The battle of Stalingrad is a decisive battle of the Great Patriotic War. This fact is recognized by both sides of that conflict.
Over the past 65 years from the day of victory история World War II was subjected to repeated philosophical, political science, historical, sociological analysis. Today, some politicians and historians are attempting to rethink the history of World War II. EAT. Fradlin, in the article “The Truth of the Fact and the Truth of the History,” claims the existence of a “Victory philosophy”, in the light of which attempts to rewrite the history of the war in an anti-Soviet vein are blasphemous [1, p. 2].
History will always be distorted. The history of wars is the history of the past of the peoples who waged them. The past can be not only with an individual person, but also with nations. A successful person wants to have a positive self-esteem. Self-esteem consists of many components, one of which is belonging to a nation. Reasonable self-criticism always contributes to the growth of personality, but if it becomes constant “self-flagellation” and self-torture for the mistakes of the past, if it degenerates into a constant complex of guilt, then we are doomed to wander in the gloomy mazes of the past. It is impossible to feel comfortable thinking that your fathers and grandfathers are murderers and rapists, thieves and bandits, people without conscience, honor and dignity, that the people to which you yourself are vile and nasty.
Based on the foregoing, it is obvious that the truth of historical science cannot be a simple correspondence of knowledge of reality. Such an understanding of the truth is more in line with the sciences of nature. As for the sciences of the spirit, which influence the formation of a person’s worldview, a certain conventional agreement on the interpretation of certain facts and events in a particular society becomes true. An attempt to comprehend history in a scientistic manner causes, as a rule, the discontent of politicians and scientists.
The most interesting thing in the history of battles is the lessons they give the modern generation. Great victories are great conclusions. Fighting the Iraqi army, American officers carried photographs of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, and not Montgomery, who ultimately defeated him, and tried to use the principles of the desert war laid down by Rommel. Military historians remember Hannibal and rarely remember Scipio who defeated him, just as the whole world remembers Napoleon and rarely remembers his victorious under Waterloo Wellington and Blucher.
One cannot try to kill history, one must strive to open new chapters, pages in it, to open questions. In battles you can always find something that could turn out to be unnoticed, missed or forgotten. Of great interest to them is always the dynamics of thinking of generals trying to confuse each other and know how to confuse historians, often people of civilian professions. The idea of this article is an attempt to reveal the true intentions of the commander.
Not only domestic but also German historians and generals are trying to give a different meaning to history. As an example, we can take the memoirs of the German field marshal E. Manstein, where he writes in the chapter "The Stalingrad Tragedy" about how A. Hitler, who did not want to leave the Volga, and the passive commander F. Paulus prevented him from freeing the encircled 6th German army . However, historians have more and more questions about whether this is really so. Why did the Germans fail in Stalingrad? As you know, a victory consists of many components, including miscalculations of rivals. Let's try to figure out those long-standing events.
If you look closely at the military battle maps at the end of 1942, it becomes clear that the shortest distance between the encircled and the troops of E. Manstein passed between the village of Nizhnechirskaya and the village of Marinovka. The Soviet command assumed that the Germans would strike at the shortest distance between the external and internal fronts of the encirclement. By that time, the distance between the defense line of the 6th Army and the front on the Chir River was about 40 km. The assumption of a German strike in the shortest direction was put forward by the commander of the Southwestern Front, N.F. Vatutin [2, p. 361]. In this case, having gathered all the forces of the 48th and 57th tank corps, E. Manstein could deliver a powerful blow, which could be supported by a counter strike 100 tanks Paulus from the Marinovka area. Especially considering that the Paulus army began to have problems with fuel. Of course, the Soviet Army had many troops on this section of the front, but they were in the bare steppe, where it is difficult to dig a trench in the winter and have nowhere to hide the artillery battery. At the same time, the Germans in 1942 had an advantage in artillery and aviation not only in the number and caliber of guns, but mainly in instrumental and aviation reconnaissance purposes. Thanks to this, they not only shot a lot, but also very accurately shot at our fighters.
However, E. Manstein makes a different decision. He decided to strike the main blow with the forces of the 57th Panzer Corps, not along the shortest route, but from Kotelnikovo in the direction of Stalingrad, which was 130 km from those encircled. Manstein was probably counting on surprise — the best friend of success. In addition, he planned a strike from the Nizhnechirskaya region and the bridgehead on the Don and Chir rivers in the direction of Kalach. This blow was to be delivered by parts of the 48th tank corps as an auxiliary. At a certain point in time, according to the “Thunderclap” signal, Paulus had to direct his forces towards 57 because Manstein.
By analyzing E. Manstein’s plan “Winter Thunderstorm”, several contradictions can be revealed, indicating that the genius Field Marshal did not set the goal of simply liberating the 6th Army, but something else that he did not want to recall in his book.
In order to better understand this issue of history and try to clarify the truth in E. Manstein’s “truth”, it will be necessary to return to the events of the second half of November 1942.
After the Soviet counterattack on the Volga River, Hitler decided to immediately change the commander here. Instead of Baron M. Weichs, Field Marshal E. Manstein was appointed to the post of commander of Army Group B. The very fact of the change of leadership indicated that Hitler attached great importance to the battle of Stalingrad.
Colonel-General K. Zeitzler in his memoirs about the Battle of Stalingrad notes that, despite all the logical arguments, Hitler did not want to give the order for the 6th Army to leave Stalingrad [4, p. 228]. If Hitler wanted to simply withdraw his encircled army, then he would entrust this simple task to M. Weichs and allow F. Paulus to go on a breakthrough as early as the 20th of November. But instead, the Führer calls his favorite, the winner of the Battle of Sevastopol, E. Manstein, who is able to win big victories with small forces. Hitler wants his field marshal not only to combine the forces of the 6th Army with the rest of the forces of Army Group B, but he still wanted to win the Battle of Stalingrad, hoping to miraculously turn the tide of history and win Turkey to his side. Leaving Stalingrad meant losing face, so E. Manstein creates such a cunning plan that is incomprehensible to our command.
The first thing that attracts attention is the offensive from Kotelnikov. If it was a question of simple release, then the strike would be supported by those around, but they have no tanks in this place. The 14th Panzer Corps of the 6th Army is concentrated in Marinovka and is directed towards the bridge to Kalach, to which 25 km [5, p. 324]. This is confirmed by data from German sources. So, the intelligence officer of the 8th Army Corps of the 6th German Field Army I. Wieder in his memoirs indicates:
“The breakthrough plan developed at the army headquarters was not much different from the same plan adopted in the first days after encirclement. The three divisions, which retained the highest combat efficiency in our conditions, were supposed to break through the ring southwest of Karpovka and enter the steppes to join the advancing Gotha tank army ”[6, 45].
If you look at the German maps depicting the "cauldron", then we will see that 14 etc., the 3rd and 29th motorized divisions of the Germans are located near the villages of Marinovka, Karpovka. This is also confirmed by the fact that when E. Manstein demands that F. Paulus make a breakthrough in the direction of the 57th tank corps, the latter asks for 6 days to prepare [5, p. 379]. If we take into account that the tank divisions were made elsewhere and to defeat the Stalingrad and Southwestern fronts, they would have to make throws along the front line, and then meet the forces of E. Manstein on off-road and snow, the complaints of F. Paulus about the lack of fuel become clear.
Regarding the fact that Manstein ordered Paulus to make a breakthrough, and Paulus refused, historians have even more doubts. Archives of Field Marshal Paulus and other documents irrefutably indicate that the 6th Army did not receive such an order from Manstein. Now Manstein himself does not cite as a proof a copy of the order, as well as the very plan of Operation Winter Thunder.
Regarding the fuel, which was allegedly enough for Paulus tanks only 30 km, there are even more questions. In his book, “Lost Victories,” E. Manstein writes:
“General Paulus reported that for his tanks, of which about 100 were still fit for use, he had fuel for no more than 30 km of travel. Therefore, he will be able to launch an offensive ... when his fuel reserves are replenished and when the 4th Panzer Army approaches the encirclement line at a distance of 30 km ... it was impossible to wait until the fuel reserve of the 6th Army was brought to the required size (4000 tons) "[ 3, p. 399].
As a result, when the release group approached only 50 km to Stalingrad, the Germans refused to break through due to lack of fuel, which does not hold water. If 100 tanks can cover 30 km, then 60 tanks will cover 50 km, if gas is drained from 40 tanks. The heaviest German Paulus T-4 tank burned 100 liters of gasoline per 500 km of off-road. To refuel these tanks for 50 km, each required 250 liters. Even taking into account the fact that along with tanks 700 armored personnel carriers, gun tractors and vehicles will move into the breakthrough, the number of 4000 tons looks like an exaggeration. 100 tons of fuel would be quite sufficient, especially since, according to Manstein himself, from 50 to 150 tons of various cargoes were delivered to the boiler every day by air.
Our attention is also drawn to the fact that, as follows from the Winter Thunderstorm plan, the 48th Panzer Corps should attack the Kalach instead of meeting the encircled people. If you take a pencil and draw a direct line from Kotelnikov to Stalingrad, and from Marinovka and Nizhnechirskaya to Kalach, then the troops of the Stalingrad Front are potentially surrounded. In the future, after their destruction, together with units of the 6th Army, the field marshal could strike the flank and rear of the Southwestern Front.
So, we assume that Manstein was trying not only to carry out the release operation, as he writes in his memoirs and as many military historians thought for a long time, but he tried to combine the release with the encirclement and destruction of the Soviet forces blocking the Paulus army. Surrounding the Soviet blocking forces, Manstein created a boiler in a boiler, a bag with a double bottom. Only in one place of his memoirs did he let slip that the 6th Army had the following tasks:
“... on a certain day after the advance of the 57th Panzer Corps, which will be indicated by the headquarters of the army group, break through on the southwestern section of the encirclement front towards the Don Tsaritsa River, join the 57th Panzer Corps and take part in the defeat of the southern or western encirclement front and in capturing the crossing of the Don near Kalach ”[3, p. 362].
So it was about the defeat of the Soviet troops and victory on the Volga.
The question remains: why did Field Marshal E. Manstein hide the whole truth in his memoirs? Apparently, he felt that, as a professional, he made a mistake by underestimating the strength of the enemy. He knew that he could save a lot of people, but personal ambition prevailed over common sense. True German sources began to be perceived as the truth of history, but an elementary analysis of the facts proves the opposite.
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