Monday, September 27, 2010

Operation Barbarossa

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www.whenlionsroared.com

I look forward to seeing you there.



Hitler failed because he repeated Napoleon's mistake. Yes, and no...

Why Napoleon failed in Russia:
  1. He invaded Russia.
  2. He invaded Russia in June, perilously close to the brutal winter season.
  3. He presumed rapid advances and victories would cause the enemy to seek peace.
  4. His supply train was hampered by disease, starvation, deserters behind his lines, weather, and finding nothing but devastated land all around due to Russia's scorched earth policy.
  5. He reached Moscow in September and took it without a fight. Since the Russians had evacuated Moscow and removed all the supplies they could take with them, French troops found nothing to take as spoils. With winter upon them, they took to burning anything they could find and were likely responsible for a fire that destroyed most of the city, housing that the French needed for shelter.
  6. With no shelter, and no supplies, Napoleon ordered a retreat in October, during which the Russian army herded him down the same roads he had taken coming up. These same roads, of course, ran through scorched earth yielding no supplies to the defeated army.
  7. What was to be a quick campaign, capturing Moscow and accepting Russian surrender, turned into a quick defeat.
  8. He survived to raise more troops and fight another day.

Why Hitler failed in Russia: (Changes are in bold.)
  1. He invaded Russia.
  2. He invaded Russia in June, perilously close to the brutal winter season.
  3. He presumed rapid advances and victories would cause the enemy to seek peace.
  4. His supply train was hampered by ... weather, and finding nothing but devastated land all around due to Russia's scorched earth policy.
  5. He reached Moscow in September October and never took it.
  6. With no shelter, and no supplies, Napoleon Hitler ordered no retreats.
  7. What was to be a quick campaign, capturing Moscow and accepting Russian surrender, turned into a quick defeat a four-year campaign.
  8. He survived to raise more troops and fight another day. Germany would never recover from the tremendous loss of men and equipment. The Russians would push them back all the way to Berlin.

With all that said, let me clearly state that Hitler had no choice on whether he should have attacked Russia or not. It was clear from Stalin's posturing on the German border that Russia was preparing for war. While we have since learned that Stalin was at least a year away from beginning actions against Germany, this plays exactly into why Germany had to invade Russia when they did. Indeed, early successes proved that German training and strength might succeed where Napoleon had succeeded failed.

I will leave you with this, a gem of a chart. From the left, the beige line shows the might of French forces from Napoleon's initial entry into Russian territory and then depicting losses on the way to Moscow. The black line then shows the retreat back through the same territories.

click image to enlarge (on most screens there are two zoom levels)

1 comment:

ruepprich said...

Clever post!
One more similarity: Most of the soldiers who perished in Napoleon's effort were Germans from the Rheinbund. Most of the soldiers who perished in Hitler's effort were Germans, too.