Hitler never had feeling of any kind toward mankind of any nationality, race, gender, or religion, even though there were those he hated more than others…specifically, Jews, Gypsies, Blacks, and anyone not blond haired and blue eyed. Nevertheless, Hitler had long ago decided that anyone was disposable, except him. He didn’t tell other people about that, of course. On July 8, 1941, the German army invaded Pskov, a city located 180 miles from Leningrad, Russia. General Franz Halder, the chief of the German army general staff recorded Hitler’s plans for Moscow and Leningrad in his diary, and it wasn’t good. Hitler planned “To dispose fully of their population, which otherwise we shall have to feed during the winter.” Basically, he considered them all to be “useless eaters” and planned to kill them. Then, he planned to turn Moscow into a lake.
The Germans first launched a massive invasion of the Soviet Union, called Operation Barbarossa, on June 22, using over 3 million men. Since the Soviet army was unsuspecting and unprepared, the Germans were very successful in their attack. By July 8th, the Germans had captured more than 280,000 Soviet soldiers and almost 2,600 tanks had been destroyed. With the Germans already a couple of hundred miles inside Soviet territory, Stalin was in a state of panic. He began executing any of his generals who had failed to stop the advancing attack. That was likely a big mistake, because he was basically defeating himself from the inside.
As chief of staff, Halder had been keeping a diary of Hitler’s day-to-day decision-making process. His documentation of Hitler’s processes showed the flaws that Hitler had. I don’t know if that was his plan or if he had wanted to emulate Hitler, but as became emboldened by his successes in Russia, Halder recorded that the “Fuhrer is firmly determined to level Moscow and Leningrad to the ground.” It was Halder’s opinion that Hitler had underestimated the Russian army’s numbers and the bitter infighting between factions within the military about strategy. Halder and several others thought they should head straight to Moscow, as taking the capital would bring down the entire country. Nevertheless, Hitler was the leader, and as such, he wanted to meet up with Field Marshal Wilhelm Leeb’s army group, which was making its way toward Leningrad. The biggest mistake Hitler made was the fact that Winter was coming, and the Russians were much more used to the Soviet Winter’s frigid temperatures than the Germans…an advantage that would eventually catch up to the Germans. The advantage of such conditions would give the Russians the victory over the Germans in this battle.