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Thread: Stalin's Secret War Plans

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    Stalin's Secret War Plans

    Stalin's Secret War Plans

    Why Hitler Invaded the Soviet Union
    Article from The Barnes Review, Nov./Dec. 2000, pp. 27-33.


    The Barnes Review, 645 Pennsylvania Ave SE, Suite 100, Washington D.C. 20003, USA.
    By Richard Tedor, researcher in the European theater of World War II;
    published here with kind permission from TBR
    .
    This digitalized version © 2002 by The Scriptorium.
    eMail TBR - subscribe to TBR here



    When the German armed forces invaded the USSR on June 22, 1941, Berlin described the offensive as preemptive in the face of imminent Soviet aggression. The claim was generally dismissed as Nazi propaganda. Recently disclosed evidence from Soviet sources, however, suggests that Moscow's foreign policy was not governed by neutrality when Europe went to war in 1939.
    Challenging established social and political structures through internal subversion, armed violence and terrorism, the Soviet Union was considered an outlaw state. It advocated the overthrow of all capitalist regimes and supported anti-colonial "independence movements" in underdeveloped territories. "This will invariably provoke the ruling classes of the Great Powers against us," the Communist Party's general secretary, Josef Stalin, told its Central Committee in 1925.1
    During the 1930s, Stalin, now dictator of the USSR, observed how Germany, revitalized under Adolf Hitler's leadership, worked to revise the post-World War I structure of Europe imposed by the United States, England and France. Stalin and Hitler, therefore, were both at odds with the West.
    The USSR was an agrarian state, rich in natural resources, struggling with transition into an industrial power. More than half the necessary factory machinery was purchased from the United States. Germany survived economically by exporting manufactured goods and industrial equipment in exchange for raw materials. Fertile ground existed for German-Soviet cooperation.
    On May 3, 1939, Stalin sacked the USSR's foreign commissar, Maxim Litvinov. Having previously concluded an alliance with Czechoslovakia and France, Litvinov was identified with Moscow's anti-German foreign policy of the decade. His replacement by Stalin with Vyatsheslav Molotov was recognized as a gesture toward Germany. Only days later in Berlin, Georgi Astachov, the Soviet Union's diplomatic advisor, thanked the German Foreign Office for the respectful tenor the Reich's press had recently adopted toward the USSR.
    That spring, London and Paris invited Moscow to co-sign an Anglo-French guarantee to protect Poland and Romania from German aggression. The Soviets made commitment contingent upon permission from Lithuania, Poland and Romania to allow the passage of Soviet troops in the event of war. Poland refused. The protracted Soviet-Allied negotiations were conducted halfheartedly by the West; its military advisors had a negative appraisal of the Red Army.
    Moscow hosted an Anglo-French military mission August 12. The Soviet Union was represented by the chief of the general staff, Boris Shaposhnikov, Defense Commissar Kliment Voroshilov and the naval minister, Adm. Nikolai Kusnezov. The West sent second-rate negotiators with limited authority. The Soviets were insulted.
    In August, Stalin decided on an agreement with Hitler. A non-aggression pact with Germany assured the Soviet Union tangible advantages. The Soviets would recover eastern Poland, which had formerly belonged to Imperial Russia. The Germans pledged support in the USSR's claims on Bessarabia and agreed to define Eastern Europe's Baltic and Balkan states as belonging to the Soviet "sphere of interest."
    Germany was preparing to invade Poland in case a territorial dispute and related grievances defied peaceful settlement. England and France supported Poland. Stalin reasoned that were he to conclude a military compact with the West, the powerful coalition would probably discourage Hitler from war.
    A German-Soviet non-aggression pact, however, would give Hitler a free hand to invade Poland. England, as Poland's ally, would declare war on Germany, drag a reluctant France into the conflagration, and Italy would rush to Hitler's side. The Soviet formula for national security rested with aggravating the conflicting interests among the "imperialist" nations and maintaining neutrality as these states expended their resources in a prolonged struggle.
    Stalin had defined the premise during his March 10, 1939, speech in Moscow:
    Nonintervention represents the endeavor... to allow all the warmongers to sink deeply into the mire of warfare, to quietly urge them on. The result will be that they weaken and exhaust one another. Then... (we will) appear on the scene with fresh forces and step in, naturally "in the interest of peace," to dictate terms to the weakened belligerents.2
    On August 23, 1939, the German foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, was in Moscow. He and Molotov signed the historic German-Soviet non-aggression pact. The following evening, Stalin hosted prominent members of the Soviet Political Bureau in his apartment. Among the dinner guests were Molotov, Voroshilov, Lavrenti P. Beria and Nikita Khrushchev.
    Stalin explained, as Khrushchev later recalled, that he considered war with Germany unavoidable, but had momentarily tricked Hitler and bought time. The Soviet premier described the treaty with Germany as a game of "who outwits whom."3 He concluded that the Soviet Union held the advantage both morally and militarily. A few months later, the Soviet Foreign Office explained Stalin's decision in a telegram to its embassy in Tokyo: "The ratifying of our treaty with Germany was dictated by the need for a war in Europe."4

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    Re: Stalin's Secret War Plans

    This topic has been discussed in a number of threads on Skadi, for example, here.

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