by Morley Evans
This is new to me. It was posted in Quora. All we know about Stalin in the West is Cold War propaganda written by his enemies in the West which include Trotskyists whose descendants control Washington today. Some minor editing has been made to improve grammar and clarity. - ed
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Answered Sep 23
Well for starters, he did believe “the reports”. He knew about what the reports were saying since 1933/34 when Hitler became the leader of Germany; that Germany would invade the Soviet Union. The only question was when?
It’s often presented as if Stalin knew months in advance that the invasion would happen on June 22nd 1941. Perhaps as propaganda? Perhaps just a misconception. The reality is very far from that. He received several conflicting reports, including from the very same spy. One day they would say 5th of March 1941, then 1st of April 1941, then 8th of March 1941, then the plans are cancelled, then the end of summer, then August, then postponed until 1942, etc, etc, etc.
Not only were the reports of every spy in conflict, but the exact same spy would change the dates constantly. Stalin had absolutely no idea when the invasion was going to be; neither did any of the reports. But on top of that, most of the reports never even reached Stalin. Because of the Soviet bureaucracy, most got lost somewhere on the way.
Now Stalin knew the war was inevitable from the start. Hitler never hid his feelings about Communists or Jews (most of the Soviet government in the 20s and 30s were Jews).
Hitler wrote “When we speak of new territory, we must think of Russia. Destiny itself points the way there.”
A few things that were done:
In 1934, the Soviet Union joined the League of Nations, the predecessor to the UN. And Maxim Litvinov who represented the Soviet Union spent the next 4 years from 1934 to 1938, trying to install some sort of collective security in the League of Nations. Kind of like a global NATO.
“The State I represent entered the League… with the sole purpose of the maintenance of indivisible peace… The League of Nations is still strong enough by its collective actions to avert or arrest aggression… There is no room for bargaining or compromise” - Maxim Litvinov
Four years of pleading for a collective defensive army in the League were ignored. Even as Germany, Japan, and Italy withdrew from the League of Nations and Japan invaded the Soviet Union and China, and Italy invaded Ethiopia, the League of Nations did nothing.
2. He attempted, for the last time, to sign a pretty provocative military treaty with Poland, the UK, and France that could’ve stopped the war before it ever began.
“The Soviet offer - made by war minister Marshall Klementi Voroshilov and Red Army chief of general staff Boris Shaposhnikov - would have put up to 120 infantry divisions (each with some 19,000 troops), 16 cavalry divisions, 5,000 heavy artillery pieces, 9,500 tanks and up to 5,500 fighter aircraft and bombers on Germany's borders in the event of war in the west”
Stalin 'planned to send a million troops to stop Hitler if Britain and France agreed to a pact'
3. After defeating Japan in the Battle of Khalkhin Gol in 1939, the Soviet Union managed to sign a cease-fire with them. Together with the troops stationed in Siberia in case of a Japanese invasion, this made sure the Japanese never came to the aide of their German ally.
Battles of Khalkhin Gol - Wikipedia
4. Finally, the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany to try and delay the war as long as possible. Being the last major country to sign a treaty with Germany.
5. From 1939 to 1941 the Soviet Union went from 1.5 million to 5 million troops. It amassed 30–35 000 tanks & self-propelled artillery, and 20–25,000 aircraft.
6. The Soviet Union secured extra buffer land to protect Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) from an attack from the North. The city never surrendered.
Now, what else could he have done? Well, in the first days of the war, the Germans using the intelligence (mostly aerial photos) they had gathered, bombed the air bases of the Soviet Union in Byelorussia, Ukraine, and the Baltic’s. They all lost between 40 and 70% of their aircraft. One air commander, after landing and seeing the damage to his base, shot himself on the spot. Camouflaging or moving them further back to the RSFSR or the Asian Republics could’ve mitigated the damage.
In the months preceding the invasion, he decided to move the troops away from the border in order to convince Germany they had no reason to invade so soon. He only ordered them to mobilize and prepare for a German invasion two days before it happened. When the invasion did happen, most of the troops were still heading west meanwhile German “defensive” troops were already on the border and only their tanks needed to get closer.
Stalin’s reluctance to accept the reports was not about not believing the invasion. Nor even about the conflicting reports making it impossible to make any kind of sound decision. But rather that he expected Germany to be ready to do that by 1943–1944. And that is when he expected the Soviet Union to be ready for it. In every war scenario he had Zhukov and other Soviet military officials run between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union won. In all their practices, none of the Soviet Generals was able to make Nazi Germany win the war. Stalin simply did not expect Hitler to go on a suicide mission, rather he hoped that he would go on an even bigger suicide mission in 2 years when he would get steam-rolled.
[The Schlieffen Plan was established German High Command doctrine before WWI. German military strategy focussed on the necessity of defeating France quickly so Germany could turn eastward before the Russian "steam roller" had time to mobilize. Everyone knew about it. WWII was a replay of WWI. - ed]
If we’re talking about what Stalin could do before the war, he tried a bit of everything.
However, what he could have done in the first months of the war was to implement changes that were made later in the war. But of course, those changes came from experience, and would not have been conceivable then. One of those was order 227. Which prevented front-line commanders from retreating at random times, uncoordinated, without even informing the High Command in Moscow.
In Stalingrad (or somewhere else quite far into the war I don’t quite remember) the Soviets noticed after Germans shot their guns revealing their position; they would change positions. After new Soviet recruits shot; they would stay in the same place and get shot.
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Morley EvansYou upvoted this
This is new and valuable. Thank you!