Bad Guys of History Are Not So Bad After All

When we look back at the (((Globalist)))-owned Anglo Empire’s long record of making war against various “Bad Guys” from A-Z, the discerning student of history can’t help but notice the conspicuous absence of “the other side of the story.” Why is that? Consider; even serial killers such as Ted Bundy and David Berkowitz (aka “Son of Sam”); and mass murderers like Charles Manson were not only given their day in court, but also a forum in the media. Shouldn’t the related courts of history and current events at least present the version of affairs that the “bad guys” put forth?

If it’s all lies, then it would be a simple enough task to put forth the lie, and then dispel it with facts. Even if all of history’s “bad guys” were either “crazy” or just lying through their teeth; shouldn’t we get to hear their lies, for the sake of historical curiosity if nothing else?

It is often said that truth does not fear investigation. If that is so, then why are “the bad guys” always muzzled in the world press? Are we like retarded little children that must be shielded from the cunningly persuasive arguments of the “bad guys?” Or perhaps there is another reason why “the bad guys” have been silenced, even in death. In the interest of historical curiosity, and self-professed “American justice,” we present just a small sampling of the numerous claims of innocence issued by “the bad guys” – past and present, who dare to oppose the Holy US-UK alliance. Do with them as you wish.

Berkowitz – Manson – Bundy
Vicious mass-murdering psychos can speak before a national audience. Why not “the bad guys” of America’s foreign wars?

SPAIN / SPANISH-AMERICAN WAR

Spain’s Ambassador to the U.S. Enrique de Lôme / False-Flag Bombing of the Maine

de Lome: “No Spaniard would be guilty of such an act (sinking of the USS Maine). The explosion must have been caused by some accident aboard the ship.”

GERMANY / WORLD WAR I

* Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany tried to avert The Great War.

“The Slavs have now become unrestful and will want to attack Austria. Germany is bound to stand by her ally – Russia and France will join in and then England…I am a man of peace – but now I have to arm my Country so that whoever falls on me I can crush.”

* Kaiser Wilhelm’s telegram to Russian Tsar:

“I therefore suggest that it would be quite possible for Russia to remain a spectator of the Austro-Serbian conflict without involving Europe in the most horrible war she ever witnessed. I think a direct understanding between your Government (Russia) and Vienna possible and desirable, and my Government is continuing its exercises to promote it. Of course military measures on the part of Russia would be looked upon by Austria as a calamity we both wish to avoid and jeopardize my position as mediator which I readily accepted on your appeal to my friendship and my help.”
* Kaiser Wilhelm on Woodrow Wilson’s efforts to drag America into the war

“This is the end of negotiations with America, once and for all! If Wilson wants war, let him prove it and then have it.”

GERMANY / WORLD WAR II

Adolf Hitler / Allied firebombing victims (Dresden)

Hitler: “It is untrue that I or anyone else in Germany wanted war in 1939. It was wanted and provoked solely by international statesmen either of Jewish origin or working for Jewish interests. I have made too many offers for the control and limitation of armaments, which posterity will not for all time be able to disregard for the responsibility for the outbreak of this war to be laid on me. I have further never wished that after the first fatal world war a second against England, or even against America, should break out.”

JAPAN / WORLD WAR II

Emperor Hirohito / Charred remains of America’s firebombing of Tokyo

Hirohito: “It has truly been unavoidable and far from our wishes that our Empire has been brought to cross swords with America and Britain…. Eager for the realization of their inordinate ambition to dominate the Orient, both America and Britain, giving support to the Chungking regime, have aggravated the disturbances in East Asia. Moreover these two powers, inducing other countries to follow suit, increased military preparations on all sides of our Empire to challenge us. They have obstructed by every means our peaceful commerce and finally resorted to a direct severance of economic relations, menacing greatly the existence of our Empire. …  Patiently have we waited and long have we endured, in the hope that our Government might retrieve the situation in peace. But our adversaries, showing not the least spirit of conciliation, have unduly delayed a settlement; and in the meantime they have intensified the economic and political pressure to compel our Empire to submission.”

IRAQ / GULF WAR I

Saddam Hussein and his sons (who would all be killed after Gulf War 2) / Scenes from General Colin Powell’s infamous “Highway of Death”

Hussein: “We know that you can harm us although we do not threaten you. ……We do not place America among the enemies. We place it where we want our friends to be and we try to be friends. But repeated American statements last year made it apparent that America did not regard us as friends.”

OSAMA BIN LADEN / WAR ON TERROR

– Osama Bin Laden repeatedly denied having anything to do with 9/11

Bin Laden: “I have already said that I am not involved in the September 11 attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children and other humans as an appreciable act.”

IRAQ / GULF WAR II

Saddam lynched by U.S. surrogates / Iraqi children and babies killed by the U.S.

Hussein: “To the American people: I address you in this letter from the place of my confinement, as my attempt on the basis of my moral, human, and constitutional responsibility so that no one among you might say that no one came to you with a message of peace after the war began, refuting the arguments for it and desiring peace for you and for our upright, loyal, heroic people.”

IRAN / PERENNIAL “BAD GUY”

Ex-Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also pleaded for peace

“Noble Americans,
Were we not faced with the activities of the US administration in this part of the world and the negative ramifications of those activities on the daily lives of our peoples, coupled with the many wars and calamities caused by the US administration as well as the tragic consequences of US interference in other countries;

Were the American people not God-fearing, truth-loving, and justice-seeking, while the US administration actively conceals the truth and impedes any objective portrayal of current realities;  And if we did not share a common responsibility to promote and protect freedom and human dignity and integrity; Then, there would have been little urgency to have a dialogue with you. While Divine providence has placed Iran and the United States geographically far apart, we should be cognizant that human values and our common human spirit, which proclaim the dignity and exalted worth of all human beings, have brought our two great nations of Iran and the United States closer together.”

LIBYA / PROXY WAR

After pretending to offer friendship to Libyan Leader Qaddafi, Obama had him murdered. Secretary of State Killary Clinton then cackled on CBS: “We came, We saw. He died.”
Qaddafi: “Americans are good people. They have no aggressions against us and they like us as we like them. They must know I don’t hate them. I love them.… I hear it is a complex society inside. Many Americans don’t know about the outside world. The majority have no concern and no information about other people. They could not even find Africa on a map. I think Americans are good, but America will be taken over and destroyed from the inside by the Zionist lobby. The Americans do not see this. They are getting decadent. Zionists will use this to destroy them.” – Qaddafi

NORTH KOREA / PERENNIAL “BAD GUY”

Kin Jong Un and NBA Basketball legend Dennis Rodman:
“Tell Obama to call me. If you can, Dennis – I don’t want to do war. I don’t want to do war.” – Told to Dennis Rodman

SYRIA / PROXY WAR / 2011-2019

Dr. Assad and his beautiful family have also been targeted for death by N.W.O. & Israel

Assad Quotes:

“For two years, the Iraqi people have suffered from the aftermath of a horrific war and occupation by America. The world is beginning to speak with one voice. We want that democracy in Iraq to succeed, and we know it cannot succeed so long as she is occupied by a foreign power and that power is America.”

“While we are after peace, Israel is after war.”
How is it possible that any country would use chemical weapons, or any weapons of mass destruction, in an area where its own forces are located? This is preposterous! These accusations are completely politicized and come on the back of the advances made by the Syrian Army against the terrorists.”

RUSSIA / PERENNIAL “BAD GUY”

Ignore the media vilification. Russia’s Putin is a man of peace.

Putin: “The West is constantly trying to drive us into a corner because we have an independent position, because we maintain it and because we tell it like it is and don’t engage in hypocrisy. But there is a limit to everything. And with Ukraine, our Western partners have crossed the line, playing the bear and acting irresponsibly and unprofessionally.”

Did Medieval Jews Spread the Black Death Plague?

The Black Death killed a third of Europe’s population.

JANUARY 29, 2023

NY Times:Where Did the Black Death Begin? DNA Detectives Find a Key Clue.By fishing shards of bacterial DNA from the teeth of bodies in a cemetery, researchers found the starting point for the plague that devastated Eurasia, they say.

Where, when and how did the medieval Black Death— falsely   blamed on rats (here) by most modern circle-jerk whorestorians — really originate? This Times article claims that the “where” may have been found:

“The question has been asked for centuries and led to heated debate among historians. Now, a group of researchers reports that it has found the answer in the pulp of teeth from people buried in the 14th century. Based on their analysis of the preserved genetic material, the researchers report that the Black Death arrived in 1338 or 1339 near Issyk-Kul, a lake in a mountainous area just west of China in what is now Kyrgyzstan.”

Science by conjecture and probably some computer modeling. Not buying it.

As always, the “anthropologists” and whorestorians refuse to even consider a taboo element of the history of the Black Death which killed one third of Europe’s population between 1347 and 1351. Specifically, they will not revisit the widespread belief among our Medieval Christian ancestors that the disease was the result of the usual suspects causing the pandemic by poisoning the wells of Europe. It is very interesting to note that the ensuing “Holocaust” of the Jews which this “conspiracy theory”  triggered is seldom ever whined about — and not even mentioned in this article. Why is that?

Answer: Because the mere mention of what inspired this forgotten mass persecution — even if sympathetically spun to favor the Jews — would still bring unwanted historical attention  to a deeply held Medieval suspicion that the usual suspects do not even want discussed.

1 & 2. The suffering and death were unimaginable. // 3. “I didn’t do it!” — Black Death is falsely blamed on rats — just like Stupid-19 was falsely blamed on bats.

Establishment whorestorians freely acknowledge the fact that Jewish communities were much less affected by the Black Death than the Christian population — much like the biblical story of “Passover.” They also acknowledge that segregated Jews chose not to use the common wells of towns of cities; and that suspected Jews confessed, under torture, to poisoning wells with dried-up pulverized bits of rotted flesh from various animals. 

These bits of hard data are explained away by claiming that Medieval Jews, by religious custom, washed their hands more often than Gentiles (here — ha ha ha) — and that people will confess to anything under torture. Be that as it may, the strange “passing over” of the Jewish areas — coupled with the infamous Jewish hatred for all things “goy” (white) and Catholic (no protestants yet at that time) — made Medieval “conspiracy theorists” deeply suspicious.

The first anti-Jewish Black Death reprisals directly related to the plague took place in early 1348 in Toulon, France. The Jewish quarter was sacked and forty Jews were killed. The next “pogrom” happened in Barcelona (Spain). The following year, more killings were carried out in Erfurt (Germany), Basel (Switzerland), Flanders (Belgium), and Aragon (Spain). In the Valentines Day Massacre in Strasbourg (Germanic population at the time) hundreds of Jews were burnt alive on February 14, 1349.

In the spring of 1349, the Jewish community in Frankfurt was devastated — followed by the destruction of Jewish ghettos in Mainz and Cologne. Around this time, the attacks on Jews began increasing near  the Baltic Sea Coast and in Eastern Europe. The mainly German-based attacks caused the eastward migration of Northern European Jews to Poland and Lithuania, where they remained for the next six centuries. King Casimir III of Poland gave refuge to the Jews. He was said to have had a Jewish mistress and was also interested in tapping the economic potential of Jewry. And that is how so many Jews came to be settled throughout the Polish-Lithuanian Empire.

1. “Oy. What can I say? I just like to wash my hands a lot.” // 2. February 14, 1349 — Medieval painting depicts Jews being burned at the stake by Strasbourg Germans who blamed them for deliberately spreading the Black Death. // 3. King Casimir III of Poland welcomed the fleeing Jews into Poland — where they would come to again be resented by the local population. Their descendants would one day occupy the ranks of Stalin’s dreaded secret police in Poland after World War II.

As the plague finally wound down in 1350, so did the violence against the Jews.  Ordinary Medieval folks had already hated the wealthy Jewish money lenders; and resented their influence over the governing cliques of the various city-states of Europe. The indebted artisans felt exploited by being trapped into loans at usurious rates. Again, Establishment whorestorians do acknowledge this resentment — but they then twist the hatred into the cause of the Black Death riots while assuming that the well-poisoning accusations were but a phony pretext.

How do they know that the accusations were false? Have not the Jewish Cabalist-Supremacists long since demonstrated to the world that they are indeed capable of mass-killing us “Goyim?” — Ever hear of the Bolshevik Red Terror? Or the Stalin-Kaganovich Gulags? Or the Dresden Firebombing? Or the Eisenhower Death Camps? Or the Deir Yassin Massacre in Palestine? Or the 9/11 false-flag? If (((they))) could do genocide in contemporary times, why would anyone think that their forefathers couldn’t do it 700 years ago?

Wethinks the rioting Black Death “conspiracy theorists” of those times may have been on to something.

1. BANCAROTTA, by yours truly, is a tale about the Medieval folk of Pizza & Pasta and Beer & Strudel learning how the debt swindle worked; and then turning against their oppressor. // 2. Polish poster depicts what the mass murdering Trotsky did to the Christians of Russia. // 3. February 13-14, 1945: The Jewish-inspired firebomb-genocide of Dresden — carried out on the same date that Germans burned the Jews during the 1349 Black Death “Valentines Day Massacre.”  — Coincidence? Or generational revenge?

The Truth About South African Apartheid

A while back, a longtime dear reader in the once wonderful nation of South Africa sent us a book titled, Kill the Boer, by Ernst Roets. The well-researched 400 page book about the farm murder epidemic comes with a small warning on the lower left side of the cover: WARNING Content not for sensitive readers. Just a general inspection of the contents and images confirmed that this particular “sensitive” reader might not be able to get through it. Tales of torture and suffering tend to deeply depress me for a day or two, which is why I never made it all the way through Thomas Goodrich’s“Hellstorm: The Death of Nazi Germany” either.

Actually, the images aren’t too bad — no graphic gore or tied-up mutilated dead White farmers with crucifixes shoved down their throats (which I have seen on the Internet). But there was one that, even for the Satanic low standards of “the new South Africa,” really shocked me. It depicts members of the communist ANC African National Congress staging a protest in which White baby dolls were stabbed, hanged and crucified. Though unable to find the book’s photo on the Internet, there are similar ones which we discovered and publish here for your viewing.

White baby dolls being smacked and tied to signs which read  “Racist” and “Nazi,” impaled on machetes, and hung in effigy — and this is 25 years AFTER the dismantling of Apartheid!

The book was accompanied by a brief but extremely informative and powerful article (adapted from Mike Smith’s “Opening Apartheid’s Pandora’s Box“) titled, The Real Story of Apartheid, which is reproduced below. Only the images and captions have been added, for your enhanced understanding, by yours truly.

THE REAL STORY OF APARTHEID

(Not told by S.A. Government)

According to some – “there’s an ugly reality that we can’t sweep under the rug; that apartheid benefited White South Africans at the cost of all others.”

Oh, really? Whose reality is that? Let us put it to the test.

Since 1970 the budget for black education was raised by 30% per year every year. More than any other government department. During the period 1955 -1984 the amount of black school students increased 31 times from 35,000 to 1,096,000 — and 65% of black school South African school children were at school compared to Egypt 64%, Nigeria 57%. Ghana 52%, Tanzania 50% and Ethiopia 29%.

Amongst the adults of South Africa, 71% could read and write (80% between the ages 12 and 22). Compare in South Africa, the whites built 15 new classrooms for blacks every working day, every year. At 40 children per class, it meant space for an additional 600 students every day!

In 1985 there were 42,000 blacks at 5 universities in South Africa, about the same amount at the universities of the homelands (another 40,000 at another five). On an article titled “Die Afrikaner” of 11 Feb 1987, the quarterly magazine called “Vox Africana” Nr. 29 4/87 stated that: South Africa had 4.8 million whites and 18.2 million Blacks in 1987. The whites paid 77% of the taxes and the blacks only 15%… despite this, 56% of the government budget was spent on blacks.

During the time of Dr. Verwoerd, living standards of blacks were rising at 5.4% per year against that of the whites at 3.9% per year. In 1965 the economic growth of South Africa was a mere 2% per annum and the prime interest rate only 3% per annum. Domestic savings were so great that South Africa needed no foreign loans for economic expansion.

Even Lord Deedes admitted: “White South Africa grew to become the economic giant of the continent, the other members of the Commonwealth virtually sank into poverty.”

1. Under Apartheid (segregation) Many Black school children received a high quality education — paid for mainly by White taxpayers  — not available in most African nations. // 2. The integrated Kaizer Chiefs football club. Contrary to Fake News / Fake Academia / Hollywood propaganda, there did exist cooperation and friendship among the races in Apartheid South Africa . //  3. Young terrorist scum such as Nelson Mandela  (working for the Globalists) sought the destruction of White South Africa not because of “anti-racism,” but for the cause of degenerate Marxism and its long range goal of White Genocide.

(Continued)

At the height of Apartheid in 1978, Soweto had 115 football fields, 3 rugby fields, 4 athletic tracks, 11 cricket fields, 2 golf courses, 47 tennis courts, 7 swimming pools built to Olympic standards, 5 bowling alleys, 81 netball fields, 39 children play parks, and countless civic halls, movie houses and clubhouses.

In addition to this, Soweto had 300 churches, 365 schools, 2 Technical Colleges, 8 clinics, 63 child day-care centres, 11 Post Offices and its own fruit and vegetable market. There were 2300 registered companies that belonged to black businessmen, about 1000 private taxi companies. 3% of the 50,000 vehicle owners in 1978 were Mercedes Benz owners. Soweto alone had more private vehicles than the entire white population of the USSA at the time. Today Soweto has more modern shopping malls like Dobsonville shopping Centre. In 2005 the Protea Gardens Mall was opened, followed by the Baramall Shopping Centre and the Jabulani Shopping Complex and the Maponya Mall. Experts say that Soweto has as much as 25% oversupply of retail space.

The biggest hospital in the world, Baragwanath, with 2300 beds and at its peak during apartheid with almost 8000 staff, had 23 operating theatres fitted out with the most modern medical equipment that existed in the world. Blacks were treated here, operated on – at full state costs to the WHITE taxpayers for unlimited periods. The budget for this hospital was – and is – higher than the annual budget of most small members of the United Nations.

Next door to Baragwanath is the St John’s Eye Clinic. The clinic was world famous for the treatment of glaucoma, cataracts, traumatic eye injuries and rare tropical diseases. Baragwanath in 1978 employed 450 medical doctors in full-time service. It treated 112,000 in-patients and 1.62-million outpatients per year. The children and infant death rate was lower than Harlem in New York. In 1982 alone this hospital performed 898 heart operations of world quality. Ironically – 90% of the blood donors for this hospital were WHITES who donated blood free of charge, totally voluntarily – to save BLACK lives. (Quoted from The Citizen, April 1987.)

Whites have already given blacks their blood. What more so they want? This information has been hidden long enough.

** End of article***

1. Murderous Mandela (died in 2013), his sick, twisted wife at the time, Winnie, and Jewish South African chief of the SA Communist Party Joe Slovo show their true colors. // 2. The book is “Kill the Boer” — after a “folk song” that ANC members (including Mandela & Slovo) often sing in public. (The Boers are the descendants of Dutch & French Huguenot settlers who arrived at the tip of Africa centuries ago and then trekked inland.)

In the Globalist West, the filthy terrorist and “father of the new South Africa” (imprisoned for 27 years but allowed access to wine & women) had some powerful friends in high places. His ghoulish gang of grease-balls could never have destroyed South Africa without the western big boys….And make no mistake, what (((they))) did to the Whites of South Africa is EXACTLY what (((they))) have planned for the USA, Europe, Australia and Canada.

Far from being a system of “racial oppression,” Apartheid was actually a method of self defense and preservation for the tiny White minority which built up a great nation from scratch before most Blacks even arrived in their territory seeking work and a better life. Thanks again to our dear lady friend in South Africa — who needs to get herself and her beautiful children and grandchildren  to Russia or some other safe and sane place for big bad White folk. Let us all do our small part to help her and others by sharing this censored information as best we can.

From Russia Today:
“Up to 15,000 Boers, descendants of Dutch settlers in South Africa, are planning to move to Russia amid rising violence stemming from government plans to expropriate their land, according to a (South African) delegation.

“It’s a matter of life and death – there are attacks on us. It’s got to the point where the politicians are stirring up a wave of violence,” Adi Slebus told the media. “The climate here (Stavropol Region) is temperate, and this land is created by God for farming. All this is very attractive.”

The 1963 List “Current Communist Goals” is Becoming a Reality Right Before Our Eyes

The document “Current Communist Goals” lists 45 objectives pursued by the Communists to overthrow America from within. Although this document is over 60 years old, it is more relevant than ever. In fact, everyone should read it right now. Here’s a look at this important list.

On January 10th, 1963, a document titled Current Communist Goals was presented to the US Congress and was added to the Congressional record “under unanimous consent”. It lists 45 goals pursued by the Communists to overthrow America by infiltrating and corrupting its key institutions.

That list is an excerpt from the 1958 book The Naked Communist written by FBI special agent Cleon Skousen. Reading it today is as mind-blowing as it is troubling. While some points are somewhat outdated – especially those concerning geopolitics – most of them are, today, more relevant than ever.

While going through this list, one cannot help but realize that many goals have been fully achieved several years ago. Others are being aggressively pursued right before our eyes.

This doesn’t mean that the USSR is back from the dead to rule the world with communism. However, it does mean that the global elite is using key components of this list to advance its age-old agenda of a one-world government. Why? Because the key components of this list are timeless, tried-and-true techniques to break down individuals and entire nations.

Here’s the Congressional record in its entirety.

Congressional Record–Appendix, pp. A34-A35 January 10, 1963 Current Communist Goals

EXTENSION OF REMARKS OF HON. A. S. HERLONG, JR. OF FLORIDA IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

Thursday, January 10, 1963

Mr. HERLONG. Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Patricia Nordman of De Land, Fla., is an ardent and articulate opponent of communism, and until recently published the De Land Courier, which she dedicated to the purpose of alerting the public to the dangers of communism in America.

At Mrs. Nordman’s request, I include in the RECORD, under unanimous consent, the following “Current Communist Goals,” which she identifies as an excerpt from “The Naked Communist,” by Cleon Skousen:

[From “The Naked Communist,” by Cleon Skousen]

CURRENT COMMUNIST GOALS

1. U.S. acceptance of coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.

2. U.S. willingness to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.

3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament [by] the United States would be a demonstration of moral strength.

4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.

5. Extension of long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.

6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.

7. Grant recognition of Red China. Admission of Red China to the U.N.

8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev’s promise in 1955 to settle the German question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.

9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the United States has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.

10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.

11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces. (Some Communist leaders believe the world can be taken over as easily by the U.N. as by Moscow. Sometimes these two centers compete with each other as they are now doing in the Congo.)

12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.

13. Do away with all loyalty oaths.

14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.

15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the United States.

16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions by claiming their activities violate civil rights.

17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers’ associations. Put the party line in textbooks.

18. Gain control of all student newspapers.

19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations which are under Communist attack.

20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book-review assignments, editorial writing, policymaking positions.

21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV, and motion pictures.

22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all forms of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to “eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings, substitute shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.”

23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. “Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art.”

24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.

25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”

27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”

28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”

29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old-fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.

30. Discredit the American Founding Fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the “common man.”

31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of the “big picture.” Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.

32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture–education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.

33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.

34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.

35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.

36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.

37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.

38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand [or treat].

39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.

41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.

42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special-interest groups should rise up and use [“]united force[“] to solve economic, political or social problems.

43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.

44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.

45. Repeal the Connally reservation so the United States cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction [over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction] over nations and individuals alike.


Throughout the years, countless articles have pointed towards several points on this list, especially those concerning the control of arts, entertainment, education, and mass media. One only needs to read news headlines from the past years to realize that several aspects of this list are, right now, a top priority.

For this reason, this list is important and everyone needs to be familiar with it. If one puts aside some of the outdated points that were only applicable during the Cold War, this list presents a timeless blueprint on how to break down individuals and, by extension, entire nations.

Of course, since 1958, this list was most likely updated to become infinitely more sophisticated. Elite think tanks constantly fund advanced studies in human psychology and cognitive processes in order to refine their techniques of mass control.

With that being said, there aren’t too many ways of subverting individuals and nations. The basic principles are all there. The global elite has been hard at work implementing these goals during the last decades and, in the past couple of years, things have gone in full overdrive.

A perfect complement to this list is this important video by ex-KGB agent Yuri Bezmenov who described in 1984 how the USSR infiltrated nations through the four stages of ideological subversion (demoralization, destabilization, crisis, and normalization).

In conclusion, I need to point out that this isn’t a “Left vs Right” issue. Framing objective truths in a “Left vs Right” perspective falls right into their agenda of controlling narratives. Fact: A great number of politicians – from both sides of the political spectrum – are fully sold to this agenda and have been pushing it for years. They are the occult elite. They don’t care about local politics, they operate on a global level, beyond political parties.

This agenda is not only being applied to the United States. It is happening across the world. Right now. More than ever.

Holohoax Debunk: The “Wannsee Conference” Lie

Portraits of European Jews “murdered” during the Holohoax, at the Holohoax Memorial in Berlin

JANUARY 25, 2023

NY Times:The Nazis Planned the ‘Final Solution.’ It Took 90 Minutes.

As Germany observes the anniversary of the Wannsee Conference, witnesses of the Nazi era are dying and antisemitism is resurgent in Europe and the United States.

By Katrin Bennhold

The song that never ends about the event which never happened has a new date to commemorate. January 20th is now  “observed” in pathetic Germany as the anniversary of “The Wannsee Conference” in which the alleged planning for the event which never happened took place in 1942. Katrin Bennhold — the Slimes’ German-based pantie-pissing, self-hating, not-bad-looking German libtardette shiksa who penned this piece oh-so-solemnly reports:

“On Jan. 20, 1942, 15 high-ranking officials of the Nazi bureaucracy met in a villa on Lake Wannsee on the western edge of Berlin. Nibbles were served and washed down with cognac. There was only one point on the agenda: “The organizational, logistical and material steps for a final solution of the Jewish question in Europe.”

Planning the Holocaust took all of 90 minutes.”

*

Nibbles and cognac were served, eh? And how do you know that, Katie?

It’s hard to tell if Frau Bennhold actually believes in Jewish-scripted Holocaustianity or if she’s just whoring for shekels. It’s probably a bit of both. In any case, as long as the “usual suspects” and their henchmen (in this case, henchwoman) insist upon defaming the German people with the song that never ends about the event which never happened, I will continue rebutting their rubbish. Hazmat suits on, boys and girls. Into the Marxist Myst of the Zyklon B we go for some badly needed clarification of “The “Wannsee Conference” and its “Final Solution.”

1. Times Berlin correspondent Katrin Bennhold — a beautiful German Frau that (((they))) have totally messed up in the head. / 2 & 3. Many shekels have been raked in by publishing books about the alleged Wannsee Conference.

Waaaahn$ee — Waaaahn$ee — Waaaahn$ee

Bennhold: Eighty years after the infamous Wannsee Conference that meticulously mapped out the Holocaust, the bureaucratic efficiency of it remains as unnerving as ever.
Rebuttal: Whoa! Slow down there Katie! What’s this business about the Holohoax having been “meticulously mapped out” at Wannsee? I’ve studied this issue in depth for years and am still not aware of any documents “meticulously” describing a Jewish genocide. Did I miss something here?

Bennhold: The minutes taken that day and typed up on 15 pages do not explicitly refer to murder.
Rebuttal: They don’t???? But if there is no “explicit” language, then how do you know that the conference was about mass murder?

Bennhold: They use phrases like “evacuation” and “reduction” and “treatment.”
Rebuttal: Oh. I see. It’s like an inference thing. But that means that the actual minutes of the conference were therefore not so “meticulous” after all. Double-think / double-talk much, Katrin?

Bennhold: “You read that protocol, and it’s chilling,” said Deborah E. Lipstadt, a renowned Holocaust scholar.
Rebuttal: Deborah Lipstadt! That vile harridan and tireless persecutor of “Holocaust Deniers?” Mein Gott! That’s your go-to source for these “chilling” inferences, Katie?

Bennhold: (quoting Lipstadt): “It’s all very camouflaged language. But they had very big plans.”
Rebuttal: In other words, the actual words say nothing about genociding the Jews. We must blindly trust “scholars” like Professorette Lipshit to decode the “camouflaged language” — aka “dog whistles” for us.

Bennhold: The anniversary of that fateful meeting …
Rebuttal: So “fateful” — and “chilling” — and “unnerving.” Oh the bloody literary drama with these people!

Bennhold: ….has a special resonance at a time when survivors of the Holocaust are dwindling …..
Analysis: As the last of the “survivors” die out, the Holohoax Card begins to lose more and more of its potency.

Bennhold: …. and antisemitism is resurgent in Europe and the United States, along with attacks targeting Jewish people.
Analysis: I’m calling false flag / crisis acting on these events. Such stunts always are. That’s how (((they))) got my once-best-selling book, The Bad War, banned by Amazon in 2018 — not long after a graffiti attack on a Seattle Jewish synogogue not far from Amazon’s headquarters. Soon after the ban, just for good measure, a pair of Jewish cemeteries in Seattle were also vandalized.

1. For the writer to simultaneously describe the Wannsee plan as “meticulous” and “not explicit” represents a perfect example of what Orwell’s 1984 referred to as “double-think.”  // 2. The vile “scholar” Deborah Lipstadt has been a fanatical advocate for the imprisonment of “Holocaust Deniers” and 90-100 year-old SS men. // 3. The usual suspects are almost always behind the usual vandalism.

Bennhold: The anniversary of the Wannsee Conference stands out as a date to focus on the perpetrators of the Holocaust, documenting the genocidal machinery of the Nazi state.
Analysis: There you go again, Katie — using terms like “meticulous” and “documented” in one breath; and then “not explicit” and “camouflaged language” in the next. Do you even bother to proofread your stuff? Do you have an editor?

Bennhold: The meeting that day laid the groundwork for a machinery of mass murder that would involve the entire state apparatus and ultimately millions of Germans in different roles. “That’s where the bureaucracy fell into place,” Dr. Lipstadt said.
Analysis: Can either of you loony ladies quote for your readers — directly from the Wannsee minutes — the precise lines which “laid the groundwork for a machinery of mass murder?” Hmm?

….. Hello…….. hello. (crickets)

Bennhold:  Only one of 30 copies of the 15-page protocol, marked in red as “secret” on the first page, survived. It was discovered by American soldiers among the files of the Foreign Ministry after the war.
Analysis: How conveeenient — a single remaining copy — discovered (and “translated”) by “American” (Jewish OSS / “Ritchie Boys“) soldiers.

Bennhold:  It was the language of bureaucrats. But there was never any doubt what the document was laying out:
Analysis: To summarize the demented douchebag’s double-talk: “not explicit,” “camouflaged language,” “language of bureaucrats” —– but then, on the other hand, “never any doubt.”

Bennhold:  Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Germany’s current president and a former foreign minister, expressed his profound unease and horror after he read the protocol during a visit to the villa.
Analysis: “Profound unease” — “horror.” Wow Katie. That sho nuff’ sounds pretty nasty. But if it’s only 15 pages long, then surely you must have read the Wannsee Protocol and can quote the really “chilling” and “unnerving” parts to us, no? Why must you rely upon Lipstadt and Steinmeir to school us on how bad the minutes are? We can read.

Bennhold (quoting Steinmeier): “What we see is a smoothly functioning administrative machine, departments coordinating, templates and procedures which — apart from the content of the meeting — are indistinguishable from those that we still have in ministries and administrations. It is the ordinary, the familiar, that jumps out at us, horrifies us and unsettles us.”
Analysis: Well, Herr Steinmeier, Frau Bennhold and Yenta Lipstadt, all of your shock-talk may impress the easily impressed boobs who worship “the paper of record” — but your humble reporter here just went ahead and did something which not 1 in 10,000 Slimes readers would ever even think of doing. Yeah, that’s right. I actually searched for the “camouflaged” Wannsee minutes online; and found them in less than 5 seconds — and read everything in about 10 minutes!

Even putting aside questions about their authenticity * and possible mis-translation — there is nothing in the “chilling” / “unsettling” minutes that even remotely suggests anything other than “relocation” to the East as being “The Final Solution.” And unlike the sneaky slimy “paper of record” — the ANYT encourages its readers to actually read the dubious Waansee minutes for themselves. — HERE

*
Personally — benign as the document is — I don’t believe the “lucky find” of the only surviving copy of the “discovered” Wannsee minutes are even real. The notes just keep repeating “Final Solution” … “Final Solution” …. “Final Solution” — leaving the reader to infer that it must mean extermination. The forgers would not have been bold enough to invent a German document saying straight up: “Vee vill kill every last Jew in Europe.” — It wouldn’t be credible.

1. The myth-makers have created an entire pseudo-academic mythology — complete with flowcharts and “decoding” of “bureaucratic” terms — surrounding the “historic” Wannsee Conference of 1942. // 2. An actual reading of the Wannsee notes (assuming the papers were even legitimate and that the translation was accurate) indicates nothing more than an intention to deport the Jewish population to the East. // 3. Frank-Walter Steinmeier — another traitor to his people.

The Worst Year in World History

Donald Trump / April 2020:

“Even if you go back into 1917, that was the worst of all time, but it was also not as bad as here. It was very bad, it was very rough. It was a bad one, but it wasn’t quite like what we’re going through right now.”
********************************


Released in December 2019, the film titled 1917 was widely acclaimed and decorated with awards — including the Golden Globes awards for Best Motion Picture Drama and Best Director. Not having seen the film, we will refrain from reviewing the story which is set against the ghastly battlefield of  World War I. It’s interesting to note that out of the five individual years  which encompassed “The Great War” (1914-1918) the filmmakers chose the holy year (for many Jews) of 1917 for its title — instead of 1914, 1915, 1916 or 1918. Maybe it’s  just a coincidence — or maybe it’s a message among “their crowd.” Who knows?

But the number does offer us a good “teachable moment”  for explaining the history-altering significance of 1917 — a year that was very good for “the usual suspects” (so good that (((they))) made a museum exhibit in its memory) — yet utterly disastrous for so many millions of “goyim.” We now republish a popular Anti-NY Times piece which originally appeared in one of our 2017 issues.

A FLASHBACK CLASSIC

Herbert Johnson’s anti-immigration cartoon (with “anti-Semitic” overtones) from the era, titled “Make This Flood Control Permanent.”

New York Times: Revisiting 1917, a Year That Reverberates for Jews Around the World

A museum exhibit set to open this weekend at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia and later this year at the American Jewish Historical Society in New York will focus on three historic events and their impact on Jews (evidently, no one else really matters). The exhibit titled, “1917: How One Year Changed the World,” will feature America’s entry into World War I, the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia and the Balfour Declaration.

Though much of what this particular Slimes article tells of these three events is indeed accurate, the deception lies in what is omitted about this sad centennial. Let’s dive in and see what we mean.

Two major Jewish museums are teaming up to school their flocks on 1917 — but their exhibit leaves out a few details.

Times: The war and the revolution resulted in strict limits on immigration to the United States, reflecting a fear among Americans that unrest in Europe would spread to their country. The restrictions were not overtly aimed at Jews, but because the quotas from countries with high Jewish populations were tightened, fewer Jews were able to settle in the United States.

The Omission: The restrictions were aimed, in large part, at stopping the influx of Anarchists and Communists who had been causing problems in America since the 1880’s. And it just so happened (surprise, surprise) that many of these subversive characters were of a certain ethnic group.

1 & 2 – 1901: President McKinley was murdered by Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist son of Polish immigrants // 3. The lovely and gracious Anarchist guru Emma Goldman from Lithuania (Russian Empire) defended Czolgosz’s dirty deed.

Times: After the revolution, when the Bolsheviks came to power, and the xenophobia coalesced together and had the power to influence, that fear accelerated.

The Omission: The genocidal Bolshevik Revolution was a Jewish affair. With the exception of front man Lenin (1/4 jew who spoke Yiddish), a review of the roster of Russia’s leading Bolshevik killers reads like the guest list for a Russian-Jewish Bar Mitzvah — Trotsky(Bronstein)SverdlovDzerzhinskyLitvinov(Wallach)Radek(Sobelsohn)Kamenev(Rosenfeld)Uritsky and many, many more.

The Bolshevik Revolution and subsequent bloodbath were Jewish — no “ifs,” no “ands,” and no “buts” about it!

Times: As the United States was entering the war, there were concerns among Jews over the persecution of those still in Russia and Eastern Europe.

Omission: Apart from the fact that the “persecution” of the chosenites was greatly exaggerated, it is important to note that the Communist movements of the other nations of Eastern Europe were also led by the usual suspects — Bela Kun in Hungary; Max Goldstein in Romania: Rosa Luxemburg in Germany et al. It is understandable that the good Christian people of these nations might come to justifiably resent the Jewish-led drive for a Bolshevik Europe.

Times: Not all Jewish immigrants viewed the United States as a safe haven. A handful of documents highlight the little-known story of Boris Reinstein, who came from Russia and made a career as a druggist in Buffalo. His 1917 application for a passport is on display, as is his 1923 renunciation of his United States citizenship. Mr. Reinstein was a true believer in the Bolshevik Revolution and the Soviet ideology and left his wife, Anna, to return to Russia, where he worked in the Library of the Marx, Lenin and Engels Institute.

Comment: An interesting and useful little truth gem which validates our points of argument. Thanks Times!

Blah-blah-blah…Always soapbox rabble-rousing on behalf of “the people.” Trotsky (Russia), Kun (Hungary) Luxemburg (Germany)

Tiimes: The Balfour Declaration, meanwhile, expressed Britain’s support for a Jewish home in Palestine. For Dr. Perelman and Rachel Lithgow, executive director of the American Jewish Historical Society, one gratifying coup was the loan of two draft versions of the Balfour Declaration from the financier Martin Franklin…This was the text that was forwarded to Lord Balfour and was used as the basis of the Balfour Declaration. Arthur James Balfour, for whom the declaration is named, was Britain’s foreign secretary. The final declaration, in the form of a letter dated Nov. 2, 1917, was sent to one of Britain’s most distinguished Jewish citizens, Baron Lionel Walter Rothschild.

Ultimately, it said, in part: “His Majesty’s government view with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object.” The document also added that “nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine.”

Omission: Solid history, but the direct linkage between the Balfour Declaration and America’s entry into World War I is oh-so-conveniently “forgotten” about.

A wealthy New Yorker named Benjamin Freedman, a former aide to Bernard Baruch, later split with his fellow Jewish millionaires and “blew the whistle” on The Balfour Declaration and Zionist treachery in general. Freedman at his finest, from a 1961 speech at the Willard Hotel in Washington:


Let me show what happened while we were all asleep……

World War I broke out in the summer of 1914. … There are few people here my age who remember that. Now that war was waged on one side by Great Britain, France, and Russia; and on the other side by Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. What happened?

Within two years, Germany had won that war: not alone won it nominally, but won it actually. The German submarines, which were a surprise to the world, had swept all the convoys from the Atlantic Ocean, and Great Britain stood there without ammunition for her soldiers, stood there with one week’s food supply facing her — and after that, starvation.

At that time, the French army had mutinied. They lost 600,000 of the flower of French youth in the defense of Verdun on the Somme. The Russian army was defecting. They were picking up their toys and going home, they didn’t want to play war anymore, they didn’t like the Czar. And the Italian army had collapsed.

Now Germany — not a shot had been fired on the German soil. Not an enemy soldier had crossed the border into Germany. And yet, here was Germany offering England peace terms. They offered England a negotiated peace on what the lawyers call a status quo ante basis. That means: “Let’s call the war off, and let everything be as it was before the war started.”

Well, England, in the summer of 1916 was considering that. Seriously! They had no choice. It was either accepting this negotiated peace that Germany was magnanimously offering them, or going on with the war and being totally defeated.

While that was going on, the Zionists in Germany, who represented the Zionists from Eastern Europe, went to the British War Cabinet and — I am going to be brief because this is a long story, but I have all the documents to prove any statement that I make if anyone here is curious, or doesn’t believe what I’m saying is at all possible — the Zionists in London went to the British war cabinet and they said: “Look here. You can yet win this war. You don’t have to give up. You don’t have to accept the negotiated peace offered to you now by Germany. You can win this war if the United States will come in as your ally.”

The United States was not in the war at that time. We were fresh; we were young; we were rich; we were powerful. They [Zionists] told England: “We will guarantee to bring the United States into the war as your ally, to fight with you on your side, if you will promise us Palestine after you win the war.”

In other words, they made this deal: “We will get the United States into this war as your ally. The price you must pay us is Palestine after you have won the war and defeated Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey.”

Now England had as much right to promise Palestine to anybody, as the United States would have to promise Japan to Ireland for any reason whatsoever. It’s absolutely absurd that Great Britain — that never had any connection or any interest or any right in what is known as Palestine — should offer it as coin of the realm to pay the Zionists for bringing the United States into the war.

However, they made that promise, in October of 1916. And shortly after that — I don’t know how many here remember it — the United States, which was almost totally pro-German — totally pro-German — because the newspapers here were controlled by Jews, the bankers were Jews, all the media of mass communications in this country were controlled by Jews, and they were pro-German because their people, in the majority of cases came from Germany, and they wanted to see Germany lick the Czar.

The Jews didn’t like the Czar, and they didn’t want Russia to win this war. So the German bankers — the German-Jews — Kuhn Loeb and the other big banking firms in the United States refused to finance France or England to the extent of one dollar. They stood aside and they said: “As long as France and England are tied up with Russia, not one cent!” But they poured money into Germany, they fought with Germany against Russia, trying to lick the Czarist regime.

Now those same Jews, when they saw the possibility of getting Palestine, they went to England and they made this deal. At that time, everything changed, like the traffic light that changes from red to green. Where the newspapers had been all pro-German, where they’d been telling the people of the difficulties that Germany was having fighting Great Britain commercially and in other respects, all of a sudden the Germans were no good. They were villains. They were Huns. They were shooting Red Cross nurses. They were cutting off babies’ hands. And they were no good.

Well, shortly after that, Mr. Wilson declared war on Germany.

The Zionists in London sent these cables to the United States, to Justice Brandeis: “Go to work on President Wilson. We’re getting from England what we want. Now you go to work, and you go to work on President Wilson and get the United States into the war.” And that did happen. That’s how the United States got into the war. We had no more interest in it; we had no more right to be in it than we have to be on the moon tonight instead of in this room.

Now the war — World War One — in which the United States participated had absolutely no reason to be our war. We went in there — we were railroaded into it — if I can be vulgar, we were suckered into — that war merely so that the Zionists of the world could obtain Palestine. Now, that is something that the people in the United States have never been told. They never knew why we went into World War One. Now, what happened?

After we got into the war, the Zionists went to Great Britain and they said: “Well, we performed our part of the agreement. Let’s have something in writing that shows that you are going to keep your bargain and give us Palestine after you win the war.” Because they didn’t know whether the war would last another year or another ten years. So they started to work out a receipt. The receipt took the form of a letter, and it was worded in very cryptic language so that the world at large wouldn’t know what it was all about. And that was called the Balfour Declaration.

The Balfour Declaration was merely Great Britain’s promise to pay the Zionists what they had agreed upon as a consideration for getting the United States into the war. So this great Balfour Declaration, that you hear so much about, is just as phony as a three dollar bill. And I don’t think I could make it more emphatic than that.”

**** End quote ***

Yes indeed. That fateful history-altering year of 1917 was very bad for humanity. But it was very “good for the Jews” — as the popular inside-the-Tribe saying goes — which is why the Jewish museums commemorate that fateful year. And that, dear reader, is some serious REAL history.

* Note: On repeated occasions, Trump has referred to his “war against an invisible enemy” and a “deadly scourge” that hasn’t been this bad “since 1917.” The press continually mocks him for being off by one year on “The Great Pandemic of 1918.” But Trump knows exactly what he is saying.

Vox

The New Yorker

WW II: Operation Barbarossa, the Allied Firebombing of German Cities and Japan’s; Part 2…

Operation Barbarossa, Analysis of Early Fighting

The German-led invasion of the Soviet Union began at 3:15 am, on 22 June 1941, with an enormous artillery barrage along the Nazi-Soviet frontier. The USSR’s hierarchy had counted on it being too late in the year for German forces to attack, despite warnings to the contrary.

Comprising part of the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, Russian deliveries of commodities to Nazi Germany continued until the final moments; the last trainload arrived into the Reich at 2 am on 22 June, which amused the onlooking German soldiers who were about to advance into the Soviet Union.

During the attack’s opening phase, much went according to plan for the invaders.

Nearly all of the bridges across the vast front were taken by the Germans intact. Many hundreds of Soviet aircraft were either shot down, destroyed on the ground, or fell undamaged into the enemy’s hands. Significant numbers of Soviet troops were on leave, while other Red Army divisions were separated from their artillery when the Wehrmacht swarmed across the border. Many Russian formations were simply overrun, and taken prisoner, before they had an opportunity to form an effective defence. In the first week of the invasion, the Soviet Army saw around 600,000 of its troops either killed, captured or wounded.

A key proponent of the Blitzkrieg (Lightning War) concept, General Heinz Guderian commanding Panzer Group 2, was concerned that the first panzer thrusts were not penetrating deeply enough. His fears seem unfounded; on the fourth day of the invasion, 25 June 1941, Army Group Centre had cut off and encircled two entire Soviet armies east of Bialystok, in north-eastern Poland. On 27 June Army Group Centre reached Minsk, the capital of Soviet Belarus, meaning the German spearhead was closer to Moscow than Berlin.

On 3 July 1941, all Soviet divisions in the Bialystok Bend of the Niemen River had been wiped out. Army Group Centre opened its pincers, and closed them again on the Red Army forces west of Minsk. The German claws snapped shut on 10 July, and in this huge trap 33 Soviet divisions were eliminated, amounting to over 300,000 men. The Russians also lost 4,800 tanks along with 9,400 guns and mortars.

Southward, Gerd von Rundstedt‘s Army Group South attacked the region of Galicia, which covers parts of eastern Poland and western Ukraine. Soviet forces were larger here and they fought superbly well, under the leadership of General Mikhail Kirponos, who would be killed almost three months later near Kiev in a landmine explosion. Army Group South made slow progress at first, not more than six miles per day. However, before June 1941 was out, Field Marshal von Rundstedt’s army had broken into the Ukraine, capturing the cities of Rovno on 28 June and Lvov on 30 June.

Army Group North, commanded by Field Marshal Ritter von Leeb, made initial rapid progress. As part of Panzer Group 4, General Erich von Manstein’s 56th Panzer Corps sliced through Lithuania and, by 25 June, had advanced 155 miles to safely capture the bridge over the Daugava River at Daugavpils, in south-eastern Latvia. Von Manstein was halted here for six days, until the German 16th Army infantry divisions could catch up with him. This delay for Army Group North allowed the Russians to fortify their rearguard. When von Leeb’s advance resumed on 2 July 1941, they met much stiffer resistance.

In the Soviet Army’s central section, their 48-year-old General Andrey Yeremenko, commanding the Soviet Western Front, had instilled new life into the defence. During early July it rained heavily for a brief time, helping further to slow the main German advance. Despite these obstacles, Fedor von Bock’s Army Group Centre captured Vitebsk, in north-eastern Belarus, on 10 July. That same day, Guderian’s panzers managed to cross the Dnieper River, which flows through eastern Belarus and central Ukraine.

On 16 July 1941, Army Group Centre was at the outskirts of the Russian city of Smolensk, 230 miles from Moscow as the crow flies. It meant, in just over three weeks of fighting, that the Germans had advanced more than two-thirds of the way to Moscow. The Wehrmacht’s timetable was running as scheduled. At this period, it seemed that a German victory was inevitable. Already on 15 July, General Hermann Hoth‘s Panzer Group 3 had bypassed Smolensk to the north, and successfully cut the Smolensk-Moscow highway.

Herman Hoff at the center of the image

Yet the USSR did not crumble like past Wehrmacht victims had. On 16 July the German pincers closed around Smolensk, but the encircled Russians fought on for another three weeks, until 7 August. The Germans captured another 300,000 Soviet troops, but their own casualties were not insignificant and they paused for reorganisation. A principal difference between the Nazi invasion of France, and the Soviet Union, was that the landmass was so much bigger in the latter nation, and the distances therefore took longer to navigate. In addition, the French road networks were of superior quality to the Russian road system.

As soon as the Germans halted at Smolensk, Soviet troops launched a vigorous counterattack. Extremely heavy fighting ensued in the Yelnya Bend east of Smolensk, and it continued through August 1941. North of the Smolensk-Moscow highway, the Russians also counterattacked, using for the first occasion one of their secret weapons: the Katyusha rocket launcher which the Germans nicknamed “The Stalin Organ”, due to its melancholy wailing sound as it fired multiple rockets. The Russians had 1,000 Katyusha rocket launchers in service during the second half of 1941.

In mid-August 1941 the German invasion was eight weeks old, the length of time in which Adolf Hitler, his commanders and also the Americans and British expected the USSR to be overthrown. By late summer, the Wehrmacht had conquered a great deal of territory but the leading goal, of annihilating the Soviet armies west of the Dnieper River, had not been accomplished.

Below the Pripet Marshes, von Rundstedt’s Army Group South took the Ukrainian cities of Zhitomir and Uman. In the latter city in central Ukraine, four panzer divisions surrounded and destroyed three Russian armies in the first week of August 1941. Hitler and his Axis ally Benito Mussolinivisited Uman later that month, on 28 August, in order to inspect the Italian expeditionary force and to call on von Rundstedt’s headquarters, which were located in Uman.

Army Group South now marched down the southern side of the Dnieper Bend, and on 18 August 1941 reached Zaporozhye. On 24 August at Zaporozhye, the Russians blew up their Dnieper Dam in order to stall the enemy. Two days later, the city of Dnipropetrovsk fell to the Germans, little more than 40 miles north of Zaporozhye. The Romanian 4th Army, in the meantime, invaded southern Ukraine and encircled Odessa, a city which contained 600,000 residents, a third of them Jewish. The Romanian 4th Army was joined in the Siege of Odessa by the German 11th Army, but Odessa did not capitulate until 16 October 1941.

Progress was not as quick as Army Group North had expected either. In the north-western USSR, the terrain was more suited to defending and the front was shorter, making it easier for the Soviets to hold the Germans up. Red Army divisions in this sector launched counterattacks too but, regardless, Army Group North captured the Russian city of Pskov on 9 July 1941, fewer than 150 miles south-west of Leningrad.

The way appeared open for a march on Leningrad, between Lake Peipus and Lake Ilmen. This route ensured that the Germans could link up with Marshal Gustaf Mannerheim‘s Finnish Army, which was attacking the Russians across the Karelian Isthmus east of Lake Ladoga, Europe’s biggest lake. Hitler stated that, “We Germans only have affection for Finland”, which he said was not the case between the Germans and Italians, only between himself and Mussolini. By now the Axis armies were reinforced with Hungarian, Croatian and Slovenian units.

Von Leeb’s divisions ran into a strong Soviet defensive line, bypassing Lake Ilmen and the Narva River on the Gulf of Finland, which it took Army Group North three weeks to overcome. Army Group North’s advance resumed on 8 August 1941, and though the Russians continued to resist, Novgorod fell on 15 August, one of Russia’s oldest cities.

Towards the end of August 1941, von Leeb’s left wing was within 25 miles of Leningrad. On 29 August the Finns took the town of Viipuri, less than 80 miles north-west of Leningrad. The following day, 30 August, the Germans entered the urban locality of Mga, which contained the last railway line connecting Leningrad to the remainder of Russia.

It looked as if Leningrad was doomed, and while von Leeb’s divisions closed on the famous city, another campaign was unfolding in Arctic Russia. Hitler had decided that he wanted the strategically important Russian port city of Murmansk, over 600 miles north of Leningrad. He dispatched General Eduard Dietl’s Mountain Corps, so as to capture Murmansk by advancing from the Petsamo region of northern Finland. Further south, the German 36th Corps was to sever the Murmansk railway line at the town of Kandalaksha; and further south still, the 3rd Finnish Corps was to cut the rail link at Loukhi.

All three of these German-Finnish operations failed, and Murmansk remained in Soviet hands but it was continually bombed by the Luftwaffe.

Regarding president Franklin Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease program signed into law in March 1941, American equipment entered Murmansk harbour from December 1941. The US military hardware, it should be highlighted, would amount to a small fraction of the matériel Soviet Russia had at its disposal throughout the entire war – the great majority of which was domestically produced by the Russians.

Hardly a scrap of US or British military aid was sent to the Red Army, when the critical fighting was occurring from the late summer to the early winter of 1941. This suggests the Anglo-American powers were quite content to sit back, and watch the Germans and Soviets knock lumps out of each other; while the Americans, in particular, gathered their strength on the sidelines for the conflict they knew they would enter before long.

The Russian historian Evgeniy Spitsyn wrote,

“Out of the almost $46 billion that was spent on all Lend-Lease aid, the US allocated only $9.1 billion, i.e., only a little more than 20% of the funds, to the Red Army, which defeated the vast majority of the divisions from Germany and her military satellites. During that time the British Empire was given more than $30.2 billion, France – $1.4 billion, China – $630 million, and even Latin America (!) received $420 million”.

By the final week of August 1941, von Bock’s Army Group Centre was 185 miles from Moscow. The German High Command (OKH) knew what the next objective should be: the Russian capital, in front of which the bulk of the Red Army was being massed for its defence. OKH issued an order on 18 August for the taking of Moscow, but Hitler instead intervened fatally in the war, believing that he knew more about military affairs than the generals. On 21 August he set Moscow temporarily to one side, and ordered that the Wehrmacht capture various targets including Kiev, Leningrad and the Crimea.

This gave Joseph Stalin time to bolster the Soviet defences in front of Moscow. Army Group South was the main beneficiary of Hitler’s reallocation of German divisions, as Army Group Centre was stripped of four of its five panzer corps and three infantry corps; but even the Army Group South commander, von Rundstedt, felt those forces should have remained in the centre for the drive on Moscow.

Von Rundstedt was requested by Hitler to institute a giant encirclement in the Dnieper Bend around Kiev; with the northern flank of Army Group South co-operating with the southern flank of Army Group Centre.

Germans Surround Kiev and Leningrad

In the second half of August 1941, the German strategic plan in their invasion of the USSR was drastically altered. Most of Army Group Center’s armor was dispatched southward to the Ukraine, with the Wehrmacht’s advance on Moscow postponed temporarily.

By now, the Nazi Security Service was reporting on a “certain unease” and a “decline in the hopeful mood” of the German population. The quick triumph in the east they were assured of by Joseph Goebbels‘ propaganda had not arrived. The anxiety afflicting the German public was increased by letters sent home from Wehrmacht troops, many of which confirmed that the attack on the Soviet Union was not progressing as planned. There were also rising numbers of death notices of German soldiers in the newspapers.

Well-known German author Victor Klemperer, who was Jewish, wrote from Dresden with far-sighted accuracy on 2 September 1941,

“The general question is whether things will be decided in Russia before the wet season in the autumn. It does not look like it… One is counting how many people in the shops say ‘Heil Hitler’ and how many ‘Good day’. ‘Good day’ is apparently increasing”.

Hitler himself “realized that his plans for a Blitzkrieg campaign in the east had failed” by early August 1941, German historian Volker Ullrich wrote in the second part of his biography on Hitler. Two weeks later on 18 August, Hitler said outright to Propaganda Minister Goebbels that he and the German generals had “completely underestimated the might and especially the equipment of the Soviet armies”.

Russian tank numbers, for example, were more than twice greater than Nazi intelligence had originally estimated, and the Red Army itself was much larger than predicted. Seven weeks into the invasion, on 11 August 1941 General Franz Halder, Chief-of-Staff of the German Army High Command (OKH), stated in his diary, “At the start of the war, we anticipated around 200 enemy divisions. But we have already counted 360”.

Yet, as September 1941 began, it seemed quite possible that Hitler was pulling off another telling victory to silence his commanders’ doubts. In dry weather with clear skies overhead Panzer Group 2, led by General Heinz Guderian, captured the northern Ukrainian city of Chernigov on 9 September 1941, just 80 miles north of the capital, Kiev. Guderian’s panzers drove east, thereafter, to take the long Desna Bridge at Novgorod Severskiy.

Colonel-General Ewald von Kleist’s four panzer divisions, belonging to Army Group South, rolled northwards to link up with Guderian’s armor. It was becoming obvious to Soviet military men that the Germans were implementing a gigantic pincers movement, which was aimed at cutting off all of the Russian armies within the Dnieper Bend and, in doing so, surrounding Kiev. The 58-year-old Marshal Semyon Budyonny, leading the Soviet Southwestern and Southern Fronts, could see this clearly. He pleaded in vain with Joseph Stalin to let him retreat to the Donets River.

From early on Stalin had refused to allow Kiev to be abandoned. His prominent commander Georgy Zhukov warned him, as early as 29 July 1941, that the exposed Ukrainian capital should be forsaken for strategic purposes. An angry Stalin replied to Zhukov “How could you hit upon the idea of surrendering Kiev to the enemy?” Zhukov said throughout August that he “continued to urge Stalin to advise such a withdrawal”. On 18 August, Stalin and the Soviet Supreme High Command (Stavka) issued a directive ordering that Kiev must not be surrendered. Stalin could not bear to give up the Soviet Union’s third largest city without a fight.

At the end of August 1941, the Wehrmacht had forced the Red Army back to a defensive line at the Dnieper River. Kiev lay vulnerable at the end of a long salient. Stalin then compounded his original strategic mistake, by reinforcing the area around Kiev with more Red Army divisions.

On 13 September 1941 Major-General Vasily Tupikov, in the Kiev sector, compiled a report outlining how “complete catastrophe was only a couple of days away”. Stalin responded, “Major-General Tupikov sent a panic-ridden dispatch… The situation, on the contrary, requires that commanders at all levels maintain an exceptionally clear head and restraint. No one must give way to panic”.

The following day, 14 September, von Kleist and Guderian’s panzers met at the Ukrainian city of Lokhvytsia, 120 miles east of Kiev. The trap was sealed. Budyonny’s troops fought frantically to extricate themselves but these efforts failed. As also did the Russian attacks coming from further east, which were attempts to rescue the doomed 50 Soviet divisions encircled in the Dnieper Bend.

Kiev fell to the Germans on 19 September 1941, and by the time the fighting died down on 26 September, 665,000 Soviet troops surrendered, the better part of five armies. This was the largest surrender of forces in the field in military history. The Soviets further lost 900 tanks and 3,500 guns. Total Red Army personnel losses in the Kiev area, including casualties, came to 750,000 men. Among the dead was Tupikov who, as mentioned, had tried to warn the Soviet General Staff about the calamity that was set to unfold.

English scholar Geoffrey Roberts wrote, “On 17 September Stavka finally authorized a withdrawal from Kiev, to the eastern bank of the Dnepr. It was too little, too late; the pincers of the German encirclement east of Kiev had already closed”.

After the loss of Kiev, Stalin was “in a trance” according to Zhukov and it understandably took him some days to recover. At this point three months into the Nazi-Soviet war the Red Army had, altogether, lost at least 2,050,000 men, while the Germans had suffered casualties of less than 10% of that number, 185,000 men, the British historian Evan Mawdsley noted. The 185,000 figure still amounted to a higher number of casualties inflicted on the German Army (156,000) in the Battle of France, and the fighting on the Eastern front was of course far from over.

On 23 September 1941 Goebbels visited Hitler at the latter’s military headquarters, the Wolf’s Lair, located near the East Prussian town of Rastenburg. With Kiev having just fallen, Goebbels observed that Hitler looked “healthy” while he was “in an excellent mood and sees the current situation extremely optimistically”.

Hitler took personal credit for taking Kiev, in which he had previously ignored the German commanders’ protests, as they were adamant the advance on Moscow should resume. Hitler told Goebbels that Army Group South would continue marching, in order to capture the USSR’s fourth largest metropolis, Kharkov, in eastern Ukraine, over 250 miles further east of Kiev; and after that they should move on to take Stalingrad, another 385 miles further east again. One of these two goals was reached, with Kharkov falling to the German 6th Army on 24 October 1941. Northwards, Hitler also wanted Leningrad to be utterly subdued, Soviet Russia’s second biggest city.

In his memoirs Marshal Zhukov wrote, “Before the war, Leningrad had a population of 3,103,000 and 3,385,000 counting the suburbs”.

On 8 September 1941 Army Group North had penetrated these suburbs, with the German panzers just 10 miles from the city. So officially began the terrible Siege of Leningrad. During 10 September, Hitler informed lunch guests of his intentions regarding Leningrad, “An example should be made here and the city will disappear from the face of the earth”.

Already on 8 September, the Germans captured the town of Shlisselburg on the south shore of Lake Ladoga. A week later Slutsk (Pavlovsk) fell in Leningrad’s outer suburbs, as too did Strelna, close by to the south-west of Leningrad. To the north, the Finnish Army advanced to within a few miles of Leningrad’s northernmost suburbs and the city was now surrounded.

The German Armed Forces High Command (OKW), with Hitler’s agreement, ordered that Leningrad was not to be taken by storm; but would be bombarded from the air by the Luftwaffe, while the city’s residents were to be starved to death through military blockade. On 12 September 1941 the largest food warehouse in Leningrad, the Badajevski General Store, was blown up by a Nazi bomber aircraft.

Moreover, heavy German weaponry and artillery was ominously lined up on the ground, across Leningrad’s outskirts. The German guns had sufficient range to strike every street and district of the city, meaning that virtually no house or apartment block in Leningrad was safe, a constant terror for its inhabitants.

Following Hitler’s Directive No. 35 of 6 September 1941, Colonel-General Erich Hoepner’s Panzer Group 4 was moved away from the Leningrad region on 15 September. It was transferred to the central front for the renewed march towards Moscow. The halting of the German advance on Leningrad, at a time when it appeared on the cusp of success, meant in the end that the city was not captured at all. The 41st Panzer Corps commander, Georg-Hans Reinhardt, had been confident that Leningrad would be taken. Reinhardt was sketching various routes on a map of Leningrad for the advance into the city, when he was ordered to cease his approach.

Nor was Leningrad fully encircled in wintertime when the water froze on Lake Ladoga, by far Europe’s largest lake. The Russians were soon able to traverse Lake Ladoga with vehicles carrying food and supplies, though they were regularly assaulted by the Luftwaffe. Fortunately, a large proportion of Leningrad’s inhabitants escaped from the city. Zhukov wrote, “As many as 1,743,129, including 414,148 children, were evacuated by decision of the Council of People’s Commissars between June 29, 1941 and March 31, 1943”.

The Germans were never able to regain the momentum in their initial march towards Leningrad. In November 1941 an offensive to join forces with the Finns east of Lake Ladoga failed. Through December the Germans were forced to retreat to the Volkhov River, about 75 miles south of Leningrad. All efforts to destroy the Soviet bridgehead at Oranienbaum, near to the west of Leningrad, were unsuccessful.

Leningrad was helped in its defense by the city’s geographical position, between the Gulf of Finland and Lake Ladoga. In comparison to Kiev or Moscow, Leningrad was considerably easier for the Red Army to defend. Leningrad’s western approaches were guarded by the Gulf of Finland, its northern part by the narrow strip of land called the Karelian Isthmus, its south-eastern section by the upper Neva River; while much of the area bordering the city to the south comprised of marshy terrain, which the Germans could not wade through.

Stalin placed even more importance in Leningrad’s survival than Kiev. In a telegram of 29 August 1941 sent to his Foreign Affairs Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, an anxious Stalin wrote, “I fear that Leningrad will be lost by foolish madness and that Leningrad’s divisions risk being taken prisoner”. If the city was captured by Hitler’s forces, it would enable the enemy to make a flanking attack northward on Moscow. The loss of the city that bore Lenin’s name, the founder of Soviet Russia, could only constitute a serious blow to Russian morale and a great triumph for the Nazis. The Soviet Union would be deprived of an important center of arms production were Leningrad taken.

On 10 September 1941, Stalin ordered Stavka to appoint Zhukov as commander of the new Leningrad Front. Zhukov, who possessed great ability and energy, helped to stiffen the defenses around Leningrad, forbidding Soviet officers to sanction retreats without written orders from the military command. By late September 1941, the Leningrad front had stabilized.

More than a million Soviet troops would be killed in the Leningrad region, over the next two and a half years. During that time 640,000 of Leningrad’s inhabitants died of starvation, and another 400,000 lost their lives due to either illnesses, German shelling and air raids, added to those who perished in the course of evacuations, etc.

The Siege of Leningrad was endured mainly by its female residents. Most of Leningrad’s male populace were fighting in the Soviet Army or had joined the People’s Militia, divisions of irregular troops. Leningrad’s heroic resistance helped to tie down a third of the Wehrmacht’s forces in 1941, which assisted in Moscow being saved from German occupation.

Germany’s Advance into Eastern Ukraine and Crimea

By late September 1941, it was becoming clear to much of the watching world that the German-led invasion of the USSR had not unfolded as the Nazis expected. Three months into Operation Barbarossa the Soviet Union’s position was still very serious, however.

At this point the Red Army had suffered at least two million casualties, while the Germans had lost a modest 185,000 men, which gives a firm indication of the Wehrmacht’s superiority over the Soviets, in 1941 at least. In north-western Russia, Leningrad was already surrounded from 8 September 1941 by German-Finnish forces. Leningrad was enduring bombardment from the air and the ground, while its inhabitants were being mercilessly starved by blockade. In the coming winter, as much as 100,000 people in Leningrad would die of hunger each month.

To the south, the Ukrainian capital Kiev had fallen on 19 September 1941 to a German pincers movement; as the Red Army suffered an unprecedented loss of around 750,000 men in the Kiev area, the vast majority of them taken prisoner. With Kiev in German hands Army Group South, led by Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, plunged deeper into Ukrainian territory.

As part of Army Group South the German 11th Army, under its new commander Erich von Manstein, occupied Perekop on 27 September 1941, an urban settlement which connects the Ukrainian mainland to the Crimean peninsula. General von Manstein would become one of the Wehrmacht’s most formidable commanders of the war.

In early October 1941, the German 11th Army proceeded to link up with Ewald von Kleist’s Panzer Group 1, now reinforced and called the 1st Panzer Army. They promptly encircled large elements of two Soviet armies east of Melitopol, a city in south-eastern Ukraine and near the Sea of Azov, a body of water slightly greater in size than Belgium. This encounter was, as a result, titled by the Germans as the Battle of the Sea of Azov, a conflict mostly forgotten today.

Elements of the German 3rd Panzer Army on the road near Pruzhany, June 1941 (Licensed under Public Domain)

As the noose tightened, the German divisions captured over 100,000 Soviet troops beside the Sea of Azov. The Russians lost more than 200 tanks here and almost 800 guns, while the commander of the Soviet 18th Army, General A. K. Smirnov, was killed in action by artillery fire on 8 October 1941. The historian Aleksander A. Maslov wrote of Smirnov, “The Germans who buried the general placed a plywood board on his grave, with an inscription in Russian, German, and Romanian, exhorting their soldiers to fight as bravely as this Soviet soldier”.

With their column of panzers and infantrymen stretching for miles across the horizon, the Germans swept up the coast along the Sea of Azov. The 1st Panzer Army captured Berdiansk, a Ukrainian port city, on 6 October 1941. Two days later, just over 40 miles further east along the shoreline, Mariupol fell, on the north coast of the Sea of Azov. The fighting in this region of south-eastern Ukraine ended on 11 October 1941, with a decisive Wehrmacht victory. British scholar Evan Mawdsley acknowledged that the Battle of the Sea of Azov “was certainly one of the half dozen great Red Army defeats of 1941”.

The Marcks Plan was the original German plan of attack for Operation Barbarossa, as depicted in a US Government study (March 1955). (Licensed under Public Domain)

The advance itself astride the Sea of Azov continued, as the Germans crossed the Ukrainian frontier into south-western Russia. On 17 October 1941, two SS divisions from the 1st Panzer Army reached Taganrog, home to around 200,000 inhabitants. The SS divisions were followed from behind by Wehrmacht soldiers.

The German 11th Army had, meanwhile, marched westwards to join forces with Marshal Ion Antonescu’s Romanian 4th Army, which had surrounded Odessa in southern Ukraine and on the Black Sea. The engagement here revealed some serious flaws in the Romanians’ fighting capabilities, and they were grateful to see the German 11th Army arrive. After two months of stoic opposition, Odessa fell on 16 October 1941 as the Soviet Army retreated from the city.

In following days the Romanian forces, assisted by SS units, would murder tens of thousands of Odessa’s Jewish inhabitants (the Odessa massacre). About half of Odessa’s Jewish population got out of the city in time. Yitzhak Arad, the former Soviet resistance fighter, wrote that “Odessa had the largest Jewish community with a population of over 205,000” and “between 108,000 to 110,000” of these residents “were evacuated”.

Through August and September 1941, the majority of Red Army reserves had been shifted by Joseph Stalin to the crucial Moscow theatre in the center. Von Rundstedt’s Army Group South, in part because of this, made steady progress. Army Group South’s advance was threatening the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkov, a great industrial center, while under peril too was the Donbass, an important coal-mining area along with Rostov-on-Don, a Russian city considered to be “the gateway to the Caucasus” and its oil fields.

In the drive towards Kharkov, the Soviet Union’s fourth largest metropolis, the German 6th Army captured Sumy on 10 October 1941. The 6th Army was led by Field Marshal Walter von Reichenau, a committed Nazi, and having taken Sumy they were 90 miles from Kharkov. The Jewish Virtual Library (JVL), an encyclopedia detailing Jewish history, outlined that von Reichenau “encouraged his soldiers to commit atrocities against Jews in the territory under his control”.

Kharkov was in a dire position. Not only was the German 6th Army advancing rapidly towards the city, but Kharkov’s population had swollen to over a million people, as Soviet citizens previously fled from other areas to avoid Nazi occupation. Kharkov’s pre-war populace was 840,000, but some estimates state that by September 1941 it almost doubled to 1.5 million.

On 15 October 1941, the Germans took the town of Okhtyrka, just over 60 miles north-west of Kharkov. Twenty-four hours later Bohodukhiv was taken, less than 40 miles from Kharkov. In following days the German 6th Army continued to move forward and, by 20 October, the Soviets completed their evacuation of industrial enterprises from the city. Four days later, on 24 October, von Reichenau’s men entered Kharkov and swiftly captured the city.

Kharkov’s demise came as a considerable blow. It was an industrial stronghold, where the Soviet T-34 tank had been produced at the Kharkov Tank Factory. Von Reichenau, upon inspecting a captured T-34 tank, reportedly said “If the Russians ever produce it on an assembly line we will have lost the war”. He would certainly have been disconcerted to know that, even with the loss of Kharkov, the Soviets built 12,000 T-34 tanks in 1942. Nevertheless, there were fewer than 1,000 T-34s available when the Germans invaded in June 1941; and most of those were destroyed when the really critical fighting was taking place in 1941. With Kharkov subdued, the German 6th Army proceeded to occupy the Donbass in south-eastern Ukraine.

The 1st Panzer Army, supported by the German 17th Army, was marching towards Donetsk (Stalino), 155 miles south of Kharkov. Although the Germans were hampered by supply issues and the start of the autumn rains, they captured Donetsk on 20 October 1941.

By mid-October von Manstein’s 11th Army was free to advance into the Crimean peninsula. Hitler had stated in his 21 August 1941 directive, “The Crimea has colossal importance for the protection of oil supplies from Romania. Therefore, it is necessary to employ all available means, including mobile formations, to force the lower reaches of the Dnepr rapidly before the enemy is able to reinforce his forces”.

In late October 1941, the panzers broke clear into the Crimea with a costly frontal assault. On 1 November the German 11th Army took Simferopol, the Crimea’s second biggest city. On 9 November the Wehrmacht captured Yalta, the southern Crimean resort city, and one of the Soviet Union’s most popular holiday destinations. Stalin held possession of a residence in Yalta and he had vacationed there in the summers.

A week after Yalta fell, on 16 November 1941 the German 11th Army occupied Kerch, a coastal city in eastern Crimea. The Germans had overrun almost all of the Crimea and, in doing so, they destroyed 16 Soviet divisions and captured more than 100,000 Red Army troops. Yet the Crimea’s largest city, Sevastapol, in the peninsula’s far south-west, remained in Russian hands for the time being and was effectively a fortress. Sevastapol was bolstered by the Soviet garrison which had been evacuated from Odessa in October.

The German 6th Army took the Russian city of Kursk on 3 November 1941. Army Group South had now established a line stretching more than 300 miles across, extending along Kursk-Kharkov-Donetsk-Taganrog. Hitler’s attention in this region turned further east again to Rostov-on-Don. Rostov contained over half a million people and lay 245 miles south-west of Stalingrad. The taking of Rostov would enable the Wehrmacht to advance towards the Caucasus and Stalingrad.

Luckily for the Germans, in early November 1941 the heavy Russian rainfall (rasputitsa) stopped, to be replaced by clearer weather and colder conditions. With the presence of light frost, the soil hardened and this allowed the panzers, trucks and motorcycles to shift into gear and move across the ground with relative ease.

The German 3rd Army Corps raced ahead to take Rostov, but Sepp Dietrich’s SS “Adolf Hitler” motorised division entered the city first. Rostov was captured on 21 November 1941. Nearby, the Germans seized intact the railway bridge over the frozen Don River. They were further able to cut the Caucasus oil pipelines, which Soviet Russia was heavily dependent on.

The Russians, correctly discerning the importance of this sector, launched fierce counterattacks across the Don River against the German positions in Rostov. Soviet casualties were severe, as were the German, and they were too heavy for the latter to endure. Field Marshal von Rundstedt, in overall command of all German divisions in the south-western USSR, asked Hitler for permission to retreat from Rostov.

The 65-year-old von Rundstedt was also a very experienced officer, but Hitler refused his request, and the former resigned in protest on 1 December 1941. Von Reichenau, previously the 6th Army commander, replaced von Rundstedt at the head of Army Group South.

Assessing the situation at Rostov, von Reichenau immediately came to the same conclusion as his predecessor: he therefore asked Hitler for authorisation to retire from Rostov. On 2 December 1941, Hitler took a flight from East Prussia to Mariupol, not far from Rostov and just 60 miles from the front line, in an attempt to resolve the problem himself.

Entering a world with driving blizzards and subzero temperatures, this was a far cry from what Hitler was used to at his Wolfsschanze headquarters, sheltered in the dense Masurian woods. Hitler realised the extent of the crisis and gave way to von Reichenau’s arguments. In early December, the Germans relinquished Rostov.

In some confusion, the invaders retreated 30 miles or so westwards, to a winter line behind the Mius River. It was the first major German reverse of the Nazi-Soviet War. Stalin was delighted at these developments and he publicly praised “the victory over the enemy and liberation of Rostov from the German-fascist aggressors”.

The Brutal Conduct of Operation Barbarossa

The method of warfare fought by Hitler’s forces in the Soviet Union would, before long, come back to haunt them. By pursuing a conflict in extreme ideological terms against Russia, it steeled the Red Army’s resolve in overcoming the “fascist hordes” at whatever cost.

Hitler had titled his march eastwards “Operation Barbarossa”, named after King Frederick Barbarossa, a red-bearded Prussian emperor who centuries before had waged war against the Slavs.

In Soviet territory, Hitler demanded his men undertake “war of annihilation” procedures. These murderous assaults eventually rebounded onto the Germans, who were dealt little mercy as they themselves had shown. By indiscriminately targeting Soviet soldiers and civilians, the Nazis were already sowing the seeds of their own defeat, though they did not yet know it.

A proportion of the USSR’s citizens, such as those in the Ukraine, had welcomed the Germans as gallant saviors releasing them at last from Stalin’s iron grip. The July and August 1941 arrival onto Ukrainian lands of Hitler’s young, undefeated foot soldiers – some golden-haired and many bronzed from the glowing sun – had indeed seduced certain Ukrainian civilians.

As German troops pushed deeper into the lush wheatfields of the Ukraine, growing numbers came forth from country homesteads to warmly greet their apparent rescuers. The ancient offering of bread and salt was graciously provided to Nazi infantrymen, as were flowers.

Joseph Goebbels‘ propaganda machine was working away seamlessly too. German officers, standing upon platforms in town squares, were handing out large color posters to civilians of an aristocratic-looking Führer, dressed in full military attire, and staring imperiously across his shoulder into the distance. At the bottom of each poster a caption in Ukrainian read, “Hitler the Liberator”.

To some in the Ukraine that is how it seemed, in the beginning at least. During that long, fateful summer of 1941, as the world watched on in wonder, it looked like nothing would ever stop the Germans in their advance towards Russia’s great cities. From the 22 June attack, after just a week of fighting, the Wehrmacht was already halfway to the capital Moscow. Such news sent Hitler into raptures at his Wolf’s Lair headquarters in East Prussia, whose construction had been completed hours before the invasion.

Towards the end of July 1941, following a month of combat, the Nazis had claimed an area double the size of their own country. It was a scale of victory that would have subdued any other European country.

Before too long, however, the severity of Hitler’s policies would turn the smiling villagers into wary adversaries of the German Reich. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Hitler’s right arm during the war years, noted that when the dictator firmly set his mind on a decision, he would follow it through to the end. So it would be in this ideological conflict quickly descending into hatred.

Early in 1941, Hitler had said of the impending Russian attack,

“You have only to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down”.

After more than three months of fighting, Hitler insisted during his Berlin Sportpalast speech of 3 October 1941 that,

“this enemy [Russia] is already broken and will never rise again”.

The Nazi leader further outlined that his soldiers were,

“fighting on a front of gigantic length and against an enemy who, I must say, does not consist of human beings but of animals or beasts. We have now seen what Bolshevism can make of human beings”.

In the Ukraine, Hitler’s war of ruin served only to swell partisan numbers, while sending floods of Ukrainian men to the ranks of Soviet Armies – millions would inevitably join Stalin’s forces. The Nazi enslavement of countless Ukrainians by turning them into medieval laborers also disillusioned the society, while large-scale murders of the Jewish population drew much horror.

Operation Barbarossa Infobox.jpg

Clockwise from top left: German soldiers advance through Northern Russia, German flamethrower team in the Soviet Union, Soviet planes flying over German positions near Moscow, Soviet prisoners of war on the way to German prison camps, Soviet soldiers fire at German positions. (Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0)

Had the invasion been conducted through avoidance of these mass killings, such as in the manner of Germany’s 1940 offensive against France, it may have weakened the Soviet soldiers’ fortitude. Hitler and his followers viewed the French racial composition as of a superior creed, however.

By directing an inhumane warfare in the east, it was impossible for the Nazis to convince local inhabitants theirs was a just motive. Sympathy swept behind the Soviet cause, and even towards Stalin himself, whose Great Purge remained fresh in the memory.

Some short years after the Second World War – across in the Caribbean – a critical factor allowing Cuba’s revolutionary, Fidel Castro, to claim power in the heartland of American dominion was the form of warfare he pursued. Castroite forces avoided the depredations of conflict witnessed elsewhere, such as wanton murder and torture. In turn, this clean conduct of battle diluted the fighting desire of Castro’s opponents, while bolstering his reputation among the Cuban people.

Of Hitler’s troops Castro noted they,

“didn’t let any Bolsheviks escape with their lives, and I really don’t know how the people in the Soviet resistance might have treated the Nazis who fell prisoner. I don’t think they could do what we did [let prisoners go]. If they turned one of those fascists loose, the next day he’d be killing Soviet men, women and children again”.

Castro’s units were battling the soldiers of Fulgencio Batista – a corrupt dictator who since 1952 was sustained mostly by American financial might. Despite the rebels being eternally outnumbered against Batista, by the late 1950s they had gathered crucial momentum.

Castro said his compliance of the laws of war, apart from its ethical aspect, was also,

“a psychological factor of great importance. When an enemy comes to respect and even admire their adversary, you’ve won a psychological victory… I once said to those who accused us of violating human rights, ‘I defy you to find a single case of extra-judicial execution; I defy you to find a single case of torture’… I say to you that no war is ever won through terrorism. It’s that simple, because if you employ terrorism you earn the opposition, hatred and rejection of those whom you need in order to win the war. That’s why we had the support of over 90% of the population in Cuba”.

In the Soviet Union, however, Hitler’s fanaticism failed to recognize the benefits, both moral and emotional, of avoiding arbitrary murder. By engaging in a war of terror, the Nazis delegitimized their purported reason for arriving as “liberators”, which held no basis in reality.

Occasionally, Hitler overcame his ideological mindset by revealing unusual, contradictory viewpoints. On separate instances, he remarked that sections of the Soviet population were racially purer than even that of the Germans.

Even before his attack on Poland, Hitler had said,

“Today the Siberians, the White Russians, and the people of the steppes live extremely healthy lives. For that reason, they are better equipped for development and in the long run biologically superior to the Germans”.

When the war turned in Russia’s favor from early 1943 onward, it was an argument Hitler would put forward with growing consistency.

Previously, in late summer 1940, after the Wehrmacht had routed French armies in the west, Hitler predicted to his generals Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl that, “a campaign against Russia would be child’s play”.

It was a gross misjudgment of what lay ahead. The triumphs the Nazis had enjoyed, from autumn 1939 to the spring of 1941, cannot have been lost on Hitler as he watched German armies sweep to one easy victory after another. The apparent invulnerability of his soldiers emboldened Hitler, making him reckless and foolhardy. It also set a foundation for complacency.

During Albert Speer‘s time as the German armaments minister (1942-45), he oversaw a hugely productive war economy; however, by 1943, as Germany’s weapons industry soared it was by then too late. Speer lamented that his total war strategies had not been implemented from 1940 – he estimated that, utilizing these policies, the German war machine which attacked Russia could perhaps have been twice larger than it was in 1941.

Almost four million Nazi-led units marched eastwards in June 1941, supported by over 3,000 tanks and up to 5,000 aircraft. The Soviets had much greater numbers of both airplanes and tanks, though many models were at that stage of an inferior quality to their German rivals.

Hitler also allowed himself to be misled by faulty military intelligence underestimating Russian strength; he was swayed too by the Soviets’ dismal performance against Finland in the Winter War of 1939. When it came to defending their own soil, the Red Army would be a different proposition.

While Hitler was disregarding Russian capacities, he had forgotten the woes that befell Napoleon during his 1812 invasion of the motherland. The French emperor attacked Russia on 24 June 1812 with almost 700,000 men, then the largest force in history – as early as mid-October 1812 Napoleon was set in retreat, and by December he had lost about 500,000 soldiers. Siberian conditions gnawed away at French hearts, as the Russians fought bitterly, employing scorched earth tactics.

France’s invasion of Russia was the Napoleonic Wars’ bloodiest battle, a turning point whose outcome weakened French hegemony in Europe, while damaging Napoleon’s once infallible reputation. It was a lesson from history that Hitler failed to heed.

The Battle of Moscow

The heavily decorated panzer commander Hasso von Manteuffel knew Adolf Hitler reasonably well, having met him on numerous occasions from the summer of 1943 until the spring of 1945.

During their discussions, Manteuffel recognised Hitler’s extensive knowledge of military history but, crucially, the German general discerned also the dictator’s shortcomings as a commander. Hitler’s inadequacies in the military domain were hardly surprising, for he was not really a soldier at all, but a politician, who had no formal military education; unlike Manteuffel who was a renowned strategist.

The American historians Samuel W. Mitcham and Gene Mueller, in their co-authored book ‘Hitler’s Commanders’, outlined the following, “Although Manteuffel was impressed with Hitler’s grasp of combat from the field soldier’s point of view, as well as the Fuehrer’s knowledge of military literature, he recognized Hitler’s weaknesses concerning grand strategy and tactical awareness, even though the Fuehrer had a flair for originality and daring. Although he was always respectful, Manteuffel always expressed his own views, regardless of how they might be received by Hitler”.

It is no exaggeration to state that the outcome of World War II rested mostly upon Hitler’s deficiencies as a military leader – and specifically the decisions made, from June to August 1941, relating to grand strategy in the invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa). The turning point in the war had come over a year before the German defeat at Stalingrad.

Beginning on 22 June 1941 the German-led attack on the USSR, which culminated late that year in the Battle of Moscow, apart from being the most brutal and murderous invasion ever, was by a strategic standpoint deeply flawed. From the start, the Wehrmacht’s invasion force of three million German soldiers was sliced up into three Army Groups, which were ordered to capture a number of difficult targets simultaneously (Leningrad, the Ukraine, Moscow, the Crimea, the Caucasus, etc.).

The most important objective by far was the capital city, Moscow, the Soviet Union’s biggest metropolis. Almost all roads and railways in the western USSR led irresistibly to the gates of Moscow, like spokes directed into the centre of a wheel. If the wheel (Moscow) is put out of action, the rest of the structure cannot function properly. Moscow was the communications hub and power centre of Soviet Russia, where Joseph Stalin and his entourage were headquartered. Stalin himself placed immense store in Moscow’s survival.

Stalin asked his famous general, Georgy Zhukov, late in 1941 “with an aching heart” whether “we will hold Moscow?… Tell me honestly, as a Communist”. General Zhukov replied to Stalin that Moscow will be held “without fail”. Stalin made sure that the road to Moscow was defended whenever possible by large Soviet forces, even when Hitler had turned his attention elsewhere.

Commanded by the 60-year-old Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, Army Group Centre was tasked with capturing the Russian capital. Hitler’s criminal intentions regarding Moscow were clear, as he remarked on the night of 5 July 1941, “Moscow, as the center of the doctrine [Bolshevism], must disappear from the earth’s surface as soon as its riches have been brought to shelter. There’s no question of our collaborating with the Muscovite proletariat”.

From 22 June 1941, had Army Group Centre been directed in a single great thrust towards Moscow, and in doing so protected by Army Group North and Army Group South acting as flank guards, the German Army could well have taken Moscow by the end of August 1941. Top level German commanders like Franz Halder, Heinz Guderian and von Bock recognised Moscow’s importance. Were the capital to fall, the Soviet rail and communications systems would have been shattered. With their centre blown apart, this would have posed enormous difficulties for the Red Army in supplying and bolstering their northern and southern fronts.

German armored column advances on the Moscow front, October 1941 (Licensed under Public Domain)

General Halder stated in a memorandum, of 18 August 1941, that the bulk of the Red Army was being massed in front of Moscow for its defence. If these Soviet divisions were defeated “the Russians would no longer be able to maintain a joined-up defensive front”, Halder wrote.

It is necessary to stress that the Soviet military was not ready for war with Nazi Germany in mid-1941. However, the damage inflicted by Stalin’s purges on the Red Army, from 1937, has routinely been blown out of proportion in the West.

Experienced British scholar Evan Mawdsley, a specialist in Russian history, noted correctly how “The Red Army commanders who were executed were not proven military leaders” in mechanised warfare and “Many able middle-level commanders survived the purges”; but he acknowledged too that “the execution of even a few hundred officers would be a traumatic event in any army” and this “was particularly devastating at the uppermost levels”.

Considerable harm was caused then but it was far from fatal, which events would show, as the Red Army boasted top class commanders such asZhukov, Konstantin Rokossovsky and Aleksandr Vasilevsky. The Soviet military reforms were not close to completion by June 1941, debunking the right-wing fantasy that Stalin was then preparing an attack on Germany. Stalin knew that the conflict with Nazism was approaching, but he hoped to put it off until 1942 or later; Stalin’s close associate Vyacheslav Molotov recalled the former saying shortly after the Fall of France, “we would be able to confront the Germans on an equal basis only by 1943”.

The Germans, therefore, had a huge advantage as they attacked an ill-prepared and static Soviet military in June 1941. By the first week of July 1941 for example, nearly 4,000 Soviet aircraft were destroyed, most of them on the ground. Yet with Operation Barbarossa’s strategic design of attacking the entirety of the western USSR at once, the strength of the Nazi blow was ultimately diluted. The Russians were given time to recover, and to their credit they did not collapse like the French the year before.

Two months into the invasion, on 21 August 1941 Hitler compounded the early strategic errors of Barbarossa, by fatefully postponing the advance on Moscow. Mitcham and Mueller describe this decision as “one of the greatest mistakes of the war” as the Soviets’ “most important city [Moscow]” was demoted to secondary stature. Hitler ordered that the Wehrmacht instead take the Crimea, the Donbas and the Caucasus while he also demanded “the investment of Leningrad and the linking up with the Finns”.

Three days before, on 18 August 1941, the German high command (OKH) had issued a request for the capture of Moscow post haste, but Hitler replied that “The army’s suggestion for continuing operations in the east does not conform to my intentions”. It was to the Wehrmacht’s detriment that Hitler, through his force of personality, had succeeded in gaining complete control over all German military operations. With these new orders of 21 August 1941, Nazi Germany’s defeat in the Second World War was assured.

Donald J. Goodspeed, a military historian who had fought against the Nazi empire with the Canadian Army Overseas, wrote of Hitler’s 21 August directive,

“Thus a clear-cut, feasible, and single military objective [capturing Moscow] was set aside, and for it was substituted a double-headed monstrosity. Hitler was greedy and saw too many things at once. Army Group Center was to be halted, immobile, around Smolensk [240 miles west of Moscow], while rich new territories were to be taken in the south and Leningrad was to be eliminated in the north. Nor was it only that a double objective had been substituted for a single one. In the south Hitler wanted the Crimea, the Donbas and the Caucasus; in the north he wanted both Leningrad and the Karelian Isthmus”.

In late August 1941, Army Group Centre was stripped of its armour which was sent south to the Ukraine. The march into the Ukraine did result in a major German victory as its capital Kiev, the USSR’s third largest city, fell to a giant pincers movement on 19 September 1941. Stalin ignored the advice of among others Zhukov, who had sensed impending danger weeks before by warning on 29 July 1941, “the Red Army should withdraw to the east of the Dnepr river”.

Moscow women dig anti-tank trenches around their city in 1941 (Licensed under Public Domain)

Around Kiev by 26 September 1941, no less than 665,000 Soviet troops were caught within the German pincers and taken prisoner, the biggest surrender of forces in military history. The Soviet prisoners of war (POWs) now had to face the horrors of Nazi captivity.

Mawdsley, in his lengthy analysis of the Nazi-Soviet War, wrote that “In terms of scale, the fatalities among Red Army POWs were second only to the mass murder of the European Jews. Although an important part of the charges at the Nuremberg Trials, the story was far less prominent in the Cold War years. A quarter to a third of all the USSR’s 10 million military deaths were soldiers who died in captivity. The exact figure can never be calculated, but the most commonly accepted German figure is 3,300,300 Soviet POWs dying in captivity, some 58% of the 5,700,000 taken prisoner. The Russians accept a lower figure of Red Army POWs, 4,559,000, and 2,500,000 deaths, but with a similar death rate of 55%”.

Dreadful as the loss of Kiev ranked, September was almost gone and the worst of autumn was closing in fast. The German Army, along with its panzer divisions, was weakened by the hundreds of miles they traversed in the Ukraine. Hitler had issued Directive No. 35 on 6 September 1941, belatedly assigning Moscow as the next principal target. When the Wehrmacht’s claws closed around Kiev on 14 September, the German high command began to reinforce Army Group Centre.

Field Marshal von Bock, leading Army Group Centre, would soon have more than 1.5 million men under his command. Despite efficient German staff work, it was 26 September 1941 before final orders could be relayed for the assault on Moscow, and not until six days later did the offensive begin, hopefully titled Operation Typhoon. Hitler’s interference had resulted in a critical six week delay.

On 2 October 1941, as the Battle of Moscow commenced, it seemed to many outside observers that the Germans would yet prevail. The weather, overall, held good for the time being and the countryside was relatively flat and open, suitable terrain for the panzer formations. During the first three weeks of October 1941, an incredible 86 Soviet divisions were destroyed. Army Group Centre captured 663,000 Soviet soldiers and eradicated 1,200 enemy tanks. The English historian, Geoffrey Roberts, wrote that total Soviet personnel losses in the opening phase of October “numbered a million, including nearly 700,000 captured by the Germans”.

Most of the damage done to the Red Army here came in another massive pincers manoeuvre, which the Germans implemented around the medieval Russian towns of Vyazma and Bryansk, 150 miles apart. The northern pincer at Vyazma was the more effective, as five Russian armies were trapped and annihilated by 13 October 1941. The ring was not so tightly held at the southern pincer around Bryansk, where three Russian armies were caught and wiped out.

German soldiers west of Moscow, December 1941 (Licensed under CC BY 3.0)

Roberts highlighted that, “The encirclements were a devastating blow to the Bryansk, Western and Reserve fronts defending the approaches to Moscow”. When the Wehrmacht reached Vyazma on 7 October 1941, they were less than 140 miles from Moscow. On that day, the first snow flurries arrived in western Russia, an ill omen for the lightly-dressed Germans and their Axis allies, such as the Romanians and Italians. The snow was not heavy and quickly disappeared.

On 5 October 1941, the Soviet cause had been given a significant boost, when Stalin telephoned General Zhukov in Leningrad and asked him “can you board a plane and come to Moscow?” Zhukov was being designated with leading the defence of the capital. Zhukov agreed by replying, “I ask for permission to fly out tomorrow morning at da

wn” and Stalin said, “Very well. We await your arrival in Moscow tomorrow”.

For now, there was only so much that Zhukov could do. On 12 October 1941 Army Group Centre stormed the Russian city of Kaluga, 93 miles south-west of Moscow. A week later, 19 October, the Germans occupied the abandoned town of Mozhaysk, just 65 miles west of Moscow. The road apparently lay open and panic started to grip the capital. It is little wonder that Zhukov considered the dates, between the 10th to the 20th of October 1941, as “the most dangerous moment for the Red Army” in the entire war.

The Battle of Moscow, Soviet Counterattack

As the Battle of Moscow began eight decades ago on 2 October 1941, the weeks directly preceding and following this date did not seem to augur well for the Soviet Army. Kiev, the USSR’s third largest city, fell two weeks before on 19 September to a vast German pincers movement, and the Red Army lost a staggering 665,000 troops in the process.

Titled Operation Typhoon, the German plan for the capture of Moscow called for a two-stage battle. In the first phase German Army Group Centre, comprising of almost two million men, would execute a three-pronged attack; with the German 9th Army and Panzer Group 3 advancing to the north between the towns of Vyazma and Rzhev, both 140 miles west of Moscow.

The German 4th Army, and Panzer Group 4, would drive forward along the Roslavl-Moscow road in the centre; and Heinz Guderian’s Panzer Group 2, now called the 2nd Panzer Army, would attack to the south between Bryansk and Orel to the city of Tula, 110 miles southward of Moscow. Operation Typhoon’s second phase envisaged the final advance on the Russian capital, conducted by two armoured encircling thrusts from the north-west and the south-east.

The weather and terrain suited the Wehrmacht, for the time being. In the first three weeks of October 1941, the Germans captured another 663,000 Soviet soldiers and destroyed 1,200 tanks. Including casualties and prisoners taken, total Red Army losses in the opening stage of October amounted to a million troops. In a four week period from 19 September 1941, the Soviets had altogether lost more than 1.6 million men.

Even these terrible reverses did not prove insurmountable to a state whose populace, in 1941, amounted to around 193 million, as opposed to a population in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe of about 110 million.

On 15 October 1941, Joseph Stalin ordered the majority of Soviet government officials to leave Moscow. They relocated 560 miles further east to the city of Kuibyshev on the Volga river. This indicates that the Soviet leadership was not confident that Moscow could be held. Stalin gloomily informed Harry Hopkins, president Franklin Roosevelt’s personal emissary, that if Moscow was lost “all of Russia west of the Volga would have to be abandoned”. Nevertheless, Stalin remained in Moscow, believing that his continued presence there would maintain morale and prevent widespread unrest among Muscovites, clearly the correct decision.

While the Wehrmacht closed on Moscow, the Red Army’s resistance appeared to be weakening. On 19 October 1941 the Germans took the abandoned town of Mozhaysk, 65 miles west of Moscow. The following day, Stalin declared martial law as the capital was placed under full military control.

Red Army ski troops in Moscow. Still from documentary Moscow Strikes Back, 1942 (Licensed under CC0)

On 23 October 1941 the Germans crossed the Narva river, and were only 40 miles from Moscow. During the next day, however, the famous Russian rainfall (rasputitsa) arrived almost providentially. The Germans were expecting rains to come but the ferocity of it was a shock to them. The unpaved roads and paths quickly turned into rivers of thick, congealed mud. This meant that no wheeled vehicle could move for consecutive days, and the larger panzers advanced at a snail’s pace. The wider-tracked Russian T-34 tanks were more suited to such conditions.

British scholar Evan Mawdsley wrote,

“The defence of Moscow was certainly helped by changes in the weather” and “Unlike the Germans, the Russians had a working railway system behind their front line. Soviet planes were operating from prepared airfields, while the Luftwaffe now had to make do with improvised muddy landing strips”.

By 24 October 1941 as the rains came, the German invasion was four months old (17 weeks) and in serious difficulty. Adolf Hitler had previously expected to conquer the Soviet Union in less than half of that time (8 weeks). When France collapsed the Nazi leader told his military advisers Wilhelm Keitel and Alfred Jodl that “a campaign against Russia would be child’s play”. Field Marshal Keitel, often accused of being a lackey, disagreed and he was opposed to attacking the USSR.

The German High Command (OKH) predicted in mid-December 1940 that “the Soviet Union would be defeated in a campaign not exceeding 8-10 weeks”. Such views were strongly shared by the American and British authorities. Why did these predictions prove so wrong?

We can get to the heart of the matter, by briefly examining German blunders regarding grand strategy and, with it, the most important reason: Hitler’s directive of 21 August 1941, that led to a crucial six week postponement in the march on Moscow (21 August-2 October). This came against the wishes of the Wehrmacht’s leadership, who desperately wanted the advance towards Moscow to continue. By the last week of August, Army Group Centre was 185 miles from Moscow, not a great distance by any means.

The capital city was the USSR’s most important metropolis, its power centre and communications line. Had it fallen in the autumn of 1941, the repercussions would most probably have been fatal for the Soviets.

English historian Andrew Roberts observed, “Moscow was the nodal point of Russia’s north–south transport hub, was the administrative and political capital, was vital for Russian morale and was an important industrial centre in its own right”. As a transportation and administrative hub, Moscow performed a central role in the Red Army’s ability to supply other parts of its front. On 21 August 1941 at his Wolfsschanze headquarters in the East Prussian forests, Hitler put aside one critical objective (Moscow), and substituted it with five targets of lesser importance.

Hitler expounded that they would instead pursue “the capture of the Crimea” and “the industrial and coal mining area of the Donets” along with “the cutting off of Russian oil supplies from the Caucasus” and “the investment of Leningrad and the linking up with the Finns”. When on 22 August Hitler’s orders were forwarded to Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, commanding Army Group Centre and a very experienced officer, he telephoned General Franz Halder and said it was “unfortunate, above all because it placed the attack to the east in question… I want to smash the enemy army and the bulk of this army is opposite my front!”

Von Bock, a monarchist who did not like the Nazis, continued that diverting forces away from the attack on Moscow “will jeopardize the execution of the main operation, namely the destruction of the Russian armed forces before winter”. Halder, a key planner in Operation Barbarossa’s original design, agreed with him. Two days later on 24 August 1941 von Bock reiterated, “They apparently do not wish to exploit under any circumstances the opportunity decisively to defeat the Russians before winter!”

One can note the normally dour von Bock’s use of exclamation marks, as he believes the chance for victory has been taken away from him. Insult was added to injury, as von Bock was compelled to release four of his five panzer corps, and three infantry corps, for the southward and northwards assaults on the Ukraine and Leningrad. Halder felt that Hitler’s directive of 21 August “was decisive to the outcome of this campaign”.

For reasons of megalomania, Hitler had overruled his military commanders on a pivotal military issue. American historians Samuel W. Mitcham and Gene Mueller summarised that Hitler’s 21 August directive “was one of the greatest mistakes of the war”. It came on top of the opening strategic errors of 22 June 1941, when the Wehrmacht attacked all of the western USSR simultaneously, ultimately weakening the Nazi blow. Fortunately, the Third Reich’s leadership was strategically inept.

In late August 1941, the German Armed Forces High Command (OKW) were contemplating that the war in the east would drag on until 1942. An early knockout strike had not materialised, and the Soviet Army was fighting with tenacity; while the Russians possessed military hardware of a high standard, like the Katyusha rocket launcher (Stalin’s Organ) and the T-34 tank, which came as a real surprise to the Germans.

An OKW memorandum from 27 August ran, “if it proves impossible to realise this objective completely [the USSR’s destruction] during 1941, the continuation of the eastern campaign has top priority for 1942”. Hitler approved the memo, which suggests that he was starting to think the invasion may not be successfully concluded in 1941. Hitler certainly believed this by November of that year.

The Soviet cause was given a major lift when, on 10 October 1941, Stalin officially granted General Georgy Zhukov the leadership over the majority of Red Army divisions (the Western Front and Reserve Front) for the capital’s defence. The 44-year-old Zhukov was an extremely able, energetic, self-confident and ruthless commander, just the sort of man that was needed.

Zhukov pursued a policy of initiating incessant counterattacks, and then withdrawing at the final moment. These tactics succeeded in wearing down the belated German march on Moscow. More than any other soldier in the war, Zhukov would play a leading part in the Nazis’ demise. Andrei Gromyko, a prominent Soviet diplomat, wrote that Zhukov was “the jewel in the crown of the Soviet people’s greatest victory”.

At the beginning of November 1941 victory was not yet assured, for the rains disappeared and frost set in. The ground had hardened enough for the panzers to begin rolling again. These colder temperatures were uncomfortable for the German troops, who incredibly were still not supplied with sufficient winter clothing, but the temperature hovered around zero for now and was not unbearable.

In preceding weeks, the Kremlin received intelligence reports from their spy in Tokyo, Dr. Richard Sorge, and also from Soviet agencies, which stated that Imperial Japan was not preparing an immediate attack on the eastern USSR. This time Stalin believed the intelligence accounts and, in the first fortnight of November 1941, he transferred 21 fresh divisions from Siberia and Central Asia to the Moscow front.

The Germans had no such reserve of men to call upon. On the night of 11 November 1941, the temperature dropped suddenly to minus 20 degrees Celsius. Frostbite cases were becoming common among German soldiers, but the Wehrmacht resumed advancing from 15 November. A week later, on 22 November the medieval town of Klin fell, 52 miles north-west of Moscow.

The following day, Panzer Group 4 took Solnechnogorsk, 38 miles from Moscow. On 27 November the 7th Panzer Division established a bridgehead across the Moscow-Volga Canal. Also during 27 November, the 2nd SS Panzer Division Das Reich captured the town of Istra, just 31 miles west of Moscow.

German professor Jörg Ganzenmüller wrote that Hitler now formulated “a special order”, which was sent to SS major Otto Skorzeny of the Das Reich division. Hitler demanded that Skorzeny and his men occupy the locks of the reservoir on the Moscow-Volga canal, and then open the locks so as to “drown” Moscow by turning it into a massive artificial lake. These orders were obviously never carried out, due to Skorzeny’s unit being unable to advance much further.

In late November 1941, it was apparent that the German offensive would likely fail. As of 26 November, the Germans had lost 743,112 men on the Eastern front. This number does not include frostbite casualties and other soldiers absent due to illness.

Because of ongoing Russian resistance and their fresh resources – which in both cases had been much greater than the Germans anticipated – General Guderian’s panzers had failed to reach the city of Tula, just over 100 miles south of Moscow. Panzer Group 3, which captured the line of the Moscow-Volga Canal on 28 November, could attack no further; and while a division from Panzer Group 4 had proceeded to within 18 miles of Moscow, continued progress for them proved impossible.

On 2 December 1941, a motorcycle reconnaissance unit of the 2nd Panzer Division reached the suburb of Khimki, five miles from Moscow and nine miles from the Kremlin. Isolated, it did not remain for long in this forward position. That was as close as the Germans ever got to the spires of Moscow.

On the night of 4 December, the temperature plummeted again to minus 31 degrees Celsius. Twenty four hours later, it sank to minus 36 degrees. It was clear that Operation Barbarossa had failed and worse was in store for the Germans. If they could not accomplish the USSR’s overthrow in 1941, they could hardly expect to do so in a weaker condition in 1942.

The writing was on the wall on 5 December 1941, as the Soviet Army counterattacked the static and precariously positioned Germans, by striking Panzer Group 3 near the Moscow-Volga Canal, along with the German 9th Army at the city of Kalinin. The next day, 6 December, General Zhukov’s divisions launched an assault on the 2nd Panzer Army south of Moscow, with both sides suffering serious losses. Yet Zhukov prevailed by forcing the 2nd Panzer Army to retreat over 50 miles.

Field Marshal von Bock, irate at these setbacks, wrote in his diary, “Last August, the road to Moscow was open; we could have entered the Bolshevik capital in triumph and in summery weather. The high military leadership of the Fatherland made a terrible mistake, when it forced my Army Group to adopt a position of defence last August. Now all of us are paying for that mistake”.

In winter weather, the Soviets were a superior fighting force in comparison to the enemy. Soviet divisions were better equipped and had much more experience of adverse conditions. Stalin said shortly after the Red Army subdued Finland in March 1940, “It is not true that the army’s fighting capacity decreases in wintertime. All the Russian Army’s major victories were won in wintertime… We are a northern country”.

With the Soviets continually counterattacking, one must give the Germans substantial credit for managing somehow to avoid a total collapse, which is what had befallen Napoleon’s army in Russia in late 1812. Hitler refused to allow a general retreat, as he ordered on 16 December 1941 that each German soldier display “fanatical resistance”.

By the end of December 1941, the Russians had advanced 100 to 150 miles across a broad front. The Red Army did not achieve a truly decisive breakthrough and the fighting would continue into 1942, and indeed well beyond that.

To Be Continue….

WW II: Operation Barbarossa, the Allied Firebombing of German Cities and Japan’s; Part 1…

Operation Barbarossa. Did Stalin Foresee Hitler’s Invasion?

In attacking eastwards from June 1941 the Nazis intended to annex the Ukraine, all of European Russia, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, while establishing a satellite Finnish nation to the north-east. A greatly enlarged Germany would thus be created, serving as a homeland for hundreds of millions of those belonging to the so-called Germanic and Nordic races. As envisaged by Nazi planners, this expansion would provide the economic base to sustain the thousand year Reich.

According to Adolf Hitler’s Directive No. 18 issued on 12 November 1940, the goal of his eastern invasion was to occupy and hold a line from Archangel, in the far north-west of Russia, to Astrakhan, almost 1,300 miles southward; further conquering Leningrad, Moscow, the Donbas, Kuban (in southern Russia) and the Caucasus.

Nothing was mentioned as to what the Germans would do, once the Archangel-Astrakhan line had been reached. The Wehrmacht’s objective was, however, to annihilate the Soviet forces in western Russia through massive armoured spearheads and encirclements, thereby preventing the Red Army’s withdrawal further east.

It should be stated, firstly, that the USSR had no plans in 1940 or 1941 to attack Nazi Germany; nor did the Soviets hold ambitions to sweep across all of mainland Europe in a war of conquest. There really was no need for the world’s largest state to take control of other vast continents.

David Glantz, the US military historian and retired colonel, realised that Soviet ruler Joseph Stalin’s position in 1941 was that of a defensive one. Glantz wrote how, “Stalin was guilty of wishful thinking, of hoping to delay war for at least another year, in order to complete the reorganization of his armed forces. He worked at a fever pitch throughout the spring of 1941, trying desperately to improve the Soviet Union’s defensive posture while seeking to delay the inevitable confrontation”.

Glantz’ views are supported by other experienced historians like England’s Antony Beevor. He observed that “the Red Army was simply not in a state to launch a major offensive in the summer of 1941”; but Beevor did not entirely exclude the possibility that Stalin “may have been considering a preventive attack in the winter of 1941, or more probably in 1942, when the Red Army would be better trained and equipped”.

Was the Soviet leadership aware of the threat that Hitler posed to their state?; and which was gradually developing around them like a dark cloud. Early in July 1940 a report compiled by the Soviet intelligence agency, the NKGB, was sent to the Kremlin. It revealed that the Third Reich’s General Staff had requested Germany’s Transport Ministry to furnish details, regarding rail capacities for Wehrmacht soldiers to be shifted from west to east. It constituted the first hint of what lay ahead. This was the period, in the high summer of 1940, when serious discussions started between Hitler and his generals, relating to an attack on Russia.

As early as 31 July 1940 the German planning for an invasion of the Soviet Union “was in full swing”, as noted by US author Harrison E. Salisbury. Earlier in July Hitler had initially pondered attacking Russia in the autumn of 1940 but, by late July, he concluded it was too late in the year with poor weather fast approaching.

There is little indication that Stalin, or high-ranking Soviet officials, were at all worried by the first warning signals they received through intelligence about Nazi intentions. During early August 1940, the British obtained information suggesting Hitler was planning to destroy Russia, and London passed on their findings to Moscow. Stalin ignored them as he strongly distrusted the British, not without some reason. This was based in part on Stalin’s recent experiences in dealing with Conservative governments who were, to put it kindly, of an unfriendly disposition towards the Soviet Union.

London and Paris refused to sign a pact with the Kremlin in the spring and summer of 1939 – which would have aligned the British, French and Russians against Nazi Germany. Stalin had no choice but to then finalize an agreement with Hitler that autumn, and these unwanted realities have since been suppressed by institutions like the German-led European Union.

The Nazi-Soviet Pact of 23 August 1939 had served the Soviets well, until the Wehrmacht swiftly routed France from May to June 1940. The manner of the French defeat astonished and disturbed Stalin, who was expecting a long, drawn-out conflict in the west, as in the First World War.

Yet Stalin’s agreement with Hitler had kept Russia out of the heavy fighting for now, while the Kremlin made territorial gains by taking over the eastern half of Poland, on 6 October 1939. With the end of the Winter War against Finland, the Soviets absorbed around 10% of Finnish land in March 1940. At the beginning of August 1940 Stalin officially annexed the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, having first occupied those states in mid-June 1940, which resulted in pro-German officials fleeing the region. Stalin’s march into the Baltic came as a response to the Nazi triumphs on the western front, and his understandable fear of Baltic nationalism and possible German penetration near Soviet frontiers.

Basil Liddell Hart, the retired British Army captain and military theorist wrote, “Hitler had agreed that the Baltic states should be within the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence, not to their actual occupation; and he felt that he had been tricked by his partner; although most of his advisers realistically considered the Russian move into the Baltic states to be a natural precaution, inspired by fear of what Hitler might attempt after his victory in the west”.

During the days after the Fall of France, Stalin occupied the Romanian territories of Northern Bukovina and Bessarabia. Until World War I, Bessarabia had belonged to the Russian Empire for about a century, but Northern Bukovina never before comprised part of Russia. In the eyes of Hitler and German generals, Stalin’s advance into parts of northern Romania was dangerous and provocative. Hitler first learnt of Stalin’s plan to reincorporate Bessarabia on 23 June 1940, when just after sunrise the Nazi leader was victoriously touring Paris in an open topped vehicle. Hitler became irritated when he heard the news. He felt that Bessarabia’s return to Russia would bring Stalin intolerably close to the Axis oil wells, at the city of Ploesti in southern Romania.

During a meeting with Benito Mussolini in the Bavarian Alps on 19 January 1941, Hitler told his Italian counterpart, “now in the age of airpower, the Romanian oil fields can be turned into an expanse of smoking debris by air attack from Russia and the Mediterranean, and the life of the Axis depends on these oil fields”.

Over the course of World War II, Ploesti’s wells furnished the Nazi empire with at least 35% of its entire oil, other accounts state as much as 60%; but the latter figure is most likely excessive and above the overall average. For many years Romania was Europe’s largest oil producing country by far, and the fifth biggest on earth in 1941 and 1942, having overtaken Mexico. The significant oil sources in Indonesia (Dutch East Indies) fell under Axis control in early 1942, when that country was overrun by Japanese armies, and they would remain there for over three years.

Hitler wanted his Romanian oil fields to be formidably defended; he ordered the Wehrmacht to place scores of heavy and medium German anti-aircraft guns around the Ploesti refineries, and that smoke screens also be deployed; the latter were effective at obscuring the installations from enemy planes, which were shot down in large numbers.

The Germans created limited quantities of oil from synthetic hydrogenation processes, involving materials like coal. This mostly benefited the Luftwaffe, not so much the panzers and other ground vehicles. The terms of the non-aggression deal with Russia ensured the Reich received in total 900,000 tons of Soviet oil, from September 1939 to June 1941. This was not a huge amount, considering the Wehrmacht consumed three million tons of oil in 1940 alone.

Nazi Germany was also supplied with oil by the United States, then unrivalled as the world’s biggest oil producer and exporter; specifically the dealings that American corporations like Texaco and Standard Oil conducted with the Nazis, sometimes secretly through other countries, along with US-controlled subsidiaries based in the Reich. In addition, arriving from the globe’s third largest oil manufacturing state, Venezuela, then a major US client, came shipments of petroleum sent across the Atlantic, destined for the German war machine.

Altogether “around 150 American companies” had “business links to Nazi Germany”, the Israeli journalist Ofer Aderet outlined, writing for the left-leaning newspaper Haaretz. US business deals with the Nazis, Aderet wrote, “included huge loans, large investments, cartel agreements, the construction of plants in Germany as part of the Third Reich’s rearmament, and the supply of massive amounts of war matériel.

Meanwhile, Stalin’s reintegration of Bessarabia in early July 1940 was providing a buffer to the Soviet defence of its navy, in the Black Sea slightly further east; including added security to Russian naval bases, such at the port of Odessa in southern Ukraine. The Soviet advance into Romania “was worse than ‘a slap in the face’ for Hitler”, Liddell Hart observed as “it placed the Russians ominously close to the Romanian oil fields on which he counted for his own supply”. On 29 July 1940 Hitler spoke to his Chief-of-Operations, General Alfred Jodl, about the potential of fighting Russia if Stalin attempted to seize Ploesti.

On 9 August 1940 General Jodl issued a directive titled “Reconstruction East”, ordering that German transport and supplies be bolstered in the east, so that plans would be cemented by the spring of 1941 for an attack on Russia. It was at this time that Winston Churchill’s government began warning Moscow of the German invasion plans; but Stalin strongly suspected that the British wanted to drag him into the war, just to take the pressure off London. Stalin certainly believed that Soviet armies would have to fight the Germans some day, but not just yet.

Soviet designs towards Germany remained non-threatening. On 1 August 1940 the Soviet Union’s foreign minister, Vyacheslav Molotov, said that the Nazi-Soviet Pact was centred not on “fortuitous considerations of a transient nature, but on the fundamental political interests of both countries”. Nevertheless by September 1940, Soviet commanders stationed along their western frontier began talking about Hitler’s “Drang nach Osten”, meaning the dictator’s proposal for eastward expansion. Soviet military men spoke about Hitler’s habit of carrying around a picture of Frederick Barbarossa, the red-bearded Prussian emperor who centuries before had waged war against the Slavs.

On 12 November 1940 foreign minister Molotov, a staunch communist, landed in Germany by aircraft. Upon Molotov’s arrival in Berlin, Stalin told him to indicate to the Germans that he wanted a wide-ranging deal with them. Stalin still thought a partnership with Hitler into the near future was attainable. Instead, during the talks Nazi officials presented to Molotov a junior partnership for Soviet Russia, in a German-dominated global alliance. Soviet policy, as the Nazis insisted, was to be focused on south Asia, towards India, and a conflict with Britain. This did not satisfy Stalin at all.

Following Molotov’s dispatching of the report on his disappointing discussions in Berlin, according to Yakov Chadaev, a Soviet administrator, Stalin was certain that Hitler intended to wage war on Russia. Less than two weeks later, on 25 November 1940 Stalin informed the Bulgarian communist politician Georgi Dimitrov “our relations with Germany are polite on the surface, but there is serious friction between us”.

Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky, a top level Russian officer who repeatedly met with Stalin, had accompanied Molotov to Berlin. Vasilevsky returned home convinced that Hitler would invade the Soviet Union. Vasilevsky’s opinion was shared by many of his Red Army colleagues. After Molotov had left Berlin, Hitler met German executives and made it clear to them that he was going to attack Russia.

In the autumn of 1940 draft plans for the strategic positioning of Soviet divisions along their western frontier, in preparation for a German invasion, were sent to the Kremlin by the Russian High Command. Stalin did not respond. Rather ominously, in the second half of November 1940 the central European countries of Hungary, Slovakia and Romania all joined Hitler’s new European order, by signing up to the Axis coalition. Hitler could now depend especially on the support of Romania, under Ion Antonescu. He was a fervently anti-communist and anti-Semitic military dictator, who at age 58 had come to power on 4 September 1940.

Romania is by no means a leading nation today, but during the war years it was indeed an important country. This was mostly due to her natural resources and to a lesser extent its strategic location, beside the Black Sea and the Ukraine.

Stalin was growing slightly concerned as 1940 reached its end. Addressing Soviet generals before Christmas, Stalin referenced passages from Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’, and he spoke of the Nazi leader’s stated goal of attacking the USSR some day. Stalin said “we will try to delay the war for two years”, until December 1942 or into 1943. Shortly after the Wehrmacht’s crushing of the French, Molotov recalled him saying, “we would be able to confront the Germans on an equal basis only by 1943”.

On 18 December 1940 Hitler released his Directive No. 21 outlining, “The German armed forces must be prepared to crush Soviet Russia in a quick campaign, before the end of the war against England”. On Christmas Day 1940, the Soviet military attaché in Berlin received an anonymous letter. It expounded that the Germans were preparing a military operation against Russia, for the spring of 1941.

By 29 December 1940 Soviet intelligence agencies had possession of the basic facts regarding Operation Barbarossa, its design and planned start date. In late January 1941 the Japanese military diplomat Yamaguchi, returning to the Russian capital from Berlin, said to a member of the Soviet naval diplomatic service, “I do not exclude the possibility of conflict between Berlin and Moscow”.

Yamaguchi’s remark was forwarded on 30 January 1941 to Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, a prominent Soviet officer who knew Stalin personally. Even before late January 1941, the Soviet Defence Commissariat was concerned enough to draft a general directive to the Russian border commands and fleets, which for the first time would name Germany as the probable enemy in coming war.

In early February 1941, the Soviet Naval Commissariat started receiving almost daily accounts, about the arrival of German Army specialists in Bulgarian ports; and preparations for the installment of German coastal armaments there. This information was relayed to Stalin on 7 February 1941. In fact, other senior figures such as Marshal Filipp Golikov, the chief of intelligence for the USSR’s General Staff, said that all Soviet reports on German planning were forwarded to Stalin himself.

As Molotov was about to make his way to Berlin the previous November, Stalin stressed to him that Bulgaria is “the most important question of the negotiations” and should be placed in the Soviet realm. On 1 March 1941 Bulgaria instead joined the Axis. In early February 1941, the Russian command in Leningrad reported German troop movements in Finland. This was no laughing matter as Finland shares an eastern border with Russia.

The Kremlin could not count on Finnish loyalty in the event of a German attack. Finland’s Commander-in-Chief Gustaf Mannerheim, in his mid-70s and an anti-Bolshevik, had been closely acquainted with the deposed Russian Tsar Nicholas II. Mannerheim previously kept a portrait of the Tsar and said, “He was my emperor”. The Finns were far from grateful when the Soviet military rolled into their country in November 1939, without a declaration of war. In February 1941 the Leningrad Command reported German conversations with Sweden, pertaining to the transit of Wehrmacht troops through Swedish land.

The Soviet political administration wanted to emphasize awareness to the Red Army, to be prepared for engagement. Stalin rejected this approach, because he was afraid it would appear to Hitler that he was gathering forces to start an offensive against Germany. Stalin warned General Georgy Zhukov that “Mobilisation means war”, and he did not want to risk a conflict with Germany in 1941.

On 15 February 1941, a German typist entered the Soviet consulate in Berlin. He brought with him a German-Russian phrase book, which was being published in his printing shop in extra large edition – included in it were such phrases as, “Are you a Communist?”, “Hands up or I’ll shoot” and “Surrender”. The ramifications were clear enough. Around this time, Russian State Security acquired reliable intelligence stating that the German invasion of Britain was suspended indefinitely, until Russia was defeated.

In late February and early March 1941, German reconnaissance flights were taking place over the Baltic states under Russian control. These were severe infringements into the Soviet zone. The appearance of Nazi planes became frequent over the coastal city of Libau, in western Latvia, above the Estonian capital Tallinn, and over Estonia’s largest island Saaremaa.

Russian Admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov, who intensely disliked the fascist states, granted the Soviet Baltic fleet authority to open fire on German aircraft. On 17 and 18 March 1941, Luftwaffe planes were spotted over Libau and promptly shot at by Soviet personnel. Nazi aircraft were then sighted near the city of Odessa, on the Black Sea. Admiral Kuznetsov was summoned to the Kremlin by Stalin, where he found him with the police chief Lavrentiy Beria. Stalin reprimanded Kuznetsov for giving the order to shoot at German planes, and he expressly forbid Soviet units to do so again.

Hitler’s Secret Directive 18

After the failed November 1940 discussions in Berlin, of the Soviet Union’s foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov, both he and his leader Joseph Stalin occasionally remarked that Nazi Germany was no longer so prompt in fulfilling its obligations to Moscow. This was relating to the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact, of 23 August 1939, an agreement which was meant to last for 10 years. Stalin and Molotov did not attribute much significance to the slacking off in Berlin’s punctuality, as the delivery of German goods and technology to Soviet Russia increasingly did not appear on schedule.

Unknown to Stalin and Molotov, on the very day the Soviet foreign minister had landed in Berlin for talks, 12 November 1940, Adolf Hitler secretly issued Directive No. 18. It outlined the planned German invasion of the USSR, including the envisaged conquest of major cities like Kiev, Kharkov, Leningrad and Moscow. On 18 December 1940 Führer Directive No. 21 was completed, which stated that the Wehrmacht’s attack on the Soviet Union should proceed in mid-May 1941.

For Russia, as 1941 advanced beyond its opening weeks, the warning signs about the German threat were becoming difficult to overlook. False reports were featured in the Nazi press about “military preparations” being made across the border in the Soviet camp. The same German media tactics had preceded Hitler’s invasions of Czechoslovakia and Poland.

On 23 February 1941, the Soviet Defence Commissariat published a decree stating that Nazi Germany was the next likely enemy. Soviet frontier areas were requested to make the necessary preparations to repel the attack, but the Kremlin did not respond.

On 22 March 1941, the Russian intelligence agency NKGB obtained what it believed to be solid material that “Hitler has given secret instructions to suspend the fulfillment of orders for the Soviet Union”, regarding shipments tied to the Nazi-Soviet Pact. For example the Czech Skoda plant, under Nazi control, had been ordered to halt deliveries to Russia. On 25 March 1941 the NKGB produced a special report, expounding that the Germans had amassed 120 divisions beside the Soviet border.

For months there were concerning cables coming from the Russian military attaché in Nazi-occupied France, General Ivan Susloparov. The German authorities had curtailed Soviet embassy duties in France, and in February 1941 the Russian embassy was moved from Paris southwards to Vichy, in central France. Only a Soviet consulate was left in Paris.

Image on the right: OKH commander Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch and Hitler study maps during the early days of Hitler’s Russian Campaign (Public Domain)

During April 1941, General Susloparov informed Moscow that the Germans would attack Russia in late May 1941. Slightly later on, he explained it had been delayed for a month due to bad weather. At the end of April, General Susloparov collected further information about the German invasion through colleagues from Yugoslavia, America, China, Turkey and Bulgaria. This intelligence was forwarded to Moscow by mid-May 1941.

Again in April 1941, a Czech agent reported that the Wehrmacht was going to execute military operations against the Soviet Union. The report was sent to Stalin, who became angry when he read it and replied, “This informant is an English provocateur. Find out who is making this provocation and punish him”.

On 10 April 1941 Stalin and Molotov were given a summary by the NKGB, about a meeting that Hitler had with Prince Paul of Yugoslavia at the Berghof, in early March 1941. Hitler was described as telling Prince Paul he would begin his invasion of Russia in late June 1941. Stalin’s response to the alarming reports, such as this, was one of appeasement of Hitler, though a similar strategy had failed for the Western powers.

Remarkably, through April 1941 Stalin increased the volume of shipments of Russian supplies to the Third Reich, amounting to: 208,000 tons of grain, 90,000 tons of oil, 6,340 tons of metal, etc. Much of these essentials would be used by the Nazis in their attack on Russia.

Marshal Filipp Golikov, head of intelligence for the USSR’s General Staff, insisted that all Soviet reports relating to Nazi plans were forwarded directly to Stalin. Other accounts informing Moscow about an impending Wehrmacht invasion came from abroad too. As early as January 1941 Sumner Welles, an influential US government official, warned the Soviet Ambassador to America, Konstantin Umansky, that Washington had information showing Germany would engage in war against Russia, by the spring of 1941.

During the final week of March 1941 US Army cryptanalysts, experts at deciphering codes, started producing obvious indications of a German relocation to the east. This material was relayed to the Soviets. America’s cryptographers had cracked Japanese codes in the second half of 1940; including the Purple Cipher, Japan’s highest diplomatic code, which ensured that the Franklin Roosevelt government was uniquely well informed of Tokyo’s intentions.

The US commercial attaché in Berlin, Sam E. Woods, came into contact with high-level German staff officers opposed to the Nazi regime. They were aware of the planning for Operation Barbarossa. Woods was in a position to discreetly observe the German preparations from July 1940, until December of that year. Woods sent his findings to Washington. President Roosevelt agreed that the Kremlin should be told of these developments. On 20 March 1941, Welles once more saw Soviet Ambassador Umansky and forwarded the news.

Russia’s embassy in Berlin noticed that the Nazi press was reprinting passages from Hitler’s 1925 book ‘Mein Kampf’. The paragraphs in question were about his proposal for “lebensraum”, German enlargement at the Soviet Union’s expense.

The Russians had a formidable espionage agent, Richard Sorge, operating in Tokyo since 1933, the year that Hitler took power in Germany. Sorge, a German citizen and committed communist, established an especially close relationship with the imprudent Nazi ambassador to Japan, General Eugen Ott. The data Sorge received was not always 100% accurate, but it allowed him access to the most confidential and up to date German plans.

On 5 March 1941, Sorge dispatched to the Soviets a microfilm of a German telegram sent by the foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, to the German ambassador Ott – and which outlined that the Wehrmacht attack on Russia would fall in mid-June 1941. On 15 May, Sorge reported to Moscow that the German invasion would start somewhere between 20 to 22 of June. A few days later on 19 May Sorge cabled, “Against the Soviet Union will be concentrated nine armies, 150 divisions”. He later increased this figure to between 170 to 190 divisions, and that Operation Barbarossa will start without an ultimatum or declaration of war.

All of this fell on deaf ears. Sorge, who had his vices being a heavy drinker and womaniser, was ridiculed by Stalin just before the Germans attacked as someone “who has set up factories and brothels in Japan”. To be fair to Stalin, at the late date of 17 June 1941 Sorge was not fully certain if Barbarossa would go ahead. Why? The German military attaché in Tokyo became unsure if it would proceed, and sometimes a spy is only as good as his or her sources.

Meanwhile in March 1941, Russia’s State Security forces acquired an account about a meeting the Romanian autocrat, Ion Antonescu, had with a German official named Bering, where the subject of war with Russia was discussed. Antonescu had in fact been informed by Hitler, as early as 14 January 1941, of the German plan to invade Russia, such was the prominent position Romania held in Nazi war aims. The German-controlled Ploesti refineries in southern Romania produced 5.5 million tons of oil in 1941, and 5.7 million tons in 1942.

Italian dictator Benito Mussolini learnt of the German attack on Russia only after it had commenced – in part because Hitler believed he did not really need Italy, he had not asked for their help; and it was also hardly Italy’s fight, considering that country’s position cut adrift somewhat in south-central Europe. The Italian people, furthermore, would not want their troops involved in a brutal conflict against Russia, and which had nothing to do with Italy. The Duce had other ideas, and after the war the Austrian commando Otto Skorzeny correctly wrote, “Benito Mussolini was not a good wartime leader”.

By mid-March 1941, the Soviet leadership had a detailed description of the Barbarossa plan. The period, throughout March and early April 1941, saw tensions rise significantly between Berlin and Moscow, notably in south-eastern Europe. The American author Harrison E. Salisbury noted, “This was the moment in which Yugoslavia with tacit encouragement from Moscow defied the Germans, and in which the Germans moved rapidly and decisively to end the war in Greece, and occupy the whole of the Balkans. When Moscow signed a treaty with Yugoslavia on April 6 – the day Hitler attacked Belgrade – the German reaction was so savage that Stalin became alarmed”.

On 25 March 1941 the Yugoslav government of the regent, Prince Paul, had signed an agreement in Vienna, which effectively made Yugoslavia a Nazi client state. Nevertheless, just two days later patriotic factions in the Serbian populace, assisted by British agents and led by chief of the Yugoslav air force, General Dusan Simovic, overthrew the pro-German regency. They installed a monarchy headed by the teenage king, Peter II of Yugoslavia; and a new government was formed in the capital Belgrade which declared its neutrality. Upon hearing this, Winston Churchill declared it to be “great news” and that Yugoslavia had “found its soul” while it would receive from London “all possible aid and succour”.

Hitler was irate at Churchill’s gloating and the sudden reversal in Yugoslav policy. Feeling he had been betrayed somehow, he decided to teach the Yugoslavs a lesson. Hitler ordered his Luftwaffe chief Hermann Göring to launch a furious air attack on Belgrade. In the days from 6 April 1941, thousands of people were killed in Belgrade from Nazi air raids. On the ground Yugoslav forces were no match for the Germans, who were helped by the Italians, and the fighting was all over after less than two weeks. Churchill’s aid and succour was sadly not forthcoming.

The Nazi-led Axis powers likewise invaded Greece on 6 April 1941, and by the middle of that month the Greek position had become untenable; therefore on 24 April British forces in Greece began their evacuation of the country. This was an operation the British had by now developed a real expertise in, as to escape the German blows they previously evacuated Dunkirk, Le Havre and Narvik.

Because of his subjugation of Yugoslavia and Greece, Hitler on 30 April 1941 postponed the attack on the Soviet Union until 22 June. It has sometimes been claimed that this delay, of just over five weeks, was a central factor in later derailing Barbarossa. Though an attractive one, this theory does not stand up under closer inspection.

The Nazi invasion eventually petered out, but largely due to strategic errors committed by the German high command and Hitler, such as not directing the majority of their forces towards Moscow, the USSR’s communications centre. Moreover, Canadian historian Donald J. Godspeed observed, “the middle of May was really too early for an invasion of Russia. Before the middle of June, late spring rains would ruin the roads, flood the rivers, and make movement very difficult except on the few paved highways. Thus, since the initial surprise thrust had to go rapidly to yield the best results, Hitler probably gained more than he lost by his postponement”.

The spring and early summer of 1941 were particularly wet, across eastern Poland and the western parts of European Russia. Had the Germans invaded as originally intended on 15 May 1941, their advance would have bogged down in the first weeks. It is interesting to note that the Polish-Russian river valleys were still overflowing on 1 June, according to the American historian Samuel W. Mitcham.

On 3 April 1941 Churchill attempted to warn Stalin, through the British ambassador to Russia, Stafford Cripps, that London’s intelligence data indicated the Germans were preparing an attack on Russia. Stalin gave no credence whatever to British intelligence reports, because he was distrustful of Britain even more so than America, and it is likely such warnings if anything increased his suspicions further.

In late April 1941 Jefferson Patterson, the First Secretary of the US Embassy in Berlin, invited his Russian counterpart Valentin Berezhkov to cocktails at his home. Among the invitees was a Luftwaffe major, apparently on leave from North Africa. Late in the evening this German major confided to Berezhkov, “The fact is I’m not here on leave. My squadron was recalled from North Africa, and yesterday we got orders to transfer to the east, to the region of Lodz [central Poland]. There may be nothing special in that, but I know many other units have also been transferred to your frontiers recently”. Berezhkov was disturbed to hear this, and never before had a Wehrmacht officer divulged top secret news like that. Berezhkov passed on what he heard to Moscow.

Throughout April 1941, daily bulletins from the Soviet General Staff and Naval Staff outlined German troop gatherings along the Russian frontier. On 1 May an account from the General Staff to the Soviet border military districts stated, “In the course of all March and April… the German command has carried out an accelerated transfer of troops to the borders of the Soviet Union”. Try as the Germans might, it was impossible for them to conceal the gathering of vast numbers of their soldiers. The German presence was obvious along the central River Bug boundary; the Soviet chief of frontier guards asked Moscow for approval to relocate the families of Red Army troops further east. Permission was not granted and the commander was upbraided for showing “panic”.

Nazi reconnaissance flights, near or over Soviet territory, were increasing as the spring of 1941 continued. Between 28 March and 18 April, the Russians said that German planes had been sighted 80 times making incursions. On 15 April, a German aircraft was forced into an emergency landing near the city of Rovno, in western Ukraine. On board a camera was found, along with exposed film and a map of the USSR. The German chargé d’affaires in Moscow, Werner von Tippelskirch, was summoned to the Foreign Commissariat on 22 April 1941. He met stiff protestations about the German overflights.

Yet Nazi planes were hardly ever shot at, because Stalin forbade the Soviet armed forces from doing so, for fear of provoking an invasion. In early May 1941 the German propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels wrote in his diary, “Stalin and his people remain completely inactive. Like a rabbit confronted by a snake”.

On 5 May 1941 Stalin received from his intelligence agencies a report detailing, “German officers and soldiers speak openly of the coming war, between Germany and the Soviet Union, as a matter already decided. The war is expected to start after the completion of spring planting”. Also on 5 May Stalin gave a speech to young Soviet officers at the Kremlin, and he spoke seriously of the Nazi threat. “War with Germany is inevitable ”Stalin said, but there is no sign the Soviet ruler believed a German attack was imminent.

On 24 May 1941, the head of the German western press department, Karl Bemer, got drunk at a reception in the Bulgarian embassy in Berlin. Bemer was heard roaring “we will be boss of all Russia and Stalin will be dead. We will demolish the Russians quicker than we did the French”. This incident quickly came to the attention of Ivan Filippov, a Russian correspondent in Berlin working for the TASS news agency. Filippov, also a Soviet intelligence operative, heard that Bemer was thereafter arrested by German police.

In early June 1941 Admiral Mikhail Vorontsov, the Russian naval attaché in Berlin, telegrammed his fellow Admiral Nikolai Kuznetsov, who was in Moscow, and stated that the Germans would invade around the 20th to the 22nd of June. Kuznetsov checked to see if Stalin was given a copy of this telegram, and he found that he certainly received it.

Nazi Germany’s Economic Exploitation of the USSR

Looking back over an eight decade time-span at the design for Operation Barbarossa, the June 1941 German-led attack on the USSR, its invasion plan betrays a pathological overconfidence. The strategic planning, of advancing across a breadth of many hundreds of miles of terrain, was excessively ambitious to the point of being grotesque.

Barbarossa’s intelligence details were also poorly worked out. Nazi estimates on Soviet military capacity were based more on guesswork than reliable information, and this underestimation of the enemy would come back to haunt them.

On 13 May 1941 in preparation for the invasion, Adolf Hitler’s close colleague Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel issued an order outlining that, upon capture, all Soviet commissars were to be executed immediately. The commissars were Communist Party officials attached to military units, in order to imbue Red Army troops with Bolshevik principles and loyalty to the Soviet state.

It was because of this that Hitler designated the commissars to be liquidated in their thousands. The order signed, on 13 May, continued that Soviet civilians suspected of committing offences against the Wehrmacht could be shot, on the request of any German officer. Most maliciously of all, it was made clear that German soldiers found perpetrating crimes against non-combatants need not be prosecuted.

Those Wehrmacht officers that did not believe in Nazism, i.e. because they were monarchists or conservatives, could still reprimand German troops for misdeeds if they wished to, and this did occur. One of the most prominent German Army commanders in the early 1940s, Field Marshal Fedor von Bock leading Army Group Center, was an avowed monarchist who disliked Nazism.

The Jewish Virtual Library, overseen by American foreign policy analyst Mitchell Bard, acknowledged that von Bock “privately expressed outrage at the atrocities” committed by SS killing squads on the Eastern front; but the field marshal was “unwilling to take the matter directly to Hitler” though he did send “one of his subordinate officers to lodge the complaint”. The Jewish Virtual Library noted that the crimes committed against Soviet civilians further “outraged many of von Bock’s subordinate officers”.

This is not to suggest the Wehrmacht, as a whole, was clean in its conduct in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. It was by no means that, which came primarily as a result of staunch Nazis being placed in positions of authority in the German Army; like the Chief-of-Staff Franz Halder and Field Marshal Walter von Reichenau, commander of the German 6th Army.

Among the invasion’s goals was flagrant exploitation, looting and annexation. With this in mind, the Nazis established the Economic Office East, which was placed under the authority of Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering, the second most powerful man in the Third Reich. Goering informed Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law, Count Galeazzo Ciano, that “This year [1941] between 20 and 30 million persons will die in Russia of hunger. Perhaps it is well that it should be so, for certain nations must be decimated. But even if it were not, nothing can be done about it”. Count Ciano, who was the Italian Foreign Minister since 1936, passed on Goering’s comments to Mussolini.

More than three weeks after the German attack, Goering wrote on 15 July 1941, “Use of the occupied territories should be made primarily in the food and oil sectors of the economy. Get to Germany as much food and oil as possible – that is the main economic goal of the campaign”.

It is still not entirely clear whether the Nazi method of systematizing the plunder and administering the occupied territories (known as Plan Oldenburg) was based on the belief that the Reich required this amount of foodstuffs, with the deaths of millions of Russians and Jews from starvation being a side effect; or whether their desire was the depopulation of the conquered regions, with starvation used as a convenient process for mass murder. Whatever the principal motive, the prospects of Soviet citizens unfortunate enough to fall under Nazi occupation was grim.

The German march onto Russian soil was hardly a new historical occurrence. A generation before, the eastern divisions of the Imperial German Army, commanded by Erich Ludendorff and Paul von Hindenburg, had from late 1914 captured chunks of the Russian Empire’s territory; which on that occasion came after the Imperial Russian Army had marched into East Prussia.

German eastern expansion under Ludendorff and Hindenburg was concerned too with conquest, but theirs was more humane than Nazi policy, as it did not descend to the widespread killing of civilians or Jewish populations. Instead, Ludendorff and Hindenburg sought to commandeer livestock and horses, while exploiting “the extensive agricultural and forestry resources for the German war effort”, historians Jens Thiel and Christian Westerhoff observed.

Hitler’s East Prussian gauleiter Erich Koch, who would be in charge of ruling Nazi-occupied Ukraine, said that, “Our task is to suck from the Ukraine all the goods we can get hold of, without consideration of the feeling or the property of the Ukrainians. Gentlemen: I am expecting from you the utmost severity toward the native population”.

The 1941 German invasion force consisted of 136 divisions, which amounted to 3 million men. They were supported at the beginning by over half a million Finnish and Romanian troops, commanded by Gustaf Mannerheim and Ion Antonescu, two experienced career officers who for differing reasons desired the USSR’s destruction. Field Marshal Mannerheim of Finland, a monarchist and more moderate figure than General Antonescu, had never forgiven the Bolsheviks for shooting Tsar Nicholas II and his family on 17 July 1918; Mannerheim wept bitterly when he heard of the Tsar’s death, for he was both well acquainted with the Russian monarch and had served under him in the Imperial Russian Army.

Of the 136 Wehrmacht divisions which would attack the USSR on 22 June 1941, a modest 19 of them were panzer divisions and 14 comprised of motor divisions. In all, about 600,000 German motor vehicles would roll to the east, but the Germans deployed up to 750,000 horses in the invasion. It demonstrates that the Wehrmacht was not the ultra-modern, motorized army that Nazi propaganda insisted it was.

Facing the Germans across the border, in the western USSR, were three very large Soviet Army Groups, comprising of 193 equivalent divisions. Fifty-four of these were tank or motor divisions, significantly more than the Germans had. Since 1932, Joseph Stalin spent huge sums in equipping the military with motorized machines and heavy armor. In particular, the Russians possessed a far greater number of tanks than the enemy; but the experience and quality of Soviet tank crews was noticeably inferior to the Germans, who were battle-hardened and well-versed in the Blitzkrieg (Lightning War) style of combat.

There were other serious Russian weaknesses. Stalin’s purge of the Red Army high command from May 1937 “affected the development of our armed forces and their combat preparedness”, Marshal Georgy Zhukov wrote, the most lauded Russian commander of the 20th century. The purges, though they targeted a minority of the entire Soviet military corps, had inflicted “enormous damage” on “the top echelons of the army command” Zhukov stated. It meant that paralysis was endemic in the Red Army’s decision-making apparatus, which would have serious implications around the time of the German invasion.

Hitler’s calculations for attacking the USSR were audacious, to put it mildly. The Fuehrer expected to overthrow Stalin’s Russia in about 8 weeks, and once that was accomplished, he intended to turn back and finish off Britain. Hitler estimated that he would not really be embroiled in a two-front war and, in this he was right, for now. The British were in no position in 1941 to interfere with the Nazi plan for eastward enlargement.

The German offensive was indeed to be launched across a massive front, but the Schwerpunkt – the heaviest point of the German blow – was to land north of the Pripet Marshes in Soviet Belarus. Here, two formidable forces, Army Group North led by Field Marshal Ritter von Leeb, and Army Group Center led by Field Marshal von Bock, would implement a giant pincers movement against the Soviet armies opposing them. They would then as envisaged continue advancing and take the capital city, Moscow, European Russia’s communications hub. This indicates that Hitler had originally assigned Moscow as a primary objective.

Von Leeb’s Army Group North comprised of the German 16th Army (commanded by Ernst Busch) and the 18th Army (Georg von Kuechler), supported by four panzer divisions under Colonel-General Erich Hoepner.

Army Group Center was, by some distance, the biggest of the three Army Groups which attacked the USSR. It consisted of the German 2nd Army (Maximilian von Weichs), the 4th Army (Günther von Kluge) and the 9th Army (Adolf Strauss), bolstered by two armored groups totaling 10 panzer divisions and commanded by Generals Heinz Guderian and Hermann Hoth.

Gerd von Rundstedt’s Army Group South was made up of the German 6th Army (Walter von Reichenau), the 17th Army (Carl-Heinrich von Stülpnagel), a German-Romanian Army (Eugen Ritter von Schobert), and supported by four panzer divisions under Colonel-General Ewald von Kleist. Von Rundstedt’s Army Group was designated to advance south of the Pripet Marshes.

In doing so, von Rundstedt was expected to move rapidly in conquering eastern Poland and, specifically, to capture the ancient Polish city of Lublin, close to the Ukrainian border. This would provide a launching pad for Army Group South’s panzers to thrust into the Ukraine, and take its capital Kiev, the Soviet Union’s third largest city with 930,000 inhabitants. Thereafter, von Rundstedt’s divisions would be requested to occupy all of the Ukraine, with Hitler wanting that country’s resources for pillaging, such as wheat, for it to become “the breadbasket of the Reich”, as he put it.

While Hitler gathered his 136 divisions along the Nazi-Soviet frontier, he left 46 divisions behind to guard the rest of mainland Europe. That number does seem excessive and many of those German formations would be left idle. Military historian Donald J. Goodspeed wrote, “Certainly far fewer than 46 divisions could have countered any British initiative on the continent, a possibility that was in any case unlikely”.

Although the Soviet Army proved much larger than the Nazis thought, it was unprepared for the attack that was to come. A considerable proportion of the Red Army in June 1941 was positioned too close to the Nazi-Soviet boundary which, since 1939, had been extended across Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Romania.

The Stalin Line, a series of fortifications constructed from the late 1920s, and which guarded the western USSR’s pre-1939 frontiers, had merely been partially dismantled. The new forward defense positions were incomplete by mid-1941. The Soviet military’s armored formations had also been broken up, and the tanks allotted to infantry divisions. The latter error was corrected by Stalin as he repositioned the armored divisions, but they were still in the process of entering full working order when the Germans attacked.

Furthermore, Stalin and the Red Army high command believed the focal point of the German assault would fall south of the Pripet Marshes – that is through the Ukraine – whereas the Germans would, as mentioned, strike most heavily north of the Pripet Marshes across Soviet Belarus. The Russian defenses were placed at their strongest in the wrong sector of the front. This misjudgment in part enabled Army Group Center to advance rapidly into the heart of Belarus, where the Red Army was not fortified so strongly.

Why Nazi Germany Failed to Defeat the Soviet Union

As the First World War was erupting from late summer 1914, the great majority of political leaders believed it would be of short duration.

Only the rare far-sighted individual knew what was coming, such as Herbert Kitchener, Britain’s Secretary of War. At one of the first British Cabinet conferences at the conflict’s outset, Kitchener predicted the fighting would rumble on for three years, and that Britain would eventually be required to deploy its full resources. His estimation of a three-year war was shy of just one year.

Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, recalled that Kitchener’s prediction had “seemed to most of us unlikely, if not incredible”. On 8 August 1914 Winston Churchill, the First Lord of the Admiralty, estimated that the war would last for nine months, which was longer than many thought.

Kitchener’s colleagues failed to realize, such was mankind’s advancements in technology by the early 20th century – about 150 years after the Industrial Revolution had begun in Britain around 1760 – that a war between the great powers would most likely be lengthy, and a slaughter of unprecedented proportions could only ensue. After the bloodletting finally stopped on 11 November 1918, realistic analysts like Vladimir Lenin stated that the waging of war was “a survival from the bourgeois world”; while the German commander Hans von Seeckt said “war was no longer an intelligent way to conduct a nation’s policy”.

The rise to power in Italy and Germany of fervent warmongers, Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler, was a near guarantee that another large-scale conflict was in the offing.

Both Mussolini and Hitler’s taking of power, in 1922 and 1933 respectively, was assisted massively by the social upheaval and destabilisation induced as a result of World War I.

Neville Chamberlain, Adolph Hitler and Benito Mussolini Meet in 1938

The weak-willed response of the western democracies to Nazi enlargement from the mid-1930s, particularly the timid French reaction, emboldened Hitler on the path to war. British professor Evan Mawdsley, who specialises in Russian history, wrote of the Third Reich’s position by 1941 that “invading Russia was not the fatal mistake of Nazi Germany. After all, what was Hitler’s alternative? Not to invade Russia? Inaction would have allowed Germany’s enemies to become stronger, and would have left Germany economically dependent on Russia. The lethal mistake had been made earlier, when Hitler’s adventures in Czechoslovakia and Poland led Germany into a general war”.

The fighting initially went as well as the Wehrmacht could have hoped for; they routed Poland in September 1939 and then scored further routine victories in Scandinavia and across western Europe, during the spring and summer of 1940. The principal opposing force, the French Army, had been decaying ever since 1917. That year mutinies spread to no less than 54 French divisions by 9 June 1917. Even in those formations where no mutinies occurred, over 50% of French soldiers returning from leave reported back drunk. These amazing occurrences were hushed up as best they could by the French military command, and the silence needlessly continued long afterwards.

Canadian historian Donald J. Goodspeed explained,

“Shame and pride are bad counselors, and the causes of the catastrophe in French morale that occurred in 1917 were never brought out into full daylight, where they could have been analysed and perhaps cured. That no real cure was affected, the debacle of 1940 conclusively proved”.

The Nazis now turned their attention to the main target of their imperialist foreign policy: the Soviet Union, which Hitler had envisaged conquering for many years. Hitler was given encouragement by the Soviet Army’s underwhelming performance, in the 1939-1940 Winter War against Finland, with its population of around 4 million.

Yet as the Finns’ leading commander Gustaf Mannerheim fairly concluded, the Soviets learnt lessons from their opening military shortcomings on Finnish soil, and their performance “slowly improved” as the weeks elapsed. The gradual uptake in Russia’s military display here was unknown to the few German military observers, who had accompanied the Red Army on their Finnish incursion. The Germans were left unimpressed by the first Soviet raids, before departing homeward early.

The Wehrmacht meanwhile enjoyed more swift triumphs, over Yugoslavia and Greece in April 1941, which only emboldened Hitler further. The German conquest of Yugoslavia and Greece compelled Hitler to postpone his invasion of the USSR by 38 days. This delay is often purported to be a crucial reason, in the Nazis’ failure to capture Moscow and overthrow the Soviet Union.

American military historian Samuel W. Mitcham, who focuses largely on the Nazi regime, revealed otherwise as “the spring rains in eastern Poland and the western sections of European Russia came late in 1941, and were much heavier than usual. Many of the Polish-Russian river valleys (including the Bug) were still flooded as late as June 1; therefore, the invasion of the Soviet Union could not have begun until after that”.

The ground in the western USSR had dried out by 22 June 1941. It was ideal for the panzers, half-tracks, and so on to move with ease. In addition, for weeks Joseph Stalin had refused to believe the swell of intelligence accounts he received in person from his own agencies, and from abroad, warning of a coming German attack.

Lt. Col. Goodspeed wrote,

“The reports from Soviet intelligence were the most plausible, accurate and detailed of all; and they displayed a remarkable convergence, which should have augmented their credibility. Victor Sukolov, the head of the Rote Kopelle [Red Orchestra] in Brussels, Rudolph Rössler in Switzerland, Leopold Trepper in Paris, and Dr. Richard Sorge in Tokyo all informed Stalin of Barbarossa”.

The Kremlin was clearly not expecting the German invasion to fall in the summer of 1941. Marshal Nikolay Voronov, a top level Russian commander in charge of the Red Army’s artillery forces, and a future Hero of the Soviet Union, remembered on the eve of Hitler’s attack, “I did not know in that time whether we had any kind of operative-strategic plan, in case of war. I only knew that the plan for artillery and combat artillery tactics had not yet been approved, although the first draft had been worked out in 1938”.

Further evidence of the lack of Russian preparedness was seen when, in the opening phase of the invasion, large numbers of Soviet airplanes were destroyed by the Germans, much of them on the ground. Air units of the Soviet Western Military District lost 740 of its 1,540 aircraft (a 48% loss) on the first day alone of the German attack; its local commander, General Ivan Kopets, viewed the destruction with despair and shot himself on 23 June 1941.

The ruin of the Soviet Air Force was even worse in the Baltic Military District. During the first three days of Operation Barbarossa, 920 Soviet aircraft out of a total of 1,080 were destroyed in the Baltic region, an 85% loss. Furthermore, many undamaged and repairable Russian planes had to be abandoned, as the Germans and their Axis allies (mainly Romanians and Finns at first) swarmed over Soviet terrain. By the first week of July 1941, the Soviets had lost almost 4,000 aircraft, while the Luftwaffe was shorn of just 550 of its planes at that point.

Stalin had been awoken by his security chief, Nikolai Vlasik, in the early hours of 22 June 1941, and he was told of heavy German shelling along the Nazi-Soviet frontier. Stalin at first refused to believe that the worst had occurred and he said, “Hitler surely doesn’t know about it”. Later in the morning of 22 June, Stalin ordered the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov to seek out the German ambassador to the USSR, Friedrich von Schulenburg. The latter confirmed Nazi Germany’s declaration of war on the Soviet Union.

A dismayed Molotov (image on the right) reported back to Stalin,

“The German government has declared war on us”. Robert Service, the British historian of Soviet history, noted that upon hearing this, “Stalin slumped in his chair and an unbearable silence followed”. When General Georgy Zhukov then suggested they put in place measures, to hold up the German advance, Service wrote “Stalin continued to stipulate that Soviet ground forces should not infringe German territorial integrity”.

Contrary to what is commonly claimed, on learning that the Germans had certainly attacked with Hitler’s agreement, Stalin did not suffer a breakdown and disappear. On 23 June 1941 for example, as Service wrote in his biography of the Soviet ruler, “Stalin worked without rest in his Kremlin office. For 15 hours at a stretch from 3.20 am, he consulted with the members of the Supreme Command”. As the hours went by Service writes that Stalin “called generals to his office, made his enquiries about the situation to the west of Moscow, and gave his instructions. About his supremacy there was no doubt”.

Only from the early morning of 29 June 1941 did Stalin suffer a relapse, and retire to his nearby dacha in a deeply depressed condition. This was quite probably a delayed reaction brought on by his difficult visit, on 27 June, to the Soviet Ministry of Defence. When Generals Zhukov and Semyon Timoshenko showed Stalin, on operational maps, the astonishing advancements made by the German Army, Service wrote that Stalin “was shocked by the extent of the disaster for the Red Army”.

Image on the left: General Zhukov

By 27 June, units from the German Army Group Centre had already reached Minsk, the capital of Soviet Belorussia, and less than 450 miles west of Moscow. Shaken and disturbed by this Stalin reportedly lamented, “Lenin founded our state and we’ve fucked it up”.

After Hitler had ordered the attack against Russia on 22 June, the authorities in Britain and America forecast another brisk German victory. Their views were influenced by the apparent invincibility of the Wehrmacht, their dislike of Bolshevism, and also Stalin’s recent purge of the Red Army. Outside observers mistakenly believed the purge had decimated Soviet fighting capacity. Mawdsley in his extensive study of the Nazi-Soviet war wrote, “Many able middle-level commanders survived the purges” while the “commanders and commissars who were shot made up a minority”.

A major offensive in the modern era, perhaps in any age, constitutes a huge gamble on the part of the invader, brutal as these attacks usually are, and the Nazi invasion was the most vicious of all. Various factors can combine to result in its failure: strength of the invasion force, strategic errors, quality of the terrain, underestimation of the enemy, the weather, etc. These elements are magnified when attacking the world’s largest country (Russia), as Napoleon had discovered and soon Hitler too.

Nevertheless, there are a couple of overwhelming reasons why the German attack would fail. Firstly, Hitler did not place the German nation on a Total War footing, until February 1943, much too late. The Nazi economy in the early 1940’s produced an “extraordinary degree of inefficiency and wastefulness”, the English historian Richard Overy discerned. It resulted in labour shortages, fewer German weapons, aircraft and panzers, and less soldiers, while German women for the most part remained at home, rather than working in the armament factories.

After the defeat of France, a full mobilization of German manpower would have produced a Wehrmacht attacking force of about 6 million men in June 1941. This is double the size of the 3 million German soldiers which invaded Russia that month. Taking into account strategic mistakes committed and heroic Russian resistance, a German invasion with 6 million troops would surely have been too much for the Soviets to contend with, and it was possible to achieve.

Albert Speer, German Minister of Armaments and Munitions from 1942-1945, wrote on 29 March 1947,

“In the middle of 1941, Hitler could easily have had an army equipped twice as powerfully as it was… We could even have mobilised approximately 3 million more men of the younger age-groups before 1942, without losses in production… 3 million additional soldiers would have added up to many divisions. These, moreover, could have been excellently equipped as a result of the increased production”.

Another monumental error, on the part of the German high command and Hitler, was the strategic design for Operation Barbarossa. This consisted of splitting their forces into three large Army Groups, and ordering them to capture three different objectives simultaneously (Leningrad, Moscow and the Ukraine); rather than directing their resources towards easily the most important goal – Moscow, the communications stronghold and heartbeat of Soviet Russia, which will be discussed further here.

Lt. Col. Goodspeed, a skilled military strategist, wrote that,

“Although in operations and tactics the German Army had proved itself far and away superior to the Red Army, the same could not be said of German strategy. The fault was so simple and obvious that a child might have foreseen it. The German high command had attempted too many things at the same time”.

The German attack was launched across almost the entire breadth of the western USSR. Its Schwerpunkt, that is the heavy point of the German blow, fell north of the famous Pripet Marshes in Belorussia. However, the Germans and their Axis allies were ordered to attack everywhere at once. The strategic planning for Barbarossa went beyond even the Wehrmacht’s military capabilities; it was breathtaking in its boldness, irresponsible and grotesque.

Goodspeed summarised,

“But Hitler wanted too much and, as a consequence, got nothing. This same fundamental error was repeated again and again. It recurs like a leitmotif in the Führer’s strategic thought. When the advance against Moscow might have been successfully resumed in August, and previous mistakes rectified, Hitler turned his thrust south into the Ukraine and north against Leningrad. Again, two objectives and both of them the wrong ones. When Leningrad might have been taken in September, Hitler diverted forces back from Army Group North to Moscow, and thereby captured neither Leningrad nor Moscow”.

This viewpoint is supported by Mawdsley who pinpointed the “mistake that Hitler and his high command made in 1941” which was “to attack everywhere”. Hitler did not designate primary importance to Moscow, until it was weeks too late. The Russian capital held critical significance as the centre of Soviet communications, which was recognised by military leaders like Field Marshal Fedor von Bock, the commander of German Army Group Centre, which was supposed to capture Moscow. Virtually all roads and railways led to the capital, like spokes into the hub of a wheel.

This was not the case when Napoleon’s forces had occupied Moscow on 14 September 1812. Moscow at that time did not hold the same status, by comparison to its importance in the 20th century, when armies had become reliant on railways and motorised transport for supplies. The first railway line in Russia was built in 1837, a quarter of a century after Napoleon’s invasion.

Were Moscow to be captured in the autumn of 1941, the Russians would have had tremendous difficulty supplying and reinforcing their northern and southern fronts. This includes the Leningrad and Ukrainian sectors. The rail system of the western USSR would have been shattered, inflicting a hammer blow on the Soviet Army.

Goodspeed wrote that from Barbarossa’s outset,

“Quite conceivably, a single great thrust along the Warsaw-Smolensk-Moscow axis might have secured the Russian capital for the Germans by the end of August. Army Groups North and South could have acted as flank guards for such a thrust, and once the Russian centre had been demolished and the communications hub of Moscow taken, the Soviet northern and southern fronts would have been isolated from one another. Then a drive down the Volga in September might well have achieved a second victory, greater even than the Battle of Kiev. This done, Leningrad and the northern front could have been dealt with at leisure, and by another overwhelming concentration of force”.

One major thrust towards Moscow would, also, have taken the ferocious Russian weather out of the equation. The autumn rains and snow arrived in force from early October 1941, weeks after Moscow could have been taken. As events panned out, such weather seriously slowed the German advance.

The political ramifications of Moscow’s capitulation would have been considerable too. Stalin and his entourage were headquartered there. What would Stalin have done had Moscow fallen to the Germans in August or September 1941? He may have decided to stay and thereby seal his fate, or he could have chosen to relocate to Asiatic Russia, where it would have been arduous to hold together a government.

Most importantly of all, as Germany’s generals were aware, the bulk of the Red Army was centred in front of Moscow for the defense of the capital. If these Russian divisions were to be surrounded in a vast pincers movement and forced to surrender, the war would have been practically over.

Two months into the invasion, on 21 August 1941 Hitler fatefully intervened in the direction of the war, believing he would be proved right and the German generals wrong – as had been repeatedly the case on political matters. Hitler compounded Barbarossa’s early strategic mistakes by ordering on this date: “The most important objective to be taken before the coming of the winter is NOT the capture of Moscow, but the capture of the Crimea and of the industrial and coal-mining area of the Donets, and the cutting off of Russian oil supplies from the Caucasus; and to the north the investment of Leningrad and the linking up with the Finns”.

Hitler’s Chief of Operations, General Alfred Jodl, defended this decision by claiming that Hitler wished to avoid the blunders of Napoleon. As mentioned earlier, Moscow was of much greater importance in the year 1941 as opposed to 1812. Hitler was greedy and saw too many things at once, rather than focusing on a single goal at a time (similar strategic errors were committed in July 1942, when Hitler split up his forces to capture two objectives simultaneously, Stalingrad and the Caucasus).

Hitler’s wish, to strike everywhere, could have been influenced too because of his desire to spread as much death and destruction to the Soviet Union as possible, which he believed was the homeland of “Jewish Bolshevism”.

Upon hearing the new orders of 21 August 1941, two days later General Heinz Guderian travelled west to Hitler’s headquarters, situated in the dense forests near Rastenburg, East Prussia. Guderian, commanding the 2nd Panzer Group, informed Hitler that the taking of Moscow would paralyse the Soviet transportation and communication networks; the general stressed the political significance of Moscow’s demise, and the huge lift it would provide to German morale.

Moreover, Guderian insisted that the fall of the capital would make it easier to conquer other parts of the USSR, such as the Ukraine. Yet Hitler’s mind was firmly set and he told Guderian that his generals “know nothing of the economic aspects of war”. The orders were left unchanged.

Goodspeed observed,

“Thus, quietly, in a headquarters far from the sound of guns, Germany lost the war. The Führer directive of August 21, 1941, marked a great turning point in modern history. Many horrors were still to come, and mankind has by no means moved out from the darkness of these times, but at least the world was to be spared a Nazi victory”.

General Franz Halder, Chief of Staff of the German Army High Command, stated that Hitler’s above directive was “decisive to the outcome of this campaign”.

Operation Barbarossa, an Overview

The USSR’s hierarchy was caught unprepared, and unnecessarily so, when Nazi Germany invaded their country eight decades ago on 22 June 1941, in a military offensive titled Operation Barbarossa. It was named after King Frederick Barbarossa, a red-bearded Prussian emperor who in the 12th century had waged war against the Slavs.

On the sixth day of the attack, 27 June 1941, German Army Group Center had already reached Minsk, the capital of Soviet Belarus. Amazingly it meant, at this very early stage, that the Germans were closer to Moscow than Berlin: as the crow flies, the Wehrmacht was now 430 miles from the Russian capital as opposed to 590 miles from the German capital.

After a week of fighting, the Soviets had lost around 600,000 troops and thousands of their aircraft had been destroyed, the majority of them on the ground. When on 27 June the Soviet commanders, Georgy Zhukov and Semyon Timoshenko, showed Joseph Stalin on operational maps that the Germans had advanced on Minsk, he was visibly shocked by the magnitude of the disaster. Should Stalin have been so surprised, considering the unprecedented rapidity the year before at which the Germans had blazed through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg?

In the middle of 1941, Stalin had been in charge of the Soviet Union for over a decade whereas, in Germany, Adolf Hitler was in control for little more than 8 years. By the early 1940s, the Wehrmacht was Europe’s most efficient military organization and killing machine. This was in some contrast to the larger Red Army, whose poor display against Finland’s paltry armed forces, from 30 November 1939 to 13 March 1940 (the Winter War), provided stark evidence of the harm imparted on the Soviet military by Stalin’s purges, which had begun in May 1937.

British historian Evan Mawdsley wrote that “the purges certainly played a most important part in what happened on and after 22 June 1941”. Marshal Zhukov, one of the most celebrated commanders in Russian history, was heavily critical of the purges after the war, which will be elaborated upon further here.

It can be mentioned firstly, however, that the extent of the Soviet military purges has tended to be exaggerated and distorted down the years. There were 142,000 Soviet Army commanders and commissars in 1937, just before the purges started. Mawdsley noted, “It is sometimes suggested that half the leadership of the Red Army was wiped out, which was certainly not the case” as “the Red Army commanders and commissars who were shot made up a minority” of the entire Russian military leadership corps.

The damage inflicted on the top ranks was still extensive. Three out of five marshals and 20 Soviet army commanders, along with dozens of corps and divisional commanders among others, were liquidated between 1937 and 1941. The loss of high-level officers inevitably undermined and weakened the Red Army’s command apparatus, and it came at a time when the clouds of war were ominously gathering in Europe.

Marshal Zhukov wrote in his memoirs of “unfounded arrests in the armed forces” which were “in contravention of socialist legality. Prominent military leaders were arrested which, naturally, affected the development of our armed forces and their combat preparedness”.

Altogether, more than 34,000 Soviet officers were dismissed from the military as the purges ran their course, but a third of these (11,500) were eventually reinstated; perhaps most notably Konstantin Rokossovsky, who became one of the most important Soviet commanders of World War II. English author Geoffrey Roberts, writing in his biography of Zhukov, realized that “the vast majority of the armed forces” had “survived the purges”, which is necessary to stress.

Yet in the weeks before and after the German invasion, when the initiative to make crucial and independent decisions was needed, much paralysis reigned in the Soviet high command; which had been disproportionately affected by the purges.

Mawdsley, who specializes in Russian affairs, wrote of the Red Army leaders that were victimized, “These men possessed the fullest professional, educational and operational experience the Red Army had accumulated… Despite professional and personal rivalries among themselves, these leaders had formed a fairly cohesive command structure. The paradox is that this is why Stalin mistrusted them”.

An eminent Soviet diplomat, Andrei Gromyko, who was the USSR’s Foreign Affairs Minister from 1957 to 1985, was first introduced to Stalin in 1939 and saw him many times thereafter. Gromyko became acquainted too with Soviet Army dignitaries like Zhukov. In Gromyko’s book ‘Memories: From Stalin to Gorbachev’, he wrote that Zhukov “spoke bitterly of the enormous damage Stalin had inflicted on the country by his massacre of the top echelons of the army command”.

Gromyko recalled Zhukov saying of the Soviet military men that were purged, “Of course, I regard them as innocent victims. Tukhachevsky was an especially damaging loss for the army and the state”. Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky, known overseas as “the Red Napoleon”, was a central figure in the Russian Army’s modernization during the 1920s and 1930s. Zhukov first met Tukhachevsky in 1921 and he later described him as, “A clever, knowledgeable professional, he was splendidly conversant with both tactical and strategic problems… Tukhachevsky was an ace of military thinking, a star of the first magnitude among the great soldiers of the Red Army”.

Zhukov stated that he himself came under suspicion as the purges were unfolding, due to his connections to some of the accused. He vigorously defended his position and avoided censure. Moreover, Zhukov informed Gromyko, “Before the war, the political decision to arm fully was taken very late, and that was the main problem”.

While Zhukov’s criticism on the latter point is also valid, Stalin had engineered a massive increase in the Soviet arms budget from the early 1930s onward, and for this he should be commended. Part of Bolshevik ideology is a belief in the virtue of motorized machines and warfare, without which the Red Army could not have defeated the Wehrmacht and its panzer divisions. Five months before the German attack Stalin told his senior commanders, “the winning side will be the one with the greater number and the more powerful engines”.

Between 1932 and 1937, spending on the Soviet military increased by 340% in overall terms, undoubtedly as a result of Stalin’s direct influence. Through 1937 to 1940 expenditure doubled again on the Soviet defense budget. From 1939, the USSR was constructing over 10,000 warplanes per year, along with almost 3,000 tanks, more than 17,000 artillery pieces and 114,000 machine guns. Payment and conditions for Soviet officers had meanwhile improved greatly, so it was far from being all doom and gloom.

The above figures on Soviet armed capacity were unknown to the Germans; that is, until after they had attacked the USSR, when it soon became obvious the Red Army was much more formidable than Nazi intelligence had estimated. As Mawdsley revealed, German agencies calculated that the Russians had 10,000 tanks in June 1941, whereas in reality they possessed 23,100 tanks. The Germans thought there were 6,000 Soviet aircraft in mid-1941, but in the whole of the USSR there were 20,000 planes, with 9,100 of these positioned near the Nazi-Soviet border.

Under Stalin’s leadership the Russians achieved a remarkable relocation of industry eastwards, in the months following the German assault. This policy was critical to ensuring the Soviet Union could continue producing weaponry en masse, and largely secure from the Nazi onslaught.

Irish professor and geographer John Sweeney wrote, “Over 1,500 industrial enterprises were transplanted, between July and November 1941 alone, to what were considered relatively safe refuges in the interior. The Urals (which received 667 of these enterprises), Kazakhstan and Central Asia (308), West Siberia (244), the Volga Region (226) and East Siberia (78), benefited permanently from this massive injection of industrial investment, and it was in this heartland area that urban growth during the post-war recovery period was concentrated”.

Relating to manpower, the Red Army was likewise significantly bigger than Hitler and his generals believed. In June 1941 Soviet forces consisted of more than 300 divisions, amounting to 5.5 million personnel, 2.7 million of which were stationed in the western USSR. The Germans thought there were only 200 Russian divisions in existence, despite the fact the Soviet population was appreciably greater than Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe combined. In comparison the German invasion force comprised of 3 million men, supported by less than a million troops from its Axis allies such as Romania and Finland, led by the anti-Bolshevik military leaders Ion Antonescu and Gustaf Mannerheim respectively.

Seven weeks into the German invasion, General Franz Halder acknowledged in his diary, “The whole situation makes it increasingly plain that we have underestimated the Russian colossus”. Not long after, even Hitler admitted in a speech in central Berlin, “We had no idea how gigantic the preparations of this enemy were”.

Zhukov and Timoshenko were acutely aware of the massing of German, Finnish and Romanian divisions adjacent to the USSR’s boundaries. The Soviet Army’s foreign intelligence agency (the GRU) confirmed on 15 June 1941, just a week before Operation Barbarossa commenced, that a huge transfer had taken place of German forces to the Nazi-Soviet frontier; with 120 to 122 Wehrmacht divisions reportedly deployed there.

Zhukov told Stalin repeatedly, and as late as mid-June 1941, to be prepared in the case of a German attack. Stalin in turn insisted a few days before Wehrmacht-led armies invaded, “Germany has a Treaty of Non-Aggression with us. Germany is involved up to its ears in the war in the West, and I believe that Hitler will not risk creating a second front for himself by attacking the Soviet Union”.

From November 1940 to June 1941, Stalin personally received a total of 80 intelligence reports warning about a German invasion, according to English historian Andrew Roberts. In mitigation to Stalin, a fair proportion of the intelligence accounts proved inaccurate regarding the invasion start date; others constituted misinformation planted by the Germans; but most reports were genuine and some uncannily close to the mark, like the material sent to the Kremlin by Richard Sorge, a now famous Soviet spy then operating in the German embassy in Tokyo.

Stalin was further warned about Nazi intentions by Soviet agents like the courageous Leopold Trepper in Paris, and also Victor Sukolov in Belgium. The most plausible and detailed reports of all indeed came from Soviet sources, and they peaked in intensity during the first three weeks of June 1941 – along with alarming information forthcoming that Hitler’s allies Finland and Romania were mobilizing for war against Russia. This could not be ignored.

Robert Service, in his lengthy book on Stalin, wrote that, “For weeks the Wehrmacht had been massing on the western banks of the River Bug, as dozens of divisions were transferred from elsewhere in Europe. The Luftwaffe had sent squadrons of reconnaissance aircraft over Soviet cities. All this had been reported to Stalin by his military intelligence agency. In May and June [1941], he had been continually pressed by Timoshenko and Zhukov to sanction the dispositions for an outbreak of fighting. Richard Sorge, the Soviet agent in the German embassy in Tokyo, had raised the alarm. Winston Churchill had sent telegrams warning Stalin. The USSR’s spies in Germany had mentioned the preparations being made. Even the Chinese Communist Party alerted Moscow about German intentions”.

By the second half of June 1941, Stalin was counting on it being too late in the year for the Germans to attack. Regardless, the French commander Napoleon, generations before fast-moving motorized vehicles emerged, had launched his invasion of Russia on 24 June 1812, two days later in June than the Germans.

In addition the spring rains arrived late in the western USSR in 1941, and they were much heavier than normal. Many of the river valleys, including the strategically important River Bug in eastern Poland, were still flooded at the late date of 1 June 1941. This meant that an attack on the Soviet Union could not have proceeded until after then.

Hitler’s Early Victories, the Wolf’s Lair Headquarters

In Hitler’s goals to attain Germanic dominion of the planet, he enjoyed some of his most triumphant days secured away at the vast, virtually unheard of Wolf’s Lair. The complex was known in the German tongue as Wolfsschanze. Hitler had inserted “Wolf” into the title of many of his military headquarters, as it was a self-appointed nickname.

Situated over 400 miles from Berlin in East Prussia, Hitler arrived at the Wolf’s Lair for the first occasion during late evening of 23 June 1941. The advanced time was not an issue. From the days of Hitler’s “struggle” beginning in the early 1920s, he had developed a habit of remaining active until the small hours, often present in rowdy beer halls, and rising as late as noon.

On the night of 23 June 1941, the dictator was again in no mood for bed rest; his form was in fact jubilant as remarkable news filtered through from the Eastern Front. Less than 48 hours after the invasion began, German armies were smashing through the first bewildered Soviet lines, and had already reached the USSR republics of Lithuania, Belarus and the Ukraine.

Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel, Hitler’s most trusted military companion, also traveled eastwards to join his leader at the new Wolf’s Lair. As Operation Barbarossa rolled mercilessly along, Keitel’s disposition remained pensive and austere. It was the 58-year-old Keitel, almost standing alone in isolation, who had warned Hitler not to attack the Soviet Union.

Conservative and cautious by nature, Keitel detected the unmistakable sense of danger in the air. He was convinced that assaulting a landmass as great as the USSR – with its numerous complications – would be a task too much, even for the apparently unstoppable Wehrmacht. Due to Keitel’s reputation as a willing pawn of Hitler, he was held in poor esteem by an array of German generals and field marshals.

Yet Keitel’s military career had dated to the year 1901, and he possessed a distinguished record, claiming honours for bravery during the First World War while rising through the ranks. Keitel’s demeanour was that of a charming and approachable officer, educated in the old-fashioned virtues of the Prussian military establishment. Keitel possessed strong organizational and literary skills, but lacked the insubordinate, resolute nature to challenge Hitler directly.

Keitel had said later,

“It isn’t right to be obedient only when things go well; it is much harder to be a good, obedient soldier when things go badly and times are hard. Obedience and faith at such time is a virtue”.

His subservience would inevitably lead to a complicity in some of the Nazis’ atrocious crimes.

Unlike Keitel, the great majority of German military leaders firmly supported Hitler’s decision to attack Russia, believing the conflict would last around two months with Stalin’s expected ousting and death. The Nazi war chiefs’ unrealistic confidence swayed Hitler, who believed the Red Army would fold like a pack of cards. By mid-1941 Hitler had still to assume personal command of men in the field, and he unavoidably lacked the required knowledge and expertise.

Meanwhile, on the same evening that Hitler first entered the Wolf’s Lair (23 June 1941), one of the largest tank engagements in military history was starting. It was called the Battle of Brody: A near forgotten clash in north-western Ukraine between 750 panzers and 3,500 Soviet tanks, stretching across the cities of Brody, Dubno and Lutsk. About 350 miles northwards Hitler was in tune to proceedings from the Wolf’s Lair, and awaiting further stunning reports. They would come.

Despite the Nazis being outnumbered by more than four to one during the Battle of Brody, their panzers bludgeoned a way to victory by 30 June 1941. The Germans destroyed many hundreds of Soviet tanks, while meting out 65,000 casualties upon the Red Army. For mile after mile, this section of north-western Ukraine was strewn with dead bodies and horses, shattered Soviet armoured vehicles along with battered heavy weaponry.

The triumph around Brody consolidated vital German gains on the Ukraine’s western boundaries. It was also an indication of the ferocity of Hitler’s troops, as they unleashed what would be the bloodiest invasion of all time.

Also on the night Hitler became acquainted with the Wolf’s Lair, the Battle of Raseiniai was under way in western Lithuania; it was another critical early meeting between around 240 panzers and 750 Soviet tanks. Outmatched by three to one, the Germans were again victorious in the face of seemingly daunting odds. By 27 June 1941, they had destroyed over 700 of the Soviets’ 750 tanks near Raseiniai, a medieval Lithuanian town. The Luftwaffe also provided telling air support when it was needed.

Further south Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, had easily been captured on 24 June 1941 and Kaunas, the country’s second largest city, capitulated that day too. Germany’s Army Group North, under Field Marshal Ritter von Leeb, was now positioned 600 miles from Moscow; yet his key objective was to seize the major Russian city of Leningrad closer to the north.

As a Blitzkrieg easily overcame Red Army resistance in Lithuania, an onlooking Hitler had been situated a mere 90 miles from the Lithuanian border at his Wolf’s Lair. In Hitler’s choice of headquarters across Europe, it was his desire to be as near the fighting as conceivably possible. Previously, as the Battle of France commenced (10 May–25 June 1940), Hitler’s compound, the Wolf’s Ravine (Wolfsschlucht), was erected in the Belgian village of Brûly-de-Pesche.

While the Nazi leader oversaw France’s swift and humiliating defeat, he became a resident for over two weeks at this Belgian hamlet. Brûly-de-Pesche is only five miles from the French northern frontier, and Paris was within comfortable driving distance.

Choice of location for the Wolf’s Lair was painstakingly assessed; in late 1940, construction began in the ancient and mysterious Masurian woods, near a small Prussian town called Rastenburg. The Wolf’s Lair was clear of urban centres and primary roads, while its entire complex covered 2.5 square miles. It was safeguarded by three security zones, and disguised by extensive netting that cleverly mimicked leaf cover when viewed from above.

Otto Skorzeny, the SS commando, wrote that

“I was ordered to the Wolfsschanze [Wolf’s Lair] nine times and also flew over it; it was so very well camouflaged from air attack that one could only see trees. The guarded access roads snaked through the forest, in such a way that I would have been unable to give the exact location of the Führer headquarters”.

Regardless of Hitler’s growing fears and precautions, not one bomb was dropped on the Wolf’s Lair, while his private secretary Traudl Junge later revealed “there was never more than a single aircraft hovering over the forest”. This is despite the fact that Hitler spent over 800 days immersed there.

As Germany’s victories mounted, the prevailing mood at the Wolf’s Lair became increasingly euphoric. At the end of June 1941, German forces had claimed a significant success when capturing Minsk, the sprawling capital of Belarus. By 11 July 1941, the Wehrmacht had conquered vast regions of Belarus, a state rivalling the size of Great Britain.

In doing so, the Nazis inflicted almost 420,000 casualties on Soviet divisions around the Belarusian capital, while the invaders lost only 12,000 men by comparison.

During fighting near Minsk, the Red Army further saw 4,800 of its tanks eliminated and up to 1,700 aircraft destroyed, while the Germans were shorn of just 100 panzers and 275 airplanes. The scale of victory is put into even sharper perspective when considering the Wehrmacht had a combined total of about 3,500 panzers, and little more than 2,000 warplanes.

While July 1941 proceeded, German infantrymen were pouring forward onto the very borders of Russia, taking the town of Ostrov on 4 July, in north-west Russia – followed, on 8 July, by their capturing Pskov 30 miles further north.

From the small city of Pskov, Moscow lay but 450 miles further east. As the world looked on in wonder, including the Americans and British, it seemed an eventuality the Nazis would cover these last few hundred miles, and overwhelm the Russian capital.

By 10 July 1941, the 13th Panzer Division (of Army Group South) had advanced to the Irpin River, just over 10 miles from Kiev, the capital of the Ukraine – a country with a rich agricultural base that would help sustain Germany’s foot soldiers. Yet it would not be for another nine weeks until Kiev itself fell, with the surrendering of almost 700,000 Soviet troops.

In the meantime, due to the incredible progression and devastation wrought, it was perhaps not surprising that on 8 July 1941 a boastful Hitler was telling propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, “The war in the east was in the main already won”. Hitler was simply echoing the views of his commanders.

As early as 3 July 1941 the 57-year-old Franz Halder, Chief of the Army General Staff, had written in his diary,

“So it’s really not saying too much, if I claim that the campaign against Russia has been won in 14 days”.

The experienced Halder was surely letting himself get carried away. In the autumn of 1942 Halder would be sacked by Hitler, due to their ongoing disagreements over Russian fighting capacity, with the dictator saying to him,

“We now need National Socialist ardour rather than professional ability to settle matters in the East. Obviously, I cannot expect this of you”.

Hitler replaced Halder with General Kurt Zeitzler, who was thought to be a genius in his ability to manoeuvre large formations across battlefields, and perceive danger. It was expected that Zeitzler would finally move German armies to where Hitler wanted them to go.

To be Continue…

Globalists Still Want Ukraine to Join NATO

Ukrainian soldiers heading to the front line in the Donetsk region of Ukraine last month.

JANUARY 17, 2023

NY Times: What Does It Mean to Provide ‘Security Guarantees’ to Ukraine?

A postwar Ukraine will want to ensure that Russia does not attack again. But is there anything short of full NATO membership that will satisfy Kyiv and deter Moscow?

The Times and their chosen “foreign policy analysts” continue to pursue the lost cause of Ukraine being granted  NATO membership. Not only will that not happen in the post-Trump world, but NATO itself may not even survive into the next decade — at least not as the potent offensive force which its post-WW2 Globalist founders designed it to be.

The Khazarian cross-dresser Zelensky also realizes that the NATO killing machine (de-fanged by Trump) isn’t going to come to his aid. In response, the vulgar little coke-head lashed out over something that happened — or rather, did not happen — back in 2008:

From an earlier Slimes article:

“Mr. Zelensky was speaking about the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest, Romania, where, after a major internal debate, NATO promised membership in the alliance to Georgia and Ukraine but without specifying when.

The Bucharest summit was marked by a debate over whether to give Ukraine and Georgia a formal “membership action plan” to guide them toward qualifying for NATO membership. President George W. Bush favored doing so. Ms. Merkel (Germany) and Mr. Sarkozy (France) were not alone in arguing that neither country was ready.” (emphasis added)

You see that? The same vile Bush-Cheney crew which aided and covered up the 9/11 false flag atrocities and brought us the never-ending genocidal “War on Terror” was ready to induct the Ukraine into the killing cult of NATO and its infamous Article 5 “war-with-one-means-war-with-all” commitment. France & Germany however — knowing that World War III would touch their cities directly — balked at the idea of issuing a fixed date for admitting the Ukraine, preferring to play the “long game” of engaging Russia’s traitorous (and now extinct) internal “fifth column” instead of provoking a war that would leave Berlin and Paris in ruins.

In January of that same year, just before that Bucharest Summit mentioned earlier, and at a time when it was presumed that Killary Clinton would be elected president in November (it turned out to be Obongo “Obama”), the filthy harridan called for the Ukraine to be put on track for NATO membership. She issued a statement saying:

“I enthusiastically welcome the January 11 letter from Ukrainian President Yushchenko, Prime Minister Tymoshenko, and Rada Chairman Arsenii Yatsenyuk to NATO Secretary General Scheffer, which outlines Ukraine’s desire for a closer relationship with NATO, including a Membership Action Plan. (emphasis added)

As Secretary of State in 2010, she repeated her support for NATO membership (here) As the Demonrat’s candidate for president in 2016, she again called for NATO to offer military aid to The Ukraine — a form of de facto NATO membership that was more saleable. (here)

Fast forward from 2008 to 2014 – the year of the violent CIA-Mossad coup which overthrew the duly-elected Russia-friendly government of the Ukraine. One of America’s most “respected” and influential Senators, John McStain ((McCain”), openly demanded that his new puppet pets in Kiev be placed on a definable timetable for NATO membership. (here)

So you see, the world came a lot closer to NATO membership for the Ukraine — and war with Russia — than most people realize. It was only the rise of Donald Trump — an unexpected historic event which led to the demise of Killary and the secret execution of McStain (here, (0:00 – 0:17) and (here) — which prevented the insanity of placing the fate of the world in the hands of the mad puppet gangsters of Kiev.

1. The Witch of the West and the Witch of the East, Killary with then Prime Ministerette Yulia Tymoshenko // 2. 2014: McStain incites a Ukrainian mob of “ultras”  — terrorists and mercenaries along the lines of McCain’s ISIS — to rise up and overthrow the government. // 3. The two wretched monsters of “opposing” political parties were as “thick as thieves” when it came to promoting World War III. Thank Donald Trump for removing them from their high places.

The 8-year oppression of the Russian people of the new republics of Luhansk and Donetsk was the most pressing reason for Russia’s limited action in the Ukraine. Of even greater importance, however, was the need to put a stop, once and for all, to the dangerous long term game of placing and arming an enemy outpost so deep into Russia’s backyard. The Ukraine’s potential absorption into the EU-NATO beast system would have given The New World Order Satanists a population of 40 million from which to draw additional human cannon fodder; and a territory in which to place missiles in what would represent a nearly 800 mile eastward advance — putting them close enough to hit Moscow with hyper-sonic missiles within a matter of minutes.

To say that Putin’s action was morally justified would be an understatement. It’s much more than that. Anything less would be gross negligence and a dereliction of his sacred duty to protect his people from the Globalists who wish to “cancel” Russia. For this reason, Putin was absolutely correct to label internal “fifth columnists” as the “scum and traitors” that they are.

1. The Ukraine is as wide as California is long. It’s fall to NATO would be the equivalent of an instant 800 mile conventional and nuclear military advancement upon Russia // 2. And that’s in addition to the previous Globalist eastern acquisitions of Poland, Hungary, Romania, Lithuania etc which followed the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact alliance.

The Manufactured Legacy of General Robert E Lee…

DECEMBER 30, 2022

NY Times:West Point to Remove Confederate Monuments From Its Campus

Bronze plaques that depict Gen. Robert E. Lee and other Confederate figures at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point will be placed in storage.

The US Military Academy at West Point in New York State has announced that it will begin removing Confederate symbols from its campus, including taking down a portrait of General Robert E. Lee from the library and removing a bust of him as well. This is being done for the wrong reason, of course — specifically, the Marxist obsession with denigrating the White Man through the never-ending remembrance whine about southern slavery and modern “racism .” Nonetheless, due to my recent epiphany regarding General Lee, perhaps he should cease to be exalted as some sort of von Clausewitz-like military tactician for the ages.

*Note: After the war, Lee was opposed to the building of Confederate war monuments because he felt that such structures would “retard” the nation’s healing and coming together.

This may be as much of surprise for “you guys” to hear for the first time as it was for me — but it turns out that, at the end of the US Civil War, many Southerners (including military men)  actually blamed Lee for losing the war. During the final post-war years of his life and even for several years after his death in 1870, Lee’s record was subject to harsh criticism in both North, South and abroad. It was only the “Lost Cause Ideology” of 1870’s – 1880’s Southern revisionists  a dubious recounting of the war which erased the ambition of certain southern politicians, European intrigue (Rothschild), and the westward expansion of slavery as fundamental factors behind the unprovoked and unnecessary secession declarations of 1860-61 that rehabilitated Lee’s reputation. The revisionists needed a saint, and who better than a “war hero” to posthumously fill that role. By the turn of the 19th century, Lee had been canonized.

According to this school of artificial scholarship, the South valiantly outfought the Union but inevitably lost “The War of Northern Aggression” only because of the North’s superior industrial wealth and manpower numbers — not because of General Lee or Confederate President Jefferson Davis the latter being one of the founders of Lost Cause doctrine. In reality, many of Lee’s failures were epic. So much so that a “conspiracy theorist”  might even be inclined to speculate if Lee — the former superintendent of West Point who had opposed secession before declaring allegiance to the Confederacy  — was secretly working to preserve the Union. Let’s put the legend and propaganda (and passion) aside and consider the poor performance.

1. Robert E. Lee’s portrait is coming down at West Point. // 2 & 3. Virginia: After the pedestal was defaced by Black Lives Matter Communists, the statue was removed.

1. Jefferson Davis lived until 1889. He actively promoted “Lost Cause” ideology which absolved himself politically, and General Lee militarily. // 2. Stone Mountain Monument in Georgia — a project begun in 1915 and completed in 1972 — depicts Davis in front and Lee right behind him. The figure lagging behind them is General Stonewall Jackson — whose reputation as a skilled commander is truly deserved. Jackson died before Gettysburg after having been shot in the arm by friendly fire, dropped twice from a stretcher, and then contracting pneumonia after his arm was amputated. // 3. St. Robert’s statue was once revered — even though Lee himself would never have wanted it.

WAS LEE A CLOSET UNION MAN?
Lee’s father, Henry  Lee, was an early American Patriot, revolutionary war hero and, later on, a Federalist Party (strong Union) politician. He was very close to George Washington (who had once courted Lee’s mother before she married). It was Henry Lee who famously eulogized George Washington at the latter’s 1799 funeral as 
“first in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.”

 Robert E Lee // pre-war 1861 letter to his son, George Washington Custis Lee (Step Great Grandson of George Washington)

“As an American citizen, I take great pride in my country, her prosperity and institutions, and would defend any State if her rights were invaded. But I can anticipate no greater calamity for the country than a dissolution of the Union. It would be an accumulation of all the evils we complain of, and I am willing to sacrifice everything but honor for its preservation. I hope, therefore, that all constitutional means will be exhausted before there is a resort to force. Secession is nothing but revolution. The framers of our Constitution never exhausted so much labor, wisdom, and forbearance in its formation, and surrounded it with so many guards and securities, if it was intended to be broken by every member of the Confederacy at will. It was intended for “perpetual union,” so expressed in the preamble, and for the establishment of a government, not a compact, which can only be dissolved by revolution, or the consent of all the people in convention assembled.”

*Note: 100,000 southern men volunteered and fought for the Union.

In the June 1969 issue of Civil War History (Volume 5) University of South Carolina professor, proud southerner and renowned historian Thomas L. Connelly  — attacked Lee’s legacy thusly:

“No single war figure stands in greater need of reevaluation than Lee. One ponders whether the South may not have fared better had it possessed no Robert E. Lee.”

Connelly’s 1969 essay was immediately scorned and ridiculed. But the argument that Lee — being out-manned — should have taken a more defensive posture and thus drawn the North into difficult southern terrain makes perfect sense. Instead, he was too often on the offensive and in full frontal assault manner. This resulted in unnecessary heavy casualties and demoralization. All that the Confederacy needed to confirm itself as a separate country was a stalemate. The burden was on the North to defeat and physically occupy the South — an achievement which came after too many losses were suffered by unnecessarily offensive southern forces.

Civil War Historian James McPherson put it this way:

“The South could ‘win’ the war by not losing. However, the North could win only by winning.”

Under Lee’s command, the Army of Northern Virginia racked up a total of 209,000 casualties. That’s 55,000 more than Ulysses S. Grant, who’s been criticized for “butchering” his men. Lee’s unnecessarily offensive strategy, and various other lost opportunities and blunders (here) and (here) — doomed the Confederacy to defeat. Lee burned through men faster than recruitment and the unpopular Confederate draft could replace them.

1 & 2. Thomas Connelly (1938-1991, no photo available) authored many scholarly books on the US Civil War of 1861-1865 — including “The Marble Man” (a title mocking the immortalizing of Lee by statues). Connelly maintains that it was not until the 1880’s that certain southern cliques transformed Lee into the invincible general and, later still, a southern and even a national hero. // 3. Criticism of Lee is still frowned upon in academic circles both North & South — liberal and conservative; but the case of the Correctionist Historians is indeed compelling.

Of all Lee’s blunders, the most damaging and decisive occurred at The Battle of Gettysburg in the opening days of July of 1863. On the third day of battle, in what shamefully became known as “Pickett’s Charge” — (I say “shamefully” because General George Pickett was not responsible for ordering the reckless charge and never forgave Lee (nor spoke to him again) for having ordered it) — Confederate troops were ordered to advance across an open 3/4 mile long field, into the teeth of heavy Union artillery and gunfire.

Lee issued the charge order against the advice of several subordinates. The repulse of “Pickett’s Charge” resulted in more than 6,000 casualties on the rebels — turning the tide of both the battle and the war itself. Lee was severely and properly criticized by military contemporaries and the southern press. What the heck was Lee doing — again, against the advice of subordinates — invading the northern state of Pennsylvania anyway? Even if Lee had won at Gettysburg, the depleted rebel force would eventually have had to retreat southward anyway.

The 1880’s propagandists not only continued to unjustly tag the demoralizing fiasco as “Pickett’s Charge,” but also scapegoated General James Longstreet’s execution of the attack for its failures — another underhanded deflection which Connelly and many modern military strategists find laughable. In a 2006 paper, a Department of Defense research center described Lee’s effort at Gettysburg as a “blunder” that “doomed the hopes of the Confederate States of America.”

The late military historian Edward Bonekemper III — author of “How Robert E. Lee Lost the Civil War” — spoke about Lee’s faults for many years. Early on, he faced much resistance, but before his death in 2017 remarked:

“Now people don’t get nearly as emotional as they used to. They are more open to hearing that there is another side to the story.”

Monuments may fall. But mythologies take a bit more time to undo.

LEE’S CHARGE!

Lee’s name has been scrubbed clean from responsibility for the demoralizing disaster of “Pickett’s Charge” at Gettysburg — leaving Pickett & Longstreet to take the blame for a charge — and a battle — which should never have taken place.

A Confederate soldier of Gettysburg in a letter to his sister:
(misspellings his)

“We got a bad whiping  . . . they are awhiping us . . . at every point. . . . I hope they would make peace so that we that is alive yet would get home agane . . . but I supose Jef Davis and Lee don’t care if all is killed.”  

1 & 2. Edward Bonekemper III — a military historian who caught flak for daring to critique Lee’s decisions. // 3. General George Pickett of “Pickett’s Charge” infamy. His name was eternally dirtied for a disastrous bloodbath which he opposed — yet still bears his name, not that of the exalted “Marble Man” who ordered it.