During the summer of 1941 – the Hitlerites launched a vicious and murderous military invasion into the USSR through a broad-front spreading through Romania, Poland and Finland. Although Poland had been both ‘fascist’ and an ‘ally’ of Nazi Germany before the war – Hitler decided to eradicate these people on the grounds that they constituted an ‘inferior’ race (from 1939 onwards).
Although there were individual Poles fighting for the Nazi Germans – the Polish military did not (obviously) align itself with Hitler’s war aims. Indeed, elements of the Polish military escaped to the West and joined the Allies, etc. The Finnish also possessed a Fascist State but despite being virulently ‘anti-Soviet’, would only join the 1941 invasion of the USSR as a ‘co-belligerent’ (rather than as an ‘ally’) pursuing limited war aims not necessarily in-alignment with Hitler’s. Bulgaria – although rightwing and an ‘ally’ of Nazi Germany – refused to provide any troops for the (1941) invasion of the USSR and had no part in the genocide and murder that was to follow.
The Nazi German Offensive was highly effective from June, 22nd onward – and had reached the outskirts of Moscow by December – when temperatures suddenly plummeted and thick snow and ice stopped the ‘Blitzkrieg’ in its tracks! The Hitlerites never militarily recovered from this set-back and were slowly ground-down by an ever-growing Soviet Red Army (and ‘Partisan’) resistance. Battles involving irrelevant pieces of obscure land were fought-over in a vicious and brutal manner between the two belligerents – with casualties mounting on both sides!
This Soviet tactic of contesting every bit of land – regardless of its military worth – started to bleed the Germans dry! Nazi German industry could not recover from this massive expenditure of men and machines! (The summer, autumn and winter offensives of 1941-1942 also cost the Germans 179,000 horses that could not be adequately replaced). Nazi German stockpiles had been considerable in June, 1941, but the intense nature of the fighting on the Eastern Front diminished these fairly quickly – with German industry only being able replace around 10% of everything lost (in the short-term).
Nazi German tanks, artillery pieces, mortars, rifles, pistols and war-planes were all of a very high quality of production and design. On the battlefield, this undoubtedly gave the Hitlerites an advantage in technology providing everything went as planned (and in their favour). The downside of this reliance upon high quality production was that a) first-class (and scarce) resources were continuously required in high quantity, and b) it took a long-time for a well-trained and experienced workforce to manufacture these items to the required high standards.
The German High Command had already called-up all the young men born in 1922 and 1923 – with many skilled labourers now in uniform – this included the experienced older men that were being recruited to replenish some of the massive casualties sustained against the Red Army. The very young and the older soldiers were not considered the most optimum for decisive offensive operations, but Hitler had no choice. Fit German men were redeployed from the Atlantic wall in France and moved into Russia – whilst their places were often taken by formerly wounded soldiers who now had various disabilities.
Many had mobility issues stemming from severe leg-wounds – but had ‘volunteered’ to join the ‘Static Garrisons’ protecting the scattered concrete gun emplacements protecting the French beaches from Allied invasion. These men were expected to hold their posts at all costs and not participate in ‘advance’ or ‘retreat’ with this strategy designed to ‘negate’ their disabilities’, etc. However, ‘disability’ had no place on the Eastern Front – particularly as roaming bands of specially trained German soldiers were tasked with the mass-killing of the racially inferior, the Jews, the disabled, the homosexual and the Communists, etc, within the conquered areas of the USSR.
Hitler decided to focus the 1942 summer offensive upon the task of attacking (and occupying) the city of Stalingrad in the South. To do this, he reduced the size of divisions and amalgamated others. This redistribution of men, machinery and weaponry reorganised the Hitlerite forces for a new ‘stream-lined’ offensive. Soviet Intelligence knew of this Nazi German Plan before-hand, and as of May 1st, 1942 accurately estimated the Hitlerite forces (together with their allies) as standing at around 6,196,000 – of these 5,655,000 were of ethnic German origin.
The Nazi German Allies comprised of Finnish 300,000, Romanian 330,000, Hungarian 70,000, Italian 64,000, Slovakian 28,000 and Spanish 14,000 (Spain under the fascist General Franco was not technically an ‘ally’ of Nazi Germany – but just as Hitler had helped by materially and politically supporting Franco’s (illegal) seizure of power from the democratically elected Socialist government during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) – Franco thought it only fair that he facilitated the formation of a Fascist Spanish ‘Volunteer’ Division – tasked with helping the Axis Forces invade and destroy the Soviet Union and its Socialist System. After WWII, the victorious West allowed Franco to stay in power and never pursued his government for War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity.
The Catholic Church, of course, supported the forces of International Fascism even before the rise of Mussolini in the early 1920s. After WWII, the Vatican assisted Nazi War Criminals to escape from justice in Europe to the safety of South America. At the behest of the Pope, Winston Churchill arranged for10,000 Ukrainian SS soldiers (who had murdered tens of thousands of men, women and children in the USSR), to be airlifted out of the Soviet sphere of influence to live in Scotland (on the grounds that they were ‘good Catholics’) – where their cover-story was that they were Polish refugees!
Earl F Ziemke & Magna F Bauer: Moscow to Stalingrad – Decision in the East, Military Heritage Press, (1988), Pages 304-305