The Grain Elevator is a huge grain storage silo that is located a few hundred yards from the Volga river bank, about 3 miles southwest of the centre of Volgograd. It has become one of the iconic landmarks of the Battle of Stalingrad, along with the likes of the Tractor Factory and Pavlov’s House.
The photograph below was taken from an apartment close to the elevator and shows how it commands an excellent view over the River Volga in the southern part of the city, and thus its importance for both sides in the battle. General Friedrich Paulus designed an arm shield that featured the silo and was intended to be worn by victorious veterans of the battle.
Many of the buildings in the surrounding residential districts were gutted by fire during the massive Luftwaffe air raids that marked the start of the battle at the end of August 1942, leaving the silo as an isolated island in a mostly stripped landscape. As the Sixth Army moved into the city of Stalingrad, a small defending force from the 35th Guards Rifle Division was joined by a platoon of marine infantry.
On September 17, a German offer of surrender was answered with fire from machine guns and anti-tank rifles. An artillery barrage was then unleashed on the defenders, before the Saxon 94th Infantry Division was sent into the attack. Ten attacks were repulsed on that day and the next, despite choking dust and smoke from burning grain and rapidly diminishing stores of food, water and ammunition.
On September 20, a number of tanks were brought in to the attack, and the German infantry broke into the main structure of the silo. The defenders were able to hold out until darkness fell and then break out, leaving the wounded behind.
The Grain Elevator remains standing, but unused and closed off, today. A statue commemorating the defenders stands in front of the elevator on Рабоче Крестьянская ул. (Raboche Krest’yanskaya St.). Trolleybus numbers 15A and 10 and marshrutka (minibus) numbers 30, 30A, 15C, 55, 65, 7, 7A, 62A and 19 all pass by the Grain Elevator.