The Siege of Stalingrad: How Clothing Caused The German War Machine’s First Major Defeat

At the height of World War II, the Nazi-led German military seemed near-unstoppable. The army advanced where it wished, and took land, where it wished, and by July of 1942, the battle for Stalingrad began. The city of Stalingrad was a major prize to be had, and Hitler had his sights fixed on the city; not just because the city was named after his rival, Joseph Stalin, but also because the city was an industrial powerhouse that provided easy access to the oil fields of the Caucuses.

The battle did not end as the Nazis had expected. Despite its previous dominance on the battlefield, the German advance was significantly slowed by winter. The German army was ill-equipped to handle a winter war, and the slowing of their assault proved this.

So, how could something as seemingly trivial as clothing, hinder a global super power’s military?

Underestimating the Enemy

You can not exactly blame the Axis forces for underestimating the Soviets. They had both superior numbers and superior weapons. But the truth is that the Germans did not only underestimate the Soviets, they also overestimated their own ability to win battles. They pushed on when the winter cold was upon them, but they were ill-equipped to make war with the Soviets in this season.

The Frost That Turned The Tide of War

Fighting during these adverse weather conditions did not just slow down the German army, it also negated much of its primary advantages. The difficult terrain made it difficult for supply lines to reach the frontline German soldiers, if there were any that made it through the journey. The winter also brought snow. This made the Germans easily visible because of their dark grey uniforms, which contrasted with the white of the snow. The cold also made it difficult for vehicles to start, and some would just downright break down. The cold can even injure soldiers, as was evident during the Falklands conflict of 1982.

A War On Two Fronts

This delay did not just cause problems on the frontlines at Stalingrad. Japan did not win against the United States as expected, and thus, the Third Reich had to fight a war on two fronts, against both the Soviets and the combined might of the US and British forces. As if this was not a big enough problem, the assault on the Soviet Union took around two million lives on both sides, which meant that the German forces were severely drained.

There is a lesson to be learned here. The importance of preparation can never be overstated, whether it is in training, supplies, or even clothing. As such, it is important to ensure that you are properly dressed for the terrain and the task you are about to do. Tactical clothing, like the ones found at kryptek.com, are not only designed to keep the body warm and dry, they are also a means to protect the wearer in vital areas such as the knees and elbows. No matter what outdoor job or activity you are doing, you need to dress for the weather.

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