Blog 11/23/2020 - Stalingrad - Russia Eastern Front

MHT Blog November 23, 2020 - Stalingrad  – Operation Uranus
The Death of the Wehrmacht

Operation Uranus (19-23 Nov 1942) was the Soviet Red Army's codename for the strategic counterattack on the Eastern Front near Stalingrad which led to the encirclement of the German Sixth Army and portions of the German Fourth Panzer Army besides the destruction of the Third and Fourth Romanian Armies. The operation was executed at roughly the midpoint of the five-month long Battle of Stalingrad, and was aimed at destroying German forces in and around Stalingrad. The Red Army took advantage of the Wehrmacht's (German Army's) poor preparation for the Russian Winter and the fact that its forces in the southern Soviet Union were overstretched near Stalingrad. The German flanks were guarded by weaker Romanian units. The Soviet Artillery barrages were centered on the Romanian units to allow Soviet armor breakthroughs. These Axis Allies lacked tanks and antitank weapons to deal with Soviet armor. The encirclement of General Paulus and his 6th Army was effective at 1600 on 23 November near the village of Sovetsky. The forward detachments of 36th Mechanized Brigade from the Stalingrad Front's 4th Mechanized Corps sighted the approaching tanks of 45th Brigade from the Southwestern Front's 4th Tank Corps. At first, they mistook them for Germans because they did not fire green flares as was agreed upon and several tanks were damaged in a short exchange of fire. After clarification the linkup was achieved. It was reenacted later for the Soviet propaganda newsreels, without the friendly Russian fire of course.

The junction between the armored troops of 21st and 51st Armies from Generals Vatutin's and Eremenko's Fronts completed the surrounding of Paulus's group of forces: the 6th German Army among the most powerful in the Wehrmacht, 22 divisions and 150 separate regiments or battalions, and an enormous amount of materiel. Never before in the war were so many troops of Nazi Germany encircled together. Fighting continued as the Germans attempted in vain to mount local counterattacks to break the Soviet encirclement. When Axis personnel inside the encirclement began moving east towards Stalingrad to avoid the Soviet tanks they were trapped. Hitler's order to Paulus to hold Stalingrad rather than mount an immediate coordinated breakout would doom his army.

Operation Uranus trapped between 250,000 and 300,000 Axis soldiers within the pocket containing four, IVth, VIIIth, XIth & List Infantry Corps, the XIV Panzer Corps belonging to the Fourth Panzer Army, and surviving elements of the 20th Infantry & 1st Cavalry Romanian Divisions, the 369thCroatian Infantry Regiment and other combat service support & Luftwaffe units. Trapped equipment included around 100 tanks, 2,000 artillery pieces and mortars and 10,000 trucks.

MHT will visit Stalingrad and sail along the Volga River and also visit the epic battles of Kursk and Moscow next Summer.