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The USSR in the Anti-Hitler Coalition. A German World War II poster.

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Presentation on theme: "The USSR in the Anti-Hitler Coalition. A German World War II poster."— Presentation transcript:

1 The USSR in the Anti-Hitler Coalition

2 A German World War II poster


4 Russian communism was a specifically Russian product of a global crisis, the hallmark of which was the start of the Era of World Wars The Russian Revolution was an act of rejection of the World War logic – and of its capitalist roots In the 1920s, under NEP, USSR experienced a brief respite from global conflict - the Soviet state was tested for its ability to serve society’s peaceful needs In the 1930s, the logic of global war reimposed itself Preparation for war – and capability to win as the main criterion of the state’s vitality and strength

5 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

6 Global civil war and interstate conflict Fierce Left-Right struggles in European countries since WWI, the lure and fear of revolution 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 Fascism as a new stage in European Left-Right conflict: to defeat the Left internally and externally Projection of the internal conflicts on interstate relations Spain: a classic example Appeasement: betrayal of Czechoslovakia The fall of democracies across Europe was due to both internal (Left vs. Right) and external (German policies) factors

7 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 Stalin saw the prospect of a new world war as an opportunity for the spread of communism: the WWI template But ultimately, WWII was not about revolution: it was an interstate conflict of a traditional kind, similar to WWII, waged on a global scale

8 The geopolitical triangle: Germany, USSR, Western democracies (WDs) WDs hoped to channel Hitler’s aggression to the East, toward conflict with Russia – reluctant to fight Germany Hitler was determined to prevent WDs and USSR from joining forces: beat them one by one Stalin was determined to avoid war with Germany as long as possible 1939: A divergence of interests between USSR and WDs – and a convergence of interests between Germany and USSR The unexpected deal was logical – but only temporary

9 September 1, 1939: Nazi Germany invades Poland


11 Soviet and Nazi officers in occupied Poland, 1939



14 May 1940, Dunkirk: British troops evacuated from the continent

15 Hitler and his High Command after occupation of France, summer 1940

16 Hitler and Mussolini in Munich, June 1940

17 1940: Hitler in occupied Paris

18 1939-1941: growing tensions between USSR and Germany 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 Stalin expected the new war to generate a new wave of revolutions – and intended to get involved 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 Each of the two intended to strike first Hitler outfoxed Stalin and delivered a crushing blow


20 June 1941: Plan Barbarossa

21 June 22, 1941: Nazi Germany invades the Soviet Union Goals:  Total destruction of the Soviet state  Colonization of the Soviet territory, together with allies – Japan especially  Enslavement of the population, turning the territory into a resource base for the Third Reich

22 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

23 General von Richthoffen in Russia with his officers


25 Rolling across Ukraine: 1941

26 Invaders

27 Nazi propaganda poster: SS forces kill the Red beast of communism

28 German poster depicting Soviets: “The lower race”

29 Soviet POWs in Auschwitz concentration camp

30 A German patrol in a Russian village

31 Celebrating success in Lightning War

32 In the wake of German occupation

33 A Holy War

34 Volunteers signing up for Red Army, 1941

35 Moscow, October 1941

36 Red Army infantry in assault

37 1942: The ruins of Stalingrad

38 Soviet “Katyusha” rocket attack

39 Stalingrad: street fighting

40 1943: Germany’s defeat at Stalingrad

41 Stalingrad: surrender of German Field Marshal von Paulus

42 Summer 1943: Soviet anti-tank unit in the Battle of Kursk

43 Soviet tanks and infantry at Kursk, summer 1943


45 German POWs in Russia

46 German POWs outside Moscow

47 Ovens in Buchenwald concentration camp

48 Buchenwald, 1945: Survivors of Hitler’s “Final Solution”

49 Berlin, 1945: Hitler’s boy soldiers

50 The Red Army takes Berlin, May 1945

51 Berlin, 1945: surrender of German High Command

52 Berlin, 1945: after the capture of Hitler’s headquarters

53 Checking out Hitler’s headquarters, May 1945

54 June 1945: Victory parade in Red Square

55 The Big Three: Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at Yalta, Feb.1945

56 July 1945: Stalin, Truman and Churchill at Potsdam, Germany

57 DIMENSIONS OF WORLD WAR TWO  Ideological: Global Right (The Axis: Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, and smaller allies) vs. Global Left (The USSR and the international communist movement) vs. Global Center (US, Britain, Nationalist China) 1939: Right and Left make a deal, liberal democracy the big loser; the Right and Center at war 1941: The Right attacks the Left and the US; a Center-Left coalition is formed 1945: The Right is defeated by the Center-Left coalition; the war’s aftermath gives a major boost to the global Left; liberal internationalism becomes the blueprint of a new world order

58 Geopolitical  The Axis as the challenger to the world order  The West is torn apart by war  USSR as a status-quo power and a victim of aggression – not as a revolutionary state  The battle for Russia as decisive for defeat of the Axis challenge  Russia’s decisive role entitles it to geopolitical gains from common victory  BUT: In the ideological atmosphere of 1945 (democracy, anti-imperialism, rights of nations, human rights) a geopolitical deal could only be couched in ideological terms incompatible with Stalinism  The geopolitical deal contained a timebomb: ideological conflict between democracy and Stalinism

59 Stalin’s wartime goals:  At first - survival of the country and the regime  Later - maximum possible spoils from the victory – a security belt in Eastern Europe  Postwar cooperation with the West, hope for Western economic assistance Stalin’s foreign policy tools: The Worker-Peasant Red Army (renamed the Soviet Army) Intelligence services (GRU and NKVD) Diplomacy (Molotov, Litvinov, Maisky) International communist movement and its allies


61 World War II losses, military and civilian 50-80 mln. dead (36 mln. in combat) Global capitalism shattered even more than by WWI The stage is set for WW III

62 Soviet losses in World War II: Over 27 mln. killed (13.6% of the population) 29 mln. took part in the fighting (including 0.8 mln. women) Battlefield losses – 9-11 mln. (Germany lost 3.25 mln.) 5.8 mln. POWs (of them 3 mln. died in concentration camps) 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 inflicted on a country

63 The war took all nine of her sons

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