Chances for a German Soviet armistice in 1941-42

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rob
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Chances for a German Soviet armistice in 1941-42

Post by rob » 12 Oct 2002 21:16

this topic never ceases to intrest me. I'm wondering how realistic a German Soviet armistice was in the months soon after the invasion, especially after October 1941 when the German advance was massively slowing down and by which time it should have become evident to the Germans that conquering Russia wasn't going to be easy. Even if we take the view that Germany felt they had to attack Russia as a preemptive strike, wouldn't the massive territorial, industrial and manpower losses that the Soviets have taken have lessened any threat from them. Of course, the other question is what of the Soviet feelings of an armistice. The German terms would certainly be harsh, something like the Brest Litovsk terms of 1918, with Germany annexing Baltic states, the installation of puppet regimes in Ukraine and Byelorussia, perhaps a gigantic demilitarized zone of Soviet territory west of the Urals? Maybe a German armistice commision roaming around Soviet territory? Still, I wonder if Stalin had been given the choice of becoming a sort of left-wing Petain he would have gone for it, especially if the offer comes before Germany is at war with US. I recall reading somewhere that the Bulgarian ambassador to Moscow was asked to serve as mediator in such talks in I believe in 1941 but declined.

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Scott Smith
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Brest-Litovsk II

Post by Scott Smith » 12 Oct 2002 23:36

Moved my response from this thread:

Hitler's declaration of war on america.
rob wrote:Now, had a 2nd Brest Litovsk occured and a German Russian armistice signed, all bets are off.
With no assurance of direct American help, a second Brest-Litovsk would have been a surprisingly good deal for Stalin (even though the Soviets might still otherwise have ultimately won the war). Besides, taking tangible objectives that have been contested before is less inducive to paranoia than a general crusade, e.g., a war to eradicate Bolshevism. Stalin would have dodged a bullet and would be left feeling more secure where it mattered than before. He would have been even more xenophobic and cautious by being less inclined to trust the Western democracies who had made wooing the Soviets into an art-form.

As far as whether a Nazi-Soviet armistice would be likely, not before the first German setbacks, of course. The Germans had no reason to deal when they were winning. And after Pearl Harbor and the American entry into the war the Soviets had no reason to deal. So in hindsight, Hitler should have been willing to deal with the Russians instead of declaring war on the USA, and Stalin should not have overplayed his hand before Barbarossa, which prompted Hitler to distrust him and try to secure his eastern flank.

I think a settlement along the lines of the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk would have been reasonable. The Baltics and Bessarabia would have rather been under German rule than Russian and that probably goes for Ukraine as well.
:)

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Post by michael mills » 13 Oct 2002 03:56

Throughout the war, the Western Allies were afraid that Hitler and Stalin would make a separate peace, leaving Germany free to concentrate its forces to repel the planned Anglo-American invasion.

Even in 1944 that fear still persisted. That is why Britain immediately publicised Himmler's offer to trade one million Jews for trucks to be used solely on the Eastern Front, made in May of that year; it wanted to demonstrate to Stalin that the Western Allies were not dealing with Hitler behind his back, thereby giving Stalin an excuse to make his own deal.

There certainly were peace feelers in 1942 and 1943. Stalin often used the tacit threat of making a separate peace with Germany as a lever to pressure the Western Allies into opening the Second Front as soon as possible.

How serious Stalin was is very much a moot point. It is quite possible that as 1942 and 1943 wore on, without any sign of a Second Front, Stalin would have been prepared to sign a peace with Germany that would have ended the war in the East, and the huge burden it was placing on the Soviet Union. In my opinion, I think Stalin would have signed a separate peace with Hitler if it would have left him in a position similar to that of 1941, ie the Soviet Union out of the war and able to recover its strength, with a stalemate in the West (Germany unable to defeat Britain and America, the latter unable to invade the Continent) that would have led inevitably to the weakening of Germany, enabling the Soviet Union to advance westward at some point in the future, when the balance of power had moved in its favour.

Something like that happened after the First World War. Bolshevik Russia surrendered large parts of its territory at Brest-Litovsk in order to gain a breathing space. After the surrender of Germany, it began to spread its influence westward, both by fomenting revolution and by actual invasion in the case of Poland. However, it was far to weak to achieve its aims, particularly in the face of British opposition (the Royal Navy was blockading the coast, and even threatened to bombard Petrograd into oblivion). In 1942, the Soviet Union was immeasurably more powerful.

The above is a separate issue from what happened immediately after the German invasion. It is known from Soviet memoirs that in those first weeks, Stalin was seriously considering the option of giving Hitler the Baltic States, Ukraine, and even parts of Russia proper and the caucasus, in return for peace and being allowed to retain power in a rump state.

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Interests Me Too...

Post by Citadel » 13 Oct 2002 18:34

I think the prime argument against a new German-Soviet peace pact, at any point after the start of Barbarossa, was that the old one had failed.

Hitler invaded Russia in part because of the blackmail over resources which Stalin was using against him, a return to peace would either be a return to that blackmail or the annexation of the resources for Germany...clearly something that Stalin would find unacceptable as it was his trump card prior to the invasion.

Neither man was one to sue for peace once their bluff had been called, not least because both had sold the conflict personally to their people as a "Total War". How would the Germans have taken an armistice that left them with no gains for their dead, or the Communist party have taken Stalin quitting against a Capitalist aggressor?

Hitler could have sued for peace when his armies were clearly in retreat, long before the rape of Germany by the Red army, and the Allies would have pressured the Soviets to settle. The fact he chose to burn his own nation indicates his state of mind, he was a fanatic by then who wanted to take his own people to hell with him. If he would not settle then , he would never have settled before.

Had Moscow fallen, had Stalingrad fallen....then maybe Stalin would have offered, but by such a time a triumphant Hitler would never have settled for anything but conquest. The two nations had good reasons to settle, their two leaders none whatsoever and hence the massacres continued.

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Lord_Demonized
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Re: Interests Me Too...

Post by Lord_Demonized » 19 Oct 2002 01:30

Stalin said: "It's better to die standing than live on your knees".

That speaks for itself....

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Scott Smith
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A Separate Peace...

Post by Scott Smith » 19 Oct 2002 03:31

Stalin did offer a peace based on the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk when Barbarossa was in full swing. At that time Hitler had no reason to deal because the Soviets were expected to collapse soon. It would have been better to take the offer, however, as soon as the campaign began to bog down, and that was long before winter actually set in. The Germans could not afford the same meatgrinder losses.

The arrangement would have improved the German situation and the Soviet Union would still be secure behind its Ural industrial base, but no longer a threat to Germany and Europe. Stalin would be signing away nothing more than Lenin had. Furthermore, in peacetime, the Germans could have reversed the Soviet scorched-earth policy in these lands and gained the support of the Ukrainian people. It doesn't matter that the last agreement (Ribbentrop-Molotov) had failed because the most important reason to deal is mutual self-interest and not a long history of diplomatic trust, although that is nice.

Until Stalingrad, I think it was possible to get a separate-peace with the Soviets under some favorable terms. After the Allied demand for Unconditional Surrender, however, the Allies wanted to make sure that the Russians didn't cut a separate deal with the Germans. They Soviets agreed to the Unconditional Surrender demand at Teheran in November, 1943, and the Soviets were not going to renege on that because they could get more concessions from the Allies than from the Germans in a separate-peace.

Still, if Hitler had been able to win a major victory in some theater it would have put doubt into the Unconditional Surrender demand and opened at least the possibility of a separate-peace with the Russians. Stalin's asking price would be very high, however. I do not think the Western Allies ever would have taken a separate-peace after Pearl Harbor short of a scenario involving German nuclear weapons.
:)

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Lord_Demonized
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Re: A Separate Peace...

Post by Lord_Demonized » 19 Oct 2002 22:23

I read somewhere that in 1944 Hitler tried some feelers to Stalin.
I don't know if this is accurate, cause in the desperate situation that were Germany in that year, the obvious step was search a separate peace with Rusia or with the occidental allies. But i know there was a deal between russians and allies of "NO SEPARATE PEACE".

Sorry if i spelled wrong any word. My english is very poor.....

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Post by Lord_Demonized » 19 Oct 2002 22:26

Still, if Hitler had been able to win a major victory in some theater it would have put doubt into the Unconditional Surrender demand and opened at least the possibility of a separate-peace with the Russians. Stalin's asking price would be very high, however. I do not think the Western Allies ever would have taken a separate-peace after Pearl Harbor short of a scenario involving German nuclear weapons.
That's exactly what Hitler was searching for. A last great victory to negotiate a peace with conditions.[/quote]

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ozs86
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Post by ozs86 » 01 Nov 2002 21:47

when we are talking about the clash of 2 totalitarian regimes,
we need to be focused on the leaders...
hitler star was bright, but he was hated by the army because he didn't show any respect to the generals.he had his regime and newly occupied teretories stable by 1941.
on the other end stalin was hated by most of nation,did not have thrustable military cooperates,did not have any deciscive victories and had an army that wasn't a rival to the germans alone by itself...
no one knows what stalin did between 21june-1july 1941
the lie that stalin declared him as the head of the soviet army on the day of german attack was corrected by kruchev in 1957.
if there would be an armstice at the time the only way it could turn in to reality was stalin's death or a coup against him...!a coup against hitler didn't really have a chancein 1941.

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Post by germanpolitic » 04 Nov 2002 22:27

Remember the key component to Hitlers Nature. Since Mein Kamp he has told the world that "lebensraum" was only attainable through the east. He wanted racial purity and he would never make a peace with the Soviets. Some forget that Hitlers life from 1923 to 1941 was a preparation for the war of annihilation in the east. For this i rule out any type of armistice.

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Re: Chances for a German Soviet armistice in 1941-42

Post by Kaisertreue » 04 Nov 2002 23:29

rob wrote:this topic never ceases to intrest me. I'm wondering how realistic a German Soviet armistice was in the months soon after the invasion, especially after October 1941 when the German advance was massively slowing down and by which time it should have become evident to the Germans that conquering Russia wasn't going to be easy. Even if we take the view that Germany felt they had to attack Russia as a preemptive strike, wouldn't the massive territorial, industrial and manpower losses that the Soviets have taken have lessened any threat from them. Of course, the other question is what of the Soviet feelings of an armistice. The German terms would certainly be harsh, something like the Brest Litovsk terms of 1918, with Germany annexing Baltic states, the installation of puppet regimes in Ukraine and Byelorussia, perhaps a gigantic demilitarized zone of Soviet territory west of the Urals? Maybe a German armistice commision roaming around Soviet territory? Still, I wonder if Stalin had been given the choice of becoming a sort of left-wing Petain he would have gone for it, especially if the offer comes before Germany is at war with US. I recall reading somewhere that the Bulgarian ambassador to Moscow was asked to serve as mediator in such talks in I believe in 1941 but declined.

I very much doubt that Stalin would ever have seriously contemplated any armistice that would have given Germany large territorial gains at the USSR's expense. Even in the grim days of October/November 1941 there is no evidence that Stalin ever approached the Germans with a proposal. Also, I seem to recall that there was a secret exchange of diplomatic messages between Germany and the USSR in April 1943 and again in October 1943. Both times the Russians insisted on a return to the 'status quo' before 22 June 1941, and Hitler would hear none of it. He insisted on retaining all territory West of the Dnieper.

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Post by Qvist » 05 Nov 2002 13:16

I too have given this topic some thought over the years. But enticing as the option seems from both perspectives, I always find it strands on it's own logic from the German point of view.

First point is, under what circumstances would both parties have found such an option palatable? Knowing Stalin, he would not have negotiated if he thought his bargaining position could be improved by waiting. And on Hitler's part, such an option is so adverse to his basic outlook that we almost have to imagine him a different person than he was to be able envisage it at all. They would both be loth to talk when they were not dealing from a position of strength, and they would both be disinclined to talk if things were going well, especially Hitler.

Second point is, what does such a peace offer Germany? There can never be any trust between the two after Barbarossa, and it must be taken for granted that the USSR will re-enter the war at a time of her choosing. And the better terms the Germans would have been able to extract, the more certain this becomes. And a buffer zone in Eastern Europe will be scant security against an unweakened Russia.

Third point is, what can Germany use this breather for? She has no other options for decisive action. Western and Southern Europe can be safeguarded against Anglo-American onslaught, but this is in any case certain to be some way off - by which time a revitalised USSR will be in a good position to re-enter the fray.

No, I do no think it is possible to escape from the logic of the situation created by Barbarossa - namely that the Third Reich and the USSR were mutually exclusive entitites.

cheers

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Post by michael mills » 06 Nov 2002 05:03

Qvist wrote:
No, I do no think it is possible to escape from the logic of the situation created by Barbarossa - namely that the Third Reich and the USSR were mutually exclusive entitites.
I agree. Now both are gone.

Both entities were products of the collapse of Western Civilisation brought about by the First World War. The disappearance first of the Third Reich and then of the Soviet Union represents a gradual return to equilibrium.

We may assume that the equilibrium will continue unless something happens to upset it, for example a long-term conflict between the West and the Islamic world.

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Post by Scott Smith » 06 Nov 2002 08:09

I don't see why there couldn't be a balance-of-power between these two powers or even ideologies as with any others.
:)

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Post by Qvist » 06 Nov 2002 09:22

I don't see why there couldn't be a balance-of-power between these two powers or even ideologies as with any others.
In principle I agree, but not after Barbarossa.

cheers

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