Between July 1942 and February 1943, the German and Soviet armies waged one of the bloodiest battles ever recorded. As the German army attempted to overtake Stalingrad, the namesake city of the Soviet Union's dictator Joseph Stalin, and further assert their dominance in the north, the Soviet army was under strict instructions not to surrender the city under any circumstances.
The resulting six-month-long conflict led to the loss of nearly two million lives, both military and civilian, with the Soviets suffering the greater number of causalities. However, despite their significant losses, the Soviets were able to hold their own throughout the entirety of the ordeal and eventually outsmarted the German army to such a great degree that they were forced to surrender their efforts.
It was with the loss of this battle that Hitler's self-assurance also began to waver, and it ultimately led to the decline and defeat of the devastating reign of the Third Reich's army.
The Battle Of Stalingrad Saw Nearly Two Million Casualties – Leaving So Many Corpses, Bodies Had To Be Thrown Into Piles
Throughout the course of the six-month battle, Stalingrad became nothing short of a breeding ground of decay, destruction, and death. The city of Stalingrad – which served as a symbol of dominance and triumph for both Hitler and Stalin – fell under siege in the beginning of August as German troops finally made their way to the outskirts of the city.
It is here that the stand off between two powerful and determined armies, governed by dictatorial leaders with a penchant for winning, entered into the most brutal of battles with each side fully believing that the cards were in its favor. However, as the German army closed in on Stalingrad, leaving piles of bodies in its wake, the Soviet army was planning an attack of their own.
In The Epic Battle Of The Grain Silo, Soviet Forces Used Roman Tactics To Outsmart The Germans
By the end of August, the German army had successfully pinned the remaining – and apparently dwindling – Soviet army into the industrial zone of the city known as Volga. It is here that the infamous three-day-long grain elevator battle took place and left thousands more dead, forming piles of corpses around the area. Miraculously, only 50 Red Army combatants were inside the silo holding the position.
When the German army first trapped the Soviets in the granary, they believed that they could maintain their control. However, little did they know that Stalin had already decided to employ a tactic taken from the Romans to entrap and destroy the weakened German army. Stalin ordered his army to essentially "emulat[e] Hannibal’s encirclement and destruction of a Roman army under Aemilius Paulus in 216 B.C.E." Except this time it was the German army that would be overtaken.
It Was Considered To Be The Turning Point Of WWII
Upon the implementation of the Roman-style encirclement by Stalin's troops, the German army quickly fell into disrepair, as they were no longer able to obtain food or artillery from the outside and were completely cut off. Hitler, however, refused to allow his soldiers to surrender, and – when they nearly had a chance of escape – he threatened them into staying.
The result was devastating for the Nazi regime, and resulted in the loss not only of soldiers, but also of power and confidence for Hitler's fragile ego. In addition, this success brought with it a sweeping power trip for the Soviet leader, as Stalin not only regained his namesake city but elevated the respect – or fear – of his people.