Background: The defeat at Stalingrad came as a surprise to the German public. After Hitler’s claim on 8 November 1942 that Stalingrad was almost entirely in German hands, press coverage diminished. Soviet attacks succeeded in surrounding Stalingrad on 23 November 1942, a fact that went unreported in the German press. During December and the first part of January, war coverage focused on submarine successes in the Atlantic and North Africa. The surrounded forces in Stalingrad were rarely mentioned. The daily OKW reports used the words “defensive fighting” to report activities on the Eastern Front, but the tone was that Germany was holding on to previous gains and preparing for renewed summer offensives. In January, the talk was increasingly of “heroic sacrifice.” Attentive readers noted the grimness of press accounts that hinted that Stalingrad was surrounded and that the end was near — without ever quite saying that.
After the defeat, press coverage presented those at Stalingrad as heroes who had fought to the last, giving Germany time to gather the resources to resist further Russian advances, without mentioning that 110,000 soldiers, including Field Marshal Paulus, had surrendered. The culmination of the campaign came on 18 February 1943 when Goebbels delivered his “Total War” speech.
This page has a series of press reports before and after the defeat. Although the news began suggesting the seriousness of the battle in early January, newspaper accounts like these did not suggest to Germans that military catastrophe was near until it actually came.
Hitler’s Speech on 8 November 1942
On 8 November 1942, Hitler have his annual speech in Munich on the anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch. In the course of the speech he made the following statement about Stalingrad:
“That center [Stalingrad] I wanted to take and, as you know, we are modest — we have it! There are only a few small pockets left. Now the others say: ‘Then, why do they not fight more quickly?’ —Because I do not want a second Verdun. I prefer to do it with very small assault parties. Time makes no difference here. No ship comes up the Volga any more. That is what is decisive!” [Translation from the Domarus edition of Hitler’s speeches.]
Soviet Attacks Crushed in Close Combat
“Abwehrkampf in unverminderter Härte. Sowjetangriff über die Wolga bei Stalingrad abgewiesen.,” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 23 December 1943, p. 1. The original is available on ANNO.
There was a brief mention of Stalingrad in the OKW report: “In Stalingrad the enemy attempted to set up a beachhead across the Volga. He was repelled in close combat.” The accompanying commentary had no mention of Stalingrad.
Defensive Battles of Undiminished Difficulty
“Abwehrkämpfe von unverminderter Härte,” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 7 January 1943, pp. 1-2. The original is available on ANNO.
The Wehrmacht report recently has regularly included the phrase “the difficult defensive battles in the Don region continue.” This simple sentence conceals significant military facts. The bend of the Don is currently the clear center of Soviet attacks, since the arrival of winter has raised Bolshevist hopes of stopping the military success of Germany and its allies. The previous winter was the longed for and hoped for Bolshevist ally. With unparalleled courage, German and allied troops held the front.
Based on their experiences during the previous winter, the Bolshevists hoped repeat their successes of last winter, and even improve on them. They carefully chose two points of attack. One was the Kalinin-Toporez line. The enemy attack suffered a battle of annihilation from the German defensive forces. That battle is still raging around Welikije Luti.
The other center of the Soviet offensive strategy was along the Don River. The enemy wanted to eliminate the most important results of the summer German offensive, which reached the bend of the Don by Stalingrad. Over recent weeks he therefore sent thousands of tanks, accompanied by elite formations, against the positions and strongholds of the allied forces in this wide region. He repeatedly attempted to drive wedges into the German or allied front, hoping to expand them into breakthroughs that would allow him to use wide-ranging maneuvers to break the allied front. He has repeated the attempts for weeks, regardless of the cost, without succeeding in achieving even a part of his broad strategic goals.
The majority of the attacks resulted in heavy enemy losses from German and allied troops. In other places a momentary superiority of enemy forces affected the balance, but an elastic defense secured the unity and impregnability of the front. In many cases, enemy forces were surrounded and destroyed.
Although the weather conditions of the defensive battles are not as barbaric as in the past winter, the determination of the numerically superior Soviet forces make the present defensive battles no less hard and bitter. Extraordinary demands are put on the soldiers of the German and allied armies. The military reports repeatedly state that small or very small units, sometimes even individual gunners or riflemen, are responsible for a defensive success. The secret of our defensive successes lies most of all in the military superiority of the German soldier and his allies.
Bolshevism Fails to Reach its Strategic Goal
“Strategisches Ziel der Bolshewismus gescheitert,” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 16 January 1943, p. 1. The original is available on ANNO.
Despite the announcements in the German army reports of breakthroughs in the Don River bend area first from the east to the west and then from the north to the south the German leadership here, too, has always been in control of the situation. The clear strategic goal of all Soviet military activities has been to drive German and allied troops from the Volga area and then to attack the allied southern front. They have completely failed to meet this goal due to the tough resistance of German and allied troops and because of the strategic superiority of their leadership. German and allied troops continue to stand guard in Stalingrad, and all other strategic goals were dealt with by timely corrections in the front.
The German defensive strategy has been to defend the important economic and military regions captured during the summer offensive over the winter against stronger enemy forces. That great strategic goal has been met with complete success in these difficult defensive battles.
Although the enemy has been able to make some inroads and win some territory these successes have had no strategic effects. Instead, he has suffered losses in men and material that through even Soviet losses of the past winter into the shadows. The enemy has already lost more than 5,000 tanks in these battles, and his losses of military aircraft have not been any lower. The losses in manpower have been so severe that they have had to use sixteen-year-olds and old people over the age of 50.
The defense battle is still raging. It has still not diminished in hardness and bitterness. The broadening of the front and constant attempts at new activity show that the enemy is using every means to gain strategic success. The past two months, however, prove that these Soviet attacks did not catch the German leadership unprepared, and that our superiority in leadership in combination with the heroism of German and allied troops is the guarantee that our main strategic goal, securing our summer gains, has been successful.
The Slogan at Stalingrad: Every Man a Fortress
Iron German Will against a Flood of Soviet Weapons
“Losung bei Stalingrad: Jeder Mann eine Festung,” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 20 January 1943. p. 1. The original is available on ANNO.
Berlin, 19 January. There were heavy battles along many sections of the south of the Eastern Front on 18 January. In close camaraderie, German troops and Italian Alpine forces gave bitter resistance against strong enemy attacks. Under conditions of deep frost and major snowstorms, the battles were characterized by the enemy’s efforts to advance its tank columns, regardless of losses, while our formations used a flexible defense to weaken the enemy assaults. By rapidly changing their positions, our forces carried out flank attacks from favorable positions that mostly led to the destruction of advancing Bolshevist units and the recovery of territory that had temporarily been lost.
These battles broke the thrust of the enemy attacks. Over the past two days, the majority of the 62 destroyed Soviet tanks were taken out of action. Including these tanks, a total of more than 1100 enemy tanks have been destroyed in the North Caucasus and Don regions. One corps on the southern front has lost 625 tanks since 6 December 1942, while the other corps has had 500 tanks destroyed since 12 December 1942.
Unfavorable weather conditions hindered the use of the Luftwaffe, restricting the use of bombers and dive bombers against enemy troop concentrations primarily to the area between the Caucasus and the Don. Our fighters shot down five Bolshevist aircraft.
Observation Planes Thwart Enemy Attacks
Despite snow storms and bad visibility, our observation planes on these front and elsewhere flew deep into enemy territory and returned with critical intelligence about enemy plans. One of our observers saw that strong Bolshevist forces, accompanied by tanks, were preparing an attack along an important stretch of the river. Despite heavy enemy fire, the plane repeatedly dived to determine the strength and distribution of enemy forces. This intelligence gave our military leadership the ability to combat these forces so effectively that a major attempt at a breakthrough ended in heavy combat with high enemy losses.
The battle against superior enemy forces around Stalingrad has grown more bitter. The enemy continued his ceaseless attacks with all the troops and equipment at his disposal on 18 January. Thousands of shells fell on the German lines, the battle raging along every foot of the front. He threw entire tank brigades and rifle regiments against the German lines.
Through superhuman exertions and despite difficult conditions, dangerous crises, and all the privations, our troops were able to resist, as they have in weeks past. “Each man a fortress” is the slogan one man in Stalingrad’s bunkers invented, and it has become the slogan for everyone when the salvos thunder down, when hundreds of Bolshevists charge across the snow, when the battle of man against tank begins. The storm rages day after day along all fronts around Stalingrad. The German solider faces the flood of men and weapons with his iron will.
Stalingrad — Heaviest Battles So Far on the Eastern Front
Our Troops Display Miracles of Bravery and Courage
“Stalingrad — bisher schwerste Kämpfe der Ostfront,” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 23 January 1943. p. 1. The original is available on ANNO.
Berlin, 22 January.
For more than a week, the OKW’s reports announce the unique courage with which German forces in Stalingrad, surrounded by the enemy on all sides, are stubbornly resisting mass Bolshevist assaults. Despite their heroic defense, as today’s OKW report states, Stalingrad’s defenders were unable to stop an enemy breakthrough in the west, and had to withdraw several kilometers. The huge battle and unique courage of our heroes along this section of the eastern defensive front is clear in the following report we have received from the Supreme Command of the Wehrmacht.
The battle in the area around Stalingrad over the weeks since 10 January has reached an intensity that throws all the previous battles on the Eastern Front into the shadows. At dawn on the day of an attack, a forward observation post noticed that a heavy flak battery had been brought up just behind the front line, concealed by the wreck of a Soviet tank. Over the night the enemy had brought masses of new weapons into position. In a stretch of only 700 meters, the observer saw 20 new anti-tank guns of all sizes and numerous new mortar batteries. The meaning was not immediately obvious since the Bolshevist has often displayed his weapons in a similar way in order to draw fire and cause us to waste munitions.
A Terrible Thunder of Artillery
A terrible artillery barrage began at 6 a.m. sharp. Heavy artillery, mortars, and anti-tank guns let loose with everything they had. The communication lines from the observer to our batteries were instantly cut. Communication could be maintained only by radio. The observation post took three direct hits one after the other. Both artillery spotters were wounded. They raised the undamaged periscope and saw the first wave of enemy infantry charging across the snow, only to be mowed down by our machine guns. The second wave soon came, moving steadily forward. A message was sent to our artillery battery. The shells exploded among the Soviets and the second wave was cut down.
Tanks Break Through
Now masses of tanks appeared. Artillery fire was requested. The flak battery, however, did not respond since in the meanwhile a Soviet rifle brigade attacked from the right flank. A battery of heavy field artillery got the radio message and fired on the masses of tanks. The tanks paused for a short while, then continued to advance. Several were destroyed by direct hits, but three broke through. They maneuvered around the trenches and foxholes along the main battle line and then rolled on.
Confident in the heavy weapons behind the line, one let them continue. Suddenly, new enemy tanks with riflemen appeared. The howitzers did what they could. But it was soon clear that the Bolshevist breakthrough could not be stopped. The soldiers pulled together in hedgehog positions and waited for an opportunity to counterattack. The enemy tanks and riflemen reached the front line and surrounded our positions. The noise of battle covered up the explosions of mines and shells that destroyed one of the tanks. But there were too many of them. Several pressed onward through the deep snow. Our soldiers in hedgehog positions kept fighting.
One of the tanks passed eight meters from one of the wounded artillery observers. Unseen by the tank crew, he climbed on board, holding on with one hand while the tank carried him along. His other hand held his pistol, ready at any moment to shoot the tank crew or enemy soldiers. The tank rolled forward toward targets behind the lines, finally nearing a village. The wounded man knew that there were heavy anti-tank guns there. He quickly jumped off and dove into a hole. Not a second too soon, since the tank he had been hanging onto began burning brightly.
With Hand Grenades and Bare Weapons
Now German artillery had its say. Shell after shell came down between the rolling monsters. Some exploded, some burned, and the others pulled back. Now our solders and sappers, the drivers and artillerists, could counterattack across the powder-darkened snow, engaging in bitter combat with hand grenades and rifles. They drove back the enemy forces. They reached the main battle line, establishing contact again with our hedgehog posts and caring for wounded comrades. Only a small, blood-drenched strip of No Man’s Land, torn up by shells, was all that the enemy had left of his breakthrough. Each day and night since has been filled with such heavy battles.
The Greatest Epic of Heroism of This War
The Battles around Stalingrad are an Obligation for the Homeland
“Das größte Heldenepos dieses Krieges,” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 24 January 1943, p. 1. The original is available on ANNO.
Berlin, 23 January.
The battle of Stalingrad has become the greatest epic of heroism of this war.. It is impossible to imagine that this heroism could be surpassed. It is hard to find examples in the past that could stand comparison with the heroism of the solders in Stalingrad.
German and allied soldiers have been standing watch along the Volga for weeks. The Bolshevist storm presses and threatens them from every direction. Slowly and steadily, the numerical superiority of the enemy’s attacking forces makes the area being defended smaller and smaller. One day the enemy gains ground in one area, the next day in another. Today, too, the military report announces a deep enemy drive that must be opposed with all our strength.
The German Supreme Command is reluctant to mention honor achievements in military reports. If the OKW report now speaks of a heroic battle, it gives the German people the sense that the heroism of our soldiers in Stalingrad is to be honored. Depending solely on their own resources and under the harshest conditions of need and privation, they do their duty with iron determination and sacrificial military readiness. Their heroism is the highest and noblest expression of the German military tradition.
But it is also an obligation for the homeland. Each second of fighting on the Volga is a call to the homeland.
The Nation’s Existence at Stake
Why is the German soldier fighting so heroically on the banks of the Volga? He knows that his endurance, his testing, is a decisive contribution in a struggle for the life or death of the German people and the European cultural world. The existence of our nation is at stake. The great German summer offensive tore agricultural and industrial regions in the Ukraine and Caucasus from the Soviets. Their loss will over the long term significantly reduce their fighting strength and, on the other hand, since they are now in the hands of the Axis, will over the long term lead to an increase in the war resources of the Axis powers that will lead to decisive Axis superiority.
Using all his forces, Stalin is trying to put the achievements of our summer offensive into question, thereby shaking Europe’s defensive system in the East.
Fight to his Last Breath
Given the decisive nature of the situation, the German soldier in the East is fighting to his last breath at forward positions. He knows that this resistance in Stalingrad is not for the sake of holding on to territory, but rather to secure the strategic, militarily vital regions that are essential to defend the summer's offensive successes. The German soldier makes sacrifices to crown the victory and to lay the foundations for future successes.
The way the Soviets are attempting to make German heroism ineffective to the mass use of men and materiel. With masses of soldiers and masses of weapons, he hopes to break even the hardest German will to fight. Here the homeland can hear the call of the front. The front and the homeland hold out and keep going, but rather they must give the utmost they have. Even now when the enemy attacks the defensive lines in Stalingrad with masses of men and materiel, he must make enormous sacrifices in blood against a relatively small force, losses that can hardly be compared with those of previous wars.
If the homeland responds to the call of the front and is ready for the greatest exertions, showing themselves at least in that regard worth of the heroes of Stalingrad, there can be no doubt that the numerically superior
There is no member of the German people any longer who does not understand the hardness of the age. Even harder should be the will to overcome it. Our thoughts are with our soldiers along the Volga. They should know that the homeland has understood their call.
Final Attempts to Achieve a Balance of Forces
The Heroism of our Front Soldiers Places the Highest Obligations on the Homeland
“Letzter Einsatz zur Erringung des Kräfteausgleiches,” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 26 January 1943, p. 1. The original is available on ANNO.
During the first three years of the war, the German military command was restrained in its reporting of the unique victories of German and allied armies. If there is a setback of any sort on the Eastern Front, however, as soon as the requirements of military secrecy permit it gives German people an unvarnished report of the dramatic changes on the Eastern Front that have made the concept of Stalingrad a heroic symbol. Clearly and openly, the OKW report announces that the enemy’s superiority in troops has resulted in a temporary reduction of military operations, and that through the most determined resistance on the one hand and through a concentration of forces at the front and the homeland on the other, the necessary balance of forces must be achieved.
We have repeatedly told our readers what the enemy is attempting to achieve in his present efforts: The enemy wants to eliminate the strategic and economic results of our summer offensive, and achieve a breakthrough that will result in the collapse of our Eastern Front. He has placed his armament factories deep behind the front to protect them from the danger of enemy attacks.
During the summer, German and allied troops pushed up to the Volga and into the Caucasus. That not only gave the Axis the space to increase its war potential, but also provided forward bases that threaten new Soviet armaments production facilities. Using winter conditions, the enemy is attempting to reduce this danger by using his territorial advantages to rob us and our allies of the strategic successes that resulted from the German summer offensive.
The Soviets began their unparalleled winter mass offensive at Stalingrad with 50 divisions. By breakthroughs in the northwest and south they were able to cut off the most forward German positions from the main line of battle. They also broadened their attacking front to the south up to Terek and to the north to Woronesch, with the result that this large area from the middle Don River to the Caucasus has become a single strategic battlefield.
This situation gave the German leadership a clear task: to protect the strategically important results of the summer offensive by shortening and correcting the front, concentrating forces along the shortened front. One must remember that the southern part of the Eastern Front extended deep into the Caucasus up to Terek. That was a distance of 600 kilometers from Stalingrad or Rostock. Given the actual course of the front, the length was significantly longer than that. This extreme end of the southern front was so far from the center of Soviet attacks along the Don River that the advantages of shortening the front are clear.
It must be stressed that this shortening of the front was planned, and did not result from enemy action. More and more in recent weeks, the center of Soviet attacks, aside from Stalingrad, has been the area between the Don, Donez, and Woronesch. Here, too, the German leadership decided to shorten the front by withdrawing from the bridgehead at Woronesch.
The measures to shorten the front and concentrate forces in vital German areas assumes that Stalingrad will be defended as long as possible against very strong enemy forces. The men of Stalingrad are fighting to hinder the success of the enemy’s major plans and to provide the time for countermeasures that are needed to combat a greater danger.
Words will never be able to describe what these soldiers are doing in their most demanding efforts to rescue the whole and guarantee victory. The thanks of the nation will never be sufficient. Their sacrifice is not a tragedy of heroism, but rather a decisive contribution to assure final victory. The heroic battle of forces along the Volga is characterized by the greatest military necessity and the ultimate fulfillment of duty. They have been engaged in this bitter battle for weeks and months. Given superior enemy forces and the continuing reduction of their defensive territory, they are still fighting today with courage and endurance that is demanded by military necessity and the fulfillment of duty by each individual soldier.
Tragic events have meant that the concentration of forces on the Eastern Front is parallel to the operations in Africa. Although the German-Italian tank army withdrew intact and undefeated from Tripoli in the face of the enemy’s plans, the enemy has made strategic gains after his efforts of the past months.
No one can deny that the hour has come both in the East and in Africa that comes in all great wars. It is something of a crucial test, the last challenge. With cold-blooded confidence in our superiority and knowing the repeatedly demonstrated heroism of German and allied soldiers, the supreme leadership has drawn the necessary conclusions.
The heroes of Stalingrad demonstrate that our soldiers will withstand this crucial test. Each person in the homeland has the duty to give his utmost to meet this crucial test by establishing the necessary balance of forces. The first years of the war gave us the strategically important territory that will be decisive in this war. The demand of the hour is to make the utmost efforts to guarantee this victory and success through our devotion.
Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 30 January 1943, p. 1. The original is available on ANNO.
Southern Group in Stalingrad Succumbs to Superior Forces
“Südgruppe Stalingrad der Uebermacht erlegen,” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 2 February 1943, p. 1. The original is available on ANNO.
After a two-month battle against superior enemy forces, the bitter cold, and superhuman privation, the southern group of the 6th German army was overcome by countless Bolshevist heavy weapons, tanks, and aircraft. Facing heavy attacks from all directions, the exhausted defenders had to give up territory bit by bit until driven into a 300 meter area by the GPU building. Lacking munitions they could neither resist concentrated tank attacks nor fire on the enemy artillery batteries amid the ruins. Those guns shelled the remaining forces around the GPU building, wearing down the resistance of General Field Marshall Paulus’s surrounded soldiers. The remaining soldiers amidst the ruined and destroyed buildings used their last strength to fight the Bolshevist masses that attacked from all sides. They destroyed all important documents, maps, and papers, setting the final stone in the memorial they created with their immortal deeds.
In the ruined tractor factory, the northern group under the leadership of General of the Infantry Strecker continues its heroic defense. Their unshakable will to fight gives them the strength to resist ceaseless enemy attacks. The Bolshevists systematically shell each remaining wall of the extensive factory grounds and throw salvoes of hand grenades over the rubble of the walls in order to eliminate any possibility for the defenders to find cover. The assembly pits, basements, and underground passages still offer some protection. The tireless soldiers charge out of them whenever enemy units go too far and drive them back. Against these determined men, the enemy is now concentrating his full superiority of forces. They still hold firm.
The situation is hardly changed elsewhere on the southern front. The fighting remains very hard to the area west of Boronesch. The battles are bitter and the situation change often. Advancing enemy forces are disrupted, strong points destroyed, and areas temporarily captured by the enemy are attacked.
They Died So That Germany Could Live
History’s Greatest Example of Heroism has Ended in Stalingrad
Georg Dertinger, “Sie starben, damit Deutschland lebe! In Stalingrad vollendete sich das größte Heldentum der Geschichte,” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 4 February 1943, pp. 1-2. The original is available on ANNO.
Berlin, 3 February.
Only a few hours have passed since we heard the song of “Good Comrades” over the radio that announced to us the end of the battle of Stalingrad. Its sounds expressed all of our feelings, and threatened to break our hearts. For weeks our attention was focussed on this city of ruins. It was not the name that drew our attention. Such a name cannot be a symbol for the German people. It was the knowledge of the daily and hourly heroism of our men, fathers and sons, that drew our attention with magical force to this bend of the Volga, where a new century of an ancient cultured continent wrote a song of heroism unequalled in the history of the peoples.
Perhaps, German mother, you recalled pictures that you had seem of that city deep in Russia, long since atomized and reduced to rubble, that city that now contains only basement ruins and steel girders, that city that once held armaments factories and whose machines now provide cover for the fighting army. Perhaps, German father, who held the maps and with trembling hand marked where the Volga makes its bend, as if to bless the place where your family members fought their last battle. Perhaps, German boy and German girl, you asked why the sound of “Good Comrades” that came over the loudspeaker sounded so different than the fanfares that announce victory.
We answer: This is not a matter of victory or defeat. This is not a matter of the ebb and flow of the war, for our victory is certain. This is a matter only of the eternal, of heroism, of courage, of military testing. And when the notes of “Deutschland, Deutschland, über Alles” came over the airwaves, our eyes again glowed. The question of why faded. The certainty of the link between each generation and the past of our people sprang up that ended in a consciousness of our unity and our obligation for the future of our people.
As “Deutschland, Deutschland, über Alles” sounded over misery, death, and graves, serving as the last honor for our comrades on the Volga, we sensed that their sacrifice was not in vain.
Remember, German mother, when as a child you heard for the first the heroic song of Kriemhild or of the heroes of Etzelsburg [from the Niebelungen sagas]? Remember when you heard that men and heroes died loyally for their king, their people, and their homeland. Remember, German father, when with glowing cheeks you heard for the first time about the heroism of Leonidas and his 300 Spartans who died at the narrow pass of Thermopylae so that their people could live? Remember, German boy, when you heard of the heroic deeds at the walls of Vienna, when Rüdiger von Starhemberg defended the city against the Turks? Remember when we heard of Mars-la-Tour, or of Langemarck. We wanted, we swore, that we ourselves, our sons, brothers, and men, would be such heroes, who could stand alongside these heroes of history. We laid the seeds of a heroism that could open the way to Valhalla.
We all remember the Thirty Year War and the concept of the lost troop that sacrificed itself to save the whole. We know their rough songs and taught them to our boys, and we were proud when, filled with idealism and absolute devotion to the dream of heroism, they gave these songs eternal life.
We want to look each other straight in the eye: German mother and German father, to what kind of people do you belong? In this people, a hero is not one who stands out from the community, who is distinguished by a particular medal. No, everyone who fought on the Volga is a hero.
That sat at our table. We stood next to them in the factory. We worked with them, argued about deep matters. Your friend, your comrade, your son, your father, who fate led to the Volga, they have all become heroes. Where is there another people that can say that each of its sons and fathers wears the golden hero’s crown?
We tremble when we hear of the heroism of the past. Such trembling is a holy oath. How hard it will be to understand the heroism of the present. We know all those who only a little while ago were among us, we know their sorrows and their needs, their strengths and weaknesses, all this before iron law took them to the bend of the Volga. How hard it is to sense how in these last days and weeks they cast aside everything that was normal, the everyday worries and wishes, and knew but one thing: to fight and to die so that Germany might live.
They did not fall in vain. We remember that the eternal Moscovites stand ready to overrun Europe. From the depths of Moscow’s territory, they again want to press forward to destroy the elite of the peoples and of humanity. They want to conquer the last corner of the Occident and raise the flag of nihilism. How often in the past have the nobles of the East defended against this storm. Now the eternal enemy is making a new assault in particularly bestial form.
Remember that we have raised our sons according to the heroic models of history. As sons, we looked upon our fathers with pride they they spoke of heroism and told of the heroes of German history. Now we have seen that they are all capable of a heroism that not only is worthy of all of the examples of the past, but which will last forever. There have always been individual heroes. Never before have all in a battle been heroes. There is no historic example of this scale. That is the gift of our age.
Their sacrifice has fulfilled a truly historic European mission. Now only have they withstood the enemy’s storm for many weeks, they have broken and destroyed the onrushing surge. The enemy paid a bloody mass sacrifice to conquer a city that no longer exists. Their great superiority in numbers grew wilder and more furious. One attacking division after another bled before the unbending wall of our soldiers.
They were supplied from the homeland at first only meagerly, then not at all. Cut off from their comrades, they fought for each pile of rubble, taking cover in each foxhole, fighting in an isolation on the far side of good and evil, knowing but one thing: sacrificial heroism. The soldier fought next to the general. All barriers and distinctions fell away, leaving only the community of soldiers. They had but one thought: People and fatherland. That is what they fought for, that is what they bled for. They died so that Germany could live.
Do you know what that means? It does not mean that you should continue thinking about the eternal why of heroic sacrifice. It does not mean that you should behave in the homeland as if peace prevailed. Have we not just heard the song of “Good Comrades” and have we not sworn to be good comrades? To be a comrade means to share a room, to make the fate of another your own. If he dies, to make his duty and his task our own. Where one falls, another comrade steps forward in his place, and in the homeland, we will grit our teeth. The faster we send shells to the front, the more bitter will be their resistance.
The hammer takes on a faster rhythm in the homeland, and the shovel moves faster in work vital for the war. The comrade calls from Stalingrad; he wants to be revenged. His sacrifice will have its final meaning and final fulfillment in final victory. Battle and labor are the final obligation that the men of Stalingrad have laid on us. They died, we fight and work, so that Germany will live.
Go to the 1933-1945 Page.
Go to the German Propaganda Home Page.