The roots of the war lie in the appointment of Adolf Hitler as German chancellor in 1933. Still, the initial improving relations with Germany meant that the Soviet Union could expand its territory in Eastern Europe unmolested into the Baltic States. Germany proved unable to defeat the Soviet Union, which together with Great Britain and the United States, seized the initiative from Germany. Stalin wanted what any leader would want for his country – stability and security. The impressive production of weapons was achieved by turning the whole of the remaining Soviet area into what Stalin called 'a single armed camp', focusing all efforts on military production and extorting maximum labour from a workforce whose only guarantee of food was to turn up at the factory and work the arduous 12-hour shifts. One this bitter rivalry was the history of World War II, the first drafts of which were written during the Cold War. Without Lend-Lease aid, however, from the United States and Britain, both of whom supplied a high proportion of food and raw materials for the Soviet war effort, the high output of weapons would still not have been possible. The chief explanation lies not in resources, which Germany was more generously supplied with than the Soviet Union, during the two central years of the war before American and British economic power was fully exerted. Soviet armies were always desperately short of men. The agreement was a non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union that was intended to ensure that neither country attacked the other. (Red Square, Moscow, Russia, 2017. The capture of the Soviet city of Leningrad was one of the primary strategic goals in the German invasion, motivated by Leningrad‘s symbolic status as the former capital of Russia, its military importance as a main base of the Soviet Baltic Fleet, and its industrial strength, housing numerous arms factories. Over the course of the next week, the Red Army gradually took the entire city. Here are a few typical headlines demonstrating this typical ignorance of our esteemed "historians": The Washington Post: … ), A woman proudly displays photos of relatives who served in the war – in Putin’s Russia, the memory of the Great Patriotic War has been revived and reinvigorated, a king of 4th of July, Thanksgiving, and Veteran’s Day rolled into one. After achieving stunning success in the early months of the campaign, the attack stalled and the Soviets began to slowly push the Germans back. It is marked annually by large scale military parades and a massive revival of Soviet symbolism such as red stars, victory medals, and the March of the Immortal Regiment commemorating veterans and fallen ancestors who participated in the Great Patriotic War. Despite Soviet efforts to supply food and rebuild the city, starvation remained a problem. After weeks of chaotic retreats and easy German victories, the Red Army solidified its defence and against all the odds clung on to the battered city. Battle of Stalingrad, 1942 Stalin's dreams of a grand counteroffensive that would kick the Germans out of the Soviet Union … Victory Day is May 9 in Russia – a national holiday commemorating the defeat of Nazi Germany on that date in 1945. The Red Army was fortunate that in 1942 Stalin finally decided to play a less prominent role in defence planning and discovered in a young Russian general, Georgi Zhukov, a remarkable deputy whose brusque, no-nonsense style of command, and intuitive operational sense, were indispensable in making the Red Army a better battlefield force. The United States receives the most credit for defeating Adolf Hitler's Germany during World War Two, according to a YouGov poll The war in the east was fought with a particular ferocity. Deaths peaked in January–February 1942 at 100,000 per month, mostly from starvation. Hitler compared this inevitable extermination to that carried out by the United States during the nineteenth century: “Our Mississippi must be the Volga…”, “Who,” asked Hitler, “remembers the Red Indians?”, Hitler wrote of the USSR, “It is inconceivable that a higher people should painfully exist on a soil too narrow for it, whilst amorphous masses, which contribute nothing to civilization, occupy infinite tracts of a soil that is one of the richest in the world.”. After all, if the Soviets represented the ultimate “Evil Empire” in the words of US president Ronald Reagan, then how could they have played such an indispensable role in winning World War II – the Good War, to preserve democracy, as the Americans told it? But the speed at which Britain in particular was willing and able to provide aid to the Soviet Union, and at which the Soviet Union was able to put foreign equipment into frontline use, is still an underappreciated part of this story. Operation Barbarossa, during World War II, code name for the German invasion of the Soviet Union, which was launched on June 22, 1941. (Moscow, Russia, 2017.). Over the course of three long years, the Germans were forced to make a slow, bloody retreat back to their own country. For two years Soviet forces pushed the German army back into Germany, until in May 1945 Soviet forces accepted the surrender of the relic of Hitler's army in Berlin. It has been argued that Stalin in fact planned a pre-emptive attack on Germany for the early summer of 1941, and was then thrown off-balance by the German invasion. In the east there was more space than people. US and Russian troops meet at the river Elbe on the 25th April 1945. Germany did not prepare for a long war. Among the diploma-decorated dick-heads of western "academia," the "consensus" is that it was the Soviet Union which defeated Germany in World War II -- with the contributions of the United States and the United Kingdom being minimal. Stalin’s effort to strengthen the USSR manifested itself as a series of nationwide centralized Five-Year Economic Plans from 1929 onward. Over 80% of the Wehrmacht's World War II casualties were suffered on the Eastern Front. German dreams of capturing Moscow and ending the War in the East had evaporated. In 1942 the remaining Jewish population was rounded up and killed on the spot or sent to extermination camps. Nor did the USSR enjoy an advantage in economic resources. By 1939 the city was responsible for 11% of all Soviet industrial output. Germany was concerned that Stalin would target the oil fields in Romania. Death to the German invaders!”. Related Topics. “‘Everything’s lost,’ he was heard to say that day. But not until the Red Army had decisively defeated German forces in the more favourable summer weather of 1943 did the tide really turn. In conditions of extreme temperatures, down to −30 °C (−22 °F), and city transport being out of service, even a distance of a few kilometers to a food distributing kiosk created an insurmountable obstacle for many citizens. History Themes. ‘I give up. Learn more about Operation Barbarossa in this article. All of these factors contributed to the decision taken by Hitler in July 1940, after the German defeat of France, to plan for an all-out assault on the Soviet Union. However, Germany and the Soviet Union's agreement was not sustainable and ultimately set the stage for the Eastern Front of World War II. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. The original date, set for May 1941, had to be revised to complete the vast preparations for the attack - following other German attacks on Yugoslavia and Greece in April. United States. But one other likely explanation lies in the way in which the post-war world took shape. The air force was subjected to effective central control and improved communications, so that it could support the Soviet army in the same way as the Luftwaffe backed up German forces. Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany. U.S.-Soviet Alliance, 1941–1945 Although relations between the Soviet Union and the United States had been strained in the years before World War II, the U.S.-Soviet alliance of 1941–1945 was marked by a great degree of cooperation and was essential to securing the defeat of Nazi Germany. AD In the first five months of the invasion, German forces inflicted one catastrophic defeat after another on the Red Army. The enormous scale of this particularly ferocious war is hard to comprehend. Stalin was famously distrustful of the outside world and expected further foreign wars because it was in the nature of imperialism, and because just after the Soviet Union was established, fourteen nations – all capitalist, all fearing the rise of communism – had sent troops to Russia in an attempt to destabilize the new communist government. In July 1940, just weeks after the defeat of France, Hitler decided that Nazi Germany would attack the Soviet Union the following spring. The Soviet Union had made an alliance with Germany and had even worked together with them to defeat Poland. The destruction of the Soviet Union by military force, the permanent elimination of the perceived Communist threat to Germany, and the seizure of prime land within Soviet borders for long-term German settlement had been core policy of the Nazi movement since the 1920s. His hatred of Soviet Communism and his crude ideas of economic imperialism, expressed in the pursuit of Lebensraum ('living-space'), made the Soviet Union a natural area for Hitler's warlike ambitions. Stalin’s central tenet, “Socialism in one country,” meant that the USSR was not focused on spreading communism internationally, but instead on strengthening it in the one country where it already existed – his own. It did not replace its losses in the 1941 campaign, nor in later years.  © The Soviets may have fought Germany for 4 years while Britain and France fought for 6 years but Germany lost more men in 1941 alone while fighting the Soviets than they did in 1939-41 fighting Britain and France. ... After World War II, why did the Soviet Union favor a divided Germany? Speculative History. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! After the German attack, Soviet steel production fell to eight million tons in 1942, while German production was 28 million tons. Were it not for the USSR’s victory, Nazi Germany might be alive and well today. After the outbreak of war in 1939 came the added fear of Soviet expansion in Eastern Europe, while Germany was fighting the British Empire and France in the west. Hitler gave similar orders to his army, firing several generals in part because they counseled him otherwise. Every area of Soviet military life was examined and changes introduced. The destruction battalions also burned down villages, schools, public buildings, and any other materials that might be useful to the enemy. Read more. The Soviet state was transformed in the process into a superpower, and Communism, close to extinction in the autumn of 1941, came to dominate the whole Eurasian area, from East Germany to North Korea. Allied forces begin to take large numbers of Axis prisoners: The total number of prisoners taken on the Western Front in April 1945 by the Western Allies was 1,500,000. But what do you think, what should the Germans have done differently, or what if say, the US would have stayed out? During, and in the days immediately following the assault, vengeful Soviet troops engaged in mass rape, pillage, and murder. Unlike in the West, Soviet war planners saw nuclear weapons as only the start of a conflict, not its end. Soviets would not have surrendered and Stalin was not hated in Soviet Union. Around 3:15 on the morning of June 22, 1941, Germany launched a sneak attack, bombing Russian positions and cities, and crossing into Soviet-occupied Poland. In June 1941, Germany invaded the Soviet Union. Across the city over a million people were without homes. You can actually visit parts of the world featured in this lesson: Open Ended Social Studies collects and presents original and dynamic classroom materials focusing on parts of the world neglected by traditional world history textbooks in the United States. The Western Allies were able to fight a different war than the Soviet Union. An exceptional burden was borne by Soviet women. The distance insulated Soviet industry, and despite the catastrophic loss of life, ensured that the Russian military would be well-supplied even as German factories were devastated by American and British aerial bombing. Historum. Then you have a smaller border with Germany and a lot more troops then them. An interview in which a Soviet commander admitted how close Moscow came to defeat by Germany … Before the battle was over, Hitler and several of his followers killed themselves. Not even in USA was he hated. Marchers typically carry photos of those who served in the Great Patriotic War against Germany, sing patriotic songs, and pass through Red Square in an emotional display. Combined, a majority of Russians blamed the high casualties on Nazi Germany invading the Soviet Union in a surprise attack after it had signed a nonaggression pact (36 percent) or on Germany… Victory was expected by the early autumn. On May 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin will play host to one of Moscow's largest ever military parades to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet Union's victory over Nazi Germany. Let’s lay out a brief account of the Russian war against Hitler’s Germany, its place in Russian national identity, and then dig into the question of why this story isn’t better known in the United States. The Communist Party also accepted the need to give the Red Army greater flexibility in fighting the war, and in the autumn of 1942 scaled down the role of political commissars attached to the armed forces. They would not have remained idle if the Soviet Union marched into Germany (which might actually have happened if the Soviets had defeated Poland in the Russo-Polish War of 1920). From this perspective, America’s secretive development and use of the atomic bomb, its aggressive implementation of economic aid through the Marshall Plan and under the Truman Doctrine; its attempts to reunify the German sectors so soon after the end of the war; its persistence in the Berlin Airlift; its formation of the NATO alliance, its first such binding military alliance outside of peace time in its entire history; its electoral manipulations in Korea; and its increased military spending as a result of 1950’s NSC-68 all sent a very clear message – America under the leadership of Harry Truman and successive US presidents was on the offensive, ready to expand its political and economic influence to the doorstep of the Soviet Union. But others did so from a genuine patriotism or a hatred of German fascism. During World War I Lenin, living in neutral Switzerland, agitated for Russia’s defeat. People often died on the streets, and citizens soon became accustomed to the sight of death. From the Soviet perspective, two invasions by Germany (World War I and World War II) and the loss of almost 30 million people during the Great Patriotic War was all that a nation could be expected to bear. Revolutionary Russia, 1891-1991: A History by Orlando Figes. The Soviet Union was annoyed at what seemed to it to be a long delay by the allies in opening a “second front” of the Allied offensive against Germany. But the full realization of Hitler’s highly-racialized Lebensraum policy did not end with Poland and would soon bring Germany into conflict with Stalin’s USSR. Judging from the early months of the invasion, where the Germans wiped the floor with the Red army, and WW1 where they did defeat Russia, it seems like it could have gone better than it actually did. He wasn't hated in the USA, because thanks to Hollywood, he was "Uncle Joe". Richard Overy explains how the Soviets turned disaster into a victory that led to the formation of a Communist superpower. form an alliance to defeat Hitler. The Soviet Union's Insane Plan to Crush NATO in Battle. Historian Richard Overy writes of this period in his seminal study Why the Allies Won, “The stubbornness of Soviet resistance astonished German commanders; the ferocity of the confrontation led to barbarisms on both sides…. For a lifetime's contribution to military history, Professor Overy was awarded the Samuel Eliot Morison Prize by the Society for Military History in 2001. There are a lot of complications such as Allied material support, key German military mistakes; even Soviet innovation. In early April, the first Allied-governed Rheinwiesenlagerswere established in western Germany to hold hun… Find out how . For Stalin, this, in part, meant a weak, de-industrialized Germany. Stalin did not address the nation about the German invasion until July 3, when he called for a “Patriotic War … of the entire Soviet people.”, Hitler proclaimed to his colleagues, “Before three months have passed, we shall witness a collapse of Russia, the like of which has never been seen in history.”. Hitler wrote, “The Slavs are born as a slavish mass, crying out for their master.” He continued, “I need the Ukraine, in order that no one is able to starve us again, like in the last war.”, All of this meant that the war with the USSR, when it came, was bound to be brutal, aimed not just at territorial conquest, as in France or Belgium, but at full extermination of the Russian people. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. The date of 22 June was late for starting a campaign over such a vast area, but German commanders were confident that the Soviet armed forces were primitive, and that the Soviet people were waiting for liberation. They constantly harried German troops, and were themselves the victim of harsh punitive expeditions, which led to the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent villagers along with the partisan bands. Soviet victory came at a high price, but a combination of total-war mobilisation, better fighting methods and high operational skills defeated a German army that in 1944 was a formidable, heavily armed and modern fighting force. Adolf Hitler had always regarded the German-Soviet nonaggression pact, signed on August 23, 1939, as a temporary tactical maneuver. In 2017, over 800,000 Russians and foreign attendees marched through central Moscow in commemoration of those who perished and those who survived World War II. The three goals were essentially separate. Let’s do the numbers. The southern attack failed at Stalingrad. Union by handily defeating the Japanese force in Manchuria convenience between the two nations have negotiated a cease.... 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