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Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, began the largest and most costly campaign in military history. The operation was planned as a blitzkrieg to win Lebensraum in the east, and the summer of 1941 is well known for the German army's unprecedented victories and advances. Soviet losses may have been catastrophic, but the implications of Operation Barbarossa's failure were equally profound. German success depended almost entirely upon the motorised panzer groups and yet until recently very little research was conducted into their operations in the summer of 1941. The results offer a fundamental reassessment of Germany's war against the Soviet Union, highlighting the prodigious internal problems of the panzer forces and revealing that their demise in the earliest phase of the war undermined the whole German invasion.
Dr David Stahel is a lecturer at the University of New South Wales Canberra. He lived in Germany for 12 years and completed his PhD at the Humboldt University in Berlin. His books include Operation Barbarossa and Germany's Defeat in the East(Cambridge, 2009), Kiev 1941 (Cambridge, 2011), Operation Typhoon (Cambridge, 2013) and the forthcoming Moscow 1941(Cambridge, 2014).