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
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
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.
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