It’s October 1942 and the vicious Battle of Stalingrad, the Nazi attempt to seize the Soviet city, is into its third month. But the Stalingrad Tractor Factory has continued to produce T34 tanks despite coming under heavy attack. Finally, on October 16, production stops. But only because Nazi troops are actually on the factory floor.
This desperate incident at the tractor factory is a telling indication of the relentless attack on Stalingrad (today known as Volgograd) by the Nazis and its stubborn defense by the Soviets. Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler had personally ordered that the city, located on the Volga River in southern Russia, should be captured.
Stalingrad had strategic value for the Germans as it would aid their advance on the vital Baku oilfields to the south in present-day Azerbaijan. The city was also a center for war production. But it seems that Hitler was equally motivated by the propaganda value of seizing a city named after the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin. Equally, Stalin was determined that the city should not fall.