On 8 November 1942 the commander-in-chief of Germany announced his plans to Germany for an offensive to take the last part of Stalingrad.
I wanted to come to the Volga at a specific location at a specific city. By chance it carries the name of Stalin himself. So don’t think I marched there for this reason – it could carry another name – but because there is a very important goal... this goal I wanted to take – and you know – we are very modest, we have it already.
There are only some very small places remaining. Now the others say: ‘Why aren’t they fighting faster?’ – Because I don’t want to have a second Verdun there, I’d rather take it with small assault groups….
Several thousand of miles away in the nearly levelled city of Stalingrad many German soldiers also heard this speech over their radios, among them about 3000 assault troops forming into “small assault groups”…. At the time of Hitler’s speech the German troops held nearly 90% of Stalingrad. Only small islands of resistance were still held by the Soviets: The 39th Rifle Division defended parts of the Krasny Oktyabr (Red October) steel factory, supported by the 284th Rifle Division on their left flank defending the workers' housing area. The few remaining parts of Krasnaya Barrikady (Red Barricades) ordnance factory was defended by shattered units of 138th, 308th, and parts of 244th Rifle Division. They held less than 10% of that factory…. Another hard fought-for area was the chemical factory "Lazur" and its surrounding train yards, the so-called "tennis racket"…. These remaining strongholds were connected by the thin defensive lines of the 161st Rifle Regiment and 95th Rifle Division (241st Rifle Regiment) in the south, and the 37th Guards Rifle Division (118th Rifle Regiment) in the north. In between these more or less cohesive units a number of soldiers from various shattered units were mixed….
The Germans were unable to start a last effort to take these few remaining strongholds, since most of their combat companies were so weakened. Many of them were down to about 50, some 30 or 40, rifle carrying soldiers. German commanders doubted if “these divisions should be used in such a manner at all”. The 14. and 24. Panzer divisions were particularly low in manpower. On 2 November at 1800 hours, Chief of Staff of 6th Army General Schmidt, reported that 79., 94. and 305. Infanterie divisions were no longer able to attack as whole cohesive units…. The 6th Army ordered at this point to disband units, reduce the guns per battery to three, reduce the staff strengths, signal battalions and other support units to 10% of their manpower…. 10 battalions of Turkic soldiers from the Caucasus were to be sent to the Stalingrad area. This order from 6th Army high command was dated 6 November. All divisions would receive their Turkic battalions at the end of December.