How winter came to Russia’s aid
Like a judo expert manipulating another's strength to his advantage, Russia learned through years of experience how to use the power of wintertime in its own defence. Would-be conquerors who extended their stay past the autumn equinox did so at their own risk, as Napoleon discovered in 1812. That September, some 400,000 of his troops invaded northwest Russia. Less than 40,000 of them straggled back to France after Russian forces, disease and early winter weather had laid waste to the army. History repeated itself in 1941 and 1942, when successive autumn campaigns from Hilter's German forces failed miserably across European Russia. In 1942, the prolonged siege of Stalingrad (now Volvograd) played itself out through waves of bitter cold and snow.