Brute Force and Genius: The View From The Soviet Union

  • Christopher Bellamy


By May 1945 the armies of the Soviet Union, numbering more than 11 million in total, had reached the river Elbe. In four years of ferocious fighting, during which their efforts had never faltered, they had grappled with 65 to 70 per cent of the total strength of Wehrmacht, and defeated it, though at appalling cost. For 1418 days, since 22 June 1941, those armies had fought with an incongruous mixture of bone-headed determination and cunning; of the most basic logistics and some very slick and ingenious technology; of futuristic tanks and horsed cavalry; of sullen resignation and fanatical determination; of tactical clumsiness and brilliant generalship — in short, of brute force and genius. The Berlin operation from 16 April to 18 May 1945 was almost the last of 160 distinct offensive operations — Prague and Manchuria followed. In its final, furious dash for Berlin alone the Red Army had lost 78 290 dead and more than 274 000 wounded.1 Averell Harriman, the US emissary to both Churchill and Stalin, congratulated the 65-year old Soviet dictator on the capture of the Third Reich’s capital, Berlin, which now lay in ruins. ‘Alexander I got to Paris’, replied Stalin.


Atomic Bomb Ballistic Missile Nuclear Warhead Strategic Bombing Merchant Fleet 
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  1. 18.
    David Holloway, Stalin and the Bomb, (Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1994), p. 367; FO 371/56831, from Frank Roberts in Moscow No. 1090, 21 March 1946 commenting on Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) paper.Google Scholar

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© Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies 1996

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  • Christopher Bellamy

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