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The Story behind the Battle: How did the Red Army of the Soviet Union so fiercely and victoriously defend Stalingrad in 1942-43 despite the lack of trained officers, equipment, preparation, and morale in 1941?

Taylor, Carol (2012) The Story behind the Battle: How did the Red Army of the Soviet Union so fiercely and victoriously defend Stalingrad in 1942-43 despite the lack of trained officers, equipment, preparation, and morale in 1941? Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Abstract

The victory over Axis forces by the Red Army during the Battle of Stalingrad in 1942-1943 is considered one of the major turning points of World War Two. General Vasily Chuikov and the men of the 62nd Army, supported by General Alexander Rodimtsev’s 13th Guards Division, were trapped inside the city, where fighting amongst the bombed-out ruins at times consisted of hand-to-hand combat with only knives and spades as weapons. The German forces attacked Stalingrad with double the infantry the defenders possessed, three times their strength in artillery, five times as many tanks, and were supported by overwhelming air power, but the brilliant military tactics of General Georgy Zhukov enabled the Soviet armies outside Stalingrad to eventually encircle the yet undefeated German 6th Army.

Constrained by Soviet politics from its inception in 1918, and later by the paranoid psychology of the tyrannical leader Joseph Stalin, the men and women of the Red Army struggled to survive an inadequate system, with low pay and poor housing, and they often went untrained. Due to Stalin’s ruthlessness in his desire to stay in power as Secretary of the Soviet Union and Soviet Premier, everyone, including ordinary citizens, peasants, and important politicians became victims of his wrath, and the military was certainly no exception. During the 1930s, the Red Army High Command was purged in its thousands, with the result being the loss of many highly experienced officers.

This thesis will discuss and analyses the Red Army’s background from 1918, to its position in 1941, when German and Axis forces invaded the Soviet Union in a covert manoeuvre codenamed Operation Barbarossa. It will explain the occurrences that changed the Red Army from an untrained, undisciplined, purged, ill-equipped, and dispirited entity, to gain the victory at the battle of Stalingrad.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Social Sciences and Humanities
Supervisor: Crossland, James
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/15550
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