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Hoisting of the red flag on top of the water tanks on Mamayev Kurgan
Battle of Stalingrad - battles for Mamayev Kurgan
The fighting on Mamayev Kurgan was conducted from September 1942 to January 1943, the battle for Mamayev Kurgan lasted 135 days. During the Battle of Stalingrad, on topographic maps, this hill in the central part of the city was designated as height 102. It was due to its strategic position that this height became the key in the Battle for Stalingrad. There are also higher elevations on the territory of the city: in the Krasnooktyabrsky district at the 2nd Longitudinal - 107.5 (the Nazis called this height a "Flower Pot"), in the Soviet district at the Agrarian University - 112.0, the legendary Bald Mountain - 145.5, where units of the 64th army defended. But it is Mamayev Kurgan, extended to the Volga, is located in such a way that from its top both the northern factory districts, the city center, the railway junction, crossings, and the Volga region, where hospitals, reserves, and headquarters of the Soviet troops were located, are perfectly visible.
The Battle for Mamayev Kurgan became one of the longest and fiercest battles of the defense of Stalingrad.
- No one can say how many times the top of Mamayev Kurgan changed hands. The soldiers of Rodimtsev's division fought for Mamayev Kurgan, the entire division of V. A. Gorishny, the 112th Rifle Division of I. E. Ermolkin fought, and the glorious 284th division of Batyuk fought most of all for him. The regiments of this division arrived on the right bank on September 21 and on September 22 they already joined the battle at the turn of the Long Ravine. The division seemed to have grown into Mamayev Kurgan, into its spurs, and fought on it until the end, until the connection on January 26, 1943 with the divisions of General Chistyakov, recalled the commander of the 62nd Army V. I. Chuikov in his book "From Stalingrad to Berlin".
Most of the time — 133 days — Mamayev Kurgan was defended by the 284th Rifle Division of Colonel Nikolai Filippovich Batyuk. The right edge of the division's defense line passed from the Bath Ravine (Renaissance Square) along the Moscow branch of the railway, along the northeastern slope of Mamayev Kurgan; the left flank - on the territory of the Hardware Factory.
View from a Luftwaffe bomber to the factory areas and Mamayev Kurgan
The assault on Mamayev Kurgan began in mid-September. Enemy planes continuously circled above the height, dropping bombs, mines and shells rained down, a sea of fire and acrid smoke raged around. Burnt, pitted with deep craters, trenches, covered with shrapnel like scales, it turned black later, in winter, like charred.
The enemy brought reserves into battle, attacking the battle formations of the Soviet troops. The units of Ermolkin's 112th Division and one of the regiments of the 10th Division of the NKVD could not resist them. On September 14, at the cost of huge losses, the fascists captured the height. The situation of the defending soldiers of the Red Army was very difficult. On the morning of September 16, one of its regiments, together with units of the 112th Division, began storming the kurgan. They managed to recapture its top, but then the offensive stalled. Deadly fights and counter-battles began, which lasted until the end of January 1943.
On September 18, the 95th Division of Colonel Vasily Akimovich Gorishny entered the battle for Hill 102. On September 22, Siberians of Batyuk's 284th Division began crossing from the left bank. The soldiers were tasked with stopping the enemy's advance on the city.
From September 27 to October 4, there were fierce battles for the workers' settlements of the northern factories and Mamayev Kurgan. The 95th Division was pushed back from the western and southern slopes of the hill. The next day, Gorishny and Batyuk's units managed to capture an important point (to the south of the water tanks), but they could not reach the tanks. The summit, shelled from both sides, remained a draw. It's hard to say how many times it changed hands. At the beginning of October, the Nazis, having thrown reserves of tanks and artillery into battle, with the support of aviation, gained a foothold at altitude 102, turning the water tanks into heavily fortified firing points. But the northern and eastern slopes were firmly held by Soviet units.
At the beginning of October, the 284th Division occupied part of the Metallurgists' settlement on the right, and the eastern slopes with the hardware factory on the left. The position of the division was very difficult. The enemy kept all approaches to the Volga from the east under the aimed fire of its well-camouflaged artillery.
Broken walls of reinforced concrete tanks at the top of Mamayev Kurgan
Single boats and vehicles with ammunition were fired at. It was possible to deliver food, equipment, and take out the wounded only at night, but even then the missiles illuminated the front edge and depth of defense, and the enemy fired from all types of weapons. The fighters had a particularly difficult time since mid-October. Advancing on the factory areas, the enemy tried to break through to the Volga here as well.
This is how the German officer Helmut Welz, a participant in the fighting on the "Red October" and hill 102, describes these battles for Mamayev Kurgan:
— From this height we can see everything. Volley after volley is being poured into the Russian defensive positions. Whole garlands of shells take off. There shouldn't be anything alive there anymore. It seems that it is. Another twenty meters and our troops will already occupy the advanced Russian positions. And suddenly, Russian infantry appears in the craters and on the firing points, which we already considered destroyed. I can't believe my eyes. How, is the defense still alive there after the hurricane fire? Every moment we see our advancing soldiers falling to the ground, the rest are rushing back. What an obsession, did I really dream about this whole fight? Five fresh battalions went on the offensive, five battalions fought like at home on the training ground. And the results? Most of them were killed, some were wounded, the rest were completely defeated. An enchanted place! No matter how you try to take it, you stumble upon granite.
The Nazis built numerous fortifications on top, created a strong fire system, minefields. They launched attacks 10-12 times a day, but, losing people and equipment, they could not capture the entire mound.
A continuous struggle was going on around the septic tanks. Until January 12, 1943, Batyuk's fighters could not gain a foothold on the top of Mamayev Kurgan. In January, it was decided to seize this strategic height at all costs.
A damaged StuG III self-propelled artillery installation at the top of Mamayev Kurgan near the water tanks
The assault began with massive artillery and mortar fire. Artillery was tasked with piercing reinforced concrete tanks with shells. At 2 a.m., infantry rushed to storm the fortifications. By morning, the height was taken, the fascists lost the opportunity to monitor the regrouping of our troops in the city.
The offensive of Batyuk's division through Mamayev Kurgan was met with enemy counterattacks all the time until January 25. This was the only place in Stalingrad where by this time the enemy was still trying to counterattack.
Red victory banner on top of water tanks on Mamayev Kurgan
On January 26, 1943, having broken the last resistance of the enemy, the fighters of the 284th Division met with the units of the 21st army of General Chistyakov. Operation Ring was completed — the sixth field army of Paulus was divided into northern and southern groups. Now, at the site of this historic meeting, a T-34 Chelyabinsk Collective Farmer tank is installed — a tank with the side number 18, which led the advancing orders of the 121st tank Brigade of the 21st army.
A victorious red flag was raised over the water tanks. By the end of the day, Mamayev Kurgan and its surroundings were completely cleared of the enemy.
Farewell volley from rifles at the first monument on the grave of the defenders of Mamayev Kurgan
6 days after the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, on February 8, the defenders of Hill 102 were buried near the water tanks, a salute from a military weapon thundered in their honor. A simple wooden obelisk with two crossed rifles was placed over the mass grave. This first burial on Mamayev Kurgan is now known as the Small Mass Grave.