A German soldier who took part in Operation Barbarossa (the invasion of Russia, June 1941)
I am a German soldier who took part in Operation Barbarossa. Our leader, Hitler ordered the attack to begin in the early summer of 1941. Hitler hated communism and he wanted to destroy the USSR, which was a communist country ruled by Stalin. He also wanted USSR land for German people and to get their oil. The attack began by using ‘Blitzkrieg’ tactics and over three million German soldiers were ordered to attack three main targets. These were the three cities of Leningrad, Moscow and Stalingrad. Hitler believed that the Soviet army would be no match for the Germans and the USSR would surrender in a few weeks.
As we advanced into the USSR the Soviet troops destroyed all the roads and bridges as they retreated and this slowed us down. They called this their ‘scorched earth’ policy and their soldiers were called the Red Army. The USSR also decided to dismantle all their factories and move them beyond the reach of our German army. By the autumn we still did not manage to defeat the USSR and then the winter cold and snow arrived. Thousands of our soldiers died because of the weather conditions and even our tanks and trucks broke down because the fuel froze. We never managed to capture either Moscow or Leningrad. Our soldiers surrounded Leningrad and tried to force them to surrender and a huge number of the population died because of starvation. The siege of Leningrad lasted for over 900 days and still the Russians refused to surrender.
I was part of the attack on the city of Stalingrad. We advanced into the city and our commander was Von Paulus. We had to endure fierce fighting from street to street and we suffered massive casualties. After a few weeks we were forced to surrender. I was taken as a prisoner of war by the Soviet army and we were treated very badly. When we lost the Battle of Stalingrad this was the first major defeat of the war for our German army and after that everything began to go wrong for Hitler. Very soon the Red Army began to drive the Germans from their country and eventually they got as far as the city of Berlin. That was the end of the war for Germany.