Did any one of the top Wehrmacht generals, who was a war-monger and agreed with Hitler's doctrine of expansion by force, ever attempt to dissuade him from the idea to invade the USSR in principle (not just postpone attacking until some conditions are met)? If yes, what was his (their) vision on how to continue the German war campaign that had been so successful?

I presume Hitler's top generals were not accustomed to vehemently oppose his decisions. However, it does not mean some of them could not try to persuade him to abandon some specific idea. Given the vast territory and impressive human resources of the Soviets, going into war with them was very risky business after all.

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    Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – MCW
    Aug 22, 2019 at 17:16
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    Are you asking about Generals who didn't want to invade the USSR at all, or those who opposed operation Barbarossa specificly ?
    – Mastrem
    Aug 22, 2019 at 18:54
  • According to this (sourced) reddit post: reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/3v18ps/… Erich Raeder would be a candidate.
    – Mastrem
    Aug 22, 2019 at 19:00
  • Many (most/all?) high-ranking generals of the Wehrmacht in WW2 participated in WW1 in some way. WW1 ended badly for Germany, as the two-front war turned out to put too much strain on Germany. The WW1 and post-WW1 experience had a strong influence on the decision makers at the time. So, Hitler's plan to invade the Soviet Union was definitely a tough sell.
    – Dohn Joe
    Aug 28, 2019 at 7:38

1 Answer 1


There were quite a few people in high positions who were opposed to war against USSR

Erich Raeder as a head of the Kriegsmarine opposed war against the Soviet Union before the defeat of Great Britain. We could take this as a professional deformation, because at the time Britain was a great naval power and effectively blockaded Germany just like they did in WW1. In Raeder's professional opinion, in 1941 Germany should have executed the so called Mediterranean plan, and eliminate British presence in North Africa and Malta, capture Gibraltar etc... and then choke Britain out of the war by cutting off traffic of strategic materials to the island. Only after that war against the Soviet Union should be considered, especially since US started giving more and more help to British, therefore there was a limited window of opportunity to do this.

Hermann Göring as the head of Luftwaffe, was also "strongly opposed" to war vs the Soviet Union, again because his air force left an unfinished job with Britain, and because RAF now gradually grabbed air superiority over France and started night raids against Germany itself. He was not alone with this opinion in the Luftwaffe, generals like Erhard Milch and Otto Hoffmann von Waldau also doubted that the Soviet Union could be defeated completely before the onset of the dreaded Russian winter.

Joachim von Ribbentrop. although not a military leader, as a Foreign Minister of the Third Reich opposed the war vs Soviet Union. He may have had personal reasons as the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact was a crown achievement of his career, and by his opinion gave Germany the chance to fight Britain "with both hands", chance that Hitler now squandered. It is said that Ribbentrop personally respected and even admired Stalin, so this could be another reason for his opposition against war.

Finally, it must be said that German army generals (Heer) wholeheartedly supported Hitler's ideas of conquest, including chief of staff Halder and field-marshals like Walther von Brauchitsch. This again could be professional deformation, because land conquest of Russia was a feat that none had achieved for centuries, and they felt themselves invincible after France. However, there were cooler heads even among them. One example would be Ernst August Köstring. Köstring served as a military attaché in Moscow, and argued that even capture of Moscow would not knock USSR out of the war, as Soviets had industrial capacities beyond Ural and could reorganize their transport network.

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    The phrase "professional deformation" makes no sense in either usage, and I am unable to discern or guess your intent. Please explain so the phrase can be corrected. Aug 22, 2019 at 23:48
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    @PieterGeerkens Professional deformation, or job conditioning, is the concept that professional training and experience affects one's worldview and judgement. In the scope of this answer, it means that Raeder saw gaining dominance on seas more important than securing borders on land, while Heer commanders shifted their priorities off of Britain as soon as it was forced out of ground combat in Europe. Aug 23, 2019 at 3:08
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    @PieterGeerkens Career naval officer like Raeder was naturally more concerned about naval powers (i.e. Britain) then about land powers (USSR) . Danila explained it nicely .
    – rs.29
    Aug 23, 2019 at 7:24
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    I think there should a difference being made between those who opposed Operation Barbarossa at that point in time and those who opposed it on general terms. The (now archived-to-chat) comments on the original question outlined a necessity to make that distinction. To my knowledge, virtually all who opposed the war against the USSR opposed the schedule (i.e., logistics), not the war per se (i.e. the geostrategic decision).
    – DevSolar
    Aug 23, 2019 at 14:08
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    @S.N. Please edit your clarifications into the question, don't post them in comments. Neither below the Q, nor in chat, nor below answers. Aug 23, 2019 at 20:00

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