What was the Most Decisive Battle in WWII?

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Culminating Essay Jacob Dorabialski

World War II was a global military conflict, which in terms of casualties and material destruction was the most devastating in human history. The war involved the commitment of entire human effort and economic resources. It consisted of pivotal battles which ultimately determined the outcome of the war in favour of the Allied powers. Certain campaigns were instrumental in turning out victory; of these, two prominent were the Battle of Stalingrad, 1942-1943; and Normandy Invasion, 1944. There are many decisive factors that dictate the importance of each battle. Primarily, the Battle of Stalingrad was a German-Soviet struggle to attain the strategic prize of southern oil fields. Furthermore, Stalingrad positioned Germany in retreat on the Eastern front and it foretold the Russian juggernaut that would make the Soviet Union a superpower. Lastly, the German defeat at Stalingrad marked the end of Wehrmacht supremacy associating heavy losses. The German military lost its impetus as well as confidence in their dictator.

These critical factors suggest that the Battle of Stalingrad was the most significant battle in World War II.

By early 1942, Hitler planned a renewed assault aimed at forcing the Russians to surrender. The alternative was to seize the southern city of Stalingrad which would serve as an anchor for mass of his army to wheel further south and seize Caucasus oil fields. (1) Hitler believed that threatening the Soviet oil, the Russian army would sacrifice their last reserves of manpower to protect it. The German army launched the attack on the city of Stalingrad on July 23, 1942, and as foreseen, they received stubborn resistance from a massive Soviet counteroffensive. (2) From a strategic analysis, achieving victory at Stalingrad for both sides was vital. Oil was the life force of the Second World War; there was...