July 28 • Soviet leader Joseph Stalin issues his famous order: ‘Not a step back!’ The NKVD ruthlessly prevents soldiers retreating.
August 20 • Soviet troops are pushed back from the western bank of the Don. At this point, the German Sixth Army is 37 miles away from Stalingrad.
August 21 • General Freidrich Paulus’s 6th Army crosses the Don. The following day, German tanks race to Stalingrad. At this point, the evacuation of the city is still under way.
August 23 • By 4pm, Paulus’s armoured division reaches Stalingrad from the north. But it fails to capture the city immediately, and the Germans suffer sustained attacks from the Red Army.
September 27 • Paulus fails in another attempt to storm the city.
October 4 • Paulus captures the station, pushing the Soviets towards the Volga but paratroopers halt the advance.
November 19 • Soviet troops start their counter-offensive, codenamed Operation Uranus.
November 22 • Soviet forces had encircled some 290,000 men east of the Don.
The operation to finish off the surrounded troops, codenamed Ring, was carried out by the Don Front, reinforced by three armies of the disbanded Stalingrad Front.
January 9 • Soviet commander Konstantin Rokossovsky issues an ultimatum for the Nazi troops to surrender, but Paulus refuses to give up on Hitler’s orders.
January 10 • Soviet heavy artillery and mortars open fire all along the front of the 65th Army, which begins storming the German 6th Army positions from the west.
January 17-22 • The assault is halted to realign Soviet forces.
January 22-26 • New attacks split the 6th Army in two, and Soviet troops link up near Mamayev Kurgan.
February 2 • With all hope of resistance ended, Field Marshal Paulus surrenders, dismissing Hitler’s orders to commit suicide – and a total of 110,000 Axis soldiers go into captivity.
The annihilation of the Sixth Army, which had conquered Paris and invaded huge areas of Russia, Belorussia and the Ukraine, marked the beginning of the end for Hitler and the start of the Red Army’s advance towards Berlin.
Stalingrad quotes from residents, soldiers and famous names
"After lunch on August 23, a colossal bombardment of the city began. The whole city was razed in just two days. The central district was destroyed first. We left for a refugee centre – on the next day, our house just wasn’t there any longer." Boris Kryzhanovsky, memoirs of Stalingrad resident
"Excellent news! Our forces have reached the Volga and taken part of the city. There are only two choices for the Russians. To the north, our forces are taking the city and reaching the Volga – but to the south, ill-fated Russian divisions continue to offer terrible resistance. These people must be fanatics. . ." Wilhelm Hoffman German soldier, August 23
"Two soldiers popped in yesterday, for a drink, so we asked them, ‘Will it all end soon?’ They said they didn’t know – no other city has stood up to it as long as Stalingrad. Today, it’s 30 days since the bombardment began. Thirty days since we hid in this crack." Serafima Voronina, Stalingrad resident, September 21
"December 26. We’ve eaten all the horses. I’d even eat cat: cat meat can be tasty. The squaddies look like corpses or zombies, searching for anything to eat. They don’t even try to duck from the Russian shells – they haven’t the strength to run or hide." Wilhelm Hoffman, Diary of German soldier
"My dear brother! Sorry about the messy handwriting, my hands are frostbitten and my head’s confused. We’ll never get out of here. The breakthrough won’t happen. We’re all dead here – it’s just that we don’t decompose, because of the Russian frost." Helmut Quantz, OberLeutnant, January 24
"I’m a believer, I’m a Christian – I reject suicide." Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus, from the memoirs of OberLeutnant Gerhard Hindenlang
"The siege of September 13, 1942 to January 31, 1943 will inspire forever the hearts of all free people. Their glorious victory stemmed the tide of invasion and marked the turning point in the war of the Allied nations against the forces of aggression." Franklin D Roosevelt, congratulating Joseph Stalin on the soviet Victory at Stalingrad, 1944
"For Germany, the battle of Stalingrad was the biggest defeat in its history; for Russia, it became its greatest victory. Russia gained the right to be called a great European power near Poltava [in 1709], while Stalingrad was the beginning of its transformation into one of the two greatest world powers." Hermann Doerr, German General, post-war memoirs