Change of alliances

However, Hitler's rapid victories in Western Europe in the spring of 1940 and in the Balkans in the spring of the following year destroyed Joseph Stalin's hope of a long-lasting and devastating conflict in Europe. It slowly became clear that the Soviet Union could become another victim of Hitler. In fact, this was the case on 22 June 1941, when the former ally made an unexpected invasion of the USSR. Created and prepared by the Soviets for offensive action only, the powerful Red Army suffered a number of unprecedented defeats, losing nearly 5.5 million soldiers in the first half of the war, 2 million of whom were captured prisoners. The Germans managed to stop only on the lines of Leningrad, Moscow and Don with the significant help of the harsh Russian winter.

Facing the real possibility of a total defeat, the Soviet regime has shown its truly horrible face. Not counting the losses of civilians, the Red Army used the tactics of burnt land on a massive scale, which in the conditions of Russian winter equalled the imminent death left to the mercy of the coming Germans. In the occupied areas, the Soviet partisan led by the NKVD deliberately provoked the Germans to take repressive action in order to strengthen the resistance against the invaders in society. Behind the Red Army's front units there were special NKVD locking units, whose task was to ensure that the soldiers did not retreat even by one step, which in practice meant shooting at anyone who wanted to retreat. The military command did not care about the victims in its own ranks, so the entire Red Army fighting route was covered with extremely bloody operations, often without the slightest strategic sense. Divisions, armies and sometimes entire groups of armies (the so-called Fronts) were thoughtlessly lost in leading attacks on strengthened German positions, following the simple rule of inexhaustible sources of force of the living Red Army. Such a way of waging war, unimaginable for Western countries, caused that by the end of the war about 17 million Soviet soldiers had died in fighting with Germany.

The end of the German-Soviet alliance and the beginning of the war in June 1941 completely changed the current situation of the conflict in Europe. Britain, lonely after France's defeat, seeing a powerful ally in the Soviet Union and guided by political realism, declared from the outset its far-reaching material support for Stalin's empire. The period of cooperation with the Third Reich, so tragic for the entire region of Central Europe, was marginalised in favour of the enormous effort made by the Soviet Union in dealing with the majority of the German war machine. This alliance was so valuable for the western allies, especially in the decisive years 1942-1944 (i.e. the opening of the so-called second front in Europe after the landing of the Anglo-American forces in France), that they were ready to make the most of concessions in order to maintain it. Katyn, a small holiday village near Smolensk, became a gloomy symbol of this policy, where in the spring of 1940 the NKVD murdered over 4415 Polish officers, mostly representatives of the Polish elite, who were taken captive in September 1939. (There were several similar places of execution - Ostashkov, Kharkiv, Miednoje - a total of about 22 thousand Polish officers, policemen, officials, officers of the Border Guard Corps and political prisoners were killed as a result of similar executions. The truth about them came to light only after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991). Despite irrefutable evidence of the Soviet perpetration of this crime, both the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom tacitly accepted the Soviet narrative on Katyn, which threw the responsibility for the murder on the Germans.