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STALINGRAD BATTLE ATLAS: VOLUME III

October 19 - November 30, 1942 : Operation Uranus
At dawn on a dreary autumn morning, the lazy shadows and mists enveloping the barren steppes of the Don River a hundred miles northwest of Stalingrad were suddenly ripped apart by dazzling light and growling thunder. Streaking through the white fog and lashing the still dark skies, projectiles from thousands of guns mixed together for a roaring apocalyptic recital.

It was 7:30 Moscow time and Day 1 for the new tide, a tide that was to grow bigger and bigger, a tide that was to take back all of Soviet territory, and eventually to roll into Europe. From now on, there shall no longer be any decisive German victories in the war, but marginal ones that would only delay the inevitable end of the so-called Thousand-Year Reich.

By no means will the Germans be easily defeated. Their resistance was to become increasingly fanatic. There were yet hard, bloody years to come, with countless desperate actions on both sides. On the Eastern Front there will be no quarter given until the very end. Yet the tide of the war has definitely turned on this grey foggy morning, while the wind wailed mournfully and as fine snow fell upon the frozen, desolate Don Steppe.

Germany had taken fateful decisions and suffered severe setbacks several times before, back in 1941 when its destiny was gradually sealed as a result of multiple events, military as well as economical or sociological. It was when England heroically resisted alone during the "Blitz". It was when the Wehrmacht entered the Soviet Union, leading a crusade against "Judeo-Bolshevism" without other objective than to reduce millions of people to slaves. It was when a whole country mobilized itself, genuinely yielding "all for the Motherland, all for the Front", when crowds of men assailed the War Offices to enlist, when women went to work in the fields and factories to replace them. It was when the Einsatzgruppen burned to the ground thousands of Belorussian, Ukrainian and Russian villages, leaving nothing but blind revenge for these people to seek. It was when civilian militia, fighting side by side with the Red Army, contained the German onslaught before Moscow. It was when the USA convicted their mighty resources to contend with the Axis powers. It was as Stalingrad resisted during these hard, long months when each day and each night it seemed that the Soviet soldiers, pushed back to the very edge of the Volga, had reached the limit of human resistance.

However, as ominously as they accumulated, these dramas were but confused premises for a vague and remote future. It seemed that the day when the tormentors should be thrown down and their victims avenged was yet long to come, since on the terrain the Wehrmacht still ruled. German troops had conquered almost all of Europe. In the Soviet Union, though their advance had been restrained, they were virtually in front of every major objective. They were holding the city of Leningrad in an iron grip, they were strongly settled in the Rzhev area 100 miles from Moscow, they had pushed on as far as the Volga, the extreme boundary of before Asia and were deep in the Caucasus. Everywhere it seemed that Hitler was about to make a decisive move that would precipitate the course of the war and let his forces prevail. But he was not to be allowed to, for on 19 November 1942, the hour of revenge had come at last.
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