The world was not prepared for the massive onslaught launched by Nazi Germany on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941 – the scale of the invasion, the speed of the German advance, the hundreds of thousands of Red Army soldiers taken prisoner, the chaotic, headlong retreat of Stalin’s forces eastwards, towards Leningrad and Moscow. But equally it was not prepared for the Soviet fight back. For, despite all the predictions, the Red Army stemmed the Wehrmacht’s advance, held the lines before Leningrad and Moscow, and mounted a counter-offensive that changed the course of the campaign and the outcome of the Second World War. These are the historic events that Nik Cornish portrays in the selection of rare wartime images he’s selected for this graphic history of the war on the Eastern Front.
The key aspects of the opening year of the war are vividly recorded – Operation Barbarossa; the German and Soviet forces as they marched and fought their way across the countryside and through the villages and towns of the Ukraine, Belarus and the Baltic states; the clashes at Brest, Smolensk, Kiev; the failure of Operation Typhoon, the turning point in this phase of the war which denied to Hitler the anticipated quick victory in the East.