Battle Of Stalingrad Essay, Research Paper
Battle of Stalingrad
After losses and failure of Operation Barbarossa , Hitler now had new objectives in the war. He planned to drive Soviet forces out of the Southern Steppes and the Caucasus region and taking over the abundant supply of natural mineral wealth, especially oil, which was a key ingredient for Germany s war machine. Another reason was that Axis forces could have direct access to the Middle East and be able to have the military capability for a final annihilating sweep Northward through Soviet forces in Moscow. Hitler also believed that overtaking of Stalingrad (now Volograd) would lead to the downfall of the Soviet Union.
The Germans plan was to send two simultaneous attacks to capture the rich southern oil field of Stalingrad. Hitler wasn t moved by his generals warnings that his armies were not strong enough to carry both objectives at the same time. This massive military offensive was called Operation Blue.
In May of 1942, Hitler launched operation Blue by sending armies A and B to sweep east to Stalingrad, south to Astrakan, Grozny, and to the Caspian Sea. The Soviets, knowing that the capture of Stalingrad would be catastrophic for there ability to withstand the German army, still did not move in forces guarding Moscow. Stalin did not want to put Moscow in a position that would vulnerable to other German attacks. If the German army took Stalingrad the Soviets would be completely cut off from their own oil supply. As a result, the German army captured Rostov and other key cities in the Crimean region. They were now ready to attack Stalingrad.
Now July, the Axis forces had had the advantage with 250,000 troops from Germany, Hungary, and Italy pouring into the outskirts of Stalingrad. Stalin still being very stubborn, kept the bulk of his forces north to protect Moscow from attack. As a result, Army group B moved across the Don River north of the city collapsing Soviet forces an forcing them to retreat across the entire Southern Front. The German 6th Army, commanded by Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus pushed forward into Soviet forces and began to enter the city from the west. At the same time Stalin was moving the 64th and 62nd Armies to take position eight miles from Stlaingrad. The Soviet armies were able to slow the German forces from advancing for the mean time.
On August 19th, the 6th German Army was commanded by Paulus to strike the first attack on Stalingrad, with the support of the 4th Panzer army. The German army also sent 1,000 planes to drop incendiary bombs on the city. Air raids such as this one were very destructive because most of the buildings were made of wood. These attacks proved disastrous for the Red Army. Stalin was very concerned about the situation, he moved forces to the Southern front and worked frantically to stabilize German assaults on the beleaguered city.
Fighting now was very harsh and neither side had many gains. One German general said, the mile as a measure of distance was replaced by the yard. Through the months of September and October fighting was now at very close ranges. Hand to hand combat was very common and many battles were fought with knives or bayonets. The fighting was continual and didn t stop for the sun or the moon. Sometimes it might slow down, but minutes later it would start again with new energy. At times you couldn t hear single shots or explosions but instead one continuous deafening roar.
The Germans now had taken over eighty percent of the city. The 62nd Army was holding on by a thread and it was only a matter of time before the Germans would push the Red Army to the Volga River. Nevertheless, the 62nd Army still held the German from advancing any farther. Hitler had already declared victory just as Napoleon in 1812, but the tables were about to turn on the Germans.
While the Germans were still held at Stalingrad, Soviet Marshall Zhukov and General Vasilevsky devised a plan called Operation Uranus. They spotted weakness in the Germans flanks and knew that they could overpower them. The Soviets then secretly began to mobilize one million troops; 14,000 heavy guns; 1,000 tanks; and 1,350 aircraft to attack the weak German flanks. The Soviets did an excellent job of concealing their plans and the Axis forces were caught with their pants down.
On November19th, the Red Armies forces from the Southwestern Front and Don Front launched a massive surprise attack on the Romanian, Italian, and Hungarian positions. In four short days the fast moving Soviet Army had encircled the 6th German army and the 4th Panzer Army, a total of 330,000 men. Attempts by the Armies to break out were stopped and the only alternative was to have supplies airlifted to them.
Hitler ordered that the German Armies may not surrender and that they must fight to the end. The German 6th Army fought a desperate contest but was still unable to penetrate through the Soviet forces. With no food or supplies the army was on the verge of starvation. Paulus had no choice but to surrender what was left of the 6th Army and 4th Panzer Army. The Germans had lost 147,000 men and 91,00 were taken as prisoners of war.
The Stalingrad Battle became the turning point on the Eastern Front. Soviets had paid a huge price for victory with over a half of a million casualties. The battle showed the world that the mighty German machine was vulnerable and it gave confidence to the Soviets Armies start pushing the invaders out of the Soviet Union.