What were the short term and long term negative effects of World War II in the Soviet Union?

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alishat23 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

World War 2 had a negative impact on many of the European countries. The Soviet Union (SU) however, suffered in the short and long term. Three and a half years of the war were fought in the SU. In order to make things more difficult for the enemies, the SU soldiers used scorched earth tactics. This meant soldiers would burn entire villages, fields, and buildings in order to take away resources for the attacking Germans. By the end of the war, 1700 towns and 70000 villages were totally destroyed. This led to negative impacts for the future as it would take many years to rebuild these areas. The SU population suffered great losses as well during the war. Not only did soldiers die during combat, but many citizens died from lack of food and good living environments. Twenty one million people died during the war, leaving the population severely depleted. Fifteen years after the war, the population was still only at 90% of its prewar population.

Although the country was affected in the long term by its need to rebuild and repopulate, there were other issues that caused problems within the SU. As so many young men died during the war, women were responsible for supporting the work force. However, the patriarchal structure of the family did not change, and women were expected to cook, clean, and take care of children, all while trying to work and support the family financially. The war only solidified the militaristic tendencies of Stalin and the government. Stalin became paranoid about another war happening, this time using nuclear warfare. He continued to build up industry in order to build new war machines, but did not concentrate on other economic areas such as farming. Many citizens felt they had to fix their own problems caused by the war as they would not receive government support. Stalin’s ideas for reform became more and more unrealistic. Various people in the government were too afraid to tell Stalin that his ideas were not working well for the country, so instead they lied about the success.

All of these factors caused by the war negatively affected the Soviet Union. It would take years of work and a change in government to really impact the state of the country.