- The Nazis’ overconfidence. By Ben Shepherd. Western Allied industrial, maritime and air power were fundamental to destroying the German war machine. But to win, it was crucial to take ground and destroy the forces holding it, and on this score, it was the eastern front where the Wehrmacht was broken most emphatically.
- Allied operational capacity. By James Holland. Historians tend to view the Second World War predominantly through the prism of strategic decisions and fighting at the coalface, when an arguably more important consideration is how combatant nations marshal their resources.
- The invasion of the Soviet Union. Hitler’s June 1941 advance into the USSR – known as Operation Barbarossa – was the decisive moment of the war, because there after, at unspeakable human cost, the Red Army did the heavy lifting: first to contain the Germans, and finally to defeat them.
- The T-34 tank. By Andrew Roberts. Between 1941 and 1945, the Soviet Union produced 58,681 T-34 tanks. They were not the most powerful tanks in terms of firepower, nor the fastest, but their vast numbers won battle after battle for the Red Army, which is what ultimately destroyed Nazi Germany.
Mar 28, 2020 · The Allies secured victory in World War II when Germany was overwhelmed by the strength of the Soviet Red Army, aid from the United States and the strategy of the United States Air Force. The war ended with the surrender of Germany on May 7, 1945. The Soviet Red Army improved their training regimen, and utilized more advanced technology to outmatch the Germans.
- Design and development
Productive factories provided abundant materiel, but the ability of individual soldiers to adapt made the real difference. Fighting quality plays too small a role in most assessments of why the Allies won World War II. Perhaps this is because conventional wisdom has traditionally emphasized the Allies ability to outproduce the Axis. The dominant interpretation stresses resources and such material factors as numbers of tanks and ships, and the ability to mobilize the home fronts to produce weaponry rather than consumer goods. Hitler was indeed a seriously flawed commander, especially in regard to his unwillingness to yield territory. He proved unable to match Josef Stalins ability to delegate. By 1944, his diminished grasp on reality exacerbated the difficulties of Germanys concentrated command. Yet Hitlers deficiencies were part of a more general failure the Germans exhibited in making warparticularly their inability to compel opposing states to accept German assumptions. As in 1914, the Germans could not offset their failure to set sensible military and political goals simply by their will to win. Fighting quality at the outset favored Axis forces, but Germany and Japan didnt match the advances in Allied fighting proficiency. Even the initial Axis successesby the Japanese in 1931-42 and the Germans in 1939-40were not due solely to their superior fighting qualities. As the success of the German blitzkrieg amply demonstrated, tactical and operational factors were crucial. They played a key role, for example, in Germanys surprise assault on the Soviet Union in 1941 and, later that year, when the Japanese attacked Britain and the United States. While the impact of the Soviet Union, and later the United States, entering the war is well known, the improvements in Allied fighting quality over time are often overlooked. Take, for instance, the German-Soviet conflict. In late 1941, the Germans had inflicted heavy casualties on the Soviets by linking firepower and mobility. They outmaneuvered Soviet defenders and imposed their tempo on the conflict. Yet with time, the Red Army learned to counter German tactics by skillfully using antitank guns to repulse German armor attacks and establishing defenses in depth to cope with any breakthroughs. The Soviets also developed an effective offensive doctrine. After the Winter War with Finland in 1939-40, the Soviets conducted a high-level analysis to honestly assess why their forces had at first been so ineffective against a small opponent. It led in May 1940 to Order No. 120, which pressed for better training, improved combined-arms coordination, and more-fluid infantry tactics. The Soviets clearly demonstrated the fighting lessons they had learned from the Finnish conflict in their war with Germany, as in Operation Uranusthe encirclement of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad in November 1942. This operation succeeded because the Soviets had reestablished their munitions industry, especially tank production, and rapidly improved their tactical proficiency. Better planning and preparations magnified their resource advantages. Poor German command decisions that included allocating what became key flank positions to weak Romanian forces and a feeble German response to the Soviet breakthrough were also crucial. A subsequent report by Major General Stanley Savige on the operations of his 3rd Australian Division in the Salamaua area in 1943 emphasized the value of air support but also underscored the need for ground troops to be physically fit and led by experienced junior officers and noncommissioned officers. He maintained that the Australians fought more effectively because of their training and determination. In contrast, the Japanese relied on simple, inflexible tactics, disliked moving in small patrols, and were inaccurate with small arms.
From this perspective, the Allies won because their benign, more-integrated societies allowed them to totally mobilize for war, while the conservative, even reactionary attitudes of the Nazis and the Japanese ensured that they lost. Rosie the Riveter and her many counterparts in the Allied countries thus won the war. This interpretation rests on a degree of accuracy. Nazi racism and Japanese oppression did make it difficult for the Axis to derive the full benefits from the increased resources acquired through conquest. Mistreatment even led to popular resistance, especially in Eastern Europe, that diverted Germanys military assets. The Allies never encountered comparable civilian resistance. Indeed, the weakness of popular resistance during the conquest of Germany indicates how unpopular the Nazi regime had become, and the depth of the Germans sense that they deserved to fail. Obviously, resources played a big part in each victory. Recovering Burma depended on the Allied ability to airdrop supplies along the India-Burma border in 1944, yet the campaign was won by the troops on the ground who fought successfully using those supplies. The Americans displayed similar improvement in their two Philippines campaigns.
German commanders and staff officers reflecting on their own campaigns have created too many of these postwar analyses. In doing so, they may have been influenced by American interrogators bent on finding reasons to maintain significant stocks of weapons to thwart their assumed new enemy, the Soviet Union. German officers have tended to blame their losses on lack of resources, the size and inhospitable climate of the Soviet Union, and, above all, on Adolf Hitlers interventions.
The Japanese overemphasize the impact of Allied bombing, especially the dropping of the atom bombs, and are equally unwilling to address comparative fighting quality in the field in 1944-45. Yet there are sound military and political reasons why Japan, even with the capability to plan and execute major advances (equivalent to German blitzkrieg offensives), could not knock China out of the war.
Axis strength and success grew incrementally. Japan was able to successfully invade Manchuria in 1931 and launch a full-scale attack on China in 1937 without other powers intervening. Two years later Japan began a limited border war with the Soviet Union that failed but did not escalate. When the Japanese attacked Britain and the United States, they rightfully did not fear the Soviet Union entering the war against them.
Germany first engaged in rearmamentand then in aggression against Austria and Czechoslovakia in 1938-39without encountering any united hostile response. Hitler then successively attacked a series of weak opponents: Poland, Denmark, Norway, Yugoslavia, and Greece. The Soviet Union stood by, at least nominally neutral, while the United States remained unwilling to aid fellow neutrals.
In Manchuria in 1945, the Japanese were outnumbered, particularly in artillery, armor, and aircraft, but they were also decisively outfought. Soviet troops were better trained, and many brought combat experience from the German front. Using skillful deception, they immediately seized the initiative and advanced rapidly to envelop their opponents. Although the Japanese fought tenaciously, employing suicide tactics that included carrying explosives up to tanks and detonating them, the speed of the Soviet advance dismayed them. In particular, the Japanese underestimated Soviet mobility and inaccurately assumed the Soviets would need to stop for resupply after about 250 miles, giving the defenders an opportunity to counterattack. When the fighting proved that assumption wrong, they were unprepared to deal with the consequences.
The fighting abilities of the Western Allies also improved. In initial clashes, they had been found wanting: the British conspicuously so in Norway in 1940, and the Americans at the Battle of Kasserine Pass in North Africa in February 1943. With time, however, better Allied training and experience both paid dividends, especially at the command level. The Allies also became far more skilled at integrating their forces. Air support played a major role in the Normandy campaign, for example, enhancing the ground forces offensive capabilities.
Allied medical care, particularly important in jungle warfare, was far better than Japanese care. Resources and technology were important, but so was the way in which medical science was employed. The British army transformed its care of sick and wounded during the war. Doctors used new medical practices that included immunizing against tetanus, and new drugs like sulfanilamides and penicillin.
Abundant Allied resources alone didnt decide the war at sea either. With experience, the Allies made incremental advances in antisubmarine tactics, weaponry, and doctrine. These steps included not only better equipment (improved radar and searchlights) but also the development of formations and tactics for convoy escorts that proved more effective.
American preparation was superior. The United States had developed carrier warfare techniques, enhancing cooperation with other surface warships. By intercepting and deciphering coded Japanese radio messages, Americans were able to anticipate what their opponents would do.
By 1943 the Allies had significantly better aircraft. The Japanese introduced no new plane types in quantity after the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, which had made such an impact in their initial advances. The Americans had developed a variety of competitive planes, including the Vought F4U Corsair, Lockheed P-38 Lightning, and Grumman F6F Hellcat. All not only outperformed the Zero but also had better protection. The Zeros light weight gave it superior range and maneuverability, but its lack of armor sacrificed pilot safety.
In 1944, the Luftwaffe lost large numbers of planes responding to American air raids, partly because the fighter ultimately developed to guard the long-range bombers, the North American P-51 Mustang, was superior to German interceptors. Since the Germans had not increased their training programs in 1940-42, by 1943 they were finding it difficult to replace pilots, and in any event the Luftwaffe could not afford fuel for training pilots. By the time of the Normandy landings, the Germans had already lost the air war.
Historians have also given insufficient attention to the failure of the Axis as an alliance. Germany and Japan never created a military partnership or provided mutual economic assistance that in any way matched Allied cooperation. Their attempts at naval coordination proved ineffectual. Even where cooperation was possible, as when Germany shared technology with Japan, no real achievement resulted. Once the Japanese lost their offensive capability, after the sinking of so many of their carriers at Midway, thoughts of joint action with the Germans in the Indian Ocean, for example, became impractical.
Originally published in the Summer 2008 issue of Military History Quarterly. To subscribe, click here.
People also ask
What countries were allied powers in World War 2?
When did the Allied forces join WW2?
Who are Russia's main allies?
Who were the Allies of WW2?
Feb 17, 2011 · For the Allies in World War Two, the defeat of Germany was their priority. Italy and Japan never posed the same kind of threat as the European superpower they fought alongside. Their defeat, costly...
did you know? Romania switched sides and became one of the Allied Powers during WWII in 1944. The main Allied countries all had different goals for the end of the war in both WWI and WWII, which complicated the peace process and often led (sometimes indirectly) to further conflicts. The strength of the Allied Powers' air power helped them to win WWII.
World War II was fought between two major groups of nations. They became known as the Axis and Allied Powers. The major Allied Powers were Britain, France, Russia, and the United States. The Allies formed mostly as a defense against the attacks of the Axis Powers. The original members of the Allies included Great Britain, France and Poland.
Nevertheless, the Allied defeat of the Axis powers is more complicated than just the monumental and heroic sacrifice of the Soviet soldier. ... America did not win World War II alone. But without ...
1. European victory was accomplished through the size of the Soviet force, American military might, Germany's flawed strategy of a two-front assault, and allied aerial bombardment. Although...
Answered 3 years ago · Author has 452 answers and 328.2K answer views The Axis won just about everything — except the Battle of Britain, El Alamein and Midway — through July, 1942. Here’s a partial list of their top hits: The Nazis flattened Poland, then the Netherlands, Belgium and France. They took Norway and Denmark.