Voices of Barbarossa (1941)



“The German armed forces must be prepared, even before the conclusion of the war with England, to crush Soviet Russia in one rapid campaign.” Hitler, Dec. 18 1940

“Hitler wanted to know if something could be done immediately. The generals said ‘no’. War against Russia simply could not be entertained in the autumn of 1940.” Keitel, Nuremberg (war trial) 1946

“When Operation Barbarossa begins, the world will hold its breath.” Hitler, 1941

“I have made the hardest decision of my life.” Hitler to Mussolini, June 21 1941

“Weighed down with heavy cares, condemned to months of silence, I can at last speak freely –German people! At this moment a march is taking place that, for its extent compares with the greatest the world has ever seen… May God aid us, especially in this fight.” Hitler in his address to the German people, 0700 hours, June 22 1941

“We only have to kick in the door and the whole rotten structure will come crashing down.” Hitler, while leaving for his new HQ in Rastenburg, East Prussia, June 22 ‘41

“At the beginning of each campaign, one pushes a door into a dark, unseen room. One can never know what is hiding inside.” Hitler to one of his staff later in the day, June 22 ‘41

“This is the massacre of the ‘innocents’.” General Kessering, pitying the destruction of the many planes of the Soviet Air Force, June 23 1941

We must win, and quickly.” Propaganda Minister Goebbels, in his diary, June 23 1941

“...only then could the Russian people be liberated from the oppression of a Jewish and criminal group.” Hitler, referring to the execution of Jews, June 25 1941

“It is no exaggeration to say that the Russian campaign has been won in fourteen days.” General Halder, in his diary, July 3

“What matters is that Bolshevism be exterminated.”  Hitler July 5

“Moscow must disappear from the earth’s surface as soon as its riches have been brought to shelter” Hitler,  July 5

“The enemy is putting up a fierce and fanatical fight.” General Halder, July 11.

“The Kremlin is a heap of smouldering ruins.” Goebbels, July 27, speaking of the bombing raids on the Soviet capital.

“Had I known they had as many tanks as that, I’d have thought twice before invading.” Hitler, referring to the numbers of Russian tanks.

“If he withdraws into Asia, he might be even granted a peace treaty.” Hitler, September 13, referring to Stalin

“Today begins the last great decisive battle of the war.” Hitler, in a radio address to his people on October 2

“We are deciding the fate of Europe for a thousand years.” Hitler to his staff, November 1941

“From oranges to cotton, we can grow anything in that country.” November 12

“These Russians seem to have an inexhaustible supply of men. Here they unload fresh troops from Siberia every day, they bring up fresh guns and lay mines all over the place.” A young artillery officer, early November 1941.


“We have seriously underestimated the Russians, the extent of their country and the treachery of their climate. This is the revenge of reality.” Colonel-General Guderian, November 9 1941, in a letter to his wife.

“The Arab world is firmly convinced of a German victory, by virtue not onlt of the large Army, brave soldiers and brilliant military strategist at Germany’s disposal, but also because Allah could not grant victory to an unjust cause.” The Mufti.

“Now it is impossible for us to lose the war, for we have an ally who has not been vanquished for 3,000 years.” Hitler, 1941, on the joining of Japan into World War Two.

“[Hitler’s] continual under-estimation of the moves at the enemy’s disposal is more and more grotesque, and is becoming dangerous.” Field Marshal List, July 23 1942


Germany’s allies

“Citizens, centuries have shown that on the site on which fate has placed this nation, permanent peace cannot be achieved. The pressure of the East is always upon us. Immediately after the outbreak of war between Germany and the Soviet Union four days ago, the integrity of our frontiers was violated on numerous occasions by the Soviet Union, in conse­quence of which we presented energetic protests, but without any result . . When the Finnish Parliament, on March 21, was discussing the documents relating to the Peace Treaty, the Soviet Government presented in Moscow a strong protest against the project, declaring wholly without cause that it was in conflict with the Peace Treaty. . ..”Finnish official statement, June 26 1941

". . . to liberate and re­cover Rumanian national patrimony overrun, without justification by the unprovoked aggression of Communist Russia” Rumanian official statement, June 22, 1941



“We are being fired on. What do we do?” Soviet front line commanders to Moscow, early morning 22 June 1941

“Our troops must hurl themselves with all their means and energy against the enemy and annihilate them in all places where they have violated our frontiers.” Marshal Timoshenko, broadcasting over state radio at 0715 hrs, June 22 1941

“Comrades, citizens, brothers and sisters, men of our Army and Navy!  I speak to you my friends! A serious threat hangs over our country. It can only be dispersed by the combined efforts of the military and industrial might of the nation. There is no room for the timid or the coward, for deserters or spreaders of panic, and a merciless struggle must be waged against such people. We must destroy spies, agents provocateurs, and enemy parachutists…anyone who hinders our defence must be shot…The enemy must not find a single railway-engine, not a wagon, not a pound of bread nor a glass of petrol. All the farms must hand their herd to the official bodies and be sent to the rear (of the USSR). Everything else…must be destroyed.” Stalin, in a radio address, July 3 1941

“The National Defence Committee appeals to all the workers of Moscow to observe order, remain calm and give their entire support to the Red Army in the defence of the capital.” October 20

“The Red Army must be purged of all unreliable units.” Stalin, July 20

“Moscow will be defended to the last.” Stalin, October 19

“If they want a war of extermination, they will have one.” Stalin, November 6

“You can’t hang all 190 million of us.” The last defiant words of a Russian girl who was hanged for arson.



“Any man or State who fights against Nazism will have our aid. Any man or State who marches with Hitler is our foe. This applies not only to organized States but [also] to all representatives of that vile race of Quislings who make themselves the tools and agents of the Nazi regime against their fellow countrymen, and against the lands of their births. These Quislings, like the Nazi leaders themselves, if not disposed of by their fellow countrymen, which would save trouble, will be delivered by us on the morrow of victory to the justice of the Allied tribunals. That is our policy and that is our declaration.” Churchill, June 22 1940