When Hitler’s armies attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, the Nazis’ victory seemed certain. But the Fuhrer committed fatal blunders and it was found that the Third Reich is not invincible.
On 23rd August, 1939 – to great astonishment of the World – dictators of the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Unio signed a non-aggression pact. As agreed they had to solve every controversial issues peacefully for ten years. Besides they were in agreement to division Poland between each other. In spite of this, nine days later the Germans overran Poland, and started the World War II.
Stalin, who was always suspicious didn’t believe in signs which refered to Hitler’s plans against the Soviet Union. Stalin thought that Winston Churchill, president of England’s warnings are just a capitalist trick. Moreover he gave a command that the soviets don’t provoke Germany and don’t protest against reconnaissance flying of german over the Soviet Union. In spite of this he provided to his unreliable allied important raw materials like cereals, crude oil and iron ore.
Meanwhile the fact that England didn’t collapse during the attack of Luftwaffe was a big surprise for Hitler in 1940′s summer. He told his decision to his close officers, that here the time to liquidate the communism in the Soviet Unio. He thought that if they defeat the Soviet Union, he will be able to beat England. But a year later came to the conclusion that the Soviet Union is becoming stronger and become more dangerous. So on 18th December , 1940 Hitler ordered the secret preparations of a lighting war against the Soviet Union. On 22nd June, 1941 without declaring war, Hitler’s armies crossed the Soviet border and started toward Moscow.
Hitler’s fatal blunders
Hitler and the Nazis despised the Russian people. Hitler was convinced that communism was works of Jewish intellectuals, so he wanted to exterminate the assumed Jewish-Bolshevik class. He thought that his desires to a new world system will come true if he has the Soviet Union’s rich natural resources and agriculture. The Nazi dictator decided that the usual rules of warfare should not be taken into account, since the Soviets had not signed the Geneva Convention. In his opinion the terror was the best and the main weapon. This was a fatal blunder. Because many non-Communist Soviet citizens regarded the Germans as they will free them from Stalin’s horrible political rule. But when the Nazis began a brutal terror and all captured Soviet People’s Commissar – whether civilian or military – to be immediately shot, stunned the people and they turned against them. No wonder that when Stalin asked them to protect their homeland, many people prefer to join this patriotic ideal.
Mid-July, they were only 300 km from the unprotected Moscow. But then Hitler suddenly ordered back to the generals. Another bad decision. The Fuhrer has decided that don’t go to the capital, rather try to occupy city of Leningrad in the north and occupy the fields of coal and oil in the south. He counted on that he reaches his both aims before winter. While Hitler was idle, until Stalin reinforced protection of Moscow thirty Siberian divisions. In September they captured Kiev, but not stormed Leningrad. A month after Hitler was ready to showdown with Moscow.
Real enemy is the Nature
In October, the rains started. There were thousands of vehicles in the mud. In early November, when frozen the mud, the Germans began advancing. The killer Russian winter didn’t spare them. They used summer machine oil. The engine of tanks, the rifles and machine guns froze. In December, the temperature dropped below minus 40 degrees. Those who hadn’t winter wear became frost injured. About hundreds of thousands soldiers became disabled, of which fourteen thousand one had to be amputated body parts. Many wounded froze to death. The reserves have not arrived. They were only 42 kilometers from Moscow, but their goal was not reached. They couldn’t conquer Leningrad. Although Germany had large parts of stock of grain Ukraine and Russia’s coal and iron ore stocks. However, the Soviets were expelled them from the vital Caucasian oil fields. Like Napoleon, Hitler couldn’t conquer Russia too. The world could see that the Nazis are not invincible and it had a strong psychological impact. Hitler blamed his subordinates because of failures.
However fundamental mistakes of the Fuhrer couldn’t stay hidden. He missed the opportunity to win the oppressed Soviet people. He evaluated poorly the strength of the enemy and war’s difficulties: long supply routes, the harsh weather and the Soviet people’s unquenchable patriotism.
Written by Ilona Kaszanyi
Reference: A múlt nagy rejtélyei (p. 399-404)