Operation Barbarossa Military History Mr. Odren The Eastern Front вЂў Hitler had strategic and ideological reasons for invading Russia вЂ“ Strategically he knew that the Soviet Union and the US were critical to BritainвЂ™s willingness to keep fighting вЂ“ He also felt he needed the agricultural and raw material resources of Eastern Russia вЂ“ Ideologically he viewed the Soviet Union as an amalgamation of his greatest enemies, the Jews and the Slavs Operation Barbarossa вЂў Hitler based his plan on the assumption he could destroy the Soviet Union within one year вЂў Critical to his success would be to catch and destroy the Soviet Army at the border areas вЂў If that did not occur, the Russians could use their vast territory to trade space for time and cause the Germans huge logistical problems We have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come tumbling down. Operation Barbarossa вЂў HitlerвЂ™s Invasion of the Soviet Union вЂў The largest military action in the history of the world, ever. (yes, stillвЂ¦) вЂ“ 4.5 million troops invaded simultaneously along a 1800 mile front Operation Barbarossa вЂў On June 22, 1941, Hitler invaded Russia in Operation Barbarossa вЂў The operation encompassed a total troop strength of about 4 million men, making it the biggest single land operation ever вЂў Benefiting from initial surprise, by the end of July Hitler had occupied a portion of Russia twice the size of France Hitler's Commissar Order to his Generals: "The war against Russia cannot be fought in knightly fashion. The struggle is one of ideologies and racial differences and will have to be waged with unprecedented, unmerciful, and unrelenting hardness. All officers will have to get rid of any old fashioned ideas they may have. I realize that the necessity for conducting such warfare is beyond the comprehension of you generals, but I must insist that my orders be followed without complaint. The commissars hold views directly opposite to those of National Socialism. Hence these commissars must be eliminated. Any German soldier who breaks international law will be pardoned. Russia did not take part in the Hague Convention and, therefore, has no rights under it." The Nazi execution of Soviet civilians kneeling by the side of a mass grave at Kraigonev, USSR, following the German invasion of the Soviet Union. Anyone suspected of being a Communist official, along with Red Army officers and male Jews were chosen for execution. The Attack вЂў The Red Air Force took an incredible beating in the first few days of the fightingвЂ¦ вЂ“ Basically ceased to function вЂў Three main German thrustsвЂ¦ North, Center, and SouthвЂ¦ вЂ“ North surrounds LeningradвЂ¦ (siege- but city doesnвЂ™t fall) вЂ“ Center pushes for MoscowвЂ¦ вЂ“ South pushes into the Ukraine towards the Caucasus oilвЂ¦ вЂў Stalin shoots generals who loseвЂ¦ great motivator вЂў Scorched Earth PolicyвЂ¦ similar to NapoleonвЂ¦ вЂў Nazis make it to the gates of Moscow пѓ Counterattack пѓ Nazis stalled Operation Barbarossa: Battle of Moscow вЂў With the GermansвЂ™ successes in the north and south, Hitler assumed that StalinвЂ™s regime was on the verge of collapse вЂў He authorized an advance on Moscow before the onset of winter вЂў Already however the Germans were suffering from serious supply shortages вЂ“ By September the supply system was only meeting current tactical consumption needs вЂ“ No supply stores for the winter season were being built Operation Barbarossa: Battle of Moscow вЂў The Germans caught the Russians unprepared and made great advances вЂў The Soviet Army seemed on the verge of collapse вЂў At this point the weather broke and autumn rains turned the roads to mud вЂў The German advance stalled, allowing the Russians to hurry reinforcements from the interior Operation Barbarossa: Battle of Moscow вЂў Despite dropping temperatures and critical supply shortages, the German high command pressed on with the attack вЂў The German soldiers were still in summer uniforms and suffered terribly German soldier during the battle of Moscow Operation Barbarossa: Battle of Moscow вЂў Stalin responded to the crisis by rushing his best commander, Georgi Zhukov, to defend Moscow вЂў Zhukov waged a delaying defense in front of Moscow; the first time the Soviets took advantage of their ability to trade space for time вЂў In the meantime he pulled reinforcements from as far away as Siberia to defend Moscow вЂў ZhukovвЂ™s plan was to allow the Germans to exhaust themselves and then go on the offensive Operation Barbarossa: Battle of Moscow вЂў By Dec 4 the Germans had clawed their way to MoscowвЂ™s outskirts, but they could not continue вЂ“ That night temperatures were -25 degrees Fahrenheit вЂ“ One infantry regiment suffered 300 frostbite casualties вЂ“ On Dec 6 the Soviets counterattacked Operation Barbarossa : Battle of Moscow вЂў Rundstedt, the German commander of Army Group South, ordered a retreat and Hitler fired him вЂў Field Marshall Walther von Reichenau replaced Rundstedt and confirmed the withdraw order and then suffered a heart attack вЂў Hitler was in the midst of a high command crisis and lost confidence in his generals Field Marshall Walther von Reichenau Strategic Situation вЂў On Dec 7, 1941, Japan attacked the US at Pearl Harbor вЂў In spite of his troubles in Russia, Hitler decided to support Japan and also declare war on the US вЂў Now the US would join with Britain to adopt a вЂњEurope FirstвЂќ strategy that would destroy Hitler Operation Barbarossa : Battle of Moscow вЂў As the Russians pushed forward, Hitler refused to allow a retreat and relieved or court-martialed generals who did so вЂў Hitler named himself commander-in-chief of the army вЂ“ Each military service began to operate increasingly independently and Germany suffered from a lack of an overall strategy Operation Barbarossa : Battle of Moscow вЂў On the Eastern Front the GermansвЂ™ stiff resistance and control of crucial roads and supply centers slowly took the punch out of the Russian counterattack вЂў The German Army survived but it suffered losses from which it never recovered вЂў Both sides licked their wounds and prepared for renewed operations in the spring Stalingrad вЂў As spring 1942 approached, German commanders recommended remaining on the defensive but Hitler believed the Germans must destroy Soviet military potential before the American industrial power could come into play вЂў Hitler developed a plan to capture Soviet oil вЂ“ At first Hitler considered Stalingrad of little importance other than the fact that its capture might block the movement of petroleum up the Volga River Stalingrad вЂў On June 28 the Germans launched their summer offensive вЂў The Germans made good headway with one advance moving east toward Stalingrad and the Volga River and another moving south into the Caucasus вЂў In August HitlerвЂ™s erratic attention swung from the Caucasus to Stalingrad Stalingrad вЂў On Aug 24 the Germans attacked StalingradвЂ™s suburbs and began fighting their way into the city вЂў Hitler began shifting forces from the Caucasus to Stalingrad вЂў The nature of the urban fighting favored the defenders and the Soviets mounted a stubborn defense вЂў Stalingrad began to drain the German army but Hitler would not back off Stalingrad Stalingrad Stalingrad Stalingrad Stalingrad Stalingrad вЂў On Nov 19 the Soviets launched a massive counterattack north of Stalingrad вЂў HitlerвЂ™s overly centralized and completely out-of-touch command system broke down in the face of the Soviet onslaught вЂў The Soviets encircled Stalingrad and Hitler ordered his commanders to stand fast anyway вЂў By this point in the war, no one was willing to confront Hitler Stalingrad вЂў All attempts to breakout or break through failed and on Feb 2 the Germans surrendered вЂ“ Out of 250,000 soldiers trapped in the Stalingrad pocket, approximately 90,000 became prisoners вЂ“ Barely 5,000 survived the war German POWs Greatest Extent of Axis Control Surprise! вЂў Weather played a huge part in the failed plan of the GermanвЂ™s. вЂў Hitler was so confident in a quick win that he did no preparation what so ever for winter weather. вЂў The ground was very loose sand in summer, very sticky and muddy in autumn, and heavy snow in winter. вЂў Should have called Napoleon! вЂў вЂњThe German army is like an elephant attacking a host of ants. He will crush and kill thousands, perhaps millions; but in the end, their numbers will overcome him, and he will be eaten in the end. вЂњ вЂ“ - German Soldier Outcome вЂў Ultimately enormous logistical shortcomings made Barbarossa a failure вЂ“ Germany proved capable of fighting battles very well, but was less capable of fighting a war of prolonged duration вЂў In the total four years of fighting on the Eastern Front, an estimated 4 million Axis and 9 million Russians were killed in battle вЂў 20 million Soviet civilians were killed as a result of extermination campaigns against Jews, communists and partisans, casual massacres, reprisal killings, diseases, and (sometimes planned) starvation. End Game вЂў The Soviet Union was simply able to out produce the Germans who were not prepared for a long war. вЂў After three years of constant warfare the Germans were exhausted and so the Soviets were finally able to defeat the Germans decisively in Operation Bagration in summer 1944. This led to a chain of fast Soviet victories which now pushed the Germans back to Berlin in just one year, leading to the surrender of Germany on May 8, 1945.