1941 – Operation Barbarossa. The largest invasion in history, ordered by Adolph Hitler, kicks off as 3 million German soldiers, supported by 19 Panzer (tank) divisions, 2,500 aircraft and 7,000 artillery pieces use their now standard Blitzkrieg tactics against Russia. Initially the offensive was incredibly successful, pushing 300 miles into enormous Russia within weeks. Hitler’s fellow meglomaniac Stalin had signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler, and had recently asked to join Hitler in his designs on world domination, so he thought his country was safe; and Russia’s air forces were obsolete. However, Hitler was ignoring history (never, ever, EVER, do that!!). Napoleon (almost 129 years to the day) had invaded Russia and been turned back by the Russian winter, in WWI Hitler’s predecessors had been ruined by opening a second front against Russia. Hitler’s fate would be the same. Russia benefited from an almost limitless source of manpower, and the industrial might of America, which sent arms and modern aircraft. Added to the Russian winter which Hitler did not prepare for, and defeat was unavoidable for Germany.
Being sent to the “Eastern Front” was the kiss of death for German troops who had gained disfavor with their superiors.
Today in History, April 13: 1941 – The Russian and Japanese governments sign a non-aggression treaty. The treaty gave both nations much needed cover. The Russians didn’t have to fight the Japanese in Manchuria, freeing up hundreds of thousands of troops to fight the Germans. The Japanese, likewise, freed up hundreds of thousands of troops to fight the Americans. FDR encouraged Stalin at Malta to declare war on Japan after the defeat of Germany. They did so, conveniently, between the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ostensibly after the war was over, invading Manchuria and demanding the northern islands of Japan for their “effort”.
Today in History, March 6: 1967 – A Russian woman walks into the US Embassy in New Delhi, India and requests asylum in the United States. The US Ambassador weighs her request and decides to grant it. The woman had been in a relationship with an Indian man that she met in a Moscow hospital, but the Soviet government had denied them the ability to marry. When he died she had been given the privilege of taking his ashes to his family in India. The woman, Svetlana Alliluyeva, had lost her father in 1952. Upon her arrival in New York City in April, she held a news conference to denounce her father, Josef Stalin, his regime and the Soviet government. Svetlana’s mother had committed suicide to escape her father’s abuse (although it was rumored that he killed her), Svetlana’s first husband had been arrested and sent to a gulag for 10 years. She had left her adult children in the USSR, would go on to marry a protege of Frank Lloyd Wright, then would move to England, back to the Soviet Union, and finally, back to America. She passed away in Wisconsin in 2011.