Did the Soviets escalate the German invasion?

National Socialism and World War II

Manfred Görtemaker

To person

Manfred Görtemaker, born in 1951, is a professor of modern history with a focus on 19th and 20th centuries. Century at the University of Potsdam. He is the author of the book "A Little History of the Federal Republic of Germany".

With the end of Nazi rule and the occupation and division of Germany by the Allied forces, the emergence of a bipolar world was connected at the same time. The fragile alliance of opposing ideologies lasted only as long as it was a matter of defeating a common enemy.

Meeting of the Commission of the Allied Control Council on June 5, 1945: The four Allied powers reaffirm the complete defeat of Nazi Germany and divide both the entire state and the city of Berlin into four zones of occupation. (& copy AP)


The East-West conflict was the defining feature of world politics from 1945 to 1990. It was characterized by the power-political rivalry between the USA and the USSR and the ideological contrast between communism and western democracy. The conflict between the opposing systems initially took the form of a "Cold War" and escalated several times to the brink of nuclear war. After the experience of the Berlin and Cuba crises in 1961/62, efforts in both camps intensified for relaxation and peaceful coexistence in order to avoid a self-destructive nuclear war. But only after the collapse of Soviet rule in Eastern Europe in the wake of the revolution of 1989 and the subsequent self-dissolution of the Soviet Union through the annulment of the Union Treaty of 1922 and the establishment of the "Commonwealth of Independent States" (CIS) did the East-West conflict arise - at least provisional - end.

Often predicted since the 19th century as a conflict between "Eastern" and "Western" civilization and since the October Revolution in Russia in 1917 as a struggle between liberal capitalist principles and state socialist ideas, the international system was replaced by the East-West after the Second World War. Conflict significantly shaped. The double event of the October Revolution in Russia and the entry of the USA into the war of the European powers, which thereby expanded into World War I, created a constellation as early as 1917 in which later developments became apparent. But it was Hitler's war and the associated destruction of the political structures of Central Europe, which allowed the "marginal powers" USA and Soviet Union to fill the political vacuum in Europe, that made the East-West confrontation possible.