Siege of Stalingrad
Episode #9 of the course “Battles of All Time”
Date: August 23, 1942 – February 2, 1943
Although casualties in many historical wars were great, few losses can compare to those suffered in World War II. In fact, WWII killed roughly 60 million people, which was 3% of the world’s total population at the time. One of the most well-known and notable battles in WWII was the Siege of Stalingrad. Historians often cite this as the battle that “turned the tides” in the war in favor of the Allied forces. It was also the bloodiest battle in history, with nearly 2 million casualties (military and civilian).
The Siege or Battle of Stalingrad took place between July 17, 1942 and February 2, 1943. It was the Soviet’s successful defense of the city of Stalingrad. Basically, the Soviet forces surrounded and defeated an entire German army that was under the control of General Friedrich Paulus. Once they took Stalingrad, they were able to launch further attacks using the Volga River. Of course, the symbolic importance was great as well—the name of the city was chosen for Joseph Stalin, the Soviet dictator.
German forces pushed the Soviet forces to industrial housing along the Volga, but they could not seem to remove them from their encampment. By November, the invading German army was running low on soldiers and supplies. It was at this time that the Russian army, led by Marshal Georgii K. Zhukov (Russia’s greatest general), began their counter-offensive attack. They encircled the Germans, cutting off their supplies. An air supply was supposed to be dropped, but it didn’t happen. The Germans likely could have fought their way out of the encirclement, but Adolf Hitler, the leader of the German forces, ordered them to stand their ground instead.
The Germans finally surrendered after attempts at a rescue mission failed. The German troops were freezing and starving by the time they finally surrendered. Roughly 150,000 Germans died from this battle alone.
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