This wisdom from George Santayana first communicated in 1905 (and slightly modified by Churchill in a speech to the House of Commons in 1948) remains true today. The decaying foundation of American foreign policy rests in part on a distorted understanding of Russia’s role in the Second World War and an exaggerated credit for what America did in that conflict. If you watch the great Hollywood movies about WW II in Europe (The Longest Day, Patton, A Bridge Too Far, The Bridge at Remagan, Saving Private Ryan, etc) you come away with the message that the United States beat the Nazis into submission and the war on the Eastern front was just a sideshow.
Documentaries made in the west paint that war as the United States and United Kingdom saving the Russians. A common theme is that Stalin was begging for the western allies to open a front in Europe to take the heat off of Russian forces. And it was the western Allies who uncovered the horrors of the Holocaust. Hollywood loves a story where the villain is well defined and the heroes can surmount seemingly impossible obstacles.
I believe that the failure of the west to understand and appreciate what Russia (then the Soviet Union) accomplished in World War II is at the root of its failure to understand what Russia is doing today in the Ukraine.
Let me give you some numbers:
OPERATION BARBAROSSA–When Hitler launched Operation Barbarossa in June 1941 (i.e. the invasion of the Soviet Union), 3.8 million German soldiers initially overwhelmed the Soviet Army, which counted 2.6 to 2.9 million frontline personnel. Soviet casualties from that German blow were enormous:
- 566,852 killed in action
- 235,339 died from non-combat causes
- 1,336,147 sick or wounded via combat and non-combat causes
- 2,335,482 missing in action or captured
- c. 500,000 Soviet reservists captured while still mobilizing
CASE BLUE–Was the offensive of the German Army Group South to capture the oil fields in Azerbaijan. Along the way the Germans decided to attack Stalingrad. The German Army, which included allies from Romania, Italy and Hungary, numbered 1,570,287. The Russian Army fielded 1,715,000 with another 1,000,000 in reserve. When the dust settled, the Germans suffered 200,000 casualties. A paltry sum considering the 1,200,000 Soviet casualties. But the Soviets held Stalingrad and forced the surrender of the German Army trapped in that city.
By 1944, the Soviets had regrouped and deployed armies totaling 6 million soldiers. Western allies fielded 4 million in Europe. The Soviets fought a German army that numbered 2 million while the western allies faced off against 1 million Germans.
I am not suggesting the Soviets did all of this on their own. The early provisions of tanks and trucks from the United States helped Russia stem the tsunami of Operation Barbarossa. The Brits also made a major contribution in breaking the Enigma code and provided critical intelligence to Stalin (though Stalin failed to act on some of this intelligence).
The story of the defeat of the Nazis is really a tale of the success of a strained partnership between the west and the Soviets. What the people of the west did not appreciate or acknowledge was the critical role the Soviets played in defeating the cream of the the German military. If that force had been free to operate in western Europe, Germany most certainly would have prevailed in spite of Hitler’s meddling with the German military.
It was the Soviets who first uncovered physical evidence of the Holocaust when they captured the Majdanek concentration camp in 1944. The United States and United Kingdom dismissed the Soviet report as propaganda. And the Soviets liberated the still intact death factory at Auschwitz/Birkenau in January 1945.
The fixation of the United States and the United Kingdom on the evils of Stalin (and he was evil) colored the post-War dealings with the Soviets and the successor regime of Russia.
The United States lost 472,000 dead in the European, North Africa and Pacific theaters in World War II. The Russians lost more than 8 million soldiers and an estimated 19 million civilian deaths. The staggering losses Russia suffered in World War II are still remembered and honored to this day. The same cannot be said of the people of the United States and the United Kingdom. Sure, a few remember, but when you consider that people 80 years of age today were being born as World War II was ramping up, the memory of that period of horror is fading. I estimate that 95% of the Americans under the age of 50 are incapable of explaining who fought in World War II and who did what to whom.
Which brings me to the current war in Ukraine. Notwithstanding western propaganda that Vladimir Putin is intent on reconstituting the Soviet Union, Putin has not forgotten the lessons that Russian learned the hard way in World War II. Joe Stalin cut a devilish deal with Hitler in 1939 to carve up Poland and lived to see Hitler betray him.
During the past 30 years since the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Russian leaders harbored the belief that they could trust the United States and Europe and put the sad legacy of the Soviet Union in the dustbin of history. But that hope is now in tatters. Instead of halting the expansion of NATO, the west has continued to enlist new members, including nations that sit on Russia’s western border. The German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 included military personnel form Italy, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Croatia. Two of those countries–Italy and Romania–are again aligning themselves with what the Russians perceive as a hostile threat.
Making matters worse has been the growth of the influence of neo-Nazis in the Ukraine. A retired Swiss Army officer, Jacques Baud, who served extended tours with NATO has written a brilliant treatise explaining the roots of this new war (read here). One of his most salient points concerns the failure of the Ukraine military to conquer the Donbas in 2014. Baud writes:
So, to compensate for the lack of soldiers, the Ukrainian government resorted to paramilitary militias. They are essentially composed of foreign mercenaries, often extreme right-wing militants. In 2020, they constituted about 40 percent of the Ukrainian forces and numbered about 102,000 men, according to Reuters. They were armed, financed and trained by the United States, Great Britain, Canada and France. There were more than 19 nationalities—including Swiss.
Western countries have thus clearly created and supported Ukrainian far-right militias. In October 2021, the Jerusalem Post sounded the alarm by denouncing the Centuria project. These militias had been operating in the Donbass since 2014, with Western support. Even if one can argue about the term “Nazi,” the fact remains that these militias are violent, convey a nauseating ideology and are virulently anti-Semitic. Their anti-Semitism is more cultural than political, which is why the term “Nazi” is not really appropriate. Their hatred of the Jew stems from the great famines of the 1920s and 1930s in the Ukraine, resulting from Stalin’s confiscation of crops to finance the modernization of the Red Army. This genocide—known in the Ukraine as the Holodomor—was perpetrated by the NKVD (the forerunner of the KGB), whose upper echelons of leadership were mainly composed of Jews. This is why, today, Ukrainian extremists are asking Israel to apologize for the crimes of communism, as the Jerusalem Post notes. This is a far cry from Vladimir Putin’s “rewriting of history.”
These militias, originating from the far-right groups that animated the Euromaidan revolution in 2014, are composed of fanatical and brutal individuals. The best known of these is the Azov Regiment, whose emblem is reminiscent of the 2nd SS Das Reich Panzer Division, which is revered in the Ukraine for liberating Kharkov from the Soviets in 1943, before carrying out the 1944 Oradour-sur-Glane massacre in France.
If the United States and NATO persist in demonizing all things and everyone Russian they are ignoring Russia’s history of fending off foreign invaders. I am not a professional historian, but I know this–Napoleon thought he could take Moscow and failed; Hitler believed he could crush the Slavic untermensch and was crushed. I fear the western leaders are once again indulging the fantasy that they can force the collapse, not only of Vladimir Putin, but all of Russia. I suggest it is time to remember history or, as Santayana warned, we are condemning ourselves to repeat a nightmare.
“Hollywood loves a story where the villain is well defined and the heroes can surmount seemingly impossible obstacles.” Hollywood is at its base a panderer to the weaknesses of human nature. It is human nature, ordinary humans, not evil gods nor “EVIL” people who perpetrate atrocities. I particularly like the “Hollywood” clip from LOTR where Saurman explains that the Oruk-hai were once Elves, who were tortured and mutilated into the Oruk-hai, like human babies, innocent, whom are twisted into the “evil” ones
so hollywood it the saruman of modern day torturing and mutilating generations of people from innocence into twisted evil ones ?
Ethiopian saying,”Those who forget the past have no future.” Saying that they are often at civil war themselves.
Sikh scripture saying, “The only enemy is injustice, the only death is the death of the conscience, the only race is the human race.”
The author conveniently mixes the terms Soviets and Russians, so that quickly the boundary is lost. To be more precise regarding the context, most of the “Soviets” that died in WWII were Belarus and Ukranians. Like Tsar during Napoleon time, the government in Moscow sacrificed the Ukranians and Belarusians to save Moscow and Russians (their own ass, to be precise). Holodomor happened because of forceful colectivisation inagricučture
In agriculture. Stalin then punished Ukranians for insisting on traditional small individual farms, took everything they had, distributed it around SSSR, even sold abroad. Ukranians were dying of famine. Jews had absolutely nothing to do with it. Jewish people were in and near to the government of sssr and communist party only in the beginning of the revolution. Stalin “took care” of them all after Trocki emigrated. By the time Holodomor started, NKVD was mostly Russian, Georgian (led by Beria). Anti-semitism is a bigger problem in Russia than in UkraineRagarding the past that we might learn from,I think here we should consider Ex-Yugoslavia, where Serbian dominated Yugoslav army was trying to form Great Serbia, attacking one by one former Yugoslav Republics, under false pretence of protecting Serbian minorities.
Can you provide data supporting what you say.
Note also if Ukrainie had been independent in WW2, without Soviet back up and forces, it would have suffered far far more than it did. Large numbers of Ukrainians are therefore alive today because they had the support of the entire Soviet Union.
Note the fact remains, millions of Russians died so Ukranine remained free. No one from the West was able to intervene. Had Ukrainie been independent the , Germany may have been quite happy to just take it and it’s resources, consolidate that and think twice about going on to Russia or have time to reinforce before going into Russia.
As for there being more Nazis in Russia than Ukrainie. There are Nazis everywy. But only Ukrainie has half of it’s Army as Nazis and open Nazis in Government.
Further, Russia did not colonise Ukrainie. It asked to join, it peacefully left, and its borders were created by the Soviets.
Not that it matters, Zelenskiis a Jew
Ukraine peacefully left, signed a treaty with Russia to return the atomic weapons, in exchange Russia guaranteed territorial sovereignty in the borders of former soviet republic of Ukraine. Putin went against that treaty
Larry Johnson says
You are clearly a troll with no other purpose than distract and disrupt. You are now part of history.
Not a troll but a genuine Ustasha. They actually believe their own fascist myths painting themselves and their SS buddies from every corner of Europe as white knights in shining armor saving the world from Untermenschen hordes. Just like Banderites. Pathetic fascist losers of WWII prefer feel-good fantasy over real history. Neocon psychos have the same preference and it speaks volumes.
Chris Chuba says
This is a general problem with how the U.S. behaves in the world. We are addicted to ‘the Hitler play’. We target a country led by ‘Hitler’, those who disagree are Neville Chamberlains and the politicians clamoring for conflict compete for the role of Winston Churchills. We also seemed to be obsessed by an ‘axis of evil’ that for some reason has to have three countries, the third spot tends to rotate. Choose three out of Russia, China, Iran, N Korea and Venezuela.
Also the only history Neocons know is the one between 1936 to 1942. You must never be reasonable with another country because that is appeasement. To avoid war you must put maximum pressure on a country and never, ever dial it back. Possibly true for WW2 but WW1 was a pretty big war too. WW1 started because no one backed down.
Eric Newhill says
The concept of “midwit” is very useful in understanding what you describe.
I introduced Patrick Armstrong to the term and he expressed in response that he was quite taken with it. One of his last communiques on his blog states that he is further meditating on the concept.
Most of what we know about WW2 is highly distorted. But if the US and Britain didn’t enter the war, Germany would have won. Thus, from a Western perspective, WW2 was “The War to Save Joseph Stalin”. (credit to Bill Buppert).
Also there is a lot of evidence that the Stalin was planning to Invade Europe.
See for example
“Stalin’s War” by Sean McMeekin, or
“Icebreaker” by Viktor Suvorov
After killing 60 Million and turning half of Europe over to Joe Stalin, the drunkard Churchill quipped, “I guess we stuck the wrong pig”. One can only conclude that our leaders are as stupid and feckless now as they were then.
Note Germany winning would also have meant winning against UK. Then it would have been in a position to threaten the US.
Russia also stopped Napoleon.
Sorry Ash, I don’t buy the Germany wanted to take over the world meme. That’s WW2 propaganda. The first causality of war is truth. How else can war be sold?
How could the Allied leaders justify one more episode of human slaughter for no good reason? People were already aware of the decite used to sell WW1. What would people do if they found out they had been hoodwinked yet again? No that would not go down well. Instead the war needed to be sold as a Manichean struggle fo good versus evil. And that’s what has been done ever since.
Try reading “Twas a Famous Victory” by Benjamin Coby. It’s a great account of the propaganda employed in WW2. It contains many eye opening surprises.
white washing the nazi german ambitions and smearing russia , typical historical revisionism..
FDR told Elliot, the son, who complained of not being sent to Europe but North Africa, look out there, that street could easily be renamed.
FDR expected the Nazi’s to use Africa as a springboard to South America.
And the Business Man’s plot, whistle-blown by USMC Maj. Gen. Smedley-Butler , showed how close the USA was to a military coup. As in France, if that had succeeded the Nazi’s would have been invited in. After all, look at Time and other press support, and the money for NSDAP.
It sure looks like the Nazi’s were invited in (Gehlen, SS, Bandera, Lebed……) and the ratline did run to South America, and MSM loves every bit of it. Streets are being renamed, history rewritten – FDR knew what he was dealing with!
incredible nonsense from your distorted mind , or should i just expose you as troll who’s assigned to this site to spread nonsense ? the notion that german will win againt russia and russia survived because of US/UK is wrong on so many level it boggles the mind that people like you never bother to learn history but prefer to comfortable sit insde the bubble of this koolaid nonsense “the west saved russia”
and as for your ‘lot of evidence’ i see nonsense and propaganda smearing stalin as usual
Admittedly, I had no idea how many Russians died fighting in WWI until I was a Major in the Army (in my 30s). How sad is that right…as pointed out above by Larry, I too thought the 1944 D-Day Invasion and Patton’s subsequent maneuvers (e.g. American Forces with a little help from the Brits) brought the Axis Powers to their knees.
There is some truth to the phrase “”WWII was won with British intelligence, American steel and Russian blood” (Author unknown…but here is a source link to the concept: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/27eufq/wwii_was_won_with_british_intelligence_american/)
Additionally, I think the Allied (UK, US, Russia) European Theater strategy was to force the Germans into a two-front war–initially NORTH AFRICA and the RUSSIA FRONT, then the soft underbelly of Europe ITALY + RUSSIAN FRONT and ultimately mainland Western Europe (D-DAY, MARKET . GARDEN, etc.) + RUSSIAN FRONT…note the common denominator here–“RUSSIAN FRONT”–it’s where the bulk of the Wehrmacht and much of the Luftwaffe were destroyed.
Bottom line…the Allies could not have won WWII without Russian blood. Well maybe but the British Isles would have been successfully invaded by Germany and the US would have suffered more than 500k casualties.
Most Americans have no sense of what the Russians sacrificed in WWII. I am no fan of the Soviet Union (pre or post WWII) but post Cold War Russia has been disrespected, minimized and NATO bullied for 30+ years…in my mind they are finally making a stance in the new multi-polar geopolitical scene and the US like a washed up boxing champ still wants to go a few rounds with its contenders clinging to its bygone days of glory and omnipresence…sorry Joe you’re going to ket KO’d…ask Adolf and Napoleon when you see them.
Great Article Larry….accurate history should be taught in every school and university.
Note also, UK had support of 2 million commonwealth troops. They were critical in many places saving millions eg Sikh and Gurkha regiments were lethal.
WW2 was truly a world war.
This war is not. The Southern hemisphere wants nothing to do with it.
The big powers of Asia, South America and Africa are quietly on a different side this time. That should ring warning bells.
Sam McGowan says
An excellent article. I was born in 1945 and was very interested in World War II because my father was a combat veteran who flew 30 combat missions with the Eighth Air Force before the first American, British or Canadian set foot on the Normandy beaches. (He flew on D-Day in his group’s assembly ship.) He had several books around that he’d found at an abandoned Army Air Corps base (yeah, I know all about the Army Air Forces) and I read them cover-to-cover. I continued to read about the war as I grew up. I found a book about the infamous Ploesti low-level raid on a bookstand in Memphis while waiting to fly to Lackland to being Air Force basic training. Throughout my 12 years of military service, I ALWAYS had a book about military history, usually World War II, in the leg pocket on my flight suit or in my jungle fatigues (we didn’t wear flight suits in Southeast Asia, they were too hot and were known to come apart in a survival situation.) There was very little mention of the role played by the Russians in most of those books – the Ploesti book touched on how Soviet troops liberated the oil fields as they advanced westward out of the Ukraine and Poland.
At some point I finally realized that the Soviets, regardless of whether they were Russian, Belarusian or Cossack (there was no such thing as a Ukrainian until fairly recently) played a major role, probably THE major role, in defeating Germany. The Germans had been pushed out of Russia and the Ukraine into Poland by the time Allied troops (finally) managed to break out of the Normandy beaches. I knew that Soviet troops captured Berlin, although mostly in the context of the raping of German women and girls, from articles I read in my grandfather’s Legionairre magazine. (My father had no interest in participating with the Legion.) I also learned that, contrary to popular belief, the Soviets had a large industrial capacity and produced their own tanks, planes, vehicles, artillery and small arms. I’ve learned a lot more since I began writing books and magazine articles, most of them military-oriented.
As for Ukraine, what most older Americans believed about it is perhaps illustrated by my late father-in-law’s reaction to news about Ukraine on one of the cable channels around the time of the Maidan Revolution. The talking heads were discussing something (probably lying) about Ukraine and he blurted out “What are they talking about, the Ukraine is part of Russia! It’s the bread basket of Europe.” I casually mentioned that the Ukraine had become a separate country after the Soviet Union collapsed.
I’ve been doing a lot of research lately and arriving at my own conclusions independently of others then finding that others, such as Larry, share my conclusions. One thing I’ve learned is that if Putin wants anything, it’s not the restoration of the Soviet Union, it’s the restoration of the Russian Empire as it existed prior to the Bolzhevicks, who not only took over the Soviet Empire, they crapped on the Ukrainian nationalist’s (most of whom were in former Polish and Austrian territory) parade. Germany helped the nationalists drive the Bolzhevicks out but they came back after Germany agreed to Allied demands and was forced to withdraw from Ukraine (which wasn’t called Ukraine until the 20th Century – it was called Ruthenia.) Then the Soviets took over and declared the Ukraine to be The Soviet Republic of Ukraine. It only became a country in 1990 when the Soviet Republic declared itself to be independent of the USSR (as the USSR was collapsing.)
LJ , it seem you are on the radar of this clown TTG from SST , someone called TTG on his nonsense and he meekly confessed :
April 28, 2022 at 1:56 pm
Does that include Larry Johnson, Scott Ritter and Douglas MacGregor?
You’re not making your case by calling people names.
April 28, 2022 at 3:28 pm
Yes, it was a bit harsh, but if the show fits. These three have declared the war won and over weeks ago.
Yes and those of who do remember have to watch the Cadre of Idiots who do not forcing us to relive it anyway.
I am not a military man, I am not a historian, I am an ordinary person from Russia and in Russia, in history lessons, they tell how the USSR, with the support of the United States and Great Britain, won this war. And we did it together, not just the USSR. When I was young and first heard that people from the USA think that it was the USA that won the Second World War. I thought they probably didn’t study well at school, but now I understand that they studied well, they were taught differently, that’s all.
I wonder what will happen in 20 or 30 years. Each country will have its own history and its own truth.
David Habakkuk says
It seems sensible to put together my response to the comment by ‘gman’ above together with a response to you.
I hope it is not the case that ‘Each country will have its own history and its own truth’, because a central problem in the United States and Britain today is that so many people do not follow what serious historians in their own countries are writing, but prefer to listen to charlatans.
Not long after Sean McMeekin attempt to resurrect the apologia for Wilhelm Keitel – also Neville Chamberlain, of which more in a moment – by Vladimir Rezun (aka ‘Viktor Suvorov’), a ‘Facebook friend’ of mine, Wally Courie posted a link to an article summarising the argument of ‘Stalin’s War.’
The article is at ‘https://militaryhistorynow.com/2021/05/09/stalins-gambit-did-the-soviets-plan-for-a-1941-offensive-war-against-nazi-germany/ .
As I know Wally through Colonel W. Patrick Lang, dating back to before that figure ‘lost his marbles’, I attempted a courteous response – drawing on the work of leading scholars of Soviet military and diplomatic history, Colonel David Glantz, Jacob W. Kipp, and Gabriel Gorodetsky. It read:
“‘With respect, I think some rather large problems with McMeekin’s attempt to resurrect the ‘Icebreaker’ hypothesis are implicit in the title of the article to which you link: ‘Stalin’s Gambit – Did the Soviets Plan for a 1941 Offensive War Against Nazi Germany?’
“It was amply apparent at the time, and has never been in question ever since, that Soviet contingency planning for a possible war was premised on the ideas deriving from the ‘Napoleonic’ strand in Clausewitz: the aspiration to seek a rapid decisive victory through offensive action.
“This had been the case ever since the victory of Mikhail Tukhachevskii over Aleksandr Svechin in the arguments of the ‘Twenties, which were discussed by Colonel Glantz’s then colleague at the ‘Soviet Army Studies Centre’, now the ‘Foreign Military Studies Office’, Jacob W. Kipp, in a seminal paper he published back in 1988.
“To mount a cogent defence of the ‘Icebreaker’ thesis, McMeekin would need to produce evidence showing that Soviet planners contemplated implementing their ‘offensive plans’ in 1941, and not simply on the basis that, if they concluded a German attack was inevitable, it made sense to strike first.
“Given that in his article, he signally fails to do anything of the kind, it clearly does not constitute any kind of refutation of Gorodetsky and Glantz.
“On the same basis, I could write an article headlined ‘Truman’s Gambit – Did the Americans Plan for an 1945 Offensive War Against the Soviet Union’?
“From a January 2017 report in, ironically, ‘The Sun’:
“‘Plan Totality was established by US General Dwight D. Eisenhower in the summer of 1945, following the Potsdam Conference – where the Allies decided how to carve up defeated Germany.
“‘The chilling strategy involved plans to obliterate 20 Soviet cities with America’s newly-tested atomic arsenal.
“‘Moscow, Leningrad and Stalinsk were all in the American firing line, with military planners claiming that all of the biggest Soviet cities could be wiped out in one surprise strike.
“‘Between 20 and 30 atomic bombs were set to be dropped if it came to it – a move which could have resulted in Russia and America wiping each other off the map.’
“Actually, as the article brings out, at the time the United States did not have the requisite number of bombs, and it suggests that what was at issue was bluff. It is also however material that it would be more than four years before the Soviets tested a nuclear device, and they lacked an effective intercontinental nuclear capability until many years later.
“On the basis of McMeekin’s logic, I could off course conclude that, absent Stalin’s revival of plans for ‘deep operations’ into Western Europe, which actually happens in 1948, Eisenhower and Truman would have implemented their ‘genocidal’ plans.
“I do not, of course, believe anything of the kind. But if people in the West really want to defend the shoddy arguments of figures like ‘Suvorov’/Rezun – who incidentally was part of the ‘information operations’ ground centred around the late Boris Berezovsky – they must not be surprised if people on the other side start reviving equally bad arguments.”
This error, unfortunately, is relevant alike to ‘Russiagate’ and the shambles in Ukraine.
In December 2018, Luke Harding, one of the principal ‘stenographers’ for Christopher Steele, who has been a figure of some moment at the British end of the conspiracy to subvert constitutional government in the United States, published a profile of Rezun/‘Suvorov’ in the ‘Guardian.’
(See https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/29/ex-soviet-spy-viktor-suvorov .)
‘From his new home in the UK, Suvorov wrote one of the most influential books of the pere-stroika era, Icebreaker. When it was published in 1988, his argument was heretical: that Stalin had been secretly plotting an offensive against Hitler’s Germany, and would have invaded in September 1941, or at the latest by 1942. Stalin, he wrote, wanted Hitler to destroy democracy in Europe, in the manner of an icebreaker, thereby clearing the way for world communism. The book undermined the idea that the USSR was an innocent party, dragged into the second world war. Russian liberals supported Suvorov’s thesis; it now has broad acceptance among historians.’
Well over a year before Harding’s article, there had appeared the second volume of what is clearly the most significant contemporary Western biography of Stalin, by Stephen Kotkin of Princeton University, which was subtitled ‘Waiting for Hitler, 1929-41.’ Had Harding bothered to read reviews of this, he would have been aware that its author joined the long list of scholars who have explained that ‘Icebreaker’ is rubbish.
An economical way of ‘catching up’ with the current state of research on contentious issues is to look at the ‘Roundtables’ which the ‘h-diplo’ site devotes to important new works.
In that on Kotkin’s book, published in March 2019, you can see some of what are the actual disagreements between serious scholars being aired. Of particular interest is the response to Kotkin from one of the leading original critics of Rezun/’Suvorov’, Gabriel Gorodetsky, who is Israeli, but has studied and worked at Oxford, and has very extensive familiarity with both British and Russian archives.
(See https://networks.h-net.org/node/28443/discussions/3839846/h-diplo-roundtable-xx-30-stephen-kotkin-stalin-waiting-hitler .)
Also published in 2017 was the culmination of Gorodetsky’s life’s work – the complete three volume edition of the diaries of Ivan Maisky, who as Soviet Ambassador to London was a pivotal figure in the events which Rezun/‘Suvorov’ and McMeekin misrepresent. (A one-volume selection was published two years earlier.)
The ‘Roundtable’ on the complete edition, published in September 2020, is at https://networks.h-net.org/node/28443/discussions/6402047/h-diplo-roundtable-xxii-1-abriel-gorodetsky-ed-complete-maisky .
The ramifications of the fact that people in the West are happy to accuse Stalin both of things he did do and things he did not are too complex to go into here.
Something that is however of crucial importance is that the ‘Icebreaker’ restatement of Keitel’s apologia, according to which Hitler only pre-empted an attack by Stalin, is bound up with a restatement of the view held by MI6, and fed to Chamberlain, at the time, that there was a long-term Soviet strategy to ‘finesse’ Germany and the Western democracies into war.
Given Harding’s role as a ‘stenographer’ for Steele, and the evidence about the links of Rezun/ ‘Suvorov’ to MI6, a question raised is whether the patent difficulties of that organisation in making sense of current Russian policy are directly related to the fact its members have either reverted to, or never abandoned, delusions they held decades ago.
Likewise, this may be part of the background to the extraordinary way in which elements in the intelligence services of the U.S. and U.K. collaborated in the attempt to prevent the election of Donald Trump, and subvert his presidency once elected – in part because he had the actually quite sensible idea that it might not be sensible to push Russia towards China.
In so doing, of course, they contributed very greatly to undermining what was actually the greatest asset of the United States during the Cold War – the attractiveness of the economic and political system, and culture.
Larry Johnson says
David, As always, illuminating analysis. Thanks for taking the time to share.
I am new here having arrived via Andrei Martyanov’s site. You have a great blog with excellent analysis, however, you state Napoleon ‘thought he could take Moscow and failed’. As a point of precision, of course Napoleon did take Moscow, but then discovered that capturing Moscow did not force a Russian capitulation. Having failed to destroy the Russian Army at Borodino, his army faced harassment and pursuit on the retreat.
Also for the record I think you understate the number of casualties suffered by the Axis in the Stalingrad campaign (Wikipedia has a low figure of 747k).
Larry Johnson says
I thought it was low but did not have a ready available alternative source. Please share if you have it. Re Napoleon my intent was to point out he failed to conquer and hold. Thanks for the clarification.
Geraldo Lino says
Impeccable text. Just one “fix”: Operation Barbarossa began on June 22, 1941, not 1942. Thanks for your great real information work.
Larry Johnson says
Thanks for catching that. It was a typo.
Here is a map of history that we seem to have ignored or forgotten:
This map came from an article by David Stockman, Ronald Reagan’s Director of OMB
The Canadians were not that happy about Canadians having to train the neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
Rebel Wop says
Hello Mr. Johnson,
I’m new to your blog. You, Matyanov, MacGregor, Ritter, and some others… tell it like it is.
Dropping my dad off and picking him up at a Virginia Farm off Rte 123 in the late 60s. He was some kind of contractor.
Learning my grandfather discovered in a 1971 trip back to his home village that all his family in Belarus was gone. Nada. None left. He came here in 1909.
Playing a huge war game by SPI in my teens in the 70s called War in the East. The map covered an 8×10 wall in the vertical. The sheer scale of pieces in the thousands told me and my friends that the 1940s war in Russia was different from the things we were not even told in high school history in Fairfax County back then.
Taking a deep dive into Russian Area Studies at VA Tech (and Mechanical Engineering) in the late 70s and early 80s and realizing all the times Russians faced enemy boots on the ground. Something we here in the continental US really know nothing about.
I love my country. Now I fear for my country. The idiots in DC are gonna get us whacked.
Keep speaking reality to us and others.