Eastern Europe 1939-1945: Stalingrad

Should we give Stalingrad the George Cross?

Extract from a British newsreel called Liberation of Stalingrad- Epic Report, March 1943

ITN Ref: BP010343107313
Courtesy of ITN/Source, London.

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What is this source?

This is a newsreel clip from 1943 covering events in Stalingrad and the Eastern Front generally.

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It was broadcast on March 1st 1943 when footage from Russia would have been made available to make the broadcast.


What's the background to this source?

Hitler’s main aim was to conquer a large empire in Eastern Europe. In June 1941 he attacked the USSR. At first his forces were successful and the USSR was close to collapse. In the spring of 1942 he attacked the southern USSR. Again his forces advanced at first but they were then held back at Stalingrad. In a bloody battle lasting several months Germans forces were gradually surrounded and then defeated. By early 1943 they were being driven back out of the USSR.

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The Soviet winters of 1941 and 1942 proved to be key allies. Winter halted the German advance in 1941. In 1942 German troops were not prepared for winter conditions in the USSR. Many died from starvation and cold in Stalingrad. Many historians believe that this battle was the turning point of World War 2.


It's worth knowing that...

The German forces and their allies suffered an estimated 850,000 casualties at Stalingrad. Soviet casualties are estimated at around 1.1 million.

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German forces also included Italian, Hungarian and Romanian troops. These were less well trained or equipped than German troops. In fact the main Soviet breakthroughs were gained by attacking these forces that were based on the wings of the German army.


How will you use this source?

  1. What does this source tell historians about the type of fighting that took place at Stalingrad?
  2. What differences can you observe between German and Soviet forces?
  3. Do you think we get a full picture of the campaign from this clip?
  4. How would you describe the tone of this newsreel?
  5. What does the commentary on the newsreel tell historians about attitudes in Britain towards the USSR and Stalingrad in particular?
  6. Is there any part of this source you would quote in your final report to the Prime Minister?

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