“Most of the German soldiers appeared to be drunk, and threw themselves in a frenzy at the summit of the hill we defended. After each round of bombing there would be a moment of dead silence…and that was when you would get afraid. But then the hill would come alive again like a volcano, and we would crawl out of the shell holes and put our machine guns to work.
The barrels of the guns were red-hot, and the water boiled inside of them. Our men attacked without waiting for orders. I don’t know if a single case where someone committed an act of cowardice. It was mass heroism.
We lost many men as a result of direct hits on shell-holes. On September 23rd I was buried in my foxhole during an attack, and was unconscious under the earth for several hours. When they dug me out they took my documents away as evidence of my death, and they were about to bury me in a different hole when a bomb blast threw me several meters and somehow brought me round from the concussion.
I re-took command of my company that same day.
The slopes of the Kurgan were completely covered in corpses. In some places you had to move two or three bodies aside to lie down. They quickly began to decompose, and the stench was appalling, but you just had to lie down and pay no attention.
The dead were buried, if at all, where they fell. But sometimes, if there was time, they were out in big shell-holes, as nearly happened to me. It wasn’t always possible to report the names of the dead, and sometimes the courier with the casualty report himself was killed along the way.
Sometimes it seemed that we were all condemned to death. But we despised death all the same, and only wanted to sell our lives as dearly as we could.”
– Nikolai Maznitsa, 95th Rifle Division. Red Army. The Battle of Stalingrad, 1942.
As we always say here at Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.