During the Second World War, the competing forces fought against Germany and Russia. Under Hitler’s rule, Germany attacked, which was the source of the war’s course and order. Russia used Stalingrad as the hub of contact during the battle. The town was, therefore, very important to the government. On the contrary, owing to the oil fields in it, Germany established interests in the region. The competing interests culminated in the battle for the town that took place in the winter of 1942. Around the time, the Sixth army of Germany was advancing towards the southwest side of Russia. Hitler, however, believed that pursuing the war in other cities and leaving another territory unconquered Therefore, he directed the troops towards Stalingrad before advancing to Baku. Poor leadership of the army in attacking Stalingrad led to the defeat of the German army and a turning point for World War II.
The Operation Barbarossa
In the mid twentieth century, the state of peace in the world was fragile. Many countries lived in fear of attacks from other nations. The military power of any countries was not robust enough to resist any powerful attack. As such, countries began the formation of allies to combine their military force and secure their borders. In September of the year 1940, Germany, Italy, and Japan signed a pact for military collaboration in the region (Martel 202). The Tripartite agreement bore the name the Axis Powers. In support of the group countries such as Hungary and Romania joined the team in November of the same year. By the time the Second World War started, the Axis power had seven countries in the war. The countries combined their military forces and worked together towards common goals such as the expansion of territories and acquisition of new lands. However, the states failed to coordinate their activities with each group working separately.
Among the countries, Germany had the strongest army. The training of the military was much more superior to the other nations. Therefore, the country had higher dictatorial power as compared to other nations. As the stronger force, Adolf Hitler believed that he deserved to occupy the Romanian oil field which his country depended on for supply. However, the present occupants of the oil fields were the Russians whom Adolf Hitler considered weaker than his team. The preparation of the invasion required a strong team to counter the resistance. Apart from the interest in the oil fields, Adolf Hitler aimed at capturing the people in the region and using them as slaves (Pinkus 294). The Germans would then occupy the lands and enjoy the services from the slaves. The Soviet territory was also famous for the agricultural productivity. Hitler understood that capturing the area would increase the agricultural yield in the country as well as a clean and constant supply of oil.
Due to the interests of the Germans in the region, the area became a point of fundamental interest for their leader Adolf Hitler. Adolf Hitler and his generals planned to invade the Soviet Union in May of 1941. However, the country was still occupied with other invasions in countries such as Greece and Yugoslavia. Due to the seriousness of the situation in the Soviet Union, it was impossible for the country to concentrate on the invasion of Greece, Yugoslavia, and Russia concurrently. Therefore, Adolf Hitler decided that the most appropriate plan was to delay the invasion of the Soviet Union until the completion of the other missions. Due to the change of plans, the Soviet Union invasion delayed until late June. The delay of more than a month ensured that the Germans had an army that was robust enough to counter expected resistance from the Russians. The codename for the invasion was Operation Barbarossa.
Operation Barbarossa Preparation
In preparation for the invasion, Adolf Hitler appointed Paulus as the leader of the army (Vogel and Farrell 173). The group responsible for the attack was the Sixth Army which composed of 1,011,500 men. All the soldiers had ample training and very professional due to experience in other invasions. Hitler provided the army with 10,290 artillery guns for use in the attack. On top of the weapons, general Paulus had 675 tanks at his disposal as well as 1,216 planes for aerial attacks. From the weapons dedicated to the war, it was clear that the battle was dangerous for the Germans. Further hatred for the city came from the name. Stalingrad city bore the name from Joseph Stalin who was a Russian leader.
Adolf Hitler despised Joseph Stalin, and it was irritating of him to see the city named after his enemy. Therefore, the hatred pushed him to exercise full force in attacking the city. However, Joseph Stalin considered the town as a legacy to due to the name. In preparation for the invasion, he appointed General Zhukov as the leader of the resistance. At his disposal, he created an army of 1,000,500 men. Joseph Stalin went ahead to arm the teams with 13,541 artillery guns. In matching the expected invasion, General Zhukov received 894 tanks and 1,115 planes for the battle (Matanle 172). Both teams had very high stakes for the fight.
The Russians could not risk losing the city to the Germans because it would mean slavery of the people as well as loss of all the resources supplied by the oil fields. More so, the productive agricultural areas were at stake in addition to the prestigious name given to the city by the Russian leader. The Germans, on the contrary, felt that capturing the city would exercise their dominance in the region as well as capturing the oil fields and the associated financial gains. Therefore, all the teams had a primary objective of the war and all concentrated on achieving victory through any possible means. On the 22nd of June, Adolf Hitler directed the armies towards the south for a full invasion of the Soviet Union. As the Germans approached, the Russians prepared for a counter offensive and the battle officially begun on that fateful day.
The Germans launched the attack with multiple airstrikes in the city (Kapeikis 10). The air raids extensively covered Kronstadt, Ismail, and Sevastopol. The Red Army deployed by the Soviets to protect the city could not push back the attack. At the beginning of the war, it was clear that the German forces were too high for the Soviet Union. Due to the minimal resistance, the Germans termed the invasion as a simple task that would end within three months. During this time, the Soviet Union was working towards motivation of the people to join in the war and protect the city in what they called a Patriotic war. The air strikes crippled the command and control center of the Soviets. On the morning of June 23rd, Joseph Stalin ordered the troops to attack any army from the axis to protect the city. The violation of the borders treaty by the Germans was an act of war which required a stern response.
Stalin ordered airstrikes on the German forces as a counter offensive step. The German Army formed 150 groups with powerful armory and attacked the city from various sides. In the history of war, the invasion was the strongest ever. Countries such as Finland and Romania contributed further troops into the force adding on to the offensive force. In the comparison of the weapons, the Soviet Union had a higher number of weapons but lower in power. As the Germans progressed, the Soviet Union marshaled up more people and increased their troops to more than two hundred without the knowledge of the German Intelligence teams. Thus, the Germans experienced new resistance immediately after conquering the original team. Therefore, the Germans would capture a city during the day, and the fresh forces from the Soviet Union would recover the city at night (Kort 256). The miscalculations and underestimation of the Soviet forces marked the beginning of the downfall of the German forces under the command of Adolf Hitler.
As the war progressed, the Germans took in more slaves from the Soviet Union. The tactical approach of the city with armored vehicles from the North, South, East, and West caught the Soviet Union by surprise. In mid-July, the German forces started experiencing setbacks from the unfavorable weather. At first, the weather was dry making it easy for the German machines to move at high speed. However, the muddy terrain after the rain slowed down the progress of the German army. In addition to the weather, the Soviet Union resulted in burning the bridges as they retreated making the advance of the German army impossible. Further destruction was evident in the steel factories where the Soviets destroyed the rail system and transported the iron towards the eastern region. The approach ensured that the Germans would not benefit from the railway system in making their advance towards Stalingrad. Mid-July saw the German forces less than 400 kilometers from Moscow. However, the leadership of the army was in conflict with Adolf Hitler.
The Army leadership targeted Moscow as the primary objectives of the invasion. Hitler, on the contrary, wanted the military to divert south east of the country with a minor group focusing on Stalingrad (Griess et al. 129). As winter approached, the German Army separated into two fronts under the command of Adolf Hitler. One group was to focus on capturing Moscow under the leadership of Bock. The other group was to head towards the Caucus with Dnieper as the leader. The weather presented a huge challenge to Bock slowing down the progress. The troops were also tired, and the commanders advised that the troops took a break. However, Bock disregarded the advice due to the belief that the war was almost over. In November and December, the German troops suffered from extreme cold due to the winter. The mode of dressing was not good enough to keep them warm during the cold weather. During this time, the Soviet Union offered substantial resistance to the German forces with the weather favoring them immensely.
The Soviets had ample dressing, and the weapons could operate under the low temperatures. As for the Germans, they did not have cold-resistant clothes, the artillery and the vehicles could not move in the current weather rendering them helpless (Ringer 217). Almost a million German soldiers were victims of the poor weather by November only. The German group heading to the south was facing similar problems. The fuel in the tanks depleted but Hitler could not allow the team to retreat. Due to the problems, the team was not strong enough to protect Rostov which the Soviet Union recaptured. General Zhukov, the leader of the Soviet Union, ordered the first counter offensive strike to the team led by Bock. Zhukov understood that the team was not in a position to anticipate such an attack as well as present any formidable resistance. Zhukov and his team were conversant with the weather and capable fighters in the cold.
Zhukov used six armies which surrounded the city trapping the Germans in Stalingrad. In sensing defeat, Paulus requested to break the trap and retreat, but Hitler directed him to fight to the last man. The pride in Hitler could not allow the team to concede defeat. A combination of the weather that froze their hands to the extent of being unable to fire their guns and the huge counter offensive deployed by the Soviet Union made the Sixth Army helpless. The perimeter created by the Soviet troops ensured that the team could not receive any outside help. The food consumed by force depleted leading to serious problems. The team had no choice but to surrender. The loss at Stalingrad resulted in the capture of 91,000 prisoners and a loss of equipment and workforce by the Germans. The Soviet Union lost many people during the war, but the victory gave them a consolation. The humiliation by Paulus in conceding defeat and surrendering led to the demotion by Hitler.
Poor Military Leadership
The failure at Stalingrad marked the turning point of the Second World War (Müller and Ueberschär 111). The win by the Soviet Union was unprecedented leaving the Germans in a massive confusion. Inadequate military leadership by Adolf Hitler resulted in the defeat and capture of the Sixth army. Without the poor leadership, it was possible for the military to win the war and reduce the number of casualties that the country experienced. However, Hitler failed to take responsibility for the failure and instead blamed Paulus for the defeat. Instead of appreciating the efforts, Hitler demoted Paulus, a clear indication of his anger. The German defeat was a pure case of poor leadership for the military.
The first mistake by the German military was underestimation of the Soviet Union. Despite the fact that German had better weapons as compared to the Soviet Union, Adolf Hitler underestimated the expected resistance. In his previous expectation, he predicted that the war would only last three months. That estimation was a pure miscalculation which led to the defeat. The team underestimated the number of soldiers expected in the resistance. The Soviet Union took advantage of the underestimation and marshaled up more people without the knowledge of the Germans. Therefore, the Germans ended up encountering new forces after defeating the first troops. The new troops had more energy and capitalized on the element of surprise on the formation of their resistance. Therefore, it became harder for the German forces to advance with the normal speed due to the emerging resistance after every defeat of the red army.
The second error in leadership was a disregard of the advice of the generals. Adolf Hitler tended to assume the information relayed to him by the military generals. For example, the army generals advised him that it was not right for the military to fight on two fronts. Dividing the army meant that the collective force would reduce. In Stalingrad, the division was an advantage to the Soviet Union since the expected offensive was smaller making the resistance successful. However, Hitler disregarded the advice and directed one side of the army to focus on capturing the city of Moscow while the other group head south towards the Caucus (Glantz 256). As such, the team reduced in number and force to the extent of losing ground acquired by the day at night. The disregard of the advice of the generals led to the defeat at Stalingrad and the massive loss of lives by the soldiers.
Apart from the division of the team, Hitler forced Paulus to continue fighting despite his plea to retreat (Bendersky 185). When the Soviet Union barricaded the city with the German Forces inside, Paulus requested Adolf Hitler to allow him to break the barrier from one side and retreat. The decision to retreat was a tactical move because the chances of winning were minimal. By retreating, Paulus was ensuring that the Sixth army would not undergo further casualties from the war. However, Hitler gave strict orders to Paulus to continue with the war to the last man. The Sixth army lost a huge number of soldiers to the Soviet Union. If Adolf Hitler paid close attention to the Army Generals, the losses experienced would have been lower. It was possible for the Sixth army to survive with minor casualties if Adolf Hitler allowed them to retreat at the immediate moment when Paulus sensed defeat.
The leadership of the German military had poor planning for the war. Firstly, the war delayed since the military was invading Greece and Yugoslavia. During the time of delay, the leadership of the German army failed to plan for the impending winter. During the winter, the temperatures drop to sub zero degrees. The machinery used by the Germans could not function effectively in low temperatures. Therefore, the ineffective planning failed to consider the effects of the weather on the artillery especially in the middle of the war. The failure of the machinery to work efficiently in the low temperatures was one of the primary reasons behind the failure by the army. After the rains, the roads became very muddy. The vehicles used by the Germans did not have the ability to move fast on the muddy roads. The hindrance to movement gave the Soviet Union an upper hand in the war. The Russian fighters could easily escape from the German soldiers due to the poor terrain.
Apart from the machinery, the soldiers suffered immensely from the machines; the soldiers became inactive in the cold (White 170). The soldiers froze, and their fingers were unable to operate the artillery. The German leadership of the military failed to provide the Sixth army with clothes that could keep them warm during the winter period. Many soldiers died during the time making the army weaker and weaker. By contrast, the Soviet Union soldiers had enough training to survive the weather. The soldier had enough clothing to keep them warm and ensure no casualties. More so, the vehicles and tanks used by the Soviet Union had the ability to operate efficiently in the cold weather. The weather gave the Russians a chance to launch many counter offensive strikes which ensured the Germans retreated for the loss was very imminent. Poor planning was a huge factor in the defeat and loss of the Sixth Army.
More leadership failure was visible in depletion of the available resources. The team heading towards Moscow suffered a shortage of fuel for the tanks. Without the fuel, the tanks became useless to the team. Besides, the food reserves for the army depleted (Zeimke 182). The food shortage compromised the productivity of the group since the teams could not cope with the cold and hunger combined. The massive miscalculation of the reserves came from the estimation that the invasion and takeover would not last over three months. In the tactical counter offensive of the Soviet Union, they surrounded the city and locked the German Army inside. Without any clear route to receive food or any supplies for the team, the battle was heading towards a short end. The military leadership failed to put plans in place to ensure the Sixth army would not run out of supplies throughout the war.
From the onset of the war, the German side underestimated the Soviet Union. The underestimation led to a miscalculation of the time required to complete the invasion and the supplies needed to sustain the forces. It was the responsibility of the leadership of the military to ensure the team has enough supplies to last until the end of the war. The Sixth army suffered from the poor tactical approach (Mercatante 150). They lacked the tactics to express dominance in the captured areas. For example, the Soviet Union recaptured most of the cities at night after the Germans conquered them during the day. Such tactical errors from the leadership delayed any substantial progress from the team. The invasion of Stalingrad took longer leading to depletion of resources and the resounding loss for the German team.
Operation Barbarossa marked the failure of the Germans and a turning point of the Second World War. The city of Stalingrad was important to Adolf Hitler due to the oil reserves that Germany considered critical. However, the German army committed serious errors in the invasion of Stalingrad. For example, the team failed to plan for the expected winter which rendered their weapons and soldiers useless. Secondly, the war lasted longer leading to depletion of resources such as fuel for the tanks and food for the army. Such errors from the military leadership compromised the chances of success for the team. Besides, Adolf Hitler disregarded the advice of the generals in retreating from the war. Inability to retreat led to the failure of the teams in fulfilling the primary objectives of the invasion. Salvaging the Sixth army was possible, but Hitler commanded Paulus to fight until the last man rendering their chances very dim. The failure by the Sixth team in the invasion of Stalingrad was due to poor leadership by the military leading to the defeat of the Germans.
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