World War II Facts: Lend-Lease Saved Countless Lives — But Probably Didn’t Win the Eastern Front

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World War II Facts: Lend-Lease Saved Countless Lives — But Probably Didn’t Win the Eastern Front

Around 80 percent of the more than five million German military deaths in World War II occurred on the Eastern Front. This terrible conflict with the Red Army consumed great quantities of men and material until the Soviets decisively ended the war by capturing Berlin in May 1945.

During that time, the Red Army underwent a radical transformation, having been decimated by Joseph Stalin’s purges before Hitler’s armies invaded on June 22, 1941, inflicting horrendous losses.

But as the war progressed, the two sides effectively traded places, with the Red Army honing a mechanized “deep battle” doctrine that more closely resembled earlier German tactics — just as the German army fell into disarray as war-time casualties took their toll.

All the while, the Western Allies provided enormous quantities of supplies and other aid under the Lend-Lease policy. The United States and the United Kingdom supplied more than 21 million tons of aid to the Soviet Union during the war, including thousands of tanks and warplanes.

But the question of how much this aid affected the outcome of the war would become important not only for historians, but as a matter of national pride, as the Soviet Union went on to diminish Lend-Lease’s role in helping turn the tide of battle. Western historians would, perhaps for similar reasons, overstate the role of the aid in Soviet success.

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