Shared Victory: the Soviet Union and the Second World War



“The guts of the German army have been largely torn out by Russian valour and generalship.”

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, 1944.


The Soviet Union was a powerful partner of the Western Allies, including Australia, in the Second World War. Between 1941 and 1945, the Soviet Union was responsible for destroying roughly 75 per cent of Hitler’s military forces and played a crucial role in the victory over Nazism. In those years, more than 27 million Soviet civilians, mostly civilians, lost their lives.

Despite the crucial role played by the Soviet Union in the Second World War, its story is relatively unknown by many in Australia.

While the Western Allies conducted bombing raids that crippled German industry, and fought in the Atlantic and North Africa, the Red Army engaged mammoth formations of Hitler’s armed forces in the east. Together, they defeated Nazism. It was a shared victory.

Shared Victory, a new exhibition in the Reg Saunders Gallery at the Australian War Memorial, explores the often overlooked alliance between the Soviet Union and the West through a series of British and Soviet wartime posters calling on people to unite against their common enemy, Hitler.

It also tells the story of the Soviet war effort through a series of evocative photographs detailing the war experience of soldiers and civilians on the Eastern Front, and details the little known story of a small group of Australians briefly based in north Russia in 1942.

You need a ticket to the Galleries and Commemorative Area to see this exhibition. Tickets are free. Register here.



Soviet children take refuge in a bomb shelter in June 1941, at the beginning of the Nazi–Soviet War. Courtesy of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Australia

During the war, the British Ministry of Supply reprinted and translated Soviet propaganda posters to encourage British workers to support the common fight against Hitler. ARTV02309

red army

Red Army troops march through Red Square on their way to the desperate defence of Moscow, November 1941. Courtesy of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Australia

soviet tank

Advancing west in 1944, a Soviet T-34 tank passes the remains of a Soviet T-26 tank, which had been abandoned during the German invasion of 1941. Courtesy of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Australia

No 455

Australians of Number 455 Squadron, RAAF, in the Soviet north, 1942. The Australian squadron flew to north Russia to protect Allied shipping columns bringing much-needed supplies to the Soviet war effort. Courtesy of Geoffrey Raebel


The return to peace. A Soviet child in Ukraine uses a former artillery piece as an improvised swing, May 1945. Courtesy of the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Australia

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