Union Corps San Lazare International organizes memorial mass on the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of Stalingrad (February 2013)
On the 2nd February 1943 the remnants of the German 6th Army surrendered to Soviet troops at Stalingrad. This Red Army victory over the Germans is regarded as one of the turning points in World War II. The months-long battle, in temperatures down to minus 43 degrees, cost the lives of least 150,000 Germans, tens of thousands of their Allies and 500,000 Russians.
Four of the Divisions of the German Army that fought at Stalingrad contained a high proportion of Austrians: the 44th Infantry Division, the 297th Infantry Division, the 100th Jager Division and the 24th Panzer Division. The soldiers were mostly from Vienna, Burgenland and Styria. Of the approximately 91,000 German soldiers who fell into Soviet captivity, only 6,000 returned home.
An image of the Virgin Mary, 'The Stalingrad Madonna', was drawn by the senior German physician Dr Kurt Reuber during the battle to inspire his patients. It is featured on the 70th anniversary commemorative plaque.
To mark the 70th Anniversary of the end of the battle a memorial service was held in the Collegiate Church of the Holy Cross, Vienna.
The service was celebrated by the Military Dean, Peter Papst M.A. Also present was the bishop of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Orthodox Military Chaplain, Father Lapin, and representatives of the Diplomatic Corps. There was also a strong turnout from several traditional clubs and a small number of former soldiers and participants in the battle.
The Lazarus Union was represented by President Steinhardt and confreres Kadlec, Ptak, Hochmuth and Gruber. In his sermon The Military Dean recalled the events of that time: During the course of the fighting about 1 million people (civilians and soldiers) were killed. The majority did not die in combat action but froze to death, starved or fell victim to disease.
After a short speech wreaths were laid. The ceremony was completed with the playing of The Deutschmeister March.
Two days later, on 4th February 2013, the Russian Cultural Institute also held a memorial service in memory of all the fallen at the battle of Stalingrad.
The program included an impressive documentary photo exhibition from the collection of the Central Museum of the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945. The pictures, some on show for the first time, clearly depicted the misery of war.
Only a few remaining veterans of the Battle of Stalingrad could attend the event.
On behalf of the "Hoch-und Deutschmeister", Section Chief ret. Dr. Otto Gratschmayer gave thanks for the successful event.