At the onset of 1942, Germany’s army was paying the price for its stalled invasion of the Soviet Union. After more than five months of almost continuous success in 1941, the German armored columns were stopped just short of Moscow by lack of supplies, mud, snow, and heroic fighting by Soviet soldiers and civilians.

A massive Soviet counter-attack in December 1941 inflicted the first major defeat suffered by Adolf Hitler’s land army since World War Two in Europe began in September of 1939. German soldiers spent the winter trying to survive in the bitter cold and ice.

When the spring thaw came, Hitler’s generals presented him with a new plan to conquer the Soviet Union named Case Blue. After the massive losses suffered in 1941 and the winter of 1941/42, the German army in the East had enough strength to attack only in one area: southern Russia. However, in 1942 operations did not go as well for the German forces.

By early July, Hitler decided to divide the attacking forces into two army groups. One was ordered to move south and secure the rich oil resources in the Caucasus while the second group provided a defensive line along the Volga River. In securing the banks of the Volga, this second army group would initiate the one of most decisive conflicts of the Eastern Front, the Battle of Stalingrad.

Stalingrad was an important industrial center that stretched for nearly 30 kilometers along the wide Volga River. Named after the Soviet Union’s dictator, Josef Stalin, it became an obvious target for the advancing German Sixth Army. The assault on Stalingrad began on August 23rd when the German Fourth Air Fleet dropped 1,000 tons of bombs on the city. In one day, much of Stalingrad became ruins. Soviet morale and resolve was badly shaken by the continuous retreats and constant battering from German panzers and aircraft.

It is at this point that 1A’s Stalingrad expansion for Tide of Iron introduces players to the unprecedented, vicious street fighting that came to symbolize the brutality of what the Soviet Union called its Great Patriotic War.

In the second post of this two-part series, you’ll read more about the two opposing armies and the reason Stalingrad is considered a major turning point in the Second World War.