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> A Discussion on the Road to the German Soviet War?
saudadesdefrancesinhas
Posted: May 30, 2007 01:12 pm
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Reading Denes' introduction on the road to the German-Soviet War awakened my interest in this part of WW2 again.

I started to re-read Gabriel Gordetsky's book 'Grand Delusion: Stalin and the German Invasion of Russia'. This is a fairly recent book, and deals with a lot of the material mentioned by Denes, only, the interpretation given to it is different.

This means the book is probably an example of a more 'traditional' view on the origins of Barbarossa.

I have been wondering if a discussion of some of the key differences in interpretation would be useful, because the presentation of the argument in Denes introduction was limited by space etc. and, though intriguing, I would like to know more about it, and how it compares with Gordetsky's judgements and reasoning.

As a brief introduction to Gordetsky's arguments, he proposes that Stalin was concerned with rather traditional Russian Foreign policy objectives, like securing control, or at least the security of the Straits, dominating the Black Sea, regaining parts of the former Russian Empire lost after 1917, re-establishing Russia as a major European power, a status lost since the Crimean War etc.

He discounts any strongly Bolshevik foreign policy based on spreading Revolution to Europe, and identifies France and the British Empire, and then Germany, as the powers Stalin most feared in 1939-40.

Stalin is portrayed as becoming increasingly defensively minded, as the new power of the German Armies becomes more and more apparent, and as the Western Allies fail to be able to contain it. Though concerned early on to acquire territory and further USSR interests if possible, German power becomes increasingly worrying.

Hitler, on the other hand, becomes more confident and his aims more wide ranging, following the victories of his armies against Poland, France etc. He becomes increasingly concerned with establishing a 'new order' in Europe, and believes the Soviet Union could be an obstacle to this, by supporting Britain, and by opposing his idea of a settlement in the Balkans.

Both Hitler and Stalin are strongly aware of the weakness of the Red Army compared to the Wehrmacht. This makes Stalin fear Germany, but also means that Hitler begins to envisage a strike on Russia as feasible, without weakening too much the other front against the UK.

In the end, the confrontation comes over the balance of power in the Balkans, with USSR refusing (or unable for security reasons) to recognise German hegemony and Hitler becoming more and more frustrated with Russian intransigence in this area. Hitler also believes that the Russian attitude is strengthening the will of the British to resist.

My summary of the final build up to the outbreak of war is a bit short, because I am only 150 pages into a 250 page book at the moment!

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Dénes
Posted: May 30, 2007 03:04 pm
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Currently I am very short on time, so I won't be able to discuss this interesting topic in great details.

What I suggest is to also consider the works of Mikhail Ivanovich Meltyukhov, particularly 'Stalin's Missed Chance', I referred to in my thesis.
Here is an excerpt I know about (in English):
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalin%27s_Missed_Chance

Gen. Dénes

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saudadesdefrancesinhas
Posted: May 31, 2007 09:50 am
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Many thanks for the link, the extract is very interesting, I am just disappointed I can't read the full text of the book.

I am sure there must be more detail in the book to support the arguments and interpretation given.

One thing that particularly interested me was the idea that the Red Army was not weak in 1941, as this differs from everything else I have read (in books by historians working in the 'West', however, Glantz, Ericksson, Gorodetsky etc.)
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Matasso
Posted: August 06, 2007 10:44 am
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Dear all,

Again in this topic, I was wandering in another forum and the same discussion rose and here are some arguments from there to "show", mainly from the works of Glantz and Chaney the real impossibility of any soviet attempt of an attack and the real existence of a plan, drawn by Zhukov to attack but as you will see far from anything real.
No time to complete sources but it comes from "The Armchair General Forum".

"It was proposed 15 May in response to the German build up along the Western border in preparation for Barbarossa. Stalin had ordered the preliminary mobilization and western deployment of five armies as of 13 May. Zhukov's report opened with the following:

"Considering that Germany, at this time, is mobilizing it's forces and rear services, it has the capability of forestalling [pre-empting] our deployment and delivering a surprise blow. In order to avert such a situation, I consider it necessary to on no account give the initiative of action to the German command, to pre-empt the enemy deployment and to attack the German Army at that moment when it is in the the process of deployment and has not yet succeeded in organizing the front and cooperation of it's forces."

The first objectives were to disrupt German forces east of the Vistula and around Krakow, advance to the Narew and Vistula Rivers and secure Katowice. Operationally this entailed:
1. The Southwestern Front would attack towards Krakow and Katowice to isolate Germany from her southern allies.
2. The Western Front would attack towards Warsaw and Demblin, fixing Warsaw units and aiding the Southwestern Front.
3. Defend against Finland, Prussia, Hungary and Romania.


Beginning in 1990, several pieces appeared in Soviet and western articles on a Zhukov mid-May 1941 proposal to preempt the massing of an estimated 100 German divisions in eastern Poland. Glantz believes Zhukov proposed an attacking force of 152 divisions, and Colonel Ramanichev of th eInstitute of Military History cites a higher figure of 258 divisions out of 303 available. Chaney, supported by Glantz, contends the Soviets did not have sufficient forces in mid-May to mount such an offensive. They could not do it before mid-July 1941.

I believe more importantly, the Red Army was not ready based on their experience with the cumbersome mechanized corps in Poland and Winter War lessons that were only partially absorbed and had not reached tactical unit for training and verification of proficiency. Additionally, the 5-year plan was behind in the production an ddeployment of the T-34's and KV's, leaving the tank forces with a high preponderence of the "sparrow shooters". As we know, many of the newer tanks had not been bore sighted, no driver's training let alone tactical exerpcises by the German's June invasion.

Chaney notes that there is no evidence that Stalin ever saw the "document". Someone who saw a Xerox copy found it to be very curious that it had no control numbers and no record of subsequent actions. The matter is suspect. Russian historians have acknowledged that the plan would not have worked.

Lev Bezymensky, a noted Russian historian, believes the plan could not work if there was not mobilization underway before mid-May 1941, and he believes it was a desparate attempt on Zhukov's part to bring home to Stalin how serious the situation was an dto make Stalin act. Of course, we know he was unsuccessful in getting Stalin to listen." - End of quote!

I think we have a clear picture of how ready for war was the USSR in 1941 and how willing was Stalin for it.

Cheers
Mathias

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