Most western western portray Stalin as a bloodthirty dictator. One writer I read, also mentioned made a foolish and silly statement that perhaps Stalin enjoyed the blood of his victims. While I hold no brief for Stalin the fact is the Second World War was won on the backs of the Russian army. The Russians lost 20 million dead and but for Stalin, Hitler would have romped home a winner and perhaps in place of the Nuremberg trials we may have had trials of Churchill and De Gaulle.
What are the facts.? On 22 Jun 1941 the German Army advanced against Russia. They were able to achieve complete surprise and 3 German army groups headed deep into Russia. The Army Group centre had as its primary aim to capture Moscow. Hitler laid great importance for the capture of Moscow. This for him was one of the primary objectives of his Russian campaign
By 7 November 1941 the Germans were just 70 km from Moscow. Stalin was adviced to leave the capital and proceed east of the Ural mountains. Stalin outright rejcted the proposal and announced he would hold a victory parade in Red Square.
It is on record that Stalin stood on mauseleum of Lenin and took the salute of a victory parade. He also gave a rousing speech , which even if heard now cannot fail to make you realise that here is a great man. In fact most of the units taking part in the parade continued marching as they headed for the front. As a single act of bravery this has no parallel.
The Soviet defensive effort actually halted the German offensive. Hitler as I have mentioned had laid great store on the capture of Moscow. In fact he had a special operation codenamed Operation Ty[phoon to capture Moscow.. For this the OKW( German General Staff) had launced a two faced pincer movement , one against the North of Moscow by the 3rd and 4th Panzer groups . The plan was to sever the rail link with Leningrad and surround Moscow. A second group was to launch an offensive against the south Moscow close to the Tula river by the 2nd Panzer group. The Panzer groups were to facilitate the advance of the 4th army direct to Moscow.
Th calculations did not work out mainly due to Stalin and his resolve not to abandan Moscow, to stay and fight. It was a great decision and a brave one at that. The Wehermacht was stopped at the gates of Moscow. Stalin certainly deserves more credit than he is given. In my view he is one of the greatest figures of the 20 th century. No amount of mud slinging by western writers can erase this facet of Stalin and his role in the defeat of Hitler