In order to bundle all defensive forces, Stalin, who since May 1941 also chaired the Council of People’s Commissars, formed a “State Committee for Defense,” which was chaired by Molotov, KJ Voroshilov , L. P. Beria and G. M. Malenkov. The closer the German armed forces got to the centers of the Soviet Union and the more obvious the brutality of the Nazi occupation policy became, the easier it was for Stalin to do it who declared the struggle against Germany the “Great Patriotic War,” mobilizing the patriotism of the Soviet citizens to a partisan war behind the German troops. In a very short time, over 1,000 industrial plants were relocated to the east from the threatened areas. In terms of foreign policy, from 1941 onwards the Soviet Union grew together with Germany’s western war opponents (above all Great Britain and the USA) to form the “anti-Hitler coalition”. Thanks to its inclusion in the US lend lease system, the Soviet Union, combined with its own efforts, was able to turn the war around. By 1944, the Soviet territory was completely liberated. Because Stalin was dependent on the help of the western powers, he tried to dispel the western distrust of the world revolutionary goals of communism and dissolved the Comintern in 1943. At the conferences in Tehran (1943), Yalta (February 1945, Yalta Conference) and Potsdam (July / August 1945, Potsdam Conference, Potsdam Agreement), Stalin was largely able to achieve his war aims. At the end of the war, which ended militarily for the Soviet Union in Europe with the capture of Berlin and the unconditional surrender of Germany, Stalin had the Soviet sphere of influence extended far to the west. The demographic losses of the Soviet population are estimated at 26.6 million people (fallen, victims of the German occupying power or Soviet ruling organs as well as emigrants). With the declaration of war on Japan (8 August 1945), the Soviet Union also became offensive in East Asia (incorporation of the southern half of Sakhalin and the southern Kuril Islands and occupation of Manchuria).
The period of late Stalinism (1945–53)
According to eningbo, the fourth five-year plan, adopted in 1946, was all about reconstruction (construction of apartments, large-scale power supply projects) in view of the severe damage caused by the war. While the production of heavy industry could be increased above the pre-war level by the suppression of the consumer goods industry by 1952, agricultural production lagged behind in its development. Hunger riots broke out in Ukraine. The founding of agro-towns by amalgamating the kolkhozes did not, however, go beyond a planned stage in 1950. In the name of an ideological struggle against “Western influences”, A. A. Shdanov, Central Committee Secretary for Propaganda, on behalf of Stalin, subdued the work of Soviet artists and scientists under rigid, limited scope for regulation. The last years of Stalin’s reign were determined by an increased cult around his person. Vigilance campaigns, arrests, deportations and forced labor created an atmosphere of constant insecurity and fear among the population. New purges began. After the unexplained death of Leningrad party leader AA Zhdanov (1948), the entire local class of functionaries was arrested in 1949 and later shot (“Leningrad Affair”). The anti-Semitism, which has grown since 1948, culminated with the “medical conspiracy” (early 1953; accusation by Kremlin doctors of attempting assassinations on high party and state leaders).
In view of the experiences of the Second World War, Stalin’s foreign policy created a security belt for friendly states, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary, first on the basis of friendship and assistance agreements, later (1949) within the framework of the Council for Mutual Economic Aid, Romania, Bulgaria and Albania belonged to. Together with the local communist parties it supported, it pushed through a social model based on the Marxist-Leninist model in these countries – mostly under pressure from opposing political forces. As part of the popular front model system of people’s democracy, communist-led unitary parties took over with the help of the one dominated by the CPSU (B) Communist Information Bureau (Kominform) the leadership of the Soviet satellite states. In a sharp ideological confrontation with Stalin, Yugoslavia was able to evade Stalin’s claim to power, supported in particular by US economic aid. In Asia, too, the Soviet Union succeeded in integrating the Mongolian People’s Republic and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea into the system of its satellite states. With the founding of the People’s Republic of China (1949), the Soviet Union grew into an idiosyncratic partner in the world communist movement.
The failure of a common policy on Germany and the Sovietization of large parts of East, Southeast and Central Europe (including the Soviet occupation zone of Germany) solved in the context of ideological and political interests opposites 1946/47 the East-West conflict and the accompanying him cold war from the determined international politics in detail for more than 40 years with changing problems. The highlights of the East-West conflict in the era of late Stalinism were the Berlin blockade (1948/49) and the division of Germany (1949). The stalin note from 1952, the background and scope of which were controversial, remained an episode. The Korean War (1950–53) turned the Cold War into a military conflict. The explosion of the first Soviet atomic bomb (1949) broke the US monopoly on nuclear weapons and opened up a new dimension in the East-West conflict.