Publish date:
Updated on
Year
1942

Soviets encircle Germans at Stalingrad

On this day in 1942, a Soviet counteroffensive against the German armies pays off as the Red Army traps about a quarter-million German soldiers south of Kalach, on the Don River, within Stalingrad. As the Soviets’ circle tightened, German General Friedrich Paulus requested permission from Berlin to withdraw.

The Battle of Stalingrad began in the summer of 1942, as German forces assaulted the city, a major industrial center and a prize strategic coup, if it could be occupied. But despite repeated attempts, the German 6th Army, under Paulus, and part of the 4th Panzer Army, under Ewald von Kleist, could not break past the adamantine defense by the Soviet 62nd Army, commanded by Gen. Vasily I. Chuikov, despite having pushed the Soviets almost to the Volga River in mid-October and encircling Stalingrad.

Diminishing resources, partisan guerilla attacks, and the cruelty of the Russian winter began to take their toll on the Germans. On November 19, the Soviets made their move, launching a counteroffensive that began with a massive artillery bombardment of the German position. The Soviets then assaulted the weakest link in the German force-inexperienced Romanian troops; 65,000 were ultimately taken prisoner by the Soviets.

The Soviets then made a bold strategic move, encircling the enemy, launching pincer movements from north and south simultaneously, even as the Germans encircled Stalingrad. The Germans should have withdrawn, but Hitler wouldn’t allow it. He wanted his armies to hold out until they could be reinforced. By the time those fresh troops arrived in December, it was too late. The Soviet position was too strong, and the Germans were exhausted. It was then only a matter of time before the Germans would be forced to surrender.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Stealth bomber unveiled

In the presence of members of Congress and the media, the Northrop B-2 “stealth” bomber is shown publicly for the first time at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale, California. The aircraft, which was developed in great secrecy for nearly a decade, was designed with stealth ...read more

Margaret Thatcher resigns

Margaret Thatcher, the first woman prime minister in British history, announces her resignation after 11 years in Britain’s top office. Margaret Hilda Roberts was born in Grantham, England, in 1925. In 1959, after marrying businessman Denis Thatcher and giving birth to twins, she ...read more

John F. Kennedy assassinated

John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, is assassinated while traveling through Dallas, Texas, in an open-top convertible. First lady Jacqueline Kennedy rarely accompanied her husband on political outings, but she was beside him, along with Texas ...read more