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326 - Week 8 – Lecture 1 - USSR and Total War .docx

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HIST 326
Katrin Bozeva

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Week 8 – Lecture 1 History 326 – Russia to 1905 The USSR and Total War – the Great Patriotic War GPW = central to Russian thinking and unlikely to change  the GFW stussian name for the Eastern Front of 1941-45) is seen as the most significant contribution of the USSR to the history of the 21 C - every nation that participates on the side of theAllies has their own opinion – Russian is slightly different because: o the nature of the regime that was beaten  seen as the most evil of all, and the Soviets beat it o post-1945 = Stalinist leadership milked this victory to achieve territorial expansion and export of ideology that no previous Bolshevik or Russian regime had been able to do = Soviet Russia was transported to the heart of Europe which gave the USSR another 100 million people to be a field for experimentation and Soviet satellites for economic resources and from whose ideological loyalty would also occur with few exceptions  1980s – Poland, 1956 – Czechoslavakia and 19?? Hungary, being the exceptions  overall, it was related strictly to the victory of 1945 o human loss = WWII cost the USSR 26.7 million individuals = incredible figure  hard to even process  multiple explanations = mistakes of the commanders? MAIN = barbarous manner in which the war was launched upon the East = Germans as occupiers in France and Czechoslovakia did not have the same criteria that were placed upon the Slavic Eastern populations • untermenschen – what the troops were doing in the East, it is hard to distinguish between murder and combat • barbarisation of warfare = instead of using the anti-Soviet sentiments of the locals e.g. in Ukraine, Belorussia and using them, troops continued to ruthlessly brutalise the local populations  led to partisan groups against the Germans o racial war = military war  in the east, the two were synonymous  plan was to depopulate the Ukraine, Belorussia and parts of western Russia in order to provide lebensraum 3 major questions for the film: 1) What was the road to war? How is it presented in the documentary? a. 1941 = conquest of Russia would have provided Germany with agricultural and industrial supplies for domination of Europe as well as killing his last military challenger in Europe b. grosraum  from Atlantic to the mountains of the Urals in the east; area of the Germans and some lesser but permissible nationalities – NOT Slavs 2) Why was the USSR so unprepared for war? a. Paranoia of political leadership and totalitarian repression i. Ideological thrust of the German plan for war was a war of extermination – to root out the Jewish Bolshevik gang that supposedly ran Russia ii. Destroy the political structure of the Soviet Union alongside the RedArmy b. Pre-War – Stalin was destroying the RussianArmy after the CoS was executed for treason in 1936; 6 of the 8 Generals were to follow; 3/5 remaining marshalls were lost, 11 deputy ministers of defence, all commanders of the military districts, 13 of 15 army commanders, over half of the corps commanders and 30% of officers under brigade below c. Soviet-German Pact = not fight for 10 years; secret protocol agreeing the division of eastern Europe – e Poland, Galicia, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia for USSR = a barrier between the USSR and Germany i. Planned to allow the allies to fight a mutually destructive in the war ii. Operation Barbarossa prevented this – 18 December 1940 – 1 Barbarossa directive 1. Huge deception scheme for Barbarossa  plan to introduce the certainty that there would be a German attack but before this attack there could well be negotiations – there might even have been a personal meeting between Hitler and Stalin a. Meant the massive German military build-up could thus be seen as an inducement to negotiations rather than a pre-war amalgamation b. Self-deception on Stalin’s side = believed H would never embark on a two front war i. Stalin’s great concern = although the GS – Zhukov, Timoshenko – wanted mobilisation, he saw this as triggering war  he had NO wish to provoke the Germans – even as Germany was advancing, he remained unconvinced of the reality of the fact d. Stalin self-deception – vital information was kept from him because people were worried re. his reaction whilst he gave himself until Spring 1942 to be ready for war i. Even suggested that Britain and France had attacked Germany – forbade any criticism of Germany to be printed in newspapers, withdrew support from Norway and Belgian exiled governments, sent Yugoslavian ambassador away from Moscow 1. 3) How promising was the Soviet context in the beginning of the war? (every international war requires enormous mobilisation of the population in terms of economy and patriotism – how promising was the USSR from this perspective?) a. Situation gave him some time, but he did not use this – the Western Special Military District was a shambles i. Units 6,000 short of necessary amounts ii. 1 of 6 mechanised corps received all equipment iii. 4 of 5 vehicles in tank fleets were obsolete iv. 4 corps – 1 in 3 motor vehicles needed repairs 1. the SovietArmy was NOT an equal adversary a. tanks – 8,000 were battle ready out of 23,000
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