We often hear that it's important to learn from history to avoid the errors of people before us. To me - then - it's astounding to think that a head of state like Hitler, surrounded with elite military strategists, was persuaded to attack Russia in the wrong season, duplicating the error made by Napoleon I.

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    Wikipedia entry about the topic (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Barbarossa#Reasons_for_delay) gives some insights related to the election of the time. Do you think that the article is insufficient on its explanation? If that is the case, maybe you can edit your question. – Santiago Dec 30 '19 at 13:18
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    The real question is, why did Napoleon make the same error in attacking Russia that Charles XII did? – Spencer Dec 30 '19 at 13:42
  • @Santiago That Wikipedia article cites a reason, but then turns around and says it isn't widely accepted any more. – Spencer Dec 30 '19 at 13:55
  • Actually. After 1812, Napoleon said that two seasons were needed to invade Russia. One season was not enough time. – Santiago Dec 30 '19 at 13:59
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    Welcome to History:SE. Could you edit your question to clarify what you've looked into already, complete with links and references, and context if applicable? In particular, please let us know what you find missing or unclear about the Wikipedia entry on the topic, if one exists. This allows those who might want to answer to do so without needing to redo the work you've already done. You might find it helpful to review the site tour and Help Centre and, in particular, How to Ask. – MCW Dec 30 '19 at 14:16

There is no good season for invasion of Russia

Napoleon and Hitler invaded in the beginning of the summer. Weather in this part of the year is relatively good for advance, and Russian roads are passable. Napoleon went straight to Moscow and captured it relatively early in the year ( September 14, 1812). However, he did not capture Kiev and his army could not move against St Petersburg. Consequently, his deep and thin penetration into Russia depended on a single route (through Smolensk) which was constantly harassed. Napoleon was compelled to withdraw, first through muddy autumn weather, and then through early Russian winter (November and early December) which ended the way it ended.

Hitler was more cautious in this regard - he moved to capture Kiev first, and besieged Leningrad. Only after that was he able to go to Moscow, but at that time the autumn rasputitsa settled in, and this the slowed German advance until ground froze in November. Unfortunately for the Germans, they were not prepared for a winter campaign and again the rest is history.

Before French and German invasions, it is worth to mention Swedish invasion of Russia which actually did start in the middle of the winter. However, despite being better prepared for winter warfare then later French and Germans attempts, Swedes were also forced to remain in winter quarters after initial trust. Consequently, they only resumed campaign in July, after spring rasputitsa has passed, and after that their attempt met similar fate as their successors, with many troops lost during Great Frost of 1709.

Overall, conventional wisdom would be to wait for spring mud season to end, this usually happens in late May. Do to various circumstances, invaders usually cannot attack right away, forcing the beginning of operations to late June instead. After that it is race against time until October rains start and again create autumn rasputitsa followed by dreaded Russian winter . This actually leaves barely four months of good campaigning weather, which definitely is not enough to defeat Russia.

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    One might, from strictly geographic considerations, note that Swedish forces would likely be even better prepared for a Russian winter than even the Russians are - much as happened in the Winter War of 1940-1 between the U.S.S.R. and Finland. – Pieter Geerkens Dec 30 '19 at 21:31
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    @PieterGeerkens They were better prepared then French, but they were not accustomed to winter in open steppe, which is quite different then forested Scandinavia. As for Winter War, there are lot of reasons for Soviet relative failure, climate was one of them but not decisive in my opinion. But this is a topic for another question. – rs.29 Dec 31 '19 at 9:03

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