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August 23rd 1942: Battle of Stalingrad begins

On this day in 1942, during the Second World War, the battle between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union for control of Stalingrad began as the German 6th Army reached the city. The battle occurred during the Nazi invasion of Russia - codenamed Operation Barbarossa - and Adolf Hitler ordered an attack on the major city of Stalingrad. Stalingrad became a major playing field of the war, as Soviet leader Stalin was determined to save the city which bore his name. Under the leadership of General Paulus, German bombing destroyed much of the city and troops captured areas through hand-to-hand urban warfare. Despite initial victories, they struggled against the determination of the Soviet soldiers, and often saw areas they captured retaken by the Russians the following day. In November, Marshal Zhukov assembled six Russian armies to surround Stalingrad and trap the Germans in the city, barring provisions and troops from reaching them. Many German soldiers died of starvation and frostbite following the onset of the harsh Russian winter, with temperatures down to -30°C, but Hitler insisted they fight until the last man. After five months, the Russian Red Army claimed victory when the remaining German troops surrendered in February 1943, resulting in 91,000 Germans being taken prisoner, including twenty-two generals; this was all that remained of the 330,000 strong German force who arrived at Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad is among the bloodiest battles of the Second World War, causing nearly two million casualties. The disaster depleted the German army’s supply of men and equipment, allowing the Allies to gain the advantage, which enabled them to invade Germany and win the war. 

“The God of war has gone over to the other side”
- Adolf Hitler upon hearing of the German surrender at Stalingrad

“We drive to Hitler. He is having his meal. He jumps to his feet, there he is. Shakes my hand. Like an old friend. And those big blue eyes. Like stars. He is glad to see me. I am in heaven. That man has got everything to be a king. A born tribune. The coming dictator.”

One of the most notorious members of the Nazi Party was Josef Goebbels, who served as the Minister for Propaganda between 1933 and 1945. Before this infamous role, he had been appointed district leader of the Nazi Party in Berlin, in 1925. The quote above was taken from his diary on the first day he met Hitler after being appointed the position of district leader. Goebbels kept a diary throughout his time in the Nazi Part and his early entries show how he became obsessed and enthralled by Hitler and the Nazi ideology. In February 1926, he stated in his diary, “Adolf Hitler, I love you.” when Hitler became chancellor in 1933, Goebells, as the Minister of Propaganda began to systematically control the media in an attempt to spread hatred of the Jews and instil the Nazi ideology. The day after Hitler killed himself in 1945, Goebbels also killed himself along with his wife and children. He believed there was no future “without their Fuehrer to lead and guide them.”