BMMHS Evening Meeting: Stalingrad


Speaker: Dr Matthias Strohn​

Meeting 14th Sept 2022

Wednesday 14th September 2020; 7:30pm

This talk by Matthias Strohn we be re-scheduled to a later date. The September 2022 meeting is now PQ17 by Robin Brodhurst.

BMMHS Meeting Venue

Woodcote Village Hall, Reading Road, Woodcote, RG8 0QY


The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia.

Marked by fierce close-quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it remains the largest (nearly 2.2 million personnel) and bloodiest (1.8–2 million killed, wounded or captured) battle in the history of warfare. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses.

The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intense Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting; both sides poured reinforcements into the city. By mid-November 1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River.

On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German 6th Army’s flanks. The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the army stay in Stalingrad and make no attempt to break out; instead, attempts were made to supply the army by air and to break the encirclement from the outside. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food. The remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted five months, one week and three days.

Soviet soldiers Stalingrad
Red Army soldiers at Stalingrad, 1943 Three Red Army soldiers pose for a propaganda photograph during a break in the Stalingrad fighting. Two are armed with PPsh-41 submachine guns. The third soldier is aiming a Degtyarev light machine gun.
German Infantry Stalingrad 1942
German infantry take shelter behind a wall during street fighting in Stalingrad, autumn 1942. © The rights holder (HU 5131)
Factory District Stalingrad
The factory district of Stalingrad, 1942  The factory district of Stalingrad, in the north of the city, witnessed some of the bloodiest fighting of the battle. Bitter struggles for the Red October steel factory, the Dzerzhinsky tractor factory and the Barrikady gun factory left thousands dead. While Red Army soldiers defended their positions against German attacks, factory workers repaired damaged Soviet tanks and other weapons close to the battlefield, sometimes on the battlefield itself. © NAM. 2007-03-1-7
Stalingrad Stalins Organ
THE BATTLE OF STALINGRAD, AUGUST 1942-FEBRUARY 1943 (HU 90999) Still from the Soviet film 'The Story of Stalingrad' showing rocket missiles being fired at German positions. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
Soviet Mortar Team Stalingrad
A Soviet mortar team advance at Stalingrad, 1942 Throughout September and October 1942 the Germans advanced towards the River Volga, gradually capturing more and more of Stalingrad until the defenders of the 62nd Army were hemmed into a tiny pocket along the Volga. The Germans had occupied 90 per cent of the city when the Red Army launched a devastating counter-attack code-named 'Operation Uranus'. The offensive was launched from the steppes to the north and south of the city. It punched through the over-stretched and weakly defended German flanks and surrounded the 6th Army inside Stalingrad. The latter surrendered on 2 February 1943. Over 400,000 Germans, 200,000 Romanians, 130,000 Italians and 120,000 Hungarians were killed, wounded or captured during the battle. © NAM. 2007-03-1-8
Stalingrad Soviet Infantry
Soviet infantry in action in the ruins of Stalingrad. © IWM (NYP 38410)
German Infantry Stalingrad 1942
Street fighting in Stalingrad, October 1942 German infantry shelter in a crater during the bitter Stalingrad fighting. Both men are armed with MP40 machine pistols, the standard German sub machine gun during the Second World War. Over one million were made between 1939 and 1945. Although by this stage of the battle the Soviet pocket in the city had been greatly reduced, the 62nd Army continued to hold out with their backs to the River Volga. Their heroic defence allowed the Soviet High Command to prepare and then launch their great counter-offensive. This pushed the Germans and their Hungarian and Romanian allies back and led to the encirclement and destruction of the 6th Army at Stalingrad.
Tiger Commander in Russia
GERMAN TANKS AND MILITARY VEHICLES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR (STT 6269) The commander of a Tiger I command tank scans the horizon in Russia Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
German Army in Russia
GERMAN TANKS AND MILITARY VEHICLES OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR (STT 5649) 5cm PaK38(Sf) auf Zugkraftwagen 1t with SS trucks and Schwimmwagens in Russia Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

The German Defeat

German Defeat
'The trail of the German defeat', February 1943 A Red Army cavalryman rides past a knocked-out Mk III German tank in a frozen Russian forest. Despite being a highly mechanised force the Red Army continued to use cavalry, sometimes in combined mechanised and horse units. The advantage of this approach was that cavalry and mounted infantry could keep pace with the advancing tanks during any breakthrough on the vast expanse of the Eastern Front. © NAM. 2007-03-1-4
Von Paulus
'Field Marshal Paulus during his interrogation at Red Army HQ Bippa', Eastern Front, 1943 © NAM [Image number: 115190]
Germans surrender at Stalingrad
Germans surrender at Stalingrad
Stalingrad Romanian POW
THE BATTLE OF STALINGRAD, AUGUST 1942 - FEBRUARY 1943 (MH 9701) A line of Romanian prisoners captured during the Battle of Stalingrad in late 1942 or early 1943. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:
Germans surrender 1943
Germans surrender 1943

About the speaker – Dr Matthias Strohn

Dr Matthias Strohn was educated at the Universities of Münster (Germany) and Oxford. He is the Head of Historical Analysis at the British Army’s think tank, the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, and a member of the War Studies Department at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. In addition, he is a Reader in Modern War Studies at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Buckingham. He has published widely on this subject and he has written and edited 7 books and numerous articles. 
Matthias holds a commission in the German army (current rank Lieutenant-Colonel) and is a member of the military attaché reserve. He has served on the defence attaché staffs in Madrid, Paris and London. Prior to this he was attached to German Staff College as the military history staff officer. Matthias is also the academic adviser to the British Army’s Operation Reflect Team which deals with the First World War commemorations and he has advised British and German government bodies on this matter. Matthias deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan with both the British Army and the German Bundeswehr. Matthias is a keen battlefield tour guide and has led civilian and military tours in Europe from Normandy to Stalingrad. He has also worked on television and radio as both historical adviser and interviewee.
Dr Matthias Strohn
Dr Matthias Strohn

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