Operation Hubertus – Ljudnikov's Last Stand in Stalingrad
By Wolf Höpper taken from
would like to thank Mr. Wolf Höpper a lot for
this excellent and very
interesting work about Operation Hubertus.
Most of the time, when a student of military history stumbles across a subject,
he is not aware of the significance of the information he has just read.
Back in my younger years, I stumbled across a magazine-sized publication named “Sonderheft
II. Weltkrieg – Pioniere” (lit. Special issue WWII - pioneers). I was hooked,
since it featured an in-depth (from my point of view back then) history of the
German combat engineers in WWII, and in it a special operation in a well-known
city was “detailed”.
In most publications about the battle of Stalingrad the different small scale
combats and actions are covered only with slim, often too personalised, chapters.
The reader usually gets a good feeling about the vicious, humanity defying
fights that took place. This should not minimise the suffering of anybody who
was involved directly or indirectly. However, on the historical side, the reader
most often doesn´t get enough information about specific parts of the battle.
The intention of this article is to flesh out the detail of the operations of
the German pioneers in Stalingrad.
The last offensive efforts of the German 6th Army to conquer Stalingrad between
11 and 19 November 1942 are mostly covered within two or three sentences in
books that are at average 250 pages long! Most of the time no details about this
time period can be found at all in many, often highly acclaimed, publications by
well-known historians. Even a highly praised German TV historian (I don’t want
to name him for fear of reprisals), states only 4 sentences about this subject
in one of his best sellers.
By writing this article about this last offensive, codenamed "Operation Hubertus",
I will try to fill the holes found in the history books.
A Brief History of the Battle for Stalingrad...
On 8 November 1942 the commander-in-chief of Germany announced his plans to
Germany for an offensive to take the last part of Stalingrad.
“I wanted to come to the Volga at a specific location at a specific city. By
chance it carries the name of Stalin himself. So don’t think I marched there for
this reason – it could carry another name – but because there is a very
important goal... this goal I wanted to take – and you know – we are very
modest, we have it already.
There are only some very small places remaining. Now the others say: ‘Why aren’t
they fighting faster?’ – Because I don’t want to have a second Verdun there, I’d
rather take it with small assault groups.” - Adolf Hitler 8 November 1942 in his
annual Bürgerbräukeller speech (Author’s translation)
Several thousand of miles away in the nearly levelled city of Stalingrad many
German soldiers also heard this speech over their radios, among them about 3000
assault troops forming into “small assault groups”. What was so specific about
this speech and the reality behind the words of the announcer?
At the time of Hitler’s speech the German troops held nearly 90% of Stalingrad.
Only small islands of resistance were still held by the Soviets:
The 39th Rifle Division defended parts of the Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) steel
factory, supported by the 284th Rifle Division on their left flank defending the
workers housing area.
The few remaining parts of Krasnaya Barrikady (Red Barricades) ordnance factory
was defended by shattered units of 138th, 308th, and parts of 244th Rifle
Division. They held less than 10% of that factory.
The workers housing area of this factory was also defended by remnants of the
138th Rifle Division, particularly its 768th Rifle Regiment.
Another hard fought for area was the chemical factory "Lazur" and its
surrounding train yards, the so-called "tennis racket". The name was derived
from the look of the railway tracks depicted from aerial photos. An amalgam of
units from 284th Rifle Division, 9th and 38th Mechanized Rifle Brigades and
other already shattered rifle and tank units defended this area stubbornly.
These remaining strongholds were connected by the thin defensive lines of the
161st Rifle Regiment and 95th Rifle Division (241st Rifle Regiment) in the south,
and the 37th Guards Rifle Division (118th Rifle Regiment) in the north.
In between these more or less cohesive units a number of soldiers from various
shattered units were mixed: 42nd Rifle Brigade, 347th Rifle Regiment, 685th
Rifle Regiment, 895th Rifle Division, 45th Rifle Division to name but a few.
The German 71., 76. , 79. , 94., 100. Jäger (Light), 305. and 389. Infanterie
divisions who, supported by other major units (14., 16. and 24. Panzer divisions),
had been assaulting the city for weeks. Supported by massive artillery, air and
tank support, they were not able to sweep the stubborn and fearless fighting
Soviet defenders into the Volga and thereby end the atrocious house-to-house
fighting, which was taking a bloody toll on both sides.
The Germans especially were unable to start a last effort to take these few
remaining strongholds, since most of their combat companies were so weakened.
Many of them were down to about 50, some 30 or 40, rifle carrying soldiers.
German commanders doubted if “these divisions should be used in such a manner at
all”. The 14. and 24. Panzer divisions were particularly low in manpower. On 2
November at 1800 hours, Chief of Staff of 6th Army General Schmidt, reported
that 79., 94. and 305. Infanterie divisions were no longer able to attack as
whole cohesive units.
Some of these units were very low in strength, for example the 94.
Infanteriedivision had a combat strength of only 535 men. The 6th Army ordered
at this point to disband units, reduce the guns per battery to three, reduce the
staff strengths, signal battalions and other support units to 10% of their
manpower. Additionally Russian "Hilfswillige" (Hiwi or willing helper) should be
increasingly employed in non-combat roles to free German personal for
strengthening the decimated combat units.
Additionally as a last resort 10 battalions of Turkic soldiers from the Caucasus
were to be sent to the Stalingrad area. This order from 6th Army high command
was dated 6 November. All divisions would receive their Turkic battalions at the
end of December.
II. First Steps, First Plans
Hitler agreed on 2 November to send additional pioneer battalions to Stalingrad.
The Chief of the German Army General Staff, Zeitzler, made this proposal, and
Hitler probably envisioned an assault attack with small storm-trooper units,
much like the German tactics at the end of WWI.
But Zeitzler was not the initiator of this idea. On 1 November Oberst-General
Freiherr von Richthofen, commander-in-chief of Luftflotte 4 (Air Army),
operating mainly over Stalingrad, contacted General Jeschonnek in Berlin and
made a proposal. Richthofen recognized that the ongoing bombardments and close
support missions of the VIII Fliegerkorps were taking their toll on machines and
men alike. During a conference earlier the same day with von Paulus and Schmidt,
he complained, that his air support was not fully utilized by the infantry units
of 6th Army. Since he was not rebutted by Paulus, Richthofen was convinced his
point was right. From this grew a deep mistrust between Richthofen and Paulus,
especially from the former's point of view.
Zeitzler spoke with Hitler on 2 November during the daily conference and the
latter agreed. Another proposal, to send the 29. Motorized Infanteriedivision
into the city, was denied.
After Oberst I.G. (Oberst in the generals staff) Werner of 6th Army heard this
on the phone, he replied to the chief of staff of Army Group B that
reinforcement with some pioneers will not end the fighting, since missing
covering infantry was the problem.
Why pioneers and not a fresh infantry division? This question is very easily
answered: The German pioneers were the masters of demolition, highly trained
specialists in house-to-house fighting and the use of explosives. The regular
Grenadier was not very versed in these areas and up to this point used tactics
of bombardment-advance-close combat that led to horrible losses for the attacker.
The Soviets in particular were the ruling masters of defence during this period
of the war. Their ability to camouflage fortified positions, combined with an
above average training in the use of the bayonet and excessive use of hand
grenades, even at the risk of injuring their own comrades, allowed them time and
time again to throw attackers back.
The Soviets, to some extent, had the psychological upper hand. The German
Grenadiers did not have the same deep desire to repulse the fascist aggressors,
further enhanced and cultivated by propaganda.
Together with the cruel handling of so-called deserters, cowards and fascist
collaborators, by the NKVD, the normal Red Army soldier had but one choice:
fight and maybe survive or don’t fight and die by the hands of the NKVD.
Stalin’s well known order of “No step back” reminded them that their choices
were very narrow.
The Pioneers on the other side had the special training in the above mentioned
fields, which made them far better suited for taking the remaining, well
fortified, positions from the brave Soviet defenders.
As for additional infantry divisions, there were none! The only probably
possible infantry division, which would have been able to be transferred to the
eastern front, the 334. Infanteriedivision, was just forming at Grafenwöhr,
Germany. They were later transferred to Africa.
So General of Artillery von Seydlitz-Kurzbach, Commander of LI. Armeekorps
proposed the following idea for the upcoming attack:
First attack to the Volga bank in the area of 295. Infanteriedivision, then
attack out of the metallurgic factory to the south. Another proposal was to take
the chemical factory “Lazur” itself (“if the Führer orders”). The later was
approved by the 6th Army high command. On 3 November the 6th Army issued the
order for LI. Armeekorps to first attack the northern part of “Lazur”“ on 10 or
At first LI. Armeekorps considered attacking the factories and the Volga bank
with groups “Seydel” and “Scheele” simultaneously, and gave out order no. 109,
dating 7 November. However, since even the most optimistic commander could see
that this was to be a suicide mission, the Chief of Staff of the 6th Army and
Chief of Staff of LI. Armeekorps conferred and a new attack plan was proposed (7
November 1215 hours).
So order no. 109 was revoked and the new corps order no. 110, dating 8 November
0400 hours, was issued. In this new order the seizure of the factory halls and
Volga bend in the area of group “Schwerin” was not even mentioned.
For that attack LI. Armeekorps had to regroup its forces. On 4 November they
raised the group Schwerin, under the commander of 79. Infanteriedivision’s
Major-General von Schwerin. It consisted of 79. Infanteriedivision and all
infantry and infantry-like troops of 14. and 24. Panzer divisions. From the
panzer divisions only the infantry, and comparable units like recon,
Kradschützen (motorcycle infantry) and pioneers remained in the area. All other
units were sent to the rear areas for regrouping and refitting. The artillery of
these units was placed under command of artillery regiment 179. (Armeekorps
order no. 105 dating 5 November).
III. The final plan
On 5 November General von Sodenstern contacted AOK 6 (6th Army command) and
asked if an attack against the eastern area of the metallurgic factory and the
gun factory could be started. After von Paulus conferred with Army Group B, and
then with Hitler, he ordered that the proposal should be set into action.
Planning for the attack was coordinated between LI. Armeekorps and 6th Army and
von Seydlitz-Kurzbach issued on 8 November his order to attack, codenamed
As the proliferation of confusing orders, and especially attack objectives, of
the upcoming operation were changed and changed again, Army Group B contacted
6th Army on the evening of 6 November and informed them “that the Führer has
decided, that the bridgeheads north of the gun factory and the metallurgic
factory should be taken first”.
The attack plan was finalised as the following: The whole area from the Volga
bank east of gun factory “Red October” to the fuel depot to south east of the
brickyard will be attacked with all available forces simultaneously.
The 305. Infanteriedivision, reinforced by the pioneers, along with the
reinforced 389. Infanteriedivision would attack with a lightning blow on the
left flank and reach the Volga bank.
The 71., 295. Infanterie and 100. Jäger divisions together with group Schwerin
were to undertake prepared assault attacks to confuse the enemy about the true
nature of the offensive. Strong forces of VIII Air Corps should support the
attack. After that first act the Volga bank east of “Lazur” should be taken, and
finally the chemical factory “Lazur” itself.
The question arose, who should plan and execute the crucial part of the
operation, the pioneer attack in the north of this last offensive? After long
discussions between von Paulus, von Seydlitz-Kurzbach and Oberst Herbert Selle,
commander of pioneers of 6th Army, the later proposed (an up to this point quiet
man during the planning) one of his Pioneer officers, “an expert in his field.”
The man proposed for the task was Major Josef Linden, a 38-year old professional
officer from Essen, commander of army Pionier Bataillon 672. His unit was
mentioned in the Wehrmachtsbericht (armed forces report) after their grand
bridge operations over the Dnieper and the clearing of large mine fields in
front of the Stalingrad fortress lines. At Kalatsch he was building up the
pioneer training school of the 6th Army.
Linden received the order from Oberst Selle on the evening of 6 November to
report the next day at 0900 at liaison point X for a special mission. He left
Pionier Bataillon 672 behind and 14 hours later he reported with his staff
personnel at this point X, the so called “ring-binder”, the command post of 305.
Infanteriedivision in Stalingrad North. The division’s Chief of Staff Oberst
Steinmetz informed him of the special mission. He was to clear the remaining
Soviet bridgeheads on the western bank of the Volga river: the ordnance factory
“Red Barricade”, metallurgic chemical factory “Lazur”, the “tennis racket” (the
train yards), the “White house” (chemist’s shop) and the “Red House” (Commissar’s
For this difficult task he was assigned the following troops as an assault force:
Pionier Bataillon 50 (mot), Hauptmann Gast, from 22. Panzerdivision
Pionier Bataillon 162, Major Krüger, from 62. Infanteriedivision
Pionier Bataillon 294, Hauptmann Weimann, from 294. Infanteriedivision
Pionier Bataillon 305, Hauptmann Traub, from 305. Infanteriedivision
Pionier Bataillon 336, Hauptmann Lund, from 336. Infanteriedivision
Furthermore Pionier Bataillons 41 and 45 (the later under Hauptmann Drewitz)
were also assigned to Oberst Linden from Pionier Regiment Stab 604 (pioneer
Additionally he was to command Pionier Bataillon 389 under Hauptmann Pfitzner,
which had already been fighting for several weeks in this area.
Oberst Selle estimated a mere 6 to 8 days duration for this final operation.
So on paper this made up for an impressive eight pioneer battalions. Numerically
major Linden should have about 4800 assault pioneers at his command.
But the following points give another picture entirely:
1) Pioneer Battalion 50 (mot) contributed only 2 companies since their 3rd (panzer
pioneer company 140) remained, along with their half-tracks, with the rest of
22. Panzerdivision. The unit was dispatched to the LI. Armeekorps about 2 weeks
before the scheduled attack for street fighting, so after serious combat this
unit was not at full strength.
2) Pionier Bataillons 305 and 389 had been already fighting for weeks in
Stalingrad and they were down to more or less company sized battlegroups.
3) Pionier Bataillons 41 and 45 had also already suffered causalities, since
they took part, alongside Pionier Bataillon 295 in the forced Don crossing
earlier in the campaign. The 3rd company of Pioneer Battalion 45 was especially
under-strength. They participated in the earlier fighting for the grain elevator
and southern railway station, so the 3rd company was held back. Both battalions
were combined into one battlegroup under Hauptmann Sprenger, designated Pionier
4) Pionier Bataillon 162 was drawn from their positions behind the Italian 8th
Army. They were just scheduled for a rest and refit phase. The exact strength
can’t be verified, but the unit must certainly be considered less than “fresh”,
although the last weeks before their front were relatively quiet.
Therefore the only relatively “fresh” units were Pionier Bataillons 294 and 336,
but they, together with Pionier Bataillon 162, were several hundred miles away.
Pionier Bataillon 294 was behind the Don bend, Pionier Bataillon 162 with the
Italian 8th Army and Pionier Bataillon 336 with XXIV Armeekorps with the 2nd
Hungarian Army near Voronezh.
Although the exact strengths of the transferred units can’t be verified 100%,
available sources are not very specific here, one seems to be quite correct:
According to the diary of general Oberst von Richthofen the strength of the
battalions were as following (officers/NCOs/ranks):
Pioneer Battalion 45 9/30/246
Pioneer Battalion 50 (mot) 10/44/405
Pioneer Battalion 162 7/31/281
Pioneer Battalion 294 4/29/275
Pioneer Battalion 336 8/38/336
So they totalled only 1753 men. None of these units were at full strength.
After the numbers became obvious, General Schmidt from 6th Army made a last
plead to the Army Group on 3 November at 1100 hours demanding, in addition to
the pioneers, that the infantry from 29. and 60. Motorised divisions be made
available. He, like the rest of the commanding frontline officers, foresaw the
problem of holding the newly gained ground with their depleted infantry units.
Army Group B’s General von Sodenstern, denied this request since “it is not
approved by the Führer”.
The greatest problem for bringing the units into Stalingrad, was the bad road
situation, combined with the always scarce transport capacities.
After conferring with von Richthofen, major Linden was informed, that it would
take about 3 days before this units would become available, because some of them
had to be flown into the Stalingrad area to meet the time schedule for the
attack. Again the train transportation capacity was so low, that only Pionier
Bataillon 336 was considered to be sent to Stalingrad by train. After close
examination of the available transport space, this unit also had to be flown in
Additionally von Paulus, after realizing the lack of infantry support and
conferring with General-Leutnant von Seydlitz-Kurzbach ordered, that 10 battle
groups should be formed from the 71., 79., 94., 100. Jäger, 295., 305., 389.
Infanterie and 14. and 24. Panzer divisions, to back up the assaulting pioneers
and take up the newly gained positions.
These battle groups, as far as can be ascertained, were formed as follows:
1) 14. Panzerdivision: Parts of Panzer Regiment 36, the half-track battalion,
and Panzer Artillery Regiment 4 were withdrawn to Kotelnikowo. All non-mobile
panzers, vehicles and weapons were transferred there. The Panzergrenadier
regiments were ordered to stay at Stalingrad, holding their positions and they
contributed a roughly oversized battalion combat group. Besides that the 14.
Panzerdivision was ordered to build up a panzer company and artillery battalion
as a mobile reserve. This group was designated “Kampfgruppe Seydel”. They had
(without staff and the heavy company) a personal strength of 11/60/507.
Weapon strength: 43 light MG, 13 heavy MG, 5 mortars, 9 light infantry guns, 3x
3.7cm anti tank guns, 6x 5cm anti tank gun, 5x 7.5cm anti tank guns, 6 Panzer
III long , 1 Panzer IV short.
2) 24. Panzerdivision: On 11 November Panzergrenadier Regiment 26 formed an
assault company under Oberleutnant Beyersdorff. Additionally Kradschützen
battalion 4 (KB 4) was reinforced with companies 3, 4 and 5 of the armoured
recon battalion (Panzeraufklärungsabtielung, PzAA 24). Their strength was
3(34)/23(197)/98(953). The numbers in parentheses are the required strength! 1st
and 2nd companies (armoured cars and half-tracks) of KB 4 were withdrawn to the
great Don bend. They were attached to the 389. Infanteriedivision.
3) 24. Panzerdivision also formed "Kampfgruppe Scheele" with a total strength of
4) The Croatian 369. Grenadier Regiment received a newly arrived battalion (4
November) and was boosted up to the strength of a reinforced battalion. They
numbered a full infantry battalion (the arriving reinforcements) plus the
remnants of the original regiment: 1 infantry company with 98 men and 8 light
MG, 1 heavy MG company (73 men and 11 heavy MG) and 1 anti-tank company with 20
men and 6 guns.
They were first attached to 212. Grenadier Regiment (79. ID, 6 November), then
later to the 305. ID (11 November).
5) 79. Infanteriedivision withdrew its Pionier Bataillon 179 under Hauptmann
Weltz and reinforced it with the following units: 1 heavy mortar detachment,
13./208., 13./212., 13./226. Grenadier Regiment (the light infantry gun
companies of these regiments), 2 groups of Radfahrabteilung 179 (bicycle riders),1
platooon of 2cm Flak38 guns from 4./37., and 2 heavy infantry guns (sIG 33). On
request they were allocated fire from I./Artillerie Regiment 179 (1st battalion
artillery regiment 179). They were later to be attached to the 389.
6) 79. Infanteriedivision also formed on 5 November, from its II Battalion, 212.
Grenadier Regiment, Sturmkompanie 212. Strength: 3/28/146, weapons: 9 light MG,
2 heavy MG, 4 mortars, 2x 3.7cm Pak36 guns.
7) 79. Infanteriedivision also withdraws I./226. Grenadier Regiment out of the
front line (6 November) and places it as reserve behind II./226. Grenadier
Regiment. This enables them to form Sturmkompanie 226.
8) 94. Infanteriedivision withdrew parts of their 274. Grenadier Regiment along
with Radfahrabteilung 194 (bicycle riders) and put it under command of Hauptmann
Brendel. They were also attached to 389. Infanteriedivision.
9) Since 578. Grenadier Regiment (305. ID) was so badly mauled, its 2nd
battalion for example only had 41 men left, Kampfgruppe 578 was formed, where
all survivors of the regiment were concentrated. The commander was Hauptmann
Rettenmaier. They were later reinforced with Pionier Bataillon 50 (mot).
10) The other regiments of 305. Infanteriedivision (576 and 577) also formed
similar battlegroups, although they were reinforced with personnel from their
Before Major Linden planned his attack he took a look at the upcoming
battlefield. His illusions about the operation, if he ever had them, were blown
away. Through the Scherenfernrohr (periscope binoculars) and binoculars he saw a
giant field of debris. The area was littered with rubble heaps of blown up walls,
levelled buildings, loosely formed roofs of hanging steel plates, gigantic
bombshells, piles of semi-finished gun barrels, bent steel supports, destroyed
machines and electrical devices.
Where the ground was not open, he could only see craters and earth ploughed up
by explosions. All of this unnameable chaos was bristling with bunkers,
fortifications and trenches. A truly shocking sight, a “snake pit”, for every
troop commander who feels responsible for his men. Behind all of this the ground
smoothly sloped to the Volga, where it stopped on the eastern bank of the river.
This bank would later prove impenetrable and from above it gave the viewer the
impression that it was cut with a giant sword.
After his recon tour major Linden spoke with von Seydlitz-Kurzbach. He outlined
that an offensive with his pioneer battalions split between the different
assault units would spell doom upon the attacking soldiers. He convinced his
superior commander that the pioneers should attack one enemy position after the
other. Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach then split the planned operation in to two stages,
“Schwerin I” and “Schwerin II”.
He planned to let the Group Schwerin assault force attack, with the to be
assigned pioneer battalions attacking from the north, on 13 November between
metallurgic factory and ordnance factory. On 20 November the second attack was
to take the ground from the fuel depot southeast to the “Red October” factory
and simultaneously destroy the enemy in the Martin oven hall (no. 4) of “Red
October”. For the second attack he held whole of group Schwerin in reserve and
it was not initially to be committed for the opening phase of “Operation
OPERATION HUBERTUS - PART TWO
Soviets and preparations.
By Wolf Höpper
IV. The other side of the battlefield
How were Soviets placed? Vassilij Tschuikov was forced to move his army command
post four times in seven weeks. Finally he took up a position in a tunnel system
in the north behind the lines of 45th Rifle Division.
His Soviet units were not in much better shape than the Germans. His 95th Rife
Division (Polkovnik Gorischny) was badly mauled, most of the remaining soldiers
had to be assigned to neighbouring units, the 37th Guards Rifle Division (Polkovnik
Schodulov) was disbanded and the survivors assigned to 118th Rifle Regiment of
138th Rifle Division (Polkovnik Ivan Iljitsch Ljudnikov). The later also
received the rest of 308th Rifle Division (Polkovnik Gurtjev).
Another difficulty arose when the STAVKA (Soviet high command of Red Army)
withdrew many batteries of the long-range artillery from the east side of the
Volga to other parts of the front. This major defensive factor, which
contributed so much to the “successful” defence of the last weeks, was weakened.
Tschuikov also concluded that these movements, and the lessened barrages, would
be recognised and utilised by the Germans to their advantage.
The most crucial difficulty for Tschuikov to overcome was that the shipment of
supplies and reinforcements across the Volga, it had become more and more a
battle of its own. Not only were the advancing Germans gaining further parts of
the Volga bank daily, which enabled them to better coordinate their artillery
and air attacks, but the weather itself turned against him. On 9 November the
thermometer dropped to minus 18 degrees Celsius and the great river began to
carry ice flows.
The shipping would have normally been stopped, but nonetheless the boat crews
and sailors still undertook trips across the dangerous water and supplied the
remaining defenders with the much needed food, ammunition and reinforcements.
Later a German soldier recognized the sound of the colliding, cracking ice flows
as spooky and doom spelling. The death knell was rung, but for whom?
On average Tschuikovs soldiers had about 30 rounds per rifle and only received
55 grams of dry bread per day. Sometimes not even these scarce food rations were
V. Before the Offensive
In the first nine days of November the Germans only undertook small, but
nonetheless very vicious, local assaults. In one example the Germans attacked
the main Volga crossing point and a company of the 347th Rifle Regiment, only
consisting of nine soldiers, dug-in 200 meters before the Volga. When the
Germans attacked, the Soviet commander, Leitenant Andrejev, collected his
surviving men and counterattacked with sub-machine guns. They fought the Germans
to a standstill allowing time for an arriving task force to help them hold the
northern ferry point.
These small islands of resistance were proving time and time again a true
fortress of impenetrable strong points. Nonetheless the Germans maintained these
attacks to keep up the pressure and not to give the defenders rest.
Another major disadvantage for the Germans lay in their dwindling artillery
ammunition from 31 October. The assault troops support and the night disrupting
bombardments could not be sustained at the levels they were conducted the
previous weeks. Worsening was the situation with hand grenades and mortar
ammunition. Paulus complained to the Army Group about this and recommended that
the operation should be postponed until 15 November. The Army Group headquarters,
under General von Sodenstern, considered this “a total time catastrophe”. The
time schedule was not changed.
During the whole of 8 and 9 November Major Linden and his command staff spent
planning the attack based on his recon tour. Since the orders from the higher
command were changed several times during the last days, he conferred with von
Seydlitz-Kurzbach and came up with a final plan, which was, again after several
phone calls (including with Hitler), approved. During one of these phone calls,
von Seydlitz-Kurzbach also assigns Sturmgeschütz abteilungen 244 and 245 (Assault
Gun Battalions) from 79. and 71. Infanterie divisions and an additional two
pioneer companies from Pionier Bataillon 635 to the attack.
His plans were laid down as following:
Pionier battalions 294, 50 (mot), 305 and 336, backed up by several battle
groups, are to attack on 2500 meters broad 305. Infanteriedivision sector
towards the fuel depot and into the gun factory.
Pionier battalions 162 and 389, in the combat sector of 389. Infanteriedivision,
were to attack directly towards the Volga bank. All other neighbouring units,
along the whole front of LI Armeekorps, were to undertake supporting attacks in
their sectors, so that no enemy reserves could be moved toward the northern
These “mock attacks” were to be coordinated between LI Armeekorps and the
responsible sector commanders seperatly.
Major Linden wanted the pioneers to blow holes into vital Soviet defence points,
especially bunkers and fortified houses. The following battle groups would
secure connecting screening lines to the attacking pioneers. He would then clear,
with parts of both assault forces, the strong points and attack the next
cornerstone until their goal, the Volga bank as a whole, was reached. Only
specific, very dominating, points should be attacked directly, connecting front
lines were to be bypassed.
Thereby he wanted to concentrate his scarce forces into narrow attack corridors
to maximise the pioneers’ firepower. The bypassed units were to be constantly
attacked by air, and the directly adjoining Soviet infantry units would be
forced to mostly only defend their own lines. The result would be that small
isolated pockets of resistance would remain, which could be mopped up bit by
The attack of the pioneers would be initiated by a massive air/artillery strike,
this short lightning-like barrage would then move 50 meters forward to enable
the storm pioneers to get out of their cover and into the positions of the still
pinned, demoralized and probably dislodged Soviet defenders. Direct air support
would only be flown on special request of the assault pioneers and against
strong point targets.
After all the preparations and troop shifting, both sides were ready for the
final act of this drama on the Volga.
Part Three: Day by Day account.
VI. The operation – a day by day account
Attacks in the sector of 79. ID – capture of the oil refinery
In the area of 79. Infanteriedivision the Soviets flew strong bomber sorties
against the factory positions. In the same sector of 79. ID, between 0310 and
0420 hours, the Soviet 180th Guards Rifle Regiment undertook a number of weak
recon thrusts against factory hall no. 2. All were repulsed. During the day the
138th Rifle Regiment attacked no less then 12 times against hall no. 10. The
strength varied, but on average 200 men attacked each time. Most of them were
repulsed in close combat.
Some local breaches into the hall itself were cleared with counterattacks. In
the morning Sturmgeschützabteilung 244 was withdrawn from the division and sent
north to the upcoming attack.
During the night heavy air raids accompanied by artillery bombardments hit the
German lines of 79. ID. The 79. ID was suffering more than their neighbouring
units under the constant bombardments, since it was covering the right flank of
24. Panzerdivision, which was guarding the vital Mamayev Kurgan hill preferred
by German artillery and air observers for coordination on the shipping on the
Since the Germans here also threaten large parts of chemical factory “Lazur”,
the Soviets constantly attacked their positions. German assault activities in
this sector were also weakened for the upcoming attack. The Soviets saw a chance
for a local counter-offensive, not realizing, that 79. ID and 24. PzD were
withdrawing and regrouping their forces for the upcoming attack against the
In the sector of 295. Infanterie/100. Jäger divisions, Pionier Bataillon 100 and
295, together with assault groups of their divisions, managed to capture the oil
refinery and breakthrough the left flank of Soviet 284th Rifle Division to the
Volga river. Otherwise only some houses were conquered and the attack comes to a
standstill. Here the Germans have gained another foothold on the Volga bank,
from where they intended to attack north to finally take “Lazur” and the “tennis
24. Panzerdivision finally managed to assemble the ordered assault company and
sent it immediately to the 389. Infanteriedivision.
The Soviets kept up their constant attack against 79. Infanteriedivision – Major
Linden worried about infantry strength.
The 79. Infanteriedivision’s reported that during the night the Soviets again
bombed their positions.
At 0730 hours the Soviets attacked with stronger force of 138th Rifle Regiment
out of the fuel depot against hall no. 10 and penetrate the southern part. At
0845 hours this attack was halted, but resumed one hour later after
reinforcements. Although 79. ID started an immediate counterattack, the
penetration could not be cleared. The 79. ID simply lacked the reserves for a
strong counterattack. The reserve battle groups were not committed because von
Seydlitz-Kurzbach denied the request from the division’s commander to release
them. He didn’t want the assault forces to be weakened. Since the Germans were
not effectively counterattacking, the Soviet commander, Polkovnik Batjuk, threw
more troops into the arena in six more attacks, each about 200 – 300 men strong,
to further the initial success. None of the attacks gained substantial ground.
In the morning the Soviet 180th Guards Rifle Regiment attacked, with between 30
and 40 men, hall no. 7 three times and tried to increase their penetration into
the hall, but the attacks were deflected. In the afternoon four more similar
attacks were undertaken, but all of them were unsuccessful, the last after
bloody close combat.
From 7 November the Soviet positions in the sector of 79. ID had been hit every
day by fifty 21cm shells of I/Artillerie Regiment 733, to neutralize specific
targets. This brought some relief and certainly disrupted Soviets plans, but
they were still able to fortify their defences and bring in their scarce
The Martin oven hall (no. 4) was hit twice with very good results by German
Stukas, each flight 15 planes strong.
The constant Soviet attacks in the sector of 79. ID certainly disrupted the
German plans for an offensive here. Although the Soviet commander, Polkovnik
Batjuk, was not aware of the German plans, he realised that his positions were
vital for the survival of Stalingrad and taking of the important Mamayev Kurgan
hill. He constantly sought to improve them so a counter-offensive in his sector
could be started. Tschukov also saw a slim chance at this point and constantly
shipped reserves into the area of 284th Rifle Division so they could keep up
their efforts. Other sectors, like that of the 138th Rifle Division, suffered
because these measures.
Major Linden was very concerned about the low attack strengths of some infantry
units, he constantly contacted von Seydlitz-Kurzbach to demanded reinforcements.
Even his observation, that too many highly trained specialists would be lost in
the attack and be missed in the upcoming spring offensive, were swept aside and
The Germans attack – chimneys of “Red Barrikady” are levelled – Slow progress by
the attackers – chemist´s shop is captured – Attack against “Commissars House”
fails – first breakthroughs to the Volga river – “Red October’ factory is
attacked – Casualities for the Germans are running high
Shortly after midnight assault groups moved as quietly as possible into the
machinery halls of “Red Barrikady”. The pioneers were burdened with satchel
charges, explosives, machine gun belts, tons of hand grenades and additional
pioneer equipment like large wire cutters, ignition boxes and flame-throwers.
All were quiet and they knew exactly where to position themselves.
These hardened veterans had done this over and over before. Some of the hard
nerved even smoked in anticipation of the soon to start bombardment. As
Hauptmann Rettenmaier of 578. Grenadier Regiment remembers, they were confident
that they would throw the Russians into the Volga. He commented to his troops
that the Russians fight here harder than in other cities, they answer “We saw
worse in Rostov and Voronezh!” Even Rettenmaier himself thought that this
operation might just succeed.
Suddenly an explosion was heard from a neighbouring room. One of the pioneers
had stepped on a Soviet land mine. He and 18 of his comrades had died before the
operation was even underway. They didn’t have much time to think about what
happened, it was 0330 hours and the German artillery had begun an immense, not
seen for a long time, artillery barrage on the Soviet positions of 138th Rifle
Division. All the artillery of LI Armeekorps fired on a thin line 3000 meters
wide right before the pioneers’ eyes. The earth shook under the massive pounding
of the German artillery fist.
The Soviets answered with a barrage of their own. General Voronov immediately
ordered all available batteries on the eastern Volga bank to counter the
For nearly two hours Germans and Soviets alike were held in their positions as
the gods of war exchanged their wrath.
In the morning at 0630 hours, during the bombardment, von Richthofen’s Stukas
managed to hit the chimneys of “Red Barrikady” directly and levelled them. This
robs the Soviets of their superb artillery observation posts and some very good
The first aim of Pionier Bataillon 305, in front of Rettenmaier´s Kampfgruppe
578, was the White House, held by parts of 768th Rifle Regiment (138th Rifle
Division). Pionier Bataillon 50 attacked the Red House, defended by 241st Rifle
Regiment (95th Rifle Division).
The reinforced II Battalion/576. Grenadier Regiment, under Hauptmann Kemper of
about 150 – 200 men strong, attacked the fortified positions of 650th Rifle
Regiment (18th Rifle Division) in the left sector of the Red Barricades factory.
Although they were supported by Pionier Bataillon 294, they made slow progress.
During the first day they only gained an average of 30 meters. They dearly paid
for that ground with heavy casualties. The most vicious fighting was centred
around hall no. 7. This large 700 x 100 metre multi-story building, and its
neighbouring heating plant, were well fortified and stubbornly defended by the
Obviously the barrage had some effect on the Soviet defenders. The I and
III/576. Grenadier Regiment, intended as flank covering forces for their II
Battalion, manage to break through at the 161st Rifle Regiment (95th Rifle
Division) and partially reached the Volga bank. They immediately tried to smoke
the retreating Soviets out of their river bank dungeons, but the hand grenades
rolled uselessly into the Volga. They had to stay and guard the exits, since at
night the Soviets would pour out and counterattack.
The attack against the White House proved to be well planned and executed. At
first the pioneers overcome the weak defences of the remaining Russians and gain
good ground. It was not until they reached the area surrounding the chemist’s
shop that the Soviet defenders scrapped-up some reserves, among them staff and
signal’s personal from 37th Guards Rifle Division, and attacked the pioneers on
their right flank. Suddenly the storm troopers had to seek cover. For many long
minutes the situation was desperate, the Germans were under fire from two sides.
The covering infantry, Kampfgruppe 578, was held back by still active and often
lone Soviet soldiers (308th and 344th Rifle Divisions) fighting for their lives
from hidden and changing positions.
The commander of 3rd platoon, Pionier Bataillon 305 drew up the following plan:
The whole company fires on their two side threats and thereby covering a group
of five men with a flamethrower. The remaining three groups set up heavy machine
guns and fire at the window holes and known positions of the defenders to force
them to take cover.
They could only manage to keep up this fire for seconds, the Soviet snipers were
a real menace for the attackers and shot very precisely. The flamethrower crew
rushed, with sub-machine guns blazing around them, to the main entrance of the
big austere building, the only point of cover and out of the sight of the hated
They discover the entrance was blocked and they shouted back to their comrades
and demanded a second hail of covering fire. One reckless pioneer ran back to
the old positions for the shaped charges. After a few seconds, that seemed like
minutes, he returned. The remaining pioneers waited in anticipation. There was a
sharp explosion followed by minutes of silence. Suddenly there was a sound like
a beast crying out its rage and agony. Black smoke came out of the building’s
openings. The flamethrower moved room to room, floor to floor, spaying doom on
the poor, hapless defenders.
Finally Kampfgruppe 578 arrived, and the combined two-side attack routed the
Soviet snipers. When the Germans advanced and took the few surrendering,
frightened and shocked Soviet prisoners, the building was already ablaze and
started to crumble into debris.
Further advance towards the Volga bank was abandoned, since the Soviets, 768th
Rifle Regiment and 42nd Rifle Brigabe had taken up positions and dug in only 200
meters from the Volga bank. After what they just experienced, they were still
willing to defend to the last bullet and man.
Even the Germans were worn out and decided to regroup for the next day.
The attack of Pionier Bataillon 50 was less successful. They crawled more than
they were advancing upright over the debris, cutting their way through remaining
barbed wire towards the Soviets. They were not able to infiltrate the house
itself, since here the Soviets had the building uniquely fortified. The ground
floor didn’t have any entrances, all of them were walled up! Although the
pioneers reached the house, they were unable to get in since the debris was not
high enough to support them up to the second level. After several direct
assaults the Germans retreated to safe positions and their intention to attack
further was abandoned. Major Linden decides to regroup for the next day.
Pionier Bataillon 336 was able to take several blocks from 344th Rifle Division
and 308th Rifle Division in their sector, but had to abandon the gains later,
since they had totally run out of ammunition.
Pionier Bataillon 389, reinforced with Pionier Bataillon 162, attacked straight
and partially reached the Volga bank. They were able to drive back 118th Rifle
Regiment (37th Guards Rifle Division), but otherwise the southern aimed attack
came to a standstill. Russian resistance proved too stiff.
At 0355 hours 79. ID attacked the Soviet positions of 120th Rifle Regiment and
117th Guards Rifle Regiment at the Martin oven hall (hall no. 4), in conjunction
with their lefthand neighbours.
The plan: They assigned reinforced Pionier Bataillon 179 and Pionier Bataillon
Sprenger (41st + 45th) for this task. Their first goal was the southeast side of
They attacked in the following order: right flank: Pionier Bataillon Sprenger,
centre 1st and 3rd companies, left 2nd company. The southwestern hall wall was
designated as dividing line for the responsible sectors. The northeastern hall
wall was assigned as the dividing line between 3rd and 2nd company.
Artillery Regiment 179 and the assigned infantry guns shelled the nortwestern
part of hall no. 4 for 5 minutes to hold down the defenders, after that the
assault groups advanced quickly locating and fighting local nests of resistance.
The artillery observers advanced with the leading assaulters to provide
effective fire support on the spot.
The artillery spotters were assigned to Pionier Bataillon Sprenger, the
observers for the light infantry guns with 1st and 3rd company, Pionier
2cm FlaK38 guns hold down snipers in the roof from their positions at the ladder
Croatian Regiment 369 was to conquer and secures the newly gained ground behind
the assault groups. One company was held in reserve.
Assembly was to be completed at 03.00 hours under codename “Martin”.
But all did not go the plan:
Assault group 1 was not able to get out of its assembly positions. Groups 2 and
3 only advanced with heavy flamethrower support about 30m inside the hall. Group
4 advanced on the northern side of the hall, but had to retreat at dawn towards
their starting positions due to heavy fire from the Soviet positions of the
120th Rifle Regiment. Groups 2 and 3 suffered heavy causalities, during their
dangerous advance over the debris, rubble, old machinery and wrecked iron parts.
The Soviets employed a number of unique defensive measures. They reinforced
positions with steel plates, so only small slits remain from where they fired
their weapons. These fortifications were very difficult to spot and even harder
to suppress and destroy. The attackers did manage to capture some badly wounded
Soviet soldiers. After interrogating them the commander of Pionier Bataillon
179, Hauptmann Wenz, learnt that the Soviets themselves planned an attack inside
the hall no. 4. The Germans had simply thrust with their assault groups into the
assembling 112th and 120th Rifle Regiments.
At first no substantial breakthroughs were achieved, but after a redirection of
the attack axis, both assault groups broke through on the right, northern, side
of the “Red October” factory and reached the Volga bank. This, together with the
successful thrust on the northern part by Grenadier Regiment 208 and Grenadier
Regiment 226 against the Soviet 339th, 347th and 685th Rifle Regiments of 99th
Rifle Division, established a cauldron in which about 2000 Soviet defenders of
95th and 99th Rifle Divisions were trapped.
This success was highly regarded by the German 6th Army and seen as the
beginning of the end for Tschuikov’s forces.
Together with their neighbours, 79. ID, the 14. Panzerdivision ordered a local
attack in the sector of Motorcycle battalion 64 (MB 64) south of bread factory
no. 2, to reach the Volga in the sector of 241st Rifle Regiment. After a short
bombardment from the division’s artillery at 0345 hours the Germans stormed
forward and reached the river bank with one group. They were quickly cut off and
counterattacked. A second volunteer group, assembled to relieve their comrades,
attacked and broke the resistance of Soviet 241st and 161st Rifle Regiments, but
was later also cut off. Both groups were annihilated by the Soviets, only one
wounded man escaped and reported the fate of his comrades. The goal to reach the
river and hold the positions here was not achieved.
After the reports of the causalities floated into the 305. Infanteriedivision’s
headquarters, General Major Oppenländer contacted von Seydlitz-Kurzbach and
demanded the attack be aborted. At this point the German assault forces had
already suffered up to 30% casualties. Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach was not willing to
do so and remarks “This is a Führerbefel!”, Oppenländer resigns from his post
and is replaced by the Chief of Staff of the VIII Armeekorps, Oberst Steinmetz.
Major Linden listened to the battle reports of the different unit commanders and
drew the following conclusions:
1. The pioneers were heavily burdened by their clumsy and awkward combat
equipment. These street fighting specialists were thereby unable to carry enough
ammunition for their infantry weapons to successfully keep up the fire-fight in
the long term. They simply ran out of bullets.
2. The debris filled, many times bombed, ground proved to be very helpful for
the defenders and often blocked line of sight.
This slowed the advance to a mere crawl for the next cover and prevented the
coordinated attacks of the different assault groups.
3. The following infantry units were not able to provide ample fire support and
it took them too long to clear isolated pockets of defenders.
He reported these points to von Seydlitz-Kurzbach and demanded immediate
infantry reinforcements. But all he received was a sharp denial from his
superior with the remark that nothing could be taken away from other divisions,
since the Soviets were preparing for an offensive in the Romanian sectors.
Nonetheless he reconsidered the ups and downs of the day and ordered that the
full attack in all sectors should only be revitalised after a regrouping and it
should be started on 13 November.
At about the same time the attack was started in the northern sector, between
0310 and 0420 hours the Soviet 138th and 180th Guards Rifle Regiment undertake
minor attacks against hall 2 of “Red October”, in the area of 79.
Infanteriedivision. These attacks were countered with close combat actions.
Shortly thereafter they attacked in the same area of hall no. 10 twelve times
with approximately 200 men each time. Some units managed to invade parts of hall
10, but were thrown out again by spontaneous local counterattacks. The old main
line of resistance was re-established and several weak counterattacks with tank
support were repulsed by the Germans.
In the evening the Soviet 95th Rifle Division undertook a counterattack
southeast of the “Red October” factory, but raging German mortar and artillery
fire immediately stopped this attempt in its tracks. The intention of
Schtscherbakov was to hinder the Germans from taking troops from his sector and
reinforcing their advancing flanks.
79. Infanteriedivision is constantly shelled and attacked – The “Commissar’s
House” or Red House is captured – minor advances by the Germans
During the night the Soviets flew aggressive sorties against the positions of
At 0500 hours the German artillery laid a firestorm on the Soviet positions for
one and a half hours.
The Germans learnt from the mistakes of the previous day and equip Pionier
Bataillon 50 with ladders. This battalion was moved into the former attack
sector of Pionier Batailon 305. The later was moved towards 79.
The attack from the previous day was resumed. The 2nd platoon, Pionier Bataillon
50, managed to get to the house walls and set up the ladders, while the infantry
together with the remaining pioneers set up precise screening fire to hold down
the defenders. The pioneers suffered horrible losses while climbing into the
rooms, with hand grenades and flamethrowers in use, they defeated the Russians
room by room fighting. When the situation became more and more hopeless for the
defenders, they retreated to the first floor and finally into the cellar. The
German attackers were not able to penetrate the cellar through the descending
stairs, so they broke the wooden floor open with picks and threw fuel canisters,
smoke grenades and explosives into the darkness below them. Thick smoke starts
soon appeared, indicating, that intense fires were raging. This was too much for
the defenders and they evacuated themselves through prepared escape tunnels to
the positions of the 138th Rifle Division. The result was nonetheless a success
for the Germans, they removed this strong point from the Soviet defensive line,
which had dominated the Volga bank and connected areas for several hundred
After a brief break, the Germans regrouped and called in another artillery
bombardment for their next advance. They intended to clear some neighbouring
housing blocks to secure their positions.
After they received their support, they assaulted a row of houses. At house no.
78, the attacked was halted by a Soviet machine-gun in a trench that had
pinpointed the Germans’ positions. Leutnant Kretz of 578. Grenadier Regiment
gathered some men, stormed forward, firing his sub-machine gun and took the
The final act of the attack came from a Red Army soldier to his left, who fired
his PPsH and downed Leutnant Kertz.
He was the last leutnant of 578. Grenadier Regiment to die on this day on the
Volga. This loss shocks his men and nearly halted the whole attack, but they
overcame their horror and took house no. 78. Shortly after they took up
positions in the house itself, the sharp eyes and ears of one machine-gunner
saved this newly gained position. From the second floor he noticed a strong
Soviet force sneaking up to the house. He opened fire, which alerts the rest of
the Germans, and with a counterattack they were able to hold the building.
After they received some fresh troops at 0950 hours, 305. Infanteriedivision
gained control over all of the area east of the gun factory. The 389.
Infanteriedivision reached the Volga bank on a 500 meter broad strip. The fuel
tanks were taken and cleared by Pionier Bataillon 294 of all enemy resistance.
During German attack, the 768th Rifle Regiment was split in two parts and it
drove a deep wedge into the Soviet positions and divided 138th Rifle Division of
Ljudnikov into two parts. One of his battalions only had a combat strength of 15
soldiers. The Soviets were partially driven back to within 70 metres of the
Ljudnikov decided to commit his last reserve battalion and threw them against
the advancing Pionier Bataillon 294. This cleared the situation for the moment.
Another platoon fought until only 4 men were left and ammunition was running
out. One of these brave men was sent back, already wounded, to order fire on
their own positions.
The 14. Panzerdivision and 79. Infanteriedivision resumed their attack from the
previous day, this time together with Panzergrenadier Regiments 103 and 108, and
gained the Volga bank. They were supported by Pionier Bataillon Sprenger and the
usual heavy air/artillery barrage. The Soviet 241st Rifle Regiment was totally
destroyed and the few survivors fought their way to neighbouring units.
The battle groups of 24. Panzerdivision repulsed a counterattack by 284th Rifle
Division against the chemical factory “Lazur”.
The advance of Pionier Bataillon 162 and 389 (389. Infanteriedivision sector)
ground to a standstill.
Only minor advances, often less than 20 metres against stubborn and unforgiving
resistance by 138th Rifle Division and 37th Guards Rifle Division, forced the
Germans to halt their offensive in this sector. The northernmost part of the
offensive had failed after the first day.
During the morning the Soviet 138th Rifle Regiment undertook several hazardous
attacks in the area of hall no. 10, but a vicious melee develops, by which the
Germans repulsed the Soviets with the large-scale use of hand grenades. A
similar attack at 1350 hours against hall no. 7 was also repulsed. The front
line soldiers in this sector observed strong movements between hall no. 10 and
the fuel depot. They reported this back to their division headquarter and where
it was rightly concluded that the Soviets were moving reserves into the area.
They immediately warned 305. Infanteriedivision of this new danger. Von
Seydlitz-Kurzbach, without knowing this fact, ordered the Panzer company of
group Seydel (group Schwerin) to be withdrawn to the great Don bend to reunite
with the parts of the 24. Panzerdivision.
At this point of the battle the situation was very serious for Tschuikov. His
northern defensive strong point, the 138th Rifle Division under Polkovnik
Ljudnikov, was split, severely thrown back and held only partial frontlines.
Around “Red October” no gains were achieved and the connecting units between
this two strong points were more and more reduced to thin, most often
non-cohesive, improvised lines. A cohesive defence of the Volga bank was not
guaranteed and the measures he was able to implement were less and less
After this second day of bloody combat von Seydlitz-Kurzbach reported to the
headquarters of 6th Army that the newly arriving infantry replacements,
especially for 79. Infanteriedivision, were insufficiently trained and therefore
suffer high casualties.
Part Four: 13 to 19 November (live 17 Dec)...
OPERATION HUBERTUS - PART FOUR
By Wolf Höpper
Germans regroup – attacks partially stopped – in several sectors German
successes – “Red October” finally cleared – 138th Rifle Division isolated -
Situation for Tschuikovs troops worsens
During the night Major Linden ordered Pionier Bataillon 162 to be withdrawn from
the 389. Infanteriedivision since their progress was not looking to be very
He attached them to the Kampfgruppe 578 (Grenadier Regiment 578 and Pionier
Bataillon 50). He doesn’t change their objective although, they were to tighten
their grip around the encircled Soviets and finally eliminate this strong pocket
so as to free forces for the southern attack against “Lazur”.
The assault groups attacked again and broadened their hold on the Volga banks.
Here the Germans supported the attack with assault guns from
Sturmgeschützabteilung 244. Although most of the vehicles were knocked out, they
reached their objectives. One objective was house no. 81. It was taken after
heavy room to room fighting. The Soviet 344th Rifle Division, which was
basically a battalion sized combat group, were forced to retreat. Pionier
Bataillon 162 managed to split the bridgehead behind “Red Barrikady” and reached
the Volga. Thereby elements of 308th, 344th and 45th Rifle Division were
Pionier Bataillon 336 attacked on the left side of the Pionier Bataillon 162,
but was stopped at a road junction where the Soviets had set up cross-fire
positions to control the whole area. A further advance seemed very unlikely at
The supporting attacks were more successful. Pionier Bataillon Sprenger in
conjuncture with Pionier Bataillon 305 and the assault forces of 79.
Infanteriedivision cleared the rest of “Red October” factory and set up a
connecting, but brittle frontline.
The Germans were now not more than 100 meters away from the Volga! At 0850 hours
elements of 138th Rifle Division, 650th Rifle Regiment, undertook a strong
counterattack out of the fuel depot against the assaulting Pioneers of 305.
Infanteriedivision, but it was repulsed.
These successful attacks finally cut off any chance of the defenders receiving
any supplies at all. Success was now dependent on holding the Volga bank strips,
but the Soviets were far from surrendering. Where even small groups were still
alive, they fought on, especially one group of Russians, 3 men under their
commander Rolik, who drove the Germans crazy. They were not simply holding a
position, but roamed their whole sector.
They undertook small guerrilla style actions, firing upon unwary Germans,
cutting telephone wires and even cut off hand grenades on wire, which the
Germans intend to direct into the command post of Tschuikov himself. Their
example was spreading to the other defenders and evolved into an indicator for
the whole battle itself. The Soviets believed as long as Rolik fights they can
The Soviet commander, Polkovnik Ljudinkov, demanded heavy artillery support so
his soldiers could re-establish a line of supply. The artillery answered his
request, they laid a devastating, very precise barrage on the Germans.
Shortly thereafter, the Soviets attacked. They managed to destroy the Germans
and only one badly wounded man returned to tell of the fate of his comrades. A
second group of volunteers was also gunned down to three men. The German attempt
to hold the sand bank was aborted, but only after the gained ground was totally
In the sector of Kampfgruppe Scheele the Soviets, 39th Rifle Division and 284th
Rifle Division, made weak recon attacks, which were again repulsed by hand
grenade and close combat.
During the entire day in the southern sector of 79. Infanteriedivision
disrupting heavy barrages by artillery and mortars were reported. The high point
was reached around midnight.
At 1030 hours all regimental and group commanders met at the command post of 79.
Infanteriedivision to confer about a possible attack in the sector of group
Seydel to reach the Volga bank. Since the Soviets were again attacking halls no.
7 and no. 10 at 1100 hours, and the necessary forces were still with 305.
Infanteriedivision, the attack was cancelled. At 2030 hours an order from LI
Armeekorps arrived, which demands an attack for the next day between the debris
heap and fuel depot to gain the Volga banks. The staff of Pionier Bataillon 179
was ordered to blow up the underground passages behind hall no. 7 for the next
At the end of the day Tschuikovs troops were divided into several distinct
pockets and islands.
138th Rifle Division was totally isolated from its neighbouring units. They
still defend parts of Barrikady and one 350m by 200m bridgehead in the north.
Polkovnik Ljudnikov conferred with Tschuikov and desperately demanded
reinforcements. The later promised to do so, but it was only lip service, since
the ice flow on the Volga still prohibited all major traffic. The situation was
so desperate, that the phones were not encrypted, but both participants didn’t
state their names.
At the end of the day 305. Infanteriedivision could only report the capture of
two house blocks. All major goals, the elimination of the cauldron and
connection with the southern battle groups, were not achieved.
“Red Barrikady” is finally captured – Tschuikovs command post under threat –
Overall situation for the Soviets very precarious
The night remains quiet. The commander of 79. Infanterie-division met with the
commander of Grenadier Regiment 517 (295. Infanteriedivision), and discussed a
possible attack to reach the Volga bank on 17 November.
The regiment was so weak, that they could only muster one assault company with
some heavy weapons, so the plan was aborted.
II Battalion/Grenadier Regiment 576 with pioneer support under Hauptmann Kemper
finally took the remaining parts of the “Red Barrikady”. The most vicious
fighting occurred in the underground tunnels of the factory. For about three
days only the heavy use of flamethrowers, explosives and hand grenades finally
secured the German victory. The Germans themselves lost about 60% of their
assaulting forces in this sector. The 650th and southern part of the 768th Rifle
Regiments (138th Rifle Division) were driven towards the Volga bank.
The message came as good news in the headquarters of LI Armeekorps. Von
Seydlitz-Kurzbach was very pleased and believed from this point (until the
catastrophic 19 November) that “his” pioneers would take Stalingrad.
Assault groups of 305. Infanteriedivision took two houses in the morning, but
they were lost during the day.
Pionier Bataillon 294 defended their positions around the fuel depot against
strong flank attacks from the 241st and 650th Rifle Regiments, their planned
attack in this direction therefore had to be aborted.
In the sector of Pionier Bataillon 50 the attack was slow, but progressing. They
were pressing forward in an eastern direction to further minimise the cauldron.
They partially reached the Volga and the battle was on a knife edge. They,
together with Pionier Bataillon 162, were right above Tschuikovs command post!
On their left flank soldiers from the 45th Rifle Division were attacking the
German pioneers with furious support from the Soviet artillery. The Germans
tried once more to smoke out the Soviet defenders, and once again the hand
grenades roll right into the Volga without doing any damage.
Tschuikov was aware of the situation and ordered all of his staff personnel to
take up arms and repulse the aggressors. While reclining with his staff chief in
his private rooms he proposed that staff chief and himself may have to clean
their weapons. In the damp, wet and nearly dark room he awaited the Germans, but
they never came.
The efforts of the desperate soldiers, staff officers, clerks and the rest of
units fighting in front of the command post pushed the pioneers back and
secureed a small 200m x 100m defensive zone before Tschuikov’s residence.
At about the same time units of the 305. Infanteriedivision noted Soviet
difficulties shipping supplies to the centre sector of 138th Rifle Division. The
Soviets began to use air lifts to provide supply.
Between the fuel depot and hall no. 10 troop movements and three tanks were
observed at 1830 hours. The Soviet commander, Polkovnik Batjuk, was shifting
some forces for an upcoming counterattack the following day. Grenadier Regiment
208 reported at 0400 hours that the moment of 40 men toward the Volga was
observed from the Martin oven hall. An artillery barrages was ordered and the
movement stopped. Shortly afterwards a up to this point unknown Soviet bunker
was hit by a shell and explodes.
Kampfgruppe Scheele was attacked by 40-50 men, this attack was repulsed.
6th Army Chief of Staff, Schmidt phoned at 1145 hours the headquarters of 79.
Infanteriedivision and ordered II Battalion/Panzerartillerie Regiment 4 and the
observation battalion to withdraw. The division’s commander, von Schwerin,
protested against it, he saw his chances for a successful attack against “Lazur”
dwindle, but the order remained in place. The II Battalion/Grenadier Regiment
226 was badly mauled during the last days of counterattacks and it was
considered for replacement with the Croatian Grenadier Regiment 369.
When the assault groups of 79. Infanteriedivision take up their positions around
“Red October”, they faced the remnants of eight shattered Soviet divisions.
Right behind “Red Barrikady” the steamer “Spartakovets” arrived and 400 soldiers
and 40 tons of supplies were delivered to Ljudnikov. On its hazardous return
trip it evacuated 350 wounded.
East of the “Red Barrikady” two house blocks were captured by Pionier Bataillons
179 and Sprenger. An immediate Soviet counterattack by 150 men was bloodily
Tschuikov contacted his front headquarters and complained that for three days he
hadn’t received any supplies and was running out. What he did not mention was
that despite the emergency he had 12 tons of chocolate on hand. According to the
calculations of his supply officer, if they handed out ½ bar per day per man,
they could hold out another two weeks.
The day remained, compared to the previous days, quiet, if smaller attacks were
not taken into account. Major Linden carefully read the incoming reports and
took telephone calls from the different front commanders.
The picture he was getting was not as happy as his superiors, especially von
Seydlitz-Kurzbach, wanted it to be.
Although his pioneers reached several points of the Volga bank, encircled the
main defensive forces and partially split Tschuikovs 62nd Army into isolated
islands and pockets, he lacked the forces to eliminate the defenders altogether.
The pioneers had to be used to cover their own flanks and the lately formed
infantry assault companies were suffering high casualties holding ground against
the constant Soviet counterattacks.
Meagre reinforcements for the Germans – Soviets fly air lifts to support their
isolated troops – desperate German attacks against 138th Rifle Division – Only
small pockets held by the Soviets
The houses that were lost the previous day were recaptured.
The 79. ID received two march companies of returning wounded men from XII/79/4
and XII/79/5. Each company was 24 NCO´s and 159 soldiers strong. They were at
once incorporated into the assault groups, since this division planned to attack
the remaining positions for the next day.
At 0930 hours several weak attacks against the German held halls of 79.
Infanteriedivision were repulsed. A strong Soviet group assembled in front of
Kampfgruppe Scheele of about 80 men was destroyed by artillery. Another attack
in the afternoon, 1530 hours, against hall 10 was repulsed by Kampfgruppe
Scheele. One anti-tank gun, which was brought forward by the Soviets, received a
direct hit from a light infantry gun (leIG18) and was destroyed.
Other Soviet attack efforts against hall 2, held by Grenadier Regiment 226, were
also repulsed. German Grenadier Regiment 212 was withdrawn to the reserve and
Croatian Regiment 369 took up their positions.
The Soviets continued to fly airlifts to supply the units of Ljudnikov’s split
division. The strips and bridgeheads held by them were so narrow and close to
the Germans some supplies land in the sector of 305. Infanteriedivision. The
Germans opened them and only find meagre rations of greasy bacon and dry bread
and wrongly concluded that the defenders must certainly be at their end.
Major Linden decided to undertake one last desperate attack against the 138th
Rifle Division in the south of the “Red Barrikady”. He shifted his remaining
forces again, drawing them partially from other divisions, like Pionier
Bataillon 305, and set them up in front of the 138th Rifle Division. The
combined attacks of Pioner Bataillon 50, 294, 305 and 336 fell upon the 768th
and 650th Rifle Regiments. The Soviets fought for every inch, every trench and
rubble pile, like they had done the previous days and weeks in their besieged
The attack gained minimum ground and proved too weak. Both sides were worn out.
The final attack against the southern bridgehead of “Krasnaya Barrikady” was
aborted, the German casualties were running too high. Major Linden considered
aborting the operation in the northern sector altogether.
However, the position of Tschuikov’s 62nd Army was precarious:
The 62nd army was surrounded at three parts. Their resistance lines were
thinning, the still heavy ice flow on the Volga prevented supply shipments on a
large scale, and the air lifts can only provide scant food and ammunition supply
for the brave and fearless soldiers.
124th Rifle Brigade (Polkovnik S.F. Korochow) held a small bridgehead in the
north, two bridgeheads around Barrikady were held by 138th Rifle Division. The
size of the largest was only 250m by 100m deep. The largest, but thinnest, was
held by 14th Guards Rifle Division under General Rodimzev.
The broadest part was around Mamayev Kurgan, where 2000m of depth was held, but
otherwise only a few hundred metres could be occupied.
Only the steep Volga bank was saving the Soviets. When the Germans broke through
the Soviets retreated behind these banks, reformed and counterattacked. Even the
German artillery was not able to hit these positions as their shells could not
target accurately the thin beach strips. Into the bank itself, the Soviets drove
deep tunnels where they could store supplies, let their men recuperate and
assemble some reserves from stragglers and mauled units. They were able to form
and reform shattered units for counterattacks and keep up a kind of cohesiveness
for their hard hit Army.
Conferences and complaints on the German side – local counter-attacks – minor
successes for the Germans
The first snow falls in Stalingrad
Since this last offensive was taking more and more time, an angry von Richthofen
phoned Zeitzler at the Führer’s headquarter and demanded either the necessary
combat actions should be ordered or the attack altogether aborted. He more or
less says that the commanding officer, General Oberst von Paulus, was the wrong
man in this position. The underlying animosity against von Paulus was not
unheard even by Zeitzler. The later spoke for von Paulus and put von Richthofen
back in order with a sharp rebuke. Although on the difficulties of the offensive
he agrees with von Richthofen.
In the sector of 305. Infanteriedivision at 2300 hours the Soviets fired from at
least eight newly established machine-gun positions from the island in the Volga.
Lights were seen about a kilometre further up the river, and the Germans
realised that the Soviets were bringing in new reserves and supplies by steamer.
The next night they moved a 7.5cm anti-tank gun to the steep bank and destroyed
the boats. No further shipping efforts were made and this marked the end of any
supplies for Ljudnikov’s 138th Rifle Division.
During the night Soviet airlifts dropped supplies over hall no. 4 in the sector
of 79. ID. The II Battalion/Grenadier Regiment 208 was withdrawn and replaced by
III Battalion/Grenadier Regiment 212.
It was also intended that 79. ID should man the positions of 305. ID up to the
fork balka. Hereby 305. ID should be able to free forces for another attack on
Otherwise the Germans and Soviets alike stayed relatively quiet in their
sectors. Only Kampfgruppe 577 attacked together with Pionier Bataillon 336 and
captured two houses in the so-called 70-es row. At 1245 hours the 95th Rifle
Division started an attack against Kampfgruppe 517. The combined artillery of
III Bataillon/Artillerie Regiment 179 and the division’s own guns nearly halted
that attack, but a local breach was achieved, which could not be cleared by the
After a brief, but intense artillery barrage, the assault company of 24.
Panzerdivision, supported by Pionier Bataillon 389, finally broke through to the
Volga. Their objectives were the bridgeheads of 37th Guards Rifle Division east
and northeast of “Red Barrikady”. However, the rest of 389. Infanteriedivision
did not follow up, since they were held down by flanking fire from 118th Rifle
Regiment. A third of the company died and their commander, Beyersdorff, was
badly wounded. Their objective, to split both bridgeheads was not achieved. The
remaining combat worthy parts of 24. Panzerdivision were still in the “Lazur”
In the sector of group Seydel a flamethrower tank was destroyed by heavy
infantry guns in what can be considered close combat. In this sector, the
boundary between 305. ID and group Seydel was attacked by the 161st Rifle
Regiment with about 350 to 400 men. They were repulsed and finally abort the
attack, but only after heavy casualties were sustained by both sides.
At night, between 2000 and 2100 hours, the Soviets dropped supplies to the
defenders in front of hall no. 4 of “Red October” by air.
Germans fool Soviet pilots – changing orders – new plans
Freezing rain and blowing snow allowed only perhaps 50m of ground to be gained
by the Germans in the sector of 79./305. Infanterie divisions. This resulted
mainly from the very small scale of the actions against 95th Rifle Division.
Even this division was finally at the end of its power. The Soviets started to
retreat as no reinforcements were forth coming. When the news of such “retreats”
reached Tschuikov, he became concerned about the morale of his troops, more so
than he was the days and weeks before. He wondered if his soldiers’ morale will
Meanwhile the German soldiers of 305. Infanteriedivision started fires to
confuse the Soviet pilots who flying supplies for their encircled comrades.
The Germans were aware that the nightly fires set up by their Russian
counterparts were meant for the pilots to indicate their positions. They decided
to trick the Soviet aircrews and “cut” the air lifts. It worked, instead of
supplying their hard fighting ground soldiers, they drop the goods right into
the hands of the Germans.
At this point a wireless order reached LI Armeekorps’ headquarters, Hitler
demanded that at least the gun factory and “Lazur” should be taken. This was the
direct order for von Seydlitz-Kurzbach that his planned “Operation Schwerin I”
must be executed.
The moment seemed right, since the Soviets hadn’t started any attacks that day
and their normally very active artillery was firing only sporadic disruptive
fire. The German front line commanders noticed no substantial troop movement or
any aggressive activity from their opponents.
After some necessary regrouping, both battle groups, Scheele and Seydel were put
into readiness. The troops were ready, the planes loaded, but at 1900 hours LI
Armeekorps was informed, by the commanding officer von Schwerin, that due to fog
and strong snow falls, the attack could not be started. Von Seydlitz-Kurzbach
postponed it for the next day. Otherwise the day stayed quiet for both sides.
Changing tactics – last efforts – regroupings and final plans
After a short barrage, the Germans lacked artillery ammunition after days of
fighting, groups Scheele and Seydel attacked. The encircle forces of 95th Rifle
Division in the leather factory and eliminate all but 2 men. Otherwise the
attack started to slow, the weak, but determined, Soviet defenders were able to
pin the attackers by carefully placed machine-gun posts and mobile defence.
Houses could no longer be defended as stubbornly as the days before, so the
responsible commanders abandon them instead, retreated to safe positions and
counterattacked the Germans’ exposed flanks.
Thereby they drew German forces from their newly gained objectives to fight the
threat to their flank. The Soviets retreated again and attacked the weakened
Germans to regain their old positions. These see-saw battles occurred mainly
between forces of 20 to 30 men on each side. The German attacks were basically
meant to gain better positions for their upcoming general attack against
chemical factory “Lazur” and the tennis racket.
In the sector of 295. Infanteriedivision, I Battalion/Grenadier Regiment 517,
raised a reinforced assault company and sent it to 305. Infanteriedivision.
There it reinforced Kampfgruppe 578. Before 0400 hours the Germans were able to
take house no. 83.
This attack was not as bloody for the Germans and they concluded rightfully that
their opponents seemed to be almost spent.
Otherwise the whole sector of 305. Infanteriedivision stayed quiet. Ljudnikov’s
defenders saw that the Germans were moving reinforcements forwards, drawn from
rear area service units, to their front lines. When Ljudnikov received this
information, he was absolutely and rightfully, sure that the Germans would renew
their attacks the next day. His soldiers held a few hundred square metres and
his division was down to a couple of hundred men. In front of their lines the
bodies of 118th Rifle Regiment lay. They had thrown themselves against the
assaulting pioneers to repulse them, but were gunned down. Their sacrifice saved
the remaining defenders, only 6 out of 250 men survived. About an estimated 600
soldiers held the last hope for Stalingrad. Polkovnik Ljudnikow knew that the
next day might be his last, but he was not willing to give up. After ordering
all possible preparations for the next day, he retired to the quiet of his
command post and contemplated the coming day.
That night Stalingrad stayed quiet. Only sporadic artillery fire was exchanged.
Both sides were weary and recuperate, like beasts in their lairs, knowing that
one of them will be jumping out in the morning to rip the other to pieces.
The temperature dropped to –25 degrees Celsius, a freezing and bone chilling
wind was blowing through the rubble of the city. Snow was only lightly falling,
but the wind ran through the ruins like banshees howling. The ice flows on the
Volga crashed against each other and again struck up their cracking, unholy
sound of doom. The soldiers of both sides sat in their trenches, holes, or
behind crumbling walls and waited, some with fear and some with anticipation,
for the morning light.
Slowly the sun rose, the dimmed light seeped through the fog to create an
unearthly twilight. Together with the sound of the wind, the rubble of
Stalingrad created a scene like the forecourt of hell itself. The soldiers on
both sides were filled with determination and the inextinguishable fire of will.
Their nerves were stretched to the limit in anticipation of the upcoming fight
for survival. Every soldier on each side knew that this day would decide their
It was 06.00 hours in the morning and the Soviet men and women of Ljudnikov’s
138th Rifle Division gripped their weapons tightly, holding down their heads in
anticipation of the expected artillery and air barrage. Many of them prayed that
they would not die without taking the lives of one of the enemy.
Polkovnik Ivan Iljitsch Ljudnikov sat next to his staff comrades, his nerves
calm and prepared. He peered through his binoculars observing the German
positions, checking his maps again and again. He, like the other soldiers at the
last positions in front of the Volga, waited. No word in the command post was
spoken. They all waited for the inevitable to come.
Both sides waited for the gods of war to open the gates of hell. The minutes
crawled by on the wristwatches of the German assault group leaders, without the
usual roar of incoming artillery shells. The attack never came.
By 19 November the Soviets had launched Operation Uranus, which immediately
brought Operation Hubertus to an end. The 6th Army’s focus switched to the
situations developing on their flanks out side the city.
Note: For this special day only "sporadic attacks" are mentioned by several
sources, but no specifics can be ascertained. No reference is found within the
relevant German unit histories that they attacked the last positions of 138th
Rifle Division, especially a grand all-out offensive is not mentioned. Besides
some detailed information about the weather no other important references about
the activities in Stalingrad, other than some unit regrouping within 79th ID,
can be 100% ascertained. So this last day has to be more or less fictional, but
it might have been like that.
Conclusions - Part five
By Wolf Höpper
Evaluation and Conclusions
Operation “Hubertus” was doomed to fail from the beginning. The following points
1) The constant bombardment and artillery shelling created a battlefield in
which the Soviet defenders largely held the advantage over the assaulting
The fields of rubble and craters were perfectly designed for defensive actions
and could be improved with relatively little effort. This also provided ample
hunting ground for the ever-present Soviet snipers. Like many surviving records
and accounts of survivors indicate, they proved at points more devastating than
the actual combat actions. Although it sounds theatrical, the role of the
snipers therefore can’t be underestimated.
2) The Volga riverbanks proved over and over again impenetrable to the German
attackers. The Russians dug tunnels into the banks like moles. This enabled them
to move supplies, reserves and command staffs out of the reach of German
artillery and air bombardment. The command structure of Tschuikovs 62nd Army
stayed, considering the desperate situation, relatively intact. Most of the time
he had a good overall view of the different situations. Even when telephone
lines were cut, the banks enabled runners to move with relative safety from
point to point.
3) The Germans lacked infantry support. Although before the final plans were
drawn up the senior commanders, up to von Paulus himself, complained about
inadequate infantry support for the assault pioneers. Often they advanced,
fought down the main resistance only to lose their new positions because the
Soviets counterattacked their overstretched and thinly held flanks.
4) The numbers of arriving German replacements was also very low. Mainly drawn
from supply and rear area units, these nonetheless brave men lacked adequate
infantry experience, and many of them hadn’t fired a weapon since their basic
training. The unique problems of urban combat were absolutely alien to them.
Therefore they suffered high casualties. Their Soviet counterparts were often no
better trained, but gained great experience during the previous fighting.
5) During the course of the operation von Seydlitz-Kurtzbach ordered large units
of the attacking forces to be moved to other sectors, especially the panzers and
artillery. Although panzers are not perfectly suited for urban warfare, they
often brought relief to the hard fighting foot soldiers. The panzers from 24.
Panzerdivision often stopped Russian attacks against their neighbouring units.
His intention however cannot be misinterpreted or misjudged, since he read the
reports about the developments on the 6th Army flanks and prepared for the
likely Soviet counter-offensive. This only reinforces the lack of German
6) The operation was not executed according to the wider plan. The battle groups
Seydel and von Scheele were mainly held back and didn’t attack to relieve
pressure on the assaulting pioneers. Thereby the original intention, to stop the
Soviets from retaking the lost ground, was not executed and enabled the Soviets
to counterattack effectively and stop the attackers.
7) The assigned assault forces were too small and weak for the difficult task.
Although at points substantial gains occurred and important bridgeheads were
captured, the Germans simply lacked the necessary forces to finally annihilate
their opponents and capture the city.
One final personal opinion:
The Germans were simply running out of time.
The duration of the German effort to take the city was too long and badly
coordinated between the different higher commanders. When the Germans started to
thrust into the city suburbs they changed their attack axis several times and
objectives changed accordingly. The repeated shifting of several divisions, for
example 24. Panzerdivision, prohibited the Germans in the early stages from
taking the city relatively easily.
The Germans also didn’t coordinate the efforts of the single divisions correctly
and individually they had to take their assigned parts of city. This bleed the
divisions white and led later to great problems holding their lines and
prevented them from assisting the assault pioneers accordingly.
Von Paulus seemed simply not the right commander for this task. Although he
reported the high running casualty reports to his superiors, he didn’t make any
substantial proposals for solving the Stalingrad “problem”. He simply manoeuvred
units around, couldn’t decide on a final attack plan and therefore threw his
soldiers uselessly into a bloody mill that rivals the senseless massacres of WWI
by von Falkenhayn. When the daily objectives and the relevant division orders
were examined it is astounding that large units like regiments were assigned to
gain microscopic aims, such as single houses, factory halls and, considering the
overall picture, similar unimportant objectives. On this point von Richthofen
was probably right when he attacked von Paulus verbally. Von Paulus’s later
hesitation and unwillingness to break out of the encirclement seem another
indication for this.
The final and most important reason for the operations failure is probably far
simpler. If the Russians hadn’t had started their famous relief operation, the
Germans would probably have swept Tschuikov’s troops into the Volga on 19
November. The last attack never happened, so all thoughts from this point on are
After all German attacks had halted in Stalingrad Major Linden resigned from his
command in this sector and was assigned to the construction pioneers. His
responsibility until the German surrender was to keep roads free from the snow,
to keep the runways of the airports clear for supply flights and maintain the
efficiency of the overall infrastructure of 6th Army during the encirclement. He
was captured at his command post in the “Jäger-Park” 30 January 1943.
After he returned from captivity he retired to a pensioners’ home in his
hometown of Essen. He never overcame the grief of the senseless sacrifice from
The remaining assault pioneers were combined into a battle group under Hauptmann
Krüger, assigned to 305. Infanteriedivision and were amongst the last to
surrender in the northern cauldron. Only 35 walked out on 2 February into an
unknown future. One amongst the few returning home after long years of captivity
was Eugen Rettenmair, the commander of battlegroup of Grenadier Regiment 578.
State of historical research at the point of writing
As I stated in my foreword, I am not a professional historian, so the following
is based upon my own opinion, experienced through my own research.
At the time I wrote this article, it was very difficult at best to gather any
information about “Operation Hubertus” at all. In most books, as I mentioned,
the events are described sketchily at best. Only Manfred Kehrig in his
unfortunately out-of-print book “Stalingrad, Analyse und Dokumentation einer
Schlacht”, dedicates a whole chapter to the subject. He quotes only original
transcripts and orders. Another great asset in this book are the highly detailed
and accurate maps and orders of battle. For every military student this book
must be considered the definite source about the whole Stalingrad campaign.
The historical interest in military nature of the battle of Stalingrad seems to
mostly centred on either the early part, the combat actions in front of the
city, or the events at and after the encirclement. The fighting in the city
itself, and the specific actions, are most of the times neglected or, from a
military historians point of view, only vaguely examined and pictured. For the
subject of this article most general books can be ignored.
Even the publications from veteran organisations, mostly former members of the
Stalingrad divisions, are unfortunately most of the time not too accurate. They
cannot be blamed, since their intentions to write about their history are
probably different. Nonetheless such literature is always recommended for some
As a basic staring point for researching the Stalingrad battle two classics are
recommended: William Craig’s “Enemy at the Gates” and Antony Beevor’s
“Stalingrad”. They give mostly general overviews of specific events, but
nonetheless provide ample information, some parts in-depth.
Always a good source is the edited version of the German Army’s war diary. Here
the decisions and measures that were taken by Hitler are detailed and it can
definitely serve as a first hand account for the greater picture. It partially
provides detailed information about the different service branches. This
eight-volume monster reference covers basically the period from 1940 to the end
of the war.
Very helpful for every student of military history concerning the German side is
following Internet-Site: www.lexikon-der-wehrmacht.de. It is mainly based upon
the multi-volume edition of Georg Tessin “Verbände und Truppen der deutschen
Wehrmacht und Waffen SS im Zweiten Weltkrieg 1939-1935”
Unfortunately I was not able to visit the German Bundesarchiv where there is
certainly more original material, like orders, diaries, maps, sketches from
commanding officers and the like. Another source for WWII subjects are the
Russian archives. Certainly the Russian archives, especially the one at
Volgograd itself, still contain vital, and up to this point mostly unexplored,
The Russian point of historical examination cannot be ascertained, since not
many Russian historical works have been translated so far. Many sources, like “Battle
for Stalingrad” (The 1943 Soviet General Staff Study) edited by Louis Rotundo,
seem too exaggerate and give mostly wrong information concerning the involved
combat strengths and casualties. Modern historical research might differ
nowadays, but were not available to me.
A single book, which features and analyses the operation as the only subject,
could not be found.
Disclaimer & References
The author is not a graduate historian. This article doesn’t lay claim to be the
final examination nor the final historical analysis of the Operation Hubertus.
The author wrote this article as correctly as possible without bending
historical accuracy or changing events, times or other relevant parts. It was
intended as a try to provide the eager military student and every-day reader
alike with a detailed telling of the events in the subject period and analise it
from a mostly military point of view.
All facts, as far as they can be ascertained by more than one independant source,
were taken from books written in German and German written web-pages. So any
mistakes which might occur through misinterpretation, wrong translation, wrong
counter-checking the different sources, or other circumstances, are the author’s
References (in alphabetical order)
Beevor, Antony "Stalingrad"
Goldmann Verlag, München, Germany 2001
Original by Viking, London 1998
Carell, Paul "Unternehmen Barbarossa - Der Marsch nach Russland"
Verlag Ullstein GmbH, Frankfurt am Main, Germany 1963
Craig, William "Die Schlacht von Stalingrad"
Verlag Kurt Desch, München Germany 1974
Original: "Enemy at the Gates"
Harper & Row Publishers, 1973
Hauck, Friedrich Wilhelm "Eine deutsche Division in Russland und Italien,
305. Infanteriedivision 1941- 1945"
Podzun – Verlag, 6364 Dorheim/H., Germany 1975
Haupt, Werner "Die deutschen Infanterie-Divisionen"
Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, Markt 9, 6360 Friedberg 3, Germany 1992
Podzun-Pallas-Verlag, Markt 9, 61169 Friedberg, 1993
Kehrig, Manfred "Stalingrad. Analyse und Dokumentation einer Schlacht"
3. Auflage Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt, Stuttgart 1979
(Beiträge zur Militär- und Kriegsgeschichte Bd. 15)
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Biblio Vrelag, Osnabrück, Gemany 1975