Stalin and WWII

Tom Condit tomcondit at igc.apc.org
Sat Jul 1 13:07:31 MDT 1995


Rather than arguing about whether Zhukov's memoirs, etc., are
"credible" or who was the greatest general in Soviet history,
maybe a little reference to the actual history of World War II
would be useful.

There is a definitive work by a German military historian
(unfortunately, I don't have a copy handy so I can't tell you
hist name...I think Paul something) called _Hitler Moves East_.
The book documents the incredible unnecessary loss of life on
both sides caused by Hitler and Stalin (neither of whom trusted
his generals) meddling in military decisions.  The German general
staff had opposed invading Russia in the first place on the basis
of historical experience of what happened to invaders of that
country (regardless of the character of the Russian regime of the
time).  The Soviet generals never thought Hitler would be crazy
enough to overrule his generals.  So neither side had any
coherent plans.

The one "positive" result of Stalin's purges was that in addition
to massacring all the real communists in Russia, wiping out his
own general staff, and popping a couple of million innocent
bystanders in the process, he _had_ killed every German agent in
the U.S.S.R., so the Germans were operating totalling in the
blind, without even any accurate maps!  Under the circumstances,
it's not surprising that they got their butts kicked as soon as
they outran their supply lines.

Both Stalin and Hitler, mistrusting their generals, ordered them
to never retreat.  Hundreds of thousands of German and Soviet
soldiers were encircled by the other side in cutoff pockets and
either killed or made prisoners of war (which, of course,
frequently was the same as being killed, only slower).

There were brilliant generals on both sides, although the
Russians had lost their best (Tukachevsky, etc.) in the purges,
but the whole thing was a giant tragic mess, involving far more
deaths than even the meddling of Churchill in Britain's military
operations could have accomplished.

Stalin's great leadership my eye!

Tom Condit


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