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Effects of War on the Regime


The war had an ambivalent effect on Stalinís regime. The initial disastrous defeats had nearly pushed Stalinís personal dictatorship to the brink of collapse. His despotism and unaccountability were clearly the main reasons for the tragic miscalculations at the start of the war. However, the turnaround in the USSRís military fortunes and the subsequent glorious victory allowed the regime to obscure the negative sides of the absolutist rule. The great military victory was used to consecrate command-administrative methods, mask the deficiencies of the Soviet socioeconomic system, and drum up the ďgreat historic advantagesĒ of the Stalinist model of socialism.

To this day, Stalinís ultimate triumph in the war with Hitler is used by some as grounds for exonerating Stalinist practices. A typical pro-Stalin argument asserts that, for all his sins and crimes, Stalin presided over Russian victory in the Second World War.

But this claim is easily refuted. If Stalin had been rational, all those millions who were made to starve in the great famine of 1932Ė33 or liquidated as a result of Stalinís ideological intolerance would have been available to Russia as able-bodied men and women to put their shoulders to the wheels of agricultural and industrial production and carry rifles in the war. The purges of the 1930s crippled the Red Army and were largely responsible for its great reverse in the war with Finland and then in the first phase of the Soviet-German war. In a sense, the Soviet people won the war despite Stalin and his policies rather than thanks to him.

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USSR in World War II


Soviet Russia

Understanding the Soviet Period
Russian Political Culture
Soviet Ideology
The Soviet System
Soviet Nationalities
The Economic Structure
The Socialist Experiment
"Great Leap" to Socialism
The USSR in World War II
Stalin's Legacy
Brezhnev's Stagnation
The Economy in Crisis
Political Reform
The USSR's Collapse

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