Did the USSR Win the War Almost Entirely on Their Own?
The Second World War lasted from 1939 to 1945, which involved most of the world's nations, organised into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. It is considered the most widespread war, with more than 100 million armed forces mobilised. The Allied forces placed their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, destroying the difference between civilian and military resources. It was the deadliest conflict in human history, which resulted in over 70 million fatalities caused by military action against civilians, the Holocaust and the use of nuclear weapons in warfare. This essay concerns itself with why and how the allies won the Second World War.
In the Western popular imagination -- particularly the American one -- World War II is a conflict we won. It was fought on the beaches of Normandy and Iwo Jima, through the rubble of recaptured French towns and capped by sepia-toned scenes of joy and young love in New York. It was a victory shaped by the steeliness of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, the moral fiber of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and the awesome power of an atomic bomb. But that narrative shifts dramatically when you go to Russia, where World War II is called the Great Patriotic War and is remembered in a vastly different light. 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. More than 16,000 troops will participate, as well 140 aircraft and 190 armored vehicles, including the debut of Russia's brand new next-generation tank.It's a grand moment, but few of the world's major leaders will be in attendance. The heads of state of India and China will look on, but not many among their Western counterparts. That is a reflection of the tense geopolitical present, with Putin's relations with the West having turned frosty after a year of Russian meddling in Ukraine. When Russia's T-14 Armata tank broke down at a parade rehearsal on Thursday, the snickering could be heard across Western media. Unfairly or not, the current tensions obscure the scale of what's being commemorated: Starting in 1941, the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the Nazi war machine and played perhaps the most important role in the Allies' defeat of Hitler. By one calculation, for every single American soldier killed fighting the Germans, 80 Soviet soldiers died doing the same.
There are several notable consequences of the Second World War that will be around for a long time. The first consequence of the Second World War was the disintegration of the alliance between the Soviet Union and the western allies (Sherman and Salisbury 760). This set the stage for the cold war and the division of much of the world into spheres of influence (Sherman and Salisbury 767). The cold war later resulted into a nuclear arms race and many other forms of arms race including a space race. The second major consequence of the Second World War was the creation of a conflict in the Middle East. After the Holocaust the state of Israel was created in the Middle East. As a result of the direct consequences of the war, the British imperialism in the Middle East collapsed creating divided Arab States. These events that followed the Second World War were the major cause of the unending unrest in the Middle East region. As I direct consequence of the war, the European powers were significantly weakened. France and the UK ended up loosing most of their overseas empires and colonies. The world war also resulted into the US and the U.S.S.R attaining the superpower status and china embracing communism.
Summing up, it is essential for Americans to acknowledge and respect these realities. Russians are acutely aware that the magnitude of their sacrifice is not understood in the United States. Indeed Vladimir Putin’s regime has won popular support in part by exploiting Russians’ sense that their country is not respected in the world and their history is not understood. Paying tribute to the overwhelming contribution of Soviet men and women to victory in World War II and commemorating their losses would go a long way to soothing that sense of grievance and improving Russian-American relations.
Sherman, Dennis and Joyce Salisbury. The West In the World. Boston: McGraw Hill, 2008. Print.