America Vs. The Soviets: Who Really Won The War Essay, Research Paper
World War two officially started in September 3 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. The Western Democracies of Britain and France allied and declared war on Germany when Poland was attacked. This was the immediate cause of the war. Britain and France formed an appeasement policy with Hitler not to take over any more land after the Nazi’s annexed the Sudatenland. When Hitler broke his promise Britain and France realized that the Nazis could be a threat to all of Europe. Other direct causes were aggressive nationalism and imperialism on the part of Germany, Japan and Italy and the failure of the United States to actively enter into European affairs in the 1920’s and 1930’s to stop aggression in Europe1 . During the initial battles it looked very bleak for the allied forces to be victorious over the German forces. Many people argue that the turning point of the war was December 7 1941. This was the date that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and America officially entered the war.
Britain and France were the original countries involved in fighting the Germans Italian and the Russians. With the formation of the Nazi-Soviet pact this meant that two of the most powerful armies in the world would be allied. This treaty was used to guarantee Hitler protection of his eastern front. The Nazi
forces advanced with tremendous speed through Europe. They conquered every country they came across. Poland was their first target; it was taken within a month. After Poland the Nazis invaded and occupied Denmark, Norway, Holland and Belgium. France fell on June 1940 after the German armies took Paris. It was in France that the German armies had their best chance to defeat the allied forces. The British and French were on the run. The Germans had the allied forces surrounded at Dunkirk where the allies were evacuated with great speed back to Britain. After France fell it was divided. The Germans owned Two thirds of France and two former French leaders who agreed to work with the Germans ruled one third.
Later that year the Germans decided on a new strategy to knock the British out of the war. The Germans decided to bomb the British out of the war. That year the Battle of Britain began. The Germans began to bomb all of the major British cities. Their primary target was London. In a valiant effort to save the citizens of London, Winston Churchill moved all of the residence of London into the Subway system underground for shelter. The courage of the R.A.F. managed to hold off the attacking Germans.
After the failure of trying to bomb Britain out of the war, the Nazis focused their attention on taking over the Balkans. After Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary joined Hitler, the German armies invaded and occupied Greece and Yugoslavia. The next target of the German armies was the largest country in Europe, Russia. The goal of this invasion was to obtain the grain from the Ukraine, the coal of the Donetz Basin and the oil of the Caucasus. German forces managed to push their way through an unprepared Russian army. Nazi forces pushed through to Stalingrad in the North, Moscow in central Russia and the Caucasus Mountains in the South. At this point it looked as if the Germans had Europe in the palm of their hand. Germany and the world were convinced the war would be over soon. A turning point in the war came; the date was December 7 1941. This was the day that the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in Hawaii. This exact day the Americans declared war on the Japanese who were allied with the Germans. Germany then declared war on Americans who in turn declared war on the Germans. Americans represented more troops, more resources and a larger military power. Americans raised the hopes of British forces in being able to defeat the opposing German forces.
It seemed that after the Americans entered the war everything went downhill for the German forces. The American armed forces were a great contributor to the overthrow of the German-Italian forces in North Africa. The American forces took over Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. With the help of the Americans the allies were able to take over the Mediterranean which paved the way for invasion of Europe. With Americans help in the overthrow of the opposing forces in Africa, invasion of Southern Italy was made possible.
In June of 1943 allied forces began the attack on Italy. Sicily was the first to fall to the attacking allies. Mussolini was defeated and overthrown in 1944 after months of bombing by the British. The Italian forces retreated to the North allowing the British and Americans to land on Italy’s Southern shores. The importance of the American campaign in Italy was that it meant that German troops would be too tied up for Hitler to use the else where in Europe. Allied forces headed by the Americans swept through Western Europe slicing through the German defenses. Access to Western Europe was opened on June 6 1944 also known as D-Day. On this day the American forces under the command of General Eisenhower attacked the Western front. Crossing the English under the protection of thousands of airplanes, American forces poured out onto the beaches of Normandy. Even though the Americans suffered heavy losses, they managed to secure beaches in France, paving the way for allied invasion of the Western front. They swiftly re-conquered France and the proceeded to force the Germans out of Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg.
America did not only achieve victories in Europe; they won some very crucial battles in the Pacific against the Japanese. At the beginning of the war the Japanese armies had a good deal of success. The Japanese were prepared for war while the United States was busy scrambling to organize and mobilize an army. The Japanese conquered the Philippines, the Malay Peninsula and the Dutch East Indies. The turning point of the war in the Pacific came when the Americans won two decisive Naval battles. The first was the Battle of the Coral Sea, which ended the threat to Australia, and the Battle of the Midway Islands, which ended the threat to Hawaii. In these two battles the Japanese suffered heavy losses. In the following years the Japanese were slowly pushed back towards their home islands by a long series of amphibious attacks called “island hopping”. The Gilbert, Marshall and Mariana Islands were all restored to allied control while the Philippines was re-conquered by General Douglas MacArthur. By the mid 1945 America was able to strike Japan with air assaults from air bases set up in the islands of IwoJima and Okinawa. Finally Japan surrendered after heavy bombing on major cities and two atomic bombs being dropped on two major cites on August 6 1945 and on August 9. America seemed to have a great presence on both fronts the war was being fought on. America helped the allies achieve great victories in the west while simultaneously winning an entire war in the Pacific.
America not only helped out a great deal militarily but in production of goods for the allied forces. America started by building the world’s largest bomber plant ever. The plant was called Willow Run. This factory manufactured long-range bombers, B-24 Liberators at the rate of one every 63 minutes. In all the plant produced 8,685 Liberators, capable of delivering up to four tons of bombs apiece each time they made a bombing run. The airplanes that came off the assembly lines were only a part of the mass armaments produced by America. Before the war came to an end, American plants turned out 296,429 airplanes, 102,351 tanks and self propelled guns, 372,431 artillery pieces, 47 million tons of artillery ammunition, 87,620 warships, 44 billion rounds of small-arms ammunition – in all, $183 billion worth of war materials. Even Josef Stalin admired this feat accomplished by the Americans by saying “to American production, without which this war would be lost.”2
The civilian workforce was primarily responsible for America reaching such high production records during the war. Many people who had been excluded from the workforce in pre-war days were now being hired. Prison inmates were turning out goods ranging from antisubmarine nets to nightsticks for the National Guard. A builder of wooden minesweepers hired one hundred retired carpenters, including one man aged eighty-four. Aircraft plants hired midgets to inspect the cramped insides of plane wings, blind workers to sort out rivets from the floor sweepings. Other factories hired deaf people for jobs where the noise level was intolerable for normal people. Many states suspended their child-labor laws for the war period. In 1943 the U.S. employed three million children aged 12 to 17 for war work.
Unemployment virtually disappeared. Even those in ordinary times who chose to remain idle wound up with jobs. Urban police rounded up skid row inhabitants and sorted them out for useful skills and offered suspended sentences for those in trouble with the law.
The most significant addition to wartime civilian effort was the role of women. More than six million women entered the work force during the war years. In the first six months after Pearl Harbor, and estimated 750,000 women applied for work, only 80,000 were taken in. But with a growing shortage of manpower, industry was forced to reconsider, and intensive recruitment of women began. Radio stations newspapers and magazines urged women to enlist at their local employment office.
Americans were arguably the decisive factor in the defeat of the axis powers but that is only because we only ever hear about the Americans. Hidden in the shadows of World War 2 are the Russians, arguably a bigger factor in the fall of Germany. In August of 1939 the Nazi-Soviet Pact was signed which was an agreement between Russia and Germany not to attack each other for 10 years. Secretly though the agreement allowed Russia to take control of Latvia and Estonia after the Germans defeated Poland.
In June of 1941 the Germans violated the non-aggression pact and invaded Russia. After the defeat of Greece and Yugoslavia Hitler could concentrate on operation Barbarossa. Three million soldiers in 148 divisions – about 80 percent of the German army – stood ready for the attack on Russia. More than 2,400 tanks were ready to be driven in and around the enemy with same lightning tactics that surprised the Poles and the French. Along the border 6,000 big German guns were zeroing on their targets and more than 2,000 Luftwaffe warplanes were being briefed. At approximately 3:00 am the Germans started their attack on a totally unprepared Russian army. Between 1941 and 1942 the Germans managed to progress to the Gates of Leningrad in the North, Moscow in central Russia and the Caucasus Mountains in the South.
The turning point of the war in Eastern Europe and possibly World War 2 was the battle of Stalingrad. The battle of Stalingrad took place in the fall of 1942 for 3 months. The Soviets managed to build up an army consisting of 1 million men, 1,500 tanks, 6,000 guns and 10,000 mortars for upcoming battle. The German forces suffered a crushing defeat losing almost their entire army group at Stalingrad. The Soviet military power had dramatically been re-born. After the battle of Stalingrad the most important factor of the defeat was that the Germans had brutally brought back the totality of war to its people. The Third Reich was on a self-destruct mode for the rest of the war.3
By 1944 the Soviets had forced Rumania and Bulgaria to surrender and were at the gates of Warsaw Poland. The Soviets hit the Germans hard and fast and managed to push the Nazis out of Eastern Europe and back to Germany.
Russia provided the largest defeats of German soldiers in the entire war. The Russians crushed nearly 80% of the entire German army single handedly. Soviet might proved to be the reason for the downfall of the German armies. There were just too many people in Russia for the Germans to handle.
At the beginning of World War two the Axis powers seemed to be the more powerful and well-equipped forces of the war. There are reasons for the quick victories at the beginning of the war. There are two main reasons for their early successes, (1) the allies were caught off guard by the war. Their forces were not as well prepared for war as the German forces were, and (2) the allies were not ready to withstand the new offensive imposed by the Germans called the “blitzkrieg”4 . World War two was won by the allies for two reasons (1) American production which supplied the allied forces with their many needed goods and (2) the might of the Soviet forces which crushed numberless amounts of German soldiers single handedly.
America though provided decisive defeats in the Pacific in World War two by them selves. But the war in the Pacific was not as important in the war in Europe. I have decided this because the Japanese were not as powerful as everyone thought they were. The Japanese took over many different pieces of land, but they were poorly defended colonies who could not stand up to the Japanese. The Japanese would have been defeated earlier if the amount of Allied troops in the Pacific was as great as it was in Europe. Also the Japanese would have been invaded and defeated by the Germans if the Germans were not stopped in Europe. Japan was an island, making it hard to send troops into other areas, so they could only colonize so far before they were so thinned out they could no longer protect what they conquered.
I have decided that the war could not have been won with only American help or won with only Soviet might. These two world powers working together for one of the few times ever in their history proved to be the real decisive factor in the German defeat. When these two world superpowers joined together there was no hope for the German army coming out of World War two victorious.