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23rd of August

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 23

In 1942 the Germans began their assault on the Russian City of Stalingrad.

 

On the 22nd of June 1941 Hitler put “operation Barbarossa” into action which was the invasion of the Soviet Union by Allied Germany. The politics of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia were vastly different and Hitler was known for his intolerance towards communism. In his autobiographical book “Mein Kampf” (which he wrote while in prison in 1924 and was published the following year) Hitler talks of his hatred of communism and his belief that the superior German race had a destiny to conquer Russia, allowing the German race to grow. However Germany and the Soviet Union did have some common ground. Both nation’s politics were opposed to the allied capitalist nations and on this basis Germany and the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact on the 23rd of August 1939. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (named after the two foreign ministers that signed the pact) ensured that the German’s, who were allied with Japan, would not attack Russia over the Soviet-Japanese border conflicts that had been raging since 1932. The pact also included a secret agreement which included carving up of the countries of Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania for the political influence (known as “spheres of influence”) of the Nazi party and Soviet Union. Germany’s invasion of Poland, which began on the 1st of September 1939, was closely followed by the Soviet invasion which began on the 17th of September. One week later, on the 24th of September 1939, the Soviet Navy began patrolling the Estonian shores pressuring their government to allow Soviet military bases in Estonia. The Soviets then forced Latvia to sign a treaty on the 5th of October 1939 forcing them to allow military bases in their country. On the 10th of October 1939 “The Soviet-Lithuanian Mutual Assistance Treaty” was also signed allowing the Soviets to place five bases in Lithuania.

 

Soviet Russia continued their own invasion of European countries with their invasion of Finland which began on the 30th of November 1939 (their invasion continued ultimately unsuccessfully until the 13th of March 1940 in what was called “The Winter War” but the Soviets did gain around 11% of Finnish territory). As the German army forced the fall of Paris on the 14th of June 1940, the Soviets began a military blockade of Estonia before their full invasion began on the 16th of June. Already occupied by Soviet military, the Estonian government capitulated the following day on the 17th of June 1940 and Russia then began their invasion of Latvia.  The Soviet Union also issued an Ultimatum to Lithuania on the 14th of June and invaded the following day.

 

In October 1940 Germany and the Soviet Union began talks regarding the possibility of them joining the fourth member of the Axis Powers against the Allies. But Japan had always been firmly opposed to Communism and their military pact with Germany was based on their mutual opposition to it. In December 1940 Germany ceased communication with the Soviet Union on the matter. But even during these talks Hitler had been planning his invasion of Russia. In fact Hitler’s wish to invade Russia, as explained in Meine Kampf, had always been on his mind and additionally Hitler wanted their oil and a new labour force. On the 5th of December 1940 Hitler’s military plans for the invasion of Russia were complete. On the 22nd of June 1941 “Operation Barbarossa” began as the largest invasion force ever seen, some 4 million troops, began their invasion of Russia. On the 8th of September 1941 the German forces began the siege of Leningrad, a hugely symbolic city to the Soviets as it was named after the founder of the communist movement in Russia and the people of Leniongrad would not give it up without a fight. The Siege of Leningrad continued until the 27th of January 1944. The remainder of this huge attack force pushed into Russia and in less than six months German forces were within 30 kilometres of Moscow. The “Battle of Moscow” began on the 2nd of October 1941 when the Desperate Soviets began throwing all they had at the Invading German forces. On the 5th of December 1941 (exactly one year after Hitler’s plans for the invasion were complete) the Russians began to stop the advance of the German army ending Operation Barbarossa. Russia had nearly 4.5 million casualties of war by this point but this would be the beginning of the end for Hitler. Despite his many further attempts to defeat the Russian’s, they continued to repel the Germans right back to Berlin, causing Hitler to take his own life and Germany to loose the War. The Battle of Moscow continued until the 7th of January 1942 when the Russian army forced a German retreat.

 

On the 28th of June 1942 Germany began Operation Blue which was a two pronged attack on Russia with the hope of defeating them once and for all. They advanced towards the Russian oil fields in Baku and towards the city of Stalingrad. Stalingrad held great strategic importance but it also held great symbolic value as it was named after Russian leader Joseph Stalin and to loose it would weaken the Red armies resolve. After five months of fighting in weather that reached -30°C the German’s 6th army were defeated and 90,000 German soldiers were taken prisoner.

 

By the 20th of April 1945 the Soviet forces had fought their way into Germany and Surrounded Berlin. The Battle of Berlin began on the 23rd of April 1945 and by the 2nd of May the Soviet forces were victorious. The Soviets lost more people in the second world war than any other nation with approximately 25,000,000 dead.