Did Stalin's regime help or hinder the Soviet Union during WWII?

DIVUS IVLIVS

Ad Honoris
Jan 2008
18,746
Virginia
Joseph Stalin was a revolutionary (for the worse) and Adolf Hitler's worst enemy. The Soviet military was the largest in the world by the time the Germans invaded in 1941. Stalin's five year plans turned his country into a industrial power-house with the creation of tens of hundreds of industrial plants which greatly improved the production of coal, oil, steel chemicals, food for his workers and other such things. The mass production of all of these materials also caused millions of people to be worked to death and the collection of food caused mass famine in some areas, this led to some collaboration with the invading Germans (such as in Ukraine) because people felt that they had come as liberators. Stalin also purged thousands of officers in 1937 not wanting to be overthrown by the military; this led others to believe with some justification that the Soviet military was in a state of anarchy and that that Soviet soldiers could not fight. The theory about the weakness of the Soviet Military was hardened after the disastorous invasion of Finland in 1939 and the mass Soviet encirclements of 1941. I personally believe that without the industrialization of his country before WWII that he could not have won against Nazi Germany, however his purges of the military and the harsh treatment of his workers caused a greater death toll by the hands of the Germans. What do you think?
 
Jul 2008
1,211
NE PA
I don't think there is all that much to argue with in your post.

From what I understand, though, it wasn't simply that the USSR industrialized to the degree it did pre 1941. Of possibly even greater significance was the USSR's ability to transfer so much of its heavy industry to the east and resume production so quickly. I have strong, personal doubts that people from a non-totalitarian nation would have been able to do what the citizens of the USSR were able to accomplish. Conditions even for non-combatants were terrible.
 

Toltec

Ad Honorem
Apr 2008
7,923
Hyperborea
He purged most of the officer corp prior to the invasion and withdrew all heavy weapons and air defences from the front line. This enabled the early successes of the German army and caused the death of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and millions of civilians as well as the resource loss for Russian and gain for Germany.
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
He purged most of the officer corp prior to the invasion and withdrew all heavy weapons and air defences from the front line. This enabled the early successes of the German army and caused the death of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and millions of civilians as well as the resource loss for Russian and gain for Germany.
It may have been ruthless, but probably the best course of action at the time. The Soviet High Command realised early on if Germany attacked some of their troops would be seriously out of position and they could never be pulled back in time to prevent their encirclement., so they decided to save as much equipment as they could to equip other units.

I'm often surprised to here people talk of Stalin's purge of the military in terms of mass executions. Most of the officers involved were reinstated quietly, after the Germans attacked.
 
Apr 2008
139
The Netherlands
He purged most of the officer corp prior to the invasion and withdrew all heavy weapons and air defences from the front line. This enabled the early successes of the German army and caused the death of hundreds of thousands of soldiers and millions of civilians as well as the resource loss for Russian and gain for Germany.

Quoting in agreement.