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News and views from the German-language region of Europe

June 22, 2011

40 and 70 years ago

Filed under Life in Europe

What a difference 40 years can make! 40 years ago today I was a student spending the summer in Bad Oeynhausen, Germany.

It was my first trip to Germany and I was in the country for a little more than 2 months. On June 22, 1971 our local newspaper in Bad Oeynhausen had a special section describing what happened on June 22 some 30 years earlier, in 1941. Under the codename "Operation Barbarossa," Hitler’s Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 in the largest German military operation of World War II. The special section in the newspaper described how three Germany army groups made up of more than three million German soldiers, supported by 650,000 troops from Germany’s allies (Finland and Romania), and later augmented by units from Italy, Croatia, Slovakia and Hungary, attacked the Soviet Union across a broad front, from the Baltic Sea in the north to the Black Sea in the south. More than anything else, Hitler’s decision to attack Russia sealed Germany’s fate in World War II.

Today, some 40 years later, German news media paid scant attention to the events that transpired 70 years ago. The weekly "Die Zeit" has a special historical issue on Hitler’s war in the east, as it is called, but local newspapers had no special sections describing what happened on June 22, 1941. Times have changed, Germany is reunited and the Cold War is over.

Paul Kieffer's blog with personal insights and news from the German-language region in Europe.


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