German troops, June 1941.
Wikimedia Commons

UNTIL the summer of 1941 the German Wehrmacht had gone from success to success; all of the operations which it had launched were brilliant in conception and execution. Poland, Norway, France and the Balkans were the scenes of great triumphs. It is true that Hitler had cast longing eyes across the English Channel and had directed preparations for an invasion of England. Yet the fact that this was not attempted appeared to confirm that the German High Command knew the measure of the attainable and weighed carefully the chances of victory. Then like a bombshell came the news on June 22, 1941, that

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