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Most important turning point in WW2

LAURENCE REES: What do you consider the single most important turning point in the war?

CHRISTOPHER BROWNING:  I would have to say not just the invasion of the Soviet Union but the way in which it was done. That is we know that Hitler not only decided to invade the Soviet Union but he also urged the Japanese to attack the United States in the Pacific. To be counterfactual - what if he had decided not to do it? Of course the war would have been very different. Or if he had done it in conjunction with the Japanese and attacked the Soviet Union on two Fronts and had won? What if the Soviet Union had collapsed in the summer of 1941? In that sense that’s the most interesting counterfactual in which you can imagine the war would have run a very, very different course. Fortunately for us Hitler made a huge mistake, so in that sense I think that decision ultimately sealed his fate and the cost was still of course horrendous, but ultimately that’s where the war turned.

LAURENCE REES: And do you think if Stalin had left Moscow in October 1941 that could have changed the whole course of the war?

CHRISTOPHER BROWNING:  No, because the key thing there was that he was able to move the Siberian Army to Moscow, the one time he actually wasn’t so paranoid that he trusted his spies: he didn’t trust them in the spring when they warned him of the Nazi attack, but he did trust his spy in Tokyo who said that the Japanese were going to the Pacific and that he could denude his Pacific defences. It is the Siberian troops that are moved in that constitute the counterattack on December 5th. So even though he had lost the armies that seemed to have been the last line of defence, he does find new troops as the gap for more recruits can be drawn and brought in. So, no, I don’t think it’s key that he was in Moscow as opposed to some other town.