BarbaroГџa Operation

Operation Barbarossa was the largest military operation in world history learn more here both manpower and casualties. Despite the failure and huge losses of 'Barbarossa', Hitler launched another major strategic offensive in Junethis time towards the Caucasus mountains and the oil fields of Baku. That left the Germans momentarily with an almost clear path to Moscow. A group of Soviet prisoners of wartaken to an undefined prison camp. That cut five weeks off the already short Russian summer.

BarbaroГџa Operation

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General Georgy Zhukov in Immediately after the German invasion of the USSR, Adolf Hitler put forward a thesis that the Red Army made extensive preparations for an offensive war in Europe, thus justifying the German invasion as a pre-emptive strike.

This thesis was reiterated in the s [98] based on the analysis of circumstantial evidence. This proposed operation aimed to cut Germany off from its allies, especially from Romania and its oilfields that Germany needed to conduct the war.

According to Viktor Suvorov , Stalin planned to use Germany as a proxy the "icebreaker" against the West. Stalin aimed to fuel Hitler's aggressive plans against Europe, and only after the countries had fought each other—and exhausted themselves to some extent—would the USSR make their move.

For this reason Stalin provided significant material and political support to Adolf Hitler, while at the same time preparing the Red Army to "liberate" the whole of Europe from Nazi occupation.

Suvorov saw Barbarossa as a German pre-emptive strike that capitalized on the Soviet troop concentrations immediately on the borders. Some others who support the idea that Stalin prepared to attack, like Mikhail Meltyukhov , reject this part of Suvorov's theory, arguing that both sides prepared for an attack on their own, not in response to the other side's preparations.

Although this thesis has drawn the attention of the general public in some countries Germany, Russia and Israel , and has been supported by some historians examples include Vladimir Nevezhin , Boris Sokolov , Valeri Danilov , Joachim Hoffmann , and Mark Solonin , the idea that Stalin was preparing an attack in has not been accepted by many western historians.

From Occupied Norway a smaller group of forces consisted of:. From Finland engaged in its Continuation War 16 divisions :. More Fronts would be formed within the overall responsibility of the three Strategic Directions commands which corresponded approximately to a German Army Wehrmacht Heer Army Group Heeresgruppen in terms of geographic area of operations.

The forces of the North-Western Direction were: []. Beside the Armies in the Fronts, there were a further six armies in the Western region of the USSR: the 16th , 19th , 20th , 21st , 22nd and the 24th Armies that formed, together with independent units, the Stavka Reserve Group of Armies , later renamed the Reserve Front — nominally under Stalin's direct command.

It is hard to pinpoint the opposing sides' strength in this initial phase, as most German figures include reserves allocated to the East but not yet committed, as well as several other comparability issues between the German and USSR's figures.

Roughly three million Wehrmacht troops went into action on 22 June, and they faced slightly fewer Soviet troops in the border Military Districts.

The contribution of the German allies would generally not make itself felt until later. The surprise was complete: though the Stavka , alarmed by reports that Wehrmacht units were approaching the border, had, at , ordered that the border troops be warned that war was imminent, only a small number of units were alerted in time.

At around noon 22 June , the news of the invasion was broadcast to the population by Molotov, as follows: []. The Red Army and the whole nation will wage a victorious Patriotic War for our beloved country, for honour, for liberty Our cause is just.

The enemy will be beaten. Victory will be ours. By calling upon the population's devotion to their nation rather than the Party, Molotov struck a patriotic chord while allowing a stunned people to absorb the shattering news.

The invasion did not come as a surprise to Stalin but he was completely astounded. In Germany, on the morning of 22 June, Joseph Goebbels announced the invasion to the waking nation in a radio broadcast: [].

At this moment a march is taking place that, for its extent, compares with the greatest the world has ever seen.

I have decided today to place the fate and future of the Reich and our people in the hands of our soldiers.

May God aid us, especially in this fight. Later the same morning, Hitler proclaimed to colleagues, "before three months have passed, we shall witness a collapse of Russia, the like of which has never been seen in history".

Aside from the roughly 3. Luftwaffe reconnaissance units worked frantically to plot troop concentration, supply dumps, and airfields, and mark them for destruction.

The Luftwaffe ' s task was to neutralize the Soviet Air Force. This was not achieved in the first days of operations, despite the Soviets having concentrated aircraft in huge groups on the permanent airfields rather than dispersing them on field landing strips, making them ideal targets.

The Luftwaffe claimed to have destroyed 1, aircraft on the first day of operations. Picking through the wreckages of Soviet airfields, the Luftwaffe ' s figures proved conservative, as over 2, destroyed Soviet aircraft were found.

The Germans claimed to have destroyed only 3, Soviet aircraft in the first three days. In fact Soviet losses were far higher; according to Russian historian Viktor Kulikov, some 3, Soviet aircraft had been lost.

Opposite Army Group North were two Soviet armies. The 4th Panzer Group's objective was to cross the Neman and Daugava Rivers which were the two largest obstacles in the advance to Leningrad.

Near Raseiniai, the armoured units were counterattacked by tanks of the 3rd and 12th Soviet Mechanized Corps. It took four days for the Germans to encircle and destroy the Soviet armour who lacked fuel, ammunition and coordination.

By the end of the first week the Soviet Mechanized Corps had lost 90 percent of its strength. The Germans were now within striking distance of Leningrad.

However, due to their deteriorated supply situation, Hitler ordered the Panzer Groups to hold their position until the infantry formations caught up.

The orders to hold would last over a week, giving time for the Soviets to build up a defense around Leningrad and along the bank of the Luga River.

Further complicating the Soviet position, on 22 June, the anti-Soviet June Uprising in Lithuania began, and an independent Lithuania was proclaimed on the 23rd.

As the Germans reached further north, armed resistance against the Soviets broke out in Estonia as well. The " Battle of Estonia " culminated as the 18th Army reached the Gulf of Finland coast [] which forced the Baltic Fleet to evacuate Tallinn , resulting in one of the greatest naval disasters in history.

Panzer units move through Pruzhany in western Belarus in June The goal of the two Panzer Groups' was to meet at Minsk, denying the Red Army an escape route from the salient.

The 3rd Panzer Group broke through the junction of two Soviet Fronts in the north of the salient, and crossed the River Neman while the 2nd Panzer Group crossed the Bug River river in the south.

Marshal Semyon Timoshenko ordered all Soviet forces to launch a general counter-offensive, but with supply and ammunition dumps destroyed, and the complete collapse of communication, the uncoordinated attacks failed.

In the vast pocket between Minsk and the Polish border, the remnants of thirty-two Soviet Rifle divisions, eight Tank, Motorized, Cavalry and Artillery divisions were encircled.

Hitler had believed that the Red Army would collapse if the Wehrmacht could destroy the bulk of the their forces west of the Western Dvina and Dnieper Rivers.

However after the victory at Minsk, as Army Group Center reached the two rivers, they encountered another five Soviet Armies 16th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd.

Three of these Soviet Armies 16th, 19th, and 20th were quickly encircled and eventually decimated in the vicinity of Smolensk , while the other two were severely weakened.

However, these successes came at a very steep cost for the Wehrmacht. Later still, by 28 August, Halder recorded that the Panzer divisions of the 2nd and 3rd Panzer Groups were operating with an average tank strength of 45 percent, with the 7th Panzer Division the lowest at a strength of only 24 percent.

Opposite Army Group South were three Soviet armies, the 5th, 6th and 26th. Soviet commanders reacted quicker and the Germans faced determined resistance from the start.

The German infantry armies struck at the junctions of these armies while the 1st Panzer Group drove its armored spearhead of tanks right through the Soviet 6th Army, aiming to take Brody.

On 26 June, five Soviet mechanized corps with over 4, tanks mounted a massive counterattack on the 1st Panzer Group.

The battle was among the fiercest of the campaign and one of the largest tank battles in history, lasting over four days.

In the end the poor Soviet logistics and coordination, combined with German tactical skill and air superiority enabled the Germans to prevail, although the Soviets inflicted heavy losses on the 1st Panzer Group.

With the Soviet counteroffensives' failure, the last substantial Soviet tank forces in Western Ukraine had been decimated, and the Red Army assumed a defensive posture, focusing on strategic withdrawal under severe pressure.

The Soviet air arm, the VVS, lost 1, aircraft over Ukraine, with one tenth of its entire strength destroyed on the ground on the first day of the war.

Their tactical skill, as well as quick reaction to the invasion meant that the Soviet forces in Ukraine avoided the rapid destruction that befell other army groups in Belarus and the Baltic States.

However without any armored support, and the Luftwaffe dominating the sky, all the Red Army could do was buy time. The door to Kiev was now open.

By the end of the first week, all three German Army Groups had achieved major campaign objectives. The estimated casualties of the Red Army amount to , killed, wounded, missing or captured.

Franz Halder summarized the achievements made in the opening phase of the operation in his diary as follow: "The objective to shatter the bulk of the Russian Army this [western] side of the Dvina and Dnieper has been accomplished It is thus probably no overstatement to say that the Russian Campaign has been won in the space of two weeks.

It became apparent to everyone that the OKH had grossly underestimated the size of Soviet reserves. Furthermore, the Wehrmacht's officer core consisted of the old German aristocracy, primarily Prussian Junkers.

These officers were schooled in the 19th century style of Clausewitzian theory. According to Clausewitz, wars were won by concentrating your armies at the enemy's focal point , their tactical Schwerpunkt.

At the tactical level, this meant that your armies would win a battle by concentrating effort at unexpected locations, then having them converge upon the enemies focal point, leading to a Kesselschlacht, a cauldron battle.

Now surrounded, the enemy would be forced to fight a Vernichtungsschlacht, a battle of annihilation where they would be destroyed.

At the strategic level, this meant that your armies after winning their decisive battles would eventually converge on the enemies overall focal point.

In the case of Operation Barbarossa, this was Moscow. Thus nearly every German commander treated Moscow as the ultimate prize.

However Hitler had a more modern, and according to David Glantz [ citation needed ] , correct view of modern warfare. Wars were not won by aristocrats drinking wine and smoking cigars over the negotiating table, dictating terms to their defeated gentleman rivals after winning some decisive engagement.

Wars were won by making resistance impossible by starving them of industrial production, and denying them the raw materials needed to fight.

In this thinking, Leningrad was of vital importance to keep the Baltic Fleet from interfering with deliveries of iron ore from Sweden.

Furthermore, Crimea must be captured to prevent air raids on Romanian oil fields. Kharkov also must be captured to deny the enemy its deposits of coal and iron, as well as its heavy industry.

Finally, Rostov-on-Don must be captured in order to deny access to the Black Sea as well as using it as eventual launching pad for an invasion of the Caucasus, rich in oil and minerals.

The 11th Army was ordered south to capture Crimea. The 6th Army was ordered to seize Kharkov and the 1st Panzer Group was ordered to seize Rostov-on-Don with the 17th Army acting as the link between the other two.

This meant that instead of the armies converging on some decisive objective, they were instead spreading themselves out leading to thinly defended sectors and dangerous gaps, areas ripe for counterattacks.

To the German officer corps, Hitler's decisions were strategic madness. On 3 July, Hitler finally gave the go-ahead for the Panzers to resume their drive east after the infantry divisions had caught up.

However, a rainstorm typical of Russian summers slowed their progress and Russian defenses stiffened. The delays gave the Soviets time to organize a massive counterattack against Army Group Center.

Its ultimate objective was Smolensk, which commanded the road to Moscow. Facing the Germans was an old Soviet defensive line held by six armies.

On 6 July, the Soviets attacked the 3rd Panzer Army with tanks. The Germans defeated this counterattack with overwhelming air superiority.

The 2nd Panzer Army crossed the River Dnieper and closed on Smolensk from the south while the 3rd Panzer Army, after defeating the Soviet counterattack, closed on Smolensk from the north.

Trapped between their pincers were three Soviet armies. On 18 July, the Panzer Groups came to within sixteen kilometres of closing the gap but the trap would not snap shut until 26 July.

When the Panzer Groups finally closed the gap, , Red Army soldiers were captured; [] but liquidating the pocket took another ten days in which time , Red Army soldiers escaped to stand between the Germans and Moscow.

Four weeks into the campaign, the Germans realized they had grossly underestimated Soviet strength. The German troops had used their initial supplies without attaining the expected strategic freedom of movement.

Operations were now slowed down to allow for resupply; the delay was to be used to adapt strategy to the new situation.

Hitler had lost faith in encirclement as large numbers of Soviet soldiers had escaped the pincers. Hitler now believed he could defeat the Soviets by economic damage, depriving them of the industrial capacity to continue the war.

That meant seizing the industrial center of Kharkov, the Donets Basin and the oil fields of the Caucasus in the south and the speedy capture of Leningrad, a major center of military production, in the north.

He also wanted to link up with the Finns to the north. Fedor von Bock and almost all the German generals involved in Operation Barbarossa , vehemently argued in favor of continuing the all-out drive toward Moscow.

Besides the psychological importance of capturing the enemy's capital, the generals pointed out that Moscow was a major center of arms production and the center of the Soviet communications and transportation system.

More importantly, intelligence reports indicated that the bulk of the Red Army was deployed near Moscow under Semyon Timoshenko for an all-out defense of the capital.

But Hitler was adamant, and issued a direct order to Heinz Guderian , bypassing his commanding officer von Bock, to send Army Group Centre's tanks to the north and south, temporarily halting the drive to Moscow.

As the Germans eliminated the pocket, the tanks turned north and crossed the Dnieper. The two Panzer armies now trapped four Soviet armies and parts of two others.

Killing of Jews at Ivangorod , Ukraine, []. On 8 August, the Panzers broke through the Soviet defenses; the German 16th Army attacked to the northeast, the 18th Army and the Estonian guerilla Forest Brothers cleared the country and advanced to Lake Peipus.

The Finns had pushed southeast on both sides of Lake Ladoga, reaching the old Finnish-Soviet frontier. At this stage, Hitler lost patience and ordered that Leningrad should not be stormed but starved into submission.

Deprived of its Panzer forces, Army Group Center had remained static and was subjected to numerous Soviet counterattacks in particular the Yelnya Offensive in which the Germans suffered their first major tactical defeat since their invasion began.

Before it could begin, operations in Kiev needed to be finished. Half of Army Group Center had swung to the south in the back of the Kiev position, while Army Group South moved to the north from its Dniepr bridgehead.

The encirclement of Soviet Forces in Kiev was achieved on 16 September. A savage battle ensued in which the Soviets were hammered with tanks, artillery, and aerial bombardment.

After ten days of vicious fighting, the Germans claimed over , Soviet soldiers captured. Actual losses were , men, 3, artillery pieces and mortars from 43 Divisions of the 5th, 21st, 26th, and 37th Soviet Armies.

Soldiers pull a staff car through the heavy mud of the Russian roads, November After Kiev, the Red Army no longer outnumbered the Germans and there were no more directly available trained reserves.

To defend Moscow, Stalin could field , men in 83 divisions, but no more than 25 divisions were fully effective.

Operation Typhoon , the drive to Moscow, began on 2 October. In front of Army Group Center was a series of elaborate defense lines, the first centered on Vyazma and the second on Mozhaysk.

Three days later, the Panzers pushed on to Bryansk while 2nd Army attacked from the west. The Soviet 3rd and 13th Armies were now encircled.

To the north, the 3rd and 4th Panzer Armies attacked Vyazma , trapping the 19th, 20th, 24th and 32nd Armies.

Moscow's first line of defense had been shattered. The pocket eventually yielded , Soviet prisoners, bringing the tally since the start of the invasion to three million.

The Soviets had only 90, men and tanks left for the defense of Moscow. The Soviets had already survived beyond the few weeks that most experts expected after the Germans invaded; Walter Duranty was perhaps the only observer to predict that the USSR could survive for much longer.

Martial law was declared in Moscow. Almost from the beginning of Operation Typhoon , however, the weather had deteriorated.

The supply situation rapidly deteriorated. The pause gave the Soviets, who were in a far better supply situation, time to consolidate their positions and organize formations of newly activated reservists.

In little over a month the Soviets organized eleven new armies which included 30 divisions of Siberian troops.

These had been freed from the Soviet far east as Soviet intelligence had assured Stalin there was no longer a threat from the Japanese.

With the Siberian forces came over 1, tanks and 1, aircraft. The Germans were nearing exhaustion, while they also began to recall Napoleon's invasion of Russia.

General Günther Blumentritt noted in his diary:. They remembered what happened to Napoleon's Army. Most of them began to re-read Caulaincourt's grim account of That had a weighty influence at this critical time in I can still see Von Kluge trudging through the mud from his sleeping quarters to his office and standing before the map with Caulaincourt's book in his hand.

On 15 November, with the ground hardening due to the cold weather, the Germans once again began the attack on Moscow.

Although the troops themselves were now able to advance again, there had been no delay allowed to improve the supply situation.

Facing the Germans were the 5th, 16th, 30th, 43rd, 49th, and 50th Soviet armies. As the Soviets reacted to the flanks, 4th Army would attack the center.

In two weeks of desperate fighting, lacking sufficient fuel and ammunition, the Germans slowly crept towards Moscow.

However, in the south, 2nd Panzer Army was being blocked. On 22 November, Soviet Siberian units augmented with the 49th and 50th Soviet Armies attacked the 2nd Panzer Army and inflicted a shocking defeat on the Germans.

However, 4th Panzer Army pushed the Soviet 16th Army back and succeeded in crossing the Moscow canal and began the encirclement.

The bitter cold also caused severe problems for their guns and equipment; weather conditions grounded the Luftwaffe.

By December , the invasion had cost the German Army over , killed and missing and , wounded, a third of whom became casualties after 1 October.

German soldiers with a destroyed Soviet KV-1 tank at Kaunas. Looking back near the end of the war, as Germany's inevitable and impending defeat loomed ever closer, Hitler attributed great blame to Mussolini's Greek fiasco as the cause of his own subsequent catastrophe.

This move delayed the assault on the Soviet capital, though it also helped secure Army Group Center's southern flank.

By the time they turned to Moscow, the Red Army's fierce resistance, the mud following the autumn rains and, eventually, snow, brought their advance to a halt.

In addition, resistance by the Soviets, who proclaimed a Great Patriotic War in defense of the motherland, was much more fierce than the German command had expected.

The border fortress of Brest, Belarus illustrates that tenacity: attacked on the very first day of the German invasion, the fortress was expected to fall within hours, but held out over a week.

Soviet propaganda later asserted it held out for six weeks. The Soviets also carried out a scorched earth policy on some of the land they were forced to abandon in order to deny the Germans food, fuel and buildings.

Despite the setbacks, the German advance continued, often destroying or surrounding whole armies of Soviet troops and forcing them to surrender.

The battle for Kiev was especially brutal. Kiev was later awarded the title Hero City for its defense. Army Group North, which was to conquer the Baltic countries and eventually Leningrad, reached the southern outskirts of Leningrad by August There, fierce Soviet resistance stopped it.

Since capturing the city seemed too costly, German command decided to starve the city to death by blockade, starting the Siege of Leningrad.

The city held out, despite several attempts by the Germans to break through its defenses, unrelenting air and artillery attacks, and severe shortages of food and fuel, until the Germans were driven back from the city's approaches in early The siege resulted in the deaths of some one million of the city's inhabitants.

In addition to the main attacks of Barbarossa , German forces occupied the Finnish district of Petsamo in order to secure its important nickel mines.

They also launched a series of attacks against Murmansk beginning on 28 June , known as Operation Silberfuchs. A group of Soviet prisoners of war , taken to an undefined prison camp.

Some 2. The Red Army and air force were so badly defeated in mainly because they were ill-prepared for the Axis surprise attack.

By the Germans were the most experienced and best-trained troops in the world for the rapid, blitzkrieg -style warfare that encompassed the Eastern Front during the second half of The Axis had a doctrine of mobility, annihilation , excellent communications and confidence caused by repeated low-cost victories.

The Soviet armed forces, by contrast, lacked leadership, training and readiness. The commissars held a position equal to that of the commander but with the authority to countermand his orders.

Nonetheless, the impact of the purges must be seen in context of the military strength of the armed forces in , which was far from actualizing the goals set by the military reforms that began in the early s.

By about 80 percent of the officers dismissed during the purge had been reinstated. Therefore, although about 75 percent of all the officers had been in their position for less than one year by , that was because of the rapid increase in creation of military units, and not just because of the purge.

Soviet brainpower and resources focused on the creation of elements critical to achieving strategic offensive success through the conduct of deep operations and deep battle.

The Red Army's fixation on offensive combat meant little attention was given to defensive combat. This general neglect for the need of defensive combat, combined with other problems, caused the disasters that befell the Red Army in the summer and fall of Much Soviet planning assumed that in case of a German invasion, the main forces of each side would need up to two weeks to meet each other and Stalin forbade any ideas of a campaign deep inside Soviet territory.

Thus the Axis attack came when new organizations and promising, but untested, weapons were just beginning to trickle into operational units.

Stalin's orders not to retreat or surrender led to static linear positions that German tanks easily breached, again quickly cutting supply lines and surrounding whole Soviet armies.

Only later did Stalin allow his troops to retreat wherever possible and regroup, to mount a defense in depth, or to counterattack.

More than 2. Until the end of the war, more than three million Soviet prisoners were to die from exposure, starvation, disease, or willful mistreatment by the Nazi regime.

In his memoirs, Zhukov summarized the predicament as follows: [78] two or three years would have given the Soviet people a brilliant army, perhaps the best in the world… [but] history allotted us too small a period of peace to get everything organized as it should have been.

We began many things correctly and there were many things we had no time to finish. Our miscalculation regarding the possible time of the fascist Germany's attack told greatly.

Soviet tactical errors in the first few weeks of the offensive proved catastrophic. Initially, the Red Army was fooled by overestimation of its own capabilities.

Instead of intercepting German armor, Soviet mechanised corps were ambushed and destroyed after Luftwaffe dive bombers inflicted heavy losses.

Soviet tanks, poorly maintained and manned by inexperienced crews, suffered an appalling rate of breakdowns.

Lack of spare parts and trucks ensured a logistical collapse. The decision not to dig in the infantry divisions proved disastrous.

Lacking tanks and sufficient motorization, Soviet troops could not wage mobile warfare against the Axis. Soviet troops, well supplied and reinforced by fresh divisions from Siberia, defended Moscow in the Battle of Moscow , and drove the Germans back as the winter advanced.

The bulk of the counter-offensive targeted Army Group Center, which was closest to Moscow. With no shelter, few supplies, inadequate winter clothing, and chronic food shortages, German troops had no choice but to wait out the winter in the frozen wasteland.

The Germans avoided being routed by Soviet counterattacks but suffered heavy casualties from battle and exposure.

At the time, the seizure of Moscow was considered [ by whom? Nowadays, historians debate whether the loss of the Soviet capital would have caused the collapse of the USSR; but Operation Barbarossa failed to achieve that goal.

The outcome of Operation Barbarossa proved a disaster for the Germans, but the Soviets were, initially, at least as badly damaged. However, the occupied areas were not always properly controlled by the Germans and underground activity rapidly escalated.

Wehrmacht occupation was brutal from the start, due to directives issued by Hitler himself at the operation's start: he regarded the Russians and other Soviet citizens as Untermenschen "sub-humans" ruled by Jewish Bolshevik masters.

This attitude alienated the population, though in some areas such as Ukraine some local people had been ready to consider the Germans as liberators helping to rid them of Stalin.

Anti-German partisan operations intensified when Red Army units that had dissolved into the country's large uninhabited areas re-emerged as underground forces; and under repressive German policies.

The Germans held on stubbornly in the face of Soviet counterattacks, resulting in huge casualties on both sides in many battles.

The war on the Eastern Front went on for four years. The death toll may never be established with any degree of certainty. A estimate of Soviet military deaths tallies 8.

German military deaths are also to a large extent controversial. The most recent German estimate Rüdiger Overmans concluded that about 4.

However, a month after the German invasion in , Moscow made an offer for a reciprocal adherence to the Hague convention.

Third Reich officials left this Soviet "note" unanswered. Accordingly, more people died fighting on the Eastern Front than on all the other fighting across the globe during World War II.

As a legacy for Germans in later generations came military defeat, occupation by foreign powers, guilt, economic and physical devastation, and the partition of Germany into East and West political entities.

Globally however, the impact on the physical landscape, the architecture of Europe, the ethnic composition of nations, the economies of the participant countries, and the reconfiguration of world power make Operation Barbarossa, as German historian Andreas Hillgruber once quipped, "one of the few really fundamental world-history decisions of this [the twentieth] century.

The gravity of the beleaguered German army's situation towards the end of was due to the Red Army's increasing strength and factors that in the short run severely restricted the German forces' effectiveness.

Chief among these were their overstretched deployment, a serious transport crisis and the eroded strength of most divisions.

The infantry deficit that appeared by 1 September , was never made good. The plan for Barbarossa assumed that the Wehrmacht would emerge victorious if it could destroy the bulk of the Red Army west of the Dvina and Dnieper rivers.

As Army Group Center arrived at the river banks on 7 July, however, they discovered another five Soviet Armies 16th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd.

By 10 July, it became clear that the assumptions regarding the result of destroying the Red Army forces west of the two rivers proved incorrect.

Nonetheless, three of these Soviet Armies 16th, 19th, and 20th were quickly encircled and eventually decimated in the vicinity of Smolensk , while the other two were severely weakened.

According to one account by a German soldier, when German troops arrived at the Dnieper River they saw many intact industrial plants ; by the time they crossed the river, however, the Russians had emptied every building and taken their contents east.

Franz Halder wrote in his diary in [] The whole situation makes it increasingly plain that we have underestimated the Russian colossus But there they are, and as we smash a dozen of them the Russians simply put up another dozen.

The time factor favours them, as they are near their own resources, while we are moving farther and farther away from ours.

And so our troops, sprawled over the immense front line, without depth, are subject to the incessant attacks of the enemy. The Red Army proved it could replace huge losses quickly, and was not destroyed as a coherent force.

When divisions of conscripts trained before the war were destroyed, new formations replaced them. On average, about half a million men were drafted each month for the duration of the war.

The Soviets also proved very skilled in raising and training many new armies from the different ethnic populations of the far flung republics.

At the start of the war in the dry summer, the Germans took the Soviets by surprise and destroyed a large part of the Red Army in the first weeks.

When good weather gave way to the harsh autumn and winter and the Red Army recovered, the German offensive began to falter.

The German army could not be supplied sufficiently for prolonged combat; indeed, there was not enough fuel for the whole army to reach its objectives.

This was well understood by the German supply units even before the operation, but their warnings were ignored.

Soviet railroads could at first not be fully used due to a difference in track gauges Germany used standard gauges while Russia used five-foot Russian gauge , and dismantled railroad facilities in border areas.

A paper published by the U. Army 's Combat Studies Institute in concluded that Hitler's plans miscarried before the onset of severe winter weather.

Moreover, his eastern army suffered more than , casualties about 23 percent of its average strength of 3,, soldiers in the first five months of the invasion, and on 27 November , General Eduard Wagner , Quartermaster General of the German Army, reported "We are at the end of our resources in both personnel and material.

We are about to be confronted with the dangers of deep winter. In September, terrain slowed the Wehrmacht ' s progress.

Few roads were paved. The ground in the USSR was very loose sand in summer, sticky muck in autumn , and heavy snow in winter. German tanks had narrow tracks with little traction and poor flotation in mud.

In contrast, the new generation of Soviet tanks such as the T and KV had wide tracks and were far more mobile in these conditions.

The , large western European horses the Germans used for supply and artillery movement did not cope well with this weather.

The smaller horses the Red Army used were much better adapted to the climate and could even scrape the icy ground with their hooves to dig up the weeds beneath.

German troops were mostly unprepared for the harsh weather changes in the rainy autumn and early winter of Equipment had been prepared for such winter conditions, but the severely overstrained transport network could not move it to the front.

While at least some cold weather uniforms were available, they rarely reached the Eastern Front because Hitler ordered that supply lines give more priority to shipments of ammunition and fuel.

To operate furnaces and heaters, the Germans also burned precious fuel that was in short supply. Soviet soldiers, in contrast, often had warm, quilted uniforms, felt-lined boots, and fur hats.

German weapons malfunctioned in the cold. Lubricating oils were unsuitable for these temperatures, leading to engine malfunction and misfires.

To load shells into a tank's main gun, frozen grease had to be chipped off with a knife. Soviet units faced less severe problems due to their experience with cold weather.

Aircraft had insulating blankets to keep their engines warm while parked. Lighter-weight oil was used. German tanks and armored vehicles could not move due to a lack of antifreeze , causing fuel to solidify.

The cold was so intense that fires had to be lit under vehicles' engines before they could be started. Because few Russian roads were paved, most of the main roads turned to mud when the rains and snow came in late October and early November.

These quagmires combined with longer supply lines to cause the German advance to stall within sight of the spires of Moscow.

The Soviet counteroffensive of December was led primarily by Siberian troops, who had trained for harsh winter combat. They arrived from the east with numerous T tanks, which had been held in reserve.

When the severe winter began, Hitler feared a repetition of Napoleon's disastrous retreat from Moscow. He ordered the German forces to hold their ground defiantly in the face of Soviet counterattacks.

This became known as the "stand or die" order. Some historians have argued that this order prevented the Germans from being routed; others contend that this order restricted Germany's ability to conduct mobile defensive warfare and led to heavy casualties due to battle and the cold.

Whatever the case, the Germans were driven back a short distance but ultimately, their defensive positions stabilized; this served to convince Hitler further that he could ignore the advice of his generals, something that proved disastrous for the Wehrmacht.

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The Soviet counteroffensives in the winter of caused heavy casualties on both sides, but ultimately eliminated the German threat to Moscow.

This offensive failed just as Barbarossa had: the Germans again conquered vast amounts of no-mans-land, but they had again failed to achieve their ultimate goals when they were defeated at Stalingrad.

As a result, the Germans' last all-out offensive in at the battle of Kursk failed. After three years of constant warfare, the Germans were exhausted; thus the Soviets were finally able to defeat the Germans decisively in Operation Bagration during the summer of This led to a chain of Soviet victories which pushed the Germans back to Berlin in just one year, leading to the surrender of Germany on 8 May Sign In Don't have an account?

Soviet armies. Campaigns of World War II. Eastern Front. Operation Barbarossa. It was to be the turning point for the fortunes of Adolf Hitler 's Third Reich, in that the failure of Operation Barbarossa arguably resulted in the eventual overall defeat of Nazi Germany.

The Eastern Front, which was opened by Operation Barbarossa, would become the biggest theater of war in World War II, with some of the largest and most brutal battles, terrible loss of life, and miserable conditions for Russians and Germans alike.

Readers of Hitler's screed should not have been surprised to see him invade the Soviet Union. In that book, he made clear his belief that the German people needed lebensraum living space , an idea that was used to justify the expansionist policies of Nazi Germany, and that it was to be looked for in the East.

It was the stated policy of the Nazis to kill, deport, or enslave the Russian population, whom they considered to be inferior, and to colonize the land with German stock.

A few days later, Hitler attacked Poland on September 1, Britain stepped in to honor its allegiance to Poland and gave Hitler an ultimatum: If he did not withdraw in the next two days, Britain would declare war on Germany.

World War II had begun. Operation Barbarossa was largely the brainchild of Hitler himself. His general staff advised against fighting a war on two fronts, but Hitler considered himself a political and military genius.

Indeed, at that point in the war, he had achieved a series of lightning victories against what appeared to be insurmountable odds.

Hitler was overconfident because of his rapid success in Western Europe, as well as the Red Army's ineptitude in the Winter War against Finland He expected victory in a few months and did not prepare for a war lasting into the winter; soldiers lacked adequate clothing.

He hoped a quick victory against the Red Army would encourage Britain to accept peace terms. In preparation for the attack, Hitler moved 2.

Yet the Soviets were still taken completely by surprise. That had mostly to do with Stalin's unshakeable belief that the Third Reich would not attack only two years after signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

He also was sure the Germans would finish their war with Britain before opening a new front. Despite repeated warnings from his intelligence services, Stalin refused to give them credence, believing the information to be British misinformation designed to spark a war between the Nazis and the U.

The German government also aided in this deception. They told Stalin that the troops were being moved to bring them out of range of British bombers.

They also explained that they were trying to trick the British into thinking they were planning to attack the Soviet Union, while in fact the troops and supplies were being stockpiled for an invasion of Britain.

It has been established that Communist spy Dr. Richard Sorge gave Stalin the exact launch date; also Swedish cryptanalysts led by Arne Beurling knew the date beforehand.

The ultimate strategy Hitler and his assistants in the German high command decided upon, involved three separate army groups assigned to capture specific regions and large cities of the Soviet Union, once the invasion began.

Soviet preparations. Coming into the s, the Soviet Union was by no means a weak country. Rapid Soviet industrialization in the s had resulted in industrial output second only to that of the United States, and equal to that of Nazi Germany.

Production of military items grew steadily, and in the prewar years the economy became progressively oriented toward military production.

In the Soviet armed forces outnumbered their German counterparts by a great margin. Although the actual figures remain classified even today, estimates are that the Soviet Union had from 4.

However, the Soviet numerical advantage was more than offset by the superior quality of German tanks and planes, along with the superb training of German forces.

As a result, although the Red Army in seemed on paper at least the equal of the German army, the reality in the field was far different; incompetent officers, as well as lack of equipment, poor quality of equipment, and poor training placed the Red Army at a severe disadvantage when facing the Germans.

One exception was the T tank, which was coming into service with the Red Army in The T was a revolutionary tank design, setting new standards for maneuverability, firepower, and armor protection.

It came as a rude surprise to the German army in , and the T remained arguably superior to any German tank clear up to However, few Ts were at the front in ; the crews of those that did exist had received little training; and early versions of Ts had frequent engine and drive train breakdowns.

Therefore, the T was not a significant factor in the opening months of Operation Barbarossa. Soviet propaganda in prewar years invariably averred that the Red Army was strong and could easily defeat any aggressor.

Having fielded officers that were certain to tell Stalin only what he wanted to hear, together with having an ill-founded confidence in the non-aggression pact, Stalin was led to believe that the position of the Soviet Union in early was much stronger than it actually was.

In the spring of , Stalin's own intelligence services gave regular and repeated warnings of an impending German attack. Stalin's belief in his officers and military strength was so strong that he and his general staff refused to consider the possibility that the warnings were true.

Consequently, no significant preparations were made by the Soviet armed forces, and they were simply not ready when the German attack came.

The attack of June On June 22, , the Axis Forces attacked. The operation encompassed total troop strength of about four million men, making it the biggest single land operation ever.

The surprise was complete, stemming less from the timing of the attack than from the sheer number of Axis troops who struck into Soviet territory all at once.

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Four million Nazis invaded the Soviet Union along an 1,mile front. The Nazis utilized , motor vehicles, and between ,, horses.

The Nazis were halted by the Battle of Moscow and the Soviet winter counteroffensive effectively pushed the front line west. Eventually the Nazis were defeated in Stalingrad and had to retreat from the Caucus region.

Operation Citadel was the second half of the summer offensive. This offensive, near Kursk miles southwest of Moscow , lead to the largest battle utilizing armored vehicles in history, the Battle of Prokhorovka.

It was the final strategic attack the Nazis would be able to muster in the Soviet Union. The Eastern Front produced the highest casualties for both the Nazis and the Soviets.

The Nazis captured 5,, Soviet troops. The Nazis deliberately starved, or otherwise killed, 3. The Hunger Plan was an engineered famine created by seizing Soviet food to feed the Nazi soldiers.

The Hunger Plan and the military operation anticipated 20 to 30 million Soviet casualties. June 30 Tumblr Army Group North enter pine grove near Leningrad.

It was the stated policy of the Nazis to kill, deport, or enslave the Russian population, whom they considered to be inferior, and to colonize the land with German stock.

A few days later, Hitler attacked Poland on September 1, Britain stepped in to honor its allegiance to Poland and gave Hitler an ultimatum: If he did not withdraw in the next two days, Britain would declare war on Germany.

World War II had begun. Operation Barbarossa was largely the brainchild of Hitler himself. His general staff advised against fighting a war on two fronts, but Hitler considered himself a political and military genius.

Indeed, at that point in the war, he had achieved a series of lightning victories against what appeared to be insurmountable odds.

Hitler was overconfident because of his rapid success in Western Europe, as well as the Red Army's ineptitude in the Winter War against Finland He expected victory in a few months and did not prepare for a war lasting into the winter; soldiers lacked adequate clothing.

He hoped a quick victory against the Red Army would encourage Britain to accept peace terms. In preparation for the attack, Hitler moved 2.

Yet the Soviets were still taken completely by surprise. That had mostly to do with Stalin's unshakeable belief that the Third Reich would not attack only two years after signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.

He also was sure the Germans would finish their war with Britain before opening a new front.

Despite repeated warnings from his intelligence services, Stalin refused to give them credence, believing the information to be British misinformation designed to spark a war between the Nazis and the U.

The German government also aided in this deception. They told Stalin that the troops were being moved to bring them out of range of British bombers.

They also explained that they were trying to trick the British into thinking they were planning to attack the Soviet Union, while in fact the troops and supplies were being stockpiled for an invasion of Britain.

It has been established that Communist spy Dr. Richard Sorge gave Stalin the exact launch date; also Swedish cryptanalysts led by Arne Beurling knew the date beforehand.

The ultimate strategy Hitler and his assistants in the German high command decided upon, involved three separate army groups assigned to capture specific regions and large cities of the Soviet Union, once the invasion began.

Soviet preparations. Coming into the s, the Soviet Union was by no means a weak country. Rapid Soviet industrialization in the s had resulted in industrial output second only to that of the United States, and equal to that of Nazi Germany.

Production of military items grew steadily, and in the prewar years the economy became progressively oriented toward military production.

In the Soviet armed forces outnumbered their German counterparts by a great margin. Although the actual figures remain classified even today, estimates are that the Soviet Union had from 4.

However, the Soviet numerical advantage was more than offset by the superior quality of German tanks and planes, along with the superb training of German forces.

As a result, although the Red Army in seemed on paper at least the equal of the German army, the reality in the field was far different; incompetent officers, as well as lack of equipment, poor quality of equipment, and poor training placed the Red Army at a severe disadvantage when facing the Germans.

One exception was the T tank, which was coming into service with the Red Army in The T was a revolutionary tank design, setting new standards for maneuverability, firepower, and armor protection.

It came as a rude surprise to the German army in , and the T remained arguably superior to any German tank clear up to However, few Ts were at the front in ; the crews of those that did exist had received little training; and early versions of Ts had frequent engine and drive train breakdowns.

Therefore, the T was not a significant factor in the opening months of Operation Barbarossa. Soviet propaganda in prewar years invariably averred that the Red Army was strong and could easily defeat any aggressor.

Having fielded officers that were certain to tell Stalin only what he wanted to hear, together with having an ill-founded confidence in the non-aggression pact, Stalin was led to believe that the position of the Soviet Union in early was much stronger than it actually was.

In the spring of , Stalin's own intelligence services gave regular and repeated warnings of an impending German attack. Stalin's belief in his officers and military strength was so strong that he and his general staff refused to consider the possibility that the warnings were true.

Consequently, no significant preparations were made by the Soviet armed forces, and they were simply not ready when the German attack came.

The attack of June On June 22, , the Axis Forces attacked. The operation encompassed total troop strength of about four million men, making it the biggest single land operation ever.

The surprise was complete, stemming less from the timing of the attack than from the sheer number of Axis troops who struck into Soviet territory all at once.

Aside from the three million Germans, the attacking force also included , Italian, , Romanian and several hundred thousand troops from such other allied Axis nations as Bulgaria.

Arrayed against them were 4. It is often proposed that the fatal design flaw of the operation was the postponement from the original date of May 15 because Hitler wanted to intervene against an anti-German overthrow in Yugoslavia , and British advances against Mussolini's Italy in Greece.

That cut five weeks off the already short Russian summer.