The Third Re­ich in pho­tos: To­varisch

CAUGHT BE­TWEEN TWO DIC­TA­TOR­SHIPS, RUS­SIANS RAL­LIED TO DE­FEND THEIR HOME­LAND

History of War - - CONTENTS - WORDS PAUL GAR­SON

The faces of Rus­sian re­sis­tance

World War II in­volved, to one de­gree or an­other some 104 coun­tries and fol­lowed closely on the heels of World War I, which had been billed as ‘The Great War’ and ‘The War to End All Wars’. Alas, those names were no longer ap­pli­ca­ble in the face of the un­fold­ing hor­rors of the 1940s. De­spite all the hope­ful phrases about the con­flict from 19141918, the new war smashed all pre­vi­ous records for car­nage, death and de­struc­tion.

Par­tic­i­pa­tion in both world wars saw dif­fer­ent en­try points and vary­ing per­spec­tives on the con­flict for the com­bat­ants. The United States had not been ea­ger to en­ter ei­ther war and joined WWI only in 1917, three years after hos­til­i­ties be­gan rag­ing in Europe. 25 years later the USA, again be­lat­edly, en­tered the next global con­flict fol­low­ing the Ja­panese ‘sneak’ at­tack on Pearl Har­bor, and as a re­sult Amer­i­cans tend to mark their world war his­tory books by that date, 7 De­cem­ber 1941.

The Chi­nese would have a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive, as Manchuria had been in­vaded by the Ja­panese as early as 1931. Im­pe­rial Ja­pan, mean­while, pre­ferred to name their con­flict ‘The Greater East Asia War’.

Bri­tain and France, com­ply­ing with their in­ter­na­tional treaties, had been fight­ing Nazi Ger­many since Septem­ber 1939 after the Wehrma­cht had in­vaded Poland. Though ide­o­log­i­cal mor­tal en­e­mies, Stalin and Hitler’s non-ag­gres­sion pact saw Poland crushed be­tween the two dic­ta­tor­ships – Ger­many at­tack­ing from the west and Soviet forces from the east, di­vid­ing up the spoils at the cost of mil­lions of Pol­ish lives.

The Nazi-soviet pact ended on 21 June 1941 when Axis troops launched a co­or­di­nated as­sault, smash­ing through the Baltic states and swathes of Soviet ter­ri­tory. In the face of this colos­sal at­tack, the Sovi­ets came up with an­other name for the con­flict: ‘The Great Pa­tri­otic War’.

Th­ese orig­i­nal pho­tos from the au­thor’s col­lec­tion give a glimpse at some of the men and women who fought in the Great Pa­tri­otic War.

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