When Germany attacked Russia, a quick victory was expected. No winter campaign was expected, no retreats, no dying Germans. The German people expected the best, but they got the worst of news. Leningrad failed to be taken, and so was Moscow. Germany was almost on the defensive. Russian tanks called White Mammoths were clobbering the German soldiers on the ground. The resistance had also built up in Russia terrorizing the Germans. The Germans needed to get something done.
Since Hitler couldn't take Leningrad or Moscow, the next target was Stalingrad. Before Germany could take Stalingrad, he needed three important cities as a checkpoint for supplies and reinforcements. These cities were Sevastopol, Voronezh and Rostov. With these cities in German hands, the city of Stalingrad could be taken and the momentum of his Russian attack would be increased.
Sometime in December of 1941, the Germans converged on Sevastopol and surrounded it. The seige began just like Leningrad, but the Germans would not be patient. Bombs and shells constantly rained down from ground troops and the air. The seige lasted for six months, and finally the Germans tired of the resistance. In June of 1942, all German strenth was poured onto the city. The city of Sevastopol finally surrendered on July 3.
Next was for the Germans was Voronezh. On July 7, 1942, German soldiers had finally reached Voronezh. The Russian counterattack placed the Germans in a tricky position and they skipped the city and went straight for Stalingrad.
Rostov was next, and even though the Russians counterattacked with tanks and men, the city was doomed. It was German tanks against Russian tanks, but Russian tanks were outnumbered. On July 27, 1942, the city fell to the Germans. One German force would head towards the Black Sea. The Germans were successful as they captured Novorossisk on September 10, 1942. The crucial oil fields were never reached, but Germany had taken it's prize. It was now time for Stalingrad.
On August 22, 1942, the battle began. The German Luftwaffe bombed the city almost to complete destruction, but the resistance was great. German tanks could not reach the city due to heavy buildings on their side. Debris was everywhere, along with the dead bodies of civilians and soldiers. Stalingrad would not be an easy victory for either of the armies.
The Battle of Stalingrad was fought everywhere. It was fought from room to room of buildings, in kitchens, graveyards, parks, and any other imaginable surface available for fighting. Parts of the city could be captured, but retaken the next day. Noone had any idea how this battle would turn out.
The bad part about the Germans was that Hitler said "no retreats!" This would kill the German armies because they could not retreat and rest. Resting would rebuild their strength. To make matters worse, winter was fast approaching. What slowed the Germans down the year before was probably going to do the same thing this year. Hitler still refused to retreat. This decision would stab him in the back.
A severely hurting Russian counterattack went against the Germans on November 19, 1942. The two armies swept around the Germans and almost surrounded them. The Russian winter hit, and all was lost for the Germans. The counterattack created a pocket only 25 miles wide and 12 miles deep in Stalingrad. The Germans were surrounded with one of the worst winters in Russian history.
Hitler told the surrounded Germans not to surrender. He said if you surrender, you might as well kill yourself. When supplies didn't come from the air, and animals were all eaten, the starving, dehydrated, freezing Germans had no choice but to surrender. The surrender came in late January of 1943.
Paulus, head of the Germans at Stalingrad, surrendered to the Russians from the basement of a department store. The Germans lost 146,700 people. Hitler was furious with word of the surrender, and with Stalingrad out of Germany's grasp, never again would the threat of a German invasion occur. Germany was put on the defense in one swift blow.
Stalin protested to America and Great Britain that they were doing nothing to help the Allied war effort. Winston Churchill and Roosevelt resented the statement. They said they were doing everything in their power to help the Russians. Well, Stalin felt that he was alone in the World War. He didn't need Britain and America, but he would sacrifice more without them. Germans failed to take Leningrad, Stalingrad, and Moscow. With these losses, Russia was quickly put on the offense and it was Germany who was now running.
In February of 1943 the Russians managed to take back Kushvhevka,Kupiansk, Tim, Schigry, Kursk, Rostov, Voroshilovgrad, Krasny Sulin, Kharkov, Sumi, and Lebedin. In March, the Russians took Rzhev and Vyazma on the 12th. They evacuated Kharkov on March 15th, 1943. The Russians stopped to rest but had calculated their earnings. Over 185,000 miles of Russian soil was now theirs again. The Germans tried their offensive tactics on July 5, 1943, but it just wouldn't work. Over 70,000 German men were lost.
The Russians then began their own offensive. On August 4, 1943, Orel was taken by the Russians. Byelgorod fell that same day. Kharkov was also recaptured three weeks later. Almost all key German cities in Russia were taken almost with ease. Russia kept going taking Bryansk, Smolensk, Dnepropetrovsk(an important dam), Kiev and Dnieper, and Zhitomir. The Russians were only 67 miles from the conquered Poland.
The Germans were finished in Russia. There would be no more offensives and no more devestating blows to the Russians. Russia was clearly the victor. Over 325,000 miles were recaptured after Stalingrad and about a million Germans died in the great battle. Overall, six million German casualties were suffered. The threat of Germany and Russia was through.