The Russian front

The Russian front was the most immense theatre of operations of the Second World War. 

 

The Russian front was the most immense theatre of operations of the Second World War. The terrain of enormous destruction and of mass civilian deportation and above all, the terrain where civilian and military losses were heaviest. Estimates calculate these losses at around thirty million people, approximately a half of all the deaths of the war.

 

Operation Barbarossa 

Although Germany and the USSR had signed a treaty of non-aggression on 23rd August 1939, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa on 21st June 1941,hoping to crush Russia in a few months.

The USSR lost a million km² and many millions of Soviet citizens died, exterminated by the Germans in the first months of the invasion.

 

German soldiers in Russia

The Wehrmacht encountered furious resistance during December 1941 at the gates of Moscow and Leningrad. The Germans were overtaken by the Russian winter as was Napoleon’s army in the 19th Century. Often poorly equipped, the German soldiers suffered and many perished. 

Germany suffered a dismal failure at Stalingrad in February 1943. The city with its symbolic name (etymologically Stalin’s city) was destroyed by bombing and by street fighting but was never abandoned by the Soviets. Three hundred thousand Germans perished there. 

From then on the Russians began to push the Germans westwards. 

 

With the contribution of  Rémy Desquesnes
Historian