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How did Hitler's invasion compare with Napoleon's invasion of Russia?

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Quick Answer

Adolf Hitler's 1941 invasion of the Soviet Union met with many of the same disastrous consequences as Napoleon Bonaparte's previous 1812 summer invasion of the country then known as Russia. Napoleon's attack on Russia, with what was most likely the largest armed force assembled in Europe up to that time, was virtually destroyed by the onset of the Russian winter's freezing temperatures, a lack of food supplies and successful Russian counterattacks. A similar fate befell Hitler's 1941 summer offensive against the Soviet Union when major miscalculations regarding the logistical challenges of the vast territory involved and the hostile Russian winter terrain led to crippling food and fuel shortages.

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Full Answer

Historians draw several comparisons and similarities between the two invasions. Both campaigns began in June, when the weather was favorable, but the attacking armies were later caught within Russia's borders after the winter set in. Hitler and Napoleon both underestimated the strength, resilience and fighting spirit of the Russian defenders. Joseph Stalin's scorched earth policy weakened the German army by depriving them of acquiring any supplies or food from the territory they entered. Front line troops were forced into a "hand-to-mouth" existence, desperately short of vital supplies and succumbing to sub-zero winter temperatures. The enactment of both campaigns proved to be a fatal mistake, turned the tide of war and led to ultimate defeat.

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