Monday, October 24, 2016


Stalingrad by Anthony Beevor, 493 pages.
Beevor does an excellent job telling the story of the German Army Group South, particularly General Paulus's Sixth Army, during the 1942-1943 campaign. Beevor uses newly opened archives, letters, and interviews to tell the story of a battle that cost hundreds of thousands of lives of soldiers and civilians and changed not only the course of the war, but also, according to the author, changed the dynamic at the Tehran conference and set the stage for the Soviet's post war ascendancy.
Stalingrad was a turning point for Hitler and for Stalin. Hitler, as he sent paper divisions in as reinforcements, and concocted impossible re-supply airdrops, was no longer to be seen as an infallible leader or a military genius, and Stalin, once his army was victorious, was able to take credit again, and claim to the infallible leader again. Stalingrad, as a place and as a battle, was a series of  stories that are horrifying on many levels, several those stories are told well here, many more are mentioned; there are fleeting scenes of cannibalism among the most wretched, there are glimpses of virtual walls of frozen corpses, and a glance at the 944 children who lived through the long battle. The city on the Volga river, and much of the surrounding area, was reduced to rubble. Observers after the siege was broken reported being unable to tell which were natural changes in the topography and which were bomb and shell craters. A fascinating book.

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