The Second World War affected all the countries, especially in Western and Eastern Europe. Before the end of the war, the United States and Great Britain, who were the allies of the Soviet Union, raised the question of dividing the sphere of influence at the territories of Western Europe. The Soviet Union claimed to have total political control over some countries, which led to conflict with the United States and its goals, resulting in the Cold War. Thus, the issue of the effect of the Second World War on the Soviet Union should be examined properly.
The Research Question and the Hypothesis
After the Second World War, the Soviet Union gained significant power in the world arena due to its military success and a great contribution to the victory over the Nazis. Therefore, it is important to conduct research on both the negative and positive impacts that the war had on the USSR. The main hypothesis of the given study is that despite negative economic influence, a huge loss in population, and infrastructure damages at the Soviet Union territory caused by the war, the victory over the Nazis helped USSR to get advantages in the world level.
After the Second World War, the Soviet Union gained economic and political control at the new territories to spread communist ideology there. The main objective of the research is to prove that control over the new territories by the Soviet Union caused the strengthening of the opposition to the USSR policy and ideology. Such countries as the United States and Great Britain tried to take measures to eliminate the influence of communist ideology in the countries of the Third World and Europe.
The research will be conducted by a qualitative method, utilizing the scholarly articles relevant to the stated problem. The independent variables used for the historical analysis will include military success and the economy. During the research, the relevance of the independent variables to the hypothesis as the dependent variable will be identified.
During the first years of the war at the territory of the Soviet Union, a significant amount of the civil population was murdered by the SS troops. The cities were bombed, and the Soviet authorities had to take a decision to evacuate the workers and key specialists to the remote territories of Siberia, together with the main equipment of the plants, changing over from civilian goods to defense production. It helped to resist the German Army and reach the turning point in the war in 1942. Therefore, it is possible to say that Russian scientists and engineers continued to do researches and contributed to the development of new types of military arms even at the hardest times for the Soviet Union.
The evacuation also helped to maintain a sufficient supply of arms and resources for the Soviet Army that helped it to gain a victory over the Nazis at Stalingrad battle and quickly restore the economy after the war. It is also stated that “when the war was at its most intense, the resources available to the civilian economy were reduced below the minimum required to replace stocks of physical and human capital” (Harrison, 2015, p. 3).
Moreover, in the occupied territories, there were large groups of partisans and underground organizations who resisted the German Army and contributed a lot to the victory as well. Therefore, the choice of the citizens to serve their country rather than themselves played a significant role in gaining a military advantage over the German Army at the first stage of the war in the Soviet Union territory.
Thus, by the end of the Second World War, the Soviet Union had a strong and experienced army equipped with modern arms, including tanks, airplanes, and navy. It gave the Soviet authorities an opportunity to dictate some terms and conditions to the allies as to the post-war division of power and control over the territories of Eastern and Western Europe. It resulted in a change of the world order with communists controlling vast territories of Eastern Europe.
Nevertheless, it is crucial to note that the mutual contribution of the Alliance members to the defeat of Nazism resulted in the development of global security and collaboration in regulating conflict issues. It is emphasized that “when the war came to an end in 1945, a wave of idealism again arose, this time accompanied by the establishment of the United Nations, signaling a commitment to both global security and development” (Altbach, & De Wit, 2015, p. 4). In the post-war years, there were a lot of legal processes meant to prosecute the accomplices of Nazi crimes, which required the close collaboration of all the countries affected by the war and played a big role in establishing positive relations between the European countries.
The Second World War and the defeat of Nazi ideology opened new opportunities for experiments and innovations for all the countries. Some researchers state that “with the war’s end, the internationalism expanded even further in scope, fuelled by reconstruction projects, international exhibitions, and competitions, and the diffusion of professional journals” (Wakeman, 2014, p. 153).
The postwar planning on the territories controlled by communists was global and included modernization. A large number of buildings were constructed in the cities of Eastern Europe to eliminate the consequences of battles and damages caused by the German Army. It is possible to state that the economy of the Soviet Union developed rapidly in the first decade after the war. Thus, some architects from Eastern Europe were invited to China to take part in the construction of modern projects.
The economy of Western Europe and America was developing as well. It is noted that “in the years following World War II, as economics has emerged as a discipline whose practices look familiar to historians of science, their attention has turned to economics in new ways” (Weintraub, 2017, p. 148). It is a general opinion that during the period after the Second World War, many theories of economic development were based on the ideas of modernization.
Some researchers note that “such theories both sought a liberal linear path to progress and reflected a fascination with the modernization project of the Soviet Union” (Berg, 2015, p. 41). Therefore, it can be stated that the economic theories of Soviet researchers had a great impact on the world economy due to the authority of the USSR gained during the Second World War.
After conducting a historical analysis of the impact that the Second World War had on the Soviet Union, it is possible to state that the military success of the Red Army helped USSR to contribute greatly to the victory over Hitler and gain leading positions in the world arena. In the post-war world, the Soviet Union was regarded as one of the strongest players, which gave its authorities the opportunity to dictate their will to the allies while sharing the spheres of influence in Europe.
It caused the outspread of the communist ideology in the countries of Eastern Europe and some countries of the Third World, which changed the world order to bipolar and led to the Cold War later. Some researchers note that “since World War II, the United States has pursued an ambitious and highly engaged grand strategy meant to mold the global order” (Brands, 2015, p. 7).
The economy of the Soviet Union developed quickly in the post-war years. A lot of research findings were made by Soviet scientists, which also had a positive impact on the countries that supported the communist ideology and were in the communist sphere of influence. The Soviet Union contributed a lot to the international exchange of experience in construction and modernization as well. Military researches were in high demand in the USSR, too, especially with the beginning of the Cold War. Thus, the Soviet Union appeared to be a vastly developing, closed, and strong country that had leading positions in the world policy and economy.
The historical analysis of the independent variables confirms the hypothesis that despite negative economic influence, a huge loss in population, and infrastructure damages at the Soviet Union territory caused by the war, the victory over the Nazis helped USSR to obtain political advantage. The analysis proved that after the Second World War, the Soviet Union gained economic and political control at the new territories to spread communist ideology there, which contributed a lot to building bipolar world order.
The military success of the Red Army helped the Soviet Union to gain power and become one of the world leaders. The rapid development of the economy in the post-war period also helped the Soviet Union to obtain influence in the countries of the Third World. Thus, the negative impacts of the Second World War were partly eliminated for the USSR by gaining strong political and economic positions in the world arena. It caused tension and rivalry with such countries as the United States and Great Britain, resulting in the Cold War later. Therefore, the given research can be implicated in the further study of the causes of the Cold War.
Altbach, P. G., & De Wit, H. (2015). Internationalization and global tension: Lessons from history. Journal of Studies in International Education, 19(1), 4-10.
Berg, M. (2015). East-West dialogues: economic historians, the Cold War, and Détente. The Journal of Modern History, 87(1), 36-71.
Brands, H. (2015). Rethinking America’s Grand Strategy: Insights from the Cold War. Parameters, 45(4), 7.
Harrison, M. (2015). The USSR and total war: Why didn’t the Soviet economy collapse in 1942? In The Economics of Coercion and Conflict (pp. 99-120). Coventry, USA: Department of Economics.
Wakeman, R. (2014). Rethinking postwar planning history. Planning Perspectives, 29(2), 153-163.
Weintraub, E. R. (2017). Game theory and Cold War rationality: A review essay. Journal of Economic Literature, 55(1), 148-161.