Wednesday, October 22, 2008


A remarkable photograph.  On January 30, 1943, Hitler promoted Fredrick von Paulus of the surrounded Sixth Army in Stalingrad to Field Marshall.  He reminded von Paulus that no German Field Marshall had ever surrendered.   The next day, von Paulus became the first.  This photo was taken as von Paulus was ushered into the Russian command post to deliver his surrender.

The picture captures not only the historic moment, but a psychological dimension as well.  There is a tension between victor and vanquished.  The expression of the Russians is priceless.  They are not happy, but serious and determined.  Two men regarding another they have beaten.

The real story of Stalingrad is that the Germans thought they were breaking the Red Army.  It became a test of wills between the German high command and the common Russian soldiers.  The German's mistake was to fatally lose respect for their opponents willpower and capabilities.  There are a lot of parallels to the battle of Gettysburg, which I'll explore in future posts.  The photograph above almost magically captures this dimension.