I am close to finishing Alexander Werth’s Russia at War, 1941-1945. Not my first book on the subject and I agree the Russians paid an awful toll in WWII. I don’t like the Soviet system and recognize that Stalin signed on with Hitler (for a variety of reasons). But having read these books it’s easy to see why the Russkies can be paranoid. And to say they just fell back to the Urals is wrong, see Leningrad, Moscow. Stalingrad and the Caucuses for examples.
Over-crediting the Soviet effort and the works of such historians is currently (a sad) trend among a lot of disenchanted Americans who have lost any bit of pride in our history. It’s now trendy among CONSERVATIVES to REGRET our role in WWII and to BLAME our efforts in Europe for our current state of lefty globalism. And inherent in all of this is a lot of latent anti-Semitism as well, the downplaying of the Holocaust, etc...
To assess the USSR’s role, it’s important not to just zone in on the MILITARY and BATTLEFIELD dimensions of the war. (And even in those narratives, some pro-Soviet historians conveniently leave out the mass raping and savagery that often accompanied Soviet victories...)
Rather, it’s important to zone in on the context of the continent LEADING UP TO THE WAR. And from that standpoint, there is no way to leave the Soviet Union in a positive light.
They were just as responsible for inviting the carnage as they were in defeating the rival carnage-makers. (Which they also too helped set the stage for.)
There really is no difference between the evil of the Bolshevik legacy with that of the National Socialists of Germany. Period. Both threatened to swallow the continent and globe whole...And it’s because of America (however imperfect we may be) that that didn’t happen.