I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving holiday…I know we did. There was too much food, all of it good. There was no Black Friday shopping, which was awesome!! Well actually, there was a bit of shopping on Friday and Saturday, but Friday’s was in the early afternoon, well after all the diehards were pretty much done and back home in bed.
So let’s see, what do we have for today?…Well, it’s my wife’s birthday, so “Happy Birthday!!” to her. I’m not sure she knows it, but her presents are all ready to go, so we’ll keep that a secret.
Let me check the official Today’s History Lesson spreadsheet…
Here we go…
The Tripartite Pact was an economic, military, and political alliance that was originally set up between three countries (hence the “Tri” in Tripartite). Germany, Italy, and Japan were the original signers in September of 1940, but the Pact wasn’t strictly limited to them.
As 1941 approached, the Russians were approached about joining the Pact. It’s a bit unusual, given the natural opposition that Hitler’s National Socialism felt for Russia’s Communism. But Adolf Hitler’s designs on Russia were not strictly military in scope. Russia’s tremendous natural resources had as big a target on them as did her military forces. And if they could be taken peaceably, so much the better.
So Vyacheslav Molotov was invited to Berlin in mid-November and given the Tripartite Pact sales pitch. And there was some hope that Molotov would listen. The Russians and Germans had already done business on the Polish issue a couple of years before. And Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia were all within days of joining the Tripartite Pact.
But those hopes proved fleeting, as the meetings did more to highlight Russo-Germans disagreements than they did to create common ground. Molotov left Berlin having refused Germany’s “peaceful” overtures, and from the German perspective, the die was cast. Or maybe “the die was confirmed” is a better phrase, since regardless of the outcome, Hitler had decided years before that Russian soil would be invaded at some point.
On November 29, 1940, the German High Command offered up a proposal for the invasion of the Soviet Union. The draft included three massive Army Groups, setting off along an 1,800-mile front. Army Group North would make for Leningrad. Army Group Centre would have the capital of Moscow as its goal. And Army Group South was tasked with the capture of Kiev, to be followed with a push to Stalingrad via Kharkov.
Within three weeks, the draft would be polished, planned, and finalized as Directive No. 18…Operation Barbarossa.
If Hitler couldn’t get what he wanted the easy way, he would get what he wanted by any means possible…
Recommended Reading: WorldWar-2.net – One of the best World War II timelines available anywhere. A wee bit clunky to navigate, but loaded with information.