Stalingrad: 600 Luftwaffe Planes Bomb Civilians In WWII's Deadliest Battle

By Jacob Shelton

(History Channel)

There are a myriad important battles littered throughout World War II, but Stalingrad stands above them as one of the most bloody and strategically important. With more than two million casualties, it lasted nearly half a year, changed the direction of the war, and left Germany on the defensive for the first time. Thanks to nonstop Luftwaffe bombing, the city of Stalingrad was left in shambles, but the Russian forces proved that they were capable outlasting anyone in the Axis, even if they were outgunned.

Hitler And Russia

After failing to take the Red Army in the winter of 1942, Hitler was certain that he could master them in the summer. Instead of attacking Moscow, he decided that the smart move was to direct the Wehrmacht toward Stalingrad to destroy the city's industrial capacity and block access to the Volga River, which flows through Central Europe and into the Caspian Sea.

One month before the campaign, Hitler added more objectives to his plan, deciding he also wanted to occupy the city, kill every man, and deport the women and children while securing safe passage for German forces to Baku and gaining control of Europe's petroleum reserves before sending troops north to Moscow. Each additional objective required soldiers to split away from their initial duties, and it's believed that the reassessment is one of the major reasons the Germans were beat back from the city, but that wouldn't happen for nearly half a year.