Did The Soviets Cause The Defeat Of

Germany In World War II? Essay, Research Paper

Operation Barbarossa, in which Germany launched a huge land campaign on the Russian soil, was the start of the War’s turning point. The repercussion of this was the counter-attack by the Soviet Union. Why was the Soviet Union successful in the attack? Firstly she only had one front to fight on, and being one of the largest countries in the world, her army was huge – large enough to outnumber the Germans at ease. Russian advancement had obliterated 607 divisions of the German Army – approximately 6 million men – while Britain and the USA together only managed 176. This had imposed a major blow to the German morale and Army, as Barbarossa absorbed up to 75% of the Army, and yet had placed the Russians on the upper hand. The Russian Tactics of ‘Scorched Earth’ was also a blow to Germans, as supplies had to come from the other occupied countries and diverted to the East rather than being used on the West to secure their position tightly. It was also the case that the Germans had underestimated their enemy. Their indoctrination of being the superior race placed the regard of ‘untermensch’ which meant ’sub-human’ on the Russians. As they began to realize, they were already beleaguered deep inside the encirclement. The Russians, as defenders, fought courageously under patriotism – unlike the deteriorating Germans. The two examples are the battles of Stalingrad and Kursk. In Stalingrad, the German 6th Army was surrounded as a result of operation Uranus which was devised by General Zhukov who led the Stalingrad defense successfully. They surrendered in February 1943. The glorious 300,000 men army had been reduced to 90,000 at the time of surrender. When this news reached Germany, it was not so pleasing. The Allies celebrated their success; the Axis fell into abysmal gloom. As they were retreating from Russian soil, they launched a counter-offensive at Kursk, which was said to be the biggest battle in the War. There was huge casualty on both sides, but the difference is that to the Germans, it was the battle which ‘tore the heart out of the German Army’, but the Russians were able to replace them easily. In 1943, the Germans had 2,500 tanks, whereas the Soviet Union 8,200. The Russian success also owes to the fact that their vital industries were still operational. As operation Barbarossa was postponed for 4 weeks, Stalin had enough time to think and move over some factories away from the battle front line beforehand. Fortuitously, many of the weapons factories were situated in Siberia area – out of German’s Luftwaffe’s reach, safe from attacks, whereas the Germans were exposed to the Allies air-raids campaign undertaken by the US and British. Behind the Easter front, the Germans were also frustrated by the patriotic Russian partisans. Evidence shows that there were about 250,000 partisans disrupting the German campaign. Although the Soviet Union seems to be much credited for this success, it is also apparent that other factors delivered the Germans to their doom. Nazism itself had much liability to admit. Its arrogant system of regarding themselves superior had brought them troubles. Instead of assimilating their conquered countries, they introduced ruthless rules which made them discontented. Many Nazi-occupied countries such as France raised the resistance-fighter groups. They roused havoc behind the enemy’s line, which became vital as D-Day was approaching. Underestimation of the enemies also located themselves in failures. Hitler once said, ‘The America could never become ‘the Rome of the future’ with such poor spiritual stock.’ This had accounted for crucial disaster for Germany. Hitler also had much to blame. Although he was a good orator, he did not have tactical military experience. He acted on his own opinion, despised the advice of his counselors and overrode many vital commands. For instance, he did not finish Britain off, he delayed the invasion of Russia and found a huge proportion of his army pulverized, he did not allow the surrender at Stalingrad, resulting in a major morale blow to the Army, and most importantly, he declared war on the USA. The latter he eventually regretted, yet it was not reversible. Many had said that the early success of Hitler was a result of short, opportunistic campaign against the enemies who were weak and isolated. In the aspect of foreign diplomacy, Germany did not do well either. Their Axis alliance proved useless. Germany found herself at war with a combination of the three largest industrial economies outside the Continental Europe, while she was allied to economically weak states. Firstly the Japanese did not have much of a direct advantage to Germany except the fact that they held the US in the East. There was no resource benefit between the two countries. Secondly, the alliance with the Italians had resulted in a disaster for the Germans. Their campaign in Africa did not proceed well and the Afrika Korps were crushed in the battle of El Alamein in November 1942. There, Rommel lost nearly all his 500 tanks and 60% of his troopers. Shortly afterwards 100,000 US troops managed to land, encouraging the surrender of the Vichy French. This battle had resulted in a great moral boost for the Allies Force. This alliance had drained some of the German Army into Africa rather than used for more beneficial campaigns. 20 German divisions were involved in this Mediterranean Theatre. Furthermore, Italy surrendered in 1943 and changed the course towards the Allies instead. This alliance had proved a political catastrophe for Germany. The Axis Alliance was a weak coalition contrasting to the Allies, for their industries were not as productive and efficient. Germany inevitably found herself fighting the Allies, alone. Resource management of Germany was also poor. The society in Germany had been military-dominated and less emphasis was placed upon the non-combatant areas of war: procurement, logistic, military services. Much greater value was laid on operations and on combat rather than organization and supply. Germany, by the end of the war, was struggling to raise reserves and supplies, whilst the Allies had plenty to spare. One German divisional commander wondered: ‘I cannot understand these Americans. Each night we know that we have cut them to pieces, inflicted heavy casualties, and mowed down their transport. But – in the morning, we are suddenly faced with fresh battalions, with complete replacement of men, machines, food, tools and weapons. This happens day after day…’ The Allies also had better deployment as mentioned in the source, this wore down German moral progressively. Germany, being a small country yet fighting the world major powers, lacked the human resources. As the end of the War drew near, Germany found herself hugely outnumbered by the Allies Forces. Thus the idea of multi-nationality Army was adopted. However, the Russian campaign used some of the Romanian regiments who were most facilely broken and forced to flee. It was them who General Zhukov selected to attack during operation Uranus. This produced an intrinsic weakness for effective military command and resulted in bad combat efficiency. Their generals were inferior as battlefield experience was regarded more highly to tactical experience. The commendable significance of generalship does not have to be on the battlefields. For example, the great American general Eisenhower is still regarded importantly like the German general Rommel, yet he did not go on battles himself like Rommel did. The Allies mobilized their economic, intellectual and organizational strengths efficiently for the purpose of waging war; this area Germany had failed to appreciate totally. It had excessive militarization: no servicemen, no civil work, and no creativity. Constructive thoughts were conspicuously suppressed. The Allies, on the other hand, concentrated on both military and civil works. For example, they had more civilian servicemen in proportion to pilots in the Air Force. The proportion was 2 engineers to 1 aircraft, while Germany was nearly opposite. The Germans resented and rejected interference and direction from mere civilians. Another distinct disadvantage for the Germans was also the fact that they regarded women as symbols for motherhood. They were ultimately depressed from the Nazi not to work, whereas the Allies, especially Britain, made much use of the women in aid of the War. Women formed the local anti-aircraft regiments and worked in many vital factories such as weapon production. It is also true to say that British won the War partly because of the women – the most important resource that the Germans neglected. On the term of raw material and industrial production, Germany was far outmatched by the Allies, but the most crucial supply that they lacked was the oil. By the end, Germany did not have enough oil – to the point that no further production of vehicles was worthy, as there was not enough oil to run them on. The failure to seize the Caucasus oilfield was indispensable, hypercritically; the counter-movement of the Hungarian towards the Allies cut down their oil supply by 23%. The situation was desperate, and the German Army was gravely crippled. In 1943, the heavy bombing on Germany was instigated. The daytime raid was performed by the US Air Force and the nighttime by the RAF. 750,000 civilian lives were ceased by the campaign and 80% of the Luftwaffe was tied down in defense of the motherland. This campaign had diverted much resource from being used elsewhere in the battle theatres. In 1944, one-third of anti-aircraft guns was made out of the artillery pieces that would have otherwise been used in the Soviet Union. As the key targets of the raids, many vital industries were turned to rubble and reduced the German arms output. This campaign had also caused a terror effect within the country, yet again demoralizing the citizens. It was carried out easily as the Allies had the air superiority. In the battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe had suffered from a lack of operational time in the British territory, as the fuel was limited of the return flight. A worthy piece of additional equipment was added to the Allies aircraft to ensure that they would get a good shot at Germany – it was the long-range fuel tank that promoted the success in the campaign, as now the time over the German sky. An additional superiority over the Luftwaffe was the invention of radar, which assisted the Allies most helpfully for effective airborne interception. It had been proved effective as the succeeding Normandy landing was scarcely opposed by the Luftwaffe – the German had 300 aircraft available while the Allies had 12,000. Coming on to later in the War, a special operation called operation overlord, or the well-known D-Day, was the element of the War in which overwhelming Allies Forces were brought upon the Continental Europe. The special weapon called Mulberry, which was the disintegrated dock, was brought onto the coast of Normandy, enabling a large number of vehicles to be unloaded quickly. Here Hitler had a chance to intercept, as he had two tank divisions the size of 500 nearby and could have fought off the first landing: he hesitated and the forces ashore were too vast now to overcome – it was yet another fault of Hitler to blame. But the importance here was that the substantial force to outnumber the German Army was present. In the first day, 60,000 men were unloaded; 300,000 in a week. In a month time, about 2 million men were ashore, including 450,000 vehicles against Hitler’s 600,000 men Army. It does not take any intelligence to conclude that the end of Nazism was impending. The last response of Germany was a counter-offensive at Bulge. They took the Allies by surprise, but were vanquished by the towering force. All this left was ease for the Russian to advance in from the east. Another reason for the defeat of Germany was that she was fighting a multi-front war. It is arguable that USA also fought multi-front war. They were fighting 3 fronts on land – 5 if the bombing raids were to be included. However, German position was much of a difference. Geographically they were surrendered by their foes that were fiercely advancing step-by-step towards their neck. It is different to be defending a surrounded country than to attack than to attack at several places, so here again Germany found herself in the same First World War Irony, beleaguered by the antagonists. Some say that overwhelming industrial power does not always lead to victory in the war. USA found this out 30 years later when it lost the Vietnam War. It is not enough to have more of everything: it is vital to have the will the win as well. Clearly after the turning points had been brought onto the Continental Europe, Germany showed no hope for victory. Although the Russian progress had played a significant part in the War, she alone could not have brought Germany to the end, but it was the collaboration of the Allies assisted by the exiled forces of the conquered European lands that put the main weight of their military effort together, coordinating affairs concurrently for the first time, that earned the eventual triumphs. (2,174 words)



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