Thousand Year Riech Essay, Research Paper
The Thousand Year Reich was barely six years old when the two most dominating, enterprising faces in European politics, Adolph Hitler, and Joseph Stalin, united their nations in a grandiose, ulterior scheme for non-aggression. Despite Hitler s plan for non-aggression, on several occasions the Fuhrer had made publicly known, Germany s concealed motive. Once the nation had regained its military strength, Germany s primary goal was to be, the conquest of new living space in the East and its ruthless Germanization. (Russia, p.22) It was not only Russia s prized resources and great agricultural potential that has drawn the eyes of Hitler eastward. Here Hitler believed that this inferior race of Slavs, racially degenerated by centuries of Mongoloid mixing, was destined to be exploited for the well being of the Fatherland. Furthermore, the country s political system was hateful; Bolshevism, at all cost had to be rooted out, with force if necessary. This dream of Lebensraum, living space , was first made public knowledge when his Nazi bible, Mein Kampf, was released after his brief term in a Bavarian prison. The German people, naturally superior, were destined as dictated by Hitler to resettle these rich farmlands and resource filled areas of the Ukraine and Russia. (The Marshall, p.55) With these specific references, Hitler s personal motive is made ever more clear. However, it is the war on the Western Front, which occupies the Fuhrer s mind for the time being. Unfortunately, as his panzers stop short of the beach at Dunkirk, Hitler, frustrated contemplates an invasion of Russia, already having failed to invade Great Britain. Like Napoleon before him, Hitler realized his inability to send an army across the English Channel but also realized the devastating possibility of an Anglo-Russian alliance; it s aims, to destroy Germany in a two front war. Thus it is this Hitler, the power thirsty conqueror, unfulfilled in the west, who turns to the east, in response to the increasingly aggressive, ideologically influential Soviet Russia. A renewed Soviet Russia, asserting itself, in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and then in Bessarabia, and Bukovina pushed Hitler over the edge: the fine line of sanity is erased and Hitler sows the seed of four more years of seemingly endless total war. These diplomatic tensions, fear of an Anglo-Soviet alliance and the Fuhrer s personal racist and ideological ideals lead to the preparation of the hastily planned, ill advised, underestimated campaign which promises Germany a Swift Victory, by surprise in its infancy yet decisively seals Hitler s personal fate and that of the Thousand Year Reich .
The first serious thoughts on an invasion of Russia did not enter the Fuhrer s mind until midway through his daring Ardennes invasion of the Low Countries. The ideological ideals and dreams dictated in Mein Kampf were temporarily suppressed to ensure full Russian cooperation in his conquests of Poland and in securing his right flank for his priorities in the West. The initial decision came after several hours of personal, solitary meditation at Berchtesgaden. Historians today struggle to understand the Fuhrer s motivations for such a daring move. Most important, is the cause-effect relationship between the volatile political situations in Europe of the time, and Hitler s success is isolating England, then this failure to destroy the crippled nation. Here Hitler s greatest fear, a British Russian alliance, described here as a motivation fro action,
If Russian is smashed, Britain s last hope will be shattered. Then Germany will be master of Europe and the Balkans. Decision: In view of these considerations Russia must be liquidated. The sooner Russia is smashed, the better. (The Rise, p.798)
This is best paired with Hitler s secondary fears of Russian domination of the Balkans. In particular, the Ploesti oil fields, which provided the majority of German supply in its earlier campaigns. The thought that these essential, oil rich areas of Romania, controlled by Germany, and so critical to victory could be subjected to Russian air attacks infuriates the Fuhrer. Following Russia s quick occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, Stalin produced ultimatums, pressure for the annexation of Bessarabia and then Romania s northern region, Bukovina. With Russian troops massed on the Romanian border prepared to invade, Germany struck first, diplomatically. Hitler guaranteed Romania s security, thus solidifying his control of significant areas of the Balkans. The spread of the communist ideological ideals and Russia s military expansion in the Eastern Europe only further fuelled Hitler s growing hatred for the Bolshevism, as dictated years earlier in Mein Kampf. These prior writings and dreams for Lebensraum only aid in his final decision to invade, upon failing, like Napoleon to conquer his natural enemy, Great Britain. Mein Kampf supported his advantages to waging war in the east, more, arable land for the German population and the end of the Russian subhuman people. In fact, Mein Kampf had influenced Hitler as early as several months after signing the Non-Aggression Pact,
Less than two months after the deal was signed and had been utilized to destroy Poland the Fuhrer instructed the army that the conquered Polish territory was to be regarded as an assembly area for future German operations. The date was October 18, 1939, and Halder recorded it in his diary. (The Rise, p.796)
The worsening Diplomatic relations with Russia reached a critical breaking point when Russia forced herself upon Romania. As described, Hitler took the initiative and signed Romania into the Axis Pact. His interest protected and now consolidated in the Balkans, Hitler instructed OKW to begin drawing up the plans for the coming invasion. Initially Hitler had asked for the assault to be prepared for August of the same year, although High Command reported to him that it could not be undertaken by that date. Hitler s opinion of Stalin became brasher and was repeated more and more in the presence of high-ranking German officials,
Stalin is clever and cunning. He demands more and more. He s a cold-blooded blackmailer. A German victory has become unbearable for Russia. Therefore: she must be brought to her knees as soon as possible. (The Rise, p.810)
Here, the objections from those within OKW who counseled a prudent conduct of war began to be heard as preparations continued. Would not this be riving the risk of war on two fronts, which had brought imperial Germany to her final defeat in 1918 and which the Non-Aggression Pact of 1939 had s o opportunely eliminated? Although only partly true, Hitler believed that the Western Front had been secured, while in fact, England still stood, despite being bled white. Unfortunately it is Hitler s interpretation of crippled , as defeated, that is incorrect and garners the contempt of various high-ranking members of OKW. C-in-c Brauchitsch, Chief of Staff Halder and Field Marshall Von Runstedt, genius of the French campaign,
Realized the difficulties present by the nature of the country (Russia) from their experiences in the 1914-1918 war, above all the difficulties of movement, reinforcement and supply. (The Other, p.256)
Despite the urging of those in close contact with the Fuhrer to abandon the project, Hitler issued the infamous Directive No. 21 sealing the fate of the Reich and his personal reign, on December 18, 1940. The German armed forces must be prepared even before the conclusion of the war against England, to crush Soviet Russia in a rapid campaign. (The Rise, p.810)
Directive No. 21 was the most daring and complicated of such military operations the world had ever seen. Hitler, claiming tactical genius placed the situation into basic terms,
The Russian forces were to be dislocated by savage armored thrusts, which were to push on right into Russia, and thus prevent Soviet forces from Falling back into their vast rear areas. The final objective was fixed as the line Astrakhan – the Volga – Gor ky – Kotlas Archangel. (The Marshall, p.502)
To Hitler reducing them to their most simple forms could solve the most complicated of military problems, as he had proved so successful in Poland, the Low Countries and in France. Still, the contempt for the invasion was alive within the Wehrmacht. In particular Von Runstedt, assigned a prestigious command in the upcoming campaign, continued to probe the Fuhrer, Have you weighed up what you are undertaking in an attack in Russia? (The Other, p.257) once again Hitler sidestepped the question and then elaborated on his strategic plans, which had been ripening for some time in his mind. The operation was viewed only worth the men and material, to Hitler, if its aim was to shatter the Soviet nation in one great blow, Wiping out the very power to exist Russia! That is our goal! (War In, p.143) Hitler had personally decided on two main thrusts eastward. One in the south to Kiev and on the Dnieper River, to be led by the vocally opposed Von Runstedt, with the aid of Guderian, Germany s premier tank commander. The second in the North up through the Baltic States, Leningrad and then toward Moscow. The attack he proposed would begin in May 1941 and would take five months to carry through, essentially before the onset of the Russian winter. The Nazi warlord stressed that the Red Army must be broken through both north and south of the Pripet Marshes, surrounded and annihilated, As in Poland Moscow, he told Halder, was not important. The important thing was to destroy the life-force of Russia. (The Rise, p. 810) Hitler also later decided on the Finnish and Romanian troops to in the campaign, which raised the number of allotted divisions for the campaign to between 120 and 130. Such was Hitler s grandiose plan, completed just before Christmas on 1940, and so well prepared, in his personal view, that no essential changes would be made to it. Ironically, the plans, of such genius, seal the fate of Hitler and the Third Reich, to burn in flames on the horrible Eastern Front war of attrition.
In Hitler s mind were there any thoughts of Charles the XII of Sweden and of Napoleon Bonaparte, who after so many glorious conquests not unlike his own, had met disaster in the vast depths of the Russian steppes. By now however the one-time Vienna waif regarded himself as the greatest conqueror the world had ever seen. Egomania, the fatal disease of all conquerors was taking hold. (The Rise, p.812)
Von Runstedt s question was postponed again in the New Year, as Hitler turned his attention to the Balkans where growing popular dissension in Yugoslavia had deposed the appointed puppet Nazi from power in the capital. Hitler responded brashly, and spontaneously by laughing a full invasion as an example to those who refused to abide to the Reich s wishes. This invasion of Yugoslavia began in conjunction with the German military aid of the Italian front in Greece to destroy the combined English and Greek forces. This prelude to Barbarossa was seen by the Fuhrer as a necessary use of men and material as it destroyed the English hope of landing troops on allied territory in Greece as had been accomplished with great effect at Salonika in the Great War. With his southern flank now secure in the Balkans Hitler turned to his generals for the new date of the invasion. The campaign officially delayed the start of the assault by two months, which some historians credit as a major error. Still, the German General Staff contends that the invasion would have proved near impossible by the ill-prepared German Army two months earlier. Despite all the earlier delays, the date is fixed, June 22. 1941, allowing for the rearmament and recuperation of equipment and men involved in the Balkans fighting. Here, Hitler s strategy, unclear from the beginning, tended to weigh heavily on the occupation or destruction of Leningrad as the main objective, His critics remained those within the army who believed differently, in particular Von Runstedt, Guderian and other leaders of the new tank school. Moscow they contested, represented the largest center of concentration industrial production at Russia s disposal, it was the political center of the nation and linked major Russian centers to the other parts of the nation as well as serving as the communications hub of the backwards Soviet Russia. It is this decisive conflict in strategy, which sows the seeds of destruction of the German Wehrmacht.
With the planning now well under way, German planes consistently violated Russian airspace providing valuable reconnaissance for the coming invasion, as tanks, supplies and men began to assemble in their start off points in Poland, East Prussia and Romania. Here the German Wehrmacht s key element of advantage lay in Stalin s na ve attitude to numerous and reliable sources regarding the inevitably approaching German invasion of Soviet Russia: surprise. Stalin remained duped until the end. The morning of the invasion as German troops poured across the borders, Russian resource trains from the Ukraine were still naively en route to their receiving areas in their new enemy s homeland. Most stunning are the events on the night of June 18. 1941. A court martial suspect in the Wehrmacht defects to the Russians in the evening. The soldier that his father is a communist and that the Germans will attack on the 22nd, If at 5 a.m. on June 22 you see that there is no invasion, I ask you to please shoot me! (Russia, p.20) Stalin refused to heed the warnings well as several previous warnings from high-ranking officials. A Soviet secret agent in Switzerland named Alexander Foote had obtained a report on a military operation the OKW was calling Barbarossa , a surprise invasion to destroy the Red Army.
So complete was Foote s information that it had taken him four days to transmit all the details to Moscow by radio. The most critical part of the message read: General attack on territories occupied by Russians dawn of Sunday 22 June 3:15` (Russia, p.21)
Even prior to the reception of Foote s disregarded information, the U.S. gave Konstantin A. Oumansky, the Soviet Ambassador in Washington, a copy of Hitler s invasion plans that had been received from the American commercial attach in Berlin, Sam Edison Woods. Once again Stalin allows no meeting with Oumansky, and pushes aside the allegations. Perhaps the most convincing of all of the warnings came from the Soviet spy, Richard Sorge, posing as a loyal Nazi working for the German Ambassador in Tokyo. Sorge ran a spy ring that included informants high in the Japanese government. Sorge provided solid evidence, stating that the invasion would begin on June 20, while later changing the date to the correct one, June 22nd 1941. Stalin was blinded by the congenial words of Hitler, who personally guaranteed a continuance of Russian-German Non-Aggression relations. Even closer to the date of the invasion Stalin learned that officials of the German Embassy were burning documents and getting ready to depart. German diplomats wives and children started packing their valuables and leaving fro home. (Russia, p.21) Why did Stalin refuse to heed the advice of so many, so closely related with, or within the intelligence community? No one knows; Hitler s blitzkrieg into Russia claims hundreds of thousands casualties, prisoners and missing Russian soldiers within the first two months of the campaign, in particular, the well over 650,000 at the encirclement of Kiev.
As German pincers slice through Russian territory, the German panzers made astonishing gains of up to fifty miles a day. Although the infantry in support of the panzer forces was effectively mopping up overrun Russian units, widening gaps erupted in the German offensive, thus leading to one of the most decisively erred decisions of Hitler s critical choices of the war. (Although ranking behind his decision to halt the panzer forces at Dunkirk and behind his changes for the English bombing campaign.) As the German forces neared their main objectives of the campaign, critical factors began to affect the overall outcome of his monstrous struggle. Most decisively in error being the lack of clear strategy from the beginning of the campaign. Thus as the German forces swallow the Russian land in chunks the operation starts to strain under the narrow-minded layout. Hitler in particular, as seen earlier, is adamant in his stressing for the destruction of Leningrad and the capture of the rich oil fields of the south. Unfortunately the Russian-corporal s plans brew contempt from the new school generals who stress the capture of Moscow, the capital. Quarrels within OKW force Guderian to personally pressure Hitler into keeping his successful panzer crops intact (instead of splitting it in for a new devised Leningrad front). Hitler agrees, but the result is switching of objectives, most importantly, the Ukraine becomes the priority objective in the developing offensive; followed then by Moscow. Here Hitler destroys any possibility of a conclusion to the Russian campaign before winter. Although the resulting drive on Kiev results in the engulfing of over 650,000 Russian troops, historians and German officers debate whether or not the Russian forces were even capable of fighting their way out of the encirclement any way. Here lies the single most important in delaying, and thus destroying the German eastern offensive. The offensive is mismanaged and the needed panzer forces for the drive on Moscow (its importance already discussed) are delayed to long for the completion of the campaign before the Russian winter cripples the German drive.
The battle of Kiev was viewed clearly as a tactical yet not strategic victory, (Chronicles, p.81) by Guderian following it close. The already delayed assault on Moscow is hampered further by the damp, constantly rain weather of early fall. The largely dirt roads of Russia made it impossible for German wheeled, and horse-drawn supply trucks (destined for the starving panzer forces) to pass on many roads. Constantly the German offensive is hampered by their lack of tracked supply transport. The majority of the supply being transported slowly, (often not arriving) by horse drawn carts or wheeled transport bogged down in the mud. These disadvantages are only exaggerated by the lack of Russian paved roads and railways, which bog down this transport of material slowing the panzer drive east. Even more pathetic, as well, German transport was often taken from occupied countries and the frequent breakdowns of machines caused an enormous lack of spare parts. (War in, p.146) Unfortunately just as the full rains ended and the ground froze, the German offensive for Moscow was renewed only to be halted by the icy storms of a Russian winter. The lack of anti-freeze for supply trucks and tanks, together with the German optimism for a quick conclusion to the campaign, and their failure to order winter clothing and equipment for large bodies of armed forces decimated the ranks. These factors alone were decisively instrumental in defeating the German offensive in its infancy, starting a bloody war of attrition fuelled by racial hatred.