World War Two - Eastern Front
The Newsweek report on the under-supplied Red Army counter-offensive at Stalingrad.
"Russia's hope was Hitler's despair. His schedule for the year had already been irreparably disrupted and none of his major objectives - Stalingrad, the Caspian Sea, the oil of the Caucasus - had yet been attained. And already the Nazi soldiers could feel the cold breath of winter through their summer uniforms..."
Reporting by radio from the city of Moscow, the celebrated Russian poet Vera Inber (1890 - 1972) gave an account of the difficult life lived by the civilians of Leningrad when the Nazi war machine laid siege to that city between September 8, 1941 through January 27, 1944:
"I will never forget the winter of 1941 - 42, when the bread ration was 4.4 ounces daily - and nothing else but bread was issued. In those days, we would bury our dead in long ditches - common graves. To bury your dead in separate graves, you needed fourteen ounces of bread for the gravedigger and your own shovel. Otherwise, you would have to wait your turn for days and days. Children's sleighs served as hearses to the cemetery."
During the late war period, leftist playwright Lillian Hellman (1905 – 1984), was twice denied permission to travel to war-torn Britain on the grounds that she had been recognized as an active communist. Yet, ironically, those same pencil-pushers in the State Department turned around a few months later and granted her a passport to visit the Soviet Union in August of 1944 - as a guest artist of VOKS, the Soviet agency that processed all international cultural exchanges. It was during this visit that she penned the attached eyewitness account of the Nazi retreat through Stalin's Russia:
"Five days of looking out of a train window into endless devastation makes you sad at first, and then numb. Here there is nothing left, and the eye gets unhappily accustomed to nothing and begins to accept it..."
Click here to read a 1939 STAGE MAGAZINE profile of this writer.
"When 22 divisions were cut off by the Russians at the gates of Stalingrad, the Nazis had to rely on air transport for contact with the surrounded troops. One mid-December day a German cargo plane was shot down on its way from the ringed divisions. The wreckage yielded some three hundred letters from doomed soldier of der Fuehrer. The Soviets selected and published a typical one:"
"It is hard to confess even to myself, but it seems to me that at Stalingrad we shall soon win ourselves to death."
Click here to read an assessment of the late-war German soldier...
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