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Best leader of WW2

LAURENCE REES: And who’s the single best leader in the war?

ADAM TOOZE: I think Stalin for holding his nerve in October 1941. One could easily nominate Churchill, but it seems to me that Churchill is never really under the kind of existential threat that Stalin is operating under in October 1941. Then again when they have that panic of the summer of 1942 and they think they’re going to lose their grip on the southern front and the strategic, patient willingness of the Soviets and Stavka to hold their resources in reserve and to allow the Germans to rush on and to absorb them. The more recent military history is profoundly impressed by the Soviet conduct of the war from December 1941 onwards.

Not, of course, that there aren’t huge errors of judgement again in 1942 and 1943 with appalling costs to the Red Army, but given the enemy they were dealing with, they’re the people who are inflicting battlefield defeats on the Germans in the way that the British and Americans never managed to do. I think the conduct of operations like Bagration in 1944 is jaw dropping in its dynamism and scale.