I duly bemoan the sad state of Historical Pedagogy (minds out of the gutter folks, could have used “instruction” but I like to be obnoxious) that allows the Atlantic Powers (I’m looking at you England and France too) to imagine that it was in any way (except one I shall mention at the end) pivotal and critical to the defeat of the European Axis Powers.
Nazi Germany was already beaten and had been for years.
Comrades! Allow me to send you greetings from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Worker’s Paradise! Each Independent Republic is a Representative Democracy of the Proletariat with a delegation in the United Federation. Political Parties? There is only one Political Party, just the way Madison and Jefferson intended.
WE ARE NOT RUSSIA!
Perish the thought.
The Red Steamroller
On June 22nd, 1941, Germany launched an attack on the Soviet Union. Poorly organized and led after recent purges and armed with slightly inferior equipment for the same reason, the Soviets suffered defeat after defeat as the Germans seemed able to attack at will.
The thing is though, the USSR is big, really big, and there are many distractions. The German offensive ground to a halt in the Fall rain and mud.
On December 2nd a German Combat Engineer Patrol reached Khimki. Scouts claimed they could see the Domes of the Kremlin. It was the closest they would get.
On December 5th the Red Army began the Moscow Strategic Offensive Operation.
What the Soviets had learned from their chief spy in Tokyo, Richard Sorge, in mid-September, was that Japan was committing a maximum effort to it’s Offensive on the United States and Britain in the Pacific (the action actually started with the Bombardment of Kota Bharu, 50 minutes before Pearl Harbor). They took 18 divisions, 1,700 tanks, and over 1,500 aircraft away from Siberian border where they had been held in Reserve (Japanese thrashed spineless corrupt Romanov oppressors in 1905) and transferred them West.
The Germans were taken by complete surprise and hampered by exceptionally low temperatures. In late December the Luftwaffe was able to achieve at least parity with the Red Army Air Force after ceding control of the Air for weeks. German lines stabilized about 62 – 155 miles behind their initial positions. Operations ceased around January 7th, 1942.
There were more purges, German ones, and Hitler assumed direct control of the Military, bypassing his General Staff which was populated by reliable yes-men.
Here’s another date- February 2nd, 1943. That was the end of Stalingrad, a place of no strategic importance whatsoever until Hitler decided to make a statement and lost a reinforced Army or two. Where are my Legions Varus? To be fair Hitler was no more strategically misdirected than the norm (consider Churchill’s “soft underbelly”), though he was remarkably persistent which is not an advantage if you have limited resources.
How about August 23rd, 1943? That was the end of the Battle of Kursk. Germany was never again able to mount an Offensive Campaign in the East.
June 6th, 1944? Important to be sure but mostly in that Conan sense-
What is best in life?
Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear their lamentations.
Had Operation Overlord failed Germany still would have fallen.
Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.
I did mention there was a way in which the Invasion at Normandy was pivotal and that is this-
Without it you would have Vodka and Borscht as well as Vin and Baguettes in the Café on the Champs-Élysées.