This war affected many areas. The main areas it affected were Germany and the Soviet Union.
Where did it happen? Map of Stalingrad
On June 22, 1941 Germany and the Axis powers invaded the Soviet Union. Having been defeated in many battles in 1941, the Soviets counterattacked the Battle of Moscow. The German forces were stopped on their way into the capital. Part of their philosophy was to attack where least expected so rapid gains could be made. An attack on Moscow was seen as to predictable by Hitler, the German leader. The U.S. entered the war following Germany’s declaration of war in support of its Japanese Ally. Hitler wanted to end or slow down the fighting on the Eastern Front before the U.S. got too deeply involved in the war in Europe.
How did it start?
The capture of Stalingrad was important to Hitler for many reasons. One of them was that the city bore the name of Hitler’s nemesis, Joseph Stalin, which would make the city’s capture an ideological coup. Stalin soon recognized this and sent any strong man who could hold a rifle to war. Stalin also had an ideological way of defending the city which bore his name in honor of his defense of the Russian Civil War, but he was under tremendous constraints time and resources. At this stage the Red Army was less capable of highly mobile operations, and the prospect of combat inside a large urban area minimized the their disadvantages against the Germans.
Why was Stalingrad important?
The battle began with the bombing of the city by the Luftwaffe. Many died once the battle began. Many buildings survived and factory workers join the fighting.
Hitler wouldn’t allow any civilians leave the city. Civilians, including women and children, were forced to build trenches and other fortifications. Then a massive German air bombardment on August 23 caused a firestorm killing thousands. Eighty percent of the living space was destroyed.
In November, after three months of fighting the Germans finally reached the river banks and had captured 90% of then ruined city.
Beginning of the Battle Attack on a factory in Stalingrad.
During the siege, the German, Italian, Hungarian, and Romanian armies protecting the south's flanks had pressed their headquarters for support.
The Hungarian Second Army, consisting of mainly ill-equipped and ill-trained units, was given the task of defending a 200 km section of the front north of Stalingrad. This resulted in a very thin line of defense with some parts where 1–2 km stretches were being guarded by a single platoon.
Soviet forces held several points on the south bank of the river and presented a potentially serious threat to the south.
However, Hitler was so focused on the city itself that requests from the flanks for support were refused. The chief of the Army General Staff, Franz Halder, was replaced in mid-October by General Kurt Zeitzler.
The Germans in the pocket managed to get to the suburbs. They were running low on food and ammunition.
Therefore, it was essential for the Soviets to take advantage of this opportunity.
Hitler promoted Friedrich Paulus to General Field Marshall.
The Germans surrendered on February 2; 91,000 ill, tired, and starving soldiers were taken captive.
Only 5,000 of the 91,000 captive soldiers survived and returned home. (5%)
Soviet Victory Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus with his general staff.
The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the bloodiest battles in history. It was also one of the largest battles, lasting 199 days.
For the heroism of the Soviet defenders of Stalingrad, the city was awarded the title Hero City in 1945.
Legacy Aftermath of the Battle of Stalingrad.
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