Stalin’s leadership was the most significant reason for the Soviet victory over Germany in the 1941-1945 war? Assess the validity of this view
The naivety of the Nazi conquering force and the sheer size of Russia and the recourses it had at its disposal played a far more significant role in determining the outcome of the war than the dictatorial leadership employed by Stalin. Stalin’s commitment to expand and modernise Russia’s industry prior to 1941, established the Soviet power base capable of defeating the Germans in the 1941-45 war. Stalin’s mass industrialisation through his Five Year Plans provided Russia with the capabilities to withstand the strain on its industry during the war. In the third Five Year Plan (that was actually a 3 year plan) from 1938-1941, Stalin concentrated his efforts on the output of tanks, armaments and weaponry. The plan’s success can be appreciated in the output figures during the war. This included the production of tanks and self propelled guns where the Russians grossly outperformed Germany, 105,251 produced by the Soviets compared to 67,429 produced by the Nazis. Investment by the Soviets in steel, chemicals and power together with its industrial additional capacity, Russian factories were organized for war. This meant that by the time of the Nazi invasion of 1941, Russia considered itself prepared for the economic pressures of war. However, the effectiveness of the Soviet economy and its preparation was proven to be futile and unproductive following the German invasion in 1941. Russia’s heavy industry was predominately located in the South and the East of the country, where they were at most danger from advances to their West. This came in the form of the German Blitzkrieg attack of 1941. By November of that year Germany occupied an area encompassing two-thirds of the Soviet population and one-third of its labour force, in addition to well over half of its big industry and industrial capacity, which included heavy industry and weapon production. Whilst efforts were made in 1942 to relocate factories away from the advances to their western front, production in key areas such as coal, steel and oil was relatively low. The factories which relocated produced comparatively low output and by the end of 1942 Soviet productive capabilities were only 68% of pre-war levels. Stalin’s poor strategic management of Russia’s industry was not fully exploited by Hitler who delayed in switching the German economy to War-time production until 1942. There is no doubt that this was a major failure on the part of the Nazis and their ability to facilitate the war in Russia. A further significant factor in determining the outcome of the war was Russia’s reliance on American support. America’s Lend Lease policy aided the Russian economy in areas that they were struggling in. In WWII America provided Russia with thousands of jeeps and trucks as well as provisions for their army including such basic necessities such as salt. Lend Lease has been estimated to contribute around one-fifth of Soviet resources from 1943. It has further been argued by a number of historians that if were not for America’s involvement in the war it may have taken Russia many more years to defeat the Germans. Although Stalin’s five year plans provided Russia with a dominant manufacturing sector compared to the Nazis his leadership alone cannot be seen as the most significant factor in determining the Russian victory in 1945. The role of America and their lend lease policy for one proved to be a significant factor in the Russian victory. One might argue that Stalin’s control of the Russian population to support the war effort was one of the most significant factors in Russia victory over Germany on the Western Front. The pro-Stalinist mind set of the Russian people felt during and indeed after the war was as a result of Stalin’s well placed propaganda and his harsh discipline regime towards the Russian people. The Central...
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