What if Turkey would join Operation Barbarossa?

"Operation Barbarossa" - Germany's campaign against the Soviet Union from June 1941 to March 1942

Table of Contents

1.) Introduction to the topic, state of research and literature

2.) The time before the German attack
2.1) The German-Soviet non-aggression treaty and its consequences
2.2) The German-Soviet relationship from 1939 to the 1941 attack
2.2.1) Economic cooperation
2.2.2) From political cooperation to confrontation

3.) The attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941
3.1) The course of the war from June 1941 to March 1942
3.1.1) Line up of the armed forces in front of "Barbarossa"
3.1.2) Finland, Army Group North and Leningrad
3.1.3) Army Group Center, to Smolensk and Moscow
3.1.4) Army Group South and Ukraine
3.2) The Soviet reaction
3.2.1) The reactions and actions up to March 1942
3.2.2) The national minorities after June 22, 1941
3.3) “Barbarossa” and the reactions from abroad
3.4) The controversy over the "preventive war question"

4.) Ideologization and organizations in the occupied territories.
4.1) The German "Kommissarbefehl" and the consequences
4.2) Reich commissariats and their administration
4.3) Organizations in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union

5.) German plans for the time after "Barbarossa"

6.) Result and outlook

7.) List of sources and references.
7.1) Sources
7.2) Literature
7.2.1) Monographs
7.2.2) Articles

8.) Appendix
8.1) Maps
8.1.1) The German and Soviet armed forces in June 1941
8.1.2) Course of operation “Typhoon”.
8.1.3) The Soviet counter-offensive until March 1942
8.2) Postage stamp for Heroes' Remembrance Day 1942

1. Introduction to the topic, state of research and literature

“The fate of Europe, the future of the German Reich, the existence of our people are now in your hands alone. May the Lord God help us all in this fight! "[1] With these words, Adolf Hitler concluded on Sunday, June 22, 1941, his “justification” for the German attack on the Soviet Union. On this day "the world held its breath"[2]. In disregard of the Hitler-Stalin Pact concluded in August 1939, the German Reich triggered a war that had never been seen on this scale in any effects. The "Barbarossa" company had started.[3]

The reasons for this campaign were very complex. The attack should stand out from previous wars and campaigns in Europe. It is important at this point to make the complex relationship between the two states after 1933 clear. While in 1922 the foreign policy isolation of Germany and the Soviet Union still welded these fundamentally different systems together, a turning point occurred when the National Socialists came to power. It should also be examined how this unnatural alliance of the various economic systems and ideologies could come about in August 1939, and what consequences it had up to 1941. Particular attention is paid to the attitude of the Soviet foreign policy, which was shaped by Pan-Slavism, during the Balkan campaign in spring 1941. The apparent contradiction must be made clear.

In the campaign against the Soviet Union, the focus is primarily on the reaction of the USSR, especially Stalin's, to the German attack. At this point it makes sense to consider the campaign up to March 1942, since at this point a complete cycle results. If the time goes further, there is a risk of getting caught up in other, broader subject areas of the Russian campaign. Incidentally, the topic of “Barbarossa” also includes the question, which has been controversially discussed in research, as to whether the German attack was an attack or a “preventive strike”. The focus of this work is the investigation of the argument structure.

Another peculiarity during the Russian campaign is the rise of the ideologization of war, the best example of which is the so-called "Commissar Order". In addition, the nationalist-motivated organizations play an important role in the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. Organizations such as the SS were not only brought in from the outside with the occupation, but also within the occupied territories, groups striving for national independence such as the “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists” (OUN) or the “Russian Liberation Army ”(ROA). Although these organizations have a relatively low level of awareness, they also need to be taken into account. The focus of this work is on the OUN, as it had played an important role in the campaign against the Soviet Union. A more in-depth treatment of the ROA must be dispensed with because the education and the activities were outside the period considered here. For the overall picture of the "Barbarossa" company, the organizations mentioned play a key role in dealing with the population and partisan activities in the occupied territories of the USSR.

Even before the campaign against the Soviet Union began, the German side had already worked out how to proceed after the successful conclusion of the offensive with the occupied Soviet territories. Central to this was the pacification and administration of the areas. For this purpose, the first "Reichskommissariate" were founded as early as 1941, which were elementary for the later administration of the occupied territories of the Soviet Union. It should also be noted what effects the "Barbarossa" company had on the German war economy. Finally, it is necessary to take stock of the Russian campaign up to March 1942 and to show the further effects on the course of the war. In addition, there is map material in the appendix in order to be able to better understand the situation of the mentioned localities in addition to the statements on the “Taifun” offensive.

The literature density can be described as very detailed. Hardly any other chapter of World War II has been treated in such breadth and detail. Despite the ideological perspectives, there is hardly any discernible difference between Western and socialist literature as far as the factual is concerned. Often both researches are complemented. Andreas Hillgruber in particular created a profound change in the Federal Republic of Germany in the mid-1960s with his work on Hitler's politics and warfare.[4] He sees the war against the Soviet Union as an intertwining of various factors in Hitler's conception. On this basis, constant research took place in the 1970s, which dealt with the complexity of "Barbarossa".[5] After the fall of 1989/90 and the opening of many archives, the dispute continued on the basis of newly accessible documents, even if there had been little new knowledge within the research.[6] However, a change was discernible in socialist historiography. Until the de-Stalinization in the late 1950s and early 1960s, the person of Stalin and his role in the first days of the Russian campaign met with little or no criticism. This is how Soviet war historians called the initial retreats “planned”. A shift can already be made clear here, since before the de-Stalinization there was talk of a militarily “ingenious” approach.[7] Khrushchev's speech critical of Stalin on February 25, 1956 before leading politicians in the USSR represents a turning point.[8] Post-Stalinist literature allowed for more open discussions, took a critical position and even threw Stalin "serious [] mistakes"[9] in front. The signs of a German attack increased as early as the autumn of 1940. However, the necessary precautions were not fully implemented or the warnings were ignored.[10] There were gaps in post-Soviet research in the areas of Soviet prisoners of war, the collaboration of certain sections of the population with the Germans, and the persecution of Jews on Soviet territory, as these were taboo for a long time.[11]

2. The time before the German attack

2.1) The German-Soviet non-aggression treaty and its consequences

The 1930s were marked by turning points within the political level of Europe. Adolf Hitler's accession to power in Germany in 1933 was the most lasting. Because of the subsequent domestic political changes, such as the restriction of the freedom of the press or the harmonization of institutions and organizations, fear of another war grew in Europe. These fears were fueled by the beginning of the expansion of the German Reich, which began with the invasion of Austria in March 1938 and Czechoslovakia in March 1939. In an immediate response, Britain and France began to seek a solution to deter Hitler from further aggressive expansion. One of the options sought was an alliance of Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union in order to encircle Germany, as had already happened in the run-up to the First World War, and to be able to stop any aggression immediately. The pace at which the negotiations with the Soviet Union were kept very low by Great Britain proved to be particularly problematic. The talks that had already started in the early summer of 1939 dragged on until mid-August of the same year.[12]

In Berlin, meanwhile, the leadership recognized both the impending danger of encirclement and the opportunity to capitalize on the dragging negotiations between the Western Allies and the Soviet Union. If the contacts between Germany and the Soviet Union after 1933 were only at the lowest level because of the different ideologies and economic systems, German foreign policy undertook a momentous U-turn in the summer of 1939.[13] The replacement of the Soviet foreign commissioner Litvinov, an advocate of the alliance with the Western powers and of Jewish origin, by Molotov on May 3, 1939, aroused great interest from Hitler.[14] The manager of the Soviet embassy in Berlin, Astachow, noticed on May 12, 1939 that there had been a change in the German way of speaking towards the Soviet Union.[15] There were only three possibilities for the Soviet Union to continue on the foreign policy path in Europe. On the one hand, a coalition with the Western powers would inevitably have led to a direct confrontation with Germany; on the other hand, staying out would inevitably have resulted in renewed political isolation. From the Soviet point of view, an alliance with National Socialist Germany was merely a middle way, even if it was clear to Stalin that sooner or later there would be a confrontation with Hitler.[16]

The first contact between the two countries quickly turned into serious negotiations. Germany sought an agreement with the Soviet Union in order to have the neutrality of the latter in the already planned campaign against Poland. In return, Hitler himself was ready to make great concessions to Stalin. Molotov did not want to comment in the conversation of August 17, 1939 about the exact "price" of Soviet neutrality. Instead, he made the proposal to add an additional protocol to the upcoming treaty with Germany, in which the regulations for the future of Poland, Romania, Finland and the Baltic States should be laid down between the two states. The proposal met with mutual agreement. On August 23, 1939, the agreement between the Soviet Union and the German Reich was signed in Moscow.[17] As a domestic political consequence, the respective propagandistic hostilities of the two states ceased. In the Soviet Union the term “fascist” disappeared completely from the press and speeches and the pioneering role in the fight against “fascism” was given up. For example, songs with hostile lyrics were banned within the Red Army. The new aggressors were the Western powers who intended to provoke a war between the Soviet Union and Germany.[18] The implementation of the German-Soviet agreement in Germany was somewhat different. Although the anti-Soviet press was shut down, the plans for conquering the Soviet Union had not been discarded.[19]

A number of economic agreements were made to divide East Central Europe into spheres of interest. With the outbreak of war in Europe in 1939, the German Reich was completely dependent on the Soviet raw material imports, which were essential for the war effort, because France and Great Britain entered the war.[20] After the occupation of Poland by Germany from September 1, 1939, and the Soviet Union from September 17, 1939, the German-Soviet border and friendship treaty of September 28, 1939 made individual changes to the areas of interest specified in the treaty. Article one of the secret additional protocol of August 23, 1939 was amended to the extent that Germany renounced its interests with regard to Lithuania. In return, the Soviet Union sacked the Polish areas around Warsaw and Lublin as well as the Lithuanian Suwalki tip[21] from their claim.[22] In December 1939, the Baltic states were initially forced by the Soviets to allow military bases for the Red Army, before annexation followed in 1940. However, when it came to exercising its interests in Finland, the Soviet Union encountered resistance, which ultimately culminated in the Finnish-Soviet winter war of 1939/40. As a result, Finland had to cede Karelia and a strip of land north of Leningrad, but the Red Army suffered heavy losses.[23]

2.2) The German-Soviet relationship from 1939 to the 1941 attack

2.2.1) Economic cooperation

In the period up to the German attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, relations between the two states were primarily based on economic agreements. The first economic contracts of August 1939 provided for a duration of 18 months, of which deliveries of around 500 million Reichsmarks were to be made from the USSR in the first 12 months alone. Above all, feed grain, pulses, crude oil, cotton, phosphates and ores represented the total scope of delivery. Germany, on the other hand, had 27 months for its deliveries, mostly technology, but there were always delays, which the Soviet Union had not done.[24] Another economic contract dated February 10, 1940 in the amount of 420 to 430 million Reichsmarks had a term of one year and primarily provided for the delivery of agricultural, forestry and industrial products, foodstuffs and other products to Germany. Because of the war-related scarcity of raw materials in Germany, the raw materials for the manufacture of weapons and ammunition also had to be imported from the Soviet Union.[25] In order to be able to compare the importance of the respective exports, it makes sense to show the overall ratio of exports. The share of Soviet exports to Germany was 52% of total exports, while the share of German exports to the Soviet Union from the German side was only 4.4% of exports. This makes the imbalance in the economic implementation clear.[26]

The economic climax before the German attack was the trade agreement of January 10, 1941. The listed exchange of goods and the resulting volume should, according to Blumenhagen, have a total value of 600 to 610 million Reichsmarks and be valid until May 11, 1942 . Due to the beginning of the war between the Soviet Union and the German Reich, this economic agreement could no longer be fully developed.[27]

2.2.2) From political cooperation to confrontation

The economic and political cooperation between 1939 and 1941 showed increasingly different directions. Hitler believed that he needed Soviet neutrality to prevent a two-front war. After the success of the campaign in Western Europe in the early summer of 1940, Hitler hoped that Great Britain would give in and end the war. However, the British government rejected Hitler's "peace offer". This rejection resulted in the order in July 1940 to work out initial considerations for a campaign against the Soviet Union. Attacks against the Soviet Union received increased attention after the planned invasion of Great Britain did not take place. Since it became more and more apparent that the United States of America was participating in the war, at least by delivering weapons and food to Great Britain, and that active intervention could not be ruled out in the long term, the German leadership felt compelled to conquer the Soviet Union around to prevent the United States from directly participating in the war.[28]

For the German leadership, the campaign against the Soviet Union seemed necessary in order to have its own territory from which the raw materials, which are particularly important for the war effort, could be obtained and the production of armaments could take place. The alliance with the USSR that still existed at that time, with the prospect of durability, could not be a long-term solution in Hitler's eyes. The result was the advancement of planning for the attack on the Soviet Union.[29] Chief of Staff Halder noted that if

In Great Britain the hope for Russia disappears, America also disappears, because an appreciation of Japan "on an enormous scale" is the result. After the smashing of Russia, Germany would be master of Europe and the Balkans. “Resolve: In the course of this dispute, Russia must be dealt with. [...][30]

A first point of conflict that influenced the Soviet sphere of interest was the second Vienna arbitration award of August 30, 1940, which was supposed to settle the territorial differences between Hungary and Romania. It was important here that the Soviet Union was not given a say and was therefore felt to be directed against the USSR. According to the agreement, the new borders of Romania were guaranteed by Germany and Italy.[31] Furthermore, the renewal of the so-called "Three Power Pact"[32] between Germany, Italy and Japan dated September 27, 1940 from the Soviet leadership for critical attention.[33] Officially, the attitude towards the USSR should remain unaffected by this agreement, but between November 20, 1940 and March 25, 1941, the "three-power pact" was expanded by the states of Hungary (November 20, 1940), Romania (November 23, 1940) , Slovakia (November 24, 1940), Bulgaria (March 01, 1941) and Yugoslavia (March 25, 1941). All of this is to be seen as a renewed encroachment on the Soviet sphere of interest.[34]

During his visit to Berlin on November 12 and 13, 1940, Molotov wanted to coordinate the further goals of the allies with the German government. In this conversation, Hitler put the main topic on the smashing and division of the British Empire between Germany, the Soviet Union, Japan, Italy, France and Spain. All in all, Hitler's aim was to steer the traditional spheres of interest of the USSR away from the Balkans. Instead, the focus of the USSR should be turned to British possessions in India and the Middle East.[35] Molotov aimed, among other things, at the question of the future of Turkey, since the Soviet Union sought unhindered access to the Mediterranean. In the course of this, the question should still be asked what position Hitler, as the one "who has to decide about the entire German policy"[36], to the Soviet guarantee for Bulgaria would take. However, Hitler reacted very evasively to the confirmation of the topicality of the Soviet areas of interest and the talks were therefore broken off without result. For this reason, the failed conversation between Hitler and Molotov can be seen as a turning point in relations between the two states.[37]

The German-Soviet relationship reached its low point before the German attack with the German engagement in the Balkans, especially in Yugoslavia. After joining the “Three Power Pact” on March 25, 1941, a coup took place there on March 27, 1941. The background was the rejection of rapprochement with Germany and the associated risk of losing state independence. On April 6, 1941, the Soviet government signed a “friendship and non-aggression pact” with the new Yugoslav government, but not a pact of assistance.[38] Without waiting for expressions of loyalty on the part of the new government, Hitler issued the "Führer directive No. 25" on March 27, 1941, according to which Yugoslavia "will be regarded as an enemy and will therefore be smashed as quickly as possible"[39] should.[40] The campaign against Yugoslavia, in which Italian and Hungarian troops also took part, ended on April 17, 1941 with the surrender of the Yugoslav army. This was followed by the ordered "smashing" of Yugoslavia through annexations in favor of Germany, Italy, Bulgaria and Hungary, as well as the establishment of autonomous parts of the country such as Croatia (satellite state), Serbia (German occupied) and Montenegro (Italian occupied).[41] Even if the Balkan campaign marked a massive violation of the traditional Soviet sphere of interest, there was no intervention on the part of the Soviet government to avoid a conflict with Germany. The background to this was the knowledge of Molotov and Stalin about the German attack plans[42] and the goal of not giving a pretext for a German attack.[43] The Soviet government's concession was therefore to be regarded as delaying in order to postpone the attack at least until autumn 1941. Because the advanced year made a German invasion possible again in the spring of 1942. This time could be used for the defense preparation of the Soviet armed forces. The postponement thesis was reinforced by the fact that the Soviet raw material supplies to Germany were increased again with the escalation of the Balkan crisis. At this point, however, it was already becoming clear on both sides that a direct confrontation between the Soviet Union and Germany seemed inevitable.[44]

3. The attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941

3.1 The course of the war from June 1941 to March 1942

3.1.1 Formation of the armed forces in front of "Barbarossa"

In the autumn of 1940 strong German troop contingents began to be transferred to the German-Soviet border. As already mentioned, the war in the Balkans caused the date of the attack to be postponed from May 15 to June 22, 1941. On June 20, 1941, the German leadership issued the keyword "Dortmund", which finally confirmed the date of the attack and set the time between 03h00 and 03h30.[45] The code name "Barbarossa" comes from the reference to Emperor Friedrich I, who led the third crusade to liberate Jerusalem. This is where the use of the term “crusade” for the 1941 Russian campaign is based. The aim was to create a common identification factor among the people between the occupied territories in Western and Central Europe, which, however, only succeeded among the volunteers who participated in the war.[46]

The German deployment provided for a division into three army groups.[47] Army Group North was subordinate to General Leeb and comprised the 18th Army (Colonel General von Küchler), the 16th Army (Colonel General Busch) and Panzer Group 4 (Colonel General Hoepner). 16 Finnish divisions[48] and five German mountain divisions (General Dietl) were also included. In total, this Army Group comprised 29 divisions with 570 tanks. The main thrust was Leningrad, which was to be reached via the well-developed roads to Daugavpils and Riga, which met south of Lake Peupus. Army Group North was supplemented by Luftflotte 1 (Colonel General Keller). Smolensk was the main thrust of Army Group Center, which was composed of the 4th Army (Generalfeldmarschall von Kluge), 9th Army (Colonel General Strauss), Panzer Group 2 (Colonel General Hoth) and Panzer Group 3 (General Guderian). All in all, there were 49 divisions with 930 tanks. It should be noted here that after crossing the plain extending from the Soviet western border to Smolensk, known as the “taxiway”, the advance should be stopped after the conquest of Smolensk. Further orders were to follow afterwards, because Leningrad, Stalingrad and the Crimea were seen politically and economically as more important than Moscow in Hitler's eyes.[49] Thus, according to German planning, Army Group Center won the role of a reserve for further operations in the Soviet Union. Support was provided by Luftflotte 2 (General Kesselring). The Army Group South was responsible for conquering the economically important Ukraine. The Army Group South was composed of the 6th Army (General Field Marshal von Reichenau), 7th Army (General Stülpnagel), 11th Army (General von Schobert) and Panzer Group 1 (Colonel General von Kleist). The Army Group was supplemented by Luftflotte 4 (Colonel General Löhr). Romanian, Slovak and Hungarian associations were also added.[50] It should be noted at this point that a cooperation between the Army Groups Center and South was not possible until they reached the Dnieper, since the vast Pripjet swamps were between them. A total of 145 divisions, including 28 divisions of the allied states, crossed the border with the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 at 3:15 am.[51] At the company "Barbarossa", the "from Finland to the Black Sea"[52] was enough, a total of around 3.2 million soldiers took part[53], 3,350 tanks, 2,000 planes and 600,000 trucks and horse-drawn carts. In addition to the number of soldiers mentioned, there were around 50,000 volunteers up to the onset of winter 1941, some of whom came from the occupied countries such as Belgium, Denmark, France and the Netherlands, some from neutral countries such as Spain, and occasionally from Sweden and Switzerland . A small part of the war volunteers who were classified as "[g] Ermanian" came to the Waffen-SS, the rest to the Wehrmacht.[54] The warfare should be carried out according to the already "usual" Blitzkrieg strategy, which provided for an unannounced attack by the air force before armored units penetrated far into the enemy territory in order to create cauldrons in pincer movements.[55] In its report of April 1941, the "Foreign Armies East Department" quantified the strength of the Soviet troops at a total of 211 divisions, which were divided into four "fronts" at the western border. In the summer of 1941, the “Northern Front” under Popov's leadership, the “Northwest Front” under Kuznetsov, the “Western Front” under Pavlov and the “Southwest Front” under Kirponos spread from the Arctic Circle to the Black Sea. Their overall strength differed significantly from the estimates of the German side, which showed a total strength of 246 divisions compared to the numbered 211.[56] They consisted of 145 infantry divisions, 26 cavalry brigades and 40 motorized brigades with a total of around 10,000 tanks. The report also made it clear that the Soviet material consisted mainly of outdated vehicles and weapons, thus assuring the Germans of a qualitative superiority.[57] Immediately after the beginning of the "crusade [es] against Bolshevism"[58] or the campaign to gain "living space"[59]As Hitler called the campaign, he also tried to persuade Japan to attack the Soviet Union. However, he soon met with rejection. The reason for this was the replacement of the previous Japanese Konoe cabinet. The new cabinet pursued the goal of an "Asian sphere of prosperity" and saw action against British bases in Asia and the Pacific as a priority.[60]

3.1.2 Finland, Army Group North and Leningrad

On the first day of the campaign, Army Group North managed to penetrate more than 50 kilometers into Soviet territory.[61] The resistance of the Red Army in the Baltic States can be viewed as very different. Sometimes she put up a violent resistance, as in the case of Daugavpils or Rasejnaj, sometimes there was no resistance whatsoever.[62] The first crisis of the German armed forces soon appeared here. Due to the largely insufficient motorization of the divisions, the advance near Dünaburg had to be stopped in order to allow the bulk of the infantry to move up. That is why the Germans lost valuable time in conquering Leningrad, leaving the defenders with the opportunity to build fortifications.[63] The same problem was repeated further north when the last great river before Leningrad, the Luga, was crossed on July 14, 1941. Again the German attack leaders had to wait until the 16th and 18th Armies had caught up after the fighting in the Baltic States. When this was the case on August 8, 1941, the German troops pushed forward and captured Novgorod and parts of the Ilmen shore. At this point in time Leningrad was becoming more and more likely to be included. A state of siege began within the city, with evacuation from the Soviet side being expressly forbidden.[64] The German leadership decided not to take Leningrad for the time being, but to besiege it first, in order to worsen conditions within the city considerably.[65] After the siege of the city, crime skyrocketed. In the winter of 1941/42 this began to be partially organized, which often led to attacks by groups of "prisoners, deserters and orphaned youths [...] often armed"[66] led to grocery stores. Subsequently, these goods often flowed onto the rapidly developing black market. At the same time, a more extreme form of crime emerged, namely cannibalism. Most of the perpetrators were people who had no livelihoods whatsoever.[67] The chaos and misery, which was consciously accepted, showed the character of this campaign, which from the beginning showed the difference in perspectives between Hitler and the military leadership. While the generals viewed the war as a conflict between two armies, Hitler saw it as an ideological "extermination struggle between two forms of civilization"[68]. Orders were issued to refuse to surrender and to completely destroy the city after it was captured.[69] Until then, however, the front should remain open to refugees. The idea behind this was to increase the already enormous refugee chaos in the Soviet hinterland.[70] Furthermore, the 16th Army was instructed to take Arkhangelsk, 200 kilometers away, and thus to secure the important raw material deposits in addition to the union with the Finnish armed forces.[71] In October 1941, Schlüsselburg fell into the hands of the Wehrmacht, whereby it should be noted that the resistance of the Red Army had increased significantly compared to the first weeks of the war. Since the beginning of the war, the partisan movement, which was particularly active in the greater Leningrad area, increased as the war continued because of repression and torture.[72] Nevertheless, it was possible to break through the outer defensive ring of the city, to enclose strong Soviet forces in Oranienbaum and to advance on Tikhvin, which was captured on November 21, 1941, but had to be evacuated a short time later.[73] It can be said that Leningrad played an important role in the course of the war. In the event of a German conquest, which was considered very likely in September 1941, Army Group North could have gained decisive weight in the further course of the operations against Moscow. It can therefore even go so far that the city and its role as a “fortress” played a decisive role in the Soviet war strategy.[74] In the entire section of Army Group North, the situation was dramatic. This applied in particular to the area around the German troops trapped near Volkhov, where a heterogeneous reserve of auxiliary to elite units had been brought in for relief.[75] The situation in the cities of Demyansk and Cholm, which were enclosed by the Red Army and which had been cut off since January 1942, but could be supplied by the German Air Force from mid-February 1942, turned out to be just as critical. On March 2nd, 1942, the German orders were issued to open offensives on Cholm on March 5th, 1942 and Demyansk on March 15th, 1942 in order to relieve the troops there. The Kholm Kettle was dismantled in May 1942, and that of Demyansk only in June 1942.[76]


[1] Quoted from: Jacobsen, Hans-Adolf; Dollinger, Hans: The Second World War in Pictures and Documents. Company "Barbarossa" 1941. Vol. 3. Munich, Vienna, Basel 1968. p. 49.

[2] Fest, Joachim C .: Hitler. A biography. Frankfurt am Main, Berlin (West), Vienna 1973. p. 884.

[3] Boog, Horst; Forster, Jürgen; Hoffmann, Joachim; inter alia: The German Reich and the Second World War. The attack on the Soviet Union. Vol. 4. Stuttgart 1983. p. 451.

[4] Before that, the specialist historical discussion in the Federal Republic mostly focused on the suffering of the German population as a result of bombing, expulsion or imprisonment. This resulted in an overlap of research on German war crimes, especially in the Soviet Union. Nolte, Hans-Heinrich: The German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941. Hanover 1991. P. 94 f.

[5] Ibid, p. 95 f.

[6] It would be important to open up the Russian archives in order to be able to bring about new findings or additions. Nolte, p. 102; See also Anderle, Alfred; Basler, Werner: June 1941. Contributions to the history of the Hitler fascist attack on the Soviet Union. Berlin (East) 1961; Werth, Alexander: Russia in the war 1941-1945. Munich 1965.

[7] Nolte, p. 99.

[8] Hoffmann, Joachim: The conduct of war from the perspective of the Soviet Union. In: Boog, Horst; Förster, Jürgen; Hoffmann, Joachim; inter alia: The German Reich and the Second World War. The attack on the Soviet Union. Vol. 4. Stuttgart 1983. p.713.

[9] Anderle, p. 114 f.

[10] Ibid, p. 114; Nolte, p. 99.

[11] Nolte lists all of this and draws attention to the fact that there is a falsification in the order of the victims in Soviet historiography. In this list, the number of Soviet fatalities would appear before that of Jews, which is not the case, however. In Belarus, for example, 2,230,000 people died during the Second World War, almost a quarter of the total population. It is kept secret that most of the victims came from the Jewish population. Ibid, p. 100 f.

[12] The arrival of the British delegation is a clear indication of the aforementioned slowdown in talks. Instead of traveling by plane to Moscow, the much more time-consuming route by ship across the Baltic Sea to Leningrad and from there by train to Moscow was preferred. Pätzold, Kurt; Rosenfeld, Günter (ed.): Soviet star and swastika. Documents on German-Soviet relations. Berlin 1990. p. 29 ff.

[13] See also: Michalka, Wolfgang: Ribbentrop and German world politics 1933-1940. Foreign policy concepts and decision-making processes in the Third Reich. Munich 1980.

[14] It should be noted at this point that in October 1938 Schulenburg and Litvinov came to an agreement not to undertake any more insults against the respective heads of state. Above all, this regulation affected the press and radio. This is the first, but not decisive, sign of rapprochement between the two states. Oberländer, Erwin (Ed.): Hitler-Stalin Pact 1939. The End of East Central Europe? Frankfurt am Main 1989. p. 32.

[15] Pätzold, p. 40.

[16] Ibid, p. 38

[17] Oberländer, p. 27 f .; Pätzold, p. 45 ff .; Vasold, Manfred: August 1939. The last eleven days before the outbreak of the Second World War. Munich undated p. 79.

[18] Pätzold, p. 62 f.

[19] Ibid, p. 61 f.

[20] For example, between 1939 and 1941 the German Reich obtained 90% of its tin, 70% of its copper, 80% of its rubber, 65% of its oil and 99% of its bauxide from the Soviet Union. See Eickhoff, Michael; Pagels, Wilhelm; Reschl, Willy: The unforgettable war. Hitler Germany versus the Soviet Union 1941-1945. Cologne 1981. p. 31; For a more detailed description of the respective import and export articles see Blumenhagen, Karl Heinz: Die German-Soviet trade relations 1939-1941. Their significance for the respective war economy. Hamburg 1998.

[21] The Suwalki tip is the area that adjoined the eastern border of East Prussia and so far represented the southernmost tip of the Lithuanian national territory opposite the Polish border. The capital of this area was the city of Suwalki. In the following it was named "New East Prussia". Jacobsen, Hans-Adolf; Dollinger, Hans: The Second World War in Pictures and Documents. The "Blitzkriege" 1939/40. Vol. 1. Munich, Vienna, Basel 1968. pp. 75 ff.

[22] Oberländer, p. 127 ff .; Pätzold, p. 66.

[23] Oberländer, p. 27 f.

[24] Pätzold, p. 64 ff.

[25] Blumenhagen, p. 412.

[26] Ibid, p. 161; Pätzold, p. 65.

[27] The total amount of the economic agreement is taken from Karl Heinz Blumenhagen at this point, since the goods traffic between Germany and the Soviet Union is broken down here in detail. Other numbers, such as Alan Bullock's, amount to approximately 630 million Reichsmarks. See Bullock, Alan: Hitler and Stalin. Parallel lives. Berlin 1991. p. 925; see also Blumenhagen p. 181 ff.

[28] Pietrow-Ennker, Bianka (Ed.): Preventive War? The German attack on the Soviet Union. Frankfurt am Main 2000. p. 19 f.

[29] In the "Führerweisung Nr. 21" of October 18, 1940, the date for the attack on the Soviet Union was set for May 15, 1941, but the Balkan campaign in April and May 1941 postponed it to June 22. Ibid, p. 25.

[30] Quoted from ibid, p. 25 f.

[31] The expansion of the “three-power pact” contradicted the continental bloc variant sought by von Ribbentrop, which was intended to prevent the USA from entering the war. Bullock, p. 902; Pietrow-Ennker, p. 26 f .; Jacobsen, Hans-Adolf; Dollinger, Hans: The Second World War in Pictures and Documents. War against Great Britain 1940/41. Vol. 2. Munich, Vienna, Basel 1968. p. 82.

[32] Jacobsen, UK, p. 82.

[33] Overy, Richard: Russian War 1941-1945. Hamburg 2003. p. 108.

[34] Eickhoff, Michael; Pagels, Wilhelm; Reschl, Willy: The unforgettable war. Hitler Germany versus the Soviet Union. Cologne 1981. p. 144; Jacobsen, Great Britain, p. 82 f.

[35] It should be noted at this point that even before the negotiations, Hitler issued the so-called “Führer directive No. 18”, in which the plans for war against the Soviet Union should continue regardless of the outcome of the talks. In addition, Göring suggested to Hitler to convert the treaty with the Soviet Union into a long-term alliance and to direct the forces of the Red Army primarily to India. Besymenski, Lew: Stalin and Hitler. The dictators' poker game. Berlin 2002. S. 308, Cartier, Raymond: The Second World War. 1939-1941. Vol. 1. Munich 1967. p. 342; Pietrow-Ennker, p. 27.

[36] Jacobsen, UK, p. 95.

[37] Even though Molotov received a very first draft for the accession of the Soviet Union to the “three-power pact” on November 13, 1940, there was no question of further negotiations planned between the governments of the two states. Besymenski, p. 328 f .; Bullock, p. 902; Gorodetsky, Gabriel: The Great Deception. Hitler, Stalin and the "Barbarossa" company. Berlin 2001. p. 100 ff .; Overy, Russia War 1941-1945. Hamburg 2003. p. 109; Pietrow-Ennker, p. 124.

[38] Werth, Alexander: Russia in the war 1941-1945. Munich 1965. p. 103.

[39] Jacobsen, Great Britain, p. 114 f.

[40] This planning also included the occupation of Greece in order to prevent British troops from landing there. This was preceded by the unsuccessful offensive of October 28, 1940 by the Italian army to conquer Greece from Albania, which ultimately led to the partial occupation of Albania by Greek troops. Jacobsen, Great Britain, p. 72 ff.

[41] Jacobsen, Great Britain, p. 112 ff.

[42] One of the most important informants of the Soviet Union, Richard Sorge, won the trust of the German ambassador in Tokyo and repeatedly passed information to the Soviet leadership. As early as March 10, 1941, Sorge reported that the German leadership was urging the Japanese government to participate in a war against the Soviet Union. In May 1941 Sorge pointed out Hitler's determination to attack the Soviet Union and at the same time named the planned attack date, June 22, 1941. Eickhoff, p. 52; Gruchmann, Lothar: The Second World War. Munich 1995. pp. 149 f .; Gorodetsky, p. 236 f .; Jacobsen, Hans-Adolf; Dollinger, Hans: The Second World War in Pictures and Documents. The turn of the war in 1942/43. Vol. 5. Munich, Vienna, Basel 1968. pp. 178 f. On Richard Sorge see also: Japp, Alexander: Mensch und Mythos. Richard Sorge, spy and scout. Hamburg 2006; Kreiz, Isabell: The matter of concern. Stalin's spy in Tokyo. Hamburg 2008.

[43] Stalin gave up his post as general secretary on May 6, 1941 and replaced Molotov as head of government. It was intended to make it clear that the relationship with Germany was a personal matter for Stalin. Bullock, pp. 936 f.

[44] Ibid, p. 921 ff .; Werth, p. 103 ff.

[45] Klink, Ernst: The war against the Soviet Union until the turn of 1941/42. The operation management. In: Boog, Horst; Förster, Jürgen; Hoffmann, Joachim; inter alia: The German Reich and the Second World War. The attack on the Soviet Union. Vol. 4. Stuttgart 1983. p. 451 .; Ueberschär, Gerd R .; Wette, Wolfram (Ed.): "Operation Barbarossa". The German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941. Paderborn 1984. p. 145.

[46] The term “crusade” was not only an excellent target for British and Soviet propaganda by being referred to as a “swastika”, but Goebbels also tried to avoid the term “crusade”, since Frederick I was involved in large numbers in the crusade Blood has been shed and it has not been a complete success. Last but not least, Barbarossa himself died in the endeavor. That is why Goebbels already spoke at the secret ministerial conference on June 27, 1941 of the “awakening of Europe as a whole against Bolshevism” Ueberschär, p. 123.

[47] See also the map material in Appendix 9.1.1.

[48] Finland is not to be seen as a direct ally of Germany as there was no contractual relationship. The entry into the war with the Soviet Union did not take place from the point of view of Hitler's war of conquest and extermination, but was officially referred to as the "continuation war" of the Finnish-Soviet winter war of 1939/40. From the Finnish side, Germany was therefore referred to as a “comrade in arms”. Jacobsen, Barbarossa, p. 11 f .; Gorodetsky, p. 121.

[49] There were repeated differences of opinion between the OKH and Hitler about the exact continuation of the campaign. Hitler's directive of August 21, 1941 put an end to this discussion and made it clear that special attention should be paid to the Ukraine, especially since the Crimea is "of the utmost importance". After the conquest of the peninsula is complete, the Romanian oil wells are out of reach for the Soviet planes. Cartier, pp. 396 f .; Jacobsen, Barbarossa, p. 87.

[50] The Romanian contingent included the Romanian 3rd and 4th Army, which were subordinate to the 11th German Army. There were also a cavalry brigade and two motorized divisions on the Hungarian side and one motorized and two infantry divisions on the Slovak side. Their task was to secure the flanks of Army Group South. Bullock, p. 948; Cartier, p. 345; Eickhoff, p. 50.

[51] Cartier, p. 345 ff.

[52] Jacobsen, Barbarossa, p. 11 f.

[53] At the beginning of the war, 87% of the total of 3.8 million German soldiers were on the German-Soviet border. In 1942 it was still 72% and in 1943 still 64% of the total strength, since the situation in the other theaters of war developed to Germany's disadvantage as time progressed. Hartmann, Christian: Criminal war-criminal armed forces. Thoughts on the structure of the German Eastern Army 1941-1944. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 1 (2004), p. 4.

[54] Dahms, Hellmuth Günther: The Weltanschauung war against the Soviet Union. In: Michaelis, Herbert, a.o .: The 2nd World War. Gütersloh 1968. p. 310 f.

[55] Fest, p. 884.

[56] Dahms, p. 311.

[57] The number of aircraft at Cartier is estimated at 720 fighters, 1160 bombers and 120 reconnaissance aircraft. Overall, it can be stated that the number of soldiers deployed and the number of war material is subject to strong fluctuations within the literature. In the present work, the figures given by Cartier form the basis. At Ueberschär, Weinberg and Fest the figures are 3.6 million soldiers, 3600 tanks and 2700 aircraft, divided into 153 divisions. Overy puts the number of aircraft at a total of 2770, of which 1085 are bombers and 920 fighters. Cartier, p. 347 ff .; Overy, pp. 146 f .; Ueberschär, pp. 145 f .; Weinberg, Gerhard L .: A world in arms. The global history of World War II. Stuttgart 1995. p. 294.

[58] Ueberschär, p. 122.

[59] Slutsch, Sergej: Stalin's "War Scenario 1939". A speech that never existed. The story of a fake. In: Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte 4 (2004), p. 63.

[60] Ueberschär, p. 150 ff.

[61] What has preceded the offensive is remarkable. This made it difficult to camouflage the gatherings of troops and the prepared bridges. Nevertheless, the German troops managed to attack the Soviet Union by surprise. Klink, p. 463.

[62] Ibid, p. 463 f.

[63] Ibid, p. 468; Cartier, p. 363 f.

[64] Cartier, p. 370 ff.

[65] Due to the cutting of the vital railway line to Moscow and the at that time not yet possible supply over Lake Ladoga by boat, the approximately 3.3 million inhabitants of Leningrad were at the mercy of a famine. An indicator of the food shortage is the projections that at the beginning of October 1941 the supplies should probably last until the end of the month. When the food stocks were exhausted in mid-November 1941 and early December 1941 and the rations for bread had dropped to around 25 grams, the civilizational structures within the city began to dissolve. It was not uncommon for weaker people to be attacked in order to get their ration cards or their belongings. The death rates were particularly high among the elderly, infants, women and children. By January 1942, the death rate rose to 4,000-5,000 deaths per day. As of November 20, 1941, the falling temperatures made it possible to transport food across the frozen Lake Ladoga to Leningrad, with the result that the death rate from hunger began to decline slightly. The siege of Leningrad lasted until the beginning of 1944 and cost the lives of more than a million people, with most of them dying in the winter of 1941/42. Eickhoff, p. 50; Overy, p. 172 ff.

[66] Hass, Gerhart: Life, death and survival in the besieged Leningrad (1941-1944). In: Zeitschrift für Geschichtswwissenschaft 12 (2002), p. 1097

[67] In December 1941, 26 more people were convicted of cannibalism and 860 in the period up to February 15, 1942. The crime rate in this branch fell rapidly from 1943 onwards. Hass, Leben, p. 1098.

[68] Cartier, p. 349.

[69] Jacobsen, Barbarossa, p. 68.

[70] By the end of August 1941, the Soviets had succeeded in evacuating around 636,000 people, including 216,000 children and 100,000 refugees from the Baltic States and Leningrad. However, a continuation failed due to the closing of the siege ring of the Wehrmacht. It was only with the reconquest of Tikhvin in December 1941 that the railway line to Leningrad was put back into operation and from there groceries were brought in and other refugees out. Around 500,000 Leningraders had been evacuated from the city by March 1942. So-called “workers militias” were formed from the remaining people, the number of which was around 36,000. Overy, p. 168 ff.

[71] Cartier, pp. 409 f.

[72] In 1943 the partisans gained so much influence that the entire German field post traffic of Army Group North came to a standstill. Ibid, p. 369 ff.

[73] Ibid, p. 415 ff.

[74] Overy, p. 181.

[75] Klink, p. 633.

[76] The base in Cholm itself was horrified on May 5th, 1942. However, it was not until June that the last Soviet resistance in Cholm was brought under control. Klink, p. 639 ff .; Jacobsen, Hans-Adolf; Dollinger, Hans: The Second World War in Pictures and Documents. The expansion to World War 1941/42. Vol. 4. Munich, Vienna, Basel 1968. p. 82; Weinberg, p. 328 f.

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