World War II
World War II known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries; the major participants threw their entire economic and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China, it included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, the only use of nuclear weapons in war. Japan, which aimed to dominate Asia and the Pacific, was at war with China by 1937, though neither side had declared war on the other. World War II is said to have begun on 1 September 1939, with the invasion of Poland by Germany and subsequent declarations of war on Germany by France and the United Kingdom.
From late 1939 to early 1941, in a series of campaigns and treaties, Germany conquered or controlled much of continental Europe, formed the Axis alliance with Italy and Japan. Under the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939, Germany and the Soviet Union partitioned and annexed territories of their European neighbours, Finland and the Baltic states. Following the onset of campaigns in North Africa and East Africa, the fall of France in mid 1940, the war continued between the European Axis powers and the British Empire. War in the Balkans, the aerial Battle of Britain, the Blitz, the long Battle of the Atlantic followed. On 22 June 1941, the European Axis powers launched an invasion of the Soviet Union, opening the largest land theatre of war in history; this Eastern Front trapped most crucially the German Wehrmacht, into a war of attrition. In December 1941, Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States as well as European colonies in the Pacific. Following an immediate U. S. declaration of war against Japan, supported by one from Great Britain, the European Axis powers declared war on the U.
S. in solidarity with their Japanese ally. Rapid Japanese conquests over much of the Western Pacific ensued, perceived by many in Asia as liberation from Western dominance and resulting in the support of several armies from defeated territories; the Axis advance in the Pacific halted in 1942. Key setbacks in 1943, which included a series of German defeats on the Eastern Front, the Allied invasions of Sicily and Italy, Allied victories in the Pacific, cost the Axis its initiative and forced it into strategic retreat on all fronts. In 1944, the Western Allies invaded German-occupied France, while the Soviet Union regained its territorial losses and turned toward Germany and its allies. During 1944 and 1945 the Japanese suffered major reverses in mainland Asia in Central China, South China and Burma, while the Allies crippled the Japanese Navy and captured key Western Pacific islands; the war in Europe concluded with an invasion of Germany by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union, culminating in the capture of Berlin by Soviet troops, the suicide of Adolf Hitler and the German unconditional surrender on 8 May 1945.
Following the Potsdam Declaration by the Allies on 26 July 1945 and the refusal of Japan to surrender under its terms, the United States dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6 and 9 August respectively. With an invasion of the Japanese archipelago imminent, the possibility of additional atomic bombings, the Soviet entry into the war against Japan and its invasion of Manchuria, Japan announced its intention to surrender on 15 August 1945, cementing total victory in Asia for the Allies. Tribunals were set up by fiat by the Allies and war crimes trials were conducted in the wake of the war both against the Germans and the Japanese. World War II changed the political social structure of the globe; the United Nations was established to foster international co-operation and prevent future conflicts. The Soviet Union and United States emerged as rival superpowers, setting the stage for the nearly half-century long Cold War. In the wake of European devastation, the influence of its great powers waned, triggering the decolonisation of Africa and Asia.
Most countries whose industries had been damaged moved towards economic expansion. Political integration in Europe, emerged as an effort to end pre-war enmities and create a common identity; the start of the war in Europe is held to be 1 September 1939, beginning with the German invasion of Poland. The dates for the beginning of war in the Pacific include the start of the Second Sino-Japanese War on 7 July 1937, or the Japanese invasion of Manchuria on 19 September 1931. Others follow the British historian A. J. P. Taylor, who held that the Sino-Japanese War and war in Europe and its colonies occurred and the two wars merged in 1941; this article uses the conventional dating. Other starting dates sometimes used for World War II include the Italian invasion of Abyssinia on 3 October 1935; the British historian Antony Beevor views the beginning of World War II as the Battles of Khalkhin Gol fought between Japan and the fo
Deep operation known as Soviet Deep Battle, was a military theory developed by the Soviet Union for its armed forces during the 1920s and 1930s. It was a tenet that emphasized destroying, suppressing or disorganizing enemy forces not only at the line of contact, but throughout the depth of the battlefield; the term comes from Vladimir Triandafillov, an influential military writer, who worked with others to create a military strategy with its own specialized operational art and tactics. The concept of deep operations was a national strategy, tailored to the economic and geopolitical position of the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of several failures or defeats in the Russo-Japanese War, First World War and Polish–Soviet War, the Soviet High Command focused on developing new methods for the conduct of war; this new approach considered military strategy and tactics, but introduced a new intermediate level of military art: operations. The Soviet Union was the first country to distinguish the third level of military thinking which occupied the position between strategy and tactics.
Using these templates, the Soviets developed the concept of deep battle and by 1936 it had become part of the Red Army Field Regulations. Deep operations had two phases. Deep battle envisaged the breaking of the enemy's forward defenses, or tactical zones, through combined arms assaults, which would be followed up by fresh uncommitted mobile operational reserves sent to exploit the strategic depth of an enemy front; the goal of a deep operation was to inflict a decisive strategic defeat on the enemy's logistical abilities and render the defence of their front more difficult, impossible—or, irrelevant. Unlike most other doctrines, deep battle stressed combined arms cooperation at all levels: strategic and tactical. Russian military thinking had changed little over the course of three centuries prior to the 1920s; the Russian Empire had kept pace with its enemies and allies and performed well in its major conflicts in the run-up to the 19th century. However, despite some notable victories in the Napoleonic Wars and in various Russo-Turkish Wars, Russian defeats in the Crimean War, Russo-Japanese War and First World War, together with a series of Soviet defeats at the hands of Poland in the Polish–Soviet War, highlighted the inferiority of Russian methodology in organisation and training.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the new Bolshevik regime sought to establish an new military system that reflected the Bolshevik revolutionary spirit. The new Red Army combined the new methods, it still relied on the country's enormous manpower reserves. Once this had been achieved, the Soviets turned their attention to solving the problem of military operational mobility. Primary advocates of this development included Alexander Svechin, Mikhail Frunze, Mikhail Tukhachevsky, they promoted the development of military scientific societies and they identified groups of talented officers. Many of these officers entered the Soviet Military Academy during Tukhachevsky's tenure as its commandant in 1921–1922. Others came particularly Nikolai Varfolomeev and Vladimir Triandafillov, who made significant contributions to the use of technology in deep offensive operations. In the aftermath of the wars with Japan and Poland several senior Soviet Commanders called for a unified military doctrine; the most prominent was Mikhail Frunze.
The call prompted opposition by Leon Trotsky. Frunze' position found favour with the officer elements that had experienced the poor command and control of Soviet forces in the conflict with Poland during the Polish-Soviet War; this turn of events prompted Trotsky's replacement by Frunze in January 1925. The nature of this new doctrine was to be political; the Soviets were to fuse the military with the Bolshevik ideal. This would define the nature of war for the Soviet Union; the Soviets believed their most enemy would be the capitalist states of the west they had to defend themselves against before and that such a conflict was unavoidable. The nature of this war raised four major questions: Would the next war be won in one decisive campaign or would it be a long struggle of attrition? Should the Red Army be offensive or defensive? Would the nature of battle be fluid or static? Would mechanized or infantry forces be more important? The discussion evolved into debate between those, like Alexander Svechin, who advocated a strategy of attrition, others, like Tukhachevsky, who thought that a strategy of decisive destruction of the enemy forces was needed.
The latter opinion was motivated in part by the condition of the Soviet Union's economy: the country was still not industrialized and thus was economically too weak to fight a long war of attrition. By 1928 Tukhachevsky's ideas had changed: he considered that, given the nature and lessons of the First World War, the next major war would certainly be one of attrition, he determined, that the vast size of the Soviet Union ensured that some mobility was still possible. Svechin allowed for the first offensives to be fast and fluid; this would require a strong economy and a loyal and politically indoctrinated population in order to outlast the enemy. The
Russian Armed Forces
The Russian Armed Forces are the military forces of the Russian Federation, established after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. On 7 May 1992, Boris Yeltsin signed a presidential decree establishing the Russian Ministry of Defence and placing all Soviet Armed Forces troops on the territory of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic under Russian control; the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is the President of Russia. The Russian Armed Forces were formed in 1992; the Russian Armed Forces is one of the world's largest military forces. It is the world's second most powerful military and the world's second largest arms exporter. Under Russian federal law, the RuAF along with the Federal Security Service's Border Troops, the National Guard, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Federal Protective Service, the Foreign Intelligence Service, EMERCOM's civil defence form Russia's military services and are under direct control of the Security Council of Russia. Armed forces under the Ministry of Defence are divided into: the three "branches of Armed Forces": the Ground Forces, Aerospace Forces, the Navy the two "separate troop branches": the Strategic Missile Troops and the Airborne Troops the Logistical Support, which has a separate status of its ownThere are additionally two further "separate troop branches", the National Guard and the Border Service.
These retain the legal status of "Armed Forces", while falling outside of the jurisdiction of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The National Guard is formed on the basis of the former Internal Troops of Russia; the new structure has been detached from the Ministry of Internal Affairs into a separate agency, directly subordinated to the President of Russia. The Border Service is a paramilitary organization of the Federal Security Service - the country's main internal intelligence agency. Both organizations have significant wartime tasks in addition to their main peacetime activities and operate their own land and maritime units; the number of personnel is specified by decree of the President of Russia. On 1 January 2008, a number including military of 1,134,800 units, was set. In 2010 the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimated that the Russian Armed Forces numbered about 1,027,000 active troops and in the region of 2,035,000 reserves; as opposed to personnel specified by decree, actual personnel numbers on the payroll was reported by the Audit Chamber of Russia as 766,000 in October 2013.
As of December 2016, the armed forces are at 93 percent of the required manpower, up from 82 percent reported in December 2013. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, between 2005-2009 and 2010-2014, Russian exports of major weapons increased by 37 percent. According to the Russian Defence Ministry, share of modern weapons in the Armed Forces reached from 26 to 48 percent among different kinds of troops in December 2014; this was raised to 30.5–70.7% as of July 2015. The average was 61.5 per cent over the end of 2018. The Soviet Union dissolved on 25 December 1991, leaving the Soviet military in limbo. For the next year and a half various attempts to keep its unity and to transform it into the military of the Commonwealth of Independent States failed. Over time, some units stationed in the newly independent republics swore loyalty to their new national governments, while a series of treaties between the newly independent states divided up the military's assets. Apart from assuming control of the bulk of the former Soviet Internal Troops and the KGB Border Troops the only independent defence move the new Russian government made before March 1992 involved announcing the establishment of a National Guard.
Until 1995, it was planned to form at least 11 brigades numbering 3,000 to 5,000 each, with a total of no more than 100,000. National Guard military units were to be deployed in 10 regions, including in Moscow, a number of other important cities and regions. By the end of September 1991 in Moscow the National Guard was about 15,000 strong consisting of former Soviet Armed Forces servicemen. In the end, President Yeltsin tabled a decree "On the temporary position of the Russian Guard", but it was not put into practice. After signing the Belavezha Accords on 21 December 1991, the countries of the newly formed CIS signed a protocol on the temporary appointment of Marshal of Aviation Yevgeny Shaposhnikov as Minister of Defence and commander of the armed forces in their territory, including strategic nuclear forces. On 14 February 1992 Shaposhnikov formally became Supreme Commander of the CIS Armed Forces. On 16 March 1992 a decree by Boris Yeltsin created The Armed Forces of the Russian Federation the operational control of Allied High Command and the Ministry of Defence, headed by President.
On 7 May 1992, Yeltsin signed a decree establishing the armed forces and Yeltsin assumed the duties of the Supreme Commander. In May 1992, General Colonel Pavel Grachev became the Minister of Defence, was made Russia's first Army General on assuming the post. By August or December 1993 CIS military structures had become CIS military cooperation structures with all real influence lost. In the next few years, Russian forces withdrew from central and eastern Europe, as well as from some newly-independent post-Soviet republics. While in most places the withdrawal took place without any problems, the Russian Armed Forces remained in some di
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
The Stavka was the high command of the armed forces in the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union. In Imperial Russia Stavka refers to the administrative staff, to the General Headquarters in the late 19th Century Imperial Russian armed forces and subsequently in the Soviet Union. In Western literature it is sometimes written in uppercase, incorrect since it is not an acronym. Stavka may refer to its members, as well as to the headquarter location; the commander-in-chief of the Russian army at the beginning of World War I was Grand Duke Nicholas Nicholaievitch, a grandson of Tsar Nicholas I. Appointed at the last minute in August 1914, he played no part in formulating the military plans in use at the beginning of the war. Nikolai Yanushkevich was his chief of staff. In the summer of 1915 the Tsar himself took personal command, with Mikhail Alekseyev as his chief of staff. In the years 1915–1917 Stavka was based in Mogilev and the Tsar, Nicholas II, spent long periods there as Commander-in-Chief; the Stavka was divided into several departments: Department of General-Quartermaster Department of General on Duty Department of military transportations Naval department Diplomatic chancery The Stavka was first established in Baranovichi.
In August 1915, after the German advance, the Stavka re-located to Mogilev. 19 July 1914 – 18 August 1915: Lieutenant-General Nikolai Yanushkevich 18 September 1915—01.04.1917: General of Infantry Mikhail Alekseyev 10 November 1916 – 17 February 1917: General of Cavalry Vasily Gurko 11 March 1917—05.04.1917: General of Infantry Vladislav Klembovsky 5 April 1917 – 31 May 1917: Lieutenant-General Anton Denikin 2 June 1917 – 30 August 1917: Lieutenant-General Alexander Lukomsky 30 August 1917 – 9 September 1917: General of Infantry Mikhail Alekseyev 10 October 1917—03.11.1917: Lieutenant-General Nikolay Dukhonin 3 November 1917—07.11.1917: Major General Mikhail Dieterichs 7 November 1917—02.1918: Major General Mikhail Bonch-Bruevich The Stavka of the Soviet Armed Forces during World War II, or the headquarters of the "Main Command of the Armed Forces of the USSR", was established on 23 June 1941 by a top-secret decree signed by Joseph Stalin in his capacities both as the head of government and as the leader of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
According to this decree Stavka was composed of the defence minister Marshal Semyon Timoshenko, the head of General Staff Georgy Zhukov, Vyacheslav Molotov, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, Marshal Semyon Budyonny and the People's Commissar of the Navy Admiral Nikolai Gerasimovich Kuznetsov. The same decree organized at Stavka "the institution of permanent counsellors of Stavka": Marshal Kulik, Marshal Shaposhnikov, Kirill Meretskov, head of the Air force Zhigarev, Nikolay Vatutin, head of Air Defence Voronov, Kaganovich, Lavrenty Beria, Zhdanov, Mekhlis. Soon afterwards, the deputy defence minister of the army, was arrested following false charges made by Beria and Merkulov. Meretskov was subsequently released from jail on the same day, at the end of the first week of September 1941, called for by Stalin. Stavka's Main Command was reorganized into the Stavka of the Supreme Command on 10 July 1941; this action occurred after Stalin was named Supreme Commander, replaced Timoshenko as head of Stavka.
On 8 August 1941 it was again reorganized into Stavka of the Supreme Main Command. On the same day Strategic Directions commands were instituted. A 17 February 1945 decree set out the membership of Stavka as Stalin, Aleksandr Vasilevsky, Aleksei Antonov, Nikolai Bulganin and Kuznetsov. General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation Creation of the Main Command of the Armed Forces of the Union of USSR
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