Why, despite the disasters of 1941, was the USSR able to defeat Germany by 1945?
An important factor to consider why the USSR was able to defeat Germany in 1945 was due to the Grand Alliance. Russia was part of the Grand Alliance, which united Britain and America against Hitler. The Grand Alliance was helpful economically and militarily to Russia. In 1944, Britain and USA reopened the Western front, which had been dormant since the Dunkirk evacuation of 1940. This further divided German forces, taking pressure of the eastern front. Economically, the American scheme of Lend-Lease which was established in 1941 by President Roosevelt, allowed its allies access across the American war goods at a fraction of their real cost. This economic aid helped the Russian war effort as it provided 12% of the aeroplanes and 10% of the tanks used by the Russian army during the war. Indeed, it also provided some of the vital raw materials that were in short supply for example coal and copper – after the USSR’s loss of the Donbass region. The specialists that were sent to Russia helped to improve the quality of armaments and increase the production.
Despite the fact that, Lend-Lease accounted for only 4% of the goods used by the Russian army during the war – it was more significant in terms of food and transport. Crucially, the Russian economy was unable to produce food and sophisticated transport goods in large numbers. This was due to the fact that the Russian rail network was in poor condition and so the Lend-Lease helped to solve this problem by providing large shipments of tracks and engines to transport both men and supplies. As a result of this, millions of troops could be moved quickly to different parts of the Eastern Front. Out of 2000 trains that were used by the Russians during the Second World War, 1900 were American. Equally American ‘jeeps’ formed two thirds of all those used by the Red Army. Another significant aspect of this scheme was the food provided. The Red Army was dependent on American and Canadian wheat and tinned goods such as SPAM and so by 1943, 17% of the calorie intake by the army was supplied by the Americans. By the end of the war, it was estimated that the 12 million soldiers in the army, were receiving about 200 grams of US food everyday. Overall, in terms of food and transport, Lend-Lease was critical to Russian success.