Operation Barbarossa

Unit 9: What was life like in wartime Germany, 1939-45?

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  • Operation Barbarossa
    • Despite Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939 Hitler always intended to invade Russia.
      • Why? Lebensraum, Slav labour, oil reserves in Caucasus and grain supply in Ukraine.
    • Began with 3 million troops, mainly Germans but some of her allies.
      • Attack was on 3 fronts: North to capture Leningrad, Centre to attack Moscow and South to over run Ukraine and Crimea.
        • Hitler hoped to repeat BLITZKRIEG success against Poland (1939) and France (1940).
      • Germans made rapid advance along all 3 fronts.
        • By November 1941 Leningrad and Moscow were under siege and 3 million Soviets taken prisoner.
    • Vast distances, poor roads, partisan activity and 'scorched-earth policy' of retreating Russians delayed German advance.
    • By December heavy snow + freezing temperatures = German standstill 30 miles West Moscow.
      • Germans were totally unprepared for extreme conditions.
      • Hitler had underestimated the strength and resistance of Red Army.


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