U.S.S.R. and communism historical discussion.
[ Login ] [ Active ]

Who crushed Hitler ?

Log-in to remove advertisement.
Post 16 Aug 2010, 00:25

Relative Contributions to Victory:

On the 50th anniversary of the Normandy invasion of 1944, a U.S. news magazine
featured a cover photo of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was labeled as the man
who defeated Hitler. If any one man deserved that label, it was not Eisenhower but
Zhukov, Vasilevsky, or possibly Stalin himself. More generally, the Red Army and the
Soviet citizenry of many nationalities bore the lion’s share of the struggle against
Germany from 1941 to 1945. Only China, which suffered almost continuous Japanese
attack from 1931 onward, matched the level of Soviet suffering and effort. In military
terms, moreover, the Chinese participation in the war was almost insignificant in
comparison with the Soviet war, which constantly engaged absorbed more than half of all
German forces.
From June through December 1941, only Britain shared with the Soviet Union the
trials of war against the Germans. Over 3 million German troops fought in the East, while
900,000 struggled elsewhere, attended to occupied Europe, or rested in the homeland.
From December 1941 through November 1942, while over nine million troops on both
sides struggled in the East, the only significant ground action in the Western Theater took
place in North Africa, where relatively small British forces engaged Rommel’s Afrika
Corps and its Italian allies.
In October and November 1942, the British celebrated victory over the Germans
at El Alamein, defeating four German divisions and a somewhat larger Italian force, and
inflicting 60,000 axis losses. The same month, at Stalingrad, the Soviets defeated and
encircled German Sixth Army, damaged Fourth Panzer Army, and smashed Rumanian
Third and Fourth Armies, eradicating over 50 divisions and over 300,000 men from the
Axis order of battle. By May 1943 the Allies pursued Rommel’s Afrika Corps across
northern Africa and into Tunisia, where after heavy fighting, the German and Italian force
of 250,000 surrendered. Meanwhile, in the East, another German army (the Second) was
severely mauled, and Italian Eighth and Hungarian Second Armies were utterly destroyed,
exceeding Axis losses in Tunisia.
While over 3.5 million German and Soviet troops struggled at Kursk and 8.5
million later fought on a 1,500-mile front from the Leningrad region to the Black Sea coast,
in July 1943 Allied forces invaded Sicily, and drove 60,000 Germans from the island. In
August the Allies landed on the Italian peninsula. By October, when 2.5 million men of
the Wehrmacht faced 6.6 million Soviets, the frontlines had stabilized in Italy south of
Rome as the Germans deployed a much smaller, although significant, number of troops to
halt the Allied advance.
By 1 October 1943, 2,565,000 men (63%) of the Wehrmacht's 4,090,000-man
force struggled in the East, together with the bulk of the 300,000 Waffen SS troops. On 1
June 1944, 239 (62%) of the German Army's 386 division equivalents fought in the East.
With operations in Italy at a stalemate, until June 1944, in fact, the Wehrmacht still
considered the west as a semi-reserve. In August 1944, after the opening of the second
front, while 2.1 million Germans fought in the East, 1 million opposed Allied operations
in France.
Casualty figures underscore this reality. From September 1939 to September
1942, the bulk of the German Army's 922,000 dead, missing, and disabled (14% of the
total force) could be credited to combat in the East. Between 1 September 1942 and 20
November 1943 this grim count rose to 2,077,000 (30% of the total force), again
primarily in the East. From June through November 1944, after the opening of the second
front, the German Army suffered another 1,457,000 irrevocable losses. Of this number,
903,000 (62%) were lost in the East. Finally, after losing 120,000 men to the Allies in the
Battle of the Bulge, from 1 January to 30 April 1945 the Germans suffered another 2
million losses, two-thirds at Soviet hands. Today, the stark inscription, “died in the
East,” that is carved on countless thousands of headstones in scores of German cemeteries
bear mute witness to the carnage in the East, where the will and strength of the
Wehrmacht perished.

The Role of the “Second Front” in Allied Victory:

During the war and since war’s end, the Soviets have bitterly complained since the
war about the absence of a real “second front” before June 1944, and that issue remains a
source of suspicion even in post Cold War Russia. Yet, Allied reasons for deferring a
second front until 1944 were valid, and Allied contributions to victories were significant.
As the American debacle at the Kasserine Pass in December 1942 and Canadian
performance at Dieppe in 1943 indicated, Allied armies were not ready to operate in
France in 1943, even had a sufficient number of landing craft been available for the
invasion, which they were not. Even in 1944 Allied success at Normandy was a close
thing and depended, in part, on major German misperceptions and mistakes. Once in
France, after the breakout from the Normandy bridgehead in August, the 2 million Allied
troops in France inflicted grievous losses on the 1 million defending Germans, 100,000 at
Falaise, and a total of 400,000 by December 1944. In the subsequent battle of the Bulge
(16 December 1944-31 January 1945), the Germans lost another 120,000 men. These
losses in the West, combined with the over 1.2 million lost in the East during the same
period, broke the back of the Wehrmacht and set the context for the final destruction of
Germany in 1945.
In addition to its ground combat contribution, the Allies conducted a major
strategic bombing campaign against Germany (which the Soviets could not mount) and in
1944 drew against themselves the bulk of German operational and tactical airpower. The
strategic bombing campaign did significant damage to German industrial targets, struck
hard at the well-being and morale of the German civil population, and sucked into its
vortex and destroyed a large part of the German fighter force, which had earlier been used
effectively in a ground role in the East. Although airpower did not prove to be a warwinning
weapon, and German industrial mobilization and weapons production peaked in
late 1944, the air campaign seriously hindered the German war effort.
Equally disastrous for the Germans were the losses of tactical fighters in that
campaign and in combat in France in 1944. So devastating were these losses that after
mid-1944 the German air force was no longer a factor on the Eastern Front.

The Role of Lend-Lease in Allied Victory:

Another controversial Allied contribution to the war effort was the Lend-Lease
program of aid to the Soviet Union. Although Soviet accounts have routinely belittled the
significance of Lend-Lease in sustaining the Soviet war effort, the overall importance of
this assistance cannot be understated. Lend-Lease aid did not arrive in sufficient
quantities to make the difference between defeat and victory in 1941-42; that achievement
must be attributed solely to the Soviet people and to the iron nerve of Stalin, Zhukov,
Shaposhnikov, Vasilevsky, and their subordinates. As the war continued, however, the
United States and Great Britain provided many of the implements of war and strategic
raw materials necessary for Soviet victory
Without Lend-Lease food, clothing, and raw materials (especially metals), the
Soviet economy would have been even more heavily burdened by the war effort. Perhaps
most directly, without Lend-Lease trucks, rail engines, and railroad cars, every Soviet
offensive would have stalled at an earlier stage, outrunning its logistical tail in a matter of
days. In turn, this would have allowed the German commanders to escape at least some
encirclements, while forcing the Red Army to prepare and conduct many more deliberate
penetration attacks in order to advance the same distance. Left to their own devices,
Stalin and his commanders might have taken 12 to 18 months longer to finish off the
Wehrmacht; the ultimate result would probably have been the same, except that Soviet
soldiers could have waded at France’s Atlantic beaches. Thus, while the Red Army shed
the bulk of Allied blood, it would have shed more blood for longer without Allied
Finally, while this paper identifies numerous forgotten battles and contentious
issues, it is by no means definitive. Further investigation will no doubt surface many
other examples of each. To do so will require immense by many historians in both Russia
and the West.
The Soviet-German War

1941-1945:Myths and Realities:A Survey Essay by David M. Glantz, Clemson University, 2001
Post 16 Aug 2010, 03:21
Good article. From what I can tell, having visited several WWII muesums in England & the USA, both countries like to take credit for beating Nazi Germany. The USA muesums are mainly about the bombing campaigns conducted. In England the focus tended to be the Battle of Britain. It is a shame that Soviet war effort is ignored or at best completely marginalized. I would venture to say that China got it worse in the pages of history than the Soviet Union. Ususally the only thing they get is a small section about the Flying Tigers.
Post 16 Aug 2010, 05:55
It's not particularly surprising that seeing much of the history of WWII was written during the Cold War, that there was a reluctance to give full credit to Soviet forces for their contribution - it was a politically unpalatable detail which the West preferred to ignore.

Any mention in the article on who should claim the credit for the complete surprise of Operation Barbarossa?
Post 16 Aug 2010, 14:46
Any mention in the article on who should claim the credit for the complete surprise of Operation Barbarossa?

The article only deals with the war operations, and not with the frame of the war and pre-war events. But the Soviet General Staff was not "surprised". They thought that Germany was training in the East to invade UK (Sea Lion), but they had many contradictory informations. They made a Kriegspiel in 1941, and concluded that the Red Army was not ready for a war. So they tried to avoid the war by any mean (But some historians as Sovorov believe that they were organizing a preventive strike or a simple attack). According to Gorodetsky (The Grand Desillusion) : "If many records were reporting German preparations, an equivalent number, and sometimes the same, suggested that the war could be avoided." So I dont think it is possible to say whether they made a mistake or not.
Post 22 Aug 2010, 15:22
So article forgets that war started in September 1939 and cooperation between Stalin and Hitler ?
Post 14 Sep 2010, 23:09
The Great Patriotic War started in 1941, not in 1939.
Post 14 Aug 2011, 00:22
"So article forgets that war started in September 1939 and cooperation between Stalin and Hitler ?"
The cooperation between the two was vital because both France and Britain didn't want to make alliances with Russia, France eventually did sign something but they were weak and unorganised not what Stalin needed. So they signed a pact giving Stalin time to prepare for the inevitable Fascist invasion and the Third Reich land.
Post 16 Aug 2011, 12:25
While I can't speak for museums in America, I don't think you'll find any in England or France that explicitly state "We won the war, frag the Soviets". English museums naturally focus on British and to some extent American theatres of war, primarily the Battle of Britain, the strategic bombing campaigns and D-Day. Since these are things of most interest to British people who visit these museums, you can hardly hold it against them for housing a bare minimum of Soviet related stuff. French museums are much the same, but primarily focus on the 1940 invasion and the liberation of 1944, at least the ones I've seen (mostly in and around Normandy), which is again perfectly understandable. You could quite easily flip this around and argue that it's unfair that Russian museums don't acknowledge the efforts of the allies in winning the war, but it would be pointless to do so.

It's a good article btw, since it highlights that co-operation was key to victory, and while the allies weren't fighting heroic million man battles they were contributing in other ways, like the bombing and lend-lease as best they could.

My only beef with it is that it completely fails to mention Italy. Everyone always forgets Italy.
Last edited by Jingle_Bombs on 16 Aug 2011, 15:54, edited 1 time in total.
Post 16 Aug 2011, 15:47
I dont want to denigrate anyone's efforts, but its fairly easily observed:

f.x. german forces during operation cobra (the breakout from normandy) was 8 divisions, some not full strength)

At Kursk, army group center alone fielded 26 divisions. Add another 21 for army group south.
Post 16 Aug 2011, 17:22
It is my understanding that 80% of troops fighting against Nazi Germany were Soviets but this was not the only communist contribution to the war, The Soviet Union also fought the Japanese to support the Americans and Chinese.

Not to mention the various communist partisan groups in Yugoslavia, France and Italy
Post 17 Aug 2011, 02:31
Shining Path wrote:
The Soviet Union also fought the Japanese to support the Americans and Chinese.

That is very much true, and I believe Zhukov led a major battle in '39 I believe that resulted in a Soviet victory and convinced the Japanese that they couldn't take on the Red Army.
However, most of the fighting against the Japanese was done by the Chinese, who bore the brunt of the Japanese invasion, with the loss of the northeast in 1931 and then with the beginning of the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937, and the Americans who entered the war after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Fun fact: My grandfather told me that one earlier version of the Pacific Theatre of World War II that he was presented in the PRC under Mao while in university and in general was that the Long March was initiated not because the Jiangxi Soviet was in an untenable situation, but that the CCP went north to fight Japan while those treacherous KMT were still focused on fighting the CCP, and also that the Japanese surrender was due to a combination of getting bogged down fighting Chinese Communist guerrillas and the defeat of the Kwantung Army by Soviet forces. I only wish that's how history turned out.
Post 17 Aug 2011, 22:57
Lol even if you dont like Mao you have to admit he was one hell of a guerrila (:
Post 18 Aug 2011, 18:44
I've been to the Musée de l'Armée in Paris.
And while they do naturally focus mostly on the French military,as JB said,there's quite a lot of Soviet-related exponents too.
I was amazed at how big the PTRD anti-tank rifle or the Soviet 120(?) mm mortar actually is.
Also,it's always nice to see the Maxim gun,a Katyusha rocket and other Soviet artifacts.
Quite a fascinating museum.
They have a real Renault FT tank in the backyard too,plus there's also a 500(?) kg American bomb and a German V-1 rocket hanging from the ceiling!

Also,i read somewhere that the Japanese agreed to attack the Soviet Union in 1941 only if the Germans managed to conquer Moscow.
Is that true?
Post 18 Aug 2011, 19:59
At the Caen Memorial Museum they've got a MiG from the Korean War, as well as a bunch of Soviet "duck and cover" style posters (some of which were ridiculous, claiming that a low brick wall would save you from a nuclear blast) and a deactivated atom bomb. They also had some of the tail section of the U2 shot down over Cuba.
Post 21 Aug 2011, 17:40
171 edit. This isn't 4chan. Cut the crap.
Post 29 Aug 2011, 21:43
I think an argument can be made that Hitler crushed himself (or better yet Germany and the German people). Once France capitulated, the time was ripe for a German invasion of Britain. But instead, Hitler turned around and went full force into the Soviet Union. The fact that he did so was a misstep enough, but sending troops into Ukraine/Western Russia in the late summer/fall without making adequate preparations for an inevitable WINTER campaign to come was the epitome of the word "blunder". His fanatical obsession with defeating the Soviets was based on ideology and not sound military doctrine. His failure to look at the Eastern front in realistic terms only made it worse. He sent countless resources and Germans boys to needless deaths along with grinding the Wermacht into dust on ideological grounds.

Certatinly one can argue that Hitler's move into the Soviet Union hard and FAST was the right move (Barbarossa). At that time, the Soviet forces were weak, had just had their nose bloodied by the Finns (yes, Hitler and the world took notice). In addition, the Soviet military was decimated by the late 1930s in the purges which essentially decimated any experienced military leaders.

But in doing so and not taking Britain, Hitler left Britain as a stepping stone to Europe (D-Day a few years later) in the north and Africa in the South (up to Sicily, and into Italy proper).

Germany was potentially confronted with those 3 fronts. West from Britain South from Africa and East from the Soviet Union. I can surmise his ratinale was to pick off the biggest kid onthe block first and the smaller weaker states would fall in line in due time. (Didn't happen)

Hitler didn't count on two things. The enormous human resources of the Soviet Union, the sheer vastness of their territory, and yes......the "Russian Winter." Remember, after Barbarossa, much of Soviet industry was moved east to beyond the Urals. Safe as can be.

Germany however was absorbing night and day bombing runs by the US and Britain leading to the crushing of German industry. The loss of the sky was also KEY to Germany's defeat.

Certainly there was no "one" thing that defeated Hitler, but marching off into Ukraine and futher east when he did was a big one.
Post 29 Aug 2011, 21:51
I think an argument can be made that Hitler crushed himself (or better yet Germany and the German people). Once France capitulated, the time was ripe for a German invasion of Britain.

...Which failed.
That invasion couldn't have started without the Germans having complete air superiority over the Channel (since the Royal Navy was several times more stronger than the Kriegsmarine),but thankfully the RAF managed to defeat Goring and his Luftwaffe.
Post 29 Aug 2011, 22:18
Excellent point Loz. Score one for the British Navy. Which reminds me, any true power has a strong navy.
Post 29 Aug 2011, 22:24
Some say that Hitler didn't expect that the Allies would actually declare war on him over his invasion of Poland in 1939.
The German Navy wasn't ready for war back then...some important ships were still under construction in dry-docks.,with a lot more planned for construction in a few years' time.
Post 30 Aug 2011, 02:22
There's been theories that Hitler expected a deal with Britain (fellow aryans after all) and thus at least a free hand against Russia.

When Churchill decided to fight, it never caused a re-evaluation of plans, since the showdown in the east was the end goal all along.
More Forums: The History Forum. The UK Politics Forum.
© 2000- Privacy.
[ Top ]