Battle of Stalingrad | World War II

Battle of Stalingrad | World War II

Overview

The Battle of Stalingrad pitted Germany and its allies against the Soviet Union for control of the southern Russian city of Stalingrad. It is one of the bloodiest engagements in the history of warfare, with an estimated 2 million overall losses. It is marked by fierce close-quarters combat and direct assaults on people in airstrikes. The German High Command was forced to remove significant military forces from other theatres of war after their defeat at Stalingrad.

Using the 6th Army and portions of the 4th Panzer Army, the German offensive to conquer Stalingrad, a key industrial and transport hub on the Volga River that assured Soviet access to the Caucasus oil wells, began in August 1942. The attack was aided by heavy Luftwaffe bombardment, which turned much of the city into smouldering ruins. As both sides rushed reinforcements into the city, the war devolved into house-to-house fighting. At the enormous expense, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back into tight zones along the river's west bank by mid-November.

The Red Army launched Operation Uranus on 19 November, a two-pronged attack against the weaker Romanian forces covering the 6th Army's flanks. The Axis flanks were overrun in the Stalingrad area, and the 6th Army was cut off and besieged. Adolf Hitler was adamant about keeping the city under his control and barred the 6th Army from attempting a breakout. Instead, attempts were undertaken to supply it by air and breach the encirclement from the outside. For another two months, heavy warfare raged. Finally, after five months, one week, and three days of conflict, the Axis forces in Stalingrad surrendered in early February 1943, depleting their ammunition and food.

Background

Despite Operation Barbarossa's inability to defeat the Soviet Union in a single campaign, the Wehrmacht had taken enormous swaths of land by the spring of 1942, including Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic countries. Moreover, the capture of Stalingrad would make it much more difficult for Lend-Lease supplies to be delivered via the Persian Corridor.

Hitler updated the operational objectives for the 1942 war on 23 July 1942, considerably increasing them to include the occupation of Stalingrad. Because Stalingrad's population was totally communist and particularly dangerous, Hitler declared that following its liberation, all male citizens would be slaughtered, and all women and children would be deported. The city's loss was thought to secure the German soldiers' northern and western flanks as they marched on Baku to obtain the city's essential petroleum resources for Germany. Due to German overconfidence and an overestimate of Soviet reserves, the extension of goals was a crucial element in Germany's loss at Stalingrad. The Soviets realised they were dangerous and ordered everyone who could hold a firearm into battle. 

Prelude

Army Group South was chosen to lead a charge through the southern Russian steppes into the Caucasus to seize the region's crucial Soviet oil reserves. Army Group South (A), commanded by Wilhelm List, continued moving south with the 17th Army and First Panzer Army, as planned, towards the Caucasus. The 6th Army under Friedrich Paulus and the 4th Panzer Army of Hermann Hoth were deployed east towards the Volga and Stalingrad as part of Army Group South (B). Blau's fall was delayed several times due to delays in concluding the siege, and the city did not fall until early July.

The Germans' Operation Fridericus I against the "Isium bulge" in the Second Battle of Kharkov cut off the Soviet salient, resulting in the encirclement of a significant Soviet force between 17 and 29 May. On 13 June, Operation Wilhelm attacked Voltshansk, and on 22 June, Operation Fridericus attacked Kupiansk. On 28 June 1942, Blau was ultimately activated when Army Group South launched an offensive into southern Russia. In the meantime, the Hungarian 2nd Army and the German 4th Panzer Army attacked Voronezh on 5 July, taking the city.

Because the 6th Army's initial assault was so successful, Hitler interfered and ordered the 4th Panzer Army to intersection Army Group South (A) to the south. Official German communiques occasionally referenced Italian activity. The Germans had a low opinion of Italian forces and accused them of having low morale. According to a German liaison officer, the Italian divisions fought comparably well, with the 3rd Mountain Infantry Division Ravenna and the 5th Infantry Division Cosseria exhibiting spirit. According to German historian Rolf-Dieter Müller, the Italians were forced to flee only after a solid armoured onslaught in which German reinforcements failed to arrive in time.

The Germans met extreme resistance from a Soviet bridgehead west of Kalach on 25 July. The 4th Panzer Army had turned northwards to help seize the city from the south after being ordered south on 13 July to block the Soviet retreat hindered by the 17th Army and the 1st Panzer Army. Army Group A, to the south, was moving deep into the Caucasus, but their progress halted as supply routes became overburdened.

Orders of Battle

By 19 November, the Red Army started Operation Uranus, a two-pronged assault against Romania's inferior troops.

Red Army

The Red Army deployed five armies in and around Stalingrad during the city's defence (the 28th, 51st, 57th, 62nd, and 64th Armies), as well as nine militaries in the grip counterattack (24th, 65th, 66th Armies and 16th Air Army from the north as portion of the Don Front attacking, and 1st Guards Army, 5th Tank, 21st Army, 2nd Air Army and 17th Air Army from the south as portion of the Southwestern Front).

Axis

The Axis ordered of combat at Stalingrad is a list of the significant ground units that battled on the side of the Axis Powers in the Battle of Stalingrad from September 1942 to February 1943. Aside from the German Wehrmacht's twenty divisions, eighteen Romanian divisions fought on the Axis side.

Attack on Stalingrad

Initial Attack

According to David Glantz, the Kotluban Operations, a series of four hard-fought skirmishes north of Stalingrad where the Soviets made their most excellent stand, decided Germany's fate before the Nazis even stepped foot in the city, and were a turning point in the war. To us, Stalingrad was nothing more than a name on a map at first.

The Soviets had enough notice of the German approach to transport grain, cattle, and railway wagons across the Volga, but Stalin refused to evacuate the 400,000 civilians of Stalingrad. The Luftwaffe quickly destroyed regular river ferries, then turned to troopships being hauled slowly across by tugs. According to legend, Stalin forbade residents from leaving the city because he believed their presence would fuel more excellent resistance from the defenders. The civilian populace, including women and children, were assigned to constructing trenches and defensive constructions. According to Soviet statistics, 955 persons were killed, and 1,181 were injured due to the attack between 23 August and 26 August. The 40,000 casualties were significantly overstated, and the Soviets did not register any civilian or military casualties due to air raids after 25 August.

The Luftwaffe swept the Soviet Air Force, the Voyenno-Vozdushnye Sily (VVS). Between 23 August and 31 August, the VVS bases in the nearby vicinity lost 201 aircraft, leaving it with only 192 operable aircraft, 57 of which were fighters, despite meagre reinforcements of about 100 aircraft in August. Late in September, the Soviets continued to stream airborne reinforcements into the Stalingrad area, but they suffered terrible losses. The 16th Panzer was astounded to learn that it had been battling female soldiers due to Soviet personnel limitations. In addition, the NKVD organised poorly armed "Workers' militias" identical to those that had defended the city twenty-four years before, formed of civilians not directly involved in war production for immediate use in the struggle, in the early stages of the battle. On 2 September, the wings of the 6th Army and the 4th Panzer Army met near Jablotchni along the Zaritza. By 1 September, the Soviets could only replenish and feed their forces in Stalingrad via risky Volga crossings under constant artillery and aircraft bombardment.

September City Battles

The Soviet 24th and 66th Armies launched a strong offensive against the XIV Panzer Corps on 5 September. Thirty of the Soviets' 120 tanks were destroyed by the air strike. The Luftwaffe frequently impeded Soviet efforts. The 24th Army and Soviet 1st Guards launched an offensive against the VIII Army Corps in Kotluban on 18 September. Stukas were responsible for 41 of the 106 Soviet tanks destroyed that morning, while accompanying Bf 109s destroyed 77 Soviet planes. The Soviet 62nd and 64th Militaries, which comprised the Soviet 13th Guards Rifle Division, anchored their defence lines with solid points in residences and factories amid the city's wreckage.

Battle was fierce and desperate within the devastated city. Lieutenant General Alexander Rodimtsev, in charge of the 13th Guards Rifle Division, was awarded one of two Soviet Union Heroes for his actions during the conflict. All commanders who ordered unauthorised departures would face a military prosecution, according to General Order 227 of 27 July 1942. After fighting, deserters and suspected malingerers were arrested or executed. The 62nd Army had the maximum captures and executions throughout the battle: 203 in all, with 49 executed and 139 transferred to prison companies and battalions. The Germans who advanced into Stalingrad took a lot of fatalities.

The Soviet 62nd Army had been condensed to 90 tanks, 700 mortars, and only 20,000 men when they retreated into the city on 12 September. The remaining tanks were employed as stationary strongholds across the city. Paulus picked the grain elevator and silos as the symbol of Stalingrad for a patch he was having printed to commemorate the war after a German victory. The Soviet 13th Guards Rifle Division, designated to counterattack at the Mamayev Kurgan and Railway Station No.

In another area of town, a Soviet squad led by Sergeant Yakov Pavlov reinforced Pavlov's House, a four-story structure that oversaw a space 300 meters from the river bank.

Strategy and Tactics

The "sinister" message from the Stalingrad Front's Political Department on 8 October 1942, "The self-defeating mood is almost completely eradicated, and the number of disloyal occurrences is going lower," was an example of the type of coercion Red Army soldiers faced under the Special Detachments, later renamed SMERSH, according to British historian Antony Beevor. On the other hand, Beevor underlined the Soviet soldiers' frequently amazing gallantry in a conflict that was only equivalent to Verdun and claimed that panic alone could not account for such self-sacrifice.

Richard Overy discusses the relative importance of the Red Army's coercive tactics to the Soviet war effort vs other motivational elements like hatred for the enemy. They shared all of the burdens of battle life with men, accompanying us to Berlin. Seventy-five thousand women and girls from the Stalingrad area had completed military or medical training and were ready to fight at the start of the battle. Women operated many anti-aircraft batteries that engaged the Luftwaffe and German tanks. Nurses from the Soviet Union not only treated wounded soldiers while under fire, but they also assisted in the risky task of transporting wounded soldiers back to hospitals while under enemy fire. When their command stations came under fire, many Soviet wireless and telephone operators were women who sustained terrible casualties.

Many Soviet women served as machine gunners, mortar operators, and scouts, even though women were not typically trained as infantry. Women also used snipers at Stalingrad. At Stalingrad, three air regiments were entirely made up of women. While driving tanks at Stalingrad, at least three women were awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Stalingrad became a stuff of respect for Stalin and Hitler, far beyond its strategic relevance. The Soviet command dispatched aircraft from all across the country to the Stalingrad region. It moved units from the Red Army strategic reserve in the Moscow area to the lower Volga.

Both military chiefs were under a lot of pressure. Chuikov had an outbreak of eczema that necessitated him to have his hands bandaged, while Paulus had an uncontrollable tic in his eye that spread to the left side of his face.

Fighting in the Industrial District

The 14th Panzer and 305th Infantry Divisions spearheaded the direct assault on the tractor factory. At the similar time, the 24th Panzer Division led another assault on the massive facility to the south. As a result, major General Viktor Zholudev's 37th Guards Rifle Division was crushed, and the forward assault group reached the tractor plant in the afternoon before arriving at the Volga River, cutting the 62nd Army in two. In reaction to the German breakthrough on the Volga, the front command assigned three battalions from the 300th Rifle Division and Colonel Vasily Sokolov's 45th Rifle Division to the combat at the Red October Factory, totalling over 2,000 men.

Till the end of October, fighting occurred within the Barrikady Factory. After that, the Soviet-controlled region got more minor to a few strips of land along the Volga's western bank in November, and the fighting centred around "Lyudnikov's Island," a minor patch of ground behindhand the Barrikady Factory where the remnants of Colonel Ivan Lyudnikov's 138th Rifle Division tried to resist all fierce German assaults and became a symbol of the tenacious Soviet defence of Stalingrad.

Air Attacks

It carried out 9,746 missions between 16 September and 25 September. On 5 October, Luftflotte 4's Stukawaffe performed 900 individual tasks against Soviet positions at the Stalingrad Tractor Factory, determined to destroy Soviet resistance. The Soviet 339th Infantry Regiment's entire staff was slain during an air raid.

The Luftwaffe maintained air superiority until November, and Soviet daytime aerial resistance was non-existent. On 14 October, Luftflotte 4 launched 1,250 sorties and dropped 550 tonnes of bombs while German soldiers surrounded the three plants. Stukageschwader 1, 2, and 77 had completely quiet Soviet weaponry on the Volga's eastern bank before focusing on the shipping that was once again attempting to reinforce the Soviet pockets of resistance. Over 1,208 Stuka assignments were flown in an attempt to remove the Soviets, who were confined to a 1-kilometre stretch of territory on the Volga's western bank.

The Soviet bomber force, Aviatsiya Dal'nego Deystviya, and the German air arm were spread thin across Europe, struggling to preserve their strength in the southern sections of the Soviet-German front. According to historian Chris Bellamy, the Germans paid a significant strategic price for the planes sent into Stalingrad. The Luftwaffe had to move a substantial portion of its air force away from the oil-rich Caucasus, which had been Hitler's original grand-strategic goal. At Stalingrad, the Royal Romanian Air Force also participated in Axis air operations.

Germans Reach the Volga

The Germans ultimately got the river banks after three months of hard progress, capturing 90% of the devastated city and dividing the surviving Soviet soldiers into two tiny pockets. The Volga was now blocked by ice floes, preventing boats and tugs from supplying the Soviet defences. Despite this, fighting continued, particularly on the slopes of Mamayev Kurgan and within the factory sector in the city's northern reaches. As a result, the German 6th Army lost 60,548 men between 21 August and 20 November, including 12,782 killed, 45,545 wounded, and 2,221 missing.

Soviet Counteroffensives

Recognising that German soldiers were unprepared for offensive operations in the winter of 1942 and that most of them had been redeployed elsewhere on the Eastern Front's southern sector, the Stavka chose to launch a series of offensive actions between November 1942 and February 1943.

Weakness on the German Flanks

The German and allied Italian, Hungarian, and Romanian troops guarding Army Group B's north and south flanks had urged their headquarters for assistance during the siege. The Hungarian 2nd Army was tasked with defending a 200-kilometre stretch of the front line between Stalingrad and Voronezh, north of Stalingrad. In retrospect, these bridgeheads posed a severe threat to Army Group B.

Similarly, only the Romanian 4th Army controlled the front southwest of Kotelnikovo on the southern flank of the Stalingrad region. "There is still the directive that no commander of an army group or army has the power to relinquish a settlement, even a trench, without Hitler's agreement," Paulus told Adam.

Operation Uranus: the Soviet offensive

The aim was to cut through the German flanks, which were overstretched and poorly defended, and surround the German forces in the Stalingrad region.

During the attack's preparations, Marshal Zhukov personally visited the front and demanded a one-week postponement in the planned attack's start date, seeing the lack of organisation. As a result, the mission was code-named "Uranus" and was carried out in tandem with Army Group Center's Operation Mars. The 5th Tank Army, 1st Guards Army, and 21st Army were composed of 18 infantry divisions, eight tank groups, two motorised teams, six cavalry divisions, and one anti-tank brigade, for a total of 18 infantry divisions, eight tank groups, two motorised brigades, six cavalry divisions, and one anti-tank brigade. The Romanian 3rd Army, which maintained the northern flank of the German 6th Army, was overrun because it was thinly dispersed, positioned in exposed locations, outmanned, and insufficiently equipped.

No preparations had been taken behind the front lines to defend vital areas in the rear, such as Kalach. As a result, it failed to relieve the 6th Army. On 20 November, a second Soviet onslaught was started south of Stalingrad against the Romanian 4th Army Corps' positions.

Sixth Army Surrounded

Hiwi was frequently dependable Axis personnel in the back areas and was utilised for supporting tasks, but as their numbers grew, they were also used in some front-line units. According to strength breakdowns of the Sixth Army's 20 field divisions (average size 9,000) and 100 battalion-sized formations on 19 November 1942, German personnel in the pocket totalled around 210,000. The 298th and 62nd Infantry Divisions of the 6th Army between the Italian and Romanian forces were primarily responsible for these. Only 10,000 Germans survived the war; 105,000 surrendered, 35,000 fled by air, and the remaining 60,000 were killed.

Despite the 6th Army's dire state, Army Group A resumed their invasion of the Caucasus further south from 19 November to 19 December. However, Army Group A was only instructed to leave the Caucasus on 23 December to prevent becoming stranded there. As a result, Army Group A was never called upon to assist in the relief of the Sixth Army.

Field Marshal von Manstein established Army Group Don. Field Marshal Erich von Manstein advised Hitler against ordering the 6th Army to break out, claiming he could burst through Soviet lines and relieve the trapped 6th Army. According to American historians Williamson Murray and Alan Millet, the Sixth Army's destiny were sealed by Manstein's communication to Hitler on 24 November, instructing him not to break out, and Göring's assertions that the Luftwaffe could supply Stalingrad. Manstein said after 1945 that he told Hitler that the 6th Army needed to break out. However, according to American historian Gerhard Weinberg, Manstein allegedly lied about his record on the subject. Manstein led Mission Winter Storm, a relief operation against Stalingrad that he believed could be accomplished if the 6th Army was temporarily supplied by air.

On 30 September 1942, Adolf Hitler pledged that the German Army never leave the city in a public speech. After persuading Hans Jeschonnek, Göring told Hitler that the Luftwaffe might provide an "air bridge" to the 6th Army. The 6th Army's forces were nearly twice as large as a conventional German army unit, and a corps of the 4th Panzer Military was trapped in the pocket. The Luftwaffe could only transport 105 tonnes of supplies per day at Pitomnik due to a restricted number of available aircraft and only one operational airstrip, a fraction of the 750 tonnes Paulus and Zeitzler believed the 6th Army needed. The Germans put additional aircraft into service, such as the Heinkel He 177 bomber, to replace the limited number of Junkers Ju 52 means of transport. He recognised the high moral cost of surrendering Stalingrad, but he believed it might be mitigated by retaining the Sixth Army's combat power and reclaiming the initiative. He overlooked the Army's limited mobility and the difficulty in disengaging the Soviets. Hitler stated that the Sixth Army would remain at Stalingrad and that the air bridge would supply it until a new German onslaught broke the encirclement.

Every day, it took 700 tons of supplies to feed the 270,000 soldiers besieged in the "cauldron." Winter weather, mechanical difficulties, intense Soviet anti-aircraft fire, and fighter interceptions contributed to the loss of 488 German planes. Despite the German offensive's failure to reach the 6th Army, the air supply mission proceeded under increasingly severe conditions.

End of the Battle

Operation Winter Storm

Manstein's rescue plan for the Sixth Army's Operation Winter Storm was devised in close collaboration with Führer HQ. Its goal was to break through to the Sixth Army and construct a supply and reinforcement corridor so that, as Hitler had ordered, it could preserve its "cornerstone" position on the Volga for operations in 1943. Manstein, however, knowing that the Sixth Army would not be able to endure the winter there, ordered his headquarters to devise a new strategy if Hitler came to his senses. If the first phase is successful, this will entail the following escape of the Sixth Army and its actual reincorporation into Army Group Don. One thrust would come from the vicinity of Kotelnikovo, about a hundred miles to the south of the Sixth Army.

Only the LVII Panzer Corps, supported by the rest of Hoth's very diverse Fourth Panzer Army, was left to relieve Paulus's besieged troops at Kotelnikovo. The enemy, meanwhile, was already attacking the station with battle cries of "Urrah." The German Army had advanced to within 48 kilometres of the Sixth Army's fortifications by 18 December. Nevertheless, Paulus refused, citing concerns about Red Army attacks on the flanks of Military Group Don and Military Group B in their advance on Rostov-on-Don, the fact that an early abandonment of Stalingrad would destroy Army Group A in the Caucasus, and the fact that his 6th Army tanks only had enough fuel for a 30 km advance towards Hoth's spearhead, a futile effort unless they were assured of air resupply. "Wait, only implement Operation 'Thunderclap' on clear orders!" Army Group Don told Paulus in response to his queries.

Operation Little Saturn

The Soviets started Operation Little Saturn on 16 December, attempting to break through the Axis forces on the Don and capture Rostov-on-Don. The Italian Cosseria and Ravenna Divisions were attacked by 15 divisions supported by at least 100 tanks from the Soviet bridgehead at Mamon. Despite being outmanned 9 to 1, the Italians fought well at first, with the Germans praising the quality of the Italian defenders. Still, on 19 December, with the Italian lines disintegrating, ARMIR headquarters ordered the battered divisions to withdraw to new lines.

The battle required a complete reassessment of Germany's status. The 6th Army, however, remained to tie down a considerable number of Soviet armies in its defensive position on the Volga. As a result, the attempt to liberate Stalingrad was abandoned on 23 December, and Manstein's forces went on the defensive to deal with additional Soviet offensives. "The army and political leadership of Nazi Germany desired not to relieve them, but to keep them fighting for as long as possible to tie up Soviet forces," Zhukov writes.

Soviet Victory

Major Aleksandr Smyslov, Captain Nikolay Dyatlenko, and a trumpeter were members of a low-level Soviet envoy mission that brought Paulus substantial capitulation terms. If he surrendered within 24 hours, all captives would be secure, medical care for the sick and wounded would be provided, prisoners would be permitted to keep their things, standard food rations would be provided, and they would be repatriated to whatever country they desired after the war. Paulus asked permission to surrender, but Hitler flatly refused his plea. As a result, Paulus remained silent. Each day that the Army holds out longer strengthens the entire front and draws the Russian divisions away. Finally, the German High Command informed Paulus.

The Germans in the pocket fled from Stalingrad's outskirts to the city proper. The Soviets did not use tanks in regions where urban devastation limited their mobility. On 22 January, Rokossovsky offered Paulus another chance to surrender. Hitler told Goebbels that the 6th Army's predicament was a heroic drama in German history. On 24 January, Paulus reported 18,000 wounded to Hitler over the radio, with no bandages or medications. The German soldiers in Stalingrad were separated into two pockets on 26 January 1943, north and south of Mamayev-Kurgan. Amid 40,000 and 50,000 people were sick or wounded.

On the tenth anniversary of Hitler's rise to power, Goebbels read a proclamation that included the phrase, "The heroic battle of our troops on the Volga should be a reminder for everyone to do everything possible for the struggle for Germany's freedom and the future of our people, and thus in a broader sense for the maintenance of our entire continent." Paulus warned Hitler that his forces would most certainly fall apart before the end of the day. When Hitler decided to promote Paulus, he noted that no German or Prussian field marshal had ever surrendered. Soviet soldiers reached the entryway to the German headquarters in the damaged GUM department store. Paulus maintained that he had not resigned when questioned by the Soviets. He denied being the commander of Stalingrad's final northern pocket and refused to issue an order for them to surrender under his name.

Although no camera operator was present to shoot Paulus' capture, one of them recorded his initial interrogation the same day, at Shumilov's 64th Army's headquarters, then a few hours later Rokossovsky's Don Front headquarters.

The centre enclave, led by Heitz, surrendered on the same day, while the northern pocket, led by General Karl Strecker, held out for two days longer. Four Soviet troops defended the north pocket.

Casualties

The number of casualties is calculated based on the scope of the Battle of Stalingrad. From the spring of 1942 to the last of the battle in the city in the winter of 1943, the content can range from fighting in the city and suburbs to nearly all fighting on the southerly wing of the Soviet-German front. Scholars have come up with various estimations based on how they define the scope of the conflict. Across all branches of the German armed forces and allies, the Axis lost 647,300-968,374 total casualties (killed, wounded, or captured):

  • Between 21 August and the end of the battle, the 6th Army lost 282,606 men; between 1 December 1942 and the end of the fight, the Army Group Don lost 55,260 men. Walsh estimates that the 6th Army and 4th Panzer division lost over 300,000 men; amid late June 1942 and February 1943, over-all German wounded were over 600,000. According to Louis A. DiMarco, the Germans suffered 400,000 overall losses in this combat.
  • Conferring to Frieser et al., 109,000 Romanians were killed, captured, or disappeared between November 1942 and December 1942. Between December 1942 and February 1943, 114,000 Italians and 105,000 Hungarians were killed, injured, or captured.
  • As per Stephen Walsh, there were 158,854 Romanians killed and 143,000 Hungarians killed. The number of Soviet POWs who defected, known as Hiwis or Hilfswillige, ranges from 19,300 to 52,000.

235,000 German and allied personnel were taken from all units during the conflict, including Manstein's doomed relief force. In addition, 900 aircraft, including 274 means of transport and 165 bombers deployed as transports, 500 tanks, and 6,000 artillery pieces were lost by the Germans. The Soviets took 5,762 cannons, 1,312 mortars, 12,701 heavy machine guns, 156,987 rifles, 80,438 submachine guns, 10,722 trucks, 744 planes, 1,666 tanks, 261 other armoured vehicles, 571 half-tracks, and 10,679 motorcyclists, according to a contemporary Soviet account. A large amount of Hungarian, Italian, and Romanian equipment was also lost.

However, the Romanian tanks' location is known. The 1st Romanian Armoured Division had 121 R-2 light tanks and 19 German-made tanks before Operation Uranus. On the other hand, Romanian armoured warfare proved to be a tactical triumph, with the Romanians destroying 127 Soviet tanks for the cost of 100 lost units. On 20 November, Romanian forces destroyed 62 Soviet tanks at the expense of 25 Romanian tanks, followed by 65 more Soviet vehicles for 10 Romanian tanks on 22 November. As they overran Romanian airfields, more Soviet tanks were destroyed.

Luftwaffe Losses

The loss of cargo planes was particularly devastating, as it crippled the 6th Army's ability to supply itself. When the airfield at Tatsinskaya was overrun, 72 aircraft were destroyed, accounting for nearly 10% of the Luftwaffe transport force. Because of these losses, the Luftwaffe training program was halted, and forays in other theatres of war were drastically cut to save fuel for use at Stalingrad.

Aftermath

Though optimistic media stories had stopped in the weeks leading up to the announcement, the German people was not publicly informed of the looming calamity until the end of January 1943. The Nazi government openly recognized a failure in its war effort for the first time at Stalingrad. On 31 January, regular programming on German state radio was substituted by a broadcast of Anton Bruckner's Seventh Symphony's solemn Adagio movement, followed by the news of Stalingrad's defeat. Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels delivered the famous Sportpalast address in Berlin on 18 February, persuading Germans to take a total war that would consume all resources and efforts from the entire population.

According to Soviet archives, around 11,000 German soldiers resisted in small groups throughout the city for the next month. Some have speculated that the conviction that drove them to continue fighting was preferable to dying slowly in Soviet captivity. Almost every letter professed faith in Germany's ultimate victory and determination to fight and die at Stalingrad to achieve it. Many of the soldiers, according to Bartov, were fully aware that they would not be able to flee Stalingrad but boasted in their letters to their families about how glad they were to sacrifice themselves for the Führer.

The eradication of counter-revolutionary groups in Stalingrad continued. The brigade's parts killed 2,418 soldiers and officers and captured 8,646 soldiers and officers during the armed struggle with the Germans, taking them to POW camps and handing them over.

Only approximately 5,000 of the almost 91,000 German captives captured in Stalingrad returned. They were sent on foot walks to prisoner camps and eventually to labour camps all over the Soviet Union, weakened by sickness, malnutrition, and a lack of medical attention during the encirclement. During the Nuremberg Trials, Paulus testified for the prosecution, assuring German families that the troops captured at Stalingrad were harmless. He remained in the Soviet Union till 1952, then moved to Dresden, East Germany, where he expended the rest of his days justifying his conduct at Stalingrad and was quoted as declaring that Communism was Europe's best hope after WWII. The Soviets refused General Walther von Seydlitz-offer Kurzbach's to assemble an anti-Hitler army from the survivors of Stalingrad.

Significance

Stalingrad has been considered the German Army's most significant defeat in history. It is broadly stared as a watershed moment on the Eastern Front in the war against Germany and the Second World War. The Red Army was on the offensive while the Wehrmacht was retreating. Germany's Sixth Army had disbanded, and Germany's European allies, except for Finland, had been broken. Hitler blamed Stalingrad for Germany's approaching destiny in a speech on 9 November 1944. The Battle of El Alamein had been gained by the British in November 1942 at this point. Stalin was selected Marshal of the Soviet Union and hailed as the hero of the hour.

The battle's news reverberated worldwide, and many people now believe Hitler's fall was unavoidable. According to the Turkish Consul in Moscow, the Germans' areas as their living zone will eventually become their dying space. According to the Daily Telegraph, conservatives in the United Kingdom The victory had rescued European civilisation. On 23 February 1943, the country commemorated "Red Army Day." After being displayed in public in the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill handed it to Stalin during the Tehran Conference in 1943. Soviet propaganda wasted little time capitalising on the victory and captivating a worldwide audience.

Commemoration

Stalingrad was given Hero City in 1945 in honour of its defenders' tenacity. On Mamayev Kurgan, the hill above the city where bones and rusted metal splinters may still be seen, a massive monument called The Motherland Calls was constructed in 1967. The Grain Silo and Pavlov's House ruins are part of a war monument complex containing the statue. On the 70th anniversary of the last triumph, Volgograd held a military parade and other activities on 2 February 2013. Since then, military parades have always been held to commemorate the city's victory. In addition, hundreds of bodies of troops who perished in the conflict are being recovered every year in the area around Stalingrad and reburied at the Mamayev Kurgan or Rossoshka cemeteries.

In Popular Culture

For its prominence as a turning moment in World War II and the loss of life linked with the conflict, the events of the Battle for Stalingrad have been chronicled in several media works of British, American, German, and Russian provenance. In addition, Stalingrad has become associated with large-scale urban conflicts involving heavy deaths on both sides.

Last updated: 2022-January-11
Tags: History World War II
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