Not off topic at all, the thread is "How Germany could've won?". If I consider invading the Soviet Union a mistake and that Germany not making that mistake could have helped them win then it is "on topic". That being said, I don't necessarily disagree that Germany had no alternative, Russia and Germany were going to war, it was just a matter of when. The military importance was what the two sides placed upon it. Had Hitler bypassed Stalingrad as many of his Generals wanted, you are correct, it would have been of no importance. Once Hitler decided it must be captured it became militarily important to the Soviets, they were tying up German military assets that could be used to good effect in other areas. Giving themselves time to gather strength and eventually launch a counter-attack. Stalingrad was important because the two sides decided to make it so. And if you add back the estimated 800K (K/M/Capt) lost at Stalingrad you have nearly 4 million men or an almost 25% increase. Losing 1/4 of your strength IMHO is a big deal. Agreed, it is speculation because no one can know for sure the effect on morale. That is one of the reasons many historians ignore morale when they are analyzing battles. It is however one of the more important factors, many a battle has been won on morale/esprit alone. After the battle of Stalingrad the Soviet soldier knew the Germans were not an unstoppable juggernaut. They knew they could meet the Germans head to head and prevail. Unlike earlier battles where a German soldier enjoyed something like a 13:1 kill ratio against the Soviets, here they took the best shot the Germans could throw at them and they killed them in near parity. Both sides gambled their prestige on this battle. I will agree that it is hard to, well no it is impossible to arrive at an exact figure. 750000 to 800000 is the most quoted estimate. The Russians found @250000 Axis bodies in Stalingrad after the surrender (mostly German and Romanian), 91000 surrendered, an additional 11000 continued fighting until they were killed or captured (352000). You have to add to this casualties among Axis troops outside the encirclement and those killed earlier in the fighting but interred. The estimate is probably not far off, IMO.