This is the fifth article of the cycle. Start here
Towards the last days of September 1942, Germans had managed to capture the central and southern sectors of Stalingrad, almost completely destroying the Soviet units fighting here in heavy battles. Today's story is about the fallen heroes of the last battles in the city center.
On October 13, 1942, a day before the most decisive German assault, the Krasnaya Zvezda (Red Star) newspaper published an article by Vasily Koroteev «The Battle for Stalingrad», which depicted a separate episode of this fierce struggle: the defense of an unnamed garden by the soldiers and commanders of unit X… The article explained that the garden and the two adjacent railway viaducts were an important part of the city's defense, so that «the German fascist invaders bled themselves dry trying to capture it”. But it ended cryptically: although «German submachine gunners» penetrated the garden, the enemy's offensive in this area was still suspended, and Soviet soldiers took up new positions. Then the article transformed into an essay which was to join the pages of the collection «From the experience of street fighting» published in 1943, one of the first book depicting the hostilities in Stalingrad.
Soldiers with speckled buttonholes
After the war in 1947, on the banks of the Tsaritsa River opposite the City Garden, a monument was erected to the Chekists who fell in the defense of the city. Counterintelligence officers, militiamen, border guards, convoy regiments and security companies: the NKVD department workers played a significant, and sometimes decisive role in the final victory. It is especially worth noting the actions of the 10th Rifle Division of the internal troops of the NKVD, which constituted the garrison of besieged Stalingrad and, along with the standard army units, held back the German offensive on the city.
In late August — early September, rifle regiments of the NKVD division operated in various sectors of the defense of Stalingrad. On August 25, 1942, 282nd Infantry Regiment was the first to enter the battle after the Germans broke through to the villages of Rynok and Latoshinka, and then it held defense positions in this area until the withdrawal of the division from the city. The soldiers of the 269th Regiment tried to recapture the western slopes of Mamaev Kurgan and Aviagorodok (Flying School) from September 14 until the end of the month, during the offensive of 62nd Army. 270th and 271st Rifle Regiments held their positions south of the Tsaritsa, but after the attack on September 16 by units of 4th Panzer Army and the breakthrough of Group Edelsheim to the railway bridge, the remnants of the NKVD units were forced to withdraw. Those who escaped from the encirclement were then merged into 272nd Regiment, which occupied positions in the center of Stalingrad, in the City Garden…
The operation cryptically discussed in Koroteev's article was actually the fighting in the area of the City Garden. Unit X was 10th NKVD Division, which later received the honorary title «Stalingrad» and was awarded the Order of Lenin for «the courage and heroism of its personnel." But this page of history was tragic. The events which will be discussed below completed the first assault on the city and the capture by the Germans of the southern and central sectors of Stalingrad.
At the end of September, the swastika flag was hoisted at the following landmarks: the Elevator, the Department Store and the Drama Theater. A fierce struggle was waged over these buildings and their capture marked a victory over the organized resistance of the Soviet troops.
But first things first.
On September 18, after the withdrawal of the Soviet 42nd Rifle Brigade from Dubovaya Balka, 211st and 191st Regiments of the German 71st Infantry Division were able to advance to the railway embankment separating the «Zapolotnovsky» sector from the city center. By that time, the battalions of the 194th Regiment had already got bogged down in street fighting north of the Square of the Fallen Fighters, trying to break through 62nd Army lines at the river crossing.
However, the German forces were dwindling, and on September 19 there were 449 soldiers and NCOs in the fighting units of the 191st Infantry Regiment, 413 in the 194th, and 472 in the 211th. The latter, along with 171st Reconnaissance Battalion and self-propelled guns from 244th Division, was operating in the area extending from the Central Station to the bridge, which set the stage for this story. One last leap remained to reach the Volga River.
On the other side of the railway embankment were entrenched the remnants of 42nd Separate Rifle Brigade of Colonel M.S. Batrakov, 272nd NKVD Regiment of Major G.P. Savchuk and the consolidated regiment of the long-suffering 399th Rifle Division, and their manpower was also far from the normal one. At that time, there were 375 «active bayonets» in the three battalions of the 42nd Brigade, and the combined regiment was smaller than a company. According to a report dated September 19, 272nd Regiment occupied the following defense positions: “from the firemen's club (approximately fire station) along the railway line, then along the bank of the Tsaritsa to that of the Volga River” and was assigned the task “to regroup during the night, incorporate the remnants of 270th and 271st NKVD Regiments, and firmly hold the occupied line." The command post of 272nd NKVD Regiment was located in the bunker of the (GKO) City Defense Committee, the underground facility of Metrostroy, which was located in the Komsomol Garden.
In addition to these units, the defense in this area was held by the soldiers of the 115th Fortified Region and the consolidated 911th Regiment (about 200 soldiers, all that remained from 244th Rifle Division).
The artillery regiments attached to the Soviet units occupied positions on the eastern bank of the Volga, but due to constant communication breaks they could not direct accurate fire. The Germans, on the other hand, did not experience any shortage of artillery and aircraft support. In addition to 71st Infantry Division’s own artillery, the German infantry in city center was supported by the guns of 24th Panzer Division, firing from the southern bank of the Tsaritsa River.
The main assault force of 71st Infantry Division was the attached Stugs of 244th and 245th Divisions, that had proven themselves in the fight against Soviet armored vehicles and long-term firing points. By September 19, they had respectively 9 and 14 serviceable vehicles, and another 12 and 17 self-propelled guns were under repair.
The path to the city center for the German armored vehicles was blocked by a serious obstacle: the high railway embankment with carriages converted into anti-tank fortifications. There were only two passes through the embankment: the railway viaducts on Krasnoznamenskaya and Kubanskaya Streets. The first was cluttered with a barricade, the span of the other was simply brought down onto the roadway. The work was carried out by a sapper platoon under command of 272nd NKVD Regiment’s engineer Andrei Georgievich Dzadzamia.
At 04:00 on September 19, the German 191st and 211th Infantry Regiments launched an attack on the central quarters. According to the reports of 51st Army Corps, 191st Regiment reached the Square of the Fallen Fighters by midday, but the infantry of the neighboring 211th Regiment could not saddle the railroad embankment. All attempts of the Germans to gain a foothold on the embankment were suppressed by fire from high-rise buildings on Kommunist Street and from the area of the City Garden, where Soviet shooters settled in hastily dug individual holes and craters. The opponents were separated by a few meters, grenades flew over the embankment, sometimes hand-to-hand fights took place on the ridge.
Soon German armored vehicles were spotted by Soviet observers: 16 tanks were moving towards the station, three more were standing at the Dynamo stadium. Two self-propelled guns, driving up to the viaduct on Krasnoznamenskaya, tried to destroy the barricade with fire. Then one Stug moved under the bridge, but, barely approaching the barricade, was set on fire by a sapper of 272nd Regiment: the 22-year-old Andrey Shindin. The next day, Corporal Shindin will destroy the machine-gun crew by throwing a grenade and will be killed on the embankment near the viaduct.
On the side of the railway bridge captured the day before, the German offensive was initially successful. Secretly accumulating in the ravines and gullies, which abounded on the northern bank of the Tsaritsa, the German infantry gradually advanced through the residential sector. The Germans almost reached the intersection of Krasnoznamenskaya and Kommunist streets, but machine-gun fire from the flank, from the side of the high-rise building «Inzhkoopstroy», forced them to lie down. An attack without the support of armored vehicles in this sector also failed.
On the night of September 19-20, the combined detachment of 272nd and 270th NKVD Regiments, following the order of the division commander, Colonel A.A. Sarajev, tried once again to recapture the northern part of the bridge. A small detachment was commanded by the deputy commander of the regiment, Captain Vasily Fedorovich Yakovlev. The previous night he had already tried to recapture this bridge, but with daylight strong German artillery and mortar fire dislodged the Chekists from their positions.
And so it happened this time again: after a strong artillery preparation on the morning of September 20, the German infantry occupied once more the bridge over the Tsaritsa. At 05:30, the units of 71st Infantry Division’s 211th Regiment and 171st Reconnaissance Battalion resumed their offensive in the sector from the bridge to the railway station. However, despite the support of the Luftwaffe, only «local successes» had been achieved by 16:35.
On September 21, 194th Regiment of Hartmann’s division was able to occupy «on the move» a group of buildings located on the banks of the Volga just south of the «Specialist Houses» already captured by the Germans. This place was the so-called «VZVOZ», a gentle entrance to the steep bank in the area of the central crossing. Thus, the artillery and machine guns of 71st Infantry Division kept under fire not only a section of the river, but also the coastal strip itself. According to the reports of 62nd Army, on that day the central ferry ceased working, and from 13:30 Chuikov lost contact with the left flank: the army front was broken.
The next day, September 22, Lieutenant General Pfeiffer's 94th Infantry Division finally broke the resistance of the Soviet units in the Elevator and pushed back the remnants of 92nd Separate Rifle Brigade to the banks of the Volga south of the Tsaritsa River. On the northern bank, in the area of Krasnoznamenskaya Street and the City Garden, fighters of the 42nd Brigade and the 272nd Regiment of the NKVD, as well as small police and militia detachments, were still in defense.
The commander of 272nd Regiment, Major Savchuk, was wounded for the second time and was evacuated beyond the Volga on the evening of September 20, and Captain Yakovlev was also wounded. 42nd Brigade commander, Colonel Batrakov, was seriously wounded at his command post on September 23, and several staff workers were killed by an exploding shell.
The remnants of 35th Guards Division, 131st Rifle Division and 10th Rifle Brigade handed over their positions to 92nd Brigade, according to the order of the army headquarters. From that moment on, the commanders of 92nd and 42nd Rifle Brigades were responsible for covering the left flank of 62 Army.
Time is blood
Chuikov did not give the bleeding brigades the order to retreat: at the cost of the soldiers' lives, the commander was gaining precious time, necessary to hold the city. The sailors of Lieutenant Colonel N.F. Batyuk’s 284th Rifle Division were already boarding the barges, whereas the infantry of Major General F.N. Smekhotvorov’s 193rd Rifle Division was approaching the region. The Germans were also in a hurry: on September 21, 24th Panzer Division was urgently transferred to the area of the northern slopes of Mamaev Kurgan, where it was subordinated to 51st Army Corps, and on September 22, 100th Jaeger and 94th Infantry Divisions were included in the corps as well.
Initially, Chuikov planned to bring up 284th Rifle Division into the area of the central crossing and restore the front in city center. But the redeployment of German units to the north did not go unnoticed, and the fact that 51st Corps was obviously preparing an offensive against the workers' settlements and the factories prompted some adjustments. In addition, Mamaev Kurgan was recaptured by the Germans, the infantry of 295th Division occupied the Metiz Factory and, moving along the Krutoy and Dolgy ravines, reached the banks of the Volga in the Refinery area. The attacks of the German divisions literally crushed 62nd Army: now the encirclement was already threatening Major General A.I. Rodimtsev’s 13th Guards Rifle Division.
Therefore, the barges with 284th Rifle Division’s soldiers moored to the shore in the area of oil tanks. With the forces of this new division, commander Chuikov intended to recapture the main height of the city from the Germans and to strengthen the right flank of Rodimtsev's division, half-encircled and pressed up against the Volga. The fate of the Soviet units cut off to the south, in the area of the City Garden and the estuary of the Tsaritsa, was a foregone conclusion.
On September 23rd, the German 71st and 94th Infantry Divisions were preparing for the «last throw» to the Volga. 94th Division’s 276th Regiment, in which Lieutenant Edelbert Hall served, was transferred to the northern bank of the Tsaritsa to join 71st Division whose assault groups were compacted. Together with the infantry regiments, the position opposite the City Garden was occupied by 171st Reconnaissance Battalion, its line of demarcation with its neighbor on the right, 276th Regiment, passed along Krasnoznamenskaya Street. In both divisions, there was a shortage of strength: the companies had 40-50 men each. But, given the support of the Luftwaffe, 51st Corps’ artillery and the self-propelled guns of 244th Division, the depleted Wehrmacht divisions were able to solve the task.
According to German intelligence, on September 24, the defense of Soviet troops at the line City Garden — Krasnoznamenskaya Street — mouth of the Tsaritsa River was led by remnants of the defeated units of 62nd Army: 92nd and 42hd Rifle Brigades, 244th Rifle Divisions, 115th Fortified Region, one «NKVD regiment», as well as “a militia detachment of 80 workers and communists”. There was no continuous front line: a few detachments of Soviet fighters and commanders, occupying a defense perimeter in several buildings, tried to keep under fire the most likely directions of attacks by the German infantry. Such strongholds were the building of the fire department («firemen's club», or just «fire» in Soviet reports), where the command post of the battalion from 272nd NKVD Regiment was located, and the five-storey building «Inzhkoopstroy», the tallest building on the northern bank of the Tsaritsa.
On September 21, when the central ferry ceased working, the meager supply flow of the cut off units finally dried up. Ammunition for small arms was coming to an end, there was nothing to fight with against German tanks, and as a result of the Luftwaffe bombardments, the plowed streets of the center of Stalingrad were littered with burnt-out equipment, destroyed anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns.
At the monument to Kholzunov, where the moorings of the central ferry No. 2 were located, wounded soldiers of the encircled units lay right on the shore. The nearby underground restaurant «Metro», converted into a hospital (evacuation center No. 54), was overcrowded. With artillery fire from the captured «houses of specialists» and the sports palace, the Germans sank two boats that tried to approach the quays. With the onset of darkness, the Soviets tried to transport the wounded on rafts to Golodny Island, but flares and German machine gunners reduced the chances of reaching the saving coast to a minimum. One of the many who died during the evacuation of the wounded was the senior political instructor of the 42nd OSBR Savva Mikhailovich Pikul, the father of the future famous Russian writer.
On September 24, at 07:00, the units of 71st and 94th Infantry Divisions launched an offensive in the area Central Station — City Garden — Mouth of the Tsaritsa, pathetically designated in 6th army reports as «the last dash». Despite the support of the Luftwaffe, the German infantry was only able to advance 300 meters towards the Volga. German documents noted: «the exceptional stubbornness of the defenders», «active participation of the population», «because of the fierce fighting, prisoners are rarely taken." The defenders of the city actively used the sewage system, unexpectedly appearing in the rear of the Germans, firing at inattentive enemy soldiers from the hatches. In response, German flamethrowers burned down basements and sewer wells, and grenades were thrown at the windows. The Wehrmacht infantry was slowly but surely moving forward.
Soon the support promised to the 171st Reconnaissance Battalion arrived: the self-propelled guns of the 244th Division. Two long-barreled “Stugs” drove through the previously cleared viaduct on Krasnoznamenskaya and reached the intersection with Kommunist Street. The northern wing of the Inzhkoopstroy skyscraper was looming ahead, but the attack of the German infantry was blocked 150 meters away: the soldiers of two companies of 276th Regiment could not raise their heads under the fire of Soviet machine guns installed on the upper floors. The heavy machine guns could not suppress Russian firing points: the crews of the «maxims» constantly changed their position. One of the battle groups tasked with capturing the northern wing of the building was commanded by the aforementioned Lieutenant Edelbert Hall.
In his memoirs, Lieutenant Hall called on the two self-propelled guns on their way to support his «neighbor», the 171st Reconnaissance Battalion, and persuaded his colleague, Lieutenant Hempel, to help him capture the U-shaped house. This is what the Germans called «Inzhkoopstroy», which was stuck like a bone in the throat of 276th Regiment and its commander Georg Pfeiffer.
One of the Stugs moved straight along Krasnoznamenskaya, the second along a parallel street that led to the southern wing. Clanking their tracks, the self-propelled guns passed the block and opened fire on the window openings of the upper floors. Rushing, from cover to cover, the German infantry approached the building, but the Russians did not open fire. When the building was thirty meters away, the Germans regrouped and simultaneously attacked in two groups the entrances in the right and left wings.
When, half an hour later, the Wehrmacht infantry combed the floors of the huge building, it became clear that the stronghold was taken without a single shot. In the basement, civilians and several Red Army men were found. They said that the house was defended by 40 soldiers, led by a lieutenant and an NCO, 17 of whom were taken prisoner, the rest retreated to the neighboring ruins.
The breakthrough of the 276th Regiment along Krasnoznamenskaya Street significantly helped the advance of its neighbor on the left, and the assault guns finally tipped the scales in the direction of the Germans, the defenses of the Soviet troops began to collapse.
Over the next hours, the area of the City Garden was cleared. Among the burned, broken pavilions and alleys pitted with craters, gray figures moved cautiously. From time to time shots were heard, the Germans finished off the wounded Red Army soldiers. The cozy park complex with shady alleys and fountains, a favorite place for residents in the center of Stalingrad, has once again turned into a cemetery with stumps of trees.
The German infantry reached the destroyed building of the fire station, where the headquarters of the battalion of 272nd NKVD Regiment was located. At 11:00 a messenger made his way from the battalion headquarters to the regiment headquarters, which was located very close, a hundred meters to the east, in the bunker of the City Defense Committee. He handed a report over: “Enemy tanks came close to the fire station. 9 men remained in the battalion. We will fight to the last." No more reports from the battalion were received, the building was captured by the Germans.
The headquarters of the 272nd Regiment of the NKVD fell into a trap: the only exit from the GKO bunker in the small structure located in the park area near the Drama Theater, the so-called Komsomol Park, was in direct line of fire of the Germans. At the church building, 30 meters from the bunker, German infantry was already regrouping, while the Stugs standing next to them tried to destroy both structures of the bunker at almost point-blank range: in one there was a descent down, in the other a ventilation shaft.
In the lower tiers of the bunker in small rooms, about 30 soldiers and commanders gathered, many were wounded. From the documents of the 272nd Regiment, the names of the headquarters workers who were at the command post are known:
“Regiment commander, Major Yastrebtsev, military commissar of the regiment, Battalion Commissar Shcherbina, chief of staff, Senior Lieutenant Chuchin, party bureau secretary, Junior Political Instructor Mishin, deputy military commissar, Political Instructor Glazachev, assistant chief of staff, Technician-Quartermaster Lushnya, Propaganda Instructor of the Regiment Kononov, chief of communications of the regiment, Senior Lieutenant Chufistov, Doctor Rybakov, Military Assistant Efrosinina and Clerk of the Headquarters Nekrasov.”
During the day of September 24, the soldiers of 71st Infantry Division attempted to seize the bunker in Komsomol Square and «smoke out» its defenders. After the grenades and explosives dropped down did not produce the desired effect, the Germans used toxic substances: they tried to feed the exhaust gases of the arriving Stugs down through rubber hoses. Also, according to the testimony of the military assistant Efrosinina, chloropicrin was used.
This Metrostroy facility was equipped with a manually operated emergency air supply and an inconspicuous extractor on the surface, so the assault on the bunker lasted until the evening. From time to time, offers to surrender were heard from above, insults and random shots were heard in response. Despite the desperate situation, the soldiers and commanders of 272nd Regiment were ready to fight. However, they had no other choice: an unenviable fate awaited political workers and NKVD soldiers in German captivity.
By the evening, when the gas began to penetrate into the underground, the regiment commander, Major S.A. Yastrebtsev and the military commissar, Battalion Commissar I.M. Shcherbina decided to break through to the nearby Drama Theater: the approaching darkness slightly increased the scanty chances of success. Fighters able to move prepared weapons, shared grenades and cartridges. Sitting down at the wall, the 34-year-old commissar Ivan Methodievich Shcherbina, remembering his wife and children, wrote his last letter:
«Comrade Kuznetsov, if I died, one of my sorrows is my family, the other is that one should still give the bastards in the teeth, i.e. I regret that I died early and personally killed only 85 of the Germans. For Stalin, for the Motherland, you guys give the enemy a hard time."
This letter is kept in the Central Museum of Border Troops in Moscow. «Comrade Kuznetsov ", to whom the note is addressed, was the military commissar of the 10th Division of the NKVD. There is a correction in the text: initially, instead of 85 killed Germans, some other number appeared, perhaps just 5, but this, apparently, did not seem to be enough for the heroic workers of Glavpur.
Throwing out a few grenades, the soldiers escaped from the bunker to the surface. There was no more than 40 meters of open space to the theater building, but few were able to overcome it. Political instructor Kononov, chief of staff Chuchin and scout Polina Parshina, clerk Nekrasov and quartermaster Lushnya were immediately killed by the fire of German machine guns. Senior Lieutenant Illarion Bragin managed to get to the theater, where he immediately organized the defense of the building together with several Red Army men, which became the last defense line of the 272nd NKVD Regiment.
Vera Rybakova and Efrosinya Kalenskaya were also able to reach the building and witness the fall of Commissar Shcherbina: almost reaching the shelter, he was shot near the walls of the Drama Theater.
The Germans were able to capture the building of the Drama Theater only the next day, September 25, and only after the soldiers of 171st Reconnaissance Battalion of 71st Infantry Division killed the Red Army soldiers who were shooting from the galleries and «smoked» the basement defenders by setting up a bonfire from the chairs on the basement stairs.
A little further north, on the other side of the Square of the Fallen Fighters, German sappers were burning in the basements of the department store the last soldiers of the battalion of Senior Lieutenant Fedoseyev. The next day, September 26, at 12:00, the swastika flag was hoisted over both buildings.
By the evening of September 24, the workers of the headquarters of 272nd Regiment, escaping the gases, reached the command post of 92nd Rifle Brigade, which was located in an dugout 200 meters north-west of the mouth of the Tsaritsa at the northern entrance to the Astrakhan bridge. On the banks of the Volga, the urgent evacuation of the wounded continued all night long: under heavy German fire, only armored boats of the Volga flotilla could approach the quays at the Kholzunov monument. The operation included five vessels (No. 11, 12, 13, 31 and 34), in total from 23 to 26 September, about 1200 men were rescued.
The fallen brigades
On the morning of September 25, German attacks resumed. Destroying the discovered Soviet firing points, the infantry of 276th Regiment with the support of Stugs slowly moved along Krasnoznamenskaya Street to the Volga. German documents testify to «fierce Russian resistance» and «heavy street fighting north of the Tsaritsa."
The forces of the cut off Soviet units were running out. Here are the lines from the reports of 92nd Rifle Brigade: «… at 13:30, the units of 914th Rifle Regiment, under mortar, artillery, automatic fire and attacked by one tank with infantry, withdrew without warning." An hour and a half later, the remnants of the combined battalion of 42nd Rifle Brigade began to withdraw from the defensive line: the retreating fighters went back to the line of the coastal railway.
The exit from the dugout, where the headquarters of 92nd Rifle Brigade was located, was fired upon by German machine gunners and a tank from the opposite bank of the Tsaritsa. German infantry approached the command post at a distance of several dozen meters, but did not dare to storm the exit, preferring to throw grenades out of the nearest ruins. Towards evening, the commanders and staff of the headquarters were able to break through to the railway bridge on the banks of the Volga.
The battalions of the brigade had 25-30 fighters each. The total number of encircled units was no more than 400 men: all that remained from 42nd and 92nd Rifle Brigades, 272nd NKVD Regiment, the consolidated regiment from 244th Rifle Division, 748th AA Regiment and 115th Fortified Region.
On the same day, radio operators in 13th Guards Division received the last communication from the units surrounded at the mouth of the Tsaritsa. From the report of the division:
“Radio received from Tarasov and Unzhakov in the 92nd: Our unit is conducting stubborn battles with enemy tanks and infantry that have broken through. In the area of Socialist and Tsiolkovsky Streets, the enemy aims to reach the Tsaritsa and the Volga. The enemy occupied the Baths, the Hotel, the Market Square and the crossings. The situation is difficult, no maneuver. Heavy shelling and bombing, we have no connection with anyone. Tell me urgently what to do, it's hard to hold on, we can be cut off…»
The aforementioned were Lieutenant Colonel P.I. Tarasov, commander 92nd Separate Rifle Brigade, and Captain P.A. Unzhakov, commanding 42nd Brigade after Colonel Batrakov was wounded.
On the night of September 25-26, the commanders of 42nd and 92nd OSBRs committed an act that later cost them their lives: without order, they moved the command post to the nearby Volga island Golodny. There was no connection with the army headquarters, but its commander Chuikov and the Stalingrad Front commander Eremenko knew about the catastrophic situation of the cut off units from the stories of the wounded and reports of 13th Guards Division. But order # 227, the famous «Not a step back!» was the same for all, and no one authorized the transfer of the HQ.
The soldiers who remained on the banks of the Volga on September 26 repelled the attacks of the German infantry, but by nightfall it was all over. 60 men were able to swim to Golodny Island, a few others broke through to the positions of 13th Guards Division. About 300 Soviet soldiers were captured by the Germans at the quay wall at the mouth of the Tsaritsa.
Thus ended the first assault on Stalingrad. As a result, the units of General Paulus’ 6th Army and General Hoth’s 4th Panzer Army captured the southern (Voroshilovsky, suburbs of Minina and Kuporosnoye) and central (Dzerzhinsky and Yermansky) districts of the city. On September 27, the second assault began, the main events moved to the workers' settlements north of Mamaev Kurgan. In the center of Stalingrad there was still a narrow strip of land held by the soldiers of 13th Guards Rifle Division, but the German command did not attach any importance to this. However, it was here that the main legend of Stalingrad was born: the defense of “Pavlov’s House”.
As a postscript
10 days after the events described, on October 6, 1942, by verdict of the military tribunal, were shot Lieutenant Colonel P.I. Tarasov and Battalion Commissar G.M. Andreev. Two days later, on October 8, were shot the acting commander of 42nd OSBR, Captain P.A. Unzhakov and Battalion Commissar F.M. Lukin. Their names, as well as the circumstances of the end of the first assault on the city were deleted from the memoirs and official Soviet history.
Apparently, only the commander of 10th NKVD Division, Colonel Saraev, gave his men the order to fall back. The soldiers and commanders of the 270th and 272nd NKVD Regiments can deservedly be considered the heroes of the tragic days of the end of September.
After the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, Army Commander Chuikov, in an interview with the Isaac Mints commission, said:
“On the 14th I shot the commander and commissar of one regiment, after a while I shot two brigade commanders with commissars. Everyone was immediately taken aback. We bring this to the attention of all the soldiers, and the commanders in particular… If I had gone beyond the Volga, they would have shot me on the other side and had the right to do it. The situation dictated, and it had to be done."
It remains to add that in mid-October commander Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov asked in turn his chief, Front commander Andrei Ivanovich Eremenko, to withdraw his command post from Stalingrad. But that's a completely different story.