Stalin and the Soviet Union

By Stephen J. Lee | Go to book overview

6

THE SOVIET UNION AT WAR, 1941-5

BACKGROUND NARRATIVE

Stalin had agreed to the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany in August 1939 to prevent-or postpone-the outbreak of war between Germany and Russia. Yet, on 22 June 1941, Hitler invaded the Soviet Union. The result was military collapse of astonishing rapidity with most of the losses of Soviet troops and equipment throughout the Second World War occurring during the first year of Soviet involvement. Stalin had ordered the withdrawal of the Soviet border troops in Soviet-occupied Poland, which meant that the German panzer divisions, now well-drilled in their Blitzkrieg (lightning war) strategy, could slice through the Ukraine to establish, by 1942, a front extending from Leningrad in the north to Moscow in the centre and Stalingrad in the south. Stalin himself withdrew for a while from public life and Hitler confidently predicted the end of the campaign and of the Soviet state.

Yet, from the end of 1942, a remarkable recovery occurred. The first major success of the Soviet forces was the Battle for Moscow, which prevented the capture of the Soviet capital. The Soviet leadership then decided to concentrate the defensive action on the city of Stalingrad, in which the Germans were eventually forced to surrender in 1943. This was followed by the Soviet victory in the tank battle at Kursk. From this stage onwards the Soviet counterattack gathered momentum. Kiev was recaptured by November 1943 and Leningrad early in 1944. The Red Army then went on to

THE SOVIET UNION AT WAR, 1941-5

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Stalin and the Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Series Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements viii
  • 1 - Stalin's Rise and Rule 1
  • 2 - Stalinist Politics and Terror 16
  • 3 - Stalin's Economic Policies 35
  • 4 - Society and Culture 54
  • 5 - Stalin's Foreign Policy, 1929-41 65
  • 6 - The Soviet Union at War, 1941-5 79
  • 7 - Stalin's Post-War Regime, 1945-53 96
  • 8 - An Overall Summary 110
  • Notes 113
  • Bibliography 118
  • Index 121
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