Early 1945, the victory over Germany was in sight. With the primary objective of the Second World War ostensibly being to capture Hitler and topple his administration, this victory would mark the end of WWII.
Russia’s Joseph Stalin set his two Marshals Georgy Zhukov and Ivan Konev in a race to capture Berlin. This race was termed and is known to date as the Race to Berlin. The two Marshals took up the challenge, each with the primary objective of being the first to enter Berlin and assume control over it during the final days of the Second World War.
Each one of the two Marshals Georgy Zhukov and Ivan Konev had support from external forces even though the race was primarily their own. Marshal Georgy Zhukov had the support of the Rokossovsky’s Second Belorussian Front. Marshal Ivan Konev, on the other hand, was supported by the Fourth Ukrainian Front of Yeremenko.
The two military men and their separate armies and supporting frontiers made powerful units pitted against one another. The objective here was to ensure the men drove their troops the fastest they could into a swift victory. The war eventually climaxed in the grisly Berlin Strategic Offensive Operation.
While this advance on Berlin marked the final phase of WWII, it actually served as the first clear display of tensions between the Eastern Bloc comprising of the countries allied to the Soviet Union and the Western allies consisting of countries allied to the United States. It is from these tensions that Cold War soon broke out.
10. Tensions Between the Allied Nations
When the Soviet Union made their advance to capture the German capital of Berlin, their move was virtually unopposed by their Western allies. The countries allied to the United States sustained an effort to avoid diplomatic issues by following the US Army General Dwight Eisenhower’s directive to march south of Germany.
This attempt would naturally conceal any differences between the Soviet Union and the Western allies. Yet, the matter of fact is, there had always been tension between these two groups brought together by a common enemy – Hitler. The alliance between these Western powers: the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union was marked by inherent differences in ideology. Britain and America were pro-conservative capitalism and favored democratic politics. This put them directly at the opposite ends with the Communist dictatorship that characterized the east; the Soviet Union, in particular, an ideology they fervently opposed.
These differences did not start with the war, rather, they existed long before any of the two world wars materialized. Winston Churchill, the British Prime Minister, had actively opposed Communist activities right from the early days of the USSR. He had even taken a leading position in the 1919 attempts to dissolve the nascent Communist state. His anti-Communist stand was so strong that he considered re-arming Germany as soon as Hitler was overthrown so as to oppose Russia. In the meantime, Stalin, leader of the Soviet Union retained his ambitions to expand the influence of not just the USSR but its Communist ideology as well.