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.