The Battle of Stalingrad was a major and decisive battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in the southwestern Soviet Union. The battle took place between 23 August 1942 to 2 February 1943 and was marked by constant close-quarters combat, and lack of regard for military and civilian casualties. It is among the bloodiest battles in the history of warfare, with the higher estimates of combined casualties amounting to nearly two million. The heavy losses inflicted on the German army made it a significant turning point in the whole war. After the Battle of Stalingrad, German forces never recovered their earlier strength, and attained no further strategic victories in the East.
The German offensive to capture Stalingrad commenced in late summer 1942, and was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The German offensive eventually became mired in building-to-building fighting; and despite controlling nearly all of the city at times, theWehrmacht was unable to dislodge the last Soviet defenders clinging tenaciously to the west bank of the Volga River.
On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weak Romanian and Hungarian forces protecting the 6th Army’s flanks. After heavy fighting, the weakly held Axis flanks collapsed and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded inside Stalingrad. As the Russian winter set in, the 6th Army weakened rapidly from cold, starvation and ongoing Soviet attacks. Command ambiguity coupled with Adolf Hitler’s resolute belief in their will to fight further exacerbated the German predicament. Eventually, the failure of outside German forces to break the encirclement, coupled with the failure of resupplying by air, led to the final collapse. By the beginning of February 1943, Axis resistance in Stalingrad had ceased and the remaining elements of the 6th Army had either surrendered or been destroyed.
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