Burning Houses in Stalingrad (February 2, 1943)
After several months of fighting, the Red Army managed to encircle the German army in November 1942. General Friedrich Paulus, the commander of the 6th Army, suggested an attempt to break the siege. Hitler rejected his idea, however, and insisted on defending the army’s position. He presented the battle for Stalingrad as a symbol of German willpower, promising air support that never materialized. On January 31 and February 2, 1943, the 6th Army surrendered, its soldiers ravaged by hunger, cold, and disease, and demoralized by high casualties. Not only did the crushing defeat at Stalingrad signal a decisive turn in the war, it also dealt a blow to the morale of the German population and its Allies. The battle for Stalingrad lasted from August 1942 until February 2, 1943, and left the city in ruins, as is evident in this photograph.