A Rarely Discussed Topic regarding Barbarossa, How did Stalin let such a huge build up occur without worry?

by Daniel Russ on October 2, 2013





Stalin, one of the most paranoid people in the world allows a massive build up on the border of Russia without sending troop formations the counter them…… Hitler and his staff were covering up a massive lie, one that took the form of a stable alliance and regular German flights into the Soviet Union to bring spare parts and put on a show for Stalin that they were all on the same page. Hitler sent a message to Stalin that he was preparing a major attack and he needed to hide his build-up from British reconnaissance. Apparently Stalin bought it hook line and sinker.



Few people realized that both Churchill and Roosevelt sent messages to Stalin warning him that Germany and Italy and Romania were about to attack Russia. Stalin had just signed the Russo-German Pact. Think of it as the Munich Accords of the East. Stalin felt that Roosevelt and Churchill were trying to scare him into disallowing the build up.



Hitler’s celebrated his ruse. “We have only to kick in the Soviet Union’s doors and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.” Adolph Hitler told his generals in the summer of 1940




“The Soviet Union is a vast territory and its military strength is not known.”


-General Fedora Von Bock, Commander Army Group Center to Hitler in the lead up to Barbarossa.



Adolph Hitler framed all his political and military efforts in the context of a long and dramatic history of his people, and so he made the Second World War a story about something much bigger than revenge on Europe for the Treaty of Versailles. That said, Adolph Hitler was the architect of Barbarossa, Freidrich Von Paulus was the draughtsman, and the key component for whatever success it had and for all its failures. In no other battle did he move his headquarters to be near the front. In no other operation did he hire and fire as if his field marshals were on The Apprentice. Even when the German armor was a week ahead of the infantry Hitler created an urgent political atmosphere that favored bold generals who scooped up territory. It was not just his direct orders that had to be obeyed. Barbarossa was the embodiment of Hitler’s charismatic style of management. Everything he did had the weight of history and the stakes were always Germany’s survival itself.


Operation Barbarossa was named after Frederick Barbarossa, a King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor at the beginning of the twelfth century. Why did Hitler think this was reminiscent of Barbarossa? Well Barbarossa restored order in Germany. This can be said of the National Socialist Party that created an infrastructure for Germany where the trains ran on time and bread was delivered to the stores. The analogy was perfect for Hitler and if the Christians had their Crusades, this was Hitler’s. Frederick Barbarossa assembled 150,000 troops and 3,000 knights and set out on the Third Crusades. Hitler should have learned the rest of the story because Frederick died on the way and never accomplished his mission. But Hitler’s delusions were concocted as much out of Hitler’s understandings of history and his belief that Germans rightfully deserved what they could take. This wasn’t just about righting a wrong, the entire last two Milleniums had robbed the Aryan people of their inheritance and Hitler was going to get it back. While Christians sought to vanquish the inhabitants of the Holy Land and in particular Jerusalem, Hitler saw Barbarossa as a similar mission when seeking control of Russia’s largest cities and the bounty of the Ukraine for the Third Reich. If Barbarossa was Hitler’s Crusade, it was also Germany’s Manifest Destiny, the notion that taking land is driven not by laws of man but by laws of nature, and that living space or lebenstraum was what Germany needed. It was a natural order that the strong vanquish the weak and take what rightfully belongs to them.



Thusly, Operation Barbarossa was framed in a historical context much bigger than the ideals of German racism, that  Bolsheviks and the Cossacks are all animals and Deutschland must take their land and oil. Of course that meant he first copiously studied the Pyrrhic victory Napoleon’s Grande Armee had over the Russians in the invasion of 1812. Napoleon and his generals led his massive army in, and faced winter, fierce resistance all the way into the streets of Moscow and a fight all the way back out, followed by a fearsome insurgency on every road back to France. The Emperor Napoleon lost as many to starvation and cold and pneumonia as he did to cannon and musket fire. Over a half million French and Allied soldiers marched into Russia and only 22,000 marched out.


Hitler would not make this mistake. Hitler’s plan was actually not his own. It was a rare case where he sought the ideas of the OKW, the German High Command that was tasked to write up their versions for the invasion of Russia, and many of them competed with each other. The High Command and Hitler settled on a idea to take so much territory so fast, a literal Blitzkrieg or lightning war, that the Russians would not be able to launch a counter offensive big enough to stop them.


Hitler had a rough idea of how many men he faced. Upwards of 2,000,000. Actually he would face roughly 3,000,000 men at the outset. But he clearly did not understand that he faced an Army and that could be obliterated, and call upon over 5 million recruits and reserves fast enough, numerous enough and motivated enough to take their place within months. Little did he know that the Communist factories the Bolsheviks used to make tractors and farm equipment for Communist cooperatives could also make tanks and planes with all the self righteous fury of a people defending their homeland. History repeats itself. And when you consider a people to be subhuman, it’s hard to believe or plan if these subhumans dissembled their own factories and send them across their own country in trains and reassemble them and resume rearming without blinking an eye. Every few hundred years an Army marches into Russia and has its own cold derriere handed back. This would be no exception. It would take longer, but by the end of it, the greatest European army every created would be driven back by Russian farm boys filled with their own brand of nationalism and revenge.


The invasion force bore with them 7000 artillery guns, 3,300 tanks, 600,000 wheeled or otherwise tracked vehicles, 2770 aircraft and 300,000 horses. It would be divided into three parts.


Field Marshall Von Leeb would command Army Group North. His 29 divisions would roll into the Baltic north through Latvia Lithuania and Estonia and lay siege to Leningrad. (This is a disputed figure. Other sources claim it was 31 divisions) FM Von Bock commanded Army Group Center. His 50 divisions would advance East through Belo-Russia to Smolensk and then stage a thrust directly into Moscow. (Again other sources say this command was 57 divisions strong.) Army Group South commanded by FM Von Rundsfeld would take his 42 divisions into the oil fields in the Ukraine.


The first few months of Operation Barbarossa went better than planned. Huge swathes of territory were yanked from unprepared Russian soldiers by a well equipped, well trained and ruthless Army.  Army Corp size units of Russians were surrounded in textbook encirclements and taken captive. Literally millions of prisoners were taken and the German Army was not really prepared to feed or care for them.  German Armor literally smashed Russian resistance and small highly mobile and highly trained German units far out matched Soviet units triple their size. By September, the 1100 mile German front had advanced 400 miles inland. Hitler and his staff in Prussia must have been jumping with joy at the news. Infantry could hardly keep pace with armor advances and it looked like Hitler may be right. Resistance, though stiff, was no match for the Wehrmacht and it looked like Russia was going to crumble. The Soviet army had mostly been in their jobs for just a few years at best. Stalin purged many experienced military commanders who opposed his rule. Consequently he had an unblooded army and it was absolutely blooded by the Nazis.


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Louis September 28, 2017 at 10:40 am

Never forget that Stalin was also doing a buildup, as he had the same plan as “Der Adolf”. Hitler just struck first.
And Stalin knew that he had made a mistake, or at least had done something that would not allow his armies to fight effectively until 1942 at the earliest, so he planned to lean over backwards for Hitler, in order to buy time for the Red Army to reequip and retrain itself for the march into Germany.
Eventually his timeline worked, only the fact that Hilter almost visited him in Moskow was not in his calculations. But then, by that time any weak, incompetent, unlucky or lazy officers had already been burned out of the Red Army by the Wehrmacht. And then he had both: a political reliable army, that was also competent.

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