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Why Stalingrad Was More Important Than Overlord In World War 2

1501 words - 6 pages

What is the greatest battle of World War 2? For most people, D-Day is what comes to mind. However, an increasing number of historians nowadays recognize Stalingrad as a more significant turning point than Operation Overlord. The Soviet victory in Stalingrad was the biggest boost to anti-Fascist morale worldwide; it had on Germany an opposite effect. Overlord could not have been as successful without Stalingrad, which bankrupted Hitler in men and material. It was his greatest setback and paved the way to his ruin in Berlin two years later. Overlord was an incredible military achievement but Stalingrad was more than just that.For instance, Stalingrad gave hope to the Allies. Russian soldiers, having successfully defended the city named after their leader, fought with high morale until the end of the war (http://www.sixthscalebattle.com/whats_new.html). Stalingrad shattered the Wehrmacht's invincible image and a victory was in sight for the Soviets. Stalingrad affected every anti-Nazi movement worldwide. It inspired troops in the French Resistance to Mao's Red Army in China (http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/culture/Battle_of_Stalingrad.htm). Though Hitler tried to censor the bad news of Stalingrad, it eventually leaked out and shocked German morale (http://www.sixthscalebattle.com/whats_new.html). The Fuhrer's own spirits were broken. When he heard that Paulus had surrendered he said, "The God of War had gone the other side" (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/battle_of_stalingrad.htm). He was outraged that Paulus had defied his orders in surrendering and did not promptly take his own life afterwards, as he advised him to (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friedrich_Paulus). He ordered a national mourning day not for the men lost in the battle but for the shame Paulus brought on the Wehrmacht and Germany with his surrender. He stripped him of rank in his anger and blamed his army generals for his own grave mistakes while Stalin promoted both himself and Zhukov to Field Marshal (http://www.sixthscalebattle.com/whats_new.html). The greatest irony in all this is that the great German Sixth Army, which was destroyed in Stalingrad, did not need to be involved at all (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/battle_of_stalingrad.htm). Army Groups A and B were doing well in the Caucasus when Hitler intervened and, against his generals' advice, ordered that Stalingrad be taken first, as it was named after Stalin himself. He thought that if Stalingrad was captured it would prove to be a great ideological and propaganda coup that would drastically undermine Russian morale. In taking on Russia, he underestimated the indefatigable will of the Russian soldier and civilian, especially in defending the city named after their great leader. Discipline was maintained in Soviet troops even when the average life expectancy of a soldier in Stalingrad was less than 24 hours (Reynoldson, 37). Hitler was afraid after his failure in Stalingrad because he knew the Soviets were...

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