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Intro

In this section we will explore the reasons for the Soviet victory in the war. We will be asking why the Soviet people fought with such determination and courage? Were they fighting for the Soviet system or for their Motherland? How should we explain the tenacity with which they fought for cities such as Moscow, Stalingrad and Leningrad? We will also look at how the war changed Soviet society and the nature of the Soviet regime. The section contains extracts from my books, photographs and videos, and a list of books to read. Register here to get information on accessing more materials including my responses to exam questions on these themes.

Operation Barbarossa, German invasion of Soviet Union 1941

Germans capture a Soviet soldier, 1941


Operation Barbarossa

On the morning of Sunday 22 June 1941, 3.2 million German troops began the invasion of the Soviet Union along a 2,900 kilometre front. Read more...

Stalin's response to the German Invasion

On 20 July, Stalin took control of the military command. Like the Tsar in the First World War, he was gambling all his power on his ability to save the nation from catastrophe. Stalin ordered a counter-offensive on the Moscow front. Read more...

Leningrad and Moscow

As the birthplace of the Revolution, Leningrad had a huge symbolic importance. It could not be abandoned by the Soviets. Read more...

Explaining the Soviet Fighting Spirit

How should we explain the extraordinary spirit of the Soviet people in the war? Why did so many Soviet soldiers fight with such determination and self-sacrifice? Was it something in the 'Russian character' or in the Revolution? Read more...

Sacrifice

One of the most important elements in the Soviet war effort was the cult of sacrifice. The Soviet people went to war with the psychology of the 1930s. Read more...

The Spirit of Stalingrad

The defenders of Stalingrad displayed extraordinary courage, fighting for every street and building against superior German forces. Read more...

Reasons for the Soviet Victory

The bravery and resilience of the rank and file was a decisive factor in the Soviet military success. Read more...

'Spontaneous De-Stalinization'

People would recall the war as a period of relative freedom compared to the years before. Read more...

Popular Hopes of Reform

The increased trust and interaction between people gave rise to a renewed civic spirit and sense of nationhood. Read more...

The Clampdown of 1945

The leadership was anxious about what would happen when these men came back from war. Read more...

War and the Change in Revolutionary Values

The Soviet political system was transformed by the war. Stalin' personal power and prestige was immeasurably increased and his cult now reached its height. Read more...

Photos

These images tell us about the Soviet war.Read more...

Q & A

Here are some exam-like questions. Read more...

Podcast

A recording of a lecture/class about these themes using primary documents. Read more...

Further Reading

A list of further reading. Read more...

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