What are the main factors that lead Germany to lose the campaign against Russia?
Counterfactual questions are always difficult. Consider this:
- The German leadership was not rational. They could have mucked up any campaign.
- Many people in the western Soviet Union were ready to desert the Communists. The Nazis quickly showed them the error in their ways.
- The Soviet Union had a larger population than Germany, more and arguably better tanks.
- The Soviets purged their high command of any officer showing independent thought.
I would call it Soviet sacrifice, not Russian merit.
That could easily be argued as one of the many factors. Russia had the same factors working for it that it has had for centuries. Vast tracts are land are difficult to communicate across with unreliable technology. Think of trying to coordinate hundreds of thousands of people without being able to talk to them, without knowing where they are, and without knowing where you are exactly. This is a pre-GPS and a world without reliable telecommunications like we have today. It's a logistical nightmare on a good day and the geography of Russia just compounds it. Germany also started it's campaign later than the optimum time, running straight into the Russian winter but also the Russian muddy season exacerbating issues. I would say bad planning is one factor but not THE factor (there never is one). A campaign can overcome bad planning but combined with everything else it's very difficult.
Disagree. Firstly, the Soviets fought on two fronts from 1941 until 1943 (against Germany in the West and against Finland, Romania and Hungary in the North and South), just as the Nazis did (SU and North Africa), so that doesn't make any difference. Three main reasons why the German campaign in the Soviet Union failed were: 1. The failure of Italy to subdue the Greeks, causing Hitler to intervene, hence delaying the original campaign with about 6 weeks; 2. The unusual early occurrence of winter, starting already in the first week of October 1941, early, even for Russian standards very early in the year, grinding the German advance to a halt - logically the six weeks missed would have been enough to at least kettle Moscow. Once the progress had been stalled, the campaign was lost; 3. The vast number of troops the Soviet could engage in battle combined with the lack of Soviet respect for lives, resulting in the SU having the highest body count of all participants of the Second World War. Even if Germany would manage to capture Moscow and Leningrad, they would never have won a war with the Soviet Union - the country was simply too big.
Soviet victory is a RUSSIAN victory, based on RUSSIAN efforts based on poor performance of bad generals with the exception of Zhukov, which cost over 20 million Russian lives. Planning on the Nazi-side would never be sufficient enough, even at its best, to defeat and capture the Soviet Union. Back in the day at the University, myself and some friends made a calculation that, should Germany actually have defeated, captured and occupied the Soviet Union, this would mean that they would have to transfer ALL troops they possibly could have to there, and then there would be only a handful of soldiers per 10 km (0.6 miles, give or take) available to occupy and protect the landmass. Impossible, even leaving the fact that all the other occupied territories would have not one single German soldier present. Consequences are easily guessed.
It is unlikely that any plan would have resulted in the Soviets surrendering. They were being supplied by the United States and Britain via Murmansk, the Persian corridor to the Caspian Sea (where there are multiple ports), and by the Trans-Siberian railway. Even though Japan controlled the ports of the railway, they allowed Soviet ships to go to and fro those ports importing armaments from the United States throughout the war (see "Deutschland und Japan Im Zweiten Weltkrieg" (1969) by Bernd Martin, Musterschmidt Verlag, p. 155.)
This supply would have allowed the Soviets to resist indefinitely. Conversely, Germany's logistical problems of operating over huge distances only increased as they captured territory. In the end their losses were due more to material disadvantages than to bad plans.