Oberst Gunther Ludwig.
4th Panzer Artillery Regiment.
commander of the 14. Panzer Division.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
The Univermag store were Generalfeldmarschall Friedrich Paulus
surrendered to the Russians.
Source : Stalingrad Memories aad
Reassessments - Joachim Wieder and Heinrich Graf
von Einsiedel (Hrsg)