Chuikov and the defenders used the rubble of the city as defensive cover and to slow down the German advance. They also put up a suicidal resistance and fought for every street and building. Soviet snipers decimated the German forces. After three months of fierce fighting, the German’s eventually captured some 90% of the city and had reached the Volga. It appeared that they were on the verge of victory. The Soviets had been building up their forces in great secrecy to the north and the south of the city. Amazingly, German intelligence did not spot the massive build-up of Soviet divisions. The Soviet’s under Zhukov attacked the 6th army’s flank as they continued to capture the last remaining pockets of resistance in Stalingrad. The Soviets deliberately selected those sectors of the German’ lines, held by their allies, such as the Hungarians and the Romanians. The Soviet High Command, estimated that these units would not fight and would quickly surrender. On the night of the 23rd of November, the Red Army attacked and quickly swept passed the Hungarian, Rumanian, and Italian divisions and they began to encircle the 6th army in Stalingrad, just as it was on the verge of seizing the city.<ref> Antil, p. 135</ref>
[[File: Hitler.jpg|thumbnail|200px|Adolf Hitler]]
By 1942, Hitler had been very successful in all his campaigns. He had only experienced defeat at the Battle of Britain and near Moscow. However, on the face of it, neither defeat had stopped the German war machine from going on the offensive and from securing more victories. Hitler, as commander in chief of the army, had great faith in his personal military abilities and as a strategist. He believed that he was a military genius and was destined to lead the German people to victory. Central to Hitler’s views on military tactics was that willpower could achieve anything in the battlefield.
Hitler believed that if German soldiers were well-led and motivated then there was nothing that they could not do, no enemy that they could not defeat. Hitler when he heard that his army was on the point of being encircled at Stalingrad, ordered that the 6th Army should not retreat and he demanded that they fight on with greater zeal. Hitler, while admitting that the situation in Stalingrad was dire, believe that if the German soldiers and their officers had faith in the final victory then they would be victorious. This belief meant that Hitler curbed his officers' ability to respond to the developing situation on the ground.<ref> Victor, George, ''Hitler: Pathology of Evil'' (Washington, DC: Brassey's Inc.2008) p. 208</ref>
The Soviet counteroffensive, which was launched on 19th November, from the Kalmyk Steeped, in a pincer movement, simultaneously attacked the Germans from the North and outflanked the 6th army. Eventually, the Red Army would come to completely encircle the Germans, but this took a week or more to achieve. In this time, Paulus could have retreated west and towards Von Manstein who was fighting in the Crimea.<ref> Anthill, p. 156</ref> Before the encirclement was complete, Paulus should have left Stalingrad and ordered a retreat. However, because of Hitler's order to not retreat under any circumstances, Paulus stayed in Stalingrad and he and his army became trapped in the city on the 23rd of November, 1942. Over a quarter of a million Germans had been cut-off in the city on the Volga. Undoubtedly, Paulus own indecisive character played its part, but Hitler’s orders to stand and fight and never to concede ground meant that the Germans did not conduct a tactical retreat and avoid the slow death of the 6th army in the winter of 1942-43.<ref>Beevor, p. 158</ref>
==Could the 6th army have been saved?==