I’ve read in a couple of places that the ratio of German soldiers dying on the Eastern Front vs. the rest was 3:1. That is 3/4 of all German army deaths in WW2 took place in relation to the invasion of the Soviet Union.
Everybody with any knowledge about the WWII in Europe know that the Red Army beat the Nazi Germany. The western powers were a great help, etc, but after Stalingrad 1942-43, Kursk 1943 and so on, the Normandy invasion 1944 was a bit late, and Nazi Germany strategically already beaten. There was no chance in hell Nazi Germany would have made it after 1941, thanks to Soviet Union (nota bene: I’m certainly no communist, and of Finnish heritage, it hurts to say “thanks to Soviet Union”). But anyhow, once the Red Army got momentum in 1942 there was no stopping it although Nazi Germany threw just about everything it got into the Eastern meatgrinder, while for instance Normandy was partly defended by Soviet POW’s, and as a whole under equipped. Most generals seemed to acknowledge that it was pretty much over 1943 due to the seemingly unstoppable advance of the Red Army (Guderian, Rommel, now famous von Schtauffenberg, etc), which Hitler by the way saw as proof that the military class was not to be trusted. No Hollywood pictures, etc, but at the Eastern front was where it went down.
The numbers aren’t secret. Check the Wiki for instance, that’s where I double checked my numbers in the quote above.
Actually the Soviets without American lend-lease could not have beaten Germany, even after Stalingrad. The best the Soviets could’ve hoped for was a stalemate.
It was American lend-lease that won the war, not Soviet lives or British tenacity. Of course Germany wouldn’t have been able to beat Britian or the Soviets. Had America stayed out of it you would’ve seen a prolonged war of maybe 10 years resulting in a stalemate. Or more probably a negotiated peace once Hitler died, as his health was pretty shaky by 1944 and he most likely wouldn’t have lasted more than a few years anyway.
Churchill always spoke of no talks but it was mainly directed at Hitler. With him gone it would’ve given Churchill and out.
That’s interesting, thanks. I saw this among the links:
According to Time: “By measure of manpower, duration, territorial reach and casualties, the Eastern Front was as much as four times the scale of the conflict on the Western Front that opened with the Normandy invasion.”
The detailing of German military casualties puts the north African campaign and the western front in context. Here is Wiki on the Eastern Front
Had it not been for Pearl Harbor it would be a very different world indeed.
Lend-Lease certainly helped prevent defeat of the Soviet Union - and also resupplied Britain and the Commonwealth in the period after the Battle of Britain - but I am hard-pressed to accept “It was American lend-lease that won the war”.
It’s important to stress the value of the other fronts in World War Two. The Normandy invasion, the Italian campaign etc. were incredibly important in diverting Germany’s resources. And no one forgets the Pacific Campaign which destroyed its ally, Japan, at the cost of huge US casualties.
However, historians have no doubt that Hitler was destroyed by his fight with the Soviet Union. It was his great mistake, and became a fight to the death, for survival.
While this discussion is about German casualties, remember the Soviet losses. The usual estimate is that the Soviet Union took more than twenty millon casualties between 1941 and 1945. They say that they drowned Hitler in their blood.
When I visited friends in western Russia, they reminded me that the nearby city of Rzhev was captured and recaptured six times during the campaign. When we used a metal detector anywhere round there, it produced countless “souvenirs” of the War, guns, bullets, helmets etc. - and the bones of the dead with them.
To understand the extent of the Russian casualties, go to Zubtsov, near Rzhev, and see the War Memorial to the people who died in that area alone. At first from the road, you see just a large memorial. Then you look right and see a hill covered in lines of walls. and each wall has thousands of names of the dead. And that’s just a small part of the Russian dead.
That’s why many Russians visit their war memorials when they marry. It’s to remember their dead.
IIR, Steven Ambrose said (in Citizen Soldier, I think) that 90% of Wermacht deaths were at the hands of the Red Army. The percentage of total casualties (which normally include wounded, missing, and POW) is less, mostly because the Eastern Front was such a bitter war.
The Nazi regime was nothing if not bureaucratic, so we have a pretty good record of casualty rates, and they do indeed support the fact that the overwhelming number of casualties were incurred on the Eastern Front.
Its simply wrong to suggest that the main reason the Nazis were defeated was anything else than the sacrifice of the Russian people. There were plenty of other factors (including US lend-lease) but that is the main one.
Meh. Old Mother Russia’s winters did Napoleon in, and he was a much better conqueror than Hitler ever dreamed to be. It’s certainly true that lend-lease sped things up mightily, in that it allowed Russia to shift 100% of its production towards weapons rather than having to devote a percentage of it towards trucks and tractors, as well as allowing to throw every able-bodied man into the grinder instead of saving some of them to work the farms.
But I really doubt the Germans would have gone much further east, had Russia stood alone. There was just too much land to conquer, too many stalwart people to subdue. And of course, while the Red Army at the start of the war was just pathetic, owing to political nonsense, towards the end of the war they could have run rings around any one.
Yes, it was certainly the Eastern Front where the tide was turned in WWII. And it took 20 million Russian casualties to do it. (American Lend-Lease certainly helped: they supplied the weapons the Russians fought with. Without that, the Russians probably would have had 25 to 30 million casualties.) Russian have a reasonable case to say their sacrifice beat Hitler.
But then, you can reasonably say they were the ones who benefited the most, too.
Despite the slogan of “making the world safe for democracy”, WWII made the world safe for communism. They were the only one of the Allies to gain significant territory from the war: the eastern European countries. Meanwhile, both France & England lost their overseas empires. America turned inward, fighting among themselves with McCarthyism, blacklists, etc. Russia went on to become a world power, and managed to keep communism going for another half-century.
I must agree. Lend-lease was important and possibly vital, but to give it the main credit for the victory is really belittling and insulting the Soviet efforts and sacrifices. Most ex-Soviet citizens would be offended by such remarks.
This debate has been hashed and rehashed over and over again.
The usual thing I get from this is that American Lend-Lease managed to keep the Soviet Union going while they moved and reset their productions capability.
It is a strong possibility that without the trucks, locomotive engines (almost all of which were US made Lend Lease by 42, if I recall) and especially aircraft that the Soviet Union would have possibly been defeated, or at least severely crippled in their command and control capabilities due to the loss of Moscow.
That being said, I tend to agree that without Lend Lease, the Soviet Union would have probably survived the German onslaught, and then counter attacked, but it would have been delayed by a significant amount.
By which time, the Normandy Landing, the Allies pushing up the Italian peninsula, and other factors may have led to a very different outcome for Europe post-WW2.
A friend of mine was a Russian Studies major. He always liked this tradition, so when he and his wife (both of whom went to Bennington College) got married, they stopped in Gettysburg on their honeymoon and put her bridal bouquet on the Vermont war memorial there. Nice gesture.
While that’s a valid point. Its must also be remembered that the number of POWs taken by the Eastern-vs-Western allies in the final stages of the war was heavily skewed by the fact the NO ONE on the Axis side wanted to be taken prisoner by the soviets (with good reason), so would do everything possible to make sure they were captured by Western forces, not the Red Army. So doesn’t necessarily reflect the amount of fighting done on the western/eastern fronts.
You know, when it comes down to it I think it is most accurate to say that Hitler was responsible for Germany’s defeat. If he hadn’t insisted on attacking the Soviet Union and on declaring war on the US when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor (he was not required to do this by treaty), then Germany might have done better in World War II.
Counter to that, I suppose, is that the USSR and the US were both inclined to get involved in the war anyway, so it may not have mattered whether he chose to go to war or not since it was bound to happen anyway (indeed, attacking the Soviet Union might have been smarter than waiting to be attacked; though maybe not).
In any case, I just can’t see how you can disentangle the two in terms of what won the war. On some sort of basic level it’s obvious that the Soviets did the bulk of the fighting and their sacrifice was what won the war. At the same time, the American contribution to the fight in terms of manufactured goods and in terms of tying down the Japanese in the Pacific simply can’t be ignored as factors in allowing the Soviets to fight the Nazis effectively. For that matter, one should ignore the western front for tying up German troops and splitting their focus.