Determined Soviet Forces, critical logistic shortages, weather and poor German planning contributed to the defeat of Nazi Germany in WW2.


Author Michael Peck analyses why Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union ( Operation Barbarossa) failed. This article makes the following points:

  • Germany was over-confident, having previously conquered France, defeating both British and French armies in just under six weeks.
  • Three million German and German-Allied (Finnish, Italian, Romanian, Hungarian and Slovakian) troops attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941.
  • The Germans expected an easy victory due to the Red Army's poor performance against Finland and Soviet leader Stalin's purge of the Officer Corps.
  • Initially, the Germans had better troops and commanders.
  • Early victories in late 1941(including the killing or capturing 650,000 Soviet soldiers at Kiev in Ukraine, reinforced German feelings of superiority.
  • Hitler underestimated the importance of logistics and communications and how difficult it was to supply German forces over long distances.
  • Apart from elite motorised units, vehicles were always in short supply for German forces.
  • The bulk of the German army still relied on horses
  • Railways were crucial in the supply chain.
  • The Russian railway gauge (1520 mm) was incompatible with the German (1435 mm), and gauge conversion was slow.
  • German tactics relied on fast-moving panzers to encircle Russian armies, impossible without adequate fuel; a similar situation to the later Battle of the Bulge.
  • Poor German planning allowed the Russians to make the most of time, space, terrain, and climate.
  • Soviet troops were operating on familiar terrain and were better able to receive logistics support.
  • After the war, Operation Barbarossa was the beginning of the end for Hitler and resulted in the  Soviet Union becoming a superpower after the war.
  • The Soviet Union paid a huge price for victory according to Britannica losing eighteen million people, for comparison Germany lost 4.2 million, see Britannica article Cost of the War
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin uses the Great Patriotic War to inspire his people as to what Russia was and can be.

Worth noting and remembering the following:

"Amateurs study tactics, but professionals study logistics." Martin van Creveld.



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