America did not win World War II alone. But without the United States, the war against Axis fascism would have been lost.
May 8 marked the end of World War II in Europe 70 years ago — a horrific conflict that is still fought over by historians.
More than 60 million people perished — some 50 million of them in Eastern Europe, the Soviet Union and China.
The prewar Soviet state in the 1920s and 1930s had killed perhaps 20 million of its own citizens in purges, exiles, collectivizations, forced famines and show trials. Then it lost an estimated 25 million soldiers and civilians to the German army on the Eastern Front. Hitler’s Germany by late 1942 had occupied almost 1 million square miles of Soviet ground.
The Soviet Red Army would eventually be responsible for three quarters of Germany’s WWII casualties, but at a cost of approximately 9 million dead of its own combatants. Nevertheless, the Allied defeat of the Axis powers is more complicated than just the monumental and heroic sacrifice of the Soviet soldier.
World War II started largely because the Soviet Union had assured Hitler that the two powers could partner up to divide Poland. With his eastern rear thus secure, Hitler then would be free to fight a one-front war in the West against the European democracies.