The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the most important battles of the Second World War. Fought between 17 July 1942 and 2 February 1943, it is widely regarded as one of the turning points of the entire war. A decisive Soviet victory, Stalingrad marked the beginning of the end for the German invasion of the USSR.
This article contains some of the battle of Stalingrad facts that are most important.
Number of soldiers at the Battle of Stalingrad
Initially, the German military committed 270,000 men, 3,000 artillery pieces 500 tanks and 600 aircraft to the Battle. The Soviet defenders had available 187,000 men, 2,200 artillery pieces, 400 tanks and 300 aircraft.
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By the time of the Soviet counter-offensive, the German military had committed 1,011,000 men, 10,250 artillery pieces, 675 tanks and 732 planes. The Soviet Union matched the Germans for manpower, but with shorter supply lines than the Germans, could bring more heavy firepower to bear. The Soviet forces number 1,103,000 men, 15,500 artillery pieces, 1,463 tanks and 1,115 aircraft.
Battle of Stalingrad Casualties
The exact number of casualties will never be known. However, it is estimated that the German Army lost more than 750,000 men killed, missing or wounded. Archives record that the Soviet Army, by comparison, lost 478,741 men killed or missing, and 650,878 wounded.
To give you an indication of scale, consider that the US Army lost 416,800 men throughout the entire Second World War.
Civilian casualties are less well recorded, and estimates vary between 4,000 and 40,000. The relatively low number of civilian deaths at the battle of Stalingrad compared to the number of military deaths is largely because, as a result of the German air bombardment and the ferocity of the battle Stalingrad was reduced to ruins, and much of the civilian population fled the city.
Prisoners of War
91,000 German troops were captured at the end of the Battle of Stalingrad. Of those 91,000, only 6,000 survived to return to Germany after the war.
Georgy Zhukov was the Soviet General responsible for planning the defense of Stalingrad, and the eventual Stalingrad counter-attack that defeated the German assault. His role in the Battle of Stalingrad, and masterminding the Soviet assault on Germany led to his becoming the most decorated Soviet officer in history.
Freidrich Paulus commanded the German Sixth Army that led the assault on Stalingrad. As it became clear that defeat was inevitable, Hitler promoted Paulus to the rank of Field Marshal, on the basis that no German Field Marshal had ever before surrendered. Paulus defied tradition and surrendered. In captivity he became a vocal critic of Germany, returning to East Germany after the war.
Countries involved in the Battle of Stalingrad
As well as the Germany and the Soviet Union, troops from Romania, Italy, Hungary and Croatia fought in the Battle of Stalingrad, on the side of Germany.
Today, Stalingrad is known as Volgograd.
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