Monthly Archives: April 2011

Stalin’s attack plans against Germany 1939-1941

One of two Soviet attack plans against Germany

  At the end of the World War II Allied powers along with Soviet Union crushed Nazi Germany. Undoubtedly Soviet Union made the most job defeating the Nazi Germany and Great Britain and US should be thankful for it. If Nazi Germany never attacked the Soviet Union at June 22, history would be different and more gruesome for Great Britain and US. Because of this historians of the west have ignored the real reasons why Germany attacked the Soviet Union and what was the role of the Soviet Union in the starting of the war. This article will discuss the different history of Word War II and the Soviet Union.

During the Cold war despite Soviet Union being the main enemy of the west its role in the war and its crimes were never fully discussed in detail.  First attempts to uncover the white spots of history were done by German historian Joachim Hoffman (1930.-2002) who published the book titled The Stalin’s war of Destruction in 1995. He made a thesis that Stalin planned a full-blown attack on Germany in 1941, but was outscored by Hitler who managed to attack first. However he insists that Hitler had no knowledge of Stalin’s plans and his attack cannot be seen as a defensive action. The book made a rage in the ranks of German historians and politicians. He was even accused of being a Nazi. Thus his book was generally denounced in German historiography. That shows a pattern of ash scattering on themselves when German historians took all blame on Germany. In same time as Hoffman a Soviet ex-spy Viktor Suvorov (Rezun) also worked on this thesis. He deserted the Soviet intelligence service and fled to Great Britain because he  was disillusioned about the Soviet regime. Because of that Soviet Union gave him three death sentences. He has begun his work in 1968 and in 1989 published his work Icebreaker Who started the world war? in German. But it was the book translation in Russian in 1992, that his work epic. He managed to stir up the ex-Soviet historian society and divide in two sides. The ones who agreed with him, the others who vehemently disagree. A whole branch of Russian historiography has been made to tackle Suvorov’s theory. Most of them are called ‘Antisuvorov“, The untruth of Suvorov” and other. While some try to counter his work with academical means others just denounce him as a traitor or even call him a pedophile. Suvorov since then have published many follow ups heating the Russian historians even more.

So what is the conception of Viktor Suvorov? Let’s describe in short thesis. Suvorov rejects the theory of Soviet peaceful stance on world affairs. On the contrary it was aggressive, based on communist-internationalist ideology based on world revolution. Attempts at making the world revolution begun in 1917. In 1918 -1920 the Red Army attempted to push forward to Berlin only to be halted by Polish and Baltic forces. After the civil war Soviet Union continued to stir up communist revolutions in Europe by supporting the uprising in Hamburg in 1923, and in Estonia in 1924. Despite the Stalin’s concept of “Socialism in sole state” during the years of depression at thirties, Soviet Union made forward a massive militarization. Soviet Union had army of two million men and four fully complected tank corps. This wave of arming was not dictated by foreign threats because it started long before Hitler came to power. Soviet war theory is made the concept of “deep operations” a large attack of tanks followed by air support. It was similar to German Blitzkrieg but more earlier. The Soviet Union believed that next global conflict will make the world revolution possible. On 1925, Stalin made clear that socialism has no real chance to take over Europe by itself, so there is a need to stir up the western countries so they start a war in which Soviet Union will join as the last.

The chance for it came in 1939, 23 August when Soviet Union signed deal with Germany triggering a war in Europe. Germany never wanted to start a world war in 1939. The attack on Poland was to be localized in Hitler’s mind. Until  the last-minute he believed that Great Britain will not declare war and spare Poland for him. In 1937, he declared that Germany will be ready for full-scale war only in 1943. Thus the attack on Poland was the first hand option, since Germans actually tried to make talks with Poland. They wanted to gain their demands but keep Poland as an independent state. But dully brave Polish government halted the talks and made Hitler to decide to attack them. Hitler signed deal with Stalin to guarantee on front war in Poland and keep the Soviet Union out. Soviet Union had all good reasons not sign it, because leaving Poland and Baltic states between Germany and Soviet Union will make it much safer, than making a large border with it.

What are the main evidences of Stalin’s intentions of starting the war? One is a speech made at a Politburo meeting on August 19 1939. The Soviet government denied that such meeting had taken place for years. Until D. Volkogonov find a document that in following day a decree has been made about the withdrawal of  mobilization of railroad workers. Then in 1994, T. Busheva in USSR Special Archive trophy fond acquired a transcript of Stalin”s speech made in that meeting. In the speech Stalin announced that the question of peace has come in critical phase. If Soviet Union signs an agreement with Great Britain and France the war will be averted. Germany will quit her aims on Poland and will be forced to search a common ground with the Allies. But that would be disadvantageous and dangerous for the interests of the Soviet Union.   If her  agrees with Germany, it will attack on Poland and Great Britain and France will be forced to act. That will make a lot of disorder in western Europe. In such means Soviet Union will have chance to wait for the right time to join the war.

The context of the speech was known to west, because the text leaked in Swedish, Finnish and French press. Stalin replayed about this in newspaper Pravda declaring that those are lies and are made in some nightclub. Historians are still discussing about the authenticity of this speech . T. Busheva had  not found the original document but the transcript taken from French newspaper. So the original transcript  has not been found. Also there is no strong proof about the meeting itself. However, Soviet meetings were not always official and were made on mutual agreement. It’s also worth noting that in the speech transcript a secret protocol from Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was mentioned. Soviet Union denied the existence of these protocols, describing the split of Poland and Baltic states between the Germans and Soviets for over 50 years. Even if this speech was a falsification it clearly shows a situation in 1939, and can bee seen as a valuable historical source.

Similar Stalin’s intentions can bee seen in chief of the Comintern Georgij Dimitrimov diary. In there Stalin tells him that the war in Europe is fought between two capitalist blocks, that is destroying the capitalist system itself. So Soviets will have a chance to move one block away from other and spread socialism into new territories. Another proof is directives made by Comintern after the Molotov-Ribbentrop   pact. In there it was explained why Soviets made deal with the Nazis, because that will hinder the capitalist system. In so Soviet Union needs to wait for conflict to prevail and step in when it’s needed.

On  May 5 1941, Stalin made a speech in the Kremlin to Red Army officers. In this speech Stalin made clear that the peace process is ended and the period of violent spreading of socialism. Now when Soviet army is modernized and regrouped its time to switch from a defensive stance to aggressive stance.  It also reported that he said that the enemy will be Germany.

These are the speeches now about Soviet military plans. The planing against Germany started in October 1939. All available plans show Soviet movement outside the Soviet Union. Two variants of the attack were made intending to attack in the very deep German territory. Plans ordered to increase the size of Red army near borders. On these two variants the Northern   and Southern was the main plans of action for the Soviet Union. Also a war games were played on January 1941, simulating a Soviet attack on Germany to seek out a best form of attack. An” attack” on East Prussia was not successful but invasion southern Poland was more better. So they decided to use the South variant.   Soviet propaganda tells tales of  simulation of the German attack on the Soviet Union, where General Zhukov was the Soviet and Gen. Pavlov was the German, and brilliant Zhukov stopped him. In reality no defensive war games never happened and Pavlov lead the Soviets against Zhukov who was badly beaten. These plans were not designed as a preventive war action against Germany, Stalin was badly surprised as other when the Germans invaded. These were aggressive plans intended to attack Germany from behind.

What about Red army itself was it even ready for such ambitious attack? The plan of mobilization was assigned on 1941  January 12. After it Soviet army should consist 8,9 million men, 37, 000 tanks and 22, 2 airplanes. Most of the army was already formed since 1939, and mobilization was secret. In April 1941, 247 divisions were allocated for war with Germany, along with 15, 000 tanks and 12, 000 airplanes.   In Soviet inner region a reserve echelon was made consisting 114 divisions. Across the border a 41 percent of all Soviet strategic war materials were located. In July 25 more divisions were assigned to border area. Foreigners were forbidden to enter border areas and field command posts were set up. On June 21 1941 all army headquarters was moved from main regional centers (Riga, Kiev, Odessa, Minsk) to field command posts near the border. That is a clear sign for preparedness for war. Such actions were made before the attack on Poland in 1939 and the attack on Finland the same year. This shows that the Red army was in the last stages of war deployment and its attack on June-July 1941 was imminent.

If they were ready to attack what was the attack date? It is a difficult question. Viktor Suvorov sets out  July 6. However his arguments are weak on this matter. Other historians agree on attack date somewhere between June. Others push it far behind in 1942. Russian historian Mark Solonin believes the attack should happen on  June 23, meaning Hitler outmatched Stalin just by one day. But the main concept that attack should happen in the summer of 1941, when Red army was in the last stages of deployment and heating up for action. Further delays will make the situation worse for the Soviets, for there could not hide their army from the Germans forever. Yet no one cannot fully discover the exact date of the attack, but judging by documents describing the Soviet military movements before June 22 it should happen anywhere at that time.

The research done by historians and publicists destroys the myth of “peaceful Soviet Union”. It shows that Stalin was about as aggressive as Hitler. His policy was the reason why Germany attacked the Soviet Union. The Germans had no clear knowledge  that the Soviets were planning to attack them. However Hitler witnessed the Stalin’s aggressive actions  against Finland, The Baltic states and Romania. He knew Soviet demands on Eastern Europe and feared a Soviet alliance with Great Britain. The attack on the Soviet Union was done for strategical reasons to prevent the possibility of further Soviet expansion in the German sphere of interests.

Suvorov conception has survived the years and gained a sizable support from other authors.  Arguments shown here are not only from Suvorov’s works but from other Russian authors who support him. A large “industry” of anti-Suvorov  books has not yet succeeded to destroy his theory.  One part of the these books are written in low academic level with biased arguments and even personal insults. A heavy campaign against Suvorov and his supporters shows that Russia is got something to hide from the public and its fears the complete revision of myth of the Great Patriotic war.

Selected Sources:

Hoffmann, Joachim. (2001) Stalin’s War of Extermination 1941-1945: Planning, Realization and Documentation. Theses & Dissertations Press, Capshaw, AL

Suvorov, Viktor (1990) Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War? London: Hamish Hamilton; 1St Edition edition
Suvorov, Viktor (2013)  The Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II. Naval Institute Press; Reprint edition
Raack, Richard. (1995) Stalin’s drive to the West, 1938-1945: the origins of the Cold War. Stanford, CA.: Stanford University

Weeks, Albert L.  (2002) Stalin’s Other War: Soviet Grand Strategy, 1939-1941. Rowman & Littlefield

Мельтюхов, Михаил. (2000) Упущенный шанс Сталина. Схватка за Европу, 1939-1941 гг.: (Документы, факты, суждения). Москва: Вече.

Солонин, Марк. (2008) 22 июня. Анатомия катастрофы. [2-е изд., переб. и испр.] Москва: Яуза, Эксмо

Солонин, Марк. (2009)  23 июня-„день М”. Москва: Яуза

Исаев, Алексей (2004) Антисуворов. Десять мифов Второй мировой.  Москва: Эксмо, Яуза.


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