January 31 – Some important events on this day
314 👉🏼 St Silvester I begins his reign as Catholic Pope
1747 👉🏼 The first venereal diseases clinic opens at London Lock Hospital, London
1865 👉🏼 Congress passes the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery in America (passes 121-24)
1865 👉🏼 General Robert E. Lee named Commander-in-Chief of Confederate Armies during US Civil War
1928 👉🏼 Scotch tape 1st marketed by 3-M Company
1943 👉🏼 Field Marshal Friedrich Paulus surrenders to Soviet troops at Stalingrad.
The Battle of Stalingrad was a turning-point during WWII. It was the largest battle of the war with 2.2 million combatants and one of the largest ever battles in history. The eventual defeat of Nazi Germany’s 6th Army in the streets of the Soviet city not only resulted in a huge loss of life but proved that the German advance could be halted on the deadly Eastern Front.
Friedrich Paulus, the commander of the German 6th Army on the Eastern Front, commandeered 250,000 soldiers, and it was he who led the drive to Stalingrad during the summer of 1942. In November 1942 the Soviets launched a massive counterattack, code-named Operation Uranus, and Paulua suddenly found himself completely surrounded. Adolf Hitler ordered him to maintain his position in the city at all costs.
During January 1943 the German position weakened severely, and Paulus requested the chance to surrender, which Hitler refused believing they should fight until death. Hitler then promoted Paulua to field marshal, noting that there had never been a field marshal who surrendered. He also implied that Paulus should kill himself rather than be captured.
On this day, Paulus was captured by the Russians, and he surrendered. The remainder of his army capitulated in the following days. Hitler flew into a rage upon learning this and vowed never to appoint a field marshal again (though he made seven more before the war was over.)
The 6th Army became the first German field army to be completely destroyed in battle; some 107,000 German soldiers entered Soviet captivity after the loss of the battle, and only about 6,000 would survive this. Paulus himself survived captivity, and lived until 1957 before dying in Dresden.
1944 👉🏼 Operation-Overlord (D-Day) postponed until June
1950 👉🏼 US President Harry Truman publicly announces support for the development of a hydrogen bomb
1971 👉🏼 Apollo 14 departs for the moon
1985 👉🏼 South African President P. W. Botha offers to free Nelson Mandela if he denounces violence
1997 👉🏼 “Final Fantasy VII” is released by Square and Sony Computer Entertainment to PlayStation
2019 👉🏼 Colonization of the America’s in the late 1500s killed so many people it cooled the planet and led to a “Little Ice Age”, according to a scientific report published in “Quaternary Science Reviews”
2020 👉🏼 United Kingdom formally withdraws from the European Union (Brexit)