- Global -
June 1941 to March 1942
see: Global in
the left column
The War Winter 1941/42
Did naval war stop Adolf Hitler at the gates of
a. A "lightning war" (blitzkrieg) collapses in
early December 1941
fact that weather prevented Adolf Hitler’s army reaching
before the winter season is widely acknowledged. The New York Time brought
the news on the front page of the
December 9th 1941
issue: “Nazis give up idea of
in 1941. Winter forces abandoning big drives in the north until spring,
says” (NYT, Dec. 09, 1941). Temperature
and snow conditions became worse than the wildest imagination. What is not
known is that Hitler could only blame himself and his advisors for this
enormous miscalculation. They had expected a mild winter. They had not
learned anything from the previous two cold winters, and the role that
naval war had played. Now the adverse had happened. The ‘great commander’,
according to his own assessment, had shot
himself in the back. Thank heavens. The abandonment of the big
drive in early December 1941 already marked the beginning of the end of
the Third Reich, which unfortunately lasted until 1945.
E1-1; Winter temperature (Nov.- March) Eastern Baltic.
The topic is about the role of naval war on weather during autumn
of 1941. From all the numerous naval activities in Europe and in the
, the eastern Baltic was very severely under siege from June to December
1941. The moderating role of the Baltic in the adjacent countries and
eastwards, into the Euro-Asian continent, was immediately perturbed.
Against all statistical expectations, when weather stopped the largest
military operation in human history both in manpower and casualties.
Unusually low temperatures in November and December rendered plans and
expectations as mission impossible. The
region, which usually expected mean temperatures of +1° to –3°C
(November) or –3° to –7°C (December), was now faced with conditions
far below –20°C. For example, Field Marshal von Bock, commander of Army
Group Center, recorded in his war diary, on November 5 1941, that the
mercury dipped to -29°C (-20°F) while it had been reported that it was a
steady -30°C (-22°F)
around November 24. In one report, the New York Times referred to a radio
, as follows:
Misplanning Alleged. ‘The Germans complain about the Winter and said it
prevented their plans from materializing,” the radio said. ‘First,
there was no proper winter in the Moscow area, and second, the complaints
reveal that the Germans were not properly provided with warm clothing
because they hoped to finish the war before Winter set in’. …’They
believed the Russians were much better equipped and conditioned for Winter
warfare than the Germans, recalling that the Russians carried out the
Finnish campaign in the dead of the Arctic Winter’ (NYT,
Dec. 13, 1941)”.
to Finnish/Russian winter war, two years earlier (11/1939 to 03/1940): The
German army, navy, and weather service had full knowledge about the
meteorological situation in Northern Europe and plenty of data and
material, but had shown not the slightest interest, or lacked principle
knowledge about the functioning of the climatic system, to look for the
reason of the colossal winter weather deviation during the first and the
second war winter.
severe cold days set in during the latter half of December. In 1941
however, cold weather started four weeks earlier and was more severe than
other usual severe winters that had been recorded. So what went wrong, or
what was not taken into account?
before the onset of winter, Hitler’s ‘blitzkrieg’ concept failed
due to bad weather forecasts. Weather forecasting was the responsibility
of special services. Why they failed so thoroughly is not so difficult to
imagine. Anyone who considered the oceans and seas as the
E1-2 (map) & E1-3 (strength); Ambush on
and controllers of weather and climate should at least have taken into
consideration the previous two extreme winters, during which war and naval
war took place, and should have asked the question: why? Why did those
winters come without warning? Why had there been so many exceptional weather conditions? Why was there so much sea ice in
the Baltic? This is not the place to discuss the failure and the
scientific ignorance of the WWII weather experts. On one hand, any free
and independent research was unusual, if not inexistent. All weather
information fell widely under the mark: Top Secret. All living conditions
were too often very difficult, if not life-threatening. When the U.S.
Government discontinued the publication of weather maps a few days after
incident, the New York Times wrote that from that moment on “we must
look at our own thermometer and the skies and draw whatever conclusions if
we can. Meteorologically, we are living in the year 1800” (NYT, Dec. 17,
1941). On the other hand, that happened a long time ago. Meanwhile, there
has been a lot of time to do what the weather experts had not been able or
competent enough to achieve in the early 1940s.
Modern climatology should at least now do what their predecessors
should have done. For a long time now, science should have investigated
and explained the reason for the exceptional winter conditions that took
into an icy grip. For a long time now, they could have known why the naval
war itself became a very decisive factor in preventing German war
machinery from entering
in the 3rd war winter of 1941/42. Without the naval war
operation in the Baltic and in the
, weather would have not turned into an arctic mode. The available weather
information provides many clues in support of the naval war thesis.
Science is invited to offer better explanations and to start taking notice
of one of the most pronounced winter weather situations in
for at least 180 years.
Temperature map 9 (TM9); Fig. E1-4
overview of Naval Battlefields and weather deviation
1941, naval warfare became a more and more global affair. The German
U-boat flotilla could operate from Atlantic ports, the Luftwaffe from air
Norway. German surface raiders operated deep into the
. The number and military capacity of air bombers grew steadily. The
British provided convoy escort for the entire crossing distance of the
North Atlantic. The
had an increased participation as well. The Germans started war against
in June 1941 and that included naval activities in the
. The Allies supplied
with war material by Arctic convoys, which sailed from
up to the sea ice boundary of Greenland and Spitsbergen to
or Archangelsk. German submarines operated in arctic waters as far as
and some of them even beyond that island (Mandel,
in the Mediterranean, the English Channel, the North Sea, the sea off
and the Baltic, naval war was still a European affair. In these areas,
naval war activities relied on thousands of ships and boats operating at
sea every day, but were also more and more supported by air forces.
Thousands of bombing and mining missions took
place every month. Eventually, the naval war theater became a global issue.
became a war party immediately after the
December 7th 1941
. From that moment on, the naval war operation entered a
new dimension which the world has never seen before or ever since.
, the year was dull and cold. For southern
, it was registered as the coldest on record, but with the hottest summer.
, it was the second coldest year of the 20th century, after
1940 had been the coldest since 1871. In the south – eastern
particularly, October had precipitation above average, with up to 350%. Coastal areas of the North Sea and Baltic had favourable conditions:
5-15° less precipitations, less cloud cover (2-5%), about 2 to 10 dull
days less and up to 200 hours more sunshine (Witterungsbericht, 1948).
This indicates that the sea water conditions were too cold, due to the
previous winter and naval activities. In summary,
was too cold, too dull and too wet.
, the precipitation figure for the NE district accounted to 250% above
average for January and February 1941, a clear indication of the
confrontation between maritime and continental conditions. That continued
when, under the influence of north-easterly winds, the temperature
remained below average (although not pronounced, except for mid-May
frost) continuing until the third week of June, when a warm, dry, sunny
period began, lasting about four weeks. The conditions became wet
again in August. From that moment on, the autumn was pleasant, December
still being regarded as mild
, the German army was quickly confronted with three weather phases. The
initial phase was very dry and hot, with up to 30°C during daytime. These
troubles were nothing compared to those faced once autumn rains
arrived in mid-October for a one-month mud season. This was eventually
topped by the early and very low temperatures that started in the middle
of November marking the beginning of the end of Adolf Hitler’s
ambition to rule the world at his terms. That would not have happened if
the German High Command had avoided major naval war activities in the
and Baltic. But the advisors on weather matters lacked the required
competence. Unfortunately, it was not the end of Hitler’s murderous
adventure; but instead, the German Army was weakened by unfavourable
climatic conditions and eventually by the overpowering force of Allied
c. Did the winter commence too early?
winter started in
on normal terms. December, at least, was slightly above normal in
, November was very variable, with a full snow cover throughout the Reich
due to high air pressure west of
, around November the 3rd and 4th. A warm period
followed, after which temperatures were subnormal until the 16th.
The strong weather variation continued throughout the month. Also,
December was mild and wet. In
, December weather was mild, anti cyclonic and too dry.
, there were frequent changes between high and low pressure in December
1941. With two exceptions, from the 6th to the end of the month,
the weather was dominated by passing cyclones, which
sometimes had opposite wind directions (Norrland – easterly; Götaland
– westerly), enormous weather variations and ‘a deep drop’ of
temperatures of up to 15 degrees within 24 hours. On December 27/28, wind
forces of 10 and 11 (according to the Beaufort scale) were registered on
the West and South coast. By all means, the winter of 1941/42 did not come
early. At a few stations, in December,
the temperature deviations were warmer in the west and colder in the east,
–1°C versus 1930-1938.
–0, 3°C versus 1930-1938.
–5°C versus 1930-1938.
about –1.2°C versus 1930-1938.
Berlin/Dahlem: about +1,4°C versus 1930-1938.
about +2.3°C versus 1930-1938.
+0, 8°C versus 1930-1938.
d. Curiosity or what happened at Malgoviks primary school in
the end of 1941, an extraordinary drop of temperature occurred at
mid-distance between Narvik and
. On December 13th, a very low temperature was recorded on a
plain alcohol thermometer at Malgoviks primary school.
Based on the comparison with a common thermometer, it could be assumed
that a temperature of minus 53°C (−63.4°F) was registered.
According to the Swedish Meteorological Service, it was a new record for
Why did that happen so early (December 13) and in a year when December
had been close to normal? Could the intense fighting at Hanko in the
Gulf of Finland
(details below) have led to an aerial pressure field that allowed arctic
air to briefly show up in Lappland? Or should one look for an
‘atmospheric hole’ created during the Japanese ambush on Pearl Harbor
only five days earlier, which travelled eastwards with the jet stream?
That is certainly too fanciful as an explanation. Would
it be possible to give an answer? Fortunately, this investigation does not
need to look for an answer, as the issue, although very interesting, is not relevant for
the naval war thesis.
e. Early sea ice?
Early sea ice at the German coast?
The sea ice began to form around January 13th of 1942. However,
this is only half of the truth. By that time, a number of
stations already had about 14 days with sea ice, starting from
November 15th 1941
(DHI-Eis, 1961). How does that fit into the generally non exceptional
weather conditions? Early timing, as well as the considerable number
of ice days before January 13th, may serve as a strong
indicator regarding the influence of naval war activities. On one hand,
they lowered the heat content of the sea during autumn, but subsequently
kept the sea free of ice, by ‘shovelling’ remaining heat reserves to
the sea surface. Along the German Baltic coast (Lübeck to
), the first sea ice appeared on the 13th, but icing set in
January 20th 1942
The start of sea icing along the Swedish coast:
The formation of ice took place at a rather normal period of time in the Gulf and
the Sea of Bothnia; it started in the Baltic and at the west coast of
Sweden (Skagerrak) during the first part of January, generally one to two
weeks earlier than normal (Liljequist,
A Finish view on the sea ice build up:
In autumn of 1941, freezing began earlier than usual in the northern part
. The shallow bays froze in the middle of October. But freezing of the
surface was quite exceptionally early in the south, in the region of the
Gulf of Finland
, were ice formed in the coastal bays at the end of October. During a
further frost period in the middle of November, ice covered the inner
archipelago of the
Gulf of Finland
. A new and comparatively rigid frost period began in the early part of
December. In the middle of December, the open sea of the
Gulf of Finland
was iced over in the field of view of fixed observation stations set
along the coast as far west as Pellinki. By December, a new period of hard
frost set in, while ice shifted due to wind. On December 31st,
ice was pressured against the coast of
Finland; pressured ice of about 4 meters magnitude was formed off Porkkala, among
other places. (Palosuo, 1953)
More about sea ice conditions in section E5.
f. What made the winter of 1941/42
seems that, except for early icing in the
Gulf of Finland
, the winter made a very normal start, and, towards the end of 1941, there
were not too many reasons to bet on an exceptionally cold winter. Liljequist
winter 1941/42 was colder than the winter 1939/40 and 1940/41. At
it was one of the coldest winters since 1756 when regular temperature
observation were started. If we graduate the severity of a winter
according to the value of the mean temperature of the three coldest months
of the winter half year, 1941/42 is found to be the coldest since 1756; by
taking the mean temperature of the months December-March, the winters
1788/89 and 1808/09 are found to be colder.
As winter did not start in
December 1941, but only in January 1942, the reason was its severity and
duration, which continued throughout February and March 1942 (see TM10, p.
remained under subnormal temperatures until July 1942. This indicates that:
the entire spring season,
was deeply below the average temperature. The reason is the low sea water
temperatures and the most extraordinary sea ice conditions in the Baltic,
which will be a subject for a full section later.
the northern North Atlantic and equatorial Atlantic regions are much above
average, the section from the Gulf of Mexico and
is colder. This might serve as an indication that naval war covered this
entire section since the days of
. Did that push colder water up to the sea surface?
extension of the cold region through northern
is due to the west wind drift.
temperatures over the equatorial Pacific are close to neutral in early
1942 (TM10), which hardly constitutes an El Niño event, which serves as
demonstration that an unspecified correlation claim is not very helpful (for
more details see: Chapter F).
at: http://www.personal.dundee.ac.uk/~taharley/1941_weather.htm ;
Excerpt: August 1941: Quite
cool and very wet. September 1941: Very dry and warm - the
third driest of the century. October 1941: The month had a very
warm, fine start, with some hot days, sunshine and fog at night. 24ºC
were recorded in the SE on the 1st and 2nd, the
6th and 7th. However, it became colder with
showers, as the winds changed to northerly in the closing days of the
month. The maximum was only 5ºC in the SE on the 29th.
Dull and mild. December 1941: Generally
dry and anti cyclonic, and milder than average.
A3, B, C1,
C2, C3, C4,
C5, C6, C7,
C8, C9, D,
>>> E2, E3, E4,
E5, E6, F,
G1, G2, G3,
H, I, J,