.. w under Hitler’s political and economical control. This was achieved at little cost for Hitler, who would only have to station a few divisions in Bulgaria to protect the oil fields. Everything seemed to be running smoothly for him until Mussolini decided to go on the offensive in Greece. Mussolini was poorly advised through his prime minister, Ciano, that the military campaign in Greece would be a quick success. Germany was taken completely by surprise by Italy’s actions, which she totally disapproved.
Hitler had to switch tracks at this time. He had to postpone his final conflict of the war, Operation Barbosa, an attack on Russia and concentrate on the Mediterranean. Italy invaded Greece through Albania without a declaration of war. Without the knowledge of guerrilla warfare, Italy found itself retreating back into Albania. Greece spoke of liberation of Albania and at this point Hitler got worried.
With the difficulties Italy encountered he realized that this would offer an opportunity for Great Britain to regain a foothold on the continent. Hitler noted whereas the Rumanian oil fields were previously entirely inaccessible to English bombers now the RAF was within a distance of less than 500 km from Rumania and he considered this development down right ominous. At this point he discussed military movements through Bulgaria to attack Greece. Hitler’s offensive in Greece lasted almost two months and in the end, Germany converged all of Greek territory. Included in these two months is Hitler’s attack on Yugoslavia. Due to the political upheaval in Yugoslavia, Hitler could no longer trust the new regime and for his conquest of Greece to succeed he needed to attack from both Bulgaria and Yugoslavia.
This attack on Yugoslavia was called Operation Punishment. Nearly two months later and with the loss of approximately ten divisions of men, Hitler decided to begin his campaign against Russia, Operation Barbarosa. Hitler felt threatened by Stalin and his interests in the Mediterranean. Stalin also had interests in Romania and this could create problems for Hitler’s war effort due to his dependence on Romanian oil. Therefore Hitler decided to attack Russia to protect his’s own interests in these areas along with his chances to win World War II. Germany took the offensive with the aid of Bulgaria and Finland with Italy able to provide more men during the summer.
Consistent fighting and the tremendous distances covered had placed a great strain on the attacking strength of the German forces. Poor weather and breakdowns in mobile units led to numerous delays. An example of this is that after the battle for Kiev, Panzer Group 2 had only 30% of it’s tanks remaining, altough Panzer Group 3 and Group 4 were slightly better off. Supply lines were becoming longer and longer, and the capacity of merchanized transport had greatly declined. The railways were still operating, but they could not carry enough equipment to keep the fronts supplied.
By the middle of October German troops were in excellent position surrounding Moscow. The problem of supplies still remained. German forces depended on a narrow, long and extremely vulnerable supply lines. The railway lines were operating but they were very inefficient. All of these factors along with one more major event led to the end of any ligitament German offensive in World War II.
This major event was winter. As one German general put it, The icy cold, the lack of shelter, the shortage of clothing, the heavy losses of men and equipment, the wretched state of our fuel supplied, all this makes the duties of a commander a misery and the longer it goes on the more I am crushed by the responsibility which I have to bear. Hitler admitted this when he canceled his attack on Moscow. The severe winter weather which has come surprisingly early on the east and the consequent difficulties in bringing up supplies, compel us to abandon immediately all major offensive operations and go over to the defensive. At this point Hitler moved 70% of his tanks and assault guns to the Russian front leaving Southern Europe vulnerable.
In the Spring on 1943 American and Russian industrial production were at their peak an Germany could no longer regain it’s superiority in armaments. The allies began attacking German armaments and destroying German cities. Hitler’s last major offensive came in July, but he confessed to his commander that the entire offensive was all a gamble. This offensive was a complete failure, due to Russia being completely prepared with extensive defenses. Along with this failure in Russia and the allies gaining ground in southern Europe, Hitler also had to contend with resistance from within Poland. The Home Army, consisting of 300,000 men caused havoc for Hitler’s men stationed in Poland.
The fact that Hitler had to station more men in Poland to contend with the Home Army took some strength away from his Russian front, which could have saved him from defeat. Russia forced Hitler back into a defensive withdrawal. He also lost command of the air as allied planes were seen more and more along with Germany’s lack of fuel to train new pilots. Taking control over the air campaign was a major step for the allies. This proved to be an important part of Hitler’s strategy which was now limited due to his lack of control. Hitler quoted his idol Frederick the Great in saying: I started this war with the most wonderful army in Europe; today I’ve got a muck heap.
I have no leaders any more, my generals are incompetent, the troops are all wretched. This quote alone states the condition Hitler and his forces were in near the end of the war. Even at the end, Hitler’s military plans were brilliant and may have been successful had he possessed sufficient resources and forces to ensure it a reasonable chance of succeeding. Due to his lack of forces and supplies, the Allies captured Berlin in April 1945. Hitler felt that both Germany and his Generals had failed him and that only the weak will survive the war because all the good men are already dead. Before Germany surrendered, Hitler committed suicide.
Many historians have compared Hitler to Napolean. Both their failures have been the underestimation of the Russian winter. Another of Hitler’s faults is the extreme overconfidence he possessed. Had he excepted failure in Russia and retreated to regroup, his offensive may not have ended in complete failure. He believed in complete domination or destruction.
This belief led to his downfall and to his decition to commit suicide. History Essays.