The role of nationalism was integral for Russia, in order for them to have success in the Great Patriotic War. If it wasn't for the "cult of personality" surrounding Stalin, Russia would have failed to gain support to fight off the German attacks.
The German blitzkrieg, known as Operation Barbarossa, nearly succeeded in breaking the Soviet Union in the months that followed. Caught unprepared, the Soviet forces lost whole armies and vast quantities of equipment to the German onslaught in the first weeks of the war. By November the German army had seized the Ukrainian Republic, besieged Leningrad, the Soviet Union's second largest city, and threatened Moscow itself.
By the end of 1941, however, the German forces had lost their momentum. German movements were increasingly restricted by harsh winter weather, attacks from bands of partisans, and difficulties in maintaining overextended supply lines. At the same time, the Red Army, after recovering from the initial blow, launched its first counterattacks against the invaders in December.
To ensure the army's ability to fight the war, the Soviet authorities moved thousands of factories and their key personnel from the war zone to the interior of the country--often to Central Asia--where the plants began producing war material. Finally, the country was bolstered by the prospect of receiving assistance from Britain and the United States.
In gaining the victory, the Soviet government had to rely on the support of the people. To increase popular enthusiasm for the war, Stalin reshaped his domestic policies to heighten patriotic spirit. Nationalistic slogans replaced much of the communist rhetoric in official pronouncements and the mass media. Active persecution of religion ceased, and in 1943 Stalin allowed the Russian Orthodox Church to name a patriarch after the office had stood vacant for nearly two decades. In the countryside, authorities...