80

When people discuss the causes of Hitler's defeat in Russia, one topic is frequently mentioned: climate. People claim that winter contributed significantly to the problems of German army on the Eastern front.

However, to me this argument looks naive. Germany is big and several parts of it are affected by cold climate as much as Russia.

Justification: Here are the average temperatures in Berlin:

  • December: 1 °C (34 °F)
  • January: -1 °C (30 °F)
  • February: 1 °C (34 °F)

Here are the average temperatures of Moscow:

  • December: -3 - -7 °C (26.6--19.4 °F)
  • January: -4 - -9 °C (24.8--15.8 °F)
  • February: -3 - -10 °C (26.6--14 °F)

In my opinion Berlin's climate is slightly milder than Moscow's, but not different enough for Germans to not know that it's cold in winter. They experience snow, ice, and wind every winter.

Was the cold climate by itself a serious factor that helped the Russians defeat the Germans in WWII or not?

  • 78
    It was less about the cold, and more about the complete lack of preparation for it. With all planning assuming an end to hostilities within 6-8 weeks, no plans for providing appropriate winter gear to 3.5 million troops was made. Also, overnight lows are important for whether diesel engines on tanks and the like will start in the morning. German vehicles were not designed for colder Russian winters. – Pieter Geerkens Jun 26 '18 at 16:32
  • 39
    And Berliners did not camp outdoors in inadequate clothing with sometimes spotty food supplies while having to stand guard outside at night for a couple of hours. – Amorphous Blob Jun 26 '18 at 16:53
  • 10
    From what I have read the Germans hoped to blitz to safe havens before the coldest of winter set in. The resistance of the Russians, their willingness to loose millions of lives and prisoners and the fact that they burned their cities and food sources foiled the Germans plans. – Joe Jun 26 '18 at 18:50
  • 29
    Where do you get those averages from? They might be accurate now, or long term, but that's not what it was like in 1941/1942. ...The winter of 1941-42 is known as the coldest European winter of the 20th Century. That might be worth reading... "Some comments are given on how the severe winter weather affected the war in the USSR." – HopelessN00b Jun 26 '18 at 21:58
  • 12
    The average temperature in my oven is just a few degrees above room temperature. I still do not recommend spending a week inside it. – bukwyrm Jun 28 '18 at 12:10
122

I have not lived in Berlin or Moscow, but I have lived in Toronto and (very close to) Val d'Or. The winter temperatures for these two locations closely match Berlin and Moscow:

          December   January  February   (Avg daily high/avg Daily low) (Celsius)
Toronto     2/ -3     -1/ -7    0/ -6
Val d'Or   -8/-19    -11/-23   -8/-22

I can absolutely assure you that if you were to wear in Val d'Or, for more than 60-90 minutes, clothing quite suitable for winter in Toronto you will freeze.

If you have not stood outside in a 40 kph wind and -25C temperatures, you have no idea what cold really means. Your eyebrows freeze first, from the humidity in your exhalations. Then the (absolutely required) scarf covering your face and nose freezes solid, as you desperately turn away from the wind and huddle with your classmates like a herd of sheep, taking turns on the outside and inside of the pack. Then your mitts start to freeze from blowing on them to keep your finger warm. Don't even think of wearing gloves - that way lies frost-bitten and amputated fingers. If you have them, you wear two pairs of woollen mitts because one pair is insufficient. You pull your isolated thumb into the main body of the mitt before it can go numb from the cold.

And that's just in the 15 or so minutes, protected from the wind by the school building, from drop-off time until the bell rings to admit everyone into the school. No pretence of taking off boots and jackets is even made for another 10 minutes or so, giving everyone a chance to warm up first.

Yes, absolutely - ten degrees Celsius is more than enough to make a vast difference, in both cold-weather survivibility and performance.

And yes - licking the flagpole will absolutely freeze your tongue to it. Touching the flagpole with your hand will freeze the two together if you are not really quick pulling your hand off - I have seen it, and it is not pretty.


If you come from a temperate climate, know that through most of Canada, every public parking spot requires these so that engine block-heaters can be plugged in in winter. If you forget, for more than 3-4 hours, there is no way your car engine will start until properly warmed up. It is even worse for diesel engines, which cannot be turned off at all in such cold weather except when inside.

block-heater pole


A firsthand account from here

We reduced sentry duty to one hour, then to thirty minutes, and finally to fifteen minutes. The cold was, quite simply, a killer; we were all in danger of freezing to death.

Another comment, from Sandy Woodward on the approaching winter of the Falklands war:

I thought then, for the first time, about the arrival of General Winter. If he had been here ten days ago, he would not have been much help to the Args, dug in on the heights with no chance of their High Command getting their air forces into the skies. But I think he would’ve finished us.

  • 6
    As a Canadian, I can completely confirm this answer. +1 – Ryguy Jun 28 '18 at 15:32
  • 9
    Considering how public plugs for engine block heaters are still practically non-existent in Moscow, Russia seems to be on its toes for another invasion ;) – Dmitry Grigoryev Jun 29 '18 at 10:20
  • 5
    @SoLo: At those temperatures, a double pair of mitts is much warmer than a single pair of mitts which is much warmer single pair of gloves. Sometimes an oversized mitt is worn over a pair of gloves for warmth comparable to a double pair of mitts. I am definitely NOT recommending no hand coverings. – Pieter Geerkens Jun 30 '18 at 0:10
  • 11
    "It is even worse for diesel engines, which cannot be turned off at all" -- surely you mean "cannot be turned off for less than a few months". :) – nanoman Jun 30 '18 at 2:34
  • 5
    I think you're agreeing with me. I was joking that, if nothing else, one can wait for spring. It struck me as amusing that you said it "cannot be turned off" when of course, in the literal sense, as you now say, it can be. To make it complete, let's say "cannot be turned off for less than a few months unless one is prepared to use fire". – nanoman Jun 30 '18 at 2:58
68

Average temperatures are irrelevant, unless you plan to repeat the battle every year. What matters is the temperature at the time. To quote Wikipedia:

The European Winter of 1941-1942 was the coldest of the twentieth century. On 30 November, von Bock reported to Berlin that the temperature was – 45 °C (–49 °F). General Erhard Raus, commander of the 6th Panzer Division, kept track of the daily mean temperature in his war diary. It shows a suddenly much colder period during 4–7 December: from –36 to –38 °C (–37 to –38 °F). Other temperature reports varied widely. Zhukov said that November's freezing weather stayed around –7 to –10 °C (+19 to +14 °F) Official Soviet Meteorological Service records show the lowest December temperature reached –28.8 °C (–20 °F).

That winter was quite cold in Germany as well, but by that time it was too late to supply the army which was some 2000km away.

  • 11
    Interesting. By way of contrast, the winter of 1812-3 that so devastated Napoleon's Grande Armee was regarded by contemporary Russians as quite mild. – Pieter Geerkens Jun 28 '18 at 13:42
  • 4
    @PieterGeerkens: "Cold? What cold? Is not cold, is just Russia." – Sean Jul 1 '18 at 15:28
  • @Sean: Spoken like a Canuck. – Pieter Geerkens Jul 1 '18 at 15:29
  • 1
    @PieterGeerkens: Actually, I'm originally from Massachusetts, but given that I've been living in Minnesota for the last four years... eh, as close enough as I have any interest in being. – Sean Jul 1 '18 at 15:32
  • 2
    @Sean Latitude doesn't say very much though - Berlin at 52.2°N is further north than all of Minnesota, and Moscow at 55.5°N has the same latitude as Kopenhagen, Denmark, which has milder climate than even Berlin. This is because both Kopenhagen and to a lesser degree Berlin get some heat from the Gulfstream. Also, coastal regions (Kopenhagen) usually have milder climate than continental regions (Berlin, Moscow, Minnesota). – Sumyrda - Reinstate Monica Jul 2 '18 at 9:36
33

Other answers have dealt with the main things but I think you are missing one important point.

Even assuming that Berlin and Moscow are equally cold there is a huge difference between holding your own territory (defensive operations within Germany) and maintaining long supply lines through hostile territory in bad weather. If the German army had a constant supply of replacement equipment, cold weather gear and hot food things would have been easier for them.

There is a good reason why ancient armies did not operate during winter. It is a lot easier for a defender to hold a position in winter than it is for an attacker to take it. Even assuming that both armies were from the same climate and equally capable of winter operations.

  • 5
    " It is a lot easier for a defender to hold a position in winter than it is for an attacker to take it" but after a while attacker and defender switched places and winter was still around – Marian Paździoch Jun 27 '18 at 14:01
  • 4
    @MarianPaździoch - Red Army counter-attack was led by Eastern divisions (moved from Siberia, when Japanese decided to attack Pearl Harbor instead of opening second front in Russia). These divisions were trained, quipped and accustomed to fight in winter conditions. – Peter M. - stands for Monica Jun 27 '18 at 14:49
  • 6
    @MarianPaździoch Sort of, but they were still physically in Russia, simply being on the defensive is not enough to confer the home field advantage hundreds of miles from home – wedstrom Jun 27 '18 at 19:47
  • 4
    This is correct - the supply lines and logistics were the critical problem, not specifically the cold temperatures, though those didn't help. Pretty much the exact same mistake Napoleon made ~130yrs earlier trying to capture Moscow. – mc01 Jun 29 '18 at 0:38
  • 1
    Except for the Mongols who did take Moskow in winter. – Angelo Fuchs Jul 2 '18 at 8:00
30

Part of the Third Reich's military problem was its devastating quick early victories.

Germany invaded France rapidly alongside a ~900 km front line, adopting the WWI strategy to enter via Belgium through the Ardennes surpassing the Marginot defense line and catching France by surprise as those considered passing the mountain range with tanks impossible. This gave a huge confidence boost to the military brass and let to overestimation of their forces' capabilities. When invading Russia, their forces were hardly better equipped or in larger number, however the eastern front line was ~2400 km.

The battle of Moscow

The battle of Moscow was the turning point for the war. In the previous battle of Smolensk in early September 1941, German troops had closed in on and defeated Russian forces.

Hitler already ordered the forces to divide in late July 1941, because he wanted to conquer Leningrad and the economically important regions in the Ukraine, so he sent a tank brigade (Panzergruppe 2 and 3) to take part in the battles of Kiev and one in Leningrad, which they did after the battle of Smolensk. He also wanted to capture the Crimean peninsula in order to eliminate the threat of Soviet aerial attacks on important oil fields in Romania.

Supply problems

Those two battles took longer than expected, however. Thus the reinforcement for the front in Moscow to which the tank brigades were supposed to return delayed. Additionally many tanks were out of use and in repair in Germany so out of the remaining tanks only about half were ready for use. Also only about a quarter of motor vehicles were ready to be used, and even those were only provisionally repaired. Additionally, supply bases for army groups middle and south (Heeresgruppe Mitte/Süd) ran short on fuel, so only the supply base for army group north (Heeresgruppe Nord) had enough left because rails were better developed and they could be refilled via ports in the northern sea.

In order to secure supply, rebuilding infrastructure in Soviet territory was necessary, even setting up a new one as there were almost no paved roads and the Russian rails had a wider gauge, which did not fit for German trains and had to be modified time consumingly. There were also not enough supply trains available and Soviet partisans attacked some of them.

Thus Germany was not able to compensate the losses from previous battles.

Early weather trouble

Initially, in August, German army command rendered Moscow impregnable before winter, but a disastrous defeat for the Red Army in Kiev let Hitler redecide and order the conquest of Moscow before winter.

After the attack for Moscow started in early October German troops decided some early battles for their side (Oryol, Bryansk, and Vyazma) and crossed the Volga river. In mid October the mud season started with heavy rainfalls rendering the land impassable and a German supply drop from 900 t of material per day to only 20 t until frost settled in early November. It still took another two weeks for supply materials finally arriving at the front line, and when biting frost settled on the 6th of November already, German troops were still without winter clothing.

In the meantime the Soviets gathered their troops, strengthened defense lines and prepared for a counter charge.

Late weather trouble

When German troops continued the attack they encountered heavy resistance and failed to achieve aerial superiority due to some of their planes having been relocated to the Mediterranean. Despite the resistance, German troops marched on and won several battles (Yepifan, Dedilovo, Stalinogorsk, Mikhaylov, passing of the Don river, and Skopin) until field marshal Fedor von Bock informed the army command of the troops' exhaustion. Army group middle (Heeresgruppe Mitte) received response to continue the battle with a last exertion as they assumed the battle was fought between the last Batallion on both sides.

Temperatures fell below -35 °C in late November and the German troops suffered heavy losses due to freezing while Soviet troops were fully equipped with warm clothes. Despite that, the last German forces took the town of Krasnaya Polyana and one army patrol even reached the Moscow suburb Khimki about 8 km from Moscow.

When the Soviets started their counter attack in early December already 21 of the 34 Eastern Siberian units had arrived in Moscow.

East Asian situation

After the Russo-Japanese war in 1904 Japan increased influence in the Chinese region Manchuria, creating a vassal state, Manchukuo, in 1933. They were unable to settle for a border agreement with Russia causing some tension between the two parties. A small group of Mongolian troops sat down in what they considered their side of the border for their horses to grass, but they were ran off by Manchukuo forces. A stronger Mongolian force returning later let the Manchukuo call the Japanese for reinforcements, but the area was inapt for battle as neither side had any proper railway system, paved road or train station close to the region.

Upon the conflict's growth the Russians set up a railway system on their side so they were able to relocate a large amount of troops, artillery, ammunition and even tanks below the radar of the Japanese. When they attacked to drive out the Russians they were surprised by the strength of the enemy's troops and suffered a devastating defeat.

This led to the Japanese deeming the region as too unimportant to fight in large-scale battles for it so they signed a non-aggressive pact with Russia turning their full attention south towards China.

Stalin mistrusted Japan and kept his troops stationed in East Siberia until Russian agent Dr. Richard Sorge, disguised as German newspaper correspondent (Frankfurter Zeitung) transmitted to Moscow in mid August that the Japanese leadership decided to finally lay down any offensive plans to attack Russia. Stalin then started to send the troops to the western front.

Hitler expected Japan to join the attack on Russia according to the Tripartite Pact, but against his vision his ally abode by the non-aggressive pact with Russia and focused on the war with China and later the Pacific war.

Stalingrad?

I am leaving out Stalingrad now as that was actually only one point in the continuing defeat of Nazi Germany, albeit the most devastating one, but the problems of German troops have all showed up months before already.

But here is the order Hitler gave to the German troops in mid December on how to battle the stronger Russian forces:

An die Heeresgruppe Mitte

  1. Der Führer hat befohlen:

„Größere Ausweichbewegungen können nicht durchgeführt werden. Sie führen zum völligen Verlust von schweren Waffen und Gerät. Unter persönlichem Einsatz der Befehlshaber, Kommandeure und Offiziere ist die Truppe zum fanatischen Widerstand in ihren Stellungen zu zwingen, ohne Rücksicht auf durchgebrochenen Feind in Flanke und Rücken. Nur durch eine derartige Kampfführung ist der Zeitgewinn zu erzielen, der notwendig ist, um die Verstärkungen aus der Heimat und dem Westen heranzuführen, die ich befohlen habe. Erst wenn Reserven in rückwärtigen Sehnenstellungen eingetroffen sind, kann daran gedacht werden, sich in diese Stellungen abzusetzen.“

  1. ...

This translates to:

To the army group Middle:

  1. The Führer commanded:

"Larger evasive maneuvres cannot be executed. They lead to a total loss of heavy weapons and devices. Under personal commitment of the persons in command, commanders and officers the troops are to be forced in position executing fanatic resistance disregarding any enemy breakthrough in the flanks or the back. This type of warfare is the only means to achieve the gain in time necessary to bring in the reinforcement from the homeland and the west, which I ordered. Unless those resources have arrived in rearward positions a retreat to those positions cannot even be thought about."

  1. ...

I am unsure as to whether he actually ordered the reinforcements. He also ordered the desert corps to fight fanatically to the last man rather than to give up or retreat.

Summary

So to sum it up, disadvantageous weather conditions, underestimation of the enemy, overestimation of the own troops' capabilities, supply problems, unexpected ally behavior all played part in the German defeat. Though the weather may have been a key component as it weakened the Wehrmacht severely.

  • 1
    Only in one professional sport world-wide (hockey) is it ever argued that having far-and-away the largest captive market of the sport (Toronto) is a distinct disadvantage to building a championship team. And not even Maple Leaf fans buy that argument. – Pieter Geerkens Jun 27 '18 at 17:12
  • 1
    If you want to take Demjansk into your argument, along with other references, that would be a tremendous help for your thesis. – LаngLаngС Jun 27 '18 at 17:14
  • Siberian divisions were experienced, battle hardened forces. They soundly beat Japan in Khalkhin Gol in 1939 - this was the reason why Japan decided to attack south, in Pearl Harbor. And they caught Germans by surprise in Moscow. – Peter M. - stands for Monica Jun 27 '18 at 22:09
  • @PeterMasiar This was all I gather from memory alone, due to what I had read about a year ago. Yes, the Siberian forces were experienced, no denying that, but they had enough time to gather strength before their relocation to the west and were not exhausted like the German troops. I could not remember the name of the battle with Japan but as far as I remember it was only a half hearted attack by Japan anyway, in a vastly open, flat area. – Otto Abnormalverbraucher Jun 28 '18 at 8:07
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    @Abyx Revising my source it seems I've misread this one. It states "economically important regions in the Ukraine and the conquest of Leningrad", so it seems the economically important part only applies to the Ukraine. I'll edit my answer. – Otto Abnormalverbraucher Aug 14 '18 at 8:15
21

The Russian winter was a contributing factor. The German winter is not like the Russian plains winter where the German army advanced. The German army was reportedly still wearing summer uniforms when the Russian winter hit. The winter was one of the coldest for that time period. Hitler refused to send winter uniforms when initially requested. Gasoline won't ignite at temperatures lower than -42 Celsius and diesel is hard to start at low temperatures. German armament had difficulty with the cold as well.

  • 12
    The army itself just left the winter equipment that was available in Poland at the start of the campaign. Though likely not enough, "when requested" it was already quite late, if not absurdly too late. Blaming one guy is likely an oversimplification. – LаngLаngС Jun 26 '18 at 20:32
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    @HopelessN00b Everything you say is correct, except that almost all generals conceded to the plan at the time and shared the blitzkrieg delusion in 41. The plan to attack the USSR was solely produced by Reichswehr/Wehrmacht staff. By "plan" I mean deployment and tactics and strategy. Nothing of that AH supplied. – LаngLаngС Jun 26 '18 at 21:48
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    @LangLangC Saying "sure thing, boss" or "I agree, sir" to a dictatorial boss (nevermind an actual dictator) is a survival strategy, not an indication of agreement. They conceded to the plan and seemed to share his delusional timeline because it was a job requirement to do so, not because they actually agreed. And that's something Adolf Hitler (and that type of leader in general) also deserve full blame for - if you fire (or execute) people who disagree with you or challenge the flaws in your plans, you have no one else to blame when you eventually put out nothing but disastrous ideas. – HopelessN00b Jun 26 '18 at 21:54
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    @HopelessN00b AH is to blame for quite a register. And writing these kind of sentiments and qualifications into a private diary before the events are unfolding proves that many were not coerced into complicity but marching along all the way in spirit and in principle. Many did share it. IMO, not only because AH hypnotised them into it (he was remarkable in that regard). And some did speak up, even ever more so in their post war memoirs, curiously. But: the whole of the leadership is to blame. Who the most is obvious, but he is not "alone at home". – LаngLаngС Jun 26 '18 at 22:02
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    Diesel engines are not just "hard to start" at low temperatures, they are utterly impossible to start. Diesel starts to gel below -8 C or so, clogs the filters and becomes unpumpable. Allegedly diesel trucks in remote Siberian places are never switched off through the winter so that they keep warm (there is no scarcity of fuel there). – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jun 27 '18 at 8:36
7

The conditions during that particular Russian winter were a contributing factor (as has been discussed in the other answers). However, there were other significant contributing factors to the German defeat.

One of the biggest factors beyond the weather conditions was actually the tactics used by the Germans. Blitzkreig tactics work great, until you end up advancing faster than you can increase the size of your fighting force. The number of troops you need to keep using such tactics increases as you claim more territory, and the large open terrain of the Russian plains made the required number of troops go up exponentially. This, combined with the fact that the Russians largely gave up territory with minimal casualties early on meant that the German forces were spread rather thin when the Red Army really started with the counteroffensive, and thus had issues effectiviely fighting back. This was significantly compounded by the winter itself however, so it's hard to say what the primary cause of the Russian victory was.

In short though, the whole operation is a great reminder of the fact that invading.a country with a significantly larger potential fighting force than yours without proper preparation is a remarkably effective way to lose a war.

  • 13
    "gave up territory with minimal casualties" - you may want to revisit your history books. – oakad Jun 27 '18 at 3:41
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    @oakad The absolute number of casualties for the Russians was very high. However, proportionate to the total population, it was a rather small number. – Austin Hemmelgarn Jun 27 '18 at 10:40
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    @koita_pisw_sou Im not talking about casualties over the course of the whole war though. Looking at just the data for Operation Barbaroza, Russia only suffered about 2.5% casualties per-capita, while Germany suffered at least 11.9% casualties per-capita. Both numbers based on data from the link you posted and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Barbarossa. – Austin Hemmelgarn Jun 27 '18 at 14:00
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    How "per capita" figures are at all relevant here? In 1941, Red Army was loosing, on average, ~14000 army men per day (that is an entire full-blooded division every single day) . By every possible definition this is considered excessive loses (and we are not even counting losses of densely populated areas to rapidly advancing germans - those will be a good order of magnitude higher). – oakad Jun 28 '18 at 1:42
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    Perecntage of the population matters though, as your population is an upper limit on how many soldiers you can field. We don't have good data on how fast they could replace casualties or exactly how big the armies in question were, so we can only generalize to population as a whole. Yes, losing a whole batallion a day is bad, but if your millitary is big enough that you lost only a tiny percentage of your fighting force, it really doesn't matter as much long term as if it was a large percentage of your forces (and provided you can reinforce the area fast enough to prevent enemy advances). – Austin Hemmelgarn Jun 28 '18 at 17:46
7

Whilst many of the other points are excellent, also bear in mind that there are times known as the Rasputitsa or "the time without roads". Whilst many of the tanks would have coped, remember that not every vehicle in a militiary convoy will have tracks. Many will be wheeled vehicles, which will struggle with the conditions.

Logistics is the lifeblood of any army, and together with poor equipment and overstretch, the added difficulties of dealing with deep clay mud combined with summer gear is going to make any army miserable. Miserable soldiers fight less effectively.

  • 1
    I was going to comment on that. People forget that when germans met General Winter, they had already been hit by Marshall Mud for a couple of months. Ukrainian saying: "in summer, one bucket of water makes a spoon of mud. In autumn, one spoon of water makes a bucket of mud". And deep mud is also difficult for horse drawn carriages - the army was not fully mechanized then. – Luiz Jun 29 '18 at 16:25
  • Additionally, many German tracked vehicles actually couldn't handle the mud very well. Certain tanks were very well known for digging into the mud instead of going over it (the original Porsche model Tigers being a great example). It wasn't until 1944 that they really started making vehicles that could properly handle the Rasputitsa, and most such vehicles never actually got sent to the Eastern Front (for some reason Hitler thought they would be better utilized in the forests of France, despite the fact that they were horrendously noisy). – Austin Hemmelgarn Jul 1 '18 at 16:16
  • @AustinHemmelgarn - I knew there were some tanks that couldn't cope - couldn't remember or find which ones! Good to note that the Russian tanks had no such problems... – Miller86 Jul 2 '18 at 11:53
  • Liddell Hart also commented on this in his WW2 book. The Germans did well in western Europe where there were lots of decent roads. In Russia at that time, most roads were dirt tracks that seasonally disappeared into mud. The tracked vehicles could make their way, but the wheeled transport had serious problems. He noted that a tracked logistics vehicle would have been a major asset for the eastern campaigns. – Smith Jul 3 '18 at 17:33
0

Yes and No.

Yes.. Winter totally defeated the Nazis. Had the summer of 1941 been 12 months long, Germany would have handily won!

No. It is Russia. If you invade Russia, you have to take Winter into consideration.

-1

Weather? Not so much. Russians? Absolutely.

Simple fact:

From the time of the German invasion to the battle of Stalingrad the Russian/soviet forces NEVER faced less that 100 to 110 German divisions. The "allies" faced the maximum of 15 at the Battle of the Bulge. The simple fact of the matter is that Stalin's Soviet Russia defeated Germany. The rest of the "allies" were just along for the ride.

  • 7
    Battle of France had 140+ German divisions involved. – PaulHK Jun 27 '18 at 5:37
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    The soviets died en mass because Stalin had a simple calculation that there were more soviets than Germans, and as long as he was okay he'd be happy with a one-for-one trade. Also note that Stalin started the whole thing as Hitler's ally in the invasion of Poland. – Display name Jun 27 '18 at 11:39
  • 5
    The ugly weather was for sure a contribution, but Alan's answer is more accurate. This is also reflected in total casualties (Soviets: 20million, US+UK+France: less than 2million - source: Wiki). Not only the soviets never allied with nazis, but payed this with their blood. – koita_pisw_sou Jun 27 '18 at 11:57
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    @koita_pisw_sou "Not only the soviets never allied with nazis" Not true . – David Richerby Jun 27 '18 at 22:06
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    @DavidRicherby:The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact (1940) you mentioned was a non-aggression pact, not an alliance. It was a clever move to provide the newly established USSR with some breathing space to prepare for the imminent war. It was forced by the actions of the West, who had already allied with Nazi Germany in 1938 in Munich, while USSR was warning them to join forces against Germany – koita_pisw_sou Jun 28 '18 at 7:26

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