Continuing my series of primers for Aelita’s War, this post includes material from the notes to the second novel, Raven’s Shadow. It covers German invasion of the Soviet Union and the subsequent actions, including the Battle of Stalingrad, that lead up to the events in the novel.
On February 2, 1943, an entire German army surrendered to the Soviet Union at Stalingrad, marking the greatest military defeat the Nazis had suffered to date.
The Battle of Stalingrad was a defining moment of World War II. It stands almost apart from the war as a legend unto itself, like Pearl Harbor or D-Day. It dealt a critical blow to the myth of Nazi superiority, was a turning point in the war and the foundation for a national legend.
If people in the West know anything about the Soviet-German clash during WWII, it is likely through the story of this battle. It was perhaps the bloodiest of the twentieth century, costing the lives of over two million soldiers and civilians in the span of five months. Seventy-five years later, so much legend has been wrapped around the story that it often obscures the facts in favour of simple narrative. Here is a look at the meaning of both the battle and the legend, and some overlooked facts about Stalingrad.