17-071 Barbarossa I
Monday Mar 10, 2014
Lead: In June 1941 Adolf Hitler launched what would become his greatest blunder. Like Napoleon before him, he attacked Russia and endured the same crushing, disastrous defeat.
Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.
Content: The thieves had already begun to fall out. Hitler and Stalin were quite willing to carve up defenseless Poland in 1939, but with the collapse of France in the West, Hitler began cast his eyes to the East seeking Lebensraum, literally “living space,” a vital part of Nazi doctrine asserting that Germany had as its right possession of the land of those considered racially impure, mostly in the East. This brought Russia and Germany the two great European military, political, and social superpowers, into fatal conflict.
In summer 1940, Stalin seized the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, irritating Hitler, but with his armies occupied in the West he could do little to counteract Stalin’s aggression. Russia also absorbed two Romanian provinces. This was much more of a problem because it threatened German access to Romanian oil fields. Diplomatic intercourse began to break down amid recriminations and Hitler settled on his course of action.
He told his generals, “Stalin is clever and cunning. He demands more and more. A German victory has become unbearable for Russia. Therefore she must be brought to her knees as soon as possible.” To that end, in December 1940, Hitler issued Directive #21, “Operation Barbarossa.” “The German armed forces must be prepared to crush Soviet Russia in a quick campaign. Preparations are to be completed by May 15, 1941.” Hitler then compounded what would be his greatest blunder by insuring that German ambitions would surely fail in an action born of pure spite and rage.
Next time: Hitler’s Balkan foolishness.
From Richmond, Virginia this is Dan Roberts.
Erickson, John. “Barbarossa June 1941: Who Attacked Whom? History Today 51( 7, July 2001):11-17.
Gorodetsky, Gabriel. Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999.
Glantz, David M. Stumbling Colossus: The Red Army on the Eve of World. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 1998.
Overy, Richard. Russia’s War. New York, NY: The Penguin Press, 1998.
Copyright 2014 by Dan Roberts Enterprises, Inc.
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