Surviving Stalingrad

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BeeWac
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Surviving Stalingrad

Postby BeeWac » 15 Nov 2017 17:31

40 below zero, denim uniforms, a slice or two of bread per day -- I haven't read any books about this battle in particular, not yet, but could someone explain how those 90 thousand Germans survived, and in fact fought through, such extreme conditions? It's so hard for me to grasp. How can you operate a submachine gun when your hands are completely numb? How can you take shelter from the cold anywhere when every building is battered or in shambles? Wouldn't a fire attract too much attention from the enemy? If you tried to take refuge in the sewers, wouldn't you get discovered by Soviet patrols, since no able-bodied soldier could be spared to protect you down there?

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pintere
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby pintere » 19 Nov 2017 18:11

I think Sun Tzu can answer your question.

Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby Sheldrake » 20 Nov 2017 10:45

BeeWac wrote: could someone explain how those 90 thousand Germans survived, and in fact fought through, such extreme conditions?


#1 Most did not. The 90,000 PW taken by the Red Army were what was left from some 265,000 in the pocket.

#2 It is quite possible that those who survived were disproportionately from rear echelon troops, such as HQ communications, supply, transportation and medical services. These chaps had the opportunity to take shelter and more opportunities to find food. e.g. Proportionately far more of von Paulus' HQ were taken PW than were the infantrymen.

Art
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby Art » 20 Nov 2017 13:50

No 40 degrees below zero all the way:
viewtopic.php?f=55&t=71938
The period of severe cold came with the final agony of the pocket. Also keep in mind that encircled troops had a large number of horses which served as emergency rations, at least at the first phase.

history1
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby history1 » 21 Nov 2017 18:04

Art wrote:[...] Also keep in mind that encircled troops had a large number of horses which served as emergency rations, at least at the first phase.

How long can you feed 230.000 German Soldiers, including their Romanian allies (13000 men) and additionaly 19000 Soviet POW and Hiwis with this large number of horses? Is there a certain number in a file so that you can state they had so many horses availlable?

Dann Falk
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby Dann Falk » 21 Nov 2017 22:02

Greetings,

It is thought the German VI Army had at its peak some 90,000 horses. But during the fall and early winter most had been evacuated further to the west, where they could be fed and taken care of. Leaving about 25,000 horses in the Stalingrad pocket in November 42. All these horses died and or were killed then eaten.

This info is from the book: Mechanized Juggernaut or Military Anachronism by R.L.Dinardo, p 61-65.

Hope this helps,

Dann

Art
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby Art » 22 Nov 2017 09:48

history1 wrote:How long can you feed 230.000 German Soldiers, including their Romanian allies (13000 men) and additionaly 19000 Soviet POW and Hiwis with this large number of horses? Is there a certain number in a file so that you can state they had so many horses availlable?

I'm not sure that I understand the question. It's a common knowledge that the German Army employed large numbers of horses. In particular in infantry divisions they were the main means of transport and the authorized ratio of horses to men was from 1:3 to 1:4. So a reasonable estimate is some tens of thousands of horses in the pocket. It seems that even German staff officers were not certain about exact numbers. In any case that was a large amount of potential rations.

shamirnewell
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby shamirnewell » 22 Nov 2017 14:55

According to: https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/Germany/HB/HB-6.html

(1) A butchery platoon can process the following number of animals per day.

40 beef cattle equal to 40,000 meat rations.
80 pigs equal to 24,000 meat rations.
240 sheep equal to 19,000 meat rations.

history1
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby history1 » 23 Nov 2017 19:31

Thanks for your replies, guys! Best thing to do: Ask questions and learn from the answers!

drew345
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby drew345 » 13 Jan 2018 01:44

history1 wrote:
Art wrote:[...] Also keep in mind that encircled troops had a large number of horses which served as emergency rations, at least at the first phase.

How long can you feed 230.000 German Soldiers, including their Romanian allies (13000 men) and additionaly 19000 Soviet POW and Hiwis with this large number of horses? Is there a certain number in a file so that you can state they had so many horses availlable?

They stopped feeding the Russian POWs fairly early in the encirclement. There was talk of cannibalism among the POWs according to Antony Beevors book on Stalingrad. As far as horses go one problem was the cold froze them solid and there wasn't even fuel for a fire in the later stages.

Denys
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby Denys » 14 Jan 2018 15:54

At the beginning of december 1942 most of the horses of German Army VI were already been killed and then eaten. But most of the horses had been evacuated during the first half of november because it wasn´t able to feed the horses in Stalingrad.
At the beginning of december 42 it was reported by a consulted doctor of Highcommand that there were the first soldiers of 6th army who starved to death. When this report reached the German headquarters, the headquarters couldn´t believe such a situation inside the pocket of Stalingrad.They denied that such a thing could happened ... But at this time there were several division which had a lack of food for several weeks ...

history1
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby history1 » 14 Jan 2018 19:16

shamirnewell wrote:According to: https://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/Germany/HB/HB-6.html

(1) A butchery platoon can process the following number of animals per day.

40 beef cattle equal to 40,000 meat rations.
80 pigs equal to 24,000 meat rations.
240 sheep equal to 19,000 meat rations.

Sorry, but I disbelieve this data. Not only the claim that one Schlächtereizug/butchery platoon was able to process all those animals on a single day but also the claimed meat rations.
I found another source stating that a butchery platoon was able to process daily:
15 cattle
or
120 pigs
or
240 sheeps and to process up to 3000 kg sausage
.
Source: http://www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de/Zus ... nsteID.htm
This data is, IMHO [coming from a village were slaughtering pigs and cows was a common event in the 70/80ies], much more reliable and comprehensible.


1. At the time there were for sure no beef cattle known here, AFAIK. The less in the area of Stalingrad.
2. By a butchers formula it´s impossible to get so many meat portions from cattle or that the meat rations where insufficient.
I´ll show an example with one cow equals 1000 rations.
A Limousin cow from nowadays weights ~ 770kg, that´s her live weight. Minus bowels = 335 kg right after the slaughtering. Due cooling down of the animals body we have another loss of 3% = 324,95kg. That leaves us to the last waste, the bones with again ~25% = 243,71 kg: 1000 = 0,24 kg.
Remember, the example is based on this cow:
Image
and not these speciemn from the Ukraine in 1942:
Image.

bigmacglenn1966
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby bigmacglenn1966 » 14 Jan 2018 20:16

I knew several Ostfront Veterans when I was a younger man living in Germany, one of them lost his leg amputated at the hip in Stalingrad. He was lucky enough to be flown out...Another told me that they would use their entrenching tools to crack the skulls of dead frozen horses to make a broth from the boiled brains...The Russian POWS were left to freeze & starve to death within their open-air enclosures, often having first been stripped of their Valenki-Winter Boots...There were reports of Cannibalism among them...Later on there were reports of Cannibalism among Germans within the Pocket...It also appears that some German Units were better stocked with Winter-Clothing & Food than others and were able to stretch their supplies to last longer ...Of the 90,000 that surrendered, the overwhelming majority of these men fell prey to the Spotted Typhus Outbreak in the Russian POW Camps...
cheers, Glenn

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dgfred
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Re: Surviving Stalingrad

Postby dgfred » 15 Jan 2018 17:12

pintere wrote:I think Sun Tzu can answer your question.

Throw your soldiers into positions whence there is no escape, and they will prefer death to flight. If they will face death, there is nothing they may not achieve. Officers and men alike will put forth their uttermost strength.


If there is no escape... how could they take 'flight' anyway? Should that be 'prefer death to surrender?

Just wondering.


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