While Nazi Germany lost World War II, does that necessarily mean that we won it? Only if we ignore the specific objective of Great Britain and France when they initially declared war on Germany in 1939 and only if the pronoun “we” encompasses the Soviet Union, who was the true victor in the European arena of World War II.
Why did Great Britain and France declare war on Germany in the first place? The Nazi armies had invaded Poland, and thus Great Britain and France declared war to free the Polish people from Germany’s totalitarian dictatorship.
Was that objective accomplished? While it is true that Nazi control over Poland was ended by the war, the Poles nevertheless had to suffer for the next several decades under Soviet totalitarian control. It’s difficult to see how that was a victory, especially from the perspective of the Polish people, who had to suffer under Soviet communist rule for the next several decades. The same would hold true for the Czechs.
Despite the partnership entered into between the West and the Soviet Union to defeat Nazi Germany, we must not lose sight of an important point: While it is difficult to measure evil, Stalin’s evil most certainly equals or even outranks that of Hitler, at least if we measure it in terms of how many people each of them killed. And remember: Stalin and the Soviet Union invaded Poland shortly after Hitler and the Nazis did (which raises the interesting question of why Great Britain and France declared war on Germany and not on the Soviet Union).
Of course, there’s no question that the West facilitated the Soviet victory. For example, there was President Roosevelt’s decision to furnish the Soviet communists with war materiel (“lend-lease”), which enabled the Soviet armies to more easily defeat the German armies on the Eastern front, and FDR’s “unconditional surrender” demand on Germany, which precluded the possibility of a negotiated surrender that did not involve the Soviet Union.
If the Allies could take credit for their partner’s “liberation” of Eastern Europe, wouldn’t that mean that they also would have to take responsibility for how that “liberation” was achieved?
Consider, for example, the mass rapes of German women when Soviet troops entered Germany in 1945, which are described in The Fall of Berlin 1945 by Antony Beevor. He points out there were virtually no German women, regardless of age, exempted from the mass Soviet rapes.
Is that what “unconditional surrender” meant? Were those rapes part of “our” victory? Is that why the Soviet rapists and their commanding officers were not put into the dock alongside the Nazis at Nuremberg?
For that matter, is that why Great Britain, France, and the United States failed to put Soviet officials on trial at Nuremberg for the murder of some 10,000 to 15,000 captured Polish officers, including those at the Katyn Forest? Remember: the objective at the start of the war was to liberate the Polish people, not kill them.
And what about Western participation in the murder of hundreds of thousands of anti-communist Russians after the end of the war? Despite the communist victory in the Russian Revolution in 1917, many Russians nevertheless still hated communism and communist rule by the time World War II broke out. That’s why some of them either refused to fight for Stalin’s communist dictatorship or chose to fight against it, the most notable example being Andrey Vlasov, the famous Russian general who decided to fight against Stalin and the communists after he was captured by the Germans.
In the eyes of Stalin and, indeed, in the eyes of Truman and Churchill, a Russian fighting against our partner Joseph Stalin and his communist comrades was a real no-no. So when Stalin demanded that Truman and Churchill deliver the anti-communist Russians to him after Germany’s surrender so that he could either murder them or send them to the Gulag, Truman and Churchill willingly complied. Is that what a partnership with evil to defeat evil is all about?
But what about the European Jews? Wasn’t their liberation a World War II victory for the West? It’s hard to see how, given that six million Jews had already been killed by the time Germany surrendered, in part because of Western refusal to permit them to emigrate to the West both before and during the war.
Could Great Britain, France, and the United States, rather than the Soviet Union, have won World War II? Absolutely. If they had left the Soviet communists to fight on their own and had left the door open to a negotiated surrender by Germany, Allied troops could have ended up liberating all of Germany and much of Eastern Europe from both the Nazis and the Soviets, and long before six million Jews were massacred.