Friday, June 22, 2012

Consequence: The Anniversary of Barbarossa Day

Xander is here today, so normally I would not write a blog, but I have to squeeze this in because today is a monumental anniversary that few people will talk about, at least in the West, or even remember.

71 years ago today, on June 22, 1941, Adolph Hitler made his greatest mistake, launching Plan Barbarossa, the invasion of Russia. Over two million soldiers crossed into Russia after a pre-dawn bombardment, in a three pronged attack designed to knock Russia out of the war, secure the Ukraine for living space, and establish Aryan supremacy in Europe. But the launch was six weeks behind schedule, and that six week delay turned out to be crucial.

Uprisings in Greece and Yugoslavia against their occupiers -- Mussolini's Italy -- caused the delay, and the delay may well have cost Hitler the war. Mussolini asked Hitler for help against the rebels, and Hitler sent 24 of the 28 Panzer divisions earmarked to spearhead the invasion instead to suppress the uprisings. With that much firepower, the Axis crushed the rebels easily. But by the time the 24 Panzer divisions were beack in place and re-outfitted, the target date for invasion of May Day was long past.

The consequence was not obvious, especially when the German armies rolled through Russia. By October both Leningrad and Stalingrad were encircled and the Nazis were poised just outside Moscow, ready to deal a fatal blow to Stalin. They had advanced so quickly that their supply convoys were two hundred miles behind. Then, on October 16, the snow began to fall.

Fighting would be brutal in the extreme on the Eastern Front, but Hitler would not take any of his targeted cities.

Those Greek and Yougoslavian freedom fighters had no idea they were delaying Hitler's plans. For them, ultimately, defeat was what the survivors tasted. It was a bitter taste.

I am a pacifist. I believe in non-violent resistance to authority, and in the vigilant monitoring of all authority all of the time. Having said that, I tip my hat to those brave souls who, in the spring of 1941, won World War Two.

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