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Pavlov's House (Volgograd)

 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 Stalingrad.

Pavlov's House Stalingrad Volgograd  Pavlov's House Stalingrad Volgograd

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.

 

Image of Yakov Pavlov

Yakov F. Pavlov

1917-1981

 

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.

 

Pavlov's House graffiti

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!

 

It 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.

 

 

 

 

 


 

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