Opinions on Operation Barbarossa

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Operation Barbarossa (German: Unternehmen Barbarossa) was the code name for Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II, which began on 22 June 1941. Over the course of the operation, about four million soldiers of the Axis powers invaded Soviet Russia along a 2,900 kilometer front, the largest invasion force in the history of warfare. In addition to troops, the Germans employed some 600,000 motor vehicles and between 600–700,000 horses. The operation was driven by Adolf Hitler's ideological desire to conquer the Soviet territories as outlined in his 1925 manifesto Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). It marked the beginning of the rapid escalation of the war, both geographically and in the formation of the Allied coalition.

Prior to the invasion, the two countries had signed political and economic pacts for strategic purposes. Hitler authorized an invasion of the Soviet Union on 18 December 1940 for a start date of 15 May 1941, but this was not met; instead, the invasion began on 22 June 1941. Operationally, the Germans won resounding victories and occupied some of the most important economic areas of the Soviet Union, mainly in Ukraine, inflicting heavy casualties while sustaining a lot themselves. Despite these successes, the German offensive stalled on the outskirts of Moscow (in the Battle of Moscow) and was pushed back by a Soviet counter-offensive. The Germans would never again mount a simultaneous offensive along the entire strategic Soviet-German front. The Red Army repelled the Wehrmacht's strongest blows and forced Germany into a war of attrition for which it was unprepared.

Operation Barbarossa's failure led to Hitler's demands for further operations inside the USSR, all of which eventually failed, such as the Siege of Leningrad (Operation Nordlicht), Operation Blue, and Operation Citadel, among other battles on occupied Soviet territory.

The failure of Operation Barbarossa was a turning point in the fortunes of the Third Reich. Most importantly, the operation opened up the Eastern Front, to which more forces were committed than in any other theater of war in world history. Regions covered by the operation became the site of some of the largest battles, most horrific atrocities, and highest casualties for Soviets and Germans alike, all of which influenced the course of both World War II and the subsequent history of the 20th century. The German forces captured millions of Soviet prisoners who were not granted protections stipulated in the Geneva Conventions. Most of them never returned alive. Germany deliberately starved the prisoners to death as part of a "Hunger Plan" that aimed to reduce the population of Eastern Europe and then re-populate it with ethnic Germans.


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