May 19, 2020

1944. CBS War Correspondents Prepare for D-Day

Reporters Cover the War on All Fronts
CBS News' D-Day team of war correspondents in London on June 1, 1944. Clockwise from top left: Larry LeSueur, Edward R. Murrow, Richard C. Hottelet, Bill Shadel, Charles Shaw, Gene Ryder, Charles Collingwood, Bill Downs
From the Mason City Globe-Gazette, May 29, 1944:
15 Seasoned CBS Correspondents Stationed Abroad Poised for D-Day
⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯⎯ 
Men on All Fronts for News Breaks

As D-Day draws near and Allied air forces step up their pounding of the continent, American radio listeners are kept posted by a top-notch corps of correspondents stationed in the strategic battle areas.

On battle fronts throughout the world, the Columbia Broadcasting System has 15 full-time correspondents reporting regularly. Nearly a score of other experienced newsmen stand ready to broadcast to KGLO and other CBS listeners from neutral capitals whenever an important story breaks.

Into the newsroom of CBS headquarters in New York pours a swift stream of accurate reports—aggregating 118,000 words a day—from sources all over the world—which are edited and broadcast to CBS listeners from coast to coast at frequent intervals, day and night.

Seven days a week, 24 hours a day, up-to-the-minute bulletins and detailed stories are flashed by 13 press association teletype machines, recorded by the CBS shortwave listening station, and cabled or radioed by CBS correspondents around the world. The shortwave listening station alone, with 8 expert linguists on the job, transcribes about 20,000 words daily in English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Russian.

The CBS New York news staff daily condenses these 118,000 words (approximately 2 full-sized novels) into about 22,000 words to make up its numerous regular daily news broadcasts.

Twice each day, and more frequently when occasion warrants, CBS correspondents are heard from widely scattered points around the world.

In England alone, CBS has a staff of 7 crack reporters, headed by Edward R. Murrow, ready to bring the on-the-spot story of the invasion. For months these correspondents have been waiting, watching, and reporting the colossal task of preparing for D-Day.

On other fronts, CBS correspondents are in the thick of fighting. They live in fox holes, they eat army rations, they rub shoulders with generals and non-commissioned men and they report what they see and what they hear to the people back home.

Farnsworth Fowle, for example, landed with the troops at Salerno, stayed with them as they advanced up the Italian mainland, and was the first correspondent to broadcast to America from Naples over the Allied-constructed station.

Many CBS reporters are familiar with more than one battle front and thus have an overall picture of the global war and an insight into the domestic problems of more than one people.

Eric Sevareid is at present broadcasting from Italy, but last year he covered the China-Burma-India front. It was there he almost lost his life when he and 19 others bailed out of their Chungking-bound transport planes over the Burma jungles.

George Moorad, now heard from Cairo and Ankara, was for many years a newspaperman in Shanghai and knows the Chinese-Japanese political situation as well as he does the present complicated problems of the Near East. Less than a year ago, Moorad was with General Douglas MacArthur's staff in Australia.

Ed Murrow's multitudinous duties as chief of CBS' European staff have kept him close to his base in London the past 2 years, but he has found time to accompany raiding missions over Europe. Last December, for instance, he rode a bomber in a raid on Berlin in which 2 of 5 correspondents failed to return. His report of that spectacular mission is one of the most graphic and thrilling accounts ever recorded, especially his description of the melee of flares and flak, bursting bombs and smoke which he termed an "orchestrated hell."

On Murrow's invasion staff are 6 other seasoned newsmen. Charles Collingwood followed close on Rommel's heels across Africa and kept CBS listeners informed on the rout of the Nazis from Africa. He was the first to report Darlan's assassination in December of '42 when he gave the first eye-witness account of the Allies' entrance into Tunis.

Larry LeSueur and Bill Downs of CBS' London staff are both experts on Russia. LeSueur lived in Russia during the dark days of retreat and witnessed the battle of Moscow and the siege of Stalingrad, while Downs reported the great Russian victories of last year.

Dick Hottelet, another of Murrow's men, knows the inside, as well as the outside of Germany—for he was held incommunicado by the Gestapo for several months, before we entered the war. Charles Shaw of the London staff is also an accomplished newsman and was one of a group of American editors invited by the British Ministry of Information to tour the United Kingdom last summer. Gene Ryder, newest London staff member, is a former technician of the CBS New York field engineering department.

From other European points, CBS correspondents come in regularly with their reports. Winston Burdett knows the African scene from Cairo to Casablanca; Howard K. Smith, whose best seller "Last Train From Berlin" describes Germany during the crucial months before Pearl Harbor, has a ringside seat in Bern, and James Fleming is reporting those brilliant Russian gains as the Red Army crashes into Hitler's Fortress Europa.

Over the Pacific area, Bill Dunn keeps CBS listeners informed on our progress against the Japs. He accompanies the troops on new landings whenever possible. Another CBS correspondent in the Pacific is Webley Edwards. He has covered the Pacific operations from Pearl Harbor and reports from headquarters in Honolulu.

The task of coordinating world-wide news roundups, frequently complicated by technical problems, falls upon the shoulders of Paul White, CBS Director of News Broadcasts.

In constant contact with his men all over the globe, he keeps his finger on the pulsating stream of world news, ever ready to call in correspondents from wherever news has just been broken or dispatch them to wherever he thinks it is in the making and will break next.

April 30, 2020

1943. The Moscow Reports

Bill Downs Reporting from the Soviet Union
From the documentary The Battle of Russia (1943), part of the American series "Why We Fight"

The Eastern Front, 1943

Bill Downs wrote stacks of articles and broadcast scripts while serving as the Moscow correspondent for CBS News and Newsweek in 1943. These reports, featured below, provided updates and analyses of the war on the Eastern Front as it happened. They tell the dramatic stories of civilians and Red Army soldiers on the front lines in Russia and Ukraine, from Leningrad to Stalingrad to Kiev.

Parentheses are used to indicate text that was censored by Soviet officials. While censorship was not unique to the Soviets, Moscow's censors were remarkably strict. Downs also dealt with significant technical difficulties broadcasting to New York. As a result many of these reports were never heard in the United States.

Reporters on the Eastern Front relied heavily on state-run newspapers (particularly Pravda, Izvestia, and Red Star) and government communiqués. Some of their military news updates reflected this. One example is Downs' report on the Katyn massacre, which he described as "the latest gory German propaganda" based off available information at the time from Pravda and the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Russia did not officially acknowledge until 1990 that it was actually the NKVD who were responsible for the mass killings).

Part of the discrepancy was due to the heavy restrictions placed on war correspondents by government officials. Downs recalled in 1951:
"Within the scope of Soviet censorship, the resident correspondent can report accurately on government policy as announced by the Kremlin. However, the resident correspondent is not allowed to report such details as the living standards of the people he sees or the state of the national economy . . . He is not allowed to report on conversations, say, overheard on the subway or on the buses and streetcars. His isolation from the Russian people is manifold—first by the language barrier, second by the fact that he is restricted for the most part to Moscow, thirdly by government orders against association with foreigners, and fourthly by the atmosphere of fear and suspicion, which is part of the daily life of the people.

"Outside of a few officials, it is doubtful that even the Russians themselves know what transpires in their country . . . Only occasionally does rumor or a leak in the press break through these barriers which the government has inflicted on the people."
Reviewing the scripts was only part of the process, as Downs wrote:
"The correspondent could not find out what had been cut from his copy until he was advised by his home office . . . radio scripts were submitted and had to be returned to us for reading on the air. Thus we could see what the censors had cut, and we were able to assess the government's attitude on subjects of a sensitive nature. The government obviously felt that its censorship was not complete. There was a fear that the correspondent could, by intonation, change the meaning of his report . . . When reading your dispatch on the air, there was always an English-speaking Communist broadcaster sitting alongside with his hand on the cut-out switch. If you unintentionally changed the grammar of the sentence, as sometimes happens, down would go the switch and you'd be off the air."
Regarding the role of the press, he wrote:
"The Soviet government sees the press only as an arm of the government whose chief duty is to forward the Communist cause. They do not understand—or at least pretend not to understand—the role of the free press outside their country. The Soviet concept of news is that all information about Russia, no matter how trivial, comes under the heading of intelligence in the espionage meaning of the word. Consequently the foreign correspondent is tolerated as a kind of second-rate spy."
Some of his most chilling reports, such as those on Kharkov, Stalingrad, and Kiev, are firsthand accounts of what Downs witnessed in those cities, and he had more latitude to convey the absolute brutality on the Eastern Front rather than simply reciting official statements. In their book The Murrow Boys: Pioneers on the Front Lines of Broadcast Journalism, authors Lynne Olson and Stanley Cloud recount Downs' experience with the city of Rzhev (pp. 195-196):
"After the German occupation of Rzhev, only two hundred fifty people remained of the town's original forty thousand. Downs described how in one house he stepped over the body of an old woman, her face battered to a pulp. Near her were the bodies of her grandchildren—a nine-year-old boy and an eleven-year-old girl, both shot in the head. In another room lay the body of a second grandson, about fourteen years old, shot at least seven times. As Downs reconstructed it, the Germans had ordered all the women and children to go to the town's church. But the woman's older grandson was desperately ill with typhus, and she refused to move him. So the Germans killed them all on the spot, beating her to death for her disobedience and riddling the fourteen-year-old with bullets.

"Downs was haunted by what he had seen in Russia. He told friends that 'coming back . . . is something like stepping out of a St. Valentine's Day massacre into a Sunday school classroom.' Over and over he described what he had witnessed but soon discovered that not everyone shared his strong feelings for the Russian people and the horrors they had experienced. Some looked at him curiously. Others expressed pity. Still others said he was a liar. On a lecture tour of the United States before returning to London, he even received an anonymous postcard calling him a Russian agent and threatening his life."
The links to Bill Downs' full reports are featured along with excerpts below, with the censored text restored.

The Moscow Reports

January 1943: Drinks with Red Army men back from Stalingrad
"I walked into the airport waiting room and saw Russian soldiers sitting around while a chess game progressed in one corner. Someone brought me a cup of tea—I had no Russian money and don't know who paid for it. The atmosphere about this place had the same sort of isolated comradeship you find in old-time village grocery stores. All it needed was a cracker-barrel and a potbellied stove.

"An army captain approached me without smiling and asked, 'Sprechen sie Deutsch?' I didn't know whether to say yes or no, since I am able to speak a sort of pidgin German from my college days. I looked around the room, which had sort of frozen up when it heard German, and I was the only foreigner around. I decided to chance it and replied, 'Ja, aber ich bin Amerikanischer korrespondent.' The room roared in laughter and I was immediately offered a flask."

January 1943: What drives the Russians to fight the way they do?
"The ability of Russia's John Q. Public to fight has endowed the people of Russia with almost legendary character—in the eyes of the world, and particularly Hitler."

January 6, 1943: Folks at home write to Red Army soldiers on the front lines
"Whole regiments will get letters addressed to the 'Liberators of Boguchar' from people they have never heard of before. Russian girls will write individual soldiers asking Private Ivanovich to 'kill just one German more today.'"

January 15, 1943: Russian civilians aid the war effort
"As the work progressed, the nearby townspeople also came in on the job. Then someone started a competition. The furnace became a sort of goal. Whole families, including the kids, helped carry fire bricks. Others dug pipelines. When the super-structure started going up, people got in each other's way trying to get things done."

January 20, 1943: The women doing the labor in Moscow
"By closely observing this daily battle against the snow, you can pretty well tell how all of Moscow feels about things. When the Red Army isn't doing so well, this army of women prod viciously at the ice. They glare at pedestrians and at each other. They don't do much talking, even when they stop for a breather."

January 22, 1943: Life in Leningrad
"No one knows what Leningrad is suffering tonight. It is not likely that the German command is letting Russia's greatest seaport city sleep while the Red Army continues its dirty job of throwing German soldiers out of pillbox after pillbox."

January 23 to May 13: The turning point of the war in Europe
"It is a cheering sign that there are no such foolish arguments or discussions going on in Moscow tonight such as those which arose in America after the last war—you know the old argument that 'we won the war for the Allies.' Russians simply don't think that way. After what the Soviet Union has suffered, the people of Russia don't care to waste time talking about who won what. It has become pretty clear over here that unless everyone puts every ounce of fight and energy into this war, no one is going to be able to talk about winning anything for a long, long time."

January 24, 1943: The Red Army pushes back at Leningrad
"During their sixteen month encirclement of Leningrad, the Germans built a three-to-five mile zone of concentrated Siegfried Line. It was a military nightmare. First there was row after row of coiled barbed wire. Then came the minefields."

January 26 to February 23, 1943: Decimating the Axis forces
"Hitler calls his great Russian winter retreat an 'elastic defense.' It is fairly certain he is going to try to put some snap into it this spring. But he's working with synthetic material that he can only stretch so far. Hitler's ersatz allies have already been badly broken under the strain."

January 1943: Comparing wartime Moscow and London
"You see in the people of Moscow the same determined, grim look that you could see in the brave citizens of London during their heaviest bombings. And when a Muscovite looks grim, I mean he really looks grim."

February 8, 1943: The aftermath in Stalingrad
"There was not a single manhole in Stalingrad's streets with a cover. Germans and Russians not only used the city's basements, housetops, and alleys for battlegrounds, but the sewers as well. Snipers were known to crawl through sewers and come out behind German positions to create panic . . .
"Veterans of the Stalingrad fight said it was not uncommon to find Russian and German soldiers locked in each other's death grip during the height of the fighting. That was the way these two armies locked in the city of Stalingrad fought until the Red Army proved itself more powerful and skilled and brought the Wehrmacht to its knees."

February 8 to February 9, 1943: Reports on Stalingrad
"There are sights and sounds and smells in and around Stalingrad that make you want to weep, and make you want to shout and make you just plain sick to your stomach."

February 8, 1943: "War Surgery for Sex"
"'Young soldiers brought here on the verge of suicide are as much mental cases as surgical. However, when they see other men undergoing plastic treatment and when they have talked with similarly wounded comrades, one can notice a psychological change within as little as one hour.'"

February 9, 1943: German Field Marshal Paulus in custody after Stalingrad
"Typical of the daring, devil-may-care spirit of these new Red Army forces was the almost comic capture of Field Marshal Von Paulus. Von Paulus, the only German field marshal ever to be made a prisoner of war, was taken after initial negotiations conducted by a 21-year-old Red Army first lieutenant."

February 9 to April 28, 1943: Stories from the Eastern Front
"At one point in the Stalingrad line, the German and Russian soldiers used to amuse themselves by shouting insults back and forth to each other. My Russian friend said that one German soldier shouted across the lines and offered to exchange his automatic rifle for a Red Army fur cap."

February 19 to February 20, 1943: Moscow schoolkids make predictions about a second front
"So I decided I would beat them to the draw. I asked the class just how and where they thought a second front should be started."

February 20, 1943: The Soviet government warns of Nazi spy tactics
"The Germans used local children, usually ages twelve to sixteen, and brought them before their trussed-up parents. They made them watch as their parents were severely beaten. The Germans then promised to stop the beatings if the children agreed to go to the Soviet rear and obtain the desired information. These kids were assured that if the information was not forthcoming, or if they failed to return, their parents would be shot. It is notable that Germans always keep these kinds of promises."

February 22, 1943: The 25th anniversary of Red Army Day
"The letters that the Russian kids write to the soldiers usually congratulate the men on the 25th anniversary and urge them to continue the stuffing out of the Germans. And often the letters end up with a promise that, as a token of appreciation, the schoolchildren will see that they make better grades and stop whispering in classrooms."

February 23, 1943: Russian reverence for the army
"Down in Stalingrad, in the fight for a tractor factory, one Red Army storm unit of a couple dozen troops were trying to outflank a pillbox which covered a vital communications area with murderous fire. Three times the storm group tried to outflank the German position. Each time they lost several more men. The group was led by a young lieutenant. He assayed the situation, took out a couple of grenades, and ordered the group to drive for the flank while he threw grenades. Under cover of the explosion, the lieutenant didn't run with comrades to flank. Instead he ran directly toward the aperture of the pillbox and blocked it with his body. His unit later picked up the body, half hung over a machine gun."

February 23, 1943: The fighting for Oryol and Donbass
"The Donbass is not an area of separate communities. In reality, it is one big suburb interconnected and intertwined with interurban lines, highways, and roads. It is the first complete frontal street fighting that any army in the world has encountered on such a large scale. The Germans are putting up a desperate defense. It is natural that the Donbass advance should progress more slowly than the Russian progress has been over the steppe-land to the north."

February 27 to March 16, 1943: The Nazi occupation of Kharkov and the colonization of Ukraine
"During the first days of the occupation about 18,000 people were executed. Bodies hanging from balconies were a common sight. Among these 18,000 executed were about 10,000 Jews—men, women, and children—who were taken nine miles out of the city, shot and buried in a big ditch."

March 1, 1943: General Belov discusses German tank tactics
"The only major change in tank warfare, as the Germans fight it, is in the number of tanks employed in a single battle. Early in the war, in the fighting around the Polish city of Lutsk, the Red Army and the Wehrmacht engaged in a gigantic tank battle in which four thousand tanks were used. Later, the tank engagements involved only one hundred tanks at a time. And now the Germans are using only thirty to fifty tanks in a single engagement."

March 1, 1943: The fall of the fortress of Demyansk
"Eleven thousand Germans have been killed or captured in these eight days of fighting. 302 population points have been taken, and tonight the 16th German Army is retreating westward."

March 2, 1943: The Soviet winter counteroffensive after Stalingrad
"The Germans didn't leave Rzhev voluntarily. This is shown by the great amount of equipment they left behind. They were kicked out of Rzhev in a blow that eliminated the main Axis threat to Moscow."

March 4, 1943: Blitzkrieg tempo
Marshal Timoshenko's troops are still advancing south of Lake Ilmen. The Red Army drive from Rzhev has assumed a blitzkrieg tempo, and there has been no halt in the march of the Soviet forces threatening Bryansk and Oryol.

March 5, 1943: The Red Army's tank desant tactics
"This is the formation of groups of 'hitchhike troops' specially trained to operate mobile tank forces which have acted as spearheads for the Russian drive westward."

March 7, 1943: Sappers get to work
"It was quiet at night and no nails could be pounded, so the engineers used screws instead. As dawn approached, the sappers had to cover up their work with snow so that the Germans wouldn't know what was going on."

March 7, 1943: Joseph Stalin names himself Marshal of the Soviet Union
"Premier Stalin now holds the position of Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the USSR. He also is Chairman of the State Defense Committee, the People's Commissar of Defense, and Chairman of the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party."

March 8, 1943: Lend-Lease to the USSR
"The Russian people also have no idea of the scope of such American and British organizations such as the Aid to Russia funds. They know virtually nothing of the tremendous personal interest the people of the United States and other Allied nations are taking in their problems."

March 8, 1943: Ambiguity in Russian-American relations
"As he said in his statement tonight, the American people realize and sympathize with the stupendous courage and effort with which the Russian people have met the Axis onslaught. But, he said, the Russian people have little idea of the American's feeling for them."

March 9 to March 12, 1943: Vyazma is liberated
"At nightfall, fresh Russian troops, who have been sleeping and resting all day, will take over the offensive and keep the Germans up all night. Then at dawn the day shift will take over again."

March 15 to March 17, 1943: The Germans retake Kharkov
"After the Red Army captured Kharkov last February 16th, the German command concentrated and reformed over 250,000 men for a counter blow. This was in addition to forces already fighting west of Kharkov and in the Donbass. The blow came two weeks later."

March 19, 1943: The Nazi offensive is bogged down by the weather in Ukraine
"They sent a group of tanks across to attack some Russian fortifications on the left bank. When the two loading tanks reached the middle of the stream, the ice suddenly gave way and they went through and were lost. The following tanks immediately retreated to safety."

March 21 to April 21, 1943: Soviet bombers fight for air supremacy
"The Soviet bombers have proved just how impressive they are to the citizens of Königsberg and Danzig. And a lot of other German cities are going to find out this summer when flying weather gets better. The Russian bombing force is growing."

March 21 to May 23, 1943: The advent of spring in Russia—two censored reports
"We are told it is almost a certainty that Hitler will start the fighting this spring. But he is hesitating because this time he feels he must not fail. He must get this campaign rolling before he has to organize another to protect his 'European fortress' from a second front."

March 23, 1943: The State Stalin Prize
"The occasion for even hinting that these things exist was the first annual list of Stalin science awards. These awards range from $18,000 to $5,000, and are given to engineers, professors, and scientists who have distinguished themselves in Soviet science and industry for the past year."

March 23 to April 12: Renewed heavy air fighting
"A lot of Lend-Lease aircraft from the United States this winter and more are coming every day. Hitler's aircraft industry already is overstrained by the Allied air offensive in Western Europe. It's going to be even heavier taxed this spring and summer as the Red Air Force increases its offensive in the East."

March 24, 1943: The Red Army's death toll thus far
"According to the comparative losses during the German counterattack, 2,936,000 Red Army men have died in defending their country during this fighting. But I must point out that this figure is based merely on one small fact from one small sector of the Russian front. But whether the figure is larger or smaller, 2,936,000 men lost in the cause of democracy gives the Allies of Russia something to think about—and throws new light on Russia's desire for a second front."

March 26, 1943: The Soviet Union waits for the Western Allies to open a second front in Europe
"When they learned that there was some Congressional opposition to extending the Lend-Lease agreement, they could not understand it. Their one question was always, 'If it helps to win the war, then why argue about it?'"

March 27 to March 29, 1943: Small-scale fighting as mud season hits
"Right now the Germans are confining their thrusts to small raiding parties. During the daytime, the Nazis carefully scout out the Russian positions. Then at night they send small groups of Tommy gunners—fifty or so at a time—across the river to attack the Red Army positions. These military jabs are designed to feel out the Russian defenses and might well be preliminary sparring preceding another German attempt to land a knockout blow."

March 28, 1943: Soviet engineers work a miracle as the Nazis retreat
"And when the Germans were chased from the area, they did one of their most complete jobs of earth scorching along the Velikiye Luki-Moscow railroad. Every bridge was blown up. Switches and sidings were destroyed. In some places the Germans even burned the forest around some vital bridges so that the Russian engineers would have no material with which to reconstruct them."

March 31, 1943: The looming Soviet summer offensive
"Hitler cannot afford to sit on his present battle lines and expand his diminishing military energy by defensive action. This would allow the Soviet command to a mass overwhelming strength against him. The experience at Stalingrad is a clear demonstration of what happens when he neglects the massing of Soviet reserves."

April 1, 1943: Alyosha and his pet pig
"Alyosha was raising a pet pig named Khrushka when the Germans came to the village. He loved his friend Khrushka and was very much afraid when the Germans started collecting all of the other pigs and cows and chickens in the village to send back to Germany."

April 2, 1943: The Nazis leave behind horrific booby traps
"He opened up the door and one cat jumped out. The second cat just started to leave the stove when the lieutenant pushed it back inside. On investigation, he found that the second cat had a string attached to one of its rear paws. The other end of the string was attached to the fuse in 25 pounds of high explosive."

April 3, 1943: The Red Army's massive winter offensive comes to an end
"In just 141 days of some of the bloodiest fighting that the world has ever witnessed, the Germans lost over 1,193,000 men in killed and captured."

April 6 to May 12, 1943: The Soviet commission on Nazi war crimes
"The report ends with the statement, 'These men must bear full responsibility and merited punishment for all these unprecedented atrocities.' And this morning's Izvestia editorial adds 'The Russian people will not forget.'"

April 8, 1943: Heroic Czechoslovak soldiers hold the line
"The Germans launched a counterattack. It was a big show, and sixty tanks appeared on one narrow sector opposite the dug-in Czech troops. A young lieutenant named Yarosh was in command on this sector. His field telephone rang, and Colonel Svoboda said the unit would have to hold out alone. There were no reinforcements to help the lieutenant stop the sixty tanks. The colonel's orders were 'it is impossible to retreat.'"

April 8, 1943: The German assault on Izium ends in defeat
"The Germans began their major assaults south of Izium five days ago. This local offensive was aimed at establishing a river crossing at Izium and at the same time cutting the important railroad running northwestward from the city."

April 9, 1943: The Free French squadron fighting in Russia
"Many of them are veterans of the Fighting French air force in Britain. Here they operate under Russian command and have a great respect for the fighting abilities of the Russian fliers. One of them told me he was learning how the Soviet pilots ram German planes in combat. He said the Russians had developed a technique in which a pilot could knock the tail or wing off an enemy plane and do very little damage to his own ship."

April 10, 1943: Cartoon Hitler
"One night a group of soldiers went out on a strategic clearing that formed the no-man's-land between the two trenches and put up two poles. Between these two poles they stretched a canvas cartoon of Hitler—it was not complimentary to the Führer. Under the cartoon was written in German in large letters: 'Shoot at me.' Then the unit waited until morning to see what would happen."

April 11, 1943 (by Quentin Reynolds): Revisiting Moscow, the city where Hitler's dream ended
"Every civilian in Moscow has made it his war. Perhaps New York can learn something from this city of courage."

April 14, 1943: The little news from Moscow
"All of us here, from the government leaders in the Kremlin down to the correspondents in the Metropol hotel, are waiting for developments from North Africa."

April 14, 1943: Optimism over decisive Allied victories in Tunisia
"The Soviet Union is expecting big things from the American, British and French forces now advancing in Tunisia. For many days now the Allied North African offensive has been the biggest military news in the Soviet press."

April 14, 1943: Convicts join the fight
"It seems that there are scores of men with criminal records serving in the Red Army. Some of them have completed terms and joined. Others are serving while under conviction and may have terms to finish after the war is over. And there are others who have joined the army who are waiting for conviction. Settlement of their cases will also be made after the war."

April 15, 1943: Soviet bombing campaign forces Nazis to change tactics
"The Germans have felt the damaging weight of the Russian bombs and have resorted to all kinds of trickery—it's an improved type of trickery which the Nazis started using during the early bombings of Germany by the Royal Air Force."

April 16, 1943: Kalinin signs martial law decree
"Upon conviction of a crime on the railroads, the worker is subject to dismissal from his job, after which he will be sent to the front to join special penalty brigades. In addition, executives of the railroad lines have the right to put a worker under 'administrative arrests' for minor infractions for up to a period of twenty days."

April 16, 1943: The German command's strategic missteps
"It would appear that the Nazis don't quite know what offensive to put on and where. They have alternated attacks between Chuguev, Izium, and then Balakleya. All of these attacks have failed, and apparently the German command is still 'shopping' for a front on the Donets line where they can gain a victory. And any choice the Germans make will be a dangerous one."

April 17 to May 28, 1943: The battle for the Kuban bridgehead
"It took forty minutes of inching forward through the mud on their stomachs before the Russian soldiers reached the first German lines. Then there was a period of furious and bitter hand-to-hand fighting before all the Germans were bayonetted out of their trenches."

April 19 to April 27, 1943: Soviet officials deny responsibility for the Katyn massacre
"The newspaper Pravda, organ of the Communist Party, this morning violently attacks the Polish government of General Sikorski for giving official cognizance to the German propaganda charges that the Soviet government allegedly murdered 10,000 Polish officers near Smolensk in 1940."

April 21, 1943: No time for fun in Moscow
"There are no nightclubs or dance halls or anything like that in the capital of the Soviet Union. There is only one cocktail bar, and you have to stand in line to get into it. Occasionally some of the artist's clubs or other such organizations will throw a dance, but it's not very often."

April 21, 1943: Russians civilians train for air raids
"Moscow has not had a bombing for a year. Quite naturally the city is relaxed. People have forgotten where they put their gas masks. Fire watchers and shelter wardens have been more lax than they should be with Nazi bombers only a half hour's flight from the city."

April 21 to July 6, 1943: Film and theater in wartime Moscow
"In an exclusive Variety interview, Krapchenko said the wartime Moscow theatre is tending toward serious drama and tragedy."

April 23 to April 24, 1943: The air war in Crimea
"The Germans more and more are putting Romanian troops into the vanguard of their local attacks. Thus the Romanians suffer the heaviest losses. The dispatch says that when the unlucky Romanians show a reluctance to attack, or when they appear on the verge of retreat, the German soldiers behind them liven their spirits with Tommy gun bullets. A good number of these Romanians have been killed by their own allies."

May 2, 1943: Stalin's cult of personality
"This week all over the Soviet Union, pictures of Josef Stalin are being displayed on every factory and office building in the country. It means that this week his picture is getting larger display and his name on more banners and posters and that he is getting more personal publicity than any man has ever received."

May 4, 1943: Axis setbacks in Russia and North Africa
"Last winter, while the Russian army was advancing westward, the Soviet people had a strong taste of victory in their mouths. That taste is beginning to return as they read of the continued American, British, and French successes in Tunisia."

May 5 to May 30, 1943: The fighting rages along the Central Front
"Germany is fighting on this front with the desperation of a nation who knows the loss of this war on her eastern front means the absolute end to everything that millions of Germans have died for since September 1939. On the other hand, Russia too has had a taste of just what a complete German victory would mean. The people who come from occupied Russia are enough to convince her that her cause is just. And that's the way things stand now, as both armies fret in their trenches awaiting the word to attack."

May 7, 1943: Red Army military deception tactics
"No one is fooling down in the Caucasus tonight as the Red Army presses the Axis forces back to the Black Sea coast. But on the rest of the front there is a real war of nerves that, in plain deception, provides the greatest mystery show on earth. And strangest of all, these mystery tactics are good military practice."

May 7, 1943: Strained Polish-Soviet relations
"Vyshinsky is a white-haired, neat-looking lawyer, and he read his two thousand word summary of Soviet-Polish relations like a person adding up a column of figures. And that is the tone of the whole long list of Russian accusations against the Polish government."

May 13, 1943: The Russians react to the Allied victories in Tunisia
"The American and British and French troops in North Africa don't know it, but their heroism and sacrifices and courage have achieved something here in Russia that a thousand diplomats and a million words could never have done."

May 16, 1943: Allied diplomats convene in Russia
"As the war approaches a climax and as victory becomes more and more of a reality, these two men are going to have more and more to do here in Moscow. There already are indications that the diplomatic front here in Russia is becoming more active."

May 18, 1943: Soviets warn of pending summer fighting
"This is the kind of talk we heard during the early days of the war and during the defense of Stalingrad. These warnings are designed to make the entire nation conscious of the situation at the front—a situation which, because of military security, cannot be described in detail. However, it is well to note that these press warnings make no mention of plans for the Red Army."

May 19, 1943: Former US ambassador to the Soviet Union visits the ruins of Stalingrad
"Mr. Davies said he wished every American fighting man could have a look at the tragedy of Stalingrad before he went into battle against the Germans."

May 24, 1943: Top dignitaries visit the Kremlin
"Stalin made only one toast last night, and it was a good one. He lifted his glass and simply said: 'To the armed forces of America and Britain.'"

May 25, 1943: The Soviets throw a goodwill banquet for the British
"They represent an exchange of ideas—not between governments, but between peoples. Neither America, Britain, nor the Soviet Union is trying to impose ideas in this campaign for better cultural relations. That's what got Germany into trouble. If there is one thing that this war has proved, it is that it's much better to exchange ideas than it is to exchange bullets."

May 27, 1943: Joseph Davies concludes his Moscow visit
"The Davies mission hit Moscow like a small whirlwind. It was exactly a week ago tonight that the former ambassador went to the Kremlin and delivered Mr. Roosevelt's letter to Stalin. At that time, Stalin said he would take the points raised in the President's letter under consideration and advise Mr. Davies later."

May 28, 1943: Immense stockpile of Nazi armament seized
"When the French were defending Verdun in 1916, they used some four million shells in the fourteen-day offensive. The Verdun fortress hurled six tons of metal on every yard of the front during the battle. With the shells that the Red Army captured this winter, it is calculated that the Russian troops could fight four Verduns."

May 30, 1943: Western Allied bombing of Germany threatens morale on the Eastern Front
"The Anglo-American bombing of Germany is having a very real effect on the German soldier, who has been given the impossible job of defeating Russia. When a Fortress or a Liberator or a Lancaster drops a bomb on Berlin or Duisburg or Essen, this bomb not only smashes Nazi war production, it also smashes just one more grain of confidence and resistance in the morale of the Fritz on the Russian front who sooner or later hears that his hometown has taken it in the neck again."

June 1, 1943: Nazi rockets provide light for Soviet troop shows
"Recently one group performed for a tank unit assigned to crack a river fortification. The artists reached the front late in the evening. They were held up picking their way through narrow trails in minefields. When they arrived, the soldiers insisted on seeing the entire program. The troupe performed in the open air; the illumination was furnished free by German rockets. The concert really got a big windup with artillery barrage. Before the troupers had packed, the first tanks had crossed the river."

June 7, 1943: "Red Justice"
"With the German attack of 1941 a decree was promulgated reclassifying murder, attempted murder, highway robbery, resistance to representatives of the government, and refusal to join the labor front as crimes subject to martial law."

June 8, 1943: The film "She Defends Her Country" debuts in Moscow
"Atrocity is brutally treated in this film, and if shown in America could give reaching confirmation of what every foreign correspondent has seen. The film's sincerity overcomes its shortcomings."

June 14, 1943: Stalin previews "Mission to Moscow"
"Stalin's poker face may have derived from the fact that the film's portrayal of the Soviet Premier was judged the least adequate in a roster of generally excellent characterizations. Playing Stalin for sweetness and light, Manart Kippen missed the strength and power and twinkling humor with which Stalin invariably impresses foreign visitors."

June 17, 1943: "Bogdan the Elusive" in Ukraine
"Once, the Germans thought they had Bogdan. They carefully threw a cordon around his camp. When they finally closed in on the camp they found warm campfires, empty tin cans—and a goat. Around the neck of the goat was a note saying 'A hurried good-bye—but I'll be back.'"

June 19, 1943: The Russian perspective on Japanese imperialism
"'In May 1943, a serious reverse befell Japan,' the Russian expert says. 'In the Northern Pacific, American troops drove the Japanese out of Attu Island which, incidentally, the Japanese militarists prematurely gave a Japanese name.'"

June 25, 1943: Summertime fashion in Moscow
"The most popular summer footwear are sandals. I've seen some made out of worn out automobile tires. The tire is simply cut into the shape of a show. Another thickness is nailed onto the heel—two straps are attached—and there you have a perfectly good pair of summer shoes."

June 27, 1943: The Wehrmacht's lice epidemic
"The German command is trying to combat the louse that infests the invincible, Aryan Nazi soldier. They are using all kinds of propaganda. Soap is scarce in the German army, and propaganda has not been a very good substitute."

July 11, 1943: What are Hitler's ultimate plans for the new offensive?
"The third theory is that this present attack is the beginning of an all-out attack on the Soviet Union, with Hitler ignoring the impending second front and setting out once and for all in an attempt to defeat the Red Army. In this event, he would depend on his European defenses to protect his rear."

July 14, 1943: Axis espionage in Russia
"The business of spying is no longer a glamorous job of pumping a victim full of champagne and getting him to talk. Axis agents have been discovered disguised as beggars, as wounded Russian soldiers, as government officials, and a number of other things."

July 27, 1943: Russian play features heroic American war correspondent
"The correspondent is depicted as about 40, grayish, with an intense interest in getting the story but with little interest in taking a personal part in the war. He is constantly taking notes and snapping pictures and making what are, to the Russian mind, wisecracks. The author allows the correspondent to jibe the Russians about their love for tragedy, maintaining that Tolstoy should have ended 'War and Peace' with 'everyone loving everyone else.'"

August 2, 1943: The "Orel Sweepstakes"
"The Orel sweepstakes is typical of the difficulties under which American and British reporters must compete for headlines and at the same time keep within reason in trying to interpret the progress of military movements in Russia. There is not one who had not been screaming at the press department for trips to the front or, second best, for conferences with reliable political and military authorities for guidance in covering this and other stories."

August 14, 1943: The Red Army's high spirits
"These campfires are a beautiful sight. I saw them from an army headquarters on a height overlooking the Oka river valley. These fires, spotting the ridges and slopes of the rolling steppe, make an unforgettable sight, particularly if you look to the horizon and see the reflection of the burning ruins of Nazi occupation. Those peaceful looking army campfires are flames of vengeance. The big light on the horizon is reflected fear."

August 15, 1943: The Bryansk partisans
"I sat next to Romashin during a lunch the Orel city government gave the correspondents. He told me that, if I wanted to turn him over to the Germans, I would be a rich man. The Germans know his home. To the person who can produce him dead or alive they will give 15,000 rubles, thirty acres of land, a house, one horse, and two cows."

August 16, 1943: "Revolution in Soviet School System Kills Coeducation for Youthful Reds"
"This statement represents a new conception of the Soviet woman and her place in family and national life. Sociologically it is a significant change from the early conceptions which simplified divorce processes, provided state contraceptive service, and put emphasis on the nursery instead of the family. In recent years the trend has been in the opposite direction; the Soviet Union is taking measures to increase the birth rate, which since the war has been declining because of the separation of families, improper feeding, and casualties. The new system is the first step in this direction."

August 21, 1943: "It Happens in Moscow" by Quentin Reynolds
"Two American correspondents, Bill Downs of the Columbia Broadcasting System, and David Nichol of the Chicago Daily News, were among the lucky ones to obtain tickets. They joined in the parade, jostling elbows with gold-epauletted Red army generals, with American and British generals, with ambassadors and with the beauty and culture of Moscow. But they wanted to smoke, and neither had a cigarette."

August 26, 1943: Downs tells of the curfew in Moscow
"While walking from the foreign office to the radio studio, a young soldier packing a very business-like rifle and bayonet stopped me and asked to see my documents. I handed him my official press card, the pass which allows me on the street during air raids, and my precious night pass. Everything was in order except for the night pass. It had run out and had to be replaced."

September 4, 1943: Tragedy on the Steppe Front
"We came to a little farm railroad called Maslova Pristan. Our convoy of jeeps stopped. An air raid had started someplace on the horizon. The ack-ack and bomb flashes lit up the skyline so brightly that it didn't seem real. If you saw it in the movies you would say it was too Hollywood; too overdone."

September 6, 1943: Ukrainians persevere in the wake of Nazi destruction
"The damage is so extensive that the occasional house that was new—unburned, without shell holes and not charred by fire—such scattered houses seemed almost to be showplaces. They stood out like the pyramids in a desert of destitution."

September 9, 1943: Italy falls as Donetsk is liberated
"'A victory for one of the United Nations is a victory for all the United Nations.'"

September 11, 1943: Salutes in Moscow as the Red Army advance continues
"What I'm trying to say is that, despite the apparent lack of what we call 'big' news, the Red Army's advance is continuing. A lot of these unknown inhabited points might be, for individual groups of Russian soldiers, battles as bitter and bloody as the fighting that separate units did for Stalingrad. You don't need a special communiqué to die—you also don't need a special communiqué to capture an inhabited point."

September 11 to September 27, 1943: The Nazis retreat from the Panther-Wotan defense line
"Adolf Hitler's dreary words to the German people will be of little comfort to the Nazi armies which now are running westward with their tails between their legs. The main job of the German command today is to keep this retreat from becoming a rout—which it is threatening to develop into on several sectors."

September 12 to September 17, 1943: The Red Army approaches Bryansk
"The Red Army in the past ten months of its winter and summer offensive has almost completely wiped out the gains that the German army spent two years in achieving. As the Russians drive for Kiev and the Dnieper bend, they soon will be on the same lines where they fought the Nazis in September 1941."

September 14, 1943: The Young Guard in Ukraine
"These high school students played a lot of tricks on the Germans, such as taking empty mine cases and planting them like booby traps. The Germans would worry for days over such tricks. They wired officers' cars so that when they stepped on the starters, the car would blow up. They cut the telephone lines, and always they put out their daily bulletin, carefully written by hand and passed among the people."

September 16, 1943: Moscow urges Bulgaria to abandon the Axis
"An article in today's Pravda, organ of the Communist Party, calls on Bulgaria to abandon her collaboration with Germany before the Balkans are turned into a battlefield."

September 20, 1943: "Harvest of Death: Behind the Lines in Russia's Reconquered Villages"
"The jeep was blown a dozen feet off the road, turned over, and was almost torn in two. The driver escaped miraculously with only a wound in the back of his head. It was a freak mine that somehow hadn't gone off although hundreds of cars had driven over the spot on the road throughout the day."

September 20, 1943: Skyrockets over Moscow
"Then there is another brief wait for the fireworks. At the zero hour, the artillery battery at Moscow's western outskirts lights up the sky, and a few seconds later there is a low rumble like distant thunder."

September 23, 1943: The "Second" Battle of Poltava
"The German base of Poltava was one of the most powerful in the Ukraine. It was taken with much greater casualties for both sides than either the Russians or the Swedes suffered two centuries ago."

September 25, 1943: The Bolshoi Theatre reopens
"The entire diplomatic community was there—representatives of the United States embassy; Australians; the British ambassador; heads of military missions—and the Japanese."

September 26 to September 29, 1943: The massive Dnieper offensive continues
"An article in the Army journal, Red Star, today puts the question that is on everyone's lips here in Russia: 'Where is Hitler's army going to stop?' This same question must be on the lips of the people of Germany."

September 27, 1943: Suvorov schools
"Originally designed to 'aid the education of the children of the Red Army soldiers, partisans, workers, collective farmers, government, and party workers, whose parents perished at the hands of the invaders,' the schools will be replenished yearly by the application system.

November 1, 1943: The Third Moscow Conference
"The welcome accorded Secretary of State Cordell Hull and Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden on Oct. 18 set the tone for the meeting. At the very moment that Hull stepped down from his four-engined Douglas transport at the Moscow airport, a military band struck up 'The Stars and Stripes Forever' and quickly followed with the 'Internationale.'"

November 15, 1943: A new U.S. ambassador arrives in Russia
"The long time that Spaso House had been without an official hostess had turned the Ambassador's official residence into what was almost a super-luxurious fraternity house. The Mokhovaya House across the street from the Kremlin with embassy offices and apartments for military, naval, and Lend-Lease staffs was almost the same. No one had enough to do. Consequently the embassy military and naval staffs spent a lot of time chasing ballet and theater tickets."

December 6, 1943: The atrocities at Babi Yar
"The first foreign witnesses this week returned to Moscow from what are probably the most terrible two acres on earth—a series of desolate ravines in the Lukyanovka district three miles northwest of Kiev."

January 23, 1944: Retaking the Russian railways
"There are probably more American trucks and jeeps and weapon carriers in Russia than any other country outside the United States. Supplies for the Stalingrad victory were largely carried on American ten-wheelers which can negotiate the deep Russian snow. It was the same at Oryol and Belgorod last summer, and again at Kiev where these American trucks were able to cope with Ukrainian mud."

February 21, 1944: Bill Downs looks back on Russia
"When I entered Russia on Christmas Day, 1942, the country was in the midst of the Battle of Stalingrad. The strain was evident in Moscow. Tired, red-eyed officers from the southern front who were reporting to headquarters could be seen in Moscow hotels trying to snatch a few hours' sleep before rushing back to the battle. But the victory, although its cost was scores of thousands of Russian men, was the turning point of the United Nations war against the Axis. This victory was also a turning point for the Soviet. It marked the end of one era inside Russia and the beginning of another. Only today are we beginning to see manifestations of a new era."

March 6, 2020

1943. The Aftermath in Stalingrad

The Site of One of Hitler's Greatest Defeats
Soviet soldiers on the roof of a factory shop in Stalingrad in 1942 (Photo by Arkady Shaikhetsource)
Bill Downs first arrived in Russia to cover the Eastern Front on December 25, 1942. He and other foreign correspondents were taken to Stalingrad shortly after the German surrender there in February 1943.

During their long journey the group came across the broken, humiliated Axis commanders in Soviet captivity, including Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, whose 6th Army had just been destroyed. The press group then entered the city, where they passed bodies strewn along the streets and came across the wreckage at Mamayev Kurgan, the site of some of the worst fighting of the Battle of Stalingrad.

Recalling the experience in a broadcast, Downs said: "There are sights and sounds and smells in and around Stalingrad that make you want to weep, and make you want to shout and make you just plain sick to your stomach."

This text has been adapted from a script cabled to CBS in New York. The passages in parentheses were censored by Soviet officials for military security or propaganda reasons.
Bill Downs

CBS Moscow

February 8, 1943

The Foreign Office press department summoned the foreign press corps with a mysterious 6 p.m. phone call. They informed us we were leaving for Stalingrad at 8 a.m. the next morning. The trip was extremely hush-hush, although it had been announced that fighting had ceased in Stalingrad the day before. We were warned to dress warmly and take five days' worth of food.

I rushed back to the hotel and collected hard boiled eggs, a slab of smoked fish, sugar, two loaves of bread, and most important of all, a liter of vodka, which is Russia's most important personal antifreeze.

The next morning I dressed with three pairs of wool socks under fur boots, two pairs of wool underwear, a wool shirt, two sweaters, a ski jacket, a fur hat, and a fur coat—and I was among the lightest dressed in the party. Someone told me it was a mild winter.

The five hour plane trip in a comfortable Douglas transport was spent recalling hundreds of stories of Stalingrad's four and a half months of concentrated hell, which was worse than Coventry's, Rotterdam's, Warsaw's, or London's—anything Hitler had been able to do to cities opposing him.

The Douglas landed at an obscure little airfield 50 miles north of Stalingrad on steppes which looked like the Texas panhandle or Dakota plains buttered with about three feet of snow. The biting northwest wind of the Kalmyk Steppe made me look down at my legs to see whether I was not wearing a bathing suit.

The airfield was a former fighter-bomber base located in the area where the northern arm of the Red Army's tremendous encirclement of west Stalingrad started. We sheltered in a group of a half dozen peasant farmhouses which formed a tractor station for the surrounding wheat country.

We wondered how in the hell the Russians were able to concentrate an offensive army in these treeless, hill-less steppes without German reconnaissance discovering their striking power. That's mystery number one—or mistake number one—which was one of the major factors for the German defeat at Stalingrad.

At nightfall we headed southward to another peasant farm village where we were liberally fed and tried to warm our freezing hands and feet, to the amusement of Red Army men and women who were interested in foreigners.

We traveled by bus some 60 miles to a point 35 miles directly west of Stalingrad, where the next day we were taken to the headquarters of the commander of the Stalingrad front, Colonel General Konstantin Rokossovsky, who now takes a place as one of the great generals of history. Rokossovsky passed us en route to Moscow, where he went to the Kremlin to be awarded the Order of Suvorov for Stalingrad. We herded into a small peasant house where chairs were lined up like in a classroom, with desks in the corner and a map on the wall.

In walked a medium-sized Red Army general, his breast lined with several medals, dressed in a simple uniform on which the Red Army's new epaulets had yet to be sewn. He is Lieutenant General Mikhail Malinin, chief of staff for the Stalingrad front and one of the men responsible for putting into operation plans for the encirclement of the German 6th Army.

Malinin looked 35, square-faced with hair in a short pompadour which stuck up like a schoolboy's. The only sign of age was the sprinkling of gray hairs around the temples. He picked up a stick with which to point to the map. He looked as out of place standing at the front of that schoolroom as a schoolteacher would have looked in a front-line Stalingrad trench.

Malinin started speaking slowly and deliberately and explained that he wanted to outline briefly the details of the Red Army's encirclement movement where it started.

"Hitler sent his best troops—the German 6th Army—against Stalingrad, containing his crack infantry, tank, and motorized divisions," he said. Continuing in the same matter-of-fact tone, he said that as German forces moved toward the Volga, they created for themselves a sort of second front on the northern flank, "and the task of the defenders was not to give up the city."
Red Army soldiers on the Stalingrad front patrol the snow-covered steppes (source)
Malinin has been in three wars—in addition to the Russian Civil War and the Finnish War, he fought on the Moscow and Smolensk fronts in this war. He formerly was on the faculty of a Red Army military school.

(Malinin said that "Russian resistance forced the Germans to continually send up reinforcements. During the month of October and the first part of November was the fiercest fighting. The Germans continued to pour in huge reinforcements. But by the middle of November there was a certain equilibrium of strength. The Soviet High Command took advantage of its own forces at this time and ordered an offensive aimed at destroying both the Stalingrad and Don front troops of the enemy.")

(This certain equilibrium which Malinin referred to represented the greatest fighting retreat in the history of warfare. It was one place where the Red Army for the first time definitely stopped an Axis advance on the southern sector of the Russian front since the Axis invaded Kiev eighteen months earlier.)

Malinin then explained the great pincer movement (which launched simultaneously on November 19 one hundred miles northwest and some distance southeast of Stalingrad. This blow was so well-timed that in the first four days the northern and southern forces each advanced 55 miles on schedule, and the threat of encirclement became evident.)

Malinin said "the German High Command apparently was unconcerned because they evidently planned to bring up a powerful group of reinforcements from Kotelnikovo anyway. However, the genius of this plan directed by Joseph Stalin foresaw this and even predicted that the Germans would attempt to relieve the group. Thus the Red Army prepared for it. The Germans did just what we thought they would do. They were engaged and routed at Kotelnikovo. We captured the original Paulus order to commanders not to receive Red Army emissaries who advanced under white flag to present an ultimatum. This order specified that this peace delegation was to be fired upon—the exact translation read 'to see emissaries off the premises with fire.'"

Malinin said that American and British equipment played very little part in the Battle of Stalingrad. "We had a small number of British tanks—Churchill tanks—but not enough to take into consideration when reckoning the entire offensive. Where they were used, they stood up well under test. No American tanks or planes were used in the battle. There were some American Dodge trucks, but they don't shoot."

The interviews ended and we filed out of headquarters feeling like we had just taken a college examination for a master's degree in history.

However, the Red Army moves fast, and they took us to a nearby village with a dozen or so scattered unpainted houses around which they posted heavy guard. The conducting Red Army colonel motioned us inside one house. There we found four German generals sitting around a table looking at each other, one in a sweater and the other three in full regalia. In the next room were four others standing and looking out the window, and sitting in the corner looking despondent was woebegone General [Romulus] Dimitriu, the onetime glorified Romanian general.

The Germans in the first room got politely to their feet, smiling sheepishly. These men were Hitler's super-generals, leading super-Aryans against an inferior tribe. The only sign of their "super-ness" now were the magnificent decorations of iron crosses displayed on their uniforms like pictures on a gallery wall.

The German generals of the first group included [Otto] Renoldi, Schlömer, Deboi, and Von Daniels. All fought in the last war and are damn proud of it. We were whisked through the room and had little chance to question them, but when they heard were were American correspondents, Schlömer and Renoldi began long conversations about how they like cigarettes of the American type and had used up their ration of Russian cigarettes. Not a single reporter responded to their hint to give them a smoke. I believe if anyone had, he would have been tackled by the entire press corps when we got outside. These generals were getting a Red Army officer's rations according to the Hague Convention, which is too much considering the kind of rats they are.

In the next room Von Drebber, who looks more like a college professor than a military man, dominated the group which included such nasty types as [Hans] Wulz, who is a small, bald-headed, potbellied Prussian who only managed to squeeze out an unenthusiastic "Heil."

Von Drebber, six feet four inches tall, was asked what primary factors led to his defeat. He drew himself up and politely replied: "The Russians struck from the north and south—we were simply sitting in the middle. We were surrounded, cut off with no munitions and no food."

We tried again asking why they didn't try to break out of encirclement. Von Drebber said: "At one time we could have broken the ring—but you will have to ask Marshal Paulus about questions of strategy."

He was asked if he had Hitler's permission to surrender. Von Drebber said: "I was ordered by Paulus to hold until I pushed back to a certain line. When I reached that line I surrendered."
Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, commander of the Wehrmacht 6th Army, and his adjutant Wilhelm Adam (left) are escorted to the Soviet 64th Army headquarters following the German surrender at Stalingrad, January 31, 1943 (source)
Then we asked Wulz, who is an artillery general, how Russian artillery compared to German artillery. He made a whining, inconsequential answer that "every army has good and bad guns, good and bad artillery—that's how it is with the Russian and German armies."

Schlömer, who was stationed in another house, said however: "The Red Army fought well everywhere we met them."

But the most revealing statements came from Von Arnim and [Fritz] Roske. Roske was asked how the Russians broke them down. Von Arnim interrupted: "That question is badly put. You should ask how we managed to hold out under such conditions."

Roske ignored Von Arnim's remark with a brief statement: "Hunger, cold, and lack of munitions."

However, the Russian colonel was anxious to show us the Red Army's prize exhibit and rushed us to a small farmhouse sitting apart from the others. We gathered outside around the doorway while a grinning Mongolian soldier—definitely non-Aryan—looked down on us.

The door opened and out came Paulus, poker-faced except for a tic which spasmodically twitched from eye to mouth on the right side of his face. He is 53 but looked 65, his face lined and yellowish—almost the same yellowish color of the frozen corpses of men he left lying in gutters in Stalingrad.

Accompanying him was his personal aide, Colonel Adam, a flat-faced Teuton who looked like a slightly overweight ball of concentrated Nazism, and Paulus' chief of staff, General Schmidt, who looked like he'd be happier running a Berlin butcher shop. All men were dressed in fur caps pulled down over their ears against the subzero cold. Paulus answered only two questions, which he appeared to do with effort. He said his first name was Friedrich and that he is 53.

The standing and gazing captured Nazis in those overheated peasant houses, as well as that bare peasant yard where Paulus was held, gave the same feeling one gets when looking in a snake pit at a zoo. But the obvious comparison that strikes when looking at German officers and German soldiers is that the officers are always well-clad while the soldiers are just the opposite. And standing there in that obscure peasant village, these much decorated gold-braided groups of Nazi bigwigs reminded you of a flock of sad-eyed peacocks standing with distaste in a hen run.

The conducting colonel loaded us into drafty buses for a 60 mile trip to Stalingrad. By nightfall the temperature dropped to 40 below, and we started out on a twelve hour, all night trip through snow to Stalingrad.

We would have made the trip sooner when we ran into a Russian supply column moving westward from Stalingrad toward new battlefields. There was a long black line of soldiers, horses, mobile kitchens, guns, and cars. It was an unbelievable sight out there in the steppes to come upon so many people slowly moving along the snow-choked road. But the most unbelievable of all was the sight of camels pulling sledges in three feet of snow.

As we made our way slowly along the road against traffic, a curious Red Army man came up to our bus, looked in, grinned and asked: "Deutschen Soldaten?"

When we explained we were Americans he immediately called all his comrades and soon there was a great crowd around our bus. We passed out cigarettes and someone made a speech with the general theme of friendship between the Soviet Union and the United States. Russians will make a speech at the drop of the hat, but it gave you a warm feeling overcoming even the steppe temperatures to get such a demonstration of friendship at two o'clock in the morning in the swirling snow and wind 30 miles east of Stalingrad on the world's bloodiest battlefield.

We arrived in Stalingrad at about 4 a.m. The driver seemed anxious to get there. We drove around for two hours. The only thing in sight were the dark ruins where we spotted fires which sentries cluttered around to keep warm.

Our driver finally pulled up to one of these fires, and when he got out he was crying. Our interpreter explained that the driver had once lived in Stalingrad and had not been back to the city since the battle. "He can't find any street that he knows," the interpreter explained. "He hasn't yet recognized a house."

This is because there were no houses. The streets were just auto tracks over ruins up and down through bombshell holes. This was the Red October factory district, parts of which changed hands a half dozen times during the fighting.

As the sun came up the scene of devastation was so great it made a lump in your throat. This was the worker's factory district's small homes. These homes were absolutely flat. Not even a gracious blanket of snow could cover the destruction they suffered.

Characteristic of all bombings I have seen in Britain, one of the most indestructible items of furniture in any home is the iron bedstead. It is the same in Stalingrad. The grave of every home is marked by charred headpieces of beds sticking up like tombstones over what was a peaceful home. Occasionally one could mark where a street once existed by looking closely at poles sticking six or seven feet out of the ground. These once were telephone poles which stuck ten to twelve feet up. Now they looked like blasted trees.

Sentries told us that, believe it or not, some civilians holed up in their basements and stuck through the whole bombardment. These included some women who did washing and cooking for the Red Army.

What these people suffered cannot even be imagined. When they were without food, they were forced to forage and risk bombshells. Horse meat was considered a delicacy, and sometimes bread. But they stuck through it, although many are not there to tell their story.
Soldiers of the Soviet 62nd Army walk past dugouts constructed on the banks of the Volga, 1942 (source)
At daybreak we were directed to the headquarters of the 62nd Army, which is credited for saving the city of Stalingrad. The headquarters is built into the side of a western bluff on the Volga near the bottom of a hundred foot high clay cliff. We were led up this cliff to dugouts—zemlyankas—small timber-roofed caves dug into the side of the cliff from where the Red Army held the Germans from establishing themselves on the bank of Russia's greatest river. Just three days earlier the Germans had been only 300 yards away from my zemlyanka. But I slept well—they are now fighting on a line 200 miles away.

Rising above the Volga bluff is Stalingrad's famous Hill 102, Mamayev Kurgan, which the Germans held and placed heavy artillery. The hill commands a view of the entire city as well as the Volga, over which the Red Army's vital supply lines are held. The summit of Mamayev Kurgan is only about a quarter mile from the Volga, and between it and the river are the Red October and Red Barricades factories. Beyond these plants is the high Volga bank wherein zemlyankas are located. This is where some of the bitterest fighting occurred.

We walked single file along a narrow path through the factory. There was little need to remind us the factory was mined, as every minute or so there was a shattering explosion of rock wreckage in a nearby district which Red Army sappers were de-mining.

The Red October factory once made steel for tractors and farm implements. With the war it switched over to tank armaments. After the Battle of Stalingrad the whole plant is now simply a junk heap. The Germans took almost the entire building after it was mercilessly shelled and bombed flat. The only portions of the factory still standing are extremely heavy girders which once held cranes. All other buildings are flat. There literally was not a piece of sheet iron roofing or shovel or piece of metal sticking four inches above ground which didn't have bullet shrapnel or fragment holes through it.

It was in this factory that we saw our first German dead. They were lying at the bottom of a large bomb crater with only their bare feet sticking up. Most of Red October's bodies had been cleaned up earlier.

The de-mined path through the factory led across wreckage and craters. We passed a German dugout in perfectly good condition, clean and well-kept. Beside it stood a sentry, and a sign on the door warned: "Keep Away—This Booby Trap."

The path ended at the most forward-line trenches the Germans held at the factory. These lines are on a small hill facing another factory building which still had two walls standing. The Russians held positions in the factory building which I paced, measuring twelve yards. It was here that some brilliant conversations between warring men occurred. This Russian factory position once manufactured consumer goods. Red Army men did their fighting here among dishpans, skillets, and shovels that littered the floor.
Soviet soldiers fighting in the destroyed Red October factory during the Battle of Stalingrad, January 1943 (source)
The only ordinary looking battlefield we saw was Mamayev Kurgan. This hill is terraced in a series of five foot shelves, and there was a recently planted apple orchard with young saplings about four feet high. There is absolutely no cover, and looking down it from German gun positions are trenches. It appeared that a single squad of machine gunners could hold against advancing infantry forces indefinitely.

Correspondents had trouble even walking over the slick snow uphill in broad daylight. It is hard to imagine what it must have been like for the Soviet soldiers who only a few weeks earlier negotiated slopes under a hail of bullets, artillery shrapnel, and dive bombers. The only statement on the subject I could get from a former Red Army man was a private who grimly admitted: "It was tough."

But once they took positions atop the first ridge a really tough job still awaited. The Germans for weeks held two almost impregnable fortresses atop the hill. They were two circular water tanks about ten feet apart. The tanks were about 50 feet in diameter, dug 30 feet into the ground with about 15 feet of reinforced concrete surfaces sticking above ground. Around the tops these Germans threw earth embankment, forming a shell-proof, bomb-proof position virtually impregnable—until the Red Army decided to take it.

The battlefield before these two fortresses was like any battlefield of the First World War. There were wrecked tanks, smashed Russian and German helmets, empty shell case remnants, and smashed guns. There were bodies which had not yet been cleaned up. There were pieces of mortars, bombs, grenades, and strips of machine gun bullets.

The Russians finally took position by digging trenches up to the fortresses and then launching an infantry assault from there. Tanks were no good, only bayonets, grenades, and Tommy guns were effective in the final clean-out.
The southern part of the eastern slope of the hill Mamayev Kurgan in Stalingrad in 1943 right after the battle. A destroyed Renault UE Chenillette, a French armored carrier used by the Wehrmacht, sits in the foreground (source)
But the greatest shock came when we entered the city of Stalingrad proper. The way Stalingrad is laid out is strip factory districts stretching northward along the Volga, with worker's districts connected by bus and streetcar lines. These settlements were marked by wreckage. Streetcars which ran between community centers now stood burned out, wrecked on what was left of their tracks. Store shops along Communist Street—which is the main highway connecting these settlements—now only had a few walls left. About every quarter mile on Communist Street the Germans built barricades eight feet high, consisting of two fences built five feet apart and filled in with dirt bricks and rubble from nearby houses.

As we approached the city center with its modern buildings, there were more and more signs of increased fighting. Around the ground floor windows, many of which were sandbagged with apertures for machine guns, there were countless chinks made by bullets or holes made by shells.

As we neared the town square called "Heroes of the Revolution" we could see bodies in doorways or behind barricades or lying on sidewalks. Fragments of letters and photographs from home, all written in German, littered streets—letters from Berlin and Hamburg starting out with "Mein Lieber Karl," or Heinrich or Heinz.

There was not a single manhole in Stalingrad's streets with a cover. Germans and Russians not only used the city's basements, housetops, and alleys for battlegrounds, but the sewers as well. Snipers were known to crawl through sewers and come out behind German positions to create panic.

You could almost arm a full division with equipment lying about Stalingrad's ruined streets. Grenades clutter gutters. Full machine gun belts lie across sidewalks, and mortars are a dime a dozen.

Veterans of the Stalingrad fight said it was not uncommon to find Russian and German soldiers locked in each other's death grip during the height of the fighting. That was the way these two armies locked in the city of Stalingrad fought until the Red Army proved itself more powerful and skilled and brought the Wehrmacht to its knees.

Returning to my zemlyanka after this trip through Stalingrad, I went to the headquarters kitchen to ask for a drink of water. The Red Army girl dipped some out of a bucket with a tin cup. The water was cold and clean and good, and I told her so: "Your vodka and wine are great but nothing is better than this water."

She threw back her head and replied: "It ought to be. It's Volga water. It's got Russian blood in it."