In the summer of 1942, Hitler's vaunted army had captured the European continent and penetrated deep into Russia. The First Panzer Army was poised to capture the oilfields in the Caucasus Mountains while the Sixth Army was racing unopposed toward Stalingrad. It was here, on the eastern bank of the Volga River, during the winter of 1942-1943 that Hitler's dreams of world dominance would end. It would be the bloodiest battle in the long history of warfare. Stalingrad would become a graveyard for over a million men and women.
The fighting was horrific. They fought on the Steppes, in sewers, bomb shattered factories and apartments. With their backs to the ice-choked Volga and bodies piling in front, Russian soldiers and civilians fought back. Arrogance and ignorance in the German High Command allowed shattered Russian forces to rebuild and surround the Sixth Army on the narrow isthmus of land between the Don River and Stalingrad.
Germany lost nearly 400,000 men killed, wounded or missing while their Hungarian, Rumanian and Italian allies combined lost 450,000.
William Craig, author of “The Fall of Japan,” spent five years researching and interviewing for “Enemy at the Gates.” His efforts paid off in what is an insightful and detailed chronicle of the battle that put Germany on the defensive for the rest of the war.
The book was the impetus for the movie released in the summer of 2001. The movie narrowed the focus to the actions of a heroic Russian sniper who recorded over 200 kills.
“Enemy at the Gates” describes the brutality of the German and Russian armies during World War II and the resiliency of a people facing annihilation. It also displays Hitler's incredible blunders that would cost the lives of thousands of people allowing Germany to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.