Most Americans have no clue how much worse the war was for the Soviet Union than for anyone else. Some of us celebrate D-Day, the invasion of Normandy on June 6th…but not many realize that the reason we invaded wasn’t to defeat Germany, but to save western Europe from being absorbed into the Soviet Union.
Why? Because the day we invaded Normandy, the Red Army had already pushed the Wehrmacht back inside Poland. Nazi Germany was going to be defeated by the Red Army even if we never landed our invasion force.
In his history of WWII, Churchill notes that Stalin was incensed that we didn’t invade France even in 1942. Yes, Churchill is right that it would have been suicide to invade in 1942 given that the Battle of the Atlantic was still going strong and Germany’s submarine force was still formidable…but there’s no real reason we couldn’t have invaded in 1943…
…except for Churchill’s and FDR’s desire to let Germany and the Soviet Union bleed each other out before we stepped in. In Churchill’s defense, this is somewhat understandable since the Soviet Union kept sending Germany thousands of tons of raw materials every month after Poland was conquered and Germany was at war with the UK. By doing so, the USSR was essentially aiding the Nazi war effort against the UK.
On the flip side of the coin, however, if we had invaded Normandy in 1943 and further hastened the end of the war, we might have saved Germany and much of eastern Europe from falling behind the Iron Curtain. Churchill states that he felt the defeat of Germany would mean a vast expansion of the USSR, and this was why he was pushing for an invasion in the Balkans, using Greece for an almost-instant toehold to launch operations against the “soft underbelly” of the Nazis. But politics got in the way…and we all know the rest of the story.