• Martin Andersen
4. term, History, Master (Master Programme)
Historians who have written about and researched Operation Barbarossa often argue that the main factor in understanding why Hitler attacked the Soviet Union is ideology, and the fact that Hitler was obsessed with the thought of expanding Nazi Germany. This thesis aim is to challenge this view by discussing what grand strategic reasons the leadership of Nazi Germany could have had for attacking the Soviet Union. For this purpose Liddell Hart’s definition of grand strategy was included, which deals with diplomatic, economic, commercial, military and ethical aspects. To make it possible to analyze the aspects it was necessary to include three points of focus, wherein it would be possible to study the impacts of the beforementioned aspects. In choosing these points of focus it was considered whether both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union was involved, and whether it contained at least one of the aspects which was to be researched. The points of focus were chosen to be the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, the commercial and economic situation of Germany and the effects of the Winter War regarding the Soviet Union’s military. Besides the points of focus a theory has been discussed in recent years regarding Operation Barbarossa. Some historians have argued that an invasion of Germany by the Soviet Union was imminent. This theory is as such not new, as it was Hitler’s main argument as he explained the reasons for attacking the Soviet Union for the German people. Viktor Suvorov has been the leading historian in bringing this theory back to life and has enjoyed some support from other historians. The objective of including this theory was to analyze the probability of it, as it could prove to be a new reason for the German attack on the Soviet Union.
Viktor Suvorov attempts to argue that the Soviet Union would attack in the summer of 1941. Suvorov manages to prove that the Soviet Union were planning an attack on Nazi Germany, but does not manage to prove that this attack should have happened in the summer of 1941. The arguments presented by Viktor Suvorov, regarding an attack in 1941, are concluded to be weak and based on circumstantial evidence. This is concluded based on the Soviet Union not being militarily ready for a war of such scale, and the fact that in a few years the Soviet mobilization of industrial and military equipment would have been completed, which would have made the strategic position of the Soviet Union stronger. As Suvorov fails to prove that the Soviet Union were to attack in the summer of 1941, his theory in general will be excluded from the conclusion of this thesis.
The conclusion of this thesis is that all the aspects of grand strategy had an impact in the decision-making process regarding the Nazi German attack on the Soviet Union, although two of these aspects stand out as being considerably more significant for the final decision. As ideology is considered an ethical aspect it proves to be a considerable part of understanding the war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Hitler had always despised the communist led country and had throughout most of the 1930s criticized the communist ideology, the Jewish led government of the Soviet Union and more. Furthermore, Hitler’s promises about Lebensraum and securing the German state for many years to come is to be considered as ideologic aspects of Nazism. The ideologic aspect has as such always been a reason for a coming war between the two states, but Hitler needed other grand strategic aspects to be improved before having the opportunity to attack the Soviet Union. The most important of these is the military aspect. In 1941 the German Wehrmacht was a considerable force and had occupied most of Europe by warfare, meanwhile The Red Army failed in the Winter War showing the rest of the world the weakness of The Red Army. It seems unlikely that Hitler would have invaded the Soviet Union, had it not been for this development between 1939 and 1941.
Publication date31 May 2018
Number of pages78
ID: 280198989