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LAURENCE REES: And then the Germans get defeated at Stalingrad. So can we say that is the great turning point of the war in the East?

ROBERT CITINO: I’m very concerned and nervous about the term turning point. World War Two was such a vast conflict involving hundreds of millions of soldiers and civilians; every possible kind of terrain, every possible kind of climate, the first truly global war, and to reduce it to a magic moment like a turning point has always seemed to me to be problematic. I guess if I were held down and forced to come up with a turning point for World War Two I might suggest the smashing of Wehrmacht formations in front of Moscow in December of 1941. This was the first time, not just in the Soviet Union but really in the entire world, that the Germans had been blooded at all and had suffered massive casualties, casualties from which they never did recover, because 1942 sees them relying upon 18 year olds and the armies of Italy, Romania and Hungary as their principle allies on the Eastern front. 1942 certainly was Germany’s last attempt to do great damage to what became known as the Grand Alliance. I would go that far. But even if it had worked, if Stalingrad had been seized and if the great oil fields of the Caucasus were now in German hands and put into some percentage of production by 1943, even then, if the Wehrmacht could carry out operations into 1946 and 47, there was still America that they had to be worried about.

America was in the war to stay and was just beginning to flex, if you will, its industrial prowess. And it was doing something else. It was beginning a little project that would eventually grow into a big project known as the Manhattan Project, the development of the world’s first nuclear weapons. And thus even if somehow the Germans had smashed the British Empire, driven to Suez, had seized the most productive farmland and industrial territories and oil fields in the Soviet Union, there would still be the future atomic bomb to be worried about.

Now would it [the capture of Stalingrad and the Soviet oilfields] have meant [German] victory in the war? I’m arguing probably not. Would it have meant trouble, big trouble for the Grand Alliance? Absolutely.