The enormous scale of this particularly ferocious war is hard to comprehend. It started with Russia totally disadvantaged, but the turn-around was awesome, as Stalin's war machine revved into action
On 22 June 1941, some three million soldiers of Germany and her allies began an attack on the Soviet Union. This war was supposed to be over in a matter of months, but it lasted for four years, and grew into the largest and most costly conflict in all history.
It was here, in the vast struggle between the two dictatorships, that the German army was defeated and the outcome of World War Two was decided in favour of the Allied powers - the British Empire, the United States and the USSR. The cost to the Soviet Union was an estimated 27 million dead.
An exceptional burden was borne by Soviet women. By 1945 over half the workforce was female, and on the land, more than four-fifths. Many women joined the partisan movement operating behind the German lines - and by 1943 there were an estimated 300,000 of them.
The last large scale German offensive took place in July 1943 near Kursk, but this battle also ended in a Soviet victory. As of that moment the Soviet Union slowly recaptured her territory and finally entered Germany. In May 1945, Berlin was captured and the German capitulation was signed.