Stalin and the POWs

Paul Flewers paul.flewers at
Sat Aug 7 22:21:14 MDT 1999

Mark Jones wrote: < Paul, does it occur to you (it certainly did to
Deutscher) that these allegedly superior eastern Europe states had all
collapsed unceremoniously in the face of Hitlerism? Are you able to draw
any conclusions from that? >

Firstly, I did not say (and nor did Isaac Deutscher, whom I cited) that
Eastern European states were 'allegedly superior' to the Soviet Union.
What he said was that there were certain features of these states that,
despite their war-ravaged and generally backward condition, were better,
and that things like a little more freedom of expression and a bit
higher living standards would have been welcome in the Soviet Union.

Evidence collected subsequently to when Deutscher wrote his book
endorses his statement. I read an account of when Soviet troops entered
Eastern Poland in 1939 that they were amazed at the higher standard of
living there. And Eastern Poland, in other words, the western ends of
Byelorussia and Ukraine, was a backward part of Poland.

Having pointed out that I didn't think that the Eastern European states
were 'superior', there is no mystery why they collapsed in 1939-41.
Compared to Germany, a very powerful state, there was very little chance
of them putting up much of a conventional military fight even if they
wanted to. The Soviet Union was also a very powerful state, and no doubt
would have been more powerful if its government had not ripped its
officer corps apart in 1937, and purged many thousands of capable
administrators during the Yezhovshchina. Not to mention acts of rank
stupidity like keeping top aeroplane designer AN Tupelov working in a
prison cell!

Paul F

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