FIRST ATTACHMENTS AS A PRELUDE TO A TRAGEDY
By the summer of 1941, there were more than 51 thousand houses in Stalingrad. But only 2070 of them were stone, including several dozen multi-story buildings, and approximately 87%, or the main housing stock, were single-story or two-story wooden buildings. By August, 550 thousand people lived in them (including 25 thousand evacuated population). It was the second city after the Gorky (now Nizhny Novgorod) on the great Russian river (for comparison: 105 thousand lived in Ulyanovsk, a little more than 400 thousand lived in Kuibyshev, now Samara, 350 thousand in Voronezh, and not more than 250 thousand, in Gorky - about 670 thousand people). The largest enterprises were the Stalingrad Tractor Plant (STZ), which launched production and repair before the war tanks The T-34, as well as the Barricades cannon factory, the Krasny Oktyabr metallurgical plant, the Stalingrad State District Power Plant (SDPP), a shipyard, and a timber depot — many thousands of citizens worked for them.
In June 1941, the city on the lower Volga was located from the western border of the USSR at a distance of 2000 km, from the south - at 1500 km. With the onset of Hitler’s aggression, it seemed to the Soviet authorities, and indeed to many people, that it was a deep rear of the country, and no one could even imagine that the Germans could once reach the great Russian river. But soon after the start of the war, it became clear that the country had been waiting for much more severe trials than it had been thought before the war.
Recall. 3 July on the radio to the Soviet people as "brothers and sisters" addressed Joseph Stalin, denoting the situation as very critical, saying that it was "about the life and death of the Soviet state, about being free to the peoples of the Soviet Union or enslaving ". In the summer and autumn, the Red Army suffered severe defeats and suffered enormous territorial, material and human losses. The counterattack near Moscow in the winter of 1941 / 42 allowed the enemy’s strike force to be defeated, played a very important role, encouraged, even contributed to some euphoria of power (Stalin set out to drive the enemy westward almost all along the front), but in the spring and summer of 1942 the army of the aggressor objectively was still much stronger than ours. And the Wehrmacht troops, having recovered from the defeat near Moscow, moved to the Volga with the aim to seize the Caucasian oil fields.
In connection with the approach of the front line to Stalingrad, it was necessary to take care of the defense against the air attack of the Luftwaffe. Important events took place in the autumn of 1941, when the Soviet command carried out the first organizational measures to strengthen the air defense and local air defense of the Volga region. In Stalingrad, the preparation of shelters, shelters and slots with a capacity of 220 thousand inhabitants began.
October 23 1941 in Stalingrad, as well as in many other regional and regional centers of the USSR, in pursuance of the relevant decree of the central government, issued the day before, the Stalingrad City Defense Committee (SGKO) was formed, headed by the Party Regional Committee Aleksey Chuyanov. The emergency body created at that time made a resolution before its abolition in September 1945 of the year 621, and the very first decisions were aimed at identifying mobilization reserves, strengthening the MPO, urgent construction of all planned shelters and shelters, and an increase in military output.
Circumstances forced us to hurry up in preparation for the upcoming battles — enemy aircraft began to appear over the area. 1 November 1941, a Heinkel link, broke into Stalingrad at the height of the day and dropped 6 aerial bombs without interference - three houses collapsed. Due to the unexpectedness and complete unavailability of the city for the raid, the losses were significant, shocked both the SPCC members and the residents of Stalingrad: 106 civilians were injured, of whom 36 died.
A few days later, a huge settlement was announced by the Council of People’s Commissars of the RSFSR a point of air defense. The hasty formation of the Stalingrad air defense brigade region began from what was available in the Stalingrad military district. At the beginning of winter, the district was reorganized into the Stalingrad divisional. The compound was headed by Colonel Efim Rainin, who remained in this post for the entire period of heroic defense. It was under his leadership 26 April 1942, the area was reformed into the Stalingrad corps air defense district.
The last transformation was preceded by the first group bombing raid of the Luftwaffe, which took place on the night of 23 April. It was attended by 25-30 enemy aircraft, of which no more than 3-5 aircraft managed to break through to the target. Inside the perimeter of the STZ, 30 high-explosive aviation bombs (FAB). 6 houses were destroyed and 4 houses burned down. 14 civilians were killed and 70 injured. But this was only a prelude to what happened in Stalingrad a few months later.
CITY OF THE Wounded And Refugees
The beginning of July, 1942, was marked by emergency measures related to bringing the forces and means of anti-aircraft defense to full combat readiness. SGKO adopted a decree "On measures to strengthen the fire protection of the city of Stalingrad." The document required not only to bring into full combat readiness all parts of the local air defense system, the organization of self-defense groups, but also to take urgent measures to create fire reservoirs, improve access roads to the Volga, especially in areas with chaotic construction, bring the entire water supply network in good condition ... Alas of the planned events they did not have time to realize before the start of the massive raids of Hitler’s aviation.
It was also clear from the results of German air attacks last year that, in the absence of vigorous opposition from air defense forces, Luftwaffe planes can bring enormous disasters, in other cases contribute to panic and confusion in the rear, in the front-line cities. The Soviet command was well aware of this and had been preparing for several months to fight back enemy aircraft. The anti-aircraft cover of the city was significantly strengthened - 560 of various guns were concentrated in total, not counting other air defense weapons.
Meanwhile, the anxiety from the situation on the front was growing. Wehrmacht troops completely seized the initiative, pushing, squeezing the Soviet units, who fought back into the depths of their territory. And now Stalingrad has become a front-line city. The danger of air attack has increased many times. And it was all the more aggravated that there was already a clear understanding of what irreparable damage could be caused by fires. After all, for many decades, the "Stalin's city" was built up without any consideration of a possible fire and quickly throwing fire from house to house. Especially since the strong winds that arose here quite often could contribute to this. And there were obviously not enough artificial and natural reservoirs. All this forced the head of the MPVO junior lieutenant of state security Vasily Ageev to conclude: "In the fire relation, the city of Stalingrad is an extremely dangerous point."
By the way, how Ageev himself acted in that situation is evidenced by his presentation to the Order of the Red Star. It was signed in December 1942 of the year (by that time Ageev had the title of captain) by the head of the NKVD administration in the Stalingrad region senior state security major Alexander Voronin (who was seriously injured during the fighting and was treated for a long time in the hospital):
“... In the days of the fierce bombardment of the city by enemy aircraft, comrade Ageyev personally traveled to the centers of defeat and led the liquidation of the effects of the raids. The headquarters and subdivisions of the Defense Ministry, well organized and prepared by comrade Ageyev, have done a great deal of work in the aftermath of the bombing these days, selflessly working to save the population and property, rendering great help to the injured citizens, as well as to the soldiers of the Red Army.
While at his post, Comrade Ageyev proved himself to be a courageous and strong-willed commander ... ”
Stalingrad continued to remain the largest medical base of the South-Western Front, and as the front line approached, day after day thousands of new wounded men replenished the hospitals formed on its territory. As a result, the wounded soldiers along with the spontaneous refugees accumulated so much that it made it almost impossible to determine even the approximate number of people who flooded the city before fighting for it. According to the author, the closest figure to the truth is 700 thousand people.
12 July, 1942, the Supreme Command Headquarters formed the Stalingrad Front. From now on, the battles took place in the great bend of the Don - on the distant approaches to Stalingrad. The next day, SGKO adopted a resolution on the evacuation of livestock, property, means of production of collective farms, state farms, other enterprises and organizations located on the right banks of the Khoper and Don rivers. They also envisaged the operational construction of six additional crossings across the Volga in its downstream with a total daily throughput of 30 thousand heads, while simultaneously operating existing bridges and coastal transport entrances. Literally in a day, herds of livestock and carts with the families of collective farmers began to stretch in Zavolzhye.
Some historians blame Stalin, who allegedly banned the exodus of Stalingrad men to the rear. The leader is credited with the phrase: "Soldiers poorly protect cities left by residents." And, they say, in view of the subsequent tragic events, she was sentenced to tens of thousands of women, children, old people who had to stay. But in the documents nothing like this was found. No mention is made of such a statement by the Supreme Commander or in anyone’s memories. Yes, this, in fact, is refuted by archival documents and previously known facts.
According to a rough estimate, before 23 August 1942, the day of the tragedy of Stalingrad, about 100 thousand people managed to leave the city. The majority of the residents, for the most part, on their own initiative remained in the city in readiness to fight for it for life, and to the death and actively helped the troops defending it. In the most difficult conditions, aggravated by the proximity of the front, the factories producing weapons and ammunition for the units that tried to restrain the onslaught of enemy divisions continued to work in the city and produce products. Off the conveyor and immediately sent to the front "Thirty-Four". StalGRES produced electricity. Grain processing and bread baking, tailoring of uniforms, ship repair and shipyards did not stop ... And this was undoubtedly a feat!
On the night of July 23, Stalingrad experienced heavy bombardment. At the end of the month, bombs fell in various parts of the city and its surroundings.
The documents noted that if in the first decade of July, within the borders of the Stalingrad corps air defense area, aerial surveillance, warning and communication (VNOS) posts registered 39 flying spans, in the second - 400, then the third was already 1986. Of the 59 July raids on objects of the Stalingrad region, most - 43 was carried out at railway stations. Stalingrad itself experienced 4 night raids, during which 75 FAB and 200 incendiary bombs fell on the city, 141 people suffered, 27 citizens and military personnel fell victim to German air attacks. In those days, the enemy inflicted much greater damage on nearby railway stations, through which supplies of troops and enterprises went, and the transfer of front-line reserves and armaments.
The Bureau of the Regional Committee of the CPSU (b) 15 August 1942 of the year adopted a resolution on the evacuation of orphanages, medical institutions, evacuation hospitals, the population from Stalingrad and areas closely located to the front, as well as people who were previously evacuated to Stalingrad from the western regions of the Soviet Union, families commanders and party leadership. In particular, 27 thou. Thousand wagons of bread, all non-ferrous metal scrap were exported. However, despite the increased attacks of airplanes with crosses on their wings, the population as a whole reluctantly left their homes. Hope and faith lived in people: the enemy will never come to the Volga in the Stalingrad area! Moreover, they have seen: in the city itself, the destruction has so far been limited.
The anxiety of the situation can be judged by the report of 18 of August by the senior officer of the General Staff, Lieutenant Colonel Nikolai Reznikov, to the Chief of the General Staff, Colonel-General (future marshal) Alexander Vasilevsky: “The city is overpopulated. It even got to the point that people live under the fences, in the gardens, on the banks of the r. Volga, in boats, etc. The evacuation of the city is too slow due to the lack of a sufficient number of vehicles and the poor work of the evacuation [bureau] bureau: people waiting for the vehicles live on X-NUMX – 5 for 24 hours… All schools and clubs are overcrowded with the wounded. Hospitals remain in the city. Blackout is bad ... "
DREDGED WITH STALINGRAD NOT COMPARED
The terrible tragedy of Stalingrad began on August 23. All serviceable 4th Air bombers fleet Goering - about 160 winged cars - were involved in a massive raid on the city. And taking into account escort fighters, about 400 aircraft participated in this evening flight. “Stalingrad drowned in a glow a conflagration, enveloped in smoke and soot,” testified Colonel General Andrei Yeremenko, who led our troops operating here. - Fire arose everywhere, the whole city burned, wooden buildings burned brightly like bonfires, huge puffs of smoke and flames fluttered above the plants ... The quarters of a huge flowering city turned into ruins. Windowpanes flew out with a jingle, ceiling ceilings collapsed with noise, walls cracked and fell. Hundreds of civilians were killed from direct bombardments, from fire and asphyxiation of fires, under the rubble of buildings ... The city's water supply system was destroyed. In the absence of wells, this made it extremely difficult to combat the foci of fire that arose in many places at different places simultaneously. ”
The author of these lines did not succeed in determining the number of victims according to the NKVD data: 1815 people were indicated in the documents as dead - but these were only those who were then interred. But many were burned in the fire, a lot of people drowned at crossings. And count the dead, even approximately not possible.
23 August Day 1942 of the year entered history as the most barbaric bombardment of a front-line city inhabited predominantly by civilians. "Junkers" and "Heinkels" bombed the neighborhoods for the next few days. In addition to this, having broken through to the Volga north of Stalingrad, the fascists launched an artillery bombardment.
Noting the high level of combat readiness and dedication in fighting the fire and eliminating the destruction of many local air defense units of Stalingrad, the MPNO from August 27 indicated: it was impossible to save the city and its inhabitants in the current conditions, although a number of fires were localized. The situation was aggravated by the out-of-order, in addition to the city water supply, also the electric and telephone networks, the destruction of marinas and railway stations by bombs. Burning oil from the reservoirs flowed to the Volga, destroying everything in its path. And then the river itself burned for many kilometers.
The decree gave preliminary information on each of the six affected areas (there were seven of them in the city then). Thus, in the Voroshilovsky district, the result of the raids was as follows: "As a result of the bombing, 406 houses were destroyed, 664 houses were burned, 315 people were killed, 463 people were injured." Further numerous burned or destroyed factories were listed. The conclusion is made: burned up to 90% of all buildings in the central part of Voroshilovsky district. A similar tragic situation was observed in the Barrikadny, Krasnooktyabrsky, Dzerzhinsky and Yermansky districts, slightly less damage was observed in the Traktorozavodsky district.
In the aftermath of the Luftwaffe raids, the 31 th separate engineering and anti-chemical battalion of the National Defense Forces of the NKVD, which had accumulated experience in disposing of unexploded ordnance, actively helped to reduce civilian casualties. But among the dropped bombs there were quite a few heavy ones - caliber 1000 kg or more, and also equipped with deceleration fuses.
But nevertheless the majority of the intended SGKO failed to perform. The Volga stronghold and its inhabitants were subjected to overwhelming blows - sometimes more than fifty bombers were in the sky at the same time. So, on August 26, at 18.10, the VNOS posts fixed at a time the 82 aircraft, which dropped bombs on different residential areas.
Simultaneously with attempts to take Stalingrad residents beyond the Volga, work was carried out on health care to avoid the emergence of epidemics. Among urgent activities SGKO - the creation of insulators on piers, ferries and railway stations. An additional network of medical institutions was promptly organized: hospitals, laboratories, consultations. There were also catering facilities for the population. After all, the majority of Stalingrad citizens lost their homes, all their property overnight.
Information about the mass evacuation, which began on August 29, is fragmentary. It is known that by September 7 the teenager 4853 was taken from 14 to 17 years; September 12 - more than 1000 orphaned young children; September 19 completed the evacuation of personnel of the plant "Barricades" and their families ...
According to the air defense staffs, in September 1942 of the year the enemy dropped thousands of different bombs in the city's 33, or almost 90% of the total ammunition at the front. On the last three days of September, the Barricades and Krasny Oktyabr factories turned into ruins, which until then had continued to operate. Seriously affected by the FCZ. 1630 single-storey houses, 160 multi-storey stone buildings, including hospitals, houses of culture, pedagogical institute were destroyed in a month ... According to reports of the Ministry of Military Defense, 1324 people were killed (buried) in September, 2358 people were injured.
From what has been described, it is clear that Stalingrad and the troops defending it were the main targets of the actions of the bomber aircraft of the 8 airborne corps of the 4 air fleet of the Luftwaffe. In the city, German crews made 84% of all aircraft attacks and dropped 78% of all air bombs. Naturally, the remaining residents who were in a half-starved condition, froze and hiding in cracks or other shelters, it was not easy to survive.
Mentally cross the front line and see what happened in the areas captured by the Nazis. Based on reports from the front-line agents and our citizens who fled from the territories occupied by the enemy and then interviewed, the deputy head of the Special Department of the NKVD of the Stalingrad Front, State Security Major Yevgeny Goryainov informed the leadership about the situation in the occupied districts of Stalingrad, reporting massive incidents of outrages of invaders, robberies and killings of civilians , including children and teenagers. In short, those who remained on the other side of the front line experienced all the horrors of the war, especially given the fury of German soldiers and officers who met with fierce resistance from our soldiers and could not overcome the few hundred meters left separating them from the Volga.
We add that October 1942 of the year was the time of the most brutal and almost continuous bombing of the territory held by the troops of the 62 Army (industrial zone and a small strip of already destroyed or damaged houses near the Volga). In the second or third decade of this month, the average number of spans per day approached 1000, we emphasize - the average!
Before that, it seemed that barbaric raids on Sevastopol, especially in June 1942, were unprecedented in power and cruelty. To some extent, these attacks from the air can be compared with the Anglo-American raids on Dresden, and the incessant bombing of Berlin at the final stage of the war, when residential neighborhoods were also turned into ruins. Recall, 13 – 15 February 1945, the armada of Allied bombers literally wiped the capital of Saxony from the face of the earth. According to the official report, published only in 2010, 25, thousands of predominantly civilian Germans, became victims of these attacks. It is also worth noting that at the beginning of these bombings in Dresden with a population of 640 thousand people were about 100 thousand refugees - figures comparable to Stalingrad.
The evacuation of Stalingrad continued almost until the beginning of the Soviet counteroffensive, launched on November 19 1942. It is known that the ships of the Volga military flotilla together with auxiliary vessels transported thousands of wounded people and 47 thousand residents of the city to the left bank along with 15. And from October 25 to November 14, from the Volga Islands and from the Kirov, the least affected by the bombing of the Stalingrad area, another 25 thousand people were taken out.
The following figures show the tragedy of Stalingrad and its civilian population. On 2 February, 1943 of the year - to the victorious finale of a grandiose battle, 11 survived thousands of homes, including 9811 in the Kirovsky district (and were destroyed during the bombings and ground battles over 40 thousands of buildings). Stalingraders left 32 181 people, mostly located in the southern part of the city, and in the central area only 7 (!) Civilians survived. According to official data, almost 43 thousand civilians died during the defense, but there is no doubt that in reality there were significantly more of them. Some historians believe that only one evening 23 August raid claimed more lives. For comparison, we point out: in Moscow during the massive raids of the enemy, which lasted from July 21 to August 18 1941, 569 people died ...