Soviet WW2 casualties

I thank "tieman64 from United Kingdom" for a particularly perceptive and accurate review ("History repeats itself," 17 July 2008).

I would only point out that Soviet casualties in World War 2 were in the neighborhood of 26-27 million (26,000,000-27,000,000), not "billion" as stated - which would have exceeded the then population of the entire world by roughly an order of magnitude.

But it's quite true that Russia actually won the European war, Patton et al, and American mythology, notwithstanding. The great bulk of the Wehrmacht was posted to the Eastern Front, not in France. On the other hand, the U.S. did win the war in the Pacific, with or without the two atomic bombs - but with considerable assistance from other countries such as Australia that tends to go unacknowledged.


To say the Soviet Union won the war in Europe is simplistic. While it is true the Western Allies never faced more than 25% of the Wermacht on the ground, it is also true that they kept vital supply links open to the Soviets and provided the bulk of effective naval and air power. The Allied contribution on the ground was also significant if not decisive: the Allied victories in North Africa and Western Europe were similar in scale to the Soviet victory at Stalingrad and the Allies were able to tie up some of the very best German Army units and commanders in Italy and North Africa through most of the war.

I think it would be more fair to say that the Soviets defeated the German Army, while the Western Allies defeated the German Navy and Air Force and severely damaged German industry and infrastructure. I seriously doubt the same outcome could have been achieved by either party alone. It is also important to note that the Germans largely defeated themselves with Hitler's reckless and grandiose strategies, combined with a failure to fully mobilize the industrial and scientific sectors until it was too late.


Of course you're right, guidonthief.

I'm not a particularly serious student of the war, but it always bugs me that Americans seem to think that Germany was defeated by Eisenhower and Patton, cheered on by Churchill, with virtually everyone else (such as the French Resistance*) playing decidedly supporting roles, and with little or no thought given to the Eastern Front. Americans learn their history from movies - and no doubt many will now sincerely believe that Hitler and his top German staff were machine-gunned down by a bunch of vengeful Jews in a Paris theater operated by a Jewish Frenchwoman and a black man!

I myself have never understood whether the attack on Russia before Britain was completely subdued and occupied was sheer madness, or whether there can have been any logic or military necessity for opening another front at that time. And I've always wondered whether the General Staff appreciated the insanity of the move. It should always have been predictable that Britain would be the obvious gateway to Europe for any US forces, unless Italy could be attacked from Africa - which of course it was, and which Churchill urged, describing it as the "soft underbelly". Without access to a still independent Britain, the US would have faced a far more difficult task in getting to the Continent.

*(And the Resistance did play only a very minor supporting role - it made itself a nuisance, but not much more than that, other than generating American sympathy and determination.)


This is pretty much Ally point of view and is very subjective and indoctrinating as well. I guess you missed coming with both Soviet and German side of the story to give more realistic picture. With Soviet Union out of the war Germany conquered the whole Europe easily, so there is no logic to talk about 'Ally' military contribution in the war, while we can talk about American. First of all, it is probably more reasonable to say that Allies faced 7,5% of German army on the ground than 75%. Nine of ten German soldiers in WWII were killed in Russia. Any need to continue? No battle in human history didn't get even close to Stalingrad and least African campaign who took 40.000 lives while Stalingrad sent to death over one million people, got involved over 2 million soldiers. Stalingrad and Battle of Kursk send to history more than half of Hitler's army so your estimation is very far from real. Even African campaign had success for Allies only after Germany started losing in the East and had to send their reinforcements to Russia. Normandy was D-day only for the Cold war set-up but not for WWII as Red Army was already on the eastern German borders on that day. Even heavy crippled Germany army was lethal for American soldiers who had no professional training, motivation or experience to face them by any means. Normandy was defended by prisoners of Wermacht mostly and lots of Ukrainians or even Russian prisoners among them but still was more than hairy for the US corps. After the battle of the Bulge only the Churchill's cry out towards Stalin made the Allies stay in Europe. Stalin pressured hardly in the East so that Allie armies don't leave where they came from. So there is no serious talk about Allie military contribution on the ground in the WWII save fighting Japanese.
As for the air, you are right. Allies did the great contribution in that part but so did Russians. While US produced long range flying fortresses to attack German industry, Soviet air force produced massive numbers of dive bombers and fighter planes which destroyed a lot of Luftwaffe power especially speaking of the fighter planes. Soviet Union was the greatest producer of airplanes in WWII after the US.
The greatest contribution of Allies in WWII was American help in money and supplies. Without that Soviet Union probably would have never defeated Nazi Germany. So, probably the most realistic thing to say is that Hitler was defeated by Red Army and American money.


You yourself have bought into a certain amount of propaganda, or perhaps are just using some national terms loosely. The majority of German troops were not killed either in "Russia" nor by "Russians", most certainly the vast majority of Soviet civilian causalities were not "Russian", Soviet yes, but not Russia. The vast majority of the blood that flowed was Ukrainian, Belorussian, Jewish and Polish and most of it flowed into Belorussian and Ukrainian soil. Soviet armies contain many Russian, but also huge numbers of other nationalities. The distinction may be pedantic, but Stalin and his successors worked very hard to whitewash the contributions and sufferings of non-Russian Soviet citizens to transform the war into the Russian "Great Patriotic War". This effort was rendered even more repugnant by the horrors inflicted on Poles, Ukrainians and Belorussians before, during and after the war by Stalinists.

You also hit one of my greatest pet peeves. though you are hardly alone in this poor use of English. The Soviet Union was NOT "the greatest producer of airplanes in WWII after the US". They were the second greatest producer of airplanes.