Stalingrad: The Most Crucial Battle of World War II
World War II was the bloodiest war ever fought in the history of the world. Countless men lost their lives and countries were almost obliterated. One could only imagine what would have become of the human race had the Nazi war machine defeated all of Europe and then made its way into America. While Germany was expanding its territory all over Europe, they made it as far as Russia, and a battle ensued that became one of the greatest victories in war history. The Germans were met by the Red Army at Stalingrad, a city where the fate of the world was decided. The Battle of Stalingrad was perhaps the bloodiest conflict in history. The Soviets suffered a million fatalities, which was more than the western Allies lost during the whole Second World War. The battle cost Germany and its allies about 1.5
million casualties (Roberts "Stalingrad" 36). Even sixty years after the battle, historians still cannot say how many civilians died during the 200 days of fighting. The estimate of civilian casualties alone was in the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands (Borisova). After the battle ended, a census found only 1,515 people who had lived in Stalingrad in 1942 (Craig xv ).
The beginning of Hitler's failure to take Stalingrad lay in the ill-fated commencement of Operation Barbarossa, Germany's Blitzkrieg (lightning) invasion of Russia launched on June 22, 1941 (Roberts "Stalingrad" 36). Between June and December of 1941, the Germans drove deep into the Soviet Union, pushing as far as the gates of Moscow and Leningrad. German panzer divisions tore up the Red Army and captured millions of Soviet soldiers. Hitler, however, failed to defeat Russia in the course of a short and sweet campaign. "You only have to...