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

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j.north
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finland

Post by j.north » 14 Nov 2002 13:28

It might be interesting to note that the mortality of Soviet pows in Finland was much lower than that of Soviet pows in Germany. The Finns took 64,000 prisoners between June and September 1941 and a further 17,000 in the rest of the war. Of this total 18,700 died.

The attitude of marshal Mannerheim can also be contrasted to the attitude of the German leaders in this subject. On 1 march 1942 he wrote to the International Committee of the Red Cross asking for food aid for the prisoners and adding that 'we would be very happy to receive a delegation from the Committee, with which we will work in complete cooperation, to oversee the distribution of supplies and to ensure that they are provided exclusively for the benefit of Soviet prisoners of war in Finnish hands'.

As a consequence 500,000 tonnes of food were distributed between the 23 pow camps up until october 1944.

No matter how intensley you trawl through the German records, I don't think you'll find anything like this. Germany policy was not the same as Finnish policy and it is absurd to make the comparison.

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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 14 Nov 2002 13:35

neugierig wrote:
Roberto wrote: That being so, it may be a wise decision on you part not to hand over Topitsch to my dissecting knife, as another fellow poster handed over Topitsch's brother in spirit, Joachim Hoffman


The book is available "Stalins War", by Ernst Topitsch (in German)
Dissect away. I could lend you mine.


No thanks. If you're shy to make your case, that's your problem.

Roberto wrote: Given the contents of the documents "we have", I consider it highly improbable that documents "we don't have" (and which were strangely never invoked by e.g. the defendants at the trials of the Wehrmacht High Command) will tell us anything to the contrary- assuming that they exist at all, that is.


neugierig wrote:To ask me to prove that documents were destroyed is illogical.


Why so?

Such proof is asked - and provided - in regard to documentation to Nazi killing programs that mostly vanished, like the documents related to the Aktion Reinhard(t) killings.

It is far more illogical to ask me to prove that documents you are interested in showing never existed, don't you think so?

neugierig wrote:Of course I can't, why destroy them and than leave a list of them to be found later. When the Allies overran Germany, as many documents as possible were gathered for proof at Nuremberg. They were later shipped to England, the USA and Russia. How many and what was shipped? Were some of them 'lost'? Further more some documents, how many?, are still under lock and key. Are we being lied to? Of course and I don't have to live in the Wolken to believe this, history is full of examples. I think it is naive to believe that we are told/shown the whole truth and nothing but.


It's not naive, just the pragmatic approach of someone who likes to base his conclusions on evidence rather than mere speculations.

The unsubstantiated belief that "we are being lied to" and that governments, historians and criminal justice authorities of democratic nations engaged in criminal behavior destroying or suppressing evidence, just because "history is full of examples" (what examples?) that such happened then an there, on the other hand, comes over as a rather wild fantasy.

neugierig wrote:The next argument is, why weren't exonerating documents shown at Nuremberg. Well, that's assuming Nuremberg was an unbiased court of law.


No, it's assuming that the defendants, who had able attorneys supporting them, were interested in getting their necks out of the noose.

neugierig wrote:From everything I have heard and read, it was not.


From everything I have heard and read, the tribunal took its job seriously and endeavored to give the defendants a fair trial. Certain true believers who hold the opposite view have often tried to convey it on this forum - but never succeeded.

neugierig wrote:I am always amazed when I hear people talk about the IMT, who have no idea what Germany really looked like in 1945. The only people that could move about freely was military personel. Therefore, if the defence needed anything, they were dependant on the good will of the military.


If that is so, then how do you explain that

- Thirty-three witnesses gave evidence orally for the Prosecution against the individual defendants, and 61 witnesses, in addition to 19 of the defendants, gave evidence for the Defence;

- A further 143 witnesses gave evidence for the Defence by means of written answers to interrogatories;

- Thirty-eight thousand affidavits, signed by 155,000 people, were submitted on behalf of the Political Leaders, 136,213 on behalf of the SS, 10,000 on behalf of the SA, 7,000 on behalf of the SD, 3,000 on behalf of the General Staff and OKW, and 2,000 on behalf of the Gestapo ?

neugierig wrote:The name, IMT, is a joke also. Since there was no international law to fall back on, law had to be manufactured after the fact. (forget Briand/Kellog, it was an agreement, not law)


Boy, your knowledge of international law leaves much to be desired. International law is and was always made up of agreements among sovereigns and of customs observed over a given period of time by a community of such sovereigns.

neugierig wrote:There were also procedural problems. Jackson tried to make it look like an International Court of Justice, in fact Anglo-American procedure was followed, which differs from Continental procedure.


As a retired American lawyer on this forum once pointed out, the procedural rules contained a number of concessions to European continental law that benefited the defense, which was not familiar with Anglo-American procedure. On of these provisions was Article 19 of the Charter of the IMT, which provided that the tribunal was not bound to the technical rules of evidence applied in Anglo-Saxon law.

neugierig wrote:Just one example and I quote from August von Knieriem's "The Nuremberg Trials": "In the Anglo-American system, the parties, so to speak, submit their case to the arbitration of the court (the judge acts as umpire to ascertain that proper procedure is followed) In Continental procedure, on the contrary, the exploration of the facts in the trial, the determination of the extent to which evidence is to be presented, particularly the summoning of incriminating and exonerating witnesses, are all in the hands of the court, although the state's attorney and the defence counsel may make motions. The activities of the state's attorney and the defence counsel therefore consist only in assisting the court in it's task of exploring the facts". The defence was familiar with Continental procedures and knew very little, if anything, of Anglo-American ones, which made them, at times, totally ineffective. I know there are lawyers on this board, please let me know were v. Knieriem is wrong.


As wrong as can be, as a matter of fact. Apart from the above mentioned concessions to Continental law in the Charter and the Rules of Procedure,
a trial procedure in which the decision rests not with a jury supervised by a judge but with professional judges is something that German attorneys are very familiar with, for this is how it works in German procedural law.

neugierig wrote:Anyway, stating that just because no evidence to the contrary was presented at Nuremberg and therefore all the charges are substantiated, is wishful thinking.


Hardly so, as the defendants had an interest in stating that documents in their favor existed and the right to request that such documents be brought before the tribunal (as seems to have happened in a number of cases, see above). Where they did not this is not definite proof that such documents did not exist, but a strong indication against their existence. As the burden of proof for the existence of a document rests with who so alleges, it doesn't exactly make the task of conspiracy theorists like Mr. Wilf any easier.

neugierig wrote:But, as mentioned before, this aint going nowhere, I'm outta here.

Wilf


Well, goodbye then. It has been a pleasure talking to you.

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Roberto
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Re: finland

Post by Roberto » 14 Nov 2002 13:37

j.north wrote:It might be interesting to note that the mortality of Soviet pows in Finland was much lower than that of Soviet pows in Germany. The Finns took 64,000 prisoners between June and September 1941 and a further 17,000 in the rest of the war. Of this total 18,700 died.

The attitude of marshal Mannerheim can also be contrasted to the attitude of the German leaders in this subject. On 1 march 1942 he wrote to the International Committee of the Red Cross asking for food aid for the prisoners and adding that 'we would be very happy to receive a delegation from the Committee, with which we will work in complete cooperation, to oversee the distribution of supplies and to ensure that they are provided exclusively for the benefit of Soviet prisoners of war in Finnish hands'.

As a consequence 500,000 tonnes of food were distributed between the 23 pow camps up until october 1944.

No matter how intensley you trawl through the German records, I don't think you'll find anything like this. Germany policy was not the same as Finnish policy and it is absurd to make the comparison.


Hi Jonathan,

Thanks for the input, and nice to see you around here!

Roberto

P.S.: It would be good if you could give the source of the figures you mentioned.
Last edited by Roberto on 14 Nov 2002 14:11, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by viriato » 14 Nov 2002 13:47

j.north wrote:

The Finns took 64,000 prisoners between June and September 1941 and a further 17,000 in the rest of the war. Of this total 18,700 died.


18,700 of 81,000 is still more than 23% and well above what we might have expected of a normal situation. Do you have any clues to what could explain this above the mark death rate?

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Post by Roberto » 14 Nov 2002 14:09

viriato wrote:j.north wrote:

The Finns took 64,000 prisoners between June and September 1941 and a further 17,000 in the rest of the war. Of this total 18,700 died.


18,700 of 81,000 is still more than 23% and well above what we might have expected of a normal situation.


Certainly so, but it suggests that Hoffmann, quoted by Mills as follows:

Comparatively speaking, it may be said that the mortality rate among Soviet prisoners of war in Finnish captivity amounted to almost one third[emphasis mine] of the total of men captured.


either didn't know what he was talking about or again engaged in one of those dishonest manipulations that he accused his colleague Streit of.

Another instance of such behavior is addressed on pages 10 and following of the 1997 edition of Keine Kameraden. Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941 - 1945, Verlag J.H.W. Dietz Nachf., Bonn, where Christian Streit assessed the criticism to which his book had been subjected by other historians, including Alfred Streim and Joachim Hoffmann. This is what he wrote:

[...]Wie nicht anders zu erwarten, löste die von mir berechnete Zahl der Todesopfer - etwa 3 300 000 - Widerspruch aus. Alfred Streim schätzt dagegen eine Zahl von “mindestens 2 530 000”. Seine Berechnung basiert in erster Linie auf einer Aufstellung von OKW/Kgf. vom 1.Mai 1944; er legt eine Gesamtzahl von etwa 5 200 000 Gefangenen zugrunde. Während Streim seinen Berechnungsmodus offenlegt, nennt Joachim Hoffmann bei einer Gesamtzahl von “genau 5 245 882” eine Opferzahl von “rund 2 Millionen”, ohne diese Zahl näher zu begründen; er führt lediglich “unbekannte Originalakten und sonstige Unterlagen” an, ohne sie nachzuweisen. [Fußnote] Weder Streim noch Hoffmann begründen, weshalb die von mir einer Aufstellung der Abt. Fremde Heere Ost im OKH entnommene Gesamtzahl von 5 754 528 (für Februar 1945) nicht zutreffen sollte. Diese Größenordnung ist aber in den Akten noch einmal belegt. Der Chef des Kriegsgefangenenwesens schätzte die Gesamtzahl der sowjetischen Gefangenen im Dezember 1944 auf 5,6 Millionen.[...]


[Fußnote, S. 304]

“Die Kriegsführung aus der Sicht der Sowjetunion” (1984), S. 730. - Roschmann, Gutachten, S. 17-25, rechnet die Zahl durch mehrfachen Abzug desselben Faktors auf 1 680 000 herunter. Er argumentiert, die Fronttruppen hätten in der Siegeseuphorie 1941 stark überhöhte Zahlen gemeldet. Deswegen vernachlässigt er eine Zahl von 280 810, die in der Aufstellung vom 1.5.44 als “Abgänge beim Transport, Zählfehler u. dergl.” erklärt ist, von vornherein (Streim, S. 225, rechnet sie mit gutem Grund “zu einem großen Teil zu den Todesfällen”). Sodann zieht R. von den 845 128 für den OKH-Bereich gemeldeten Todesfällen kurzerhand 300 000 als “Meldefehler” ab. Er nimmt nicht zur Kenntnis, daß der Generalquartiermeister des Heeres schon am 25.12.1941 die Kriegsgefangenenstatistik wegen “nunmehr festgestellter Fehlmeldungen [...] um rund 500 000” berichtigt hatte: KTB OKW, Bd. I, S. 1106.


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. [Footnote] Neither Streim nor explain why the total number that I took from a listing of the Abt. Fremde Heere Ost at the OKH, 5 754 528 (as of February 1945) should not be accurate. For this order of magnitude, however, there is further proof in the files. The Chief of Prisoner of War Matters estimated the total number of Soviet prisoners in December 1944 at 5.6 million.


[Footnote, page 304]

“Die Kriegsführung aus der Sicht der Sowjetunion” (1984), S. 730. - Roschmann, Gutachten, pages 17-25, reduces the number by repeated deduction of the same factor to 1 680 000. He argues that the front-line troops had reported strongly exaggerated numbers in the victory euphoria of 1941. Thus he dismisses a number of 280 810 that is explained in the listing of 1.5.44 as “Losses during transport, counting errors and similar” right away (Streim, S. 225, considers it, with good reason, as referring “to a large extent to deaths”). Hereafter R. takes the 845 128 deaths reported for the OKH area and simply deduces 300 000 as a “reporting error”. He does not take into consideration that the General Quarter of the Army had already on 25.12.1941 corrected the statistics of prisoners of war due to “reporting errors detected in the meantime [...] by around 500 000”: KTB OKW, Volume I, page 1106.


Emphases are mine.

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Post by viriato » 14 Nov 2002 14:36

Roberto you are correct in the critical view about the death rate of Russians POW's in Finnish hands not having been almost a third of total. However I have a doubt. Not having read Hoffmann's book I don't know what is the numbers he is speaking about. Michael Mills either give any clue to those numbers. Might Hoffmann had numbers different of those presented by j.north? Might any of our Finnish members of this forum perhaps iluminate us about it?

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Post by Roberto » 14 Nov 2002 14:47

viriato wrote:Roberto you are correct in the critical view about the death rate of Russians POW's in Finnish hands not having been almost a third of total. However I have a doubt. Not having read Hoffmann's book I don't know what is the numbers he is speaking about. Michael Mills either give any clue to those numbers. Might Hoffmann had numbers different of those presented by j.north?


That's a possibility.

After what I've seen of Hoffmann, however (the excerpts from his book provided by Mills and his display of intellectual dishonesty mentioned in my last post), I would not be too surprised if he had again sacrificed historical accuracy to his apologetic agenda.

viriato wrote:Might any of our Finnish members of this forum perhaps iluminate us about it?


I made the same request in one of my last posts, and I hope there will be some feedback.

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Post by viriato » 14 Nov 2002 14:57

It woud be helpful to know what happened to the Soviet POW's in Romanian custudy too. I don't know nothing about them either.

And what happened to those made POW by the Hungarians, Italians, Slovaks(?) and Spaniards. Were they handed over to the Germans or perhaps the Romanians?

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Post by j.north » 14 Nov 2002 15:29

Hi Roberto,

My source is Pietola's article Voennoplennye v Finlyandii, 1941-1944gg' published in Sever, 1990, pp 91-132. The figures come from the office of prisoners of war attached to the staff of the commander of chief of Finnish forces.

Mortality was strongest in the winter of 1941, not surprisingly, and this prompted the Finnish government into action. The Mannerheim letter I quoted from is from p. 443 of the Histoire du Comite international de la croix rouge, Geneva, 1978.

The Finns also never forced their soviet captives to work. It's an interesting comparison with German policy.

Incidentally, by March 1944 there were 89.973 soviet pows in Romania. I haven't been able to ascertain how many died but it might be interesting to note that a 1943 ICRC found that the pows at Budesti 'seemed healthy and well-fed'. That report comes from Andrei Siperco's "Crucea Rosie Internationala si Romania 1939-1944", Editura Enciclopedica, Bucharest, 1997.

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Post by Roberto » 14 Nov 2002 18:27

j.north wrote:Hi Roberto,

My source is Pietola's article Voennoplennye v Finlyandii, 1941-1944gg' published in Sever, 1990, pp 91-132. The figures come from the office of prisoners of war attached to the staff of the commander of chief of Finnish forces.

Mortality was strongest in the winter of 1941, not surprisingly, and this prompted the Finnish government into action. The Mannerheim letter I quoted from is from p. 443 of the Histoire du Comite international de la croix rouge, Geneva, 1978.

The Finns also never forced their soviet captives to work. It's an interesting comparison with German policy.

Incidentally, by March 1944 there were 89.973 soviet pows in Romania. I haven't been able to ascertain how many died but it might be interesting to note that a 1943 ICRC found that the pows at Budesti 'seemed healthy and well-fed'. That report comes from Andrei Siperco's "Crucea Rosie Internationala si Romania 1939-1944", Editura Enciclopedica, Bucharest, 1997.


Thanks again, Jonathan. It's good to have your expert assistance around.

Even if they referred only to the winter of 1941/42, however, Hoffmann's assertions about the mortality rate remain dubious insofar as they would mean that all 18,700 fatalities occurred among the 64,000 prisoners taken by the Finns between June and September 1941 and no prisoners died thereafter, which is highly improbable despite the Finnish government's having taken action to ease the lot of the POWs after learning of their huge mortality rate.

If you could still tell us what your source says about the reasons for this huge mortality that prompted the Finnish government into action, that would be great.

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Post by michael mills » 15 Nov 2002 03:38

Roberto wrote:

Even if they referred only to the winter of 1941/42, however, Hoffmann's assertions about the mortality rate remain dubious insofar as they would mean that all 18,700 fatalities occurred among the 64,000 prisoners taken by the Finns between June and September 1941 and no prisoners died thereafter, which is highly improbable despite the Finnish government's having taken action to ease the lot of the POWs after learning of their huge mortality rate.

If you could still tell us what your source says about the reasons for this huge mortality that prompted the Finnish government into action, that would be great.


Still the same old Roberto we know and love. Still following the ideological agenda of his minders, still trying to defame the late Dr Hoffmann as part of some nefarious neo-Fascist conspiracy, despite the fact that the material produced by J. North proves that Hoffmann's statement was correct.

According to J. North, the great majority of the Soviet prisoners taken by the Finnish forces, 64,000, were captured during the initial advance, between June and September 1941. During the rest of the war (until Finland's capitulation in 1944), only another 17,000 were captured; J. North does not give any distribution, but it seems likely that not many more than 64,000 were captured before the onset of the winter in 1941.

J. North states that 18,700 of the Soviet POWs in Finnish hands died. He also states that the greatest mortality occurred in the winter of 1941-42, ie an exact parallel with the case of the Soviet POWs in German hands. He also implies that the mortality rate was much less thereafter, due to measures taken by the Finnish authorities, again an exact parallel with the case of the Soviet POWs in German hands. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that nearly all the 18,700 Soviet POWs who died did so during the winter of 1941-42.

Accordingly, it is reasonable to take the total of deaths as a proportion of the prisoners taken between June and September 1941, which yields 29%, or "almost one third", which is what Hoffmann wrote.

That proportion may be compared with the mortality rate of Soviet POWs in German hands during the winter of 1941-42. Hoffmann states that 3.8 million Red Army men were captured by the German Army until the end of 1941, and two million POWs died during the winter of 1941-42. Comparing the two figures yields a mortality rate of 51.3%, considerably more than the mortality rate for Soviet POWs in Finnish hands during the same period. The difference might be to the fact that the number in German hands was vastly greater than the number in Finnish hands; after all, it is much more difficult to feed 3.8 million prisoners than 64,000.

Roberto also asked:

If you could still tell us what your source says about the reasons for this huge mortality that prompted the Finnish government into action, that would be great.


Probably exactly the same reasons as those that caused the 51% mortality of Soviet POWs in German hands at the same time, the ones that Hoffmann enumerates, eg logistical problems, breakdown in the supply system, the climatic conditions, the state of health of the Soviet soldiers when captured etc.

Hoffmann also tells us that the Sipo and SD were summarily executing certain categories of captured Red Army men, which of course the Finns were not doing; that might account for some of the differenc in mortality rate, but only a small part.

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Post by michael mills » 15 Nov 2002 04:38

For the purposes of comparing the late Dr Hoffmann's theses with the pro-Soviet version of history, namely that the Fascist barbarians launched an unprovoked attack on the Workers' Paradise, the following quote from the book "The Unholy Alliance: Stalin's Pact with Hitler", by Geoffrey Roberts, may prove useful.

This book is generally pro-Soviet, as shown by the following description of the Soviet invasion and annexation of the Baltic States, given on pages 189-90, in a section titled "Bolting the Baltic door":

"There was a degree of popular support for the overthrow of the Baltic regimes, for the radical measures which were implemented by the new [Communist] governments and, to a lesser extent, for the union with Soviet Russia".

The excerpt at issue is from pages 186-187:

Hitler's conquest of Western Europe in the spring and summer of 1940 completely upset this prognosis and led to sharp turns in both Soviet and domestic foreign policy. When France fell in June, Soviet Russia found itself in a position more vulnerable to attack than it had been in 1939. German military might was unimpaired and had at its disposal the combined material resources of most of continental Europe. Britain, led by the new Churchill Government, was determined to fight on, but its capacity to resist Hitler for much longer seemed doubtful.

In domestic policy, the Soviets responded to the new danger with a series of measures to speed up the tempo of war preparations. A ukase of the Supreme Soviet on 26 June introduced eight-hour day, six-day week working and stiffened the discipline of the already harsh labour code. Behind the scenes, other initiatives were also in progress. The decade-long economic mobilization for war [my emphasis] assumed a more urgent character as steps were taken to increase the production of tanks, aircraft, artillery, guns and ammunition and the crucial industrial inputs to manufacture these armaments. Various reorganizations were carried out, including that of the army, which found itself with a new disciplinary code too. Thousands of purged officers returned to the Red Army [my emphasis], and the core of commanders who were to win the great victories of 1942-5 began to occupy key positions in the army structure.

The efficacy of these and other measures remains open to question: indeed, it has been the subject of a long and intense debate both in the West and in the Soviet Union. The discussion has ranged over strategic planning and economic performance, questions of military doctrine and organization, policy-making structures and procedures, the impact of key procurement decisions and the role of particular individuals, not least that of Stalin and the core of the Soviet political and military leadership. In all these respects it is possible to detect major defects in the Soviet war preparations: targets unmet because of the astringent nature of the planning and economic system; miscalculations of the likely direction and targets of the coming German attack [my emphasis]; wrong decisions on priorities and procurement policies in relation to key instruments of modern warfare (especially modern tanks and aircraft); an overconcentration of power in the hands of those least equipped with the specialist knowledge needed to make decisions. There is general agreement, however, on two issues. First, that the intent of Soviet war preparations was clear and purposeful: to prepare as thoroughly as possible for the coming Nazi onslaught. Second, that the Soviet mobilization for war, if ill-judged in certain respects, was on a massive scale [my emphasis]. One indication of the extent of the Soviet mobilization is the growth in the armed forces during 1939-41. Manpower grew from 2 million to over 5 million, from under 100 divisions to over 300. More than 7,000 tanks and 17,000 planes were delivered to the Red Army in this period, along with 30,000 field guns, 50,000 mortars and 100,000 machine guns.

The bulk of this massive force was deployed along or near the USSR's western borders [my emphasis]- hardly surprising given that in the the summer of 1940 Nazi Germany was explicitly identified as the pricipal future foe. From this time on Soviet operational plans and war games proceeded on the assumption that defence against attack by Nazi Germany was the prime military objective. The details of Soviet military planning need not detain us, except for one aspect of Soviet 'war doctrine' that was to have a crucial effect on Soviet political calculations in 1941. The doctrine in question was the assumption that the Germans would not be able to conceal the deployment of their main force for a surprise attack of massive weight. The expectation was that war would begin with classic frontier battles in which the attacking side would attempt to gain the tactical initiative. This would be followed by a time interval of several days during which each side would mobilize and commit its main force with the aim of securing the offensive/defensive strategic initiative. Within this conception a strategic surprise attack of the kind actually launched by the Germans in June 1941 was militarily inconceivable. Its political effect was, as we shall see, to reinforce Stalin's determination to gamble everything on putting off the war for as long as possible. After all, what was the danger of a few minor tactical setbacks compared with the great strategic prize of delaying the war for a few more weeks, months, perhaps even until 1942 when Soviet defence preparations were scheduled for completion?


The passage above is a typical example of the pro-Soviet version of events, according which the Soviet Union's military preparations were purely defensive; its position was essentially passive, waiting to receive and repel a German offensive.

However, it does back up Hoffmann's point that since 1940 the Soviet Union was preparing on a massive scale for war with Germany, and that by 1941 its forces were greatly superior to the German. Roberts does not make a comparison, but on page 223 he does quote the official 1960 history of the CPSU to the effect that "Germany had massed......a huge invasion army totalling 190 divisions, including 153 German divisions". Given that only the 153 German divisions were worth anything in comparison with the Soviet power, those figures show that the Soviet Union had achieved the two-to-one attacking ration that Roberto is constantly squawking about.

Hoffmann's thesis, and the works of the Russian historians on which it is based, differs from the pro-Soviet version in that it claims that Soviet military preparations were not only defensive but also offensive in nature, that the Soviet Union was not passive but actively preparing to attack, certainly in 1942 and perhaps in 1941.

Hoffmann and the Russian historians have been able to adduce quite an amount of material in support of their thesis. For example, the statment by Roberts that Soviet operational planning and war games from 1940 were predicated on defence against attack by Nazi Germany does not reflect the whole truth; even material published on this forum has shown that the Red Army was planning a number of variants of a westward offensive against german-occupied Europe.

In my opinion, Hoffmann and the Russian historiography on which he draws have made a good case for the thesis that the Soviet Union was planning a westward attack. I do not think that they have proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and such proof will perhaps depend on future discoveries in Soviet-era archives that are still not accessible, such as the Presidential Archive in which the most secret directives of the Soviet Government are kept.

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Post by Roberto » 15 Nov 2002 11:04

michael mills wrote:Roberto wrote:

Even if they referred only to the winter of 1941/42, however, Hoffmann's assertions about the mortality rate remain dubious insofar as they would mean that all 18,700 fatalities occurred among the 64,000 prisoners taken by the Finns between June and September 1941 and no prisoners died thereafter, which is highly improbable despite the Finnish government's having taken action to ease the lot of the POWs after learning of their huge mortality rate.

If you could still tell us what your source says about the reasons for this huge mortality that prompted the Finnish government into action, that would be great.


michael mills wrote:Still the same old Roberto we know and love. Still following the ideological agenda of his minders, still trying to defame the late Dr Hoffmann as part of some nefarious neo-Fascist conspiracy,


Poor Mills, still thinking the audience of this forum is dumb enough not to have recognized that the ones pursuing an ideological agenda are Mills and the gurus he looks up to.

Which is not what really bothers me, not only because, unlike Mills and his ilk, I don’t believe in sinister conspiracies.

Their intellectual dishonesty is what sucks.

Mills seems to have run out of arguments regarding the Nazis’ policies in regard to Soviet prisoners of war, by the way.

Why else would he merely focus on what in this context is a comparatively minor issue?

michael mills wrote:despite the fact that the material produced by J. North proves that Hoffmann's statement was correct.


So Mills would like to believe. I was about to give the benefit of doubt to Hoffmann in this respect myself, as a matter of fact - before I did some elementary calculations.

michael mills wrote:According to J. North, the great majority of the Soviet prisoners taken by the Finnish forces, 64,000, were captured during the initial advance, between June and September 1941. During the rest of the war (until Finland's capitulation in 1944), only another 17,000 were captured; J. North does not give any distribution, but it seems likely that not many more than 64,000 were captured before the onset of the winter in 1941.


Why it seems likely to Mills that the Finns captured “not many more than 64,000” before the onset of winter in 1941 is not so easy to understand.

It seems at least equally likely that, just as the German troops captured a considerable part of the prisoners they took in 1941 during the months of October and November of that year, the Finnish troops captured a large part of the prisoners they took after September 1941 during those two months.

michael mills wrote:J. North states that 18,700 of the Soviet POWs in Finnish hands died. He also states that the greatest mortality occurred in the winter of 1941-42, ie an exact parallel with the case of the Soviet POWs in German hands. He also implies that the mortality rate was much less thereafter, due to measures taken by the Finnish authorities, again an exact parallel with the case of the Soviet POWs in German hands. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that nearly all the 18,700 Soviet POWs who died did so during the winter of 1941-42.


I wonder what “nearly all” is for Mills. Even if the Finns took hardly any prisoners between September 1941 and the end of that year – which I consider rather unlikely – and the mortality rate dropped to, say, 5 % in 1942 and thereafter, the rate during the winter of 1941 would still be 17,850 ./. 64,000 or 27.9 % - which Hoffmann would then rather generously have made into “almost one third” instead of “more than one fourth”, which would be more appropriate.

michael mills wrote:Accordingly, it is reasonable to take the total of deaths as a proportion of the prisoners taken between June and September 1941, which yields 29%, or "almost one third", which is what Hoffmann wrote.


If you badly want to pull poor Hoffmann, may he rest in peace, out of one of his several distortions and misrepresentations, it seems reasonable indeed.

michael mills wrote:That proportion may be compared with the mortality rate of Soviet POWs in German hands during the winter of 1941-42.


Yeah, sure. If you badly want to pull poor Hoffmann … (see above)

michael mills wrote: Hoffmann states that 3.8 million Red Army men were captured by the German Army until the end of 1941,


I wonder where Hoffmann got the figure of 3.8 million from. “Leftist” Streit (what Mills bases that silly label on he still hasn’t explained) wrote the following on page 128 of Keine Kameraden. Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941-1945 (my translation):

The Mass Dying of Soviet Prisoners of War in 1941/42

On 19 February 1942 the head of the Working Group Labor in the Four-Year Plan, Ministerial Director Mansfeld, held a lecture before the Reich Economy Chamber about “general questions of labor usage”. In regard to the steadily worsening lack of workers, Mansfeld declared:

The current difficulties of finding labor would not have come about if a decision for the generous use of Russian prisoners of war had been decided upon in time. There were 3.9 million [Footnote: After a listing by the Army High Command / General Quarter Master cleansed of erroneous reports, until 20.12.1941 3,350,639 prisoners had fallen into German hands; this number included released, deceased and escaped prisoners of war: War Diary of the Wehrmacht High Command, I, page 1106] Russians were available; thereof only 1.1 million are still left. Between November 1941 [Footnote: As becomes apparent from other sources, the period referred to is from the end of November 1941 to 31.1.1942] and January 1942 alone 500,000 Russians died. The number of Russian prisoners of war currently employed (400,000) should hardly be possible to increase. If the number of typhus infections goes down, it may be possible to take another 100,000 to 150,000 Russians to the economy.

Of the Soviet prisoners of war in German hands thus two million had perished or been killed until this time. [Footnote: Of the 3,350,639 prisoners there were 1,020,531 still in German captivity on 1.2.1942; Economy and Armament Office and Economy Staff East at the Army High Command / General Quarter Master, No. 683/42 g of 27.5.42, Federal Archives R 41/172, page 61. Up to this time 280,108 prisoners had been released in the Army High Command area: Army High Command General Quarter Master No. II/400/gKdos. of 20.2.42; Federal Archives / Military Archive H3/729. After deduction of escapes and the numerically low releases in the Wehrmacht High Command area the remain about two million who were shot or perished] It has already been described how it was made possible to the Einsatzkommandos in the Wehrmacht High Command area and in the area of military operations to liquidate about 600,000 prisoners of war, most of them before the spring of 1942. But how did it happen that beside this between the beginning of the eastern campaign and the end of January 1942 a daily average of about 6,000 prisoners perished?[...]


It may be worth noticing that, instead of taking Mansfeld’s figure at face value (as was done by Daniel Goldhagen, who accordingly spoke of the death of 2.8 million Soviet prisoners of war in a heartless side remark in his book Hitler’s Willing Executioners), Streit critically examined the figure and came to the conclusion that it was affected by erroneous reports that needed to be cleansed out, thus reducing the number of prisoners taken to ca. 3,350,000 and the number of deaths until the spring of 1942 to ca. 2,000,000.

Hoffmann, on the other hand, seems to have taken a higher figure at face value because it fit into his line of argumentation. Very instructive.

michael mills wrote:and two million POWs died during the winter of 1941-42. Comparing the two figures yields a mortality rate of 51.3%, considerably more than the mortality rate for Soviet POWs in Finnish hands during the same period.


As explained above, Mills’ calculations are based on the wrong assumptions. The actual mortality rate between the autumn of 1941 and the spring of 1941/42 was 2,000,000 ./. 3,350,000, or 59.7 %. In the General Government, where the logistical and transportation difficulties invoked by Nazi apologists were least grievous, the mortality rate was even much higher. As Streit writes on page 189 of Keine Kameraden (my translation):

[…]It must surely be conceded that even under “normal” circumstances, i.e. if the will had existed to do everything possible in order to save the prisoners, the feeding of the prisoners from the great encirlement battles of Kiev, Vyazma and Bryansk would have been extremely difficult and a high mortality would have been unavoidable: the weather, the roads and the railway connections made transportation and feeding extraordinarily difficult. The development of mass mortality in the General Government shows, however, that this mass problem was by no means the decisive factor. Among the 309,816 prisoners - 85 percent of those in custody in that area - who perished there until 15 April 1942, there were hardly any prisoners from the three encirclement battles, most of the prisoners had been taken before the beginning of September.[…]


Emphasis is mine.

michael mills wrote:The difference might be to the fact that the number in German hands was vastly greater than the number in Finnish hands; after all, it is much more difficult to feed 3.8 million prisoners than 64,000.


The above mentioned errors in the statistical basis aside, you may certainly argue like this – if you badly want to believe in Hoffmann’s screed and ignore all evidence to the contrary, including but not limited to the evidence that

- the Germans in 1940 took 1,900,000 prisoners in France within a rather short period of time and apparently had no great difficulties handling and feeding them – at least no deaths from starvation are reported to have occurred;

- the Nazi government had decided before the war on a reckless exploitation of the occupied territories of the Soviet Union in order to allow the armed forces to live off the land and the German home front to enjoy food consumption as in peacetime, even if this meant the starvation death of “umpteen million people” in the occupied territories;

- in accordance with this policy of exploitation, the Soviet prisoners of war were from the very start placed at the very bottom of the food distribution chain, in violation of international law;

- in the autumn of 1941 this policy was radicalized into one of selectively allowing “non-working” Soviet prisoners of war to starve to death;

- while the Finnish government was prompted into action in favor of the prisoners of war by news of their mortality that it had obviously been unaware of before, Hitler had told his generals as early as 30 March 1941 that the Bolshevik soldier was “vorher kein Kamerad und nachher kein Kamerad” (“no comrade before and after” – the statement from which Streit derived the title of his book) and thereafter rejected both a Soviet proposal for a bilateral adherence to the Hague Rules of Land Warfare and the suggestion of the Amt Ausland Abwehr to treat the Soviet prisoners of war in accordance with what, according to the prevailing legal opinion at the time, was customary international law;

- the mortality rate of Soviet prisoners of war was more than 85 % in the General Government, where logistical and transportation difficulties can be expected to have been comparatively much lower than in the area of military operations.

michael mills wrote: Roberto also asked:

If you could still tell us what your source says about the reasons for this huge mortality that prompted the Finnish government into action, that would be great.


Probably exactly the same reasons as those that caused the 51% mortality of Soviet POWs in German hands at the same time, the ones that Hoffmann enumerates, eg logistical problems, breakdown in the supply system, the climatic conditions, the state of health of the Soviet soldiers when captured etc.


Maybe those very difficulties, which in the case of the Finns were obviously not, however, greatly increased by ideologically colored exploitation policies on the part of the Finnish government – contrary to what was the case in Nazi Germany, see above.

Mills seems to be so eager to believe the opposite, at odds with the evidence though it is, that he can’t even wait until Jonathan North tells us more about his sources before indulging in his wishful thinking. How does he know that the cause of high mortality in Finnish captivity was not, for instance, an unexpected epidemic of typhus and dysentery that the camp guards, through negligence but not ill intention of their government, were insufficiently prepared to cope with?

michael mills wrote: Hoffmann also tells us that the Sipo and SD were summarily executing certain categories of captured Red Army men, which of course the Finns were not doing; that might account for some of the difference in mortality rate, but only a small part.


The 140,000 executions by Sipo and SD (according to Streim’s assessment, accepted by Gerlach) out of over 5 ½ million prisoners throughout the war hardly had an impact on the mortality rate.

But when you’re out of arguments, anything that comes to your net is a fish, ain’t that so, Mr. Mills?

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Post by j.north » 15 Nov 2002 12:14

Mortality figures for Soviet pows in Finland show that up to February 1942, 14,282 prisoners died. This rose to 18,700 by the end of the war in the autumn of 1944. So out of the more than 64,000 prisoners taken by the Finns in the period up to February, 14,282 died. An approximate calculation shows that this peak period of mortality caused the death of 22% of Soviet pows. That's still high. But when you are talking about millions of captives, a percentage point means all the difference for tens of thousands of prisoners. Had the German leaders behaved in the same way as the Finns, hundreds of thousands would not have lost their lives. But saving lives was not the consideration for Goring, Wagner, Reinecke or Hitler.

The Finnish Red Cross ascribed the high mortality rate to a number of the wounded dying, sickness and a lack of sufficient food to withstand the wintery conditions. The government's reaction was to ask the International Red Cross for assistance, which Mannerheim did after reading the Finnish Red Cross report. He also approved the use of Finnish medical staff to treat the sick and wounded, set up a military task force to oversee the direction of policy regarding prisoners and established that rations for prisoners were set at a standard akin to those issued to the Finnish troops. Goring and Wagner would not have been happy with that.

I find it absurd to suggest that the situation of Soviet pows in Finland was similar to that of Soviet pows in Germany. The Finnish response to the higher mortality rate was relatively quick and effective. It was also governed by humanity. There was a response to the winter crisis which brought the mortality rate crashing down in the spring of 1942. Incidentally, the Finns had not ratified the Geneva convention on prisoners, and the soviets had not signed it. But, it seems that both sides adhered to a reasonable regime for the prisoners given the circumstances. Of 2475 Finnish prisoners captured by the Soviets, 404 died in captivity.

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Post by Roberto » 15 Nov 2002 12:59

michael mills wrote:For the purposes of comparing the late Dr Hoffmann's theses with the pro-Soviet version of history, namely that the Fascist barbarians launched an unprovoked attack on the Workers' Paradise,


I wonder where Mills identifies the theory of the “Worker’ Paradise” in current historiography.

Could he give us some examples, or must we assume that he’s engaging in his customary practice of building himself the windmills he wishes to race against?

michael mills wrote: the following quote from the book "The Unholy Alliance: Stalin's Pact with Hitler", by Geoffrey Roberts, may prove useful.

This book is generally pro-Soviet, as shown by the following description of the Soviet invasion and annexation of the Baltic States, given on pages 189-90, in a section titled "Bolting the Baltic door":

"There was a degree of popular support for the overthrow of the Baltic regimes, for the radical measures which were implemented by the new [Communist] governments and, to a lesser extent, for the union with Soviet Russia".

The excerpt at issue is from pages 186-187:

Hitler's conquest of Western Europe in the spring and summer of 1940 completely upset this prognosis and led to sharp turns in both Soviet and domestic foreign policy. When France fell in June, Soviet Russia found itself in a position more vulnerable to attack than it had been in 1939. German military might was unimpaired and had at its disposal the combined material resources of most of continental Europe. Britain, led by the new Churchill Government, was determined to fight on, but its capacity to resist Hitler for much longer seemed doubtful.

In domestic policy, the Soviets responded to the new danger with a series of measures to speed up the tempo of war preparations. A ukase of the Supreme Soviet on 26 June introduced eight-hour day, six-day week working and stiffened the discipline of the already harsh labour code. Behind the scenes, other initiatives were also in progress. The decade-long economic mobilization for war [my emphasis] assumed a more urgent character as steps were taken to increase the production of tanks, aircraft, artillery, guns and ammunition and the crucial industrial inputs to manufacture these armaments. Various reorganizations were carried out, including that of the army, which found itself with a new disciplinary code too. Thousands of purged officers returned to the Red Army [my emphasis], and the core of commanders who were to win the great victories of 1942-5 began to occupy key positions in the army structure.

The efficacy of these and other measures remains open to question: indeed, it has been the subject of a long and intense debate both in the West and in the Soviet Union. The discussion has ranged over strategic planning and economic performance, questions of military doctrine and organization, policy-making structures and procedures, the impact of key procurement decisions and the role of particular individuals, not least that of Stalin and the core of the Soviet political and military leadership. In all these respects it is possible to detect major defects in the Soviet war preparations: targets unmet because of the astringent nature of the planning and economic system; miscalculations of the likely direction and targets of the coming German attack [my emphasis]; wrong decisions on priorities and procurement policies in relation to key instruments of modern warfare (especially modern tanks and aircraft); an over concentration of power in the hands of those least equipped with the specialist knowledge needed to make decisions. There is general agreement, however, on two issues. First, that the intent of Soviet war preparations was clear and purposeful: to prepare as thoroughly as possible for the coming Nazi onslaught. Second, that the Soviet mobilization for war, if ill-judged in certain respects, was on a massive scale [my emphasis]. One indication of the extent of the Soviet mobilization is the growth in the armed forces during 1939-41. Manpower grew from 2 million to over 5 million, from under 100 divisions to over 300. More than 7,000 tanks and 17,000 planes were delivered to the Red Army in this period, along with 30,000 field guns, 50,000 mortars and 100,000 machine guns.

The bulk of this massive force was deployed along or near the USSR's western borders [my emphasis]- hardly surprising given that in the the summer of 1940 Nazi Germany was explicitly identified as the pricipal future foe. From this time on Soviet operational plans and war games proceeded on the assumption that defence against attack by Nazi Germany was the prime military objective. The details of Soviet military planning need not detain us, except for one aspect of Soviet 'war doctrine' that was to have a crucial effect on Soviet political calculations in 1941. The doctrine in question was the assumption that the Germans would not be able to conceal the deployment of their main force for a surprise attack of massive weight. The expectation was that war would begin with classic frontier battles in which the attacking side would attempt to gain the tactical initiative. This would be followed by a time interval of several days during which each side would mobilize and commit its main force with the aim of securing the offensive/defensive strategic initiative. Within this conception a strategic surprise attack of the kind actually launched by the Germans in June 1941 was militarily inconceivable. Its political effect was, as we shall see, to reinforce Stalin's determination to gamble everything on putting off the war for as long as possible. After all, what was the danger of a few minor tactical setbacks compared with the great strategic prize of delaying the war for a few more weeks, months, perhaps even until 1942 when Soviet defence preparations were scheduled for completion?


The passage above is a typical example of the pro-Soviet version of events, according which the Soviet Union's military preparations were purely defensive; its position was essentially passive, waiting to receive and repel a German offensive.

However, it does back up Hoffmann's point that since 1940 the Soviet Union was preparing on a massive scale for war with Germany,


Poor Hoffmann, may he rest in peace, did not exactly made a spectacular new discovery.

Harrison E. Salisbury (The 900 Days, New York 1970, page 97) 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.


michael mills wrote:and that by 1941 its forces were greatly superior to the German.


Where in Roberts' writings Mills identifies this conclusion remains his mystery. Or did I miss something?

michael mills wrote:Roberts does not make a comparison, but on page 223 he does quote the official 1960 history of the CPSU to the effect that "Germany had massed......a huge invasion army totalling 190 divisions, including 153 German divisions". Given that only the 153 German divisions were worth anything in comparison with the Soviet power, those figures show that the Soviet Union had achieved the two-to-one attacking ration that Roberto is constantly squawking about.


Mills arithmetic never ceases to amaze me.

Perhaps he can explain to us how 2.9 million Soviet troops in the Western defense districts of the USSR by June 21, 1941 against 4.2 million German troops would make for the numerical superiority of two to one that Stalin considered mandatory for a successful offensive.

Harrison E. Salisbury (as above, pages 75 and following) 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[my emphasis]. 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.


Even if the German number given by Salisbury is too high and there were only 3 million German combat troops - Overy, page 72, speaks of

[...]Over three million men, organized in 146 army divisions, with 14 more Romanian divisions to the south and Finnish forces to the north, all supported by more than 2,000 aircraft and 3,350 tanks, [...]


- the ratio would still have been 1:1 - without counting the Romanian and Finnish divisions on the German side.

michael mills wrote:Hoffmann's thesis, and the works of the Russian historians on which it is based, differs from the pro-Soviet version in that it claims that Soviet military preparations were not only defensive but also offensive in nature, that the Soviet Union was not passive but actively preparing to attack, certainly in 1942 and perhaps in 1941.


We know what Hoffmann’s thesis is.

We have also seen how little the poor fellow, may he rest in peace, had to show for it, haven’t we?

michael mills wrote:Hoffmann and the Russian historians


What “Russian historians”, Mr. Mills ?

Does Suvorov stand for Russian historiography?

michael mills wrote:have been able to adduce quite an amount of material in support of their thesis.


If you badly want to believe that arbitrary interpretations of the meaning of troop movements, distortions of memoir statements and depositions of enthusiastic lower-ranking Soviet officers on their own attitude are “quite an amount of material”, that is so indeed. :lol:

michael mills wrote:For example, the statment by Roberts that Soviet operational planning and war games from 1940 were predicated on defence against attack by Nazi Germany does not reflect the whole truth; even material published on this forum has shown that the Red Army was planning a number of variants of a westward offensive against german-occupied Europe.


Sometimes I wonder whether Mills even reads his own source carefully enough.

Roberts (quoted by Mills) wrote: […]The doctrine in question was the assumption that the Germans would not be able to conceal the deployment of their main force for a surprise attack of massive weight. The expectation was that war would begin with classic frontier battles in which the attacking side would attempt to gain the tactical initiative. This would be followed by a time interval of several days during which each side would mobilize and commit its main force with the aim of securing the offensive/defensive strategic initiative.[…]


Roberts hints that the Soviet military doctrine was one of offensive, that the Soviets believed that in the event of war breaking out a Red Army attacking rather than reduced to defense would quickly carry the war onto enemy territory. In this context it is not surprising that their operational planning included “a number of variants of a westward offensive against german-occupied Europe”.

Richard Overy (Russia’s War, Penguin Books 1998, pages 64 and following) wrote:[…]The failure of Molotov’s visit did not diminish Stalin’s desire to avoid a direct military confrontation with Germany. The Soviet Union was not, as Hitler knew, ready for a major war, and would not be for at least a year. Stalin has often been pictured as a man blinded by appeasement, leading an unprepared country to the brink of ruin in 1941. It is certainly true that right up to the moment of the German attack Stalin did not want war and hoped that it could be avoided by negotiation – a view not very different from Neville Chamberlain in 1939 – but the absence of preparation is a myth. The Soviet political and military leadership began to prepare the country from the autumn of 1940 for the possibility of a war with Germany. The problem was not the absence of preparation but the fundamental flaws in strategy and deployment that underpinned it.
Consistent with the Red Army’s philosophy of active defense and massive counter-offensive into enemy territory, Stalin wanted a new zone of defense to be moved right up to the frontier with Germany and its allies.
[my emphasis] To the astonishment of German forces, Soviet engineers began to build fortifications in full view, right on the frontier itself. The old Stalin Line was almost entirely abandoned; depots and strong points were left to crumble, or were covered with earth or in some cases handed over to be used as vegetable warehouses by local collective farms. Much of the equipment removed from them was poorly stored or was moved forward to the new frontier, where it sat rusting while the new fortifications were constructed. The new fortified zones, on which the whole strategy of forward defense hinged, were too numerous to complete all at once. By the spring most of them lacked guns of any kind, radio equipment, even electric power or air filters. When Zhukov visited the border districts in April he immediately ordered armored doors to be installed at the entrances to the fortifications. On the eve of the German invasion the key frontier areas had no minefields, camouflage or effective fields of fire. Of 2,300 strong points set up on Zhukov’s orders, fewer than 1,000 had any artillery.
[…]
The war games followed a week-long conference that began on December 23. The object was to thrash out the lessons of the year and to review the current state of military planning. No serious attempt was made to challenge the central principles upon which Soviet war-planning rested. The war games were staged to confirm what was seen as a received wisdom. The first was fought between Zhukov and General Dimitri Pavlov, chief of the Soviet mechanized forces, on New Year’s Day, 1941. Zhukov was the German side, Pavlov the Soviet. Although Pavlov was able to bring his forces to bear on East Prussia, consistent with the strategy of the massive counter-offensive, he was routed by Zhukov. In the second game, played a week later, the players were reversed. This time Zhukov pushed successfully across the frontier into Hungary; Pavlov’s weak counter-attack attempted to parry. [my emphasis] The outcome said a great deal about Zhukov’s battlefield skills, even on a table-top. But there were worrying signs for Soviet strategy. When Stalin assembled the commanders and officials for the second game, a curious drama unfolded.
The chief of staff was asked to report on the outcome of the games. Meretskov spoke hesitantly. Rather than say out loud that the Zhukov Germans had won the first game, Meretskov applauded the early stages, when Pavlov with sixty divisions had overcome the fifty-five German divisions defending the Reich frontier. Stalin angrily took the floor and exposed as nonsense the view that a ratio of little more than one division to one could overcome the fixed German defenses. It was all right ‘for propaganda purposes’, he told the assembly, ‘but here we have to talk in terms of real capabilities’. [my emphasis] The uncomfortable Meretskov was then asked about the second game but would give no definite answer on the outcome, which was inconclusive. When one of Timoshenko’s deputies followed the discussion by insisting on voicing his own belief that infantry divisions should be horse-drawn rather than mechanized, Stalin’s patience was stretched to the limit. The General Staff left the conference in a despondent mood. The following day Zhukov was appointed Chief of the General Staff, and Meretskov was put in charge of training.[...]


michael mills wrote:In my opinion, Hoffmann and the Russian historiography on which he draws


:lol: (see above).

michael mills wrote:have made a good case for the thesis that the Soviet Union was planning a westward attack.


:lol: :lol: (see above).

Everyone is entitled to his opinion, of course. Unless he insists in burying himself and his sources any deeper than he has already, I will let Mills be happy with what he would like to believe in. He seems to need it.

michael mills wrote:I do not think that they have proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and such proof will perhaps depend on future discoveries in Soviet-era archives that are still not accessible, such as the Presidential Archive in which the most secret directives of the Soviet Government are kept.


Well, Mr. Mills, please keep us informed of any spectacular future discoveries, and until then, keep dreaming.

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