Tour to Peschanka village with visit to Austrian Memorial to all victims of the Battle of Stalingrad
In 1942-1943 at the outskirts of Stalingrad heavy fighting unfolded in all directions. In the village of Peschanka on the border of the Soviet district of Volgograd, traces of the trenches and artillery caponiers are still visible today. After wandering for just 10 minutes, you can collect a handful of once-deadly metal. It was in these places in August-September 1942 and again at the end of January 1943 that fierce battles took place. Towards the end of the battle of Stalingrad, the 44th Austrian Infantry division (44. Infanterie-Division) was located here.
By September 1942 the division took up defensive positions on the high banks of the Don, protecting the long left flank of the 6th Army in Stalingrad. On 19 November the Soviet Army opened Operation Uranus against Romanian forces to the north. Manoilin, one of the supply bases for the division had already been attacked by Soviet armour units. An attack against this sector had not been totally unexpected by the German command, and the previous day the 6th Army authorised the 44 Infantry to release the 132nd Infantry Regiment from its defensive positions along the bluffs overlooking the Don, for commitment elsewhere. The regiment was already short of men, so it dissolved one battalion (III/132) and distributed its men to the other two.
The regiment was issued movement orders to secure Verkhne-Buzinovka, 25 miles behind the Division's front line, and arrived there to find Soviet Army forces threatening weak German Army units in the area. Outflanked by Soviet units which captured Kalach-on-Don on the 4th day of Operation Uranus, the division abandoned its former defensive positions and began to retreat eastwards across the steppe towards the 6th Army in and around Stalingrad. Its movements were hampered by a 'catastrophic' fuel situation and the decision by 6th Army to move many of the division's horses to the west out of the combat zone. On 26 November it crossed the Don at Luchinsky, where engineers blew up the army bridge behind it, and two days later the 44th Division reached its place in the new perimeter of around Stalingrad.
The Soviet Red Army forces were quick to test the division’s defences, mounting infantry attacks supported by armoured groups of up to 60 tanks. On 4 December the main line of resistance was over-run in an attack forcing 6th Army to commit its remaining reserves. A battle group from 384 Infantry Division, 12 tanks from 16 Panzer Division and some assault artillery managed to restore the old positions the following day.
Probing attacks continued through the month and the failure of the air transports to adequately supply the German pocket meant that shortages were now beginning to be really felt. The artillery was limited to 5 shots per day and the bread ration was cut to 200g per day, then to 100 and finally on 26 December to 50g.The combat strength of the infantry battalions were rapidly sinking, not only through combat but the cold and illness were also taking their toll, as well as the persistent harassing mortar and artillery fire. To keep up numbers, artillerymen and even construction workers were turned into infantrymen as well as soldiers from disbanded units and from the Romanian ranks. As the fighting continued through December and into January an increasing number of support personnel were used in the front line. By 2 January all the horse meat had been eaten and the physical condition of the troops was rapidly deteriorating while replacements combed from the service units were found to be willing but lacking in basic infantry training.
On 10 January the Red Army unleashed “Operation Ring” - their attack on the pocket.The 65th and 21st armies overwhelmed the 44th divisional defenses on the first day. By 12 January the western protuberance of the pocket, the Karpovka nose was eliminated and groups of German units had to retreat. The remnants of the division were pushed back into Stalingrad. Now only a single gun was left to the divisional artillery and the infantry regiments formed battle groups with their few remaining men mixed with a variety of other combat and service troops, and equipped with only rifles and a few light machine guns. All the other heavy weapons had been abandoned in the retreat or were useless through lack of ammunition.
On 27 January, General Deboi the divisional commander, joined the 131 Battle Group to 'be with the infantry' at the end. Finally with no more food or ammunition resistance ended, the surviving officers joined their last troops in surrender, and the 44 Infantry Division ceased to exist.
On June 8, 1996, a memorial was erected here to all victims of the Second World War, designed by the Austrian architect Johann Boyle. The collection of funds (1992-1993) and construction was carried out by the Austrian public organizations "Committee 50 years of Stalingrad" and "Austrian Black Cross" - Das Österreichische Schwarze Kreuz.
The monument is the usual type of sculpture, rather it was decided to use the shape of the ten-meter edge of the pyramid, on the reverse side of which there is a memorial room. For manufacture of memorial, steel plates were used as a reminder of the tools and materials of the war (these have deliberately allowed to rust).
The edge of the pyramid rises as something deliberately rigid, resembling the tip of a spear, a spike of barbed wire. Slanted and tilted to the tomb with the Catholic cross, it emphasizes and, as it were, protects it. The edge of the pyramid creates an external memorial service room, the entrance to which is also accessible through the triangular memorial.
In front of the steel triangle memorial there is a granite slab enscribed with the following words "This monument is dedicated to all the victims of the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-1943. It reminds us about the suffering of the soldiers and civilians fallen here. For the fallen here and the dead in captivity from all countries, we pray for eternal peace in the Russian land".
Tour to Peschanka village with visit to Austrian memorial can be perfectly combined with other 3-4 hour city tours on the same day.
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