Operation Barbarossa

operation barbarossaOperation Barbarossa was the code name given to the German invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. It was given the name ‘Barbarossa’ after Frederick Barbarossa, the medieval Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. This name is indicative of Hitler’s visions of  encompassing the Soviet Union into the Greater German Reich through his plans for Lebensraum (‘living space’) for the German people. Operation Barbarossa was authorised by Hitler in December 1940, and was planned for a start date of 15 May 1941.

The invasion was delayed, however, and eventually took place five weeks later. It remains the largest invasion in the history of warfare; around four million Axis soldiers, 600,000 motor vehicles and 750,000 horses stormed into the Soviet Union over a 1,800 mile front. The Germans took large parts of Ukraine and other areas on the edges of the USSR; Hitler was confident that the Soviet Union could be conquered within around eight weeks. The German offensive, however, stalled as it approached Moscow and was rapidly pushed back by the Soviet counter-offensive. As the war in the Soviet Union dragged on into the winter, the Germans found themselves extremely ill-equipped; their motor vehicles broke down, horses starved to death and soldiers simply did not have proper clothing for a freezing Russian winter.  Overall, the German invasion of the Soviet Union was to prove costly. 95% of all German Army casualties between 1941-44 took place on that front, and it was battles such as the disastrous German defeat in Stalingrad that made it appear increasingly as though Germany would not win the war.

Hitler’s Invasion of Russia in World War Two
BBC History
Includes links to more in-depth information about the battle with Russia

Operation Barbarossa: The Biggest Military Adventure in History
Mental Floss

Operation Barbarossa: War of Extermination
Historical Boy’s Clothing

The murder of the Soviet Jews
The Danish Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies
Detailed history in concise bullet-points, with some links to additional information

United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Invasion of the Soviet Union, 1941
Encyclopedia Britannica

Operation Barbarossa
Spartacus Educational

The Invasion of Russia June 22, 1941 – December 1941
The World War II Multimedia Database
Photo Gallery of historic images

The Beginning of the Final Solution
The Invasion of the Soviet Union and the Beginnings of Mass Murder
Yad Vashem

Operation Barbarosa

Second World War, Operation Barbarossa
War Chapter

The Defeat of Hitler
Attack on Russia
The History Place

Was Hitler right to invade Russia in 1941?
Military History Online
An in-depth analysis of Hitler’s decision to invade Russia

Vyacheslav Molotov
The Nazi Invasion of Russia
Great Speeches Collection
The History Place

by Bevin Alexander
Military History Online
Detailed history

Operation Barbarossa
1941 – 1943
Timeline of the German Invasion of the Soviet Union – Up to the Defeat at Stalingrad
Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

Soviet Prisoners of War: Forgotten Nazi Victims of World War II
Weider History Group

Graphic: The Army High Command’s Plan for Operation Barbarossa: Cartographic Illustration of the Planned Strategy and the Actual Strategy Implemented (1941)
German History in Documents and Images (GHDI)

Caricature: Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin – The Friendship is Over (1941)
German History in Documents and Images (GHDI)

World War II: Operation Barbarossa
The Atlantic

Operation Barbarossa Map, 1941
Military History Monthly




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