Released in 2001, Enemy at the Gates is a war film directed by Jean-Jacques Annaud. The film is named after William Craig’s book “Enemy at the Gates: The Battle for Stalingrad” (1973) which chronicles the 1942/43 Battle of Stalingrad during WWII.
The plot was mostly fictional. In his book Stalingrad (1998), historian Antony Beevor maintains that while Zaytsev was a real person, his duel with Konig was pure fiction.
While Craig’s book includes a “sniper’s duel” between Zaytsev and Konig, the films sequence of events is fictional. Zaystev is the only historical source for the story. He maintains the duel took place over several days.
In an interview, he claimed after killing Konig and taking his tags that he later learned Konig was the head of the German Sniper School. Historical review of German records finds no mention of a sniper named Konig.
The troop train arrives near the Volga, and the arriving soldiers see the river and Stalingrad. During the actual historical period, the actual rail line ended miles from the Volga’s east bank.
The troops would have needed to either march or ride carts or trucks to the city.
The Map Scene
The map shows that Switzerland was invaded by the Nazi’s. Switzerland was neutral during the war and has not been invaded by any nation or army in a while.
The map also showed the Nazi’s had invaded Turkey. In the actual history, Turkey was a latecomer to the conflict, entering the war in 1945 and never saw any actual combat.
Finally, the film shows what appears to be a modern map of Russia, the Baltic states, and Ukraine as independent countries.
In the actual history, all of those areas are annexed by the USSR as territories before the German invasion.
In the film, the Junkers 88 bombers fly far too low for their bombing run barely clearing the buildings they are attacking.
In real life attacking at that height would make them vulnerable both to small arms fire and damage from the explosions and debris from their own bombings.
Tanks In Front Of Headquarters
In real life, military headquarters maintain as much anonymity as possible so as not to give up their location to the enemy.
They would never park a tank in front of it.
There was never an 116 Infantry Division in the German army during the Second War World.
They did have an 116 Panzer Division, though, formed in 1944 from the remains of the 16 Panzergrenadier Division.
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