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The Battle Of Stalingrad History Essay

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

The battle of Stalingrad began in autumn of 1942 and lasted until spring of 1943. Over the course of 142 days, of 2,100,000 people were killed in this war, which is about an eighth of the total casualties in World War One.1,250,000 of these deaths were Russian, and although the German losses were considerably lower at 850,000 deaths, Germany was just as impacted due to their smaller population. The battle of Stalingrad was extremely costly for the Nazi regime and its goals of world conquest; Germany also lost some of their key officers in the battle of Stalingrad Hitler also lost face in the eyes of the German people. (Casualties: First World War)

Stalin’s motives for holding the city of Stalingrad were simple; essentially the only reason he had was that the city was named after him. He saw this as a symbol of his authority in the Soviet Union, and he didn’t want this to be challenged. Hitler’s motives were almost the polar opposite; he tried to take Stalingrad solely because it was named for Stalin and it was a major trade route to Moscow. Stalin knew that if Stalingrad fell then the rest of the Soviet Union would soon follow, Because it would provide the Germans with extra supplies and an easier route to Moscow. (Stalingrad)

The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the major turning points during World War Two, and was one of the biggest mistakes that Hitler made during his blitzkrieg plan. The takeover of Stalingrad was all part of plan Barbarossa, which was the strategy employed to take over Moscow, which was the Soviet Union’s capital. The officers that the German army employed at the battle of Stalingrad were Generaloberst Friedrich Paulus, commander of the sixth infantry division, General Hans Hube, commander of the fourteenth Panzer Corps and Erich von Manstien who was in command of the fourth panzer regiment which was sent to Stalingrad as a rescue mission for the sixth infantry and the fourteenth panzer corps.(Stalingrad)

Generaloberst Friedrich Paulus had joined the German army in 1910. By the first World War he had risen to the rank of captain. Paulus served both in the Balkans with the Alpenkorps, and after the Battle of Verdun he stayed in the post-war military, rising to the rank of major. Paulus’ performance lacked decisiveness according to his superior officer. When Hitler came to power and expanded the German army Paulus quickly moved up the ranks. By the outbreak of war in 1939, Paulus was a Major General, and under the command of Walther von Reichenau. Von Reichenau commanded the tenth army. Renamed the 6th Army for the 1940 campaign in Western Europe, von Reichenau and Paulus lead the invasion of Belgium, establishing their army as one of the elite in the Wehrmacht. The sixth army was among the forces which pinned the British Forces and the Remnants of the French Army against the sea at Dunkirk. (Rattenkrieg)

In the battle of Stalingrad the Soviet officer that made a huge difference was General Georgi Zhukov, who was a very well known general of the Red Army. General Zhukov was one of Stalin’s advisors that advised him to keep the Nazi concentration on Stalingrad because that would “bleed out” the Germans so they were too weak to proceed to Moscow or the munitions factories east of the Urals. In World War One the Kaiser “bled out” the French forces in their fortresses of Verdun and now the same principle was being used on the Germans in Stalingrad. (Stalingrad)

In the battle of Stalingrad Lt. Vasily Zaitsev one of the most renowned Russian snipers killed 149 German soldiers. One of these soldiers was major Heinz Thorwald, a very talented sniper that the German command sent in specifically after Zaitsev. Their duel lasted three days until Zaitsev put a bullet between Thorwalds eyes. Vasily Zaitsev used the common Russian rifle; the Mosin-Nagant M91/30 invented by Captain Sergei Ivanovich Mosin and Leon Nagant in 1891. (Rattenkrieg)

Sgt. Yakov Pavlov, another Russian war hero in the battle of Stalingrad, held off the German artillery from a three story building in downtown Stalingrad. He realized that an anti-tank rifle mounted on the roof of a house was too high for the tank’s barrel to reach. The house he found the gun on soon became known as “Pavlov’s house”, after he defended it for fifty-nine days without relief or reinforcements. Pavlov’s house was well defended with machine guns, mortars and snipers and it remained a dangerous place for German soldiers to go near. (Rattenkrieg)

Tanya Chernova was a member of the partisans and she was also one of Vasily Zaitsev’s students at his sniper school. Tanya once had dreams of becoming a ballerina, until she gave them up during the battle of Stalingrad where she decided “German soldiers were no better than sticks for breaking.” Chernova and her unit of Partisan fighters were wandering the sewers during the battle, trying to find a way up behind the Germans. Eventually they came up well behind German lines near aration line at a Wehrmacht field kitchen, hoping to get a bowl of soup they hid their weapons and joined the lines. Fresh from the sewers, their pungent aroma attracted the attention of a German soldier who exclaimed, “What is that horrible smell?” luckily they were saved by a Russian collaborator who claimed they were working for him. Although Chernova was far from thankful she thought that the collaborator was worse than the “sticks” she wanted to break. (Rattenkrieg)

Unlike the Russians who mainly used rifles, the Germans used sub-machine guns such as the MP-40 or the Erma. The MP-40 was one of the best guns in World War Two, it was cheap, fast and easy to produce and effective. The MP-40 revolutionized the gun development business in World War Two since it had a folding stock and a quick and easy reload time. Many people also think of the German Lugar (Pistole 08) when they think of German soldiers in World War Two. The main assault rifle used by Germany in world war two was the STG-44 though it was only used in the final few years. (Germany)

In Russia the main rifles used in World War Two were the Mosin-Nagant series of rifles and carbines, which started to be manufactured in 1891. Famed marksman Lt. Vasily Zaitsev made these famous in the battle of Stalingrad. The main assault rifles used were the ppsh 41 or the pps 42/43 another commonly used assault rifle was the Tokerev svt 40. The main side arms or pistols that were used in the battle of Stalingrad were the Tokerev tt series. (U.S.S.R.)

Although Germany had superior weapons, its generals were unable to function properly due to their Chancellor Adolf Hitler, who would not let them retreat for any reason. Josef Stalin on the other hand knew what he would lose if the city of Stalingrad was lost, and it was a lot more than his symbol of authority.

Josef Stalin knew that to survive the Second World War the Soviet Union had to industrialize, and he was right. (Stalingrad) The usage of the soviet Stalin tank made much of the difference in the battle of Stalingrad, and then in the rest of the Second World War. The Stalin tank was superior to the German panzer tanks because it had slanted armor which made most enemy fire glance off, it also was extremely easy to repair so the tank crews could repair it on the field of battle. The Stalin tank was also very simple, so they could produce them in bulk. Whereas the panzer tank was more technologically complex, so the Germans could only have professional technicians repair them, and they also were a lot harder to build.

The battle of Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle in recorded history and it was the major turning point in World War Two, overall Hitler’s pride lost the battle of Stalingrad. If it were not for Hitler’s pride he would have allowed his generals to retreat to more defensible territory, or to retreat and regroup. If he had let them do that we might be living under a Nazi regime. Hitler also made the mistake of making false promises to the German public such as “You may rest assured that nobody will ever drive us out of Stalingrad.”(Stalingrad) Saying this was one of Hitler’s biggest mistakes, it is because of statements like these that Hitler lost a lot of faith from his supporters politically and militarily. When the Germans were retreating out of Stalingrad Hitler tried one last desperate attempt to keep general Paulus from disobeying his orders, he made Paulus field Marshall of the German armed forces and he made it quite clear that no field Marshall in history had been captured. Needless to say Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus was the first. (Rattenkrieg)

Bibliography

  • Simkin, John, ed. “Stalingrad.” Spartacus educational. 1 Dec. 2008 <http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/russtalingrad.htm>. Spartacus Educational is a website that uses active learning to teach different periods of history.
  • Yoder, Mike. “Rattenkrieg.” Military History Online. 04 Feb. 03. 1 Dec. 2008 <http://militaryhistoryonline.com/wwii/stalingrad/rattenkrieg.aspx>. This website discusses the military history of the world through different eras.
  • “Casualties: First World War.” Crypt Mag. 1 Dec. 2008 <http://www.thecryptmag.com/online/38/casualti.htm>. A website showing casualty statistics of world war one.
  • “U.S.S.R.” Weapons of World War Two. 1 Dec. 2008 <http://www.freewebs.com/historyofww2/weaponsoftheussr.htm>. A website describing the use, service life and effectiveness of weapons in world war two Russia.
  • “Germany.” Weapons of World War Two. 1 Dec. 2008 <http://www.freewebs.com/historyofww2/weaponsofgermany.htm>. A website describing the use,service life and effectiveness of weapons in world war two Germany.
  • Tourtellot, Arthur B., ed.Lifes Picture History of World War II. New York, NY: Time Incorporated, 1950. A book that depicts a good form of primary sources
  • Sparks, Nancy J.True Stories of World War II. Pleasantville, NY: Reader’s Digest Association, Incorporated, The, 1980. 166-83. A book of first hand accounts from events in World War Two

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