The Day We Almost Lost World War II in Europe


Article #364

by Bill Nugent


Did you know that there was one decision made by one man on one day during the summer of 1941 that changed the course of World War II? If that man had not made that decision Germany likely would have won the war in Europe. That day was August 23rd 1941.


Let me set the stage of how it happened. When Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939 most Americans didn’t want any part of another European war. They saw the horrors of  the First World War. “Let Europe stew in its own juice” was a very common expression during that time, according to my mother. America was content to sit back and watch Europeans blow up their continent and do battle among the ruins.


Europe has a long Christian Heritage but by the 20th century they had largely adopted secularism. This is in large part because they had embraced Darwinian evolution and believed that humans evolved from apes and have no souls. They denied God as creator and redeemer. Europe had great, glorious cathedrals, churches and Christian art spanning centuries. However, the churches were almost empty by 1939.



Was America Late to Enter WW II?



I’ve been told by Europeans that America was late to enter World War II. I would counter by saying that if America entered World War II in December of 1940 rather than December of 1941, Germany would have won the war in Europe. How do I make this connection? It’s really very simple. If America had entered the war in 1940 Hitler never would have invaded the Soviet Union in June of 1941. Hitler would have been forced to commit millions of his troops to the Western Front defending against America and Britain.  Hitler would have had to fortify Western Europe along the coast lines to prevent a potential amphibious assault through France or through southern Europe.


Hitler would have turned Western Europe into a fortress. The British and the Americans, though zealous to defeat Hitler and liberate Europe from that dictatorial tyrannical scourge would not have been willing, in my view, to face the enormous casualties in a conquest of Germany. There would likely have been three million Allied troops dead and probably over 10 million wounded in an attack on Hitler from the West without help from the Soviets in the east. Even suffering those millions of casualties it’s not at all certain that the Allies would have prevailed.


The Soviets signed The German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact with Germany on August 23, 1939. The Soviets would have continued with that non-aggression pact if Hitler had not broken it by invading the Soviet Union in June of 1941.



The Nazis Invade the Soviet Union



Hitler and his generals wanted to attack Russia before the United States entered the war. They had figured that America would eventually enter World War II just like they had been dragged into World War I. Hitler wanted to conquer lands to the east to spread the German Reich into this territory.


The Soviet Union was weak in 1941 and had gone through a major civil war in the early 1920s and it had gone through Stalin’s purges in the 1930s in which the military was decimated by Stalin removing disloyal officers. There were several famines, contrived famines, that killed millions in western Ukraine in the early 1930s. The Soviet people were demoralized and wanted to overthrow Stalin.


Hitler and his generals figured that they could attack swiftly, using blitzkrieg tactics and knock Russia off very easily. They nearly did so. On June 22nd 1941 3.8 million Axis troops began the invasion of the Soviet Union in operation Barbarossa. These comprised over 3 million German troops plus hundreds of thousands of troops from Hungary, Romania, Finland, Italy and Slovakia. Mussolini committed tens of thousands of troops from his Corpo Spedzione Italiane.


Hitler’s army surprised the Soviets and drove them back with stunning speed. This was the largest offensive military operation in world history. They used blitzkrieg tactics based on breakthroughs in communication using radio in which they were able to precisely coordinate their troops sending them to the best possible positions most often simply surrounding the enemy. Rather than directly fighting a strong point they would simply go around the enemy position to cut off the supplies. They would surround the enemy on all sides and and then demand surrender. Amazingly, more than 2 million Soviet troops we’re captured in in just a few weeks.



The Decision by Hitler That Cost Him the War



This brings us to August 23rd 1941. Hitler was directly involved in commanding the German Army through his generals. Word came to Hitler that Army Group South, which had invaded Ukraine, was having great difficulty capturing Kiev. Sounds kind of familiar doesn’t it? At this time Hitler was with Army Group Center which was bearing down on Moscow and threatening to capture it immediately. The Soviet government abandoned Moscow and fled to the east. Only Stalin and his security detail remained in Moscow.


On August 23rd 1941 Hitler ordered half of Army Group Center to travel South to the Eastern flank of Kiev to capture it and make way for Army Group South to take the rest of Ukraine and then take Stalingrad and the oil fields of the Caucasus.


Hitler ordered this over the strong objections of his generals. Moscow was there for the taking! it was midsummer, weather conditions were ideal, the Soviet army was in almost full retreat in many places. He could have forged ahead with his full Army Group Center and I believe he would have taken Moscow before the end of October.


The half of Army Group Center that went south was very successful in assisting the capture of Kiev. They arrived back at the central front west of Moscow on September 16th 1941. They regrouped and prepared for the assault on Moscow. They launched their assault on Moscow on September 30, 1941 after more than a month was squandered by Hitler by his sending so many troops to the south. Thank God Hitler made that blunder! If Hitler had not made that blunder on August 23, 1941 the Allies would likely have lost the war in Europe.



The Battle of Moscow



As soon as the German Army started towards Moscow the rains came and all the dirt roads became mud and it bogged down their vehicles. Nevertheless they forged ahead with amazing brutality and speed. The rains and mud became so bad that the operation was suspended on October 31st. They rested and gathered and regrouped. They relaunched the assault on Moscow on November 15th. The battle of Moscow was called Operation Typhoon. Stalin had brought in over 500,000 troops from Siberia during the time of Hitler’s delay. They fought bravely but most of them were killed, wounded or captured.


By December 2nd, forward units were 15 miles from Moscow. A reconnaissance battalion actually came within 5 miles of Moscow. Then the blizzards came and the operation was halted. The Soviets completely surprised the Nazis on December 5th when they counter-attacked in winter, something totally unexpected. They pushed the Germans more than a hundred miles back from Moscow and inflicted heavy casualties on them. The Germans lost the battle of Moscow in that savage Soviet counterattack in December, 1941.


We see that if Hitler had not made that outrageously bad decision sending all those troops South on August 23rd 1941 he could have sent his troops ahead into Moscow and it would almost certainly have fallen in short order. If Moscow had fallen, then Stalin and the high command of the Soviet Union almost certainly would have either outright surrendered or made some kind of a pact or cease fire with Hitler surrendering to him a large swath of territory. A conditional surrender would have enabled the Soviet Union to continue as an independent nation but with much smaller territory.


A Soviet surrender would have enabled Hitler to send 3 million troops to the Western Front and leave just a small amount of troops in the east. He could have turned Normandy and other areas of northern France and Northern Germany and Denmark into an impregnable fortress. He could have turned the coast of Southern France and Greece and the Balkans into a defensive barrier that would have cost millions of Allied servicemen their lives if they dared to attack.


The United States, Britain, Canada, Australia and other Allied nations would probably not have attempted to break down that fortress because it would have meant probably the deaths of upwards of three million Allied servicemen. It’s doubtful that they could have prevailed even at that level of commitment. The entire German air force would have been turned on Britain. Italy probably would have remained in the war to protect the southern European front to the end.


For comparison consider that the US lost 407,300 servicemen dead in all theaters of the war, including against Japan. The figures for the United Kingdom were 383,700 military deaths (Wikipedia). Would the Allies have been willing to sacrifice three million lives in an attempt to crush Hitler? It’s doubtful they would have had so strong a resolve.


The Soviets suffered more than 8 million servicemen killed. The Soviets did the bulk of the fighting in the war. The war in eastern Europe was bigger than all other fronts of the war combined, including the war against Japan.


I share this analysis of World War II for several reasons. One is that we seem to be possibly on the verge of a third world war. We can see that history can turn very quickly in unexpected ways. There are many close calls. A leader’s decision can have a cascading domino effect, resulting in the launch of a third world war that affects every person on earth. This is why we need to pray very hard right now regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.



The Role of Prayer Warriors



In World War II there were teams of intercessors who prayed very hard and changed the course of the war. One intercessor who comes to mind is the very well known intercessor, Rees Howells (1879- 1950). He was a Welsh coal miner who emigrated to the United States to work in coal mines at  better pay. He met a Messianic Jewish man named Maurice Reuben and under his influence, Howells was converted to the Evangelical faith. This is the biblical faith, salvation by faith in Christ who died for our sins.


Rees Howells returned to Wales and was impacted by the Welsh Revival of 1904-5. He and his wife were sent as missionaries to southern Africa. During this time Howells found the key to prevailing prayer. He became a radical intercessor like no other. He prayed for revival in southern Africa. The revival occurred from 1915 to 1920.


Decades later during World War II, Howells organized intercessors and they prayed fervently for Allied victory in the war and for Hitler’s Nazis to be defeated.


An answer to prayer is a miracle. Christianity is confirmed by miracles. Jesus worked miracles in front of eyewitnesses. Christians down through the centuries have been blessed by miracles of healing in answer to Christian prayer.  I’m aware that occultic and pagan religions also have signs and wonders but these are given by demonic spirits. Christian miracles are greater than demonic magic (Exodus 7:8-12).


I myself have had the privilege of working a miracle. In a church in Port Chester New York in 1994 I was praying for a woman who had a severe problem with her leg. I prayed over her and the leg was healed miraculously under my hands. I was thrilled! I was so excited! I gave glory to God! “They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16:18).


Let’s pray for God’s miraculous intervention so we won’t have World War III.



Secularism Beguiles the Modern World



Much of the world, the industrialized world of Europe, North America and East Asia has come under the influence of secularism. This is because of the secular humanist education system in the industrialized countries. They deny God as Creator because they believe in Darwinian evolution.


They believe that life happened by accident. They believe atoms and molecules self-assembled to form simple life forms that evolved into more complex life forms. If you read my articles you know that I refute evolution. Many scientists do not regard evolution as scientifically viable. (See


A simple bacterial cell is more complex than a smartphone. You don’t think that a smartphone just happened by accident. If you found a smartphone on the seashore you wouldn’t think that it just happened by the action of the waves on the sand and the minerals in the sea water. You would know that an intelligent being designed and built the phone.


In the same way when we see a simple bacterium and study the complexity of its DNA and its cellular structure, we marvel.  Even the little flagellum which is like a propeller that the bacterium uses to move itself around is a complex piece of machinery in the cell. The intelligent designer of life is God the Creator!


Many people are taking a fresh look at Christianity and see its divine wisdom and they see the miracles and the many fulfilled biblical prophecies. They see that God is holy and in order to come into God’s presence in the afterlife we have to be forgiven of our sins.


The prophets foretold that the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would come and suffer and die, taking upon Himself the penalty of our sins. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him [Christ] the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6). Jesus paid the penalty of your sins. You can receive forgiveness of sins through Christ if you turn to Him in repentance. I invite you to turn to Christ today to receive forgiveness of sins.

Steps to salvation:

Jesus said “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).

  • 1) Believe that God created you and loves you and sent the Messiah (Messiah is Hebrew for Christ) to redeem you.
  • 2) Believe that Jesus Christ came in fulfillment of over 300 Bible prophecies to die for you, to take upon Himself the penalty of your sins (Isaiah 53:5-6, John 6:29, Romans 4:5, First Peter 3:18).
  • 3) Turn from sin and call on the name of Jesus to receive forgiveness of sins (Romans 10:13).
  • 4) Receive Jesus as Savior and experience the new birth (John 1:12, Acts 2:38).
  • 5) Follow Jesus Christ as Lord (John 14:21).

Prayer to receive salvation:

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).

To receive the salvation that Jesus purchased for us at the terrible cost of His suffering and death on our behalf I invite you to pray this simple prayer:

“Dear heavenly Father, I thank you for sending Jesus, the promised Messiah, to die for my sins. I admit that I am a sinner. I repent of my sins and I ask for your forgiveness on the basis of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you to fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to serve you under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

If you prayed this prayer in the humble sincerity of your heart then you have received everlasting life, which includes power to live right in this life and entrance into heaven in the afterlife!

(C) 2016 William P. Nugent, permission granted to email or republish for Christian outreach.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *