HISTORIC BAD IDEAS: THE INVASION OF RUSSIA

Tank

It is said that those who do not learn from the mistakes of history are doomed to repeat them, and Germany’s Adolf Hitler obviously didn’t learn anything from a mistake made by that other proponent of world domination, Napoleon Bonaparte. By June of 1812, Napoleon was in control of almost all of Continental Europe, but that wasn’t enough for him. He wanted Russia, too. Russia, however, did not prove that easy to get. For one thing, it had savage winters that could only be withstood by tough, stoical types inured to them from childhood, and for another, those tough, stoical types had a nasty habit of moving up into even colder regions and burning or otherwise destroying anything that could be of any possible use to an invading army. And since the country was so big, troops couldn’t easily get supplies from home. The Russians also made vicious sneak attacks that demoralized the French almost as much as the cold and hunger. With his forces reduced by two-thirds within a few months, Napoleon was forced to recall them, and the defeat contributed to his eventual downfall.
Almost one hundred and thirty years later, Adolf Hitler thought it would be nice to add Russia to his own growing collection of countries. Napoleon’s French troops might have failed at the task, but German troops were made of sterner stuff and he was sure they would soon bring Russia to its knees. They didn’t. The Russian climate and the scorched earth policy played the same havoc as before, devastating Hitler’s forces and contributing to his eventual downfall.

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