The Great Patriotic War began on June 22, 1941 with the invasion of 190 German divisions totaling up to 5.5 million people. Every year, more and more often, the world is on the verge of armed conflicts, so it is important to very clearly understand the causes of the start of World War II. The world is simply obliged to use the experience of mistakes of past generations in order not to repeat them in the future again.
World War II: Causes According to Soviet Historians
Soviet historiography emphasizes the ideological aspect. Historians in their books expressed the opinion that Europe, in particular Hitler, was greatly hampered by the thriving socialist way. All Soviet literature, including scientific literature, did not objectively evaluate the level of development of socialism in the USSR. Many people were convinced that Soviet life was beautiful, and the West wanted to break it, implanting its own, wrong order. The Great Patriotic War, the reasons for which were then presented to the people not entirely plausible, was considered in the Soviet literature as liberation.
What does German historical science say about the causes of the outbreak of war?
German historians show a very different picture. Everyone remembers the results of the First World War. The Versailles Peace Treaty, signed in November 1918, humiliated Germany with many of its provisions. The Germans had to pay the US and European states huge, unbearable for the collapsed economy of the state of reparation. It was also forbidden to have your own army. A part of the territory of Germany became a neutral demilitarized zone.
The life of the Germans due to such tough sanctions has become unbearable. This situation has become fertile ground for the popularization of the ideas of the NSDP. Party slogans quickly gained popularity. Hitler convinced all Germans of the need to take revenge on those countries that humiliated Germany in the First World War. Based on the prevalence of these views and the purposeful work of the entire state machine on raising the level of German patriotism, the war would have started sooner or later. In addition, the Germans were convinced that some of the territories that at that time were part of other states - Czechoslovakia, Poland, Austria - were to be under German jurisdiction.
Hitler was also aggressively opposed to the USSR. He saw in the Soviet state a competitor in the struggle for world domination. These views are directly expressed in Adolf Hitler’s book My Life, that is, it was an element of fascist ideology.
Ideological basis of war
The Great Patriotic War, the reasons for the beginning of which are still not fully known, was a war of ideologies. In fact, fascism and communism are two totalitarian ideas. They have little in common in the political and social sense, but there is one factor that unites the USSR and Germany of those times. The Germans wanted to take revenge on their enemies, and this could be done only by military means. The task of the Soviet state immediately after October 1917 was the so-called “export of revolution”, that is, the imposition of its ideology and controlled regimes in as many countries as possible. It was difficult to do this by political means. The first military attempt to establish a controlled regime was in Spain during the Civil War. The war was viewed by the USSR as a way to “export the revolution”.
The USSR in the Great Patriotic War: the causes of the first defeats
Hitler was a very cunning politician. Even after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentropp Pact between Germany and the USSR “On Non-Aggression”, all leaders of the Union suspected that sooner or later there would be war with the Nazis. The Germans carried out such diplomatic work, thanks to which Stalin was sure that the Great Patriotic War would not start before 1942. The reasons for the first failures are actually connected with the unpreparedness of the Red Army for active hostilities.
First, the Soviet leadership and command of the Red Army, despite numerous intelligence information, was confident that the war would begin later than June 22, 1941. Correspondingly, the troops of the border military districts were too late to be put on full alert and did not have time to take advantageous defensive positions.
No one imagined that they would have to conduct active and complex defensive actions. The army was strategically weak because most of the fighters were only recently recruited and did not have serious experience. It is worth remembering the repressions in the army of 1937-1938, when many talented military leaders were barbarously enslaved in the dungeons of the NKVD. New commanders had to gain experience already in the course of hostilities, which could not but affect the effectiveness of defensive actions.
Expansion of the USSR in 1940
What else can be said about the reasons for the failures of the Great Patriotic War at its starting point? After the change of the border between the USSR and Poland, as a result of the annexation of the regions of Western Ukraine to the USSR, large groups of troops were transferred there. The fact is that the Soviet generals were expecting an offensive from the south-west. For example, through Romania. Also, the presence of troops in the newly annexed territories is explained by the fact that there was a danger of uprisings during the adaptation of Western Ukraine to Soviet realities.
The Great Patriotic War, like all other military conflicts, had its reasons. The defeats of the Great Patriotic War for the USSR were very painful. Thank God that the Red Army with time has grown stronger and was able to give a decisive rebuff to the enemy.
The reasons for the start of the Great Patriotic War are rooted in Hitler’s desire to defeat Germany’s resources as much as possible in order to beat England and the USA later through a victory over the USSR.