Final Exam Essay 2 - Spilkowitz 1 Stephan Spilkowitz HIST...

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Unformatted text preview: Spilkowitz 1 Stephan Spilkowitz HIST 371, Sec: 6 Professor Weiss Final Exam Question 3:L December 10, 2007 Arguments are bound to arise in discussing which nation was responsible for the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II. Seeing as Hitler's conquest cast a shadow over so many countries and seeing as the effort against the Nazis was a conglomeration of a multitude of nations, it may seem difficult or even incorrect to attribute victory to any one individual nation. Although the US, Britain, and their allies made significant contributions to the liberation of Europe and the defeat of the Nazis, the single nation whose fight against the Nazis directly influenced the fall of the Third Reich, was the Soviet Union. As for the genocidal Nazi campaign against the Jews, the liberation of the concentration camps by the Allies may be viewed as a victory of sorts, yet in this "second war" there was no victor. The German defeat by the Soviets was a combination of Soviet military tactics, environmental influences, and the outcome of several strategically important battles which turned the tide of the war. To understand why the Soviet Union was the first European nation to stop the German advance after nearly all of Western Europe had capitulated to the Nazis, it is important first to look at the motivations of and conditions of the Red Army. A large factor in the success of the Red Army was their immense feelings of moral for defense of the motherland. Each individual soldier in the Red Army had to pledge to, "protect with all his strength the property of the Army and the People and to cherish unto death his People, the soviet homeland and the government of the Workers and Peasants; also to respond at the first call from the government of the Workers and Spilkowitz 2 Peasants to defend the homeland, the USSR." Stalin extended the effort for defense when in his first speech to the public following the invasion; he calls for a full mobilization of the Soviet population against the enemy. To the Germans, Russia was another of Hitler's conquests; to the Russians, the cause was far more important, as their `freedom' depended on the victory of (as Stalin had dubbed it) "The Great Patriotic War." For those who were not sufficiently motivated by the cause for the homeland, Stalin insured that they were motivated by fear. As a result of Stalin's paranoia regarding traitors in the ranks, a fear of desertion among soldiers allowed for a strict and obedient military. The Russian soldier had the choice of facing the enemy, or facing the fatal consequences from his own countrymen. While primitive in comparison to German Blitzkrieg, and disorganized in the beginning of the war, the Soviet military strategy progressively slowed and eventually overturned the German offensive. In spite of the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, Stalin's distrust of Hitler, combined with the sub-par performance of the Red Army in the war against Finland caused Stalin to institute a draft, thereby increasing the size of the army from 1.3 million to 3 million. Contrary to Western European armies, the Red Army was somewhat prepared and experienced, having been increased and having fought and captured Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania in 1940. Shortly after the Germans invaded Russia on June 22, 1941, Stalin announced the Scorched Earth Policy, which would order the destruction of transportation and communication systems, the burning of fields and farms, and the establishment of guerilla units behind the German front lines for sabotage. This order for the general destruction of anything that could be made use of by the Germans severely hindered the German advance. As for military campaigns, Stalin's strategy was simple; attack the enemy relentlessly and as often as possible. Spilkowitz 3 In spite of the early success of the German campaign, the slow suffocation of resources, the territorial familiarization of the Soviets, and the sheer number of people at the disposal of the Red Army, soon turned the tide of the war. For the first time since Hitler's campaign began, the German army was stopped, and pushed back after their assault on Moscow. It was not until the Soviet victory at Stalingrad (February 2, 1943), the first major defeat of the German army, that the Red Army switched from a defensive to an offensive strategy. Weakened by low moral, insufficient food and supplies, and sheer exhaustion, the Germans Army was pushed farther and farther east as a result of constant attacks from an army whose resources were far from exhausted. The Soviet victory at Kursk on July 5, 1943, and the failed final offensive of the German Army at Kiev, sealed the fate of Hitler's campaign in Russia. On January 6th 1944, five months before the Allied invasion of Europe, the Red Army crossed over into Poland to begin a series of counterattacks to regain territory and push their way into Germany. On April 21, 1945, the Red Army captured Berlin. Although tactical failures and defeats caused the direct defeat of the Nazis, the German Army fell victim to the same enemy Napoleon's army fell victim to--the Russian climate. The sheer geographical size of Russia along with its many rivers and mountains, proved to be a daunting obstacle, forcing the German army to be spread thin and making transportation and troop movement difficult and tedious. As a result of the initial heat of the Russian summer, roads cracked and crumbled, in addition to an epidemic of malaria, dysentery, and colic among the German ranks. The Russian winter proved to be the greatest obstacle to the German war machine. Under heavy snowfall in temperatures as low as -55C, illness, lice, frostbite, and machinery malfunctions became commonplace. Adequate clothing and food were also scarce. The challenges of the Spilkowitz 4 Russian climate were met with demoralization and the subsequent failure of the Nazi conquest. Just as looking at factors such as climate offers insight into how the Nazis were defeated, looking at a broad picture of the Holocaust, one can see that there really was no winner. Despite the chillingly effective murder of approximately six million European Jews, those who survived the slaughter, and the current presence of Jews in Europe point to the obvious failure of Hitler's Final Solution. Although hundreds of thousands of Jews were rescued from over one-hundred liberated concentration camps by various Allied Armies, the damage done was so irreparable, that no such rescue could be considered a victory. Multiple opportunities to help the Jews had arisen during the war, and the Allies' failure to act only allowed for the genocide to continue. The Jews did not win; entire Jewish communities that had survived for centuries were exterminated, along with thousands of homes, businesses, and six million human beings--two thirds of the Jews living in Europe before the war. Even with the creation of a Jewish state, which was in part created as a haven for Holocaust survivors, the Jews have been in a constant state of war to defend their place on Earth. There was no victory in the Holocaust, only pain, suffering, and loss. The defeat of Nazi Germany came about the combined efforts of the Allies to defeat an oppressive and violent regime and to once again restore freedom in Europe. Although the efforts of Britain, the US, and their Western Allies contributed greatly to the defeat of the Nazis, the strategic and environmental defeat of the German Army in Russia directly resulted in their retreat, and the ultimate collapse of the Third Reich. ...
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