History 19/01/20 Operation “Winter storm”: how Hitler tried to save the army in Stalingrad

After the German 6th army was surrounded at Stalingrad, it was expected that the leadership of the Wehrmacht will seek her release. About this operation was always referred to in historical literature as a major success of the red Army, who managed to stop the German troops. The General public, these events represented in the novel by Yuri Bondarev “Hot snow” and its eponymous film adaptation. In the Soviet version of these events was as follows. Created by the Wehrmacht army group “don” under the command of field Marshal Manstein. The red Army’s stubborn defense stopped the German 4th Panzer army and then went on the offensive.

these Events are set out is not entirely true, especially when you consider that the novel and the film, not based on real events. Already published enough documents of that time, memoirs of participants, such as E. Manstein “Lost victories”, J. Wieder “Catastrophe on the Volga”, G. Derr “Campaign to Stalingrad”. Appeared serious modern research — for example, “battle of Stalingrad” A. Panin. Thanks to numerous sources today, the picture could be more correct.

the Group of armies “don” consisted mainly of mulabandhasana parts, have suffered losses in the fighting. To enhance the troops were moved from Europe and the neighboring parts of the front, primarily from the Caucasus. But Europe was far away, and troops from other sections of the Eastern front was as much battered. For applying deblocking strike, dubbed “Winter storm”, it was planned to create two groups. One is the 48-th tank corps operational group “Hollidt” in the 11th and 22nd Panzer divisions. In addition, the composition of the body was to include two avipreview division, which is combat-ready compounds, it was not, and the 3rd gornopehotnoy divISE that never managed to arrive. Both Panzer divisions had hundreds of tanks, of which more than half — Czechoslovakian light (at the time of the occurrence of opposing the Soviet 5th shock army had 252 healthy tank). The result is the 48th case had only to divert part of the forces of the Soviet troops.

unlocking the Main blow was to strike the 57th Panzer corps, 4th Panzer army, consisting of 6th, 17th and 23rd Panzer divisions. 6-I arrived from France, had in its composition 150 linear and 9 command tanks and was the main striking force of the entire operation. 23-I was transferred from the Caucasus and clashed directly “from wheels”. While she waited, had to postpone the transaction. The 17th division came later.

Opposing the Soviet troops in the defense were not taken and were scattered over a considerable territory. In addition, the result of the previous occurrence of the units were badly mauled in the fighting, in the 51st army was only 77 operational tanks.

First strike, 12 Dec 57 German housing scattered part of the Soviet advanced 302 th infantry division, then within five days the battles were counter-manoeuvre, with varying success. On the Soviet side was tightened all the moving reserves: 13th armored and 4th mechanized corps, 254 Panzer and 235-I tankovskaya brigade, 234th tank regiment — only about 250 tanks. Only one battle with the Soviet tocoordinate brigade of the German 6th Panzer division had lost fifty tanks, third part. In battle took active part aircraft of the 8th air army, total allocated to 60 fighters and 30 ground attack aircraft Il-2.

on 17 December the Germans came the 17th Panzer division, which had 57 linear and 3 command tank, all light. This allowed the Germans to continue the offensive and heavy fighting on 20 December, the 57th Panzer corps reached the river Myshkova. To the line of defence of the 6th army remained at 35 km the original plan at this moment the troops of the 6th army of Paulus had to put a counter-attack from Stalingrad.

In the 6th army had to do this about a hundred tanks and assault guns, scattered in different parts of the front. To provide them with fuel was about thirty kilometers, but along the way, not taking into account the fact that they will break with the battle. In addition, was not fully understood the situation with a breakthrough. Hitler objected to the deblocking impact of the 6th army, but demanded to hold Stalingrad at any cost. It’s one thing to break through the corridor and withdraw through it surrounded by troops, and quite another — to hold the corridor for a constant supply of troops. The latter requires a lot of energy.

But these forces had surrounded the 6th army. As for the 57th corps, which was at the turn of the river Myshkova, in the 6th Panzer division on the move had 21 tank, 17th tank is 19, the 23rd, they are no longer there. In the infantry companies remained at 40-60. And on the opposite Bank of the unfolding of the Soviet 2nd guards army which, in addition to infantry divisions, was of the 2nd guards mechanized and 7th tank corps.

To December 24 the division of 57th corps held positions on the river Myshkova, waiting for the final decision. December 23, in connection with the beginning of the Soviet operation Saturn, the command of the 57th corps was ordered to redeploy the 6th Panzer division in the area of the lower reaches of the river Chir. In the remaining two divisions had not the strength even to hold a defence against the troops of the red Army. The operation to release surrounded in Stalingrad, the Wehrmacht ended.

Cyril Shishkin

© Russian Seven

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