Operation Barbarossa 1941: The Goths Ride East

In 1941 Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, the invasion of the USSR opening a third front in World War 11. The German war machine had been very successful in western Europe but not on the eastern front. The German high command seriously underestimated the resolve of the Russian people and the Russian army. Hitler failed in the same way as Napoleon had failed with his invasion of Russia in 1812. Despite some early gains the German army was incapable of maintaining long supply lines and by 1944 the Red Army was advancing westwards towards Berlin.

This class will be delivered face-to-face at WEA Sydney. Enrolling students need to ensure they have read the current COVID-19 Safety Guidance that WEA Sydney has put in place before enrolling.


  • David Glantz, Operation Barbarossa; Hitlers Invasion of Russia 1941, History Press, 2011
  • Russia’s War : The Blood On The Snow, Episodes 1,2 and 3 in DVD documentary series DCD Media 1998, available on Youtube
  • David Stahel, Operation Barbarossa and the Defeat of Germany in the East, C U P 2011


  • Ten Year Non Aggression Pact (August 1939) between USSR and Germany and the origins of WWII in September 1939
  • German foreign policy aims 1939-1941 and Operation Barbarossa launched on 22 June 1941
  • Reasons for the ultimate failure of the 1941 and subsequent invasions of the USSR
  • Future incursions into the USSR on the eastern front 1941-1943 and the final results
  • Impact of the "Great Patriotic War" on Stalin’s leadership of the USSR until his death in 1953


By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify the factors contributing to the Nazi German invasion of the USSR in 1941 and the repudiation of the Non Aggression Pact of 1939.
  2. Trace the reasons for the ultimate failure of the 1941 invasion and subsequent incursions into the USSR 1941-1943.
  3. Evaluate factors contributing to the final defeat of the Nazi war machine in 1945 especially the operations on the eastern front.

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