Whilst reading our earlier blog about Stalingrad, an interesting discussion arose in the office; What was the biggest turning point in WW2? The first five people asked that question came up with 5 different answers! We are going to have a mini series examining those 5 key events.
Let us kick off with the battle that started the whole discussion: The Battle of Stalingrad
State of play beforehand
Europe was on the brink of conquest. German troops had charged through mainland Europe with no sign of stopping. After opening up the Eastern Front, they carried on surging through Soviet Territory without much resistance.
They were not far from capturing Moscow and defeating the Soviets, thus allowing them to concentrate on Britain and the recently joined US forces.
At this point the Germans were seemingly invincible.
Why didn’t it work for the Axis
The German Blitzkrieg method was working so effectively they had no reason to change it. They had better equipment, logistics and morale. Everyone else had just relented or been bullied out of their way.
Stalin and his Generals had had enough and were not going to give in. Stalingrad would simply not fall. German troops had not faced this defiance before and were not used to it.
Stalingrad also brought about a new type of Warfare, Street fighting. This was not the type of fighting that the German Troops had been trained for or were used to.
The resilience also caused a bit of a logistical issue for the Germans. Due to the increased time spent here, their supplies were running low. Because of the speed of the advance and the sheer distance away, the infrastructure behind them had not caught up. The major issue was that the Russians used a different gauge on their railways to the Germans and so all the train tracks either needed to be replaced or trains needed to be unloaded and reloaded when the tracks switched.
Why considered a turning point
Stalingrad proved to the Soviet Soldiers and to the World that the Germans could be defeated.
With the massive amount of resources and manpower spent here, the Germans were dealt a huge blow. They never made any significant gains in the War again.
Through deaths, injuries or captures, Germany lost around 10% of it’s whole wartime army in one battle.
Strategically it prevented key German plans: Accessing the Oilfields of the Caucasus, encircling the British in Egypt and being able to attack their colonies in the Middle East and India.
At the end of the series, we’ll have a vote to see which of the featured events you think is the most significant. Will Stalingrad be your choice?