Stalin and WWII

Justin Schwartz jschwart at
Sat Jul 1 20:58:43 MDT 1995

Zhukov was a great general and a real hero besides. As was Chuikov (who
led the defense of Stalingrad). And Rokossovsky--after the terrible
shakeout at the start of the war, when the political generals and Civil
War remanants Stalin had left in charge after the murder of Tukachevsky
and most of the Soviet officer class in the Purges were discredited, shot,
or shunted aside. I don't think Stalin gets credit for not having killed
all the good officers--it wasn't for lack of trying. I do think we all owe
the Red Army in WWII an immense debt of gratitude.

A story--true!--about Rokossovsky. He had been in a camp when he was
summed out, given a bath and a uniform, and sent to a Stavka (Armed Forces
High Command) meeting attended also by Stalin. "Where have you been,
Konstantin," Stalin asked with some irritation. "In a camp, Comtade
Stalin," replied R. "A fine place to be in your country's hour of need!"
the dictator snapped.

Ah, well.

--Justin Schwartz
On Sat, 1 Jul 1995, Scott Marshall wrote:

> >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.
> Actually Zhukov was there. His books are actual historical notes of WWII.
> And exageration to ridicule is not good argument - I never said Zhukov was
> the greatest - I said he was as good a general as fought in WWII, in answer
> to the charge that Stalin killed all the good generals. Incidently US and
> British generals of the period have praised Zhukov. Maybe he'd be more
> credible with some here if you knew that he at times disagreed with Stalin
> on military policy. Nah - Not if you also know that Stalin on several
> occasions defered to Zhukov on military matters.
> Further it might benefit some who think they know all about the Soviet
> military situation in this period to read Zhukov's memoirs. You mihgt
> discover that the people you so blythly dismiss and put down were thoughtful
> Marxist trying to cope with extreme problems. The self criticism and the
> modesty of people like Zhukov, who played such an important role in
> defeating the Nazi army is refreshing. The pressures, the hardships etc.
> were incredible, but hey we all could have done it much better, we got all
> the answers in our glorious hindsight.
> Frankly it is hard for me to be friendly (though I'll try harder) with
> people who can for instance belittle someone like Ernst Thaelman who gave
> his life fighting fascism. Sure disagree with his policies if you want -
> might help to explain what you hate about them rather than just sweeping
> generalities and 'puking on your keyborad', but for goodness sake he fought
> and died for the things most of us say we believe in. He did help organize
> the largest working class anti-fascist rallies to take place in Germany
> after Hitler was declared Chancellor, but hey that's just mundane stuff -
> took no courage and he probably deserved to be shot in the dead of night for
> his political sins. Shooting is much more effective than puking.
> And if you must equate Hitler and Stalin - then at least remember that one
> was the aggressor and one was defending his country and socialism - opps I
> forgot it wasn't really socialism, so of course it probably deserved to be
> destroyed. Maybe, just maybe, Hitler was a *little* more responsible for the
> deaths caused by the invasion. And maybe just maybe evenhanded condemnation
> is wrong.
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