Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

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steve248
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by steve248 » 24 Aug 2020 09:57

I will add a bit more on this topic as it came up when I was writing a book.
1. I do not believe that the Soviet Army had a fighting unit composed of communists from Germany or other nations.
2. Reason: despite their communist credentials those of fighting age were not completely trusted.
3. German communists were conscripted by the German army (conscription knows no boundaries) and sent to fighting units on the eastern front; unsurprisingly many deserted to the Soviet side. A small number, maybe 30-40, were accepted by the Soviet side for training as parachute agents and returned to Germany and Austria. Most, if not all, were captured and turned over to the Gestapo. One survivor of such Gestapo captivity was Robert Barth. Postwar handed himself over to the British who handed him over to the Soviets - he claimed to be one of their agents - despatched to Moscow, tried and shot as a traitor.
4. Strangely the German and Austrian communists who came to Britain to escape Nazi persecution decided to live a quiet life, at British taxpayers expense, until the end of the war and eventually returned to their homelands.
5. British Intelligence mostly ignored these communists whereas OSS decided to train at least three who were dropped by parachute into Germany in 1945. I do not think they were captured.

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Sheldrake
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Sheldrake » 24 Aug 2020 17:10

steve248 wrote:
24 Aug 2020 09:57
4. Strangely the German and Austrian communists who came to Britain to escape Nazi persecution decided to live a quiet life, at British taxpayers expense, until the end of the war and eventually returned to their homelands.
5. British Intelligence mostly ignored these communists whereas OSS decided to train at least three who were dropped by parachute into Germany in 1945. I do not think they were captured.
That is not wholly true. The King's Most Loyal Enemy Aliens: Germans Who Fought for Britain in the Second World War by Helen Fry includes accounts of German and Austrians communists who fought for Britain. Originally all enemy aliens were interned on camps. Then the men were allowed to volunteer to work as un armed pioneers, and then in various armed services including as interpreters and in special forces. Around 10,000 served. Fry's book focuses on Jewish refugees. However I know of two men who were clearly committed socialists or communists.

Richard Lehringer died on Operation Aquatint, one of the first allied soldiers to die on what would be famous as Omaha Beach https://www.cwgc.org/find-records/find- ... 0LEHNIGER/
The personal message on his gravestone makes his political sympathies clear.
Rudi Friedlander (Robert Lodge) DCM 2 SAS killed on Op Louten seems to have been another politically motivated soldier.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 25 Aug 2020 07:41

According to Goebbels, he was not worried about Communist radio broadcasts because, ".....they no longer have a constituency" inside Germany. By contrast, he was worried about the potential of Vatican Radio, as the Catholic Church still did have masses of adherents inside Germany.

Sid.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by steve248 » 25 Aug 2020 08:02

I was making the case that there was no fighting unit (i.e. field unit) composed of communists on the eastern front and did say intelligence agencies employed them.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 25 Aug 2020 08:22

Hi Steve248,

The Yugoslav Partisans raised an Austrian "battalion" and a German "company", though these were more like a company and a platoon when Partisan nomenclature inflation is taken into account.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 09 Jan 2022 06:48

Volyn wrote:
17 Jul 2020 22:47
I have not seen this topic discussed before so I am not sure which thread is best -

1. If Lend-Lease materials could be brought to the USSR via Murmansk or Iran, why didn't the US or UK commit any military forces to fight the Germans on the Eastern Front?

2. The Free French sent Escadron de Chasse 2/30 Normandie-Niemen and they used Soviet fighter aircraft/weaponry; was it not possible for either the US or UK to have done something similar, perhaps by sending armored troop regiments and supplied them with Soviet armor?

3. Could Italy have been bypassed in 1943 after the Allies had cleared North Africa, and instead send those Divisions to the USSR in order to help speed up the liberation of Soviet territory until France could be invaded in 1944?

It's an interesting question, and with all due respect for the series of posts above, as far as the US goes, the responses have missed the mark.

American strategy in WW II (and historically before that) has been to mass the largest force practical and take on the strongest enemy with it, aimed at that enemy's center of mass. Examples include the expedition against Mexico City in that conflict, the operations on the Mississippi and in Virginian in the Civil War, and the organization of the AEF in France in WW I.

IN WW II, that meant - essentially - raising an expeditionary force that could be deployed and sustained from the Western Hemisphere into northwest Europe, using the UK as its main base in the theater, liberating France, driving into Europe and encircling and conquering the Ruhr to destroy Germany's industrial heart, and driving east to crush whatever resistance was left.

Everything else, including the Mediterranean theater and the campaigns in the Atlantic and the Pacific, was secondary or tertiary to the above strategy. Operations elsewhere - the China-Burma-India theater, for example - were even farther down the list.

Absent a) a military need, and b) a request from the government of the USSR, the US was never going to spend resources on what would have been, at best, a morale exercise.

The AVG effort in 1941 is not really comparable; the reality is the Chinese air force was pretty close to non-existent by the time the AVG was organized in 1941, and so there was a military need for it - and even then, it had to be organized as a "volunteer" effort because the US and Japan were not yet at war; by the time the unit made it to Asia, the war had begun and the AVG, for the most part, was committed in 1942 to the Allied command in Burma, not China.

Later USAAF operations in support of the Chinese were, for the most part, dedicated to keeping the government in Chungking in the war and then to support a fairly ineffective effort to mount a strategic bombing campaign against Japan, not to support the Chinese forces fighting the Japanese in China.

Sending a USAAF fighter squadron or two (which is what the N-N group, with about 40 Yaks, would have been equivalent to in USAAF parlance) to the USSR would have been a drop in a drop in a bucket floating in an ocean ...

An interesting aside, however, would be if the Soviets set up a "volunteer" unit on their own. There were a number of Spanish veterans of the Spanish Republic's Air Force who went into exile in the USSR after the end of the Spanish Civil War, who ended up fighting for the Soviets ... and there were a few American pilots who had fought (as volunteers, mercenaries, or both) for the Republic as well, and who did not end up in the active USAAF (or US Naval Aviation, US Marine Aviation, etc.) during the war ... one wonders if the Soviets had offered to set up and equip a volunteer squadron (for English speakers, presumably) on their own, what the results would have been?
Last edited by daveshoup2MD on 09 Jan 2022 23:22, edited 1 time in total.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 09 Jan 2022 19:00

There was never any question of the USA or UK unilaterally sending troops to the Easstern Front. This was never their call. It was a Soviet call. This call never came. Stalin wanted a "Second Front", not Western boots on his soil.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 09 Jan 2022 23:25

Sid Guttridge wrote:
09 Jan 2022 19:00
There was never any question of the USA or UK unilaterally sending troops to the Easstern Front. This was never their call. It was a Soviet call. This call never came. Stalin wanted a "Second Front", not Western boots on his soil.

Cheers,

Sid.
True, and even if the Soviets had asked, it is unlikely the US would have deployed any combat units - Germany First, to the US strategists, meant liberating France and destroying Germany by invading it from the west, not peripheral campaigns in eastern, southern, or northern Europe.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 10 Jan 2022 01:08

Sid Guttridge wrote:
09 Jan 2022 19:00
There was never any question of the USA or UK unilaterally sending troops to the Easstern Front. This was never their call. It was a Soviet call. This call never came. Stalin wanted a "Second Front", not Western boots on his soil.

Cheers,

Sid.
Stalin made the call in September 1941 (ignored) but didn't repeat it thereafter.
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 10 Jan 2022 08:03

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
10 Jan 2022 01:08
Sid Guttridge wrote:
09 Jan 2022 19:00
There was never any question of the USA or UK unilaterally sending troops to the Easstern Front. This was never their call. It was a Soviet call. This call never came. Stalin wanted a "Second Front", not Western boots on his soil.

Cheers,

Sid.
Stalin made the call in September 1941 (ignored) but didn't repeat it thereafter.
Little early for the US, then, isn't it?

As far as the British goes, between Egypt and SW Asia in Q3, 1941, they didn't have a lot of spare deployable forces - and as of Dec. 8, 1941 in Asia, they had none.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by Art » 12 Jan 2022 19:05

Stavka's directive No.003093 of 19 October 1941 to the Commander of the Transcaucasus Front:
You can give the following answer to general Wavell: "The command of the Transcaucasus Front expresses gratitude to general Wavell for his proposals on joint actions of English (sic!) and Soviet forces. At the same time the command of the Transcaucasus Front must declare that it does not have rights to decide the questions of joint operations of English and Soviet forces on the territory of the Soviet Union for such questions should be considered by governments of both countries. For this reason the command of the Trans. Front cannot accept the proposal of gen. Wavell."
By instruction of Supreme Command Stavaka
Deputy Chief of the General Staff VASILEVSKY
What was this Wavell's proposal?

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 21 Jan 2022 13:04

Came across quotes relevant here while reading for other purposes. From Stoler's The Politics of the Second Front, describing Stalin's Sept. '41 request for British troops on Soviet soil, after requests for an immediate Second Front were rebuffed:
Stalin replied by asking
for twenty-five to thirty divisions in either Archangel or on the southern
Russian front...
[...]
distrust was only increased by Churchill’s October 12 offer to let
British troops replace the Russians in northern Iran so that five or six Soviet divisions could be released for combat.
Seeing the offr as a further attempt to maximize Russian casualties, the Soviets
pointedly asked why the British refused to go to the front and fight,
while the British ambassador in Moscow warned of growing Russian suspicion and mistrust. Cooperation would occur, the Soviets had made clear
to the ambassador, “as soon as we could do something on land to relieve
the German pressure.”
Art wrote:
12 Jan 2022 19:05
What was this Wavell's proposal?
I'm not sure but, given the context (Oct 19 order after the Oct 12 British offer re Iran), I'd guess that it's a more diplomatic rejection of British offers to relieve Soviet forces in Iran. Wavell was C-in-C India, which IIRC covered Iran at that time. Were those Soviet forces under Transcaucasian Front?
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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by rcocean » 22 Jan 2022 01:50

Cantankerous wrote:
22 Aug 2020 21:21
Did any members of communist organizations in the US and UK ever contemplate flocking to the USSR to provide aid to and join forces with the Red Army on the Eastern Front.
Yes, I was thinking the same thing. All kinds of American Communists and "Anti-fascists" hated Hitler with the passion of 10,000 suns. Yet, very few of them joined either the Candian Army (prior to Pearl Harbor) or offered their services to the Soviets. I'm sure Stalin would loved to have had them. Hitler had his Spanish "Blue Division". Stalin could've had his "Abe Lincoln Division".

Even more curious is the excuse given by many Communists for joining CPUSA in the 30s was they wanted to "fight fascism" But I suppose it was more convenient to fight Hitler in Beverly Hills or Manhattan, then the Eastern Front. :D

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by daveshoup2MD » 22 Jan 2022 02:56

rcocean wrote:
22 Jan 2022 01:50
Cantankerous wrote:
22 Aug 2020 21:21
Did any members of communist organizations in the US and UK ever contemplate flocking to the USSR to provide aid to and join forces with the Red Army on the Eastern Front.
Yes, I was thinking the same thing. All kinds of American Communists and "Anti-fascists" hated Hitler with the passion of 10,000 suns. Yet, very few of them joined either the Candian Army (prior to Pearl Harbor) or offered their services to the Soviets. I'm sure Stalin would loved to have had them. Hitler had his Spanish "Blue Division". Stalin could've had his "Abe Lincoln Division".

Even more curious is the excuse given by many Communists for joining CPUSA in the 30s was they wanted to "fight fascism" But I suppose it was more convenient to fight Hitler in Beverly Hills or Manhattan, then the Eastern Front. :D
Why would they have joined the Canadian Army or the Red Army in 1941, when the US had begun to mobilize in 1940, after the Fall of France, and the Nazis and Soviets were still nominal allies?

The majority of the Americans who had gone to Spain to fight for the Republic were certainly anti-fascists, but very few were actual Communists and even fewer had any interest in fighting for the USSR in 1940-41, before the German invasion.

Many did, however, volunteer for the US forces and served honorably during WW II; A.J. Baumler, Herman Bottcher, and Edward A. Carter all come to mind, and there were many others.

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Re: Why didn't the US or UK fight on the Eastern Front?

Post by EwenS » 22 Jan 2022 17:37

From June 1941 until the end of 1942 British fears for the Middle East (that part east of Suez to Iran that is often forgotten about) revolved around
1. A Soviet collapse with the Germans striking through the Caucasus into the Persian Gulf region and the possible loss of its oil resources; and
2. A German strike through Turkey, either with or without the support of that nation, into the Palestine region and then south towards the Suez Canal.

Various plans were formulated that, at different points in time saw British forces entering the Caucasus to defend Soviet oilfields or into Anatolia to stem the passage of German troops through Turkey. Eventually this evolved into a defensive strategy on the so called "Northern Front". Events however first in the Far East in Dec 1941 and then in Libya/Egypt in early 1942 saw the forces available for such actions steadily reduced. Fortunately the Soviets were able to stop the Germans in their southerly push in late 1942 and El Alamein saw them stopped in the Western Desert. And Turkey stayed neutral and Germany didn't invade.

Various reinforcements were planned to go to the ME in late 1941 in preparation for potential operations on this Northern Front. For example, shipping from the UK was being sought for 2 infantry divisions. One division, the 18th, did sail but was diverted to Singapore on the outbreak of war with Japan. Similarly the RAF had a Wing of 4 Hurricane squadrons that left the UK on convoy WS12Z at the beginning of Nov 1941 earmarked for Iraq and potentially the Caucasus, something that had only been revealed to a few of its more senior officers. Instead these units too were diverted to the Far East while en route in Dec 1941.

This article lays out some of the strategy and plans involved.
https://www.jstor.org/stable/26070631?r ... b_contents

Iraq, Persia etc was originally part of GHQ India until mid 1941 following the Iraq Rebellion etc. It was then transferred to Middle East Command and eventually, in Aug 1942, to a separate Persia and Iraq Command.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Persia_and_Iraq_Command

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