On June 22, 1941, Hitler launched a major attack against Russia called Operation Barbarossa after the German king who had participated in the First Crusade during the 11th century. The goal of the Russian invasion was to gain control of the Ukraine's vast wheat fields and the Caucasus's oil fields.
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Hitler ordered a massive Blitzkrieg of 3 million men along a 2,000-mile border, catching Stalin by surprise. By October 1941, German troops surrounded Leningrad in the North, which was within 25 miles of Moscow, and had conquered most of the Ukraine. Hitler's propaganda machine proclaimed the war to be over, but it was mistaken. Russia did not collapse; instead, history repeated itself.
Like Napoleon's forces, the German invaders were not prepared for the cold Russian winter. Germans, in summer uniform, froze to death as the temperature plunged to -20 degrees Fahrenheit. Their fuel and oil froze as trucks and weapons became useless. At the Siege of Leningrad, which lasted 900 days, the Russians fought valiantly. More than 1.5 million citizens died during this siege and some inhabitants even resorted to cannibalism to survive. Hitler's failure to conquer Russia drained Germany's resources and caused him to have to fight two fronts simultaneously, which ultimately contributed to Germany's defeat.