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The Contender
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The Nazis could have defeated the Soviet Union is WW2 in 1941

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/15/2012 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,218 times Debate No: 28265
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)




The Nazis could have defeated the Soviet Union is WW2 had they mobilized their forces earlier in 1941 to deliver a decisive and fatal blow before the onset of winter. The Soviet Union was extremely under equipped to fight a campaign of this magnitude. Stalin had purged all of his most capable generals in the decade earlier due to his increasing paranoia of a coup from within the communist regime. The equipment of the Soviet military was dated and needed repair.

The Germans however were well versed in a new style of warfare never before seen; blitzkrieg or lightening war. The Germans were professional soldiers motivated by radical ideology that would help aid them in their campaign east. They had the momentum going forward, and they also had the element of surprise.

Had the winter been a mild one, we may very well have seen the collapse of the Soviet government before Christmas 1941. During this time the Germans were literally close enough to see the Kremlin through their binoculars. The problem for the Germans was that their equipment was frozen to a standstill, and that frost bite was killing more German soldiers than the enemy was. The axle grease of the tanks was literally freezing; making mobile operations impossible.

So it was the German army entered a war of attrition. This was no longer a campaign of lightening war; it was a campaign of survival.

Had Germany invaded in May rather than June, the final thrust on Moscow would most likely have been realized. The Soviet government would have collapsed. Although the war between the countries would have been won, Hitler would almost certainly have faced a guerilla war thereafter.

This is beside the point. The Nazis could have defeated the Soviet Union had they launched their operations sooner, and had the winter not been so hostile.


I challenge your contention that the Nazis could have defeated the Soviet Union during Operation Barbarossa (June-December, 1941).

1. The Nazis may have been well versed in Blitzkrieg, but the style has one fatal flaw which would have caused the offensive to fail anyways. Contrary to popular belief, Blitzkrieg relies heavily on its re-supply units due to the fast consumption of fuel and ammunition. When Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Re-supply units struggled to keep up with the blitzkrieg slowing it down considerably. This was initially due to the differences in railway gauges and dismantled railroad facilities. In addition, Nazi logistical plannings severely overestimated the condition of Soviet roads, as many roads on the Soviet maps were simply either in their planning stages or didn't exist. In addition the Soviets used a scorched earth policy to deny the Nazis Soviet supplies which coupled by the over strained supply line is a recipe for disaster.

2. The Nazis never took into consideration the harsh Russian Climate which includes; muddy terrain aka Rasputitsa in the Spring and Autumn, which would have hindered the Nazi Panzer corp while Soviet mechanized corps could freely retreat or engage the Nazis. In addition to Rasputitsa the land would be sandy in the summer also hindering troop mobility. The Nazis were doomed for the Winter as the harsh cold would have stopped the Nazis dead in their tracks as their re-supply units were prioritized to send in ammunition and fuel instead of the basic supplies needed for winter warfare. Regardless of the season Russian soil was at the time indisputably harsh terrain that hampered the Nazi Blitzkrieg.

3. The Nazis also underestimated the resiliency and adaptability of the Soviet Union after the initial Soviet defeats and capture of approximately 2.4 million Soviet soldiers in Operation Barbarossa. The Soviets dismantled key armament factories and moved the contents and engineers east beyond the reach of Nazis denying them potential engineers and war materials to take down the numerous T-34s, KV tanks, and the Soviet Union itself. In addition despite the Nazi advance reaching the Spires of Moscow the Soviet regime wouldn't have collapsed as Stalin would move East to another city and resume war plans. The Soviets also moved veteran troops from the far east who were already skilled in winter warfare to the front pushing back the Nazis from Moscow. The Soviets could also replace destroyed divisions with more conscripts which allowed the Red Army to survive as a cohesive unit during its continual losses.

4. No Imperial Japanese Support
Because Japan abandoned its Hokushin-ron policy and focused on a Nan-shin approach of expansion, the Soviet Union was allowed to pull troops from the Far East as the Empire of Japan did not pressure the Soviet Union as Nazi Germany expected to causing the Nazis to face battle-hardened divisions skilled in winter warfare.

5. High casualties
In addition the Nazis lost 734,000 men out of a force of 3.2 million in a span of five months.
This coupled with being bogged down forced Nazi Germany send in more men and caused the decisive and fatal blow that allowed a Soviet Surge into Berlin.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank my opponent for the very factual and engaging discussion. I will respond to his points as they are listed.

1) The Nazi"s did not help their situation by having to supply 3 armies simultaneously. This was the case with Army groups north, center and south. Resupplying the advancing German army would not have proven to be so difficult if the German high command would have advocated a policy of prioritizing supplies to army group center once Leningrad had been sieged by army group north, and the Ukraine was occupied by army group south. Keep in mind that Leningrad was helpless until its liberation in by the Red Army in August 1944. In the Ukraine the Germans were greeted as liberators. Army Groups North and South had achieved their aims, and therefore no longer needed the vast supplies in order to advance further. Considering these facts, it is safe to say that sufficient supplies could have been provided for Army Group Center in its drive for Moscow.

2) Although the Russian Rasputitsa is absolute atrocious and even impassible at certain times, it did not prevent the German army from reaching within 20 miles of Moscow. As mentioned in my thesis, the additional summer month of May would have proven more than enough time to assemble a much better position and supply network for the final drive on Moscow. I would also note that 1941 was an exceptional season for both rain and cold. These conditions were much milder in years past, and even years to come. With this being said I feel that the Nazi leadership was absolutely conscious of "General Winter", however they could not have expected the enormous amount of rainfall that created the muddy terrain in the fall months. These are variables in war that cannot always be calculated in advance. Regardless, given that the season proceeded as it did; the German invasion being launched in May would have put the German well in striking distance of Moscow with time for much better planning and preparation.

3) The Soviet Union did have an incredible ability to stay on the ropes and prolong the war longer than the German high command could have ever anticipated. With that being said, they were suffering loss after loss and at some point the Soviet people would have recognized that their governments leadership was leading them to endless destruction and ruin. Also, in many territories the indigenous Soviet people saw the Germans as liberators. Keep in mind that they had not committed the war crimes that were propagandized later in the war.

I do not see a situation where Stalin and the Communist government could have packed up and moved East to reconstitute their government in exile. The symbol of the Soviet capital being occupied by foreign invaders would simply have proven too much to hold the already loosely bound Soviet Union to endure. We would have seen a total collapse of its sovereign government had this happened.

4) To this point I must take note that Hitler was not confident in the Empirical Japanese"s capabilities and therefore most likely did not base his war plans on their politics. He simply used them as a place holder ally to help the balance of power and counter the emerging American power opposing him in the Atlantic.

As for tying down the Soviets; the Japanese never truly threated the Soviet Union. Since most of the Soviet Union"s population resided in the west, and all of Siberia would have acted as a natural defensive barrier from an Japanese army it is safe to say this even if the Japanese tried a land invasion, it would not have been a serious operation. They simply did not have the resources or the desire to take on another enemy knowing that the Chinese were yet to fall.

Also, the Soviet war policy can be understood in terms of distance and time. The Soviets had the luxury of vast distances of territory, but what they did not have was time. So naturally they did everything in their power convert that distance into time. Even if the Japanese attacked the Soviet Union you would have seen the Soviet leadership sacrifice the territory in order to buy the time to first deal with the Germans, then the Japanese after they stopped the bleeding to their country.

No divisions would have been left to fight the Japanese with the Germans lingering at the gates of Moscow. Stalin had already order the relocation of most Eastern and Siberian units prior to Pearl Harbor and Japans entry into the war against the allies.

5) I would argue that this would be less of a factor than it first appears to be at face value. The German leadership was very clear that although casualties were mounted, that they would be unrelenting their brutality and persistence to crush the Bolsheviks. Examining later events in the war we can see that this "Hold all ground to the last man." mentality was common place right up to the Battle for Berlin. This fanaticism was expected of the Wehrmacht.

Hitler was increasingly irrational on orders of retreat or withdrawal. Sacrificing entire armies did not seem to deter him; as seen in Stalingrad. Although your number of 734,000 men out of force seems a bit high, I can cite the Deutsche milit"rische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg which states that 357,000 of that figure were reported dead or missing. Despite the enormous loss of life, we can presume that extending the war an additional month would not have caused losses which would have substantially inhibited or deterred the final drive on Moscow from taking place. At most we could expect another. Keeping with statistics we would note approximately 50,000 causalities per month until the end of 1941 (as averaged from the death toll of June 1941- December 1941).

In closing;

I do not disagree with your premise that the Nazis grossly underestimated the Soviet Union in the planning and execution of Operation Barbarossa, I do feel that the reasons cited are no enough to persuade me that the war could not have been won by Germany in 1941.


I would also like to thank my opponent as well for this debate. I will offer a counter rebuttals for some of his contentions as listed.

Counter rebuttals

Counter rebuttals for my opponent's rebuttal 1.
Point 1. Ukraine accepted Nazis as liberators.
Despite the fact that some Ukrainians initially accepted the Nazis as liberators, the actions of the Nazis such as preserving the collective-farm system, systematically deporting locals to Nazi Germany as slaves and carrying out the Holocaust on Ukrainian territory caused the Ukrainians to resist Nazi occupation and fold back into the Soviet Union.

Point 2. Leningrad was not as helpless as my opponent would have assumed as the siege wasted nazi ammunition, time and the lives of Nazi soldiers as the city resupplied itself from the risky "road of life" on Lake Ladoga, and mounted skirmishes and steady resistance to break the siege in January of 1943 with Operation Iskra, which provided a 10 mile land corridor to provide relief to the besieged residents. Although the siege was fully lifted in the next year, the siege still proved that Leningrad was not completely helpless as my opponent implies.

Counter rebuttal for my opponent's rebuttal 2.
Point 1.May invasion possible.
Austrian author H. Magenheimer wrote the following in "Hitler's War" (P 83):
What mitigated against a theoretical invasion at the end of May or in early June was the fact that many rivers in the western Soviet Union which would have to be crossed in the course of the attack, including the Bug and the Narew, were still in flood until well into June and would therefore have presented a very disagreeable obstruction. For this reason alone,an attack after 10 June appeared to be the only realistic possibility .
Magenheimer's source: Zapantis:"Hitler's Balkan Campaign,P 86 et seq.
This refutes the contention that an invasion in May was viable while tactically it wasn't realistic at the time.

Counter rebuttals for My opponent's rebuttal 3.
Point 1. Stalin does not move East.
Considering how the Soviets dismantled entire factories and set them up in remote areas of the Ural Mountains, it is likely that Stalin would move East if the city of Moscow fell (highly unlikely and may end up as a siege like Leningrad), and direct war operations near Moscow from the Ural Mountains.

Point 2. Nazis as Liberators
As previously mentioned in my counter rebuttals, I have stated that the local populace of Ukraine resisted the Nazis after they showed their "true" colors during occupation. From 1941 to V-E day 1945 Nazi Germany was responsible for many massacres and atrocities that disillusioned the indigenous Soviet populace that the Nazis were liberators.
Since there are too many massacres I will state two which occurred during the timeline of Operation Barbarossa.
In Lithuania (then annexed by the Soviet Union) the infamous Ponary Massacre July 1941- August 1944.
In Ukraine (then annexed by the Soviet Union) the Genocidal Babi Yar massacres September 29-30, 1941.
Both massacres are estimated to have taken the lives of approximately 100,000 people in the Ponary massacre and 100,000-150,000 in the Babi Yar massacres.

Counter rebuttals for My opponent's rebuttal 4.
Point 1. It should be noted that WII started in 1939 and the Axis were simply beating the Allies of the UK, France from Europe and its colonial holdings in Asia.

Point 2. It should also be noted that despite its natural barriers, Siberia was rich in resources supplying oil and raw materials needed for the war against Nazi Germany. If the Empire Japan attacked Siberia, Stalin would have been forced to keep his Far-east soldiers to repel the Imperial Japanese Army as they would have marched straight to Moscow after gaining raw materials needed to maintain its own war machine from abandoned facilities.

Point 3. It was thanks to Richard Sorge a Soviet Spy whose intel told the Soviets that the Empire would not invade Siberia, allowing Stalin to transfer troops in September of 1941.

Point 4. Japan had already engaged in combat seizing French Indochina in 1940s placing it as a combatant of WWII well before the Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941.

Counter rebuttal for my opponent's rebuttal 5
Point 1. 734,000 men was from a paper published by the U.S. Army's Combat Studies Institute in 1981 which concluded that Hitler's plans miscarried well before the onset of "General Winter".

In conclusion;
While My opponent has presented some amusing rebuttals, I feel that I have sufficiently refuted them.
Debate Round No. 2


lifebeyondselfnik forfeited this round.


Because Pro has failed to refute my contentions and has forfeited, I urge the voters to vote con

Thank you and have a great day.

(Red Army theme from CoD World at War remixed plays in background)
Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Anti-atheist 5 years ago
nazis are awesome
Posted by Topiarey 5 years ago
I agree with wrichcirw. It would be almost impossible to conquer a land mass as large as Russia, winter or not, anyway.
Posted by wrichcirw 5 years ago
Almost exactly what Napoleon thought. Napoleon took Moscow. Napoleon lost the war.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by DoctorDeku 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit. Too bad, I would have voted for the Pro otherwise.
Vote Placed by iamnotwhoiam 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: With the forfeit of a round, pro failed to answer con's rebuttals.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Inconclusive. Conduct to CON for PRO's forfeit.