Germany Invades the Soviet Union

German troops cross the border point between Nazi Germany and the Sovet Union on June 22, 1941
German troops cross the border point between Nazi Germany and the Sovet Union on June 22, 1941

Historical Context

On 22 June 1941 Nazi Germany and its allies launched the largest invasion in military history when they attacked the Soviet Union across a 2,900km (1,800 mi) front line with more than 3 million troops. Operation Barbarossa was a decisive moment in World War II, as up until the attack on Russia, Germany had dominated the European continent with a series of successful military occupations and alliances.

After an initial series of successful gains, the Axis advance halted after the failed attempt to capture Moscow at the end of 1941, by which time the infamous Russian winter had begun to set in. This allowed the Russians to launch counteroffensives, and the Germans were never again able to seize the offensive and were instead forced into a war of attrition. The failure of the invasion sealed Germany's fate and awoke the sleeping Russian beast which swept westward and into Berlin by 1945.

The war in the Soviet Union was the most disastrous theater of war in human history. It carried with it gigantic human costs - 26 million civilian deaths in Russia alone - as well as the beginning of the mass extermination of Jews in the Holocaust. More people died fighting in the East than in any other theater of World War II.

Photo Info


Photographer: Johannes Hähle
Date taken: June 22, 1941
Location taken: Soviet border, Soviet Union

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1941-06-22 Operation Barbarossa: Nazi Germany and its allies invade the Soviet Union during WWII, the largest military operation in history
  • 1941-08-19 Romania annexes the Transnistria territory from the Soviet Union after Operation Barbarossa

Related Articles and Photos

Related Famous People

Historical Photos