Operation Barbarossa, World War II's Turning Point

September 22, 2022

Russia'a winter proved too much for Hitler's Nazis. Getty

America’s arrival into the fray of World War II in the winter of 1941 spelled doom for Hitler. But it was a failed German offensive that laid the groundwork for his defeat: Operation Barbarossa. That summer Germany launched one of the largest offensives in history upon the Soviet Union. The Nazi leader committed more than 3 million troops along a front running roughly 1,800 miles. Hitler pledged that “When Operation Barbarossa is launched, the world will hold its breath!”

The brutal campaign saw more than 1.5 million casualties between both sides and many more wounded. Here’s the story of how Hitler’s arrogance and greed led to his defeat in a Russian winter.

What was supposed to be a quick victory turned into a drawn out failure.

Setting The Table

Leading up to Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia and eventually Poland, they signed nonaggression agreements with the Soviet Union, France, and Britain. Obviously, they were worth about as much as Fuhrer's failed paintings. Nevertheless, those worthless agreements caught too many countries flat-footed. Hitler’s blitzkrieg offensive toppled the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France over just six weeks beginning in May 1940.

The Soviet Union remained confident in its pact despite Germany’s duplicity, thanks to a secret stipulation that promised to divide Poland between the two of them. Stalin himself ignored signs of an imminent attack, choosing to trust Hitler rather than Winston Churchill. Churchill remarked around that time, “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”