Russia occupies two continents; a large part of Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. The country’s climate is close to generally continental, even though as it rises from west to east the influence of the Atlantic Ocean reduces. Continental climate is found in the East Siberia and an Artic climate is found in the northern parts. The monsoonal climate in the Far East’s southern parts is under the influence of the Pacific Ocean that results in fairly warm and rainy conditions during summer but winter is cold with slight snow. Within the country, summers are hot in the south and warm elsewhere but during winter it becomes cold all over the country (Atlapedia online, Para. 2).
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The mean temperature for the year in European Russia is under the freezing point and the mean for the most part of Siberia is at freezing or under the freezing point. Russia has basically only two seasons, that is, winter and summer that have very small intervals between them. The country’s temperature extremes recorded are -94° for the lowest recorded in Verkhoyansky and the highest is 38° recorded in many southern weather stations (Anonymous, Russia Climate Para. 3).
The effects (of long and cold winter) determines the kinds of crops to be grown and the place they are grown since there is no all year round growing season anywhere in the country, the length that people work, where they live and the length of time they live. The duration of the winter and its severe effects and the sharp continuous variations in the average temperatures both during the summer and the winter, bring in many special needs in various sectors of the economy. In areas where permanent freezing occurs, machines have to be manufactured using special steel, buildings have to be set up on pilings and transportation structures must be constructed in a manner that they will have to work well in both extremes of the temperatures. Also, during the cold season, there is a higher need for special clothing, medical care and energy. It is from these same effects of winter that the Russian soldiers, the Red Army, were able to defeat the Germany soldiers in the World War II who were not used to this climate.
The Russian Climate and the German Progression in World War Ii
The Germany soldiers faced very severe winter conditions some months after invading Western Russia in the month of June during the year 1941. This was quite out of line of the usual weather patterns in the climatic records in a long period of time. Therefore, the Germany soldiers were got unawares and found themselves in a helpless state. This was a state in which the Russian soldiers had earlier on found themselves in while fighting in Finland in the Winter War towards the end of the year 1939 (Anonymous, Seacom climate Para. 9). However, even though it is quite acceptable that the Russian soldiers, the Red Army, had done badly in Finland, there had been justifying conditions. The 1939 – 1940 winter was one of the severest during the century and the Russian soldiers had not received training to operate under such conditions. For instance, in the first phase operation there was poor coordination among the arms and also there was inadequacy in terms of intelligence and preparation.
Even though the Russians had won the war but their victory had come at a cost. They accepted that 48,000 of their own people were dead while 158,000 sustained major injuries and they had also lost several tanks together with planes. But all the same, Russia was in a position to bear such losses and the valuable thing they obtained from the war was the experience of fighting in a modern war (Trueman, 2000b, Para; last).
The Red Army worked very hard in the year that followed the Winter War, 1941, with the goal that in that year the army would be a much extra successful armed machine (Coutsoukis Para. 11). Therefore, the harmful experiences in the Winter War led to an all-inclusive re-evaluation of the soviet winter combating strategy (Armstrong & Welsh Para. 4).
So, at the time Germany attacked Russia, the Russians had had some training on how to fight in severe climatic conditions. Whoever sets foot in Russia for the first time experiences a new strange environment. Just in the same way, the Germany soldiers had this strange feeling of entering in to a strange environment. They felt they were entering a whole new world where they were not just opposed by the powers of the foe but also by those of nature. Nature is a supporter of the Red Army and an attack against this union needed great sacrifices. To win a war against the powerful fundamentals of nature was the hardest thing since their anger and effect were not fully comprehended by the Germany Soldiers who had no training to overcome them. The Germany Army had originally had an impression that the Russian soldiers could be finished at Dnieper’s west and it would be needless for them to stage operations in snow, cold, and mud (United States Army para.1).
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The severe winter occurred in the year 1941 – 1942 during the World War 2. Germany’s defeat may be attributed to Hitler’s failure to implement Operation Barbarossa plans in time before the start of the severe cold season. His overconfidence in his strategies and self-assurance of victory and having no time to get ready for even the likelihood of winter combat in Russia led to his failure. The loss of time resulted from the implantation of orders that Hitler had given to the Germany soldiers to capture the Russian prisoners and to destroy Russian equipment. This resulted in the incurrence of the impact of winter before the Germans meeting the Hitler’s goals. Very few German soldiers were prepared to cope with the severe winter conditions and so; most of the soldiers were heavily affected by the low temperatures. At this point, the war became an attack by the severe cold weather that would prevent any soldier leave alone one that is ready for such severe conditions (Trueman, 2000a, Para. 15).
The freezing, ice, and snow conditions were very severe on the entire frontline from the west of Kalini, Leningrad, Murmansk, Moscow, Rostov and Krim. The temperature during the day from the middle of November 1941 was -3°C and went further lower during the night to -7° C. The temperatures further fell low to -25°C in the month of November in the Eastern Front. This caused blocking of the mechanized operations by Germany. This blocking was by the snowballs. In December, the temperatures had gone to a low of -40° C and this led to a declaration by the Germany high commander to postpone all major operations in the north until spring. Therefore, the first winter war that the Germany soldiers fought in Russia began in 1942 in the month of January. The fight in Moscow went on until the month of April in the same year. This battle involved over three million people, about 3000 tanks, over 2000 aircrafts and about twenty two thousand guns.
Just before the onset of the severe cold that hit the Eastern Front, from the beginning of October to the time the low temperatures started, we had quite a ‘heavy mud – period’. This began at around the seventh day of October with snow and went on with rain. Up to the end of the year in the month of December, Germany had lost 174,000 soldiers and over a half a million were having injuries and in addition about 36,000 were no where to be seen. In addition, Germany lost a total of 1336 of bomber and fighter planes among other types of aircrafts (Anonymous Seacom climate Para.15).
In conclusion, just as in Napoleon’s military prior to them, the Germany soldiers were not able to rise above geography and demolish the Russians. The Russia’s geography caused a holdup in taking actions. Several mistakes were made by the German commanders and among them was the assumption that the whole organization of the Russian government will be overturned after the first beat of the Russian army. Geography, in the end, played a major role as a protection of Fortress Russia (Caldwell, Ehlen & Harmon Para. 1).
Anonymous. Russia Climate, 2009. Web.
Anonymous. Seacom climate, 2009. Web.
Atlapedia online. 1993. Web.
Chris, Trueman (a). Operation Barbarossa. 2009. Web.
Chris, Trueman (b). Winter War, 2000. Web.
Douglas R. Caldwell, Judy Ehlen and Russell, S. Harmon, Studies in Military Geography and Geology, 2004. Web.
Photius Coutsoukis. Winter War, The Library of Congress Country Studies, 1998. Web.
Richard, N. Armstrong and Joseph, G. Welsh. Winter warfare: Red Army orders and experiences, 1997. Web.
United States Army. Effects of Climate on Combat in European Russia. Center of Military History. 2005. Web.