Living History: How -40° temperatures stopped Nazi Germany
Diesel engines are freezing up in Minnesota, preventing snow plows from doing their work. Turns out the same issue applies to WWII German tanks.
Given that temperatures in the upper midwest are close to -40° in some places, it’s a once in a generation chance to understand world history in a fascinating way.
Almost 80 years ago, the weather was the only force on earth that could stop the Nazi war machine.
It saved Moscow, and possibly saved the entire war.
Hitler’s armies advanced across Soviet Russia in the Summer of 1941 virtually unchallenged, save a few heroic stands. The shock of German betrayal of a non-aggression pact left the Russian military disorganized and in retreat. Joseph Stalin’s purge of his own Military elite in the 1930’s didn’t help the situation either.
Nazi Germany was so confident in its ability to crush the Russian nation by the end of the Summer, it didn’t equip its’ army with winter provisions. They nearly did it.
German tank commanders could see the spires and smokestacks of Moscow by October. They were within reach. Should the Germans capture Moscow, rail lines, communication, factories, and all provisions of Joseph Stalin’s control on power would have been severely compromised. A blow the Russians may never recover from.
Should the Russians be knocked out of World War II, The Germans have 3 million extra men at their disposal, vast oil reserves and the vast raw material provided by the region.
D-day is virtually impossible now. The British control of Egypt and the Suez Canal is in serious question, if not impossible. All resources can now be fixated on knocking Great Britain out of the War, since the United States has not joined in at this point. Nazi Germany now has a real chance at winning the war….
Then the rains came.
The roads turned to mud, tanks sank in more than 6 feet of mud in some spots. The Germans desperately pushed onward, before the Russian Winter came in full blast.
Even by Russian standards, it was brutal. temperatures plunged to -40 degrees in places, freezing German tanks and equipment, shutting down diesel engines and freezing German soldiers who were not equipped with coats, hats, proper boots, gloves, or anything necessary to fight a winter campaign.
Fresh Russian divisions came to the front from the Ural Mountains. Hundreds of thousands of men. The weather gave Russians the time and preparation needed to dig trenches, build defenses, and push back the Germans from Moscow.
The German war machine faltered, broke down, and never recovered. More ventures and campaigns were launched against Soviet Russia in the following Summer and Winter including the famous battle of Stalingrad. However, the Germans were never so close to winning the war as they were at that moment outside of Moscow.
The cold weather the Midwest is experiencing, with temperatures close to -40 in some places, is a fascinating glimpse at the conditions both the Russians and the Germans faced on the front lines almost 80 years ago in WWII. Even snow plows in Minnesota are having maintenance issues due to diesel engines freezing up.
So, although you may be cold, you’re experiencing a phenomenon that may literally have changed the course of human history.
I suppose we can also recap our own weather for 2019.
-Temperatures are going to rise over the next couple days, from the low 20’s today, to the low 40’s Thursday and 50’s Friday and Saturday.
– Dry, sunny conditions will start on Thursday and last through Saturday, Sunday sees the entrance of a new system.
-Snow looks likely for the Black Hills Sunday afternoon/evening into Monday, followed by cooler temperatures once again to begin next week.
-Highs will once again range from the mid to low 20’s, with lows in the single digits at night possible.