Operation Barbarossa, also called Operation Fritz, during World War II, was launched on June 22, 1941, and ended on December 5, 1941 (period of 5 months and 2 weeks). This battle occurred in Russia towards main cities that consisted of the Soviet Union: Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad. The main leaders and generals were Adolf Hitler, Gen. Gerd von Rundstedt, Gen. Wilhelm von Leeb, Gen. Fedor von Bock, Gen. Walther von Brauchitsch, and Joseph Stalin. Adolf Hitler was the leader of the Nazi Party and chancellor and leader of Germany.
General Gerd von Rundstedt was a German field marshal who was one of Hitler’s most qualified leaders. General Wilhelm von Leeb was a German field marshal and artillery officer. General Fedor von Bock was a German army officer and field marshal, who participated in the German occupation of Austria and the invasions of Poland France, and Russia. Walther von Brauchitsch was a German field marshal and army commander chief who was instrumental in planning and campaigning. Joseph Stalin was the secretary general of the Soviet Union and prime minister of the Soviet state.
The following picture is the battle area of Operation Barbarossa.
Operation Barbarossa was a failure to the German forces to defeat the Soviet Union, which signaled a crucial turning point in World War II. Now on June 22, 1941, Hitler launched his German offense by three army groups under the same commander from the invasion of France in 1940. First, General Wilhelm von Leeb Army Group of the North. His mission was to strike from East Prussia into the Baltic states towards Leningrad.
Next, General Gerd von Rundstedt Army Group of the South. His mission was to advance from south Poland into Ukraine, which leads towards Stalingrad. Last, General Fedor von Bock Army Group of the Center. His mission was to go through the northeastward parts leading towards Smolensk and Moscow.
The German military consisted of 625,000 horse and 600,000 motorized vehicles. The army consisted of 3,000 tanks, 2,500 aircraft, 7,000 artillery, and 19 Panzer divisions. For easy pickings, Hitler used Germany’s blitzkrieg attack at the border of Poland to bomb Russian planes. By July 1, 1941, Germany would capture the cities of Lvov, Minsk, Dvinsk, and Riga.Gen. Wilhelm von Leeb Army Group of the North would cross the Daugava and Neman rivers to enter Raseiniai. After entering Raseiniai, they encountered 300 Soviet Union tanks but were ordered by Hitler to stand their ground until reinforcements came. Meanwhile, the Panzer groups would cross into Daugavpils. Gen. Fedor von Bock Army Group of the Center was to take over Minsk. Minsk was a major railway junction and was an escape route for the Soviet Union. On July 3, 1941, his army would succeed in destroying the 3rd, 4th, and 10th Army division at Minsk. In retaliation of the Soviet Union on July 6, 1941, Joseph Stalin would attack Gen. Fedor von Bock’s army with 700 tanks. This plan failed and the Germans easily defeated the Soviet Union’s attack by counter attacking them from the Luftwaffe. After an about 3 weeks, Gen. Fedor von Bock 2nd and 3rd Panzer division would continue to attack and take over Smolensk, which resulted in capturing 300,000 Soviet Union soldiers. During this attack, Gen.
Fedor von Bock Army Group of the Center had encountered the Soviet Union’s 16th, 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd divisions. Three of those divisions were defeated in Smolensk. Even though Gen. Fedor von Bock Army Group of the Center was succeeding, they were still losing a lot of men (74,500) and could only replace about one-third of the soldiers (23,000) loss.Because the German armies were having problems, Hitler chose to change the plans of attack. The strategy was changed to inflicting economic damage to the Soviet Union by taking over the city of Kharkov, the Caucasus oil fields, the Donets valley, and the city of Leningrad. Near the end of August, General Wilhelm von Leeb Army Group of the North would have taken over Leningrad, while part of General Gerd von Rundstedt Army Group of the Center would be continuing the attack on Moscow. The other part of his Arm Group was defending Kiev from an attack by the Soviet Union from the south. General Fedor von Bock Army Group would be finishing up their pincer attack towards the Dnieper. On the other hand, this event would be very expensive as the whole German Army’s strength would be decreased by a half. Then on September 16, 1941, Kiev, capital and largest city in Ukraine, would be taken over. The Germans also captured over 500,000 Soviet Union soldiers but lost around 450,000 German soldiers. Operation Typhoon will then start on October 2, 1941, with the German army taking over the cities of Bryansk, Oryol, and Vyazma. By this time, the Soviet Union would be left with about 150,000 soldiers and 90,000 to continue their defense at Moscow.Closing into the winter weather, it got colder and colder, and the German vehicles were having a difficult time going through the mud, especially the tanks because of the weight. At the end of October, Hitler would order the army to go on a halt of Operation Typhoon to restructure its troops. While the German were restructuring their army, the Soviet Union Army would manage to put together 1.25 million soldiers to help defend the capital of Russia, Moscow. In retaliation on November 22, 1941, the Soviet Union Army would group up with the Soviet Siberian unit to defeat the 2nd Panzer Army, which caused their first defeat at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa. The Soviet Union Army would then push the German Army away from Kremlin on December 2, 1941.
Finally, towards the end of December, the German Army would lose over 800,000 soldiers, over 200,000 killed and the other 600,000 wounded. This concludes the end of Operation Barbarossa, but on March 1942, Hitler would plan an invasion against the Russian, but suffer around 100,000 soldiers, who had died from frostbite. In conclusion, Hitler would send three different army groups to the North, Center (East), and South. The three army groups would be lead by General Wilhelm von Leeb, General Gerd von Rundstedt, and General Fedor von Bock. Although the Germans succeeded in taking over Leningrad and Stalingrad. The Soviet Union managed to prevail and pushed back the German army towards a victory to the Soviet Union. In result, the Germans would suffer a total of 850,000 casualties. The Germans loss 400,000, the Romanians loss 200,000, the Italians loss 130,000, the Hungarians loss 120,000. Although the Soviet Union managed to get the victory, they lose a tremendous number of a soldier. In total, the Soviet Union lost over 4.9 million soldiers. This defeat for Nazi Germany would become a turning point to World War II and will lead to Germany’s defeat after World War II. Operation Barbarossa will stand as the largest military battle in world history.