Every year on 8th November Hitler addressed his most loyal Nazi party supporters at the Munich Beer Hall from where he had launched his first attempt to gain power. He was speaking to the converted when he claimed that the Russian campaign was as good as won:
If I wanted to sum up the success of this campaign until now, then the number of prisoners now stands at approximately three point six million, that is, three million six hundred thousand prisoners.
And please don’t tell me an English blockhead says that this has not been confirmed. If a German military office counts something, then it is correct! There is an essential difference between a German officer and a British stockbroker! It is totally correct, just as our numbers for French and English prisoners were correct! The English know this quite well themselves because they always want to take care of their prisoners.
Now, if I look at three point six million prisoners on the one side and I go by World War standards, then this means a corresponding number of casualties. It would be a bad testimonial for Mr. Stalin if his people were fighting less bravely now than they did in the World War. On the contrary, they fight in part out of fear and in part with bestial, fanatical madness.
And, if I now assume that in Russia, as here with us, there are three to four wounded for every fatal casualty, then the result is an absolute loss of at least eight to ten million, without considering those only slightly wounded, who might be cured and put back into action.
My party comrades, no army in the world can recover from this, not even the Russian.
The previous day Stalin had addressed the Soviet peoples and, based on his assessment of the German casualty figures, reached the opposite conclusion. It was becoming apparent that this was another war of attrition.