It's amazing that as soon as WWII is mentioned, Dray actually displays some British patriotism and national pride for once
(I'm only teasing you mate
There are a lot of different interpretations as to what brought about the result of WWII but the argument that has always made the most sense to me is not that the allies or the Soviet Union won the war but that Nazi Germany lost it.
Had Hitler not tried to fight a war on two fronts and most importantly, not tried to invade Russia in the middle of winter with forces stretched thin and not enough resources to combat the treacherous weather in a battle of attrition.....a mistake Napoleon made some 150 years prior, then most likely Nazi Germany with Mussolini backing them up along with the Soviet's still aligned would have taken over most of Europe. Let's not forget just how much of a war machine Germany was at that time, from a military standpoint what they achieved in as short amount of time as they did was nothing short of incredible.
I've seen the circles which argue that the Soviet Union had defended Europe from Nazi German rule but let's not forget that Stalin was more than happy to form a pact with Hitler to annex Poland and break it up, which was effectively the start of the war. In reality, the Soviet's only opposed Nazi Germany and changed sides in the war when Hitler re-negged that deal and turned against them. Stalin didn't go against Hitler because he saw Nazism as a major threat to the world which had to be defeated, he went against Hitler for self-preservation. Had it been the former, the Soviet Union would have never made that deal with the Nazis to begin with.
Of course realistically, the pact would have never lasted because one of Hitler's key ideological stances was anti-communism but whilst there were key ideological differences, they also had key goals which aligned, the biggest being expansion. The Soviet Union had always seen itself as the leading force behind an international communist movement which would one day overthrow capitalism, so it only made sense that Stalin would want to expand the regimes territory. In that sense alone without even digging into some of the similarities between Fascism and Communism in practice, the Soviet Union's goals were much more in alignment in 1938 with the Nazis than with the rest of Europe. It only made sense they would make an alliance along with Italy. Had Hitler never turned against the Soviet's, there would have been no reason for Stalin to join forces with Britain and France as he would have been achieving the Soviet Union's goal of expanding Communism.
Contrast that with Britain and France immediately declaring war on Germany as soon as aggression was shown to Poland and it's not hard to see in my opinion that the argument for the Soviet Union being the driving force to defeating Nazism collapses under scrutiny when we look at both the political reality at the time as well as the political goals of each of the players involved in the war. Simply put, I don't buy it, it feels like complete revisionist history to paint the Soviet's as the heroes when in reality they acted in their own self interest and not because they were so gigantically opposed to Hitler.
Of course, there are other key moments which drove home Nazi Germany's defeat. Like Dray said, without Britain holding off German invasion for so long, you wouldn't have had the conditions for the Americans to come in through baiting the Japanese and then letting them attack Pearl Harbour in order to change the American public's opinion on entering the war.....which Tater alluded to. Of Course the US entering the war completely changed the tide as far as Western Europe is concerned, without that intervention the Nazis may have never been defeated.
But had the Nazis attention had not been split between Britain and the Soviet Union and all of their forces were focused on the last remaining European ally, then it is unlikely the Brits hold on for as long as they did.....to which by the time the Americans did enter it would have been too little too late....and I say that as a Brit.
In reality, I think that decision to turn against the Soviet's in the long run proved to be the downfall of the Nazis as it caused a lot of mistakes to be made by them and by contrast, helped turn the fortunes of the allies around. If that pact stays intact, I have a hard time believing we would have won.
But that's just my opinion