Saturday, December 10, 2011

December, 1941

Over at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot Oscar, James Ala reminds us that at about the same time that this was going on:

Caption: U.S. Navy battleships burn during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

so was this:

Caption: Soviet soldiers advance on skis and tanks during the Battle of Moscow, December, 1941.

Image credit: Wikipedia

When the invasion did come, Stalin went into a three day funk. He locked himself into his room and took no callers. Most people would have done the same. The first days of the invasion were utter disaster. The Nazis chew up Soviet men, material, and land at a frightening pace. Most of the front line Soviet assets were gone by day three. The Red Army barely had a pot to cook in. Air power was vaporized on the ground, tanks, artillery, and men quickly followed when they lost air support. The Wehrmacht was turning Russia into their own personal playground, and there was not much the Red Army could do about it-- other than retreat.

The Less Know December Event Of World War Two, 70 Years On
Eventually, the Soviet Union stopped the German advance, at a tremendous cost. Then, on December 5, 1941, they began a counterattack that would drive the Nazi armies away from Moscow.

As James notes, we tend to forget, if we even knew, that the real job of breaking the Nazi war machine was mostly done by the Soviet Union and its few allies in the region. Tens of millions of people died there in what must rank as one of the most brutal campaigns of any war. The North African and Italian campaigns, and even the Western Allies' air campaign against Germany were sideshows in comparison.

And by comparison, the human losses at Pearl Harbor probably would have seemed like an average morning.

If you're not familiar with the goings-on in that part of World War II, then do yourself a favor and go read his excellent summation.


Paul Sunstone said...

Someone - I forget who now - used to refer to World War II as the "Russo-German War" for precisely the reason that the brunt of the fighting was on the Eastern Front.

Cujo359 said...

Certainly in the European Theatre, there's truth in that. It was only in the last year or so that the forces the Western Allies had arrayed against Germany were comparable in size to the Soviets'. The Soviets kept up that kind of effort four times longer.

James Ala said...

I strongly reccomend Dan Carlin's Ghosts Of The Ostfront series:

It is four audio presentations. Each one runs about two hours. At $1.99 each, it the best use of of $8.00 I can think of.