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Battle Of Stalingrad

Battle Of Stalingrad

Failures Of Operation Typhoon : Operation Barbarossa

Battle Of Stalingrad The Battle of Stalingrad remains as one of the most infamous battles in the Second World War. By the spring of 1942, the German army was in the position to launch another assault pushing deeper into Soviet ground. While Joseph Stalin believed that the brunt of the attack would be directed towards Moscow. Hitler decided to target the more southern city of Stalingrad. Due to its significance in propaganda and optimal access to the Caucasus oil fields.

German infantry and a supporting StuG III assault gun during the battle

Historians estimate that the Germans had 270,000 men, supported by 3,000 artillery. In addition 500 tanks, and 600 aircraft in the initial phase of the attack on Stalingrad.

German infantry in position for an attack.

The German air force would play a crucial role in the opening stages of the battle. The Luftwaffe would severely bomb the city. The Germans reduced Stalingrad’s infrastructure to rubble. 

Smoke over the city center after aerial bombing by the German Luftwaffe on the central station

The Soviet defenders numbered to 190,000 personnel, 2,200 artillery, 400 tanks, and 300 aircraft. Moreover, the Soviets were vastly outnumbered at the beginning of the battle. Although the Russians were initially outnumbered, by the end of the five month battle the numbers would be balanced. By November of 1942, Society forces numbered 1,143,000 men compared to the now 1,040,000 men strong Axis force. By then, Axis forces were composed of hundreds of thousands of Italian, Hungarian, and Romanians.

The Beginning

Soviets defending a position.

The attack began on the 28th of June, 1942. At first, the German Army Group South made huge advances. The Germans encircled and destroyed pocket after pocket of Russian forces. This allowed for the German 6th army to reach the outskirts of Stalingrad by the end of August. 

The Luftwaffe cut shipping lines to the city and began to bomb the city. The Luftwaffe caused devastating amounts of damage and killed tens of thousands of civilians.

Soviets preparing to ward off a German assault in Stalingrad’s suburbs

Moreover, the Soviets had an air force, they were no match more the superior Luftwaffe. And the Axis enjoyed air superiority for a majority of the initial fighting.

Realizing the severity of the situation, Stalin decided to pull troops all over the country to reinforce the defense at Stalingrad. Moreover, Stalin’s government forced anyone that could, to pick up a rifle and fight against the invasion. Furthermore, Russians civilians fought in the battle without guns due to supply shortages.

German soldiers clearing the streets in Stalingrad

Throughout September the fighting devolved into house to house skirmishes that devastated the city as well as the civilian population. Firstly, the Germans captured 90% of the city after three months of brutal urban warfare. The Germans devastated Soviet resistance within the city. Furthermore, the Soviet resistance that was left. Only existed in small hidden elements throughout the city.

Soviet Resistance

Soviet assault troops in the battle.

The Soviet counter attacks began during November of 1942, and targeted the weaker flanks of the Axis forces. Dubbed ‘Operation Uranus,’ the Red Army assaulted the poorly equipped Romanian army that was guarding the flank of the German 6th army occupying the city.

Commander-in-chief of the Don Front The Stalingrad Master General Konstantin Rokossovsky.
General Andrey Yeryomenko (right) with Nikita Khrushchev (left), Chief Commissar of the Stalingrad Front, December 1942.

Moreover, this proved highly successful, and the Red army was able to completely surround Stalingrad, trapping a quarter million Axis troops inside the city.

With winter approaching and supplies cut off, the situation for the German 6th army was looking desperate. The Germans decided to try and use their supply planes. The Germans thought that if they loaded all of their available Luftwaffe supply planes it might be enought?

But, it was unsuccessful due to the insane magnitude of supplies needed. The Germans needed to airlift in both supplies and soldiers for reinforcements. It was too great a load. And the Germans just didn’t have enough transport planes.

The End

Soviet soldiers running through trenches in the ruins of Stalingrad
Der Kampf in den Materiallagern

Over the next months, the Germans would slowly lose more and more ground to the Soviets through continued urban warfare. Moreover, the German pockets of resistance within the city were far outnumbered. Furthermore, the Germans were slowly crushed. The battle was officially over on February 2nd, 1943. 

In conclusion, the Germans lost three quarters of a million men in the battle, along with thousands of equipment and machinery that the German war machine could not replace. As a result of the battle the Soviets suffered the loss of over a million people, many of which were civilians.

German soldiers as prisoners of war. In the background is the heavily fought-over Stalingrad grain elevator.
Friedrich Paulus (left), with his chief of staff, Arthur Schmidt (centre) and his aide, Wilhelm Adam (right), after their surrender.

In conclusion, the German defeat at Stalingrad symbolized a turning point in the war. And this defeat meant that the Axis war machine would never be able to get their hands on the rich Russian oil fields that they desperately needed.

A Soviet soldier marches a German soldier into captivity.
The centre of Stalingrad after liberation.

Battle Of Stalingrad by Tony Cao