Was the Soviet Union preparing to attack Germany?

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Attrition
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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by Attrition » 28 Oct 2013 14:30

LWD wrote:
ljadw wrote:Everyone knows that Suvurov is an imposter and a charlatan.
Unfortunately your are not correct here. Almost everyone should know that at this point but some have drunk the kool aid.
I think he's a fraud and I've never drunk cool aid.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by LWD » 28 Oct 2013 14:56

Exactly.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack Germany?

Post by Globalization41 » 28 Oct 2013 20:08

Suvorov makes some good points. ... The more sources the merrier. One can add the source material together, divide by the number of sources, and obtain an answer that's closer to the truth. For example, one source says liberals are correct, another source says conservatives are correct, add those together and divide by two. The answer equals centrism. ... The truth is out there; but it's well camouflaged by creative, abundant, and deliberate disinformation or misinterpretations.

Globalization41.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by Omeganian » 29 Oct 2013 11:25

ljadw wrote:Everyone knows that Suvurov is an imposter and a charlatan.
He tends to exaggerate, yes, but finding an honest opponent of his can be tricky on its own.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by LWD » 29 Oct 2013 13:14

Omeganian wrote:
ljadw wrote:Everyone knows that Suvurov is an imposter and a charlatan.
He tends to exaggerate, yes, but finding an honest opponent of his can be tricky on its own.
Not in my experiance. It's more than exageration by the way he makes things up out of the blue. He also seem to either be writing for what he thought the cold war west wanted to hear. Some of it may have been him simply not understanding things but that excuse can't hold for all of his errors.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by Appleknocker27 » 29 Oct 2013 16:49

Omeganian wrote:
ljadw wrote:Everyone knows that Suvurov is an imposter and a charlatan.
He tends to exaggerate, yes, but finding an honest opponent of his can be tricky on its own.
Personally I rely on the Red Army reports of the period, basic military principles, etc. to make my own conclusions to compare with the multitude of authors out there that have weighed in on this. Suvurov for one reason or another draws all the wrong conclusions, over emphasizes certain aspects of Red Army initiatives and ignores others to create an impractical and unworkable picture of the overall situation.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by Karelia » 29 Oct 2013 17:01

"Several politicians have also made claims similar to Suvorov's. On August 20, 2004, historian and former Prime Minister of Estonia Mart Laar published an article in The Wall Street Journal titled When Will Russia Say 'Sorry'?. In this article, he said: "The new evidence shows that by encouraging Hitler to start World War II, Stalin hoped to simultaneously ignite a world-wide revolution and conquer all of Europe".

Another former statesman to share his views of a purported Soviet aggressive plan is Mauno Koivisto, who wrote: "It seems to be clear the Soviet Union was not ready for defense in the summer of 1941, but it was rather preparing for an assault.... The forces mobilized in the Soviet Union were not positioned for defensive, but for offensive aims." Koivisto concludes: "Hitler's invasion forces didn't outnumber [the Soviets], but were rather outnumbered themselves. The Soviets were unable to organize defenses. The troops were provided with maps that covered territories outside the Soviet Union."
"

Koivisto, M. Venäjän idea, Helsinki. Tammi. 2001

Field Marshal Mannerheim threatened to resign in the early 1941 if the Finnish Defence Forces were not mobilized. According to "all" domestic and foreign diplomatic and military sources at the time a new soviet attack against Finland was on the way. The first time that attack was feared to happen was late summer 1940, the second time early 1941.

The soviets were preparing massively. Numerous new airfields were built close to the Finnish borders, as well as new roads and rail tracks towards Finland. None of that served any defence purposes. Demands were made for Finland to build a connecting railway in the Northern Finland from the soviet border towards Oulu - exactly the same route which the soviets tried to use in the Winter War to cut Finland half and stop the Swedish aid coming. The soviets demanded the defence fortifications in Åland islands (between Finland and Sweden!) to be destroyed - only purpose of which could have been to ease the coming soviet invasion. New soviet troops were concentrated by the Finnish borders - against the peace time Finnish DF of 13 brigades!

If and when the USSR - that peaceful and defensive country - was preparing a new attack against Finland, why couldn't it have been preparing for a more ambitious enterprise? If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it must be a bloody duck...

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by Attrition » 29 Oct 2013 22:57

~~~~~Stalin hoped to simultaneously ignite a world-wide revolution and conquer all of Europe~~~~~

Stalin was a great-power realpolitician, same as all the rest.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by LWD » 30 Oct 2013 14:53

He may have but he wasn't in a hurry to do it and apparently wanted to minimize the risk in doing so. Now this is only an opinion but it very much appears to me that Stalin wanted to be in a position to pick up as many of the pieces as he could safely do following a confrontation of Germany vs the French and British. Also being strong enough to dissuade the Germans from attacking would have been one of his goals I suspect. I think he underestimated just how much of a gambler Hitler was. The evidence that he was planning on attacking Germany in 41 is extremely thin and indeed the weight of it suggest not IMO. What he hoped to do in 42 and later is less clear but I suspect it was a situation where he felt that he would have to react to the actions of others rather than haveing a firm plan as to what the USSR would do.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by Attrition » 31 Oct 2013 08:55

Apparently he said as much to Stafford-Cripps, that to him the war between Germany and the westenders was not a war between capitalists and fascists but a gang fight between fascists. Can't really disagree with that. As for 1941-1942 USSR and USA policy seems pretty much the same as British - French policy 1935-1939, try for peace but be ready for war if it came. Looked at like that the Munich Agreement might have been as anti-Soviet as it was anti-nazi (in the sense of depriving Germany of a small war for all of Czechoslovakia).

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by little grey rabbit » 01 Nov 2013 09:01

I have been reading What Stalin Knew: The Enigma of Barbarossa by David E Murphy.

It is not a bad read, but I don't agree with his interpretation and I also think the archival record may have become a bit corrupted or biased by omission of material.

However, I think he makes a very strong case that Hitler ran a very good deception campaign that absolutely convinced Stalin that Hitler would attack Britain first. OTOH, I think there is reasonable case to make that Stalin was not taken unawares by Barbarossa, but rather was believing in the best, but also preparing for the worst.

The question that David Murphy doesn't explore is what were Stalin's plans when Hitler did invade England. Was he just planning to sit it out and watch his last potential ally in Europe get wiped off the map (potentially), given he was under no illusion that the USSR was Hitler's ultimate Lebensraum prize?
Role-playing the situation, I would suggest the logical strategy for Stalin would be to strike Germany when Germany struck England - as Stalin was convinced that they would. I think there are hints in the documentary record that might support that - although it is very thin, but this would be a result of the archival records being biased by political interests.
The USSR were, I would suggest, concentrating forces south of the Pripiat Marshes and planning an attack from the Lvov salient through Cracow and into Silesia and moving down the west bank of the Oder towards Berlin- thereby avoiding major river crossings.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by Andy Syl » 21 Nov 2013 19:08

LWD wrote:
Omeganian wrote:
ljadw wrote:Everyone knows that Suvurov is an imposter and a charlatan.
He tends to exaggerate, yes, but finding an honest opponent of his can be tricky on its own.
Not in my experiance. It's more than exageration by the way he makes things up out of the blue. He also seem to either be writing for what he thought the cold war west wanted to hear. Some of it may have been him simply not understanding things but that excuse can't hold for all of his errors.
I disagree. The main problem is that most established historians are already committed on the traditional side of the argument. Basically, prior to 1991, independent research of the soviet side of the war was virtually impossible - so the historians interested in working on the subject only had 2 choices: either choose an unorthodox approach, relying strictly on circumstantial evidence and inferences, or use the phony documentary evidence provided by the Soviet regime. Most historians chose the second options and played along.

As Suvorov's theory ran contrary to the establishment, it was utterly predictable that the first reviews would be negative no matter what. I recall that I have seen once a comment regarding the Icebreaker, which remarked that this theory was bound to encounter a hostile reception from the historical community because most of it was committed to the traditional version and to accept Suvorov meant that their own works would suddently become worthless. I happen to have a PhD in history myself, albeit my area of interest was late Middle Ages and Early Modern political thought: and, during those more than 11 years in the field, first as a student, then as a researcher, I had the chance to see (and personally experience) the obstinacy which the established academics can display when confronted with a theory in disagreement with their works and that their instinct is to deny, deny, and again deny all evidence.
Coming back to the matter of the soviet offensive plans, a lot of critics are not displaying good faith when reviewing Suvorov.

As a case for study, I will reference a piece written by Teddy Uldricks here: http://fch.fiu.edu/FCH-2003/Uldricks-Hitler1-2003.htm
Speaking about "making things out of the blue", Uldricks' piece is choke full of factual errors and conclusions which can be described, at best, as bizarre. For instance:
Stalin knew how inadequately Soviet industry was responding to the need for a crash-paced arms buildup
Soviet industry was inadequately responding to the need for a crash-paced arms buildup??? The same soviet industry who, in 1941, produced 6,500 tanks and 15,000 aircraft versus the 3,600 tanks and 12,000 aircraft produced by the german industry, all these while in the half of 1941 a major relocation of plants and personnel was taking place?
A third glaring error in Surovov’s analysis is his failure to see that what he takes to be evidence of the Kremlin’s aggressive intent was, in actuality, the fruits of a foolishly inappropriate defensive doctrine on the part of the Soviet general staff. For many years Red Army doctrine had held that any attack on the western frontier of the USSR would commence with two weeks of more of limited, probing attacks before the enemy could concentrate his full might for a decisive strike.
First of all, what's that supposed to mean the "Soviet general staff"? The general staff is a structure employing thousands of people, from the Chief of the General Staff to the guards at the doors. Only very few of them were responsible for setting the main principles of the Soviet military doctrines so why Mr. Uldricks point the finger at an abstract institution?
The persons responsible for the basic guidelines of military planning were 4: the Chief of General Staff, his deputy, the Chief of Operations and his deputy. In the first half of 1941, these were: Zhukov, Vatutin, Malandin and Vasilevsky. If what Uldricks claims is true, they are the ones who implemented a "foolishly inappropriated defensive doctrine" and believed the Wehrmacht will start the war with 2 weeks of "probing attacks".
In light of this, it becomes clear why Uldricks points the finger at the "General staff", without mentioning the names of the actual planners - because if he named them, his argument starts to show cracks. It is believable that Zhukov, Vatutin, Malandin and Vasilevsky, who acquitted themselves with distinction during the war and proved themselves excellent strategists, were guilty of such an idiocy before the war and "had obviously missed the significance of the Polish defeat in 1939 and the French disaster in 1940 + namely, that the Blitzkrieg could strike with its full, devastating force on day one of the war" as Uldricks claims?
Each can make his own conclusion, but my answer would be that Uldricks is full of hot air on this one.
Under this assumption, Soviet generals believed that their fairly light screening forces could hold off the enemy near the border while the RKKA’s main forces prepared to launch a devastating counter-attack. The fight would thus be carried quickly back onto the aggressor’s own territory. It is for this reason, rather than any aggressive intent, that so much of the Red Army was deployed in forward positions in the summer of 1941 rather than more sensibly arrayed farther in the rear for a defense in depth
Another gem. I honestly confess this does not make any sense to me, because it seems we have a total contradiction here. If much of the Red Army was deployed in forward positions, then why there was a need for "fairly light screening forces" to hold off the enemy for 2 weeks? And how could there be "fairly light" screening forces if the bulk of the Red Army was deployed in forward positions? Maybe "forward positions" does not mean what I think it means?
Stalin convinced himself that the growing German troop concentrations along the Soviet border were a gambit to gain leverage for a possible renegotiation of the Nazi-Soviet Pact more in Germany’s favor.[24] Alternatively, he considered the possibility that renegade, militantly anti-communist German generals might launch an attack on the USSR without Hitler’s knowledge as a way to provoke war. For these reasons he prevented proper defensive preparations in order, he felt, not to provoke the Germans.
I honestly don't understand anything anymore from this. Here we have an assertion that Stalin prevented proper defensive preparations to avoid provoking Germany. Fine. But just 2 paragraphs before, there was an assertion (which I quoted above) that the Red Army was deployed in a counter-attacking stance, ready to deliver a crushing counterstroke, etc. The two assertions are mutually exclusive:
1) Either Stalin did not want to provoke Germany and ordered his army not to take defensive measures;
2) Or Stalin (for whatever reason) ordered his army to prepare for a decisive counterattack.
Basically, Mr. Uldricks claims that the Red Army was both sleeping and awake. At the same time.
A second problem with Suvorov’s argument is the timing it attributes to Stalin. He claims that the Soviet dictator intended to launch a revolutionary crusade in May of 1941. The difficulty here is that, far from being ravaged by war at this point, Germany was at the pinnacle of its strength, having established its hegemony from the Bay of Biscane to the Soviet border and from Norway to the sands of North Africa. Moreover, there is also no evidence that the proletariat of Nazi-occupied, bourgeois Europe were ripe for revolution at this point.[22] If Stalin had decided to attempt a pan-European revolutionary uprising in the summer of 1941, it is hard to imagine him having chosen a less opportune moment.
The above paragraph is either extremely poor comprehension of the text or a downright lie. There is no such claim in any of Suvorov's books, that "the Soviet dictator intended to launch a revolutionary crusade in May of 1941". If any of you know of such, please help me find it.
What Mr. Uldricks might refer to here is a comment from Suvorov - when discussing some articles published by Pravda in May 1941 - that, in 1941, the political context of Europe was favorable for a Soviet attack against Germany: at the time, most of Europe was under German occupation, Germany was at war with Great Britain and was having a very poor relationship with the United States - thus a Soviet invasion was likely to be regarded favorably, at least in the beginning, by large swathes of the occupied European population and by the governments of US and Great Britain. But, from here to assert that "Suvorov claims Stalin intended to lauch a revolutionary crusade in May 1941" and make some bizarre digression about the European proletariat not being ripe for revolution is more than a massive stretch - it displays reading/interpretation skills so poor that it would disqualify a junior student, let alone an academic.


And, speaking of "making things out of the blue", I would like to know, what do you make of Glantz's statement (a historian which seems to be treated by many as the "alpha male" of Eastern Front history) in his book "Barbarossa: Hitler's invasion of Russia", on page 205, that "The cumbersome Soviet mobilization system did not meet the requirements of modern war".

It's up to Mr. Glantz what he believes, but the situation is made comical (or sad, depending on perspective) by the fact that, in the same book, on page 66, the same Glantz says: "In practice, however, the Red Army's ability to create new divisions as fast as the Germans smashed existing ones was a principal cause ofthe German failure in 1941 [...] The Soviet mobilization system generated a total of approximately 285 rifle divisions, 12 re-formed tank divisions, 88 cavalry divisions, 174 rifle brigades and 93 tank brigades, by 31 December 1941. Despite heavy losses, these additions brought the Red Army's line strength to 401 division equivalents on 1 August, 450 division equivalents on 1 September and 592 division equivalents on 31 December. At the same time, the army's personnel strength rose from 5,373,000 on 22 June to 6,889,000 on 31 August and an estimated 8 million on 31 December."

I nearly choked with my morning coffee when I read that bit. The Soviet mobilization system did not meet the requirements of modern war, but it was the principal cause of German failure. Go figure.

One thing which I find amusing in all these pro-Suvorov/anti-Suvorov arguments is the one-sidedness of the argument. Yeah, Suvorovs exaggerates and makes some things up (For instance, he overestimates the destructive effect of the German first blow against the soviet troops. He often harps how "soviet units" were deployed at the border - without specifying how many and how close - and were drowned in a "sea of fire" by the enemy artillery attack, ignoring the fact that it was impossible to achieve such a thing, with the limited range and firepower of WW2 artillery).
But what is one supposed to make of the mistakes quoted above from main critics of Suvorov's such as Uldricks or Glantz? If one is going to accuse another of being a scientific bum, he better make sure his own argument is "immaculate". Which clearly is not the case.
Frankly speaking, to me it looks very much that some of these leading "experts", whom Suvorov is so often unfavorable compared to (along the lines "look, that professor/historian/whatever disagrees with Suvorov, so the latter must be a fraud) are simply reiterating, mechanically, from time to time, some cliches.
Last edited by Andy Syl on 21 Nov 2013 19:39, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by LWD » 21 Nov 2013 19:34

Andy Syl wrote: ... I disagree. The main problem is that most established historians are already committed on the traditional side of the argument. Basically, prior to 1991, independent research of the soviet side of the war was virtually impossible - so the historians interested in working on the subject only had 2 choices: either choose an unorthodox approach, relying strictly on circumstantial evidence and inferences, or use the phony documentary evidence provided by the Soviet regime. Most historians chose the second options and played along.

As Suvorov's theory ran contrary to the establishment, it was utterly predictable that the first reviews would be negative no matter what.
The problem is he was being called to task for his voracity well before he started writing WWII era books and it wasn't all by historians by any means.
Nor does it help that as I say he apparently made things up out of whole cloth. Indeed historians that had little or no reason to dislike his theories have taken him to task as well.

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by Andy Syl » 21 Nov 2013 20:22

LWD wrote: Nor does it help that as I say he apparently made things up out of whole cloth. Indeed historians that had little or no reason to dislike his theories have taken him to task as well.
A historian "taking to task"/aka expressing some criticism of some aspects or an entire theory is perfectly normal. The level and the extent of vitriol coming against this theory goes much farther than that.
For instance, when Icebreaker was first published, the entire academic community jumped into the roof that "Suvorov uses only circumstantial evidence and such evidence is not treated seriously by historians". It was the first time (and until now it remained the only one) in my life when I saw such an idea, that circumstantial evidence should not be taken seriously by historians.

Take, for instance, David Glantz's "Stumbling Colossus", which has often been quoted here as some kind of ultimate rebuttal of Soviet offensive theory. Stumbling colossus is based on nothing else but circumstantial evidence, because you can't prove a negative otherwise. The main crux of "Stumbling colossus" is that the Red Army was unfit for offensive operations in 1941 and thus, Stalin not being an idiot, he could not have ordered the preparation of an invasion of Germany. If this is not "circumstantial evidence", then nothing is. It looks very much to me that this "circumstantial evidence" argument is a mere pretext, the most convenient which could have been found to reject an inconvenient theory - because there is no scientific basis or precedent for this rejection by default of circumstantial evidence.

There is a major difference between criticism and "book burning" - there might be valid points to be said against Suvorov's ideas, but the attitude of a large part of the academic establishment in this regard looks much more like the latter.

And there is also a striking difference between how Suvorov is treated and how his opponents are treated. I'll quote you another piece from the same "Operation Barbarossa" of David Glantz. On page 62, it says: "The renewed Communist Party influence and terror in the army was unnecessary, since virtually all soldiers were doing their utmost without such threats." Using your words, here Glantz makes things up out of the whole cloth: the quoted claim is ludicrous. It is well-documented, from eye-witnesses testimonies and reports of both the German and the Soviet side, that in 1941 there were massive desertions and surrenderings among the Red Army troops. The Hiwis did not show up out of thin air.
Yet, despite this, I don't expect to see Glantz subjected to the same attacks any time soon.

It is also striking the deference with which negative reviews of this theory are treated, despite some being full of errors - such as Mr. Uldricks' piece quoted above.

Again, it's up to each person what he thinks of Suvorov, I do not pretend that he is the ultimate seeker of truth, nor do I agree with everything he says, but let's not claim that many of his critics are error-proof or that their motivations is pure as crystal.
Just for my curiosity, how would you evaluate the assertions from Uldricks and Glantz which I quoted above? Do you agree with any of them?

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Re: Was Soviet Union preparing to attack the Germany?

Post by LWD » 21 Nov 2013 21:07

I've never claimed his critics were without blemish nor have I paid much attention to the phenomena you report. So it is rather irrelevant to my points. It may be that some historians haven't given him a fair hearing. Indeed I would be surprised if that wasn't the case. That doesn't mean that he has a valid point either though. Part of the reaction may and likely is due to some of his writings previous to Icebreaker which were being taken to task for numerous errors at that point I believe.

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