Wikijunior:World War II/Invasion of the Soviet Union
Preparations and Plans
After the invasion of France and the Battle of Britain, the German leader, Adolf Hitler, made plans to invade the Soviet Union (USSR). Hitler had always hated the communist government in the USSR and everything it stood for. He thought the people who lived there were "sub humans". Hitler had always said that nobody should fight a war "on two fronts", meaning that you should always finish off one enemy before making another one. As part of this strategy, Germany signed a non-aggression agreement with the USSR. But with his attack on the USSR he was breaking his own rule - Britain still wasn't beaten.
The code name for the attack on the USSR was "Operation Barbarossa". The attack started on 22 June 1941 and was a complete surprise to the Soviets. It is amazing that it was a surprise because the British had been telling the Soviet leader, Stalin, for months that the Germans would attack. They knew this because they could read the German secret codes. But Stalin didn't want to believe he would be attacked.
More than 4.5 million soldiers from Germany and its allies invaded the USSR. The width of the attack was huge - nearly 1,800 miles long. The idea was to conquer the "European" part of the USSR. Although the attack went well and millions of Soviet soldiers were captured, the Germans couldn't reach the Soviet capital, Moscow. Although the Germans went on to win many battles in the USSR they never had the strength to win the overall war.