On February 2 the Russian Federation celebrates the Military Glory Day of Russian. On this day in 1943 the Soviet army in the battle near Stalingrad smashed the German forces marking a radical turning point in the course of the Great Patriotic war and the World War II.
The battle for Stalingrad, which began on July 17, 1942, had a strategic significance. The one who won it would obtain the access to the oil regions of Caucasus and rich agricultural regions of Don and Kuban.
As a result of severe battles by the beginning of winter the Soviet forces succeeded to stop the enemy’s offensive. Having evaluated the situation and correlation of forces, the Soviet high command began to prepare a return attack that was codenamed ‘Uran’. In the course of the operation conducted with combined forces of three fronts, South-Western (Colonel General N.F. Vatutin), Stalingrad (Colonel General A.I. Eremenko) and Don (Lieutenant General K.K. Rokossovsky), it was intended to surround and destroy the enemy’s force near Stalingrad. In order to achieve this goal, in the main lines of advance there was provided a double and a triple superiority of forces.
As a result of counterattack which began on November 19, 1942 the Wehrmacht forces suffered serious losses, the remains were pushed aside and blocked. The operation on the surrounded force destruction codenamed “Circle” was completely under the authority of Don front. It joined all the forces set in motion near Stalingrad. Seeking to minimize the losses, on January 8 the Soviet command put forth to the 6th army commander General Field Marshal Paulus an ultimatum on cease of resistance which was declined by order from Berlin.
In the morning of January 10, 1943 after the artillery preparation, the Soviet forces assumed the offense dividing the surrounded force in two parts. On January 31 the enemy resistance in the Southern part of the city was broken down and the 6th army headed by Paulus himself yielded prisoners. The commander of the southern force Major General F. Roske followed his example.
On February 2 after the concentrated blows of artillery and aviation, the Northern group of German forces under the command of the Colonel General K. Shteker, the commander of the 11th army corps capitulated. The battle of Stalingrad which lasted 200 days and nights ended by the absolute victory of the Soviet forces.
In the course of the counterattack were completely destroyed 32 divisions and 3 brigades of the enemy, 16 divisions suffered 50-75% losses of the crew and lost their fighting efficiency. In all during the Stalingrad battle the fascist block armies lost about 25% of their forces operating on the Soviet-German front. Up to 1.5 million of the enemy officers and soldiers were killed, wounded and taken prisoners. The great losses of men and means affected badly the general situation of the Nazi Germany. The enemy’s defeat on Volga river marked the breaking point in the course of the Great Patriotic war and the World War II.
For the distinguished military services 55 formations and units were awarded the orders, 213 were transformed into the Guards ones, 46 received honorary names of Stalingrad, Don, Middle Don, Tatsyn, Kantemirov, etc.
On December 22, 1942 was established the medal ‘For the defense of Stalingrad’ which was awarded to over 750 thousand city defenders.
On May 8, 1965 Stalingrad was named ‘The hero city’.
In commemoration of the exploits of Stalingrad battle heroes in 1963-1967 a memorial complex was erected on Mamayev Kurgan.
Lit.: Самсонов А. М. Сталинградская битва. М., 1989; То же [Электронный ресурс]. URL: http://militera.lib.ru/h/samsonov1/index.html; Сталинградская битва [Электронный ресурс] // Победа. 1941-1945. 2004-2018. URL: http://victory.rusarchives.ru/index.php?p=32&sec_id=8.
Музей-заповедник «Сталинградская битва»: сайт. Б. д. URL: http://www.stalingrad-battle.ru/.
From the Presidential library materials: