The Soviet Union suffered grievous losses during World War II. Much of its European territory was devastated by mechanized warfare and the horrors of occupation. Official Soviet reports at the time stated that 20 million soldiers and civilians perished in the war, but it was later revealed, during Gorbachev’s time in office in the 1980s, that a more realistic figure for Soviet losses was between 27 million and 28 million. At this astronomic price, the Soviet Union subdued its bellicose neighbors, expanded its frontiers, and moved its troops into Germany, Eastern Europe, and formerly Japanese-held parts of East Asia. Bargaining over postwar arrangements afforded it recognition as one of the great powers of the world. Stalin participated with the American and British leaders at the Tehr?n Conference in 1943, the Yalta Conference in February 1945, and the Potsdam Conference later in 1945 to decide the overall military and political strategy of the war and a common postwar European policy. The Soviets also played a leading role in the conferences leading to the establishment of the United Nations (UN) in 1945.
Instead of making a treaty immediately with defeated and disorganized Germany, the victor nations temporarily designated four occupation zones. The eastern zone was assigned to the USSR. Berlin, surrounded by the Soviet zone, was divided into four sectors; its eastern zone was also assigned to the USSR. All were to be administered as parts of one country, with free trade among them. German territory east of a line formed by the Odra (Oder) and Neisse rivers was consigned to Polish occupancy pending a final peace settlement. The northern part of East Prussia was awarded to the USSR. The Soviets exacted huge reparations in the form of machinery and raw materials from the Soviet-occupied areas of Eastern Europe. During the postwar reconstruction of the Soviet economy, which had been devastated in the war, Germany and former Nazi satellites such as Finland also made reparations to the Soviet Union. "USSR" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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