He was the commander of the 6th German Army charged by Hitler with conquering the city of Stalingrad. Against his better judgment he followed Hitler's orders to hold the Army's position in Stalingrad under all circumstances, even after his forces were completely encircled by the enemy. A relief effort by Don Army Group under Field Marshal von Manstein failed, inevitably, because Paulus was refused permission to break out of the encirclement. The 6th Army was defeated together with its Romanian allies and Russian auxiliary troops by the Red Army under General Zhukov in January 1943. The battle was fought with terrible losses on both sides and the most unimaginable suffering, scarring the Russian and German nations for several generations.
Paulus's inability or unwillingness to save his men by taking a decision against the will of Hitler to extricate the army from an impossible position puts hin in an historically unfavourable light. However, he also refused to take his own life as Hitler had suggested to him (by promoting him to field marshal after the Sixth Army's fate was sealed) and later acted as a witness for the prosecution at the Nuremberg trials. He died in East Germany as an inspector of police.