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Unit 1 Sources Investigation (essay)Wartime disagreementsbetween the USSR and theWestSources on the Second Front
A From: Gabriel Kolko, The Politics of War, published in 1968. This historian is sympathetic to Russian criticisms of lack of support from the West during the war and defends Soviet policy in Eastern Europe in 1945.It seems likely that about one-tenth of Russian military needs in all forms came from the Allies. However, Soviet military successes were unmistakably based primarily on the efforts and sacrifices of the Russians themselves, and not on such external aid as the USA gave them. Many Russians were to die in World War II to defeat Germany – the final count reached twenty millions, seven million of them soldiers; in comparison, the Americans lost 405,000, the British 375,000. American living standards, after the grim decade of the depression, had never been higher. The West’s failure to initiate a second front until Germany was on the defensive must certainly have raised very serious questions in the Kremlin about the ultimate value and reliability of the coalition. The failure of the West on the second front issue struck at the very basis of the tenuous Allied collaboration. To the Russians it appeared that the West was making politics while Russia made war. Other than reconsidering the coalition after so many broken promises in regard to a second front, the Russiansmust no doubt have realized that Anglo-American delays, whether intended to do so or not, were weakening them materially, and this would affect their relations with the West at the end of the War. What was also certain to the USSR was that Anglo American temporization had also weakened the force of its own obligations to its allies. By the Yalta Conference the military experience of the Grand Alliance had done nothing to mitigate the political differences that appeared during the course of 1943 and 1944.B From: Jonathan Fenby, Alliance, published in 2006. This historian argues that there was less disagreement between Russia and the West than has been argued about the Second Front.Though some British Cabinet colleagues favoured opening a front in the West, Churchill would have none of it. He told Stalin in 1942 that there was no chance of a British offensive in France or the Balkans and that action however well-meaning, leading only to costly fiasco would be of no help to anyone but Hitler. The issue of a Second Front would become a recurrent theme over the following three years, with Stalin returning repeatedly to the failure of Britain and America to land troops in France. But there must be doubt as to whether he really expected action in 1942 or 1943. The Western allies lacked men and landing craft, and Hitler had superior forces across the Channel. Molotov told an interviewer towards the end of his life, ‘From the first I did not believe they would do it. This was a completely impossible operation for them. I don’t doubt that Stalin too believed they would not carry it out’.

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