On June 22, 1941, the German Army poured across the borders of the Soviet Union, initiating nearly 4 years of the most savage and brutal warfare humanity ever experienced. Three Army Groups penetrated Russia on a front extending from the Baltic coast to the Black Sea. One and a half million soldiers of the Wehrmacht obeyed the Fuehrer's directive to destroy the Red Army and the Soviet Union.
"The World will hold it's breath!", Adolf Hitler told his Generals. And as the world watched in amazement, the Wehrmacht rolled triumphantly across the Russian steppe, seemingly invincible. Caught by surprise, the bulk of the Russian Air Forces were destroyed on the ground. Under orders not to provoke the Germans, the Russian frontier armies were not given coherent directions to mount a defense of their borders. The Red Army fell back in disorder, surrendered in wholesale numbers, or died in a futile effort to halt the German advance.
Western military experts gave the Russians 6 weeks, perhaps 8 at the most, before suffering total military disaster at the hands of the Germans. Battered by one defeat after another, the poor performance of the Red Army gave no one reason to believe otherwise. With their officer corps decimated by Stalin's purges, the badly equipped , poorly trained and demoralized Red Army sustained losses and gave ground which would have defeated any other country in a matter of days.
For the invasion, Hitler chose the same armies and commanders which had swept through the Low Countries and France in a little over a month. Army Group North, commanded by Generalfeldmarshall Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb, launched their attack from East Prussia, driving for the Baltic port of Leningrad. Army Group Center, under Gfm. Fedor von Bock, erupted out of Poland, with Moscow as it's objective. Under the command of one of Germany's "Black Knights", Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, Army Group South headed for the Ukraine, and the oil fields of the Caucasus.
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