On one of those "Your View" comment pages that some newspaper web sites have, someone has posted a comment that "Russia won World War 2". This post modern myth is one of the things that is guaranteed to infuriate yours truly.
The evidence this person uses to back up their claim is the number of war dead suffered by The Soviet Union during the war. I'd like to try and lay this myth to rest.
The first point to make is this - the Soviet Union did not win WW2. The Allies did.
The Soviet Union was not an ally at first. In fact it was an ally of Germany initially - through the notorious Molotov/Von Ribbentrop Pact which allowed Germany free reign to invade Poland (as did The Soviet Union). It is unlikely, without this pact, that Germany would have risked attacking Poland - so you could say that The Soviet Union shared responsibility with the Nazis for starting WW2.
Furthermore, The Soviet Union went on to invade Finland - which Britain supported. I've always felt a bit sorry for Finland's history in WW2. They start out on the right side, then end up on the wrong side - just because of the treachery between Germany and The Soviet Union.
So - The Soviet Union helped start the war. Did they win it?
First of all, I doubt whether any of the Allies on their own could have defeated Germany - but let's take the main Allies in the European Theatre one by one and examine the likely outcome had they fought Germany alone.
Let's start with Britain as that is probably the most clear cut. For sometime after the fall of France, Britain stood alone against Nazi Germany and we have historical fact to draw on. We know that Hitler was actually an admirer of Britain, did not have any real desire to destroy Britain and wasn't totally convinced about the idea of invading her. The Battle Of Britain put paid to any ambitions he may have had - at least for the foreseeable future - so the most likely outcome of Britain alone against Germany was an eventual peace treaty. Europe would have remained under Nazi control, we would probably have become an eventual satellite of this "European Union". We would probably have surrendered a considerable portion of our sovereignty to them and we'd still be buying BMW's and VW's today. On the other hand, the costs of the war to our nation would have been greatly reduced and we would have probably retained much of our Empire and remained one of the world's secondary superpowers.
Next, let's consider what would have happened to the USA on it's own. Nothing, probably. The USA was never likely to invade Europe and Germany was never really likely to invade the USA - despite there being plans to do so. Invasion by either side was almost certainly doomed to failure so, eventually there would have been a peace treaty and the USA would still be buying BMW's and Mercedes Benz. The USA would not be the dominant superpower they are today, but would have shared that position with Nazi Germany and, to a lesser extent, the secondary superpowers of Britain and Japan.
Finally, let's look at The Soviet Union on it's own. Again, we have a certain amount of historical record to draw upon. We know that Germany made significant gains across Soviet territory for the first couple of years. These gains were made despite the fact that Germany was fighting British and, eventually, US forces across other fronts. The Soviet Union only ever fought on the one front - so could commit all their resources to defending that front. Had Germany been able to commit more effort to it's eastern front, it is unlikely that The Soviet Union would ever have been able hold them back for long - let alone retake lost ground. The very best outcome for the Soviet Union would have been a stalemate with German and Soviet forces slugging it out for some years deep inside The Soviet Union.
Furthermore, there would have been no Allied bombing of German arms factories or supply lines - allowing German production to far exceed what it actually achieved. There would have been no British or American supplies to The Soviet Union through Murmansk and Archangel. The Kriegsmarine - freed from patrolling the Atlantic and the threat from the RN - could control the Arctic waters of Russia. There would have been no embargoes on supplies to Germany, giving them all they need to feed their war machine.
We also know that German technological advances were such that they would have kept well ahead of the Soviet Union in that respect. Eventually, Germany would have "the bomb" and they would have the system to deliver it deep into Soviet territory at will. They would have all of this long before The Soviet Union did - and they would not have hesitated to use it against them.
So the eventual outcome would be a German victory. The Soviet Union would have ceased to exist.
Next, let us consider the number of Soviet war dead. First of all, the number of dead incurred by a side in war is no indicator of victory. If it were, then Japan could justifiably claim to have beaten the USA. The question is, why were so many Russians killed during WW2?
Well, the fact that the Soviet leaders refused to allow civilian populations to evacuate may have something to do with it. They believed their soldiers would fight better when they see their women and children dying beside them. Questionable tactics, morally and militarily, but it may go someway to explain why so many Russians died. Another reason was the weather. Russian winters were hard enough to endure when you had plenty of food and sufficient fuel to heat your home. When you have no food and no fuel - and not much of a home - it tends to kill people. So that's another factor to take into account. The final thing to consider was the sheer profligacy of the Soviet commanders with their soldiers lives. The Soviet Union had a huge population. There were always shortages of food, fuel, guns, ammunition and other supplies - but there was never a shortage of raw young men to throw in front of German guns. Soldiers were expendable and they were used by the Soviet commanders with utter disregard for the slaughter that would ensue.
I hope that explains why I hate the way some people build up the Soviet Unions part in the Allies WW2 victory. The Russians did not win the war. Without them we may not have won, without us they would most certainly have lost.