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The great Patriotic war - From incompetence to victory.

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Introduction

THE GREAT PATRIOTIC WAR: FROM INCOMPETENCE TO VICTORY From the "surprise" attack of June 22, 1941 and through the months that followed, the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe decimated the Russian forces defending the Soviet Union. 500,000 Russian soldiers were killed within the first two weeks. Of the 170 Red Army divisions stationed near the Western front, 20% ceased to exist, and 40% lost half their soldiers and equipment. In only three months the German army had captured Lithuania, Estonia, Belorussia, Moldavia, part of Greater Russia and the Ukraine. By December 1941 the Wehrmacht had driven an incredible 600 miles into the Soviet Union along an 800-mile front and were within 20 miles of Moscow.i The main reason for the impressive German accomplishments was the almost total incompetence on the part of the Soviet Union. Specifically, the leadership that allowed a "surprise" attack they knew was coming, allowed their military hardware to decay, and destroyed the best leaders within the military. The incompetence was so pervasive and the German military so adept at making gains against the Red Army that there was no reason for Hitler, the German military, and much of the world to think that the total defeat of the Soviet Union was only weeks away. But, by January of 1943 the war started to turn in favor of the Red Army and in less than four years, the Russians were celebrating Victory Day due to a vanquished Germany. The aforementioned facts beg the following questions. How could the Soviet Union be caught so flat footed by the German attack with so much evidence that it was soon in coming? How could an Army that had the tremendous tactical advantage of surprise lose the advantage so soon? How could the Red Army, after being decimated by the purges, repel an aggressor so close to capturing their capital? What other assets, other than its military, helped stave off the German war machine and save many of their key cities? ...read more.

Middle

They thought that the Soviet Union would capitulate in a matter of weeks, thus not properly providing their soldiers with proper winter equipment when they attacked in June of 1941. In the middle of November the temperature dropped sharply, and the ground froze. The Germans were delighted - at last the Panzer tanks could move again. But soon they realized just how cold it would become and how ill equipped they were for the Russian winter. The soldiers had not been issued with cold weather clothing because Hitler insisted that the Wehrmacht would be in Moscow before the cold weather set in. During the next few days the barometer continued to drop. At 20 degrees below freezing, German vehicles and artillery could no longer function. By the end of November the Russian climate was killing more Germans than the artillery of the Red Army. The error of taking the Red Army too lightly further compounded the German military's problems in two other areas: men and equipment. First, by becoming stalled and kept from a quick victory the same German troops had to continue to fight on the frozen eastern front without proper supplies against a continuous stream of fresh Russian troops from Siberia. Secondly, unable to strike Soviet factories in the east due to being bogged down with the Red Army, the German war machine was eventually out produced by the Soviet Union in terms of armament.xii The turn from incompetence to competence, and eventually how the Red Army repelled the Wehrmacht, seemed to many to start in December of 1941 with the Russian counter-offensive at Moscow. In reality, the actual turn towards competency started around the beginning of 1940. Russia started to transform its workforce, step by step, into a mobilized working army by restricting the freedom of movement of workers and other measures. Eventually, workers could no longer leave work freely and could be transferred to other jobs without their consent. ...read more.

Conclusion

It lies in their will to win, increased tenfold by the atrocities committed against the people and their country.xxiii i Vladimir Karpov, Russia at War 1941-45 (New York: Vendome Press 1987), 21. ii Helene Keyssar and Vladimir Pozner, Remembering War (New York: Oxford, 1990), 2 iii Time Life Books Inc., Barbarossa (Alexandria, Virginia: 1990), 18 iv Helene Keyssar and Vladimir Pozner, Remembering War (New York: Oxford, 1990), 3 v Teddy J. Uldricks, "Soviet Security Policy in the 1930's?", 73 vi Ian Kershaw and Mushe Lewin, ed. Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorship in Comparison (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 194. Bonwetsch vii Ian Kershaw and Mushe Lewin, ed. Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorship in Comparison (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 187. Bonwetsch viii John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad (Boulder: Westview, 1975), 1-3 ix John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad (Boulder: Westview, 1975), 4 x Teddy J. Uldricks, "The Icebreaker Controversy: Did Stalin Plan to Attack Hitler?" Slavic Review, vol. 58, no. 3 (fall 1999), 643. xi Time Life Books Inc., Barbarossa (Alexandria, Virginia: 1990), 23 xii Vladimir Karpov, Russia at War 1941-45 (New York: Vendome Press 1987), 22. xiii Ian Kershaw and Mushe Lewin, ed. Stalinism and Nazism: Dictatorship in Comparison (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997), 185-186. Bonwetsch xiv Vladimir Karpov, Russia at War 1941-45 (New York: Vendome Press 1987), 57. xv Vladimir Karpov, Russia at War 1941-45 (New York: Vendome Press 1987), 59. xvi Time Life Books Inc., Barbarossa (Alexandria, Virginia: 1990), 126. xvii John Erickson, The Road to Stalingrad (Boulder: Westview, 1975), 237. xviii Time Life Books Inc., Barbarossa (Alexandria, Virginia: 1990), 134. xix Helene Keyssar and Vladimir Pozner, Remembering War (New York: Oxford, 1990), 20. xx Daniel Peris, "God is Now on Our Side': The Religious Revival on Unoccupied Soviet Territory during World War II," Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, vol. 1, no. 1 (Winter 2000): 106. xxi Time Life Books Inc., Barbarossa (Alexandria, Virginia: 1990), 41 xxii Vladimir Karpov, Russia at War 1941-45 (New York: Vendome, 1987), 62-77 xxiii Helene Keyssar and Vladimir Pozner, Remembering War (New York: Oxford, 1990), 19. 2 ...read more.

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