By September 26, 1942 the German Sixth Army had taken the bulk of Stalingrad's southern and central sectors. Though the 62nd Army stood nearly as strong on September 26th in terms of personnel as it had two weeks prior it's tank strength had dropped considerably from where it had once been. For instance, the primary armored reinforcements sent into the city consisted of light tanks that failed to replace the much more valuable T-34 medium tanks and KV-series heavy tanks lost in the September fighting. In short, the 62nd Army was in trouble.
The Battle for the City of Stalingrad ranged across three large geographical areas divided into southern and central sectors as well as the Factory District in the north. By September 26, 1942 the German Sixth Army largely controlled the city's southern and central sectors following a brutal block by block fight that had lasted the entire month.
In southern Stalingrad the remnants from the Soviet 62nd Army's defenses (three rifle divisions, three rifle brigades, one tank brigade, and one rifle regiment - hardly equalling a fraction of their former size) had been pressed into a small strip of
General of Panzer Troops Friedrich Paulus's Sixth Army and Colonel General Hermann Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army spent September of 1942 battering the Soviet Southeastern Front's 62nd Army (commanded by Lieutenant General Anton Ivanovich Lopatin until relieved in mid-September by Lieutenant General Vasilii Ivanovich Chuikov) back into Stalingrad and to toward the Volga River. The initial German plan for taking Stalingrad had been for the XIV Panzer Corps to penetrate south along the Volga from where it had reached Stalingrad's northern suburbs late in the day on August 23rd.
During the summer of 1942 Hitler and OKH had split Germany's Army Group South in two. Army Group A represented the linchpin of the German strategic effort. Army Group A's objectives included the Maikop oil fields (captured during August, albeit after being thoroughly demolished), the Grozny oil refineries, and the Baku oil fields. Together, these oil fields and refineries constituted the overwhelming majority of the Soviet Union's sources of oil.
Late in August of 1942 the German Sixth Army bore down on Stalingrad. The German commander, General Freidrich Paulus, had much to contemplate regarding how he would approach the task of seizing the city that would become the bane of his existence and end his military career in catastrophic fashion. Stalingrad sprawled down the broad Volga River's western bank in a long (at over 25 miles) strip of land. Problematically for it's defenders, the Volga's western bank rose significantly higher than it's east bank.
Over the past month we have looked at four major Soviet offensives launched against the German Sixth Army's northern flank as it attempted to clear the Soviet 62nd Army from Stalingrad (pictured in the image to the right). In particular, the Red Army's First Kotluban offensive had an enormous impact on events inside the city. As bad as the Second through Fourth Kotluban offensive's went for the Soviet Don Front's army's they also would impact not only the fighting within Stalingrad, but the German perception of the threat to Sixth Army posed by Army Group B's overextended front.
Last month I began an in-depth look at what was happening outside Stalingrad while what has become one of the most remembered battles of the Second World War was waged in the streets and ruins of the city. I started with a look at the Soviet Stalingrad Front's First Kotluban Offensive during the first week of September 1942. This offensive was directed against the German Sixth Army's VIII Army Corps (384th and 76th Infantry Divisions) and XIV Panzer Corps (the 16th Panzer Division and 3rd and 60th Motorized Divisions) .
Most commentators like to point out that the attack failed miserably.
Seventy-four years ago one of the Second World War's most important battles raged in the Russian city of Stalingrad. That fighting still attracts the attention of history enthusiasts to this day, but what is often forgotten is that what was happening outside Stalingrad had an enormous impact on events inside the city.
General of Panzer Troops Friedrich Paulus's Sixth Army and Colonel General Hermann Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army spent September of 1942 battering the Soviet Southeastern Front's 62nd (commanded by Lieutenant General Anton Ivanovich Lopatin until relieved in mid-September by