New Communist Party of Britain
The battle of Stalingrad was one of the most dramatic events of the Second World War. Nazi Germany had overrun large parts of the Soviet Union and was now hoping to seize the Soviet oil-fields in the Caucasus. The city of Stalin stood in their way. Nazi Germany attacked the Soviet Union in 1941 dreaming of world domination. Hitler's hopes died in the city on the Volga river.
Soviet people of all nationalities rallied to the call to defend their socialist motherland. The flower of their youth sacrificed themselves in an epic struggle to defeat the brutal Nazi war-machine.
Stalin said: "The strength of the Red Army rests, above all, in the fact that it is waging, not a predatory, not an imperialist war, but a patriotic war, a war of liberation, a just war. The Red Army's task is to liberate our Soviet territory from the German invaders; to liberate from the yoke of the German invaders the citizens of our villages and towns who were free and lived like human beings before the war, but are now oppressed and suffer pillage, ruin and famine; and finally, to liberate our women from that disgrace and outrage to which they are subjected by the German-fascist monsters. What could be more noble, more lofty than such a task?
"Not one German soldier can say that he is waging a just war, because he cannot fail to see that he is forced to fight for the despoilation and oppression of other peoples. The German soldier has no such lofty and noble aim in the war which could inspire him and of which he could be proud.
"But, in contrast, any Red Army man can say with pride that he is waging a just war, a war of liberation, a war for the freedom and independence of his Motherland. The Red Army does have a noble and lofty aim in the war which inspires it to great exploits. It is precisely this that explains why the patriotic war brings forth amongst us thousands of heroes and heroines ready to go to their death for the sake of the liberty of their Motherland. Herein lies the strength of the Red Army.
"And herein lies the weakness of the German-fascist army".
On 31 January 1943 Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus, the commander of the encircled German army surrendered. By 2 February all his men had laid down their arms. Over 130,000 Nazi troops were taken prisoner, some 100,000 had been killed in the six months of fighting and a further 90,000 had died from disease and starvation. Two and a half years later Adolf Hitler was dead in his bunker and the Soviet flag was flying over Berlin.
The mighty Wehrmacht was taught a terrible lesson at Stalingrad - a lesson Von Paulus soon understood. He joined the Free German committee based in the Soviet Union and made broadcasts during the war urging German soldiers to surrender to the advancing Red Army. After the war he retired to the German Democratic Republic and died in Dresden in 1957.
Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong called Stalingrad the turning point in the war. Mao said: "Historically, all reactionary forces on the verge of extinction invariably conduct a last desperate struggle against the revolutionary forces, and some revolutionaries are apt to be deluded for a time by this phenomenon of outward strength but inner weakness, failing to grasp the essential fact that the enemy is nearing extinction while they themselves are approaching victory. The rise of the forces of fascism and the war of aggression they have been conducting for some years are precisely the expression of such a last desperate struggle, and in this present war the attack on Stalingrad is the expression of the last desperate struggle of fascism itself".
That's another lesson we should remember in these
New worker editorial - 7th February 2003