Book Review: Operation Barbarossa 1941

Operation Barbarossa 1941: Hitler Against Stalin
Operation Barbarossa 1941: Hitler Against Stalin

Operation Barbarossa: Hitler Against Stalin on Amazon
Casemate Publishers

Casemate Publishers recently sent a copy of a new book titled Operation Barbarossa 1941: Hitler Against Stalin.  In more than 300 pages, author Christer Bergstrom offers a fairly detailed overview of the Nazi invasion of Soviet Russia from June to December 1941. Bergstrom offers a nice narrative of the operation, along with a wealth of data, quotations from participants and official documentation. The book is also well illustrated.

I call Operation Barbarossa 1941 an overview only because I recognize that the Nazi invasion has over the years attracted an astonishing amount of research and publication. Amazon alone offers nearly two hundred titles on Operation Barbarossa, many of which are dedicated to individual facets of the story, such as the Siege of Brest, or “Operational Logic And Identifying Soviet Operational Centers Of Gravity During Operation Barbarossa, 1941.”

barbarossa-interiorI had only a general knowledge of Operation Barbarossa (mostly from my general reading years ago when I was in my Squad Leader days) prior to going through this book, and thus felt that it was quite worthwhile. Operation Barbarossa 1941‘s utility and interest will very depending upon how much a reader already knows about the invasion. And, because I am not an expert on the Second World War, I am in no position to judge the accuracy of either the narrative or conclusions. However, the book is very well documented, and the author has a stellar reputation. Old Grognards will nonetheless invariably find something to criticize.
From the publishers’ description:

Operation Barbarossa was the largest military campaign in history. Springing from Hitler’s fanatical desire to conquer the Soviet territories, defeat Bolshevism and create ‘Lebensraum’ for the German people, it pitted two diametrically opposed armed forces against one another.
The invasion began with 4.5 million troops attacking 2.3 million defenders. On one side was the Wehrmacht, without any doubt the world’s most advanced military force. On the other were the Soviet armed forces, downtrodden, humiliated, decapitated and terrorized by an autocratic and crude dictator with no military education whatsoever.

Based on decades of research work in both German and Russian archives, as well as interviews with a large number of key figures and veterans, Operation Barbarossa brings our knowledge on the war on the Eastern Front several big steps forward. It reveals and dispels many myths and misconceptions including: the myth of mass surrenders by Soviet soldiers; the myth about the vast differences in troop casualties between the two sides; the myth of the Soviet partisans and the myth that it was the Arctic cold that halted the German offensive. It also does not shy away from difficult truths such as the true nature of Finland’s participation in Operation Barbarossa, and the massive scale of rapes committed by German troops.

Illustrated with over 250 photos, many never previously published, and several clear and detailed maps, this is an objective, balanced account, published in time for the 75th anniversary of the start of Operation Barbarossa on 22nd June 2016. Christer Bergström has once again produced what will be the definitive account of this monumental campaign.


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