The prevailing meme is that the German Sixth Army attacked the city of Stalingrad. It's always been something of a puzzle that there was no Blitzkrieg that simply overwhelmed the ill-trained Russian troops. The Germans managed to wreck the city but were overcome by the arrival of winter and the lack of supplies.
This episode endorses that view but explains the cause in more detail, sometimes with little experiments. I'll list a few of the variables that made Stalingrad such a tough nut to crack.
The Russians had used reenforced concrete in the construction of many buildings. A bomb or artillery shell preserved the framework of the building but caused it to collapse inward. The result: a pile of rubble surrounded by walls with holes in them -- each building became a fortress.
German tanks were useless in urban warfare and many were out of commission because they were infested with rats that gnawed away the insulation from the electrical cables that controlled things like turret traverse.
Tests show that the German uniform was not as winter-worthy as the Russian padded jacket, which had been adapted from the horsemen of the plains and Siberia.
The temperature dropped at times as low as 40 degrees below zero (F), and the oil on which functioning motors depended froze. The Russians had enough experience to add gasoline to the oil, keeping it more liquid. Some of the German equipment was over-engineered, which didn't help.
Amidst the wreckage, snipers became very important. The rifles were roughly matched on both sides but the Russian scope was more quickly adjusted while zeroing in. And the Russian troops were better marksmen because they were raised in rural areas where hunting was necessary. (Does that sound questionable? It does to me.) Anyway, for these and other reasons, we know what happened to von Paulus' army. They went into the bag, those that had survived. Most were sent to Siberia and disappeared.
Kind of interesting. Even the more dubious claims are worth considering.
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