Operation Barbarossa in WWII

"When Operation Barbarossa is launched, the world will hold its
breath!" - Adolf Hitler

On the night of June 22, 1941, more than 3 million German
soldiers, 600 000 vehicles and 3350 tanks were amassed along a 2000km
front stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Their sites were
all trained on Russia. This force was part of 'Operation Barbarossa',
the eastern front of the greatest military machine ever assembled.
This machine was Adolf Hitler's German army. For Hitler, the
inevitable assault on Russia was to be the culmination of a long
ezding obsession. He had always wanted Russia's industries and
agricultural lands as part of his Lebensraum or 'living space' for
Germany and their Thousand Year Reich. Russia had been on Hitler's
agenda since he wrote Mein Kampf some 17 years earlier where he
stated: 'We terminate the endless German drive to the south and the
west of Europe, and direct our gaze towards the lands in the east...If
we talk about new soil and territory in Europe today, we can think
primarily only of Russia and its vassal border states'i Hitler wanted
to exterminate and enslave the 'degenerate' Slavs and he wanted to
obliterate their 'Jewish Bolshevist' government before it could turn
on him. His 1939 pact with Stalin was only meant to give Germany time
to prepare for war. As soon as Hitler controlled France, he looked
east. Insisting that Britain was as good as defeated, he wanted to
finish off the Soviet Union as soon as possible, before it could
significantly fortify and arm itself. 'We only have to kick in the
front door and the whole rotten edifice will come tumbling down'ii he
told his officers. His generals warned him of the danger of fighting a
war on two fronts and of the difficulty of invading an area as vast as
Russia but, Hitler simply overruled them. He then placed troops in
Finland and Romania and created his eastern front. In December 1940,
Hitler made his final battle plan. He gave this huge operation a
suitable name. He termed it 'Operation Barbarossa' or 'Redbeard' which
was the nickname of the crusading 12th century Holy Roman emperor,
Frederick I. The campaign consisted of three groups: Army Group North
which would secure the Baltic; Army Group South which would take the
coal and oil rich lands of the Ukraine and Caucasus; and Army Group
Centre which would drive towards Moscow. Prior to deploying this
massive force, military events in the Balkans delayed 'Barbarossa' by
five weeks. It is now widely agreed that this delay proved fatal to
Hitler's conquest plans of Russia but, at the time it did not seem
important. In mid-June the build-up was complete and the German Army
stood poised for battle. Hitler's drive for Russia failed however, and
the defeat of his army would prove to be a major downward turning
point for Germany and the Axis counterparts. There are many factors
and events which contributed to the failure of Operation Barbarossa
right from the preparatory stages of the attack to the final cold
wintry days when the Germans had no choice but to concede. Several
scholars and historians are in basic agreement with the factors which
led to Germany's failure however, many of them stress different
aspects of the operation as the crucial turning point. One such
scholar is the historian, Kenneth Macksey. His view on Operation
Barbarossa is plainly evident just by the title of his book termed,
'Military errors Of World War Two.'iii Macksey details the fact that
the invasion of Russia was doomed to fail from the beginning due to
the fact that the Germans were unprepared and extremely overconfident
for a reasonable advancement towards Moscow. Macksey's first reason
for the failure was the simply that Germany should not have broken its
agreement with Russia and invaded its lands due to the fact that the
British were not defeated on the western front, and this in turn
plunged Hitler into a war on two fronts. The Germans, and Hitler in
particular were stretching their forces too thin and were
overconfident that the Russians would be defeated in a very short
time. Adolf Hitler's overconfidence justifiably stemmed from the
crushing defeats which his army had administered in Poland, France,
Norway, Holland, Belgium and almost certainly Great Britain had the
English Channel not stood in his way.iv Another important