The war fought between Russia and Germany during World War 2 has to be considered one of the most barbaric and costly in modern warfare. The Germans sent better trained and equipped troops who had known nothing but success. The Russian military had been demoralised by the purges of Stalin and this resulted in an Army that did not so much think about a problem and instead followed a dogma that resulted in mass slaughter in many cases. This book covers the lead up to the destruction by soviet forces of the 6th Army at Stalingrad and the German change of fortunes.
The following portion of the introduction is from Pen and Sword:
The scale of death and destruction during the Battle of Stalingrad during late 1942 and early 1943 remains unprecedented in the history of warfare.
The annihilation of General von Paulus’ 6th Army epitomised the devastating defeat of Hitler’s ambition to conquer Stalin’s Soviet Union. After the successful Operation Blue offensive 6th Army reached the River Volga north of Stalingrad in summer 1942. With over-extended supply lines and facing steely opposition, increasingly desperate attempts to seize the city repeatedly failed. Slowly 6th Army became encircled. The German High Command attempted a number of relief attempts, notably Field Marshal von Manstein’s ‘Winter Storm’ but all were defeated by the tenacity of the enemy and the Russian winter. To their credit the men of 6th Army fought to the end but by February 1943 the last pockets of German resistance were either destroyed or had surrendered.
Thanks to a superb collection of unpublished photographs, this Images of War book provides an absorbing insight into the dramatic events of the last months of 6th Army’s doomed existence.
This offering from Pen and Sword is part of the ‘Images at War’ series. This series of books are soft backed offerings having a good card cover with a very good spine to the book that keeps the contents in good order. This book covering ‘The Destruction of 6th Army at Stalingrad’ has been authored by Ian Baxter. This title from Ian Baxter is one of 32 of titles in the Images of War series covering German military during World War 2. The contents of this title are provided over 160 pages of good quality semi gloss paper.
The contents are presented in the following sections:
Prelude to Destruction
Chapter 1 – The Road to Hell
Chapter 2 - The Siege of Stalingrad
Chapter 3 – Encircled
Chapter 4 – Destruction of teh Sixth Army
Appendix I - Order of Battle
The text entries in this title are provided at the start of each of the chapters and provides some information and insights into the battle, and also provides aspects that the author believes were part of the reason why things went so badly for the Germans. The text is well written and easily read with no obvious issues that I picked up on. Some of you may be disappointed in this aspect of the book, but it is part of the 'Images of War' book series and so it is images that are the main aspect.
The pictures in this offering are or should be the reason you are purchasing this title as it brings together a good selection of photographs of various qualities that tell the story of the beginning of the end. The three Army Groups that thrust into Russia met very little in the way of resistance, but by Stalingrad the resistance had grown to a level that the Germans were well aware of and suffering from. The issue would appear to be a commander who saw Hitler as a great military mind and his willingness to carry out those orders meant huge losses to his available manpower and left limited armaments with which to fight his enemy. In addition to this the onset of winter was an enemy that the Germans were not equipped for and just as deadly as a bullet.
The photographs all look to be well chosen and I forgive the author for the photographs that are not of the highest quality due to these looking to be personal images for the most part. The pictures change from faces with a spark of life to ones that seem to know what is coming. The brutality of the conflict can be summed up with a single photograph that shows a German advancing down a trench and running over the corpse of a Russian. The images showing the Russian civilians making their way to get away from the fighting add a visual touch that we tend to ignore. The biggest plus is that all of the photographs are supplied with a well written caption that greatly broadens the appeal of each image and its value.
Something I like about this offering is that the photographs show all aspects of life in the field; we get the German soldier at rest, in conflict and on duty. The photographs show some great details of the area where the fighting took place and this will enable the modeller with flair to replicate some great scenes. One photograph that would make a stunning diorama features a T-34 on its side in a hole with a German mortar team using it as cover to use their weapons system.
At the end of this title there are a few pages provided for note taking and I really like seeing this aspect provided in the titles. These books being for the most part photographs it enables the viewer to jot down a page number of an image that appeals and so quickly find it even if like me a model sits for months before I get to it again I can still find my reference for it.
This title as part of the Images at War series provides a visual plethora on the lead up and conditions that were prevalent in and around Stalingrad during the battle. the images being for the most part those of the common soldier if there is such a thing is a great plus in my view and takes away what the powers of the day wanted to portray and instead offers it as it was. This title as with most of the books in this series are a must have for any modeller who wants to show things as they were and not as war is presented to us.
Darren Baker takes a look at a recent release from Pen and Sword titled and covering 'The Destruction of 6th Army at Stalingrad'.
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About Darren Baker (CMOT) FROM: ENGLAND - SOUTH WEST, UNITED KINGDOM
I have been building model kits since the early 70’s starting with Airfix kits of mostly aircraft, then progressing to the point I am at now building predominantly armour kits from all countries and time periods. Living in the middle of Salisbury plain since the 70’s, I have had lots of opportunitie...