Despite studying modern history for years, in particular, the Soviet Union, it still amazes me that the Red Army took such heavy losses to the Wehrmacht and they still couldn't finish the job.
Millions of dead soldiers, thousands of tanks and aircraft destroyed, underpinned by amateur generals in Stalin's inner circle, some who as late as 1940 were still expounding the strengths of the horse over the tank, seen as a flash in the pan.
It makes me wonder if the Wehrmacht would have gotten as far as they did if Stalin hadn't ignored the overwhelming intelligence that Hitler was planning to invade and mobilised his army sooner. If he hadn't purged his upper echelon of the more forward thinking, sensible generals and replaced them with amateurs.
When i read this stuff I always struggle to come to terms with the savagery of the Nazis & Soviets. It seems surreal to think that this was only 80 or so years ago. The scale of the destruction of WW2 and the disregard for human life. It's a struggle to put into words, but at times I feel like the world of the 1930s/40s is like a society on a distant planet rather than our own.
The age of extremes as Hobsbawm put it.