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Professor Mark Harrison features in new Radio 4 documentary on WW2 and the Soviet Economy

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Professor Mark Harrison features in new Radio 4 documentary on WW2 and the Soviet Economy

Professor Mark Harrison from Warwick's Department of Economics is one of the experts featured this week in a new Radio 4 documentary series exploring the economic issues behind the start of World War 2.

World War 2 - the economic battle, to be broadcast every day this week at 13.45, will consider how the economic success – or struggles – of Britain, Germany, the Soviet Union, China and Japan influenced their participation in World War 2.

Professor Harrison researches Russian and international economic history with a particular focus on economic aspects of bureaucracy, dictatorship, defence, and warfare. He will talk to series presenter Duncan Weldon about the war preparations and plans of the Soviet Union, which started the war in a secret alliance with Germany, before being forced to change sides less than two years later.

Mark said: “Economics would prove decisive to the outcome of the Second World War, in which the Allies – Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union - defeated the Axis countries of Germany, Italy, and Japan. “The Allies won because their fighting power was eventually backed by overwhelming economic superiority. But that was not foreseen at the outset. “In September 1939 Germany – and Japan in 1941 - expected to win the war based on purely military advantages of surprise and rapidity of movement, which would achieve victory before economic factors could come into play – a strategy which nearly succeeded.”

The series will be broadcast on Radio 4 at 13.45 every day this week and is also available on the BBC iPlayer. Mark said: “Economic history tells the story of how our world came into being, and economics was as important to the story of the world wars as it has been for peacetime economic development. It’s great to see economic history in a prime-time slot!”

  • Harrison, Mark. 2019. Counting the Soviet Union's War Dead: Still 26-27 Million. Europe-Asia Studies, 71(6), pp. 1036-1047.
  • Davies, R. W., Mark Harrison, Oleg Khlevniuk, and Stephen G. Wheatcroft. 2018. The Industrialisation of Soviet Russia, vol. 7. The Soviet Economy and the Approach of War, 1937-1939. Palgrave MacMillan (xxix + 439 pp.).
  • Harrison, Mark. 2016. World War II: Won by American Planes and Ships, or by the Poor Bloody Russian Infantry? Journal of Strategic Studies 39(4). pp. 592-598.
  • Harrison, Mark. 2015. Why the Wealthy Won: Mobilisation and Economic Development in Two World Wars. In Mark Harrison, The Economics of Coercion and Conflict, pp. 67-98. London: World Scientific.