At the battlefield of Stalingrad (now Volgograd), which led to a turning point of the World War II, a special role has been played by the 321st division of the Soviet Union’s Red Army. This division has suspended the offensive attacks of Nazis and the Field Marshal Erich von Manstein’s tank army, hastening as an aid to Field Marshal Friedrich Wilhelm Ernst Paulus’s army. It successfully defended the strategically important bridgehead of Kletsk in the north-western part of Stalingrad.
This division was created in March, 1942 by recruiting from the Siberian regions of Buryat-Mongolia (now Republic of Buryatia), Yakutia (now Republic of Sakha), Irkutsk and Chita. Most of the soldiers of this division were skilled young hunters of the taiga (forest), lived in Buryat, Yakut, Tuvan, Evenk and Russia. Front newspapers in Nazi Germany knowingly gave a nickname “A wild Siberian division named after Chinggis (Genghis) Khan” to this unit, because almost one third of total personnel in this division were Buriat-Mongols, which was approximately 5000 soldiers.
The 321st division left the railway station Berezhnaya in Chita region and arrived at the station Sukhoi Log near Stalingrad, almost after three weeks of voyage in July 1942. At the time of arrival, the division was bombed from the air and newly-recruited soldiers were immediately forced to enter their first battle from their wagons.
With the continuous bombing and domination of Nazi air force, the 321st division passed into a counteroffensive position on July 27and successfully crossed the Don River by August 15. Then, it has liberated seven settlements such as Osinki, Lopushino, Perikovka, Yarki and occupied several strategically important hideouts.
At the same time, the soldiers of this division fought heroically near the village of Malo-Kletsk and repulsed the enemy’s tank attacks that were trying to break through to Stalingrad. They have entered numerous unequal fights during that time. For instance: a native of Tunka village of Buryat-Mongolia, a political instructor of the 493rd Regiment Bud Shaglanov, did not surrender, even he found himself surrounded by enemies. Instead, he killed almost two hundred Nazi soldiers by a machine gun before dying. Courageous Buryat soldiers like Baljir Tsyrenov, Bato Jargalov, Dorji Garmayev and Irolt Tsydenov did not allow their enemies to break through to Stalingrad at the cost of their lives.
The battle for the Kletsk bridgehead, which began on July 23, 1942, lasted 106 days and ended with a complete defeat of the Nazi troops.
It should be noted that the Nobel laureate, famous writer Mikhail Sholokhov wrote his epic novel -“They fought for their homeland” based on the battles in the Kletsk bridgehead. As for the 30th anniversary of the victory over the Nazi Germany, a featured film with a same name was directed by Sergei Bondarchuk and appeared on the screens in 1975. Soon, Solbon Lygdenov, a Buryat director will finish shooting a featured film about this heroic division, despite of financial difficulties.
By the November 1942, the wild Siberian division completely destroyed the first Romanian-Italian and 376th German divisions and then became the 82nd Guards Division to reach Berlin.
Here we have published a photo of the warriors of the wild Siberian division including Georgy Vikulov, Batmunkh Lodonovich, Semyon Dugaron, Bazar Baldanjapov and Bato Rabjayev filmed in early May 1945 at the Brandenburg Gate of Berlin.