Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Social Realism of WWII

At Oxblog, Patrick Porter is taking on the "backlash" against American triumphalism over WWII. In particular, he feels that Stalin and the Soviet Union have been getting too much credit. Too much emphasis is being placed on the numbers of lives lost rather than the qualitative contributions of each nation to the war effort.

Place me among those who think that the eastern front was more important. Would allied air attacks have been as effective if the east hadn't become a sinkhole of men, machines and money? Indeed, I tend to find that the allied war effort was slow to get started, not opening a genuine European front until 1944.

But Patrick is right to say that certain details cannot be isolated in the process of weighing contributions. American contributions to Soviet economic development and in the Pacific greatly affected how well Stalin fought the war. It was a well integrated effort, and Soviet resolve might have failed otherwise.

However, some special praise should be given to Soviet nationals. Indeed, fighters faced guns on both sides--the Germans' insane fear of the barbarous Huns on the one hand, the mass executions of NKVD on the other. They fought a much deadlier war than anyone else. In this sense, more credit should be given to the people than to their leaders.

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