One battle during the WWII can be rightly called decisive – the Battle of Stalingrad. This was one battle on the European theater that probably changed the world. If the Nazi Germany won this battle, we would have been a part of a very different world or perhaps, we would have never existed. So, let us learn 40 interesting facts about Battle of Stalingrad, which was one of the bloodiest battles in WWII.
Interesting Facts About Battle of Stalingrad: 1-10
1. The Battle of Stalingrad was a result of Hitler’s decision to invade the Soviet Union without any declaration of war. The German offensive operation was known as Operation Barbarossa.
2. The battle started months later after Operation Barbarossa was started on 22nd June, 1941. The Battle of Stalingrad started on 23rd August, 1942.
3. The battle is well-known for several reasons and one of them being, the street-level fights. The close quarter combats took place on streets and buildings.
4. The 4th Panzer Army and the 6th Army of the German forces were given the task of capturing Stalingrad with air support from Luftwaffe. The constant bombings by Luftwaffe reduced the city into rubble.
5. The initial German offensive and invasion of Stalingrad started with 270,000 German military personnel, 500 tanks, 3,000 artillery pieces and 600 aircrafts. The number of aircrafts gradually rose to 1,600 by mid-September. The Soviet defense included 187,000 military personnel, 400 tanks, 2,200 artillery pieces and 300 aircraft.
6. On November 19, 1942, the Soviets launched a counter-offensive by the name Operation Uranus. When the counter-offensive move of the Soviets started, the strength of Axis forces (Germany and allies) increased to approximately 1,040,000 military personnel that included Nazi Germans, Romanians, Italians and Hungarians. The number of artillery pieces for Axis Power increased to 10,250 but the number of aircrafts fell to 732 of which only 402 were operational. On the other hand, the Soviet power increased to 1,143,000 military personnel, 894 tanks, 13,451 artillery pieces and 1,115 aircrafts.
7. The Battle of Stalingrad was an example of complete disregard for civilian safety. Nearly 40,000 Soviet civilians lost their lives during this battle. Nearly 1,120,000 Soviet armed forces were killed, wounded or missing. On the German side, 850,000 military personnel were killed, wounded or missing. 91,000 German forces eventually surrendered against Hitler’s will of ‘stand to the last man and fight to the last bullet.’
8. The continuous bombing of the city killed thousands and thousands and the air became hot and filled with stinking smell of dead and decaying corpses.
9. The battle was so fierce that firefights literally took place at every ruin found in the city. From destroyed basements, houses, factories and staircases to even the sewers, which is precisely why the Germans named this battle as Rattenkrieg or Rat War. Floor-by-floor close-quarter firefights took place in tall building destroyed by German air raids. Soviets and Germans were found in alternate floors of these building shooting each other through the holes on the floor!
10. Mamayev Kurgan, a hill located above the city was the site of bitter firefight. The fight was absolutely merciless and the stronghold position on the hill actually changed hands several times (precisely 14 times) between Germans and Soviets. Shellfire and metal fragments churned the hillside soil to such an extent that every square meter of the soil contained 500 to 1,250 metal splinters. The entire hill remain black throughout the winters (during the battle) because snow was completely melted by bombings and fire. The spring that followed also saw black soil because grass failed to grow.