The Second World War in 1939-1945 became the continuation of the First World War, the conflict that ravaged Europe in 1914-1918. Then, in August 1914, Germany, the industrial leader of the continental Europe, came to the conclusion that the future did not promise to her success in the growing competition with her neighbours; that Germany's neighbours would not succumb to the idea of German domination in Europe, and would rather lock her in the Stahlring, the strangulating "steel ring" of political and economic isolation. And so, Germany went against her continental rivals, France and Russia, not expecting that Great Britain would take advantage of the opportunity to show the self-styled European hegemon its proper place. Yet Germany did not reconcile with her defeat in the first global conflict, and as soon as the History made its next sharp turn - the Great Depression that began in 1929, she opened leeway to the forces led by Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist party, which claimed that Germany's defeat in the Great War resulted from a "stab in the back", dealt by a faint minority, the treacherous Social Democrats and non-Germanic elements of the population. So, Germany started a new armament race, while her neighbours, horrified by the atrocities of the Great War and its casualties, watched in dismay the process of rebuilding the fantastic German military machine, which in 1914-1918 was capable to challenge the united forces of nearly the whole world.

It is easy to trace the roots of the Second World War in the First World War - the conflict, from which shaken Russia withdrew into revolution, isolation and a colossal in its dimensions social experiment; the conflict that left Germany, almost unbeaten in the clash with the rest of the world, embittered and nursing a barely veiled desire to take revenge. On the other hand, the Versailles system, whose guarantors were France and several small countries of East Europe, could not be efficient, because it left the two greatest countries of the continent - Germany and Soviet Russia - outside of its framework. Any degree of understanding between those two powers, any feeling of common interest, undermined the Versailles system like a house of cards. And the first blow to the Versailles was dealt in a small Italian town, Rapallo, where Germany and Soviet Russia restored diplomatic ties.

The second blow was the seizure of power in Germany by the Nazis. They isolated the country from the outer world, encouraged all forms of nationalistic exaltation, consolidated the collective will of the nation, and offered for social ideology the most vulgar interpretation of the Social Darwinism: the strong win, the weak perish. The Nazis infested the nation with the "rage over treason" of 1918, instilled the young generation of people with belief in an unconditional racial superiority of the Germanic race, and declared the necessity to take revenge for the defeat in the First World War as their historic mission. The third blow to the Versailles system was dealt, when the countries bordering Germany, out of powerlessness, blind egoism and fear, driven by the memories of the horrors of the past conflict and the hope to appease the aggressor, accepted compromise, equal to capitulation before him. They strengthened Nazism and undermined the alliance of the West with the East, as the only balance to German aggressive predicaments. In 1934-1939 Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia, Belgium and Austria, to this or that degree went for the compromise with the enemy, and doomed themselves to military confrontation in the worst possible conditions.

Political, social, and civil differences of the main European powers - Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union - stood in the way of creating a new Entente Cordiale, to protect European victims of the German dynamism and Teutonic malignity, which in Hitler's Third Reich assumed freakish and outrageous forms. Of course, the Second World War could be prevented, but then the European nations would have to renounce the results of the First World War, and accept this or that form of dependency from the German Reich. For the longest time, the illusion of limited German predicaments was nursed by Paris and London, trembling of the thought of repeating the destructive experience, and this state of mind resulted in the shameful capitulation in Munich in 1938, which launched the process of disintegration of the Versailles order.

I believe that most professional historians will agree with such a picture of the world, crawling into the Second World War. For example, one of the leading historians of the Second World War, Gerhard Weinberg, in World at Arms proceeds from the statement, that whatever the conflicting ambitions, rivalries and ideologies of the world's powers in the 1920's and 1930's, it is safe to assert that, with the solitary exception of Germany, no European nation considered another world war as a conceivable answer to whatever problems confronted it. (...) Without German initiative another world-wide holocaust was inconceivable to contemporaries in all countries and is unimaginable retrospectively for the historian. [Weinberg G. L. (2005).]

Japan would have never turned its war on China, fought since 1937, into a greater conflict, had it not been for Germany's phenomenal victories of 1939-1941, which led Tokyo into hoping to create a vast Asian empire, at a time when colonial powers were "favourably" engaged in the European war. The German attack on the USSR and the Japanese attack on the USA turned the European conflict into a real world war, with combat operations conducted on several theatres. The Second World War 1939-1945 project is aspiring to fix the obvious misbalance of similar projects, which either put events of different weight together, treating them as equal, or favour one and ignore others. In my opinion, it is historically incorrect to put on the balance of History events, crucial and minor, global and local. I will proceed from the notion that the crucial battlefield, where the fates of the second global conflict were decided, was the Germano-Soviet theatre. The fates of the Second World War were decided exactly where the whole and entire powers of Germany and the Soviet Union clashed.

Let us imagine a defeat of the USSR in 1941, Germany and Japan meeting in the Urals, and vast continents turning into a "Fortress Eurasia", controlled by the axis Berlin-Rome-Tokyo. Inside that fortress, where the Indies would have risen against their British masters, and Turkey and the Arab world would have joint the axis, would have been encompassed more than two-thirds of the world population, and 70% of the world's industrial powers. The German, Japanese or Italian zone of influence alone would have been capable to challenge the United States, whose land army at the outbreak of the war was smaller than that of Belgium, Poland or Greece. Heisenberg would have created the nuclear weapon. The oil of the Persian Gulf would have been kept far from the Anglo-Saxon appetites. In Peenemunde Werner von Braun would have completed his works on what is nowadays known as the inter-continental ballistic missiles, and shipyards from Pillau to Bremerhaven would have built a fleet of perfect submarines - they would have neutralized the US Navy, even if it had developed to the utmost capacity of the American industry. And finally, the German aircraft industry would have built a fleet of jet bombers, capable of hitting not only the "propelled" England, but also the distant United States. Would anybody perceive the Main Kampf as a collection of bizarre ideas of a political maniac, if that maniac possessed a unique collection of the most modern weapons of the world - nuclear bomb, ICBM's, jet-propelled strategic bombers, and submarines, unsurpassed in their quality until 1955? Not to mention the traditionally formidable and efficient "conventional" component of the German armed forces - the Wehrmacht with its Tigers, Panthers and Ferdinands, supported from the air by Luftwaffe's dive bombers Junkers Ju-87.

But, in the way of that power stood another one - the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. That is why the conflict between Berlin and Moscow became the axis of global confrontation, which decided about the future of the mankind. Eighty percent of the German losses were inflicted in the Eastern front. There were engaged three-fourths of the military potentials of Germany and her European satellites. The battle of el-Alamein and Stalingrad, fought at the same time, in all their strategic and emotional significance, cannot be compared to each-other. This project is not designated to diminish the efforts made in the skies of Britain and waters of the Atlantic, on the beaches of Normandy and the rocks of Monte Cassino - yet those efforts do not stand comparison with the ones made in the battles fought on the Eastern front. This project will certainly give what is due to the achievements of Montgomery and Eisenhower, Alexander and MacArthur, de Gaulle and Tito - it will also demonstrate that the achievements of Timoshenko and Zhukov, Rokossovskiy and Konev were at least of an order of magnitude greater. I am not driven by interest or complex - I am driven by the respect for the historic truth. The fates of the mankind were not decided in the sands of Africa or atolls of the Pacific; they were decided in the ruins of Stalingrad and fields of Kursk, long before the first Anglo-Saxon soldier set their foot in Normandy. The right to say so has been won not by us, but by the past generations, who did not spare themselves in the clash with the "new world order" in Europe and the entire world.

Ingratitude is an abominable quality. This project has not been designated to diminish anybody's contribution, great or small, to the war, in which the axis Moscow-London-Washington finally prevailed over the axis Berlin-Rome-Tokyo. May the eternal glory and gratitude be with all those, who, against all odds, joined the struggle with the evil. And may the eternal disgrace and contempt be with those, who stood aside, or worse - joined the evil.

The history of mankind has not known a point more critical than the early morning of 22 June 1941. The war, designed as a war of annihilation, put on the table the question of the very biological survival of the human race. This war changed the fates of countries, nations and all their individuals. It was won by people living in conditions far from prosperity, absorbed by social transformations and unseen before rates of industrialization, making a massive transition from a patriarchal peasant society to a modern industrial one, and facing relapses of the civil war. It was won by people retaining a Spartan loyalty to the oppressive régime of Joseph Stalin. It was won by an army, which had to compensate its technical underdevelopment by traditional devotion, heroism and self-sacrifice. It was won by an army, that in the previous 20 years was rebuilt twice from nothing - for the first time after the civil war, which broke its military tradition that made it invincible for 500 years, and the second time after the terror of political purges, which strangled initiative, free analysis, skills and responsibility. It had to face the German army, armed with the most up-to-date killing means of the modern civilization, driven by the centuries-old military tradition, enhanced in the Spanish civil war and in the campaigns of 1939-1941, made of methodical, skilled and disciplined people, and inspired by the belief in its leader and its unconditional racial superiority. Those conditions once again predetermined an enormous disproportion of sacrifices. Once again, individual valour had to rival the machine-gun.

There were three factors that saved all of us: first, people, who forged the sword; second, soldiers, who knew how to use it; and third, humans, who at the moment of choice between life and death unconditionally sacrificed their lives.

Trash the fascism