These days Russians recall events that happened 80 years ago. On July 17, 1942 the Battle of Stalingrad began, and the victory of the Red Army in it predetermined the course of the Second World War in many respects. It was from the banks of the Volga river a counter-offensive of the Soviet troops on almost all fronts, culminating in the defeat of the German invaders, started.
As known, the Battle of Stalingrad lasted 200 days and played a critical role in the Second World War, because after the defeat of the Nazis in the battle for the city on the banks of the Volga River there was a turning point, which led to the complete defeat of entire Hitler’s war machine.
The German command planned to gain control of Stalingrad, cutting off the main routes connecting the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) with the Caucasus. Hitler believed that the capture of the city on the Volga would activate the offensive in the Caucasian direction and weaken the Red Army in this vast area.
To attack the heroic city 430,000 SS and Wehrmacht troops were fed into battle. Moreover, they were actively assisted by the allied forces of Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Italy and Finland. The total number of the grouping was growing as the fighting intensified. The attack of Nazis lasted from July 17 to November 18, 1942. The number of multinational Nazi grouping in the Stalingrad region exceeded 987,300 people by November.
By the time of the beginning of the offensive of the German troops, the Red Army had 386,000 soldiers. By November, the number of Soviet troops was increased up to 780,000. On July 12, 1942 the Stalingrad Front was formed on the basis of the field headquarters of the Southwestern Front. It included the 21st, 62nd, 63rd and 64th armies. Marshal of the Soviet Union Semyon Timoshenko, who had previously headed the Southwestern Front, was appointed commander of the Stalingrad Front.
Twenty days after his appointment he was succeeded by Lieutenant-General Vasily Gordov, who commanded the 21st Army, but two months later, on August 13, 1942, Colonel-General Andrey Eremenko, a former non-commissioned officer of the tsarist army, participant of the civil war, who went through the Red Army from a private to a general, became commander of the Stalingrad front. Under his command the Soviet troops disputed the advance of Hitler's troops for more than three months.
On the enemy’s side, the command of the 6th Army, which played a key role in the battle for Stalingrad, was carried out by Field Marshal General Friedrich Paulus, one of the best military commanders of Nazi Germany. Yet, it was Paulus' army that was surrounded by Soviet troops in the besieged city.
On January 31, 1943 Paulus handed over a request to surrender to the Soviet command. After his interrogation, General Rokossovsky suggested that Paulus give the order to surrender those parts of the German army that still continued to resist. Paulus refused to do this, referring to the fact that he was a prisoner of war and could no longer command active units of the Wehrmacht. However, even without his order, by February 2, 1943 the enemy troops were completely defeated.
Germany lost 32 divisions and three brigades in the Battle of Stalingrad. The 6th and the 4th German tank armies, the 3rd and the 4th Romanian armies and the 8th Italian army were destroyed. In addition, over 91,000 German soldiers and officers were taken prisoner. All this was the beginning of the end for the whole Hitler armada.
The victory of the Red Army in the Battle of Stalingrad raised the international status of the Soviet Union. All over the world people watched this epochal battle and after the surrender of Hitler's Germany, there were no limits to the triumph of the occupied European countries.
The Battle of Stalingrad was the greatest event of the Second World War for both the Red Army and all our people. In Stalingrad, representatives of all nationalities of the USSR fought against Hitler's hordes, which further contributed to the unity of the entire Soviet people. Stalingrad became a symbol of the victory of the Red Army and the Soviet people over Hitler's invaders.