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World: Apartment 21-A

2 minute read

In Stalingrad the Germans claimed that they had finally taken the whole of the Red October airplane factory—”except one hangar.” Marshal Timoshenko’s counterattacks made meager progress, but in the city Red troops fought not only street by street but room by room.

On one of Stalingrad’s best streets stood Apartment 21-A. It had had a corner sheered off by a German bomb, but Sub-Lieutenant Svetkov and a handful of grenadiers held the building for nine days. Barricades, trenches and machine guns were prepared to control the street intersection. At dawn twelve heavy German tanks, loaded with shocks troops, attacked. Hits from anti-tank guns set five afire. Seven rumbled on. Svetkov and his men had no more anti-tank ammunition, so they hurled grenades from the windows. Three more tanks were disabled. Four came on.

Suddenly one lanky Russian seized a tank-mine, hugged it to his chest and threw himself in front of an advancing tank. Three came on. At the apartment-house door they let out their shock troops, who fought their way to the staircase.

From a second-floor barricade five Russians with rifles faced 15 Germans. They held off the Germans until another band, clambering up a fire escape, attacked them from the rear. Then they retreated to the third floor, where they fought on. An excited, roaring Russian caught a German grenade before it exploded, tossed it back at the Nazis. Next morning, just as the Russians’ ammunition was giving out, a clamor of shouting came from the roof. Red comrades had crossed adjoining roof tops to the rescue. Charging down the stairs, they drove out the Germans, who left 52 dead officers and men.

Said Sub-Lieutenant Svetkov: “When I think of Germans I can’t control myself. I shake, my hands itch. I’ve got to shoot, or throw a grenade, or use a bayonet.”

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