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Old 04-11-2005, 01:27 AM   #1
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History question about June 1941 - PLEASE HELP

Ok I have an obscured question to ask about the beginning of the war between the Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. I just want to give you small background why I would like to ask such a question. I am a university student with German and Russian history. So I took 3 courses in the last 2 years about the Soviet Union history with 2 East European teachers (1 Russian and 1 Yugoslav, both specialists in Russian history). Both when they were talking about June 1941 said that Stalin never thought the German would attack, so that explains why the Soviets were so unprepared to the war against Germany. They said even thought that he didn’t want to believe the people who told him that the German could attack someday. So to sum up the position of my 2 teachers both teachers sustained that Stalin never thought the German would attack because it would have been too crazy for the German to fight on 2 Front.

After that, this year a have a Canadian teacher (he is a German specialist and not Russian this time) that denied this and says that Stalin knew that the German were to attack. He also says that is naïve to say that he didn’t know that. He said that explains why one week before the German attacked that the Soviets were doing military manoeuvres at the border to show their strength of power.

So finally, here is my question. Which thesis would you support and why: Did Stalin knew that the Germans would obviously attack the Soviet Union ?

What I think is that he somehow he knew they could attack but he didn’t believe in it. That would explain for me why Stalin disappear at is “dacha” for quite a long time after June 22nd 1941. I would more tend on the first thesis.

It’s somehow difficult for me to ask this question like this without speaking and only typing it. Hope you didn’t have any problem to understand my thoughts on that with my English.
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Old 04-11-2005, 03:01 AM   #2
Chuck In Oregon
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This forum has some fine historians, but that doesn't include me. Nor do I have access to my meager resources while I'm here in Tbilisi.

"Did he know?" is a perennial question. Your instructors are proof. As I recall, there were a couple of German defectors and some higher-level intelligence that gave up the date and time for the attack and that information went all the way to Stalin. Again only from memory, I think he may have had the defectors executed. If you actually have the information, as it seems likely he did, and fail to act on it, how would you characterize that behavior?

That the Red Army may have held some manuevers near the border certainly didn't help them much when the attack finally came. I tend to dismiss that from any possible answer to your question or at least I doubt its relevance. As for why they were so unprepared, maybe executing most of his senior officers had something to do with that.

My opinion is that Stalin always knew that war with Germany was inevitable. Given their respective ideologies, was there ever a real alternative? I would love to know the definitive answer to what Stalin was doing at his dacha immediately after the invasion. I suspect that he was petrified that he would be seen as an enemy of the people for having "allowed" it to happen. He knew what happened to enemies of the people. I suspect he was very relieved when it finally turned out that the nation was turning to him for leadership instead of hanging him as an incompetent bumbler.

But those are just my own thoughts.

Chuck

Last edited by Chuck In Oregon; 04-11-2005 at 03:03 AM. Reason: spelling
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Old 04-11-2005, 05:46 AM   #3
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I am no scholar but base my opinion on a lifetime of interest and informal study of WWII.
Well that is a question to which the answer may never actually be known because Stalin to my knowledge never actually acknowledged receiving the information about the German attack. But it is indeed generally held by most historians that the exact time and date of the attack was in his possesion before Operation Barbarossa began.
Anything about this is speculation of course because if he did have this information you can be pretty much assured he would have had any paper trail about it destroyed to avoid embarrasment or worse accusations and any one who would have been in a position to confirm or deny this information about him is by now long dead and themselves would not have revealed this information which would have revealed their own part in the debacle.
I myself believe that he was in possesion of the information but could not bring himself to believe it, as to him and to most other people at that time including Churchill and Roosevelt for the Germans to fight on two fronts on purpose was unthinkable.
The ideologies of Germany and the Soviet Union were diametricaly opposed and eventual conflict was inevitable (Mein Kampf mentions "Lebensraum" in the East and we all know what was east of Germany at this time). But perhaps Stalin was hoping for "Honor Among Thieves" with Hitler about the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact to delay the inevitable until he Stalin was ready.
And as mentionned by Chuck in Oregon the Great Purge of the Officers of the Soviet Armed Forces left the Red Army woefully lacking in skilled leadership above the batallion and regiment level at this most critical juncture of their history. Granted they fortunately still had arguably the best tactician of the war Zhukov still alive and a handful of others who in the end would stem the tide and march the Germans all the way back to Berlin.
What he was doing at his dacha is anyone's guess. Gathering his wits perhaps?
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Old 04-11-2005, 01:59 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redmedals
I myself believe that he was in possesion of the information but could not bring himself to believe it, as to him and to most other people at that time including Churchill and Roosevelt for the Germans to fight on two fronts on purpose was unthinkable.
I believe the same thing myself, but I wasn't able to explain it that way.
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Old 04-12-2005, 07:58 PM   #5
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Soviet,

While I do not claim to be a historian, and I do not have access to my history books at the moment I would like to make a brief comment.

These days researchers and me***re writers seem to agree that Stalin considered the war with Germany inevitable, but was hoping that it would take palce later.

About Stalin's disappearance - BS! (excuse my French). He was actively working every day after June 22nd, receiving lots of visitors with hardly any time left for sleep. All those visits were documentes in special logs, that were recently published by the Journal of the Archives of the President of the RF. If interested, I can try to dig out more details.

Alexei
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Old 04-12-2005, 08:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nota Bene
Soviet,

While I do not claim to be a historian, and I do not have access to my history books at the moment I would like to make a brief comment.

These days researchers and me***re writers seem to agree that Stalin considered the war with Germany inevitable, but was hoping that it would take palce later.

About Stalin's disappearance - BS! (excuse my French). He was actively working every day after June 22nd, receiving lots of visitors with hardly any time left for sleep. All those visits were documentes in special logs, that were recently published by the Journal of the Archives of the President of the RF. If interested, I can try to dig out more details.

Alexei
Hi Alexei, I am always willing to learn more, if you have any info about this to pass on I was not aware that there were logs that were published documenting what Stalin was doing in the days following the opening of Barbarossa if you have the inclination to share this or tell me where I can find it I would be most grateful. History as we know is being rewritten all the time as new facts emerge. It would definetly interest me.
Ron
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Old 04-12-2005, 10:05 PM   #7
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Good to see the 2 of my best Soviet awards sellers answering my question.
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Old 04-13-2005, 08:40 AM   #8
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Richard Sorge

Try a google search on Richard Sorge, he was the spy in Tokyo that supposedly passed on the detailed Barbarossa plan to Stalin, which Stalin rejected. Sorge was executed in 1944, and made a hero of the Soviet Union after Stalin's death.

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Old 04-13-2005, 03:14 PM   #9
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Thanks Keith. I already knew about Sorge, but I always thought that Stalin rejected his intelligence data about the German attack in 1941.
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Old 04-13-2005, 04:32 PM   #10
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In the "mitrokhin archive" the author claims that Stalin received plenty of indications that Germany wanted to attack, but rejected it all, beleiving it was desinformation spread by the Eglish to mislead him. He was certain the British were plotting against him and so all information was interpreted in such a manner that it fitted this context.

Jan
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