By the end of World War II, under Joseph Stalin’s leadership, Russia had become one of the “Big Three.” The Red Army was a reliable source of support for the Allies and put a dent in the Nazi Wehrmacht on the Eastern Front.
While the USSR put all it had into helping the allies win the war, it also took a heavy hit losing around 26.6 million people.
The Soviet Union called it “The Great Patriotic War.” The 26.6 million figure sounds incredibly high. However, it includes soldiers, sailors, airmen, prisoners of war, and Soviet civilians.
Mistrust Among The Three
President Franklin D. Roosevelt was fond of Stalin and the USSR. But British Prime Minister Winston Churchhill had other feelings altogether. Churchhill did not believe that Stalin meant that the countries the Red Army saved from the Nazis would have free elections.
Instead, he was confident that Stalin would keep his army in the newly liberated countries and keep them under the control of Moscow instead of setting them free. Churchhill created the term “Iron Curtain,” a phrase used to describe post-WWII Eastern Europe.
Of course, history shows that Churchhill’s assumption was correct regarding Stalin’s true intentions. Even though Roosevelt disagreed, Churchhill did not let his intuition go.
Churchill and the War Office crafted a plan, “Operation Unthinkable,” that included the United States, England, and Germany in a surprise attack on the USSR. The attack would force them to give Germany its territory back.
He felt that the Allies plus the Polish and remaining German forces were enough to push the Soviets completely out of Poland and back into the USSR. If needed, the operation would take place on July 1, 1945.
Churchill believed that the war effort was necessary and would be swift, only taking a year or so. But for that to work, the Allies would have to make it impossible for the Russians to continue to fight.
If the Allies rescinded all of the assistance they were providing to the USSR and stopped their ability to make additional weapons, supplies, and vehicles, they could be beaten.
Churchill also thought that Russia’s military force only had about a third that was battle-ready. Though, Churchill realized a battle with the USSR had the potential to go on for years. However, Churchill never had the opportunity to enact his plan.