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Stalingrad at 75: Five ways legendary battle turned tide of WW2

On Februrary 2nd, 1943 the German offensive in southern Russia came to a disasterous end with the surrender of the 6th army

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The Battle of Stalingrad was the second bloodiest battle in human history (after the Seige of Leningrad), which broke the momentum of the Nazi-Warmachinemachine thereby beginning the push to victory. Technically, if you consider Leningrad a seige, and not a battle, (there is a distinction) then Stalingrad was the bloodiest the world had ever seen, resulting in millions of casualties.
Though the city has been renamed to Volgograd, it will forever remain Stalingrad in the annals of military glory, and, by Russian law, it will be Stalingrad again annually during 6 days out of the year. Those six days are the 9th of May, 22nd June, 23rd of August, 2nd of September,19th of November, and the 2nd of February.
The city was of course called Stalingrad in honor of Soviet Leader Joseph Stalin who was NOT in fact, Russian, but Georgian. The (in)famous Georgian received a special gift from King George VI of the United Kingdom – a sword in the honor of the Heroes of Stalingrad – for the Soviet Union’s role in saving Europe.
In our time, Volgograd will again have the world’s eyes upon it for being one of the 11 cities hosting the FIFA 2018 World Cup which we covered in this article.
One can only hope that foreign visitors will not get too distracted by sports, as to forget to pay honor to a shrine to the destruction of Nazism.

The Motherland Calls Statue and an Orthodox Church, two symbols of victory. Victory in war, and Victory over Death itself.

The entire city of Stalingrad is infused with the spirit of victory against impossible odds, the spirit of Russia herself.
February 2 marks the 75th anniversary of the German surrender at Stalingrad. While the five-month battle remains a symbol of World War II, its practical importance to defeating the Nazis deserves more attention.
Check out this great article by RT which documents five ways iconic battle turned the tide of WW2:

1. Inflicted huge losses

Stalingrad was the biggest and bloodiest battle in the history of warfare. Estimates vary, but fighting between August 1942 and February 1943 is thought to have resulted in up to 2 million casualties, with more than a million dead.

This was not just a reflection of the forces involved, but the specific circumstances. Adolf Hitler’s increasingly obsessive desire to capture the city as he lost more and more troops came up against the resilience of the Soviets, who were defending their homeland under Joseph Stalin’s newly-issued Order 227 (“Not one step back!”).

The battleground was the bombed-out hulk of the city, providing the stage for the most notorious and vicious street fight in history – still known as the “Rat War” by the Germans – in which there was equal threat from being picked off by a sniper, ambushed crossing the road, or bayonetted in a sewer at night. The latter was a tactic favored by the Russians, who wanted to ensure the advancing army was constantly sleep-deprived and anxious.

This was a war of attrition that Germany could afford far less than the Soviet Union.

“For the Germans it becomes a meat grinder. Every division they send in is weakened, so they have to pull new ones off the flanks. According to 6th Army’s loss figures, most divisions go in rated combat-ready. Within a week, they’re rated either as weak or exhausted. The attrition rate is phenomenal. The Luftwaffe’s rubbling of the city only exacerbates things. In early November, they run out of divisions,” is how American historian David Glantz described the course of the battle.

Soldiers of the elite German 6th Army were not designated to be exchanged one-for-one with newly-trained peasant conscripts, nor were Panzers built to be stuck for months in static positions, to be shot from second-floor machine gun nests which they couldn’t even lift their guns to target. The idea of constant, aggressive engagement, disregarding large losses, was ingrained in Russia’s historic military doctrine. It found its ultimate application in World War II, where the Soviets possessed a significant advantage in manpower – and at Stalingrad, Hitler danced to their tune.

2. Handed Germans their first major defeat

Stalingrad was attacked as part of Operation Blau, which thought to cleave Soviet forces and allow Germany access to valuable oil in the Caucasus. But as it developed, the battle quickly grew its own logic and much bigger stakes, which fell outside any operational implications.

When Marshal Georgy Zhukov successfully conducted his pincer movement to encircle the weakened German forces, this represented the largest and most clear-cut defeat inflicted on the Wehrmacht since the start of the war. In comparison, the justly celebrated contemporaneous Allied victory at El Alamein involved forces and casualties that were at least ten times smaller.

“At Moscow in 1941, the Germans were repelled, here they were destroyed. Before, they could say this was a temporary reversal, but here Hitler ordered for the 6th Army to be rebuilt from the ground up – this was not a defeat that could be concealed,” says Konstantin Zalesskiy, a prominent historian.

After the devastating losses just 18 months earlier, the Red Army was able to claim superiority over the vaunted invaders – both a function of improved doctrine and tactics, and a platform for future gains, as well as a remarkable triumph in its own right.

3. Gave hope to the world

Involuntarily, those who refer to Stalingrad as “symbolic” in the present day are speaking more in abstract and iconographic terms. But for those who lived through World War II and lived in fear of invasion or death, the importance of the battle to morale was far more immediate.

“There was a sense that if the city fell, all would be lost,”says historian Jochen Hellbeck, explaining that in Britain even at the time, the magnitude of the battle was clear to every radio bulletin listener.

 

Considering Germany’s dwindling resources, the destruction of the aura of invincibility that had surrounded its forces immediately cast the entire fate of World War II in a different light.

Conversely Stalingrad was a “shock to the German population,” says Zalesskiy.

For many residents this was the first realization that what had hitherto had been a triumphant foreign adventure could end up on their doorstep, and that every act of barbarity would meet its own retribution, as indeed came to pass.

In turn, German propaganda soon became more doom-laden, and just a fortnight later Joseph Goebbels made his apocalyptic Sportpalast speech, insisting that the very survival of his people was in the balance, and asking his audience, “Do you want a war more total and radical than anything that we can even yet imagine?”

4. Sent Hitler over the edge

“The problem was that Hitler had invested so much in propaganda terms – even Goebbels was worried about how much was being invested – into the capture of Stalingrad, that it was a question of pride, of vanity,”says Anthony Beevor, the best-selling war historian.

But the issue goes deeper. Hitler’s rapid ascent, both political and military, relied on manic self-belief and optimism that was carried straight into Operation Barbarossa in 1941. Even before Stalingrad, after the Soviet Union refused to surrender in the planned two months, the Führer was – perhaps subconsciously – aware that for the first time the endgame did not look promising.

A victim of the sunk cost fallacy, instead of cutting his losses and suing for peace, he doubled down, looking for the big win. And once the battle started, he did it again and again, even when there could no longer be any military justification for taking the city.

The realization of defeat, the impact of which he freely admitted, devastated Hitler. Out went the natural ebullience and Wagner sessions with the high command, in came regular amphetamine injections and a depression that prevented him even from making key addresses to the nation.

This is how two of his personal aides Otto Guensche and Heinze Linge described his mental state in the period to the Soviets who captured and interviewed them.

“The attacks of nervous irritation increased. One moment Hitler’s collar was too tight and was stopping his circulation; the next his trousers were too long. He complained that his skin itched. He suspected poison everywhere, in the lavatory cistern, on the soap, in the shaving cream or in the toothpaste, and demanded that these be minutely analyzed. The water used for cooking his food had to be investigated as well. Hitler chewed his fingernails and scratched his ears and neck until they bled. Because he suffered from insomnia, he took every possible sleeping pill,” reads the document, known as The Hitler Book.

In the next two years he would retreat further into delusion and despondency and literally into his underground bunker.

5. Set timer for the German defeat

Some historians like to argue  that  it was December 1941 – when Hitler was stopped on the edges on Moscow, and the United States entered the war following Pearl Harbor – that decided the outcome of World War II.

But if that month – better understood now, in hindsight – loaded the gun, Stalingrad firedit. Thanks to each factor above, it literally changed the direction of the war.

The Nazis never made any further advances into Russia. In fact, having scarcely lost before, other than the Third Battle of Kharkov in March 1943 they barely won another battle on the Eastern Front, and did not conduct a single successful campaign anywhere.

The victory at Stalingrad did not just save millions of Russians from Hitler’s occupation, but millions abroad, likely shortening the war by months or years.

Igor Ogorodnev for RT

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At Age 70, Time To Rethink NATO

The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”

So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.

NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.

And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.

The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.

Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.

The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.

Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.

In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.

The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.

As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers — West Germany, France, Britain, Italy. Twelve nations agreed that an attack on one would be treated as an attack on them all.

Cross the Elbe and you are at war with us, including the U.S. with its nuclear arsenal, Stalin was, in effect, told. Hundreds of thousands of U.S. troops returned to Europe to send the message that America was serious.

Crucial to the alliance was the Yalta line dividing Europe agreed to by Stalin, FDR and Churchill at the 1945 Crimean summit on the Black Sea.

U.S. presidents, even when monstrous outrages were committed in Soviet-occupied Europe, did not cross this line into the Soviet sphere.

Truman did not send armored units up the highway to Berlin. He launched an airlift to break the Berlin blockade. Ike did not intervene to save the Hungarian rebels in 1956. JFK confined his rage at the building of the Berlin Wall to the rhetorical: “Ich bin ein Berliner.”

LBJ did nothing to help the Czechs when, before the Democratic convention in 1968, Leonid Brezhnev sent Warsaw Pact tank armies to crush the Prague Spring.

When the Solidarity movement of Lech Walesa was crushed in Gdansk, Reagan sent copy and printing machines. At the Berlin Wall in 1988, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall.”

Reagan never threatened to tear it down himself.

But beginning in 1989, the Wall was torn down, Germany was united, the Red Army went home, the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the USSR broke apart into 15 nations, and Leninism expired in its birthplace.

As the threat that had led to NATO disappeared, many argued that the alliance created to deal with that threat should be allowed to fade away, and a free and prosperous Europe should now provide for its own defense.

It was not to be. The architect of Cold War containment, Dr. George Kennan, warned that moving NATO into Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics would prove a “fateful error.”

This, said Kennan, would “inflame the nationalistic and militaristic tendencies in Russian opinion” and “restore the atmosphere of the cold war in East-West relations.” Kennan was proven right.

America is now burdened with the duty to defend Europe from the Atlantic to the Baltic, even as we face a far greater threat in China, with an economy and population 10 times that of Russia.

And we must do this with a defense budget that is not half the share of the federal budget or the GDP that Eisenhower and Kennedy had.

Trump is president today because the American people concluded that our foreign policy elite, with their endless interventions where no vital U.S. interest was imperiled, had bled and virtually bankrupted us, while kicking away all of the fruits of our Cold War victory.

Halfway into Trump’s term, the question is whether he is going to just talk about halting Cold War II with Russia, about demanding that Europe pay for its own defense, and about bringing the troops home — or whether he is going to act upon his convictions.

Our foreign policy establishment is determined to prevent Trump from carrying out his mandate. And if he means to carry out his agenda, he had best get on with it.

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Photos of new Iskander base near Ukrainian border creates media hype

But research into the photos and cross-checking of news reports reveals only the standard anti-Russian narrative that has gone on for years.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Fox News obtained satellite photos that claim that Russia has recently installed new Iskander missile batteries, one of them “near” to the Ukrainian border. However, what the Fox article does not say is left for the reader to discover: that in regards to Ukraine, these missiles are probably not that significant, unless the missiles are much longer range than reported:

The intelligence report provided to Fox by Imagesat International showed the new deployment in Krasnodar, 270 miles from the Ukrainian border. In the images is visible what appears to be an Iskander compound, with a few bunkers and another compound of hangars. There is a second new installation that was discovered by satellite photos, but this one is much farther to the east, in the region relatively near to Ulan-Ude, a city relatively close to the Mongolian border.

Both Ukraine and Mongolia are nations that have good relations with the West, but Mongolia has good relations with both its immediate neighbors, Russia and China, and in fact participated with both countries in the massive Vostok-2018 military war-games earlier this year.

Fox News provided these photos of the Iskander emplacement near Krasnodar:

Imagesat International

Fox annotated this photo in this way:

Near the launcher, there is a transloader vehicle which enables quick reloading of the missiles into the launcher. One of the bunker’s door is open, and another reloading vehicle is seen exiting from it.

[Fox:] The Iskander ballistic missile has a range up to 310 miles, and can carry both unconventional as well as nuclear warheads, putting most of America’s NATO allies at risk. The second deployment is near the border with Mongolia, in Ulan-Ude in Sothern Russia, where there are four launchers and another reloading vehicle.

[Fox:] Earlier this week, Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said authorities of the former Soviet republic are being “controlled” by the West, warning it stands to lose its independence and identity as a consequence. “The continuation of such policy by the Kiev authorities can contribute to the loss of Ukraine’s statehood,” Mr Patrushev told Rossiyskaya Gazeta, according to Russian news agency TASS.

This situation was placed by Fox in context with the Kerch Strait incident, in which three Ukrainian vessels and twenty-four crew and soldiers were fired upon by Russian coast guard ships as they manuevered in the Kerch Strait without permission from Russian authorities based in Crimea. There are many indications that this incident was a deliberate attempt on the part of Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, to create a sensational incident, possibly to bolster his flagging re-election campaign. After the incident, the President blustered and set ten provinces in Ukraine under martial law for 30 days, insisting to the world, and especially to the United States, that Russia was “preparing to invade” his country.

Russia expressed no such sentiment in any way, but they are holding the soldiers until the end of January. However, on January 17th, a Moscow court extended the detention of eight of these captured Ukrainian sailors despite protests from Kyiv and Washington.

In addition to the tensions in Ukraine, the other significant point of disagreement between the Russian Federation and the US is the US’ plan to withdraw from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). Russia sees this treaty as extremely important, but the US point of view expressed by John Bolton, National Security Adviser, is that the treaty is useless because it does not include any other parties that have intermediate range nukes or the capability for them, such as Iran, North Korea, and China. This is an unsolved problem, and it is possible that the moves of the Iskander batteries is a subtle warning from the Russians that they really would rather the US stay in the treaty.

Discussions on this matter at public levels between the Russian government and the US have been very difficult because of the fierce anti-Russia and anti-Trump campaigns in the media and political establishments of the United States. President Putin and President Trump have both expressed the desire to meet, but complications like the Kerch Strait Incident conveniently arise, and have repeatedly disrupted the attempts for these two leaders to meet.

Where Fox News appears to get it wrong shows in a few places:

First, the known range for Iskander missiles maxes at about 310 miles. The placement of the battery near Krasnodar is 270 miles from the eastern Ukrainian border, but the eastern part of Ukraine is Russian-friendly and two provinces, Donetsk and Lugansk, are breakaway provinces acting as independent republics. The battery appears to be no threat to Kyiv or to that part of Ukraine which is aligned with the West. Although the missiles could reach into US ally Georgia, Krasnodar is 376 miles from Tbilisi, and so again it seems that there is no significant target for these missiles. (This is assuming the location given is accurate.)

Second, the location shown in the photo is (44,47,29.440N at 39,13,04.754E). The date on the “Krasnodar” photo is January 17, 2019. However, a photo of the region taken July 24, 2018 reveals a different layout. It takes a moment or two to study this, but there is not much of an exact match here:

Third, Fox News reported of “further Russian troops deployment and S-400 Surface to air missile days after the escalation started, hinting Russia might have orchestrated the naval incident.”

It may be true that Russia deployed weapons to this base area in Crimea, but this is now Russian territory. S-400s can be used offensively, but their primary purpose is defensive. Troops on the Crimean Peninsula, especially at this location far to the north of the area, are not in a position strategically to invade Kherson Oblast (a pushback would probably corner such forces on the Crimean peninsula with nowhere to go except the Black Sea). However, this does look like a possible defense installation should Ukraine’s forces try to invade or bomb Crimea.

Fox has this wrong, but it is no great surprise, because the American stance about Ukraine and Russia is similar – Russia can do no right, and Ukraine can do no wrong. Fox News is not monolithic on this point of view, of course, with anchors and journalists such as Tucker Carlson, who seem willing to acknowledge the US propaganda about the region. However, there are a lot of hawks as well. While photos in the articles about the S-400s and the Russian troops are accurately located, it does appear that the one about Iskanders is not, and that the folks behind this original article are guessing that the photos will not be questioned. After all, no one in the US knows where anything is in Russia and Ukraine, anyway, right?

That there is an issue here is likely. But is it appears that there is strong evidence that it is opposite what Fox reported here, it leaves much to be questioned.

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Vladimir Putin calls new Ukrainian church ‘dangerous politicking’

President Putin said creation of the “Orthodox Church in Ukraine” is against Church canon and that the West drove Constantinople to do it.

Seraphim Hanisch

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In an interview with the Serbian newspapers Politika and Vecernje Novosti ahead of his visit to Serbia, Russian President Vladimir Putin noted the creation of the “Orthodox Church of Ukraine”, a schismatic agglomeration headed by Ukrainian ultra-nationalists was “dangerous politicking.” He further noted that:

The establishment of the new religious entity in Ukraine is nothing but an attempt “to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.”

“Yet, hardly anyone in the U.S. or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this,” Putin said.

“Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking,” he said.

President Putin had more things to say in the interview, and we present what he said in full here (emphasis ours), as reported on the Kremlin.ru website:

Question: The Serbian Orthodox Church has taken the side of the Russian Orthodox Church in the context of the ecclesiastical crisis in Ukraine. At the same time, a number of countries are exerting pressure on Patriarch Bartholomew and seek to ensure recognition of Ukrainian ”schismatics“ by Local Orthodox Churches. How do you think the situation will evolve?

Vladimir Putin: I would like to remind your readers, who are greatly concerned about the information regarding the split in the Orthodox community but are probably not fully aware of the situation in Ukraine, what it is all about.

On December 15, 2018, the Ukrainian leaders, actively supported by the USA and the Constantinople Patriarchate, held a so-called “unifying synod”. This synod declared the creation of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine, with Patriarch Bartholomew signing the tomos (decree) granting it autocephaly on January 6, 2019. Thus, it was attempted to legalize the schismatic communities that exist in Ukraine under the jurisdiction of Istanbul, which is a major violation of Orthodox canons.

Yet, hardly anyone in the US or in the Ukrainian leadership worries about this, as the new church entity is an entirely political, secular project. Its main aim is to divide the peoples of Russia and Ukraine, sowing seeds of ethnic as well as religious discord. No wonder Kiev has already declared ”obtaining complete independence from Moscow.”

Once again, this has nothing to do with spiritual life; we are dealing here with dangerous and irresponsible politicking. Likewise, we do not speak about the independence of the Orthodox Church of Ukraine. It is de-facto fully controlled by Istanbul. Whereas Ukraine’s largest canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church, which has never requested autocephaly from Patriarch Bartholomew, is absolutely independent in its actions. Its connection with the Russian Orthodox Church is purely canonical – but even this causes undisguised irritation of the current Kiev regime.

Because of this, clergymen and laymen of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church are being persecuted and deprived of churches and monasteries, and attempts are made to deny the Church its legitimate name, which raises tensions and only leads to further discord in Ukrainian society.

Evidently, Ukraine’s leaders have to understand that any attempts to force the faithful into a different church are fraught with grave consequences. Yet, they are eager to put interconfessional concord in the country at stake in order to conduct the election campaign of the current Ukrainian President based on a search for enemies, and to retain power by all means.

All of this does not go unnoticed by Orthodox Christians.

Naturally, Russia does not intend to interfere in ecclesiastical processes, especially those happening on the territory of a neighboring sovereign state. However, we are aware of the danger posed by such experiments and blatant interference of the state in religious affairs.

The situation continues to degrade in Ukraine, and though the Orthodox faithful of the Autonomous but Moscow-based Ukrainian Orthodox Church are the hardest hit, worry over Ukrainian lawlessless-made-law has the Jewish community in that country nervous as well. This is perhaps to be expected as the Azov Brigade, a neo-Nazi aligned group that is hypernationalist, is a good representation of the character of the “hate Russia at all costs” Ukrainian nationalists. A parallel piece in Interfax made note of this in a piece dated January 17th 2019:

[A] bill passed by the Verkhovna Rada introducing a procedure by which parishes can join the new Ukrainian church makes it easier to seize places of worship, and supporters of autocephaly have already started doing this across the country, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said.

“They need this law to seize our churches. You can’t just come with a crowbar to someone else’s barn, but now the law allows you to do so. They aren’t creating something of their own, but are trying to steal what’s ours,” Ukrainian Orthodox Church spokesperson Vasyl Anisimov told Interfax on Thursday.

The religious entity set up in December with Constantinople’s involvement and called the Orthodox Church of Ukraine “in fact doesn’t yet exist in nature. It’s fake. It doesn’t have any parishes of its own or government registration,” he said.

However, “the supporters of autocephaly don’t have plans to create anything of their own at all, so they have chosen the path of takeover, and the authorities are helping them in that,” Anisimov said.

“Hence, the legislation passed by the Verkhovna Rada today is in fact absolute lawlessness,” he said.

“If you pass legislation affecting an industry, you should talk to industrialists, and if it’s legislation on the agricultural sector, talk to farmers. And here legislation on a church is passed, and moreover, this legislation is aimed against this church, it is protesting, and Jews are protesting, too, because this legislation may affect them as well – but nobody is listening, and they change the law for the sake of an absolutely absurd and unconstitutional gimmick. But, of course, it’s the people who will ultimately suffer,” Anisimov said.

 

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