Turning Point of WWII – 5 facts & Dozens of Photos of the Battle of Stalingrad

 
 
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The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the biggest battles of World War II. During the battle, both the Soviets and the Germans suffered significant losses.

The troops of the Red Army for the first time managed to encircle and defeat one of the strongest armies of the Wehrmacht. Here are five facts of this bloody battle.

1. Massive casualties

The Battle of Stalingrad was one of the bloodiest in history: the Axis countries lost about 1.5 million people, although some sources suggest this figure is overstated, and the Soviet Union lost more than 1.1 million people. Not only soldiers of the Red Army and Wehrmacht took part in the battle, but also Hungarians, Romanians, Italians and others. The battle lasted from 17 July 1942 through 2 February 1943.

Soviets preparing to ward off a German assault in Stalingrad’s suburbs
Soviets preparing to ward off a German assault in Stalingrad’s suburbs

In addition, 40,000 civilians were also killed during the battle, because Stalin forbade evacuating them from Stalingrad. He believed that the Soviet soldiers would fight better if they knew that there were civilians nearby.

2. “Not a step back!”

On July 28, 1942 Stalin signed Order Number 227, which became known as the “Not a step back” order. This decree was issued in order to stop the high rate of desertion that had been occurring. Violators of the order were subject to a court martial.

Soviet soldiers running through trenches in the ruins of Stalingrad
Soviet soldiers running through trenches in the ruins of Stalingrad

On each front of the Red Army, including at Stalingrad, there were penal battalions consisting of commanders and soldiers who had had disciplinary problems. These battalions participated in dangerous battles and only went forward.

In the rear guard there were always blocking detachments that killed deserters. According to some reports, more than 13,000 of these “traitors to the Motherland” were killed in Stalingrad.

3. Casualties even after the end of the battle

During the clearance of the minefields of Stalingrad, which continued until the summer of 1943, 97 sappers were killed and 244 were injured. More than 213,000 Soviet and German mines were collected, and about 250,000 mines were destroyed. The Red Army had planted most of the mines.

Soil after the Battle of Stalingrad in the Vladimir Military Museum. By Petar Milošević CC BY-SA 3.0
Soil after the Battle of Stalingrad in the Vladimir Military Museum. By Petar Milošević CC BY-SA 3.0

4. Pavlov’s House

“Pavlov’s House,” so named for the Soviet sergeant whose troops occupied it, became a symbol of Red Army resistance to the constant attacks by the Germans during the Battle of Stalingrad.

It was a four-story building, and due to its location it was of strategic importance for councils. The house gave its defenders a line of sight 2,625 feet long to the south, west, and north.

Under the command of Yakov Pavlov, a platoon of soldiers at the building resisted German attacks for 58 days. Vasily Chuikov, commander of the Soviet forces in Stalingrad, once said, “The Germans lost more soldiers and tanks during the attacks on Pavlov’s house than at the capture of Paris.”

Pavlov’s House (1943)
Pavlov’s House (1943)

5. Hill 102/Mamayev Kurgan

Not far from the center of Stalingrad is Mamayev Kurgan, which is a hill 335 feet high with a view of the city, the district and the eastern shore of the Volga. During the Battle of Stalingrad fierce battles were fought for this place, and control of Mamayev Kurgan passed back and forth 14 times.

 

Because of the constant shelling, the hill was constantly black, and in winter there was no snow on it. In 1967, a 285 feet high monument was erected on this hill, known as “The Motherland Calls.”

The Eternal Flame in Mamayev Kurgan. By Aleksander Kaasik CC BY-SA 4.0
The Eternal Flame in Mamayev Kurgan. By Aleksander Kaasik CC BY-SA 4.0

Bonus Fact

One more interesting fact should be noted. Soviet propagandists, using loudspeakers mounted where German soldiers would hear them, transmitted the sound of a ticking clock. This ticking was accompanied by a commentary that proclaimed “every seven seconds a German soldier dies at the front.” After these words, a tango melody played.

German soldiers of the 24th Panzer Division in action during the fighting for the southern station of Stalingrad.
German soldiers of the 24th Panzer Division in action during the fighting for the southern station of Stalingrad.

 

Smoke over the city center after aerial bombing by the German Luftwaffe on the central station. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
Smoke over the city center after aerial bombing by the German Luftwaffe on the central station. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

German infantry and a supporting StuG III assault gun during the battle. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
German infantry and a supporting StuG III assault gun during the battle. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

Situation briefing near Stalingrad between a German company commander and a platoon leader. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
Situation briefing near Stalingrad between a German company commander and a platoon leader. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

A Soviet soldier waving the Red Banner over the central plaza of Stalingrad in 1943. . By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
A Soviet soldier waving the Red Banner over the central plaza of Stalingrad in 1943. . By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

German Infantry in position for an attack. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
German Infantry in position for an attack. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

German soldiers clearing the streets in Stalingrad. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
German soldiers clearing the streets in Stalingrad. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

Soviets defend a position. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
Soviets defend a position. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

German soldiers positioning themselves for urban warfare. By Ollig and Bundesarchiv Bild CC BY-SA 4.0
German soldiers positioning themselves for urban warfare. By Ollig and Bundesarchiv Bild CC BY-SA 4.0

 

Soviet assault troops in the battle.  By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
Soviet assault troops in the battle.  By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

Soviet soldiers in the Red October Factory.
Soviet soldiers in the Red October Factory.

 

The Tractor Factory in the northernmost part of the city (1942) By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
The Tractor Factory in the northernmost part of the city (1942) By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers above the burning city. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers above the burning city. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

Clouds of smoke and dust rise from the ruins of Stalingrad after German bombing of the city on 2 October 1942. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
Clouds of smoke and dust rise from the ruins of Stalingrad after German bombing of the city on 2 October 1942. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

Soviet soldiers attack a house, February 1943. By RIA Novosti archive CC BY-SA 3.0
Soviet soldiers attack a house, February 1943. By RIA Novosti archive CC BY-SA 3.0

 

Romanian soldiers near Stalingrad.  By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
Romanian soldiers near Stalingrad.  By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

German soldiers as prisoners of war. In the background is the heavily fought-over Stalingrad grain elevator.
German soldiers as prisoners of war. In the background is the heavily fought-over Stalingrad grain elevator.

 

A Ju 52 approaching Stalingrad.
A Ju 52 approaching Stalingrad.

 

A Red Army soldier marches a German soldier into captivity. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
A Red Army soldier marches a German soldier into captivity. By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0

 

The center of Stalingrad after liberation. By RIA Novosti archive CC BY-SA 3.0
The center of Stalingrad after liberation. By RIA Novosti archive CC BY-SA 3.0

Read another story from us: The Myths, Legends, AND Truth of the Stalingrad Shoemaker Boy

View of Stalingrad (1942) By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
View of Stalingrad (1942) By Bundesarchiv Bild CC-BY-SA 3.0
 
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