In 1939, Germany and the USSR signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, which was a ______ .
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was a non-aggression treaty between Germany and the USSR. It essentially freed up Germany to attack Europe without fear of reprisals from Stalin.
In Germany's 1941 Operation Barbarossa, which country did Germany attack?
Well, so much for that friendship. After failing to bring Britain to heel in the West, Hitler decided to turn on his Soviet allies. Operation Barbarossa invaded the Soviet Union.
At first, how did Germany's Operation Barbarossa go for the Nazi invaders?
The Soviets, surprised by the German offensives, found themselves at the mercy of Nazi attacks. The Germans steamrolled their former allies with few problems.
Why did the Soviets conduct orderly withdrawals in response to Operation Barbarossa?
Early in Barbarossa, the Germans encircled Soviet troops and captured them. So the Soviets began withdrawing to prevent their armies from winding up in Nazi prison camps.
In 1942, where did USSR leader Joseph Stalin anticipate most German attacks would take place?
Stalin figured that the Germans would make a push to capture Moscow, the Soviet capital, and he planned his defenses accordingly. But Hitler and his men had other ideas.
Why did Hitler decide to attack and capture Stalingrad instead of Moscow?
Stalingrad was central to the transport and distribution of war materiel for the Soviets. And, Hitler surmised, taking the city named for the country's leader would be terrible blow to Soviet morale.
Once the city was conquered, what did Hitler have planned for the Soviet males who called Stalingrad home?
Hitler planned to seize Stalingrad and then murder every man and boy in the city, in part to demonstrate his power and in part to thwart any acts of retaliation. But the Soviets, as you are about to find out, did not plan to go quietly.
What was the code name of the German operation that led the Nazis to the doorstep of Stalingrad in 1942?
The Germans used Fall Blau -- Case Blue -- to push the Soviets back and into Stalingrad. Then, the Germans began making their way into the city.
At Stalingrad, Stalin issued Order No. 227, which told his troops ______.
Stalin's Order No. 227 was an ultimatum to Soviet troops. "Not one step back!" The strongly worded statement was a call to Soviet patriotism meant to stem massive desertion. Troops who violated the order were to be executed on the spot.
In July 1942, what fateful decision did Hitler make regarding his armies in the area?
Hitler was never lacking in ambition. In early July he decided that he wanted to capture the Caucasus and Stalingrad at the same time … so he split his forces, further burdening a strained army and its long supply lines.
To hold off the Germans, Stalin and his men combined several armies for a fight. This area became known as ______.
Knowing he would need to rally all available forces, Stalin combined several armies and deployed them in the area that would become known as the Stalingrad Front. This Front would become the place were heroes were made … and killed.
What was Stalingrad like before the battle?
Stalingrad was a major industrial city situated on the Volga River. The Soviets made many of their war goods here and then transported them all over the front.
The Germans called the battle "Rattenkrieg," which means _____.
Nazi soldiers stuck in the street-by-street fighting of Stalingrad came to loathe the area. They called it "Rattenkrieg," or "rat war," for their inability to uproot the Soviet "rats" from their urban dens.
During the battle, the Stalingrad Tractor Factory was altered to produce which good?
As the battle raged, the Stalingrad Tractor Factory cranked out T-34 tanks as fast as it could. The tanks would roll off production lines … and then directly into battle.
Many men were conscripted into the Soviet Army at the beginning of the battle. What was their average life expectancy?
Stalingrad was a meat grinder for both sides. At the beginning of the battle, freshly drafted Soviet soldiers had an average survival expectancy of about 24 hours. Then, a new draftee would step in to take his place.
During the battle, Vasily Zaytsev was a famous Soviet ______.
Vasily Zaytsev was a Soviet sniper who tallied incredible numbers during his days in combat. In Stalingrad alone he killed more than 220 enemies with his rifle. He was injured by a mortar attack and lost part of his vision, but returned to the front lines after being treated by a doctor.
As the Germans began to bomb Stalingrad, how did Stalin treat citizens of the city?
Stalin was a brutal man. As the bombs began falling he refused to let civilians flee the city, in part because he wanted them to work as laborers building trenches. Whether they liked it or not, innocents were about to become a part of one of the world's biggest battles.
The 1077th was a Soviet Anti-Aircraft Regiment. Who made up most of the regiment's manpower?
The 1077th Anti-Aircraft Regiment didn't have any manpower -- it had womanpower. It was mostly made up of girls who were barely out of high school.
In August 1942, a German Panzer division attacked the 1077th Anti-Aircraft Regiment, which had no infantry protection. What did the young women do?
The 1077th had no arms to take on German tanks, so they improvised. They leveled their anti-aircraft guns and started firing away … and caused chaos in the German ranks.
What sort of fighting characterized the Battle of Stalingrad?
Stalingrad was a large metro area filled with sprawling buildings. As the German air force reduced those buildings to rubble, infantry forces engaged in close quarters fighting. Block by block, the bodies began piling up.
The Soviets had very little food during the battle. What did they eat?
Surrounded by German units, the huge city had very few food supplies, so troops and civilians resorted to eating anything that was edible, including rats and mice. Numerous historical accounts also indicate that cannibalism occurred in Stalingrad.
At one point, Germans pushed the Soviets back to the Volga River in a strip of the city that was just _____.
The Germans were successful in urban combat, pushing the Soviets back into a strip of land about 2 miles wide. The Soviets would either find a way to hold this land ... or die trying.
What was the code name of the Soviet counterattack that began in November 1942?
In November 1942, the Soviets were ready to launch a major counterattack against the Germans. They initiated Operation Uranus, knowing that if they failed, Stalingrad could well fall into German hands.
How many Soviet men took part in Operation Uranus, which was meant to push back or encircle German troops?
Operation Uranus was an enormous undertaking that involved 1 million Soviet troops. The Soviets carefully moved these troops into place, hoping to hide the buildup of men until the last possible moment.
True or false, was Operation Uranus successful in pushing back the Nazi Sixth Army?
The Soviets finally found a breakthrough with Operation Uranus, encircling the German Sixth Army within city limits. Suddenly, the momentum of the battle shifted. Hitler was furious.
On February 2, 1943, German General Paulus was forced to surrender how many men?
On Hitler's orders, General Paulus remained in place even as the Soviets began to surround his army. By February 2, he was forced to surrender, yielding about 90,000 German troops who would have been saved if Hitler had been more reasonable.
Counting civilians and troops on both sides, how many casualties were there at Stalingrad?
The five-month battle was and still is considered one of the bloodiest in world history. By the time it ended, there were 2 million total casualties. Roughly 40,000 of those casualties were civilians.
Why do many historians regard Stalingrad as the most important battle of the war?
Stalingrad was a titanic clash that left both sides bloodied … but the Germans suffered worse, having lost their momentum in their conquests of the continents. The Soviets had helped turn the tide of the war in favor of the Allies.
What did the city of Stalingrad look like at the end of the battle?
The Germans and Soviets spared no bombs in the battle. By the time the Soviets finally won, the great city was nothing but a pile of dust and twisted metal.
True or false, was the Battle of Stalingrad the bloodiest in human history?
The numbers vary quite a lot, but many historians regard Stalingrad as the bloodiest in human history, a testament to the German arsenal and Soviet determination. The Soviet victory marked one of the most significant wins of the war.
In a war noted for its widespread devastation and deadliness, no single fight really sums up the horror and loss of life. But the Battle of Stalingrad would be close. This battle pitted two former allies against each other in a fight to the death, and by the time it ended five months later, neither side could really bear the heartbreak or the horror of the slaughter. Do you think you can withstand our Stalingrad quiz?
At the outset of World War II, the Nazis and Soviets weren’t just friendly, they were partners in crime, rampaging through Poland together and alarming Allied countries around the world. But Adolf Hitler, with typical duplicity, eventually turned on his buddy Joseph Stalin and the Communists, barreling straight toward Moscow and murdering millions of ethnic Russians along the way. Then, Hitler put Stalingrad squarely in his sights. Do you know when this battle began?
The Soviets retreated numerous times as the German offensive proceeded. Do you know why the Red Army decided to make a stand in Stalingrad? And do you remember how they prepared for the coming fight?
Once the battle began, it devolved into inhumane block-by-block fighting, one in which bombs and bullets came from every direction. Why did civilians remain in the city instead of running for their lives?
Then came the hunger. With no food or supplies, the Soviets resorted to the ultimate desperation to feed themselves. Still, they fought on, unable to escape, faced with death at every turn.
By 1943, Stalingrad was a city of the dead. Do you know who won this terrible fight? Take our Battle of Stalingrad quiz and see if you can match wits with Hitler, Stalin and their fierce generals!
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