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Thread: Operation Barbarossa (June 22, 1941)

  1. #21
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    These claims from a few Russian historians/journalists and the like about Stalin being on the verge of going on the attack himself in the summer of 1941 aren't credible.
    I wouldn't rule this out by any means.

    I still intend to get a copy of 'Deutschland im Visier Stalins', about which I wrote here just a couple of months ago.

    Meantime, here is an excerpt from 'Stuka Pilot' (1953) by Hans Rudel ...


  2. #22
    Sees all, knows all Chlodovech's Avatar
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    I'm familiar with this witness account of Hans Rudel. The Soviets were certainly constructing forward airbases but not for an immediate attack, at the time those airfields must've been precautionary measures, in case things were heating up or as a deterrent or with the distant future in the mind. One has to look at Soviet foreign policy in 1941 to find out what was going on. Stalin didn't believe in an imminent German attack, despite reports about a buildup of troops across the border and he explicitely forbade any actions which could provoke the Germans into starting military operations. He stuck meticulously to the Ribbentrop-Molotov pact. That's not the attitude of a leader looking to initiate a war. The Red army was still transitioning and rebuilding itself after the officer purges and the Finland fiasco. The soviets were fearful of that military machine which overran Western Europe and Poland in matter of weeks and didn't believe they could pull off an invasion of Germany and Eastern Europe. Don't forget that when Germany invaded the USSR the world thought that the Germans would win in the time space of a few months, the main question was: "how many casualties can the Red Army inflict on the Wehrmacht before the Soviet-Union collapses?" Why start a war you don't believe is winnable?
    "If we were going to stand in darkness, best we stand in a darkness we had made ourselves.” ― Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet

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  4. #23
    Senior Member Astragoth's Avatar
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    If Stalin was trying not to provoke Germany he was doing a very poor job.
    He'd dismantled all his forward defenses and had all his forces parked right
    near the border ready to attack. Basically he was as much as saying out loud
    "I'm going to attack you". The only reason the blitzkrieg worked in the first place
    is because Stalin had removed all his border defenses.

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    Sees all, knows all Chlodovech's Avatar
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    The German-Soviet and German-Romanian borders were brand new, there was little to dismantle beyond bunkers with fields of fire in the wrong direction, and not in the immediate vicinity of the border area - and why would the Soviets do that anyway? Tearing down your own (or Poland's/Lithuania's/Romania's) fortifications isn't a requirement to go on the offensive. If anything, it's a display of trust and a friendly gesture.

    The positioning of the Red Army on the eve of Operation Barbarossa can be explained by Soviet military doctrine. They did mass troops along their western border because of their concept of defence. The Soviets concluded that France lost in May-June 1940 because of their linear defence, on the basis of incomplete intelligence. Hence they tried something different.
    "If we were going to stand in darkness, best we stand in a darkness we had made ourselves.” ― Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet

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