Operation Barbarossa

World War II: Blitzkrieg

Europe 1941.0831

Operation Barbarossa

World War II in Europe from the fall of Poland to Stalingrad (31 August 1941)

Historical Map of Europe & the Mediterranean

In the early hours of June 22, Hitler launched his invasion of the Soviet Union. It was the biggest attack in history to date, but it caught the Soviet command by surprise. Within two months, the Germans and their allies were halfway to Moscow.

Main Events

Operation Barbarossa

At 3:15 am the Axis Powers led by Nazi Germany launched the invasion of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, bombing cities in a broad arc from Kronstadt to Sevastopol as some three million troops advanced across the border. Within hours the momentum of the Axis attacks had completely destroyed the Soviet organizational command and control, paralyzing every level of command, and it was only at 7:15 am that Soviet leader Josef Stalin announced the invasion to the Soviet Armed Forces and called upon them to act.

Continuation War begins

In the morning, the Soviet Union launched an air offensive against German airfields in Finland, unintentionally hitting several Finnish cities. In the wake of the bombings, the Finnish parliament accepted that Finland was under attack, declaring war on the Soviets. The war became known as the Continuation War, as it occurred a little over a year after the Winter War ended.

US occupation of Iceland

The United States 1st Provisional Marine Brigade landed in Iceland, replacing the British garrison on the island.

Atlantic Charter

The United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill issued the Atlantic Charter as a joint declaration at Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland. The charter detailed the goals and aims of the Allied powers concerning World War II and the post-war world, even though the US was not yet officially involved in the War. It had eight principal points, most notably that the Allies sought no territorial gains, accepted the right of national self-determination, and strove for disarmament, free-trade, and global cooperation.

Anglo-Soviet invasion of Iran

In Operation Countenance, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union launch a surprise attack on the Imperial State of Iran, after Reza Shah refuses to expel German nationals. The British occupy the south including the oil wells of Ahvaz and advance from Iraq to Hamadan, while the Soviets invade the north, capturing Tabriz and Qazvin. With his army unable to halt the invaders, the Shah concedes defeat and a ceasefire is arranged on 29 August. The Soviets enter Tehran on 17 September, beginning the joint Anglo-Soviet occupation of Iran.

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