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Three mistakes that cost Adolf Hitler his thousand year old Reich

Updated on March 7, 2011

Adolf Hitler, well, not the most social guy you’d ever meet, but exorbitantly racist. 7 million people left dead at his feet. But eventually decides to quit the game, sitting in his cosy but wobbly with artillery fire bunker beneath the ruins of Berlin while the Soviet red army gets every penny worth of revenge out of it. With him dies the thousand year Reich which had a foundation of nothing but deception. Hitler, obviously, didn’t make the best choices in life to be absolutely frank. There may be more reasons that cost him his ball game of blood, but here are the major ones…

1. Et tu Herr Hitler?!– On a beautiful summer morning in June 1941, nothing much was to be done on the western front, as the Wehrmacht army had the allies on the run at Dunkerque, during their campaign in France, during the early months of the war. Hitler had already ordered one of the largest troop mobilisations in the eastern sector along the Romanian-Soviet border. Stalin was also not the dude you would want to hang out with, especially if you’re against him in person, living in Soviet Russia. He had spoilt his reputation hugely due to The Great Purge (he had killed and incarcerated millions). This according to the Nazis left the red army weakened and leaderless. Hitler had been harbouring this plan since the roaring 20s, considering communism to be a plague on the face of the Earth. Even in his book Mein Kampf, he was a little rude to them and made quite a lot of hateful references. This mistake would almost cost him more than half of his army. Stalin completely unsuspecting of the Nazi diabolical plan was caught unawares. No one would think that the Nazis would break their end of the deal of non-aggression. They were the ones who started it. Well, actually there was only one guy in the whole of Nazi Germany who’d have the guts to even think of attacking Soviet Russia, Adolf Hitler himself. His generals warned him numerous times before of the consequences of such a diabolical plan. But, no I hate the soviets, they made us lose in the first great war, now fellas, my time to shine, is what Hitler would have said to himself before launching ‘Operation Barbarossa’, named after the glorious Holy Roman emperor, Frederick Barbarossa. So there it was, a quite Sunday afternoon, June the 22nd, 1941, Hitler launched the largest military assault on Soviet Russia in the history of warfare.

1. Britain? Nah…I want Russia…Now!! – We all know of the famous battle of Britain, and we all have heard of the great speeches by Churchill which along with a few brave pilots was all that stood between Hitler and total domination of Europe in the fall of 1940. Now, there’s an interesting story to this too. Well, let’s just say, Hitler was like the master of these three dogs – his Air chief, his Army chief and his Navy chief. These guys were like hounds just waiting to be unleashed on Great Britain. Well, all of them tried to convince Hitler to allow them to take the inaugural shot at Britain. But The Air chief, Hermann Gorring, eventually succeeded in doing so as he promised Hitler that it would take less than 4 weeks to bring Britain to its knees and it would be even more glorious for our land based army to walk right into the streets of London after the Luftwaffe had finished off the Royal Air Force. Hitler, reluctantly, agreed to this as he was not interested in Britain any longer. He had been eyeing Soviet Union since the beginning of this war, so that he could ensure “living space” to his countrymen. So, just for fun, the Luftwaffe started throwing everything it had in tis arsenal at Britain, who at this point of time was sure to fall to the Nazi jackboot. As recklessly as the invasion had begun, Gorring’s plans had started to go awry in the first few weeks of the invasion. The Germans were flying thousands of sorties every week and yet no sign of slowing down from His majesty’s side. They were losing invaluable experienced airmen to the RAF veterans. The key to this was, that the Germans had ignored the things that would eventually cost them the invasion and two thirds of the war resources meant for the Soviet invasion. On the southern coast of the British Isles, the English had established several radar stations which could detect incoming planes. Pretty basic, but sure enough to thwart relentless air raids by Heinkels and Messerschmitts. The Nazis thought of these as radio broadcasting stations, which were virtually the eyes of the RAF. This gave them enough time to prepare for any incoming attacks on British cities and military installations. Their plan to hold out the Luftwaffe succeeded, and after 8 weeks of relentless bombardment, dogfights, air raids, Britain stood unshaken. This not only wasted the resources planned for Operation Barbarossa but also this was the first time after the invasion of Poland in 1939, that the Nazis had met their match. The British would eventually rally the allied cause and leaving Britain undefeated was definitely not the best idea Hitler had come up with.

1. Banzai!!!....*boom*….oh man! Not Uncle Sam!? - Till today, American foreign policies are a subject of controversy. But back in the day, these things weren’t as complex as they are now. You see, in 1929, the great depression shook the roots of American economy and unemployment was at an all-time high, for the next 6 years. Imagine being laid off of work for 6 years. So, Franklin D. Roosevelt comes along like Aladdin and grants every American their wish. He virtually restarted the economy, new jobs everywhere. But now talking about the American foreign policy in 1930s. America was first convinced that the only way to prevent a second world war would be to stop selling arms to other nations, so the Congress first passed a bill that said “NO ARMS FOR SALE”. Then as the situation in Europe worsened and Hitler and his Nazi thugs took over, the policy changed to “ARMS FOR SALE, BUT COME AND GET IT”. But we see all the time that East is east, and the Japanese invaded Manchuria, China. Soon, it became the slaughterhouse of Asia and in response to this, the US government refused to recognize any territory taken by force. And since Japan, Italy and Germany had a tripartite act, things couldn’t go any worse. In September 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland, the policy went on to become “ARMS FOR SALE, AND WE”LL SEND IT TO YOU”. This was particularly in response to counter the German expansion in Europe and to counter the Japanese expansion in the East, the US government cut off all oil and gas supplies to Japan. Hence, as a “counter move” to this, the Japanese attack the US Naval feet stationed at anchor, at Pearl Harbour, Hawaii. Personally speaking, that was like 9/11, more like 12/7 and a turning point in the war. The next day on 12/8, Roosevelt declares war on Japan, which automatically brings Hitler and Mussolini also to war. The military expenditure went from a mere $ 4 billion in 1941 to $ 81 billion in March 1942. In short, we all know, no one messes with Uncle Sam, so this wasn’t entirely his fault, but considering he was the enemy of liberty, this would have been Hitler’s next move if the Japanese wouldn’t have done it. After all, he boasted that his storm troopers will soon enter America and crush Liberty.

Of many technical and strategic errors on Hitler’s part, these were definitely the major ones. One can just analyse and predict the various endings to this unfortunate war. Hitler is often described as the devil himself, a genius one at that; but alas even brilliance has its flaws and aren’t we all thankful for that!


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    • Capt Gill profile image

      Capt Gill 4 years ago from Oakville, Ontario

      I do agree, if not completely, but partially on your view of the Battle of Britain. RAF was on its knees, when the objectives of the bombing raids were changed. But, as I see it, the RAF's ability to regroup and rebuild itself so quickly and efficiently was one of many factors which led to this bitter defeat for the Nazis, along with the fact that, Germany's loss of aircraft, moreover the loss of experienced air crew also contributed to this. France was different because, German pilots didn't have to cross the English Channel to dogfight or to perform any other type of air sorties. They'd just cross the border, shoot down the French aircraft and be back home for supper. But when it comes to Great Britain, German fighters, at the time, Messerschmitt Me - 109s, simply lacked the fuel to take the fight to the British skies. With a full tank of gas, a good German pilot wouldn't last more than an average of 20 minutes in British airspace, before the 'low fuel' light glowed up, which in turn took a hefty toll on the Luftwaffe. The radar stations did play a major role in "preparing" the RAF crews for the onslaught, otherwise, think about it, what would they do, if the Germans were already over their heads dropping bombs, and these chaps weren't even ready for 'em. I mean, it wouldn't take a phone call or anything to warn the airfields, saying "Jerry's coming, tally ho!" . Same was the case at Pearl Harbor, the American radar station did detect airplanes just outside of Oahu,Hawaii, but was too late to act.

      I disagree on the fact that Barbarossa, was not a strategic mistake. The fact that most of the Wehrmacht high command could not believe the orders given to them, bring down Soviet Union. I think most of them made an educated guess that Russia was simply too vast for the Wehrmacht to conquer. 'Strategic' mistake. I have read some of the accounts of German soldiers written during the early months of Operation Barbarossa, when the morale was relatively high and the Soviets were on the run. They point out to the same fact, that the "Soviet Union is so vast, there is nothing but endless farmland, between us and the horizon". Furthermore, Hitler did not invade Russia because he thought he could use some oil, sure it may have crossed his mind once or twice. But there were two major reasons to march into Russia - Number 1. Hitler had sworn himself to be an anti-Communist since 1920s, In Mein Kampf, he says, Communism is the only thing mankind needs to rid itself from, after Judaism. Number 2. Britain and Churchill. Hitler was in fact exhausted after the defeat of Battle of Britain, and began to wonder how did the British survive this ordeal, and he guessed it right - Churchill. Churchill was and arch-enemy of Nazism, and had taken oath in May, 1940. With his iron will to resist a Nazi invasion of Britain, he had made it clear to Hitler, that Britain will NEVER surrender, unlike France. And a goal that seemed impossible to accomplish, made Hitler feel that this determination can brought down, only if the Nazis were to prove (show) it them that, even if the British thought, the Soviets wouldn't dream of helping them, even remotely. The Soviet Union was to be made an example of, in front to Great Britain, that this is what your fate is going to be, yes, look at it, Now it's your turn. It was to prove to Churchill, that Britain will be the single opponent against Nazi EUROPE, that he thought of bringing down Russia first, Britain later. So summing it all up, Operation Barbarossa was a strategic mistake because of two main reasons - Size of the Soviet Union and the inefficient logistics and overstretched Wehrmacht supply lines, which stretched almost a 1000 miles .

      And yes, Hitler should have concentrated on getting the oil fields of the Middle East, by defeating the British in Egypt, and capturing Suez, hence cutting Britain off from its colonies in Asia.

      And also yes to the fact that Stalingrad posed no great strategic advantage, and that it bore Stalin's name, and it became an ego issue for Hitler to take it. It would have opened up the gates of the Caucasus mountains, but that was after they captured the great city on the Volga.

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      JiggyPotamus 4 years ago

      I have to say that your analysis regarding the Battle of Britain is incorrect. It definitely was not a mistake on the part of Hitler and the Nazis. In fact, despite RAF radar stations, the Luftwaffe's constant bombardment was functioning according to plan, as far as strategic objectives were concerned. The Luftwaffe's main objective was the total destruction of the RAF, and as I said, they were well on their way to achieving this. THEN Hitler made a costly error. He switched the plan basically. Instead of continuing to eliminate the RAF planes, radar stations, runways, etc., he ordered that stopped, and all planes started bombing major cities. The RAF was on its last leg when this decision was made, and had Hitler never changed the objective, the RAF would have been virtually obliterated. This blunder on Hitler's part allowed the RAF much needed time to regroup and build, and THAT is why they lost the Battle of Britain. It is another matter altogether whether Operation Sealion, the Nazi invasion of Britain, could ever have succeeded, but it definitely could not have succeeded unless the RAF was destroyed entirely.

      And I also disagree that the launching of Operation Barbarossa was a strategic error. In fact, it make quite a bit of sense. Hitler needed materiel, especially oil, which really is what the whole German Blitzkrieg strategy revolved around, and the Soviet Union had oil aplenty. The reason the campaign ultimately failed comes down to various mistakes, which one could argue also included the invasion routes. Personally, had I been in command, and were I looking to solve the problem of where to procure oil, I would have decided the Middle East was the place to go. The Nazis could have started an invasion via Turkey, from Greece and other nearby countries, and they would have virtually met no resistance. At least it would be easier than facing down the Soviet Union's millions of men. Hitler's largest mistake in this instance was not invading Russia, but instead underestimating Russia. Anyway, had Germany invaded the Middle East, they could have turned north and seized the Soviet oil fields from the south, basically coming up behind the Russian army in the area. And had there also been an invasion in the east, Russia would not have been able to prevent the oil fields falling, due to their inability to fight on two fronts. But there were other blunders. The entire fiasco at Stalingrad was definitely unnecessary. Stalingrad posed no great strategic advantages, and should never have been touched. Hitler rerouted various armies on a whim, and that was ultimately one of the most decisive factors in losing the campaign in the east.