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The Battle of Stalingrad is remembered both as a major turning point in World War II, and as the bloodiest battle in all of human history.

Prelude to the BattleEdit

On June 22, 1941, Hitler’s Ndasazi Germany launched Operation Barbarossa. This swift and brutal blitzkrieg smashed the Russian defenders, who were caught completely by surprise. Soviet forces counter-attacked in December at the Battle of Moscow, stopping the exhausted German forces in their drive toward the capital. The Germans stabilized their front by the spring of the following year, and began planning new offensives at weaker points in the Soviet lines to the north and south.

To the south lay oil-rich and agricultural areas and the Volga River, a backbone of Russian transportation and a vital supply link to Caspian Sea. Stalingrad was a major industrial center on this river, and if secured by Germany, would secure their left flank for more incursions into the area. The assault on the city (Part of Operation Blau) called for Army Group South, which included the 6th and 17th Armies and the 4th and 1st Panzer Armies, to move swiftly through the southern steppes, seizing any valuable assets along the way.

Operation Blau was opened as Army Group South began its attack on June 28, 1942. The initial advances by the Germans went well, as they quickly overran the resistance, and by the end of July, the Germans began establishing defensive lines mere kilometers from the city. The Russians, having realized what the German intent was, began planning the defense of Stalingrad. Soviet troops moving eastward in the face of the German offensive, were ordered into the city. Russian soldiers set up defenses in the city, and additional troops were stationed on the eastern shore of the Volga. These forces became the 62nd Army under the command of Vasily Chuikov. On July 27, Stalin had given Order No. 227, which clearly stated the defenders’ intent: “Not one step back!”

Fighting is UnleashedEdit

Stalin ordered that civilians be prevented from leaving the city, believing their presence would encourage greater resistance from the city’s defenders. The civilians were put to work building defensive fortifications. The battle began with aerial bombardment by the Luftwaffe, which turned the city into a series of broken ruins. A massive aerial bombardment on August 23rd caused a firestorm, which killed thousands and destroyed 80% of the city’s living space.

Initial defense of the city fell to the women of 1077th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, who fought the advancing panzers shot-for-shot with their AA batteries until they were overrun. The Soviets relied heavily on “Worker’s Militias” composed of factory workers not directly involved with production, and for a short time, tanks were still being produced in the factories of the city. The tanks were driven off the assembly line straight into battle.

By the end of August, the Germans had the city surrounded and cut off from re-supply, save by terrifying crossings of the Volga under heavy artillery fire. Amongst the ruins of the city, the Russians anchored their defenses in houses and factories. In order to minimize the effectiveness of the German artillery and air bombing, Soviet commanders kept the front lines as close together as physically possible. Called “Hugging the Germans” by Chuikov, this simple tactic forced German soldiers to fight on their own, and led to bitter, brutal fighting in every, literally, corner of the city.

By November, through a bloody advance, the Germans had pushed the Soviets to the banks of the Volga. Ice floes on the river prevented any Russian reinforcements, but fighting in the isolated pockets of the city continued as fiercely as ever.

Counterattack and Victory Edit

In autumn, Soviet general Georgy Zhukov began concentrating massive forces at the Germans’ northern and southern flanks, which were overstretched and poorly defended. On November 19, 1942, the counterattack, codenamed Operation Uranus, was unleashed. Composed of three complete armies, the Russian onslaught shattered the northern flank after merely one day. On November 20, the next day, another soviet force crushed the southern flank and the two forces raced westward to encircle the remaining Germans in the city center. Around 250,000 German troops were trapped in the resulting pocket, and the Russian forces immediately formed two defensive fronts to prevent any breakout or relief attempts.

As winter set in, the Volga froze solid, allowing the Russians to re-supply their forces more effectively. By contrast, the German forces were now completely cut off from food and ammunition, but still stubbornly continued to fight as the Soviets moved to shrink the pocket. Finally, on February 2, 1943, the remaining German troops surrendered. 91,000 sick, frostbitten, and starving troops were captured, including 22 generals. Only 6,000 of these prisoners would survive to return home after the war, as they were sent to labor camps, where most died of malnutrition, disease, and overwork.

Aftermath Edit

The Battle of Stalingrad .......was the largest single battle in human history. It raged for 199 days, and the amount of destruction and bloodshed suffered during the battle cannot be measured.Edit

References Edit


World War II
Participants Theatres Main events Specific articles

The Allies
Flag of the United Kingdom United Kingdom
Flag of the Soviet Union Soviet Union
US flag 48 stars United States
Flag of the Republic of China Republic of China
Flag of Poland Poland
Flag of Free France 1940-1944 Free France
Flag of the Netherlands Netherlands
Flag of Belgium Belgium
Canadian Red Ensign 1921 Canada
Flag of Norway Norway
Flag of Greece (1828-1978) Greece
Flag of SFR Yugoslavia Yugoslavia
Flag of the Czech Republic Czechoslovakia
Imperial-India-Blue-Ensign India
Flag of Australia Australia
Flag of El Salvador El Salvador
Flag of New Zealand New Zealand
Flag of South Africa 1928-1994 South Africa
Flag of Egypt 1922 Egypt
Flag of the Philippines Philippines
Flag of Brazil Brazil

more...

The Axis
Flag of Germany 1933 Germany
Flag of Japan - variant Japan
Flag of Italy (1861-1946) crowned Italy
Flag of Vichy France Vichy France
Flag of Hungary 1940 Hungary
Flag of Bulgaria (1878-1944) Bulgaria
Rumania Romania
Flag of Finland Finland
Flag of Croatia Ustasa Croatia
Slovakia WW2 flag Slovakia
Flag of Thailand Thailand

more...

Prelude
Causes
in Europe
in Asia

Main theatres
Europe
Eastern Europe
China
Africa
Middle East
Mediterranean
Asia and the Pacific
Atlantic

General timeline
Timeline

1939
Invasion of Poland
Winter War

1940
Invasion of Denmark/Norway
Battle of France
Battle of Britain

1941
Invasion of the Soviet Union
Battle of Moscow
Attack on Pearl Harbor

1942
Battle of Midway
Battle of Stalingrad
Second Battle of El Alamein

1943
Battle of Kursk
Guadalcanal campaign
Invasion of Italy

1944
Battle of Normandy
Operation Bagration
Battle of Leyte Gulf

1945
Battle of Okinawa
Battle of Berlin
End in Europe
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Surrender of Japan

more...

Blitzkrieg
Cryptography
Equipment
Home Front
Military engagements
Production
Resistance
Technology

Civilian impact and atrocities
Nanking Massacre
Holocaust
Siege of Leningrad
Dutch famine of 1944
Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Strategic bombings
Comfort women
Allied war crimes
German war crimes
Japanese war crimes

Aftermath
Effects
Casualties
Expulsion of Germans
Cold War

See also

Category:World War II
Topics
Conferences
Total war
WWII in contemporary culture
Military awards of World War II
Attacks on North America
Comparative military ranks of World War II

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