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Thread: The Importance of the US-Soviet Cooperation WWII

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    The Importance of the US-Soviet Cooperation WWII

    I wrote this on my forums as a 'mini-essay', and the responses can be found here. Hope this sparks some conversation, although I suppose someone along the line will take what I said out of context.

    The Soviet Union has never admitted that the aid received from the British and the Americans aided its war effort to the point where had it not received it defeat was a very real possibility, or at least it would not have won that crushing victory over the Germans. Stalin, and the Red Army in general, has always complained that the Western war effort was never large, and it's true that the battles taking place in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, prior to the invasion of the continent in June 1944, were miniscule as compared to the titanic struggle taking place in the Western approaches to the Soviet Union. However, has the Soviet Union downplayed the importance of the Western war effort? I think so, and my sources seem to agree with me.

    Given the increase of British forces in North Africa throughout 1942 Hitler continuousy threatened to redeploy mechanized divisions from the Eastern Front to Europe, and this became especially true after the Dieppe raid in France, on the 18th of August. Immediately afterwards Hitler shifted several infantry reinforcements to Western Europe, and a few weeks later the 22nd Infantry Division. In May of 1943, prior to Kursk, he moved the entire 1st Panzer Division to Greece, and this redeployments occured at an alarming rate, where these divisions would have come in handy in the Easter Front, especially between March and August 2013. After Alamein the Germans shifted most of their new recruits and reserves to North Africa, where as the Eastern Front was short of 300,000 men! Ironically, the Germans lost between 270,000 and 300,000 men in their surrender in Tunisia in 1943.

    You can even claim that air superiority was not lost at the hands of the Russian Air Force, but at the hands of the United States and Great Britain. In July 1943, during Kursk, only 201 aircraft fell over Russia, as opposed to the 335 fighters which were downed in the West, and this supremacy was consistent. 40% of the Luftwaffe's strenght was lost over the Mediterranean in 1943, or ~2,400 aircraft. Over Tunisia the Germans lost 177 Ju-52s and 6 Me-323 transport aircraft. And it was the night and day bombing raids committed to by the West that deprived Germany of the Ploesti oil fields prior to the invasion of Romania by the Soviet Union in mid-1944, and of their industry. Finally, it was American P-39 Aircobras and P-40 Warhawks which catalyzed the resurgence of the Red Air Force, despite the lack of quality and the obsolecence of the aircraft.

    It was the United States and Great Britain which supplied the Soviet Union with aluminum, manganese, coal and other materials which made the quick resurgence of Soviet industry so easy and so fast. It could not have been done without the massive supply efforts of the West, and even by 1945 two-thirds of the Russia's truck logistics was lend-lease! Without those trucks Soviet penetration efforts into the German rear would have been stopped due to their own lack of logistics, and it would have allowed the Germans to fall back and reform, forcing the Red Army to continuously commit to head-on breakthrough tactics against reforming German lines.

    The German Ardennes offensive concentrated at least 16 Panzer Divisions, both Werhmacht and SS, and at least two dozen Panzergrenadier Divisions, which stripped the Vistula of proper mechanized defenses, making the Soviet spring offensives in 1945 much easier. For example, at the Seelow Heights the only true panzer formation which was slightly up to strength was the 502 SS Panzer Battalion. And Western efforst in France and Holland in 1944 contributed to the pinning down of elite panzer forces which could have been better served bleeding the Red Army in Western Ukraine, and stopping Soviet efforts into Poland and Romania - mind you, the Grossdeutchland division was able to successfully pary a two army assault towards Iassy in May 1944 around Targul Frumos.

    I'm not saying that the war was won by the West, because it most certainly wasn't. But to pin down a sole victor in the Second World War would be foolish. The Red Army did not win on its own, and neither did the British, nor the United States. The best definition of 'victors' in the Second World War could only be attributed to the entire allied effort, encompasing the Soviet Union, Great Britain, the United States, and all other nations which contributed to the effort against European fascist agression.

    Direct Responses:

    Quote Originally Posted by AK
    Well said. I concur.

    I personally believe that without the USSR's contribution, the war would have been completely lost. However, without America's or Britain's contributions to the Russian war effort, the war may not have been completely lost. I would tip the scales slightly in the Soviet's favour. But it is very true, what you say, that they have downplayed the nessecary lend-lease. The North Koreans do the same, it pisses the Chinese off royally, as was mentioned in a different section of the forums here.

    In some points of your 'mini-essay' though, it seems that the Russians benefited simply from Hitler's redeployments of forces, rather than lend-lease. Fortunately you cover the logistics aspect nicely.

    I am of the opinion that had the Russians simply recieved aluminum, magnese, coal, and completed trucks and aircraft, it would have been as effective, if not more so. The lend-lease of Sherman tanks, Allied small arms, was completely unnessecary - Soviet equivalents were far superior, and manufactured in greater numbers. In short, that inefficiency took up space that would have been much more effectively used transporting more of the raw materials required.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan M. Finegold
    The redeployment was to illustrate that although there were not deployments on the level of the Eastern Front in North Africa, Sicily and Italy, it did persuade Hitler to move much needed mechanized forces to the West. Those mechanized divisions could have made a huge difference on the Eastern Front, where commanders could be down to 8 tanks a division, and had no real form of reserves. It also made persuaded Hitler to release new tank replacements to the Eastern Front much more difficult. During the Soviet winter offensive if 1941-1942 Hitler failed to release new tank engines to the Eastern Front until late in the soviet counterstroke, albeit for reasons that Hitler thought victory was inevitable and he was saving new tank engines for future operations planned near Persia.

    Even the poor quality of American Shermans helped replace Soviet armoured losses in 1941. Over 12,000 tanks were lost between June and October 1941, the majority of these older models. In 1941 there were only ~1,700 new KV-1s/2s and T-34s, and many of these were lost. Although the Shermans made no spetacular contributions in battles they did help replace lost armour, and it gave the Soviet Union the ability to mechanize itself much faster.

    I think the United States could have won the war, but it would have taken far longer and might not have ended in a complete victory. Nevertheless, the contribution made by the Red Army cannot be ignored, and it would be an insult to those who died. Bryan Moynahan, in Claws of the Bear, says, "The Allies bought the German defeat with Russian blood and paid with Spam."
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    Defense Professional Dreadnought's Avatar
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    Seems to me that most of the article and replies seems to leave out the Murmansk and Artic bound convoys that were ran souley by the U.S. and the Brits. Thousands of men both Western and Brits lost their lives in those cold waters. Without those convoys the Soviets couldnt have held out to even have a battle at Stalingrad much less defend it. This was no lend lease act it was stradegy. This was keeping the Germans occupied with the Soviets on the second front while the West was preparing to storm the first and formost important front Europe.
    Last edited by Dreadnought; 27 Sep 06, at 19:34.
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    Staff Emeritus Lunatock's Avatar
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    Too bad Eisenhower overlooked the importance of General Patton's plan for a post-VE OP. Re-arm the German Army and have them fight alongside the US Army to drive the soviets out of the territory they were allowed to conquer for themselves. Namely East Germany and Czechloslovakia. Or any other countries that were also annexed into the soviet union.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dreadnought View Post
    Seems to me that most of the article and replies seems to leave out the Murmansk and Artic bound convoys that were ran souley by the U.S. and the Brits. Thousands of men both Western and Brits lost their lives in those cold waters. Without those convoys the Soviets couldnt have held out to even have a battle at Stalingrad much less defend it. This was no lend lease act it was stradegy. This was keeping the Germans occupied with the Soviets on the second front while the West was preparing to storm the first and formost important front Europe.
    Doesn't overlook it, it simply states lend-lease in a general sense. I mean, the Persian life line to the Soviet Union was more important or equally as important as the Murmansk lifeline. Nevertheless, the Murmansk convoys were more beneficial to the defense of Moscow in 1941, rather than the defense of Stalingrad, given that it was early 1941 when the Germans failed to cut off Murmansk from Leningrad, and it was that direct link to foreign aid which allowed the Red Army to not only recuperate for Moscow, but launch the counterstroke which would doom the Werhmacht to defeat.
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