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Sunday, June 22, 2014
73 Years Ago Today
On this date, June 22, 1941, Adolph Hitler launched Plan Barbarosaa, his invasion of Russia. Whatever anyone thinks about Stalin and the Soviet Union, at the time they were allied with the Western nations, and Hitler's invasion began a bloodbath that would claim upwards of thirty million lives and ultimately lead to his defeat. A little remembered fact: Hitler had originally planed to launch the attack on May Day, to coincide with the major celebrations held in Moscow on May 5 and thus demoralize Stalin and the Russian people. But before he could launch, uprisings broke out in Greece and Yugoslavia against the Italians who were occupying them. Mussolini asked Hitler for help, so the Fuehrer sent 24 of the 28 Panzer tank divisions assembled along the Russian border to crush the rebellions. It took six weeks to refit the tanks and ready for launch, which meant the attack was delayed. Oddly enough, the Panzers rolled through Russia almost unchecked, and reached the outskirts of Moscow on October 16. Then the snow began to fall, an early winter, and Hitler's attack was stalled. After the Battle for Stalingrad, which began soon afterward, Hitler's forces bever gained another piece of foreign soil and began their long gradual retreat. With those extra six weeks, he probably would have taken Moscow, and then who knows? It is one of the biggest What Ifs of all. Most interestingly, the man who encouraged the uprisings was Winston Churchill, and the major leader in Yugoslavia was a Nationalist named Tito -- so this is how Marshal Tito and Winston Churchill saved the world.
I was born in Holland in 1950. My parents immigrated to the US when I was two. I have many close friends and family on both continents. My wife Diane and I have been happily married since 1974. I have four children and one grandchild (two more are on the way). I love writing and sharing what I wrote most of all..