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Critique my essay

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  • #16
    Since it seems relevant to the point, I will repost another post I made on a similar topic some time ago

    I feel Stalin gets a consistently unfair shake when it comes to Sorge and the supposed availability of intelligence information disclosing Germany's intentions and Stalin's subsequent failure to act. The situation was never this simple. Even if Sorge had provided the correct date of the German attack (which was disputed in this thread by Kunikov on very strong evidence), there would have been no way for Stalin to have known whether this information was correct or not. And it certainly would have been a fool who would have launched an attack against the most powerful nation in Europe on the strength of just one man's word - and Stalin was no fool. Yes, there was substantial evidence coming in from other quarters as well that Germany was increasing its military presence on the Soviet frontier, but it remains to consider what was the most likely and rational purpose of this build-up, and what options did Stalin have?

    I think most of the evidence points to the idea that Stalin thought that this build up was part of a bluff, designed to force concessions out of the Soviet Union. Was this a sound interpretation at the time? I believe so. Even though Hitler had waxed at length in Mein Kamp about Lebensraum in the East, I think Stalin's view was that Hitler would not embark upon a two-front war, invading Russia while Britain had still not been dealt with. In addition, contemporary historical events - and Stalin was a keen student of history - had shown that Hitler's approach had usually begun with territorial demands - as had occurred with both Czechoslovakia and Poland. Neither case involved a surprise attack coming out of the blue. On the other hand, the battle of France had disclosed that once a state of war existed, Hitler was willing to bide his time and wait in the launching of an attack until after he had deployed his forces to a degree he felt sufficient for the task at hand. The Balkans campaign was something different, as events were - in some regard - forced upon Hitler. Thus, I believe Stalin had thought Hitler would first make territorial demands - which Stalin may or may not have been willing to satisfy, and would only embark upon a military solution in case this bully approach had failed.

    I believe that the military reports cited in a previous post infer this view on the part of Stalin - that he believed he would have some sort of window in which to engage in full mobilisation and preparation prior to any outbreak of actual military hostilities. The Zhukov-Timoshenko preemptive attack plan clearly assumes that Germany would require time to deploy

    I consider it necessary in any case not to give the German command the initiative in operations, to hinder the deployment of the enemy and to attack the German Army at that moment when it is in the stage of deployment, not having the opportunity to organize a front and coordinate its forces.

    while the subsequent defensive stance orders sent out prior to May 20th, assumed the Soviet Union itself would have time for to mobilise and concentrate its forces at the necessary points.

    2. The stubborn defense of fortifications along the line of the frontier to provide solid protection for the mobilisation, concentration and deployment of the district forces.

    We can certainly say after the fact that Stalin should have known better, but it remains a truism that Operation Barbarossa was the greatest surprise attack in military history - one conducted against a supposed ally who was also supplying the aggressor with necessary and vital raw materials. I am not sure how many of us in the same situation as Stalin was in the spring of 1941 would have believed that an attack of such an extent and ferocity would have been launched at that time and with no warning.

    On the other hand, in the face of uncertainty regarding Germany's true intentions, one has to ask what options did Stalin realistically have? If he had initiated a full mobilisation of the Red Army on the frontier - prior to any outbreak of hostilities or breakdown in diplomatic relations - could this not in fact have led to war, by forcing Germany to do the same? Stalin was quite aware of the fact that German aircraft were conducting reconnaissance missions over Soviet territory and any such mass mobilisation would have been detected - and would have brought on a similar response on the part of Germany. Indeed, the possibility existed that perhaps Sorge's information was a plant designed to provoke such a response on the part of Stalin in order to give Germany an excuse to attack. On the other hand, what if Stalin had evacuated his forces from the points of immediate danger - such as the Bialystok salient, would this possibly be seen as a sign of weakness on Stalin's part, that he was not prepared to defend his western territories and thus provoke Hitler into making even more strident demands? Faced with these quandaries, I think Stalin chose the most reasonable course - intensive build up of his frontier defenses in the hopes that - once completed - they would buy his country enough time to mobilise and concentrate his forces once hostilities had indeed broken out. It is difficult to say how events would have turned out if the so-called Molotov Line had been completely finished.
    Many of these issues have already been discussed elsewhere on this forum
    Stalin's folly

    Russia attacks Germany but never happened/Why?


    • #17
      Originally posted by bricklayer View Post
      A better led Soviet Union. One that did not supply Hitler's armies, killed its own officers
      suppose we say "a better at writing essays 'bricklayer' - one that is a Shakespeare from the very start without preliminary schooling etc" must at least understand that the USSR was a new model state led by people who had never ruled a country before and had not had any connection to the rulers they replaced.

      Originally posted by bricklayer View Post
      your statement that it was impossible to combat the Nazis without such losses is deeply insulting to the Russian/Ukrainian/Belarusian and other nations that were in the Soviet Union. If you think such losses were inevitable and such disasters as Barbarossa unavoidable then you must think that the German is some kind of an ubermensch compared to the Russian?
      the Nazis were superiour not only to us Soviets, but also to the French and British and Americans; and there's no insult in that, for of course one has to be superiour if one is to conquer the world.

      Originally posted by bricklayer View Post
      I think the Soviet system was at fault for the early disasters and casualties
      it is not that you "think" so, it is that you want this to be so.


      • #18
        Originally posted by bricklayer View Post
        I think the Russians/Ukrainians/Belarusians and others would have been able to repel the Germans at a smaller cost to themselves had they not been saddled with the Soviet state. I think the Soviet system was at fault for the early disasters and casualties, not inherent German superiority.
        Perhaps there are two fundamental flaws behind the 'Final Words' of your essay, and they relate to the quote above; the first being an implicit assumption that Stalin's Bolshevik state could have been different to the way that it actually was, and the second being that if it had been different, it could have responded more effectively to the invasion.
        On the first point, the Soviet Union of June 1941 was almost entirely the product of Stalin's personality and of Tsarist/Revolutionary history - both of which were fixed entities. It is meaningless to imagine that the peoples of former Tsarist empire had "not been saddled with the Soviet state" - you would have to re-write 50 or more years of history.
        On the second, it may well be the case that if the Soviet system hadn't so enthusiastically stifled initiative and shot the messenger, its people and institutions could have responded more flexibly and effectively to the invasion; but on the other hand perhaps it was only such a ruthlessly autocratic and coercive state that could have focussed 160 million people on a single objective for four long years, thereby delivering for the majority the means to survive and ultimately to win. I have yet to see convincing evidence that a less arbitrary and authoritarian Soviet state in the pre-war and war period would have seen a less disastrous outcome for its people.
        "Freedom of thought is the only guarantee against infection of peoples by the mass myths, which, in the hands of treacherous hypocrites and demagogues, can be transformed into bloody dictatorships."
        Hero of the Soviet Union, Andrei Sakharov 1968


        • #19
          Originally posted by bricklayer View Post
          Duh, obviously enough the French state utterly failed to protect its people against Germany. All the French ended up occupied and at the mercies of the Germans didn't they?
          So the French free Liberal Democracy failed utterly to protect its people, while Nazism appeared to be a much more progressive system. Congratulations

          Very funny.
          Glad you liked it.

          Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour


          • #20
            Originally posted by bricklayer View Post
            Maybe you should read better so that next time you won't put words into my mouth. Don't strawman me, adress what I actually state.

            I was not talking about "the defence of the USSR". That was done successfully by the Soviet people.

            I called the USSR an utter failure, specifically in terms of protecting its people. The people defended the USSR well, the USSR however failed to extend the same service to its people. Tens of millions of dead, maimed and a third of the national wealth lost, and all against a weaker power say that I am right.

            The Soviet people.
            My point exactly.
            "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
            Samuel Johnson.


            • #21
              Originally posted by stalin View Post
              this essay sounds more like a pamphlet/lampoon to me... you hasn't proven that there was any other state at the time capable of fighting the Nazis without such losses ...indeed, it is hard to think what would Britain or America do, had they had a border with then Germany!
              US woulda let em in as guest workers
              Human beings are the only creatures who are able to behave irrationally in the name of reason.


              • #22
                Originally posted by KICK View Post
                US woulda let em in as guest workers
                and USSR did exactly as you say: let those good German Nazi guestworkers in and then see them off at Berlin.


                • #23
                  "By December 5th, when it was finally stopped, Barbarossa had advanced more than 1,200 kilometers into the interior of the Soviet Union. "

                  Fact check: Moscow is not 1200km from the pre war border. You might be refering to Rostov.

                  You completely ignore that fact that it was Stalin who forced the industrialization of the Soviet Union especially in heavy industries. These industries gave the soviet union the wherewithal to build the weapons that were used to win the war. Thus it was indeed the Soviet leadership that gave the Soviet people a chance to survive the onslaught of a genocidal enemy.

                  There is a good passage in Merridale's book Ivan's war where she detailed that during the pre-war period far more training time was spent in political training rather than field craft. You should cite this.

                  I don't think the expansion of the Red army depleted the reserves as much as you think. Afterall reserve armies kept getting formed all throughout the initial phase of Barbarossa. Actually I think the reserve system that the SU had, shows a positive for the leadership of the SU.

                  Overall I think the thesis that the Soviet leadership bungled badly the opening of the war is supportable. I don't think you have made the case very well.


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by AdrianE View Post
                    There is a good passage in Merridale's book Ivan's war where she detailed that during the pre-war period far more training time was spent in political training rather than field craft.
                    hmm... without proper indoctrination, red army soldiers may have ended up in the Vlasov Army where they sure would demonstrate their field craft.


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