In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section World War II, Russo-German War

  • Introduction
  • Documents
  • Literary Accounts
  • Soviet Internal Security and Intelligence
  • German Allies
  • Battle of Moscow
  • Siege of Leningrad
  • The 1942 German Offensives and the Battle of Stalingrad
  • Battle of Kursk and the Red Army Pursuit
  • Operation Bagration and the Battles of 1944
  • Red Army Offensive in Poland, Germany, and Hungary in 1945
  • German Occupation Policy and the Holocaust in the Soviet Union
  • Soviet Partisan Movement
  • German Home Front

Military History World War II, Russo-German War
Evan Mawdsley
  • LAST REVIEWED: 06 February 2012
  • LAST MODIFIED: 06 February 2012
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199791279-0070


The Russian-German War lasted from the German invasion of 22 June 1941 until 8 May 1945 and is often known by its Russian name as the “Great Fatherland (or ‘Patriotic’) War” (Velikaia Otechestvennaia voina). It was the largest military campaign ever fought, and the most costly in terms of human life. The outcome determined German defeat in World War II. Unlike many other campaigns of the war, it was primarily a land conflict, although an advanced one at a technical level. Another distinguishing feature was that one of the two major powers involved suffered prolonged occupation of much of its territory by the other, and so occupation policy and popular resistance to it (the “partisan” war) were significant dimensions. Related to this was the importance of ideology, which meant that many of the normal restraints of modern interstate warfare were ignored. This bibliography outlines major sources relating to the conduct of the war, and to the Soviet war effort; it also deals with the German war effort insofar as this was related to the fighting in Russia. Events before 22 June 1941, inter-Allied relations in 1941–1945 period, and the origins of the Cold War, although important topics in their own right, are beyond the scope of this outline.

General Overviews

Given the scale of the Russian-German conflict, writing a general overview has been a challenging task for historians. Any kind of comprehensive account requires collective authorship and a publication of great length and a decade or more of work; one-volume accounts are of necessity sketchy. Both types of book have been influenced by national perspectives and ideology.

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