I originally was planning on skipping this blogpost, but I could not refuse writing about Russia and World War Two. The Russian role in World War Two has always been of interest, Russia acting as “the enemy of my enemy” quite possibly shifting the entire course of the war.
If there was a dictionary definition for the quote about those not knowing history being doomed to repeat it, the Battle of Stalingrad would appear next to the definition. If Hitler had thought back to the numerous tries and failures of armies invading Russia, He could of made a much more informed decision. The decision he made to invade Russia, more specifically all the way to Stalingrad proved to be a costly mistake. Had he succeeded in what Siegelbaum referred to as “The main object of the Nazi offensive in the summer of 1942 were the oil fields of Baku, the seizure of which would have deprived the Red Army — and the rest of the Soviet Union — of its principal fuel supply.” (The Nazi Tide Stops, Siegelbaum) he could have inflicted a huge wound in Soviet supplies, as well as “the symbolism of capturing the city that bore the Soviet leader’s name…” (Siegelbaum) to hurt soviet morale. Diverting these troops just for a morale blow in hindsight clearly was not worth the loss of human life, Stalingrad being one of the deadliest battles in the history of warfare.
The Battle of Stalingrad represents a turning point of sorts in the war not just on the eastern front, but of the entire conflict as a whole. Stalingrad is a “household name” of battles in World War Two, perhaps to the vast majority of people the only one not involving American/British troops they know much about. This unfortunate notoriety is most likely a result of how deadly this battle was for both sides. World War Two being so violent, and Stalingrad being the deadliest battle of the war, hopefully people educate themselves on this battle so something of its magnitude never has to happen again. The battle is so scarily fascinating because of the intense, close quarters urban combat. I cannot imagine the conditions these troops fought in, and the trauma they suffered after being in combat in such close quarters. To me, it represents an unfortunate pinnacle of human horror.
This picture from Stalingrad forced me to do a double take. Thinking of the themes from my last blogpost, I questioned if it was doctored or not. Also, at first I thought this was a group of live children, but upon a closer look it became clear it depicts a statue that survived the Battle of Stalingrad. Unfortunately, the statue was probably one of the few things that survived this battle, living and non-living.
( Emmanuil Yevzerikhin, Rare Historical Photos)
Lewis Siegelbaum, “The Nazi Tide Stops”
(Rare Historical Photos, Emmaniul Yevzerikhin)