During the Second World War in Europe the majority of the fighting took place on the Eastern Front, between Germany and her allies and the forces of the Soviet Union. Germany invaded the USSR in 1941 and a bitter struggle followed which ended in Berlin in 1945. It was a colossal conflict with an estimated thirty million deaths, a large proportion of them civilians.
Throughout the war, the USSR was supplied by its allies in the British Empire and the US. Food, weapons, aircraft and many other types of supplies were sent by air and by sea on incredibly dangerous journeys. Although he appreciated this support, the Soviet leader Josef Stalin constantly pressured his allies to start a Second Front in the war which would relieve pressure on his forces in the east.
It might seem like Stalin’s request was reasonable. Stalin wanted an invasion of German-held France in 1942 and many American commanders and politicians agreed. But in the end the British Empire and US forces attacked North Africa in 1943, then Italy in 1943 and then France in 1944.
So why did it prove so complicated to start a Second Front against Germany? And what did the Second Front look like when it arrived?
We have a box of sources from the Churchill Archive for you to investigate.