The battle for Moscow was the biggest battle of World War II -- the biggest battle of all time. And yet it is far less known than Stalingrad, which involved about half the number of troops. From the time Hitler launched his assault on Moscow on September 30, 1941, to April 20, 1942, seven million troops were engaged in this titanic struggle.
The Greatest Battle
The Battle for Moscow was the deadliest battle of World War II--and the deadliest battle of all time. Between September 30, 1941 and April 20, 1942, seven million German and Soviet troops took part in the battle, and 2.5 million of them were killed, taken prisoner, missing or severely wounded. As German troops approached Moscow, half of the city's population fled, while others looted stores, staged strikes and attacked those who were escaping. In the end, the German drive fell short, but Stalin's regime was so embarrassed by how close they came, by the mistakes the Soviet dictator made that allowed them to do so, and the behavior of many of its own citizens, that the battle was given short shrift in their history books.
Both Hitler and Stalin (briefly allied and now newly at war) intruded themselves into the strategies for their armies. Hitler was so overconfident--even though his generals warned him--that the German army went into battle in the Russian fall with no winter clothes. Stalin was so in denial that the majority of Russian soldiers had no weapons. They had to wait for a comrade to fall in order to acquire a gun. Soviet soldiers following the front lines were under orders to shoot anyone who retreated. Meanwhile, the German soldiers, well equipped with armaments, and well trained but with no winter clothes, were freezing to death by the thousands.