The Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) - the war of the Soviet Union against invading Nazi Soviet territory and its allies (Slovakia, Hungary, Italy, Finland, Romania, Hungary, Bulgaria and Croatia).
The Great Patriotic War (WWII) is the most important part of the Second World War - the bloodiest in the history of mankind, culminating in the victory of the USSR over Germany.
Here we will tell a brief history of the Great Patriotic War. See chronology of the Second World War in the form of infographics here.
So before you Great Patriotic War brief.
The years of the Great Patriotic War
June 22, 1941 - May 9, 1945
The main periods of the Great Patriotic War
During the Great Patriotic War, historiography considers three main periods:
- The first period (June 22, 1941 - November 1942). Germany attacked the USSR. The initial period of the war. Blitzkrieg crash. Battle for Moscow. Failures and failures of the summer of 1942
- The second period (November 1942 - December 1943). A radical change during the war. Victories in the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk, as well as in the battle for the Dnieper.
- The third period (January 1944 - May 9, 1945). The expulsion of the enemy outside the territory of the USSR. Exemption from the occupation of European countries. The collapse of the fascist bloc. Berlin operation. Unconditional surrender of Germany.
It should be noted that the Soviet-Japanese war is regarded as a logical continuation of the Great Patriotic War.
History of the Great Patriotic War
Before talking about the Great Patriotic War, it should be mentioned that on August 23, 1939, a non-aggression treaty was concluded between Germany and the USSR, better known as Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
The treaty was accompanied by a secret additional protocol on the delimitation of spheres of interests in Eastern Europe in the event of a “territorial-political reorganization”.
An interesting fact is that it contained a clause regarding the division of Polish territories between the Soviet Union and Germany.
On September 1, 1939, the fascists attacked Poland, which was completely unprepared to defend their lands.
Soon, the Red Army invaded the eastern part of Poland, which was part of its zone of interest (in Soviet historiography this period is designated as liberation campaign of the Red Army). Thus, the western lands of Belarus and Ukraine were part of the USSR.
In less than a year, Germany, thanks to the blitzkrieg (leading lightning war), captured Norway, Denmark, France and the Benelux countries.
The fascist troops also planned to occupy England (Operation Sea Lion), but they failed to achieve air supremacy. Because of this, Hitler was unable to land on the British Isles.
As a result, the German leadership developed a plan for Barbarossa, through which Germany planned to capture the USSR as soon as possible. It was from the Hitlerite plan "Barbarossa" that the Great Patriotic War began.
Preparation of the USSR for war
Despite the fact that a non-aggression pact was concluded between the Soviet Union and Germany, Joseph Stalin guessed that his state would soon be drawn into a war.
In this connection, as early as 1938, the USSR began to develop a 5-year plan for preparing for a future global confrontation.Joseph Stalin
In the Soviet Union, military factories, railways, heating and hydroelectric power plants were actively built. The country has embarked on a massive militarization.
Factories producing one or another product could be reorganized within a few hours to manufacture military equipment or ammunition. Also in the Soviet republics, oil was intensively mined and mines for the extraction of coal and minerals were developed.
Soon, improved types of weapons and military equipment appeared in the country. Some specialists worked in factories with almost no days off.
Every Soviet citizen had to have a special education. For the slightest violation of discipline, a person could receive a serious reprimand or incur a more serious responsibility.
At the beginning of 1941, ordinary workers worked 11-12 hours a day, instead of 8 hours. However, the Soviet leadership failed to fully implement their plans.
On June 21, 1941, Stalin ordered all types of troops to be mobilized, but his order was belated, since the very next day the fascist German forces had committed treacherous invasion of the USSR.
The entry of the USSR in the war
On June 22, 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union without warning. From that day, the Great Patriotic War began, which will last 4 years.
According to the Barbarossa plan, Germany intended to capture the Soviet Union as soon as possible.
Considering the fact that Hitler managed to conquer quite a few European states almost instantly, he thought that he could conquer the USSR in 6 weeks. However, as time will tell, the Fuhrer of the Third Reich overestimated his strength.
On the whole, Hitler's troops exceeded the Red Army, albeit to a small extent (in terms of the number of tanks and aircraft of the USSR, it was an order of magnitude higher than its enemy).
In the early days of the war, the USSR suffered serious losses. At first, Stalin made every effort not to fight on his territory, but this turned out to be impossible.
A month after the start of World War II, the fascists seized 6 Soviet republics. The Red Army lost about 100 divisions. At the same time, Hitler's troops also suffered serious losses - about 100,000 soldiers and more than a third of the tanks.
Thanks to the courage and incredible courage of Soviet soldiers, the USSR was able to stop Germany and thwart the Barbarossa plan (read the incredible feats of the children of heroes in the Second World War). In the course of the Smolensk battle, the Russians managed to move from defense to attack.The most famous photograph of Mark Markov-Greenberg, taken in 1943 and became a symbol of the courage and heroism of Soviet soldiers
Then, in the fall of 1941, the Red Army, at the cost of great losses, did not allow the enemy to seize Sevastopol.
During this period, Hitler, together with the German generals, was engaged in the development of Operation Typhoon to attack Moscow.
Will consider briefly the main battles of World War II.
Battle for Moscow
The battle for the capital was a turning point in the course of the Great Patriotic War. On September 30, 1941, German troops began to advance rapidly on Moscow. The first time they succeeded. The Germans moved forward and captured about 700,000 Russian soldiers.
In the next 2 months, battles were fought at a distance of less than 100 km from Moscow. In the USSR, Georgy Zhukov was appointed commander-in-chief of the Western Front, who was able to stop the German attack.
On November 7, a parade was organized in Red Square in Moscow, from which the soldiers immediately went to the front.
Soon, the enemy again began to attack the positions of the Red Army, but she managed to survive. On December 5, the Soviet troops received reinforcements, thanks to which they were able to launch a counteroffensive.German aviation attack on Moscow on July 26, 1941
During a swift rebuff, the Soviet troops managed to destroy about 40 enemy divisions and force the enemy to retreat.
The obtained victories helped the Soviet people to believe in their own strength and perk up. At the same time, the anti-Hitler coalition was almost fully formed, which consisted of 26 states: the Big Four (USSR, Great Britain, the USA, China) and other countries.
Battle of Stalingrad
The battle of Stalingrad is considered one of the bloodiest in human history. Since Stalingrad was named after the leader of the peoples, Joseph Stalin, the Soviet soldiers did everything possible to prevent the enemy from capturing it.
Before launching an active attack on Stalingrad, Hitler wanted to occupy the Crimea and part of Ukraine. As a result, the Germans were able to seize the Kerch Peninsula, Sevastopol, Kharkov and Donbas.
On July 28, Stalin ordered all forces to hold Stalingrad and not to step back a single step.
For almost 4 months the soldiers defended Stalingrad from the attack of the German troops. And only on November 19, 1942, the Red Army launched an active counteroffensive.The commander of the Soviet 76-mm divisional gun ZiS-3 gives the command of calculation, 1943.
A number of successful operations were carried out, as a result of which, on February 2, 1943, Soviet soldiers completely defeated the fascists.
During the Battle of Stalingrad, almost 3,000,000 people were killed on both sides, and hundreds of thousands of units of various combat vehicles were destroyed.
The battle of Stalingrad radically influenced the outcome of the Great Patriotic War. From that moment on, the strategic and military initiative was on the side of the Soviet Union.
Detailed figures and facts about the Battle of Stalingrad, see here.
After the Battle of Stalingrad, the Battle of Kursk followed, in which about 2,000,000 people and tens of thousands of tanks and aircraft participated. The Battle of Kursk is considered one of the largest battles in history. The German side has developed a military operation "Citadel", trying to destroy the Soviet army.
In turn, the leadership of the USSR was able to safely carry out several military operations. As a result of the Battle of Kursk, which lasted six weeks, the Soviet troops were able to defeat the Germans.
Wehrmacht forces lost more than half a million soldiers. For a short time, the Red Army liberated a number of Russian and Ukrainian cities.
Defense of Leningrad
The defense of Leningrad is one of the most heroic and difficult events of the Great Patriotic War.
The Siege of Leningrad began on September 8, 1941 and ended only on January 27, 1944. The city was cut off from any food sources.
The only way to save Leningraders was the so-called "Road of Life", which passes over the surface of the frozen Lake Ladoga.
Thanks to this route, about 250,000 tons of foodstuffs were delivered to Leningrad, and about 1 million people were evacuated. It is worth noting that the “Road of Life” was constantly bombed. However, it was the only chance to have a connection with the city.
The besieged ring was broken on January 18, 1943, thanks to which the city began to be supplied with more products and weapons.
In general, the residents of Leningrad had to experience severe difficulties and hunger for 872 days, constantly being on the verge of life and death.
According to historians, between 600,000 and 1,500,000 Soviet citizens died during the siege of Leningrad. Moreover, only 3% of them died from the bombing, while the remaining 97% died of starvation.
In the period from June 23 to August 29, 1944, the Red Army conducted a key operation on the Belarusian front called Bagration. The Soviet troops were faced with the task of restoring dominance over the occupied territories.
Ultimately, the USSR was able to liberate Belarus, Lithuania and part of Poland.
At that time, it was clear that Hitler’s troops no longer represented a serious threat to the USSR. The Soviet leadership began to develop a number of operations aimed at the liberation of European countries.Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel signs an act of unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht at the headquarters of the 5th Shock Army in Karlshorst, Berlin
May 9, 1945 was signed by the surrender of Germany. This joyful news became a real holiday for all residents of the USSR and their allies.
From November 28 to December 1, 1943, the "Tehran Conference" was held, where Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill met. The heads of state discussed the timing of the opening of the Second Front and developed the final strategy for the struggle against Germany and its allies. The contours of the postwar world order were also outlined.
Then, from 4 to 11 February 1945, the Yalta Conference was held. It raised key issues related to post-war politics.Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta Conference, February 1945
From July 17 to August 2, 1945, the "Potsdam Conference" was held, where Stalin, Truman and Churchill were present. They discussed new frontiers in Europe and voiced the sums of reparations that were relied upon by the Soviet Union from Germany.
The end of the Great Patriotic War
On August 6 and 9, 1945, the United States dropped 2 atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
On August 9, 1945, the USSR declared war on Japan. In less than 3 weeks, Soviet troops overwhelmingly crushed the Japanese army.
As a result, on September 2, 1945, the Surrender Act of Japan was signed.
Thus ended the most bloody and large-scale war in the history of mankind.
Results of the Great Patriotic War
The Great Patriotic War ended with the unconditional victory of the USSR. The German-Italo-Japanese fascist-militarist bloc, seeking to conquer world domination, was the instigator of the war, in which he suffered a crushing defeat.
The main positive result of the military conflict was the liberation of the occupied lands and countries of Europe from the Nazi regime.
However, the victory over Germany came at a great price. Many countries (and the Soviet Union to the greatest extent) suffered enormous human and economic losses.
The atrocities of the Nazi invaders cannot be described briefly, therefore you can get acquainted with one of the most brutal guards of the concentration camps - Irma Greze.
According to experts, during the Great Patriotic War, 26,600,000 Soviet citizens died, including 8,668,400 soldiers. Property losses of the USSR accounted for approximately 30% of the total national wealth of the state.
Future generations should always remember the horrors of war and do everything possible to prevent the occurrence of such conflicts.