During the battle of Stalingrad on 28th July 1942 the Russian High Command issued its famous order no. 227 " Not a step back ".
Later during the battle, General Yeremenko, Commander of the Stalingrad Front met Colonel Zholudev, commander of the 37th Guards Infantry Division ( which had about 10,000 soldiers ), and asked why the tractor factory in Stalingrad was lost to the Germans, thus apparently disobeying order 227.
Zholudev, with a dark grim face replied in a low voice : " Commander, the division performed its duty heroically, and without yielding an inch. Almost all our officers and men have perished.
Week after week we were attacked, first by hundreds of German airplanes dropping bombs, then by heavy artillery, then by wave after wave of hundreds of tanks and then tens of thousands of German infantrymen. Nobody retreated an inch "
Yeremenko realized that the order no. 227 had not really been disobeyed, and that the factory was lost only because almost all the 10,000 soldiers defending the area had perished while defending it. How could one accuse people who had died while doing their duty ?
He then said softly, and this time without making any accusation " Yes, the war is cruel, and the enemy merciless "