It is absurd how often people in the West (primarily in the US) conflate the USSR and Nazi Germany. They were literally opposites. In fact — while American (and British and French) corporations such as IBM, Ford, GM, and even those for which US senator Prescott Bush (father of George H W Bush) was a shareholder were supporting the Nazis — the USSR played by far the biggest role in destroying Nazism.
In World War II:
- 419,000 Americans died,
- 451,000 Britons died, and
- at least 26,000,000 Soviets died — 6200% more.
In other words, 62 Soviets died for every one American, according to the most common estimates.
A simple body count demonstrates that the Soviets did by far the majority of the fighting. By far.
The invasion of the Soviet Union marked a break with the European war that had been fought over the previous two years. The forces of Germany and the Soviet Union dwarfed anything that had been put into action before, and for the next three years the eastern front was the scene of almost all the serious fighting. In 1942, Hitler had 178 divisions in the east; Rommel’s confrontation with British forces in northern Africa, which came to feature so much in British mythology, involved only 4 German divisions. Between the evacuation of Crete in 1941 and the Allied invasion of Italy in 1943, Russian troops were the only ones to fight German forces on European soil. Of the 13.6 million German soldiers who were killed, wounded or captured during the Second War War, 10 million ended their military careers on the eastern front.
Peter Kuznick, Associate Professor of History at American University, similarly notes, at 5:44 in the following video, “Throughout most of World War II, the United States and the British were fighting 10 German divisions combined. The Soviets were fighting 200.”
That is to say, the Soviets fought 20 times more Nazis than the Americans and British combined.
At 6:52, Kuznick further explains that the “destruction of the Soviet Union was the equivalent of the entire United States east of Chicago being wiped out and destroyed.”
Just imagine that for a second — the entire country east of Chicago, gone.
The historical reality of World War II is that the USSR overwhelmingly defeated the Nazis. Even the colonialist, racist, anti-communist Churchill had to admit to this.
I have left the obvious, essential fact to this point, namely, that it is the Russian Armies who have done the main work in tearing the guts out of the German army. In the air and on the oceans we could maintain our place, but there was no force in the world which could have been called into being, except after several more years, that would have been able to maul and break the German army unless it had been subjected to the terrible slaughter and manhandling that has fallen to it through the strength of the Russian Soviet Armies.
—Winston Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons, 2 August 1944, “War Situation”
I have always believed and I still believe that it is the Red Army that has torn the guts out of the filthy Nazis.
—Winston Churchill, Speech in the House of Commons, October 1944
And this is not just a matter of what Churchill believed. It is an historical fact.
An historical fact not taught in many Western history classes.
Before critics chime in shouting “But Stalin!” — one does not have to be a fan of Joseph Stalin to acknowledge the historical fact that the USSR defeated Nazism. One can criticize Stalin for the crimes he oversaw, but too honor the millions upon millions of innocent Soviets who bravely sacrificed their lives to defeat fascism.
Many Russophobic and anti-communist Americans cannot believe that many Russians, and citizens from former Soviet satellites, defend Stalin for reasons like this — but let us think about the historical reality for a second. Stalin, who indeed oversaw crimes, also defeated Nazism. This is an enormous victory. Many historians agree that another Soviet leader, with more regard for human life, could have also defeated the Nazis, and with less casualties, but it is a victory nevertheless.
Henry Ford, on the other hand, the epitome of American “entrepreneurship,” was a Nazi sympathizer and contractor. The anti-Semitic literature and newspaper he was responsible for publishing and disseminating inspired the Nazis. It was for this reason that, in 1938, Ford received the Grand Cross of the German Eagle, the highest honor Nazi Germany gave to a foreigner.
As already mentioned, Ford was not alone in supporting Nazi Germany either. Chase Bank, Standard Oil, IBM, Coca-Cola, Kodak, and Hugo Boss, among other corporations, did too. They had no problem with supporting Nazism (and Italian fascism) when it was profitable. Capitalism has no national or moral loyalty; its loyalty is to profit and profit alone.
Once again, this is not often taught in history classes, however. Nor is it shown in any of plethoric WWII Hollywood films.
Turning History Upside Down
It is just beyond belief how much the West has whitewashed WWII history in its favor. It has literally made the narrative the opposite of what it was; it has turned history upside down.
Americans bring up the Western Front and US material support for the USSR in its Lend-Lease program. This latter point is somewhat significant, but the US only sent $11 billion to the USSR, which pales in comparison to the cost of the actual war.
Pointing to the the Western Front, on the other hand, is rather disingenuous. In the words of the New York Times (emphasis mine):
A plucky Britain refusing to bow to the Luftwaffe’s blitz, Patton and Rommel dueling in the North African desert, the D-Day invasion and the Battle of the Bulge — these tend to dominate American’s conception of the Allied defeat of Nazi Germany.
But as important as the episodes were, military historians have always known that the main scene of the Nazis’ downfall was the Eastern Front, which claimed 80 percent of all German military casualties in the war.
The four-year conflict between the Wehrmacht and the Red Army remains the largest and possibly the most ferocious ever fought.
In short, the war fought on the Eastern Front is arguably the single most important chapter in modern military history—but it is a chapter that in many essential ways is only now being written.
Benjamin Schwartz even explains that, “[f]rom evidence released from Soviet archives since the mid-1980’s, scholars have learned, for example, that Soviet deaths numbered nearly 50 million, two and half times the original estimate.”
If 50 million is an accurate estimate (some historians contest this), approximately 125 Soviets died for every American in World War II. When you wrap your mind around this incredible incongruence, the depth to which US propaganda has whitewashed history becomes almost impossible to grasp.
I am not trying to say the Soviets were totally innocent in these regards. Soviet soldiers raped large numbers of German women (as did American and British soldiers). That is an inexcusable war crime, and should never be defended. The Soviet army also killed civilians. War is hell. But failing to acknowledge the fact that the USSR overwhelmingly defeated the Nazis is simply lying — and often verges on historical revisionism.
One final word: In these regards, neither I nor historians like Kuznick am suggesting that World War II was purely Nazi Germany versus the USSR. Instead, the point I am making is that the USSR did the vast, vast majority of the fighting and, practically on its own, defeated the leader of the Axis of Evil, and by far its most powerful military force.
Yes, you can provide weapons to a country who fights your battles for you, and that’s still a good thing, but when it is many millions of the citizens of that country who die, and not those of your own, claiming you won that war because you donated some weapons and supplies — and then distorting and even erasing the history of the country who did most of the fighting — is beyond repugnant.
Bonus: Fascism Is Capitalist
For some more historical evidence, when right-wing Americans histrionically scream about how the Nazis called themselves “socialist,” you should remind them that they were completely the opposite.
The abstract of “Against the mainstream: Nazi privatization in 1930s Germany,” a scholarly article by Germà Bel, professor of economics at the University of Barcelona, reads:
The Great Depression spurred State ownership in Western capitalist countries. Germany was no exception; the last governments of the Weimar Republic took over firms in diverse sectors. Later, the Nazi regime transferred public ownership and public services to the private sector. In doing so, they went against the mainstream trends in the Western capitalist countries, none of which systematically reprivatized firms during the 1930s. Privatization in Nazi Germany was also unique in transferring to private hands the delivery of public services previously provided by government. The firms and the services transferred to private ownership belonged to diverse sectors. Privatization was part of an intentional policy with multiple objectives and was not ideologically driven. As in many recent privatizations, particularly within the European Union, strong financial restrictions were a central motivation. In addition, privatization was used as a political tool to enhance support for the government and for the Nazi Party.
Privatization is literally the opposite of socialism.
But reactionary Americans will stall try to call the Nazis “socialist.” Historical ignorance can and does lead to some very strange views.