Invasion of the Soviet Union: A Group of German Tanks before their Deployment (June 22, 1941)
In the summer of 1941, the Third Reich was at the apex of its power. After the defeat of Poland in September 1939, German troops had engaged in a series of spectacular blitzkrieg offensives against Denmark, Norway, the Benelux countries, and France, occupying almost the whole of Western Europe. In Eastern Europe, the Nazi regime was allied with Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria, and in the spring of 1941 it conquered Yugoslavia and Greece. Hitler thought the time for "Europe's crusade against Bolshevism" had come. For the June 22, 1941, attack on the Soviet Union, Hitler assembled an invading force of unprecedented size. In addition to 3.6 million German and allied soldiers, about 600,000 motor vehicles, 3,600 tanks, 7,200 artillery pieces, and 2,700 warplanes were deployment in the invasion. This photograph shows a unit of German tanks before their deployment; in the background, we see the bombardment of Sluk. Photo by Herbert Hoffmann.