Operation Barbarossa

Operation Barbarossa (named for Frederick Barbarossa, the medieval German ruler) was the code name for Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a 2,900 km front. In addition to the large number of troops, it also involved 600,000 motor vehicles and 750,000 horses.

Planning for Operation Barbarossa started on 18 December 1940; the secret preparations and the military operation itself lasted almost a year, from spring to winter 1941. The Red Army repelled the Wehrmacht’s strongest blow, and Adolf Hitler did not achieve the expected victory, but the Soviet Union’s situation remained dire. Tactically, the Germans had won some resounding victories and occupied some of the most important economic areas of the country, mainly in Ukraine.

Despite these successes, the Germans were pushed back from Moscow and could never mount an offensive simultaneously along the entire strategic Soviet-German front again. Operation Barbarossa’s failure led to Hitler’s demands for further operations inside the USSR, all of which eventually failed, such as continuing the Siege of Leningrad, Operation Nordlicht, and Battle of Stalingrad, among other battles on the occupied Soviet territory.

More details on Wikipedia

Did you know that?

Each German invasion of a foreign country had an official musical theme that was frequently played for the purposes of Nazi propaganda over the totally government controlled radio stations after the invasion was officially announced to whip up enthusiasm for the military operation among the German population. The theme song for Operation Barbarossa was Les preludes by Franz Liszt.

The main battles:


Key games covering Barbarossa:

This theatre of war has been extremely rich, and and board games and computer games available are countless. A selection:

Directive #21 signed by Adolph Hitler to launch Operation Barbarossa and the quick crushing of the Soviet Empire.

3 thoughts on “Operation Barbarossa

  1. Pingback: Why did Barbarossa Fail? | The Australian Wargamer

  2. You forget to mention “the Russian Campaign” as one of the most outstanding wargames about this event. It was even published first by Jedko, an Australian game comany.

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