Battle of Stalingrad
|Date||1942 – 1943|
|Place||Stalingrad, present-day Volgograd, Russia.|
|Belligerents||Nazi Germany and allies vs. Soviet Union|
|Outcome||Victory of the Soviet Union.|
The Battle of Stalingrad was a warlike confrontation between Soviet and German troops for control of Stalingrad , present-day Volgograd, in what is now Russia. It began on August 23, 1942 and ended on February 2, 1943 , after the Germans surrendered to the armies of the Soviet Union .
In this battle they faced:
- The VI German Army : supported by troops sent by Italy, Romania, Croatia and Hungary.
- The Red Army : which defended the city of Stalingrad and its surroundings.
The Battle of Stalingrad was a turning point in World War II , as it stopped Nazi Germany’s offensive on Soviet territory and weakened the Axis forces . Thereafter the Soviets inflicted defeat after defeat on the Germans and pushed them out of their territory.
In 1967 the Soviet government built the monumental Statue of the Motherland in Volgograd, which is 85 meters high and commemorates those who fell in the Battle of Stalingrad.
Enhance your reading: 2nd industrial revolution inventions/characteristics/causes
Development of the Battle of Stalingrad
The German attack began on August 23, 1942 , with ground and air bombardments that destroyed a large part of the Stalingrad factories.
In mid-September the Germans reached the city center, a few blocks from the jetty on the Volga River. But the Soviets fought back with rocket batteries mounted on transport trucks and sent thousands upon thousands of rookie soldiers from the rear over the Germans.
The defenders also used hunters from the steppes as snipers. These accurate snipers had German officers as their preferred target.
Time and again the Germans stopped the Soviet attacks and counterattacked, but they were running out of ammunition and food and fuel supplies.
When winter came, the Soviets attacked from the north and south, crushing the Axis forces. Seeing themselves encircled, the Romanian and Hungarian troops fled to the west.
The Germans were encircled within Stalingrad without supplies due to harsh weather conditions. The exhausted German soldiers began to die of starvation and frostbite. The 6th Army commander, Friederich Wilhelm von Paulus , asked for permission to start negotiations with the enemy, but Hitler forbade him to surrender and suggested that he ultimately commit suicide.
On January 31, 1943 Paulus, disregarding the Führer’s directives, surrendered to the Soviets, who on February 2 regained control of the city.
Enhance your reading: Otomi religion/location/characteristics/clothing/language
Causes and consequences
The main causes of this armed confrontation were the following:
- Hitler’s desire to conquer a city that, since 1925, bore the name of the leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin.
- The need for Germany to control all access routes to the oil basin of the Caucasus region, in the hands of the Soviet Union. Germany required oil to ensure the supply of fuel for its armor, ships and planes.
- The fierce decision of the Soviets to defend the city and stop the German advance , which had been continuous since June 1941. Stalin and his high command were aware that if Stalingrad fell into German hands, the country would be left without access to the sea Negro, the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea.
The main consequences of this battle were the following:
- The Axis forces, despite concentrating a large number of forces, suffered a military catastrophe , in which they lost 740,000 men. For the first time in the war, Germany gave up the initiative and had to go on the defensive.
- The Soviets, despite having 1,200,000 casualties, won a strategic victory that prevented the Germans from crossing the Volga River and controlling all access routes to the Caucasian oil fields.
- The city of Stalingrad was devastated , as its buildings were destroyed and public services disabled.
- More than 2 million people died between military and civilians, registering in addition 660,000 wounded, in what was one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
- 90,000 Germans were taken prisoner and sent to concentration camps in Siberia. Forced to walk under the snow for thousands of kilometers, only 6,000 survived and were released ten years later.
- The victory of the Soviet Union raised the morale of the Allies and prompted them to resist and push back Germany.
- The German defeat plunged Hitler into a depression that forced him to take antidepressants and sleeping pills. Göring, the commander of the air force, fell from grace to Hitler for failing to fulfill his promise to supply the besieged forces by air.
- Stalin, who had excused himself from participating in the Casablanca Conference because of the outcome of the battle, was able to attend the Tehran Conference in a position of strength and make demands on his allies.