Myth of the 20th Century – Episode 67: Operation Barbarossa – The Invasion of the Soviet Union

Social Matter
April 27, 2018

Welcome to the Myth of the 20th Century. The podcast airs on Fridays.

— Brought to you by —

Adam Smith, Hank Oslo, Nick Mason, Hans Lander and Alex Nicholson


In the summer of 1941, Nazi Germany launched the largest military operation in history, invading the Soviet Union across a 2,900 kilometer front, committing nearly 4 million men, thousands of tanks and aircraft, and advanced to the outskirts of Moscow by December, leaving nearly 5 million Soviet casualties in their wake. As the Russian winter began to freeze out the invaders, the offensive that originally called for pushing as far east as Archangel stalled, and dragged on for another two years until the Battle of Stalingrad in 1943 delivered the decisive blow to the Axis armies that began the Soviet Union’s march westwards towards Berlin. Historians have debated whether Germany’s decision to invade was a grievous strategic error or one that could not be avoided given the escalating increase in military strength of the Soviets during the 1930s – but what is clear is Operation Barbarossa set in motion the military losses that sealed the fate of the Third Reich forever.


– 1939 – Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact signed between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union
– 1939 – Nazi Germany and Soviet Union invade Poland, divide country, UK, France declare war on Germany
– 1939-1940 – Soviet Union invades Finland, wins territorial concessions
– 1940 – Germany takes Paris
– 1940 – Soviet Union occupied Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina in Romania, Germany’s primary oil supplier
– 1940 – Germany begins planning Operation Barbarossa
– 1941, June 22 – Germany begins Operation Barbarossa and invades the Soviet Union
– 1941, October 2 – German generals launch Operation Typhoon in an attempt to sack Moscow
– 1941, December – Soviets halt the German offensive


– Hitler’s ‘Barbarossa’ Proclamation (1941) –
– Inside the Soviet Army, Suvarov (1983)
– Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War?, Suvarov (1990)
– Gauge Transformation, Cochran (2012) –
– The Allied Battle for Bolshevism, Walsh (2015) –
– The Best Form of Defence is Attack, Walsh (2016) –
– The Major Errors and Blunders – Or why Barbarossa Failed, Military History Visualized (2016) –
– Understanding Russia: The Continuum of History, Khan (2017) –
– The Soviet Victory in World War II Was a Russian One, Karlin (2017) –