Operation Barbarossa: Fatal Error
June 22, 1941. Adolf Hitler orders Operation Barbarossa into effect. The invasion of the Soviet Union. over three million German soldiers made up of 180 divisions, 20 panzer divisions, 8000 tanks, and 3200 airplanes and six hundred and fifty thousand allies invaded the Soviet border(1). Hitler hoped to invade, subdue, and conquer the whole of the soviet union before the onset of winter. The soviets only had 160 infantry divisions. The plan seemed simple. One giant blitzkrieg that would reach Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad within a couple of months. A few months prior, Stalin had purged the high command of any undesirables. Their forces were weakened. Hitler thought that for ever German who fell, 10 Slavs would fall as well. The invasion was a three pronged attack. General Leeb would sweep though the Baltic states which were conquered by the soviets and would be glad to be rid of them. The center group led by general von Bock would head straight for the soviet capital, the southern army group led by general von Rundstedt would invade the Ukraine who also hated the soviets then move on to caucuses which was rich in oil and could fuel the German war machine(2). Within the first six months over two million Soviet soldiers were captured. The Soviets however, did not surrender. The quick victory that Hitler expected did not come. within six months, the soviet union was able to raise another 300 infantry divisions. Also, winter had struck. The Soviet Union was vastly underestimated and they were ready to feel the might of its army.
The Germans did not think that the eastern front would last this long, so they did not provide winter clothing to their troops. By 1942, the Wehrmacht was halted at the battle of Stalingrad. By 1943, the Germans were on the retreat. The soviets did not look kindly on what the Germans had done. Many of the captured soldiers would become forced laborers and would not return home until 1956.
- “Invasion of the Soviet Union, June 1941.” United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. August 18, 2015. Accessed November 1, 2015.
- Spielvogel, Jackson J. Hitler and Nazi Germany: A History,2014. pages 207-208.