Operation Barbarossa was arguably the main event of World War - had Germany succeeded, they could possibly have gone on to win the war.

They ultimately failed, but what were the major reasons for this failure?

Was the whole operation doomed from the start?

  • I'd leave this as a comment but I don't have the reputation yet. Dan Carlin's podcast series "Ghost of the Ostfront" is a great place to start if you want a great introduction into the East Front. – otteheng May 26 '16 at 13:15
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    Check e.g. the answers at answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100308095354AAAUptT - I agree with most of the points. USSR was just too large, the winters were too cruel, the Nazi leaders were too stubborn and sacrificed too much, they didn't focus their forces, they were lacking "allies" that have helped them everywhere else, the oil and tanks were freezing, ... I actually do think that it was doomed from the start. – Luboš Motl May 26 '16 at 13:17
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    This seems to be a too broad question. Whole institutes have dedicated whole books to this topic, and the answer cannot fit a single answer at this site. Can you please narrow your question a bit? What have you researched so far? Have you encountered any contradiction among the sources? – bytebuster May 26 '16 at 16:57
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    I vote to close because this is too broad. What sort of answer you expect? A long list of 100 reasons? If you know nothing about WWII, learn something first, and then ask a more focused question. – Alex May 26 '16 at 17:43
  • @LubosMoti and the Russian Empire in WW1 had been even larger, than the USSR in WW2, and have you meant that "the global cooling" had already started before the Barbarossa, so that winters in 1914-1918 were much milder? And in WW1 there was the real Western front during all the war, unlike WW2, and still Russia lost WW1. These "explanations" do not reconcile with previous, the 20th century, history of wars between Russia and Germany and even wars in Europe. – Dmitry Koroliov May 27 '16 at 18:14

As the comment pointed out, there were a myriad of reasons why it failed. I'm not an expert but here are a few.

  1. Failure of blitzkrieg, giving the Soviets valuable time to relocate factories and build more and more T-34 tanks, defensive lines, train more troops, and refine their attacks and strategies. Even though this took years, the Nazis' fate was essentially decided by the winter of 1941

  2. Unpreparedness - The army was given something like 6-8 weeks to take Moscow. They started invading in June, and while they came close to seizing the capital, they ultimately failed. Their overconfidence and short timetable meant they didn't bring any winter gear.

  3. Materials - Overextended supply lines.

  4. Allies - The axis allies consistently failed in their tasks, for example defending German flanks during Stalingrad

  5. Stalingrad - the Germans effort to take Stalingrad was ancillary to the drive to the Caucuses but consumed enormous resources and ultimately lost an entire Army group. It wasn't strategically important and a complete waste.

  6. Hubris - Hitler would not accept differing viewpoints and had a false sense that his plans were infallible due to his early successes. He would typically ignore his general's advice. For example, he would never let his forces withdraw, and if you were promoted to Field Marshall, well that was a death sentence, as someone of that rank was never taken alive and expected to fight until the death. (General Paulus was the first of this rank to surrender at Stalingrad.)

  • Stalingrad happened almost a year after Barbarossa has ended, so it cannot be a cause of its failure... – SJuan76 May 26 '16 at 16:37
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    Perhaps the OP can clarify. I assume he means the general invasion of Soviet Union beginning with Operation Barbarossa. – Hefewe1zen May 26 '16 at 17:03
  • I could poke holes in this, but they wouldn't be very large ones. Good answer. – T.E.D. May 26 '16 at 17:58
  • Late start in the campaign season due to distractions in the Balkans? – Conrad Turner May 27 '16 at 10:21
  • @ConradTurner, it might be, but I think this passage from [Len Deighton's "Blood, tears and folly"] (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood,_Tears_and_Folly) should be mentioned: "other historians disagree and believe that mid-June had always been the date chosen by the Germans. It was the longest day of the year. and offered the best field conditions." – Dmitry Koroliov May 27 '16 at 18:53

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