The Third Reich ruthlessly led by Nazi leaders was to collapse under sustained attacks by the Russian Red Army and Britain’s Royal Air Force .
Germany although numerically superior was to be warded off invading Britain (Operation Sea lion) by determined fighting by British and Commonwealth air aces in Spitfires and Hurricanes.Although English airfields were damaged during the Luftwaffe air campaign of 1940 ultimately after a sustained onslaught of 90 nights upon London the High Command turned their attentions to Russia.The German military had to this point been chiefly victorious in the European campaigns for the Reich they had however encountered Resistance in the occupied ‘Lander’ especially in Norway,Poland, Denmark,Holland, Belgium, France and even the Czech Republic.The Campaign in Russia (Operation Barbarossa) begun on 22 June 1941. Thousands of men were massed with mules, artillery, panzers (tanks) and armoured personnel carriers. Manstein and Von Paulus may have harboured reservations during the invasion of Russia as German forces swept into Russia’s interior. Most Generals thought it would be a cakewalk.
Most bombing by both the RAF and USAAF was partially or fully unescorted.
Early in the war, virtually all long-distance bombing raids took place at night to avoid the possibility of interception. The Germans used searchlights and AA guns to try to combat this. Later in the war they developed night fighters.
As the German 6th Army dug in besides the Volga in the Northern Stalingrad factory district the snow had already begun falling.Zhukov sent by Stalin to stiffen Resistance observed the Wehrmacht noticing German infantry divisions liked to come forward following artillery barrages, air assaults accompanied by tanks and flame throwers.He ordered hand-to-hand fighting in Stalingrad’s rubble strewn houses. Zhukov also examined the German line and was surprised to find thinly held Roumanian sectors either side of the salient, it became his goal to later launch a counter-attack breaking through their lines to entrap and encircle enemy divisions.Germany (at Stalingrad) was later to lose the entire 6th Army like this, in total 17 divisions.
It was Heeresgruppe A that became Army Group Centre, under 3 German formations that had been assigned to invade and destroy the Soviet Union.
3 years to the day ,from when Barbarossa started, Operation Bagration began on 22 June 1944.Soon German troops in the Minsk area of Belorussia were trapped (300,000) and a further 100,000 encircled as Wehrmacht Army Group Centre collapsed.Soviets achieved a major victory from which Nazi Germany could never recover as Bagration destroyed a whole Army Group thence rupturing the German front line. Russia now had vast numerical superiority in personnel,tanks, field guns, assault guns and aircraft.
Total German losses on the Eastern Front 1 June-29 August 1944 71,685 killed, 503,564 wounded, 325,381 missing a total of 900,630.
In Bagration the Red Army liberated a vast amount of area whose population had suffered greatly under the mistreatment from the German occupation.In order to show the outside world the magnitude 50,000 German prisoners were paraded through Moscow in a march past that took 90 minutes.
The German Army, under the Nazis, never recovered the materiel and manpower having lost 25% of Eastern Front forces 17 divisions at Stalingrad and a further 17 divisions during Bagration.These losses included experienced soldiers , NCO’s and Officers.At this late stage the Wehrmacht could not replace those lost.Army Group centre, commanded by German field marshal Fedor von Bock had “feste platze” such as Polotsk,Vitebsk,Orsha,Mogilev,Borisov,Minsk,Slutsk,Pinsk,Kovel and Vilnius.
Soviet deep battle techniques and false misleading signals traffic fooled Germans to divert reserves to the wrong sectors and this allowed the Red Army to reach the Vistula and for the first time to be within striking distance of Berlin.Soviet High Command used West Ukraine as a staging area into Poland.Total collapse of Army Group center involved about 400,000 German losses.
Meanwhile back in Britain after a dogged 1940-41 during 1942 it was the herald of new 1,000 bomber campaign era.Cologne was the first target on 30 May 1942 with Essen following 1 June 1942.