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The Winter in Stalingrad

Discussions on WW2 in Eastern Europe.

The Winter in Stalingrad

Postby RCW Mark on 24 Feb 2005 14:13

This may sound a trifle naïve, but was the winter in Stalingrad in 1942/43 actually worse than normal or is the “terrible winter” just another standard Stalingrad exaggeration?

My geography books indicate that Stalingrad has a trifle colder winters than Moscow and Leningrad but that it lasts a lot less long. This is important because the battle for Stalingrad was basically over before the coldest part of the year! The days are also longer in the south, which makes a huge difference to one’s ability to get things dry and warm.

It seems to me that the poor blighters sitting outside Leningrad or Moscow probably had it much worse, weather wise, than those in the Stalingrad region. Actually, quite a lot of the Axis troops must have had some experience of such weather – Germany is not known for its balminess. :P But I have lived in cold places sufficiently to know that average temperatures are no guide to how cold it is to do things, so am I missing something? I know the Germans were poorly equipped for it – what I want to know is was the weather itself terrible, or merely the situation the soldiers found themselves in.

My apologies if this has been discussed before but searching "stalingrad" and "winter" is a fruitless exercise since it appears to be impossible to discuss one with regard to WWII without mentioning the other (even though they never really got into winter in the city).

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Postby Duncan on 24 Feb 2005 16:08

During general reading of the war on the eastern front on either of the battles mentioned, temperatures of -40 and -50 are mentioned. Even at -20 it would have been extremely cold! A few degress at that temperature would make little difference.

You may want to research the meteorology records for Europe/Russia for that period. This would provide a more accurate overview. Latitude does not always provide a sound argument for differences in temperature. There are numerous other geograpgical influences which will affect weather and temperature conditions.
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Postby RCW Mark on 24 Feb 2005 16:55

My geography book dates from 1944 (not an accident) and makes it clear that latitude is a poor guide to temperature in the Soviet Union. Average temperatures (in European Russia) fall from North to South but even more steeply from West to East -- that is how Stalingrad can be colder than Leningrad even though it is a long way further south and not that much further east.

I am extremely reluctant to take any memoirs as a guide -- soldiers are prone to exagerrating at the best of times -- but -44ºF is quoted in my book as the minimum temperature for Moscow in January (the average is 12º), so numbers in that range are not impossible.

But why is the winter in Stalingrad always so stressed in comparison to elsewhere when the numbers look similar?

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Postby Duncan on 24 Feb 2005 22:04

I am not sure I can answer your question about weather and temperature being stressed mainly in relation to Stalingrad, I am not sure it is.

Paul Carell's book "Hitler Moves East" discusses the weather/temp etc for all the key battles, Murmansk, Leningrad, Moscow, Stalingrad etc, and how it affected the battle, soldiers, supplies.... In other books I have read Stalingrad does not stand out. Perhaps it may be something about the enormity and losses of the battle which make it stand out.

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Postby WalterS on 25 Feb 2005 05:00

Perhaps Stalingrad's weather was particularly difficult for the germans because 6th Army was surrounded and the Luftwaffe was incapable of flying in the necessary supplies.
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Postby 20/20 vision on 25 Feb 2005 12:37

In general the winters of the 1940s were the coldest and snowiest of the 20th century in europe.

winter of 1941-2 in russia was the coldest winter of the century and colder than any before that in 250years.

the winter 0f 42-43 was colder than average but not as cold as the previous year.
because of stalingrads location in southern russia it is prone to milder winds blowing of the black sea area so there are times even during those winter months when temp rose above freezing and rain fell rather than snow.

if you read anthony bevors stalingrad book he does often give details of the weather as aprt of the general situation, and does refer to days of rain rather than snow even up 2 christmas 1942.

however i would expect this condtions to be only breif and caused by transient low pressure systems running across the region.

At other times temps would be very low indeed and compariable to other parts of russia regardless of latitude.
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Postby RCW Mark on 25 Feb 2005 13:33

Thank-you very much everybody, and especially 20/20.

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Re: The Winter in Stalingrad

Postby Karman on 25 Feb 2005 16:57

Off-topic:

There is a Russian Orthodox legend connected with extremely cold winter in 1941 and in 1942 in Russia. They say that when late in autumn 1941 Stalin did not know whom else to ask for assistance to defend Moscow he listened to the advises of high orthodox priests who offered to use the old tradition of the protection of Holy Mother. They say that Ilia the Metropolitan of Lebanon Mountains had a vision of the Holy Mother who advised him to write to Stalin and to advise that the icon should be taken and moved round the cities Moscow, Leningrad (St-Petersburg) and Stalingrad They say that Stalin ordered to fly round Moscow with the icon. And sudden and extremly sever frost stroke just the other day after that event. Then the icon moved to Stalingrad and sever frosts were there.

Legend. Interesting that metropolite Ilia of Lebanon Mountains was invited to Russia by Stalin in 1947 and was gifted for his input in the struggle against Germans.

They say that during the Stalingrad battle the temperature was about -20 (C) and higher. And only in the last day of the battle it was -30 (C). But for a soldier even -5 (C) in that soppy and windy weather is a really horrible frost.
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Postby Prit on 06 Mar 2005 12:33

Another issue here is malnutrition. The standard ration pack from my army days for arctic circle deployments was over 5,000 calories, despite which we usually lost weight. The malnourished German troops would have been very vulnerable even to an 'average' east European winter.

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Re: The Winter in Stalingrad

Postby Reichenstein on 03 Jan 2013 07:08

I'm actually writing a horror story about a young boy in the Ninth fighting in Stalingrad if anyone could give me a link of meteorology in Stalingrad as of 1942.
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Re: The Winter in Stalingrad

Postby adrianh on 03 Jan 2013 07:26

You may want to have a look here: viewtopic.php?f=55&t=182049
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Re: The Winter in Stalingrad

Postby Art on 03 Jan 2013 10:46

That is info on weather as recorded in military situation reports:
29.11 South-West Front – continuous cloudiness, occasional snowfall, temperature +3°C
30.11 Stalingrad Front – cloudiness at low and medium heights, 1000-1500 meters, temperature 0°C. Drifting of ice on Volga.
1.12 Stalingrad Front – cloudiness at low and medium heights, temperature °C.
3.12 Stalingrad Front – continuous cloudiness, temperature °C
4.12 Stalingrad Front – continuous low cloudiness, slight wind, temperature °C
5.12 Stalingrad Front – continuous cloudiness, wet snow, temperature from 0 to -2°C
6.12 Stalingrad Front – continuous low cloudiness, slight rain with snow, temperature from 0 to +2°C
7.12 Staligrad Front - continuous low cloudiness, temperature from -2 to -5°C
8.12 Stalingrad Front – low cloudiness, snowfall and rain, temperature from 0 to -2°C
9.12 Stalingrad Front - continuous low cloudiness, temperature from 0 to -2°C
10.12 Stalingrad Front – cloudiness 2-4 points, north-west wind 4-7 m/s, temperaturefrom -5 to -8°C
11.12 Don Front – cloudiness 4-8 points, temperature from -6 to -9°C. Stalingrad Front – continuous cloudiness, temperature -6°C
12.12 Don Front – cloudiness 2 points, temperature from -3 to -4 °C. Stalingrad Front – cloudiness 2 points, temperature from -2 to -5°C
13.12 Don Front - clear, temperature from -3 to -8°C. Stalingrad Front – clear, temperature from 0 to -3°C
14.12 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, temperature from +1 to -1°C. Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, temperature 0 to +2°C
15.12 Don Front – continuous cloudiness, temperature from +2 to -2°C. Stalingrad Front – continuous cloudiness, temperature +2°C
16.12 Don Front – cloudiness up to 10 points, occasional fog, temperature -5°C. Stalingrad Front – continuous cloudiness, temperature - 7°C
17.12 Don Front – clear, temperature from -13 to -18°C. Stalingrad Front – clear, temperature -12°C
18.12 Stalingrad Front – clear, temperature from -8 to -10°C
19.12 Don Front – cloudiness 6-10 points, temperature from -4 to -10°C. Stalingrad Front – cloudiness 8 points at 1000-1500 meters, temperature from -6 to -8°C
20.12 Don Front – cloudiness 7-10 points, temperature from -5 to -9°C. Stalingrad Front – continuous cloudiness at 1000-1500 meters, temperature from -3 to -6°C
21.12 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, temperature from -6 to -15°C. Stalingrad Front – cloudy, temperature -5°C
22.12 Stalingrad Front – low clouds, temperature -2°C
23.12 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, snowfall, temperature from -1 to -6°C. Stalingrad Front – continuous low cloudiness, temperature -3°C
24.12 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, fog, temperature from -3 to -5°C. Stalingrad Front – continuous low cloudiness, occasional slight snowfall, temperature from -3 to -6°C
25.12 Don Front – cloudiness 6-10 points, clear in some places, temperature from -13 to -20°C. Stalingrad Front – cloudiness diminishing to completely clear sky, temperature -6°C
26.12 Don Front – clear, temperature from -15 to -19°C. Don Front – clear, temperature from -11 to -17°C
27.12 Don Front – cloudiness 5-7 points, temperature from -13 to -21°C. Stalingrad – diminishing cloudiness, temperature from -12 to -4°C
28.12 Don Front – clear, temperature from -11 to -20°C. Stalingrad Front – clear, from -6 to -8°C
29.12 Don Front – clear, temperature from -10 to -19°C. Stalingrad Front – clear, temperature -10°C
30.12 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, temperature from -8 to -14°C. Stalingrad Front – on the northern sector continuous cloudiness, temperature from -10 to -12°C. On the southern sector – clear, temperature from -1 to -2°C
31.12 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, occasional snowfall, temperature from -4 to -5°C. Stalingrad Front – clear, temperature from -6 to -8°C
1.1 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, temperature from -2 to -5°C
2.1 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, temperature from +2 to -2°C
3.1 Don Front – cloudiness 9-10 points, temperature from -2 to -6°C
4.1 Don Front – cloudiness 5-10 points, temperature from -6 to -11°C
5.1 Don Front – cloudiness 3-5 points, temperature from -10 to -18°C
6.1 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, occasional snowfall, temperature from -10 to -17°C
7.1 Don Front – cloudiness 5-10 points, haze, temperature from -6 to -12°C
8.1 Don Front – cloudiness 8-10 points, blizzards in some places, temperature from 0 to -3°C
9.1 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, fog, temperature from -3 to -6°C
10.1 Don Front – cloudiness 7-10 points, temperature from -2 to -5°C
11.1 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, temperature from -1 to -7°C
12.1 Don Front – cloudiness 3-10 points, snowfall in places, temperature from -10 to -19°C
13.1 Don Front – cloudiness 8-10 points, temperature from -10 to -18°C
14.1 Don Front – cloudiness 9-10 points, occasional snowfall, temperature from -16 to -25°C
15.12 Don Front - clear, temperature from -23 to -28°C
16.12 Don Front - clear, temperature from -22 to -32°C
17.12 Don Front – clear, temperature -20°C
18.12 Don Front – clear, temperature from -17 to -28°C
19.12 Don Front - cloudiness 10 points, temperature from -10 to -19°C
20.12 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, temperature from -1 to -14°C
21.12 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, temperature from -8 to -13°C
22.12 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, occasional snowfall, temperature from -6 to -13°C
23.12 Don Front – cloudiness 10 points, slight snowfall, haze, temperature from -11 to -20°C
24.1 Don Front – low cloudiness, temperature from 0 to -7°C
25.1 Don Front – clear, temperature from -19 to -25°C
26.1 Don Front – clear, temperature from -13 to -20°C
27.1 Don Front – clear, slight snowfall, occasional fog, temperature from -16 to -27°C
28.1 Don Front – clear, temperature from -14 to -28°C
29.1 Don Front – cloudiness 9-10 points, temperature from -13 to -23°C
30.1 Don Front – cloudiness 9-10 points, temperature from -12 to -24°C
31.1 Don Front – temperature from -5 to -18°C
1.2 Don Front – cloudiness 6-10 points, occasionally clear, temperature from -13 to -22°C

Stalingrad Front - area east and south of Stalingrad, Don Front - north-west of Stalingrad from 1 January 1942 - all area around Stalingrad. So November and the most part of December 1942 were pretty mild, but January was colder than usual.
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Re: The Winter in Stalingrad

Postby Alejandro_ on 03 Jan 2013 14:08

Thanks for that information Art. Minimum temperature is -38°C, which is higher than values given in many books. For example, in Sacrifice of the Steppe I read that temperatures during the Italian retreat were -40°C/-45° or even lower.
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Re: The Winter in Stalingrad

Postby Anatol on 05 Jan 2013 22:50

- 38 C, isn't present in the list, and all history of meteo supervision
Absolute minimum of Stalingrad – Volgograd - 32.6
http://ru.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D0%9A%D0%BB%D0%B8%D0%BC%D0%B0%D1%82_%D0%92%D0%BE%D0%BB%D0%B3%D0%BE%D0%B3%D1%80%D0%B0%D0%B4%D0%B0 only Russian
On some meteorological stations in this area an absolute minimum to -36 C (the microclimate matters).
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Re: The Winter in Stalingrad

Postby Alejandro_ on 17 Jan 2013 13:12

My mistake, I misread the number.
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