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On This Day in History Shit: November 23
The Stalingrad Encirclement
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The Soviets called it Operation Uranus, which was appropriate because it involved handing the Nazis their asses at the Battle of Stalingrad, the deadliest battle of World War II. It was a horrific shitshow and you definitely didn’t want to be there, because the odds of surviving it were almost nonexistent.
--On This Day in History Shit Went Down: November 23, 1942--
The German invasion of Stalingrad (now Volgograd, because fuck Stalin) began in August 1942. Stalin was all hell fucking no that city is named after me and launched a massive counterattack. Operation Uranus was a plan to encircle the Germans (and Italians, Hungarians, and Romanians, who were all fighting on the side of the Axis) and cut them off from resupply or retreat. And it worked. The northern arm of the Red Army launched on November 19, 1942, and the southern arm attacked the following day.
The plan was to hit their northern and southern flanks where they were weak, because they were protected not by Germans, but by Romanian forces. These soldiers were simply not as tough, and both flanks quickly collapsed. Germans sent in their reserves to protect their southern flank, but it wasn’t enough. They couldn’t stop the encirclement. They were F U fucking fucked.
It took three more days to complete the encirclement, but it was a done deal on November 23, 1942, and then over a quarter million Axis troops were trapped in Soviet territory, cut off and with only the impending Russian winter for company. Sucks to be them. The remaining Italians and Romanians surrendered, but Hitler said no fucking way we superior German specimens shall surrender. I know! I’ll promote the commander to Field Marshall. No German Field Marshall has ever surrendered. That will solve the problem!
Except it didn’t. Starvation and cold took as many German lives as did Soviet bombs and bullets, and on January 31, 1943, newly promoted Field Marshall Friedrich Paulus waved the white flag. Only 90,000 Germans were left alive at this point to surrender. They were sent to Soviet prison camps and let’s just say the Russians didn’t feel much like being nice to them. Even after the war ended, they didn’t send them home, but rather made them work to atone for the crimes of their nation against the Soviet Union for another decade.
Only 5,000 ever saw home again.
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