20 April 2023

What is Operation Barbarossa? – Principles and history of Operation Barbarossa

By Donald

The Operation Barbarossa It marked the beginning of the decline of the Nazi army and one of the military operations that ensured the German defeat. This article explains what this tactic consists of and what its objectives were. In the same way, the consequences that this movement produced are discussed and the reasons why it failed are listed.

What was Operation Barbarossa?

During World War II, armies had to communicate their plans using code names, so that rivals would not detect their intentions and movements. So, at this time it is possible to find a large number of military movements with strange titles and that allude to other historical figures. One of these plans was Operation Barbarossa, carried out by Nazi Germany and the other axis powers. It is considered the largest military operation in history.

Operation Barbarossa was the event that changed the course of the war, precipitating its end. Its about secret name that Adolf Hitler assigned to his plan to invade the Soviet Union. So, this was the title with which the high command of the axis began to plan the fall of the Soviets by invading Russia. It was also the name with which Hitler ordered the start of the attack on his troops in 1941.

Operation Barbarossa accumulated more than 3,500,000 soldiers on the eastern front, a giant military movement. It brought together men from Nazi Germany, Finland, Romania, the Czech Republic and Italy. Similarly, there were people from Hungary, Croatia and Slovakia. It was an attack with which the führer wanted to finish off the communists, as well as the Jews of the territory.

What was the objective of Operation Barbarossa?

The military movement known as Operation Barbarossa did not have a single objective, but rather sought to achieve a host of interests. Thus, the importance of the attack lies in the large number of goals and strategic points that was in the area. So, it was an attack that the axis powers wanted to carry out before, but they had not carried it out due to the fighting against the allied army.

In that sense, the greatest interest was to achieve the destruction of Stalin’s Soviet Union through a military attack. This because Nazi Germany saw the crise of the communist party and considered it a threat. Another objective was to extend the German territory and permanently occupy what were called vital spaces.

For example, Germany and the Baltic countries needed to occupy the Caucasus Mountains in order to acquire the oil reserves there. Similarly, they needed resources in the agricultural field from Ukrainian territory in order to feed its troops. Lastly, they wanted Siberia to export the slaves they had conquered in battle.

However, it must be remembered that Adolf Hitler reached an agreement in 1939 with Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union. This was the non-aggression pact in which both powers agreed not to attack each other. In addition, this union was the one that allowed the conquest of Poland, an act that started the Second World War.

Hitler considered this a temporary pact that helped him achieve his first goals, but he had no intention of honoring it. Once Nazi Germany gained control France, Belgium and the Netherlands, it was decided to plan the attack on Russia. The Soviet occupation of Romania also encouraged the Führer’s intentions. So in December 1940 he signed directive 21 starting the operation.

How long did Operation Barbarossa last?

The intention of the high command of the axis powers was to repeat the tactic they used against the allies. That is, use your specialized panzer tank in the blitzkrieg movement or lightning war. Therefore, Adolf Hitler’s order was to occupy the Soviet Union, especially Moscow, in less than a year.

The lightning movement began on a Sunday, June 22, 1941, which consisted of sending 134 different divisions to Soviet territory. There they entered the front more than three million soldiers of the Baltic States, Germany and their other allies in search of the Red Army. The men’s troops were supported by planes and each main battle tank. In addition, 73 divisions were waiting to serve as reinforcements.

The attack took Stalin and the Soviets by surprise, even though the Allies warned of German troop movements to the east. The Russian commotion arose because Operation Barbarossa consisted of split the german army in three large groups. Each of these targeted a different city.

The Germans were going through the center, attacking Minsk and Smolensk until arriving with Moscow. The southern group of Italians, Hungarians, Slovaks and Romanians were to take the Ukraine through kyiv. While the northern section of Norwegians and Finns had the mission of taking Leningrad.

The Red Army received air strikes that destroyed most of their planes and their bases. As for the ground troops, the Germans quickly crushed the Soviets. The Nazis conquered a large number of towns and took many people as slaves. Here, a massacre begins where the Germans tortured civilians with the Hunger Planso the objective was not to defeat them, but to exterminate them.

Hitler’s troops managed to advance by conquering cities like Minks or Smolensko. However, after 5 months the plan failed in the Battle of Stalingrad, where the war of attrition favored the Soviets. From that moment begins the decline of the Nazis and their respective setback.

What were the consequences of Operation Barbarossa?

Operation Barbarossa in its beginnings seemed to achieve the objectives set by the high command of the axis. However, the failure in Stalingrad and the non-arrival in Moscow sealed the fate of the nazis. Well, after that defeat, the consequences of a poorly planned attack began to appear.

  • Your army decreased in number due to the war of attrition.
  • The troops were tired, hungry and very cold from the displacement.
  • Hitler sent a large part of the German army towards Russia, which neglected the western part of Europe. Despite building the Atlantic wall, the defenses were not enough and allowed the Normandy’s landing by the allies.
  • Operation Barbarossa ended in the german throwback both east and west. Therefore, he allowed the advance of his enemies and subsequent victory.

Why was Operation Barbarossa a failure?

Blitzkrieg and surprise attack tipped the scales for Nazi Germany in the early months of this movement. However, Hitler did not take into account some geographical and climatological factors of the Russian territory. In that sense, one of his worst mistakes was not equipping his army with implement against the coldsince Operation Barbarossa lasted until the winter.

Similarly, the German plan counted on taking the Ukraine before reaching Stalingrad and Moscow, where the troops would be able to stock up on supplies, but the fall of kyiv took longer than it should. The Nazi army also did not possess enough oil to fuel the large number of tanks they sent to Russia.

Likewise, the great extension that Russia has was not considered, therefore, the large number of kilometers that they had to cross on foot the soldiers. Nor did they take the foresight that the Soviets fortified their defenses and created an improved tank that outperformed the Panzer.

So, the Nazi troops finished tired from the journey and the cold, poorly fed, in addition to little supplied with weapons or resources. Finally, it is necessary to mention that Hitler was counting on his troops receiving help from the locals, since he assured that non-socialist Ukrainians and Russians would join them.