» The plan created by Nazi Germany for the invasion of the Soviet Union. On AD 1941 June 22nd at 3 am German forces opened up a second front in Europe. Already Hitler had defeated Poland, Denmark, Norway, the Low Countries, and France so his reputation for brilliant war making was at its height. This probably contributed to arrogance that would cost the armies of Germany dearly later on.

» Barbarossa was originally planned for April 22nd, just as soon as the roads were dried out enough for troop movements. However Mussolini wreaked this with his invasion of Greece in October 1940. They were completely unable to subdue the Greeks and Hitler had to subdue both them and Yugoslavia (to get to Greece) in order to prevent the British from building up a stronghold in the south.

» Despite this delay it seemed to start off very well. Joseph Stalin, leader of the USSR, had discounted reports that the Nazis were planning to invade. Indeed up until the last hours before the invasion relations seemed to be normal between the two nations. Soviet forces were caught completely off guard. All the forward air fleets of the Soviet Union were destroyed in the first half-day. By July 10 German forces were in Minsk and captured 300,000 men plus numerous tanks and other equipment. After years of harsh oppression the Ukraine greeted the Germans, but that didn’t last as the Nazis showed their true colors.

» By September 4 Leningrad (Petrograd or St. Petersburg) was under surrounded. More than 400,000 would die in the longest siege of the modern era, over 900 days. In October they reached the suburbs of Moscow. But there the invasion ground to a halt. Nazi forces were exhausted and ill prepared for the Russian winter. Despite having inflicted more than 3 million casualties the Germans had not won.

» Indeed I think it doubtful that the invasion could have been successful without a stroke of good luck. Invading earlier would not have done it alone unless they could have captured Stalin in Moscow. The key to Hitler’s success early on is nations either being too week to defend themselves (Poland) or giving up (France). The reason that Britain was not defeated is not so much Dunkirk or the moat of the Channel, but the fact that they did not give in.

» As the autumn rains and winter cold shut down military operations for the rest of 1941 it was not Stalin that had fended off Adolf Hitler, it was the tenacity of the Russian people that defeated his armies.«

Next: The Great Patriotic War