World War II
Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the largest and deadliest battles in World War II. It was a turning point in the war. After losing the battle, the German army lost so many soldiers and took such a defeat that they never quite recovered.
Soviet Union tanks defend Stalingrad
About Stalingrad the City
Stalingrad was located in Southwest Russia on the Volga River. It was a major industrial and communications center for the Soviet Union in the south. Also, it was named after the Soviet leader Josef Stalin. This made the city important to Stalin and also important to Hitler, who hated Stalin.
Stalingrad was called Tsaritsyn until 1925 when it was renamed Stalingrad in honor of Josef Stalin. In 1961 the city's name was changed to Volgograd, meaning Volga City.
When was the Battle?
The battle took place during the last part of 1942 and early 1943. After months of fighting and finally nearly starving to death, the Germans surrendered on February 2, 1943.
The battle began with the German air force, the Luftwaffe, bombing the Volga River and the then the city of Stalingrad. They reduced much of the city to rubble. Soon the German army moved in and was able to take a large portion of the city.
However, the Soviet troops were not ready to give up. Fighting in the city of Stalingrad was fierce. Soviets hid all over the city, in buildings and even the sewers, attacking the German soldiers. This brutal battle began to take its toll on the Germans.
Soviet Soldiers fight in the streets of the city
In November, the Soviets gathered and made a counter attack. They trapped the German army inside of Stalingrad. Soon the Germans began to run out of food. Finally, weak from lack of food and freezing from the cold winter, the majority of the German army surrendered. Hitler was angry with General Paulus for surrendering. He expected Paulus to fight to the death or commit suicide, rather than surrender. Paulus, however, surrendered and later spoke out against the Nazi's while in Soviet captivity.
How many soldiers fought at the Battle of Stalingrad?
Both sides had large armies of over 1 million soldiers. They also each had hundreds of tanks and over 1,000 planes. It is estimated that around 750,000 soldiers from the German army died and nearly 500,000 Russians.
Who were the leaders?
The German army was led by General Friedrich Paulus. He was promoted to Field Marshall right before he surrendered to the Russians. Hitler was hoping that promoting Paulus would boost his moral and cause him not to surrender.
The Soviet Union army was led by General Georgy Zhukov.
- Adolf Hitler was very angry at General Paulus for losing the battle. He stripped Paulus of his rank and held a national day of mourning for the shame Paulus had brought on Germany by losing.
- German tanks had trouble fighting in the streets of Stalingrad. Much of the city was turned into rubble which the tanks could not go around or over.
- General Zhukov would lead the Soviet Union to many more victories by the end of World War II. He was one of the most decorated generals in the history of the Soviet Union.
- Around 91,000 German soldiers were captured at the end of the battle.
Take a ten question quiz at the Battle of Stalingrad questions page.
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