If like me you grew up watching Holywood War Movies you assume the Second World War was won by the plucky brits and their good looking yank buddies – The Russian role in the affair was conveniently airbrushed out of the story. But looking at the stats you soon realise that Russia was the most crucial player in the fight against the Nazis.
The Red Army suffered 8,806,453 causalities in WW2 this compares to 407,300 Military deaths for the USA and 383,700 Military deaths for the UK.
In contrast, the German Army suffered 4,440,000 to 5,318,000 Military deaths, and an astonishing 80% of all German military casualties occurred on the Eastern Front.
As you can see, most of the action in WW2 was on the Eastern front with horrendous causality figures on both sides. The average life expectancy of a German or Soviet soldier in the Battle of Stalingrad was only 24 hours.
The Russian advance was also a critical factor in the surrender of Japan, another bit of airbrushing.
Now, this is not to say that the role of the US, the UK or any of the allied countries was not significant; they were all crucial in the defeat of the Nazis. But when you are watching the footage of the spitfires flying past to the tune of Vera Lynne just remember the 27 million Russian military and civilians who also died due to WW2.
Nor is this post designed to lionise the Red Army, The Russians committed horrendous war crimes in WW2, from Wikipedia:
Western estimates of the traceable number of rape victims range from two hundred thousand to two million. Following the Winter Offensive of 1945, mass rape by Soviet males occurred in all major cities taken by the Red Army. Women were gang raped by as many as several dozen soldiers during the liberation of Poland. In some cases victims who did not hide in the basements all day were raped up to 15 times. According to historian Antony Beevor, following the Red Army’s capture of Berlin in 1945, Soviet troops raped German women and girls as young as eight years old.
In conclusion, let us not forget all the victors and victims of WW2 including the 1,500,000 to 3,000,000 German Civilians who died.
War, not a lot of craic all round.
I help keep the good ship Slugger afloat by managing the business and techy stuff.