2S03 Lecture 15 November 2012
After defeat of France, Hitler thought Britain would sue for peace. When they didn’t, how do they try to
win war against Britain? Intermarries with ideological views – desire for Lebensraum. Needed land in the
east – Soviet Union.
Summer of 1940, these two factors come together – one of the reasons British continue is because they
hope for Soviet assistance.
Operation Barbarossa planning begins in 1940 – immediately after fall of France. Finalized December
1940. Aims to defeat USSR in a fast campaign.
The USSR is a funnel. Much difference from France. First object not capital but Leningrad
Army Groups – North, centre, south – how the German army split for the attack – giant force (3.6 million
men) – trucks lorries tanks aircraft in large numbers. Not exclusively German – some from allies. Against
3 million red army troops.
Attack initially goes well. Soviets surprised. Stalin refuses to believe reports from the front – believes it’s
a provocation and tells front commands not to respond.
Thesis advanced that Soviets planned to attack Germany and that was why Soviet army in forward
positions. They were anticipating some sort of blow, not the one that came, not their own offensive.
Germans make huge gains but never quite gets to Moscow or Leningrad.
Same general tactic – armor punches through and tries to encircle Russians
Creates pockets of trapped red army troops at Bialystik & Minsk – July 1941 Smokensk – July & August
1941 and Kiev – Spetember 1941 – many prisoners and stuff taken.
Rampant optimism. Colonel-General Halder, Army Chief of Staff for Germany
Hitler orders a switch in German armament production priorities – toward army and air force (dealing
with Britain) – army material production falls 30% and when the war clearly isn’t over, it is switched
back but too late.
Ominous signs. Halder – “we had expected to encounter 200 Russian divisions, we’ve already counted
360 and more are appearing”
Underestimated Soviet military
Operation Typhoon – October 1941 by Germans goes well at the beginning but Soviets continue to fight
– not lost a battle but lost the war
Why did the Soviets continue to fight? What did the Germans do wrong?
Geography. In France, compression of space and time – Allies had no geographic space to recover. Not
the case in USSR – trade space for time. They CAN give up ground – allows them to recover their nerves.
Command, control, intelligence continue to function (not well) – many mistakes though. As the Germans create pockets, they have a problem – created by armour but most of the army is
infantry who have to walk to the pockets to eliminate them – takes a long time.
Smolensk pocket – had to liquidate pocket and rearm worn out troops – successes have a downside,
wears army down
German military intelligence is consistently wrong – ideology – belief of superiority leads German
military analysts to underestimate
Lack of reliable information and the treatment of the populations in the areas that the Germans have
overrun – initial enthusiasm in many places in the USSR until they found out Germans were the same or
worse – considered them subhumans. Generates partisan networks and other resistance that destroy
Also destroy supply lines – longer supply lines the further into USSR they get. Far slower.
Linked to railway – principle means of moving stuff – Soviet railways of a different gauge – wider than
German rails – massive problem. Every train has to stop at border, be unloaded and reloaded onto a
Soviet train. Two choices – lay your own railway lines (tons of time needed – lots of railway tracks to
replace) or capture Soviet stock. Shortage of winterized locomotives.
Caucasus – only one railway line. They blow up the trains