When in 1941, selected German divisions invaded the Soviet Union, the victory of the Nazi Nazis seemed inevitable. On the outskirts of Moscow, the German troops were stopped. So the myth of the invincibility of the Third Reich was dispelled.
In August 1939, Germany completed the preparations for the war in Europe. Not wanting to fight on two fronts, Hitler proposed to Stalin to sign a non-aggression pact, which promised the Soviet Union not only peace, but also the expansion of borders through the accession of Estonia, Latvia, Right-Bank Poland and Moldova (later Lithuania). Prior to this, the USSR was negotiating with England and France on the creation of an anti-Hitler coalition. Suddenly, these negotiations were interrupted, and on August 23, 1939, German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop arrived in Moscow. On the same day, a non-aggression pact was signed. Nine days later, on September 1, the Germans invaded Poland. Thus began the Second World War. On October 17, the Red Army crossed the border and occupied Right-Bank Poland. In September and October, the Soviet Union concluded “mutual assistance treaties” with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Units of the Red Army entered the Baltic states. During the war in Western Europe, in the spring and summer of 1940, the Germans captured Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, and most of Belgium and France. Under these conditions, the Soviet leadership strove not to give Germany the slightest reason for the outbreak of hostilities: the USSR even continued to supply grain and such important types of raw materials as oil and iron ore to Germany. Having conquered France and holding on tightly to almost all of Europe, Hitler came up against British resistance. It became obvious that the invasion of the British Isles planned for 1940 would not take place, as the Germans clearly lacked the strength and resources to carry out a strategic landing operation. In this regard, the main forces of the Wehrmacht began to plan a war with the Soviet Union. Already on July 31, 1940, Hitler declared at one of the meetings that the resistance of England rested on the existence of the USSR. “If Russia is defeated,” he emphasized, “England will lose its last hope.” On December 18, 1940, Hitler ordered preparations to begin for the blitzkrieg (“lightning war”) scheduled for next summer against the Soviet Union. The implementation of the Barbarossa plan, named after the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I Barbarossa, who conquered the East in the Middle Ages, should have taken no more than three months. This required at least 3 million soldiers, 3400 tanks and about 3000 aircraft - such a large military campaign on land история I did not know yet. In June 1941, a lot indicated that Germany had launched preparations for a war against the Soviet Union. And Stalin, trying to delay its beginning, ordered not to succumb to provocations and abide by the terms of the non-aggression pact. About two o'clock in the morning of 22 June 1941, the freight train loaded with Soviet grain crossed the border, heading for Germany. After an hour of 15 minutes, without bothering to officially declare war, Hitler ordered his troops to cross the border and move toward Moscow with a forced march. The non-aggression pact was violated. He lasted 22 month.
The Nazis despised the Russians, called them "Untermensch" - "subhumans". Hitler considered communism to be an invention of Jewish intellectuals and wanted to destroy the "class of Bolsheviks and Jews." Using tactics of unprecedented cruelty, Hitler announced to his generals that it was possible to disobey the generally accepted rules of warfare in Russia, since the Soviets did not sign the Geneva Convention. Terror has become the main instrument of war against the people. The Nazi Party and the SS immediately took control of the occupied territories. All Soviet commissars and Jews were ordered to be shot on the spot. Over the Soviet Union was in mortal danger. 3 July, Stalin, for the first time in his many years of rule, directly addressed the people, called on people to defend their homeland. Against the USSR were also the allies of Germany - Romania, Hungary, Italy, Finland. The strongest group operated in the direction of Minsk-Moscow (Army Group "Center"). By July 3, German troops advanced more than 500 km deep into Soviet territory and were halfway to Moscow. “Essentially,” noted Hitler the next day, “we can assume that the enemy lost this campaign.” Two weeks later, the Germans captured the natural corridor leading to Moscow, to the Soviet capital was 320 km. It seemed that only a few days remained until the decisive victory. In order to prevent the strengthening of the Russian grouping in the Moscow sector and supply the German economy with raw materials and food for the troops, Hitler sent his armies north to Leningrad and to the rich industrial, coal and oil regions in the south. He believed that the capture of Leningrad would be a great psychological victory, and access to raw materials was crucial for the success of his grandiose strategic plans. He hoped to achieve all three goals before the onset of winter. At first, despite the fears of his military advisers, everything went according to plan. By 8 September 1941, Leningrad was finally blocked from land in the north by Finnish troops, and in the west and south by German ones. The Germans did not even consider it necessary to take the city in stride, believing that an exhausting siege, constant bombing, cold and hunger would break the will of the surrounded Leningraders. In the south to 20 September, the Germans captured Kiev, and 700 000 prisoners were sent to camps. During the two months of the war, Hitler lost 409 998 people, including 87 489 killed. More than half of the tanks he needed were disabled. The onset of autumn forced the fascist German command to hurry in order to realize the goals set in the Barbarossa plan. The direction of the main attack remained the same - to Moscow. For the implementation of the decisive "Typhoon" operation, the Hitlerite command within the Army Group "Center" concentrated 1,8 a million people, over 14 000 guns and mortars, 1700 tanks and around 1390 aircraft. The Soviet grouping of troops in this area numbered about 1,2 million people, 7600 guns and mortars, 990 tanks, 677 aircraft. Thus, the Soviet troops in the 1,5-2 times were inferior to German in both personnel and military equipment.
By September 30 began the next German offensive. Small Red Army suffered losses. Two armies were "in the bag" of the encirclement near Bryansk and four - at Vyazma. About 660 000 people were captured. The road to Moscow was almost free. However, in October, it started to rain and the pace of the German offensive slowed down considerably and averaged 2-3 km per day, thousands of vehicles got stuck in the mud. By that time, the Russians had managed to strengthen the defense of the capital by transferring 30 Siberian divisions there. In addition, the Soviet troops received new T-34 tanks and Katyusha rocket launchers. Before 100 000 Muscovites, mostly women, dug anti-tank ditches, built defenses, set up wire barriers. Around 2, millions of residents of the capital were evacuated to the east. Finally, the first winter frost bound the dirt, and on November 15-16, the German grouping resumed the offensive against Moscow. In the fields of the Moscow region bloody battles again unfolded. In some areas, the Germans managed to get closer to Moscow on 25-30 km. The intensified frosts literally tormented the Germans: the engines of cars, tanks and machine guns refused to work, because summer lubrication was used. In early December, the temperature dropped to minus 40 ° C, and people began to take it: The 14 000 Nazis had to amputate their limbs. The Soviet troops, despite the thousands of losses and frost, counterattacked, not allowing the Germans to move toward Moscow. Every day it became more and more obvious that the onslaught of the Nazi troops was weakening. In the battle for Moscow, the German command did not have significant reserves, so the offensive stopped.
End of illusion
“The notion that the enemy forces opposing the Army Group Center will run out is an illusion,” a German general reported to 1 on December. Two days later, a powerful counterattack of the Soviet troops began, developed by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, and the Germans began to retreat. Until the end of this unusually harsh winter, the Nazis failed to seize the initiative. They were only 43,5 km from Moscow, but could not take it. Leningrad also remained unconquered. The Germans continued to hold on to Ukraine - the country's main breadbasket - and a significant part of the coal and iron ore deposits, but Soviet troops did not let the enemy into the vital oil regions of the Caucasus. Like Napoleon, Hitler failed to conquer Russia. Strengthening the determination of his panicked generals, he did everything so that the army continued to fight. Ordinary soldiers performed the will of the Führer, even when they were forced to eat the flesh of fallen horses. But the world has already seen that the army of Nazi Germany can be defeated, and this has had the strongest psychological impact on the United States and Great Britain. On the one hand, in the six months of the war in 1941, the Red Army’s irretrievable losses amounted to 3 137 700 people. On the other hand, about a quarter of the German army - 830 903 man - were killed, injured, captured or missing, which denied Hitler's statements that the Red Army "does not know how to fight." The Fuhrer was not slow to blame the "scapegoats." Army officers, including 35 corps and division commanders, were severely punished, and Hitler gained even greater control over the development of military strategy. However, his serious mistakes could no longer be hidden. He underestimated the strength of resistance of the opposing side, its morale, will to win, economic and defense capabilities, as well as the conditions of warfare (lack of roads, mudslides, unusual frosts), which made all plans for a military campaign unrealistic. The unsuccessful attack on Moscow became a turning point during the Second World War. The victory of the Soviet troops near Moscow debunked the legend of the invincibility of the Wehrmacht, accelerated the design, and then the strengthening of the anti-Hitler coalition. By the end of 1941, the “troika” of the main allies in the war against Germany and its satellites: the USSR, England and the USA was defined. At the beginning of 1942, the anti-fascist coalition already included 26 states. On the Soviet-German front, during the past battles, the largest groups of German fascist troops were defeated, which reduced the offensive capabilities of the Wehrmacht. Therefore, preparing a new offensive in the summer of 1942 of the year, Hitler planned to strike on one southern sector of the front in order to reach the Volga in the Stalingrad region and then seize the oil-bearing regions of the Caucasus.
Taking advantage of the absence of a second front, the German command redeployed several more divisions to the east and on June 10 launched an attack on the Donbass and Stalingrad. By 28 July, German troops stood at the walls of the city. Hitler's troops outnumbered Russian forces 17 times, on planes twice. The Soviet soldiers heroically repelled the onslaught of the enemy and slowed down his movement, although they had to pay thousands of soldiers and officers for this. The Russians lost at Stalingrad: 1,7 643 people, including 800 323, were killed and captured, 800 320 - wounded and contused; 000 tanks, 1426 12 guns and mortars, 137 aircraft. The Germans lost about 2063 700 killed and wounded, more than 000 guns and mortars, more than a thousand tanks and over 2000 aircraft. It was the biggest battle of the Second World War. Attempts of the Germans to seize the city on the Volga demanded from Hitler’s command all new replenishments and assaults. Each month of the battle, about 1400 250 people and the bulk of military equipment were sent here. But it all burned in the fire of fighting near the walls of the city. In the battles on the approaches and in Stalingrad itself, the strike force suffered the greatest losses, but did not achieve the goal. During the counteroffensive launched on November 000, Soviet troops surrounded the Hitlerite 19 Army in the Stalingrad area. As in 6, frost raged, and unaccustomed German soldiers suffered from frostbite, disease and hunger. Hitler vowed that the blockade of the surrounded group would be broken, but on January 1941 and 31, the remnants of the 1943-thousandth army were forced to surrender. And for all the time of the Battle of Stalingrad, the Wehrmacht lost about a million people to 300. The counterattack of the three fronts near Stalingrad became the starting point for the subsequent attacks on the enemy, and at the beginning of 1,5, the strategic offensive of the Soviet troops on almost the entire Soviet-German front developed. Having exhausted and bloody the enemy at the initial stage, the Soviet troops created the conditions for the defeat of the German forces at Stalingrad, the seizure of the strategic initiative and the implementation of a radical change in the course of the war. The times when the Germans turned the heads of success and Red Square in Moscow almost became one of the spoils of war, moved into the field of legends. The victim of the crushing defeat of the Fuhrer could only complain: "God of war turned away from us."