American Pravda: When Stalin Almost Conquered Europe

American Pravda: When Stalin Almost Conquered Europe, by Ron Unz. Following Marx, communism is international socialism — which desires a socialist brotherhood extending across the whole world. The Soviets took that mission seriously. Fascism, on the other hand, was national socialism — socialism in one country, with unique nationalistic characteristics. A controversial theory follows.

“Icebreaker‘s” author, writing under the pen-name Viktor Suvorov, was a veteran Soviet military intelligence officer who had defected to the West in 1978 and subsequently published a number of well-regarded books on the Soviet military and intelligence services. But here he advanced a far more radical thesis.

The “Suvorov Hypothesis” claimed that during the summer of 1941 Stalin was on the very verge of mounting a massive invasion and conquest of Europe, while Hitler’s sudden attack on June 22nd of that year was intended to forestall that looming blow. Moreover, the author also argued that Stalin’s planned attack constituted merely the final act in a much longer geopolitical strategy that he had been developing since at least the early 1930s. …

[Stalin] allegedly viewed Hitler’s rise as exactly such a potential “icebreaker,” an opportunity to unleash another bloody European war and exhaust all sides, while the Soviet Union remained aloof and bided its strength, waiting for the right moment to sweep in and conquer the entire continent.

To this end, Stalin had directed his powerful German Communist Party to take political actions ensuring that Hitler came to power and then later lured the German dictator into signing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact to divide Poland. This led Britain and France to declare war on Germany, while also eliminating the Polish buffer state, thereby placing Soviet armies directly on the German border. And from the very moment he signed that long-term peace agreement with Hitler, he abandoned all his defensive preparations, and instead embarked upon an enormous military build-up of the purely offensive forces he intended to use for European conquest. Thus according to Suvorov, Stalin ranks as “the chief culprit” behind the outbreak of World War II in Europe, and the updated English edition of his book bears that exact title. …

This is a radical hypothesis, almost unknown in the English-speaking world, but taken very seriously in Europe.

To my great surprise I discovered that Suvorov’s remarkable theories had gained enormous worldwide prominence since 1990, and had been widely discussed almost everywhere except in America and the other English-speaking countries. …

Since 1990, Suvorov’s works have been translated into at least 18 languages and an international storm of scholarly controversy has swirled around the Suvorov Hypothesis in Russia, Germany, Israel, and elsewhere. Numerous other authors have published books in support or more often strong opposition, and even international academic conferences have been held to debate the theory. But our own English-language media has almost entirely blacklisted and ignored this ongoing international debate, to such an extent that the name of the most widely-read military historian who ever lived had remained totally unknown to me. …

Glantz emphasizes that although Suvorov’s analysis of the titanic Russo-German military struggle had gained great attention and considerable support among both Russian and German scholars, it had been generally ignored in the Anglo-American world …

Finally in 2008, the prestigious Naval Academy Press of Annapolis decided to break this 18 year intellectual embargo and published an updated English edition of Suvorov’s work. …

The other central claim of the Suvorov Hypothesis — that the Soviets were themselves on the verge of attacking when the Germans struck — is an extremely factual question, which can be evaluated based on hard evidence. I find the case quite compelling, at least if the facts and details that Suvorov cites in support are not totally spurious, which seems unlikely with the Naval Academy Press as his publisher. …

Read the whole article, but here is some of the quoted evidence for the Soviet buildup of offensive force:

On June 22, 1941, Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa, a sudden, massive surprise attack on the USSR, which caught the Red Army completely unaware. Stalin has been regularly ridiculed for his total lack of preparedness …

Every reconstruction of Operation Barbarossa always noted that the Germans owed much of their great initial success to the very odd deployment of the huge Soviet forces, which were all massed along the border in vulnerable formations almost as if preparing for an attack …

Although there was been a widespread belief in the superiority of Germany’s military technology, its tanks and its planes, this is almost entirely mythological. In actual fact, Soviet tanks were far superior in main armament, armor, and maneuverability to their German counterparts, so much so that the overwhelming majority of panzers were almost obsolescent by comparison.

And the Soviet superiority in numbers was even more extreme, with Stalin deploying several times more tanks than the combined total of those held by Germany and every other nation in the world: 27,000 against just 4,000 in Hitler’s forces. … The Soviets held a similar superiority, though somewhat less extreme, in their ground-attack bombers. The totally closed nature of the USSR meant that vast military forces remained entirely hidden from outside observers. …

Major categories of Soviet weapons systems seem almost impossible to explain except as important elements of Stalin’s offensive plans. Although the bulk of the Soviet armored forces were medium tanks like the T-28 and T-34, generally far superior to their German counterparts, the USSR had also pioneered the development of several lines of highly specialized tanks, most of which had no counterpart elsewhere in the world. …

The Soviets had produced a remarkable line of light BT tanks, easily able to shed their tracks and continue on wheels, achieving a top speed of 60 miles per hour, two or three times faster than any other comparable armored vehicle, and ideally suited to exploitation drives deep into enemy territory. However, such wheeled operation was only effective on paved highways, of which Soviet territory had none, hence were ideally suited for travel on Germany’s large network of autobahns. In 1941 Stalin deployed almost 6,500 of these autobahn-oriented tanks, more than the rest of the world’s tanks combined. …

For centuries, Continental conquerors from Napoleon to Hitler had been stymied by the barrier of the English Channel, but Stalin was far better prepared. Although Stalin’s vast USSR was entirely a land-power, he pioneered the world’s only series of fully amphibious light tanks, able to successfully cross large rivers, lakes, and even that notoriously wide moat last successfully traversed by William the Conqueror in 1066. By 1941, the Soviets deployed 4,000 of these amphibious tanks, far more than 3,350 German tanks of all types used in the attack. But being useless in defense, they were all ordered abandoned or destroyed. …

During the early years of World War II, the Germans effectively utilized paratroops and air-mobile forces to seize key enemy targets far behind the front lines during a major offensive, and this was an important component of their victories against France in 1940 and Greece in 1941. Such units are necessarily lightly armed and no match for regular infantry in a defensive battle; hence their only role is an offensive one. Germany entered the war with 4,000 paratroops, a far larger force than anything found in Britain, France, America, Italy, or Japan. However, the Soviets had at least 1,000,000 trained paratroopers, and Suvorov believes that the true total was actually closer to 2,000,000. …

The most widely produced military aircraft in history was the heavily armored IL-2, a powerful Soviet ground-attack bomber that was originally designed as a two-man system, with the rear gunner able to effectively defend the plane against enemy fighters during its missions. However, Stalin personally ordered the design changed to eliminate the second man and defensive armament, which left the bomber extremely vulnerable to enemy aircraft once the war broke out. Stalin and his war-planners had seemingly banked on possessing near-total air supremacy during the entire course of any conflict, an assumption plausible only if the German luftwaffe were destroyed on the ground by a surprise attack on the very first day. …

Suvorov’s reconstruction of the weeks directly preceding the outbreak of combat is a fascinating one, emphasizing the mirror-image actions taken by both the Soviet and German armies. Each side moved its best striking units, airfields, and ammunition dumps close to the border, ideal for an attack but very vulnerable in defense. Each side carefully deactivated any residual minefields and ripped out any barbed wire obstacles, lest these hinder the forthcoming attack. Each side did its best to camouflage their preparations, talking loudly about peace while preparing for imminent war. …

Hitler made it clear in Mein Kampf that he always intended to conquer Russia, but things didn’t go to plan:

All of the above examples of Soviet weapons systems or strategic decisions seem very difficult to explain under the conventional defensive narrative, but make perfect sense if Stalin’s orientation from 1939 onward had always been an offensive one, and he had decided that summer 1941 was the time to strike and enlarge his Soviet Union to include all the European states, just as Lenin had originally intended.  …

Given the long years of trench warfare on the Western front during the First World War, almost all outside observers expected the new round of the conflict to follow a very similar static pattern, gradually exhausting all sides, and the world was shocked when Germany’s innovative tactics allowed it to achieve a lightning defeat the allied armies in France during 1940. But at that point, Hitler regarded the war as essentially over, and was confident that the extremely generous peace terms he immediately offered the British would soon lead to a final settlement. As a consequence, he returned Germany to a regular peacetime economy, choosing butter over guns in order to maintain his high domestic popularity

Stalin, however, was under no such political constraints, and from the moment he had signed his long-term peace agreement with Hitler in 1939 and divided Poland, he ramped up his total-war economy to an even higher notch. Embarking upon an unprecedented military buildup, he focused his production almost entirely upon purely offensive weapons systems, while even discontinuing those armaments better suited for defense and dismantling his defensive lines of fortifications. By 1941, his production cycle was complete, and he made his plans accordingly. …

Then at almost the last moment, Hitler suddenly realized the strategic trap into which he had fallen, and ordered his heavily outnumbered and outgunned troops into a desperate surprise attack of their own on the assembling Soviets, fortuitously catching them at the very point at which their own final preparations for sudden attack had left them most vulnerable, and thereby snatching a major initial victory from the jaws of certain defeat. Huge stockpiles of Soviet ammunition and weaponry had been positioned close to the border to supply the army of invasion into Germany, and these quickly fell into German hands, providing an important addition to their own woefully inadequate resources.

One can see why it is no country’s interest to promote this view. Hitler’s invasion of Russia was also a desperate defensive move?? The conventional narrative is far more convenient to all the victors of WWII. How curious. Debate rages at the link.

A reader in Europe with extensive military and historical knowledge writes:

Suvorov (a famous Russian field marshal of the 18th century) was the pen name for Ivan Rezjin, a major in the special forces. He has written at least six books about Spetznas, Inside the Soviet Army, etc.

We know that the Soviet divisions in Central Europe were in forward positions in 1941. They had no maps for Western Russian Territory, only for Romania and Hungary. The main thrust was to have been through Hungary and Austria to Bavaria, and then into Germany using the autobahns and railways. Soviet practice was to deliver rail cars with oil, gasoline, and coal only hours before the attack. So when the Germans hit first, on 22 June, the whole Soviet defense become a mess.

There is much to this theory that Stalin was preparing an attack for about 10th July. Sebag Montefiore‘s biography over Stalin also support this theory. In my estimation there is much to support this theory.

The Germans had only three full motorized divisions — the rest depended on horses for transport. The Soviets had at least ten fully motorized divisions.

German intelligence had very little knowledge about the true status of the Soviet Army. The Soviets had much better knowledge of the German and British forces, thanks to their many spies. Stalin did not believe the reports that the Germans would attack.

As long as we do not have access to the Russian archives, we will never know for sure.

Here is the German leader explaining it in September 1941 (see especially after12:00) (YouTube put it in restricted mode, so it must be good.):