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This Day in History: February 2, 1943 by Simonov

This Day in History: February 2, 1943


On February 2, 1943, the Battle of Stalingrad ends as the last Axis troops surrender. The battle had begun with a German assault on the city on August 23, 1942. By mid-November, the Soviet defenders were reduced to small pockets of resistance as the Axis forces had occupied approximately 90% of the city; however, the Soviets began their own offensives beginning with Operation Uranus. On November 19, three Soviet armies attacked the Romanian forces defending the German's northern flank and a Soviet attack consisting of two armies attacked the Romanians defending the southern flank. By November 23, the Soviet forces met at the town of Kalach, successfully surrounding the Axis forces (consisting of approximately 265,000 Germans, Romanians, Italians, and Croatians). Axis forces attempted to break the siege, but these attempts were defeated by Soviet actions. Resupply of the of the besieged Axis troops was continued by air, but the amount of supplies brought was simply not enough and became none with the loss of the Axis-controlled airfields in January. With no supplies, few men, and no hope for relief, the Axis troops in the city finally surrendered between January 31 and February 2.

The Battle of Stalingrad marked a changing point in the course of the Second World War in Europe. Germany had suffered a staggering defeat and the entirety of the 6th Army was lost. Germany's European allies had suffered had suffered a crushing blow to their military capability. The Soviets had received a victory that greatly improved morale and were now set to go on the offensive against the German forces. The beginning of the end of the Third Reich was at hand.

Axis killed, wounded, and captured for the Battle of Stalingrad were 627,899 men, including 299,899 Germans, 114,000 Italians, 109,000 Romanians, 105,000 Hungarians. Soviet casualties were 1,129,619 men, including 478,741 killed or missing. At the conclusion of the battle, 91,000 German troops were taken prisoner. Of those 91,000 men, only 5,000 would survive their captivity.

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