Pro-Communist Historians Systematically Misinformed Us About WWII

Pro-Communist Historians Systematically Misinformed Us About WWII. By Jakub Grygiel.

Stalin was the clear winner of [WWII]. It was his war, and he got the most out of it. This is the argument of a new book, Stalin’s War, by a prolific and excellent historian, Sean McMeekin of Bard College. …

Stalin’s plan was to conquer all of Europe by the mid-1940s, knowing that communism was inferior to capitalism at pleasing people. Stalin knew that the USSR had to conquer the capitalists, or ultimately lose. Everything Stalin did from 1930 on was aimed at conquering western Europe.

Stalin was always interested in a war, especially one that would pit the other powers against each other. The expansion of Soviet influence and control required the weakening of the other powers, in particular the Western ones that were opposed to the Communist virus. For Stalin, therefore, the growth of Nazi Germany was a great opportunity: a violent and expansionistic power in the middle of Europe that could take the first swing against the polities standing on his path. …

Hitler’s decision to invade Russia in mid-1941 was a surprise to Stalin, but not because he was expecting a lasting peace on his western frontier. Rather, as McMeekin documents, Stalin had ordered very rapid and large military preparations, building airbases and placing forces near the border with the Third Reich in the first half of 1941. None of them were in a defensive posture, and presented a vulnerable high value target to Nazi attacks. When Hitler decided to attack the USSR in June 1941, these Soviet forces were easy pickings for the well-organized, trained, and war tested German army.

McMeekin here expands and amends a bold thesis offered in 1990 by Viktor Suvorov, a pseudonym for a GRU agent who defected to the West in the late ‘70s and became a historian, that argued that Stalin was actively planning an attack on Germany but was preempted by Hitler. While Suvorov was excessive in his claim that the Red Army was ready for an offensive campaign in 1941 (because, among other reasons, the officer corps was still in shambles after Stalin’s purges) and that Stalin had plans to conquer Europe, he argued that the USSR was never a status quo power satisfied in its borders. After all Soviet Russia had already attempted to march westward in 1920 and was stopped only by the Poles in a desperate battle near Warsaw (the “Miracle on the Vistula”).

This westward vector and ambition of Moscow did not abate, and had to pause because of Hitler’s rise and the might of Nazi Germany. As McMeekin points out, the Soviet military posture in 1941 makes no sense if the goal was to defend Soviet-held lands, suggesting that Stalin was thinking of pouncing on Berlin, now the last remaining continental power in Europe. As the Soviet tyrant himself put it, the USSR no longer needed to be locked in a defensive posture, and was “a rapacious predator, coiled in tense anticipation, waiting for the chance to ambush its prey.”

Stalin, that is, was not an innocent victim of Hitler. Not only he was an active partner from 1938 until 1941, but also he had geopolitical aspirations that were more ambitious than those held by Hitler. And he pursued them methodically and ruthlessly, leaving a trail of death that dwarfed the one produced by the Nazis.

McMeekin then focuses on how the Western allies, Churchill but especially FDR, abetted Stalin’s ambitions. This part of the book is fascinating and depressing at the same time. In a nutshell, Stalin obtained from FDR more than he expected: territory, influence, and materiel. And he did not give anything in exchange for it because FDR and his advisors never asked him for it.

FDR advisor and constant companion Harry Hopkins was pro-Soviet, and probably a Soviet agent:

For instance, FDR supported the Lend-Lease program, putting his friend Harry Hopkins in charge. Under this program of military aid, the United States supplied a massive amount of weapons, trucks, airplanes, tanks, foodstuff to the Soviet Union in the months of its greatest need, as German troops were driving deep into Russia while the vaunted Soviet armies were melting away. Without such aid, the USSR would have likely been unable to stop the German onslaught and certainly would have been incapable of mustering the resources necessary to push westward. Hence, in this moment there was a good strategic rationale for the American support of Stalin’s defensive efforts against Nazi Germany.

But the problem was that FDR — and Hopkins — went much further than simply buttressing a collapsing Soviet power. The most stunning mistake — a policy willfully pursued by FDR — was that Stalin was never asked for anything in exchange for this material aid. The United States had the upper hand because the Soviets were desperate for any help and would have paid a price for these goods. As McMeekin comments, FDR “could have asked any price: payment in cash, by loan, or in kind; political concessions inside Russia; or promises from Stalin of better behavior abroad, such as abandoning his spying operations in Washington or offering token support for the US-British war against Japan. Instead, the Americans simply gave and demanded nothing in return aside from a vague, nonbinding promise of loan repayment beginning five years after the war was over, at no interest.” …

FDR was also not well served by his closest advisors. The individual who comes out in the worst light in McMeekin’s book is FDR’s friend and advisor, Harry Hopkins. While managing the Lend-Lease program, he favored his Soviet consumers above the US Army and the American citizen. …

Hence, the United States had a butter shortage because Hopkins sent it to the USSR (the Soviets rejected oleomargarine as a substitute). American airplanes were delivered to Stalin, despite the urgent needs of the US military. A lot of technology was also transferred, some in the open, some stolen by Soviet officials who were allowed to visit anywhere in the U.S. (while American observers were not permitted to do the same in the USSR). …

Even more, Hopkins promised Stalin to keep “anti-Soviet types” away from FDR, and kept true to that promise by purging the US Department of State of its greatest Soviet experts who had a more clear-eyed view of this totalitarian dictatorship. Hopkins was both ideologically pro-Soviet and vindictive (as well as close to FDR) — a mix that silenced most individuals in the US government who knew the not-so-hidden nature of the Soviet regime and of its leader and thus were skeptical of such unconditional support for Stalin.

The left also tried to convince us that the Nazis were right wing. No, they were left wing — they were national socialists. On the individualism-collectivism spectrum, from anti-social individualism on the far right through to pure communism at the furthest left, Nazism was pretty close to the left end. Individual rights were not a thing in Nazi Germany.

Nazism was a mix of nationalism and communism, whose roots were in communists returning from WWI who noticed that soldiers fought for their nation rather than their class. Their solution: add some nationalism to communism. In 1930s Germany, the political front runners were the international communists (the Moscow line, wanting communism in all countries) and the national socialists (Nazis), because “everyone knew” the future was socialist. The former smeared the latter as “right wing,” a nonsense that persists in western academia.