On September 1, 1939, the world watched as the Nazi war machine invaded Poland. Adolph Hitler’s belligerent action to invade Poland created a ripple effect that, over the next few years, almost every country on the planet would feel. From 1939-1941, the world witnessed the beginnings of yet another World War that reached near apocalyptic levels for many countries. In this unit, students will be introduced to the major events and turning points that occurred between 1939 and 1941.
On June 22nd, 1941, under the order of Adolph Hitler, the German army invaded the Soviet Union. Operation Barbarossa broke the non-aggression pact the Nazis had with the Soviets and would result in the bloodiest campaign of the entire war.
What Were The Outcomes of Operation Barbarossa?
On August 23rd, 1939 the German and Russian governments signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact. This pact has been seen by many historians as a "honeymoon for two dictators" as it gave both countries ample time to build their armies without the threat of conflict with the other. Once the Germans felt they had a comparable army, it broke the pact as it vied to dominate the Soviet Union.
What Were The Conditions of Fighting Like?
Operation Barbarossa Losses
Operation Barbarossa was far from a victory for either the Soviets or Germans. The German army suffered over 3.8 million deaths while the Soviet army faced 2.9 million. Although this campaign campaign decimated the Nazi army, over 4 million Soviet civilians were killed in this brutal campaign that would last for over five months. This is seen by many as the turning point of World War II which would be the "beginning of the end" for the German Army.
The German invasion force brought with them 3,000 tanks, 7,000 artillery pieces, and 2,500 aircraft. This massive force spread out throughout the 1,800 mile long front and faced a brutal winter, incredibly challenging terrain, and a Russian "scorched-earth" that would result in millions of dead soldiers and civilians. The German army would find themselves ill-equipped and under prepared for such a long and harsh campaign.