The tragic failure of the lightning war against Russia was a very serious blow to the western civilised world. It had also precipitated a serious clash between Hitler and his generals. On 16th December, 1941, he gave orders for defensive positions to be held throughout the winter along the whole Eastern Front. Three days later he removed General Brauchitsch from his post as Commander In Chief Of The Army and himself took over supreme command of the Army. General Halder, the Chief Of Staff Of The Army, became his immediate subordinate. From now on Hitler intended to impose his will in order to carry the German Army through the Russian winter to victory in 1942.

                This serious blow in the east was mitigated, but not offset, by the appearance, at the same time, of a new ally. On 7th December, 1941, the day before Hitler called off his offensive against Moscow, Japan burst into the war by smashing the American fleet at Pearl Harbour from the air. Thereafter, by a series of brilliant assaults, the Japanese captured control of southeast Asia from Britain and America. This could be seen as a triumph for the policy laid down in Hitler's Directive No. 24. But if the Japanese onslaught added to the difficulties of Britain, it also ranged America on Britain's side. The ultimate threat to Hitler's Western Front was thereby greatly increased, and with his main forces unexpectedly immobilised in the east, he became increasingly concerned for the security of the long European coastline from the North Cape to the Dardanelles. Already the populations of occupied countries were stirring: in September the anti German attitude of the Norwegian people had been declared to have assumed intolerable proportions and new measures of severity had been introduced. At the same time partisan activity had begun throughout the Balkans. It was partly to deal with this last threat that Hitler had transferred an Air Corps to the Mediterranean Sea area. On 14th December he issued new orders for defence of the whole Atlantic coastline, which was ultimately to be built into a new West Wall, in order that we can be sure of repelling any landing attempt, however strong, with the minimum number of permanently stationed troops. By March the danger of such attempts was greater and called forth a special Leader Directive.