May 9, 1945: A Great Victory. Facts and figures
09 may / 2020

May 9, 1945: A Great Victory. Facts and figures

I. WWII: Basic data

The Second world war started on September 1, 1939 by German aggression against Poland. The Soviet Union (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) entered the war on June, 22 1941 being attacked by Nazi troops.

The war against Germany (June 22, 1941 – May 9, 1945) was considered in the Soviet Union as The Great Patriotic War.

Germany officially capitulated at night between the 8th and 9th of May, 1945.

Participation: 61 State with 1,7 bn population (respectively 36 and 1 for the WWI in 1914-1918), 110 mln people were mobilized to serve in their armies (40 mln more than in the WWI).

Length of frontlines: 3-6 thousand kilometers for the Soviet-German front, 300-350 km – in Italy, 800 km in France (since 1944).

German Troops in action: 190-270 divisions*- against the Soviet Union,      9-20 – in North Africa, 7-26 divisions – in Italy.

German divisions defeated: 600 – by Soviet troops, 176 – by the US and the Great Britain.

        The death toll is evaluated as exceeding 60 mln:

          Soviet Union – more than 27 mln (general demographic damage; incl.appr.7 mln – military casualties (i..e soldiers and officers killed/missing in action or having died later of wounds); civil population casualties: 7,4 mln killed as direct result of hostilities or slaughtered by the occupants, 4,1 mln – died of starvation and deceases, 2,2 mln – died in Germany being displaced there for slave labor needs).

         China                – more than 20 mln

         Germany         – not less than 10 mln

         Poland            –   6 mln

         Yugoslavia     –   3 mln.

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* A German infantry division – appr. 16-17 thousand soldiers and officers, after 1943 –

appr. 10-12 thousand.

 

Material damage for the USSR:

-         1.710 cities and towns ruined

-         70.000 villages demolished

-         32.000 factories and other economic facilities destroyed

-         General damage evaluated as 30% of the country’s national

wealth (for Great Britain – 0,8%, France – 1,5%, no 

hostilities took place in the US territory).

    

II. Nazism: genesis of an aggression.

1925-1926: Adolf Hitler publishes his basic work: “Mein Kampf” (“My Struggle”) proclaiming basic principles of the “national socialism” (nazism, fascism):

- “socialism is an ancient Aryan Germanic institution… We are not internationalists. Our Socialism is national… To us state and race are one…”

- “Aryans were the founders of the mankind…”

- “Jews… have always been the parasites of other peoples… No Jew can be a citizen of Germany…”

- “We want to give up the eternal German strive to the European West and South and definitely point our finger to territories to the East. We are decided to tear it up with the colonial and trade policy of the pre-war period and deliberately come to the policy of the conquest of new lands in Europe.

When we speak of the conquest of new lands in Europe we mean first and foremost Russia and the neighboring states…”.

1933: National Socialist Democratic Worker’s Party of Germany beaded by A.Hitler comes to power as a result of general elections. A.Hitler’s 1933 speech: “We should use the political power… for conquering the space in the East and resolutely Germanizing it …”.

1940-1941: Plan “OST” is worked out and adopted by the General directorate of the Imperial Security (one of the main branches of executive power). Its basic provisions:

- “Colonization” of occupied East European territories (appr. 500.000 sq. km, comparable to the territory of Turkey) by millions of Germans;

- “Cleansing” of appr. 30 mln people from these lands, their deportation to Siberia or elsewhere, including 65% of Ukrainians, 75% of Belorussians and 50% of Czechs;

- Extermination of 4-5 mln of Jews on these territories.

Stages of aggression:

- Massive participation of German military in the Civil War in Span (1936-1939);

- Annexation of Austria (March 1938);

- Occupation of the Sudet region of Czechoslovakia (October 1938);

- Occupation of the whole Czechoslovakia (March 1939) as a result of the Munich “appeasement” deal with Great Britain and France.

- Occupation of Poland (September 1939).

- Occupation of Norway (April-June 1940).

- Occupation of France (May-June 1940).

- Occupation of Yugoslavia (April 1940).

- Occupation of Greece (April-May 1940).

    

III. Strategic Milestones of the Victory

The battle of Moscow (October 1941 - April 1942).

First big victory of the Red Army achieved against outnumbering German troops.

Casualties: Soviet Union – 0,9 mln,

                 Germany        – 0,5 mln.

Fieldmarshal von Brauchitsch: “First serious ennemy we ever met”.

General Gunter Blumentriet: “The days of the blitzkrieg (“fast war”) are over. We face an army largely superior to all the armies we have ever seen”.

The battle of Stalingrad (July 1942 – February 1943).

The turning point in the course of the war, strategic defeat of the German army. 250.000 troops encircled with the 6th Army Commander Fieldmarshal von Paulus surrendering in person to Soviet officers.

Casualties of the both sides - appr. 2,5 mln. Also defeated: 3th and 4th Romanian armies (22 divisions), 8th Italian army (10 divisions), 2d Hungarian army (10 divisions), a Croatian regiment etc.

The battle of Kursk (July-August 1943).

The breakdown of the last German strategic offensive. The initiative definitely falling into the hands of the Red Army. Engagement – appr. 2 mln troops, 6000 tanks, 4000 planes. Casualties (incl. wounded) – up to 1 mln.

Arena for the biggest ever tank battle in the history of mankind (by the village of Prokhorovka), with up to 1500 tanks participating.

Fieldmarshal von Manstein: “It was our last attempt to keep the initiative in the East. The defeat is equal a general fiasco…”

Leningrad under siege.

The city of Leningrad (currently Saint-Petersburg, population – 3 mln in 1941) was held under siege for 872 days (September 8, 1941 – January 1944) by German, Finnish and Spanish troops.

 

Soviet military casualties: 332.059 killed, 111.142 – missing in action.

Civil casualties: 16.747 – killed by air and artillery strikes,

                         632.252 – died of cold and starvation.

Daily ratio for civil population: not more than 125 grams of bread of poor quality.

German General Staff Order № 1601 of September 22, 1941: “The Fuhrer (the leader, i.e. A.Hitler) has taken a decision to demolish Leningrad… Further existence of this city is of no interest…

…4. It is planned to encircle the city and totally wipe it off the face of Earth by artillery and air strikes… Problems related to the existence of the population in the city can not and must not be resolved by us… We are not interested in preserving here even a part of the population…”

For the needs of city supplies and evacuation of civil population in winter time a temporary road was established on the ice of the Ladoga lake – a so called “Road of life”, which became one of the symbols of the city’s heroic resistance.

The liberation of Europe.

Red Army casualties during the liberation of Europe (1944-1945) more than 1 mln.:

in Romania – 68.933

in Poland – 600.212

in Czechoslovakia – 39.918

in Hungary – 140.004

in Austria – 26.006.

The defeat of Japan

Japan’s aggression in Asia started in 1931 by the Japanese army invading North-Eastern China. It continued in 1937 by full - scale hostilities against the Chinese Gomingdan government (casualties – 17,5 mln people).

In July 1938 a Japanese attempt to occupy Soviet lands in the region of lake Hasan was blocked by the Red Army. In 1939 a Japanese aggression in the Khalkin-Gol region of Mongolia was also defeated by the Red Army (with future Marshal Georgy Zhukov in command)..

 

On November 7, 1941 Japan attacked Pearl Harbour Naval base, starting the war in the Pacific against the US and the Great Britain.

The Red Army launched its offensive against Japan on August 9, 1945.

Engagement of the Red Army:     - 1,7 mln troops, 26.137 units of artillery, 3.704 tanks, 5.368 planes.                                                             

Japanese and allies’ land troops: - 1,217 mln troops, 6.700 canons, 1000 tanks, 1800 planes.

Casualties: Red Army - 12.031 killed

                                     - 24.425 wounded;

               Japan            - 84.000 killed

                                     - 594.000 prisoners taken.

Duration of campaign - appr. 3 weeks.


IV. Important facts to know

         1. Lend-lease.

The US program of supplying its allies by arms, ammunition and strategic materials. Adopted by the US Congress in 1941. General volume for 1941-1945: 50 bln US dollars (appr. equivalent to 600 bln today’s USD): 31,5 – for Great Britain, 11,3 – for the Soviet Union.

Supplied to the Red Army: 22.150 planes, 12.700 tanks, more than 400.000 vehicles, 345.735 tons of explosives, 2,5 mln tons of oil and fuel etc.

       2. Holocaust.

Term used to describe the Nazi genocide practice in Europe against nations and social categories considered to be the “Untermensch” (“Underpeople”).

Results: According to the assessment by the Nuremberg Tribunal, 6 mln Jews, i.e. 60% of European Jews (1/3 of the World’s Jewry of the time) were slaughtered in more than 40.000 death camps and ghettos (most known are Auschwitz, Maidanek, Treblinka, the Warsaw ghetto and others).

Other victims of the Nazi extermination policy:

- appr. 3 mln Russian war prisoners died of torture, hard labour and starvation in German concentration camps;

- from one-fourth to one-third of Germany’s Gypsies (appr. 220.000) were killed;

- German insane asylum patients (up to 1 mln, concrete data still unavailable) were totally exterminated:

- appr. 9.000 homosexuals;

- appr. 2000 “Jehova witnesses”;

- up to 200.000 free-masons;

- Afrogermans (up to 3000) sterilized or killed.

          3. Slave Labour.

Forced deportation of Soviet citizens to Germany in 1942-1944 for work in defense industry or economic facilities. As a whole appr. 5 mln “ostarbeiters” (“Eastern workers”) were sent to Germany. More than 2 mln of them died of starvation and poor living conditions.

         4. WWII: Examples of massive death of civil population:

- Bombing of Hamburg in July-August 1943. Casualties – up to 45.000 killed, up to 125.000 wounded.

- Bombing of Dresden by British and US Air Force (February, 1945) Casualties: by different assessments, from 25.000 to 300.000 or more killed.

- Atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (Japan) by US Air Force (August 6 and 9, 1945). Causalities: up to 250.000 is both cities (not counting those who died years later of radiation - caused deceases).

        5. The UN was created as a result of the WWII “to save the succeeding generations from the scourge of war…” (UN Charter).

The term “United Nations” was first used in the “Declaration of the United Nations” of January 1, 1942 (26 States, including the Soviet Union, the US, Great Britain and others).

The UN Organization was founded at the San-Francisco conference (April-July 1945) by 50 states-founders (incl. Turkey).