And the snow fell

The Battle of Stalingrad (1942 – 1943) was a major battle of World War II in which Nazi Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in the south-western Soviet Union. By the end of the war, in February 1943, the remaining German soldiers were freezing to death, hungry and exhausted from the hell they found in the streets of the city. Nevertheless, they continued to resist, in part because they believed the Soviets would execute any who surrendered. Some have presumed that they were motivated by a belief that fighting on was better than a slow death in Soviet captivity. The wounded had no medicine and the winter was brutal. Out of the nearly 110,000 German prisoners captured in Stalingrad, only about 5,000 ever returned to their Fatherland. Already weakened by disease, starvation and lack of medical care during the encirclement, they were sent on death marches (75,000 survivors died within 3 months of capture) to prisoner camps and later to labour camps all over the Soviet Union. Some 35,000 were eventually sent on transports, of which 17,000 did not survive. Most died of wounds, disease (particularly typhus), cold, starvation, overwork, mistreatment, and malnutrition. Some were kept in the city to help rebuild. In recognition of the determination of its Soviet defenders, Stalingrad was awarded the title “Hero City” in 1945.

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