By Pat McTaggart After the brutal defensive fighting during the winter of 1941-1942, Adolf Hitler was ready for another round with the Russians. This time, his armies would strike south with the twin goals of conquering the Caucasus and its rich oil fields and taking the city of Stalingrad. As far back as July 1940, when the planning for the invasion of the Soviet Union began, those two objectives had been part of the overall plan. The unexpected Soviet resistance in late 1941 put a hold on those plans, but they were still on Hitler’s mind even after his failure to take Moscow and Leningrad earlier in the year. The Germans needed oil, and the Caucasus would provide it. He also knew that controlling Stalingrad would mean the loss of a major industrial city and would also cut traffic on the southern portion of the Volga River. It would be a massive operation, code-named Fall Blau (Case Blue), that involved two panzer armies, three infantry armies, and the 2nd Hungarian Army. The plan was to advance on a broad front stretching from the Sea of Azov to Kursk. In his Führer Directive 41 promulgated on April 12, 1942, Hitler laid out his goals for the southern part of the Soviet Union: “All available forces will be concentrated on the main operations in the southern sector, with the aim of destroying the enemy before the Don [River], in order to secure the Caucasian oil fields and the passes through the Caucasus Mountains themselves.” Hitler also detailed how this was to


$2 / Month

Subscribe now for only $3.99 $2 a month!

Unlimited Website Access, Thousands of Searchable Articles, Warfare Newsletter, and more.

Back to the issue this appears in