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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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Russia Lures International Arms Buyers With Half-Priced, More Effective Missile System

The Russian S-400 mobile long-range surface-to-air missile system costs around $500 million, vs. the $1 billion price tag for a US-made Raytheon Patriot Pac-2 battery.

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Via Zerohedge


Russia has been pitching a rival missile platform that costs half of those made by US companies, reports CNBC, which has resulted in several countries dealing with the Kremlin “despite the potential for blowback.”

Sefa Karacan | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

The Russian S-400 mobile long-range surface-to-air missile system costs around $500 million, vs. the $1 billion price tag for a US-made Raytheon Patriot Pac-2 battery, while a THAAD battery made by Lockheed Martin costs just about $3 billion, according to people with first-hand knowledge of a US intelligence assessment.

Nearly 13 countries have expressed interest in buying Russia’s S-400, a move that could trigger potential U.S. sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, which President Donald Trump signed in August 2017. In September, the U.S. slapped sanctions on China  for buying fighter jets and missiles from Russia. However, the U.S. could grant sanction waivers. –CNBC

Turkey, meanwhile, may be hit with US sanctions over their decision to purchase the S-400 defense system, which the United States says poses a risk to its F-35 fifth generation stealth fighter platform.

Meanwhile, India called the United States’ bluff over sanctions in late Ocotber, standing its ground in its decision to buy the S-400.

One of the reasons Russian systems are generally considered less expensive than their American counterparts is because they don’t include pricey ongoing maintenance.

“When foreign militaries buy American, above and beyond the purchase, they are buying a partnership with the U.S. military,” Andrew Hunter, director of the Defense-Industrial Initiatives Group at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told CNBC. “And that plus the maintenance and technical assistance is a big part of the cost difference.

The S-400 system made its debut in 2007, succeeding the S-200 and S-300 missile systems. According to CNBC, “the Russian-made S-400 is capable of engaging a wider array of targets, at longer ranges and against multiple threats simultaneously,” vs. US-made systems.

In terms of capability, one source noted that while there is no perfect weapon, the S-400 eclipses even THAAD, America’s missile defense crown jewel.

When asked why nations seek to buy the S-400 instead of America’s Patriot or THAAD systems, one of the people with knowledge of the intelligence report explained that foreign militaries aren’t willing to stick with the cumbersome process of buying weapons from the U.S. government. –CNBC

“Many of these countries do not want to wait for U.S. regulatory hurdles,” said a CNBC source with first hand knowledge of the assessment. “The S-400 has less export restrictions and the Kremlin is willing to expedite sales by skipping over any regulatory hurdles.

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Britain’s Enemy Is Not Russia But It’s Own Ruling Class, UN Report Confirms

In austerity Britain, who the enemy is has never been more clear.

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Authored by John Wright. op-ed via RT.com:


As the UK political establishment rips itself to pieces over Brexit, a far greater crisis continues to afflict millions of victims of Tory austerity…

A devastating UN report into poverty in the UK provides incontrovertible evidence that the enemy of the British people is the very ruling class that has gone out of its way these past few years to convince them it is Russia.

Professor Philip Alston, in his capacity as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, spent two weeks touring the United Kingdom. He did so investigating the impact of eight years of one of the most extreme austerity programs among advanced G20 economies in response to the 2008 financial crash and subsequent global recession.

What he found was evidence of a systematic, wilful, concerted and brutal economic war unleashed by the country’s right-wing Tory establishment against the poorest and most vulnerable section of British society– upending the lives of millions of people who were not responsible for the aforementioned financial crash and recession but who have been forced to pay the price.

From the report’s introduction:

“It…seems patently unjust and contrary to British values that so many people are living in poverty. This is obvious to anyone who opens their eyes to see the immense growth in foodbanks and the queues waiting outside them, the people sleeping rough in the streets, the growth of homelessness, the sense of deep despair that leads even the Government to appoint a Minister for Suicide Prevention and civil society to report in depth on unheard of levels of loneliness and isolation.”

Though as a citizen of the UK I respectfully beg to differ with the professor’s claim that such social and economic carnage seems “contrary to British values,” (on the contrary it is entirely in keeping with the values of the country’s Tory establishment, an establishment for whom the dehumanization of the poor and working class is central to its ideology), the point he makes about it being “obvious to anyone who opens their eyes,” is well made.

For it is now the case that in every town and city centre in Britain, it is impossible to walk in any direction for more than a minute before coming across homeless people begging in the street. And the fact that some 13,000 of them are former soldiers, casualties of the country’s various military adventures in recent years, undertaken in service to Washington, exposes the pious platitudes peddled by politicians and the government as reverence for the troops and their ‘sacrifice,’ as insincere garbage.

Overall, 14 million people in the UK are now living in poverty, a figure which translates into an entire fifth of the population. Four million of them are children, while, according to Professor Alston, 1.5 million people are destitute – that is, unable to afford the basic necessities of life.

And this is what the ruling class of the fifth largest economy in the world, a country that parades itself on the world stage as a pillar of democracy and human rights, considers progress.

The values responsible for creating such a grim social landscape are compatible with the 18th not 21st century. They are proof positive that the network of elite private schools – Eton, Harrow, Fettes College et al. – where those responsible for this human carnage are inculcated with the sense of entitlement and born to rule ethos that defines them, are Britain’s hotbeds of extremism.

Professor Alston:

“British compassion for those who are suffering has been replaced by a punitive, mean-spirited, and often callous approach apparently designed to instill discipline where it is least useful, to impose a rigid order on the lives of those least capable of coping with today’s world, and elevating the goal of enforcing blind compliance over a genuine concern to improve the well-being of those at the lowest levels of British society.”

Here, set out above in bold relief, is the barbarism that walks hand in hand with free market capitalism. It is the same barbarism that was responsible for pushing post-Soviet Russia into a decade-long economic and social abyss in the 1990s, and the values that have pushed 14 million people in the UK into the same economic and social abyss in our time.

Austerity, it bears emphasizing, is not and never has been a viable economic response to recession in a given economy.

Instead, it is an ideological club, wielded on behalf of the rich and big business to ensure that the price paid for said economic recession is borne exclusively by those least able to bear it – namely, the poor and working people. It is class war by any other name, packaged and presented as legitimate government policy.

However, in Britain’s case in 2018, this is a war like no other because, as Professor Philip Alston’s report lays bare, only one side in this war has been throwing all the punches and only one side has been taking them.

With Christmas season upon us, the scale of human suffering across the UK ensures that the elaborate ad campaigns inviting us to shop and indulge to our heart’s content – ads depicting the middle class dream of affluence and material comfort – take on the character of a provocation. In fact, they call to mind the truism that wars take place when the government tells you who the enemy is, while revolutions take place when you work it out for yourself.

In austerity Britain, who the enemy is has never been more clear.

 

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‘Iron’ Mike Pence Stares-Down Putin In APEC Showdown

Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Advisor John Bolton were seen shaking hands and chatting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit in Singapore.

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Via Zerohedge


Forget the All-Blacks ‘Haka’, ignore Foreman-Frasier, Drago-Balboa, and Ortiz-Liddell, the honor of the greatest (or perhaps most awkward) staredown in history now goes to US Vice President Mike Pence…

Having been blamed for everything from Trump’s election victory to USA soccer team’s loss to England last week, Russia faced accusations all weekend and was reportedly confronted by the US contingent over “meddling.”

As The Sun reports, Pence and Putin “discussed the upcoming G20 Summit and touched on the issues that will be discussed when President Trump and President Putin are both in Argentina for the summit,” according to the vice president’s press secretary, Alyssa Farah.

An NBC reporter tweeted: “New per the @VP’s Office—> The VP’s office says Vice President Pence directly addressed Russian meddling in the 2016 election in a conversation with Vladimir Putin on Thursday in Singapore.

“The conversation took place following the plenary session this afternoon at ASEAN.”

But, it was the following clash of the titans that caught most people’s attention.

As the Russian president joined the that Pence shook Putin’s ‘deadly’ hand, met his ‘steely KGB-trained’ gaze, and desperately tried not to smile or blink for 20 seconds as Putin appeared to chat amicably with the US VP…

While Putin has (if his accusers are to be believed) grappled his opponents to death with his bare hands (remember he is a sinister KGB agent and jiu-jitsu expert); we suspect the only thing VP Pence has gripped tightly in his hands is his bible.

Sadly, John Bolton then blew the tough guy act (or is he Mike Pence’s ‘good cop’) as he does his best impression of a teenage girl meeting their popstar idol for the first time…

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