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Operation Barbarossa

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Introduction

Nicholas Page Assignment 3: Operation Barbarossa 1) Why did Hitler order the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941? "In Mid-June 1941, in the Kremlin, the Russian leaders remained oblivious of the Nazi threat, or if not oblivious, then complacent as if, by ignoring it, it might disappear. Yet millions of German troops were poised along the Russians border to launch the bloodiest land battle in history, the battle that was eventually to decide the Second World War". In 1940, Hitler had returned from France at the pinnacle of his power, "Our optimism was tremendous after the rather easy victories in Poland, in France and in the Balkans". It was the Russia's turn next. It seemed like the perfect moment as German soldiers in Poland had reported that Russian soldier equipment was very poor, also Stalin had weakened his own army by eliminating all the top commanders because he was a very paranoid man and trusted nobody. Therefore Hitler thought the morale of the Russian army was extremely low. However, some of the Generals objected to the invasion of Russia as they were putting themselves in a very vulnerable position by fighting a war on two fronts. ...read more.

Middle

Operation Barbarossa was a three pronged attack on the cities of Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad. The plan would lead to the destruction of the Soviet Union and would give Germany access to the wheat fields of the Ukraine and the oilfields of the Caucasus. Germany would also gain Lebensraum (living space). I do not agree with this interpretation because it is a bit simplistic. Although the poor preparation was a mayor cause for the failure there were other factors that played a part in the German fall. Firstly, the Allied offensive in Greece and the Operation Retribution in Yugoslavia put the German invasion of Russia back five weeks so already was a delay in the operation which meant the start was in June. At first the Germans made a quick advance, it was planned to be done in four months, everything seem to be going to plan, three Russian divisions were annihilated in the first day, in the second day 2000 Russian planes were destroyed, mostly in the ground. In a week the Wehrmacht was halfway to Moscow, in a month the Germans had won an area double the size of their own country, and half a million Russians were killed in the first fortnight. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Germans had been issued with boots that fitted them exactly and so they could not wear more than one pair of socks, by contrast according to Source E the Russian soldiers were issued boots that were two sizes too large, enabling the wearer to insulate them with straw or newspapers and their tanks used special winter oils and lubrications. The Germans found that the tanks were frozen in the ground and unable to move, and the weapons could not fire because of lack of lubricating oils as well as the lack of road markings delaying their advance. By November 26th they were 35 miles from Moscow, however the artillery had become completely unusable, and frostbite was taking more men than battle. Still, Hitler did not want to see that this crisis was the end of his strategic plan. Another reason for the Soviet Unions survival was help from the USA. In November 1941, the American government began giving aid to the USSR in the form of food, medical supplies, weapons, fuel and transport equipment. On 6th of December morale was at its lowest when Zhukov unleashed the Siberian army, the Russian tanks were mobile and there were Russians everywhere therefore the Germans started to retreat. Two days after the Russian offensive, the Japanese struck at Pearl Harbour and the war was taking a very different turn. 1 ...read more.

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