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The feeling of freedom they give you is wonderful. Abandoning my shorts was one of the biggest sacrifices I had to make… Anything up to five degrees below zero I don't even notice.
Quite a number of young people of today already wear shorts all the year round; it is just a question of habit. Yet if Hitler was under the impression that the Wehrmacht could withstand sub-zero temperatures in sub-standard winter clothing, he was soon proved wrong. In some areas, the Germans were well prepared for Barbarossa; they had printed a German-Russian phrasebook, for example, with questions such as "Where is the collective farm chairman?
Yet when it came to proper clothing in a winter campaign in one of the world's coldest countries, there was simply not enough, and what was provided was often not warm enough either. All this springs directly from Hitler's belief that the campaign would be over in three months — by late September — before the weather turned.
The horrific results of the lack of warm clothing were truly disgusting. I had already seen soldiers with lidless eyes, on the platform of the Minsk station a few days previously on my way from Smolensk.
Thousands and thousands of soldiers had lost their limbs; thousands and thousands had their ears, their noses, their fingers and their sexual organs ripped off by the frost. Many had lost their hair… Many had lost their eyelids. Singed by the cold, the eyelid drops off like a piece of dead skin… Their future was only lunacy. This was the pass to which their ludicrous lack of preparedness had brought the Wehrmacht.
For the Germans to be defeated in the field of battle was one thing — and it took another year for it to happen on any significant scale — but for them to have been improperly provided for by their own leadership and General Staff was quite another. In May , Winston Churchill used the opportunity of the second anniversary of his taking the premiership to mock Hitler over his "first blunder" of invading Russia. There is snow, there is frost, and all that.
Hitler forgot about this Russian winter. He must have been very loosely educated. We all heard about it at school; but he forgot it. I have never made such a bad mistake as that. Of course, Hitler had heard of it at school as well, and furthermore his library featured large numbers of books on Napoleon and his campaigns, which were covered in extensive marginalia in his own handwriting, as well as several biographies of generals of the Napoleonic era. Yet he did not learn the most obvious lesson from his predecessor.
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Cold-weather warfare - Wikipedia
Tuesday 02 July Second World War: Frozen to death by the Fuhrer In an extract from his new book, historian Andrew Roberts shows how Hitler's troops were fatally ill-equipped for the invasion of Russia in Featured in the book are reports concerning little known and neglected tactical aspects of fighting a winter war, including weapons, logistical techniques and specialist equipment. This compelling compilation is essential for readers with an interest in discovering more about winter warfare from a range of unusual and diverse primary sources.
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Second World War: Frozen to death by the Fuhrer
Toggle navigation. All By Date Books All Reference Books Politics. Latest Releases Coming Soon Blog. Your basket is empty. Add to Basket. What's this? Description Reviews 0 About the Authors This fascinating collection of primary source accounts focuses on the combat actions of the Wehrmacht in the bitter cold of the Russian and Arctic winters.