Apocalypse on the Eastern Front: Battle of Moscow


By: Nathan Chandler

4 Min Quiz

Image: Wiki Commons

About This Quiz

The German army blazed a path through the USSR towards the Russian capital. How much do you know about the Battle of Moscow? Find out by taking this quiz!

What was Operation Barbarossa?

Operation Barbarossa was a code name for Germany's plan to invade the Soviet Union. Hitler wanted to subdue the Russian people and replace them with disciples of the Third Reich.


When did Operation Barbarossa begin?

The Germans conquered Western Europe in June 1940. Hitler then began bombing Britain while simultaneously planning strategy for an invasion of the Soviet Union, which began in June 1941.


How did the early stages of Operation Barbarossa fare?

The Germans encountered tough Russian forces but still managed to capture numerous key areas. For a time, it seemed as though the Nazis might have a chance to take the USSR. Then, they found themselves at the gates of Moscow.


What was the purpose of Operation Typhoon?

As the Germans plunged deeper and deeper into Russia, they initiated Operation Typhoon. The goal? To capture Moscow and force the USSR to surrender.


How did the Germans plan to take Moscow?

Hitler wanted to surround the city and then slowly choke its supply lines. And then he planned to bomb it into the next world so that the German people could remake it as their own.


When the Germans launched Operation Typhoon, what percentage of their motor vehicles were operating?

The Germans were losing men and machines and an unsustainable rate. Only about 30 percent of their motor vehicles were working properly, meaning that the advance was sure to stall.


How many warplanes did Germany have at the ready for Operation Typhoon?

Decimated by endless fighting in the summer of 1941, the Germans were low on planes for the attack on Moscow. The lack of air power made it harder for German forces to push forward.


In the months leading up to the start of the battle, how had the USSR's air force fared?

The Soviets absorbed unbelievable losses. By some estimates, the country lost more than 20,000 planes in its attempts to ward off the German invasion.


How many warplanes did the Soviets have on hand for the Battle of Moscow?

The Soviets had more than 900 planes at the ready during the battle. It was more than the Nazis, but not enough to completely halt the German advance.


At the end of November, how far were the Germans from Moscow?

Operation Typhoon struggled but maintained some momentum. By the end of November the Nazis were just 12 miles from Moscow, close enough to plan for a final assault on the stronghold.


As the Germans advanced, the Soviet government abandoned Moscow.

In spite of Soviet counterassaults, the Nazis pressed towards Moscow, and the government fled to Kuibyshev. Stalin himself opted to stay, but it wasn't enough to stop Soviet morale from plummeting.


How did a German spy in Japan alter the course of the Battle of Moscow?

A German spy in Japan informed Soviet authorities that the Japanese had no immediate plans to invade the USSR through Siberia. Knowing this, Russian commanders moved many soldiers from Siberia to Moscow, where they provided critical firepower


What is the "rasputitsa"?

The rasputita is the muddy season, which can happen due to precipitation or thawing. Either way, the end result was muddy Russian roads that bogged down German forces and prevented them from launching quick strike attacks.


In November, how did the Nazis finally manage to overcome the muddy conditions of the rasputitsa?

The October mudfest ended as the freezing temperatures of November froze the ground. In a short time, the Germans regained their footing and plunged towards Moscow.


How many men did the Germans have available for the approach to Moscow?

Although the Germans took heavy casualties at the beginning of Operation Barbarossa, they still had roughly 1 million ready to fight their way into Moscow.


In December, as the Nazis plotted an attack on Moscow, the temperatures quickly dropped. How cold did it get?

In some reports the temperature dropped to a ridiculous -50 degrees, far too cold for German soldiers who expected the fight to be over. More than 100,000 Nazis suffered severe frostbite.


How do historians regard the Russian T-34 tank that played a role in the battle?

The Soviet T-34 tank was a fast, massive machine that went toe-to-toe with Germany's war machines. Although the T-34 was flawed in some ways, it may have been the best tank in the war.


How did the Soviets plan to react if the Germans entered Moscow?

The Soviets spent day and night turning Moscow into a nightmare of anti-tank ditches and barbed wire. Had the Germans entered the city, they would have been in for a long, dangerous battle.


By the middle of 1941, how many tanks did the Soviets have at their disposal?

The Soviets had churned out a nearly unimaginable 22,000 tanks, more than the entire world combined. It was four times the number that the Nazis owned, giving the Soviets a tremendous advantage.


The Germans would have happily accepted a Soviet surrender.

The Nazis despised the Soviets and planned to reject any sort of armistice. They wanted to wipe the Soviets off of the Earth.


How many casualties did the Russians suffer during the battle?

In just three months, the Soviet forces may have incurred as many as 1 million casualties. The Germans had less than half that many casualties.


The original timeline for Operation Barbarossa called for the capture of Moscow. How long did the Germans think it would take to capture the city?

Using their fast blitzkrieg attacks, the Germans expected to make quick progress across Russia. They hoped to take Moscow in four months.


How did the Germans react to the performance of Soviet T-34 tanks?

Nazi generals were taken aback by the effectiveness of the T-34 tank and dismayed at the way their own anti-tank weapons just bounced off of the T-34's thick armor. The Germans were often driven to desperate acts in futile attempts to stop these Soviet tanks.


The German forces got close enough to Moscow to see the city.

With binoculars, the Germans could see Moscow's skyline. Their prize was nearly in their grasp, but the Soviet resolve strengthened, stopping the Germans in their ice-coated tracks.


By the end of World War II, how many T-34 tanks did the Soviets manufacture?

The workmanship of the T-34 was rather, shall we say, uneven. But what the T-34 lacked in quality, the Soviets made up for in quantity -- they made more than 60,000 of them before the war ended.


What was the weather like at the end of December?

That winter was brutal -- the soul-crushing cold just kept coming, destroying German morale. Although the Soviets were better equipped for the frigid temperatures, they too suffered greatly in the weather.


In the middle of December, German Gen. Heinz Guderian recommended that German troops fall back, in part due to the extreme cold. How did Hitler respond?

Guderian insisted that the German troops were too cold and exhausted for combat. Hitler simply fired him and forced the troops to hold their ground, at great expense.


In spite of the huge numbers that the Russians manufactured, what was a primary weakness of the T-34 tank?

The T-34 was a great tank for the era and the Soviets had more than enough for the battle. But the Soviets had a shortage of qualified tank crews, meaning that inexperienced soldiers often sacrificed their tanks and their lives without effectively attacking the Nazis.


The battle ended with one of the biggest German retreats of the war.

The Germans had been forced to withdraw in other battles, but for the Nazis, Moscow was a complete debacle. The Soviets pushed back the entire Nazi front, sending the Germans scrambling during their first truly humbling defeat.


How did Hitler react to his army's inability to take Moscow?

Hilter was incensed about Nazi failures in the USSR. He fired numerous leaders and took control of almost all major military decisions.


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