The Battle of Moscow (December 1941): Turning Point of WWII

World War II started, at least as far as the “European Theatre” was concerned, with the German army steamrolling over Poland in September, 1939. About six months later, even more spectacular victories followed, this time over the Benelux Countries and France. By the summer of 1940, Germany looked invincible and predestined to rule the European continent indefinitely. (Great Britain admittedly refused to throw in the towel, but could not hope to win the war on its own, and had to fear that Hitler would soon turn his attention to Gibraltar, Egypt, and/or other jewels in the crown of the British Empire.) Five years later, Germany experienced the pain and humiliation of total defeat. On April 20, 1945, Hitler committed suicide in Berlin as the Red Army bulldozed its way into the city, reduced to a heap of smoking ruins, and on May 8/9 German surrendered unconditionally.

Clearly, then, sometime between late 1940 and 1944 the tide had turned rather dramatically. But when, and where? In Normandy in 1944, according to some; at Stalingrad, during the winter of 1942-43, according to others. In reality, the tide turned in December 1941 in the Soviet Union, more specifically, in the barren plain just west of Moscow. As a German historian, an expert on the war against the Soviet Union, has put it:

“That victory of the Red Army [in front of Moscow] was unquestionably the major break [Zäsur] of the entire world war.”[1]

That the Soviet Union was the scene of the battle that changed the course of World War II, should come as no surprise. War against the Soviet Union was the war Hitler had wanted from the beginning, as he had made very clear on the pages of Mein Kampf, written in the mid-1920s. (But an Ostkrieg, a war in the east, i.e. against the Soviets, was also the object of desire of the German generals, of Germany’s leading industrialists, and of other “pillars” of Germany’s establishment.) In fact, as a German historian has just recently demonstrated,[2] it was a war against the Soviet Union, and not against Poland, France, or Britain, that Hitler had wanted to unleash in 1939. On August 11 of that year, Hitler explained to Carl J. Burckhardt, an official of the League of Nations, that “everything he undertook was directed against Russia,” and that “if the West [i.e. the French and the British] is too stupid and too blind to comprehend this, he would be forced to reach an understanding with the Russians, turn and defeat the West, and then turn back with all his strength to strike a blow against the Soviet Union.”[3] This is in fact what happened. The West did turn out to be “too stupid and blind”, as Hitler saw it, to give him “a free hand” in the east, so he did make a deal with Moscow – the infamous “Hitler-Stalin Pact” – and then unleashed war against Poland, France and Britain. But his objective remained the same: to attack and destroy the Soviet Union as soon as possible.

Hitler and the German generals were convinced they had learned an important lesson from World War I. Devoid of the raw materials needed to win a modern war, such as oil and rubber, Germany could not win a long, drawn-out war. In order to win the next war, Germany would have to win it fast, very fast. This is how the Blitzkrieg-concept was born, that is, the idea of warfare (Krieg) fast as “lightning” (Blitz). Blitzkrieg meant motorized war, so in preparation for such a war Germany during the thirties cranked out massive numbers of tanks and planes as well as trucks to transport troops. In addition, gargantuan amounts of oil and rubber were imported and stockpiled. Much of this oil was purchased from US corporations, some of which also kindly made available the “recipe” for producing synthetic fuel from coal.[4] In 1939 and 1940, this equipment permitted the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe to overwhelm the Polish, Dutch, Belgian, and French defenses with thousands of planes and tanks in a matter of weeks; Blitzkriege, “lightning-fast wars,” were invariably followed by Blitzsiege, “lightning-fast victories.”

These victories were spectacular enough, but they did not provide Germany with much loot in the form of vitally important oil and rubber. Instead, “lightning warfare” actually depleted the stockpiles built up before the war. Fortunately for Hitler, in 1940 and 1941 Germany was able to continue importing oil from the still neutral United States – not directly, but via other neutral (and friendly) countries such as Franco’s Spain. Moreover, under the terms of the Hitler-Stalin Pact the Soviet Union herself also supplied Germany rather generously with oil! However, it was most troubling for Hitler that, in return, Germany had to supply the Soviet Union with high-quality industrial products and state-of-the-art military technology, which was used by the Soviets to modernize their army and improve their weaponry.[5]

It is understandable that Hitler already resurrected his earlier plan for war against the Soviet Union soon after the defeat of France, namely, in the summer of 1940. A formal order to prepare plans for such an attack, to be code-named Operation Barbarossa (Unternehmen Barbarossa) was given a few months later, on December 18, 1940.[6] Already in 1939 Hitler had been most eager to attack the Soviet Union, and he had turned against the West only, as a German historian has put it, “in order to enjoy security in the rear (Rückenfreiheit) when he would finally be ready to settle accounts with the Soviet Union.” The same historian concludes that by 1940 nothing had changed as far as Hitler was concerned: “The true enemy was the one in the east.”[7] Hitler simply did not want to wait much longer before realizing the great ambition of his life, that is, before destroying the country he had defined as his archenemy in Mein Kampf. Moreover, he knew that the Soviets were frantically preparing their defenses for a German attack which, as they knew only too well, would come sooner or later. Since the Soviet Union was getting stronger by the day, time was obviously not on Hitler’s side. How much longer could he wait before the “window of opportunity” would close?

Furthermore, waging a Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union promised to provide Germany with the virtually limitless resources of that huge country, including Ukrainian wheat to provide Germany’s population with plenty of food, also at wartime; minerals such as coal, from which synthetic rubber and oil could be produced; and – last but certainly not least! – the rich oil fields of Baku and Grozny, where the gas-guzzling Panzers and Stukas would be able to fill their tanks to the brim at any time. Steeled with these assets, it would then be a simple matter for Hitler to settle accounts with Britain, starting, for example, with the capture of Gibraltar. Germany would finally be a genuine world power, invulnerable within a European “fortress” stretching from the Atlantic to the Urals, possessed of limitless resources, and therefore capable to win even long, drawn-out wars against any antagonist – including the US! – in one of the future “wars of the continents” conjured up in Hitler’s feverish imagination.

Hitler and his generals were confident that the Blitzkrieg they prepared to unleash against the Soviet Union would be as successful as their earlier “lightning wars” against Poland and France had been. They considered the Soviet Union as a “giant with feet of clay”, whose army, presumably decapitated by Stalin’s purges of the late 1930s, was “not more than a joke,” as Hitler himself put it on one occasion.[8] In order to fight, and of course win, the decisive battles, they allowed for a campaign of four to six weeks, possibly to be followed by some mopping-up operations, during which the remnants of the Soviet host would “be chased across the country like a bunch of beaten Cossacks.”[9] In any event, Hitler felt supremely confident, and on the eve of the attack, he “fancied himself to be on the verge of the greatest triumph of his life.”[10]

(In Washington and London, the military experts likewise believed that the Soviet Union would not be able to put up significant resistance to the Nazi juggernaut, whose military exploits of 1939-40 had earned it a reputation of invincibility. The British secret services were convinced that the Soviet Union would be “liquidated within eight to ten weeks,” and Field Marshal Sir John Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, averred that the Wehrmacht would slice through the Red Army “like a warm knife through butter,” that the Red Army would be rounded up “like cattle.” According to expert opinion in Washington, Hitler would “crush Russia [sic] like an egg.”)[11]

The German attack started on June 22, 1941, in the early hours of the morning. Three million German soldiers and almost 700,000 allies of Nazi Germany crossed the border, and their equipment consisted of 600,000 motor vehicles, 3,648 tanks, more than 2.700 planes, and just over 7,000 pieces of artillery.[12] At first, everything went according to the plan. Huge holes were punched in the Soviet defences, impressive territorial gains were made rapidly, and hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers were killed, wounded, or taken prisoner in a number of spectacular “encirclement battles” (Kesselschlachten). After one such battle, fought in the vicinity of Smolensk towards the end of July, the road to Moscow seemed to lay open.

However, all too soon it became evident that the Blitzkrieg in the east would not be the cakewalk that had been expected. Facing the most powerful military machine on earth, the Red Army predictably took a major beating but, as Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels confided to his diary as early as July 2, also put up a tough resistance and hit back pretty hard on more than one occasion. General Franz Halder, in many ways the “godfather” of Operation Barbarossa’s plan of attack, acknowledged that Soviet resistance was much tougher than anything the Germans had faced in Western Europe. Wehrmacht reports cited “hard,” “tough,” even “wild” resistance, causing heavy losses in men and equipment on the German side.[13] More often than expected, Soviet forces managed to launch counter-attacks that slowed down the German advance. Some Soviet units went into hiding in the vast Pripet Marshes and elsewhere, organized deadly partisan warfare, and threatened the long and vulnerable German lines of communication.[14] It also turned out that the Red Army was much better equipped than expected. German generals were “amazed,” writes a German historian, by the quality of Soviet weapons such as the Katyusha rocket launcher (a.k.a. “Stalin Organ”) and the T-34 tank. Hitler was furious that his secret services had not been aware of the existence of some of this weaponry.[15]

The greatest cause of concern, as far as the Germans were concerned, was the fact that the bulk of the Red Army managed to withdraw in relatively good order and eluded destruction in a major Kesselschlacht, the kind of repeat of Cannae or Sedan that Hitler and his generals had dreamed of. The Soviets appeared to have carefully observed and analyzed the German Blitzkrieg successes of 1939 and 1940 and to have learned useful lessons. They must have noticed that in May 1940 the French had massed their forces right at the border as well as in Belgium, thus making it possible for the German war machine to encircle them in a major Kesselschlacht. (British troops were also caught in this encirclement, but managed to escape via Dunkirk.) The Soviets did leave some troops at the border, of course, and these troops predictably suffered the Soviet Union’s major losses during the opening stages of Barbarossa. But – contrary to what is claimed by historians such as Richard Overy[16] – the bulk of the Red Army was held back in the rear, avoiding entrapment. It was this “defence in depth” that frustrated the German ambition to destroy the Red Army in its entirety. As Marshal Zhukov was to write in his memoirs, “the Soviet Union would have been smashed if we had organized all our forces at the border.”[17]

By the middle of July, as Hitler’s war in the east started to lose its Blitz-qualities, some German leaders started to voice great concern. Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of the Wehrmacht’s secret service, the Abwehr, for example, confided on July 17 to a colleague on the front, General von Bock, that he saw “nothing but black.” On the home front, many German civilians also started to feel that the war in the east was not going well. In Dresden, Victor Klemperer wrote in his diary on July 13: “We suffer immense losses, we have underestimated the Russians…”[18] Around the same time Hitler himself abandoned his belief in a quick and easy victory and scaled down his expectations; he now expressed the hope that his troops might reach the Volga by October and capture the oil fields of the Caucasus a month or so later.[19] By the end of August, at a time when Barbarossa should have been winding down, a memorandum of the Wehrmacht’s High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, OKW) acknowledged that it might no longer be possible to win the war in 1941.[20]

A major problem was the fact that, when Barbarossa started on June 22, the available supplies of fuel, tires, spare parts etc., were only good enough for about two months. This had been deemed sufficient, because it was expected that within two months the Soviet Union would be on its knees and its unlimited resources – industrial products as well as raw materials – would therefore be available to the Germans.[21] However, by late August the German spearheads were nowhere near those distant regions of the Soviet Union where oil, that most precious of all martial commodities, was to be had. If the tanks managed to keep on rolling, though increasingly slowly, into the seemingly endless Russian and Ukrainian expanses, it was to a large extent by means of fuel and rubber imported, via Spain and occupied France, from the US. The American share of Germany’s imports of vitally important oil for engine lubrication (Motorenöl), for example, increased rapidly during the summer of 1941, namely, from 44 per cent in July to no less than 94 per cent in September.[22]

The flames of optimism flared up again in September, when German troops captured Kiev, bagging 650,000 prisoners, and, further north, made progress in the direction of Moscow. Hitler believed, or at least pretended to believe, that the end was now near for the Soviets. In a public speech in the Berlin Sportpalast on October 3, he declared that the eastern war was virtually over. And the Wehrmacht was ordered to deliver the coup de grace by launching Operation Typhoon (Unternehmen Taifun), an offensive aimed at taking Moscow. However, the odds for success looked increasingly slim, as the Soviets were busily bringing in reserve units from the Far East. (They had been informed by their master spy in Tokyo, Richard Sorge, that the Japanese, whose army was stationed in northern China, were no longer considering to attack the Soviets’ vulnerable borders in the Vladivostok area.) To make things worse, the Germans no longer enjoyed superiority in the air, particularly over Moscow. Also, insufficient supplies of ammunition and food could be brought up from the rear to the front, since the long supply lines were severely hampered by partisan activity.[23] Finally, it was getting chilly in the Soviet Union, though no colder than usual at that time of the year. But the German high command, confident that their eastern Blitzkrieg would be over by the end of the summer, had failed to supply the troops with the equipment necessary to fight in the rain, mud, snow, and freezing temperatures of a Russian fall and winter.

Taking Moscow loomed as an extremely important objective in the minds of Hitler and his generals. It was believed, though wrongly, that the fall of Moscow would “decapitate” the Soviet Union and thus bring about its collapse. It also seemed important to avoid a repeat of the scenario of the summer of 1914, when the seemingly unstoppable German advance had been halted in extremis on the eastern outskirts of Paris, during the Battle of the Marne. This disaster -from the German perspective – had robbed Germany of nearly certain victory in the opening stages of the “Great War” and had forced it into a long, drawn-out struggle that, lacking sufficient resources and blockaded by the British Navy, it was doomed to lose. This time, in a new Great War, fought against a new archenemy, the Soviet Union, there was to be no “Miracle of the Marne,” that is, no defeat just outside the capital, and Germany would therefore not again have to fight, resourceless and blockaded, a long, drawn out conflict it would be doomed to lose. Unlike Paris, Moscow would fall, history would not repeat itself, and Germany would end up being victorious.[24] Or so they hoped in Hitler’s headquarters.

The Wehrmacht continued to advance, albeit very slowly, and by mid-November some units found themselves at only 30 kilometers from the capital. But the troops were now totally exhausted, and running out of supplies. Their commanders knew that it was simply impossible to take Moscow, tantalizingly close as the city may have been, and that even doing so would not bring them victory. On December 3, a number of units abandoned the offensive on their own initiative. Within days, however, the entire German army in front of Moscow was simply forced on the defensive. Indeed, on December 5, at 3 in the morning, in cold and snowy conditions, the Red Army suddenly launched a major, well-prepared counter-attack. The Wehrmacht’s lines were pierced in many places, and the Germans were thrown back between 100 and 280 km with heavy losses of men and equipment. It was only with great difficulty that a catastrophic encirclement (Einkesselung) could be avoided. On December 8, Hitler ordered his army to abandon the offensive and to move into defensive positions. He blamed this setback on the supposedly unexpectedly early arrival of winter, refused to pull back further to the rear, as some of his generals suggested, and proposed to attack again in the spring.[25]

Thus ended Hitler’s Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union, the war that, had it been victorious, would have realized the great ambition of his life, the destruction of the Soviet Union. More importantly, at least from our present perspective, such a victory would also have provided Nazi Germany with sufficient oil and other resources to make it a virtually invulnerable world power. As such, Nazi Germany would very likely have been capable of finishing off stubborn Great Britain, even if the US would have rushed to help its Anglo-Saxon cousin, which, incidentally, was not yet in the cards in early December of 1941. A Blitzsieg, that is, a rapid victory against the Soviet Union, then, was supposed to have made a German defeat impossible, and would in all likelihood have done so. (It is probably fair to say that if Nazi Germany would have defeated the Soviet Union in 1941, Germany would today still be the hegemon of Europe, and possibly of the Middle East and North Africa as well.) However, defeat in the Battle of Moscow in December 1941 meant that Hitler’s Blitzkrieg did not produce the hoped-for Blitzsieg. In the new “Battle of the Marne” just to the west of Moscow, Nazi Germany suffered the defeat that made victory impossible, not only victory against the Soviet Union itself, but also victory against Great Britain, victory in the war in general.

Bearing in mind the lessons of World War I, Hitler and his generals had known from the start that, in order to win the new “Great War” they had unleashed, Germany had to win fast, lightning-fast. But on December 5, 1941, it became evident to everyone present in Hitler’s headquarters that a Blitzsieg against the Soviet Union would not be forthcoming, so that Germany was doomed to lose the war, if not sooner, then later. According to General Alfred Jodl, Chief of the Operations Staff of the OKW, Hitler then realized that he could no longer win the war.[26] And so it can be argued that the tide of World War II turned on December 5, 1941. However, as real tides do not turn suddenly, but gradually and imperceptibly, the tide of the war also turned not on one single day, but over a period of days, weeks, even months, namely in the period of approximately three months that elapsed between the late summer of 1941 and early December of that same year.

The tide of the war in the east turned gradually, but it did not do so imperceptibly. Already in August 1941, as the German successes failed to bring about a Soviet capitulation and the Wehrmacht’s advance slowed down considerably, astute observers started to doubt that a German victory, not only in the Soviet Union but in the war in general, still belonged to the realm of possibilities. The well-informed Vatican, for example, initially very enthusiastic about Hitler’s “crusade” against the Soviet homeland of “godless” Bolshevism and confident that the Soviets would collapse immediately, started to express grave concerns about the situation in the east in late summer 1941; by mid-October, it was to come to the conclusion that Germany would lose the war.[27] Likewise in mid-October, the Swiss secret services reported that “the Germans can no longer win the war”; that conclusion was based on information gathered in Sweden from statements by visiting German officers.[28] By late November, a defeatism of sorts had started to infect the higher ranks of the Wehrmacht and of the Nazi Party. Even as they were urging their troops forward towards Moscow, some generals opined that it would be preferable to make peace overtures and wind down the war without achieving the great victory that had seemed so certain at the start of Operation Barbarossa. And shortly before the end of November, Armament Minister Fritz Todt asked Hitler to find a diplomatic way out of the war, since purely militarily as well as industrially it was as good as lost.[29]

When the Red Army launched its devastating counteroffensive on December 5, Hitler himself realized that he would lose the war. But of course he was not prepared to let the German public know that. The nasty tidings from the front near Moscow were presented to the public as a temporary setback, blamed on the supposedly unexpectedly early arrival of winter and/or on the incompetence or cowardice of certain commanders. (It was only a good year later, after the catastrophic defeat in the Battle of Stalingrad during the winter of 1942-1943, that the German public, and the entire world, would realize that Germany was doomed; this is why even today many historians believe that the tide turned in Stalingrad .) Even so, it proved impossible to keep the catastrophic implications of the debacle in front of Moscow a total secret. For example, on December 19, 1941, the German Consul in Basel reported to his superiors in Berlin that the (openly pro-Nazi) head of a mission of the Swiss Red Cross, sent to the front in the Soviet Union to assist only the wounded on the German side, which of course contravened Red Cross rules, had returned to Switzerland with the news, most surprising to the Consul, that “he no longer believed that Germany could win the war.”[30]

December 7. 1941. In his headquarters deep in the forests of East Prussia, Hitler had not yet fully digested the ominous news of the Soviet counter-offensive in front of Moscow, when he learned that, on the other side of the world, the Japanese had attacked the Americans at Pearl Harbour. This caused the US to declare war on Japan, but not on Germany, which had nothing to do with the attack and had not even been aware of the Japanese plans. Hitler had no obligation whatsoever to rush to the aid of his Japanese friends, as is claimed by many American historians, but on December 11, 1941 – four days after Pearl Harbor – he declared war on the US. This seemingly irrational decision must be understood in light of the German predicament in the Soviet Union. Hitler almost certainly speculated that this entirely gratuitous gesture of solidarity would induce his Eastern ally to reciprocate with a declaration of war on the enemy of Germany, the Soviet Union, and this would have forced the Soviets into the extremely perilous predicament of a two-front war. Hitler appears to have believed that he could exorcize the spectre of defeat in the Soviet Union, and in the war in general, by summoning a sort of Japanese deus ex machina to the Soviet Union’s vulnerable Siberian frontier. According to the German historian Hans W. Gatzke, the Führer was convinced that “if Germany failed to join Japan [in the war against the United States], it would…end all hope for Japanese help against the Soviet Union.” But Japan did not take Hitler’s bait. Tokyo, too, despised the Soviet state, but the land of the rising sun, now at war against the US, could afford the luxury of a two-front war as little as the Soviets, and preferred to put all of its money on a “southern” strategy, hoping to win the big prize of Southeast Asia – including oil-rich Indonesia! -, rather than embark on a venture in the inhospitable reaches of Siberia. Only at the very end of the war, after the surrender of Nazi Germany, would it come to hostilities between the Soviet Union and Japan. [31]

And so, because of Hitler’s own fault, the camp of Germany’s enemies now included not only Great Britain and the Soviet Union, but also the mighty USA, whose troops could be expected to appear on Germany’s shores, or at least on the shores of German-occupied Europe, in the foreseeable future. The Americans would indeed land troops in France, but only in 1944, and this unquestionably important event is still often presented as the turning point of World War II. However, one should ask if the Americans would ever have landed in Normandy or, for that matter, ever have declared war on Nazi Germany, if Hitler had not declared war on them on December 11, 1941; and one should ask if Hitler would ever have made the desperate, even suicidal, decision to declare war on the US if he had not found himself in a hopeless situation in the Soviet Union. The involvement of the US in the war against Germany, then, which for many reasons was not “in the cards” before December 1941, was also a consequence of the German setback in front of Moscow. Obviously, this constitutes yet another fact that may be cited in support of the claim that “the tide turned” in the Soviet Union in the fall and early winter of 1941.

Nazi Germany was doomed, but the war was still to be long one. Hitler ignored the advice of his generals, who strongly recommend trying to find a diplomatic way out of the war, and decided to battle on in the slim hope of somehow pulling victory out of a hat. The Russian counter-offensive would run out of steam, the Wehrmacht would survive the winter of 1941-1942, and in the spring of 1942 Hitler would scrape together all available forces for an offensive – code-named “Operation Blue” (Unternehmen Blau) – in the direction of the oil fields of the Caucasus – via Stalingrad. Hitler himself acknowledged that, “if he did not get the oil of Maikop and Grozny, then he would have to end this war.”[32] However, the element of surprise had been lost, and the Soviets proved to dispose of huge masses of men, oil, and other resources, as well as excellent equipment, much of it produced in factories that had been established behind the Urals between 1939 and 1941. The Wehrmacht, on the other hand, could not compensate for the huge losses it had suffered in 1941. Between June 22, 1941, and January 31, 1942, the Germans had lost 6,000 airplanes and more than 3,200 tanks and similar vehicles; and no less than 918,000 men had been killed, wounded, or gone missing in action, amounting to 28,7 percent of the average strength of the army, namely, 3,2 million men.[33] (In the Soviet Union, Germany would lose no less than 10 million of its total 13.5 million men killed, wounded, or taken prisoner during the entire war; and the Red Army would end up claiming credit for 90 per cent of all Germans killed in the Second World War.)[34] The forces available for a push towards the oil fields of the Caucasus were therefore extremely limited. Under those circumstances, it is quite remarkable that in 1942 the Germans managed to make it as far as they did. But when their offensive inevitably petered out, namely in September of that year, their weakly held lines were stretched along many hundreds of kilometers, presenting a perfect target for a Soviet attack. When that attack came, it caused an entire German army to be bottled up, and ultimately to be destroyed, in Stalingrad. It was after this great victory of the Red Army that the ineluctability of German defeat in World War II would be obvious for all to see. However, the seemingly minor and relatively unheralded German defeat in front of Moscow in late 1941 had been the precondition for the admittedly more spectacular and more “visible” German defeat at Stalingrad.

There are even more reasons to proclaim December 1941 as the turning point of the war. The Soviet counter-offensive destroyed the reputation of invincibility in which the Wehrmacht had basked ever since its success against Poland in 1939, thus boosting the morale of Germany’s enemies everywhere. The Battle of Moscow also ensured that the bulk of Germany’s armed forces would be tied to an eastern front of approximately 4,000 km for an indefinite period of time, which all but eliminated the possibility of German operations against Gibraltar, for example, and thus provided tremendous relief to the British. Conversely, the failure of the Blitzkrieg demoralized the Fins and other German allies. And so forth…

It was in front of Moscow, in December 1941, that the tide turned, because it was there that the Blitzkrieg failed and that Nazi Germany was consequently forced to fight, without sufficient resources, the kind of long, drawn-out war that Hitler and his generals knew they could not possibly win.

Notes

[1] Gerd R. Ueberschär, „Das Scheitern des ‚Unternehmens Barbarossa‘“, in Gerd R. Ueberschär and Wolfram Wette (eds.), Der deutsche Überfall auf die Sowjetunion: “Unternehmen Barbarossa” 1941, Frankfurt am Main, 2011, p. 120.

[2] Rolf-Dieter Müller, Der Feind steht im Osten: Hitlers geheime Pläne für einen Krieg gegen die Sowjetunion im Jahr 1939, Berlin, 2011.

[3] Cited in Müller, op. cit., p. 152.

[4] Jacques R. Pauwels, The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War, James Lorimer, Toronto, 2002, pp. 33, 37.

[5] Lieven Soete, Het Sovjet-Duitse niet-aanvalspact van 23 augustus 1939: Politieke Zeden in het Interbellum, Berchem [Antwerp], Belgium, 1989, pp. 289-290, including footnote 1 on p. 289.

[6] See e.g. Gerd R. Ueberschär, “Hitlers Entschluß zum ‘Lebensraum’-Krieg im Osten: Programmatisches Ziel oder militärstrategisches Kalkül?,” in Gerd R. Ueberschär and Wolfram Wette (eds.), Der deutsche Überfall auf die Sowjetunion: “Unternehmen Barbarossa” 1941, Frankfurt am Main, 2011, p. 39.

[7] Müller, op. cit., p. 169.

[8] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…,” p. 95.

[9] Müller, op. cit., pp. 209, 225.

[10] Ueberschär, “Hitlers Entschluß…”, p. 15.

[11] Pauwels, op. cit., p. 62; Ueberschär, „Das Scheitern…,“ pp. 95-96; Domenico Losurdo, Stalin: Storia e critica di una leggenda nera, Rome, 2008, p. 29.

[12] Müller, op. cit., p. 243.

[13] Richard Overy, Russia’s War, London, 1997, p. 87.

[14] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, pp. 97-98.

[15] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, p. 97; Losurdo, op. cit., p. 31.

[16] Overy, op. cit., pp. 64-65.

[17] Grover Furr, Khrushchev Lied : The Evidence That Every ‘Revelation’ of Stalin’s (and Beria’s) ‘Crimes’ in Nikita Khrushchev’s Infamous ‘Secret Speech’ to the 20th Party Congress of the Communist Party of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union on February 25, 1956, is Provably False, Kettering/Ohio, 2010, p. 343: Losurdo, op. cit., p. 31; Soete, op. cit., p. 297.

[18] Losurdo, op. cit., pp. 31-32.

[19] Bernd Wegner, “Hitlers zweiter Feldzug gegen die Sowjetunion: Strategische Grundlagen und historische Bedeutung“, in Wolfgang Michalka (ed.), Der Zweite Weltkrieg: Analysen – Grundzüge – Forschungsbilanz, München and Zurich, 1989, p. 653.

[20] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, p. 100.

[21] Müller, op. cit., p. 233.

[22] Tobias Jersak, “Öl für den Führer,“ Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, February 11, 1999. Jersak used a “top secret” document produced by the Wehrmacht Reichsstelle für Mineralöl, now in the military section of the Bundesarchiv (Federal Archives), file RW 19/2694.

[23] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, pp. 99-102, 106-107.

[24] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, p. 106.

[25] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…,” pp. 107-111; Geoffrey Roberts, Stalin`s Wars from World War to Cold War, 1939-1953, New Haven/CT and London, 2006, p. 111.

[26] Andreas Hillgruber (ed.), Der Zweite Weltkrieg 1939–1945: Kriegsziele und Strategie der Grossen Mächte, fifth edition, Stuttgart, 1989, p. 81.

[27] Annie Lacroix-Riz, Le Vatican, l’Europe et le Reich de la Première Guerre mondiale à la guerre froide, Paris, 1996, p. 417.

[28] Daniel Bourgeois, Business helvétique et troisième Reich : Milieux d’affaires, politique étrangère, antisémitisme, Lausanne, 1998, pp. 123, 127.

[29] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…“, pp. 107-108.

[30] Bourgeois, op. cit., pp. 123, 127.

[31] Pauwels, op. cit., pp. 68-69; quotation from Hans W. Gatzke, Germany and the United States: A “Special Relationship?,” Cambridge/MA, and London, 1980, p. 137.

[32] Wegner, op. cit., pp. 654-656.

[33] Ueberschär, “Das Scheitern…,” p. 116.

[34] Clive Ponting, Armageddon: The Second World War, London, 1995, p. 130; Stephen E. Ambrose Americans at War, New York, 1998, p. 72.


Originally published on 2011-12-06

About the author: Jacques R. Pauwels, author of The Myth of the Good War: America in the Second World War, James Lorimer, Toronto, 2002.

Source: Global Research

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The World According to ISIS
This article is excerpted from Fawaz A. Gerges’s forthcoming book, ISIS: A History.Although the spectacular surge of ISIS must be contextualized within the social and political circumstances that exist in Iraq and Syria and beyond, the group’s worldview and ideology should be taken equally seriously. Ideology is, after all, the superglue that binds Salafi-jihadists known as revolutionary religious activists or global jihadists of the ISIS variety to each other. The Salafi-jihadist movement emerged from an alliance between ultraconservative Saudi Salafism (or Wahhabism) and revolutionary Egyptian Islamism which was inspired by the Egyptian master theorist, Sayyid Qutb. The Afghan war against ...
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Donald Franciszek Tusk: “Blood Is Thicker Than Water”?!
Donald Franciszek Tusk, (born 22 April 1957) is a Polish politician and historian. He has been President of the European Council since 1 December 2014. Previously he was Prime Minister of Poland (2007–2014) and a co-founder and chairman of the Civic Platform (Platforma Obywatelska) party. Tusk began his public career as an activist in his home town of Gdańsk, supporting Solidarity and organizing his fellow university students. With the exception of one four-year stretch, Tusk has served in the Third Republic Sejm (parliament) continuously since its first elections in 1991. He was Vice Marshal (deputy speaker) of the Senate from 1997 ...
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Interview With Historian Stephen Cohen on Ukraine
Interview with historian Stephen Cohen, by Patrick L. Smith, published in Salon.com, April 17, 2015 Introduction by Patrick L. Smith: It is one thing to comment in a column as the Ukrainian crisis grinds on and Washington—senselessly, with no idea of what will come next—destroys relations with Moscow. It is quite another, as a long exchange with Stephen F. Cohen makes clear, to watch as an honorable career’s worth of scholarly truths are set aside in favor of unlawful subterfuge, a war fever not much short of Hearst’s and what Cohen ranks among the most extravagant expansion of a sphere of ...
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The Russians are Coming!
As 2016 closes, we find ourselves a deeply unsettled nation. We’re unable to draw the lines of our national interest. Is it jobs and economy, is it national security, or is it now in our interest to ensure global security — in other words, act as the world’s policemen? As the “failing” (to quote Trump) New York Times degenerates into a Washington Post organization with its stagnant Cold War vision of a 1950s world where the Russians are to blame for most everything — Hillary’s loss, most of the aggression and disorder in the world, the desire to destabilize Europe, etc. — the Times has added the ...
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The Russian War Crimes in Syria in 2016-2019: Exclusive Photo Evidence from the Cabinet of Boris Johnson & Theresa May
Exclusive photos of the Russian war crimes in Syria and the Middle East by "Free Media Group" volunteers, 2016-2018 with a proper illustrations of the Russia's militant imperialism. The authenticity of photos and their descriptions are certified by the UK Cabinet of Boris Johnson & Theresa May:  The My Lai Massacre by Russian soldiersThe Russian soldiers at the spot of My Lai Massacre with their victimsAleppo citizen with a daughter during the Russian destruction of the cityRussian Orthodox monk in Moscow in protest against the Russian invasion of SyriaSyrian children of war and the Russian occupant soldier Killed Russian student in ...
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International Systems of States and Global Security Models
IntroductionThe fundamental aim of the text below is to deal with the concept and models of global security as one of the crucial topics of global political studies. We have to keep in mind that a term and notion of security usually imply a kind of sense of protection and safety from different possible harms coming from „outside“. Therefore, it can be generally acceptable and understandable that the states want to protect their own territories by expanding great resources in making their territorial safe. Security topics are of very different kind, ranging from the causes of conflict between states to ...
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The Idea of a Greater Croatia by Pavao Ritter Vitezović (II)
Part I The political purpose of Vitezović’s writings The ultimate political purpose of P. R. Vitezović’s works, based on his ideological construction, was of a triple nature. First of all, he tried to refute the Venetian claims on the territory of Dalmatia, the Istrian Peninsula, the Dalmatian Islands and Boka Kotorska (Cattaro Gulf in present-day Montenegro) that rose during the Great Vienna War 1683–1699 in which the Republic of St. Marco successfully fought the Ottoman Sultanate in a coalition with the Habsburg Empire [Banac 1984, 73]. The war clearly marked the beginning of the irreversible decline of the Ottoman power which consequently opened ...
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Rape and War: The US Experience
On July 9, 2006, the U.S. Army charged five US soldiers with the rape and murder of a 14-year-old Iraqi girl, Abeer Qasim Hamza al-Janabi, and the murder of her parents and 5-year-old sister. This brutal and senseless war crime raises the issue of rape in war. The lynchpin of US propaganda and infowar spin is that Soviet troops raped German women when the Red Army took Berlin in 1945. This was meant to take away from the Russian military achievement in taking Berlin. The Russian soldiers were “rapists” while US soldiers were “liberators”, handing out chocolate bars, chewing gum, ...
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The Origins of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Nations
"The main part of the population of Baltic cities up to the 19th century consisted of ethnic Germans, and also Poles and Jews, but not at all Baltic people. In fact, the “old” (pre-revolutionary) Baltic region was completely built by Germans. Baltic cities were German cities – with German architecture, culture, and system of municipal management. ... in the cities of the Baltic region there were almost no Estonians and Latvians." Now, the Baltic states consist of three countries – Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, which received sovereignty in the course of the disintegration of the Soviet Union. Each of these states position themselves, respectively, ...
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Why didn’t Washington Dissolve NATO after Collapse of USSR?
NATO has expanded dramatically after the collapse of its primary rivals, the USSR and the Warsaw Treaty Organization, Canadian Professor Michael Jabara Carley notes, posing the question whether NATO was founded as a defensive or an offensive alliance. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), a military alliance aimed against the Soviet Union, was established on April 4, 1949; and only seven years after the formation of NATO the Warsaw Treaty Organization was established bringing together eight nations (versus 15 NATO member-states). So, who was the real “aggressor”? What alliance was an offensive one? “There has been much discussion recently of NATO in the mainstream and alternate media. Why was ...
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Cold War Then, Cold War Now
The anti-Russian/anti-Soviet bias in the American media appears to have no limit. You would think that they would have enough self-awareness and enough journalistic integrity -– just enough -– to be concerned about their image. But it keeps on coming, piled higher and deeper.One of the latest cases in point is a review of a new biography of Mikhail Gorbachev in the New York Times Book Review (September 10). The review says that Gorbachev “was no hero to his own people” because he was “the destroyer of their empire”. This is how the New York Times avoids having to say anything positive about life ...
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The Criminal Actions of the Kiev Regime in East Ukraine
More than 6,400 civilians have been killed and nearly 16,000 injured as result of criminal actions of Kiev regime during the conflict in Donbass, Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin said on Thursday. Also, more than 10,000 residential infrastructure facilities have been fully or partially destroyed and burnt. Since last April, more than 1 million Russian-speaking residents of Lugansk and Donetsk regions had to flee their homes, and more than 110,000 people having a refugee status have applied for the Russian citizenship. The war has been continuing. Ukrainian capital being wrapped in smoke due to a spate of regional ...
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The Russian World and European Civilization
In recent years, both the Western as well as the liberal Russian press have had a lot to say about Russian “barbarianism,” as if to contrast it with European “civilization.” But a closer inspection – through the prism of the heroic pages of Russian history – of the two groups’ moral ideals and actual lives presents us with quite a different picture. For example, in pagan times, ancient Russians never worshipped a god of war, although their contemporaries in Europe were transfixed by their own martial deity, constructing an entire epic narrative around the concepts of war and conquest. After defeating the ...
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The Crimean ‘Question’
There are more questions than answers to the Crimean ‘question’. After more than two decades belonging to an independent Ukraine, the Crimean peninsula has become part of Russia, which has thereby gained an extra 27,000 km2 of territory and over two million new citizens. Ukraine and the West see this unprecedented event as annexation and a sign of the Kremlin’s neo-imperial ambitions. To countries not directly involved in the Ukrainian crisis, it is a dangerous violation of the Eurasian status quo that could cause widespread destabilisation in the area, while in Moscow’s eyes it is ‘the return of Crimea and Sevastopol ...
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Russian Geopolitics from Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin
Is it necessary to prove that Vladimir Putin is poorly regarded by the western press? He’s so despised that the review L’Express wrote about a report addressed to the Pentagon that asserts that « Putin’s neurological development was significantly interrupted in infancy » and that « the Russian President carries a neurological abnormality. » The authors of the report say that “ his behaviour and facial expressions reveal someone who is defensive in large social settings.” The implicit conclusion of such a report that was acted on by the Pentagon, is that Putin can’t communicate, that he is unable to have an open and ...
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Angela Merkel Ignores Otto Von Bismarck’s Advice Never to Quarrel with Russia
It has been 200 years since the birth of Otto von Bismarck, the Iron Chancellor who unified Germany. Otto von Bismarck emphasized the importance of good relations with Russia. "The secret of politics? Make a good treaty with Russia", he said. Bismarck was convinced that a European security system without Russia would be impossible and war with Russia would be disastrous. Bismarck had been Prussia's ambassador to the Russian Empire. He was no Russophile, but he had an understanding of the geopolitical situation that almost no politician today possesses. Let's imagine that Bismarck left a letter to the following rulers of Germany, ...
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The Unspoken Crimes of World War II: The Dresden Massacre of 1945
It is 70-years anniversary of the end of the WWII – the bloodiest and most horrible war ever fought in the human history. The war that caused creation of the UN in 1945 in order to protect the world from similar events in the future – a pan-global political-security organization of which first issued legal act was the UN Charter, which inspired the 1948 Geneva Conventions’ definition of genocide. The Nüremberg and Tokyo Trials were organized as “The Last Battles” for justice as the first ever global trials for the war criminals and mass murderers including and the top-hierarchy statesmen and ...
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Why would US Transform Afghanistan into a Drug Empire?
For a total of sixteen years the US has been occupying Afghanistan after invading immediately after the 9/11 attacks. This act of aggression has already become the longest war in American history, overtaking the “record” that was held by the Vietnam War that lasted from 1964 to 1975. During this period, Washington would spend over 800 billion dollars on the so-called reconstruction of the Afghan nation. As a result of this “reconstruction”, the Taliban has been regaining control over the country, which has resulted in this group controlling over 40% of Afghan territory. Additionally, opium production rates have overtaken the ...
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America’s Allies Against Russia & Iran:  Main U.S. Allies are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Israel, & Nazis
The public has been so brainwashed by Big Brother’s lies so that many people won’t believe this article unless they click onto the link wherever they happen to think that what it is alleging is false. Then, they will see the evidence, for themselves, and will recognize that they’ve been fooled about that matter, and those readers will learn something important that they didn’t know before — including that Big Brother is real, and what it actually is, and how it came to be the way it is. This is about reality, the reality behind the screen of lies. Today's Axis ...
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NATO’s War against Yugoslavia was Based on Lies
Germany joined the war against Yugoslavia under the pretense of fabricated facts. Sensational confession of German policeman Henning Hentz who served in the OSCE in Kosovo in the 90s confirmed that.The reason here is that photographs taken by Hentz in late January 1999 were used by then German Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping to justify the immediate interference of NATO in the Kosovo conflict. He presented the photographs of the militants killed in Rugovo as photos of innocent Albanian victims.What did really happen in Kosovo in late January of 1999, several months before NATO launched its operation against Yugoslavia?According to Serbian ...
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The World According to ISIS
Donald Franciszek Tusk: “Blood Is Thicker Than Water”?!
Interview With Historian Stephen Cohen on Ukraine
The Russians are Coming!
The Russian War Crimes in Syria in 2016-2019: Exclusive Photo Evidence from the Cabinet of Boris Johnson & Theresa May
International Systems of States and Global Security Models
The Idea of a Greater Croatia by Pavao Ritter Vitezović (II)
Rape and War: The US Experience
The Origins of Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian Nations
Why didn’t Washington Dissolve NATO after Collapse of USSR?
Cold War Then, Cold War Now
The Criminal Actions of the Kiev Regime in East Ukraine
The Russian World and European Civilization
The Crimean ‘Question’
Russian Geopolitics from Ivan the Terrible to Vladimir Putin
Angela Merkel Ignores Otto Von Bismarck’s Advice Never to Quarrel with Russia
The Unspoken Crimes of World War II: The Dresden Massacre of 1945
Why would US Transform Afghanistan into a Drug Empire?
America’s Allies Against Russia & Iran: Main U.S. Allies are Saudi Arabia, UAE, Al Qaeda, ISIS, Israel, & Nazis
NATO’s War against Yugoslavia was Based on Lies
Policraticus

Written by Policraticus

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