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World War II: The Great Patriotic War (1941-1945)


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Title: World War II: The Great Patriotic War (1941-1945)

World War II The Great Patriotic War
Pre-War DevelopmentsNazi-Soviet Pact
  • Throughout the 1930s, the Soviet Union looked to
    actively oppose the rising strength of the
    Fascists in Germany and Italy
  • - Popular Fronts Communist Parties were
    instructed to cooperate with Governments
    actively opposed to Fascist aggression
  • - The only major country to aid the
    anti-Fascists in the Spanish Civil War
  • - Was willing to defend Czechoslovakia as per
    their agreement in 1934 / France was not.
    USSR Czechoslovakia were not even invited to
    the Munich Conference
  • Germany Japan signed anti-Comintern Pact
    against the USSR in 1936. Italy and Spain joined
    in 1937 1939.

I. Pre-War DevelopmentsNazi-Soviet Pact
  • Only after Germanys annexation of all of
    Czechoslovakia did Great Britain France show
    interest in building an anti-German alliance with
    the USSR
  • - They sent a low-ranking mission to Moscow
    indicating the lack of seriousness of the
    mission (Spring, 1939)

I. Pre-War DevelopmentsStalins Assessment of
European Relations on the Eve of the Nazi-Soviet
  • Given a choice between a non-aggression pact with
    Britain and France or Germany in 1939, Stalin
    chose Germany because
  • Alliance with Britain France would mean war
    would be avoided. Based on the events of
    1917-1939, Stalin firmly believed that a
    successful communist revolution was impossible in
    peaceful conditions.
  • Non-aggression pact with Germany would mean
    partition of Poland and Soviet borders moving 200
    miles westward
  • - Soviet acquisition of the Baltic states and
  • - spheres of influence in Romania, Bulgaria, and
  • - possible sphere of influence in Yugoslavia
  • The Sovietization of Germany is likely only
    after a long, protracted war that exhausts
    Britain, France and Germany.
  • If Germany was victorious against Britain
    France, it would not pose a threat to the USSR
    for at least 10 years because it would be too

I. Pre-War DevelopmentsNazi-Soviet Pact
  • Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (August, 1939)
  • - Non-aggression pact
  • - Germany was free to fight in the West /
    Soviet Union bought time to build up its
  • - a secret protocol allowed the Soviet Union to
    annex the Baltic states and occupy
    eastern Poland (Belorussian and Ukrainian
    territory taken by the Poles during the
    Russian Civil War in 1921).
  • - 1940 The Soviet Union also annexed territory
    from Romania and formed the Moldavian Soviet
    Socialist Republic.

Development of the Soviet Armed Forces, 1939-1941
January 1, 1939 June 22, 1941 increase
Divisions calculated 131.5 316.5 140.7
Personnel 2,485,000 5,774,000 132.4
Guns and mortars 55,800 117,600 110.7
Tanks 21,100 25,700 21.8
Aircraft 7,700 18,700 142.8
I. Pre-War DevelopmentsThe Soviet-Finnish War
  • The Soviet Government requested that the Finns
    give up some of its territory near Leningrad, the
    second largest city inn the USSR, in exchange for
    a much larger area further north (Karelia).
  • The Soviets were anxious to defend Leningrad and
    keep the Gulf of Finland free of German and enemy
  • A border incident where Finnish forces shelled
    Soviet border forces sparked the war. (Nov.

I. Pre-War DevelopmentsThe Soviet-Finnish War
  • The much smaller Finnish Army fought very well,
    inflicting large losses on the Red Army.
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II. The Outbreak of the War Why Did Nazi Germany
Want War with the USSR?
  • Eastward colonial expansion
  • - Liebensraum for German farming settlers
  • - Raw materials and food produce from Ukraine,
  • - Soviet industries would be dismantled / the
    population would be worked to death by the Nazis.
  • - Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians (Slavs)
    were subhumans and barbarians not worthy of being

II. Nazi Racial Theory Regarding the Peoples of
the USSR
  1. According to Nazi racial theory, Slavs (Russians,
    Ukrainians, Belorussians) were subhuman.
  2. Armenians biologically were related to Jews
  3. Soviet Asians inferior Mongols
  4. Georgians Estonians Aryans
  5. Latvians Lithuanians fit for Germanization

II. The Outbreak of the War Why Did Nazi Germany
Want War with the USSR?
  • 2. Bolshevism a Jewish-Slavic conspiracy
    against the German race.
  • - Hitler wrote extensively in Mein Kampf his
    hatred of Jews. The Jews were responsible for
    Communist ideology (Marx was a Jew) that looked
    to destroy German culture in favor of
    proletarian internationalism
  • - The Slavs were barbarians duped by the Jewish

II. The Outbreak of the War The Warnings
  • Soviet authorities received many accurate
    warnings of the coming attack from
  • - diplomatic, military, and intelligence
    channels from Soviet as well as Western
  • - Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt
    DIRECTLY warned Stalin of the impending attack
  • - German deserters
  • - even the GERMAN AMBASSADOR to the Soviet
  • Stalin believed this was all Western
    disinformation that tried to provoke the USSR
    into war with the Nazis. Stalin and his inner
    circle mistrusted Hitler, but mistrusted
    Roosevelt Churchill even more.

II. The Outbreak of the War The Warnings
  • Friedrich-Werner Graf von der Schulenburg
  • Named German ambassador to the Soviet Union in
  • Favored good relations with the Soviet Union.
  • Played an important role bringing about the
    Nazi-Soviet Pact.
  • Warned the Soviet Ambassador to Berlin about the
    coming Nazi attack on the USSR
  • My ambassador, perhaps this has never yet taken
    place in the history of diplomacy, but I intend
    to reveal to you state secret number one pass
    this on to Mr. Molotov, and I hope he will inform
    Mr. Stalin Hitler has decided on 22 June to
    start a war against the USSR. You ask, why am I
    doing this? I was brought up in the spirit of
    Bismark, and he was always against war with
  • Schulenburg was executed in 1944 for being part
    of a plot to assassinate Hitler.

II. The Outbreak of the War The Repression in
the Red Army of the Red Army
  • The losses as a result of the Purges in the
    military were staggering
  • 3 of the 5 Marshals
  • 15 of the 16 army commanders
  • All of the corps commanders
  • Almost all division and brigade commanders
  • 1937-1938 the Purge in the Soviet Army led to
    the loss of 15,000 officers, about 10-15 of the
  • 1940 of the 225 regional commanders on active
  • - not 1 was educated in a military academy
  • - 25 finished a military school
  • - remaining 200 had only completed the course
    for junior lieutenants
  • At the beginning of 1940
  • - more than 70 of the divisional commanders
  • - about 70 of the regimental commanders

The Destruction of the Soviet High Command
  • The Soviet Marshals Tukhachevsky, Voroshilov,
    Yegorov, Budenny, Blyuher. Only Voroshilov and
    Budenny survived the Purges of 1937-1938.

II. The Outbreak of the War
  • June 22, 1941 Germans launched Operation
    Barbarossa the attack on the Soviet Union
  • - Largest land-air invasion in military
    history 190 divisions (5.5 million troops) of
    German, Romanian, Finnish, Hungarian,
    Slovakian and Italian troops along a 2,000 mile
  • - 4,000 tanks / 5,000 aircraft, 47,000
    artillery pieces
  • 200 warships
  • - The entire Eastern Front was 3,720 miles
  • After the invasion took place, Stalin disappeared
    from public view for more than a week.

Operation Barbarossa
II. The Outbreak of the WarThe Fronts
  • 3 Main Fronts of the War
  • German Army Group North gt Leningrad
  • German Army Group Center gt Moscow
  • German Army Group South gt Kiev, Rostov-on-Don

II. The Outbreak of the WarThe Siege of

II. The Outbreak of the WarThe Siege of
  • Army Group North gt Leningrad / The Siege of
  • - By September 8, 1941 the Germans had fully
    encircled Leningrad and the blockade began.
  • - The siege lasted for a total of 900 days, from
    September 8 1941 until January 27 1944.
  • - The city's almost 3 million civilians
    (including about 400,000 children) refused to
    surrender and endured rapidly increasing
    hardships in the encircled city.
  • - In January 1942 in the depths of an unusually
    cold winter, the city's food rations reached an
    all time low of only 125 grams (about 1/4 of a
    pound) of bread per person per day.
  • - In just two months, January and February of
    1942, 200,000 people died in Leningrad of cold
    and starvation. Despite these tragic losses and
    the inhuman conditions the city's war industries
    still continued to work and the city did not
  • - Several hundred thousand people were evacuated
    from the city across Lake Ladoga via the famous
    "Road of Life"
  • - Dmitry Shostakovich wrote his Seventh
    "Leningrad" Symphony and it was performed in the
    besieged city.
  • - In January 1943 the Siege was broken and a
    year later, on January 27 1944 it was fully
    lifted. At least 641,000 people had died in
    Leningrad during the Siege (some estimates put
    this figure closer to 800,000).

II. The Outbreak of the WarThe Fronts
  • 2. Army Group Center gt Moscow
  • - The Germans aimed their main blow at Moscow.
    Hitler increased his and his allies divisions to
    240 and made an all-out push to capture the
    Soviet capital.
  • - By November, 1941, The Germans encircled the
    city on three sides and they came within 20 miles
    of it but never captured it.
  • - In late-November, the first successful Soviet
    counter-offensive led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov
    resulted in the successful defense of Moscow.

II. The Outbreak of the WarThe Fronts
  • 3. Army Group South . Kiev, Rostov-on-Don
  • - Entire Soviet armies were smashed and taken
    prisoner at Bialystok, Minsk and Kiev.
  • - As a result of early German successes, 40 of
    the Soviet population, half of its industrial
    output and a third of its food production where
    under its control.
  • - Nazi troops advanced up to 155 miles by June
    25 and 372 miles by July 10, 1941.

II. The Outbreak of the WarGerman Losses
  • In the first four months of the Great Patriotic
  • - over 500,000 officers and soldiers. The
    Nazis lost a total of 300,000 troops in the
    first two years of WWII.
  • - Although the Germans occupied much
    Soviet territory, they failed to take
    Leningrad, Moscow or the rich oil reserves in
    the Caucasus.

III. Soviet and German Offensives, 1942
  • December, 1941 April 1942
  • Soviet counter-offensive in December pushed
    German troops between 62-155 miles from Moscow.
  • - However, they failed to achieve their overall
    objectives of lifting the siege of Leningrad,
    smash the three main German Army groups and to
    clear German troops out of Crimean and the
  • Overall, between January April 1942, Soviet
    forces advanced some 186-248 miles to the west.
  • - The Germans lost between 400,000-800,000 men
  • - The Soviets lost an average of 19,000 people
    a day.
  • - More than 50 Soviet generals were taken
    prisoner in the first year of the war.

III. Soviet and German Offensives, 1942
  • Summer Fall, 1942
  • The Germans launched an offensive with 2 main
    goals in mind
  • 1. capture the oil fields in southern
    Russia (the Caucasus)
  • 2. capture Stalingrad

III. Soviet and German Offensives, 1942
  • The Caucasus Front
  • - Before the Caucasus offensive, the Germans
    recaptured all of the Crimea (Sevastopol), taking
    90,000 Soviet prisoners. They also retook the
    Donbass, capturing 200,000 more Soviet soldiers.
  • - Germans desire to capture Soviet oil fields
    failed partly as a result of the fierce fighting
    at Stalingrad.
  • - Red Army halted German advances in December.
    January, 1943 they launched a counter-attack.
  • - Soviets killed 200,000 German troops and
    destroyed approximately 900 tanks and 2,000

III. Soviet Counter-Offensive, 1942-1943
  • 2. Battle of Stalingrad
  • Hitler wanted to capture Stalingrad because it
    bore the Soviet leaders name.
  • The battle was waged for over 200 days and nights
    / the fiercest battle in all of the War
  • The Germans surrendered on February 2, 1943.
    This was the first major loss the Germans
    experienced during the war
  • - German losses about 800,000
  • - Soviet losses about 1,080,000
  • Turning point of WWII for the Allies.

III. Allies in Action During the Battle of
Stalingrad 1942-1943
  • October 1942 British under General Montgomery
    defeated the Germans in El Alamein in North
  • - The victory resulted in 55,000 German and
    Italian deaths and the destruction of 320 tanks
    and nearly 1,000 pieces of artillery.
  • Compared to Stalingrad where the Germans had over
    1 million soldiers in battle, at El Alamein, less
    than 100,000 German and Italian forces opposed
    the British.

IV. From Stalingrad to the Liberation of the
Soviet Union
IV. From Stalingrad to the Liberation of the
Soviet Union
  • Summer, 1943 Battle of Kursk
  • In the absence of a second front in Europe,
    Hitler sent massive reinforcements (200 divisions
    in total) to the Eastern Front.
  • The largest tank battle in the history of warfare
    began on July 5, 1943
  • - 1.3 million Soviet soldiers 3,444 tanks,
    2,900 aircraft, 19,000 guns faced 900,000
    Germans with 2,700 tanks, 2,000 aircraft, and
    10,000 guns.
  • The fighting lasted for 50 days
  • - The Red Army won / heavy casualties
  • - German forces lost 30 divisions including 7
    armored divisions 500,000 men, and almost
    1,500 tanks.

IV. From Stalingrad to the Liberation of the
Soviet Union
  • Between August and December 1943, the Red Army
    liberated most of central Russia and the Ukraine.
  • 200,000 German Romanian troops were trapped in
    the Crimea.
  • By the end of 1943, the Germans lost 2/3 of the
    territory they had occupied since June, 1941.

IV. From Stalingrad to the Liberation of the
Soviet Union
  • 1944 became known as the year of Stalins ten
    great victories.
  • The relief of Leningrad (January)
  • The encirclement of German troops in south-west
    Ukraine and entry into Romania (Feb.-Mar.)
  • The destruction of German forces in the Crimea
  • The defeat of Finnish forces and re-establishment
    of the 1940 frontier (June)
  • Liberation of Belorussia (Belarus), including the
    destruction of 25 German divisions (June)
  • The entry of Soviet forces into Poland against
    fierce resistance (July)
  • The liberation of Romania and Bulgaria (August)
  • The liberation of Latvia and Estonia (September)
  • The liberation of Belgrade, Yugoslavia (October)
  • The expulsion of German troops from northern
    Finland and Norway (October)

V. The Road to Berlin
  • Poland Liberation of Warsaw (Jul. 1944 Sept
  • Soviet forces under Konstantin Rokossovsky
    reached the Vistula River across from Warsaw in
    July 1944.
  • Soviet forces stopped their advance.
  • Warsaws underground resistance rose up against
    the Germans, anticipating Soviet help. Soviet
    response to why there was no help given to the
    Poles was that the Red Army needed to rest after
    heavy advances.
  • 300,000 Poles were killed resisting the Nazis.
  • Soviet forces liberated Warsaw in January, 1945.

V. The Road to Berlin
  • Operation Overlord Allied invasion of Normandy
    (June, 1944)
  • - the Second Front that Stalin was calling for
    from the Allies
  • - Anglo-American forces crossed the English
    Channel, capturing a vital beachhead in
  • In the winter / spring of 1943-1944, the
    Wehrmachts mounting losses in the East forced
    the German High Command to send some 40
    additional divisions to the Soviet front.
  • - By the time of the landing in France, almost
    75 of the divisions of the Nazi bloc
    countries were fighting in the East.

V. The Road to Berlin
  • April 1945 began the Battle for Berlin
  • - More than 6,000 tanks, 8,000 aircraft and
    40,000 guns of all types were used by the Red
  • April 25, 1945, Soviet forces crossed the Elba
    River and established contact with units of the
    American First Army.

Soviet Flag Hoisted Over the Reichstag May, 1945
VI. The Cost of Victory The Fighting
  • The Soviet forces never faced less than 90 of
    German frontline combat strength on land.
  • The Eastern Front saw
  • - the largest artillery battle (Stalingrad)
  • - the largest tank battle (Kursk)
  • - the largest single land operation

VI. The Cost of Victory The Human Toll
  • 1. In the winter of 1941-1942, more Leningraders
    starved to death every month as a result of the
    German siege than the total of British civilians
    killed by German bombs in the entire war.
  • - the 1 million premature deaths in this one
    city exceeded the combined military and
    civilian casualties of the British Empire and the
    United States.
  • 2. Between 50-60 people died worldwide as a
    result of WWII half were Soviet citizens.
  • - 27-30 million Soviet citizens died
  • - 5.7 million Soviet prisoners of war fell into
    German hands. As many as 4.7 million died.
  • 3. 60 of the Red Army was comprised of peasants.
    They bore the brunt of the fighting casualties.

VI. The Cost of Victory The Economic Toll
  • Roughly 30 of the pre-war economy had been
  • - In the occupied territories (Ukraine, Belarus,
    Russia) up to 2/3 of the economy was destroyed.
  • The Germans completely or partially destroyed and
  • - 1,710 towns and settlements and more than
    70,000 villages and hamlets
  • - 6 million buildings and rendered homeless
    about 25 million people
  • - destroyed 31,580 industrial enterprises
  • - decomissioned metal works that accounted for
    60 of the countrys steel and mines yielding
    more than 60 of the countrys coal
  • - destroyed 65,000 kilometers of railroads and
    4,100 stations
  • - destroyed 36,000 post and telegraph
    installations, telephone exchanges and other
    communications enterprises
  • - slaughtered, seized, or drove back to Germany
    7 million horses, 17 million cattle and oxen, 20
    million pigs, 27 million sheep and goats.
  • - destroyed and looted 40,000 hospitals and
    other medical establishments
  • - destroyed and looted 84,000 schools, colleges,
    universities, research institutes and 43,000

VII. Reasons for Soviet Victory
  • The evacuation of industries and capital assets
    out of reach of the Germans (east of the Ural
    Mountains and Central Asia)
  • - 1,523 large-scale key and military industries
    were evacuated or 10 of the countrys net
    capital stock
  • - led to a mini industrial revolution in places
    like Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan
  • - The results of the industrial evacuation were
    critical it supplied the Red Army with the
    equipment necessary to survive through Stalingrad
    and win there.
  • 2. The Third Five Year Plan had the Soviet
    economy producing a wide range of weapons
    exceeded only by Germany.
  • 3. The war was seen as a war for defense of the
    motherland / patriotic, not communist goals
  • - Stalin referred to heroes of the Russian past
  • - met with the leader of the Russian Orthodox
    Church and allowed it to openly operate

The Russian Orthodox Church During the Great
Patriotic War
VII. Reasons for Victory The Evacuation of
  • The government ordered a project to recommission
    the big Zaporozhstal steel works from the
    Ukraine to Chebarkul, near Chelyabinsk in the
    Urals a job which, under prewar circumstances,
    might have taken years. They were given
    seventy-five days, from the end of December, 1941
    to mid-March, 1942. They had to reestablish
    seven main and eleven auxiliary production shops
    together with railway lines, water supplies, air
    shafts all of this in -45 degree weather, with
    the soil frozen to the depths of two meters.
    They had to heat the ground, drill it and break
    it up with explosives, keep the concrete from
    freezing, working round the clock, often holding
    production conferences at 2 and 3 a.m. The job
    was finished ahead of schedule, in six weeks.
  • - Barber and Harrison, The Soviet Home Front
    1941-1945, pg. 139

VII. Reasons for Soviet Victory
  • 4. The heroism of the Soviet people
  • - the soldiers
  • - the Partisans
  • - the women, children and old-aged who
    worked in the factories and the farms
    replacing the able-bodied men called to the

VII. Reasons for Soviet Victory
  • 5. The superiority of the Soviet Commanders
  • - Georgiy Zhukov planned or commanded every
    major Soviet victory in WWII (Leningrad, Moscow,
    Stalingrad, Kursk, liberation of the USSR,
  • Zhukov Rokossovsky Timoshenko
    Konev Vasilevsky Malinovsky

VII. Reasons for Soviet Victory
  • 6. Allied Help
  • - Soviet Union received aid from the United
    States through Lend-Lease. A smaller amount
    came from Great Britain.
  • - Aid arrived by 3 main routes
  • a) Arctic convoys up the coast of Scandinavia
    to the White Sea and the Soviet ports of
    Arkhangelsk Murmansk
  • b) Land route through Iran (brought under
    Allied occupation Aug.-Sept 1941) over the
    mountains into Soviet Central Asia
  • c) Far East From Alaska across the Bering

VII. Reasons for Soviet Victory
  • Lend-Lease meant
  • - thousands of aircraft, tanks, trucks and
  • - 1.3 million tons of machinery
    industrial equipment
  • - 6 million tons of steel non-ferrous metals
  • - 4 million tons of foodstuffs
  • - 15 million pairs of army boots
  • - chemicals petrochemicals
  • - 10 billion worth of aid or 4 of overall
    Soviet production.
  • The majority of this aid came AFTER the Soviet
    defeat of Nazi forces at Stalingrad. Soviet
    domestic production contributed to the defense of
    the country and the victory at Stalingrad.
    Allied aid contributed to the speedier defeat of
    the Nazis.
  • What the Allies paid for in weapons and material
    aid, the Soviets paid for in blood.

VIII. Liberation of Holocaust Survivors
  • The Red Army liberated most of the concentration
    camps located in eastern Europe while American,
    British, Canadian and French forces liberated
    concentration camps in northern and western
  • Major concentration camps liberated by the Red
  • 1. Auschwitz-Birkenau the largest
    concentration camp
  • 2. Majdanek
  • 3. Chelmno
  • 4. Sachsenhausen
  • 5. Ravensbrueck
  • 6. Stutthof

VIII. Jews in the Red Army
  • More Jews served in the Red Army than any other
    Allied army in World War II (501,000 / 1939
    prewar Jewish population was 3 million).
  • - 167,000 officers / 276 Generals and Admirals
    / 334,000 enlisted men)
  • - 198,000 died fighting
  • - 160,772 received awards medals
  • - 149 Hero of the Soviet Union
  • - 25,000 Jewish Partisans fought in Ukraine
  • - 30,000 Jewish Partisans fought in Belarus
  • Anatoly Shapiro, the first Soviet officer to lead
    his troops into Auschwitz when it was liberated,
    is Jewish.
  • - "I was very proud of being in the vanguard of
    the liberators, not so much because I was a
    Jew liberating the camp, but because we, the
    Red Army, liberated it."
  • - "The Soviet Union has disappeared, but
    these medals remain. I am very sorry the
    Soviet Union no longer exists. I lived the
    majority of my life there, and it was my home.
    (Shapiro is 94 / resides in NY)