Throughout the war, between 22 and 28 million Soviets lost their lives. As many as 14 million of them were civilians. It was horrific — a theater of war the Nazis learned to dread — and a part of the battle that, because of the animosity between the U. In his manifesto Mein Kampf , Hitler declared that Russians were inferior beings, irreparably contaminated by Jews. The only use he saw in them was as a conquered people. Germany, he wrote, needed living space to survive, and the best way to get it was to capture the massive expanse of land that was in the east.
The Soviet Union was the target from the start, even when Hitler signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August , the treaty of non-aggression that declared neither Germany nor the Soviet Union would fight the other for 10 years. He would make a deal with the Soviets, crush the Western powers, and then turn on the Soviet Union with all of his might. By June 22, , Hitler had already conquered most of western Europe.
America had not yet officially entered the war and Britain alone stood in the path of total conquest. The time, Hitler believed, was right. Without warning or any provocation, the armies of the Third Reich turned on their neighbors to the east. In the early days of the Eastern Front, it certainly must have seemed like his prediction would come true. Then the panzer forces would go off and trap the next group while the infantry slaughtered them like trapped animals.
The Red Army fell back, giving up whole countries to the Nazi Army as they scrambled to find a safe place to fight back. All the Soviets could do to slow their enemy was to scorch the earth behind them. Villages, schools, and buildings were burnt to the ground as the Red Army fled, trying to leave nothing of value behind for the Nazis to take. More often than not, civilians were left to fend for themselves.
Circa Hitler had no interest in keeping the people of the Soviet Union safe. Anyone left behind when the Third Reich reached their village forfeited their lives. The Nazi army routinely rounded up villagers and massacred them. An entire Schutzstaffel SS unit called the Einsatzgruppen was sent after the front lines of the army to round up Jews, Roma, Communists, and other racial and political enemies and slaughter them via mass shootings. Shortly after the invasion began, Hitler appointed Erich Koch as the Reichskommissar of the Commissariat of Ukraine, specifically choosing him because he knew he would be merciless to their civilians.
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The slightest sense of humanity could lead to punishment. Their towns were burnt to the ground, their farms captured and used to feed the German invaders, and the people left behind slowly withered away. It was a horrific slaughter on an unprecedented scale. By the end of the war, more than 22 million Soviet citizens would be dead, most of whom were civilians. Eastern Front. March 27, Some believe that, if Hitler had kept the momentum going and sent his forces against Moscow, the Soviet Union could have fallen before the end of And, if only for a few weeks, the Soviet Union got the chance to regroup.
The Battle of Moscow was a failure, and the Nazi army had to fall back. It was one of their first defeats on the Eastern Front. The Soviets understood that their army had the advantage in winter. As long as a bitter Russian cold slowed the Germans, the Soviets would attack them with all of their might. But when the snow started to melt and spring came, the Red Army would switch to the defensive and only try to slow the German advance.
Hitler refused to budge an inch. And the army is staying at the front. As Stalin predicted, in the summer of , Hitler hit back. In that single five-month siege, 1. That included the some , civilians living in the city. There was no evacuation. Instead, every Russian strong enough to hold a rifle was ordered to take up arms and defend the city, while the women were sent out to dig trenches at the front lines.www.arianrhod.net/wp-content
Breakout at Stalingrad : Heinrich Gerlach :
But the men in Stalingrad had seen just how horrific the Nazis could be. They were ready to do anything to keep these monsters from entering their home.
Another sniper recalled how the Nazi atrocities kept him fighting after his kill: "I felt terrible. I had killed a human being. But then I thought of our people — and I started to mercilessly fire on them. I've become a barbaric person. I kill them. I hate them. Millions died, often brutally.
Soldiers would recall finding their friends body with their fingernails peeled off, their eyes pulled out, and their skin melted in gasoline and fire. The fighting was so savage and chaotic that some historians have said the average life expectancy of a Soviet soldier deployed to Stalingrad was only 24 hours. Within one week, around , Soviet soldiers were wounded or dead. While Stalin moved industry out of Moscow and into the east, he forced his army to stay and defend the capital and threatened his troops with execution if any attempted to leave the front line. Despite this, Hitler still had the upper hand over the Soviet Union.
It has been said that the Battle of Stalingrad was a turning point for the Red Army. Hitler had assumed it would be the battle that won him the USSR. The Russian Government, eager to show the world and its own people that theirs remains a proud and powerful nation, put on perhaps the most elaborate military pageant seen here since the early 's, at the end of the Brezhnev era.
Tatsinskaya, Rostov, Russia
The hammer and sickle and the Soviet star, symbols of the Communist Party, which led the nation to victory, were prominently displayed despite its fall from power. At the Red Square ceremony earlier in the day, under a hazy northern sun, bands arrayed in front of the GUM department store played marches, choirs sang Russian folk songs, artillery batteries fired salutes along the Moscow River and colorful hot-air balloons floated overhead, landing later amidst the flowering apple trees on the lawn of the Bolshoi Theater.
The honor of carrying the red flag of victory went to Gen. Mikhail P. Odintsov, 73, a World War II fighter pilot.
Siege of Leningrad
But there were also conspicuous places for army and navy veterans, including many women who fought in what Russians call the Great Patriotic War. In the crowd were Allied veterans, including an American contingent in red windbreakers and green caps, and Russians holding photos of relatives who died in the war. Afterward, in an indication of how much dissatisfaction the Yeltsin Government has created, thousands of ordinary Muscovites joined a contingent of veterans in a pro-Communist, pro-Soviet march through the center of the city, ending at the dreaded Lubyanka prison, the headquarters of the secret police.
Some shouted slogans through bullhorns, and many others carried anti-Government banners. A few hundred present-day Russian troops, including some who fought in Chechnya, took part in the Red Square parade. But more than 9, joined with tanks and 70 aircraft at a later march-past at the new War Museum at Poklonnaya Gora, a high point in western Moscow where Napoleon waited in vain in for the surrender of the capital.
Clinton, Prime Minister John Major of Britain and other leaders of allied nations took part in its dedication, but arrived only after the parade had concluded. President Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, once the Foreign Minister of the Soviet Union, said it should be the role of the new Russia as the leader of a powerful federation "to command without oppressing. The show of muscle was clearly meant to suggest to other corners of the Russian Federation that Moscow can suppress rebellions on a scale far larger than that in Chechnya, but it may also have sharpened worries in Warsaw, Prague and Budapest, which have never wholly accepted assurances of benign Russian intentions.
In diplomatic and political terms, aides of President Clinton took pains even before he arrived here to play down expectations. Even if he returns home empty-handed, they said, he will have accomplished something if he takes a tough line with the Russians. In any event, they argued, he could hardly have snubbed the Russians on an occasion of such historic importance as today's and hoped to maintain any productive dialogue. Clinton played a minor role today, speaking only briefly at the War Museum and offering a ceremonial toast at tonight's state dinner in the glass and marble Palace of Congresses inside the Kremlin.
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But there was no hiding the mutual distrust that has begun to undermine the cordial relations between the two leaders and their countries, and that has given this trip, Mr.
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