American Armed Forces at the European Theater during the Second World War: The Increased Difficulties of High Command
72 years ago, the United States entered the Second World War. According to the common belief of the Americans, this fact predetermined its final outcome.
Many Americans (I am hardly mistaken if I say that the majority) are firmly convinced that their country made a decisive contribution to the victory over Germany and Japan in the Second World War and that the USSR would have been crushed by Hitler without US arms supplies. On the Internet, you can often come across sincere statements of US residents, like "we saved the Russians from Hitler" in different variations. Sometimes the assertion that "without Americans we would not have won a war" can now be heard from compatriots.
The author does not intend to deny the significant role of the US in the victory over the countries of the aggressive bloc, especially over Japan, the substantial assistance of the United States to the Soviet Union with military materials in 1941-1945. It is about accurately indicating the magnitude of this role.
No doubt, Americans have the right to be proud of what their country accomplished during the Second World War. The United States (in alliance with the countries of the British Commonwealth) inflicted major defeats on Japan's naval and air forces, causing serious damage to the military and industrial machine of Nazi Germany. The role of the United States in supplying the USSR with weapons, vehicles, valuable industrial raw materials, medicines and food during the war is also important (its magnitude is lower). As a result of the Second World War, the United States became a superpower dominating much of the globe. These remarkable results were achieved by the United States at the cost of relatively small losses - only 322,200 US citizens died, almost exclusively servicemen, since military actions almost did not affect the territory of the United States itself. At the same time, the US has avoided a drop in the standard of living of its population. On the contrary, their economy experienced an intensive upsurge throughout the war years.
Attributing to the United States in the Second World War, the merits above the above, there is no reason. We will now deal with this role on specific examples.
1. "Arsenal of Democracy"
In March 1941, the US Congress passed a law granting countries, "whose defense is important for US interests," preferential targeted loans for the purchase of weapons and other military materials from the United States. The debt for weapons and materials that would have been expended during the war was declared written off. This system received the well-known name lend lease. The first addressee of American aid was England. She remained the main recipient of Lend-Lease supplies during all the years of World War II ($ 31.4 billion, the USSR - $ 11.3 billion).
The Lend-Lease Act was extended to the USSR only on November 7, 1941, but the actual deliveries began earlier - after the US Special Envoy U. A. Harriman and the Minister of the War Industry of England, W. Beaverbrook, visited Moscow on September 30, 1941 the first protocol on deliveries was signed.
The total volume of Lend-Lease supplies in the USSR is usually estimated at 4% of the total GDP of the USSR for this period. However, this is not an indicator, since Lend-Lease assistance was not intended to replace the military production of the USSR. More objective, though differentiated, indicator is the share of American supplies for certain types of military production. Here it is also necessary to take into account that the main armament assistance was in the USSR in 1941-1942, then the main emphasis in deliveries was made on military supplies that were scarce in the USSR and for foodstuffs.
Significant was the US assistance to our country in such types of products, for example, as canned meat (480% of the produced in the USSR), non-ferrous metals (from 76% to 223% for various metals), animal fats (107%), wool (102%), car tires (92%), explosives (53%). Essential were deliveries of trucks (375,000), jeeps (51,500), barbed wire (45,000 tons), telephone cables (670,000 miles), telephone sets (189,000). Deliveries of the main types of weapons accounted for 12% of the production of Soviet tanks tanks, 20% of the production of bombers, 16% of the production of fighters, 22% of the production of combat ships. Particularly noteworthy is the supply of radar (445 units).
There is an unofficial assessment of the role of Lend-Lease supplies for the course of the Great Patriotic War with such authority as Marshal GK Zhukov (reported by the KGB chief VE Semichastny to NS Khrushchev, she served as one of the reasons for Zhukov's removal from the post of Minister of Defense in 1957): "Now they say that the Allies never helped us ... But it can not be denied that the Americans drove so many materials without which we could not form our reserves and could not continue the war ... We received 350 thousand cars, and what kind of cars! .. We did not have explosives, n Roch. There was nothing to equip ammunition. Americans really helped us with gunpowder, explosives. And how much they drove the sheet steel to us. How could we quickly establish the production of tanks, if not for US steel assistance. And now they represent the matter in such a way, that at us all it was the in abundance ». It must, however, be borne in mind that many quotations could be deliberately distorted in this quotation in order to present the speaker in an unfavorable light.
The fact remains that in the most difficult period of the war for our country - in the summer and in the autumn of 1941 - there were no deliveries under Lend-Lease in the USSR. The German-fascist armies were stopped on the approaches to Leningrad and Moscow solely by our weapons. It would be correct to assume that American economic assistance to the Soviet Armed Forces (which began in large numbers only since 1943!) Accelerated the final rout of the German fascist troops on the Eastern Front. But it would be a mistake to conclude that without such help this victory would not have happened at all.
2. "The landing in Normandy was the decisive battle of the war"
The invasion of American and British troops in northern France, which began June 6, 1944, in the West attached importance to the turning point in the Second World War. However, this estimate ignores the fact of numerous defeats, which the Wehrmacht had already suffered on the Eastern Front, beginning in December 1941. Since November 1942, with the exception of short-term episodes of the counterattack near Kharkov and the initial stage of the Battle of Kursk, German troops in the East were in strategic defense. By the summer of 1944, the Soviet armies had already liberated a large part of the territory of the USSR that had been initially occupied by the Nazis and in a number of places went to the state border of the USSR. The final outcome of the war was no longer in doubt, and this outcome was determined precisely on the Eastern Front.
Taking into account the general strategic picture of the Second World War, the traditional point of view of Russian historiography seems to be more reasonable, according to which the very landing of Anglo-American troops in Normandy was undertaken in the summer of 1944 in order to prevent the final defeat of the Wehrmacht by Soviet troops alone.
The scope and intensity of battles in the West European Theater of Military Operations (TVD) in 1944-1945. have never come close to what took place on the Eastern Front, not only in 1941-1943, but also in these last two years of the war. Until May 9, 1945, the Soviet-German front remained the main front in Europe.
By January 1945, at the time of the maximum strain of Germany's forces on the Western Front, caused by the attempted offensive in the Ardennes, the Wehrmacht in the West had only 73 divisions, while in the East at the same time there were 179 German divisions. In general, 80% of the personnel of the German army, 68% of its artillery, 64% of its tanks and 48% of the Luftwaffe aircraft during this period were used against the Soviet troops. Thus, even in the last year of the war, the main forces of the German land army fought not in the West, but in the East.
On the Eastern front, the Wehrmacht suffered decisive losses in the Second World War. 70% of all German aircraft destroyed during the war, 75% of lost tanks and 74% of artillery losses in Germany fell to war with the USSR. It is more difficult to always estimate the number of casualties. However, the list of Wehrmacht connections shows that in all the years of the Second World War 130 German land divisions were completely destroyed on the battlefield and struck from this list. Of these, 104, that is 80%, were defeated by Soviet troops.
3. "The United States alone smashed Germany in the West and Japan."
The myth of the decisive role of the US in World War II is aimed at belittling the role not only of the USSR, but also of other participants in the anti-fascist coalition - the countries of the British Commonwealth and China. Meanwhile, when we talk about TVDs where American troops acted, it must be borne in mind that they always fought in the coalition forces, not always having a majority in them.
In the war to the east of the Atlantic, the US really entered only landing in North Africa on November 8, 1942. And it was a blow not even for Germany, but for Italy and Vichy France. In the years 1940-1942. the forces of the British Commonwealth themselves reflected a series of offensive "axis" in North Africa. The English victory at El Alamein in October-November 1942, which resulted in the final turning point in the war on the Mediterranean theater, was won before the arrival of American troops.
The role of American supplies in arming and equipping the British troops was significantly higher than their role for the Soviet troops. However, subjects of the British Empire paid for these supplies with their own blood. In the Second World War, 364 thousand people died in the United Kingdom (1/6 - civilians) and 109 thousand inhabitants of British dominions and colonies, that is, in total more than Americans.
Until the summer of 1944, the number of ground forces of the British Empire, who fought with the adversaries in the Western and Asian-Pacific theater (and together and separately), invariably exceeded the number of American troops there. Only after landing in Normandy, this ratio began to change slowly.
In the "battle for the Atlantic" the decisive role was played by the British Navy, which destroyed 525 German submarines (while the US Navy - 174). In the APR, the Americans fought together with the Australians and the British colonial troops in India. In addition, one can not ignore the constant (although in itself passive) factor of China, which constantly distracted more than half of the Japanese land army and significant forces of Japanese aviation. These forces in the aggregate, and not just Americans, provided the Allies with a victory over the sea and air power of Japan. And, as has been repeatedly written, it was the USSR's entry into the war against Japan, and not the atomic bombing, that was the "latest blow of the sword" that forced Japan to capitulate.
Thus, even on the Second World War, where the decisive role belonged to the Western allies, the role of the United States in the coalition forces can not be regarded as absolutely dominant.