“Winter Sports” (est. Dec 1941)
by William “Bill” Crawford (1913-1982)
19 x 22 in., ink and crayon on Glarco Illustration Board
The winter climate has contributed to the military failures of several invasions of Russia, including (and perhaps particularly) Operation Barbarossa (meaning “Red Beard, named by Hitler to honor of German ruler Frederick I, nicknamed Red Beard, who had orchestrated a ruthless attack on the Slavic peoples of the East some eight centuries earlier), the Nazi attack on their Soviet ally – a bold grab for territory by the Reich.
Germany invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, in their largest military operation of World War II. The Germans pushed hard; the Soviets pushed back. The plan, to take Moscow by the end of summer, was delayed, and so the Nazis first got bogged down (literally) during the heavy autumn rains (the “rasputitsa,” or “General Mud”). Loaded vehicles and marching men were now relying on horse-drawn wagons for support.
The Nazis did not make it to Moscow until December. Originally planning a summer campaign, the Germans were confronted with a Soviet Winter without any of the clothing or gear they would need… nor the experience to survive the Siberian cold. The losses were devastating.
On December 6, 1941, the Soviet Union launched a major counterattack, driving the Germans back from Moscow. All things considered, I think this cartoon is from this date or before.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
The war on the Eastern Front ebbed and flowed throughout the remainder of the war, until 1945.