During the summer day of July 22nd, 1941, Adolf Hitler attacked the largest country, geographically, in the world, Russia (Hitler’s Invasion and Russia). The people of Germany thought that Hitler was insane if he wanted to actually invade the Soviet Union (Hitlers Invasion). Three army groups attacked Russia on June 22nd 1941. Army Group North, led by von Leeb, Army Group Centre, commanded by von Bock and Army Group South commanded by von Rundstedt (Trueman, Barbarossa). Russia was defended by four army units. Though Russia had a large army, the purges had wiped out a considerable part of the army’s senior commanders (Trueman, Barbarossa). Hitler’s forces initially won many battles and had many victories against the Russians (Trueman, Barbarossa). However, these victories soon turned bad due to several crucial mistakes that Hitler let slip. Hitler should not have attacked Russia because of his failure to anticipate the abilities of the Red Army, the weather of Russia, and his faulty leadership during the operation.
The German Army’s failure to anticipate the abilities of the Russia Red Army was one of its key reasons for failure. The Red Army was able to mobilize twice as many troops as the Germans had initially estimated (Barbarossa). The Russians were able to replace their fallen armies far quicker than the Fuehrer had expected and therefore the German Army had to halt in order to get more supplies (Barbarossa). This contributed to Germany’s encountering of the Russian Winter. Furthermore, the Russians were prepared to lose hundreds of thousands of men and were prepared to sacrifice equipment as shown in their victory at Kursk (Kursk). The Russian Army also proved its ability to replace its soldiers quickly allowed it to repair losses in the Army while the German Army lost people while its resources were lagging behind (Stalingrad). “The Soviets also proved very skilled in raising and training many new armies from the different ethnic populations of the far flung republics.” (Barbarossa). This allowed them to survive the critical six months of the battle even if they had poor equipment and training. According to Operation Barbarossa, the German army had problems with their infantry throughout the conflict while Russia had a well numbered force. Though the German army won many victories, this gave the Russians some advantage. With these kinds of crucial underestimations, the Germans became under-supplied and their forces began to progressively weaken. In addition to the tactical failures, the German control also underestimated the leadership of the Soviet Union. The Germans thought that the Soviet government was completely ineffective (Barbarossa). With this belief the Germans hoped that the government would collapse from the attack. This, however, did not happen. This made it harder for the Germans who were anticipating a short battle that was to end by fall of 1941 (Barbarossa). The German’s failure to anticipate the Russian potential was one of their key factors in losing the Russian Invasion.
Another crucial factor that became an obstacle for the Germans was the Russian winter. Hitler had prepared for a quick war, in turn; he failed to prepare well to wage battle during the harsh Russian winter (Barbarossa). The temperatures dropped to 50 degrees below the zero (Stalingrad). Entire divisions died from the brutal temperatures (Russian Winter). The equipment and vehicles that they had froze (Barbarossa). This significantly affected Operation Barbarossa due to the large losses. The German offensive was slowed to a crawl because of the numeral failures that were inflicted by the Russian winter (Russian Winter). When winter struck, the German troops lacked the winter equipment needed and the rations that the Army required (Stalingrad). “German weapons malfunctioned in the cold. Lubricating oils were unsuitable for these temperatures, leading to engine malfunction and misfiring weapons” (Barbarossa). Without the airplanes and weapons, the Germans were virtually defenseless. At this point, the German army was at an especial disadvantage. According to the article Operation Barbarossa, the soviet soldiers did not have such severe problems. The Russians used insulating blankets to cover their aircrafts so that the engines did not freeze and lighter-weight oil was used. Germans had problems with their fuel due to the lack of anti-freeze (Barbarossa). The Russian winter caused great losses for the German army and after the Battle of Moscow, the Germans had to retreat and revise their war plans regarding Russia. The Russian winter again crippled the Germans, who even after the experience, did not prepare better for the siege of the Crocuses and Stalingrad (Stalingrad). The German haste for victory and battle severely affected them in their preparations regarding Operation Barbarossa and, therefore, the Russian winter took the Germans by surprise. In addition, Hitler’s decision to stay even after knowing that a repetition of
“Napoleon’s disastrous retreat from Moscow” (Barbarossa) was very likely, led to loss of valuable men and resources. With the Russian winter being the most severe that year than any other, the Russians were able to maintain their position.
The third reason that Germany should not have attacked Russia was that the plan lacked logistical planning. One example is the winters of 1941 and 1942. Both times the Germans were caught by the horrendous Russian winter unprepared (Barbarossa and Stalingrad). One would think that at least after experiencing the cold winter of 1941 the Germans would have prepared better for the winter of 1942 when they invaded Stalingrad. The German Army command also ignored one crucial warning. The German army could not be continuously supplied to wage long combat (Barbarossa). During the Battle of Stalingrad, the army had to stop several times so that its resources could catch up and usually resources were lagging far behind (Stalingrad). The Nazi command assumed that it would within five weeks; the army would be able to take down the Red Army (Barbarossa). According to Operation Barbarossa, the German infantry rushed ahead about 300 mi. (480 km) while the supplies were struggling to barely catch up. The lack of constant supplies slowed down the blitzkrieg down significantly. The Germans had seriously overestimated the quality and condition of the Russian transportation network. The differences in the railroad configurations and the fact that the Russian people had dismantled the railroads near the border (Barbarossa). In addition to the supply problem, the German army executed certain tactics that made their defeat possible. One of these tactics was sending the bulk of the sixth army in Stalingrad (Trueman). Marshall Zhukov was able to surround the army of Paulus in the city and destroyed virtually the entire army by depriving them of supplies (Stalingrad). Planning errors such as not securing the transportation before proceeding, and sending almost the entire army into a city, caused huge problems and losses for the Germans. Faulty planning was a main problem that Hitler should have considered before attacking Russia.
Hitler’s decision to attack was supported by Germany’s military status at the time, however; due to some serious flaws that could have been prevented before attacking the Soviet Union. Hitler’s racial views toward the Russian people blinded him to the real facts that were there (Hitler’s Invasion). Hitler should also have analyzed history better because no one has ever conquered Russia completely. Russia’s large size and horrendous weather were able to protect it even though many loyal Russian soldiers gave up their lives for mother Russia. Also by enraging Russia, Hitler caused his own downfall and the defeat of Germany. Russia destroyed almost three times as many divisions as the Allies during D-Day in Normandy (Hitler’s Invasion). The invasion of Russia was a fatal mistake for Hitler and Germany.