On the taking of Stalingrad , this was not seen as a major objective initially , more of a flank anchoring for the whole Caucasus drive ,the Volga from Voronezh to Stalingrad was to be the winter line , thinking about going as far as Astrakhan was quite uncertain it seems to have been taken for granted the place would fall without much effort
in it's own right cutting the vital artery of the Volga which was where oil , grain and various other needed resources flowed
was a worthy enterprise , destroying the tank factories was good too , Stalingrad was also a rail communication node for the whole south , in fact pretty much the only one , there was only one other rail link , it would be overloaded and within easy bomber range .
the initial plan was allocating 6th and 4th panzer army to seize the city , but Hitler diverted the 4th toward Rostov to help the crossing of the lower Don ,
in fact , it was not needed and roads were crowded with vehicle burning precious petrol , this created one of the biggest traffic jam of the whole war ,delayed the taking of Stalingrad while fuel supplies were brought up
if the original advance axis had been stuck to , the Germans would probably have taken the town by storm in mid august
the defense was still pretty shaky .
very quickly the Germans realized there was a major Russian effort to defend the city , it didn't make much military sense but they believed it was because of the name of the place and it's association with Stalin great victory there during the civil war
he had successfully defended the city , and ensured the food supply for the starving population of Moscow and petrograd
Hitler knew about the red banner surprise counter-attack and warned his generals about this ,
in his mind Stalingrad was a magnet where the few remaining soviet forces would be destroyed as they were thrown in the furnace , something like Von Falkenhein meat-grinder of Verdun ,
the soviet army would be bled white forced to defend a place where the technical advantage was to the Germans , this seemed to be the case for the soviets were sending part of units into battle ,
on the front lines the soviets forces were a jumble of units made of the survivors from past fighting
the prisonners and shoulder patches of the dead came from plenty of units , this lead the German intelligence to believe the whole of the units had been committed then destroyed ,
In fact Stalin was very careful not to commit his newly raised forces to the city ,
at all times only what was absolutely needed to hold was send there ,
either across the river or on the immediate flanks ,
the decision to go for a large encirclement had been taken in september
raising , equipping , training and deploying the several armies needed would take time , the operation could only take place after the river froze , so Stalingrad had to hold to keep the Germans hypnotized .
the defenders worst time would be when the Volga would carry ice ,a critical moment when all resupply would have to stop
while the Germans launched the massive assaults of October November , breaking the front in several places , and pushing the soviets to the very river bank , it was coffin corner ,the commander , Chiukov reckoned they were done for