After another painfully desperate attempt to stay away from WWII, we dive into the heart of possibly its most iconic battle, the Battle for Stalingrad.
We have all envisioned the brutal house to house fighting, the bitter cold and the vicious battle for every square inch of ground. Let's also not forget that civilians were actually forbidden from leaving the city, some theories suggest that Stalin thought the dying inhabitants would provide ample motivation for defending Soviet troops.
The Battle for Stalingrad is generally considered as one of the largest and bloodiest battles in the history of warfare (1.7-2 million wounded or KIA). -
The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the German 6th Army. The attack was supported by intense Luftwaffe bombing, reducing most of the city to rubble. The fighting degenerated into house to house fighting, and both sides poured reinforcements into the city.
The Germans eventually pushed the Soviets back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River. However, in November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German flanks. The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. -
We've all heard of the German 6th Army's encirclement in Stalingrad, but let's look further into some of the numbers. At the time of the initial attack, the Germans brought in 270,000 personnel, 3,000 artillery pieces, 500 tanks and 600 aircraft, while the Russians defended the city with 187,000 personnel, 2,200 artillery pieces, 400 tanks and 300 aircraft.
An immense amount of equipment, men, hopes, dreams and individuals. At the time of the Soviet counter offensive though, the Germans brought 1.04 million men, 10,250 artillery pieces, 500 tanks and 732 aircraft to the party, while Russia counter attacked with 1.14m men, 2,200 artillery pieces, 400 tanks and 300 aircraft.
All this for a single city, in a single theatre, while WWII as we know it still raged on with its immense momentum everywhere else. As one of you guys put it, hard to fathom.