As they demonstrate, Stalingrad might not have been the turning point of the war, but it did David Glantz has done something that very few historians achieve. To the Gates of Stalingrad: Soviet-German Combat Operations, April-August , Armageddon in Stalingrad: The Stalingrad Trilogy v. 2: September – Novem . David M. Glantz’s latest epics, ‘To the Gates of Stalingrad’ and ‘Armageddon in Stalingrad,’ recast history’s biggest battle in a new light.
|Published (Last):||25 May 2005|
|PDF File Size:||13.47 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||20.12 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
For the next step, you’ll be taken to a website to complete the donation and enter your billing information. You’ll then be redirected back to LARB. To take advantage of all LARB has to offer, please create an account or log in before joining There is less than a week left to support our matching grant fund drive!
Your tax-deductible donation made to LARB by The Germans had been heavy favorites: How did the Soviet defenders prevail? Most accounts — historical, fictional, and cinematic — claim that the Russians were able to overcome the Germans through superior numbers and brute force.
That story is wrong, according to Rutgers historian Jochen Hellbeck.
In Stalingradhis groundbreaking and extraordinarily dafid analysis of the decisive battle by the same name, Hellbeck uses a unique archive of lost first-person accounts of the battle to argue — quite convincingly — that the prevailing story of World War II needs to be adjusted.
In a day and age when Western relationships with Russia seem to be reverting to Cold War stereotypes based on that basic story of World War II, Stalingrad offers an important new perspective on the conflict as it occurred, to the participants. What makes your Stalingrad different, and what do you hope people will get from reading it?
What makes Stalingrad different? Well — there are four primary views of the Red Army soldier that inform Western scholarship as well as popular culture. First, that of the Nazis, who viewed Soviet soldiers as subhuman, savage, stallngrad primitive. An enemy both cunning and cruel — a picture contrived in part by Nazi propaganda, in part also through German perceptions of their experience fighting the Red Army.
Silent, slave-like, in bondage to a savage and murderous political tyranny, prodded forward by fear of certain death at the hands of a commissar versus likely death by German machine gun. You see this idea expressed in movies like Enemy at the Gates. There is a more positive Western view as well: This view holds that simple, unreflected, but deep stalinrad for the homeland was native to common soldiers and was the source of their courage.
There is something deeply compelling and emotionally satisfying about vlantz interpretation, but it fails to explain how these timeless Russian features came alive in the Communist Red Army. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Communist party was discredited, and with it fell the idea of the Soviet soldier-hero. The opening of the Russian archives brought a much darker reality into view, and it was readily embraced by many researchers as expressing the total truth about the Soviet past: This view, the fourth, gave rise to a belief that the Red Army soldiers and Soviet citizens successfully defended their homeland in spite of Stalin and the Party, rather than because of them.
I think that with the revisionist zeal of the s, we threw the baby out with the bathwater. Academics lost view of the party state apparatus that organized the war effort, which quite successfully mobilized millions of Soviet citizens. So much so that by the end of the war, the Communist party was a party comprised largely of soldiers.
These were often conducted in front of the troops, to work as a deterrent. The principal point, however, is that an army of slaves could not have possibly prevailed over the Germans, the most advanced and respected armed force of its time.
The documents reveal an astonishing degree of individual heroism: Deal with that first one coming on the attack. Just deal with that first one. Your first shot will encourage your comrades. These cultural resources proved particularly effective in a war against a terrible invader.
CONTINUE TO BILLING/PAYMENT
Such mobilizing practices registered mostly not with peasant soldiers, but with urban youth — those who had received a Soviet education. And when did you know you had discovered something special? The archive was compiled by a historical commission headed by a Moscow professor, Isaak Mints. Members of the commission were allowed into Stalingrad in late December — this was more than a month before the battle would end, and there was bitter fighting going on in the city.
Over the next weeks they conducted more than interviews with soldiers and other eyewitnesses. They were locked away, but not destroyed. I found them quite by chance. Several Russian colleagues who knew about my interest in first-person accounts told me about entire boxes filled with memoirs, somewhere in the basement of a Moscow archive. When I finally received permission to study these documents, my jaw dropped.
It shows the interviewed soldiers steeped in the events that they describe. In nobody knew when or how the Second World War would end, and the interviews show you the horizons of people at war, they bring you closer to their thoughts and emotions than any other source.
Take this account by a young man, Alexander Averbukh — an infantry lieutenant, not a political officer — a nobody, really. But for the tanks, he could easily be an American soldier describing an attack in Vietnam or Afghanistan:. I went with a platoon to the right. We were going to complete our mission or die trying. At night we made sure the soldiers were all fed, and then we tried to get some rest. We fought to the last.
When we ran out of ammunition, we used grenades to destroy the tanks. Men were dropping off left and right. All I had left was one rifle and eight cartridges.
I ordered the men to hold on to them. This is only one of countless combat episodes described in the interviews, and it feels quite typical. I remember one moment in particular with the archives, when I realized I had something really exceptional: This may be a particularly American idea, that it would be exceptional for World War II to be personal for some people — it involved everyone in Europe!
My father was conscripted into the Wehrmacht at the end of the war, and fought in a series of losses to the Soviets, but was able to limp to safety with a leg wound. Can you say more about that, the different ways in which nations tend to view World War II, themselves, and their character — what that says about us today?
The soldier hero of the Nazi period was a twisted but recognizable form of the old Prussian ideal that still resonated with the inter-war population — afterthis gives way to the ideal of the anti-hero.
Here I think that the Germans and Britons may have had something in common. Both countries represented themselves centrally through their battle against Nazi Germany, and both presented it as an essentially moral story.
Russian and American writers seem equally prone to romanticizing or valorizing their soldiers. How does Stalingrad read in the context of our current conflict with Russia? I think that the history of the Second World War directly intrudes on the terms of our relationship with Russia. These complaints have sharpened recently, as post-Soviet nations that left the Russian sphere of influence Poland, Estonia, now Ukraine perform historical revisionism. These countries are nationalizing their history textbooks, and accordingly the Soviet Red Army is slighted or even cast as the true enemy.
There is a real and understandable sense that Russians, as the successors to the Soviet Union, feel that their role in World War II is being downplayed by groups or individuals seeking political gain. But it explains why Russians respond to his message so passionately.
Politicians and intellectuals in the West have two choices: Well — our collective peril! I expect a great deal of interest in these personal accounts. There has been a recent trend in Russia: This is the same as in Germany and America, and has to do in part with the imminent passing of a generation — so schoolchildren are videotaping testimonies of the very aged veterans at an accelerated pace.
There is also a movement of volunteers that travels to Second World War battlefields to recover the remains of fallen soldiers, in an effort to identify them. When I began my project I initially wanted to compare the voices and emotions of German and Soviet soldiers. There are many diaries available on the German side, but hardly any from the Soviet perspective.
Consequently there are few sources that present us with a full record of unmediated wartime voices. One of the things that struck me most was the level of admiration Soviet citizens held for the Germans — their discipline and order in particular.
David Glantz – Wikipedia
And the Germans never accorded the Soviets this respect, as they continued to portray the enemy as beastlike and subhuman after the war, and helped successfully transplant this stereotype into Western Cold War propaganda. To this day, Germans remember the rapes committed by Red Army soldiers, but not the massive violence inflicted by Germans during their invasion and occupation of the Soviet Union.
If that image had not been operative, Soviet troops would have been much more brutal. Russian troops in Chechnya went wild. They went on a rampage in Berlin in as well, but were reined in after two weeks.
Stalinrgad now apply this perspective to the Germans: What made Stalingrad exceptional for the Soviets? What was different about this battle? David Glantz has shown that from the beginning of the German invasion of Russia, Red Army units fought bitterly, and German casualty rates were high — though always only a fraction of Red Army losses.
Stalin ordered time and again that the Red Army fight back and not retreat without a fight. In Stalingrad, there were several things happening at once.
The early parts of the battle preceded the landing of the Western Allies in North Africa, and so people in Great Britain were listening to the broadcasts from Stalingrad with enormous interest.
There was a sense that if the city fell, all would be lost. Hitler himself imagined that the city was filled with a million staunch communists. And, of course, Stalin could not afford to let the city named after himself be destroyed. Thirdly, it was the first time that Germans had been forced into street fighting — something to which, it turned out, they were ill suited.
Chuikov and others talk a great deal about the successful tactics of using storm troops, small units often operating at night, with surprise attacks. That was a Soviet kind of Blitzkrieg tactic in miniature; it was demoralizing for cavid Germans, a permanent source of fear. Compare this to the extreme inefficiency of Soviet stalingra in the open plains.