| This article is a stub. You can help the World War II Wiki by expanding it.
The conflict began on August 23, 1942, and ended February 2, 1943 after roughly six months of nearly non-stop fighting. The battle took place in the city of Stalingrad, USSR (now Volgograd). It was one of the largest confrontations between the two nations (Germany and the Soviet Union). Both sides were concentrated on success and disregarded the well-being of their military personnel (and even civilians).
The Battle of Stalingrad is commonly nicknamed as the "bloodiest battle of World War II" — with an estimated two million casualties. It became one of the most significant events in the course of the war.
Originally, the attack began as a strategic move to capture one of the largest industrial cities in the USSR. After a seemingly endless blitz via the Luftwaffe; the city was reduced to rubble, but soon the Nazi advance was mired in urban warfare which was the source of much of the casualties. The source of the problem for the Wehrmacht was the small group of Soviet defenders clinging to the West bank of the Volga River.
Planning and PreparationEdit
Hitler chose the industrial city Stalingrad on the Volga River in South-Western as his next target in the Soviet Union. He did this for a number of reasons; the most obvious one being the raw materials generated by the city (it was a major producer of tractors and tanks during the first three Soviet Five-Year Plans), and also its strategic positioning as a gateway to the Caucasus oilfields to the South which would replenish near-depleted German resources which were a result of Operation Barbarossa. The capture of these oilfields would provide a much needed replenishment and give Germany the ability to turn their attention further North, toward Moscow in particular where the Wehrmacht had become immobilised. As a by-product, capturing the city would be a political and propaganda victory for Hitler, as it bears the name of the "vozhd" (вождь, leader (Joseph Stalin).
Despite the overbearing and apparent failure of Operation Barbarossa in conquering the USSR in a single swift campaign, by the Spring of 1942 Nazi Germany had had several successes in the form of Rommel's North African campaign and the U-Boat offensive in the Atlantic. Similarly, the Siege of Leningrad further north had recently stabilised. Both Hitler and Stalin were confident of their ability to defeat the other, but whilst Hitler was on the offensive in 1942, Stalin was on the defensive - and Hitler was beginning to become arrogant of his ability to direct the military.
Operation Blue, the continuation of the earlier failed Operation Barbarossa, a new attempt at defeating the USSR by capturing the highly precious oil fields such as Baku and Grozny. This summer offensive of 1942 was a tipping point in the war; Hitler himself claimed "If I do not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny then I must finish this war". This was meant to be achieved through the two different Army Groups; Army Group A intended to cross the Caucasus Mountains, whilst Army Group B protected its flanks across the Volga.
However, Army Group B, though their Blitzkrieg tactics had been successful this far, and with support early on from the Luftwaffe - they had become mired in a building-to-building offensive with a relatively small-scale Soviet defense in the city of Stalingrad. This, tied with the diversion of the 4th Panzer Division to the Caucasus (which could've aided the offensive in Stalingrad greatly) and the over-bearing of Hitler's forces, the Army Group South soon began to suffer from losses and low resources. As his Generals ordered regrouping strategies, Hitler decided this was a retreat and ordered them to hold their positions. This left the remnants of the 6th and its counterparts vulnerable to attack from the Soviets, and they soon found themselves surrounded. It resulted in a complete surrender of the German Wehrmacht in Stalingrad.
The bombing of the city by the Luftwaffe, commanded by Generaloberst Wolfram von Richthofen, was possibly the most devastating blitz in the entirety of the war, the city was turned to rubble. Although Stalin sent every available support to the city in the form of military, he prevented civilians from leaving the city as a form of emotional blackmail upon his own soldiers - claiming that they would prefer to fight for a "living city" rather than rubble. Though much of the industries were destroyed, some actually continued production, with workers doubling as soldiers when was needed. Production of the Soviet T-34 tank continued despite, and whilst Germans ran out of supplies rapidly, the Soviets would gather supplies from across the Volga River.
Continuing from this, the city soon became the site of many heroic charges into the machine guns of the enemy like a twisted version of what was depicted in Soviet propaganda. Whilst early on, the German Wehrmacht already assumed victory over the devastated city, they had soon realised their mistake; the resistance had become so fierce that it was described as if "thousands of micro battles had erupted". It was the Soviets who had taken to the battle well; the Germans had come completely unprepared for the urban warfare they were about to experience, the Soviets made the best of what they had - making shelter and cover from railway carts, automobiles etc.
Another main factor for the Soviet victory was the sheer determination, stubborness and heroism of the Red Army. Such was the so-called Pavlov's House, which a single platoon under the command of Sergeant Pavlov defended a building completely surrounded by Germans, until they were relieved.
The tactic of "hugging the enemy" was conceived by the Commander of the 62nd Army, Vasily Chuikov in an effort to avoid the enemy's artillery and aircraft. It worked by staying close to the enemy so they could not use support without a chance of killing their own.
The following countries participated in the Battle of Stalingrad: Germany, Romania, Hungary, Italy and Croatia vs. the Soviet Union. Both Croatia and Hungary contributed in a minor scale while Germany and Romania fielded two armies each along with one Italian army.