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November 22: The Battle of Stalingrad

Lawrence Bush
November 22, 2016
During the crucial 199-day Battle of Stalingrad, Nazi General Friedrich Paulus sent Adolf Hitler a telegram on this date in 1942 informing him that the German Sixth Army was surrounded and on the verge of defeat. According to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency report of October 1, 1942, “Reports in the Soviet press today laud many Jewish officers and men who have distinguished themselves in the bloody battle ... Sergeant Kosik and Private Berkovitz were given the assignment of cleaning out a squad of Germans who were entrenched in hidden pits and ditches along a road on the outskirts of the city. As they approached the road, a group of German tanks appeared. Although their company was badly outnumbered, Kosik and Berkovitz threw scores of ‘Molotov cocktails,’ setting the tanks afire and forcing their occupants to flee, making the Nazis easy targets for the Russian riflemen.... Another exploit reported in the press is that of a Jewish private, Bernstein, who led a group of thirteen trucks bearing ammunition through burning streets, under heavy aerial bombing and artillery fire, to relieve a Russian regiment that had been surrounded by the Germans during a night surprise attack ... [and] Sergeant Leib Fischman, who led his unit against 100 Nazi tanks, destroying fifteen and forcing the others to retreat; Lieut. Shoichet, whose platoon lured eighty-five Nazis into a trap and killed thirty-five of them; and 19-year-old cavalryman Abraham Resnitsky, attached to a Cossack regiment, who made a perilous gallop across no-man’s land to restore communications between two Soviet regiments. ... A Jewish doctor, Simon Rafalowich, and his staff, are praised for continuing to work in their Red Cross hospital although a Nazi bomb scored a direct hit, killing six members of the staff.” “According to archival figures, the Red Army suffered a total of 1,129,619 total casualties [in the Battle of Stalingrad alone]; 478,741 men killed and captured and 650,878 wounded. These numbers are for the whole Stalingrad Area; in the city itself 750,000 were killed, captured, or wounded. Also, more than 40,000 Soviet civilians died in Stalingrad and its suburbs during a single week of aerial bombing as the German Fourth Panzer and Sixth armies approached the city; the total number of civilians killed in the regions outside the city is unknown.” --Jewish Virtual Library

​​​​Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.