Allied Leaders of World War II: Joseph Stalin (Part 1)

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11233

Whose side are you on anyway? First, the Soviet Union was at peace with Germany; then they fought each other in one of the bloodiest battles in history. Learn why and create a memorial for Stalingrad!



learning style
personality style
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

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  • Did you know that the Soviet Union (present-day Russia) was not always a part of the Allied team during World War II?

Discover how the Soviet leader, Joseph Stalin, took the Soviets from being a Nazi ally to an Allied leader!

  • Who were the Allied powers during World War II (WWII)?
  • What exactly does the phrase allied powers mean?

During WWII, the world at conflict was divided between the Allied powers and the Axis powers. The November 1942 map below shows the Allied powers in blue and red, the Axis powers in black, and the neutral territories in gray.

WWII allegiance map November 1942

  • Which countries make up the Allied powers?
  • Which countries make up the Axis powers?
  • What is a neutral territory?
  • Which side has more land?

Several countries made up both sides of the conflict.

Each side was led by the three countries that, due to their military power, offered the greatest threat to the opposing side.

The leading countries on the Allied side were Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union (present-day Russia).

The leading countries on the Axis side were Germany, Italy, and Japan.

The 1945 image below shows the Allied leaders: Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin.

Yalta Summit in February 1945 with Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, and Joseph Stalin

In this lesson, study the role of the Soviet Allied leader, Joseph Stalin. Stalin was the Soviet dictator from 1929-1953 and is known for being one of the most brutal leaders in modern history.

You could spend days studying Stalin's role in Soviet history, but here you will study Stalin's role throughout WWII.

When WWII erupted, both the Allied and Axis powers wanted the Soviets on their side. The Soviet Union was one of the largest countries in the world, and each side wanted access to the massive Soviet army.

In 1939, Stalin signed a non-aggression pact with Adolf Hitler, the German Nazi leader. As part of the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the two countries agreed not to attack one another.

Stalin used this alliance with the Germans to expand the Soviet Union. Shortly after signing the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Soviets annexed the Baltic States (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia). This means they took those countries and added them to the Soviet Union.

The Soviet army also invaded Finland. It seemed there was no stopping the growth of the Soviet Union; that is until Hitler turned on Stalin.

Almost immediately after signing the non-aggression pact with Germany, Stalin began receiving warnings that Hitler might turn on him and attack the Soviet Union. The British warned of these attacks, but Stalin assumed the Allies were trying to get him to distrust Hitler.

Eventually, even Stalin's advisors began warning that Hitler would turn, but Stalin remained faithful to his pact with the Nazi leader.

Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler

Then, in June 1941, Hitler officially broke the Nazi-Soviet Pact by invading the Soviet Union. Since Stalin had refused to believe that a German attack was imminent, the Soviets were not prepared.

Stalin offered the Germans land in return for peace, but this offer was quickly rejected.

For months, the Germans pushed Stalin's army farther back into Soviet territory as they conquered more Soviet land. Stalin aligned the Soviets with the Allied forces, hoping assistance from Great Britain and the United States would cause the Germans to retreat.

The conflict within the Soviet Union lasted more than a year until the Germans were forced out of the Soviet Union during the Battle of Stalingrad.

Explore the following resources to learn why this battle was one of the most important battles in WWII.

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  • Why was the Battle of Stalingrad an important WWII battle?

After the Germans exited the Soviet Union, Stalin continued to work with the Allied powers to win the war and defeat the Nazis. You will learn more about the war's outcome in the next Related Lesson in the right-hand sidebar.

For now, move to the Got It? section to review what you have learned about Stalin and the Battle of Stalingrad.

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