The Battle of Stalingrad
The battle of Stalingrad was fought between the invading forces of Nazi Germany and the
forces of Soviet Union who were defending the city. The battle was fought from August
1942 to February of 1943. This was the decisive battle of World War II because it ended
the German offensive as well as destroying much of the German armies. Though the early
stages of World War II focused on Western Europe, Hitler had diverted his attention to
Russia by 1941. At first the huge German war machine focused on Leningrad and Moscow.
This attack failed and so by the summer of 1942 Hitler wanted to invade southern Russia.
Against the advice of his generals Hitler attacked Stalingrad. The German forces took much
of the city. German armies surrounded the city and so the Russians were trapped and would
remain so for several months. When reinforcements arrived for the Soviets they surrounded
the Germans and forced them to surrender. The battle of Stalingrad not only destroyed much
of the German army, but also ended their offensive in Russia and ultimately resulted in
Germany’s defeat in the second World War.
World War II began after years of German dominance in central Europe. Germany had
annexed many nearby nations before war was finally declared in September 1939. Nazi
Germany had many early successes because their military had been mobilized for a long
time while the allies, who at this point were only Britain and France, were less prepared,
especially the French. Hitler wisely signed a non-aggression pact with Stalin and by doing
so Germany easily overwhelmed Poland and other lands in Eastern Europe by the end of
1939. By this point the allies were entrenched in France expecting a repeat
of World War I. In the spring of 1940, the Nazi blitzkrieg continued as they occupied
Denmark, Norway, and Holland. Now, Germany turned toward France and surprised the
allies by invading through Belgium. Within several weeks France was occupied and the
British had been driven off the continent. By July 1940, Germany dominated nearly all of
continental Europe, as Italy was an ally and Russia was neutral. Germany saw Britain as
its last remaining enemy and so prepared for an invasion. In order to do so Hitler
recognized that air supremacy would be necessary for any successful invasion to take place.
The German air force, the Luftwaffe, was met with great resistance, and by late 1940 Hitler
gave up hope of an immediate invasion of Britain. At this point, the best strategy for
Germany would have been to attack North Africa and the Middle East as this would give
Germany the Suez Canal and therefore would cut off Britain’s supply of oil. Instead Hitler’s
obsession with a vast eastern European empire had already determined that his next course
of action would be to invade the Soviet Union.
With western Europe secure, for the time being, Hitler decided to embark on a...