why did Hitler attack the soviets in summer 1941?

Discussion in 'The Eastern Front' started by arnhem44, Feb 6, 2013.

  1. JhpN

    JhpN Member

    i'm intimidated by all you experts.
    BADHAK likes this.
  2. L J

    L J Senior Member

    1)The Siberian divisions are an invention

    2)The intervention of Japan :idem
  3. L J

    L J Senior Member

    1)No :Germany did not need Lebensraum in 1941 and there was no such thing in the East

    2)Hitler was convinced that the only thing that was possible was a quick victory :One kick in the door,because,2 would be impossible

    3) You mean :the OKH ? The OKH was not aghast but enthusiast .
    Za Rodinu likes this.
  4. JhpN

    JhpN Member

    - what does ':idem' mean?
    Surely some Generals would have been troubled: by the idea of attacking the Soviet Union whilst GB was still in the war, and the size of the country in question.
    The Nazis did think about 'Lebensraum'. They calculated that 30 million Eastern Europeans would die of starvation because of it.
    I agree with your earlier comment about Barbarossa also being an indirect invasion of Britain. Frankly, if the Soviets had been overrun then the Americans wouldn't have entered the war. Even though Europe was dominated by Fascism and the trade links which America wanted would have been in tatters.
    The USSR had many Raw Materials which Germany needed to continue her war effort against Britain.
  5. L J

    L J Senior Member

    Idem =ditto

    But,the fact is that what the Germans were obtaining from the occupied parts of the SU,was marginal .It would last a generation before the Germans would get the first benefits ,and the needed investments would be ruinous .There were also no millions of Germans ready to colonize the east .

    Other point :Germany did not need the Lebensraum :it did not need the oil of the Caucasus,it had enough oil:in 1941,Germany produced 1.5 million ton of crude oil,4 million of synthetic oil and imported 2.8 million (mostly from Romania):total :8.3 million
    Za Rodinu likes this.
  6. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member

    JphN / L J

    The Germans considered attacking Russia was one way of forcing Britain out of the war more quickly.

    To understand the reasoning behind this you need to consider the whole world wide political & strategic situation in 1940-41, rather than just tactical means like blitzkrieg.

    The basic premise was as follows:-

    1. Britain is in a bad state after Dunkirk, incapable of launching an any offensive directly against Germany or into France, so the Germans are not exactly fighting on 2 fronts.

    2. Hitler still likely believed he could force Britain out of the war by political means rather than military.

    3. Attacking Russia would also further isolate Britain from potentially its last ally in the European theatre, which would possibly increase pressure on Britain to sue for peace.

    4. It was expected that attacking Russia would 'induce Japan, as soon as possible, to take active measures in the Far East'.

    5. Japan entering the war in the far east has the following advantages for Germany as follows.

    Japan needed to gain more resources to further its imperialist expansion. The 2 possibilities are the Northern Resource Area (Siberia, Russia etc) or the Southern Resource Area (Burma, Philipines, Dutch East Indies etc).

    If they go for the Northern Area (unlikely, as you pointed out they were previously badly beaten there by the Russians) the Russians are fighting on 2 fronts, which would likely see the fall of Russia quite quickly.

    If they go for the Southern Area it puts Britain in dire straits, because they haven't got a big enough Navy to protect the supply lines in the Atlantic, protect the shipping routes and control of the Mediteranean, and also engage the Japanese in the far east.

    Britain then has some limited options it can take (None of them good). It either abandons the far east, or massively overstretches its Navy in 3 Theatres of War.

    If they contest the far east, they would need to reduce the Naval force in Med (to send it out to the far east) which gives the Germans & Italians an advantage in North Africa & the Med.

    If they abandon the far east, then Australia & NZ would be isolated, which would also give the Germans an advantage as the supply of Commonwealth troops & resources from there would stop, as they would be needed there to repel any threatened invasion.

    Also the loss of the far east or a threat to Australia/NZ would heap more pressure on the British Government to sue for peace.

    6. America & Japan in late 20's & 30's had both been looking at extending their influence in the Pacific, and military planners had long identified each other as likely future enemies in any Conflict in that theatre. America had already sanctioned trade embargos on the Japanese to slow their expansion plans and the political situation between them was not good.

    7. If Britain withdrew or were beaten in the far east and Japan continued its expansion, then there was no way America would sit ideally by and do nothing. War between them would have been inevitable. The problem was America were poorly prepared for a war in 1941.

    If Japan & America went to war against each other, then this was considered another big advantage for the Germans, as all America's manpower & resources would have been directed against Japan, with very little left to send to aid Britain as had happened in WW1.

    The above also helps explain why Hitler didn't wait until the following year. One year on the Americans would have been more powerful, and there was a lessened chance of Japan entering the War against them and also America fully siding with the British .

    In my view Hitler invading Russia was a good calculated risk, with the dice loaded slightly in his favour, which luckily didn't come to fruition for a number of reasons.
    BADHAK likes this.
  7. L J

    L J Senior Member

    Nice post.Only one reservation :"the dice loaded slightly in his favour":IMHO,Barbarossa only had an infinitesimal chance to succeed,and the Germans knew it :everything depended on the Soviets(and the Germans knew it):

    1)first condition sine qua non :As the Ostheer only could defeat the Red Army on the border,this implied that the Soviets had to go west;if they didn't ,Barbarossa had failed before it started:after a few days,Halder was writing triumphantically,and,especially relieved :the Soviets are accepting the battle:they are coming to us .

    2)second condition:as the Ostheer was only able to defeat the standing Soviet Forces (3 million,of which 2 million in western SU),this implied that if the SU could mobilize its reserves timely,Barbarossa was doomed .
  8. L J

    L J Senior Member

    On 20 august 1940,there was a meeting between Keitel and Thomas concerning Hitler's order to increase the army to 180 divisions .Thomas said bluntly :weapons and equipment for 180 divisions,+ a supplement for the reserve army + supplies :FORGET IT,unless everything would yield before the army .

    Everything =the LW (no battle ob Britain and no Blitz),the KM,the civilian sector,the construction of factories for the production of synthetic oil,...

    The result was that in june 1941,Germany had 208"divisions"(of which some 150 were committed for Barbarossa).

    Of those 208,41 were useless(cannon fodder), 45 were questionable,and 122 were fit for the east(with the needed reservations),from these 122 116 were sent to the east .

    This explains the 2 conditions sine qua non I mentioned earlier.

    What was the result ?
    On 27 july,Bock was meeting Keitel,who said that Hitler was anxious (=desperate),he said:how much time do I need to finish the SU,and how much time is remaining .
    And,Hitler's hope that Japan would intervene,was not happening .

    After 5 weeks ,Hitler was on the point that he was considering that the only chance was if general Kamasutra would meet general von Sturm und Drang in Jekaterinenburg .
  9. ClankyPencil

    ClankyPencil Senior Member


    Sorry, I am probably not explaining myself that well.
    My previous post was also with a view to the op's original question 'why did Hitler attack the soviets in summer 1941?'
    I was trying to the show some of the reasoning of why they did decide to invade and also why in the summer of 1941 (and not wait to the following year) from the political and overall strategic viewpoint.

    I haven't that much of an in depth knowledge of Operation Barbarossa from a tactical & theatre strategy viewpoint, so am happy to concede to your view, but my comment re the 'dice loaded slightly in his favour' was aimed more at the British situation, rather than the overall success of Barbarossa.

    The invasion of Russia and Op. Barbarossa could been a total failure from one perspective, but a total success from the view of bringing Japan into the War and also forcing Britain to sue for peace (a bit like losing the battle but winning the war).


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