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What If the USSR Was Not Neutral Sep 1939 - Jun 1941?

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  • What If the USSR Was Not Neutral Sep 1939 - Jun 1941?

    Jawing about the rocky relationship between Iosif Stalin and Winston Churchill in that other thread back there got my brain a-moving. (Yes, it does happen on occasion. )

    Take, for example, US neutrality from Sep '39 to Dec '41: we all know that it was notional only. The US was extending a great deal of credit to the UK's military buying missions, shipping many tons of military supplies to the UK, transferring title to 50 outdated destroyers from the USN to the RN, etc, etc, etc -- yet the US remained technically neutral. Adolf Hitler was known to gripe about that hypocritical stance on FDR's part, but he didn't do anything about it -- until the US declared war on Japan. Out of pique Hitler responded by declaring war on the US, and then the gloves were off. I need not repeat here how that ended up.

    Similarly, the USSR's neutrality from Sep '39 to Jun '41 was notional only. USSR shipped great quantities of all kinds of war materials to Nazi Germany: metal ores of virtually all descriptions, timber, petroleum, coal, grain -- every day, between Sep '39 and Jun '41, hundreds of freight cars rolled west from producers in the Soviet Union to consumers in the Third Reich. At the same time, the USSR granted the Kreigsmarine not only free passage through Soviet territorial waters, but the Red Fleet provided actual assistance to at least one armed warship charged by Berlin with transiting the Arctic Ocean in order to attack British merchant shipping in the Pacific. How might history had changed if the UK, recognizing that the USSR's neutrality was merely chimerical, declared war on the USSR?
    I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

  • #2
    Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
    How might history had changed if the UK, recognizing that the USSR's neutrality was merely chimerical, declared war on the USSR?
    Well, for one it might result in having the USSR and Nazi Germany going beyond the Non-Aggression Pact and becoming more closely cooperative, but on the other hand one could say the invasion of Poland by both could be seen as a joint operation. Both being ideological enemies, I think they both would have loved to see the West cave. France would be in a very precarious position given there was a strong communist base in several sectors of the economy. Knowing she would not be on equal foot with Germany of military industrial output was already a concern.....declaring war on Hitler was one thing, but declaring war on Hitler AND Stalin was a different thing altogether.

    I'm not sure what actually military actions the USSR would partake in, but safe to say the flow of raw materials into Germany from Stalin would probably be more than Albert Speer could handle.
    You'll live, only the best get killed.

    -General Charles de Gaulle

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    • #3
      Originally posted by slick_miester View Post
      JThe US was extending a great deal of credit to the UK's military buying missions, shipping many tons of military supplies to the UK, transferring title to 50 outdated destroyers from the USN to the RN, etc, etc, etc -- yet the US remained technically neutral. Adolf Hitler was known to gripe about that hypocritical stance on FDR's part, but he didn't do anything about it -- until the US declared war on Japan. Out of pique Hitler responded by declaring war on the US, and then the gloves were off. I need not repeat here how that ended up.
      I don't think it was necessarily out of pique so much as out of going to war against the USA was the only likely way Germany was going to win the battle of the Atlantic. It did give the U-boats a second 'happy time' though, if briefly.

      As for the UK declaring war against the Soviet Union - I don't see it, especially not after the fall of France. Whilst the Soviets were attacking Finland there were some madcap schemes being touted, including bombing Baku, but I think that was more of a French initiative (or mad escapism).

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Gooner View Post

        Whilst the Soviets were attacking Finland there were some madcap schemes being touted, including bombing Baku, but I think that was more of a French initiative (or mad escapism).
        Bold mine....Operation Pike (the proposed bombings of the oil fields in Baku) was very much a joint UK/FR plan, both nations realizing the importance of the oil fields there to the Soviet war machine, however there was talk about launching the attack from French bases in the Levant. Interestingly, they both viewed the Non-Aggression Pact as making the USSR a de facto ally of Nazi Germany, thus legitimizing military action against the USSR. Such a raid could have seriously hampered the USSR, at least for a while.

        I think both the UK and FR were very serious about this plan (planned for May 15, 1940) until the Blitz of May 10, 1940.
        You'll live, only the best get killed.

        -General Charles de Gaulle

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        • #5
          The USSR was hardly neutral at this time.

          The, "Non-aggression Pact," which doomed Poland was only the tip of the iceberg. Hitler and Stalin both knew they'd face each other eventually, but neither was prepared for an all-out confrontation in 1939, so they both bought time.

          After they'd carved up Poland between them, Germany would have a free hand moving to the West, if the USSR could have the Baltic States (gobbled up by the USSR before they could blink) and Finland (a slightly stickier proposition). Britain and France's Declaration of War in 1939 over the German invasion of Poland was an unexpected step, which brought the plans of both sides forward, but the Soviets' neutrality didn't prevent them from creating a buffer zone against German aggression.

          Churchill hated the Soviet Union and all it stood for, but declaring war with unprepared armed forces against a vast enemy on the far side of Europe would've been sheer insanity and a logistical nightmare.
          Indyref2 - still, "Yes."

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          • #6
            Originally posted by asterix View Post
            I think both the UK and FR were very serious about this plan (planned for May 15, 1940) until the Blitz of May 10, 1940.
            Operation Pike wasn't planned for any time. The airfields that could be used for the bombing were only to be ready by about the 15th May.
            Though the chances that this crazy scheme would get approval when the French were unwilling even to mine the Rhine river were small.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Gooner View Post

              Operation Pike wasn't planned for any time. The airfields that could be used for the bombing were only to be ready by about the 15th May.
              Aircraft were being moved towards the region in anticipation of such a raid....so something was definitely in the works.


              Originally posted by Gooner View Post
              Though the chances that this crazy scheme would get approval when the French were unwilling even to mine the Rhine river were small.
              Easy to deflect when it isn't your country facing imminent retaliation. In any case, the river mining was eventually approved though with practically no effect because the idea itself was totally absurd as the French certainly would have known. Had Operation Pike taken effect, it would have certainly garnered better and longer results than the stupid idea of floating bombs down the Rhine.
              Last edited by asterix; 12 Oct 18, 10:32.
              You'll live, only the best get killed.

              -General Charles de Gaulle

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              • #8
                Originally posted by asterix View Post

                Aircraft were being moved towards the region in anticipation of such a raid....so something was definitely in the works.
                The British moved 4 squadrons of Blenheims to the Middle East but they also had another potential opponent.

                Easy to deflect when it isn't your country facing imminent retaliation. In any case, the river mining was eventually approved though with practically no effect because the idea itself was totally absurd as the French certainly would have known. Had Operation Pike taken effect, it would have certainly garnered better and longer results than the stupid idea of floating bombs down the Rhine.
                That's the sort of 'mad escapism' I was referring to. Better results are to be expected from bombing a country the Allies were not at war with than by mining the rivers of a country they are actually at war with?

                When mining of the Rhine did get the go ahead - after the German invasion - and despite the RAF not being able to contribute as was planned, the results weren't bad "The operation itself did take place, and nearly 1,700 mines were dropped into the Rhine during its first week. Water traffic between Karlsruhe and Mainz almost came to a halt, and a number of German pontoon bridges over the river were badly damaged"
                http://www.historyofwar.org/articles...al_marine.html

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                • #9
                  I don't see what's in this for Russia / the Soviet Union. After they divvy up Poland with Germany, then what? Would the Red Army fight side-by-side with the Germans against France? I doubt that would happen. Neither can really do anything about England as neither is capable of an invasion. I suppose the Soviets could invade Iran and other parts of the Middle East, but that really buys them little.

                  For Germany, if they hadn't divvied up Poland with the Russians, they likely would have taken Moscow in 1941 and very likely ended the Russia campaign in a negotiated victory. That roughly 300 + miles the Russians added to their depth of defense made all the difference.

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                  • #10
                    Hi Terry

                    In March 1940, the Soviet Union formed an AG in the Baku region of Azerbaijan amounting to 5 Infantry Divisions, 1 Cavalry Division and some 3 Tank Divisions with the express purpose of intimidating Iran. Later, in May 1940 it demanded that Iran grant them the use of 7 airfields and the release of all Communist prisoners. Germany welcomed this discord as part of its own plans to oust the British, but I doubt very much that they would have welcomed a Soviet controlled Iran. Iran itself was fiercely anti-Communist and Germany accounted for 41% of its foreign trade. Equally though the Americans wouldn't have welcomed a Soviet incursion into Iran because of its geopolitical interests in the area.

                    I don't see anywhere the Soviet forces could be deployed with any efficacy, without incurring severe consequences.

                    Regards

                    Andy H
                    "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                    "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Andy H View Post
                      Hi Terry

                      In March 1940, the Soviet Union formed an AG in the Baku region of Azerbaijan amounting to 5 Infantry Divisions, 1 Cavalry Division and some 3 Tank Divisions with the express purpose of intimidating Iran. Later, in May 1940 it demanded that Iran grant them the use of 7 airfields and the release of all Communist prisoners. Germany welcomed this discord as part of its own plans to oust the British, but I doubt very much that they would have welcomed a Soviet controlled Iran. Iran itself was fiercely anti-Communist and Germany accounted for 41% of its foreign trade. Equally though the Americans wouldn't have welcomed a Soviet incursion into Iran because of its geopolitical interests in the area.

                      I don't see anywhere the Soviet forces could be deployed with any efficacy, without incurring severe consequences.

                      Regards

                      Andy H
                      On the other hand, historically, both the Soviets and Britain invaded Iran and took control of the country during WW 2. The US sent troops as part of that occupation after they entered the war. For example, the US sent railway engineer units to take control of much of the Iranian rail system for the purpose of moving Lend-Lease into the USSR.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-...vasion_of_Iran

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post

                        On the other hand, historically, both the Soviets and Britain invaded Iran and took control of the country during WW 2. The US sent troops as part of that occupation after they entered the war. For example, the US sent railway engineer units to take control of much of the Iranian rail system for the purpose of moving Lend-Lease into the USSR.

                        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anglo-...vasion_of_Iran
                        Hi Terry

                        Yep and indeed there's a very good book published only this year called Persian Gulf Command (A History of the Second World War in Iran and Iraq) by Ashley Jackson, which goes beyond the usual and into the geopolitical murk of British, American and Russian interests versus those of Iran, Iraq and Germany.

                        Russian intervention south into the Persian Gulf against the UK (and eventually the US) rather than as an ally in 1941, would have brought them nothing but pain. Pain especially because only the proverbial one-eyed man in the land of the blind could see that the Nazi-Soviet pact was a house of cards waiting to happen. Throw in potential trouble in the Far East with Japan, then you'd see Russia fighting on 3 fronts and I think with some confidence we'd say losing.

                        Regards

                        Andy H
                        "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                        "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Andy H View Post

                          Hi Terry

                          Yep and indeed there's a very good book published only this year called Persian Gulf Command (A History of the Second World War in Iran and Iraq) by Ashley Jackson, which goes beyond the usual and into the geopolitical murk of British, American and Russian interests versus those of Iran, Iraq and Germany.

                          Russian intervention south into the Persian Gulf against the UK (and eventually the US) rather than as an ally in 1941, would have brought them nothing but pain. Pain especially because only the proverbial one-eyed man in the land of the blind could see that the Nazi-Soviet pact was a house of cards waiting to happen. Throw in potential trouble in the Far East with Japan, then you'd see Russia fighting on 3 fronts and I think with some confidence we'd say losing.

                          Regards

                          Andy H
                          Andy, there was a large measure of legitimacy for the Soviet presence in Persia in WWII, dating as far back as 1907, when Russia and Britain had agreed to splitting up zones of influence; Britain in the south, Russia in the north. Most of the following is from old posts (15-20 years old now), I use both "Persia" and "Iran" for the same region.

                          During WWI, Akaki Khoshtaria, a Georgian oil entrepreneur, acquired an oil concession in the northern Persian province of Semnan, called Kavir-e Huriyān, which was eventually acquired by the Soviets in 1924. Lenin's Communist expansionism included another northern province, Gilan and the Persian Iran Socialist Soviet Republic i.e. Soviet Republic of Gilan, 1920-21; Persia and Soviet Russia signed a treaty in 1921, giving the Soviets the right to invade Iran to eliminate any third party threat to the security of the USSR. With already too much on their plate, the Soviets failed to develop the Semnan site; the Persians unilaterally cancelled the deal in 1937, which the Soviets refuted, and disputed the Persian attempt to sign their rights over to Royal Dutch Shell. Stalin had plans for the oil regions of Northern Iran ...

                          All of the above figured in the discord between Stalin and Hitler:

                          In June 1940 while Germany was still engaged with the French, the Soviets occupied Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia. Hitler had agreed that the Baltic states fell into the Soviet sphere but had not agreed to their occupation. Next Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina were annexed from Rumania and occupied. The Soviets moved the 9th Army, probably the strongest formation on the border along with a strong bomber force into the area. Germany's Romanian oil source was directly threatened. Along the borders, Soviet troops were deployed forward, and did not meet the requirements of a defensive strategy.

                          By the time of the November visit by Molotov it was clear that only if Molotov came bearing guarantees of Russia's acquiescence in Hitler's mastery of the continent could Hitler be deterred from fully mobilizing for the eastern offensive. Molotov came in no acquiescent mood. The Soviet Union, he quickly made clear, was determined to hold Germany strictly to the terms of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact (which defined their respective spheres of influence), to pursue its own interests, and demanded knowledge of Germany's intentions in its relationship with third parties.

                          Molotov insisted on the USSR’s freedom to pursue its traditional interest in the Black Sea region. The Soviet Union wanted to annex Finland, which had been assigned to its sphere by the pact. It wanted to guarantee Bulgaria's frontiers, thereby challenging Germany over control of that country. It also wanted a revision of the Montreux Treaty of 1936 to improve its rights of passage between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean via the Turkish Straits. Molotov demanded to know what spheres of interest the Tripartite Pact delimited between Germany, Italy and Japan, particularly Japan, its old enemy in Asia. He added that Russia's interest in the Baltic did not stop with the annexation of Finland (Russian between 1809 and 1918) but included the question of Sweden's continuing neutrality and control of the Baltic exit to the North Sea, most sensitive of all Germany's home waters. Ribbentrop, proposed that the Soviet Union would be free to expand southwards towards the Indian Ocean while Japan completed its conquests in Asia and Germany extended its area of control into Africa.

                          Two weeks after his return to Moscow, Molotov gave the German Ambassador the Soviet Government's reply to Ribbentrop's proposal. Stalin maintained his hard line, beyond Finland, Sakhalin, and the Bosphorus, specifically as applied to the area concerned:


                          "The Soviet Government is prepared to accept the draft of the Four Power Pact (the USSR was to be the 4th Power) which the Reich Foreign Minister outlined in the conversation of November 13, regarding political collaboration and reciprocal economic subject to the following conditions:

                          1) Provided that the German troops are immediately withdrawn from Finland. which, under the compact of 1939, belongs to the Soviet Union's sphere of influence. At the same time the Soviet Union undertakes to ensure peaceful relations with Finland and to protect German economic interests in Finland (export of lumber and nickel).

                          2) Provided that within the next few months the security of the Soviet Union in the Straits is assured by the conclusion of a mutual assistance pact between the Soviet Union and Bulgaria, which geographically is situated inside the security zone of the Black Sea boundaries of the Soviet Union, and by the establishment of a base for land and naval forces of the U.S.S.R. within range of the Bosporus and the Dardanelles by means of a long-term lease.

                          3) Provided that the area south of Batum and Baku in the general direction of the Persian Gulf is recognized as the center of the aspirations of the Soviet Union.

                          4) Provided that Japan renounces her rights to concessions for coal and oil in Northern Sakhalin.

                          Stalin called for Soviet control of Iraqi and Persian oil assets. Hitler on the other hand envisioned at the minimum, a sharing of the area, and referred to Stalin as "nothing but a cold-hearted blackmailer", and for his part he wasn't willing to continue placing himself on Stalin's goodwill, even as a neutral, for the supplies of oil and foodstuffs that he needed to defeat the British.

                          Briefly now, with the loss of France, and direct contact with Germany, the British were committed to shoring up the Middle East, and its oil from Italian incursion, and German influence; the major source of that influence being Persia. Britain took care of Iraq, while Hitler and Stalin were negotiating, then the Levant with the Free French; Iran remained. The British had called for the removal of German nationals from Iran, largely technicians and their families, with some legitimate spies, agitators and saboteurs in the mix, but they could not act without Soviet acquiescence; Barbarossa would change that. Soviet interest in a joint invasion was gained with the enticement of the transport of Lend-Lease supplies via the Trans-Iranian railway. Stalin, fearing British trespass into the Russian zone of influence only agreed after Reza Shah refused his own offer of a new agreement on trade and transit, allowing the transport of military goods through his country. Shortly after they arrived, the Soviets isolated the northern provinces of Iran under their control from the rest of the country, and in 1944-46, they made several attempts to take the oil assets of this region under their direct control.

                          Ashley Jackson's put out some decent work on the the lesser known bits of the British Empire.
                          "I am Groot"
                          - Groot

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