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The Blitzkrieg saga ended in early December 1941
thanks to the inability of meteorology

Post 21 November 2021

When Adolf Hitler attacked Russia on 22 June 1941 (Frontline strength, 3.8 million personnel), he believed that the highly successful Blitzkrieg strategy during the first  two war years would also be sufficient to conquer Russia. But just five months later, the concept ended in ice and snow between Warsaw and Moscow. Such a weather situation had not existed for over 150 years and meteorologists had predicted the opposite. The reason: after the two winters in Europe 1939/40 and 1941/42 were extremely cold and snowy, a third extreme winter in a row was ruled out. This has never happened since there were weather records. The forecast turned out to be catastrophic, but on the other hand revealed incompetence in metrology, which turned out to be a blessing for the course of the war. Hitler and the German Army Hitler and the German Army got their Waterloo and the end of the earlier blitzkrieg successes.

To understand the drama, one only has to look at the weather and temperature maps between Warsaw and Moscow for late November and early December. These are around the freezing point, then as now. That was different in late autumn 1941. On December 9, 1941, the NYT reported: "Nazis give up Idea of Moscow in 1941, as winter has stopped the Germans short of Moscow", which as spokesman for the High Command explained that "The cold is so terrific that even the oil freezes in motorized vehicles. Soldier and officers trying to take cover simply freeze to the ground ". This unusual weather situation had been brewing since the beginning of November. After a wet autumn, severe frost set in unusually early. It was one of the earliest and severest since observation had been recorded.




The extraordinary situation is reflected by two sources: The German
Field Marshal von Bock, commander of Army Group Center, recorded in his war diary on 5 November 1941 that the mercury dipped to -29C (-20F), and Albert Seaton reported that  around 24 November it was a steady -30C (-22F). Even the Russian the Meteorological Service records of the minimum temperatures for the Moscow area in late 1941: October, -8.2C (about +17F); November, -17.3C (+1F); December, -28.8C (-20F). On 30 November the already mentioned Marshall von Bock informed the Chief of Staff of the German Army, that his men face temperatures down to -45C (-49F). Exaggerated or not, the winter came much too early and exceeded all expectations. The misery continued to last, enhance by heavy snow and snow drifts. The Blitzkrieg versus Russia ended already in early December 1941, and marked the beginning of the end of Adolf Hitler’s great power aspirations.

It is embarrassing that this turning point can be traced back to incompetent meteorologists, and that even 80 years later, climate science has nothing to say about it and is silent. After all, two extreme war winters had preceded and had the involved meteorologists inquired about their causes, namely the naval war in the North and Baltic Seas and all other European waters, a false prognosis would have been avoidable. The false and incompetent prognosis had a pronounced impact on the length and outcome of World War II, and is to be judged as an unique stroke of luck. However, that the reasons for this failure, has not been explored to this day, means a severe failure in climatology.

This is explained as it follows.

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Reference SEA-LAW (UNCLOS) links


2006 Reprint by TRAFFORD/USA

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Bernaerts’ Guide to the Law of the Sea
The 1982 United Nations Convention.
Fairplay Publication 1988, Coulsdon UK

Foreword of the 1988 edition
by Satya N. NandanSpecial Representative of the Secretary-General
of the United Nations for the Law of the Sea
Office for Ocean Affairs and the Law of the Sea

Revolutionary changes have taken place in the International Law of the Sea since 1945. The process of change was accelerated in the last two decades by the convening in 1973 of the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea. The protracted negotiations, spanning over a decade, culminated in the adoption of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1982. By 9 December 1984, the closing date for signature, 159 signatures were appended to the Convention, the largest number for any such multilateral instrument in the history of international relations.

 The Convention, which was adopted as a comprehensive package, introduced a new equity in the relationship among states with respect to the uses of the ocean and the allocation of its resources. It deals, inter alia, with sovereignty and jurisdiction of states, navigation and marine transport, over flight of aircraft, marine pollution, marine scientific research, marine technology, conservation and exploitation of marine living resources, the development and-exploitation of marine non-living resources in national and international areas, and unique provisions dealing with the settlement of disputes concerning the interpretation and application of the new regime.

 There is no doubt that as we approach the 21st century, more and more attention will be paid to the uses of the oceans and the development of their resources. It is important, therefore, that these developments should take place within a widely accepted legal framework so that there is certainty as to the rights and obligations of all states. The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea provides that framework. It establishes a standard for the conduct of states in maritime matters. It is thus a major instrument for preventing conflicts among states.

 The convention and its annexes contain over 400 articles. For many it may be a formidable undertaking to grasp the substance and structure of it without making a considerable investment in time and energy. Mr Bernaerts' guide, therefore, is a welcome addition to the growing body of literature on the convention. It provides a most useful reference tool which will benefit administrators and policy makers, as well as scholars. It makes the convention accessible to the uninitiated and refreshes, at a glance, the memories of the initiated. With meticulous references and graphic presentations of the provisions of the convention, Mr Bernaerts has given to the international community an invaluable guide to the understanding and implementation of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Preface (extract) of 1988 edition

The reader will be aware that the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea is the first constitution of the oceans, a groundbreaking document in many respects. He or she might also have made the discovery that the full text of the Convention is immediately accessible only to experts. If the Convention were only a treaty consisting of straightforward technical regulatory provisions, it could be left to them with a clear conscience. But the Convention is to a large extent a political document and, as such, is expected to influence significantly the development of relations among the states in the world community; for this reason, a wide-spread knowledge of the scope, goals, and regulatory framework of the Convention can only serve to further the aims of the document and would surely follow the intentions of the many men and women who made this Convention their life-work, such as Arvid Pardo (Malta), Hamilton Shirtey Amerasinghe (Sri Lanka), Tommy T. B. Koh (Singapore), and Satya N. Nandan (Fiji), to name only a few of the hundreds who worked on the preparation of this Convention

As the reader uses the Guide (Part II), he will find that many provisions of the Convention are much easier to understand if one knows the basic framework within which a particular regulation is placed. The Guide aims to provide this framework, with reference to the text of the Convention and, in addition, to the supporting Commentary of Part III, which describes the overall context of the major terms and concepts. The Introduction of Part I sketches the historical background of the Convention and some of the general effects. A detailed index at the end of the book will be of assistance in finding specific subjects.

Preface of the reprint in 2005

More than 15 years ago FAIRPLAY PUBLICATIONS Ltd, Coulsdon, Surrey, England, published the book “Bernaerts’ Guide to the Law of the Sea – The 1982 United Nations Convention”. The guiding potential of the book to find access to the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention is still given. Internet technology and publishing on demand invite to provide the interested reader, law student, and researcher with this tool again. Only the Status of the Convention (ratification etc) has been updated and instead of the Final Act, the reprint includes the “Agreement relating to the Implementation of Part XI of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea” of 1994. The thorough Index of the 1988 edition is reproduced without changes.

Arnd Bernaerts, October 2005,

Reference SEA-LAW (UNCLOS) links :



“clearly presented”
(R.R. Churchill, in: Maritime Policy & Management 1989, p. 340)

“Bernaerts has saved us a struggle”
 (JG, in: Fairplay International, 13 Oct.1988, p.33)

“this is probably the best edition of the Convention to put into the hands of Students”
(A.V. Lowe, in: Int’l and Comparative Law Quarterly, 1990, p.16)

“the work contains much useful background information..”
(R.W. Bentham, in J.of Energy & Natural Resource Law, 1989, p.336

“useful for the novice as well as for the person with extensive experience”
(M.Bonefeld, in Verfassung und Recht, 1989, p.83-85)

“it will be an invaluable reference tool and should sit on the book shelves of policy makers and all others who are involved in maritime matters”
(Vivian I. Forbes, in: The Indian Ocean Review, May 1990, p.10

Preparing and publishing of this web-site became necessary when WIKIPEDIA
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