Stalingrad: The City that Defeated the Third Reich

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Jochen Hellbeck
PublicAffairs, Apr 28, 2015 - History - 512 pages
The turning point of World War II came at Stalingrad. Hitler’s soldiers stormed the city in September 1942 in a bid to complete the conquest of Europe. Yet Stalingrad never fell. After months of bitter fighting, 100,000 surviving Germans, huddled in the ruined city, surrendered to Soviet troops.

During the battle and shortly after its conclusion, scores of Red Army commanders and soldiers, party officials and workers spoke with a team of historians who visited from Moscow to record their conversations. The tapestry of their voices provides groundbreaking insights into the thoughts and feelings of Soviet citizens during wartime.

Legendary sniper Vasily Zaytsev recounted the horrors he witnessed at Stalingrad: “You see young girls, children hanging from trees in the park.[...] That has a tremendous impact.” Nurse Vera Gurova attended hundreds of wounded soldiers in a makeshift hospital every day, but she couldn’t forget one young amputee who begged her to avenge his suffering. “Every soldier and officer in Stalingrad was itching to kill as many Germans as possible,” said Major Nikolai Aksyonov.

These testimonials were so harrowing and candid that the Kremlin forbade their publication, and they were forgotten by modern history—until now. Revealed here in English for the first time, they humanize the Soviet defenders and allow Jochen Hellbeck, in Stalingrad, to present a definitive new portrait of the most fateful battle of World War II.

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User Review  - knightlight777 - LibraryThing

This book is primarily a compilation of interviews taken from the participants in this epic battle that turned the face of WWII on the eastern front. I was actually looking for more of a historical ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Kunikov - LibraryThing

Jochen Hellbeck's "Stalingrad" is a testament to how much we still don't know about the Eastern Front over 70 years after the war has ended. Within the Soviet Union a historical commission was created ... Read full review


the fateful battle
Revolutionary Army
Commanders and Commissars
Forms of Combat
The Commission in Stalingrad
Agrafena Pozdnyakova
Vasily Grossmans In the Line of the Main Drive
The Capture of Field Marshal Paulus
Guards Division General Alexander Rodimtsev
Nurse Vera Gurova
Regimental Commander Alexander Gerasimov
Sniper Vasily Zaytsev
Alexander Parkhomenko
The Germans Speak
A German Diary from the Kessel

Nine Accounts of the War

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About the author (2015)

Jochen Hellbeck is a professor of history at Rutgers University and a specialist in twentieth-century Russia. His previous book, Revolution on My Mind, explored personal diaries written in the Soviet Union under Stalin. The German edition of Stalingrad won a DAMALS prize for best historical study of the year. Hellbeck runs a website,, that features portraits and interviews taken with German and Russian veterans of the battle of Stalingrad. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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