Role of Russia In WW2 – UPSC GS1

Critically examine the role of Russia and Stalin in defeating Nazi Germany during the Second World War. (200 Words)
Role of Josef Stalin and Russia had changed from secret pacts with Germany in 1939 to counter-offensive against them after their invasion of Russia in 1941.
  • Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, in 1939. This pact was accompanied by another secret treaty to divide the invaded territories such as Poland, Finland etc. (this was accepted by USSR in 1989). Stalin even invaded a number of Balkan countries after German invasion of Poland.
  • Stalin suffered a setback when Germans invaded Russia in 1941 and had made significant progress. They had reached till Moscow killing millions of red army soldiers and civilians. At this time, Stalin emerged as a true leader who stayed in Moscow while whole government machinery was shifted to conceptualise military strategy with his generals.
  • He shifted industrial and military production complexes to the east to protect and produce required war machinery. He also signed pact with UK and USA, for assistance to counter Germans to which they agreed but in limited sense. Allied forces did not start a second front on western side that could divert resources till late 1944; this caused Russia to take Germany head-on.
  • Stalin reversed the state policy, and re-opened churches to mobilise people for war resources with the help of the church. During late 1930s, Stalin was purging military generals, but in face of war he was more willing to listen to them and allowed them to hold onto strategic posts. Soviet ports have accepted lend-lease products from the west. Millions of civilians died due to starvation, as soviet forces were ordered to burn all standing crops during their retreat so as not to provide food to Germans.
  • Battle of Stalingrad was the watershed moment at which Russians pushed back Germans and their advance started. Russia lost millions of its soldiers and civilians to achieve victory over Germany in 1945.
Stalin gave the leadership; he changed state policies, compromised with west, aroused nationalist sentiments among people and took timely decisions in defeating Germany in WW2.

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