Monday, May 8, 2017

Great Blunders of WWII: Death at Stalingrad 9

Stalingrad become Hitler's greatest blunder, after he took more and more control of the military.  the initial drive into Russia went well, but fell short at the gates of Moscow.  Hitler sacked his commander in chief, and took over that roll himself.  The next year, the Hitler offensive headed south, to the oilfields and Stalingrad.  The move south was divided in two group, Group A and Group B.  The initial offensive was to Stalingrad, and then Army Group A to the south.  When the Russians withdrew rather than facing the onslaught, Hitler took even more control.  The effort, with the armor was focused on the move south.  They were able to take the first goals, but the Russians destroyed many of the oilfields in the area.  however, without most of their armor, Hitler ordered a move against Stalingrad.  Without the tanks, progress was slow.  The move south eventually stalled as the supply lines were too long, and they were far away from their air support.
In Stalingrad, the germans defended the city at all costs.  A counterattack finally surrounded the forces there.  However Hitler ordered them to remain, with the goal of their being resupplied from the air.  It was impossible to get adequate supplies.  Hitler put his efforts into a rescue effort to resupply.  However the Russians kept up their offensive against Army Group B.  The relief operation stalled before they could reach them; however the commander thought they could break out and meet the relief operation.  However they followed Hitler's original orders to stay put.  However shortly the Russian efforts took the airfields supplying Stalingrad, and the desperate measure to drop supplies form the air proved inadequate.  What became known as the Stalingrad Pocket was doomed. Almost one hundred thousand were killed.  They finally surrendered, and another almost one hundred thousand were marched into Russia.  Only about five thousand would ever return.
Stalingrad was a major turning point on the Eastern Front.  The Russians would be on the offensive from this point on.

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