Wars & History: special Stalingrad file

Wars & History: special Stalingrad file

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Stalingrad. Like that of Verdun for the war before. A peak of horror for the fighters; a drama with a million dead in the apocalyptic setting of an industrial city; a spectacular turnaround: the hunter caught in his trap, the besieger under siege; a historic defeat for the German armed forces; the great turning point of World War II (with Guadalcanal and El-Alamein, contemporary battles). We thought we had said everything about Stalingrad ...

Except one thing: Stalin wanted two Stalingrads. The other was to destroy a second German army, 1,500 km to the north, around the town of Rjev, in central Russia. The whole front would have disintegrated and, in the Kremlin, we dreamed of a Barbarossa upside down. This second Stalingrad was a bloody failure. The Soviets kept it hidden or disguised it as a useful diversion at Stalingrad, in large part because the Russians' new Saint George, Marshal Zhukov, was responsible for it. The two great specialists of the Eastern Front, the American Glantz and the Russian Isaïev, say it in unison in the pages of this bi-monthly: one cannot understand Stalingrad without understanding Rjev, studying the one without studying the other.

True to its line, Guerres & Histoire has therefore chosen this particular angle for this dossier motivated by the 70 years of the battle. What are the links between the two battles of Stalingrad and Rjev? What did the Soviets want to do in this winter of 1942-1943? What have they achieved? The reader will find here one of the magazine's favorite themes: how do you win against the best army in the world while being tactically very inferior to it? The answer is called operative art, another dimension of war discovered in the 1930s by a bunch of red thinkers.

Wars & History: Stalingrad, a new vision of a mythical battle. February 2012. On newsstands and by subscription.

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