Operation Barbarossa: Hitlers Gamble That Failed

Background

While undergoing the staff course at Wellington, we learnt of a famous quote of Field Marshal Viscount Barnard Montgomery of Alamein, commander of the British forces in World War II ‘don’t ever get bogged down in Asia and never march on Moscow’. Hitler disregarded the axiom that had had led to the defeat of Napoleon in 1812. Though Napoleon had reached Moscow, yet he had to beat an ignoble retreat and the grand army of 600,000 soldiers was reduced to 95,000 as the Russians repeatedly harassed the French.

The Invasion of Russia
 Hitler took no lessons from this campaign and reneged

on his alliance with Stalin and invaded Russia on 22nd June 1941. The Russo- German pact was scrapped by Hitler as the German Armies moved against Russia. This invasion was to have the most far-reaching consequences for the world. Indeed, if there was one critical turning point in the Second World War, it would have to be this. The Germans amassed 3 Army Groups with over 2000 aircraft for the invasion. It was a mind boggling feat as one realizes that the Germans threw in than 4.5 million men of Hitler and his allies in an invasion that had a front of 2900 kilometers. Never before and perhaps never in the future will such an invasion be ever mounted? Some of the German commanders like Field Marshal Von Manstein, Heinz Guderian, Von Kluge have made a name for themselves.

The Offensive
 The ferociousness of the German offensive crushed the Russians and entire armies surrendered. But Hitler was faced by an equally determined leader in Josef Stalin. He despite the defeats rallied the Russians to try and stop the German onslaught. By end

42 the Germans were 30 miles from Moscow and Stalin was asked to leave Moscow to a safer destination east of the Urals. But he refused and it is on record that he stood in Red square and took salute of a victory parade of soldiers going to fight directly in the front. Just imagine the effect it had on the morale of the Russian soldiers who determined to hold Moscow come what may.

Stalin and General Winter
 But Stalin had an ally and that was winter often referred to as General Winter. Winter now set in and not for the first time Russian determination aided by the terrible winter conditions and over extended lines of communication checked the Nazi onslaught. In the annals of warfare there has never arguably been such a bitter and costly campaign.
The Germans now began to lose and slide back. The Battle at Stalingrad (1943) where Field Marshal Von Paulas surrendered with 93,000 German soldiers was the beginning of the end. The cost of Hitler’s mistake was monumental. This one campaign sealed his fate and his victories over France inside 40 days lost their meaning.

Last Word

The brilliance of the German officer corps was squandered in Russia. Perhaps they were out thought by the Russian Marshal Zhukov, just as Napoleon had been by Marshal Kutusov. History will record that this one single act by Hitler led to his defeat. Why did he commit military suicide? That is a million dollar question
 



Article Written By Madan G Singh

An early retired Gp Capt from Air Force who is an Executive Director in the Corporate world. Loves to write fiction and articles. Published over 60 short stories and his novel" Romance of the Frontier" is published from Notion Books.His second novel is on way for publication. The author also has close to 10,000 articles on the b net with millions of views

Last updated on 13-07-2016 82 0

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