Stalingrad Madonna

The Stalingrad Madonna

Less known among thousands of events during World War Two and the Russian Front in particular – the Stalingrad Madonna.

“This Stalingrad Christmas is a declaration of our Faith, made in the front line. He who lives to tell of it, or who remembers it in years to come, should with open eyes and a proud heart cast his thoughts back to the city beside the Volga, the Golgotha of the Sixth Army.”1

Most still believed “the Fuhrer will get us out” and though promises were wearing thin, the beleaguered Sixth Army looked for a miracle. It was “…often said in the Stalingrad pocket that it was better to have a cousin in the Luftwaffe than a Father in Heaven. A few dozen had cousins in the Luftwaffe.”2 For them maybe a roast goose, cognac or other delicacies. For an ordinary landser, horsemeat cut straight from a frozen carcass, a small piece of bread, or, nothing. Christmas for them, an agonizing wait for the Russians in their holes. The first cases of starvation appeared,weakened immune systems could not cope with disease – typhus. There were no drugs for it or gangrene. Home was far away but never out of mind, reveries the only escape.

Kurt Reuber was a Senior Medical Officer living in a hole divided by a blanket – one side to tend to wounded, the other for him. Creating a charcoal sketch of a Madonna and child, Reuber showed it to the sick and wounded who could see but many, in extremis, could not talk.

With pencil, often leaving his hole for proper perspective, Reuber sketched a Madonna in the folds of her cloak protecting a child written on the sides: “Weinachten 1942 Licht, Leben, Liebe,

Im Kessel Festung Stalingrad (Christmas 1942 Light, Life, Love in the pocket Fortress Stalingrad) “A lamp was burning on a board stuck into the clay beneath the picture. Our celebrations in the shelter were dominated by this picture, and it was with full hearts that my comrades read the words: light, life and love.” “…went to all the bunkers, brought my drawing to the men, and chatted with them. How they sat there! Like being in their dear homes with mother for the holiday.” 3

“The Madonna was flown out of Stalingrad by Dr Wilhelm Grosse, his battalion commander of the 16th Panzer Division on the last transport plane to leave the encircled German 6th Army.4]”

Reuber was taken captive after the surrender of the 6th Army, and died in a Soviet prisoner of war camp in 1944.[2] The Stalingrad Madonna May be viewed at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin.

1)feldgrau.com

2)feldgrau.com

3)feldgrau.com

4)Joseph B. Perry, ‘The Madonna of Stalingrad: Mastering the (Christmas) Past and West German National Identity after World War II’, Radical History Review, Issue 83 (Spring, 2002), pp. 7–27.

5)

Less known among thousands of events during World War Two and the Russian Front in particular – the Stalingrad Madonna.

“This Stalingrad Christmas is a declaration of our Faith, made in the front line. He who lives to tell of it, or who remembers it in years to come, should with open eyes and a proud heart cast his thoughts back to the city beside the Volga, the Golgotha of the Sixth Army.”1

Most still believed “the Fuhrer will get us out” and though promises were wearing thin, the beleaguered Sixth Army looked for a miracle. It was “…often said in the Stalingrad pocket that it was better to have a cousin in the Luftwaffe than a Father in Heaven. A few dozen had cousins in the Luftwaffe.”2 For them maybe a roast goose, cognac or other delicacies. For an ordinary landser, horsemeat cut straight from a frozen carcass, a small piece of bread, or, nothing. Christmas for them, an agonizing wait for the Russians in their holes. The first cases of starvation appeared,weakened immune systems could not cope with disease – typhus. There were no drugs for it or gangrene. Home was far away but never out of mind, reveries the only escape.

Kurt Reuber was a Senior Medical Officer living in a hole divided by a blanket – one side to tend to wounded, the other for him. Creating a charcoal sketch of a Madonna and child, Reuber showed it to the sick and wounded who could see but many, in extremis, could not talk.

With pencil, often leaving his hole for proper perspective, Reuber sketched a Madonna in the folds of her cloak protecting a child written on the sides: “Weinachten 1942 Licht, Leben, Liebe,

Im Kessel Festung Stalingrad (Christmas 1942 Light, Life, Love in the pocket Fortress Stalingrad) “A lamp was burning on a board stuck into the clay beneath the picture. Our celebrations in the shelter were dominated by this picture, and it was with full hearts that my comrades read the words: light, life and love.” “…went to all the bunkers, brought my drawing to the men, and chatted with them. How they sat there! Like being in their dear homes with mother for the holiday.” 3

“The Madonna was flown out of Stalingrad by Dr Wilhelm Grosse, his battalion commander of the 16th Panzer Division on the last transport plane to leave the encircled German 6th Army.4]”

Reuber was taken captive after the surrender of the 6th Army, and died in a Soviet prisoner of war camp in 1944.[2] The Stalingrad Madonna May be viewed at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church in Berlin.

1)feldgrau.com

2)feldgrau.com

3)feldgrau.com

4)Joseph B. Perry, ‘The Madonna of Stalingrad: Mastering the (Christmas) Past and West German National Identity after World War II’, Radical History Review, Issue 83 (Spring, 2002), pp. 7–27.

5)https://anitamathias.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/k_reuberl.jpg

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