Was Hitler Arrogant or Just Stupid to Think He Could Defeat the Soviets?

May 2017
5
Small-town Nebraska
The greatest martial mistake Hiter did was attacking the Soviets in the Second World War, however, I never understood why he thought that was a good idea. Was he just arrogant, and believed that the German Army was superior to the Soviets? Or did he believe that the Soviets would retreat deep in Siberia they wouldn't be a threat? I've always been confused by his decision to attack the Soviets.
Thank you.
 
Apr 2016
900
Netherlands
The greatest martial mistake Hiter did was attacking the Soviets in the Second World War, however, I never understood why he thought that was a good idea. Was he just arrogant, and believed that the German Army was superior to the Soviets? Or did he believe that the Soviets would retreat deep in Siberia they wouldn't be a threat? I've always been confused by his decision to attack the Soviets.
Thank you.
German intelligence severely underestimated the Soviet military and that belief was only reinforced by the Soviet performance during the winter war.
 

johnincornwall

Ad Honorem
Nov 2010
7,676
Cornwall
Was he arrogant? Yes of course. But don't under-estimate the German war machine prior to the invasion. Russia hung on by the skin of it's teeth and the lives of it's people at Leningrad and Stalingrad. It's tempting to think of Germany and Russia as they are today, which certainly wasn't 1941.

He did underestimate the capacity to 'recover' and start churning out massive forces as the war progressed(with some convoy support). But then if all went to plan it should have all been over before that.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,003
Sydney
.
The belief of the time was not 2017 but the late 1930ies
for the record ,one third of the kaiser army beat the best of the czar troops with some regular result .
While the best two third of German efforts foundered on the Western front
now the West was busted in a six weeks campaign
the full fury of a German war machine at it's peak was going against an incompetent and resented regime .
Victory was not in doubt
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,506
Many leaders in the west also had a very low opinion of the red Army., it was thought the purges had greatly weakened the red Army and it' spoor performance against Finland, many did not rate the Soviet war machine.
 
Jun 2013
745
Agraphur
Not only Hitler but the consensus of the military leadership was that it would be relatively easy. Which quite ironic because several of these generals had great misgivings about the war with France and Britain.
It's a lot due to historic experiences. In WWI Germany defeated Russia with it's B-team, while the bulk of their best forces were tied up at the western front. Now virtually the entire army was available for the war, an army that defeated France in a month which the Imperial Germany couldn't do in 5 years. The Red army's abysmal performance in the recent Finnish winter war also suggested they were as poorly organized and led as ever.
 

zincwarrior

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,711
Texas
Was he arrogant? Yes of course. But don't under-estimate the German war machine prior to the invasion. Russia hung on by the skin of it's teeth and the lives of it's people at Leningrad and Stalingrad. It's tempting to think of Germany and Russia as they are today, which certainly wasn't 1941.

He did underestimate the capacity to 'recover' and start churning out massive forces as the war progressed(with some convoy support). But then if all went to plan it should have all been over before that.
It should also be remembered, Germany defeated Russia in WWI. They didn't underestimate the USSR's military, they underestimated its will to fight, which was substantially stronger than WWI.
 

zincwarrior

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
5,711
Texas
Many leaders in the west also had a very low opinion of the red Army., it was thought the purges had greatly weakened the red Army and it' spoor performance against Finland, many did not rate the Soviet war machine.
These views were accurate for the most part. The German army obliterated the Soviet armies in the theater in 1941.

As another poster noted above, they did completely underestimate the power of the USSR to continue despite casualties and recover. By all odds it should not have happened.
 

Valens

Ad Honorem
Feb 2014
8,305
Colonia Valensiana
The military element is only a part of the story. The 'showdown' with Bolshevism was a key, and I'd say defining, point of his ideology, and it developed already during his years in prison, if not earlier.

And yes, there was a rationale behind the attack on USSR. But we often overlook the fact that is was not only Hitler who was confident there would be a quick and victorious campaign against the Soviets. Most German generals shared his sentiment.