Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pavlov’s House

The Battle of Stalingrad was a major event during World War II in which Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union for control of Stalingrad in southwestern Russia. The battle was marked by extreme brutality, disregard for military law, and massive casualties on both sides, nearly two million people died. At one point, the Third Reich captured 90% of the city, but the Soviets prevailed in the fight. During the battle, the Red Army attempted to occupy strategic positions throughout the city. One of these places was Pavlov’s House, which is a four-story building in the middle of Stalingrad and constructed parallel to the Volga River.

Pavlov’s House is located on a cross-street and provided a 1 kilometer line of sight to the north, south, and west of Stalingrad. In September 1942, the house was attacked and captured by the Germans. In response, the Red Army ordered a platoon led by Junior Sgt. Yakov Pavlov to take it back. After an intense battle where 26 of the 30 Soviets in the platoon were killed, the Red Army was able to capture Pavlov’s House. The house was then fortified and turned into a stronghold. The building was equipped with machine guns, anti-tank rifles, and mortars. It was surrounded by four layers of barbed wire, minefields, and the Soviets set up machine-gun posts in every available window. The supplies were brought into the fort through an underground communications trench.
During the battle, the Germans attacked Pavlov’s House several times a day. Each time the Red Army would unload a barrage of machine gun fire and kill dozens of Nazis. The Russians mounted a PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle on the roof of Pavlov’s House and destroyed a large number of tanks. The structure came to symbolize the Soviet resistance and was marked as a fortress on several Nazi maps. For his actions in the war, Yakov Pavlov was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union. Soviet general Vasily Chuikov famously said that the Germans lost more men trying to take Pavlov’s House than they did Paris. After the war, Pavlov’s House was reconstructed and turned into an apartment building. A memorial set of bricks from the battle remains at the site and is located on the East end of the house facing the Volga River.

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