Operation Barbarossa – Invasion of the Soviet Union
Operation Barbarossa – Invasion of the Soviet Union Operation Barbarossa (German: Fall Barbarossa, literally “Case Barbarossa”), beginning 22 June 1941, was the code name for Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II. Over the course of the operation, about four million soldiers of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a 2,900 km (1,800 mi) front, the largest invasion in the history of warfare. In addition to troops, Barbarossa used 600,000 motor vehicles and 750,000 horses. The ambitious operation was driven by Adolf Hitler’s persistent desire to conquer the Soviet territories as embodied in Generalplan Ost. It marked the beginning of the pivotal phase in deciding the victors of the war. The German invasion of the Soviet Union caused a high rate of fatalities: 95% of all German Army casualties that occurred from 1941 to 1944, and 65% of all Allied military casualties from the entire war. Operation Barbarossa was named after Frederick Barbarossa, the medieval Holy Roman Emperor. The invasion was authorized by Hitler on 18 December 1940 (Directive No. 21) for a start date of 15 May 1941, but this would not be met, and instead the invasion began on 22 June 1941. Tactically, the Germans won resounding victories and occupied some of the most important economic areas of the Soviet Union, mainly in Ukraine. Despite these successes, the German offensive stalled on the outskirts of Moscow and was then pushed back by a Soviet counter offensive without having taken the city. The Germans could never again mount a simultaneous offensive along the entire strategic Soviet–German front. The Red Army repelled the Wehrmacht’s strongest blow, and forced an unprepared Germany into a war of attrition with the largest nation on Earth. Operation Barbarossa’s failure led to Hitler’s demands for further operations inside the USSR, all of which eventually failed, such as continuing the Siege of Leningrad,Operation Nordlicht, and Operation Blue, among other battles on occupied Soviet territory. Operation Barbarossa was the largest military operation in history in both manpower and casualties. Its failure was a turning point in the Third Reich’s fortunes. Most importantly, Operation Barbarossa opened up the Eastern Front, to which more forces were committed than in any other theater of war in world history. Regions covered by the operation became the site of some of the largest battles, deadliest atrocities, highest casualties, and most horrific conditions for Soviets and Germans alike—all of which influenced the course of both World War II and 20th-century history. The German forces captured over three million Soviet POWs in 1941, who were not granted the protection stipulated in the Geneva Conventions. Most of them never returned alive. Germany deliberately starved the prisoners to death as part of its “Hunger Plan”, i.e., the program to reduce the Eastern European population.
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The situation in Europe by May/June 1941, at the end of the Balkans Campaign and immediately before Operation Barbarossa.
Operation Barbarossa – Invasion of the Soviet Union.
German advances during the opening phases of Operation Barbarossa.
German advances during Operation Barbarossa, 22 June to 9 September 1941.
The German advance during Operation Barbarossa, June to December 1941.
Crossing of the Daugava (Dvina) river by the 20th Panzer Division during Barbarossa.
German soldiers with a Panzerbüchse 39 “tank hunting rifle model 39” on the Eastern Front, 1941.
Panzer III advancing in Russia.
Ukraine 1941- Grossdeutschland Panzer grenadiers. The best trained and equipped German troops, but horrendous casualty rate, as always at the worst part of the eastern front.
A Kriegsberichter (war correspondent) holding an Arriflex 35 2 1942 camera 35mm ACR 0292 and he is leaning against a knocked out Soviet BT-5 light tank, 1941.
A Croatian Oberfeldwebel pilot of the 10.(Kroat) KG3 bomber-group standing by his Dornier Do-17Z on the Eastern Front. c. October 1941.
Wreckage of Soviet I-153 “Chaika” fighter in the Operation Barbarossa.
Burn-out wreckage of Soviet SB-2bis standard medium bomber in the Operation Barbarossa.
By 27 June 1941, The German 6. Armee had reached the Radzikhov-Lopatin-Lezhniov-Snurdare line. Tanks and artillery were used by the defending Russian forces in an attempt to halt the attack. The pictures show shot-up tanks and the result of artillery in action at Radzikhov-Koloyov area.
Leftovers from battle.
Flames of battle.
German troops overran the border fortifications very quickly after Operation Barbarossa begin. East of Krystynovol, 2 kilometres beyond the frontier, they came within range of the concrete border bunkers. The ensuing battles lasted two days before the Soviet troops retreated. Both sides recorded their casualties.
German soldiers armed with MG 34s and Kar 98 rifle escorting two Russian POWs, 1941.
A rare colour slide of Panzer I and II’s during the invasion of Poland, 1939.
German panzers in the Russian steppe.
The vastness of Russia is apparent in this photo of a German armoured column moving through a scattered village, slowly churning up the ‘road’ in the Kharkov district.
German panzers on a Russian road.
Fallen soldat in the Soviet Union, June or July 1941.
Bf 109 e-7 of 11JG 77 shot down near Tirapol region, southern front June 1941.
Panzergrenadier of the 6.Panzer Division use the cover of a Panzerkampfwagen 35(t) during Operation Barbarossa.
Two early Sturmgeschutz III Auf. B (SdKfz 142) in an unknown location, probably Russia during the early stages of Barbarrosa, 1941.
Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf.H tanks of 11. Panzer-Division enter a Soviet village. Note the equipment covered by tarps and the extra track on the Panzer III (“21”) in the background. Behind the front tank we can see the Ghost emblem of the Division. Crews would live out of their vehicle. The Panzer III in the foreground has a Swastika flag strapped on the turret for identification by German aircraft.
German tank crews from Panzer-Regiment 15 / 11.Panzer-Division loaded 5cm L60 (KwK39) shells in their Panzerkampfwagen III.
German soldiers reporting to their marshalling areas on bicycle before Operation Barbarossa begin. The regrouping of german units for deployment to Russia began as early as February/March 1941.
Operation Barbarossa, Summer 1941. A coloured picture of a ferry made out of 8-tonne Brückengerät B (Bridge Equipment B). The vehicle is a turretless Beute Russian BA 10 armored car used as gun tractor. Bruckengerat B was one of the most commonly used German pontoon.
Black and White Photos
Column of Panzer III’s in Russia, 1941.
Büssing-NAG type 500 S Heer unit near Smolensk, Russia 1941.
An Sd.Kfz-250 half-track in front of panzer units, as they prepare for an attack, on July 21, 1941, somewhere along the Russian warfront.
Invasion of Russia- Motorized troops on the rise.
Panzer units move through Pruzhany in western Belarus in June 1941.
Ukraine, early days of Barbarossa.
Soldiers pull a staff car through the heavy mud of the Russian roads, November 1941.
Winter in Russia, 1941.
German soldiers with a destroyed Soviet KV-1 tank at Kaunas.
A group of Soviet POWs, taken to an undefined prison camp.
A column of Red Army POWs captured near Minsk is marched west.
Captured Soviet equipment.
Belarus or Ukraine farmhouse destroyed during the German invasion in 1941.
Entering the Soviet Union June 1941.
October 24, 1941 German officers interrogate a Russian Colonel.
German soldiers confer on the streets of Grodno during Operation Barbarossa.
Panzertruppen of the 6th Panzer Division board Panzerkampfwagen 35(t)s during Operation Barbarossa.
French-designed Char B1 bis tanks (Flammwagen auf Panzerkampfwagen B2 in German service) of Panzerabteilung .
Moving thru the mud.
Removing the Soviet Red Star.
Advancing during Barbarossa.
Brandenburger and von Manstein going over plans during Barbarossa.