This research paper compares and contrasts the invasions of Russia undertaken by the Grande Armee of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1812 and by the Wehrmacht of Adolf Hitler in 1941-1943. In both cases, the invasions were launched by dictators who had imposed their will on the European continent and sought to remove the last major continental obstacle to their imperial ambitions; however, Hitler's motivations were much more complex than Napoleon's and adversely affected German strategic planning.
Each of them achieved spectacular initial successes, owing to the striking power of their forces, the initiative of their commanders and the errors of their enemies, only to be forced to retreat eventually by the inherent difficulties of attempting to conquer Russia because of its immense expanse, its inhospitable climate and the indomitable opposition and endurance of its people. Neither of them particularly distinguished himself as a military or political leader during their Russian campaigns, but each of them displayed flashes of military genius. Both of them came closer to succeeding than is generally recognized, and might have prevailed had fate bestowed its favor upon them at critical junctures. However, their failures were fundamentally more due to their own unwillingness to scale back their seemingly unlimited ambitions and, in Hitler's case, his refusal to focus German military thrusts and later to consider political compromi
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hom 604). Although the Tsar had commented before the war that the winter would be Russia's secret ally, the practice of drawing Napoleon's increasingly bedraggled force more deeply into Russia and pursuing scorched earth tactics along his trail was due less in the beginning to conscious Russian policy than to disagreements among the Tsar's advisers. Some, such as his eccentric and impractical planner, the Prussian general Karl von Phull, wanted to draw the French against breastworks built at Drissa on the Dvina River, but the Tsar on the advice of army commander Baron Barclay de Tolly abandoned Drissa at the last minute. The Tsar partially accepted de Tolly's retreat into the interior and scorched earth strategy, but also saw merit in the belligerently anti-Bonapartist Bagration's urge to attack the foreign invaders and drive them out of Russia. When due to a quarrel between de Tolly and Bagration, the defense of Smolensk was bungled resulting in a smashing if unconvincing victory for Napoleon, the Tsar replaced de Tolly with the aging Marshall Mikhail Kutuzov. Kutuzov, who had been at the battle of Austerlitz, and whose cautious advice had then been ignored by the Austrians and by the Tsar, believed that after the battle of Smol
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Some common words found in the essay are:
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Approximate Word count = 5652
Approximate Pages = 23 (250 words per page)