Operation Barbarossa - WW2 Timeline (June 22nd - December 5th, 1941)

After military successes throughout Europe, in the Balkans, and on Crete, Hitler's attention inevitably turned to the invasion of the Soviet Union.

In accordance with Hitler's grand vision, the Soviet Union and its varied peoples were to be subdued if a new "German Empire" was to be realized. The captured lands would serve to feed Army advances and slave labor would provide Germany with the necessary manpower for victory and a long-standing existence after the war. On June 22nd, 1941, Operation Barbarossa was launched to begin the East Front - the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

The invasion plans were optimistic: it was thought that Axis forces - through surprise, strength, and optimizations of the 'blitzkrieg' - could reach and capture the Soviet capital of Moscow in little more than eight weeks. A massive land and air campaign was drawn up that involved everything from tanks, cars, aircraft, artillery, supply trucks, and some 600,000+ horses. Personnel were pulled from all ranks of the Axis powers - Germany, Romania, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, and Finland with manpower numbering 3.8 million against the Soviet strength of 2.9 million fighting men and women.

Three Axis army groups were pushed into the assault - "Army Group North" (Field Marshal Leeb), "Army Group Center" (Field Marshal Bock), and "Army Group South" (General Rundstedt). Army Group North was charged with control of the Baltic and taking the city of Leningrad, Army Group Center was to drive on the city of Smolensk and, ultimately, Moscow, and Army Group South was headed to the Ukraine and the Caucasus.

With the element of surprise, momentum, and weather on its side, the German Army made tremendous gains. In their wake were either dead foes or beleaguered enemies though several resisting pockets sprung up to cause some alarm. The operation would span from June 1941 to December 5th, 1941 and, at the end of it all, the invaders went no further then Smolensk with the offensive stalling just outside of Moscow. A lull in the fighting brought on by poor winter weather and stressed supply lines for the attackers allowed the Soviets to recoup and rearm, beginning about the Battle of Moscow (October 1941 - January 1942). The full drive on Moscow, something encouraged heavily by German commanders, was halted by Hitler who now looked to control the important industrial capacities of the Soviet Union - satisfied to defeat his enemy through economic strangulation while being left discouraged by the masses of Soviet troops escaping his pincer movements on the battlefield.

Early returns in the massive operation were promising for Germany, faring comparatively well to early invasions schemes. However, Adolph Hitler had inevitably underestimated Soviet defiance with this statement:

'You only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.'

There are a total of (25) Operation Barbarossa - WW2 Timeline (June 22nd - December 5th, 1941) events in the SecondWorldWarHistory.com database. Entries are listed below by date-of-occurrence ascending (first-to-last). Other leading and trailing events may also be included for perspective.

Day-by-Day Timeline of Events

Sunday, June 22nd, 1941

Operation Barbossa is put into effect - the German invasion of the Soviet Union.

Wednesday, December 18th, 1940

Hiter's Directive Number 21 is revealed as the invasion of the Soviet Union through Operation Barbarossa.

Sunday, June 29th, 1941

General Guderian's Panzergruppe 2 meets General Hoth's Panzergruppe 3 in Minsk.

Sunday, June 29th, 1941

Russian army forces are encirlced at key cities across the Soviet Union.

Tuesday, July 1st, 1941

Panzergruppe 2 and Panzergruppe 3 cross the Berezina River west of Minsk, heading towards Smolensk and Vitebsk.

Thursday, July 3rd, 1941

Panzergruppe 2 and Panzergruppe 3 now form up as part of General Gunther von Kluge's 4th Panzer Army.

Wednesday, July 9th, 1941

Soviet defenses at Brest-Litovsk, Bialystok, Volkovysk, Gorodishche and Minsk fall to the invading German Army.

Wednesday, July 9th, 1941

Panzergruppe 3 continues north to Vitebsk.

Wednesday, July 9th, 1941

Gurderian's army moves south towards Mogliev.

Thursday, July 10th, 1941

Guderian's forces cross the Dniepr River 50 miles outside of Smolensk.

Sunday, July 13th, 1941

Defenses across Smolensk are prepared under the direction of the Soviet 16th Army.

Sunday, July 13th, 1941

The Soviet 19th Army makes its way into Smolensk.

Sunday, July 13th, 1941

The Soviet 20th Army arrives in Smolensk.

Wednesday, July 16th, 1941

Smolensk falls to the German 29th Motorized Division.

Wednesday, July 16th, 1941

Panzergruppe 3 heads towards Yartsevo.

Wednesday, July 16th, 1941

Marshal Timoshenko and his 4th and 13th Armies near the Sohz River counterattack the Germans at Smolensk.

Tuesday, July 22nd, 1941

The Soviet counterattack at Smolensk is driven back by Guderian's forces.

Tuesday, July 22nd, 1941

The German Army begins to encircled in Soviet Army pockets held up outside of Smolensk, Vitebsk and Mogilev.

Thursday, July 17th, 1941

The German Army begins to tighten the noose around the encircled Soviet forces numbering some 25 divisions.

Thursday, July 24th, 1941

The German encirclement of Soviet forces is completed.

Tuesday, July 22nd, 1941

A Soviet offensive meant to break the German stranglehold fails due to poor coordination.

Saturday, July 19th, 1941

A German High Command directive calls for the army to complete the destruction of Soviet forces around Smolensk and then head south to tackle forces in Kiev instead of marching on Moscow herself - this decision is viewed as the turning point to Germany's defeat in Russia.

Tuesday, August 5th, 1941

The Soviet defense of Smolensk is obliterated and falls taking with it the end of the Soviet 16th and 20th Armies.

Tuesday, August 5th, 1941

300,000 Soviet prisoners, 3,200 tanks and 3,100 artillery guns are captured by the Germans at Smolensk.

Tuesday, August 5th, 1941

The drive on Smolensk nets a total of 600,000 Russian prisoners of war, 5,700 tanks and 4,600 artillery pieces.

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