"Stalin's War of Extermination", by Joachim Hoffma

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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 06 Nov 2002 17:53

Starinov wrote:Roberto, it's nice you are trying to destroy somebody' theories. However, you should use a more recent book.


More recent isn't necessarily better, especially if supported by speculation rather than evidence.

Starinov wrote:Overy's book is almost 32 years old.


I presume you mean Salisbury's The 900 Days. Overy's Russia's War, to which I also copiously refer, was written in 1997.

Starinov wrote:Many new data has been discovered since 1970.


Of course.

The quoted assessment of the Red Army on 20.05.1941 by the Wehrmachtsabteilung Fremde Heere Ost seems to be one example of such newly discovered data.

Nothing new that I have seen so far, however, is sufficient to prove Salisbury's assessment from 1970 wrong.

Starinov wrote:For example, Nevezhin is a full russian historian and he published recently a book a bout the Soviet propaganda in the RKKA. According to his book, Stalin was preparing an aggressive war against Germany...


That's great. I hope he has more to show in support of his contentions than Hoffmann.

Starinov wrote:Try to use more recent books to be more credible.....


When you have anything better to say against my credibility than my referring to old books, please let me know.

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Post by Starinov » 06 Nov 2002 18:30

Roberto wrote:
Starinov wrote:Roberto, it's nice you are trying to destroy somebody' theories. However, you should use a more recent book.


More recent isn't necessarily better, especially if supported by speculation rather than evidence.


No, newer does not mean better but it has a better chance to have been updated.

Roberto wrote:
Starinov wrote:Overy's book is almost 32 years old.


I presume you mean Salisbury's The 900 Days. Overy's Russia's War, to which I also copiously refer, was written in 1997.


My mistake. I meant Salisbury's The 900 Days

Roberto wrote:
Starinov wrote:Many new data has been discovered since 1970.


Of course.

Try to use then

Roberto wrote:
Starinov wrote:For example, Nevezhin is a full russian historian and he published recently a book a bout the Soviet propaganda in the RKKA. According to his book, Stalin was preparing an aggressive war against Germany...


That's great. I hope he has more to show in support of his contentions than Hoffmann.


Yep, he has. Very interesting book. well written a well documented...

Roberto wrote:
Starinov wrote:Try to use more recent books to be more credible.....


When you have anything better to say against my credibility than my referring to old books, please let me know.
[/quote]

I sure will. 8O

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Post by Roberto » 06 Nov 2002 18:36

Starinov wrote:
Roberto wrote:
Starinov wrote:Roberto, it's nice you are trying to destroy somebody' theories. However, you should use a more recent book.


More recent isn't necessarily better, especially if supported by speculation rather than evidence.


No, newer does not mean better but it has a better chance to have been updated.


I would agree to that if there were not so many ideologically motivated charlatans among the "newer" authors.

As it is, you have to separate the wheat from the chaff.

Starinov wrote:Many new data has been discovered since 1970.


Roberto wrote:Of course.


Starinov wrote:Try to use then


Don't I ?

Maybe you should read my posts more carefully.

Starinov wrote:For example, Nevezhin is a full russian historian and he published recently a book a bout the Soviet propaganda in the RKKA. According to his book, Stalin was preparing an aggressive war against Germany...


Roberto wrote:That's great. I hope he has more to show in support of his contentions than Hoffmann.


Starinov wrote:Yep, he has. Very interesting book. well written a well documented...


If you think so, I suggest you prepare a presentation of Nevezhin's theses and the evidence presented in support thereof, for the benefit of our audience.

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Post by Starinov » 06 Nov 2002 18:48

Roberto wrote:I would agree to that if there were not so many ideologically motivated charlatans among the "newer" authors.


So now if somebody is proving that USSR would be better prepared for a war in 1941 than Germany thought, is a charlatan?

Roberto wrote:If you think so, I suggest you prepare a presentation of Nevezhin's theses and the evidence presented in support thereof, for the benefit of our audience.


Here is a small one:
http://thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=6305

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Post by Roberto » 06 Nov 2002 18:55

Starinov wrote:
Roberto wrote:I would agree to that if there were not so many ideologically motivated charlatans among the "newer" authors.


So now if somebody is proving that USSR would be better prepared for a war in 1941 than Germany thought, is a charlatan?


No, a charlatan is someone who submits adventurous theses at odds with the historical record without backing them up by conclusive evidence.

Example:

In his book ‘The Icebreaker. Hitler in Stalin’s Calculus’ “Suvorov” even gives the date of Stalin’s assault: 6 July 1941. The fact that reviewers in the German press manifested themselves impressed by the ‘Icebreaker’, however, has to do only with the widespread demand for apologetic literature and not at all with the quality of the writing. For a closer look reveals that “Suvorov” cannot provide plausible arguments let alone documentary evidence in support of his theses. This is not surprising given that in the encirclement battles of 1941 the German troops, although the staffs of armies and army groups fell into their hands, did not capture a single document that would indicate plans by Stalin for a preventive war, and such are lacking to this day. All that “Suvorov” does is to arbitrarily declare the dislocation of the Red Army in the spring of 1941 to have been a marching-up for a preventive strike, and the few citations from memoirs of Soviet military men that he tries to support this act of arbitrariness with are revealed by examination as shameless forgeries of the original texts.


I translated the above from an article by Hermann Graml published in Wolfgang Benz et al, Legenden, Lügen, Vorurteile, 12th edition 2002 by dtv Munich, page 194.

That the USSR was better prepared for war than the Nazis thought is not exactly a spectacular new discovery, by the way. The Germans came to realize that soon after they started their attack.
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Post by Starinov » 06 Nov 2002 20:03

Roberto wrote:Example:

In his book ‘The Icebreaker. Hitler in Stalin’s Calculus’ “Suvorov” even gives the date of Stalin’s assault: 6 July 1941


The hitlerite leaders stroke with a preventive attack exactly two weeks before the planned action of our troops


Source: Army General S. Ivanov, Naczalnii Period voiny, 1974, page 212.
Translation is mine

June 22nd plus 14-15 days gives.... July 6th-7th 1941.

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Post by Roberto » 06 Nov 2002 20:53

Starinov wrote:
Roberto wrote:Example:

In his book ‘The Icebreaker. Hitler in Stalin’s Calculus’ “Suvorov” even gives the date of Stalin’s assault: 6 July 1941


The hitlerite leaders stroke with a preventive attack exactly two weeks before the planned action of our troops


Source: Army General S. Ivanov, Naczalnii Period voiny, 1974, page 212.
Translation is mine

June 22nd plus 14-15 days gives.... July 6th-7th 1941.


Wonderful.

Assuming you quoted Mr. Ivanov directly and not after "Suvorov", what exactly was he doing in 1941, and to what extent - if at all - was he involved in or knew about Soviet high command planning?

And what else - if anything - does the fellow tell us about this "planned action of our troops" ?

And whence does he derive the conclusion that the "hitlerite leaders" had prevention on their minds?

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Post by Starinov » 07 Nov 2002 03:19

Roberto wrote:Assuming you quoted Mr. Ivanov directly and not after "Suvorov", what exactly was he doing in 1941, and to what extent - if at all - was he involved in or knew about Soviet high command planning?


In 1941, he was the chief of the operational section of the staff of the 13th army. He became later chief of staff of the Voronezh Front with the rank of Lt-General to finally end his career as the commander of the Academy of the Genral Staff of the Soviet Army with the rank of Army General.

His book "Naczalnii Period Voiny' (Initial Stages of War) is a complete study of the that period of war... Since he was highly placed in the General Staff, he could write his study...

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Post by michael mills » 07 Nov 2002 07:40

It may be that Viktor Rezun alias Suvorov has used Ivanov as a source, and quoted him.

But why should he not do that? All historians base their conclusions on sources. And if Rezun/Suvorov has used Ivanov as a source, that demolishes the claim of his leftist detractors that he simply made everything up.

If Roberto thinks that Rezun/Suvorov may have misused information from Ivanov's book, then it is incumbent on him to prove it. So far, all he has done is quote a claim from Graml that Rezun/Suvorov "forged" sources, but has not quoted any material from Graml (or anyone else) that would back up that claim.

The date 6 July 1941 also occurs in Hoffmann's book, in the following context (page 83):

Furthermore, what did the Politburo of the Central Committee mean, according to point 183 of Protocol No. 33 in its meeting of June 4, 1941, when it made the decision to fix July 1 as the date of "the establishment of an Infantry Division consisting of personnel of Polish nationality and Polish language in units of the Red Army"? In Boris Sokolov's opinion, the arguments in favor of a "Soviet attack upon Germany on July 6, 1941" thus acquire "the status of a scientific certainty".
[Source: Boris Sokolov, "Pochval'noe slovo Viktoru Suvorovu i epitafia katynskim poliakam" {= A panegyric to Victor Suvorov and an epitaph for the Poles of Katyn} in: Nezavisimaia Gazeta, 5.4.1994].


It should be noted the "Nezavisimaia gazeta" is a respected, independent Russian newspaper (that is what its name means), that was set up in opposition to Government media left over from the Soviet era.

It would seem that Russian intellectual circles that are not tainted by a Communist past hold Rezun/Suvorov in much higher regard than Leftist German historians.

It should be noted that the "new breed" of Russian historian, the ones that Hoffmann uses as his sources, play a similar role to German leftist historians in that both are seeking to refute the lies and distortions of the past, of the Soviet regime in the case of the former, and of the German Nazi regime in the case of the latter. It is therefore ironic that Russian historians seeking to refute Soviet lies have fallen foul of the German leftist historians, due to the fact that one particular lie that they have exposed is one that the German leftist historians wish to uphold as it serves their otherwise quite creditable anti-Nazi purpose. But a good cause cannot be served with lies.

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Post by michael mills » 07 Nov 2002 08:39

Oleg wrote:
In regards to Stalin’s speech.

Hoffman relays on the Alexander Werth’s phrase asserting that Stalin ,while addressing Military academy graduates ,said that war against Germany is “ almost unavoidable” in 1942. However Hoffman totally ignores the fact that NKVD “put into circulation” two totally different versions of Stalin’s speech in 1941. One was “let out” to German reporters in may of 1941; the other, after the war already began, (see Werth ‘s book for that) was given to British journalist. Neither version has much in common with “short” version of Stalin’s speech dated by May 5th of 1941. Both “speeches’ were aimed at achieving specific political goals. First one was meant to influence Germans and to press them into negotiations and thus to delay, if not to prevent armed conflict. The second one was made to excuse pre-war Soviet-German relations in the eyes of the Brits and to underline that even though USSR was cooperating with Germany, in fact it was going in the most recent future to end its domination of Europe by the means of armed solution. That version of the vents was neede to cement anti-Nazi coalition. It is indicative that in the Russian translation of his book Werth decided to drop the whole speech thing altogether.


Oleg, have you actually read Hoffmanns' "Stalin's War of Extermination", or are you simply relying on my quotations from him.

Hoffmann does NOT use Alexander Werth's version of Stalin's speech of 5 May 1941. He uses the "kratkaia zapis' "(short version), which he says is available in the Russian Centre for the Storage and Research of Documents on Contemporary History (RTsKhIDNI - Rossiiskii Tsentr Khraneniia i Izucheniia Dokumentov Noveishei Istorii).

He says that the original version of the speech is stored in the Presidential Archive and is inaccessible to researchers. That of course was written in 1995, and the situation with regard to inaccessibility may have changed since then.

Oleg, have you been into the Presidential Archive and seen the original version of Stalin's speech? My understanding is that the Soviet-era archives have now been closed again.

BY the way, you posted a map showing a 1940 Soviet plan for a westward attack (the "northern variant"). You said that that was simply a contingency plan developed by the Red Army High Command, a theoretical plan, the sort of thing all staffs do, so as to be ready for any eventuality. That may well be so.

If such a plan was prepared in 1940 by the Red Army General Staff, it must be because Stalin ordered it, do you not think. Of course, that may not have been an indication of a plan to attack, simply preparation for any eventuality.

Roberto has posted material showing that Hitler ordered the German General Staff to begin planning for an invasion of the Soviet Union as early as July 1940. Was that an indication that Germany definitely intended to invade, or was Hitler simply ordering a contingency plan to cover a particular eventuality, for example if the war against Britain was not concluded and the Soviet Union began to draw closer to it?

What is true of Soviet planning is also true of German planning. If the offensive planning of both the Soviet Union and Germany in 1940 was simply contingency planning, then it is true that the German planning was eventually translated into reality, culminating in the invasion of 22 June 1941, whereas the Soviet planning did not result in an invasion. However, that could possibly be because the German invasion occurred first.

In the case of the German planning, we have copies of Hitler's instructions to his generals, because the German archives were captured after the war. In the case of the Soviet planning, we do not possess an order from Stalin ordering his generals to prepare an invasion; but that may be because such an order, if it exists, is still buried in the former Soviet archives somewhere.

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Post by Roberto » 07 Nov 2002 09:56

Starinov wrote:
Roberto wrote:Assuming you quoted Mr. Ivanov directly and not after "Suvorov", what exactly was he doing in 1941, and to what extent - if at all - was he involved in or knew about Soviet high command planning?


In 1941, he was the chief of the operational section of the staff of the 13th army. He became later chief of staff of the Voronezh Front with the rank of Lt-General to finally end his career as the commander of the Academy of the Genral Staff of the Soviet Army with the rank of Army General.

His book "Naczalnii Period Voiny' (Initial Stages of War) is a complete study of the that period of war... Since he was highly placed in the General Staff, he could write his study...


Good.

Now to my other questions:

And what else - if anything - does the fellow tell us about this "planned action of our troops" ?

And whence does he derive the conclusion that the "hitlerite leaders" had prevention on their minds?

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Post by michael mills » 07 Nov 2002 10:28

Roberto wrote:
And whence does he derive the conclusion that the "hitlerite leaders" had prevention on their minds?


Roberto seems to be obsessed with the concept of the German Government consciously preparing to ward off a recognised, incipient Soviet attack, as if that were the decisive criterion.

But that is not really relevant to the thesis of Hoffmann and an number of Russian historians, which is that from the fall of France in 1940 both Germany and the Soviet Union were preparing to attack each other, and Germany simply got in first.

It is likely that in both cases, the decision to start planning for war on the other party was partly based on prevention, and partly on conquest. That is, each party believed that if it did noting, it would eventually be attacked by the other, hence it had better start preparing its own attack. But for both, the motive of extending its territory was also present.

In the case of German planning, which is better known from captured documents, Hitler's original decision of July 1940 to start contingency planning ofr a war against the Soviet Union was definitely preventive; that is, he saw the Soviet Union as a potential ally of Britain, and a factor that kept Britain fighting, and therefore elimination of the Soviet Union by an attack would prevent its later entering the war on the side of Britain, when Germany had been weakened.

Once the planning had commenced, the conquest-related elements entered the picture, ie the planning to exploit Soviet resources. But Hitler did not tell his generals to start planning war on the Soviet Union in order to grab land; he told them to start planning to prevent it becoming a future threat as Britain's last support.

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Post by Roberto » 07 Nov 2002 10:33

michael mills wrote:It may be that Viktor Rezun alias Suvorov has used Ivanov as a source, and quoted him.

But why should he not do that? All historians base their conclusions on sources. And if Rezun/Suvorov has used Ivanov as a source, that demolishes the claim of his leftist detractors that he simply made everything up.


What the “leftist detractors” are saying is that Suvorov offers no conclusive proof in support of his thesis.

And that is so whether or not he correctly or incorrectly quotes the memoirs of one or the other former Soviet general.

The not necessarily unequivocal single-sentence statements of such memoir writers can hardly be deemed sufficient as proof of Suvorov’s theses without knowledge of the context in which they were made and of further details provided by these authors.

Which is why I asked Starinov to tell us more about Ivanov’s writings.

michael mills wrote:If Roberto thinks that Rezun/Suvorov may have misused information from Ivanov's book, then it is incumbent on him to prove it.


As I assumed that Starinov quoted Ivanov after Ivanov’s book and not after Suvorov, the above mumbling is rather pointless.

michael mills wrote:So far, all he has done is quote a claim from Graml that Rezun/Suvorov "forged" sources, but has not quoted any material from Graml (or anyone else) that would back up that claim.


Well, I see no reason to assume that a renowned scholar like Graml sucks such accusations out of his thumbs, as Mills seems wont to do.

I might now add as an example a demonstration of Suvorov’s misrepresentation of the utterances of Soviet general Vassilevsky that I found in an online forum discussion under

http://www.nfhdata.de/premium/forum_index.html

But first I’ll wait for the further details from Ivanov’s book that Starinov will certainly be glad to give us, assuming that he has read Ivanov’s book itself and not relied on Suvorov’s rendering of Ivanov’s utterances.

michael mills wrote:The date 6 July 1941 also occurs in Hoffmann's book, in the following context (page 83):

Furthermore, what did the Politburo of the Central Committee mean, according to point 183 of Protocol No. 33 in its meeting of June 4, 1941, when it made the decision to fix July 1 as the date of "the establishment of an Infantry Division consisting of personnel of Polish nationality and Polish language in units of the Red Army"? In Boris Sokolov's opinion, the arguments in favor of a "Soviet attack upon Germany on July 6, 1941" thus acquire "the status of a scientific certainty".
[Source: Boris Sokolov, "Pochval'noe slovo Viktoru Suvorovu i epitafia katynskim poliakam" {= A panegyric to Victor Suvorov and an epitaph for the Poles of Katyn} in: Nezavisimaia Gazeta, 5.4.1994].


Let’s see if I got this right: Is Hoffmann basing his conclusion that the Soviets planned to attack on 6 July 1941 on nothing other than the intention to create an infantry division made up of Polish nationals?

Lack of evidence seems to be the mother of speculation just as need is the mother of invention.

michael mills wrote:It should be noted the "Nezavisimaia gazeta" is a respected, independent Russian newspaper (that is what its name means), that was set up in opposition to Government media left over from the Soviet era.

It would seem that Russian intellectual circles that are not tainted by a Communist past hold Rezun/Suvorov in much higher regard than Leftist German historians.


Well, I’ve seen articles by Russian Holocaust deniers in modern-day Pravda, which warrants the suspicion that certain "Russian intellectual circles" have merely exchanged one extremist ideology for another.

As to the regard in which Suvorov is currently held in Russia, I’d rather rely on Oleg’s assessment than on Mills’ wishful thinking.

michael mills wrote:It should be noted that the "new breed" of Russian historian, the ones that Hoffmann uses as his sources, play a similar role to German leftist historians in that both are seeking to refute the lies and distortions of the past, of the Soviet regime in the case of the former, and of the German Nazi regime in the case of the latter.


A contention that leads us back to the question to what extent folks like Suvorov can be considered representative of such a “new breed” of Russian historians and whether this “new breed” indeed holds the theses that Hoffmann and Mills would like them to.

In which respect I would again ask Oleg, who as a Russian citizen is closest to these developments, to tell us what he knows.

michael mills wrote:It is therefore ironic that Russian historians seeking to refute Soviet lies have fallen foul of the German leftist historians, due to the fact that one particular lie that they have exposed is one that the German leftist historians wish to uphold as it serves their otherwise quite creditable anti-Nazi purpose. But a good cause cannot be served with lies.


As long as what Mills calls “Soviet lies” are supported by strong evidence from Soviet and German quarters, whereas the attempts to “refute” them are mostly based on speculation, the approach of those who Mills labels “German leftist historians” must be considered a pragmatic one, and Mills’ contention that they uphold lies serving a supposed “purpose” of theirs must be seen as unsubstantiated slander.
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Post by Roberto » 07 Nov 2002 10:44

michael mills wrote:Roberto wrote:
And whence does he derive the conclusion that the "hitlerite leaders" had prevention on their minds?


Roberto seems to be obsessed with the concept of the German Government consciously preparing to ward off a recognised, incipient Soviet attack, as if that were the decisive criterion.


I reckon that Mills has a rather wide understanding of "prevention".

Attacking the Soviet Union in order to deprive Britain of its Festlandssegen (continental blessing) he seems to consider prevention as well.

michael mills wrote:But that is not really relevant to the thesis of Hoffmann and an number of Russian historians, which is that from the fall of France in 1940 both Germany and the Soviet Union were preparing to attack each other, and Germany simply got in first.


The difference being, of course, that Hitler's offensive planning is well documented, whereas the supposed planning on the Soviet side still needs to be speculated more than a decade after the opening of the archives of the former Soviet Union.

michael mills wrote:In the case of German planning, which is better known from captured documents, Hitler's original decision of July 1940 to start contingency planning ofr a war against the Soviet Union was definitely preventive; that is, he saw the Soviet Union as a potential ally of Britain, and a factor that kept Britain fighting, and therefore elimination of the Soviet Union by an attack would prevent its later entering the war on the side of Britain, when Germany had been weakened.


As I said, Mills' understanding of "prevention" is a rather generous one.
The evidence I have seen so far suggests that Hitler was more concerned with the "moral support" lent by the presence of the Soviet Union to British willingness to continue the war than with the possibility of the Soviet Union eventually entering the war on the British side.

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Post by Roberto » 07 Nov 2002 10:56

michael mills wrote:Roberto has posted material showing that Hitler ordered the German General Staff to begin planning for an invasion of the Soviet Union as early as July 1940. Was that an indication that Germany definitely intended to invade, or was Hitler simply ordering a contingency plan to cover a particular eventuality, for example if the war against Britain was not concluded and the Soviet Union began to draw closer to it?


Readers may have a look at the assessments I referred to and judge for themselves:

William Shirer (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, New York 1960, pages 795 and following) wrote:[...] It is clear from his acts and from the secret German papers that though Stalin was out to get all he could in Eastern Europe while the Germans were tied down in the West, he did not wish or contemplate a break with Hitler.
Toward the end of June [1940] Churchill had tried to warn Stalin in a personal letter of the danger of the German conquests to Russia as well as to Britain. The Soviet dictator did not bother to answer; probably, like everyone else, he thought Britain was finished. So he tattled to the Germans what the British government was up to. Sir Stafford Cripps, a left-wing Labor Party leader, whom the Prime Minister had rushed to Moscow as the new British ambassador in the hope of striking a more responsive chord among the Bolsheviks - a forlorn hope, as he later ruefully admitted - was received by Stalin early in July in an interview that Churchill described as “formal and rigid.” On July 13 Molotov, on Stalin’s instructions, handed the German ambassador a written memorandum of his confidential conversation.
It is an interesting document. It reveals, as no other source does, the severe limitations of the Soviet dicator in his cold calculations of foreign affairs. Schulenburg sped it to Berlin “most urgent” and, of course, “secret”, and Ribbentrop was so grateful for its contents that he told the Soviet government he “greatly appreciated this information”. Cripps had pressed Stalin, the memorandum said, for his attitude on this principal question, among others:

The British government was convinced that Germany was striving for hegemony in Europe . . . This was dangerous to the Soviet Union as well as England. Therefore both countries ought to agree on a common policy of self-protection against Germany and on the re-establishment of the European balance of power ...

Stalin’s answers are given as follows:

He did not see any danger of the hegemony of any one country in Europe and still less any danger that Europe might be engulfed by Germany. Stalin observed the policy of Germany, and knew several leading German statesmen well. He had not discovered any desire on their part to engulf European countries. Stalin was not of the opinion that German military successes menaced the Soviet Union and her friendly relations with Germany ...

Such staggering smugness, such abysmal ignorance leave one breathless. The Russian tyrant did not know, of course, the secrets of Hitler’s turgid mind, but the Führer’s past behavior, his known ambitions and the unexpectedly rapid Nazi conquests ought to have been enough to warn him of the dire danger the Soviet Union was now in. But, incomprehensibly, they were not enough.

From the captured Nazi documents and from the testimony of many leading German figures in the great drama that was being played over the vast expanse of Western Europe that year, it is plain that at the very moment of Stalin’s monumental complacency Hitler had in fact been mulling over in his mind the idea of turning on the Soviet Union and destroying her.

The basic idea went back much further, at least fifteen years - to Mein Kampf.

And so we National Socialists [Hitler wrote] take up where we broke off six hundred years ago. We stop the endless German movement toward the south and west of Europe and turn our gaze toward the lands of the East ... when we speak of new territory in Europe today we must think principally of Russia and her border vassal states. Destiny itself seems to wish to point our the way to us here ... This colossal empire in the East is ripe for dissolution, and the end of the Jewish domination in Russia will also be the end of Russia as a state.

This idea lay like bedrock in Hitler’s mind, and his pact with Stalin had not changed it at all, but merely postponed acting on it. And but briefly. In fact, less than two months after the deal was signed and had been utilized to destroy Poland, the Führer instructed the Army that the conquered Polish territory was to be regarded “as an assembly area for future German operations.” The date was October 18, 1939, and Halder recorded that day in his diary.
Five weeks later, on November 22, when he harangued his reluctant generals about attacking in the West, Russia was by no means out of his mind. “We can oppose Russia,” he declared, “only when we are free in the West.”
At that time the two-front war, the nightmare of German generals for a century, was very much on Hitler’s mind, and he spoke of it at length on this occasion. He would not repeat the mistake of former German rulers; he could continue to see to it that the Army had one front at a time.
It was only natural, then, that with the fall of France, the chasing of the British Army across the Channel and the prospects of Britain’s imminent collapse, Hitler’s thoughts should turn once again to Russia. For he now supposed himself to be free in the West and thereby to have achieved the one condition he had laid down in order to be in a position to “oppose Russia.” the rapidity with which Stalin seized the Baltic States and the two Romanian provinces in June spurred Hitler to a decision.
The moment of its making can now be traced. Jodl says that the “fundamental decision” was taken “as far back as during the Western Campaign.” Colonel Walter Warlimont, Jodl’s deputy at OKW, remembered that on July 29 Jodl announced at a meeting of Operations Staff officers that “Hitler intended to attack the U.S.S.R. in the spring of 1941.” Sometime previous to this meeting, Jodl related, Hitler had told Keitel “that he intended to launch the attack against the U.S.S.R. during the fall of 1940.” But this was too much even for Keitel and he had argued Hitler out of it by contending that not only the bad weather in the autumn but the difficulties of transferring the bulk of the Army from the West to the East made it impossible. By the time of this conference on July 29, Warlimont relates, “the date for the intended attack [against Russia] had been moved back to the spring of 1941.”
Only a week before, we know from Halder’s diary, the Führer had still held to a possible campaign in Russia for the autumn if Britain were not invaded. At a military conference in Berlin on July 21 he told Brauchitsch to get busy on the preparations for it.
That the Army Commander in Chief had already given the problem some thought - but not enough thought - is evident from his response to Hitler. Brauchitsch told the Leader that the campaign “would last four to six weeks” and that the aim would be “to defeat the Russian Army or at least to occupy enough Russian territory so that Soviet bombers could not reach Berlin or the Silesian industrial area while, on the other hand, the Luftwaffe bombers could reach all important objectives in the Soviet Union.” Brauchitsch thought that from eighty to a hundred German divisions could do the job; he assessed Russian strength at “fifty to seventy-five good divisions.” Halder’s notes on what Brauchitsch told him of the meeting show that Hitler had been stung by Stalin’s grabs in the East, that he thought the Soviet dictator was “coquetting with England” in order to encourage her to hold out, but that he had seen no signs that Russia was preparing to enter the war against Germany.
At a further conference at the Berghof on the last day of July 1940, the receding prospects of an invasion of Britain prompted Hitler to announce for the first time to his Army chiefs his decision on Russia. Halder was personally present this time and jotted down his shorthand notes of exactly what the warlord said. They reveal not only that Hitler had made a definite decision to attack Russia in the following spring but that he had already worked out in his mind the major strategic aims.

Britain’s hope [Hitler said] lies in Russia and America. If that hope in Russia is destroyed then it will be destroyed for America too because elimination of Russia will enormously increase Japan’s power in the Far East.

The more he thought of it the more convinced he was, Hitler said, that Britain’s stubborn determination to continue the war was due to its counting on the Soviet Union.

Something strange [he explained] has happened in Britain! The British were already completely down. Now they are back on their feet. Intercepted conversations. Russia unpleasantly disturbed by the swift development in Western Europe.
Russia needs only to hint to England that she does not wish to see Germany too strong and the English, like a drowning man, will regain hope that the situation in six to eight months will have completely changed.
But if Russia is smashed, Britain’s last hope will be shattered. Then Germany will be master of Europe and the Balkans.
Decision: In view of these considerations Russia must be liquidated. Spring, 1941.
The sooner Russia is smashed, the better.


The Nazi warlord then elaborated on his strategic plans which, it was obvious to the generals, had been ripening in his mind for some time despite all his preoccupations with the fighting in the West. The operation, he said, would be worth carrying out only if its aim was to shatter the Soviet nation in one great blow. Conquering a lot of Russian territory would not be enough. “Wiping out the very power to exist of Russia! That is the goal!” Hitler emphasized. There would be two initial drives: one in the south to Kiev and the Dnieper River, the second in the north up through the Baltic States and then toward Moscow. There the two armies would make a junction. After that a special operation, if necessary, to secure the Baku oil fields. The very thought of such new conquests excited Hitler; he already had in his mind what he would do with them. He would annex outright, he said, the Ukraine, White Russia and the Baltic States and extend Finland’s territory to the White Sea. For the whole operation he would allot 120 divisions, keeping sixty divisions for the defense of the West and Scandinavia. The attack, he laid it down, would begin in May 1941 and would take five months to carry through. It would be finished by winter. He would have preferred, he said, to do it this year but this had not proved possible.
The next day, August 1, Halder went to work on the plans with his General Staff. Though he would later claim to have opposed the whole idea of an attack on Russia as insane, his diary entry for this day discloses him full of enthusiasm as he applied himself to the challenging new task.
Planning now went ahead with typical German thoroughness on three levels: that of the Army General Staff, of Warlimont’s Operations Staff at OKW, of General Thomas’ Economic and Armaments Branch of OKW. Thomas was instructed on August 14 by Göring that Hitler desired deliveries of ordered goods to the Russians “only till spring of 1941.” In the meantime his office was to make a detailed survey of Soviet industry, transportation and oil centers both as a guide to targets and later on as an aid for administering Russia.
A few days before, on August 9, Warlimont had got out his first directive for preparing the deployment areas in the East for the jump-off against the Russians. On August 26, Hitler ordered ten infantry and two armored divisions to be sent from the West to Poland. The panzer units, he stipulated, were to be concentrated in southeastern Poland so that they could intervene to protect the Romanian oil fields. The transfer of large bodies of troops to the East could not be done without exciting Stalin’s easily aroused suspicions if he learned of it, and the Germans went to great lengths to see that he didn’t. Since some movements were bound to be detected, General Ernst Köstring, the German military attaché in Moscow, was instructed to inform the Soviet General Staff that it was merely a question of replacing older men, who were being released to industry, by younger men. On September 6, Jodl got out a directive outlining in considerable detail the means of camouflage and deception. “These regroupings,” he laid it down, “must not create the impression in Russia that we are preparing an offensive in the East.”
So that the armed services should not rest on their laurels after the great victories of the summer, Hitler issued on November 12, 1940, a comprehensive top-secret directive outlining military tasks all over Europe and beyond. We shall come back to some of them. What concerns us here is that portion dealing with the Soviet Union.

Political discussions have been initiated with the aim of clarifying Russia’s attitude for the time being. Irrespective of the results of these discussions, all preparations for the East which have already been verbally ordered will be continued. Instructions on this will follow, as soon as the general outline of the Army’s operation plans have been submitted to, and approved by, me.

As a matter of fact, on that very day, November 12, Molotov arrived in Berlin to continue with Hitler himself those political discussions.


Emphases are mine.

Richard Overy (Russia's War, Penguin Books 1998, pages 61 and following) wrote:[….] The sudden expansion of Soviet territory westward, although conceded in principle in 1939, produced fresh anxieties in Berlin. The Soviet-Finnish war had left Germany in a difficult position, for her sympathies were with the Finns. After the end of the war German troops were stationed in Finland. The deliveries of machinery and weapons to the Soviet Union agreed upon in the pact were slow and irregular, in sharp contrast with the scrupulous provision by the Soviet side of materials and food. Despite constant Soviet complaints, the German suppliers dragged their heels whenever they could rather than allow the latest technology fall into Russian hands. From Hitler’s point of view the most unfortunate consequence of the pact was the rapid forward deployment of the Red Army in Eastern Europe. He was embroiled in a major war, which he had not wanted and which the pact had been supposed to avert. Now, instead of a powerful Germany dominating Eastern and Central Europe following Poland’s defeat, Germany was engaged in an unpredictable war against the British Empire, while the Soviet Union was free to extend its influence unchecked. The occupation of Bessarabia was a final blow. A few weeks later Goebbels wrote in his diary: ‘Perhaps we shall be forced to take steps against all this, despite everything, and drive this Asiatic spirit back out of Europe and into Asia, where it belongs.’
Hitler had anticipated him. On July 3 [1940],instructions were issued to the German armed forces, under the code name ‘Fritz’, to begin preliminary studies for an operation against the Soviet Union. At first the army believed that Hitler wanted to inflict only a local defeat on Soviet forces so as to push back the frontier between them and force Stalin to recognize ‘Germany’s dominant position in Europe’. The army told Hitler on July 21 that a limited campaign could be launched in four to six weeks. But Hitler’s ideas, which had at first been uncertain, hardened over the course of the month, as a stream of intelligence information came in showing how Soviet diplomats were now pushing into the Balkans in their efforts to spread Soviet influence. When Hitler’s Operations Chief, General Alfred Jodl, called together his senior colleagues on July 29, he had the most startling news. After making sure that every door and window in the conference room aboard a specially converted train was tightly sealed, he announced that Hitler had decided to rid the world ‘once and for all’ of the Soviet menace by a surprise attack scheduled for May 1941.
[….]
There can be no doubt that practical strategic issues did push Hitler towards the most radical of military solutions. But a great war in the East had always been part of his thinking. Here was the real stuff of Lebensraum – living space. Hitler’s plans assumed fantastic proportions. By August he had decided to seize the whole vast area stretching from Archangel to Astrakhan (the ‘A-A Line’) and to populate it with fortified garrison cities, keeping the population under the permanent control of the master race, while a rump Asian state beyond the Urals, the Slavlands, would accommodate the rest of the Soviet people. Planning moved forward on this basis. By the spring of 1941 comprehensive programmes for the racial, political and economic exploitation of the new empire had been drawn up. ‘Russia’, Hitler is reported as saying, ‘will be our India!’.
[…]

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