The first climate criminal – Adolf Hitler (1889 – 1945)

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

Amended: Nov.21, 2021; Original post (23 April 21) below.

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 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 a 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 -29°C (-20°F), and Albert Seaton reported that  around 24 November it was a steady -30°C (-22°F). Even the Russian the Meteorological Service records of the minimum temperatures for the Moscow area in late 1941: October, -8.2°C (about +17°F); November, -17.3°C (+1°F); December, -28.8°C (-20°F). 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 -45°C (-49°F). Exaggerated or not, the winter came much too early and exceeded all expectations. The misery continued to last, enhanced 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.

Not naming the 1st climate criminal is
very damaging to the climate debate

Post April 23, 2021

Adolf Hitler who governed the “Third German Reich” from 1933 to 1945 and started the Second World War (WWII) on 1st September 1939, deserve the most pitiful  titles, which can be attributed to an individual person, from war criminal to Holocaust mass murderer. This should comprise calling him to be the first climate criminal. Assigning Hitler the designation as a climate criminal could already be determined after the first three years of the war. All that was needed was to take the published observations of A.J. Drummond seriously in 1943 and investigate the case. The decisive findings are as follows:

  • “The present century has been marked by such a widespread tendency towards mild winters that the ‘old-fashioned winters’, of which one had heard so much, seemed to have gone forever”.

  • The sudden arrival at the end of 1939 of what was to be the beginning of a series of cold winters was therefore all the more surprising. (underline added)

  • “Never since the winters of 1878/79, 1879/80 and 1880/81 have there been in succession three so severe winters as those of 1939/40, 1940/41 and 1941/42.”

  • “Since comparable records began in 1871, the only other three successive winters as snowy as the recent ones (1939/40, 1940/41 1941/42) were those during the last war, namely 1915/16, 1916/17 and 1917/18…”. , (Quarterly Journal of Royal Met. Soc., 1943, details see Ref. at the end).

The correlation between war and climate change is very evident. The above mentioned observation by Drummond were enhanced by further approaches, which could have been used to stamp Hitler as a climate criminal, but many other analyzes were carried out and published before the end of WWII. The material was so numerous and clear that a conviction of Adolf Hitler as a climate criminal would have been swiftly possible. That did not happen and was never considered by science. A tragedy! The climate discussion that has been going on for several decades would have been different. That could still happen today, if the scientific community studies the climate changes during the first years of the WWII and describes Hitler as responsible for the changes, as they were described by Drummond (see above).The overall result would clearly demonstrate, that the climatic shifts after the 1st and 2nd World War was the result of the war at sea. (More about this: HERE)

From an abstract point of view, Hitler started the biggest climate experiment with World War II and he was very successful with it. The overall result of WWII was a global cooling since the winter of 1939/40, which lasted over three decades, which can be determined from countless weather deviations and trend changes over six years of the war. The physical force behind it was naval warfare in European waters, in the North Atlantic and Pacific.  (ditto: as previous link) But the sciences in the disciplines of meteorology and climatology know nothing about it and are not interested in it. In addition to the evil actions of Hitler, we have been dealing with an incompetent science for many decades, unable to recognize and evaluate the greatest historical climate experiment. The climate discussion would not take place as it has been taking place for a long time. It is a drama of unknown proportions.

One has to go back a long way about Hitler’s great climate experiment, because that is not possible with just a few sentences. From many essays and books, the following is a brief overview about the first three war winters .

Autumn Weather 1939 in Europe

The war began on September 1st, 1939. In the following three months of weather, dozens of weather deviations from normal occurred, which results in much evidence of man-made weather. The deviations were the result of war activities at sea alone or in combination with war activities on land, or in the air. From the countless freak weather up to December 1939, only a few can be briefly mentioned here.

On September 1st, 1939, the German Wehrmacht attacked Poland with more than two million soldiers and many thousands of tanks (5000+), airplanes (3500+)  and guns (5000+). The Polish Army, less than half as strong as the German, had to surrender after a few weeks. One reason was that Poland waited desperately for rain, to stop the German advances in muddy roads and water soaked ground. In vain, they got only a drizzle, reported the NYT (Sept. 17, 1939).

Instead the rain fell abundantly, up to 300% above the usual mean, from London to Basel until the end of November. The military deployment on the French and German armies along the Rhine was well in several millions. Surveillance, transport, training, but also combat missions determined the days. This also applies to all European coastal seas, especially the North and Baltic Seas, where more than 1000 warships operated from September 1, onwards.

A large number of unusual weather shifts could be observed, like the very pronounced change in rain pattern, while other changes would require too much space to be explained here. One image indicates the change of wind-direction in Northern Europe, in this case for the city of Hamburg.

Ice-Age winter 1939/40

The winter started in early December 1939 and quickly proved being as cold as the last Little Ice Age (LIA) winters before 1850. From Amsterdam to Moscow many all-time minus records happened, for entire Poland with minus 41°C on January 11, 1940. The New York Times provided excellent information, including reporting on a speech by Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Field Marshal Herman Göring, addressing the LIA condition (NYT, Feb.16)::
·         “Nature is still more powerful than man. I can fight man but I cannot fight nature when I lack the means to carry out such a battle. We did not ask for ice, snow and cold – a higher power sent it to us” and “These troubles, naturally, take precedence over yours. They are not a German patent – look at the nations around that have the same difficulties.”           

Herman Göring was wrong. The war mongers in Germany were to blame. Particularly the naval war had brought this winter about. Göring was as much a climate-criminal as Hitler. Although this would be not so difficult to establish, the world of science is silent.  A detailed assessment  of war-winter 1939/40 – HERE.

Extreme winter 1940/41

One of the most remarkable aspects of the winter 1940/41, is that this winter ranks only in third place of the three war winters in question, except in the Skagerrak region where it climbed to the 2nd rank. The high ranking can be linked to naval operation by the German Navy to conquer Norway since April 1940. Norwegians defended their country with shore batteries, sea mines, and surface vessels. Britain and other nations contributed to their defence. During the remaining months until the record cold January 1941, German and Allied naval forces met in numerous encounters along the entire Norwegian coast up to the Barents Sea.

       The slightly lower severity of the winter 1940/41 is a logical consequence of the fact, that the Baltic was not used as a battle ground as during winter 1939/40 and 1941/42, but was left ‘undisturbed’ by major military operation since the armistice between Finland and Russia in March 1940. The difference between little naval activities and a lot was obvious during the next winter.

The impossible happened – winter 1941/42

Meteorology considered as impossible that after two of the extremes winters observed a third could follow. The chief adviser to Hitler, Franz Baur (1887-1977) did exactly this with the words: “Since in the history of the weather there have never been more than two severe winters in succession, the coming winter season of 1941/42 will be normal or mild”. The exact opposite happened. This winter was the beginning of the end of the German army in ice and snow deep in Russia. In late summer she had invaded Russia. The Baltic Sea had been made into a battle-field for the two navies, which contributed significantly to the extreme weather conditions. To cut a long story short, here is what the NYT reported already in early December 1941:  “Nazis give up idea of Moscow in 1941. Winter forces abandoning big drives in the north until spring, Berlin says” (NYT, Dec. 09, 1941). Temperature and snow conditions became worse than the wildest imagination, lasting until spring. What is not known is that Hitler could only blame himself and his advisors for this enormous miscalculation. They had expected a mild winter. They had not learned anything from the previous two cold winters, and the role that naval war had played. Now the adverse had happened. The ‘great commander’, according to his own assessment, had shot himself in the foot. Thank heavens. The abandonment of the big drive in early December 1941 already marked the beginning of the end of the Third Reich, which unfortunately lasted until 1945.

Neither Franz Bauer ever asked himself, why his prediction went so desperately wrong. This fault discredits him as serious scientists, but his colleagues as well, because the winter was man made and the general public has a right to know.

The big exception – 3 extreme winters in row

For further indication of the big exception of three extreme winters in a few figures have been added. There a abundantly examples available.  Here is what L.F. Lewis, a colleague of Drummond published in a paper 1943 (see Ref. below), titled: “Snow-Cover in the British Isles in January and February of the Severe Winters of 1940, 1941, and 1942.”  Lewis made two interesting statements:

  • “The three consecutive winters of 1940, 1941 and 1942 were, however, unusually severe; the snow was considerable and the number of days of snow-laying comparatively large”.

  • “Three such severe winters in succession as 1940, 1941 and 1942 appear without precedent in the British Isles for at least 60 years, a similar one occurring from 1879-1881“

Lewis mentions that his investigation is based on approximately 300 stations in Great Britain alone. He explains the situation by a map, “Days with snow-lying”. For details see: sub-section “Snow cover and durations” HERE

Conclusion: Hitler and the climate-debate

Of course, the question is justified whether it still makes sense today to declare Hitler an idiot (see: Jayden Yugie, MEDIUM,  Dec.19/2020) or a diverse criminal. When it comes to the climate issue, one should by no means do without it. The more clearly this would be recognized and expressed, the more the climate debate would shift. The currently big topic about the greenhouse effect would be different. As long as this is not definitely clarified, one must accuse climate research of massive failure.  Naval war as a serious climate change factor cannot remain an unanswered question.

If people and governments would know why Hitler had to be named the first climate criminal, the climate debate would not proceed as it has been for decades.

Author: Dr. Arnd Bernaerts

Interested in more:  Book 2004  Book 2012


Drummond, A. J.; (1943); “Cold winters at Kew Observatory, 1783-1942”; Quarterly Journal of Royal Met. Soc., No. 69, pp. 17-32, and ibid; Discussion: “Cold winters at Kew Observatory, 1783-1942”; Quarterly Journal of Royal Met. Soc., 1943, p. 147ff.

Lewis, Lilian, F. (1943); “Snow-cover in the British Isles in January and February of the severe winters 1940, 1941 and 1942”, Quarterly Journal of Royal Met. Soc., p. 215-219.

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