Could the Second World War have ended sooner?

I’ve just finished watching the excellent television series “World War Two: Behind Closed Doors”. This series has explored the relationships between Joseph Stalin, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill, using new information from Russian records and interviewees.
Stalin is confirmed as a brutal and manipulative mass killer. However, his paranoia was fuelled by his belief that the Americans and British betrayed him in not launching a Second Front in 1942 or again in 1943. As a result, the death toll suffered by the Soviet forces and people was horrific as spelled out in the book “No Simple Victory” by Norman Davies [see my review here].
Such a western assault would never have been successful in 1942, but one could make out a case for an invasion of France in 1943. In fact , the journalist John Grigg set out the arguments in his book “1943: The Victory That Never Was” [see my review here].
If the Second World War has ended in late 1943 or early 1944 instead of mid 1945, there would have been all sorts of consequences besides (probably) a lower overall death toll in Europe. The Soviet Union would have occupied less of Eastern Europe and the post-war balance of power on the continent might have been very different. Also the Soviet Union would have been able to allocate substantial forces to the war against Japan which would presumably have ended the war in the Pacific much sooner.
In turn, this would probably have meant that the atomic bomb would never have been used against the Japanese, both because it was not ready and it was not needed. If the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki had never happened, what would have been the consequences for the subsequent Cold War between the USA and the USSR? Since we would not have known for sure the impact of the atomic bomb on civilian populations, would the power brokers in the Cold War era have been less reluctant to use the bomb than they were? We’ll never know …


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