As agreed upon with my opponent (in the comments section), we will only explain the importance of our battles in the first round. I explained in the rules that my opponent will have to choose a battle that he believes was more important than the battle of Stalingrad and argue his case. I would like to thank Nzlockie for accepting this debate and will now proceed to explain the importance of the battle of Stalingrad and how it effected the outcome of WWII.
- The first and most obvious reason for why the battle of Stalingrad was important was because the Nazi defeat during this battle saved the Soviet city of Stalingrad from falling into German hands. The city of Stalingrad was the second most important city in the Soviet Union (after Moscow). There are several reasons for this. First of all, Stalingrad was a major production center in the USSR and the factories at Stalingrad contributed greatly to the Soviet war effort. The city sat on the Volga river and all oil from the Soviet oil fields in the Caucuses had to flow up the Volga. Also, Stalingrad was a major communication hub in the Soviet Union. In addition to all of this, Stalingrad was the city named after the Soviet dictator Josef Stalin. The loss of Stalingrad would have had huge political consequences for the Soviet Union since its allies beliefs that the USSR was losing the war in the east would have been confirmed. Therefore, the Western Allies would have been less eager to launch offensives against the axis and open a second front. With the loss of Stalingrad, the entire Soviet Union would have been greatly demoralized. However the battle was won causing Germany's allies, Hungary, Romania, and Italy, to begin questioning their alliances with Germany and start to look for a pretext to pull out of the war. While this did not immediately happen after the battle, Germany's allies started to send less troops to the front. The German army was demoralized and some politicians and officers began to plot against Hitler seeing that he was leading the German nation to destruction. Turkey entering the war on the axis side, which at the time was definitely a possibility, was put out of the question. 
- Another reason that the German defeat at Stalingrad was important was because it saved the rich oil-fields of the Caucuses (Grozny, Baku, Maykop being the largest) which provided some 95% of Soviet oil. Had the Soviet Union been defeated at Stalingrad, the Wehrmacht could then have pushed into the Caucuses and seized these vital oil fields thus gaining them for the German war effort. If my opponent doubts that the battle of Stalingrad decided the fate of the Caucuses then he must only look at the fact that Germany committed a total of about a million soldiers to the capture of Stalingrad and much fewer to the capture of the Caucuses. General Alfred Jodl, chief of the OKW Operations Staff said that "the fate of the Caucuses would be decided at Stalingrad."  On top of this, German forces were forced to retreat from the Caucuses following their defeat at Stalingrad since the defeat at Stalingrad threatened to cut off Army Group A. The loss of the Caucus oil fields would have had dire consequences for the Soviet war effort. Without oil, how would Soviet tanks, bombers, fighter planes, and other aircraft and vehicles necessary to fight the war operate? The loss of the Caucus oil fields would have meant that it would only be a matter of time before the Soviet Union would be unable to continue its war effort. Unless a second front opened immediately diverting many German divisions elsewhere, the Germans would have been able to launch an offensive to capture Moscow and after that, the Soviet Union would have ceased to have much of an impact on the fighting in WWII.
- An importance of the battle of Stalingrad that is often overlooked is that the failure of the German summer offensive in southern Russia stopped the Reich from invading the British Empire. The German defeat at Stalingrad prevented the Wehrmacht from breaking into the Middle East which was lightly defended. From the middle east, the Germans could have reached India and Egypt and possible link up with Japan. Not only would Hitler have captured the British oil fields in the Middle East, he would have been able to threaten the entire British Empire.
- Axis forces suffered a staggering 850,000 casualties during the battle of Stalingrad. Germany also lost 1,500 tanks, 900 aircraft, and 6,000 artillery pieces. Stalingrad was the bloodiest battle in history, the single largest German defeat in WWII and the largest turning point of the war in Europe. No other battle in WWII saw close to as many axis casualties as Stalingrad. 
- There were three ways that American and British supplies reached the Soviet Union; 1) the Pacific Route 2) the Arctic route 3) Persian Corridor. The Persian Corridor came from the Persian Gulf, went on through Iran, and then through the Caucuses. These supplies greatly impacted the fighting in the Caucuses since allied supplies could easily reach Soviet troops under attack in the region. One documentary I watched claimed that some 42% of the tanks available to the Soviet Union in the Caucuses Front were British and American models. As I explained earlier, the defeat a Soviet defeat at Stalingrad would have resulted in the Caucuses being captured and the Germans being able to invade the middle east. Therefore, the important supply route through Iran would have been closed.
General Siegfried von Westphal said "The disaster of Stalingrad profoundly shocked the German people and armed forces alike...Never before in Germany's history had so large a body of troops come to so dreadful an end."  Even before Germany captured Stalingrad, Hitler had claimed that it was in German hands. Then for months afterwards, German propaganda had claimed that the city would fall in the next few days and that the Soviets were sending their last available divisions at the Germans. Therefore, it came as a great shock to all of Germany when the entire 6th army was encircled and destroyed. This was the first time many of the generals, officers, and soldiers in the Wehrmacht thought of the possibility of Germany losing the war. The Fascist defeat at Stalingrad was the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. The Germans were in retreat on a scale never seen before following their defeat during the Battle of Stalingrad.
Amongst the cities and towns liberated by the Red Army in the winter of 1943 was the city of Kursk where the next major German defeat at Soviet hands would come. The Red Army would then proceed to launch offensives which would liberate Ukraine. In 1944, the Soviet Union launched Operation Bagration where four Soviet fronts encircled and destroy Germany's Army Group Center, a victory which would open the road to Berlin and the surrender of Nazi Germany.
However none of these victories would have happened without the German defeat at Stalingrad.
Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-11 17:28:21 | Speak Roundnzlockie (CON)
I'd like to welcome the Judges and thank my opponent for setting up this debate. From a little research I understand this is a resolution which seems dear to his heart and I'm honoured to accept the first instance of it on Edeb8!
In this debate my opponent will be arguing that the Battle of Stalingrad was the most important battle of World War II. It will this side's contention that it was not. As per the rules, we will be adopting a share of the BOP by submitting one example of a battle that was MORE important.
But first, let's make sure we are on the same page. As my opponent has neglected to do so, I'll quickly lay out the definitions for this resolution.
The Battle of Stalingrad: During WWII, a combination of Axis powers, including; Germany, Romania, Bulgaria, Italy, Hungary and Croatia launched an attack on the Russian city of Stalingrad. This attack raged from the 23rd of August, 1942 to February 2nd, 1943, just over five months - after which time the Soviets emerged the undisputed victors.
Most: Superlative. There were NO other battles during WWII as important as this one.
A few subtle variations here
but the one I'm going with is, "of great significance or consequence.
As defined here
, "An encounter between opposing forces.
WWII: Literally the Second World War, starting in 1939 with the German invasion of Poland and finishing in 1945 with the surrender of Japan.
In summation then, the complete resolution is that the 1942-1943 Battle of Stalingrad was of greater significance and/or consequence than any other battle in the Second World War. My opponent has a burden to affirm this motion, while my burden is to negate it.
It is my belief that there are several battles which meet these criteria and could be seen to have had greater significance however my opponent has requested that I only argue one of them. I'd like to point out though that as PRO, he needs to show that his battle is MORE important than mine, while I can win by showing that my battle is either MORE important or OF EQUAL importance to his.
Enough of this! On with the debate!
As I've already mentioned there are several popular candidates for the most important battle. The Battle of Britain is an obvious one and hugely important to the British. The Battle of Midway effectively negated the Japanese Navy in the Pacific, something that was of great consequence to Pacific nations, from Australia to the USA. In Russia, it is often seen as a three-way tie between the Battle of Moscow, the Battle of Kursk and the Battle of Stalingrad. All three of these signaled a major blow to the Axis hopes of actually winning the war, and were thus hugely important to those nations.
A case could be made for any of these, however the battle I've chosen must surely be considered the MOST important of all. It was the Battle of Westerplatte.
Consider these dominoes. The Dominoes represent the battles and even the individual actions which all took place during World War II. WWII - like any war, is action and reaction. A battle won here means resources gained there. This means a better chance of winning a different battle somewhere else. A bad decision there means a loss. This places more pressure on battles being waged in a different area... it goes on like that.
When it comes to these dominoes, they could be different sizes, facing different ways, even splitting off into multiple trails! When they start falling, one action is going to lead to another action, then another, then another action... and eventually to our final conclusion. So which is the most important?
My opponent will be arguing that the Axis loss at Stalingrad had a flow on effect. He will be adding all of the cumulative benefits that win brought to the Allies and claiming that this, coupled with the cumulative losses incurred by the Axis powers, makes THIS battle the most important of the War.
I will be arguing that the initial domino that started all the other dominoes falling - including Stalingrad, was of far greater significance than that.
On September 1st, 1939, Germany invaded Poland. The first battle was that of Westerplatte. Here's a map:
In and of itself, it was a fairly minor battle. If you're interested, you can read about it here
, but I'll give you the quick version:
The German Battleship, Schleswig-Holstein, opened fire in an unprovoked attack on a Polish Garrison at Westerplatte. The Garrison was manned by about 182 soldiers plus a bunch of admin type people. The small Garrison actually held out very well, and the 2,600 German soldiers actually came off second best, with the Poles losing 14 men total while Germany lost an estimated 200-300 men. But numbers eventually prevailed and Germany began its invasion of Poland. Weeks later they owned the lot.
Why was it important?
In 1934, Hitler had signed a non-aggression pact with Poland. This invasion was a breach of that pact.
In the mid 1930's, Britain and France had essentially stood by and watched while Germany rearmed herself following her significant sanctions after WW1. Under Hitler, Germany started to make some discontented rumblings about some of the land she had lost in the treaty of Versailles. When Germany eventually took back a bunch of the land she had had stripped away from her, Britain and France tried to console everybody by guaranteeing that, no matter what, Poland would be left alone. Both nations made a series of promises to Poland that if Germany were to invade, they would immediately come to her aid.
Well, as history reveals, it wasn't exactly the immediate response that Poland was promised, but after the Battle of Westerplatte, and the subsequent invasion of Poland, Britain and France had no option but to declare war on German. Thus began the Second World War.
The battle itself was fairly minor in the grand scheme of the things to come, however that first domino set in motion events that would eventually affect 114 countries and claim the lives of 50 -85 million people, making it the bloodiest conflict in human history.
When it comes to importance, the battle that started it all must surely be considered more significant and more consequential than any of the battles that followed - including the Battle of Stalingrad.
In the next round I will be expounding on this idea by questioning whether any one of half a dozen significant battles can truly be regarded as MORE important than another. How is it measured?
With this I will also challenge my opponent's notion of importance. Important to whom?
The resolution provides no qualifier to indicate that the importance we're discussing be limited to Europe. The Pacific theatre of WW2 accounted for a little over 50% of the total
casualties of WWII and a very good case could be made that for people living in Australia, New Zealand and possibly even the USA, the battle of Stalingrad was far less important than the battles of Midway or Guadalcanal.
I remind the judges that I'm not allowed to argue these specific battles, however, like Stalingrad, they are all a part of World War II and can therefore all be traced back to that first battle of Westerplatte - one of the few conflicts in the war that can truthfully be traced to ALL 114 countries affected.
I will be challenging my opponent to show how a soviet victory at Stalingrad was more important to the people of New Zealand than the battle which started off the entire World War and directly threatened their homeland.
Lots of good stuff coming up, for now I leave the floor to PRO.
Vote CON - when we say we'll have your back in 15 days or less, we mean it!
Return To Top | Posted:
2014-10-12 03:50:31 | Speak Round