Feb 2, 1943: Germans surrender at Stalingrad reversing the tide of World War 2
The Battle of Stalingrad was until the battle of Leningrad, the most bloody battle in human history. In just over 5 months of fighting, the Red Army suffered approximated 750,000 casualties. A comparison of pre- and postwar censuses shows that of half a million civilians living in Stalingrad before the war barely 1,500 remained. Over 40,000 died in just the first two days of bombing. Countless others suffered starvation as both armies turned to pets, then to vermin then to each other for sustenance.
Prior to the battle, the Nazi übermentschen and their allies were presumed invincible by the Soviets and their western allies. Indeed, over 50,000 Soviet citizens joined the German side in the battle in the hopes of preserving themselves after a Soviet defeat that seemed inevitable. So certain, were the Soviet leaders themselves that defeat was on the horizon that much of the city’s food was moved out before the battle.
Yet, the performance of those Russians who stood to defend the city in door to door combat and the Red Army that ultimately encircled the Axis forces engulfed by the vastness of the Russian steppes bear testament to the virtue of perseverance in even the most dire circumstances. Prior to the resistance of these Soviets starved for food and confidence, it was certain that the Germans would successfully march through Europe. But on this day seventy year ago the Nazis were turned back and the tide of the man’s most gruesome war turned.