B E R L I N
L O N D O N
P A R I S
M O S C O W
© Tom Taylor
Hitler's plan to conquer Russia
Russia was rapidly building its military
in response to Germany's quick
destruction of the French army,
Hitler saw a narrow window of maybe a year
before Germany's opportunity to defeat
the Soviets would close. From that point
the German nation would be overtaken
in power by their communist rival to the east.
For Hitler, it was a now or never decision -
either destroy his nemesis Stalin
or fall under this Bolshevik's shadow.
Territory to be obtained in the east
in order to ensure Germany's survival.
The vast agricultural lands of western Russia
would provide the bread basket needed
to feed Hitler's expanding Third Reich.
Soviet Industry sits atop a wealth
of the critical resources necessary
for building and sustaining a
Hitler knew these Russian-mined riches
would free Germany of its economic
and military constraints were they in
What a temptation.
The incompetence of the Red Army
was on full display before Hitler
in Russia's struggle to overcome
small, neighboring Finland in
a recent border conflict.
Hitler may have had these thoughts
in mind when he told his generals
that all they had to do was to kick in
the front door and the whole Soviet
house of cards would collapse.
Here along the Caspian Sea
just south of the Caucasus Mountains
lie all the energy wealth
Germany would ever need
to power its expanding industries
and fuel its military ambitions.
With Russia's wealth in German hands
Hitler could afford to ignore any wartime
blockade from the meddlesome British.
The Tsar's jewel of the Baltic
to now become another Nazi Paris.
The Wehrmacht would love possession of this port
to supply their voracious armor pushing deep into Russia.
Military aid from Leningrad to the Red Army would also
be cut off with the capture of this city.
Wehrmacht - German Army
Once captured by the Germans
Hitler's directive was to destroy
all evidence Moscow ever existed.
This was not Poland or France. No matter
how decisive the Panzer breakthrough,
no matter how many Russian POWs were
rounded up, no matter the cities occupied
by German forces - there they were ...
Russian troops, always awaiting your arrival
just a few miles further down the road.
Despite a months' long string of consecutive
victories over Russian forces it was evident
to German commanders their strength was
steadily dissipating with each battle won.
Hitler turned to capturing Moscow
as the means to winning this war
having determined the Red Army
was just too big to destroy.
Invading German troops faced 700 miles
of flat horizons - a sea of grasslands
stretching from Poland to Moscow,
the roads no more than country lanes
rutted from the wooden wheels
of horse-drawn carts.
Roads were poor, when available.
They were covered by dust, mud
or lost in snow.
For peasants from surrounding villages
these Nazi troops may have seemed
the first evidence the Twentieth Century
had finally arrived.
All the oil you can imagine
is yours just beyond these passes.
No room for fancy blitzkrieg tactics,
All that expensive armored hardware
is now reduced to an old man's slow
dribble of one tank following another -
vulnerable to the deadly shenanigans
rained down upon the Nazis from
dug-in troops high above.
String out the German campaign
on the calendar and
give the Russian Winter
a chance to save the day.
It was the subzero winds that
destroyed Napoleon's army.
Reports from German tankers started
coming in about a Russian tank whose
armor German cannons could not penetrate.
It was the best tank anyone had come to
know and yet, until now, no one knew it existed.
Now that we've taken the plunge
let's find out what's in the water.
Were Hitler to conquer Russia
he would oversee an empire
second to none -
giving him strategic freedom,
the ability to impose his will
about the globe.
Hitler's victory over Stalin
would need to be quick.
Germany had resources enough
to fuel the war effort for six months.
Beyond that the Nazi economy
could not sustain a winning campaign.
Since speed was the critical factor
responsibility for a victorious conclusion
was placed in the hands of the panzers -
Germany's armored units.
Move rapidly to encircle Russian armies,
then handing them off to the German infantry
for capture or destruction.
There needed to be more motorized infantry.
Tanks were slowed a week at a time
waiting for foot soldiers to catch up.
Meanwhile Russian troops would
sometimes slip the thin Nazi noose.
Barbarossa started 22 June, 1941.
By August Hitler knew his operation
to conquer Russia was in trouble.
Barbarossa - Hitler's operational name for his
invasion of Russia.
In a land east of the Poles
Vikings from Sweden
would discover a people
to be known as Slavonics
in a place the Vikings
would name Russ.
were made up of three
each with their own
language and culture.
were among the many ethnic tribes
that overpowered and subjugated
the Russians - vulnerable
because they chose to confront
their enemy with a divided force,
each providing a separate defense
rather than a united whole.
rule of the steppes:
land belongs to you
so long as you fight
to keep it and win
a parade of conquerors
over the centuries
dispense their various ways,
leaving behind them their own
brand of royal flourishes and
What a relief with the day
that Russians found a ruler
who was truly one among them -
a leader to unite us all.
Long Live the Tsar!
expands as its own power grows
first west into Poland
then south to Persia
and sweeping east through
Siberia all the way to
the Bering Sea.
Russia's disastrous loss to Germany
in World War I further scandalized
Tsarist rule and the general population
rose up to overthrow the
incompetent Romanov dynasty.
A fragile parliamentary democracy
formed to replace the Tsar.
Strength of purpose
contributed to Bolshevik success
in overturning western-style democracy
and replacing it with the Soviet Union -
a Communist government based
on the teachings of Marx
and the leadership of Lenin.
everyone works for
the betterment of all
MAN of STEEL
takes power upon Lenin's death.
We all love the teachings of Marx
but Sunday School is out.
Our workers' paradise will first
require busting some heads
along the way.
Stalin gave most everyone
reason to fear him as he
jealously protected the
absolute extent of his power.
Stalin's inner circle had good reason
to want him dead. His suspicions
had murderous consequences.
Any sign indicating you're a
threat to Stalin results in your
arrest and probable execution.
Your family shares your fate
unless, of course,
you sign a confession of guilt.
Millions of Russians disappeared
following their arrest for treason
on what may be no more
than an accusation from a
malicious someone wanting
you out of the way.
domestic tumult from nearby Germany
and saw an opportunity to strike
his most hated foe.
Stalin's worst nightmare materialized
as a three million man army collected
up against the Russian border.
There was no peaceful explanation
for this concentration of power and
Stalin wasn't ready. It would take
at least another year of building
before the Soviet army could
hope to halt a German assault on
Moscow, destroying the globe's
one effort at a communist society.