Captured Germans, Italians, Romanians and Hungarians (1943). By an unknown author
The Nazis lost a quarter of their troops on the Eastern (Russian) Front. You have probably heard that 8 out of 10 Germans who were killed in the course of World War II died on the Eastern (Russian) Front.
Total casualties of both armies during the Battle of Stalingrad were staggering. This battle is believed to be the bloodiest in the history of wars. Historians offer their own viewpoints on the event, which are severely criticized by other scientists.
It is evident that groups conducting an attack in urban combats suffer heavier losses. Even massive air raids did not support the Nazi troops as every many-storeyed house in Stalingrad was more like a well-fortified shelter (back then stone, brick and concrete houses were much more solid than modern ones).
When the Red Army launched a counterattack, it was time for the Nazis caught in the cauldron to act on the defensive. At that moment the German troops were cut off from supplies of ammunition, fuel and food, and suffered from the lack of manpower – many Nazi soldiers died of hunger and frostbite.
The total casualties in the Battle of Stalingrad are estimated to be 2 million Soviets and Nazis. The statistics sheds light on the real scale of this slaughter. I will not show you shocking documentary photos displaying whole squares covered with bodies in the Nazi uniform.
When the German troops caught in the cauldron surrendered, almost a hundred thousands of them were taken prisoners. International journalists were knocked out once they saw the Nazi officers who looked quite well in comparison with starving German, Romanian, Italian and Hungarian soldiers.
The Soviets did not show their enemy much pity. People in the USSR knew about acts of genocide committed against civilians on occupied territories. The Nazis mercilessly shot the Belarusians, Ukrainians, Russians and other nations, and burnt their villages with people to the ground.
As a result, the captured Nazis seriously weakened by hunger and frost were dying in thousands.
After the Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad drastically changed the course of World War II. In the beginning of 1943 Nazi Germany lost its military advantage, and the Allies gained the upper hand over the Axis Powers.
Moreover, the United Kingdom and the United States realized that the USSR could win this war without their military support and decided to finally open the Second (Western) Front in Normandy.
Some countries which had been supporting the fascist policy broke off with Nazi Germany.
Chairs under many pro-Nazi leaders shattered due to active actions of anti-fascist movements.
The Battle of Stalingrad also influenced the military leaders of Japan. Two years later, on August 9, 1945, the Red Army fulfilled its obligation to the Allies and entered the war against Japan. Thanks to consolidated efforts it took less than a month for the Japanese armies to surrender (September 2, 1945).
The Japanese have estimated that the war between Japan and the United States would have lasted till 1947 and would have claimed the lives of millions American soldiers if it had not been for the Soviet military support.
The memory of the Battle of Stalingrad
In Volgograd (previously known as Stalingrad) Soviet people built the famous statue “The Motherland Calls”. This large monument (85 m high) represents a woman who is standing half-turned and holding a sword in her hand. In fact, this statue is a part of a sculptural triptych. Other parts of this triptych are located in Magnitogorsk and Berlin. The sculptural ensemble symbolizes that the sword is hammered in rear, and then it is handed over to defenders, so that they can stand up to the Nazis. In Berlin the soldier is holding a small girl in his arms, and his sword is lowered. It means that the world is saved from the Nazi threat.
George VI of the United Kingdom ordered to forge the Sword of Stalingrad to commemorate the heroic deed of the Soviet defenders of the city. Winston Churchill presented the sword to Joseph Stalin in the presence of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt.
The words “Battle of Stalingrad” or “Stalingrad” can be seen on streets, squares and subway stations of many cities all over the globe: Paris, Grenoble, Toulouse, Lyon, Nice, Brussels, Bologna, Kiev, Korolyov, Sevastopol, Kharkov and many others cities.
Nowadays Stalingrad that once was dubbed in honor of Joseph Stalin is known as Volgograd. The city was renamed after N. Khrushchev dispelled Stalin’s cult of personality.
If the Battle of Stalingrad is somehow commemorated in your neighborhood, please let us know in the comments to this article. Thanks!