II World War: A history that shaked entire world

Victory Day is not only a military parade that takes place annually in Moscow on May 9th and Europe Day on May 8th. It is a remembrance of winning the war against Nazism and commemoration of all soldiers, doctors, scholars, students, the fate of their families – all those who gave their lives through their country, could continue to exist, through nations strive for a better future.

The Soviet Union won World War II, but it wouldn’t be possible, without huge help of the United States. It was thanks to the United States that a second front was opened in northern France. Thanks  to financial assistance the Soviet Union was able to buy and produce military equipment and to modernize it just like the T-34 tank. It was thanks to American help in the form of clothes and nutrition that Soviet soldiers were able to push the enemy to Berlin. This help also enabled millions of Soviet citizens to survive. I would like to present to you how the Allies and the Soviet Union were enabled to win over the Third Reich.

ECONOMIC SITUATION OF THE THIRD REICH, BEFORE THE WORLD WAR II

The United States knew that since the Third Reich’s Führer took power, he began to accelerate. Large loans granted to Germany, according to the Dawes Plan in 1924, which assumed the distribution of Germany’s war reparations over time and a loan of 200 million USD for repayment reparations. The plan meant that the Reich was relatively politically and economically stable, which allowed to borrow twice as much as repayment of liabilities, which is why in 1929 the Young Plan was created. The plan provided for a reduction in the reparations imposed on Germany for a longer period, although the plan to restructure the Germany’s economy in the form of loans was provided by US lenders.

Hjalmar Schacht

Before the Great Depression, large American investments of over 20 billion USD, flowed into Germany. Barely affected by the Germany’s economy, the crisis focused on the development of military infrastructure and highways. The growing German debt caused the president of Reichbank, Hjalmar Schacht, to introduce the, so called, Mefo-Wechsel bills of exchange, which enabled cashless financing of job creation programs and the expansion of the defense program. After the Anschluss of Austria on March 12, 1938, over 78 tons of gold and currencies were transferred from the Austrian national bank Oesterreichische Nationalbank to the German Reich Bank Reichsbank. The amount of gold from Austria was three times higher than Germany’s gold reserves. I would like to remind you that the German mark was not a convertible currency at the time.

THIRD REICH’S ATTACK ON THE SOVIET UNION

Atak III Rzeszy na ZSRR

Did Hitler beat Stalin? In my opinion, yes. They both knew their alliance will not be a permanent non aggression pact. They both knew, that one of them will attack, they did not know when. The Third Reich’s army was experienced in battles when they implemented the „Barbarossa Plan”, which was delayed by more than half a year due to Mussolini’s clumsiness in the battles for Albania and Greece. Stationed Allied troops in Greece and Crete (Great Britain, New Zealand, Australia and the Kingdom of Greece) in the ongoing battles had to recognize the superiority of Nazi troops, leaving most of the heavy equipment in the hands of the Axis States and fleeing to Turkey. Conducting intervention in the Balkans, Nazi Germany also conducted raids on England.

After conquering France, annexing Austria, occupying Poland and Czechoslovakia, Hitler sought to conquer Eastern Europe before winter. On June 22, 1941, the attack on the Soviet Union began (two days earlier than Napoleon Bonaparte’s Russian Campaign). Mein Kampf’s goals are beginning to be as real as possible in the eyes of the Fuhrer.

Stalin, however, refused to let himself think that he had been betrayed by his „ally.” Although Britain’s prime minister, Wilson Churchill, sent reports of a possible invasion, the Secretary General of the Communist Party ignored them, just as he ignored information from the USSR border guards. General Zhukov asked Stalin to allow the army to be ready. Stalin, however, stayed with his opinion. In addition, Hitler sent two letters to Stalin informing him of the need to move troops deep into the Soviet Union to remain outside the reach of the British RAF. Stalin believed that the invasion was a provocation that took place without the knowledge of Hitler.

Could Stalin beat Hitler? In my opinion, at the turn of 1942-1943, the Soviet Union would be fully ready to take up the first offensive. If the great losses suffered by the USSR and industrial development were ignored at the same pace, the Soviet Union would be able to invade the Third Reich at the time I mentioned. Also within this period, troops and staff would be trained in an appropriate manner to successfully invade.

In 1941, the USSR was only just introducing the T-34 tanks and a series of KW tanks, the only mass-produced tank in the world until ’42. However, it cannot be said that the USSR was a backward country. In the 1930s, intensive industrialization of the state occurred, becoming one of the largest economies in the world, however with large losses to the forefront. The design of new tanks and aircraft set new standards in the military industry. Stalin, however, did not have sufficient staff to initiate the attack on the Third Reich after purges carried out in his ranks and exiles on Siberia. The Red Army also gave way to the Third Reich in terms of training. On the day of the attack, the Soviet army had 5 million soldiers, about 9,000 aircraft, 23,000 tanks, and slightly more than 116,000 cannons and mortars. The Soviets were just introducing new weapons. Most of the arsenal was old technology.

The Third Reich sent over 3 million soldiers, over 3,500 tanks, about 12,000 mortars and
self-propelled guns to the Eastern Front, and also about 3,000 aircrafts. The disperse of the Reich’s forces into three main currents, which went north to Leningrad under the command of Field Marshal Wilhelm von Leeb, to the south to Rostov on Don Field Marshal Gerda von Rundsted and the strongest and most numerous troops led to Moscow by General Fedor von Bock. In Latvia and Ukraine, the locals gladly joined the Nazi army to fight against Stalin’s oppression. The Reich probably conquered the area until it reached the vicinity of Moscow, where the Soviet counter-offensive took place.

THE GREAT FATHERLAND WAR – SOVIET’S UNION COUNTER-OFFENCIVE

Nazi planners believed that the Soviet lands would be conquered within four months and Soviets defeated. Within 6 days, the Nazis appeared in Minsk. Hitler underestimated the weather conditions, which always favored Soviet Union, and now it also was in the Soviet’s Union favour. In 1941, the first snow fell very early. Already at the beginning of October, which was also a surprise to the inhabitants of the Soviet republics. Not only snow began the problems of the German army. Already at the beginning of September, the weather started to announce that it would be against the Nazi aggressors. Long and heavy rain stopped the offensive of General Fedor von Bock’s middle army for almost two months. It resumed just before the first snowfall in early October. Roads were another problem. Few roads were well established and most turned into mud. Tanks and other tracked vehicles could barely make their way forward.

The Nazi army began to feel the climate. There was a shortage of supplies, food and fuel for vehicles. The soldiers were more and more exhausted.

When NKWD agents learned that Japan was not planning an attack on the Soviet Union, the transport of troops to the European part of the USSR automatically started. At the beginning of November Tichwińsk Operation began to prevent the encirclement of Leningrad. Also in Operation Rostowska, effective attempts were made to destroy the army of Field Marshal Gerd von Rundsted. From the end of November, when the Nazi army was already 30 km from Moscow, their offensive continued until December 5. On December 5th, 1941, Kalinski Front struck von Bock’s army, which ordered the suspension of the offensive and retreat of the army. Thanks to this, the forces of the Third Reich withdrew more than 100 km back.

From that point until the end of 1942, the Soviet army regained most of its territory under their rule before the Nazi attack. In the summer of 1943, the German-Soviet front line ran from Lake Ladoga and Leningrad, up to Kharkov along the Donetsk and Siewierski rivers to the eastern shores of the Azov Sea.

THE GAME CHANGER. UNITED STATES JOIN TO THE WAR

In 1922, a J.P. Morgan’s representative, later US Secretary of State, John Foster Dulles met with the later president of the Third Reich’s central bank, Hjalmar Schacht, and announced to him the position of the largest holding company in the world: „Germany must get a loan of five billion marks in gold to immediately transfer to France. This money can be obtained not from a state loan, but from private cartels. I want to create, say, four private German cartels. For every 20 years, the German government would guarantee a monopoly on the export of mass products: coal, potassium, sugar and cement.”

By implementing the plan, with the help of Ford Motor Company and Standard Oil of New Jersey Rockefeller (today’s Exxon Mobil), General Motors and other financial powers, they formed the core of German power; IG Farben, the only supplier of synthetic rubber, aluminum, magnesium, sulfur and lubricants in the world. Germany would not have been able to prepare for war had it not been for the newly created company. For example, German aircraft could not fly without using the Standard Oil fuel mix. It was also American fuel that allowed the Nazis to enter Poland in 1939, in 1940 to Paris, and in 1941 to start campaigns against the Soviet Union. Without the United States, the World War II would not be possible.

The Lend-Lease Act was an act of March 11, 1941, under which the United States provided equipment, supplies and food assistance to its allies, during World War II. Fighting British in the Battle of Britain, at the end of 1941 began to run out of cash, thanks to which they bought equipment on the basis of contracts signed with the US „Cash and Carry”. On November 30th, 1941, President Roosevelt approved a US $ 1 billion loan to the British government. The British received the most help (about 32 billion USD), to a much lesser extent (about 12 billion USD) than the Soviet Union, which primarily needed food and clothing for its citizens and soldiers. Of course, they also allocated the intended money for the purchase of military equipment and, thanks to a loan from the United States, were able to produce weapons, tanks and planes that contributed to victory in the war. The total amount of loans granted by the USA was about 50 billion USD.

The United States of America were included in the war through the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Before the attack, the vast majority of American society advocated a policy of isolationism and not joining the war. After the attack, in less than a week, more than a million people came to the army. However, wasn’t the Japanese attack provoked by the US, who did not want to declare war, but wanted them to be included in the war by attacking them?

The Americans knew very well, how to provoke the Japanese attack by imposing an embargo on the Japanese Empire. President Roosevelt froze Japanese assets in the US, abruptly stopped exports to the Empire and financially supported the enemies of Japan, i.e. Chinese nationalists, while being a neutral state during these activities.

The United States expected an attack from Japan due to interception of messages by breaking virtually all Japanese codes, the so called purple codes, the 5-Num code and the Yobidashi Fugo code, which was responsible for the radio signals of individual ships. The Americans managed to withdraw the most important ships from Pearl Harbor and other valuable equipment. On the day of the attack, December 7th, 1941, over 2,400 American soldiers were killed. Automatically on the day of the attack, the United States were at war with all Axis States because Japan declared war to the Americans.

OPENING A SECOND FRONT. OVERLORD OPERATION

Western countries and corporations, seeing that the initiative on the Eastern Front begins to be taken over by the Soviet Union, decided to act and join the war by opening a second front. This is how the Big Three met in Tehran for the first time.

Tehran_Conference_,_1943

They met from November 28 – December 1, 1943. Against Churchill’s wishes, the western front was created in northern France, in Normandy. The British Prime Minister wanted a second front to be established in Greece. Roosevelt supported Stalin’s proposal. It was also decided to create the United Nations, as well as the shape of post-war Poland. The United States and the United Kingdom sold Poland to Stalin during the allocation of spheres of influence in post-war Europe. Due to the presidential election in 1944, President Roosevelt, counting on the enormous support of the Polish diaspora, did not mention this fact. It was also decided that victory over the Third Reich would be accepted only in the form of unconditional surrender.

Plans to join the war in Europe by the United States, began to take shape as early as in 1942, when under the code name Operation „Bolero”, the Americans began to transport military equipment, ammunition, altimetry and soldiers to Great Britain (about 1.5 million).

dday Overlord map color

On June 6, 1944, General Eisenhower began Operation Overlord, which consisted of an Allied troop landing in Normandy (the troop landing itself was codenamed „Operation Neptune„). The operation was preceded by other smaller intelligence operations that were to confuse the staff of the Third Reich and force them to misjudge the landing site of the Allied forces. The operation consisted of two phases: an air landing of nearly 25,000 paratroopers and a sea landing of about 130,000 infantry soldiers and special forces. The landing operation was preceded by bombing of Nazi forces.

After the break of the front and the liberation of France by the Allied forces, their troops stopped in the Seine on August 31, 1944. The stoppage of the army was caused primarily by a lack of fuel, medicine and ammunition supplies. The priority for general Eisenhower was to open a wide front, therefore it was necessary to unlock the port of Antwerp. Marshal Montgomery was appointed to do this. The road unblocking plan consisted of Operation Market Garden, the largest operation involving airborne troops. Marshal Montgomery ignored the plan of Colonel to invade, who became a scapegoat after the failure of the operation, where the biggest culprit was precisely Montgomery and General Browning. It should be noted that the 1st Independent Parachute Brigade fought vigorously for Arnhem.

The Allied forces gained a lot through the unsuccessful counter-offensive of the troops of the Third Reich, which moved the troops from the Eastern Front. They were initially pushed, but the successful Soviet offensive also allowed the Allies to move their positions forward.

YALTA CONFERENCE AND BERLIN OPERATION – END OF WAR

Stalin postponed the Big Three meeting to have all negotiating arguments to his favour. The conference was held on February 4-11, 1945 in Yalta (Crimea). Stalin knew perfectly well that the huge losses suffered by the Allies in the German counteroffensive could only be helped by the full involvement of the Eastern Front. Thanks to the involvement of the Red Army on the front, they allowed the German forces to return to the Eastern Front again.

World Leaders at the Yalta Conference, 1945

The conference confirmed the resolutions of Tehran. It was decided that the Soviet Polish line would run along the Curzon line, in return Poland would receive the land it currently owns. Germany was finally divided and Stalin undertook to join the war with Japan 3 months after the surrender of the Third Reich. In return, the Soviet Union received South Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. It was also decided to impose war reparations on Germany.

Spheres of influence in Europe have been divided.

On April 16th, 1945, the Berlin Operation began, led by the 1st and 2nd Belarusian Front and the 1st Ukrainian Front led by Marshal Gieorggi Zhukov. The Soviet army quickly coped with the resistance of the Nazi troops. On May 2nd, they already were near Berlin, where they met with great resistance. On May 8, 1945 at 22:43 in Berlin, on behalf of the Supreme Command of the Red Army, together with the British Air General Arthur Tredder representing the governments of the USA, Great Britain and France, he accepted from the hands of Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany. Due to the time difference, it was already May 9th in Moscow, which is why this date is considered the Victory Day over Nazism.

Historyczny ambasador