Early in December 1941 German led Axis forces had driven to the gates of Moscow. However, the Red Army counter-attacked their overextended enemy. Soviet armies drove the Wehrmacht and its Axis allies back across the entirety of the front, and put the nail in Operation Barbarossa's coffin. Nevertheless, by early in January 1942 most of the initial Soviet counterstrokes had fizzled to a halt, and for good reason.
In just over six months of warfare the Soviet Union had lost control over 40 percent of its population, a third of its heavy industry, and staggering military losses reaching nearly 5
In August and September of 1939 Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union invaded Poland and divided up the country between themselves. The Germans quickly went to work murdering tens of thousands of people. Meanwhile, Josef Stalin's Soviet Union more quietly, but still brutally, subjugated its part of the former Polish state. To this day the German atrocities garner the bulk of the attention, and rightly so in many respects.
At the storied Powazki Cemetery in Warsaw, Poland (where many of Poland's greatest citizens are buried) a hunt is on for Witold Pilecki; and for others like him believed to have been murdered by Stalin's post Second World War Polish police state and then unceremoniously dumped in unmarked graves.
Though a veteran of the early 1920's war fought between Poland and the Soviet Union, Witold Pilecki remains today best known for his heroism during WWII; when during the 1939-1945 German occupation he served in the Polish underground army.
This final part in our series on the human cost of the Second World War in Europe will look at the nation most responsible for plunging humanity into global warfare: Germany. Though in the United States of America the Second World War is often cast today as the last "good war", in reality there were few nation's that participated in the war, willingly or not, and emerged from the war with entirely clean hands.
I make this observation because the people of Germany were both the perpetrators and, in some cases, victims of the violence Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime unleashed across all of
Part II of our series on the human cost of the Second World War in Europe detailed Eastern Europe and Poland’s immense suffering. Part III now turns to the country that bore perhaps the worst of Nazi Germany's aggression; the Soviet Union and its Red Army.
Beginning with military losses, the Red Army suffered 29 million casualties during the Second World War; including 11,444,100 killed, missing, or captured with 8,668,400 killed in action. These figures utterly dwarf those of any other of the war’s major military establishments. Even capture meant death for much of the War.
This is the second in a series of posts detailing the human cost of the Second World War in Europe. Today we take a closer look at the toll in Eastern Europe.
In spite of the staggering human loss and destruction across all of Western and Southern Europe it could barely compare to the horror of Eastern Europe’s devastation. For example, Romania lost 500,000 people, 200,000 of which were civilians, or more people than the United States lost during the entire war but with a population a fraction of the American's size.
Early in 1943 the Red Army had launched a series of massive offensives across the breadth of the German Eastern Front. In particular, and as the German Sixth Army fought to its destruction at Stalingrad, multiple Soviet fronts, spearheaded by General N.F. Vatutin's Southwestern Front, surged across southern Russia. Meanwhile, Erich von Manstein, commanding the whole of the reconstituted German Army Group South, the former Army Groups A, B and Don, fell back before the Soviet advance and regrouped his armies.
Soviet General Cherniakhovsky’s 60th Army, part of Golikov’s Voronezh Front, took
Gevork Vartanian died in Moscow at age 87. Vartanian was a veritable legend in Soviet espionage circles whose father and wife also worked as Soviet agents. Vartanian made his name when as a young Soviet agent he played a key role in helping to derail a Nazi plot to assassinate Franklin Roosevelt, Josef Stalin, and Winston Churchill at their famous conference in 1943 at Tehran.
Vartanian retired in 1992 after an epic career that began in 1940 at the age of 16. Though he also played a key role in exposing a network of British secret agents, he will be most remembered for locating the six
If in 1919 the question arose regarding which of the Great European Powers stood destined to drive Europe’s twentieth century fortunes, few candidates would have stood out as more unlikely than the Soviet Union. Russia had not only been forced into the Treaty of Brest-Litvosk, but had been occupied by a foreign power from 1917-1921, was in the throes of a Civil War that would kill between three and five million Russian citizens, and had foreign armies again fighting on its soil far beyond the First World War’s end. Then, in 1922 Josef Stalin.
On November 22, 2011 Josef Stalin's sole surviving child, Lana (formerly Svetlana) Peters (her married name following her 1967 defection from the Soviet Union and marriage to her third husband - an American) died of cancer. Born on February 28, 1926 she was 85 years old.