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The USSR in World War II

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The USSR
in World War II
London: monument to Roosevelt and Churchill
The Big Three: Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta, Feb.1945
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The ultimate test of the Russian battle order has usually
been war
The Romanov Empire failed that test in WWI – and fell
By the time of the next test – WWII, the Russian state was
transformed into a more formidable machine
The “socialist” organization of the country was aimed at
making the state more militarily capable
A similar logic unfolded in Italy and Germany under
different forms of “socialism”
They talked of “socialism”, but they meant winning world
wars
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If the essence of War Communism was to win the Russian
civil war, the essence of Stalinism was to win in World War
II
Belief in the inevitability of war – of one kind or another
The slide to war
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Forced modernization
The Great Terror of 1937-38
Skirmishes in the 1930s: China, Spain
Diplomatic maneuvers in 1934-39: attempts to contain the
fascist powers, then a non-aggression pact with Hitler
Global civil war and interstate conflict
пЃ® Fierce Left-Right struggles in European countries since
WWI, the lure and fear of revolution
пЃ® Stalinism in Russia as a new stage in the Russian civil
war: forced modernization to strengthen the state and
make it fit for the next round of interstate wars
пЃ® Fascism as a new stage in European Left-Right conflict:
to defeat the Left internally and externally
пЃ® Projection of the internal conflicts on interstate relations
пЃ® The Spanish Civil War
пЃ® Appeasement: betrayal of Czechoslovakia
пЃ® The fall of democracies across Europe due to both
internal (Left vs. Right) and external (actions of Germany,
Italy, and the Soviet Union)
The geopolitical triangle: Axis powers (Germany, Italy,
Japan), USSR, Western democracies (WDs)
WDs
Axis
USSR
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As a state committed to world revolution, the Soviet Union
was viewed as a threat by Western elites
The rise of fascism was partly a response to the threat –
and anticommunism was one of the motives of Western
appeasement of Hitler
But the Axis powers were also challenging other Great
Powers in Europe and Asia – the continuing conflict
between empires
In the 1920s-early 1930s, before Hitler’s coming to power
in Germany, USSR cooperated with Germany against
Britain and France
When Germany became a radical anticommunist force,
USSR and Western democracies discussed “collective
security” arrangements to prevent Hitler’s aggression –
without success
Then Britain, France and the USSR made their separate
deals with Hitler, which enabled him to start World War II
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Britain and France hoped to channel Hitler’s aggression
to the East, toward conflict with Russia – reluctant to fight
Germany
Hitler was determined to prevent Western democracies
and USSR from joining forces: beat them one by one
Stalin was determined to avoid war with Germany as long
as possible – but convinced that such a war was
inevitable
1939: A divergence of interests between USSR and
Western democracies – and a convergence of interests
between Germany and USSR
The unexpected deal was logical – but only temporary
Moscow, August 23, 1939: German Foreign Minister Joachim
von Ribbentrop signs non-aggression pact with Russia
Hitler and Mussolini in Munich, June 1940
1939-1941: growing tensions between USSR and Germany
пЃ® At first: division of the spoils. But then:
 Germany’s unexpected triumph in the West emboldens
Hitler
 Hitler’s strategic goal of conquering the USSR was never
abandoned – for geopolitical and ideological reasons
пЃ® Stalin expected the new war to generate a new wave of
revolutions – and intended to get involved
пЃ® By 1941, his fear of German power became the
overwhelming factor
 He was appeasing Hitler – and preparing for war against
him at the same time
пЃ® Each of the two intended to strike first
пЃ® Hitler preempted Stalin and delivered a crushing blow
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Operation Barbarossa
June 22, 1941
Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded
the USSR along an 1,800 mile front
Goals:
Total destruction of the Soviet state
пЃµ Colonization of the Soviet territory, together with
allies – Japan especially
пЃµ Enslavement of the population, turning the territory
into a resource base for the Third Reich
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The Nazi invasion :
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=
StYywx7Uzok&feature=related
BBC, “War of the Century”, Parts
2,3,4
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Hitler explaining the future war against Russia, March
1941:
“It is a struggle between two ideologies… Communism
presents an enormous danger for the future. A communist
has never been and never will be our comrade. It is a
struggle for annihilation. If we think otherwise, then, even if
we should crush the enemy, the communist threat will rise
again in 30 years…
This war will be vastly different from the onw in the West. In
the East, brutality is a benefit for the future. Commanders
must be ready for sacrifice and overcome their doubts.”
From the diary of General F. Halder, Chief of Staff, Land
Forces, Germany
German poster
depicting
Soviets: “The
lower race”
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STAKES IN THE BATTLE FOR RUSSIA
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Will the Soviet state survive?
Will Soviet society as a product of the transformations since
1917 be crushed?
Will the Soviet Union become a German colony?
How many Soviet citizens will survive?
Will genocide become a new global norm?
What will become of the world?
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In the first 10 days, German armies moved 550 km into
Soviet territory
In the first 20 days of the war, the Red Army lost 1/5 of its
manpower – 600,000 men
By July, 20 mln. Soviets found themselves under
occupation. Nazi terror began.
Resistance
Redeployment of industry to the East
Victims of German occupation
Japanese
terror in
occupied
China
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Resistance
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IAfigTgzmU&feature=re
lated
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The Battle of Moscow: September
1941 – January 1942
Moscow, October 1941
Women digging anti-tank moats near Moscow
Antitank barriers in downtown Moscow
November 7th, 1941: military parade in Red Square
Marshal
Georgi
Zhukov,
commander
of Soviet
forces in the
Battle of
Moscow
Women in the war: medics
Women in the war: pilots
Children workers assembling weapons
Partisans
Partisans
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The Battle of Moscow was the first
Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.
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Casualties in the battle of Moscow:
250,000 – 400,000 German
600,000 – 1,300,000 Soviet
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The Siege of Leningrad
 September 1941 – November 1943
пЃ® The Germans and Finns failed to take the city
пЃ® The cost to Soviet population:
пЃ® About 1.4 million people were rescued by military
evacuation from the besieged city of Leningrad in
two years between September 1941 and November
1943.
пЃ® Another 1.2 million civilians perished in the city.
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In 1939-41, states of the Global Right attacked the world
order, aiming at global primacy
Western democracies joined forces with the communist
state in a defensive Center-Left coalition against the Right
The battle for Russia became decisive for the defeat of the
Global Right
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US and British aid to the Soviet ally, 1941-45:
пЃµ Food - $1.5 bln. in
 Automobiles – 427,000
 Warplanes – 22,000
 Tanks – 13,000
 Warships – over 500
 Explosives – 350,000 tons
пЃµ Other supplies
Total estimated cost of Allied aid to USSR in contemporary
prices –
$100 bln.
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America at war:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5u8
E4s57I0&feature=related
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The turning point of World War II:
Stalingrad
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5u8
E4s57I0&feature=related
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The Battle of Stalingrad claimed over two million
casualties, more than any other battle in human history
It was also one of the longest: it raged for 199 days
Killed, wounded or captured at Stalingrad:
пЃµ Soviets: 1,290,000
пЃµ Germans and allies: 850,000
Red flag over Berlin, May 1945
Checking out Hitler’s headquarters, May 1945
Berlin, 1945: surrender of German High Command
Ovens in Buchenwald concentration camp
Survivors of a Nazi concentration camp
June 24, 1945: Marshal Zhukov leads Victory Parade in Red Square
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Victory Parade in Red Square, June 24,
1945:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDQ2
gQttPBs&NR=1
Soviet losses in World War II
пЃ® Over 27 mln. killed (13.6% of the population)
пЃ® Of those who survived, 29 mln. took part in the fighting
(including 0.8 mln. women)
 Battlefield losses – est. 8 mln. (Germany lost 4 mln.)
пЃ® 5 mln. POWs (of them 3 mln. died in concentration
camps)
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US and British POWs – 232,000 (8,500 died)
German POWs – 2.4 mln (0.45 mln. died)
1710 cities and 70,000 villages completely or partially
destroyed
40,000 hospitals, 84,000 schools, 43,000 libraries
destroyed
Historically unprecedented level of damage suffered by
any country
The war took
all nine of her
sons
http://www.youtube.com/watch?
v=da1e9Sz8I8k&feature=related
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