In 1941, Hitler ordered an attack on the USSR, German troops invaded and so the USSR entered World War II. The war lasted for four years, with such ferocity and scale that everything in the Soviet Union was subordinated to the needs of war. Socially it could be said the Soviet Union was ready for the fearful hardships of war. The people’s labour in the 1930s in the form of collectivisation and industrialisation had prepared them for the sacrifices that had to be made to fight against Germany.
There previous suffering helped by providing a powerful asset to the war effort as under Stalin’s supreme authorities power prepared to mobilise themselves to work on the war footing. This did not however help when after six months of war, half the soviet population was under Soviet occupation. This social impact signified a huge workforce that was unable to fight against Germany even if the territory gained by German forces was small in scale of the whole of the Soviet Union. Other social factors included were the Army’s unceasing need for men to fight.
The need for troops seemed unending, the longer the war continued the longer the list of casualty’s consequently in the continuing need for troops. At the end of the war 8,000,000 people had died under the Red Army with another 5,000,000 men in active service. Men from the country joined the Army in the hope that it would provide them with a skill and thereby bettering them for civilian life. It helped people even if they did not gain a skill that they could not later put to use in civilian life, military service affected their social status pulling them out of the rut which they had previously been settled in.
Other social impact included the major movement of roles of women. With the large numbers of men draining into the Army, and the continued high demands for increased production in both factories and farms the worker vacancy had to be filled with women and children. The impact here of war is clear as large number of women moved into jobs what were previously done by men. Women appeared to gain higher status and responsibility; however the impact was small however as after the war this did not last when it came to peace.
Economically for the USSR, the war was a disaster after six months of fighting German troops had gained one-third of the entire nation’s industrial plants, with iron and steel production falling 60%, 40% of the railway system became unusable. Also livestock fell by 60% and grain fell by 40%. The reason for this early catastrophe was because most of the industrial plants were situated in west Russia which where vulnerable to German attack. It did help however that during the five year plans of the 1930s many industrial plants had been built east of the Ural Mountains well away from German attack from fighter bombers.
On day one of starting the war, the Soviet Union swung into action, organising supervisors of aircraft, guns and tank manufacture. The entire urban workforce was called up to undertake work in armament factories, including all men aged 16-55 and women aged 16-45, all others asked to work at least part time. An impressive impact on the USSR, was the achievement of evacuation of factories in the path of the invading Germans and reconstruction further east. The people were prepared to provide their soldiers with ammunition.
During 1942, military expenditure reached enormous levels of 76% of all production accounting to munitions. After the war the Soviet Union had turned into a global superpower with a massive arsenal of nuclear weapons. Russia was one of the most successful countries when it came to designing new weapons. The K34, KV-2 and JS-2 tanks, the Katyusha rocket launcher and the Yak-1 fighter aircraft were all designed during the war being recognised as the best weaponry produced by any nation at the time.
The impact of this allowed the Soviet Union slowly stave the invading Germans of resources regulating the forceful scorched earth policy and push them back out of the USSR and even into Berlin at the end of the war. The Germans were defeated in 1945, Stalin claimed he was victorious, ordering he be given the highest place in the nation’s military force to portray himself as a great wartime leader. An impact politically that emerged the Soviet Union as a superpower globally.
Also politically an important impact occurred with over five million candidate member and 3. million new members joining the political party of the USSR. Before the war only 15% of all the party members were military members, after this percentage increased to over half of all party members. This serious change in the make up of the party, impacted after the war as military became much more involved with politics, impacting on many later decisions. The Great Patriotic War affected the USSR culturally also. Stalin saw patriotism as important in the growth of the cultural face of Stalinism during the war.
During this time the aspect of cultural life became more prominent as the war came to dominate the entire soviet symbolic universe. An example is the Orthodox Church restoring to full favour, and all of the symbolism it had before the depressing in 1930s. The war impact on the USSR culturally restoring it to full ideology of the regime, heightening the support of Stalin and restoring the ‘motherland’ to power. Another side is the nationalist impact of the war. Being a multicultural society in 1941 just over half of the Soviet population was Russian, a further 25% were Ukrainian the rest smaller minority groups.
These minority groups had been successfully alienated by Stalin during the 1930s through collectivisation. In the territories of Ukraine and Kazakhstan there was a severe famine of 1932-1933. Fears during the German invasion of 1941 meant many of these people were then moved away from these areas as they could potentially support the German’s against the USSR. Significantly a man called Vlasov set up a unit in the German army comprising of 50,000 Soviet citizens to fight against the USSR.
However in other areas mainly Ukraine, the citizens were loyal as they soon realised under German occupation that Stalin and communism was better than the alternative racial regime of the German’s who consistently persecuted the native people. Many groups were set up to attack the occupying Germans. The most significant point to conclude is how many things resulted from the Great Patriotic war in Soviet Russia. Political Impacts of how Stalin emerged victorious and unchallenged with the USSR becoming globally the most nuclear advanced country which gained the country prestige and power.
A smaller impact was the cultural effect of division of minority groups brought the whole together to stand united against the German forces once people realised the extreme racial policies the Germans had. The most significant however could be the economic impact. During the war, coal, steel and oil production fell even as the third five year plan had increased these productions. Also the scorched earth policy while damaging land when it was recaptured helped force the Germans to find it hard to rely on their supply lines all the way through Poland in Germany many miles away.