Roberto wrote:By the way, Hoffmann doesn't provide evidence that Hitler even thought in terms of prevention when planning and launching the attack on the Soviet Union, does he ?
michael mills wrote:No, he does not, for the reason that he does not claim that the Germans knew of an impending Soviet attack, and launched their own invasion solely for the purpose of pre-empting it.
If the Germans didn’t know of the “impending Soviet attack” that Hoffmann dreams about, how could “pre-empting” it have been even one of their purposes?
michael mills wrote:Hoffmann's thesis is that both Germany and the Soviet Union were, independently of each other, preparing to attack each other, and that Germany managed to achieve a tactical advantage by striking first.
I know that’s what the old man would like to believe, but he doesn’t seem to have much to show for it.
michael mills wrote:What Hoffmann is attacking is not the thesis that Germany planned its own invasion of the Soviet Union, but the propagandistic image of a peace-loving Soviet Union that was taken totally by surprise by an unprovoked German attack.
If so, he’s splendidly crashing into open doors, for historiography has it that Stalin was pursuing an aggressive foreign policy while waiting for his turn to step in after Germany and the Western Allies had exhausted themselves fighting each other.
Which doesn’t make Hitler’s attack look as anything other than unprovoked, naked aggression, of course.
michael mills wrote:It is only dishonest propagandists who claim that Hoffmann is justifying the German invasion as a purely defensive measure.
Who is or has been claiming that?
The problem with Hoffmann seems to be that he holds a thesis that, whether or not the threat of a Soviet attack even entered the Nazi government’s considerations, would make the Nazi aggression appear in a more favorable light, without providing any conclusive evidence in support of that thesis.
michael mills wrote:Hoffmann is saying that the German invasion, planned for its own reasons, happened to pre-empt an impending Soviet attack, by accident as it were.
Here is what Hoffmann writes in his conclusion (pp 330-331):The German-Soviet war was inevitable. The only open question was which of the two competing powers would strike first to preempt its adversary. The rapidly increasing superiority and strength of Soviet armaments, especially in tanks, aircraft, and artillery, over the troops of the Wehrmacht, dispersed over all parts of Europe, led the Germans to view June 1941 as the last possible opportunity for German initiation of preventive war.
Well, what Hoffmann writes here doesn’t exactly support Mills’ reading.
Hoffmann seems to contend that the Germans had prevention of a Soviet strike in the near future on their minds.
Has he got anything to show for that contention?
Hoffmann wrote:Further delay would have eroded the only factor favouring the Germans, which was their level of training.
Now that would be one hell of a justification for an all-out aggression, Mr. Hoffmann. Better attack your enemy today because tomorrow he may be too strong for you to attack him.
Hoffmann wrote:The most recent discoveries in Soviet archives illustrate the extent to which Soviet military preparation and deployment had in fact already been completed.
The Soviets were getting stronger, sure.
How fast that was happening I wouldn’t trust Hoffmann to tell me, but rather have a look at the “most recent discoveries in Soviet archives” that he offers in support of his contention myself.
What I also would like to see, once again, if evidence of any serious concern on the German side with a threat emanating from Soviet military preparation.
Hoffmann wrote:To all apppearances, Stalin moved the attack date forward from 1942 to the months of July-September 1941.
“To all appearances” is good.
What evidence does Hoffmann offer that Stalin was planning to attack in 1942?
What evidence that he moved the attack date forward to “the months of July-September 1941”?
Hoffmann wrote:This would offer a plausible explanation of Stalin's desire to postpone the initiation of hostilities "even if only for....a month, a week, or a few days", to complete his own military preparations - without the slightest fear of German attack.
Is that it?
There is much evidence indeed that Stalin was biding for time, but why would that necessarily make it time for preparing his own attack rather than time to have his forces in shape to withstand a German attack?
Stalin seems to have been a friend of playing it safe, requiring an overall superiority of at least two to one for a successful offensive. At least that’s what he told his generals at a conference at the Kremlin on 13 January 1941, following a war game that was run off between January 8 and 11 for top-ranking officers:
Harrison E. Salisbury wrote:Other listeners were deeply disturbed by Stalin’s pronouncement (faithfully approved by the meeting) that a superiority of at least two to one was required for a successful offensive not only in the area of the principal breakthrough but on the whole operational front. The application of such a doctrine would require numbers, equipment and rear support far beyond anything heretofore contemplated. The Soviet commanders agreed that overwhelming superiority was needed at in the breakthrough area, but they did not see why such great numerical concentrations were required on the non-active part of the front.
Source of quote: Harrison E. Salisbury, The 900 Days, 1970 Avon Books, New York, pages 75 and following.
Emphasis is mine.
On pages 97 of and following of the same book,
Harrison E. Salisbury wrote:By June 21, 1941, the Soviets had deployed about 2.9 million troops in the Western defense districts against an estimated 4.2 million Germans. The total strength of the Soviet military establishment had been strongly expanded from the 1939 level – up to 4.2 million in January, 1941, against 2.5 million in January, 1939. The total stood just below 5 million June 1. The air force had been tripled and land forces increased 2.7 times. The army had 124 new rifle divisions.
But the numbers were deceptive. The army had only 30 percent of the automatic weapons provided by the table of organization; only 20 percent of the planes were of new modern types and only 9 percent of the tanks. When General M. Shtemenko took over the 34th Cavalry Division in July, 1941, he found it had no arms whatever. He finally got some 1927 vintage cannons but was unable to obtain enough rifles or ammunition to equip his troops. There were no antitank guns – nothing but Molotov cocktails (gasoline bottles with wicks). He got twelve antitank guns, but not until October 1941.
Salisbury demonstrates that Stalin had precise intelligence from various sources as to the strength of German forces on the Soviet borders.
That being so, and unless it can be demonstrated that Stalin renounced to his “at least two to one along the whole front” doctrine, how could Stalin have possibly seen himself as having the numerical superiority he considered necessary to mount a successful offensive?
And whence does Hoffmann derive the conclusion that Stalin had not “the slightest fear of German attack”?
What assessment does Hoffmann tell us that Stalin made of the German buildup at the frontier and the constant reconnaissance flights, unmistakable signs of a German attack in the making?
Hoffmann wrote:This does not, of course, constitute a justification of the politically and morally detrimental methods employed by Hitler in Russia (and Poland). Hitler planned a war of conquest, too.
What a generous concession by Mr. Hoffmann.
What other than conquest can he demonstrate to have been on the Führer’s mind?
Hoffmann wrote:The National Socialist war on the Soviet Union was conducted in the spirit of a statement once made by Benjamin Disraeli, the Earl of Beaconsfield: "The racial question is the key to world history".
Hoffmann is trying to hark back Nazi racism to a statement by a British politician, probably taken out of context, who happened to be a Jew IIRC.
No wonder Michael Mills is so enthusiastic about Mr. Hoffmann.
Hoffmann wrote:It should be boren in mind, in this regard, that, by the very nature of things, no conflict between the National Socialist German Reich and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, could possibly resemble an "ordinary" war; the war was inevitably fated to acquire extraordinary features from the very outset.
Superb. Hoffmann obviously considers the policies outlined in Hitler’s briefing of his generals of 30 March 1941 (
Two world-views fighting each other. Demolishing verdict about Bolshevism, which is equal to asocial criminality. Communism is an enormous danger for the future. We must depart from the standpoint of soldierly comradeship. The Communist is no comrade before and no comrade afterwards. This is a fight to annihilation. If we don’t see it as this, we will defeat the enemy, but in 30 years we will again be faced with the communist enemy. We don’t make war to conserve the enemy.[...]
according to Halder’s notes, as quoted in Streit’s Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941-1945 and translated by myself), the Hungerplan worked out by Nazi bureaucrats with Hitler’s and Göring’s approval (which envisaged the starvation death of “umpteen million” people in the territories to be occupied), the Commissar Order, the Kriegsgerichtsbarkeitserlass of 13.05.1941 (which established that acts of violence by German soldiers against Soviet civilians need not be prosecuted by military tribunals), and other niceties of the German war plans, as having been dictated “by the very nature of things”.
Or then his research into those matters was as sloppy and guided by wishful thinking as his research into Soviet military preparations.
michael mills wrote:The quote from Harrison Salisbury is not conclusive in itself.
Harrison E. Salisbury wrote:The strongest support for the conclusion that Stalin remained confident even on the eve of war in his ability to prevent its outbreak is provided by the fact that on June 6  he approved a comprehensive plan for the shift-over of Soviet industry to war production. This timetable called for completion of the plan by the end of 1942! [emphasis author’s] It was an excellent detailed schedule, calling for the conversion of large numbers of civilian plants to military purposes and the construction of much-needed defense facilities.
is but one of several indications against the thesis that Stalin was planning to stage an offensive in 1941, as I pointed out.
michael mills wrote:It shows that the Soviet Government planned to have shifted to full war production by the end of 1942, and had only approved that plan in June 1941.
When did Germany originally plan to be fully prepared for war? It was about 1943, as I remember. And when did it shift to full war production? It was at the beginning of 1943, after the Stalingrad disaster, and after the appointment of Speer.
Would Roberto argue from those facts that, since Hitler originally planned to be ready for war in about 1942 or 1943, the outbreak of war in 1939 cannot have had anything to do with Hitler's actions?
When Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, in the full knowledge that thereby it risked war with Britain and France, it was nowhere near fully prepared for war, in fact well behind Britain and France. Nevertheless, it went to war against Poland and risked the outbreak of a general European war because of the situation in which it found itself, with the strategic situation beginning to move against it (a movement that was temporarily offset by the sudden agreement with the Soviet Union).
So it is entirely possible that the Soviet Union was planning for war with Germany by 1942, but brought its planning forward in response to strategic developments, perhaps its awareness of German preparations. That seems to be the nub of Hoffmann's thesis.
Mills is comparing apples with oranges here, for several reasons.
Hitler got a war with France and Britain on his hands much earlier than he would have wanted to and would have been convenient for him in view of Germany’s lack of preparation for war, because he gambled and lost. He thought he might get away with his attack on Poland as he had previously got away with the annexation of the Sudetenland and the rest of Czechoslovakia, and when, contrary to his expectations, Britain and France declared war, he anxiously stuttered “Was nun”? (“What shall we do now?”).
What Hitler had expected was a local conflict with Poland, but instead he got a major European war he didn't want to have before 1943.
Stalin, on the other hand, couldn’t have looked upon an attack on Germany as a local conflict and comparatively minor affair.
War with Germany was necessarily the decisive, all-out encounter with the Soviet Union’s major opponent in Europe.
It seems implausible that Stalin would have risked this encounter without considering his country to be fully prepared for it, its industry completely on war footing.
Stalin, as we have seen, liked to play it safe, requiring a two-to-one superiority along the whole front line for an offensive to be successful.
If Stalin’s intention had been too anticipate a German attack he considered to be in the making by an offensive of his own, he would hardly have allowed for such a generous time schedule to put the country on war footing, but required that such be accomplished within the shortest time possible and that especially the production of new models of tanks and aircraft be speeded up.
Yet there is no evidence that such urgency measures regarding war production were ordered by Stalin.
Which makes it reasonable to assume that Stalin counted on war not breaking out so soon, as Salisbury does.
Salisbury in fact presents interesting evidence (including a diary note by Halder on June 20, 1941, that translates "Molotov wanted to see the Führer on June 18", as above, page 100) suggesting that Stalin thought Hitler was trying to blackmail him into making concessions, and that he was seeking to avoid a German attack through an eleventh-hour meeting with Hitler where he would give in to the latter’s demands, thus “buying his way out of the cul-de-sac into which his policy had led his country and himself” as Salisbury (as above, page 99) puts it.
michael mills wrote:Roberto wrote:Mills' speculation that the late summer of 1941 may have been the chosen date ..........
That in fact is Hoffmann's speculation. I am saying that Hoffmann's speculation may possibly be correct, but it is not certain.
The admission that Hoffmann’s thesis is mere speculation is appreciated.
michael mills wrote:Hoffmann also quotes a number of Russian sources in support of his position, mainly interrogations of captured Soviet officers (pp. 83-85).
Captain Krasko, Adjutant of the 661st Infantry Regiment of the 200th Infantry Division, declared on 26 July 1941: "In May 1941, among the officers, the opinion was already expressed that the war would begin right after 1 July".
A statement from a Soviet captain that war was expected to break out soon.
Salisbury’s book is full thereof.
It’s no secret that the Soviet military, wary of obvious German preparations for attack, counted on war being on the verge of breaking out, and that higher commanders urged Stalin to take preventive measures in the face of such threat, to which he reacted only half-heartedly and too late.
michael mills wrote:Major Koskov, Commander of the 24th Infantry regiment of the 44th Infantry Division, testified:
"In the view of the Regimental Commander, the justification - namely the evacuation of the Western Ukraine, 'because the Soviets were allegedly attacked without preparation' was in no way true, because Soviet lilitary preparations had been underway for a long time, and, in accordance with the extent and intensity of these military preparations, the Russians would have attacked Germany of their own accord in two to three weeks at the latest".
Colonel Gaevsky, Regimental Commander of the 29th Armored Division, declared to the Germans on 6 August 1941:
"Among the commanders, there has been a lot of talk about a war between Germany and Russia. There was the opinion that the war would break out on approximately July 15, 1941, upon which date Russia would assume the role of the attacker".
Lieutenant Kharchenko of the 131st Intantry Division stated on 21 August 1941:
"That large-scale preparations for war with Germany were underway since the spring of 1941. The general opinion was that war would have broken out at the end of August or the beginning of Septemebr at the latest, ie after the harvest, if Germany had not premepted us. The intent to conduct the war on foreign soil was obvious. All these leadership plans were upset by the outbreak of the war inside Russia".
Major Solov'ev, Chief of Staff of the 445th Infantry Regiment of the 140th Infantry Division, stated:
"Properly speaking, we expected the conflict with Germany only after the harvest, about the end of August or the beginning of Septemebr 1941. The over-precipitate troop movements in the last weeks before the outbreak of hostilities toward the western border could only be explained by the assumption that the Soviets had shifted the attack date forward"
(The second sentence was in response to a claim by the German interrogators that they had captured documentation clearly showing that the Soviet Union wished to attack Germany in the beginning of July).
Assuming that those interrogated were not just telling their interrogators what the latter wanted to hear, what we have here are personal opinions of captured Soviet officers regarding not the orders they had been given, but what the feeling among the officer corps as to what would happen had been – not surprising in an army whose doctrine was that in the event of war it would carry the fight to the enemy rather than be reduced to defending itself against an enemy onslaught.
As to Mills’ remark in brackets, the “documentation clearly showing that the Soviet Union wished to attack Germany in the beginning of July” was obviously invented by the interrogator so as to get his captive to state what he wanted to hear, for otherwise we would have Hoffmann and Mills triumphantly parading such documentation.
michael mills wrote:Lieutenant Rutenko, Company Chief in the 125th Infantry Regiment of the 6th Infantry Division, stated on 2 July 1941 that hostilities would have been initiated by the Russians on 1 September 1941, and that all preparations were made with reference to that date.
Lieutenant-Colonel Liapin, Chief of the Operations Branch of the 1st Motorised Infantry Division, stated on 15 Septemebr 1941 that a Soviet attack had been expected in the Autumn of 1941.
Lieutenant-General Masanov declared with certainty that Stalin would have begun the war with Germany in the autumn of 1941.
An unnamed Lieutenant-Colonel and commander of an artillery regiment declared on 26 July 1941 that Germany had "unilaterally broken the Non-Aggression Pact and attacked us", but added:
"But I admit that the concentration of the Red Army on your eastern border constituted athreat to Germany: after all, it was being said that the Germans could expect us to attack them in August of this year".
More of the same.
Even if we don’t assume that the captives were just telling their captors what they wanted to hear (the unnamed fellow’s alleged statement certainly points in that direction), the conclusion to be drawn from such statements is merely that i) the Soviet officer corps, more alert and realistic than its supreme commander, expected the war to be on the verge of breaking out and ii) some thought that, in accordance with Soviet military doctrine, it was the Soviet army that would take the initiative.
Such optimism, which seems to have existed only at ranks below divisional or even regimental level, was bound to be foiled by the insufficiency of the Soviet buildup to live up to Stalin’s above-mentioned requirements for a successful offensive, as described above, even if Stalin should have harbored aggressive intentions.
michael mills wrote:On 11 September 1945, Major-General Malyshkin, at that time Chief of Staff of the 19th Army [presumably the Vlasov army], stated to Filed-Marshal Ritter von Leeb: "that Russia would have attacked Germany in mid-August with approximately 350-360 divisions". Hoffmann remarks that those numbers are accurate.
Which makes me wonder whence Hoffman derives the conclusion that the Soviet buildup, which had reached 2.9 million men or the equivalent of less than 200 divisions on the eve of the German attack, would have increased to almost twice that number two months later.
Hoffmann, who seems to have gratefully taken Malyshkin’s statement at face value without bothering to ponder what knowledge the fellow could possibly have had of Soviet top-level planning in mid-1941 and what his service in the Vlassov army might tell us about his credibility, is obviously also unaware of Stalin’s above quoted statement on January 13, 1941, which makes clear that even 350-360 divisions would have been deemed by the supreme commander as insufficient to launch a successful offensive.
michael mills wrote:Hoffmann also refers to the book "Stalin Means War", published in London in 1951, and written by Colonel G.A. Tokaev, former Chief of the Aerodynamics Laboratory of the Aur Force Academy in Moscow. On page 34, Tokaev stated, with reference to the Commissar of War, General Klokov:
"The Politburo expected the Soviet-German war to start in very early August. That was the time that Stalin and Molotov considered most favorable to attack their friends Hitler and Ribbentrop".
Beautiful. Hoffmann blindly relies on a book written by a Soviet emigrant in London at the height of the cold war, without even looking at indications against the accuracy of the statement quoted therein, such as the interdiction of political indoctrination of the troops towards war by Stalin himself:
Harrison E. Salisbury wrote:On June 3 a meeting of the Supreme Military Council was convened in Moscow to approve a draft of instructions for the army’s political workers which would emphasize the need for vigilance and the danger of war. Stalin’s closest associate, Georgi M. Malenkov, attacked the draft in the sharpest terms, contending that it sought to prepare the troops for the possibility of war in the nearest future. Such a presentation, he said, was entirely unacceptable.
“The document is formulated in primitive terms”, Malenkov sneered, “as though we were going to war tomorrow.”
Stalin supported Malenkov’s opinion, and the instructions were not issued. The official attitude was unchanging: all rumors and reports of war were but a British trick to sow trouble between Russia and Germany.
The consequences of Malenkov’s intervention against realistic political instructions for the army quickly assumed a sinister aspect. Officers who continued to warn about German attack or speak of the danger of war were branded as provocateurs. Some were arrested. Others were threatened with arrest. Political commissars were sent out from Moscow. They described Stalin as carrying out the most delicate act in order to avoid war. “Stalin”, one said, “can walk so quietly he doesn’t even shake the china”. They referred to Bismarck’s dictum that Germany could not fight a war on two fronts.
Source of quote: As above, pages 90-92.
michael mills wrote:The range of dates given by the various Russian sources indicates that as of 22 June 1941 no target date for a Soviet attack had yet been communicated to the field ranks of the Red Army. That may be because the Soviet Government had not yet decided on a date, or that it had decided a date but kept knowledge of it restricted to the highest levels.
Or because the Soviet Government did not contemplate attack in the near future, which is the most plausible explanation in view of the evidence to Stalin’s military caution and appeasement efforts, and in the absence of any evidence - other than the dubious statement of Malyshkin and the equally dubious statement attributed to Klokov, see above - to the Soviet High Command having ordered or intending to order preparations for an all-out offensive.
michael mills wrote:Mills obviously expects the audience to rely blindly on his somewhat less than honest assertions instead of looking up the previous thread, where it becomes clear that I was referring to Soviet preparations for an all-out attack on Germany in 1941.
Roberto is being less than honest here. In his post to which I originally responded, he did not nominate the date 1941 at all. Nor did I mention 1941 at all. The issue was whether, as Roberto claimed, the Germans failed to find "a single element of evidence hinting at a Soviet attack in the making" (Roberto's own words). Roberto was clearly trying to give the impression that absolutely NO evidence of Soviet preparations for an attack was found. My original response, and the material I have subsequently quoted, shows that, contrary to Roberto's rash assertion, Hoffmann was able to demonstrate that such evidence was indeed found.
Boy, this is getting boring.
Mills obviously considers the audience to be dumb enough not to realize that a statement regarding evidence to a Soviet attack in the making in the context of a discussion about the theories of “Suvorov” and others (including, as it seems, Mr. Hoffmann), who contend that Hitler’s aggression on 22 June 1941 barely anticipated a Soviet attack, must necessarily refer to a Soviet attack in 1941, and not to an attack that might have taken place in 1942 or later.
Mills himself knows this very well, of course.
Which is why his third attempt to accuse me of intellectual dishonesty, again resulting in Mills’ revealing his own, must be taken as an indication that the poor fellow has more than one screw loose inside his pitiable mind.
Roberto wrote:Last but not least, as it seems that Mills has in the meantime looked up Mr. Hoffmann's tendentious screed, maybe he can confirm that the following statements quoted by Hoffmann's professional colleague Wigbert Benz, already referred to in my post of Thu Oct 24, 2002 10:27 am on the above mentioned thread, are indeed to be found in Stalins Vernichtungskrieg:
Mills wrote:On what basis does Roberto call Hoffmann's work a "tendentious screed", since it is obvious that he has not even read it.
Well, I haven’t read Butz' “Hoax of the Twentieth Century” either, nor do I need to in order to know that it’s not worth the paper it was written on.
As to Hoffmann, the basis for my considering the fellow tendentious has been largely provided by Mills himself.
I call to memory the accusation of tendentiousness that Mills leveled against Christian Streit’s Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941-1945, based on a statement of Hoffmann’s that Streit commented on as follows (my translation):
As was to be expected, the number of deaths I calculated - about 3 300 000 - led to protests. Alfred Streim estimates a number of “at least 2 530 000”. His calculation is mainly based on a listing by the OKW/Kgf. of 1 Mai 1944; and he considers a total number of about 5 200 000 prisoners. Whereas Streim openly shows his way of calculation, Joachim Hoffmann speaks of a total number of “exactly 5 245 882” and a number of victims of “around 2 million”, without providing a detailed justification of this number; he merely refers to “unknown original files and other documents” without providing evidence to their existence.
Emphasis is mine.
So Hoffmann accuses a professional colleague not only of being wrong but – according to the quote provided by Mills on the thread mentioned in my last post – of manipulating figures, invoking “unknown original files and documents” which he doesn’t even show.
What kind of a scholar is that?
A charlatan like Michael Mills, perhaps?
The impression was reinforced by Benz’ quotes from Stalin’s Vernichtungskrieg mentioned in my last post, especially this one:
Hoffmann wrote: Nicht am 22.Juni 1941 wurde Stalin von einem Schock getroffen, sondern (...als) klar wurde, dass die Deutschen im Kampf eben doch die Besseren waren.[…]
Hoffmann wrote: Not on 22 June 1941 was Stalin his by a shock, but (…when) it became clear that the Germans were, after all, the better fighters.[…]
that sounds like the good old Nazi “Master Race vs. sub-humans” crap to me.
The quotes from Hoffmann’s screed commented on above do nothing to dispel this unfavorable impression of the man and his work.
On the contrary, they make him come across as an apologist of Hitler’s war of annihilation (referred to as such by the Führer himself, see above) against the Soviet Union.
Mills wrote:Of course, lack of knowledge has never prevented Roberto from opening his mouth to pour forth filth: that is why I have dubbed him the Borborygmite from Bogota.
“Filth” is what Mills calls substantiated criticism of his apologetic guru.
I’ll let this instructive statement and the ensuing puerile insult stand as a indication that poor Mills may be suffering from a bout of premature senility.
Mills wrote: Here are the only portions of text that I have been able to find that resemble the snippets quoted by Roberto:Hoffmann wrote:As can be proven, with certainty, that the German-Soviet war - considered by Hitler to be inevitable following the fateful Molotov mission in November 1940 - just barely preempted a war of conquest that was planned and prepared under high-pressure by Stalin, even more historical facts can be demonstrated today.
Very similar to Benz’ citation, as translated by myself:
Hitler only narrowly anticipated an attack that Stalin was preparing with high pressure. 22 June 1941 was about the last date on which such a 'preventive war' could still be waged at all.
Even worse insofar as it speaks of a "war of conquest" under preparation by Stalin, as a matter of fact.
And the “historical facts” crap is a laughing matter, considering what Hoffmann offers as evidence.
Hoffmann wrote:This is confirmed by ever historical evidence today. Thus, it was not just Hitler, as a certain school of contemporary historigraphy would continue to have us believe, but Stalin, who, from the very outset, in his political and military leadership of the Red Army, employed methods of outrageous brutality that vastly surpassed anything that had ever previously occurred.
Hoffmann’s research again seems to have been hampered by his wishful thinking.
The following footnote I translated from Christian Streit's Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941-1945 (1997 edition, footnote 155 to pages 108-109) may be of interest:
Otto Bräutigam wrote in his memoirs that in the late summer of 1941, upon his complaint about the bad treatment of Soviet prisoners of war, the Army High Command had replied that the Red Army treated German prisoners in the same way. When B. thereupon examined the collection of cases put together at the Army High Command, he came to the conclusion "that on the whole there were about 180 cases, of which several had obviously been reported by various entitities and were thus included in the collection several times". (Otto Bräutigam, So hat es sich zugetragen. Ein Leben als Soldat und Diplomat, Würzburg 1968, page 376. The files I examined confirm this impression. An "assessment of the enemy" by the Ic/AO of Army Group Center dated 10.3.1942, which the Wehrmacht High Command / Amt Ausl.Abw./Abw. II [Colonel Lahousen] communicated to the Reich Ministry for the Occupied Eastern Territories, attributed the shooting of German prisoners of war to the "quickly spread knowledge of the misery of Russian prisoners of war": Federal Archives R 41/169, page 259.
Emphases are mine.
Hoffmann wrote:A myth was widely disseminated in Germany of the alleged possibility of waging "humane" warfare, and that this possibility only vanished due to Hitler's alleged refusal to consider humane methods of waging war.
Hoffmann apparently doesn’t know about Hitler’s briefing of his generals on 30 March 1941 and the other evidence to his policies mentioned above.
Hoffmann wrote:This myth is refuted by the fact that practically in the first days of the war, the members of the Red Army were systematically goaded toward violence and were, furthermore, incited to feelings of infernal hatred against all soldiers of the invading enemy armies.
And he obviously is neither familiar with the evidence mentioned by Streit, which suggests that Soviet atrocities at the beginning of the war were isolated occurrences than can hardly be blamed on the soldiers of the Red Army having been “systematically goaded toward violence” and “furthermore, incited to feelings of infernal hatred against all soldiers of the invading enemy armies”.
That can be said of the German army prior to the outbreak of the war, and it had the consequences described i.a. on the thread
Annihilation of Soviet Prisoners of War in Belorussia
http://www.thirdreichforum.com/phpBB2/v ... 78d762af7f
of this forum.
Hate propaganda in the Soviet army, on the other hand, did not precede Nazi aggression, but was a consequence of it and of the perceived need to bolster the fighting spirit of the troops, Nazi atrocities making it easy for that propaganda to find eager listeners.
Hoffman is putting the cart before the oxen, as it seems.
Hoffmann wrote: The collision between two dictatorially led socialist military powers obviously left little room, from the very beginning of the war, for considerations of humanity.
A wonderful statement, Mr. Hoffmann.
The Führer and Keitel themselves couldn’t have said that better.
Hoffmann wrote: Nor was there even respect for the laws and provisions of the International Conventions - which were, moreover, recognized by the German Reich, while the Soviet Union had strictly refused ratification.
And last but not least, we have that good old herring which ignores the fact that the laws of war consist not only of international conventions, but also of customs respected by a majority of nations over a given period of time.
In his article International Law and Soviet Prisoners of War, German historian and legal scholar Alfred Streim wrote the following:
The Soviet offer to the German Reich to keep the HRLW [Hague Rules of Land Warfare] on a mutual basis was also legally worthless, since the convention cannot be recognized by means of a treaty between parties to a conflict, but rather by means of an application under Art. 6 of the Hague Fundamental Agreement. This involves an official note to the government of the Netherlands together with the handing over of the certificate of accession. The question of whether the USSR’s note of 17 July 1941 can be considered an offer of a bilateral treaty based on the HRLW is a matter of conjecture, since Hitler rejected the offer, as we can see from the wording of the Foreign Office’s answer to the USSR.
The Foreign/Defense Department (Amt Ausland/Abwehr) of the OKW under Admiral Canaris said much the same in a memorandum of 15 September 1941, in reply to regulations issued by the OKW/AWA in a directive of 8 September 1941. This directive replaced that issued on 16 June 1941 concerning the analogous application of the Geneva Convention, and the new regulations for the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war in all German POW camps were mostly at odds with the rules of humanity in wartime. At the same time the memorandum clearly pointed out that the basic international principles (of war) concerning the treatment of prisoners were applied in the conventionless war. This was not affected by the escape clause in the Hague convention because the rules contained in this agreement had been accepted as customary law in the meantime. In this regard the memorandum referred to an enclosed Soviet directive on the treatment of POWs dated 1 July 1941, which largely corresponded with the fundamental principles of international law.
The ideas expressed by the Amt Ausland/Abwehr in its memorandum on the validity of customary law in the field of the law of war were nothing new; this was the opinion prevailing at the time. The source of jus in bello, the law of warfare, is not just limited to the above positivist rulings. The source can be extended to unwritten customary law, as was emphasized after the was in the War Crimes Trial and the subsequent trials conducted by the United States in Nuremberg.
The Amt Ausland/Abwehr’s memorandum had no effect. The Chef OKW, Keitel, rejected it, noting that: ‘These reservations correspond to the soldierly views of chivalrous warfare; this war is about the annihilation of a Weltanschauung, and therefore I approve of and vouch for the measures'. Keitel had been swayed by Hitler’s opinion concerning the nature of war with the Soviet Union, and had thus squashed the plans of the AWA, his department responsible for prisoners of war, to treat captured Russians according to customary law analogous to the Geneva Convention.
Emphases are mine.
As I said, Hoffmann is dutifully echoing Keitel’s statement that the laws of war do not apply in a struggle between two Weltanschauungen – except that, in order to be less conspicuous, he speaks of “collision between two dictatorially led socialist military powers” instead.
Mills wrote: The second is on page 87:With such an attitude, neither Stalin nor the Politburo itself, on June 22, 1941, doubted even for a moment that they would be successful in dealing Hitler the defeat that he deserved. General Sudaplatov, Chief of the Reconnaissance Service, even spoke of the "Big Lie of a panic in the Kremlin [Source: Pavel A. Sudoplatov, "Erinnerungen und Nachdenken des Chefs des russischen Aufklaerungsdienstes", a document in Hoffmann's own archives, "21: Beginn des Krieges"]. Stalin was not surprised on June 22, 1941, but, on the contrary, as Colonel General Volkogonov stresses, the shock set in only several days later, ie when the illusions evaporated and catastrophe was looming on the front line, a catastrophe in which it finally became clear that the Germans were, nevertheless, superior in combat [Source: Dimitriy Volkogonov, "Triumf i tragediia. Politicheskii portret J.V. Stalina", Moscow 1989, pp. 50, 154].
Unless the English translation deviates markedly from the German original, the snippets torm out of context by Wigbert Benz do not appear to have been reproduced with total accuracy, although they are not complete distortions. Benz' offence is to have taken the words out of their context, in which I have replaced them.
I would have to read Volkogonov’s statement to make sure that Hoffmann is not misquoting him, for the last passage is indeed not far away from the German text given by Benz as:
Hoffmann wrote:Nicht am 22.Juni 1941 wurde Stalin von einem Schock getroffen, sondern (...als) klar wurde, dass die Deutschen im Kampf eben doch die Besseren waren.[…]
which I would translate as follows:
Hoffmann wrote:Not on 22 June 1941 was Stalin his by a shock, but (…when) it became clear that the Germans were, after all, the better fighters.[…]
The context doesn’t make it sound much better.
Hoffmann is clearly indulging in nationalist pride here.
Not the German army was superior to the Soviet army in organization, armaments and tactics, but “the Germans” were “superior in combat” to their opponents, or “the better fighters”, as Hoffmann puts it.
Hail the German soldier!
Roberto wrote:In view of statements like the above, it is not surprising that Hoffmann's book is held in high esteem by one of Mills' more radical brothers in spirit:
Mills wrote:Dear oh dear! Another attempt to smear me (and Hoffmann) through guilt by association.
No, just a statement expressing my understanding as to why certain people – lying propagandists at a more or less sophisticated level – are so fond of Mr. Hoffmann.
Mills wrote:Does Roberto not have any better arguments?
Plenty thereof, see above and last post.
Mills wrote:Can he not address the data underpinning Hoffmann's theses?
He has done so copiously in both his last post and this one.
It just happens that, when faced with subjects like Mills, Roberto can’t resist the temptation to make clear, after having presented his arguments, what exactly he thinks of them.