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World War II in the Soviet Union

Adolph Hitler and the Nazis had a deap-seated hatred for Russian communists. War between Germany and the USSR was probably inevitable. Nevertheless, Stalin used the early years of the war to make territorial gains for himself.

On August 23, 1939, Germany and the USSR signed a secret non-agression pact dividing up Poland. In September, the Soviets invaded eastern Poland.

On November 30, 1939, the Russo-Finnish War began when the USSR invaded Finland. On March 12, 1940, Finland surrendered.

On June 18, 1940, the USSR invaded the Baltic states.

On April 13, 1941, the USSR and Japan signed a neutrality pact.

But Stalin could not avoid war with the Axis powers. On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded Russia, thereby beginning Operation Barbarossa. Italy and Romania then declared war on the USSR. Shortly thereafter, Hungary, Slovakia, and Finland declared war.

On September 15, 1941, Germany began the Siege of Leningrad. It would not end until January 1944.

In October 1941 the U.S. began supplying the USSR under the Lend-Lease Act.

That same month, Germany began its drive toward Moscow. The USSR was forced to evacuate its seat of government to Kuibyshev. But in December, Germany gave up its attack on Moscow, and the Soviets counterattacked.

On January 31, 1943, over 90,000 German troops at Stalingrad surrendered to the Soviets. This was a significant turning point in the war against Germany.

Late in 1943, Stalin met with Roosevelt and Churchill for the first time -- The Teheran Conference. They agreed that the Western Allies would invade France in June 1944 and that when the invasion began the USSR would launch a new offensive from the east.

In April 1944, the USSR retook Odessa. In May, German troops surrendered in the Crimea. In July, the USSR retook Minsk.

In August, the USSR invaded German-occupied Romania. On August 23, Romania surrendered.

In September, the USSR invaded Bulgaria. Bulgaria made peace with the Soviets and declared war on Germany.

By late September, the USSR also occupied Estonia.

On October 1, 1944, Soviet troops entered Yugoslavia.

On January 17, 1945, Soviet troops captured Warsaw. In early April they captured Vienna.

On April 23, 1945, Soviet troops reached Berlin -- with over one million men and more than 20,000 pieces of artillery. A few days later, Soviet troops advancing from the East met up with U.S. troops advancing from the west at the Elbe River.

On April 30, as the Soviets were battling through the streets of his city, Adolph Hitler killed himself.

On May 2, 1945, Soviet troops completed the capture of Berlin and all remaining German troops surrendered within a few days. The war in Europe was over.

True to his promise to the Allies (and interested in expanding their Soviet in the East) Stalin broke his non-aggression pact with Japan. Soviet troops invaded Japanese-held Manchuria in August and helped win the war in the Pacific.

The people of the Soviet Union suffered greatly during the war. Well over 20 million men and women were killed -- many of them civilians.

However, the USSR's armed forces remained powerful at the end of the war. The Soviets territorial ambitions -- especially in Europe -- created tension with their former Allies. The Cold War began.

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