„У нас много людей.”
One of the most widespread beliefs about the Eastern Front, repeated even in popular science books or documentary films, is that almost unlimited human resources contributed to the USSR's victory. But were these resources really inexhaustible?
Before the outbreak of war in 1939, the Third Reich had about 80 million people, while Soviet Union officially had around 170 million. However, with the annexations of the territories of Poland, the Baltic States, Finland, Bessarabia, in 1939-40, this number increased to over 190 million in 1941. Although a large part of the population of Western areas did not love the new authorities, there is no doubt that the advantage of the demographic potential stood on Stalin's side. When "Barbarossa" started, the Germans and their allies had a numerical advantage directly on the front (approx. 3.3 million to 2.9 million Red Army soldiers in the western districts), but the Soviets had a mobilization reserve. This reserve allowed them to withstand the momentum of the German impact and throw new units into the fight in place of the broken ones, and finally stop the Wehrmacht. However, the cost was huge. In addition to military losses, Germany occupied a large area of the most densely populated European part of the country. In the famous order No. 227 of July 28, 1942, Stalin warned: "We lost 70 million people." Population in areas controlled by the USSR fell to about 120-130 million. The balance of power diminished dangerously, and human reserves had to be reached for deeper and deeper. Ultimately, the USSR withstood this effort, mobilizing 35 million people during the war (compared to about 18 million Germans). But the "inexhaustible resources" could be exhausted by all means.