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USSR's Victory over Germany was Not a Result of Stalin's Leadership but was Won in Spite of It

By georgeb431 Oct 12, 2013 784 Words
How valid is the argument that the USSR achieved victory over Germany in spite of Stalin, not as a result of his leadership?

Many historians, including myself would agree with the argument that the USSR achieved victory over Germany in spite of Stalin, not as a result of his leadership. However, its validity can be questioned as there are several points contradicting the argument, suggesting that Stalin was in fact a successful wartime leader. Even points such as Stalin being a hearty Georgian should be taken into account as it gives an insight into his motives and ‘rise to power’. An initial example of Stalin’s flawed leadership is that Stalin fled to his summer house in a time of stress when he thought that the war was lost. This left generals in charge, afraid of making major decisions because of the fear he had installed. This put the remaining generals in an awkward position as taking on a position of power could be misconstrued as treason. This was a clear weakness of Stalin’s character as him leaving for selfish reasons could have potentially cost the USSR victory. This supports the argument that victory was in spite of Stalin as it illustrates a weak willed nature of Stalin in this instance. Furthermore, in the time he was away the USSR machine was able to function without him showing Stalin perhaps wasn’t as vital as some may say. Another weakness of Stalin’s leadership, thus supporting the argument is that many of the most successful officers were purged under Stalin’s orders. This can mainly be attributed to Stalin’s paranoid personality; he was afraid of competition for leadership from the higher ranked officers and it was because of this he gave out the orders for them to be purged. This would support the argument that victory was in spite of Stalin as the Soviet government would have been much stronger had Stalin not ordered the officers to be purged. this is a particularly important factor contributing to the validity argument as it illustrates Stalin was prepared to put his own self-interest before that of the country he was leading. Moreover, a blunder of Stalin’s when a successful counter-attack to save Moscow in December 1941 went to his head could have cost the USSR greatly. Against the advice of his key general, Georgii Zhukov, he ordered offensives all along the front in order to capitalise on the success. However, in reality these reckless assaults exhausted his troops and exposed them to Germany’s new campaign. Contrary to the argument that the USSR achieved victory over Germany in spite of Stalin is that Stalin was able to put into place the third five year plan which focused on the production of war materials. This demonstrates the foresight of Stalin’s leadership and went on to play a major role in victory over Germany. It could be argued that without the third five year plan it would have been impossible for Stalin to have stayed in the war long enough to achieve victory. This is because the USSR would run out of resources; particularly munitions and so would stand little chance. However, few leaders would not have put in place a strategy involving the production of war materials. The evacuation of soviet industry showed further strength in Stalin’s leadership. An Evacuation Council was set up together with a State Defence Committee under the direction of Stalin. The plan to move factories from the west to the east was a huge chore, but Stalin new it would be vital that Soviet forces had the necessary armaments to fight a prolonged war. Again, this forward thinking would prove to be a great strength of Stalin’s and would question the validity of the above argument. However, it could be argued that many of the initial decisions were made without Stalin and that it was only once the committee came to form that Stalin truly became involved. This wouldn’t suggest that victory was in spite of Stalin, but perhaps that other leaders could’ve been capable of victory. After reviewing the evidence it is clear to see the argument that the USSR achieved victory over Germany in spite of Stalin may not be a resounding truth but one can be certain, it wasn’t purely a result of his leadership. This holds particularly true to many as evidence would suggest that not only could other leaders have also achieved victory, but perhaps more quickly and more efficiently. This coupled with the weaknesses of leadership and judgement would point towards the USSR achieving victory not as a result of Stalin’s leadership but in spite of it.

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