Mark Jones jones.mark at
Wed Mar 28 13:05:06 MST 2001

re the egregious Salon review: Beevor and Walsh are both British army
officers. Both books are intensely anti-Soviet. Beevor's stance is one of pity
for the poor Germans whose sufferings we are invited to sympathise with in the
Stalingrad cauldron, and outright hostility to the Soviet soldiers defending
Stalingrad. I read Beevor in the BL last year, and it is truly excruciating, a
real toe-curler, bottom-wiggler excrescence of a book, full of appaling
blunders of detail and fact, and totally wrong about the big picture. Yuk.
Beevor's other books incidentally are even more anti-Soviet than this alleged
'masterwork' about Stalingrad. Beevor, of course, as a serving British army
officer, spent much of his career discussing with our German allies in Nato,
how to smash Russia. It shows. Unwittingly or no, he has absorbed more than he
understands of residual German ideas about Russian untermenschen.

I find his work extraordinarily insensitive, racist and arrogant. He is blind
to what the Germans did in Russia; somehow or other, the 27 million Soviet men
women and children they slaughtered, raped, burned, gassed, shelled and shot,
were actually *Stalin's* victims. Stalin allowed the Germans to do it,
therefore he is to blame!

A much better book from all points of view is John Erickson's 2-volume history
of the Soviet-German war. And there are much MUCH better films about
Stalingrad than Jacques Annaud's blockbuster: but they are all Soviet films,
so, of course, they remain unknown in the West. The unpalatable truth is that
the Soviets endured and won because they were better motivated, better led and
better organised than the Germans. The really, really unpalatable truth, which
most Russians fervently agree with, is that without Stalin, the USSR would
have lost the war. You do not have to subscribe to weird ideas about genius
leaders, great helmsmen etc, to recognise that individuals play a role in
history, and sometimes a decisive role. Just as much as Hitler lost the war
for Germany, Stalin won it for Soviet Russia. He made his mistakes and learnt
from them. Hitler did not.


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