The Great Patriotic War
WW2 Narrative & Key battles:
- June 1941- Nazi Gremany's Blitzkrieg tactics rip though Eastern Europe attack on all fronts, overrunning Poland, much of Ukraine & Baltic states.
- Sept 41- OPERATION BARBAROSSA starts which ended in 1944. There were an estimated 632000 deaths.
- Oct 1941- Battle of Moscow, Soviets hugely outnumbered &struggling, turned city into a fortess, lauched counter offensive aided by harsh winter which crippled the Nazi's.
- Spring 1942- Nazi's launch Stalingrad offensive. Turning point, Soviet counter-offensive tactics encircle & deplete Nazy army, pivotal Soviet triumph in 1943. estimated 750000 killed, missing or wounded Nazi soldiers, Soviets by comparison just 478741.
- July 1943- Battle of Kursk, WW2 largest tank battle ensus, Soviets tactics gain momentum. Nazi's defeated estimated 500000 soldiers killed, missing or wounded. Last major Nazi offensive.
- Jan 1945- Soviets invade Germany & head for Berlin.
- May- Germans surrender victory in Europe.
- 28 million Soviet citizens died, 1/7 of pre-war population.
- 1946= 6 million soviet soldiers taken captive (75% murderd, worked to death or starve/freeze to death)
- German invaders during War destroyed 2/3 of pre-war soviet property, destroyed 60% of steel, 65000 km of railway lines & renderd 25 million people homeless.
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Stalin's war time leadership
- Centralised power with creation of State Defence Committee (GKO= ensured decision regarding foreign policy, economic policy, armaments production could be made quickly by passing soviet bureaucracy) & Stavka (only military affairs).
- Enforced harsh punishment upon troops & generals.
- Allowed highly skilled individuals (Zhukov) more control of the army.
- Re-opened churches.
- Initialy very slow to react to Operation Barbarossa.
- Reintroduced Leninist system of Commissars atached to army officers.
- Relocated factories in East across Yural mountains.
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- Creation of GKO & Stavka= political/military decisions could be made quickly, which was crutial to organisation of army & country.
- Stalin listened= learned from his mistakes, whereas Hitler only grew more unwirlding with each failure.
- Control of Beria & NKVD ensured there was continued public support for war effort.
- Sacked incompetent genereal .
- Re-opening of churches meant that he had support from religious population.
- Army was being led by skilled individuals such as Zhukov, as Stalin gave his top generals freedom to fight.
- Relocation of factories allowed for continued heavy industry production.
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- Made big mistakes= refusal to retreat at Kharkov, 1943- cost over 85000 soviet casualties. Allowed Kiev & Leningrad to be encircled by German forces.
- Harsh treatment= generals who lost battles were executed, soldiers were tortured= lowered morale. Stalin indended to terrorise his army into fighting.
- Sometimes played key figures such as Beria, Molotov and Malenkov against eah other.
- Ignored build up of German forces on USSR border so there was no military response when Hitler invaded. Stalin wouldn't let his troops fire back.
- Slow reaction to German invasion meant that large parts of Eastern USSR were overrun.
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- Withheld any bad news that might be damaging to morale.
- Exaggerated claims of German losses.
- Stricter censorship was introduced.
- A lot of focus on national pride & patriotism.
- Adopted the term Great Patriotic War.
- Applauded previous Russian heros who had fought & succeeded in previous wars.
- Mass hatred toward the Germans generally, not just the Nazi regime.
- Stalin's name wasconstantly held up as a patriotic symbol.
- Emphasis of propaganda was mostly Russian, despite the whole of the Soviet Union being involved in the war.
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- Made up of volunteers to back up the Red Army.
- They had inadequate training & weapons, but were formed spontaneously from citizens committed to the war.
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- Gov was worried of traitors who might try to destabilise the USSR from within.
- NKVD rounded up anyone who had previous record of opposition.
- Drastic action was taken against defeatists & rumour mongers.
- Thousands of suspects were shot by the NKVD, as were soldiers who retreatedon the battlefield.
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- Restored the Russian Orthodoc Church to favour.
- Stalin met the head of the church & was given the church's blessing in the war effort.
- Meant that Soviet Unions persecuted Christians would begin to show support.
- Church began putting out propaganda leaflets against the Germans & raising money for the war effort.
- Campaigned to open up a second front, which Stalin was also keen for.
- In return the Church was able to preserve its traditional strucute & by end of 43 there were over 15000 Orthodox churches.
- Soviet historians rarely acknowledge the value of the church during the war, & instead put it down entirely to the state.
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Economy- Pre War preparation
- Provision for massive increase in war production had been made during the mid 1930s.
- Factories had been given extra capacity to produce more weapons & munitions if required.
- Majority of its workforce was vulnerable to any attack that came from the West.
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Initial impact of War on the economy
- Over 1/2 of industrial capital was taken over by Nov 1941.
- 2/5 of grain production was also taken over.
- Had no pre-determined plan to evacuate equipment.
- Not enough transport available.
- Production of coal, steel & oil were down by 1942.
- Capacity shrunk by 68% of its pre-war rate.
- Workload was stretched to capacity before the war, when the war came & people began to enlist,the economy had to shrink.
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Superiority of economy
- Out produced Germany in all key areas.
- Huge investments in Steel, machine tools and chemicals.
- This enabled the production of many modern weapons and munitions.
- Managed to relocate some industrial equipment.
- Built 3500 new factories during the war, mainly in the Urals and Siberia.
- Output doubled in munitions factories during the war.
- “The heroic feat of evacuation andrestoration of industrial capacitiesduring the war meant as much forthe country’s destiny as thegreatest battles of the war2”General Zhukov 1971
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People and the economy
- Compulsory overtime of 3 hours was introduced.
- Holidays were banished.
- If workers were thought to be slacking they would be fined or sent to labour camps.
- The government had no plan to keep the valuable people in the country and send the dispensable to war. Many of the most important people in keeping the economy afloat were sent to war.
- Labour Workforce was set up, to ensure the right people were in the right areas.
- Labour workforce acquired the sufficient amount of power to prevent agencies taking workers for the own needs elsewhere
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Summary of economy
- Economy succeeded beause the USSR massively out produced Germany.
- however it was relatively infficient & relied on its massive workforce rather than its productivity.
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