Germany's winter campaign of 1941-1942 has commonly been seen as its "first defeat." In Retreat from Moscow, David Stahel argues that, in fact, it was its first strategic success in the east. Though the Red Army managed to push the Wehrmacht back from Moscow, the Germans lost far fewer men (1:6), frustrated their enemy's strategic plan, and emerged in the spring unbroken and poised to recapture the initiative.
Hitler's new strategic plan called for holding important Russian industrial cities, which the German army would do. And the Soviet plan as of January 1942 aimed for nothing less than the destruction of Army Group Centre, but in fact, not a single German army, corps, or division was ever successfully destroyed. Lacking the professionalism, training, and experience of the Wehrmacht, the Red Army mounted an offensive that attempted to break German lines in countless head-on assaults, which led to far more tactical defeats than victories.