Sunday 18 February 2018

Soviet power was a mirage

Madam –Frank McGurk (Letters, Sunday Independent, June 2, 2013) says that it would not have mattered if Britain had capitulated to Hitler in 1940 because the Soviet Union alone would have defeated Hitler single-handed.

This is an absurdity. Soviet power to a large extent was a mirage. In the first months of Operation Barbarossa in 1941, the USSR lost half its economic base because of scorched-earth tactics and German occupation, as well as about a third of its population to German control. Realising his much diminished resources and that he could not prevail on his own, Stalin pestered Britain and the United States for years for aid and the opening of a Second Front in the West. Britain, and the United States in particular, gave the Soviets massive amounts of economic aid and logistical support; they eventually distracted most of the Luftwaffe from the Russian Front to Germany itself because of their bombing campaign; and they increasingly took on a large share of the German army – in Italy from 1943 and France from 1944. Despite this huge assistance, the Soviets were nearly bled white by the end of the war in 1945; therefore, it is nonsense that they could have won the war on their own. Even Marshal Zhukov in the Sixties freely admitted this.

If Britain had capitulated to Hitler in 1940, the United States would never have become involved even if it had wanted to because it would have needed Britain as a base to build up in before going into the continent. Because Britain held out in 1940-41 this bought time for the emergence of the Triple Alliance of the UK, US and USSR, an alliance which was essential to destroy Nazi Germany – the most awesome and terrible war machine of all time.

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