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  • Stumbling Colossus review, thoughts?

    I found this review on Amazon. I have my critical thoughts on it, but I'd like to see where this forum stands on it:

    Stephen M. St Onge
    "Back in the 1960s, when I took high school Speech Class, my teacher taught me a useful trick. When asked to speak on something you don't want to talk about, pretend to talk about the subject you were assigned, then switch to else. It's not honest, but it works surprisingly often. STUMBLING COLOSSUS is a book-length example of this technique in action.

    When Adolf Hitler invaded the former Soviet Union in June of 1941, his professed reason was that the USSR was planning to attack Germany. He only struck first, he claimed, as a measure of self-defense. The Kremlin denied this accusation, and for decades the denial was almost universally accepted.

    Then in 1989, "Viktor Suvorov" (the pen name of former GRU agent Vladimir Bogdonavich Rezun) attracted attention with his book Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War?, which claimed that Hitler was correct about Stalin planning to invade Germany. Suvorov wasn't the first to say this, but he attracted widespread attention to the issue. ICEBREAKER marshaled a large amount of evidence suggesting that Stalin was indeed planning on attacking Nazi Germany in July of 1941.

    Now, judging what Stalin may have intended to do at any time is incredibly difficult. "Uncle Joe" never hesitated to lie, he broke agreements without hesitation, and he changed course on a dime. "The Boss" was also good at keeping his mouth shut about his intentions. Since the few people Stalin confided in tended to be as dishonest as he was, since Stalin's successors had their own 'lines' to promote, and since so much of the surviving documentation from that time is still secret, unraveling the truth about Stalin's intentions is bound to be a difficult historical detective job.

    It gets worse when you realize that the Soviet Union was addicted to official lies. For instance, during the purges, it wasn't enough for him to shoot those he distrusted, and condemn millions to slave labor death camps. He also demanded that they first be convicted in "trials" where the verdict and sentence had been decided before the "judges" ever met. In his latest book, Chief Culprit: Stalin's Grand Design to Start World War II (Blue Jacket Bks), Suvorov claims that the Soviet war games of January 1941 studied the Soviet 'response' to a German 'attack' on the USSR. The games supposedly had three phases 1) stopping the invaders; 2) driving them back to the border; 3) going on the offensive to invade Germany. But only 3) was actually played, Suvorov says. Thus did the Soviet Union plan aggression while labeling it defense.

    Thus, to evaluate Stalin's intention towards Hitler, you'd have to examine available documents very, very critically, cross-reference a huge number of sources, and above all look at what Stalin's military DID up till June 22, 1941, constantly asking yourself "Is this more consistent with a plan to remain at peace with Germany, or a plan for surprise attack?"

    Enter David Glantz and STUMBLING COLOSSUS. For reasons I can't fathom, Glantz thinks that if Stalin was indeed planning to attack Hitler, this justifies and excuses Germany's genocidal invasion of Russia. Frankly, I can't see it. Hitler was a "social Darwinist" racist who always aimed to attack his neighbors, and either enslave or murder "inferiors", a category that included most of the human race. The only thing he was justified in doing during WWII was committing suicide. But Glantz sees the idea that Stalin might have planned aggression against Hitler as "frightening", and he's determined to denounce the heresy.

    Unfortunately for Glantz, he can't actually come up with much material showing Stalin's desire for peace. Glantz continually insists that the Soviets were worried that Hitler was going to attack the USSR, that the Soviets believed they were in a "war imminent" state, that the Red Army was looking at a "variety of defensive topics" and that Stalin refused to strike first (p.6-7). Yet Glantz also insists that Stalin was certain that Hitler was NOT going to attack the USSR in 1941 (chapter 9, passim), and he blithely asserts that the Soviet govt. believed "it could avoid hostilities until at least the summer of 1942" (p. 191). Aside from the blatant contradiction, Glantz is left with another problem: if war was going to start 'imminently', but Hitler was not going to attack, then Stalin MUST have been planning on attacking Hitler. The fact that so much of the Red Army was forward deployed close to the border (pp.102-107); that reinforcements were moving up secretly and separately from heavy equipment, and without support services mobilizing yet (ibid); that airfields and planes were concentrated near the border without defenses or even much camouflage, while the Red Air Force lacked " 'a precise plan for the employment of the air forces' " when Hitler attacked (p. 195,199); and the demand from Moscow for defensive plans that would stop any German attack at the border (pp.270-288), coupled with order that FORBADE the troops from manning border defenses, setting up anti-tank obstacles, or laying minefields (pp. 246-252); that Stalin continually rejected People's Commissar for Defense Timoshenko and Red Army Chief of General Staff Zhukov's warnings of possible German aggression while secretly mobilizing (pp. 234 -241); that, at a time when war was was supposedly imminent, the signals units that would coordinate the millions of Soviet troops were at a peace-time configuration (p. 113); that there were no plans for evacuating equipment and retreating in an orderly manner if the Germans attack (p. 135); above all, that Timosheko and Zhukov that wrote a report for Stalin saying that the USSR should pre-emptively attack the Wehrmacht forces at the Soviet border, because the Germans were in a position which enabled possible "forestalling (preempting)" of Soviet plans (plans that aren't specified, btw) (pp. 241-245) -- to me, all these certainly look much more like a Red Army getting ready for a surprise attack on its own timetable than they look like a Red Army frantically preparing for a German onslaught. Glantz contends these were actually defensive measures, but doesn't try to explain how they were supposed to work, and frequently criticizes them himself. An examination of Soviet defensive doctrine would seem in order, but Glantz doesn't provide any. Perhaps that's because Red Army doctrine was, according to Glantz himself, traditionally offensive.

    How then is Glantz to defend Stalin's pacifistic intentions? He responds by saying that IT DOESN'T MATTER IF STALIN WAS PLANNING TO ATTACK HITLER, since Hitler attacked first (p. 245). But this will only work if he first succeeds in making the reader forget that the entire controversy was not 'Did Stalin ACTUALLY attack Hitler first?' (not even Josef Goebbels claimed THAT), but 'Did Stalin PLAN to attack Hitler first?'. So Glantz uses my old speech teacher's trick. He shifts the topic to 'Was the Red Army ready for war on June 22nd, 1941?', when Hitler attacked Stalin. The many disastrous defeats that the Red Army suffered during Operation Barbarossa show that it was NOT ready. Glantz tries to link Red Army combat performance in 1941 to Stalin's future plans by asserting that the Red Tsar was well informed about his army's capabilities, possessed of good military judgment, and not about to order an offensive against Germany, because such an offensive "would have bordered on the lunatic," and Stalin "was not a lunatic." Yet the information GLANTZ himself presents on Stalin's state of information, soundness of judgment, and even his sanity all tend in the opposite direction. Glantz contends that Stalin wrecked the Red Army with continual paranoiac purges; filled the upper ranks with cronies and yes-men; ignored obvious signs of attack by Hitler; approved badly flawed mobilization and deployment plans that cost Russian millions of soldiers killed and captured; and that he couldn't be bothered to train his troops. Throughout the early months of the war, Stalin refused to let units retreat in time to escape traps, and ordered counter-attacks that had almost no hope of success, but which ground up the Red Army at a frightful rate. How this tale of incompetence shows that Stalin was 'too smart to attack Hitler' is beyond me.

    On June 22nd many troops were marching forward on foot, while their equipment moved by train, their ranks were not at war strength, they were short on staff officers, their units were scattered, and support forces were still unmobilized. Troops at the front weren't dug in, and were further from the unmanned border defenses than the German attackers. The Red Air Force was under orders not to interfere with German aircraft crossing the border, and thus hit on the ground. Caught so completely off balance, no army could be expected to fight well. But given time to finish mobilization and deployment, it's arguable that most of these problems would have vanished, or at least been much ameliorated. In Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War, 1941-1945, Evan Mawdsley gives figures for aircraft losses that show that the Red Air Force loss rate went down by a factor of NINE when comparing the first two weeks of Barbarossa with the next fourteen. The Red Army's rate of retreat fell by a similar factor after the opening battles, from over 23 miles per day to less than than three, despite total German air command and Soviet troops being fed into battles piecemeal and unsupported. By December, the Wehrmacht was stalled before Moscow, and the Luftwaffe had lost nearly twice as many planes as during the battle of Britain. It is not obvious to me that a July Red offensive that caught Germany by surprise was doomed to fail, much less so obviously impossible only a lunatic would have ordered one.

    There's also a spirit of what I can only judge to be dishonesty throughout this work. For instance, Glantz incessantly claims that Stalin's purges of the officer corps resulted in a lack of experience and time in position when the war started, and that these problems were instrumental in the early failures. By Glantz's figures, supplemented by those of Suvorov in his latest book (Chief Culprit: Stalin's Grand Design to Start World War II (Blue Jacket Bks); highly recommended) and Evan Mawdsley (Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War, 1941-1945), the number purged and kept out of the Red Army was about 43,000 officers, many veterans of the Russian Civil War (around 55,000 were purged, but 12,000 restored to service; not all of those purged were active duty officer, by the way, and thousands were commissars, rather than commanders, facts Glantz doesn't see fit to mention). By June, 1941, the officer corps was around 440,000. If no one had been purged at all, it could not have affected more than 10% of officer assignments. Arguing that the lack of these 43,000 people was a huge factor in the defeats of 1941 is hard to credit, especially when many of the Civil War veterans still on active duty turned in lackluster performances. Moreover, of the 43,000 permanently purged, 18,000 got the boot in 1940 and 1941, when the Red Army was occupying territories and fighting a war with Finland, a performance Glantz judges very unfavorably. How many of those 18,000 were justifiably let go because they failed to perform? The author doesn't address the issue. As far as he's concerned, the fact that someone was purged proves his competence.

    In the end, STUMBLING COLOSSUS has a few minor virtues. It does provide a partial picture of the problems the Red Army experienced in 1937-41, though it never really comes to grips with the difficulties of expanding an army over three times in size in less than two years. It is an interesting statistical source, though full of strange omissions. The bibliography provides pointers for further reading. But mostly, it shows how the "will to believe" can blind lead an author to produce a book with a conclusion that is utterly contradicted by its own evidence.

    NOT recommended, unless you're studying the psychology of self-deception."
    "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
    -Omar Bradley
    "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
    -Anonymous US Army logistician

  • #2
    I think the review misses the primary point of Glantz's books on the Patriotic War, as the Russians would call it.

    His focus is not so much on politics as it is the military history of the war. Glantz is primarily a military historian, not a political historian.
    Stumbling Colossus shows in pretty good detail how poorly prepared the Red Army really was for war and the consequences of that.

    Comment


    • #3
      Even if Stalin may have had intentions on Nazi Germany, and we're never be certain, his army was certainly not ready in 1941 to do so.

      Another review: http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=4669

      Stumbling Colossus is not a diplomatic or a social-political history, or a history of what Stalin was thinking. It is first and foremost a military history.
      Last edited by Nick the Noodle; 19 Apr 16, 01:50.
      How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic: http://grist.org/series/skeptics/
      Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

      Comment


      • #4
        Just why was the Red Army so badly prepared for war?

        AIUI the Soviets started rearmament on a gigantic scale at exactly the same time as Germany - 1934. By 1939 they were producing more tanks than the rest of the world put together.
        They even had a couple of small wars - Nomonhan and Finland - to sort themselves out.
        Yet?

        Comment


        • #5
          I will agree with the review. Glantz principaly focuses on depainting Stalin as an evil but incompetent mastermind responsible for all Soviet errors of the period, repeating many Western and even Soviet myths like the evil acolyte Mekhlis. However he doesn't pay much attention to the real problems and most importantly to their causes.
          There are no Nazis in Ukraine. Idiots

          Comment


          • #6
            The review is useless because the reviewer wanted a book that discussed his own prejudices regarding Stalin and Viktor Suvorov's thesis, and he completely missed that Glantz was writing about the Red Army, its unique political backdrop, and its performance during Operation Barbarossa.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Javaman View Post
              I found this review on Amazon. I have my critical thoughts on it, but I'd like to see where this forum stands on it:

              Stephen M. St Onge
              "Back in the 1960s, when I took high school Speech Class, my teacher taught me a useful trick. When asked to speak on something you don't want to talk about, pretend to talk about the subject you were assigned, then switch to else. It's not honest, but it works surprisingly often. STUMBLING COLOSSUS is a book-length example of this technique in action.

              When Adolf Hitler invaded the former Soviet Union in June of 1941, his professed reason was that the USSR was planning to attack Germany. He only struck first, he claimed, as a measure of self-defense. The Kremlin denied this accusation, and for decades the denial was almost universally accepted.

              Then in 1989, "Viktor Suvorov" (the pen name of former GRU agent Vladimir Bogdonavich Rezun) attracted attention with his book Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War?, which claimed that Hitler was correct about Stalin planning to invade Germany. Suvorov wasn't the first to say this, but he attracted widespread attention to the issue. ICEBREAKER marshaled a large amount of evidence suggesting that Stalin was indeed planning on attacking Nazi Germany in July of 1941.

              Now, judging what Stalin may have intended to do at any time is incredibly difficult. "Uncle Joe" never hesitated to lie, he broke agreements without hesitation, and he changed course on a dime. "The Boss" was also good at keeping his mouth shut about his intentions. Since the few people Stalin confided in tended to be as dishonest as he was, since Stalin's successors had their own 'lines' to promote, and since so much of the surviving documentation from that time is still secret, unraveling the truth about Stalin's intentions is bound to be a difficult historical detective job.

              It gets worse when you realize that the Soviet Union was addicted to official lies. For instance, during the purges, it wasn't enough for him to shoot those he distrusted, and condemn millions to slave labor death camps. He also demanded that they first be convicted in "trials" where the verdict and sentence had been decided before the "judges" ever met. In his latest book, Chief Culprit: Stalin's Grand Design to Start World War II (Blue Jacket Bks), Suvorov claims that the Soviet war games of January 1941 studied the Soviet 'response' to a German 'attack' on the USSR. The games supposedly had three phases 1) stopping the invaders; 2) driving them back to the border; 3) going on the offensive to invade Germany. But only 3) was actually played, Suvorov says. Thus did the Soviet Union plan aggression while labeling it defense.

              Thus, to evaluate Stalin's intention towards Hitler, you'd have to examine available documents very, very critically, cross-reference a huge number of sources, and above all look at what Stalin's military DID up till June 22, 1941, constantly asking yourself "Is this more consistent with a plan to remain at peace with Germany, or a plan for surprise attack?"

              Enter David Glantz and STUMBLING COLOSSUS. For reasons I can't fathom, Glantz thinks that if Stalin was indeed planning to attack Hitler, this justifies and excuses Germany's genocidal invasion of Russia. Frankly, I can't see it. Hitler was a "social Darwinist" racist who always aimed to attack his neighbors, and either enslave or murder "inferiors", a category that included most of the human race. The only thing he was justified in doing during WWII was committing suicide. But Glantz sees the idea that Stalin might have planned aggression against Hitler as "frightening", and he's determined to denounce the heresy.

              Unfortunately for Glantz, he can't actually come up with much material showing Stalin's desire for peace. Glantz continually insists that the Soviets were worried that Hitler was going to attack the USSR, that the Soviets believed they were in a "war imminent" state, that the Red Army was looking at a "variety of defensive topics" and that Stalin refused to strike first (p.6-7). Yet Glantz also insists that Stalin was certain that Hitler was NOT going to attack the USSR in 1941 (chapter 9, passim), and he blithely asserts that the Soviet govt. believed "it could avoid hostilities until at least the summer of 1942" (p. 191). Aside from the blatant contradiction, Glantz is left with another problem: if war was going to start 'imminently', but Hitler was not going to attack, then Stalin MUST have been planning on attacking Hitler. The fact that so much of the Red Army was forward deployed close to the border (pp.102-107); that reinforcements were moving up secretly and separately from heavy equipment, and without support services mobilizing yet (ibid); that airfields and planes were concentrated near the border without defenses or even much camouflage, while the Red Air Force lacked " 'a precise plan for the employment of the air forces' " when Hitler attacked (p. 195,199); and the demand from Moscow for defensive plans that would stop any German attack at the border (pp.270-288), coupled with order that FORBADE the troops from manning border defenses, setting up anti-tank obstacles, or laying minefields (pp. 246-252); that Stalin continually rejected People's Commissar for Defense Timoshenko and Red Army Chief of General Staff Zhukov's warnings of possible German aggression while secretly mobilizing (pp. 234 -241); that, at a time when war was was supposedly imminent, the signals units that would coordinate the millions of Soviet troops were at a peace-time configuration (p. 113); that there were no plans for evacuating equipment and retreating in an orderly manner if the Germans attack (p. 135); above all, that Timosheko and Zhukov that wrote a report for Stalin saying that the USSR should pre-emptively attack the Wehrmacht forces at the Soviet border, because the Germans were in a position which enabled possible "forestalling (preempting)" of Soviet plans (plans that aren't specified, btw) (pp. 241-245) -- to me, all these certainly look much more like a Red Army getting ready for a surprise attack on its own timetable than they look like a Red Army frantically preparing for a German onslaught. Glantz contends these were actually defensive measures, but doesn't try to explain how they were supposed to work, and frequently criticizes them himself. An examination of Soviet defensive doctrine would seem in order, but Glantz doesn't provide any. Perhaps that's because Red Army doctrine was, according to Glantz himself, traditionally offensive.

              How then is Glantz to defend Stalin's pacifistic intentions? He responds by saying that IT DOESN'T MATTER IF STALIN WAS PLANNING TO ATTACK HITLER, since Hitler attacked first (p. 245). But this will only work if he first succeeds in making the reader forget that the entire controversy was not 'Did Stalin ACTUALLY attack Hitler first?' (not even Josef Goebbels claimed THAT), but 'Did Stalin PLAN to attack Hitler first?'. So Glantz uses my old speech teacher's trick. He shifts the topic to 'Was the Red Army ready for war on June 22nd, 1941?', when Hitler attacked Stalin. The many disastrous defeats that the Red Army suffered during Operation Barbarossa show that it was NOT ready. Glantz tries to link Red Army combat performance in 1941 to Stalin's future plans by asserting that the Red Tsar was well informed about his army's capabilities, possessed of good military judgment, and not about to order an offensive against Germany, because such an offensive "would have bordered on the lunatic," and Stalin "was not a lunatic." Yet the information GLANTZ himself presents on Stalin's state of information, soundness of judgment, and even his sanity all tend in the opposite direction. Glantz contends that Stalin wrecked the Red Army with continual paranoiac purges; filled the upper ranks with cronies and yes-men; ignored obvious signs of attack by Hitler; approved badly flawed mobilization and deployment plans that cost Russian millions of soldiers killed and captured; and that he couldn't be bothered to train his troops. Throughout the early months of the war, Stalin refused to let units retreat in time to escape traps, and ordered counter-attacks that had almost no hope of success, but which ground up the Red Army at a frightful rate. How this tale of incompetence shows that Stalin was 'too smart to attack Hitler' is beyond me.

              On June 22nd many troops were marching forward on foot, while their equipment moved by train, their ranks were not at war strength, they were short on staff officers, their units were scattered, and support forces were still unmobilized. Troops at the front weren't dug in, and were further from the unmanned border defenses than the German attackers. The Red Air Force was under orders not to interfere with German aircraft crossing the border, and thus hit on the ground. Caught so completely off balance, no army could be expected to fight well. But given time to finish mobilization and deployment, it's arguable that most of these problems would have vanished, or at least been much ameliorated. In Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War, 1941-1945, Evan Mawdsley gives figures for aircraft losses that show that the Red Air Force loss rate went down by a factor of NINE when comparing the first two weeks of Barbarossa with the next fourteen. The Red Army's rate of retreat fell by a similar factor after the opening battles, from over 23 miles per day to less than than three, despite total German air command and Soviet troops being fed into battles piecemeal and unsupported. By December, the Wehrmacht was stalled before Moscow, and the Luftwaffe had lost nearly twice as many planes as during the battle of Britain. It is not obvious to me that a July Red offensive that caught Germany by surprise was doomed to fail, much less so obviously impossible only a lunatic would have ordered one.

              There's also a spirit of what I can only judge to be dishonesty throughout this work. For instance, Glantz incessantly claims that Stalin's purges of the officer corps resulted in a lack of experience and time in position when the war started, and that these problems were instrumental in the early failures. By Glantz's figures, supplemented by those of Suvorov in his latest book (Chief Culprit: Stalin's Grand Design to Start World War II (Blue Jacket Bks); highly recommended) and Evan Mawdsley (Thunder in the East: The Nazi-Soviet War, 1941-1945), the number purged and kept out of the Red Army was about 43,000 officers, many veterans of the Russian Civil War (around 55,000 were purged, but 12,000 restored to service; not all of those purged were active duty officer, by the way, and thousands were commissars, rather than commanders, facts Glantz doesn't see fit to mention). By June, 1941, the officer corps was around 440,000. If no one had been purged at all, it could not have affected more than 10% of officer assignments. Arguing that the lack of these 43,000 people was a huge factor in the defeats of 1941 is hard to credit, especially when many of the Civil War veterans still on active duty turned in lackluster performances. Moreover, of the 43,000 permanently purged, 18,000 got the boot in 1940 and 1941, when the Red Army was occupying territories and fighting a war with Finland, a performance Glantz judges very unfavorably. How many of those 18,000 were justifiably let go because they failed to perform? The author doesn't address the issue. As far as he's concerned, the fact that someone was purged proves his competence.

              In the end, STUMBLING COLOSSUS has a few minor virtues. It does provide a partial picture of the problems the Red Army experienced in 1937-41, though it never really comes to grips with the difficulties of expanding an army over three times in size in less than two years. It is an interesting statistical source, though full of strange omissions. The bibliography provides pointers for further reading. But mostly, it shows how the "will to believe" can blind lead an author to produce a book with a conclusion that is utterly contradicted by its own evidence.

              NOT recommended, unless you're studying the psychology of self-deception."
              To be very honest, I found my eyes glazing over before finishing,I will leave it to the smart ones in our midst and there's plenty of those. lcm1
              'By Horse by Tram'.


              I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
              " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Javaman View Post
                But this will only work if he first succeeds in making the reader forget that the entire controversy was not 'Did Stalin ACTUALLY attack Hitler first?' (not even Josef Goebbels claimed THAT), but 'Did Stalin PLAN to attack Hitler first?'
                Who attacked whom first in August 1914? Did any belligerent armies planned to attack first prior to this? If you look at the actual pre-war planning you'll see that the question of "attacking first" was mostly irrelevant. The same is true for Soviet war planning. The main documents are actually well known. It is fairly certain from them that Soviet doctrine was offesnive and planning focused on offensive operations. Defense was considered only as a means to economize forces in sectors of less importance but not as a principal strategic course.
                the number purged and kept out of the Red Army was about 43,000 officers
                actually less
                By June, 1941, the officer corps was around 440,000
                Actually more. This line of reasoning, however, doesn't take into account that arrests and discharges were more concentrated at the top level. The higher was the rank the larger proportion of losses was.

                Glantz's book is written quite a long ago and is fairly outdated. His own treatment of factual information is frequently lacking accuracy, which should be kept in mind. I wouldn't advice to rely on Suvorov, the man is manipulator not a scholar in a normal sense.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Thanks for the replies, I rather thought the review was just a platform for spouting Suvorov support rather than a decent objective analysis of Stumbling Colossus.
                  "Amateurs study tactics; professionals study logistics"
                  -Omar Bradley
                  "Not everyone who studies logistics is a professional logistician, and there is no way to understand when you don't know what you don't know."
                  -Anonymous US Army logistician

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Hitler and his military leaders knew all to well the Soviets were not ready to launch an offensive to the west in 1941 and his explanation of his attack on the Soviets as a "preemptive" strike was an outright lie to justify his actions.

                    However I myself have no doubt that Stalin's intentions were to assault western Europe as early as mid 1942 or in 1943. JMHO.

                    Regards,Kurt
                    Theo mir ist die munition ausgegangen ich werde diesen ramman auf wiedersehen uns in walhalla

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The reviewer does not have a handle on his sources. For example, Victor Suvorov was a pseudonym for a Soviet defector who was set up by British intelligence to publish books as a source of income. His initial book had credible elements about the Soviet Army that he knew, but his later works were more contrived and one needs a salt shaker while reading. Part of his drift, I suspect, was he launched out on his own to publish more works in areas he did not have specific knowledge.
                      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Kurt Knispel View Post
                        Hitler and his military leaders knew all to well the Soviets were not ready to launch an offensive to the west in 1941 and his explanation of his attack on the Soviets as a "preemptive" strike was an outright lie to justify his actions.

                        However I myself have no doubt that Stalin's intentions were to assault western Europe as early as mid 1942 or in 1943. JMHO.

                        Regards,Kurt
                        Hi Kurt. It may well have been a lie that Hitler was launching a preemptive strike, although I think he realized that sooner or later that Stalin would attack Germany in the next year or so. In general Hitler and his military leaders had no idea what was going on in Russia. Everything they knew was based on assumptions, which were mostly incorrect.

                        They had no idea about the T-34 and KV-1. They had no idea that the Russians had a tank park of over 20,000 vehicles (Hitler did not believe Guderian who quoted 17,000 in Actung Panzer as early as the mid/late 1930s). They thought the Soviet army had a total of 180 divisions and that they would have difficulties mobilizing large numbers more. They had no real idea of road conditions. They drastically misread the loyalties of Soviets towards Stalin and communism...etc. etc.

                        The Germans knew nothing "all too well". There are few greater examples of being ignorant of an enemy's strengths than that of the Germans prior to Barbarossa.

                        We can go round and round about some of the points in this discussion. I'm certainly not a backer of Suvorov, but it is hard to argue that the Russians did have an enormous army along their borders with the Reich, achieving almost parity in numbers with the attacking Germans (depending on what source you read). Relatively little of it was busy digging defense fortifications for some curious reason.
                        Last edited by Alk; 28 Apr 16, 01:01.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Stopped reading review after spotting "Suvorov" and "evidence" in same sentence. I see no reason to put crap literature in review of renown military historian.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Javaman View Post
                            Thanks for the replies, I rather thought the review was just a platform for spouting Suvorov support rather than a decent objective analysis of Stumbling Colossus.
                            Yes; I would agree with your view.

                            Originally posted by Alk View Post
                            " ... It may well have been a lie that Hitler was launching a preemptive strike, although I think he realized that sooner or later that Stalin would attack Germany in the next year or so. ... "
                            Welcome to ACG, Alk.

                            I think Hitler was savvy enough to realize that the Soviets would have a genuine capability to attack Germany and pose a real threat, within a couple or so years. Whether he was actually convinced they would use that capability any time soon, seems uncertain but it must have made him somewhat uneasy at least, I would guess.
                            However, IMO what was more important and much more urgent to Hitler was the thought that his own prospects of successfully attacking the Soviet Union would all but disappear if he didn't invade as soon as possible. That is what was foremost in Hitler's mind, I believe. The disparity between Soviet and German strength would only grow greater with time and he knew it very well.

                            Originally posted by vathra View Post
                            Stopped reading review after spotting "Suvorov" and "evidence" in same sentence. I see no reason to put crap literature in review of renown military historian.
                            I didn't stop reading quite as soon as that but I'm inclined to agree about Suvorov being crap.
                            Last edited by panther3485; 28 Apr 16, 05:06.
                            "Chatfield, there seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"
                            Vice Admiral Beatty to Flag Captain Chatfield; Battle of Jutland, 31 May - 1 June, 1916.

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