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Military Encylopedia of Russia and Eurasia

Edited by David R. Jones

MERE Contents


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Volume 7 Introduction

Volume seven of MERE continues our examination of the series of "aerial blockades" instituted by the Red Air Forces against German air supply operations mounted in support of encircled troop formations from 1942 to 1945. Once again these entries complement the earlier general entries on the "aerial blockade," and once again they provide the first comprehensive accounts of the practical measures implemented available in any language, Russian included. These discussions continue to place the actual measures taken by the Red Armed Forces within the contexts of the military situation as a whole, and the German efforts to organize the airlift against which a specific blockade was directed. Although the general comments in my introduction to MERE 6 hold true for the entries in this volume as well, one further point should be made. As editor I have as my model the great encyclopedias of the past and believe that MERE will make an original contribution to the historical literature only by its extensive treatment of topics that have been largely ignored in the standard studies. In past volumes this has resulted in the major articles accorded to the Caucasian regions of Abkhazia and Adzhariia, in the space devoted to the history of the Admiralty Shipbuilding Yards in St. Petersburg/Leningrad, to the historical surveys of Russia's military administrative system, to the tactical use of the advanced guard, and so on. As the treatment of the aerial blockade of the Sixth Army at Stalingrad in this volume indicates, I feel it is important to extend this criterion so as to include little discussed aspects of better-known, major events as well. For while there are numerous accounts of the Stalingrad battles as a whole, as well as of their aerial aspects in general, to date Von Hardesty has been exceptional with regard to his attention to the aerial blockade that sought to interdict the Luftwaffe's airlift. By building on his work, and by placing the Soviet blockade firmly within the context of the German effort, I have provided an account of that epic battle that provides new perspectives for the interested reader. At this point it is customary for me as editor to thank all those who have aided me in preparing the volume at hand. Given the importance of Stalingrad below, in this case I owe a special debt of gratitude for the insights provided by two past friends in particular. The first is Gunther Buchta, a Hungarian veteran of Stalingrad, one of the last wounded to be evacuated from the pocket by air in January 1943, and a man who, despite carrying thirteen fragments of Russian shrapnel around with him until his death, became a professional ballroom dancer. From the other side, there is my Russian friend, whom I shall simply call Aleksei, who spent his thirteenth birthday as a naval infantryman, battling with a submachine-gun in the ruins of his home city on the Volga. Otherwise, I also want to thank all those others who have helped in various ways and, once again, Graham Lavers of Halifax, N.S., for his cheerful work in preparing illustrations. And if I myself as editor have again penned the following entries specifically for this volume of MERE, as usual I have had the benefit of the advice and support of numerous colleagues in this task. Of course, the inevitable errors and lacunae remain entirely my own, and I trust that those with comments or additional information (which will permit corrections in supplementary volumes), or those who wish to contribute to future volumes, will contact me either via the publisher, or directly at the address below.

David R. Jones
Russian Research Center of Nova Scotia
1929 Connaught Ave.
Halifax, NS B3H 4E2

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