Modern Russia likes to boast about how it was Soviet Russia that won WW2 in Europe and how it was mainly Stalin and the red army which were responsible for the defeat of Hitler and Nazi Germany.
While this is true, it was done through a terrible cost, and usually it involved inhumane policies that the red army employed, not against the German enemy, but against his own troops.
Between 8 to 11 million red army soldiers died during WW2. Many of these soldiers were not Russians, but were Ukrainians, Belorussians, Georgians, Azerbaijanis and many other members of other nationalities which came (usually through coercion) from all over the Soviet empire.
When it comes right down to it, Soviet Russia defeated Nazi Germany because it had many more soldiers, and absolutely no scruples about how many would get killed, in order to defeat the Third Reich.
Soviet troops marching. 1943.
A popular Soviet tactic for fighting the Germans was, to throw as many men at the German defenses, until the Germans, literally, ran out of bullets.
On many occasions, the Soviet soldiers were sent unarmed to charge the German lines. This was not a new tactic for the Russian army. The Tsarist imperial Russian army employed the same tactic during WW1, sending unarmed men into the battlefront, either to collect arms of fallen comrades, or just to charge the German defenses “armed only with clubs” according to many German troops reports.
During WW2, any red army soldier who showed any sign of resistance to these inhuman tactics was shot on the spot either by his commander, political commisar attached to his unit or by the notorious NKVD.
The NKVD, The People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs, was the leading Soviet secret police organization from 1934 to 1946. It is known for its role in political repression and carrying out the Great Purge under Joseph Stalin.
However during WW2 it had a totally different role, its job was to make sure that the red army kept pushing forward, at all cost. The NKVD had its own divisions which trailed behind the red army, shooting and massacring red army troops in mass and making sure that the red army soldiers feared it more than they feared the German army.
No one knows how many Soviet soldiers were murdered by the NKVD, but it is known that between the years 1941- 1942 up to 200,000 red army soldiers were executed by the NKVD. Estimates on how many red army soldiers were executed throughout the war go from hundreds of thousands to up to a million.
The soviet tactic towards POW's was the same, and red army troops that surrendered were treated as traitors by the Russian army. This meant that even when POW's were freed or managed to find their way back to the Soviet army, they were executed for "betraying" mother Russia.
At the end of the war, the western allies freed many soviet POWs, but when they tried to return them to the USSR, those Soviet troops which endured unspeakable cruel and brutal treatment from their Nazi captors (It is estimated that at least 3.3 million Soviet POWs died in Nazi custody, out of 5.7 million) they preferd to commit suicide, rather than face what awaited to them back home.
This led to horrendous scenes where at the end of WW2, thousands and tens of thousands of Soviet POWs who were shipped back to the USSR, killed themselves at the border rather then face what was waiting for them back home in Russia.
However, you will not find almost any mention of this in Russian offical war history textbooks and even outside Russia most people are not aware just how brutal and inhumane the red army was to its own troops and soldiers, and at what truly terriyfing cost did Soviet Russia won WW2 in Europe and defeated Hitler's Nazi Germany.
"Europe at war." Norman Davies.
"Berlin: The Downfall." Antony beever.
"The three Emperors." Miranda Carter.