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Operation Barbarossa

Discussion in 'War on the Eastern Front' started by Cabel1960, Feb 20, 2012.

  1. Cabel1960

    Cabel1960 recruit

    Nov 4, 2006
    Likes Received:
    via War44
    If there was one specific operation or military goal that cost Nazi Germany the war, it is Operation Barbarossa: the plan the conquer Russia. Prior to his attack on the Russian homeland, there was already a precedent set by another ambitious dictator; Napoleon himself thought he could defeat Russia on its own land and lost. Hitler was aware of this historical truth, but pursued this goal, regardless, in a move that many would call his fatal mistake.


    Numerous motivations drove Hitler into Russia. Previously, he had toyed with the idea of becoming partners with the state instead of enemies. That was a bit surprising, considering that his Germany and Stalin's Russia were on opposite sides of the fence, ideologically. Nevertheless, there was a non-aggression pact signed between them and Germany even submitted a proposal for Russia to join the Axis Pact along with Italy and Japan. The idea was that if the two powerful nations could stay on their own side of the fence, in their own spheres of influence, they would both be able to thrive. However, these overtures of friendship failed for several reasons.

    First, there was the simple fact that Hitler and his Nazi movement viewed Russians as inferior people. This was a deep-seated view, articulated in Mein Kampf. Then, there was his greed. He saw in Russia a place to replenish the workforce and give the German people the space they needed to grow and expand. There were valuable resources to be found if he could defeat the Soviet Union, including significant access to oil. And of course, there was the blow it would deliver to the United Kingdom, which would be left with the realization that all of Europe was falling to Germany.


    Miscalculations and Failure

    Despite planning well in advance for the invasion of Russia, there were several crucial flaws in Operation Barbarossa. The first involved man power. The Nazis believed that it would be a simple matter to defeat the Red Army and at first, this seemed true. This was partially because Stalin had previously killed many experienced veterans in the Soviet Union and replaced them with less-experienced but more loyal counterparts. As they tore through the initial armies of the Soviet Union, the Nazis assumed that was that. They did not anticipate that the Soviets would quickly and easily replace the lost armies, again and again. The Germans themselves, now fighting on multiple fronts, could not match the sheer number of soldiers.

    They were also not prepared for the Russian winter, which brought a heavy snow. The Soviets were ready for it, of course; they lived through it, year after year. The Nazi invaders, on the other hand, found their uniforms inadequate protection against the cold. Their weapons failed too, breaking down because they were not able to stand the frost. They lost men, morale and much needed equipment to the winter.


    The battle strategies ordered by the Nazi leadership was also faulty. Hitler's command to "stand or die" with no retreat meant the soldiers had no opportunity to regroup and reassess. In many cases, they simply died, causing huge losses.

    There is no way to know what might have happened to Hitler's European campaign if he hadn't opened up the second front with the Soviet Union but befriended them instead. What is known, however, is that his decision to launch an attack, to put Operation Barbarossa into effect, delivered a serious, painful blow to a previously successful Nazi army.

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