Why the USSR won WWII

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  • Created by: Holly
  • Created on: 04-05-13 17:21

Early setbacks and how the USSR overcame them

- Precise information about the attack defected German soldiers and the British government was ignored; front commanders under strict instruction not to take orders, had to ask for orders when the Germans attacked

- Stalin was unprepared; his plans for preparation wouldn't be finished until 1942

- The Red Army had only 2.9 mil men to the 3.7 mil Germans sent during Barbarossa

- Military leaders had limited experience; 401 of 456 Red Army colonels removed from their positions during the Terror; 75% officers in the Red Army had been in their roles for less than a year at the time of Barbarossa

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Soviet preparation wasn't perfect, but success of the Third Year Plans meant that Russia entered the war better prepared than France or Britain:

- By 1939, there were 6 new aircraft factories and 24 new explosives factories

- In 1942, no. tanks produced was twice that of 1938

- Production of armaments between 1941 and 1944 doubled

Russia had more money than Germany:

- Mistakes of Nazi economic boss, Hermann Goering: living standards should be kept high to ensure popular support; opposed mass production so for much of the war, fewer than 1000 aircraft produced a month

- Germany spent $1 bil more over the course of the war

- By 1943, Hitler reckoned that the German economy was four years behind schedule

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Errors by Hitler

Hitler became over-confident:

- Launching a second front while still at war with Britain and France was over-ambitious and left the German army weakened

- Operation Barbarossa launched later than intended due to pressure from the Western Front, but Hitler failed to take that as a sign of his army being overworked

- German troops were unable to reach Moscow before the winter and were unable to cope with conditions; 'General Winter'

- Decided to lay siege to Leningrad and Moscow, rather than take them by force; prolonged the war, giving the Russian army time to regoup and mount a successful counter-attack

- Sent troops to Stalingrad and Ukraine before conquering Leningrad and Moscow, meaning that the German army was overstretched and Hitler was unable to conquer Russian's capital

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Environmental factors

- Russia better equipped to cope with winter, e.g. better tanks, better lubricating oils, used anti-freeze unlike the Germans

- Germans' fuel froze - they had to light fires under equipment

- German guns couldn't cope - soldiers had to chip the frozen grease out of their barrels to load bullets

- The Germans had to burn fuel unnecessarily on heaters and fire

- Russians had winter uniforms, unlike the Germans, who prioritised sending fuel and ammunition

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Enthusiasm of the Russian people

- Leningrad did not riot or surrender despite starvation when under siege by the Germans; honoured with the title of 'Hero City' by Stalin

- Traditional nationalism used as motivation; men called to fight for the Motherland, 'Mother Russia'; soldiers encouraged to call the Germans 'Fritz' or '*****'

- Russia Orthodox Church re-established - 414 churches allowed to reopen in the final year of the war

- 500,000 people were conscripted each month to help the Russians cope with the onslaught of Blitzkrief, which could never have happened without some willing of the Russian people

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Extra support

Roosevelt's Lend-Lease scheme to help aid Britain with American resources during the war was extended to the Russians in November 1941.

- Arguably of minor significance in terms of military support and industry; more significant in terms of food and transport

- 12% aeroplanes, 10% tanks, 2% artillery used by Soviets during the war were American

- 4% industrial goods used by Soviets during the war were American

- Approx. 17% Red Army calorie intake by 1943 was American

- Approx. 12 million Red Army soldiers were recieving 200gms US food per day by the end of the war

- 1,900 of 2,000 trains used by Soviets during the war were American

- Two-thirds of cars used by the Red Army during the war were American Jeeps

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Executive - Stalin's leadership

- Only took two days off over the course of the entire war

- Created the Nazi-Soviet Pact with his political enemy in order to give himself and the USSR time to prepare for the inevitable war

- Relaxed his stance on Communism, e.g. by accepting Lend-Lease, and used Nationalism and the church to keep morale high

- Allowed commanding officers to have full control, rather than micro-manage himself, as demonstrated by the relief of Leningrad

- Moved Soviet industry to the safe side of Moscow to stop the Germans taking armament factories - 1,523 factories moved by November 1941

- Race to Berlin cost 90,000 Soviet soldiers' lives, but could be seen as an attempt to keep on going past Berlin and against the Allies - 'Death to the German Occupiers! Forward to the West!' propaganda - or prevent re-emergence of the Nazis near the Alps

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