The aerial assault on Stalingrad, the most concentrated on the Ostfront, represented the natural culmination of Richthofen's career since Guernica. Fourth Air Fleet aircraft flew a total of 1,600 sorties that day and dropped 1,000 tons of bombs for the loss of only three machines. According to some estimates, there had been nearly 600,000 people in Stalingrad, and 40,000 were killed during the first week of bombardment.
The reason why so many citizens and refugees still remained onthe west bank of the Volga was typical of the regime. The NKVD had commandeered almost all river craft, while allotting a very low priority to evacuating the civil population. Then Stalin, deciding that no panic must be allowed, refused to permit the inhabitants of Stalingrad to be evacuated across the Volga. This, he thought, would force the troops, especially the locally raised militia, to defend the city more desperately. 'No one bothered about human beings,' observed one of the boys trapped behind with their mothers. 'We too were just meat for the guns.
On their third evening, German panzers sank a paddle-steamer taking women and children from the city to the east bank. Hearing screams and cries for help, soldiers asked their commander if they could use some of the pioneers' inflatable boats to rescue them. But the lieutenant refused. 'We know how the enemy fights this war,' he replied. After night had fallen, the panzer crews pulled their blankets up over their heads so that they did not hear the cries any more.Some women managed to swim to the west bank, but most swam to a sandbank where they stayed the whole of the next day. The Germans did not fire when they were evacuated the next night, as proof that they were different from the Russians.
'We will defend the city or die in the attempt,' he replied. Yere-menko and Khrushchev looked at him and said that he had understood his task correctly
Radio message of General Paulus to OKW, reporting the imminent capitulation
"High clouds at 5,000 meters. Visibility 12 km. Clouds. Small isolated cloud fields. Temperature 31 degrees below zero. Fog and mist red on Stalingrad. End of the weather. Greetings to home"