Without a doubt, though, the most sickening and brutal engagement of World War II was the Battle of Stalingrad. Occurring over the time span of 6 months from August 1942 to February 1943, it not only led a decisive defeat for the Nazis on the Eastern Front, it also provided a huge boost to Soviet morale which would carry them all the way from the streets of one of their own ravaged cities to that of their hated enemy. The battle was fought in two stages the initial German advance, beginning on 23rd August 1943 with General Friedrich Paulus leading the 6th Army against the seemingly doomed 62nd Army, led by Vasili Chuikov, into the besieged and rubble-strewn city. By November, the Soviets were pinned back against a tiny strip of land on the river Volga, holding a mere few houses, factories and bunkers on the river's edge. Men were shipped in over the reinforce the defense of the city, which refused to fall. What this allowed was the build-up of Soviet troops to the North and South of the Germans, who attacked the weak flanks of the Sixth Army and allowed the rapid encirclement of the Wehrmacht. Despite a failed airlift to relieve the troops, the Germans held out in the face of overwhelming weather, brutal Soviet fighting and loss of morale and, more importantly, faith. On February 2nd 1943 Paulus, despite being made a Field Marshal, surrendered to the Russians; the Germans had lost a battle severely for the first time. But Stalingrad stands out because of the horrendous conditions and loss of life which occurred within its boundaries. Soviet civilians were murdered brutally by the Germans, others hid in appalling conditions for months while the battle raged above. The soldiers themselves suffered hugely both German and Russian accounts of the battle paint a picture of lack of food, madness and desperation taking their hold over the deluded and defeated attackers, and defenders. 850,000 Axis forces were killed or wounded; 1.1 million Soviet soldiers and civilians lost their lives. Corpses are still being found to this day. What do you think of my choices? Are there any other battles of the war which prove more brutal to you? Leave a comment below and never forget the sacrifices which were made by every soldier who died in the worst conflict in history.
Me? I'm 17 years old, from Dawlish, Devon and studying (tirelessly) at Exeter College. I love pretty much anything, am a fan of numerous TV programmes and films, countless books and topics, from Sherlock to the Cold War, Doctor Who to Muse and my ambition is to become a journalist in any field which I have an interest in, and I hope to show my opinions (although varied) to the full.