, with out food, without heavy weapons for days. They were not 
capable of withstanding a further attack and had not been so for days.

My negotiations with the Russian side had to have been right. With a clear consciences I 
went to Army, prepared to accept any responsibility.

Here I was received by General Schmidt in the company of General Roske. 'You have
been in radio contact with the Russians. Are you aware that this is strictly forbidden?', was 
the greeting. In a few short words I described the situation and the reasons for my decision.
Without interrupting me, Schmidt listened to my report with a stony face, while Roske stood 
to one side. When I mentioned that a negotiator had called me from the theatre, I was 
suddenly and spontaneously interrupted under wild swinging of arms by the words, 'Nego-
tiators come to you, why do none come to us!' It sounded like a cry for help. I was 
speechless, completely stunned. My answer was, If that is all that this is about, General, 
I guarantee you that a flag of truce will come to this house at 08.00 hours tomorrow.'
'Agreed!' General Schmidt was a different man. Excited, almost happy, he agreed with my
decision that my officers and men would go into captivity and that I would arrange for a senior
Russian officer to come to the 'department store'.

Seconds later I found myself alone and shaking my head in the badly lit cellar of Paulus' 
command post. So that was to be the end of a 'fight to the last bullet', that Mr. Schmidt had 
constantly been on about! Deeply depressed, but also with a view to the future, I slowly 
walked across Red Square to rejoin my comrades.
Next morning, as discussed, the tragedy of Stalingrad came to an end.

The Univermag store were Generalfeldmarschall Friedrich Paulus surrendered to the Russians.

Source : Stalingrad Memories aad Reassessments - Joachim Wieder and Heinrich Graf
von Einsiedel (Hrsg)