The battle between the Soviet Union and Germany was the bloodiest conflict waged the history of warfare, total deaths between the Soviets, the Germans and the German Allies totaled well over 25 million dead and millions more wounded. The conflict also featured some of the largest battles ever fought between two nations where the number of troops engaged sometimes total a million or more and casualties were measured in the hundreds of thousands. It was a war of annihilation the likes of which has not seen before or after. Such massive campaigns which are almost incomprehensible to a generation which has seen total casualties from various wars only in the thousands, yet to the nations and armies that fought them they were all too real. To put the numbers in proper perspective the United States lost 416,000 military dead during the war while in the Stalingrad battle alone the Soviets lost over military 478,000 dead and the Germans 400,000 killed wounded or captured and of the 91,000 Germans that surrendered at Stalingrad only 6000 returned to Germany after the war.
In the midst of this brutal campaign that began in June of 1941 when the Germans launched Operation Barbarossa and ended with the planting of the Soviet flag on the Reichstag and death of Hitler in Berlin there was one year that decided not only the Russo-German war but that of World War II in Europe. That year began with the German 1942 offensive Operation Blau and ended with the Battle of Kursk. During this period the fate of nations and the world hung in the balance as two leviathans fought to the death at such places as Stalingrad, Kharkov, the Donets Basin and Kursk. These articles focus on that critical time in history. The page also includes a link to an alternative history of Kursk.