The war in the eastern front started when Adolf Hitler asked Joseph Stalin to help him attack Poland. The two countries destroyed Poland. Russia decided to attack Finland, Romania, and the Baltic States after while Germany wanted to attack France, and attack France they did.
Germany crushed France’s inferior army. Germany choose to not attack Great Britain, but later defeated Greece and Yugoslavia. Germany then prepared for its most aggressive attack. The operation would be called Operation Barbarossa. His plan involved 120 divisions, one part going through Ukraine to the Dnieper River and the rest going through the Baltic States to Moscow. He was planning to finish in the Soviet Union before winter.
Stalin disregarded all warnings that Germans were invading. He believed it was an American and British plot to make them fight the Germans. Operation Barbarossa was initiated on June 22, 1941. 3.6 million soldiers, 2,700 aircraft, 3,600 tanks, 600,000 motor vehicles, 7,000 artillery pieces, and 625,000 horses were put into action from Germany.
Germany declared “War of Annihilation”. Joseph Stalin asked his country men and women to help protect the motherland and fight for a Communist victory. Hitler’s army was successful for about five months. Hitler thought the whole country of Russia would fall if he took out the heart, Moscow. The first week went well, until an early snow turned the tides.
German forces were not prepared for the cold temperatures. The subzero temperatures resulted in tens of thousands of cases of frostbite. There were about 15000 amputations. The German army was defeated. Joseph Stalin made two orders, Order No. 270 and Order No.
227. Order No. 270 said that any Russian that surrendered or let oneself be captured was to be executed if they came back to Russia because they were thought to be traitors. Order No.227 was nicknamed the “Not One Step Back” rule. This decreed that cowards were to be shot on the spot.
No one could retreat under this order. If they tried to flee, they would be gunned by blocking detachments. The blocking detachments killed some 150,000 of its own.