Russia in the Anti-Hitler Coalition, Part I

Russia in the
Coalition, Part I
War of the Century, BBC
Spanish Civil War poster
Munich, September 30, 1938: Britain and France open door to Hitler’s
occupation of Czechoslovakia
Hitler publicly and repeatedly pledged to destroy the Soviet
Union, billing himself as saviour of the West from
As a state committed to world revolution, Russia 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
But ultimately, WWII was not about revolution: it was an
interstate conflict of a traditional kind, similar to WWII,
waged on a global scale
Britain and France hoped to channel Hitler’s aggression
to the East, toward conflict with Russia – reluctant to fight
Hitler was determined to prevent Western democracies
and USSR from joining forces: beat them one by one
Stalin was determined to avoid war with Germany as long
as possible – but convinced that such a war was
1939: A divergence of interests between USSR and
Western democracies – and a convergence of interests
between Germany and USSR
The unexpected deal was logical – but only temporary
Moscow, August 23, 1939: German Foreign Minister Joachim
von Ribbentrop signs non-aggression pact with Russia
Secret Additional Protocol to the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact
Article I. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement in the areas
belonging to the Baltic States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), the northern
boundary of Lithuania shall represent the boundary of the spheres of influence
of Germany and U.S.S.R. In this connection the interest of Lithuania in the Vilna
area is recognized by each party.
Article II. In the event of a territorial and political rearrangement of the areas
belonging to the Polish state, the spheres of influence of Germany and the
U.S.S.R. shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narev, Vistula
and San.
The question of whether the interests of both parties make desirable the
maintenance of an independent Polish States and how such a state should be
bounded can only be definitely determined in the course of further political
In any event both Governments will resolve this question by means of a friendly
Article III. With regard to Southeastern Europe attention is called by the Soviet
side to its interest in Bessarabia. The German side declares its complete
political disinterestedness in these areas.
Article IV. This protocol shall be treated by both parties as strictly secret.
Moscow, August 23, 1939.
Stalin offers a toast to Hitler
September 1, 1939: Nazi Germany invades Poland
German and Soviet invasions of Poland
Soviet and Nazi officers in occupied Poland, 1939
May 1940, Dunkirk: British troops evacuated from the continent
Hitler and his High Command after occupation of France, summer 1940
1940: Hitler
in occupied
Hitler and Mussolini in Munich, June 1940
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’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
Lowest point in US-Soviet relations since 1933
Roosevelt denounced Stalin
USSR viewed as an accomplice to the Nazis
Soviet annexation of the Baltic states and invasion of
Finland condemned
The German invasion of Russia changed everything
Operation Barbarossa
June 22, 1941
Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded
the USSR along an 1,800 mile front
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
War of the Century,the invasion:
Hitler explaining the future war against Russia, March
“It is a struggle between two ideologies… Communism
presents an enormous danger for the future. A communist
has never been and never will be our comrade. It is a
struggle for annihilation. If we think otherwise, then, even if
we should crush the enemy, the communist threat will rise
again in 30 years…
This war will be vastly different from the onw in the West. In
the East, brutality is a benefit for the future. Commanders
must be ready for sacrifice and overcome their doubts.”
From the diary of General F. Halder, Chief of Staff, Land
Forces, Germany
poster: SS
forces kill the
Red beast of
German poster
Soviets: “The
lower race”
General von Richthoffen in Russia with his officers
Celebrating success in Lightning War
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.
Redeployment of industry to the East
Victims of German occupation
Stubborn resistance
The Battle of Moscow: September
1941 – January 1942
Moscow, October 1941
Women digging anti-tank moats near Moscow
Antitank barriers in downtown Moscow
November 7th, 1941: military parade in Red Square
of Soviet
forces in the
Battle of
Women in the war: medics
Women in the war: pilots
Children workers assembling weapons
The Battle of Moscow was the first
Soviet victory over Nazi Germany.
Casualties in the battle of Moscow:
250,000 – 400,000 German
600,000 – 1,300,000 Soviet