Soviet invasion of Poland
The Soviet invasion of Poland was a military operation by the Soviet Union without a formal declaration of war. On 17 September 1939, the Soviet Union invaded Poland from the east, sixteen days after Germany invaded Poland from the west. Subsequent military operations lasted for the following 20 days and ended on 6 October 1939 with the two-way division and annexation of the entire territory of the Second Polish Republic by Germany and the Soviet Union; the Soviet invasion of Poland was secretly approved by Germany following the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact on 23 August 1939. The Red Army, which vastly outnumbered the Polish defenders, achieved its targets encountering only limited resistance; some 320,000 Polish prisoners of war had been captured. The campaign of mass persecution in the newly acquired areas began immediately. In November 1939 the Soviet government ostensibly annexed the entire Polish territory under its control; some 13.5 million Polish citizens who fell under the military occupation were made into new Soviet subjects following show elections conducted by the NKVD secret police in the atmosphere of terror, the results of which were used to legitimize the use of force.
A Soviet campaign of political murders and other forms of repression, targeting Polish figures of authority such as military officers and priests, began with a wave of arrests and summary executions. The Soviet NKVD sent hundreds of thousands of people from eastern Poland to Siberia and other remote parts of the Soviet Union in four major waves of deportation between 1939 and 1941. Soviet forces occupied eastern Poland until the summer of 1941, when they were driven out by the German army in the course of Operation Barbarossa; the area was under German occupation until the Red Army reconquered it in the summer of 1944. An agreement at the Yalta Conference permitted the Soviet Union to annex all of their Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact portion of the Second Polish Republic, compensating the People's Republic of Poland with the southern half of East Prussia and territories east of the Oder–Neisse line; the Soviet Union enclosed most of the conquered annexed territories into the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic and the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic.
After the end of World War II in Europe, the USSR signed a new border agreement with the Soviet-backed and installed Polish communist puppet state on 16 August 1945. This agreement recognized the status quo as the new official border between the two countries with the exception of the region around Białystok and a minor part of Galicia east of the San river around Przemyśl, which were returned to Poland. Several months before the invasion, in early 1939 the Soviet Union began strategic alliance negotiations with the United Kingdom, France and Romania against the crash militarization of Nazi Germany under Adolf Hitler; the USSR played a double game by secretly engaging in parallel talks with Germany. The negotiations with the Western democracies failed much to soviet disappointment:when the Soviet Union insisted that Poland and Romania give Soviet troops transit rights through their territory as part of a collective security arrangement; the terms were rejected, thus giving Josef Stalin a free hand in pursuing the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact with Adolf Hitler, signed on 23 August 1939.
The non-aggression pact contained a secret protocol dividing Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence in the event of war. One week after the signing of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, German forces invaded Poland from the west and south on 1 September 1939. Polish forces withdrew to the southeast where they prepared for a long defence of the Romanian Bridgehead and awaited the French and British support and relief that they were expecting. On 17 September 1939 the Soviet Red Army invaded the Kresy regions in accordance with the secret protocol. At the opening of hostilities several Polish cities including Dubno, Łuck and Włodzimierz Wołyński let the Red Army in peacefully, convinced that it was marching on in order to fight the Germans. General Juliusz Rómmel of the Polish Army issued an unauthorised order to treat them like an ally before it was too late; the Soviet government announced it was acting to protect the Ukrainians and Belarusians who lived in the eastern part of Poland, because the Polish state – according to Soviet propaganda – had collapsed in the face of the Nazi German attack and could no longer guarantee the security of its own citizens.
Facing a second front, the Polish government concluded that the defence of the Romanian Bridgehead was no longer feasible and ordered an emergency evacuation of all uniformed troops to then-neutral Romania. The result of the Paris Peace Conference did little to decrease the territorial ambitions of parties in the region. Józef Piłsudski sought to expand the Polish borders as far east as possible in an attempt to create a Polish-led federation to counter any potential imperialist intentions on the part of Russia or Germany. At the same time, the Bolsheviks began to gain the upper hand in the Russian Civil War and started to advance westward towards the disputed territories with the intent of assisting other Communist movements in Western Europe; the border skirmishes of 1919 progressively escalated into the Polish–Soviet War in 1920. Following the Polish victory at the Battle of Warsaw, the Soviets sued for peace and the war ended with an armistice in October 1920; the parties signed the formal peace treaty, the Peace of Riga, on 18 March 1921, dividing the disputed territories between Poland and Soviet Russia.
In an action that determined the Soviet-Polish border during the interwar period, the Soviets offered the Polish peace delegation territorial concessions in the contested borderland areas resembling the border between th
Mohyliv-Podilskyi is a city in the Mohyliv-Podilskyi Raion of the Vinnytsia Oblast, Ukraine. Administratively, Mohyliv-Podilskyi is incorporated as a town of regional significance, it serves as the administrative center of Mohyliv-Podilskyi Raion, one of twenty-seven districts of Vinnytsia Oblast, though it is not a part of the district. It is located in the historic region of Podolia, on the border with Bessarabia, along the left bank of the Dniester river. On the opposite side of the river lies the Moldovan town of Otaci, the two municipalities are connected to each other by a bridge. Population: 31,674 The first mention of the town dates from 1595; the owner of the town, Moldavian hospodar Ieremia Movilă bestowed it as a dowry gift to his daughter, who married into the Potocki family of Polish nobility. At that time, the groom named the town Movilǎu in honor of his father-in-law. In the first quarter of the 17th century, Mohyliv became one of the largest towns in Podolia, it was part of the Podolian Voivodeship of the Lesser Poland Province of the Polish Crown.
It was a multi-ethnic border town composed of Poles, Armenians, Serbs and Bosniaks. In the 18th century the main churches of the town were built: the Polish-Armenian Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Greek St. Nicholas Church; the town was annexed by Russia after the Second Partition of Poland. After the restoration of Polish independence, Mohyliv was captured by the Poles under the command of General Franciszek Krajowski in 1919, but it fell to the Soviet Union. In 1937, during the Polish Operation of the NKVD, the Soviets destroyed the Polish Church of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Mohyliv-Podilskyi was occupied by Romanian and German troops in July 1941 and incorporated into the Romanian-ruled Transnistria Governorate. Soon thereafter, thousands of Jews in the town were murdered by the occupiers. Mohyliv-Podilskyi soon became a transit camp for Jews expelled from Bessarabia and Bukovina to Transnistria. From September 1941 to February 1942 more than 55,000 deportees came through the town.
Thousands of people were treated cruelly by the Romanian guards. Many Jews were not allowed to stay in Mohyliv-Podilskyi; the 15,000 who were permitted to stay in the town organized themselves into groups. Some 2,000—3,000 were given residence permits, while the rest lived in constant fear of being deported into the Transnistrian interior for forced labor. In December 1943 over 3,000 Jews were allowed to return to Romania, in March 1944, Jewish leaders in Bucharest got permission to bring back 1,400 orphans. Mohyliv-Podilskyi was liberated that month. Many who stayed in the city were killed by German bombs. Most of the deportees were allowed to return to Romania in the spring of 1945. Mohyliv-Podilskyi has been part of Ukraine since August 24, 1991. Witold Maliszewski, a Polish composer, professor of the Warsaw Conservatory, was born in Mohyliv-Podilskyi Mohyliv-Podilskyi is twinned with: Bakhmut, Ukraine Koziatyn, Ukraine Końskie, Poland Połaniec, Poland Środa Wielkopolska, Poland Bălți, Moldova Pitești, Romania Šaľa, Slovakia Cavriglia, Italy Mohyliv-Podilskyi, article appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol.
3. "Mogilev on the Dniester". Encyclopædia Britannica. 1911
Ivan Khristoforovich Bagramyan known as Hovhannes Khachaturi Baghramyan, was a Soviet military commander and Marshal of the Soviet Union of Armenian origin. During World War II, Bagramyan was the first non-Slavic military officer to become a commander of a Front, he was among several Armenians in the Soviet Army who held the highest proportion of high-ranking officers in the Soviet military during the war. Bagramyan's experience in military planning as a chief of staff allowed him to distinguish himself as a capable commander in the early stages of the Soviet counter-offensives against Nazi Germany, he was given his first command of a unit in 1942, in November 1943 received his most prestigious command as the commander of the 1st Baltic Front. As commander of the Baltic Front, he participated in the offensives which pushed German forces out of the Baltic republics, he did not join the Communist Party after the consolidation of the October Revolution, becoming a member only in 1941, a move atypical for a Soviet military officer.
After the war, he served as a deputy of the Supreme Soviets of the Latvian Soviet Socialist Republic and Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic and was a regular attendee of the Party Congresses. In 1952, he became a candidate for entry into the Central Committee and, in 1961, was inducted as a full member. For his contributions during the war, he was regarded as a national hero in the Soviet Union, continues to hold such esteemed status among Armenians. Ivan Bagramyan was born to Armenian parents in the village of Çardaqlı, near Yelizavetpol a part of the Russian Empire. Çardaqlı was one of the largest Armenian settlements in the South Caucasus populated entirely by migrants from the village of Maghavuz in Nagorno Karabakh who continued keeping a connection with their ancestral land. Hamazasp Babadzhanian, a fellow Armenian, to become the chief marshal of the Soviet Armor corps, was born in the same village. While Bagramyan's father, went to work all day at the railway station in Yelizavetpol, his mother, stayed at home to take care of her seven children.
Because his parents could not afford to send him to the local gymnasium, they decided to enroll him at a opened two-year school in Yelizavetpol. Graduating in 1912, whom everyone affectionately called Vanya, followed his father and his brothers in a path in rail work, attending the three-year railway technical institute located in Tiflis, he graduated with honors and was slated to become a railway engineer within a few years when events in the First World War changed his life. Bagramyan was well aware of the military situation at the Caucasus front during the first months of the world war. In the winter of 1914–15, the Imperial Russian Army was able to withstand and repel the Ottoman Empire's offensive at Sarikamish, to take the fight to its territory. Bagramyan began reading harrowing reports in the Russian press of what was taking place against his fellow kinsmen across the border: the Ottomans had embarked on a campaign to commit genocide upon their Armenian subjects, he attempted to join the military effort but because he was only seventeen and a railway mechanic, he was not liable to be drafted.
This did not dissuade him from trying, as he remarked, "My place was at the front."His opportunity came on 16 September 1915, when he was accepted by the Russian Army as a volunteer. He was sent to Akhaltsikhe for basic training. With his training complete in December, he joined the 2nd Caucasus Frontier Regiment of the Russian Expeditionary Corps, sent to dislodge the Ottoman Turks in Persia. Bagramyan participated in several battles in Asadabad and Kermanshah, the Russian victories here sending Ottoman forces reeling toward Anatolia. Learning about the exploits of the men in the outfit, the chief of staff of the regiment, General Pavel Melik-Shahnazaryan, advised Bagramyan to return to Tiflis to enroll in the Praporshchik Military Academy, but in order to attend the school, Bagramyan needed to satisfy the academy's requirement of having completed school at a gymnasium. This did not deter him and, after preparing for the courses in Armavir, he passed his exams and began attending the academy on February 13, 1917.
He graduated in June 1917 and was assigned to the 3rd Armenian Infantry Regiment, stationed near Lake Urmia. But with the overthrow of the Russian Provisional Government in the midst of the October Revolution of 1917, his unit was demobilized. However, with the creation of the newly established First Republic of Armenia in 1918, Bagramyan enlisted in the 3rd Armenian Regiment of that country's armed forces. From 1 April 1918, that is, after the Ottoman Empire signed the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with the Russian SFSR, he was in the 1st Armenian Cavalry Regiment, which put a halt to the Ottoman 3rd Army, bent on conquering the remains of the republic, in Karaurgan and Kars, he most notably took part in the May 1918 Battle of Sardarapat, where the Armenian military scored a crucial victory against Turkish forces. He remained in the regiment until May 1920. Three years after the toppling of the Provisional Government by the Bolsheviks in October 1917, the Red Army invaded the southern Caucasus republics of Azerbaijan and Armenia.
In May 1920, upset with the country's social and political conditions, participated in a failed rebellion against the Dashnak-led government of Armenia. He was jailed a
The Vistula–Oder Offensive was a successful Red Army operation on the Eastern Front in the European Theatre of World War II in January 1945. It saw the fall of Kraków, Warsaw and Poznań; the Red Army had built up their strength around a number of key bridgeheads, with two fronts commanded by Marshal Georgy Zhukov and Marshal Ivan Konev. Against them, the German Army Group A, led by Colonel-General Josef Harpe, was outnumbered 5:1. Within days, German commandants evacuated the concentration camps, sending the prisoners on their death marches to the west, where ethnic Germans started fleeing. In a little over two weeks, the Red Army had advanced 300 miles from the Vistula to the Oder, only 43 miles from Berlin, undefended, but Zhukov called a halt, owing to continued German resistance on his northern flank, the advance on Berlin had to be delayed until April. In the wake of the successful Operation Bagration, the 1st Belorussian Front managed to secure two bridgeheads west of the Vistula river between 27 July and 4 August 1944.
The Soviet forces remained inactive during the failed Warsaw uprising that started on 1 August, though their frontline was not far from the insurgents. The 1st Ukrainian Front captured an additional large bridgehead at Sandomierz, some 200 km south of Warsaw, during the Lvov–Sandomierz Offensive. Preceding the offensive, the Red Army had built up large amounts of materiel and manpower in the three bridgeheads; the Red Army outnumbered the opposing Wehrmacht in infantry and armour. All this was known to German intelligence. General Reinhard Gehlen, head of Fremde Heere Ost passed his assessment to Heinz Guderian. Guderian in turn presented the intelligence results to Adolf Hitler, who refused to believe them, dismissing the apparent Soviet strength as "the greatest imposture since Genghis Khan". Guderian had proposed to evacuate the divisions of Army Group North trapped in the Courland Pocket to the Reich via the Baltic Sea to get the necessary manpower for the defence, but Hitler forbade it. In addition, Hitler commanded that one major operational reserve, the troops of Sepp Dietrich's 6th Panzer Army, be moved to Hungary to support Operation Frühlingserwachen.
The offensive was brought forward from 20 January to 12 January because meteorological reports warned of a thaw in the month, the tanks needed hard ground for the offensive. It was not done to assist American and British forces during the Battle of the Bulge, as Stalin chose to claim at Yalta. Two Fronts of the Red Army were directly involved; the 1st Belorussian Front, holding the sector around Warsaw and southward in the Magnuszew and Puławy bridgeheads, was led by Marshal Georgy Zhukov. Zhukov and Konev had 163 divisions for the operation with a total of: 2,203,000 infantry, 4,529 tanks, 2,513 assault guns, 13,763 pieces of field artillery, 14,812 mortars, 4,936 anti-tank guns, 2,198 Katyusha multiple rocket launchers, 5,000 aircraft. 1st Belorussian Front 47th Army 1st Polish Army 3rd Shock Army 61st Army 1st Guards Tank Army 2nd Guards Tank Army 5th Shock Army 8th Guards Army 69st Army 33rd Army 1st Ukrainian Front 21st Army 6th Army 3rd Guards Army 13th Army 4th Tank Army 3rd Guards Tank Army 52nd Army 5th Guards Army 59th Army 60th Army Soviet forces in this sector were opposed by Army Group A, defending a front which stretched from positions east of Warsaw southwards along the Vistula to the confluence of the San.
At that point there was a large Soviet bridgehead over the Vistula in the area of Baranów before the front continued south to Jasło. There were three Armies in the Group; the force had a total complement of 450,000 soldiers, 4,100 artillery pieces, 1,150 tanks. Army Group A was led by Colonel-General Josef Harpe. Army Group A 9th Army LVI Panzer Corps XXXXVI Panzer Corps VIII Corps 4th Panzer Army XLII Corps XXIV Panzer Corps XLVIII Panzer Corps 17th Army LIX Corps XI Corps XI SS Panzer Corps German intelligence had estimated that the Soviet forces had a 3:1 numerical superiority to the German forces. In the large Baranow/Sandomierz bridgehead, the Fourth Panzer Army was required to defend from'strongpoints' in some areas, as it lacked the infantry to man a continuous front line. In addition, on Hitler's express orders, the two German defence lines were positioned close to each other, placing the main defences well within striking range of Soviet artillery; the offensive commenced in the Baranow bridgehead at 04:35 on 12 January with an intense bombardment by the guns of the 1st Ukrainian Front against the positions of the 4th Panzer Army.
Concentrated against the divisions of XLVIII Panzer Corp
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army shortened to Red Army was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established after the 1917 October Revolution; the Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; the Red Army provided the largest land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II, its invasion of Manchuria assisted the unconditional surrender of Imperial Japan. During operations on the Eastern Front, it accounted for 75–80% of casualties the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS suffered during the war and captured the Nazi German capital, Berlin. In September 1917, Vladimir Lenin wrote: "There is only one way to prevent the restoration of the police, and, to create a people's militia and to fuse it with the army."
At the time, the Imperial Russian Army had started to collapse. 23% of the male population of the Russian Empire were mobilized. The Tsarist general Nikolay Dukhonin estimated that there had been 2 million deserters, 1.8 million dead, 5 million wounded and 2 million prisoners. He estimated the remaining troops as numbering 10 million. While the Imperial Russian Army was being taken apart, "it became apparent that the rag-tag Red Guard units and elements of the imperial army who had gone over the side of the Bolsheviks were quite inadequate to the task of defending the new government against external foes." Therefore, the Council of People's Commissars decided to form the Red Army on 28 January 1918. They envisioned a body "formed from the class-conscious and best elements of the working classes." All citizens of the Russian republic aged 18 or older were eligible. Its role being the defense "of the Soviet authority, the creation of a basis for the transformation of the standing army into a force deriving its strength from a nation in arms, furthermore, the creation of a basis for the support of the coming Socialist Revolution in Europe."
Enlistment was conditional upon "guarantees being given by a military or civil committee functioning within the territory of the Soviet Power, or by party or trade union committees or, in extreme cases, by two persons belonging to one of the above organizations." In the event of an entire unit wanting to join the Red Army, a "collective guarantee and the affirmative vote of all its members would be necessary." Because the Red Army was composed of peasants, the families of those who served were guaranteed rations and assistance with farm work. Some peasants who remained at home yearned to join the Army. If they were turned away they would prepare care-packages. In some cases the money they earned would go towards tanks for the Army; the Council of People's Commissars appointed itself the supreme head of the Red Army, delegating command and administration of the army to the Commissariat for Military Affairs and the Special All-Russian College within this commissariat. Nikolai Krylenko was the supreme commander-in-chief, with Aleksandr Myasnikyan as deputy.
Nikolai Podvoisky became the commissar for Pavel Dybenko, commissar for the fleet. Proshyan, Steinberg were specified as people's commissars as well as Vladimir Bonch-Bruyevich from the Bureau of Commissars. At a joint meeting of Bolsheviks and Left Socialist-Revolutionaries, held on 22 February 1918, Krylenko remarked: "We have no army; the demoralized soldiers are fleeing, panic-stricken, as soon as they see a German helmet appear on the horizon, abandoning their artillery and all war material to the triumphantly advancing enemy. The Red Guard units are brushed aside like flies. We have no power to stay the enemy; the Russian Civil War occurred in three periods: October 1917 – November 1918: From the Bolshevik Revolution to the First World War Armistice, developed from the Bolshevik government's nationalization of traditional Cossack lands in November 1917. This provoked the insurrection of General Alexey Maximovich Kaledin's Volunteer Army in the River Don region; the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk aggravated Russian internal politics.
The situation encouraged direct Allied intervention in the Russian Civil War, in which twelve foreign countries supported anti-Bolshevik militias. A series of engagements resulted, amongst others, the Czechoslovak Legion, the Polish 5th Rifle Division, the pro-Bolshevik Red Latvian Riflemen. January 1919 – November 1919: Initially the White armies advanced: from the south, under General Anton Denikin; the Whites defeated the Red Army on each front. Leon Trotsky reformed and counterattacked: the Red Army repelled Admiral Kolchak's army in June, the armies of General Denikin and General Yudenich in October. By mid-Nove
Operation Barbarossa was the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, during World War II. The operation stemmed from Nazi Germany's ideological aims to conquer the western Soviet Union so that it could be repopulated by Germans, to use Slavs as a slave labour force for the Axis war effort, to murder the rest, to acquire the oil reserves of the Caucasus and the agricultural resources of Soviet territories. In the two years leading up to the invasion and the Soviet Union signed political and economic pacts for strategic purposes; the German High Command began planning an invasion of the Soviet Union in July 1940, which Adolf Hitler authorized on 18 December 1940. Over the course of the operation, about three million personnel of the Axis powers – the largest invasion force in the history of warfare – invaded the western Soviet Union along a 2,900-kilometer front. In addition to troops, the Wehrmacht deployed some 600,000 motor vehicles, between 600,000 and 700,000 horses for non-combat operations.
The offensive marked an escalation of World War II, both geographically and in the formation of the Allied coalition. Operationally, German forces achieved major victories and occupied some of the most important economic areas of the Soviet Union and inflicted, as well as sustained, heavy casualties. Despite these Axis successes, the German offensive stalled in the Battle of Moscow at the end of 1941, the subsequent Soviet winter counteroffensive pushed German troops back; the Red Army absorbed the Wehrmacht's strongest blows and forced the Germans into a war of attrition that they were unprepared for. The Wehrmacht never again mounted a simultaneous offensive along the entire Eastern front; the failure of the operation drove Hitler to demand further operations of limited scope inside the Soviet Union, such as Case Blue in 1942 and Operation Citadel in 1943 – all of which failed. The failure of Operation Barbarossa proved a turning point in the fortunes of the Third Reich. Most the operation opened up the Eastern Front, in which more forces were committed than in any other theater of war in world history.
The Eastern Front became the site of some of the largest battles, most horrific atrocities, highest World War II casualties, all of which influenced the course of both World War II and the subsequent history of the 20th century. The German armies captured 5,000,000 Red Army troops, who were denied the protection guaranteed by the Hague Conventions and the 1929 Geneva Convention. A majority of Red Army POWs never returned alive; the Nazis deliberately starved to death, or otherwise killed, 3.3 million prisoners of war, as well as a huge number of civilians. Einsatzgruppen death-squads and gassing operations murdered over a million Soviet Jews as part of the Holocaust; as early as 1925, Adolf Hitler vaguely declared in his political manifesto and autobiography Mein Kampf that he would invade the Soviet Union, asserting that the German people needed to secure Lebensraum to ensure the survival of Germany for generations to come. On 10 February 1939, Hitler told his army commanders that the next war would be "purely a war of Weltanschauungen... a people's war, a racial war".
On 23 November, once World War II had started, Hitler declared that "racial war has broken out and this war shall determine who shall govern Europe, with it, the world". The racial policy of Nazi Germany portrayed the Soviet Union as populated by non-Aryan Untermenschen, ruled by Jewish Bolshevik conspirators. Hitler claimed in Mein Kampf that Germany's destiny was to "turn to the East" as it did "six hundred years ago". Accordingly, it was stated Nazi policy to kill, deport, or enslave the majority of Russian and other Slavic populations and repopulate the land with Germanic peoples, under the Generalplan Ost; the Germans' belief in their ethnic superiority is evident in official German records and discernible in pseudoscientific articles in German periodicals at the time, which covered topics such as "how to deal with alien populations". While older histories tended to emphasize the notion of a "Clean Wehrmacht", the historian Jürgen Förster notes that "In fact, the military commanders were caught up in the ideological character of the conflict, involved in its implementation as willing participants."
Before and during the invasion of the Soviet Union, German troops were indoctrinated with anti-Bolshevik, anti-Semitic, anti-Slavic ideology via movies, lectures and leaflets. Likening the Soviets to the forces of Genghis Khan, Hitler told Croatian military leader Slavko Kvaternik that the "Mongolian race" threatened Europe. Following the invasion, Wehrmacht officers told their soldiers to target people who were described as "Jewish Bolshevik subhumans", the "Mongol hordes", the "Asiatic flood", the "Red beast". Nazi propaganda portrayed the war against the Soviet Union as both an ideological war between German National Socialism and Jewish Bolshevism and a racial war between the Germans and the Jewish and Slavic Untermenschen. An'order from the Führer' stated that the Einsatzgruppen were to execute all Soviet functionaries who were "less valuable Asiatics and Jews". Six months into the invasion of the Soviet Union, the Einsatzgruppen had murdered in excess of 500,000 Soviet Jews, a figure greater than the number of Red Army soldiers killed in combat during that same time frame.
German army command
The Soviet Union the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, was a socialist state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were centralized; the country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Minsk, Alma-Ata, Novosibirsk, it spanned over 10,000 kilometres east to west across 11 time zones, over 7,200 kilometres north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, steppes and mountains; the Soviet Union had its roots in the 1917 October Revolution, when the Bolsheviks, led by Vladimir Lenin, overthrew the Russian Provisional Government which had replaced Tsar Nicholas II during World War I. In 1922, the Soviet Union was formed by a treaty which legalized the unification of the Russian, Transcaucasian and Byelorussian republics that had occurred from 1918. Following Lenin's death in 1924 and a brief power struggle, Joseph Stalin came to power in the mid-1920s.
Stalin committed the state's ideology to Marxism–Leninism and constructed a command economy which led to a period of rapid industrialization and collectivization. During his rule, political paranoia fermented and the Great Purge removed Stalin's opponents within and outside of the party via arbitrary arrests and persecutions of many people, resulting in at least 600,000 deaths. In 1933, a major famine struck the country. Before the start of World War II in 1939, the Soviets signed the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, agreeing to non-aggression with Nazi Germany, after which the USSR invaded Poland on 17 September 1939. In June 1941, Germany broke the pact and invaded the Soviet Union, opening the largest and bloodiest theatre of war in history. Soviet war casualties accounted for the highest proportion of the conflict in the effort of acquiring the upper hand over Axis forces at intense battles such as Stalingrad and Kursk; the territories overtaken by the Red Army became satellite states of the Soviet Union.
The post-war division of Europe into capitalist and communist halves would lead to increased tensions with the United States-led Western Bloc, known as the Cold War. Stalin died in 1953 and was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev, who in 1956 denounced Stalin and began the de-Stalinization; the Cuban Missile Crisis occurred during Khrushchev's rule, among the many factors that led to his downfall in 1964. In the early 1970s, there was a brief détente of relations with the United States, but tensions resumed with the Soviet–Afghan War in 1979. In 1985, the last Soviet premier, Mikhail Gorbachev, sought to reform and liberalize the economy through his policies of glasnost and perestroika, which caused political instability. In 1989, Soviet satellite states in Eastern Europe overthrew their respective communist governments; as part of an attempt to prevent the country's dissolution due to rising nationalist and separatist movements, a referendum was held in March 1991, boycotted by some republics, that resulted in a majority of participating citizens voting in favor of preserving the union as a renewed federation.
Gorbachev's power was diminished after Russian President Boris Yeltsin's high-profile role in facing down a coup d'état attempted by Communist Party hardliners. In late 1991, Gorbachev resigned and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union met and formally dissolved the Soviet Union; the remaining 12 constituent republics emerged as independent post-Soviet states, with the Russian Federation—formerly the Russian SFSR—assuming the Soviet Union's rights and obligations and being recognized as the successor state. The Soviet Union was a powerhouse of many significant technological achievements and innovations of the 20th century, including the world's first human-made satellite, the first humans in space and the first probe to land on another planet, Venus; the country had the largest standing military in the world. The Soviet Union was recognized as one of the five nuclear weapons states and possessed the largest stockpile of weapons of mass destruction, it was a founding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council as well as a member of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the World Federation of Trade Unions and the leading member of the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance and the Warsaw Pact.
The word "Soviet" is derived from a Russian word сове́т meaning council, advice, harmony and all deriving from the proto-Slavic verbal stem of vět-iti, related to Slavic věst, English "wise", the root in "ad-vis-or", or the Dutch weten. The word sovietnik means "councillor". A number of organizations in Russian history were called "council". For example, in the Russian Empire the State Council, which functioned from 1810 to 1917, was referred to as a Council of Ministers after the revolt of 1905. During the Georgian Affair, Vladimir Lenin envisioned an expression of Great Russian ethnic chauvinism by Joseph Stalin and his supporters, calling for these nation-states to join Russia as semi-independent parts of a greater union, which he named as the Union of Soviet Republics of Europe and Asia. Stalin resisted the proposal, but accepted it, although with Lenin's agreement changed the name of the newly proposed sta