German–Soviet Union relations date to the aftermath of the First World War.The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, dictated by Germany ended hostilities between Russia and Germany; it was signed on March 3, 1918. Over the course of three long years, the Germans were forced to make a slow, bloody retreat back to their own country. 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.”. For Stalin, this, in part, meant a weak, de-industrialized Germany. Disinfectant trucks sprayed the streets in their wake, a propaganda message to the Russian people – the Germans seek to destroy you, but it is they who are the filthy vermin. Read more. Perhaps he resented the fact that the Soviet Union was getting a lot of countries like Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. 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. The siege of Leningrad is the most lethal siege in world history, and some historians speak of the siege operations in terms of genocide, as a “racially-motivated starvation policy” – part of the German war of extermination against populations of the Soviet Union generally, in which the Luftwaffe was ordered to intentionally target civilian food supplies, power plants, and water treatment facilities. 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. Why the Soviet Union won. After achieving stunning success in the early months of the campaign, the attack stalled and the Soviets began to slowly push the Germans back. At the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk, in particular, the Soviets managed to turn the tide of the war. Stalin relaxed the repression of the Church so that it could be used to mobilise enthusiasm, while propaganda played on the theme of past Russian glories against European invaders, rather than on Communist successes. Over the course of the next week, the Red Army gradually took the entire city. Victory was expected by the early autumn. Learn more about Operation Barbarossa in this article. As a result of the pact, Germany and the Soviet Union maintained reasonably strong diplomatic relations for two years and fostered an important economic relationship. 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. 70% of the german army was committed to the war in the East. They were able to use machinery instead of people and wait until Germany was weakened before they landed at Normandy. Germany and her allies also possessed a large population, and added to it the peoples of the captured Soviet areas - men and women who were forced to work for the German army or were shipped back to work in the Reich. Historum. Let’s do the numbers. It is hard to say whether men fought more from a sense of patriotic duty or terror at the consequences of failure. Above all, Soviet tactics in 1941-2 were extremely wasteful of manpower. why so many soldiers survived the trenches, how Pack Up Your Troubles became the viral hit. A replica banner of the 150th Rifle Division, who stormed and captured the Reichstag in 1945. The Soviet Union's Insane Plan to Crush NATO in Battle. Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union also signed a ten-year nonaggression pact on August 23, 1939, in which each signatory promised not to attack the other. Soviet Union invades Poland. In November 1942 Operation Uranus was launched by the Soviets, and the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad was encircled. Civilians in the city suffered from extreme starvation, especially in the winter of 1941–42. Confident that the USSR would not challenge his move to acquire Lebensraum in Eastern Europe, Hitler invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Soviet commander admits USSR came close to defeat by Nazis. Soviets would not have surrendered and Stalin was not hated in Soviet Union. Stalin wanted what any leader would want for his country – stability and security. Among these were 19 panzer divisions, and in total the “Barbarossa” force had about 3,000 tanks, 7,000 artillery pieces, and 2,500 aircraft. The key, decisive moments came during the Battle of Stalingrad and the Battle of Kursk, two monstrously large battles involving thousands of tanks and millions of men – two of the largest battles ever fought in all of history. Over 80% of the Wehrmacht's World War II casualties were suffered on the Eastern Front. The US did most of the work of defeating Imperial Japan, though. When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 he had three main goals: (1) Seizure of territory for the use of Germans; (2) The murder of the Jews; and (3) The destruction of Communism. It also resulted in  rolling series of purges in which Stalin killed or imprisoned any Soviet citizens or officials that he perceived as rivals or as potentially disloyal. (Moscow, Russia, 2017.). Per treaty, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin followed suit, moving into eastern Poland soon after. They were the first to crush a major Nazi army. Were it not for the USSR’s victory, Nazi Germany might be alive and well today. 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. It resulted more directly than any single American or British action in the destruction of the Third Reich. However, Germany and the Soviet Union's agreement was not sustainable and ultimately set the stage for the Eastern Front of World War II. People often died on the streets, and citizens soon became accustomed to the sight of death. Despite exceptional levels of deprivation and loss, they kept up the production of food, weapons and equipment. AD In the first five months of the invasion, German forces inflicted one catastrophic defeat after another on the Red Army. 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. They did not have to fight a war of attrition involving millions of soldiers. Some were terrorised into doing so, particularly the millions of camp labourers who worked fully for the war effort. Not until June 1941 did Hitler launch his invasion of the Soviet Union—a state that posed a strategic threat to German domination of Europe as well as being an ideological rival and racial enemy. Who conducted the world's first successful test of a nuclear bomb? 1943 would vindicate one of these men. Hitler gave similar orders to his army, firing several generals in part because they counseled him otherwise. In the event, the shock of attack almost unhinged the Soviet state, and by the autumn German forces had destroyed most of the Red Army and the Russian air force, surrounded and besieged Leningrad - where over one million people died of starvation and cold - and were approaching the outskirts of Moscow. Let’s do the numbers. The First Victory Day Parade, Red Square, Moscow, 1945. The Soviet Union. Whole factories were dismantled and transported on flatcars away from the front line for reassembly in more remote areas of the Ural Mountains, Caucasus, Central Asia and southeastern Siberia, far beyond the reaches of the rapid German advance. The Red Army had sufficient reserves to stop the German army from completing the rout in December 1941, but the following summer German offensives launched far to the south of Moscow, to seize the rich oilfields of the Caucasus and to cut the Volga shipping route, created further chaos. ), 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. Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France ... By the autumn of 1941 these instructions had expanded to include all suspected partisans and other categories of Jew. 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. Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany. By Professor Richard Overy Last updated 2011-02-17. One this bitter rivalry was the history of World War II, the first drafts of which were written during the Cold War. The German integration of air and ground forces, targeting of Soviet command posts and, above all, their speed, proved decisive. 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. Stalin’s third peace offer in May 1943 was a proposed ceasefire along the Soviet Union’s 1938 borders which would have effectively reversed the Hitler-Stalin Pact, while leaving the Germans in control of the Baltic states, eastern Finland, the eastern half of Poland and northeastern Romania all of which had been annexed by the Soviets from 1939–1940. Soviet style banner in front of the State Historical Museum, Moscow, Victory Day 2017. What country could be considered the MVP in the war to defeat Nazi Germany? Find out how . In fact, it changed on the Eastern Front, in 1943, where 8 in 10 German soldiers who died during World War II met their end, and where the German army was finally turned, forced into a nearly two-year stuttering retreat back to Berlin. Read more. ... After World War II, why did the Soviet Union favor a divided Germany? The war in the east was fought with a particular ferocity. Britain had, until 1944 the largest navy in the world, bigger than Germany, the USA and the French navies put together. On April 20, 1945, Hitler’s birthday, the 1st Belorussian Front led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov, advancing from the east and north, started shelling Berlin’s city center, while Marshal Ivan Konev‘s 1st Ukrainian Front broke through Army Group Centre and advanced towards the southern suburbs of Berlin. The German invasion of the Soviet Union contributed significantly to the Nazi's ultimate defeat as the front consumed vast amounts of manpower and material. Despite deep-seated mistrust and hostility between the Soviet Union and the Western democracies, Nazi Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941 created an instant alliance between the Soviets and the two greatest powers in what the Soviet leaders had … The Eastern Front was decisive in determining the outcome of the European portion of World War II, eventually serving as the main reason for the defeat of Nazi Germany. the soviets did not defeat germany! Adolf Hitler had always regarded the German-Soviet nonaggression pact, signed on August 23, 1939, as a temporary tactical maneuver. The war, when it came, would be a struggle for survival. Oleg Budnitskii, historian at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, told a BBC Radio program that Red Army soldiers were astounded when they reached Germany. Tens of thousands of these men remained as prisoners for nearly a decade after the end of the war, and tens of thousands more disappeared into oblivion. 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. Damage to both the economy and landscape was enormous for the Soviet Union as approximately 1,700 towns and 70,000 villages were razed to the ground. Stalin was warned by several sources of the imminent threat of a German invasi… 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. 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. The countries entered a trade pact in 1940 by which the Soviets received German military equipment and trade goods in exchange for raw materials, such as oil and wheat, to help the Nazis circumvent a British blockade of Germany . In its scale of destruction, the war on the Eastern Front was unique; from Leningrad to the Crimea, from Kiev to Stalingrad, the Soviet Union was devastated - at least 25 million Soviet citizens died. Up to one million German soldiers and their allies pushed into the western Soviet Union on the first day of the German invasion. Speculative History. On the other hand, Stalin ordered the retreating Red Army to initiate a harsh scorched-earth policy to deny the Germans basic supplies as they advanced eastward toward the Soviet capital of Moscow. It was a surprise attack that violated the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty signed in 1939 between Germany and the Soviet Union. But one other likely explanation lies in the way in which the post-war world took shape. Founded in 2006, Historum is a history forum dedicated to history discussions and historical events. 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. History Themes. The Untold History of the United States by Peter Kuznick. The Soviet Union survived only by mobilizing two-thirds of its women to run the factories and farms, and by modernizing its armed forces so that it did not have to rely any longer on raw numbers of men, but could rely, like the American army, on mass-produced weapons… The evacuation saved the Soviet war effort […] from certain disaster.”.  © An interview in which a Soviet commander admitted how close Moscow came to defeat by Germany … The Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics provided a written guarantee of non-belligerence by each country towards the other, and a declared commitment that neither government would ally itself to, or aid, an enemy of the other party. O ne of the classic “what ifs” of the Second World War centers on how—or if—the German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, code-named Operation Barbarossa, could have achieved a quick victory. The evidence makes clear the defensive posture of the Soviet Union in 1941. 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. In the annual Immortal Regiment parade, over 500,000 Russians and foreign attendees march in commemoration of those who perished and those who survived World War II. In addition to stipulations of non-aggression, the treaty included a secret protocol that divided territories of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, and Romania, into German and Soviet “spheres of influence,” anticipating “territorial and political rearrangements” of these countries – coded language for a mutual military takeover and of these marginal countries at a near future date. Deaths peaked in January–February 1942 at 100,000 per month, mostly from starvation. 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. In early April, the first Allied-governed Rheinwiesenlagerswere established in western Germany to hold hun… And yet, most of the events recounted here remain largely unknown outside of academic historians and World War II enthusiasts. Germany proved unable to defeat the Soviet Union, which together with Great Britain and the United States, seized the initiative from Germany. Camouflage, surprise and misinformation were brilliantly exploited to keep the German army in the dark about major Soviet intentions. From the nuclear arms race to the space race, and in proxy wars from Asia to the Americas, the US and the USSR were in heated competition for political, military, and economic dominance of the world. This war was supposed to be over in a matter of months, but it lasted for four years, and grew into the largest and most costly conflict in all history. But others did so from a genuine patriotism or a hatred of German fascism. The Eastern Front, as the site of nearly all extermination camps, death marches, ghettos, and the majority of pogroms, was central to the Holocaust. 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. It is likely that the strategists in Washington were thinking on more or less similar lines.The conflicts between Churchill and Roosevelt on the question of D-day were of a political and not a military character. The war between Germany and the Soviet Union officially began in late June 1941, although the threat of conflict had loomed since the early 1930s. The failure of German troops to defeat Soviet forces in the campaign signaled a crucial turning point in the war. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. It did not replace its losses in the 1941 campaign, nor in later years. Soviet propaganda also tried hard to influence German soldiers. An exceptional burden was borne by Soviet women. They were characterized by unprecedented ferocity, wholesale destruction, mass deportations, and immense loss of life due to combat, starvation, exposure, disease, and massacres. As the Red Army withdrew, the Soviet Stavka (high command) turned its attention to evacuating as much of the western regions’ iron, steel, and arms industry as it could. 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. United States. By the end of this invasion, he seemed discontent with what he had achieved. The United States receives the most credit for defeating Adolf Hitler's Germany during World War Two, according to a YouGov poll For the early part … Lend-Lease aid did not “save” the Soviet Union from defeat during the Battle of Moscow. In the three to four months up to the end of April, over 800,000 German soldiers surrendered on the Eastern Front. But not until the Red Army had decisively defeated German forces in the more favourable summer weather of 1943 did the tide really turn. Roughly 50% of the Lufftwaffe and 80% of the Wehrmacht were destroyed in the east and that alone proves who did more to defeat Germany. Correctly calculating that Hitler would direct efforts to capture Moscow, Stalin concentrated his forces to defend the city, including numerous divisions transferred from Soviet eastern sectors after he determined that Japan would not attempt an attack in those areas. Germany proved unable to defeat the Soviet Union, which together with Great Britain and the United States, seized the initiative from Germany. The invasion opened up the Eastern Front of World War II, the largest theater of war during that conflict, and it witnessed titanic clashes of unprecedented violence and destruction for four years that resulted in the deaths of nearly 27 million Soviet people. US and Russian troops meet at the river Elbe on the 25th April 1945. Find out more about how the BBC is covering the. The army established the equivalent of the heavily armoured German Panzer divisions, and tank units were better organised - thanks to the introduction of radios. And so it stands today. 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? This page has been archived and is no longer updated. All they knew about foreign countries was there was unemployment, starvation and exploitation. This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. Not only did Stalin’s Soviet Union play the key role in crushing Nazi Germany, its huge sacrifices saved the lives of countless American, British and Canadian soldiers. His publications include Russia's War (1998) , The Battle (2000) and Interrogations: The Nazi Elite in Allied Hands (2001). On December 5, the Soviets launched a counteroffensive, pushing German troops back about 50 miles from Moscow in what was the first major defeat of the Wehrmacht in the war. The roots of the war lie in the appointment of Adolf Hitler as German chancellor in 1933. From November 1941 to February 1942 the only food available to the citizen was 125 grams of bread per day, of which 50–60% consisted of sawdust and other inedible admixtures. In July 1940, just weeks after the defeat of France, Hitler decided that Nazi Germany would attack the Soviet Union the following spring. Of the estimated 70 million deaths attributed to World War II, over 30 million, many of them civilian, occurred on the Eastern Front. Unlike in the West, Soviet war planners saw nuclear weapons as only the start of a conflict, not its end. The new border between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia from September 1939 to June 1941, somewhere in the occupied territory of Poland Related Topics. 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. Battle of Stalingrad, 1942 The Soviet Union Without Nazi Germany: Did the Soviets single-handedly defeat Nazi Germany? Home. your question should be how did the western allies help the soviet union defeat Germany. 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. Soviet resistance made possible a successful Allied invasion of France, and ensured the final Allied victory over Germany. The Soviet state was transformed in the process into a … Germany became embroiled in a long war, leading ultimately to its defeat in May 1945. Certainly, battles in which the armed forces of United States played a direct role capture the imagination of Americans in an immediate, more personal way. Still, the initial improving relations with Germany meant that the Soviet Union could expand its territory in Eastern Europe unmolested into the Baltic States. By December 1941, Hitler’s troops had advanced to within 16 miles of the Kremlin in Moscow. This kept the Japanese from invading the Soviet Union when Hitler invaded in 41 and … Most civilians were left to make their own way east, with only industry-related workers evacuated with the equipment; some female 8,000 workers, evacuated east along with the equipment in order to operate the factories, lived nearby in holes carved out of the earth. In 1942 the remaining Jewish population was rounded up and killed on the spot or sent to extermination camps. 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. 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. In the east there was more space than people. “‘Everything’s lost,’ he was heard to say that day. The attack came as a complete surprise to the leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin. By noon, the news of the invasion was broadcast to the population by Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov, calling upon the population’s sense of Russian patriotism rather than its devotion to communism: “… Without a declaration of war, German forces fell on our country, attacked our frontiers in many places… The Red Army and the whole nation will wage a victorious Patriotic War for our beloved country, for honor, for liberty … Our cause is just. In order to secure raw materials, transit rights for German troops, and troop contributions for the invasion from sympathetic powers, Germany began to cajole and pressure the southeast European states to join the Axis. The German military plan called for an advance up to a hypothetical line running from the port of Archangel in northern Russia to the port of Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea – the so-called 'A-A line'. On 22 June 1941, some three million soldiers of Germany and her allies began an attack on the Soviet Union. 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. Patriotic Banner featuring the Ribbon of St. George, Moscow Metro, Victory Day 2017. Many women joined the partisan movement operating behind the German lines - and by 1943 there were an estimated 300,000 of them. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so. Despite years of rhetoric against communism and the Slavic peoples of the USSR, in 1939 Hitler’s foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop signed a nonaggression pact with Stalin’s foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov. If Hitler had defeated the Soviet Union, he would probably try to reach a peace deal with Britain and possibly then, and only then could he turn his attention to the USA. Following the official parade comes the semi-official March of the Immortal Regiment. They became slave labor for the Soviet war effort or were executed outright, they starved alongside the Soviet people. Victory will be ours!”, Despite this rousing public face, historian Orlando Ferge writes that Stalin was badly shaken and that the Soviet Army was in poor condition to fight. The three goals were essentially separate. 04 May 2010 • 23:58 pm Some historians have seen this as the turning point of the war. The opening stages of the war seemed to bear out his prophecy. 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. 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