Axis & Allies: on the road to Stalingrad (HS no12)

Axis & Allies: on the road to Stalingrad (HS no12)

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After being interested in its previous special issue with the US Army, the magazine Axis & Alliesthis time turns to the eastern front, but a moment a little less known to the general public: the second great offensive of the Wehrmacht in the USSR, this time on Stalingrad (before the famous battle), during the spring and summer 1942.

Of Fall blau in Stalingrad

The only (!) Author of this dense special issue, Boris Laurent, divides his demonstration into five main parts. First, the context preceding the German offensive in the summer of 1942, when the Reich entered the USSR almost a year ago. As with the whole issue, he is interested in both sides. The operation Fall blau launched in June 1942 is first of all a triumph for the Reich (this is the second part), which allows the Wehrmacht to make "The great leap towards the Caucasus" (third part). But the Red Army resisted a lot and, if that didn't worry most of the German generals, it made Hitler nervous, who decided to change the plans of the second phase. This same part of the review addresses a lesser known front of this offensive, but which is nevertheless decisive: the Caucasus, with the operation Edelweiss (July-September 1942). The early successes of Fall blau made the German generals overly optimistic and ambitious, and they find themselves stuck in the fighting of the Don Loop (Part Four), where Stalin urges his armies to resist even more. For Hitler, the city of Stalingrad, on the Volga, must then become the site of the decisive battle (which was not the case at the start), which the author deals with in the last part, which ends in September 1942, before the famous battle begins, which will indeed be decisive, but not in the sense that the Führer would have liked ...

In his conclusion, Boris Laurent insists, however, that the Germans were close to success, but that they did not take into account their mistakes and difficulties of the 1941 offensive, and that the Wehrmacht s' proved incapable of managing such a broad front, notably failing in its encirclements.

As in previous issues, this special issue of ’Axis & Allies is a joy for any lover of the military history of the Second World War: in addition to the content of the articles, we must salute the clarity of the maps, the wealth of period photographs, and the always very useful bibliography.

- Axis & Allies: on the road to Stalingrad, HS no 12, December 2011. Currently on newsstands.

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