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On This Day



On This Day… The Battle Of Stalingrad

Written by: George Chittenden : 28 May 2019

It was on this day, 23rd August, back in 1942 when the German Luftwaffe began a systematic block by block destruction of the Soviet city of Stalingrad that lasted for five days and created a firestorm that turned the city into a landscape of rubble and burnt out ruins. The battle for control of the city was the largest confrontation between the Soviet Union and Germany during World War II.

The Soviets had resisted evacuating civilians from the city as it was a centre for war production, which is why some estimates of the death toll in Stalingrad are so high. In truth we’ll never know for sure how many people died during the bombing raid. The sad reality though, is that the bombing raid failed to really have much of an effect and in several ways actually hindered the Germans. Firstly, it made the advance of the Panzers more difficult due to the rubble blocking their paths, and secondly the rubble provided cover for the defending forces.

An account of the raid from a soldier serving in the city, Nikolai Razuvayev, tells of how suddenly, a voice boomed out of a loud-speaker: ‘Attention, citizens – air-raid warning!’

The people thronging the market and walking along the streets looked up anxiously, but didn’t particularly hurry to get to the shelters, as they were already used to such alarms. Two or three minutes later, anti-aircraft guns opened up, and five minutes after that thousands of bombs started dropping on the city. After ten minutes the sun was blocked out; everything was covered in smoke and dust. The ground beneath his feet was shaking. There was a continuous roaring on all sides, and fragments of bombs and broken stone were falling from the sky. Lest we forget.

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