Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Day The World Held Its Breath

Another important military anniversary comes along. 64 years ago this day, Operation Barbarossa was launched. Hitler (there are too many links about this creep), who had a genius for embellishment and overstatement was not exaggerating for once when he said, "The world will hold its breath." At 4:45 a.m., 4 million German and vassal troops launched themselves across the German-Russian border in Poland. They were organized into 3 Army Groups that contained 4 Panzer (armoured) groups under very able commanders. The aim was to dash across the Soviet Union, seize the important cities, and set up a front line separating Europe from Asia, providing lebensraum for the volk.

In the end, the Germans got almost as far as Moscow, laid seige to Leningrad and Stalingrad, but the offensive petered to a halt across a broad front, in the winter of 1941. Traditionally, a delay in starting the offensive, caused by Schicklgruber's insistence that Yugoslavia and Greece be subdued, is suspected to be the main reason why the attempt failed. General Winter set in for the Soviets and they were able to hold the line.

A momentous, momentous day that decided the fates of many, many people across the world, one way or the other.

[2 minutes silence]


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reminder. For someone really bad with dates such as I, this serves well :).
History, it is often said, is written by the victors - well, at least, that is often the perspective the world gets. Even with regards to this operation, we believe it was actually Hitler who launched a surprise "Blitzkrieg" attack against the woefully unprepared Soviet Union, fooling its leader, the unsuspecting and trusting Stalin. Well, may be, it wasn't as simple as that. I remember reading some time back, how new evidence uncovered after the dismantling of the Soviet Union points to why Hitler was forced to launch his preemptive strike against the Soviet Union. This doesn't necessarily dismiss or whitewash Hitler's excess, but maybe there is something about this perspective as well.

Ludwig said...

Interesting, Anonymous. I don't believe I've ever come across this interpretation. As far as I know, the Mein Kampf etc. are riddled with Hitler's obsession with securing lebensraum and so on, and eliminating Slavs, and other such pleasant thoughts (for him!).

As with all history, once you get into historiography, it becomes really hard to separate the shades of truth, I guess. The perspective you mention could in one sense be seen as a "revisionist" perspective. This seems to keep happening with all histories, including the desi variety.

With history also, like the CFO said when asked what two plus two was, "What do you want it to be?" seems to be the name of the game!

Anonymous said...

I will check out on the links to this perspective - but I am sure there is much more material out there. Be that as it may, you are right, of course - Hitler was obsessed with this concept of securing "living space", influenced as he was by Ratzel, whose works he read when incarcerated in the Landsberg prison. I am sure Lebensraum was very much in the picture in 1941, but maybe as more evidence is uncovered we would realize it isn't as simplistic as that. But, you do have a point - about this perspective being a "revisionistic" one. I haven't updated myself on this in a while now. Maybe it is time to catch up on my reading :).

BTW, in case you hadn't figured it out earlier, that earlier message was from me as well. --Y!