Operation Barbarossa | World War II

Operation Barbarossa | World War II

Overview

Operation Barbarossa, or the German invasion of the Soviet Union, was the code name for the incursion of the Soviet Union by Nazi Germany and several of its Axis allies on June 22, 1941. The surgery was called after Frederick Barbarossa, a 12th-century German ruler. Aiming to repopulate the western Soviet Union with Germans, Operation Barbarossa was a Nazi-inspired operation. The German Generalplan Ost exploited conquered populations as slave labour for the Axis war effort while obtaining Caucasus oil deposits and agricultural resources. Their ultimate purpose was to exterminate, enslave, Germanize, and mass deports Slavic peoples to Siberia to expand Germany's Lebensraum. Before the invasion, Germany and the USSR made strategic political and economic agreements. With Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina occupied by the USSR, the German High Command planned an attack on the USSR in July 1940 (codenamed Operation Otto), which Adolf Hitler ordered on December 18, 1940. Approximately three million Axis troops invaded the western Soviet Union along a 2,900-kilometer (1,800-mile) front, with 600,000 trucks and nearly 600,000 horses for non-combat duties. The offensive accelerated the war geographically and in terms of the Allied alliance, including the USSR.

More forces were deployed than ever before to open the Eastern Front. Axis and Soviet forces alike suffered heavy losses in the area, which altered the direction of WWII and the rest of the twentieth century. The German armies seized 5 million Red Army troops. The "Hunger Plan" addressed German food shortages and destroyed the Slavic population by hunger. During the Holocaust, the Nazis or willing collaborators[f] slaughtered approximately a million Soviet Jews. Operation Barbarossa's failure shook Nazi Germany. Operationally, German forces won big battles, captured key Soviet economic areas (most notably Ukraine), and suffered severe fatalities. However, after the Battle of Moscow in late 1941, the German drive stopped, and the Soviet winter counter-offensive forced the Germans back around 250 km. Unlike in Poland, the Red Army absorbed the Wehrmacht's most significant blows and slowed it down in a war of slow destruction for which the Germans were unprepared. However, successive operations to reclaim the initiative and drive deep into Soviet territory (Case Blue 1942, Operation Citadel 1943) failed, resulting in the Wehrmacht's retreat and collapse.

Background

In his political manifesto and autobiography named Mein Kampf, racial policies of Nazi Germany: Adolf Hitler stated that the German people needed to obtain Lebensraum ('living space') to ensure Germany's survival for generations. "Purely a war of Weltanschauungen that is completely a people's war, a racial war," Hitler addressed his army commanders on February 10, 1939. On November 23, 1941, Hitler proclaimed that "racial war has broken out and this struggle shall regulate who shall govern Europe, and with it, the globe." Aryan Untermenschen ('sub-humans), governed by Jewish Bolshevik conspirators, was Nazi Germany's racial policy.  As it happened "six hundred years ago," Hitler said in Mein Kampf (see Ostsiedlung). So, under the Generalplan Ost, the Nazis killed, deported, or enslaved the majority of Russian and other Slavic inhabitants, repopulating the land with Germanic peoples. In official documents and pseudoscientific articles in German journals, the Nazis' ethnic superiority concept is evident. "In truth, the military leaders were caught up in the ideological character of the battle and participated in its implementation as eager participants," writes historian Jürgen Förster. German forces were heavily imbued with anti-Bolshevik, anti-Semitic, and anti-Slavic ideology before and during the invasion of the USSR. Hitler informed Croatian military leader Slavko Kvaternik that the "Mongolian race" endangered Europe. Following the invasion, numerous Wehrmacht officials instructed their troops to attack "Jewish Bolshevik subhumans", "Mongol hordes", "Asian deluge", and "Red beast". Nazi propaganda depicted the Cold Conflict as a battle between German National Socialism and Jewish Bolshevism and a race war between disciplined Germans and Jewish, Gypsy, and Slavic Untermenschen. An 'order from the Führer' ordered the SS Einsatzgruppen to execute all Soviet bureaucrats who were "less valuable Asiatics, Gypsies, and Jews". Six months into the Soviet invasion, the Einsatzgruppen had already murdered over 500,000 Soviet Jews, more than Red Army men killed in action. Hitler's generals blamed the "partisan struggle" on the Jews. The Germans' main rule was "Where there is a partisan, theres a Jew, and vice versa." In Nazi standards, many German troops viewed their Soviet adversaries as subhuman. After the war, the Nazis prohibited sexual connections between Germans and slaves. Sexual contacts with a German were punishable by death for Ost-Arbeiter. Hitler's plans for non-German communities in the East were stated in a secret memorandum by Heinrich Himmler dated 25 May 1940. Himmler thought that "only men of truly German, Germanic blood exist in the East."

The Nazi secret plan Generalplan Ost planned for a "new order of ethnographical relations" in the seized Eastern European lands. It called for ethnic cleansing, death, and enslavement of conquered populations, with tiny numbers being Germanized, expelled into the depths of Russia, or other fates. The plan had two portions: the Kleine Planung included measures during the war, and the Große Planung contained policies to be implemented gradually over 25-30 years following the war. "The struggle must aim at the obliteration of today's Russia and, therefore, be waged with unparalleled harshness," General Erich Hoepner stated in a speech to the 4th Panzer Group. The Germans were fighting for "the safeguarding of European civilization against Moscovite–Asian flood, and the repulse of Jewish Bolshevism... No supporters of the current Russian-Bolshevik system are to be spared," Hoepner continued. Walther von Brauchitsch likewise instructed his men to treat the war as a "battle between two different races" and act accordingly. Nazi philosophy emphasized racial reasons, and both Jews and communists were regarded as equal adversaries of the Nazi regime. The Nazi imperialist ambitions disregarded both groups' common humanity, dubbing the ultimate Lebensraum conflict a Vernichtungskrieg.

German-Soviet Relations of 1939–40

The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was signed in Moscow in August 1939. In the case of a German incursion, the Soviets would be allowed to conquer the Baltic republics and Finland, according to a secret protocol to the deal. The rest of the world learnt of the accord on August 23, but not the terms to partition Poland. The agreement startled the globe due to the parties' previous animosity and opposing views. Shortly after its signing, the German invasion of Poland on September 1st launched the European war, and the Soviet attack on September 8th annexed the eastern part of Poland. Nevertheless, the pact resulted in two years of good diplomatic and economic relations between Germany and the USSR. In exchange for raw supplies like oil and wheat, the Soviets got German military weaponry and commerce items in 1940, allowing the Nazis to avoid the British blockade.

Despite their apparent goodwill, both sides were wary of the other's motives. For example, the June 1940 Soviet invasion of Bukovina was outside their agreed-upon region of influence. After joining the Axis Pact with Japan and Italy, Germany entered the Soviet Union. On November 12, 1940, Germany issued a written proposal for Soviet admission into the Axis. On November 25, 1940, the Soviet Union offered to join the Axis if Germany agreed not to intrude in its zone of influence, but Germany did not react. Conflict seemed increasingly possible as both forces collided in Eastern Europe, despite signing a border and trade agreement in January 1941. Stalin supposed that since the Germans were still fighting the British in the west, Hitler would not open up a two-front war, and thus delayed the reconstruction of defensive fortifications in the border regions. German soldiers who swam across the Bug River to warn the Red Army of an impending onslaught were shot. Despite his cordial relations with Hitler, some historians believe Stalin did not intend to remain an ally. Stalin may have intended to break away from Germany and launch his anti-German campaign, followed by one against the rest of Europe.

German Invasion Plans

Several skilled and experienced military officers were executed in the Great Purge of the 1930s, leaving the Red Army with inexperienced leadership compared to their German enemy. In their propaganda against Slavs, the Nazis emphasized the Soviet regime's cruelty. They also claimed the Red Army was ready to assault the Germans, making their invasion look preemptive. In mid-1940, with tensions building between the USSR and Germany over Balkan regions, an invasion of the USSR seemed the only answer to Hitler.

In June, Hitler told one of his generals that the victory in Western Europe freed his hands to fight Bolshevism. Following the success in France, General Erich Marcks was tasked with drafting the Soviet Union's initial invasion preparations. Operation Draft East was the first battle strategy (colloquially known as the Marcks Plan). His assessment recommended that any invasion of the USSR target the A-A line. This assault would extend from Arkhangelsk, on the Arctic Sea, via Gorky and Rostov to Astrakhan, at the Volga's outlet, on the Caspian Sea. Once built, this military boundary would lessen the threat of enemy bomber raids on Germany.

Hitler anticipated compensatory benefits such as demobilization of entire divisions to relieve the acute labour shortage in German industry, exploitation of Ukraine as a reliable and vast source of agricultural products, use of forced labour to stimulate Germany's overall economy.

Hitler believed that if the Germans won the Soviet Union, they would sue for peace, and if not, he would use the resources of the East to fight the British Empire. Hitler received the complete military plans for the invasion on December 5, 1940, codenamed "Operation Otto" by the German High Command. Unhappy with these preparations, Hitler issued Führer Directive 21 on December 18th, calling for a new combat plan codenamed "Operation Barbarossa".  The surgery was named after the 12th century Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, who led the Third Crusade. The Barbarossa order declared war on 30 March 1941, calling for the annihilation of all political and intellectual elites. Set for 15 May 1941, the invasion was postponed a month to allow for more preparations and potentially better weather. "Invincible" Wehrmacht and conventional German prejudices of Russia as a primitive, backward "Asiatic" country, according to a 1978 study by German historian Andreas Hillgruber.

The Red Army's soldiers were respected, while the officers were despised. Moreover, the Wehrmacht leadership ignored politics, culture, and the Soviet Union's vast industrial capacity favouring an aggressive outlook. Assuming that the whole military elite shared these ideas, Hillgruber argues that Hitler was able to push through a "war of annihilation" with the collaboration of "many military officials" despite the evident violation of all acknowledged standards of warfare.

High-ranking German officials warned of the hazards of a Soviet attack in fall 1940. They stated that Ukraine, Belarus, and the Baltic States would add Germany's economic burden. The occupation would not help Germany, and the Soviets were deemed harmless in their existing bureaucratic state. Hitler disagreed with economists and told his Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring that he would no longer listen to concerns about the economic costs of a war with Russia. Assuming the Soviet Union's economy was not conquered intact and the Caucasus oilfields were not grabbed first, information may have been passed on to General Georg Thomas, who amended his future report to Hitler's wishes. Hitler was assured a swift victory by the Red Army's ineptness in the Winter War against Finland in 1939–40. Hitler and the General Staff did not expect a lengthy campaign into the winter. Therefore they did not prepare adequately, such as distributing warm clothing and winterizing vehicles and lubricants.

In March 1941, Göring's Green Folder spelt out the Soviet economy's post-conquest plans. It created an agricultural surplus to feed Germany and urban space for the German upper class. Nazi doctrine planned to destroy the Soviet Union as a political entity to benefit future generations of the "Nordic master race".

German strategists studied Napoleon's disastrous Russian invasion. They determined that a large-scale Red Army retreat into the Russian heartland was unlikely with no way to give up the Baltic states, Ukraine, or the Moscow and Leningrad districts. In the end, Hitler and his generals could not agree. Hitler repeated to his generals, "Leningrad first, Donbas second, Moscow third," but prioritized the destruction of the Red Army over specific terrain targets. Hitler believed that destroying the Red Army west of the capital, especially west of the Western Dvina and Dnieper rivers, would be the key to defeating the Soviet Union. Hitler disagreed with Heinz Guderian, Gerhard Engel, Fedor von Bock, and Franz Halder, who believed the decisive triumph could only be delivered at Moscow. Although "The fast wins in Western Europe had made Hitler overconfident in his military judgment," they could not dissuade Hitler.

German Preparations

Before the Balkan campaign ended, the Germans began massing soldiers along the Soviet border. By mid-February 1941, 680,000 German troops had concentrated along the Romanian-Soviet border. Hitler had secretly transported up to 3 million German troops and 690,000 Axis forces to the Soviet border regions in preparation for the attack. Many months before the strike, the Luftwaffe conducted aircraft reconnaissance over Soviet territory.

Stalin's confidence that Nazi Germany would not invade within two years of signing the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact slowed Soviet preparations.

Despite this, the USSR did not ignore the threat posed by Germany. Early in July 1940, Boris Shaposhnikov, the Red Army Chief of Staff, prepared a preliminary three-pronged offensive plan for a German invasion, strikingly similar to the accurate operation. Operation Haifisch and Operation Harpune were launched in April 1941 to prove Britain's primary target. Simulated Norwegian and English Channel coast preparations included ship concentrations, reconnaissance flights, and training exercises.

The reasons for delaying Barbarossa from 15 May to 22 June 1941 (a 38-day delay) are discussed. The invasion of Yugoslavia and Greece in April 1941 is the most usually cited explanation. However, according to historian Thomas B. Buell, Finland and Romania needed more time to prepare for the invasion. In addition, it was a rainy winter that left rivers flooded until late May. In the Balkans Campaign, floods may have deterred an earlier onslaught.

There is considerable controversy about the delay. William Shirer suggested that Hitler's Balkan Campaign risked Barbarossa by delaying it many weeks. Others claim that starting on June 22nd allowed the German offensive to reach Moscow by September. However, according to Antony Beevor, "most [historians] acknowledge that the delay created by German attacks in the Balkans made little difference" to the outcome of Barbarossa.

On the ground, the Germans deployed one regiment, one motorized training brigade, 153 divisions (104 infantry, 19 panzers, 15 motorized infantry), nine security divisions (in the captured territory), four divisions in Finland[l] and two divisions as a reserve under direct OKH administration. In addition, they had 6,867 armoured vehicles (3350–3795 tanks), 2,770–4,389 aircraft (65% of the Luftwaffe), 7,200–23,435 artillery pieces (17081 mortars), 600,000 motor cars (and a few thousand horses).

 Finland committed 14 divisions, and Romania pledged 13 divisions and eight brigades for Barbarossa. Armee Norway, Army Group North, Army Group Center, and Army Group South were all controlled by the OKH and supported by three Luftflotten (air fleets): Luftflotte 1, Luftflotte 2, and Luftflotte 4. Army Norway planned to operate in northern Scandinavia and adjacent Soviet zones. Army Group North marched through the Baltic nations to north Russia to join up with Finnish forces.

To reach Smolensk and subsequently Moscow, Army Group Center planned to strike from Poland into Belorussia and the west-central areas of Russia. Aimed to capture Kiev, Army Group South intended to cross the southern USSR steppes to the Volga, ruling the oil-rich Caucasus. However, a gap of 198 miles (319 km) separated Army Group South's two components. The army group's single panzer group was in southern Poland, near Army Group Center, while the rest was in Romania.

Surveillance of partisan activities in seized areas, execution of captured Soviet political commissars and Jews were among the orders given to German rear forces. Reynold Heydrich, head of the Reich Security Main Office, briefed Einsatzgruppen commanders on "the policy of murdering Jews in Soviet areas, at least in general" on June 17. While the Einsatzgruppen were assigned to Wehrmacht troops, they were directed by the RSHA. The official Barbarossa plan envisaged that once the army units won the border fights and decimated the Red Army's soldiers, they could march freely to their critical targets without spreading thin.

Soviet Preparations

In 1930, Mikhail Tukhachevsky, a prominent interwar military theorist in tank warfare and later Soviet Marshal, sent a telegram to the Kremlin urging massive resource investment in mass weapon manufacture, urging "40,000 airplanes and 50,000 tanks." The Deep Battle Concept was developed in the early 1930s and used in the 1936 Field Regulations. As a result, defence spending climbed from 12% of GDP in 1933 to 18% in 1940. During Stalin's Great Purgative in the late 1930s, which lasted until the German invasion on June 22, 1941, many Red Army officers were executed or imprisoned. As a result, their political successors sometimes lacked military skills.

Only Semyon Budyonny and Kliment Voroshilov survived Stalin's purge of the Soviet Marshals appointed in 1935. Tukhachevsky died in 1937. Forty-one of 456 colonels were murdered, and many more officers were fired. Around 30,000 Red Army soldiers were executed. Stalin reasserted the role of political commissars at the divisional and lower levels to oversee the army's political commitment to the state. The commissars were equal to the commanders of the units they managed. However, after the Red Army failed in Poland and the Winter War, almost 80% of those purged during the Great Purge were reinstated by 1941. In addition, 161 new divisions were formed between January 1939 and May 1941. As a result, when the German invasion began in 1941, over 75% of all commanders had been in their situations for less than a year.

In December 1940, Stalin told his generals that Hitler had mentioned an attack on the USSR in Mein Kampf and that the Red Army would need four years to prepare. According to Stalin, "we must be ready considerably earlier" and "we would strive to delay the war for two years" Only a week after Hitler formally authorized the plans for Barbarossa and warned the Soviet Union, British intelligence acquired signs of German preparations to attack the Soviets in August 1940. Stalin mistrusted the British, believing their warnings were a ruse to enlist the USSR in the war. Stalin's intelligence services and American intelligence repeatedly warned of a German assault in early 1941. However, Sorge and other informers had previously reported alternative invasion dates that passed peacefully before the actual invasion. Stalin anticipated an attack and made extensive preparations but chose not to provoke Hitler.

In July 1940, Red Army General Staff created war plans identifying the Wehrmacht as the riskiest threat to the Soviet Union. The Wehrmacht's major onslaught came north of the Pripyat Marshes into Belorussia. Stalin disagreed, and in October, he ordered fresh preparations assuming a German attack would target Ukraine's economically critical regions. It shaped all subsequent Soviet war planning and military deployments in anticipation of the German invasion.

Stalin sanctioned the State Defense Plan 1941 (DP-41) to counter an Axis invasion, including the Mobilization Plan 1941 (MP-41). The DP-41 and the MP-41 called for the deployment of 186 divisions as the first strategic echelon in four military districts of western Soviet Union, and another 51 divisions along the Dvina and Dneper rivers as the second strategic echelon under Stavka control.

Nevertheless, on June 22, 1941, there were only 171 divisions and 2.6–2.9 million men. While the second strategic echelon had 57 divisions still in mobilization, most were understaffed.  German intelligence did not notice the second echelon until days later; German ground forces ran into them. The Soviet military force mobilized at the commencement of the invasion was 5.3–5.5 million strong. It was still rising as the 14 million-strong Soviet reserve force rallied. It was still prepared when the assault began. Their battalions were frequently split and lacked conveyance. While mobility was lacking, the Red Army had 33,000 pieces of artillery at the start of Operation Barbarossa, significantly more than the Germans had. The USSR had 23,000 tanks, only 14,700 of which were combat-ready. The German invading force confronted 11,000 tanks in the western military districts.

"If I had identified about the Russian tank power in 1941, I would not have attacked," Hitler subsequently told his generals. However, maintenance and readiness standards were inadequate, and many armoured units lacked supply vehicles. Moreover, the most modern Soviet tank variants — the KV-1 and T-34 – were not available in large quantities when the invasion began.

Following their observation of the German battle in France, the Soviets began reorganizing most of their armoured assets back into mechanized corps with a goal strength of 1,031 tanks each in late 1940. Nevertheless, these extensive armoured formations were ungainly, and their subordinate divisions were up to 100 km (62 miles) apart. The reorganization was still ongoing when Barbarossa began. Soviet tank units lacked training and logistic assistance. Crews were ordered into battle without refuelling, ammunition, or personnel replacement provisions. As a result, an engagement often results in unit destruction or ineffectiveness. The Wehrmacht's superior training and organization overcame the Soviet numerical superiority in heavy equipment. In 1941, the Soviet Air Force (VVS) had the world's most significant air force with roughly 19,533 aircraft. The majority were stationed in the five western military districts in naval control.

Historians disagree whether Stalin planned to invade German territory in 1941. After the German invasion, Viktor Suvorov published a journal article and later Icebreaker. He claimed Stalin saw the advent of war in Western Europe as an opportunity to spread communist revolutions across the continent. Former German generals echoed this sentiment after the war. Suvorov's thesis gained public notice in Germany, Israel, and Valeri Danilov, Joachim Hoffmann, Mikhail Meltyukhov, and Vladimir Nevezhin. In the west, most historians consider Icebreaker an "anti-Soviet tract." As a result, they wrote books to refute Suvorov's claims. Instead, most historians believe Stalin tried to avoid war in 1941 because he thought his military was unprepared to combat the Germans.

Invasion

NKO Directive No. 1, issued late on June 21st, 1941, warned the Soviet military districts in the border area. To "raise all forces to war preparedness," yet "avoid any provocative moves." The instruction took up to two hours to reach some Front-subordinate units, and the bulk did not get it before the invasion. On June 21, at 21:00, a German deserter, Alfred Liskow, crossed the lines and notified the Soviets of an attack at 04:00. Stalin was informed but disinformed. The violence began when Liskow was being questioned.

After receiving the codeword "Düsseldorf" suggesting Barbarossa would begin the following day, Army Group North sent down its own codeword "Dortmund".

On June 22, 1941, at about 03:15, the Axis Powers began bombing key cities in Soviet-occupied Poland. And a massive artillery assault on Red Army positions. Air raids hit Kronstadt, Bessarabia, and Sevastopol, Crimea. Nevertheless, ground forces entered, accompanied by Lithuanian and Ukrainian fifth columnists. Around three million Wehrmacht soldiers fought against fewer Soviet troops along the frontier. During the initial assault, Finnish and Romanian battalions joined the Germans.

Vyacheslav Molotov, the Soviet foreign minister, announced the invasion at noon. He informed that the German forces invaded the country and attacked borders without declaring war. Molotov struck a patriotic chord that helped startled people comprehend the catastrophic news. The Red Army and Soviet High Command were reformed to prepare for battle during the invasion. Stalin did not address the public until July 3rd when he called for a "Patriotic War... of the entire Soviet people".

On the morning of June 22, Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels announced the invasion via radio, using Hitler's words: "Currently, one of the world's largest marches is taking place. Therefore, we have decided today to entrust our forces with the fate of the Reich and our people. May God help us in this battle!" "We shall witness a collapse of Russia such as has never been seen in history," Hitler told his comrades later that morning. As a man of peace who had to attack the Soviet Union, Hitler spoke to the German people on the radio. After the invasion, Goebbels ordered Nazi propaganda to refer to the war as a "European crusade against Bolshevism," and thousands of volunteers and conscripts joined the Waffen-SS.

Initial Attacks

From infantry platoon to Soviet High Command in Moscow, the initial German land and airstrike entirely decimated the Soviet organizational command and control within hours. Stalin's initial reaction was not simply disbelief but also a failure to comprehend the gravity of the Soviet forces' frontier calamity. After announcing the invasion to the Soviet Armed Forces, Stalin issued NKO Directive No. 2, ordering them to assault Axis forces wherever they crossed the border and start airstrikes inside German territory. A broad counter-offensive on the entire front "without regard for borders" was ordered by Stalin about 09:15, signed by Marshal Semyon Timoshenko. Stalin's order, which Timoshenko approved, was not based on a realistic assessment of the military situation, but commanders obeyed for fear of retaliation; the Soviet leadership was unaware of the initial defeat for several days.

Air War

Luftwaffe reconnaissance units mapped Soviet troop concentrations, supply dumps, and airfields. Additional Luftwaffe attacks on Soviet command and control facilities disrupted Soviet army mobilization and structure. Before the invasion, Soviet artillery observers stationed near the border were told not to fire on German aircraft. Stalin may have been reluctant to retaliate because he believed the attack was made without Hitler's consent. Stalin took several days to realize the enormity of the tragedy that had befallen the Soviet Union. There were 1,489 aircraft destroyed on the first day and almost 3,100 on the first three days. "The statistic was reviewed by Hermann Göring, Minister of Aviation and Chief of the Luftwaffe," he said. The Luftwaffe estimated that nearly 2,000 Soviet aircraft were destroyed on the first day of the invasion. In truth, the Soviet losses were likely higher; a Soviet archive document recorded 3,922 Soviet fatalities in the first three days vs 78 German losses. The Luftwaffe lost only 35 planes on the first day. According to the German Federal Archives, the Luftwaffe lost 63 aircraft on the first day.

By the conclusion of the first week, the Luftwaffe had achieved air control over all army groups, but not over the enormous western Soviet Union. According to the German High Command's war records, the Luftwaffe had lost 491 aircraft and damaged 316 more by July 5, reducing its strength to roughly 70%.

Baltic States

Attacking the Soviet Northwestern Front's 8th and 11th Armies on June 22nd. The Soviets counter-attacked the German 4th Panzer Group with their 3rd and 12th Mechanized Corps but were defeated. It was planned to link up with the 21st Mechanized Corps, 22nd and 27th Armies at Western Dvina River on June 25th. However, Erich von Manstein's LVI Panzer Corps crossed the river first on 26 June. On 29 June, Stavka ordered the Northwestern Front to retreat to the Stalin Line on the approaches to Leningrad. Army Group North attacked the Stalin Line on July 2 with the 4th Panzer Group, capturing Pskov on July 8 and reaching Leningrad oblast. The 4th Panzer Group had progressed 450 km (280 mi) since the invasion and was now only 250 km from its primary objective, Leningrad. On July 9, it attacked the Luga River defences in Leningrad oblast.

Ukraine and Moldavia

Army Group South's northern and southern sections confronted the Southwestern Front with the most Soviet forces. The Carpathian Mountains and the Pripyat Marshes posed severe threats to the army group's northern and southern portions. The terrain hampered their assault on 22 June, allowing the Soviet forces considerable time to react. 1st Panzer Group and 6th Army attacked, destroying the Soviet 5th Army. The Soviet 15th and  22nd Mechanized Corps attacked the 1st Panzer Group's flanks from the north and south on June 23. Due to a lack of coordination, Soviet tank regiments arrived in pieces. It led to the destruction of the 22nd Mechanized Corps and the death of its commander. The 1st Panzer Group bypassed the 15th Mechanized Corps, which faced antitank fire and Luftwaffe strikes from the German 6th Army's 297th Infantry Division. On June 26, the Soviets counter-attacked the 1st Panzer Group from the north and south, reinforced by the fragments of the 15th Mechanized Corps. The four-day fight ended with the Soviet tanks being defeated. On 30 June, Stavka moved the remaining Southwestern Front units to the Stalin Line to protect Kiev's approaches.

On July 2, Romanian 3rd and 4th Armies and German 11th Army attacked Soviet Moldavia, guarded by the Southern Front. Finally, on 9 July, the Axis advance paused along with the defences of the Soviet 18th Army between the Prut and Dniester Rivers.

Belorussia

The Luftwaffe destroyed the Western Front's air force on the ground. The Abwehr and its anti-communist fifth columns halted the Front's communication cables, cutting off the Soviet 4th Army headquarters from the headquarters above and below it. A day later, the 2nd Panzer Group crossed the Bug River, smashed through the 4th Army, bypassed Brest Fortress, and advanced towards Minsk. German 4th and 9th Armies fought Western Front forces near Bialystok. On June 24–25, the 6th and 11th Mechanized Corps and the 6th Cavalry Corps launched a massive counter-attack against Grodno, eliminating the 3rd Panzer Group. Amid infantry and antitank fire from the German 9th Army's V Army Corps, the Western Front's armoured counter-attack ran into infantry and antitank fire from the Luftwaffe. The Soviet counter-attack was repulsed, and the 6th Cavalry Corps commander was arrested on June 25th. Pavlov ordered all Western Front troops to withdraw to Slonim towards Minsk that night. Counter-attacks against German forces to purchase time for the evacuation all failed. Following their meeting near Minsk on June 27, the 2nd and 3rd Panzer Groups encircled nearly the entire Western Front in two pockets: around Biaystok and west of Minsk. The Germans reportedly seized 324,000 Soviet troops, 3,300 tanks, and 1,800 artillery pieces while destroying the Soviet 3rd and 10th Armies.

On 29 June, the Soviet Union issued a command to quell the widespread panic among the population and military. The decree mandated swift and severe punishment for panickers and cowards. The NKVD worked with commissars and military leaders to track down soldiers who left without permission. Field expedient general courts dealt with rumours and deserters. Stalin deposed Pavlov on June 30th, and on July 22nd, he was convicted and executed along with several of his colleagues for "cowardice" and "criminal ineptitude". On June 29, Hitler ordered Army Group Center commander Fedor von Bock to hold his panzers back until the infantry divisions securing the pockets caught up.

However, 2nd Panzer Group commander Heinz Guderian, with Fedor von Bock and OKH head Franz Halder's implicit approval, disobeyed the order and attacked eastward towards Bobruisk, albeit as a reconnaissance-in-force. His 3rd Panzer Group was already embroiled in the Minsk pocket. Therefore he flew over it on 30 June, concluding that his panzer group was not required to contain it. On the same day, some 9th and 4th Army infantry corps continued their march eastward to catch up with the panzer formations. Fedor von Bock well-ordered the panzer groups to continue full attack eastward on July 3.

Nevertheless, Brauchitsch, following Hitler's orders, and Halder, reluctantly following, resisted Bock's command. However, Bock persisted on order, claiming it would be irresponsible to overturn it. On July 2, the panzer groups began their advance before the infantry formations caught up.

Northwest Russia

During German-Finnish talks, Finland demanded to remain neutral unless attacked first by the USSR. So Germany tried to provoke the USSR into attacking Finland. Later that day, on June 22, German aircraft attacked Soviet positions from Finnish air bases. The Germans started Operation Rentier and seized Finland's Petsamo Province on the same day. Simultaneously, Finland remilitarized the neutral lands. The Finnish government maintained diplomatic neutrality despite these actions, but the Soviet leadership already considered Finland a German ally. The Soviets then bombed all major Finnish cities and industrial hubs, including Helsinki, Turku, and Lahti, on June 25th. On the same day, the Finnish parliament declared war on the USSR. Finland was split into two zones. Army Norway was based in Northern Finland. Operation Silver Fox was a two-pronged pincer attack against the vital port of Murmansk. The Finnish Army still controlled southern Finland. Initially, the Finnish forces sought to retake Finnish Karelia at Lake Ladoga and the Karelian Isthmus, Viipuri.

Further German Advances

On July 2, a rainfall typical of Belarusian summers halted the movement of Army Group Center panzers, and Soviet defences stiffened. The Soviets used the delays to plan a strong counter-attack on Army Group Center. The army group's goal was Smolensk, on the way to Moscow. The Germans faced a six-army old Soviet defensive line. On July 6, the Soviets launched a massive counter-attack with the 20th Army's V and VII Mechanized Corps, which clashed with the German 39th and 47th Panzer Corps, losing 832 of their 2,000 tanks in five-day combat. The Germans thwarted this counter-attack because of the Luftwaffe's only tank-busting squadron. The 2nd Panzer Group crossed the Dnieper and attacked Smolensk from the south, while the 3rd Panzer Group attacked from the north, repelling the Soviet counter-attack. Three Soviet armies were caught in their jaws. The 29th Motorized Division took Smolensk on July 16, but Army Group Center remained.

The panzer groups closed the gap on 18 July, but the trap closed on 5 August, with more than 300,000 Red Army personnel captured and 3,205 Soviet tanks destroyed. Thousands of Red Army soldiers escaped standing between the Germans and Moscow. After four weeks, the Germans recognized they had misjudged Soviet might. The German troops had used up their original supplies, and General Bock immediately concluded that the Red Army's resistance was due to logistical issues with reinforcements and supplies. Operations were now paused to allow for resupply and to adjust tactics. Hitler had lost faith in encirclement warfare after several Soviet soldiers escaped the pincers. He now believed he could economically defeat the Soviet state, denying them to wage war. That meant capturing Kharkov, the Donbass, and the Caucasus oil fields in the south, and Leningrad, a central military production hub, in the north. All the German generals participating in Operation Barbarossa pushed forcefully to continue the all-out assault on Moscow.

Aside from the psychological value of conquering Moscow, the generals noted that it was a key centre of Soviet military production, communications, and transportation. According to intelligence sources, Semyon Timoshenko's Red Army was stationed near Moscow to defend the capital. Army Group Center's tanks were ordered north and south by Hitler via Panzer commander Heinz Guderian, briefly delaying the march to Moscow. However, Guderian returned to his commanding commanders as a devotee to Hitler's scheme, earning them scorn.

Northern Finland

On June 29, Germany began a pincer attack on Murmansk. The northern pincer, led by Mountain Corps Norway, entered Murmansk via Petsamo. However, after seizing the Rybachy Peninsula's neck and advancing to the Litsa River, the German assault was halted by the Soviet 14th Army. The renewed onslaught failed, and this front remained stalemated throughout Barbarossa. The German XXXVI Corps and the Finnish III Corps were to retake Salla for Finland before moving east to cut the Murmansk railway near Kandalaksha. The German forces struggled in the Arctic. Salla was captured on July 8th. The German-Finnish forces moved east until they met Soviet resistance at Kayraly to maintain momentum. The Finnish III Corps made its way south to the Murmansk railway. With only one division of the Soviet 7th Army, it made quick progress. On August 7, it took Kestenga near Ukhta. Large Red Army reinforcements stopped further progress on both fronts, forcing the German-Finnish force to retreat.

Karelia

The Finnish goal in southern Karelia was to move quickly to Lake Ladoga, halving Soviet forces. Then the advance along the Karelian Isthmus, including Viipuri, began. The Finnish onslaught started on July 10. The Army of Karelia could advance because it outnumbered the Soviet forces of the 7th and 23rd Armies. On July 14, Loimola's vital road junction was taken. On July 16, the first Finnish units reached Koirinoja on Lake Ladoga, dividing the Soviet forces. This army moved southeast into Karelia during July, stopping at the former Finnish-Soviet border at Mansila.

Soviet troops halves, attack on Karelian Isthmus possible. Ahead of Soviet units at Sortavala and Hiitola, the Finnish army advanced to the western banks of Lake Ladoga. Mid-August had seized both towns, but many Soviet formations had fled by sea. The attack on Viipuri was initiated west. As Soviet opposition crumbled, the Finns advanced to the Vuoksi River and encircled Viipuri. On August 30, the city was taken, along with much of the Karelian Isthmus. Finland's borders had been restored by early September.

Offensive towards central Russia: By mid-July, German forces had advanced to Kiev within a few kilometres. It then moved south, while the 17th Army moved east, trapping three Soviet armies near Uman. After destroying the pocket, the tanks crossed the Dnieper. Meanwhile, the 2nd Panzer Group had crossed the Desna with the 2nd Army on its right flank. They had now encircled four Soviet armies and parts of two more.

As the Luftwaffe's inventory decreased in serviceability and quantity due to combat, demand for air support increased as the VVS recovered. The Luftwaffe struggled to keep local air superiority. In October, bad weather forced the Luftwaffe to ground nearly all aerial operations. Despite the same weather challenges, the VVS had a distinct advantage due to its prewar experience with cold-weather flying and the use of intact airbases and airports. The VVS matched the Luftwaffe's air superiority by December and pushed for it.

Leningrad

The 4th Panzer Group used tanks from Army Group Center to attack Leningrad. On August 8, the Panzers overcame the Soviets. 4th Panzer Group had reached Leningrad within 48 km (30 miles) by the end of August. Both sides of Lake Ladoga had been pushed southeast by Finns.

After the Germans attacked Leningrad in August 1941, 400,000 residents worked to fortify the city, while 160,000 others joined the Red Army. In Leningrad, reserve troops and newly improvised Narodnoe Opolcheniye units, consisting of worker battalions and even schoolboy formations, dug trenches to defend the city. From Shlisselburg, the German 20th Motorized Division cut off all land routes to Leningrad. In addition, the Germans cut the railroads to Moscow and captured the railroad to Murmansk with Finnish help, beginning a two-year siege.

As a result, Hitler ordered the destruction of Leningrad on 9 September, with no prisoners taken. It got within 11 km (6.8 miles) of the city in ten days. Nevertheless, the last 10 km (6.2 mi) proved difficult, and casualties mounted. Hitler, impatient, ordered Leningrad to be starved rather than stormed. On September 22, 1941, the OKH issued Directive No. la 1601/41, which endorsed Hitler's plans. Without Panzer forces, Army Group Center remained static and was repeatedly counter-attacked by the Soviets, most notably during the Yelnya Offensive. The Germans hurt their first major tactical defeat since the invasion began; the victory also boosted Soviet morale. Hitler refocused his attention on Army Group Center and its drive on Moscow after the attacks. The Germans orderly the 3rd and 4th Panzer Armies to leave Leningrad and join Army Group Center's attack on Moscow.

Kiev

Operation in Kiev had to be completed before attacking Moscow. Army Group South moved north from its Dnieper bridgehead, while half of Army Group Center swung south behind Kiev. On September 16, the Soviet forces in Kiev were encircled. The Soviets were then hammered with tanks, artillery, and aerial bombardment. After ten days of brutal fighting, the Germans claimed 665,000 Soviet prisoners, but the actual figure is probably closer to 220,000. In addition, 43 divisions of the 5th, 21st, 26th, and 37th Soviet Armies lost 452,720 men and 3,867 artillery pieces and mortars. Despite tiredness and heavy losses, the enormous defeat of the Soviets at Kiev and the Red Army damages during the first three months of the assault encouraged the Germans to believe that Operation Typhoon (the onslaught on Moscow) could still succeed.

Sea of Azov

After capturing Kiev, Army Group South pushed east and south to conquer the industrial Donbass and the Crimea. The Soviet Southern Front attacked the German 11th Army on the northern coasts of the Sea of Azov on September 26th with two armies. On October 1, Ewald von Kleist's 1st Panzer Army rushed south to envelop the two Soviet forces. The Soviet 9th and 18th Militaries were isolated on October 7th and wiped out four days later. Soviet defeat: 106,332 prisoner soldiers, 212 destroyed or captured tanks, 766 artillery pieces of all types. Two-thirds of all Southern Front troops were killed or captured in four days, allowing the Germans to overrun Kharkov on October 24. That same month, Kleist's 1st Panzer Army seized Donbas.

Central and Northern Finland

At Kayraly, the German-Finnish advance on the Murmansk railway had resumed. Unable to defend, the Soviet corps was encircled north and south. It reached the Soviet border fortifications in early September. Voyta River's first defence line was breached on September 6, but attempts at Verman River's mainline failed. The front stalled here as Army Norway shifted its focus south. On 30 October, the Finnish III Corps launched a second push towards the Murmansk railway, reinforced by Army Norway. On November 17, the Finnish High Command ordered a halt to all offensive operations in the sector due to Soviet resistance. American diplomatic pressure on Finland to prevent Allied aid shipments to the USSR forced the Finnish government to halt the Murmansk railway advance. The German-Finnish offensive campaign in central and northern Finland stopped due to Finnish resistance and German incompetence.

Karelia

As part of their Leningrad operation, Germany pressed Finland to expand its offensive actions in Karelia. Finland's attacks against Leningrad were limited. Finland withdrew from Leningrad and had no intention of attacking it. Eastern Karelia was a different story. A new push into Soviet Karelia to reach Lake Onega and the Svir River was agreed upon. This new drive began on September 4th. The 7th Army's Soviet defences could not stop the Finnish assault despite reinforcements. Taken on September 5th. On September 7, Finland's forward units reached Svir. Petrozavodsk, the Karelo-Finnish SSR's capital, fell on October 1.

On the other hand, the Army of Karelia marched north along the shores of Lake Onega, creating a defensive position along the Svir River. Winter's arrival slowed their progress, but they kept going. Medvezhyegorsk fell on December 5th, Events on December 6th. On December 7, Finland halted all offensive efforts and went defensive.

Battle of Moscow

After Kiev, the Germans outnumbered the Red Army, and trained reserves were scarce. Stalin might field 800,000 men in 83 divisions to defend Moscow, but only 25 were genuinely effective. Operation Typhoon commenced on September 30, 1941. There were extensive defence lines centred on Vyazma and Mozhaysk in front of the Army Group Center. Russian peasants began fleeing ahead of the invading German soldiers, destroying their towns and fields to deny the Nazi war machine critical supplies and food. The 2nd Panzer Group, recurring from the south, captured Oryol, just 121 kilometres (75 mi) south of the Soviet first main defence line. Soon after the Panzers reached Bryansk, the 2nd Army assaulted from the west. They were now encircled. Three Panzer Armies attacked Vyazma, trapping the 19, 20, 24, and 32nd. The first line of defence was broken in Moscow. The pocket yielded nearly 500,000 Soviet captives, raising three million since the invasion began. Only 90,000 troops and 150 tanks remained to defend Moscow. The German government now publicly forecast the capture of Moscow and the fall of the Soviet Union. The 3rd Panzer Group reached 140 kilometres of the capital on October 13th. Moscow imposed martial law. However, the weather got worse almost immediately. Temperatures dropped as the rain persisted. This hindered the German march on Moscow by muddied dirt roads.

The Soviet T-34 was better equipped to traverse the sticky mud than the German tanks with its broader tread. As a result, Gleichzeitig, the German supply situation drastically deteriorated. On October 31, the German Army High Command halted Operation Typhoon to reorganize the armies. The break allowed the better-supplied Soviets to consolidate and organize newly activated reservist troops. The Soviets formed eleven new armies in less than a month with 30 Siberian divisions. Following a Soviet intelligence assurance to Stalin that the Japanese threat had passed, these were liberated. Over 1,000 tanks and planes arrived with the Siberian forces in October and November 1941 to help defend the city. The Germans renewed their offensive on Moscow on November 15th, when the cold hardened the terrain.

Although the forces could now advance, the supply situation had not improved. Faced with the Germans were the Soviet Armies 5-16-30-43-49-50. The Germans planned to cross the Moscow Canal and encircle Moscow from the northeast. The 2nd Panzer Group would strike Tula before closing up on Moscow. Moreover, when they reacted to flanks, the 4th Army attacked the centre. After two weeks of warfare, the Germans finally reached Moscow. The 2nd Panzer Group was halted in the south. On November 22, Soviet Siberian forces attacked the 2nd Panzer Group, defeating the Germans. The 4th Panzer Group pushed back the Soviet 16th Army and crossed the Moscow Canal to encircle Moscow.

258th Infantry Division got to within 24 km (15 mi) of Moscow on December 2. They were so close that German officers demanded to see the Kremlin's spires, but the blizzards had already started. A reconnaissance battalion reached Khimki, only 8 km (5.0 mi) from Moscow. It took the Moscow-Volga Canal bridge and the railway station, marking the Germans' easternmost advance. Despite advances, the Wehrmacht was not prepared for winter battle. The Soviet army was better equipped for winter combat, although winter equipment was short. Deep snow hampered equipment and mobility for the German military. Air operations were hindered by weather circumstances, which grounded the Luftwaffe. On December 5, newly formed Soviet battalions outside Moscow launched a powerful counter-attack as the Soviet winter counter-offensive. In total, the onslaught pushed the German soldiers back 100–250 km (62–155 mi) from Moscow. Wehrmacht lost the Battle of Moscow, costing the German Army roughly 830,000 troops.

Aftermath

After the Battle of Moscow, all German plans to defeat the USSR changed quickly. After a bloody December 1941 battle, the Soviet counter-offensive ended the German threat to Moscow. Hitler issued Directive N. 39, blaming the German failure on the early winter and extreme weather, while the fundamental reason was the German military's unpreparedness for such a massive undertaking. On June 22, 1941, the Wehrmacht had 209 divisions, 163 of which could attack. On March 31, 1942, a little than a year after the invasion of the USSR, the Wehrmacht had 58 offensive divisions. The Red Army's resolve and ability to counter-attack effectively astounded the Germans. Stalin wanted to launch his counter-offensive against the German forces encircling Moscow and against their army to the north and south. Enraged by the failure of the German offensives, Hitler deposed Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch and took personal command of the German Army on December 19, 1941.

The struggle cost the Soviet Union a lot of territories, troops, and materials. Although the Red Army could counter the German offensives, the Germans suffered from personnel, weapons, food and fuel shortages. While Red Army arms manufacturing hurried east of the Urals in 1942, the Wehrmacht was able to undertake a large-scale offensive in July 1942, though on a considerably smaller front than the previous summer. Realizing that Germany's oil supply was "severely reduced", Hitler launched an offensive codenamed Case Blue to seize Baku's oil reserves. The Germans soon overran large swaths of Soviet land, but they were defeated at Stalingrad in February 1943.

By 1943, Soviet weaponry production had fully ramped up, outpacing German war production. As a result, operation Zitadelle, an assault on the Kursk salient, was launched in July–August 1943.

 A million German forces faced a 2.5 million-strong Soviet power. The Soviets won. To drive the Germans westward, the Soviets launched counter-offensives employing six million soldiers over a 2,400 km (1,500 km) front towards the Dnieper River. By 1944, the Red Army had liberated much of the area previously controlled by the Germans. The Soviet offensives against the German Army Groups North and South in the autumn of 1944 forced the German war machine into retreat. By January 1945, the Soviet troops had targeted Berlin. In May 1945, Nazi Germany surrendered and was defeated.

War Crimes

While the USSR had not joined the Geneva Convention, Germany had and was thus bound to treat Soviet POWs humanely (as they generally did with other Allied POWs). Because of Article 9's ethnic segregation of POWs into different camps, the Soviets claimed they had not signed the Geneva Conventions in 1929. As stated in Article 82, "In case one of the belligerents is not a party to the Convention, its requirements shall nevertheless remain in force between the parties." Despite these orders, Hitler declared the campaign against the USSR a "struggle for existence" and vowed to "annihilate" the Russian army. This mindset contributed to war crimes against Soviet POWs. "The huge region must naturally be pacified as rapidly as possible," Hitler stated in a memo by Martin Bormann dated July 16, 1941. The Soviets did not sign the treaty suited the Nazis, who used it to justify their behaviour. Even if the Soviets had contracted, it is improbable that the Nazis' homicidal practices toward fighters, civilians, and POWs would have ceased. Before the war, Hitler issued the infamous Commissar Order, ordering all Soviet political commissars captured at the front to be slaughtered without a trial. Germany's soldiers, often grudgingly, joined the SS-Einsatzgruppen in these mass murders, citing "military necessity."

German forces were told before the invasion that their war "demands harsh and forceful measures against Bolshevik inciters, guerrillas, saboteurs, Jews and the full extermination of all active and passive resistance." If a criminal could not be recognized, communities were burned, and mass murders were appropriate retaliation. However, due to Nazi propaganda depicting the Red Army as Untermenschen, some notable German officers protested against these murders. During Barbarossa alone, an estimated two million Soviet POWs died of hunger. A total of 58% of all Soviet POWs died in German captivity at the end of the conflict. In addition, the German police and military and local collaborators committed massive crimes against people, especially women and children.

The Einsatzgruppen execution teams carried out large-scale killings of Jews and communists in seized Soviet regions. Raul Hilberg estimates the number of "mobile killing operations" at 1,400,000. Kill "Jews in the party and state posts" was increased to "all male Jews of military age" and subsequently to "all male Jews whatever of age." They were regularly killing women and children by late July. "To be destroyed like partisans," Himmler wrote in his appointment book on December 18, 1941. Hitler and Himmler "convention" was to "annihilate Jews and solve the so-called Jewish question' under cover of eliminating partisans", according to Christopher Browning. Turkmens were persecuted as part of Nazi policies towards "inferior" Asians. According to Prince Veli Kajum Khan's postwar testimony, they were imprisoned in concentration camps where those labelled "Mongolian" were executed daily. In addition, the Einsatzgruppen targeted Asians for fatal medical experiments and murder in a "pathological institute" in Kiev. Hitler was informed of the Einsatzgruppen's mass murders by the RSHA, where Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller summarized them.

Soldiers of the German 9th Army were known to burn suspected rebel meeting spots and poison water wells. Only a few people who worked for the Germans were fed in Kharkiv, the fourth largest city in the USSR. Thousands of Soviets were sent to Germany to work as slaves in 1942. More than a million people were starved to death during the 872-day siege of Leningrad, including 400,000 children under 14.

The German-Finnish blockade deprived the non-working population of food, fuel, and raw materials, rationing them to a bowl of weak soup and four ounces of bread each day. Starving Soviet citizens ate their pets, hair tonic, and Vaseline. During the siege, 2,000 people were jailed for "using human meat as food," 886 of them during the first winter of 1941–42. The Wehrmacht intended to blockade Leningrad, starving the inhabitants and ultimately destroying it.

Sexual Violence: German soldiers often raped Soviet women in the East. Gang rape was committed by up to one-third of the time. According to historian Hannes Heer, rape went unreported on the Eastern Front because the German forces linked Russia with Communism. Jewish women were frequently murdered after sexual assault. According to historian Birgit Beck, military orders effectively destroyed any basis for prosecuting sexual offences perpetrated by German soldiers in the East. She further claims that sexual abuse was often performed in billets in civilian dwellings hampered detection.

Historical Significance

Operation Barbarossa was the leading military operation ever, with more men, tanks, weapons, and planes than any previous. The Eastern Front saw enormous brutality and destruction for four years, killing nearly 26 million Soviets, including 8.6 million Red Army soldiers. More people passed away fighting on the Eastern Front than anywhere else in WWII. In addition, 170 Soviet towns and 70,000 villages were levelled, severely damaging the economy and the countryside. Operation Barbarossa and the German defeat transformed Europe's political landscape, separating it into East and West. When Stalin secured his territorial victories of 1944–1945, his Red Army firmly established itself in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the eastern half of Germany. Stalin's dread of a rising German dominance and distrust of former friends fueled Soviet pan-Slavic aspirations and a future Slavic alliance. According to historians David Glantz and Jonathan House, Operation Barbarossa "affected" successive Soviet leaders' strategic thinking for "four decades". To protect themselves from future attacks, the Soviets set up "a complex structure of buffer and client states." As a result, Eastern Europe became communist, and Western Europe became democratic.

Contemporary Acknowledgement

On the eve of the 80th anniversary of the invasion, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave a video-podcast address to the German and Russian people. Merkel labelled Hitler's extermination war on Russian, Ukrainian, Belarussian, and Baltic peoples an "Anlass für Scham".

Last updated: 2022-January-09
Tags: History World War II
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