Barbarossa: June-December 1941
- Episode aired Nov 28, 1973
Following the conquest of France Hitler, almost casually by blitzkrieg standards, turn his eyes toward Russia. But Stalin is equally lackadaisical in preparing defenses against Germany. The ... Read allFollowing the conquest of France Hitler, almost casually by blitzkrieg standards, turn his eyes toward Russia. But Stalin is equally lackadaisical in preparing defenses against Germany. The German invasion rapidly reaches the gates of Moscow where it is stopped cold by the onset ... Read allFollowing the conquest of France Hitler, almost casually by blitzkrieg standards, turn his eyes toward Russia. But Stalin is equally lackadaisical in preparing defenses against Germany. The German invasion rapidly reaches the gates of Moscow where it is stopped cold by the onset of winter then crushed by the Russian counterattack.
They crossed over the border the hour before dawn
In Mein Kamph, Hitler writes "When we think of territory, we must think of Russia. Destiny itself points the way there." In this sentence, he sets the stage for the biggest land battle in history: Operation Barbarossa. In this World at War episode, the series analyzes the reasons why Nazi Germany invaded the USSR and how Hitler's delusions of thinking it was possible to conquer russia came back to haunt him. The episode goes over how germany and the soviets signed a non-aggression pact with each other, which was a huge shock to the whole world at the time. Nazism and communism were bitter enemies, and all of a sudden, Stalin was standing idly by while Hitler smashed into poland and france in the early stages of the war. This agreement was never meant to last very long, as the german military knew that Stalin would eventually throw the truce away and attack europe with russia's enormous army. Despite the USSR being by far the world's largest country, it was badly prepared for war with Hitler. 90% of its commanding officers had been killed in Stalin's brutal purges throughout the 1930s, and as a result, the red army had barely any competent leadership. It did however have thousands and thousands of armored vehicles, much more than germany (albeit they were older and less powerful). The soviet foreign minister Molotov visits Berlin shortly before Hitler attacks russia in a vain attempt to make sure relations between the two powers stay under control. Shortly before dawn on June 22, 1941, the wehrmacht finally attacks russia. Despite taking on a country many times the size of germany, Barbarossa proceeds like clockwork for Hitler at first. Taken by surprise, huge swaths of soviet troops are cut off and surrounded, and most of the soviet air force is shredded before it can get airborne. Thousands of antiquated russian tanks are blown up by german anti tank guns, and it seems like nothing can stop Hitler's advance. In spite of how good it's looking for germany right now, even they realize that russian manpower seems endless. The red army does not have much in the way of advanced weapons, but it seems to have more soldiers than the germans have bullets. Around mid october, the first signs of germany's impending defeat start to appear: it begins snowing. At that very moment, every german soldier knew he was totally unprepared for what was about to happen. The wehrmacht had no winter clothing, and with temperatures plunging as low as the negative 40s, they suffered horribly. Many german commanders preferred waiting until winter was over to continue the invasion, but Hitler wouldn't listen. By early december, his leading tank formations were just 19 miles from Red Square. Some units said they could see the domes of the Kremlin sparkling in the distance. Right when it looked like germany might seize Moscow after all, General Zhukov, one of the most esteemed soviet generals of the war, counterattacked with his siberian divisions. The german forces were shocked at the ferocity of an attack by an enemy they thought was close to being defeated, and were forced to fall back. This is how they would spend almost the entire rest of the war, giving up all the ground they had gained because of a relentless soviet advance. Like every other episode in this incredible series, Barbarossa is filled with historically important information that will always be relevant. In my opinion, it might be the best episode of the whole show since this event basically decided the outcome of ww2. Hitler took on russia because he actually thought he could win, but as with Napoleon over a century before, the unimaginable vastness and cold of the nation stopped him in his tracks, and he was beaten by the people he once called subhumans. Alongside the riveting combat footage we've come to associate with World at War, we also get to hear some surprising things, such as how the nazis were actually welcomed as liberators in some eastern european areas, especially ukraine, where anti russian sentiment was everywhere. It also says how basically all of germany's oil came from one area in romania called ploesti, which is just kind of baffling to me. Overall, I think this episode stands with the best World at War has to offer, since it explains the details behind arguably the most important event of the whole war.
- Mar 14, 2022
Contribute to this page
Suggest an edit or add missing content