• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why was Nazi Germany so successful in the initial phase (1941-42) of its war against soviet Russia?

Extracts from this document...


Why was Nazi Germany so successful in the initial phase (1941-42) of its war against soviet Russia? When in 1940 Adolf Hitler decided to eliminate the Soviet Union as a political and military factor in Europe, he intended to destroy the USSR in a ten-week summer campaign. This campaign became one of the bloodiest and most pitiless of wars in modern times, developing rapidly from a European to a World War. Rarely can a war have been waged among civilised peoples with such savageness and such barbarous inhumanity. The Russo-German war lasted for four years, but initially Germany was successful, allowing us to ask why exactly was Germany so successful in the initial stages of operation Barbarossa? Numerous reasons arise when answering such a question. Hitler was determined not merely to annihilate the Soviet Union and the Bolshevist system but also to destroy the coherence of any Russian State, the Russians being reduced to the level of slaves. In his speech to his generals on 30th March, Hitler's intention was to prepare his commanders psychologically for the new pattern of the radical ideological war. It can easily be argued that Hitler had indeed been correct in his judgements in previous campaigns, resulting in commanders trusting Hitler for his risk taking and thus a high morale was implanted into the soldier's psyche. ...read more.


The whole organisation of the German army was of 1st class standard, with the added advantage of radio communications compared to the USSR's obsolete radio communications centres. Added to the disorganisation of the Red Army was that many fortifications on the Russian border was not even finished; there were 2,300 fortifications, but only less than 1000 were manned or equipped. This allowed German troops to bypass many key areas of Russia where they could easily have been challenged if the Red Army was fully mobilised. Not only this, but the attack came as a complete surprise to the leader of the Soviet Union - Joseph Stalin. Despite repeated intelligence warnings, which included the precise day and hour of Germany's incipient assault, Stalin remained convinced that Hitler would not risk an eastern war as long as the British Empire remained undefeated. It has been argued that Stalin in fact planned a pre-emptive attack on Germany for the early summer of 1941, and was then thrown off balance by the German invasion. The government at that time, although theoretically collective in form, was entirely subordinate to the will of the dictator. Stalin, cautious and doubtful, continued to appraise the situation coolly and logically. Stalin himself went into hiding - evidently he was not at all expecting an offensive from his so called 'ally'. ...read more.


Germany had the rigorously trained SS troops and were capable of fulfilling demanding operations. In contrast, the Russian army was much bigger yet didn't consist of as highly trained troops. This was evident from the huge losses of 2 million men within the initial stages of the battle. In conclusion, I believe that the successes made by Germany in 1941-42 were due to a culmination of the reasons mentioned above. Stalin was seen as a problem by many of the Russian commanders who believed in the intelligence of an imminent attack from Nazi Germany, yet they were too afraid to go against Stalin's wishes and mobilise the army. Added with this was the swift movement of German artillery and troops, which gave the German army a considerable gain in Western Russia. It could just be that Soviet Russia was simply not ready for war, hence the huge number of losses in the Red Army. However, the Red Army was fortunate that in 1942, Stalin finally decided to play a less prominent role in defence planning and discovered in a young Russian general, Zhukov, a remarkable deputy whose brusque, no-nonsense style of command, and intuitive operational sense, we indispensable in making the Red Army a better battlefield force. By 1943, the whole situation had changed - Hitler was commander - in - chief against the less dogmatic Zhukov. Soviet Russia may have started off slow, but once it transformed itself to a total war economy, defeat of the Nazi Germany was inevitable. HISTORY 1 Hashim Talbot 13B ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Modern European History, 1789-1945 essays

  1. Stalins Russia, 1924-53 revision guide

    In 1938 one standard history textbook, apparently written by Stalin himself, had to be used. Culture and the Arts * Everything, even the Arts, was supposed to play its part in Stalin's 'Second Revolution'. * Under Lenin, there was great artistic freedom, and the 1920s are regarded as a high spot in Russian cultural life.

  2. Hitlers Germany

    Wary and secretive, he entertained a universal distrust. He admitted no one to his counsels. He never let down his guard, or gave himself away. 'He never', Schacht wrote, 'let slip an unconsidered word. He never said what he did not intend to say and he never blurted out a secret.

  1. Vietnam war

    * The NVA and NLF regular forces engaged US troops in major conventional battles once or twice a year to maximise US casualties. * Giap's overall strategy was to prolong the war, to destabilise the Saigon Government and to reduce public support in the USA for the war.

  2. Life in Nazi Germany, 1933-1945

    The Nazi regime made many attempts to construct their ideal society, creating a volksgemeinschaft where everybody helped each other. However, there are serious doubts whether the policies introduced by the Nazis were aimed to fulfill Nazi ideology on the perfect society or for other economic reasons.

  1. How EffectIVE Was Soviet Political Control In Eastern Europe In The 1950's & 1960's?

    This political tactic seems effective, however the fact that there was opposition shows that it wasn't entirely successful. Tito created a following via, "Titoism", showing that there would be opposition to how the Soviets were running things. In 1955, the Warsaw Pact was set up.

  2. "Stalin transformed the Soviet Union from a backward country into a strong modern state ...

    The biggest question any historian is faced with is; did the ends justify the means in Stalin's case? Looking separately at both overall achievement and price of progress, the position of Stalin in the context of wider Russian history seems to support the statement made about success at the cost of misery for the population.

  1. What does the Soviet Experience provide with regard to the Institutionalisation of Ethnicity and ...

    The other nationalities of Central Asia succumbed to the Bolshevik pressure, lacking powerful allies, or indeed, the internal governmental structure to offer an alternative to communist rule. The Bolsheviks went on to reinforce the local soviets with communists sympathetic to their aims and secured further adherence to the proletarian cause with units of the Red Army and Russian settlers.

  2. 'Stalin's leadership was the most significant reason for Soviet victory over Germany in the ...

    You could also say that some of the Soviet people led and helped in the efforts to relocate resources and the Orthodox Church also helped by using propaganda and uniting the people.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work