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Pavlov's House ( —dom Pavlova) became the name of a fortified apartment building during the Battle of Stalingradmarker in 1942–1943. It gained its popular name from Sergeant Yakov Pavlov, who commanded the platoon that seized the building and defended it during the long battle.

The building

The house was a four-story building in the center of Stalingradmarker, built parallel to the embankment of the river Volga and overseeing the "9th January Square", a large square named for Bloody Sunday. In September 1942, the house was attacked by the Germans, and a platoon of the Soviet 13th Guards Rifle Division was ordered to seize and defend it. The platoon was led by Junior Sgt. Yakov Pavlov, a low-level noncommissioned officer serving as acting platoon commander since the unit's lieutenant and senior sergeants had all been wounded or killed. The attack on the building was successful, although the fighting was brutal, with only four men in the 30-man platoon surviving the assault .

After several days, reinforcements and resupply arrived for Pavlov's men, bringing the unit up to a 25-man understrength platoon and equipping the defenders with machine guns, anti-tank rifles and mortar. In keeping with Stalin's order of "not one step back", Sgt. Pavlov was ordered to fortify the building and defend it to the last bullet and the last man. Taking this advice to heart, Pavlov ordered the building to be surrounded with four layers of barbed wire and minefields, and set up machine-gun posts in every available window facing the square. In the early stages of the defense, Pavlov discovered that a PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle he had mounted on the roof was particularly effective when used to ambush unsuspecting German tanks; once the tanks had approached to within 25 meters of the building, their thin turret-roof armor became exposed to AT rifle fire from above, but they were unable to elevate their weapons enough to retaliate. Pavlov reportedly personally destroyed nearly a dozen tanks using this tactic.

For better internal communication, they breached the walls in the basement and upper floors, and dug a communications trench to Sovietmarker positions outside. Supplies were brought in via the trench or by boats crossing the river, defying German air raids and shelling. Nevertheless, food and especially water was in short supply. Lacking beds, the soldiers tried to sleep on insulation wool torn off pipes, yet usually the Germans kept shooting at the house with deafening machine-gun fire day and night.

The Germans attacked the building several times a day. Each time German infantry or tanks tried to cross the square and to close in on the house, Pavlov's men laid down a withering barrage of machine gun and AT rifle fire from the basement, the windows and from the roof top, devastating the German attackers and forcing them to retreat. By mid-November, Pavlov's men reportedly had to use lulls in the fighting to run out and kick over the heaped piles of German corpses so they could not be used as cover for the next round of attackers.

Eventually the defenders, as well as the Soviet civilians who kept living in the basement all that time, held out during intensive fighting from 23 September until 25 November 1942, when they were relieved by the counter-attacking Soviet forces.

Symbolic meaning

Pavlov's House became a symbol of the stubborn resistance of the Soviet Union in the Battle of Stalingradmarker, and in the Great Patriotic War in general. It stands out prominently because the German armies had previously conquered cities and entire countries within weeks; yet they were unable to capture a single half-ruined house, defended most of the time by just over a dozen soldiers, in spite of trying for two months. It is reported that the building at the "9th January Square" was marked as a fortress in German map.

Chuikov, the defender of Stalingrad, was later heard to comment that Pavlov's men killed more Germans than were lost in the fall of Paris.

Pavlov's "House" was rebuilt after the battle and is still used as an apartment building today. There is an attached memorial constructed from bricks picked up after the battle on the East side facing the Volga.

Pavlov was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union for his actions.

Dramatization

  • In the computer game Call of Duty there is a level in which the player, as a conscripted Russian peasant, must participate in capturing and defending this structure from multiple waves of German soldiers and armor until Soviet reinforcements arrive. Your squad leader in this mission is named Sgt. Pavlov, most likely based on the real-life Yakov Pavlov. There is also a multiplayer map of Pavlov's House (mp_pavlov).
  • In early versions of the Red Orchestra modification for the game Unreal Tournament 2004 there was a level that recreated the fighting between the Soviet and German forces for the control of the building.
  • In Forgotten Hope, a Battlefield 1942 modification, there is a level where Soviet and German forces fought for control of the building.
  • "Pavlov's House" is a structure in the first mission of Close Combat III: The Russian Front, with it starting in German control. However, this is in a battle that takes place in the Ukraine during Operation Barbarossa, and does not represent the actual Pavlov's House (the game also has other structures and scenery played for laughs, like crop circles on a field).


References

See also




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