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Best decision of WW2

LAURENCE REES: And the single best decision of the war?

RICHARD OVERY: Well, again, there are plenty of decisions that one might look at. I think there is one that is often overlooked or ignored or it is assumed that there must be some other motive behind it. This was Stalin’s decision to stay in his capital in October 1941. It's an extraordinary decision, and again it’s one that is taken perhaps against the odds: everybody has left and is moving out and so on. Moscow is in increasing chaos and Stalin is faced with a real choice. He’s not regarded as a particularly courageous man
but there’s a sudden point where he realizes, well if you’ve got a cult of personality and the personality folds or runs away, what do you do?  Now, the cult of personality was not what kept the Russians fighting, of course, but holding Moscow was symbolically important. If Stalin had left Moscow it would have fallen into chaos. The Germans would have been in Moscow by mid-December 1941 and then a great deal might have unravelled from that. So I think it’s a small decision [the reason] for which we don’t have a very clear answer; no diary, no sort of, 'this is why I did it'. But the fact that he did it had enormous implications for the outcome of the Soviet/German war.