Suvorov’s thesis can be summed up as follows: on June 22, 1941, Stalin was about to launch a massive offensive on Germany and her allies, within days or weeks. Preparations had started in 1939, just after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and had accelerated at the end of 1940, with the first divisions deployed to the new expanded Soviet borders, opposite the German Reich and Romania, in February 1941. On May 5, Stalin announced to an audience of two thousand military academy graduates flanked by generals and party luminaries that the time had come to “switch from the defensive to the offensive.” Days later, he had a special directive sent to all command posts to “be prepared on a signal from General Headquarters to launch lightning strikes to rout the enemy, move military operations to his territory and seize key objectives.” New armies were being raised in all the districts, with mobilization now reaching 5.7 million, a gigantic army impossible to sustain for long in peacetime. Close to one million parachutists—troops useful only for invasion—had been trained. Hundreds of aerodromes were built near the Western border. From June 13, an incessant movement of night trains transported thousands of tanks, millions of soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of tons of ammunition and fuel to the border.
According to Suvorov, if Hitler had not attacked first, the gigantic military power that Stalin had accumulated on the border would have enabled him to reach Berlin without major difficulty and then, in the context of the war, to take control of the continent. Only Hitler’s decision to preempt Stalin’s offensive deprived him of these resources by piercing and disrupting his lines and destroying or seizing about 65% of all his weaponry, some of it still in trains.
Stalin knew war with Germany was imminent, but he didn’t expect Germany to strike first.
Not surprisingly, one of the harshest attacks against Suvorov came from a longtime apologist of Stalin, Tel Aviv University professor Gabriel Gorodetsky (Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia).
Stalin was unconditionally devoted to Lenin’s goal of the sovietization of Europe.
From what we know of Churchill and Roosevelt’s secret intrigues before Barbarossa, it is doubtful that Stalin would have been deprived of their support if he had attacked first. Churchill had been urging him to attack Germany since 1940, and Roosevelt had started planning to help him right after his second reelection in November 1940, when he told Americans that their country must become “the great arsenal of democracy,” and appointed pro-Soviet Harry Hopkins to start making arrangements.
Since the first Five-Year Plan was inaugurated in 1928, the Soviet economy had been on a war footing. The production targets of the third Five-Year Plan, launched in 1938, were breathtaking, envisioning the production of 50,000 warplanes annually by the end of 1942, along with 125,000 air engines and 700,000 tons of aerial bombs; 60,775 tanks, 119,060 artillery systems, 450,000 machine guns, and 5.2 million rifles; 489 million artillery shells, 120,000 tons of naval armor, and 1 million tons of explosives; and, for good measure, 298,000 tons of chemical weapons.
In a speech to the Politburo on August 19, 1939, Stalin explained why he had finally opted for a pact with Germany:
The question of war or peace has entered a critical phase for us. If we conclude a mutual assistance pact with France and Great Britain, Germany will back off from Poland and seek a modus vivendi with the Western powers. War would be avoided, but down the road events could become dangerous for the USSR. If we accept Germany’s proposal and conclude a non-aggression pact with her, she will of course invade Poland, and the intervention of France and England in that would be unavoidable. Western Europe would be subjected to serious upheavals and disorder. In this case we will have a great opportunity to stay out of the conflict, and we could plan the opportune time for us to enter the war. …
Our choice is clear. We must accept the German proposal and, with a refusal, politely send the Anglo-French mission home. Our immediate advantage will be to take Poland to the gates of Warsaw, as well as Ukrainian Galicia …
For the realization of these plans it is essential that the war continue for as long as possible, and all forces, with which we are actively involved, should be directed toward this goal …
Therefore, our goal is that Germany should carry out the war as long as possible so that England and France grow weary and become exhausted to such a degree that they are no longer in a position to put down a Sovietized Germany.
Comrades! It is in the interest of the USSR—the workers’ homeland—that war breaks out between the Reich and the capitalist Anglo-French block. Everything should be done so that this drags out as long as possible with the goal of weakening both sides. For this reason, it is imperative that we agree to conclude the pact proposed by Germany, and then work in such a way that this war, once it is declared, will be prolonged maximally. We must strengthen our propaganda work in the belligerent countries, in order to be prepared when the war ends.
Although the partition of Poland had been Stalin’s idea, only Hitler was blamed for it. His Faustian pact with his worst enemy had not protected him from a war with France and England, and would not protect him either from a Soviet invasion. Clearly he had been duped. By enticing Hitler to invade Poland, Stalin had triggered the Second World War while staying on the sideline. All he had to do was wait for the countries of Europe to exhaust each other in a new war. On September 1, the very day of the invasion of Poland by Germany, the Supreme Soviet passed a general conscription law, which, under the guise of establishing military service for two years, was equivalent to a general mobilization. For Suvorov, this is proof that Stalin knew that the partition of Poland would trigger world war, rather than avoid it as Hitler hoped.
Meanwhile, Stalin would take every advantage he could of Germany’s predicament in the West, gobbling up three Baltic states bordering Germany and stuffing them with military bases. As McMeekin notes:
With his opportunistic moves against the Baltic states, Bessarabia, and northern Bukovina in the wake of the German humiliation of France, Stalin was wringing every last drop of nectar out of his honeyed partnership with Hitler while still, somehow, escaping the hostility of Hitler’s opponents. Britain, in what Churchill called the country’s “finest hour,” now stood alone against Nazi Germany. For some reason, though, Britain had not declared war on Berlin’s alliance partner, despite Stalin having invaded the same number of sovereign countries since August 1939 as Hitler had (seven). But there were limits to Hitler’s patience, and Stalin had just about reached them.
Arguably, Hitler might have prevailed and conquered the Lebensraum of his dream, had Stalin not been saved by Roosevelt’s Lend-Lease Aid: more than ten billions—equivalent to trillions today— worth of airplanes and tanks, locomotives and rails, construction materials, entire military production assembly lines, food and clothing, aviation fuel, and much else. Through four dense chapters, McMeekin makes it abundantly clear (as Albert Weeks before him in Russia’s Life-Saver: Lend-Lease Aid to the U.S.S.R. in World War II, 2010), that without U.S. help, the Soviet Union could not have pushed back the Germans, let alone conquer Eastern Europe in 1945. Another factor, on which McMeekin duly insists, was Stalin’s almost unlimited supply of cannon fodder: a total of 32 million soldiers throughout the war, led to the slaughter with machine-guns in their back and the threat that, if they were captured rather than killed, their families would be punished: “The USSR under Stalin is the only state in recorded history to have declared the captivity of its soldiers a capital crime.”
Yet, as Suvorov said, and as McMeekin leaves unsaid, it was probably thanks to Operation Barbarossa that Soviet troops failed to raise the red flag over Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Rome, Stockholm and possibly London.
Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, destroyed its army, and crushed a large part of Soviet industry. In the end, the Soviet Union was unable to conquer Europe. Stalin lost the war for Europe and global domination. The free world survived, and it could not coexist with the Soviet Union. Therefore, the crumbling of the Soviet Union became inevitable. … The Soviet Union won World War II, but for some reason disappeared from the globe after this distinguishing victory. … Germany lost the war, but we see her, one of the mightiest powers of contemporary Europe, at whose feet we now beg.
Read about WWII here
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