The Western Allies and Soviet Potential in World War II: Economy, Society and Military Power, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Western Allies and Soviet Potential in World War II

Economy, Society and Military Power, 1st Edition

By Martin Kahn


346 pages

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pub: 2017-03-22
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World War II was the largest and most devastating war in modern history with far-reaching consequences. The single most important campaign was the Soviet–German war, which consumed the lion share of Germany’s military resources. In contrast to the tone in German and Anglo-American precampaign assessments, the USSR ws able to repulse the invasion after huge losses and turn the table on Germany and her minor Axis allies.

This book examines how the two most important Western Allies in World War II, the United States and the United Kingdom, assessed the economic and military potential of the Soviet Union in 1939–1945. Since the USSR was the single most important military contributor to the Allied victory in Europe, and the main target of Germany’s military strength, these assessments are of paramount importance in order to understand how the Anglo-Americans perceived the overall war situation and adjusted their own war effort in accordance with it. Utilising a wide range of documents produced by the Anglo-Americans during and shortly before World War II, this book explores why Soviet strength was underestimated, and how the Soviet economic system, Soviet society and military capabilities were viewed by Western Government observers.

The Western Allies and Soviet Potential in World War II is a fascinating read for those in academia studying economic history, international economics and security studies, especially areas on military and strategic.

Table of Contents


1 Introduction

1.1 General background

1.2 War potential and the general purpose of this study

2 The Anglo-American assessments in a wider context

2.1 The US and British government organizations responsible for assessing the USSR

2.2 The origins, analysis and dissemination of information

2.3 The assessment’s reliability and the selection of reports for this study

2.4 The reality and contemporary perceptions of war potential

3 The Soviet Union and the West: The pre-war experience and international Great Power politics before World War II

4 From the guarantee to Poland to the Molotov-Ribbentropp pact

4.1 British anguish: The value of the Soviet Union as an ally and the "gathering storm" in Europe

4.2 Soviet war potential and the possible inclusion of the USSR in a "peace front"

4.3 The Soviets propose an alliance

4.4 Assessments on the eve of the Moscow negotiations

5 US pre-Barbarossa assessments

5.1 The economy and its military potential

5.2 The size and efficiency of the armed forces

5.3 Internal stability

6 The Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and its consequences

6.1 The Polish campaign

6.2 The USSR as a potential military adversary

6.3 The Red Army enter Estonia

6.4 Assessments regarding the economy during the autumn

6.5 Soviet air strength – autumn assessments

6.6 Assessments connected to the Soviet–Japanese conflict

6.7 Anglo-French plans to interdict the Soviet oil supply

7 The Soviet–Finnish Winter War

7.1 The Red Army’s performance

7.2 The economy and the internal situation

8 Assessments running up to Barbarossa

8.1 The economy and internal stability

8.2 The production and quality of munitions

8.3 Military efficiency and the size of the armed forces

9 The nature of the assessments, and the "reality"

10 The beginning of Soviet–German war: Assessments during Operation Barbarossa

10.1 The border battles and the summer: German victories and the possibility of a Soviet collapse

10.2 The Soviet economy under attack (and Soviet prospects)

10.3 The autumn 1941 situation

10.4 Munitions

10.5 The Armed Forces and their efficiency

11 The first turning point of the war: the Soviet winter offensive

12 The spring, the coming of summer and continued worries

12.1 Soviet prospects and economic resilience

12.2 The Soviet population and the war effort

12.3 The Red Army and its munitions

13 The first year of the Soviet–German war: how realistic were the assessments?

14 The German summer offensive and Soviet prospects

15 The Anglo-American assessments in the context of the possibility to establish a Second Front in 1942

16 The autumn assessments and the battle of Stalingrad

16.1 Prospects and civilian morale

16.2 The economic situation

16.3 Food supply

16.4 The manpower situation

16.5 Munitions

16.6 The size of the armed forces and military losses

16.7 Military efficiency and morale

17 From Stalingrad to Kursk

17.1 Military prospects, internal stability and civilian support for the war effort

17.2 The economy, manpower, food supply and civilian living conditions

17.3 Munitions

17.4 The size of the armed forces and the military mobilization

17.5 The morale, efficiency and losses of the armed forces

18 The 1943 cross-channel attack that never was and the "90-division gamble"

19 The Red Army’s first major push to the West

19.1 Soviet military prospects, civilian morale and internal stability

19.2 The economy, manpower, food supply and civilian living conditions

19.3 Munitions: output and quality

19.4 The size of the armed forces and the military mobilization

19.5 The morale, efficiency and losses of the armed forces

20 The final phase of the war: from Operation Bagration to the surrender of Germany (and the campaign against Japan)

20.1 Soviet military prospects and internal stability

20.2 The economy and reconstruction

20.3 The population, the labour force, food supply and civilian life

20.4 The production and efficiency of munitions and military equipment

20.5 The size of the armed forces, losses and military efficiency

20.6 Why the USSR won the war (according to the Military Mission’s final report)

21 Assessments compared to reality during the last period of the war 305

22 The assessments of war potential and material aid to the USSR 312

23 A comment on the assessments in the context of the early Cold War

24 Conclusion



About the Author

Martin Kahn is a Swedish economic historian. He is a docent (associate professor) affiliated with the Department of Economy and Society at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

About the Series

Routledge Explorations in Economic History

This long established series provides a platform for books which break new ground in the understanding of the development of the modern world economy. Equally rooted in economics and history, the series is not limited to any particular period or region. Individual titles focus on particular countries, key industries, themes, or international economic relations.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General