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Pavlov's House (Volgograd)
Location: Penzenskaya, 61
Description of the Pavlov's House
Pavlov's House is probably one of the most famous
buildings in Volgograd. In Russian it is a symbol of heroism and
bravery while the rest of the World probably recognizes by one of
scenarios in a computer game Call of Duty. Occasionally
Gerharts Mill is mistakenly called
Pavlov's House due to overall similarity. However Pavlov's House was
later reconstructed, while Gerharts Mill was left in its original
state of disrepair following heavy fighting during Battle of
Pavlov's House was a four storey residential house
that stood on Lenin Square in then Stalingrad (modern day
Volgograd). Building of future Pavlov's House was constructed in the
early 1930's as part of industrialization project that was
undertaken in the city under direct orders of Joseph Stalin. In a
strange turn of fate the architect of the project Sergey E.
Voloshinov stayed in Stalingrad and was killed on September 27th
1942 during air raid of the German Luftwaffe (Air Force), just 5
days after an active phase of defense of Pavlov's House has began.
It is probably the reason why some sources indicate this particular
date as the beginning of the siege.
Pavlov's House was surrounded by other notorious
buildings including House of Railway Workers, House of the NKVD
(secret police) as well as Zabolotny House, an exact copy of
Pavlov's House. Before the war Zabolotny House was inhabited by
House of Sovkontrol (Soviet Control). Both houses were painted green
and a branch of railroad that led to
Gerhart's Mill ran between two apartment buildings. Before the
outbreak of World War II both Pavlov's and Zabolotny House was
considered very prestigious and was reserved for high officials of
factories. However both buildings gained notoriety during Battle of
Stalingrad due to incredible and somewhat unlikely defense by a
small group of Soviet soldiers.
Yakov F. Pavlov
Area around Pavlov's House was defended by 42th
Guards Rifle Regiment of Colonel Yellin, who instructed Captain
Zhukov to carry out operation in securing strategic buildings in
the area. Defense of Pavlov's House began on 22 September 1942
when it was taken by a small 4 men platoon under command of
sergeant Yakov F. Pavlov. Zabolotny House was taken by another scout unit of
lieutenant Zabolotny. Later that building was destroyed by
aerial bombs. Zabolotny House collapsed burring its defenders in
the rubble. Despite popular belief Pavlov's House was still
inhabitant by civilians that squatted in surviving rooms. They
stayed in the ruined building and helped troops, cooked food and
tended to the wounded soldiers.
Pavlov's House along with Zabolotny House
(parallel to it) stood perpendicular to the embankment of the
river Volga. Both apartment buildings were vital in control over
"9th January Square", large open area that became no man's land
between Red Army and German Wehrmacht. Strategic Square was
named after events that occurred on January 9th, 1905 when
Tsarist troops were provoked to shoot at armed provocateurs in a
largely peaceful demonstration. Ironically revolutionaries that
triggered this tragic event that became later known as the
Bloody Sunday largely used it for their own propaganda. They
named central streets and Squares in most of large buildings
across USSR. Stalingrad was no exception.
In addition to controlling the square Pavlov's
House (along with Zabolotny House) were used to keep an eye in
all directions along Volga embankment. On a 3rd day 25 men
strong platoon was reinforced with machine guns, anti- tank
rifles and even mortars. Military engineers surrounded the
structure with four layers of minefields and barbed wire.
Communication trench (featured in a game Call of Duty) was dug
to hide any movement of troops and materials to and from the
building. Interestingly enough during digging women (who refused
to leave) discovered buried Russian Orthodox icons that were
hidden by former residents of the apartment building. From this
point Pavlov's House became an important strategic defense point
of the regiment and entire 13th Guards Infantry Division. The
command of the unit was taken by Lieutenant I. F. Afanasyev.
Graffiti on the wall of Pavlov's House
Top line: Motherland! We fought here with the
enemy. Rodimtsev, Voronov, Demchenko, Anikin, Dovichenko
Low line: This house was defended by sergeant
Yakov Fedotovich Pavlov!
is been some debate on why Pavlov's House was named after Pavlov
instead of Afanasyev who technically led the defense for
duration of most of the siege. Some believe that it was an
honest mistake on behalf of army journalists who assumed that
Pavlov took the building and commanded the garrison inside. Some
also credit this mistake to a huge graffiti that was left by
Pavlov on the side of the building after the end of hostilities.
Others believe that the reason is purely political in nature.
Pavlov was about to join the Communist party and hence naming
house in his honor would boost propaganda of the role of the
party in the battle. Whatever the reason might be, both Pavlov
and Afanasyev defended the house and didn't have any problems or
competition during the battle.
German infantry with support of tanks undertook
several attempts a day to cross the "9th of January Square" and
re- take the building, but failed to succeed. Soviet soldiers
quickly moved from room to room and opened fire at the soldiers
along the perimeter. Anti- tank rifle (PTRS- 41) stationed on
the higher storey proved to be a great help against German tanks
at the close range. While it was largely obsolete and inferior
weapons against new version of panzers, its position proved
highly effective. Metal on the roof of tanks was much thinner
and hence a bullet from these rifles could penetrate and disable
the crew inside.
The defense of Pavlov's House was organized so
effectively that out of 31 defenders only three men were killed.
This included leutenant A.N. Chernyshenko, I. Chait and Ivan
Svirin. Most of other soldiers were wounded at least once
(including Pavlov and Afanasyev), but remained at the Pavlov's
House. Interestingly enough captured operational maps of
Fieldmarshal Friedrich Paulus (commander of the German 6th
Army)marked Pavlov's House as a fortress. The siege of Pavlov's
House that lasted for 58 days was lifted on 25 November, 1942
when the Soviet Army began their advancement against German
forces. Civilians that stayed inside the building finally left
the basement and later were evacuated from a city.
After the war, Pavlov's House became one of the
first buildings that was restored in Stalingrad. Memory of
defenders was immortalized by a huge memorial wall located on
the side of the buildings. Much of the original structure,
however is gone. So if you want to see how it looked immediately
after the completion of the Battle of Stalingrad you should head
to Gerhart's Mill. It is one of
the few buildings in modern day Volgograd that survived the war.