Winston Churchill: "At 4.00 O'clock this morning,
Hitler attacked and invaded Russia. This was no surprise to me.
In fact I gave clear and precise warnings, to Stalin, of what
was coming. I gave him warnings as I have given warnings to others
before. Hitler is a monster of wickedness, insatiable in his lust
for blood and plunder. So now this blood thirsty gutter snipe,
must launch his mechanized armies at the new fields of slaughter,
pillage and devastation."
No one suffered more than the Russians. By the
end of WW2, an estimated 20 million people had perished. Hitler
had written in his book Mein Kampf (My Struggle):
"The colossal empire in the east is rife for dissolution, and
the end of Jewish domination in Russia will also be the end of
Russia as a state." Hitler eyed Russia as the "New Territory"
for German colonization and its inhabitants as second-rate citizens...
slaves to the thousand year Reich.
When the Nazis invaded Russia (Operation Barbarossa)
in the summer of 1941, the Russian army was ill-prepared for such
an onslaught. Years of purges by Josef
Stalin had removed experienced soldiers from the senior
ranks, allowing a well-organized Nazi army to push through, around
and over with relative ease against a largely disorganized and
weak Russian opponent. The Russians therefore decided on a "Scorched
Earth" policy, destroying everything in its path while in full
retreat, leaving nothing that could be used by the advancing enemy.
Bridges, railroads, dams - but more importantly food sources -
all were destroyed, and the all-important summer harvest was burnt
in the fields.
History showed that such a policy had worked
against Napoleon 150 years earlier, and it was destined to work
again. In retrospect, the "Scorched Earth" policy eventually proved
to be a salvation for Russia, and its implementation changed the
course of the war.
"THIS IS THE SHAPE"
The advancing Nazi army was finally halted, just
30 miles from Moscow. Elsewhere, Hitler's minions had laid siege
to Leningrad and Stalingrad. The Russians moved their factories
and workers to Eastern Russia, beyond the reach of the Nazis,
and it was there that an entirely new Soviet war industry was
constructed, eventually supplying a new well-organized Soviet
war machine. This rejuvenated Army waited... and then struck,
pushing the Nazis back across the face of Eastern Europe.
Now it was the retreating Nazis who turned to
implementing their own "Scorched Earth" policy. The Nazis left
their mark with mass murder and vast destruction, and the advancing
Russian armies found horrific scenes of death and carnage. These
circumstances naturally fuelled a hatred that ultimately vented
itself in barbarous revenge. Stalin had said: "Eternal glory
to the heroes who fell in the struggle for the freedom of our
country. Death to the German invaders."
A philosophical die was cast, and from that point
the Nazis got no mercy at the hands of the Russian army. At the
end of the war the wheel had turned full circle as German civilian
refugees and soldiers of Hitler's vaunted Third Reich streamed
westward into the arms, and the relative safety of the advancing
western Allies. Such surrender was a far better prospect than
falling into the hands of the avenging Russians.