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What if Stalin had listened to his generals?

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  • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
    You now have me curious about his sources and how he has used them--particularly if he gained access to archival material that have not been previously exploited.
    I read some quotes about the book that said as much, but I don't know enough to comment. You would probably have a better idea about it then I ever would.

    But it is a good book; informative but accesable (like all good history books).

    DoD just looked at the pictures. He can't read.

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    • Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
      A former Soviet Army colonel general and head of the Institute of Military History, Dmitri Volkogonov in his biography, "Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy" gives the west some insight to Stalin's personality in this situation.

      "It is perhaps easier to understand the drama of those last hours if we recall that an important feature of Stalin's psychological make-up was that of great cautiousness. Naturallyl in ordinary everyday affairs the question of audacity did not arise, but in major affairs he was extremely circumspect. For instance, in October 1917, his initiative was minimal because he did not fully comprehend what was happening. In 1934, he did not exploit the murder of Kirov in the way he intended straight away, but waited until 1937-38 to 'root out the enemies of the people', which, in his own words, ought to have been done four years earlier. He had patience and could wait for the public mind to reach the required conditon, drap by drop. Bukharin had indeed called him 'the great giver of doses'.

      "His hyper-cautiousness in dealing with Hitler, however, was counter-productive, for Hitler outwitted him. Stalin's behavior was dictated not only by a realization of the consequences of a 'premature' war, but also by a deep inner insecurity. The USSR faced the capitalist world alone. Any false step could lead to irreparable results. Berlin took note of Stalin's obsessive avoidance of 'provocations' and concluded that the USSR was weak. When Stalin ordered both the troops in the Western sector and border units not to use weapons against German plnaes whichviolated the border, the Germans at once deduced that caution had become indecisiveness."

      "As the military were leaving to issue their orders, Stalin muttered, as if to himself: 'I think Hitler is trying to provoke us. He surely hasn't decided to make war?"

      rna
      I would agree with alot of this. Bellamy in his book points to two elements of Stalin as being the cause of his "suprise" at the invation: the first is Stalin did have some kind of respect for Hitler, seeing him as less of a threat and more of a potential ally against the Soviet Union's (and therefore Stalin's) enemies the capitalist nations of the west. They had not treated the Soviet Union with respect before the war, while Hitler had even signed a treaty with Stalin (these agreements/treaties were very highly regarded by the Soviet government: even days before the invasion, the materials the USSR had promised to ship to Germany were still being shipped accross the Soviet border).

      This also ties into the second: Stalin's deep distrust of the west and fear of being "pushed" into "their" war.

      Stalin didn't want to believe Hitler was going to attack, but he wasn't stupid. He did know something was going to occur. At first, some of the sources pointed and suggested to a German ultimatum: territorial, diplomatic or economic concessions, not waw. And Stalin was walking a tight-rope: if he called up a full mobilization, it might spark the war he didn't want (a lesson from WW1).

      But there was enough information in the weeks before war began to suggest more than an mere "ultimatium". Stalin held onto this belief that was was not coming, and that by appeasing Hitler it would be avoided. He distrusted his spies, his generals, and his state intelligence apparatus, which meant that he wasn't going to treat the information coming too him as he should of. He could have done/ordered more, but he didn't.

      Of course, the other thing Bellamy points out is that, unlike some other claims, he does not believe that Stalin had a mental breakdown or the like after the invasion. Before it, he had been agitated, drinking more, getting less sleep, but there was no real evidence of Stalin cracking.

      All in all, I suggest the book to anyone who is interested on the subject of the Soviet Union in WW2. Good read.

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      • Volkogonov's characterization of Stalin:

        "Towards the last days of June, the scale of the fatal threat finally sank in on Stalin and for a while he simply lost control of himself and went into deep psychological shock. Between 28 and 30 June, according to eyewitnesses, Stalin was so depressed and shaken that he ceased to be a leader. On 29 June, as he was leaving the defence commissariat with Molotov, Voroshilov, Zhdanov and Beria [all his old cronies], he burst out loudly: 'Lenin left us a great inheritance and we, his heirs, have f**ked it all up!' Molotov looked at him amazed, but, like the others, said nothing." [citation for this quote is "Kumanev, V. "Iz vospominanii o voennykh godakh', Politicheskoe Obrazovanie, No. 9, 1988, p. 75 omits the obscenity which is on the original tape as heard by the author.]

        "The shock was deep but not long-lasting."

        "On 30 June the State Defence Committee was formally created with him as its head. His first step was to get rid of General Pavlov as commander of the Western Front and to put Timoshenko in his place."
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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        • the russians would have probily done alot better and forced the germans back and then the russians would have probily took berlin and alot of eastern and central europe changing the world.

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          • What if was the russian military power that change the leader and keep a Pact with Germany, "west for you-east for us"?
            A prayer's as good as bayonet on a day like this!

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            • Originally posted by monocone View Post
              What if was the russian military power that change the leader and keep a Pact with Germany, "west for you-east for us"?
              The choice was not with the "russian" or more properly the Soviet leadership. Hitler choose to follow the eastern strategy for expansion of the German nation. Attacking the eastern slavic nations and particularly the USSR was the nazi policy from the early days, and was largely inevitable.

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