August 23, 1942 The Battle of Stalingrad Begins

The Battle of Stalingrad (August 23, 1942 – February 2, 1943) was a major battle of
World War II in which Nazi troops and their allies clashed with the Soviet
Union for control of the city of Stalingrad in the southwestern front of the Soviet
Union. Marked by relentless close quarters combat and absence of concern for
military and resident casualties, it is one the bloodiest battles in the
history of warfare. The substantial losses inflicted on the Wehrmacht make it perhaps
the most strategically pivotal battle of the entire war. The Battle of
Stalingrad was a major turning point in the European theater of World War II as
the German forces never regained the advantage in the East and withdrew its
vast military force from the West to reinforce their losses.

The German offensive to seize Stalingrad began in late summer 1942 using the German
6th Army and elements of the German 4th Panzer Army. The assault was reinforced
by rigorous Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to ruins. The battle
deteriorated into building-to-building combat, and both sides dispensed
reinforcements into the city. By mid-November 1942, the Nazis had pushed the Red
Army defenders back at prodigious cost into constricted zones along the west
bank of the Volga River.

On November 19, 1942, the Red Army began Operation Uranus, which was a two-pronged
assault targeting the fragile Romanian and Hungarian troops protecting the
German 6th Army's flanks. The Axis armed forces on the flanks were overrun and
the 6th Army was cut off and encircled in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler
ordered that the army stay in Stalingrad and make no effort to break out;
instead, endeavors were prepared to support the army by air and to break the hold
from outside the encirclement. Heavy fighting continued for an additional two
months. By the start of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had drained
their ammunition and food supplies. In the end, the remaining elements of the
6th Army surrendered to the Red Army forces. The clash persisted for five
months, one week, and three days. It is uncertain how many people lost their lives during The Battle of Stalingrad, but many estimates are over 1 million lives lost.