Where did Stalingrad take place

The battle of Stalingrad


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The battle of Stalingrad

It began in August 1942 with an attack by the German 6th Army on Stalingrad and was one of the greatest battles of World War II. On January 31 and February 2, 1943, the remnants of the German army surrendered in the pocket of the completely destroyed city. This event marked the turning point of the Second World War, which was symbolic for the Third Reich. At least 700,000 people were killed in this battle.

The decisive battle on the Eastern Front took place in the region of what was then Stalingrad on the Volga. The city is located 1,075 km southeast of Moscow on the right bank of the Volga, around 400 km north of the mouth of the river into the Caspian Sea. Today the city stretches for more than 60 km along the banks of the Volga in a width of up to 10 km. More than a million people live here - 65 years ago there were around 600,000.
The city was founded in 1589 as a fortress to protect Russia from the nomads from the south. It was called Tsaritsyn until 1925, then it was renamed Stalingrad (Stalinstadt). As part of the de-Stalinization, the name was changed to Volgograd in 1961.

Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union

Although the two dictators Hitler and Stalin had concluded a mutual non-aggression pact in August 1939, Hitler continued to pursue his world power plans and persistently developed a plan of attack against the Soviet Union. On June 22, 1941, Hitler broke this agreement with his attack on the Soviet Union.
In the beginning, the German Wehrmacht achieved considerable initial successes with great gains in the Barbarossa case, as Hitler called his surprise war against the Soviet Union. But the tide turned quickly. In August 1941, Stalin himself took command of the Red Army (the Soviet military) and called for a patriotic war against Germany.
Then the attack by the "Army Group Center" in front of Moscow initially got stuck in the mud. The necessary equipment was lacking for the extremely cold Russian winter that followed, so that the German Russian campaign was already about to come to a miserable end. They could not win the battles with the best-equipped Soviet elite soldiers. After terrible losses, the Germans had to retreat.

Advance to Stalingrad

In the summer of 1942 the German units succeeded once more in reaching Stalingrad, the arms and transport center on the Volga, and the heights of the Caucasus with its oil fields near Baku. German planes bombed the city continuously for two weeks. By mid-November, the German soldiers had captured around 90 percent of Stalingrad.

Fierce resistance

The last 10,000 civilians left did not give up and engaged the enemy in bloody skirmishes. In these house and street fights, the German and allied Romanian troops were worn out, but not worn out
In the meantime the Soviet Southwest Front used the time to gather fresh forces around Stalingrad. On November 19, 1942, they began a pincer-shaped major offensive in the north-west and south. The entire 6th Army as well as parts of the 4th Panzer Army and remnants of the Romanian 3rd and 4th Armies were included. At that time there were around 250,000 Germans and over 30,000 Romanian and Russian auxiliaries in the boiler.

Fatal wrong decisions

100 German tanks faced ten times the superiority of around 1000 Russian tracked vehicles. General Friedrich Paulus, the commander of the 6th Army, wanted to break out anyway. Hitler initially accepted the plan, but was then convinced by Göring that an adequate air supply for weeks would be possible. So he ordered the conquered city to be held. But Goering's plan did not work: only a third of the supplies needed had arrived in Stalingrad, the soldiers were starving and, despite the cold, no fires were allowed to be made at night.

Surrender and captivity

On January 8, 1943, the Soviets made an offer to negotiate. Because Hitler did not want to get involved, the besiegers drew the ring closer and closer. The 20 generals blindly followed the orders of the Fiihrer. They dared not surrender because breaking the oath could have been punishable by the death penalty.
On January 30, Hitler appointed Paulus Field Marshal General. Since a German field marshal had never surrendered before, the promotion was intended to motivate Paul to continue fighting with the 6th Army to the point of "hero's death".
But Hitler's plan did not work: On January 31, Paulus surrendered with his remaining units in the southern basin. Two days later the emaciated troops in the northern basin also surrendered.

The defeat of Stalingrad is considered to be the psychological turning point of the war and the end point of the advance of the German Wehrmacht into the Soviet Union. Of the 260,000 soldiers in the 6th Army, 91,000 were taken prisoners of war. The survivors were used as slave labor to rebuild destroyed Russia. Of these, only 6,000 returned home years later. In 1956 the last prisoner of war from Russia (also from Stalingrad) returned to Germany.

Text: RR January 28, 2008, images: DHM

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