— Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery
Seventy years ago today, nearly 4 million German troops, with 3,350 tanks and 7,200 artillery pieces, and supported by 2,000 aircraft, crossed into the frontier of European Russia in three concentrated armored thrusts. When Operation Barbarossa commenced, 180 Wehrmacht divisions bore down on Soviet Russia with rapacious determination.
It was the beginning of the largest land invasion in history.
Despite Stalin’s crippling purges that denied the Soviets the experienced military leadership they so desperately needed during the invasion’s early days, the Russian people struggled on, eventually defeating their German invaders.
This Soviet victory did not, however, come without tremendous human cost. Historian John Keegan reckons that the Soviets lost 7 million men in battle and an additional 7 million civilians versus 4 million German soldiers and 593,000 civilians. In contrast, the United States suffered only 292,000 war casualties.
Today we remember the sacrifices and tenacity of the Russian people.