The History of Stalingrad Essay

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The History of Stalingrad

“Stalingrad is the scene of the costliest and most stubborn battle in this war. The battle fought there to its desperate finish may turn out to be among the decisive battles in the long history of war…In the scale of its intensity, its destructiveness, and its horror, Stalingrad has no parallel. It engaged the full strength of the two biggest armies in Europe and could fit into no lesser framework than that of a life-and death conflict which encompasses the earth”
New York Times, February 4, 1943

The battle fought between the Soviet Red Army and the Nazi Wehrmacht over the “city of Stalin” for four long months in the fall and winter of 1942-3 stands as not only the most important battle of the Eastern
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In industrial terms, the captured territory had accounted for the production of 70 percent of Russia’s pig iron, 60 percent of steel and coal, and 40 percent of electricity. The military losses were equally staggering: approximately 8 million casualties (dead, wounded, and missing) had been recorded and tens of thousands of tanks, airplanes, and artillery pieces were lost or destroyed. It is no wonder that when Hitler told General Halder, his chief of staff, “The Russian is finished” on July 20, Halder’s response was “I must admit it looks that way.” Appearances can be deceiving.
The problem for Hitler, Halder, and the rest of the Wehrmacht was that the Red Army was not quite finished. In spite of their hideous losses, the Russians were still there, still resisting fiercely. Additionally, America, with its enormous industrial capacity and wealth of natural resources, had just had entered the war. What the Germans needed was a way to simultaneously weaken, if not destroy, the Red Army’s capacity to wage war while assuring themselves the resources necessary to carry on a protracted struggle against the Western Allies. A strike towards Stalingrad and the Caucasus seemed to offer an opportunity to achieve both of these goals.
First and foremost, southern Russia is an area fabulously rich in resources, especially oil and grain. For the Germans, capturing this area would mean depriving the Russians of fuel for their

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