Good morning, we are still continuing with World War I and World War II documentaries for November. This time we are coving the series Hitler’s Lost Battles. AS the war moved forward, Hitler made more decisions that would eventually cost him the war.
The year is 1942 and Germany is at war with the United States. Nazi Germany was at its breaking point. Operation Barbarossa failed to bring victory as well. Stalin’s victory forced the Germans back. Hitler had to make a choice, do a strategic withdrawal or continue on fighting. Hitler went after the Caucasus Mountains to get oil. The German blockade was effective, so the Germans needed the oil found in the Caucasus Mountains.
He decides to attack. However, the distance is long and Hitler has continued to underestimate the strength of the Russian Army. So, Hitler splits his army into two. One army will take Stalingrad and the other will go after the oil in the Caucasus. Nobody could talk Hitler out of that decision. The Germany army pressed on. Hitler wanted to strike a blow against Stalin by taking Stalingrad. Stalingrad was an industrial city as well and would be a humiliating defeat for Stalin if his namesake was defeated.
The Americans were coming and were supplying the Russians through the Volga. It Hitler could conquer Stalingrad, then that would stop the Americans from supplying the Russians through the Caspian Sea and the Volga River. The Battle of Stalingrad began in August and would be started with bombing. The vision was to turn Stalingrad into a ruin. However, the Germans did not factor in the difficulties of urban combat and the ruins would be great for defense. The tank, useful in an open field could not be used in the city as well. This changed the nature of the battle and the Germans had a lot of difficulty in adapting their strategies.
The Germans suffered many lost but pressed on. The Germans ramped up the attacks, but the Soviets fought back district by district, house by house, and basement by basement. The Soviets replaced their forces rapidly and if there were no guns were found, they were told to take the guns of the fallen. If there were Soviet soldiers wanted to retreat, they were executed. Then winter came and the Germans were no equipped to take on the Soviet army. The Germans wanted to retreat but were told no.
Supplies were limited. The Germans had to keep the army supplied during winter. The cold caused problems flying in supplies. The result is that much of the German army would die of starvation. The Germans were eventually forced to surrender and the soldiers just gave up. It was the first major defeat for the German army. Hundreds of thousands of German soldiers were taken prisoner of war. Less than 5,000 German soldiers made it back to Germany after the war. The Germans lost one million men. The Battle of Stalingrad was a turning point in the war.
Meanwhile in Africa the Americans and the Britons were making inroads into North Africa. In 1942, the Allies opened a second front: North Africa. This would have given them a platform to invade Europe. The Germans started suffering defeat after defeat in Africa. However, much like in Stalingrad, Hitler refused to surrender. Little by little, the Allies take more and more of Africa and are inflicting serious casualties against the Germans. They persisted to fight onto the end. To continue to learn more about the troubles in Africa watch the rest of this documentary.
This was another good episode to view. I am finding that each blunder easy to follow. This would be another potential episode to show in a history class. Since it is also a French produced documentary, you may consider showing this in a French class.
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