On this day in 1941 Germany invaded the Soviet Union in Operation Barbarossa.
Operation 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 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.
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.