NATO Making Same Mistake Against Russia, As Hitler’s Operation Barbarossa – Big Serge Thought

You have heard that man’s reach exceeds his grasp. In the case of the Wehrmacht in 1941, neither reach nor grasp was the deficiency. Hitler had reached and grabbed something far too big for him, and found himself grappling with a power that he had not understood and could not dominate. The enormous latent military power of the Soviet Union had been invisible to German planners, who foolishly dismissed the fighting prowess of Slavs, the sophistication of Soviet weapons systems, and especially the unparalleled organizational powers of the Communist Party, which could calmly and efficiently mobilize tens of millions of men to fight.

And so, blinded by hubris and Nazi presuppositions about Soviet incompetence and Slavic inferiority, the Wehrmacht found itself trapped in a war that it could not win, against an army that it had not understood, stranded in a vast country which mocked it with cruel distance. Above all, the Nazi regime discovered that its Soviet adversary had a totalizing ideology and powers of mobilization and coercion that outmatched its own. Stalin’s empire, which Hitler dismissed as a giant with feet of clay, was much more powerful than anybody yet knew. Hitler, who yearned to bring an apocalyptic war of annihilation to the east, should have been careful what he wished for.

….by December 1941 the Red Army managed to mobilize a staggering 800 divisions and equivalently sized units, deploying over 14 million men. Just by the end of June alone the Soviets had already managed to call up five million reservists. This means that in less than two weeks, the Red Army was able to call on a manpower surge roughly 60% larger than the entire German invasion force. Of course, these men were not available for combat immediately; they had to be equipped and organized, and new formations had to be assembled in the rear before deployment. But they were there, and it gave the Soviet Union a depth of defense that no other country on earth could match.

Thus, we arrive at the basic paradox of Operation Barbarossa. From an operational perspective, it was one of history’s greatest victories. The Wehrmacht utterly shattered the frontline Soviet armed forces and overran the Soviet Union’s western rimland in a matter of weeks. Yet this operational success was paired with one of the great military intelligence misfires of all time, with the Germans flying blind as to the USSR’s mobilization capacity. As a result, Operation Barbarossa, strictly speaking, achieved its objectives: it destroyed the Red Army formations on the frontier before they could withdraw into the Soviet interior – and yet the completion of this audacious objective did not win the war.

As Stalin himself said, to thunderous applause from the crowd in Moscow, “The German invaders want a war of extermination against the peoples of the Soviet Union. Very well then! If they want a war of extermination they shall have it!”

In August, one German divisional officer made a passing note which proved to be far more prescient than he could have imagined. The division, he noted, would have to find a way to reduce its casualty rate “if we do not intend to win ourselves to death.”

Apocalypse: Operation Barbarossa – Big Serge Thought

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