“When Operation Barbarossa begins, the world will hold its breath.” – Adolf Hitler, 1941
On this day, 75 years ago, Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union in the largest military operation in history. With more soldiers, tanks, planes, and guns than in any other offensive, Operation Barbarossa opened up the Eastern Front during World War II. The failure of this historic operation lead to the eventual downfall of Hitler and his Nazi regime.
In the 5 month long campaign, the Axis armies suffered 800,000+ military casualties, while the Soviet Army suffered 4,000,000+ military casualties. While the Soviets had experienced devastating losses, the German army was unprepared for their counteroffensive strength, and abandoned the operation in December 1941.
In the new book Operation Barbarossa 1941: Hitler Against Stalin, Christer Bergstrom, author of the best-selling Battle of Britain, writes:
“…Operation Barbarossa had led to a row of unparalleled tactical victories for the attackers. In just five months, an area around 1.4 million square kilometers – roughly the combined areas of all the U.S. States along the Atlantic coast, from Maine in the north to Georgia in the south plus Florida – had been captured. Tremendous losses had been inflicted on the Soviet armed forces….
…The Soviet dictator Stalin made many grave misjudgments, but in one thing he was completely correct: ‘Any other state which had suffered such losses of territory as we did would not have stood the test and would have collapsed,’ he said. This ability to survive rested on three pillars: The generation of new forces, the relocation of the industry to the east, and the incredible resilience of the Red Army’s troops.”
Browse through all of our Operation Barbarossa books.