The question is pretty simple. Versus Napoleon, the tsar’s forces were able to draw the French in and let the cold do the rest. Against the Nazis, it was a little less intentional, but the Axis forces were slowed by the cold, too. However, there’s no mention of the effects of the winter on the Kaiser’s troops in the First World War. It was much more mobile in the East than on the Western Front, so why didn’t the Russians just freeze out their opponents?
One difference is that Russian war aims in World War I were not strictly defensive, as they were (largely) during the Napoleonic invasion. Russia had its eye on slices of Austria and Ottoman Turkey that required offensive operations if they were to be taken.
Well, at the beginning of the war, Soviet troops weren’t really equipped or especially trained to fight in wintery conditions. As you can read from here:
He was asking about World War One, oh muse of History. :dubious: :dubious: :dubious: :dubious:
I want to point out that Czar Nicholas wasn’t the sharpest tool inna shed, & passive in character to boot. But Czar Aleksander I Pavlovich Romanov was one cunning, dynamic & ruthless son of a gun.
That had a lot to do with it.
Not sure I agree that the Napoleonic retreat was any more “intentional” than Stalin’s. The Russian command argued furiously over where and when to engage Napoleon, and finally fought one of the most vicious battles in history at Borodino rather than abandon Moscow without a fight and let the French freeze. The Russians retreated because they kept losing, not because of any cunning master plan. The same was pretty much true in 1941.
Until the winter of 1917-18, when the Bolsheviks were hardly resisting, the Germans didn’t penetrate that deeply into Russia. The front ran through the Baltics and eastern Poland–chilly places in winter, to be sure, but not as bad as Moscow. It’s conceivable that an intentional retreat might have lured the Germans deeper into a winter trap, but it’s tough to abandon your heartland to enemy occupation–in any era.