Feature: The Battle of Stalingrad

The epic WWII Battle of Stalingrad is one that nearly everyone will know something about, even if they didn't happen to major in history. It was here in late 1942 and early 1943 that the Soviet Red Army defeated Nazi Germany, along with its allies Italy, Hungary, Croatia and Romania, after a tenacious six-month battle. The victory was a key turning point in the war.

Since launching their surprise attack on the Soviet Union in 'Operation Barbarossa' in June 1941, the German army had swept over much of European Russia with relative ease, swallowing up huge amounts of territory along the way. Toward the end of 1942, Nazi Germany was closing in on the Volga River and the Red Army had switched into survival mode, with a last-ditch defence planned for Stalingrad.

The battle raged on for months, as the fortunes of both the Germans and the Soviets ebbed and flowed throughout that cold winter. Much of the fighting was carried on at close quarters within the city limits. At one point, finally, the German position was successfully isolated, and the Nazi commanders had no choice but to surrender. The result was in the order of 1.5 million people killed or wounded and a city in tatters, but Soviet Russia had prevailed.

The Stalingrad victory greatly shored up Russian morale and pierced the myth of German invincibility. By the end of 1943, the Red Army had driven the Germans out of most of the Soviet Union.