The Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II, by Viktor Suvorov
I continue with a more detailed review of this book by Suvorov. Earlier posts can be found here.
Stalin looked to war as the path to world revolution. Toward this end, his objective was to get the governments in the west to fight amongst each other – Germany, France, and Britain. After a time, and after they weakened each other, Stalin would then involve Soviet troops to move into the weakened regions.
Revolution Through War
The West, full of imperialist cannibals, has turned into the hearth of darkness and slavery. Our task lies in destroying this hearth, and bringing happiness and consolation to all worker nations.
Joseph Stalin, Moscow, December 15, 1918 (P. 5)
If a revolutionary shake-up of Europe is to begin, it will be in Germany…and a victory of the revolution in Germany will secure the victory of the international revolution.
Joseph Stalin, WORKS (P. 10)
At the end of the Great War, communist parties arose in many countries and regions of Europe. Those who joined agreed to fight against their own governments.
Suddenly the intelligence services of the Soviet Union received legions of volunteers from practically every nation in the world.
In the 1920s Soviet intelligence suddenly became the most powerful intelligence organization in the world. Thousands of Germans, Czechs, Hungarians, Americans, English, Japanese, and French selflessly worked in the name of a bright future for all humanity. In actuality, they worked for the interests of the Kremlin. (P. 7)
Germany was ripe for revolution – the burdens placed by Versailles, and the generally oppressive attitude taken by the west, made fertile ground for both revolution as well as gave cause for Germany to look elsewhere for support. In order to facilitate this revolution, a common border between Russia and Germany would be helpful.
Lenin saw this early on, declaring on October 15, 1920:
“The order held by the Versailles peace treaty lies over a volcano, since seventy percent of the world’s people who are enslaved are anxiously awaiting someone to come and start a struggle for their liberation, and to rock the foundation of their countries.” (P. 8)
From my “Timeline to War,” and taken from the book “1939 – The War That Had Many Fathers,” by Gerd Schultze-Rhonhof, a similar declaration is made by Lenin on December 6 of the same year:
Lenin, in a keynote speech before the Moscow organization of the Communist Party of Russia regarding England and France on the one side and Germany on the other (both sides capitalist, and therefore the enemy), declares: “Until the final victory of socialism over the whole world,” the fundamental rule remains valid that “one must exploit the contradictions and conflicts between two groups of imperialist powers, between two groups of capitalist states, and one must set them on each other.” [It is] impossible to defeat both of them, “so one must understand how to group his forces so that the two come into conflict with each other….” (P. 528)
Lenin’s pronouncements were not idle talk – 1920 saw heavy fighting between the Soviet and Polish armies, with the Soviets getting as far as Warsaw (and within 360 kilometers of Berlin) before finally being repelled. (P. 9)
Communist Support of the National Socialists
This failure to reach Germany was not the last word. At the end of September 1923, a secret meeting of the Politburo was called, to fix the date for a coup in Germany – November 9, 1923. (P. 12) The Soviets had allies – the Nazi party - The National Socialist German Workers’ Party. (P. 13) This date, identified weeks in advance, coincided with the infamous (and failed) “Beer Hall Putsch” in Munich. Was this Stalin’s coup, or was it mere coincidence? Might not a socialist workers’ party be fertile ground for Stalin to find revolutionary compatriots?
Just recently, this topic was covered in a post at LRC – from an article by Daniel Hannan at The Telegraph:
On 16 June 1941, as Hitler readied his forces for Operation Barbarossa, Josef Goebbels looked forward to the new order that the Nazis would impose on a conquered Russia. There would be no come-back, he wrote, for capitalists nor priests nor Tsars. Rather, in the place of debased, Jewish Bolshevism, the Wehrmacht would deliver “der echte Sozialismus”: real socialism.
Goebbels never doubted that he was a socialist. He understood Nazism to be a better and more plausible form of socialism than that propagated by Lenin. Instead of spreading itself across different nations, it would operate within the unit of the Volk.
So total is the cultural victory of the modern Left that the merely to recount this fact is jarring. But few at the time would have found it especially contentious. As George Watson put it in The Lost Literature of Socialism:
It is now clear beyond all reasonable doubt that Hitler and his associates believed they were socialists, and that others, including democratic socialists, thought so too.
If Stalin’s goal was to foment war as a prelude to revolution, could not the Nazi Party be useful to these ends?
…in October , high-ranking Soviet officials were sent to Germany, and one of Stalin’s agents conducted talks with the Nazis and discussed cooperative actions.
This is a familiar Communist maneuver, and it was Stalin’s personal trademark. Communists took power in Russia in alliance with other parties. Then they destroyed their allies after they became useless. (P 14)
If Stalin’s forecast of the date November 9 and the Putsch that began on November 8 are connected, there is, quite curiously, no evidence offered by Hitler – despite it being one of the signature events in his life up to that point.
Hitler was arrested shortly after the failed coup. While he was in prison that he wrote Mein Kampf.
Later, when he came to power, Hitler declared his fallen associates national heroes, and named the dates of the rebellion, November 8-9, as the most important German national holiday. (P. 14)
In fact, Hitler dedicates the book to his sixteen fallen comrades, killed on November 9. Yet, in the book, he writes nothing of the events of November 8-9, or even why he came to be behind bars. Suvorov finds this curious; the book is entitled “My Struggle,” yet Hitler mentions nothing about the most significant event in his struggle to that time.
Instead of a detailed explanation, the last page briefly states: “I will not venture here into discussions about events which led us to November 8, 1923.” (P. 14)
What does Hitler have to hide about the roots of these events? Was Uncle Joe just lucky in predicting a date for the uprising?
Stalin was a great scholar and fan of Hitler’s book – he personally ordered a translation, with copies made for the leadership of the party and the army. (P. 19) Stalin paid no royalty to the author (a true IP communist!), at least not in any traditional sense:
Stalin gave Hitler power over Germany. “Without Stalin, there would have been no Hitler, there would have been no Gestapo” – so said Trotsky in October 1936 as he evaluated Stalin’s aid to Hitler. Without Stalin’s help, Hitler could not have come to power. …the political career of Adolf Hitler would have ended in 1933 with a crushing defeat in the elections. (P. 20)
Did Stalin stuff the ballot boxes in order to avoid a crushing defeat? Not exactly:
For Stalin’s strategy to be implemented Hitler needed to secure an absolute majority of the voters in the German parliamentary elections. He could not do this alone. On July 31, 1932, Hitler’s party amassed 13.7 million votes in the elections to the Reichstag (German parliament), 37.3 percent of the total number of votes – the peak for the Nazi party, after which its popularity began to decline. (P. 29)
Four months later, in an emergency Reichstag election, the Nazi party vote count fell by 2 million:
Hitler’s party (NSDAP) – 11,705,000
Social Democrats – 7,231,000
Communist Party – 5,971,000
Hitler’s National Socialist Workers’ Party faced a crisis…. Goebbels wrote in his diary: “All hope has disappeared…. There is not a pfennig in our cash boxes…. Nobody gives us any credit…. We are on our last breath…. We have no prospects, no hopes left. (P. 29)
According to Goebbels, as recorded in his diary, Hitler faced two choices: flight, or suicide. (P. 30) Yet, this is where Stalin saved Hitler.
The German communists could have sided with the Social Democrats, bringing an end to Hitler’s rise. Instead, the communists allied with the Nazi party. Suvorov explains that there is no logical reason for the communists to have done this – their fate was better secured in alliance with the Social Democrats. Apparently, Stalin was thinking longer term. He saw through Hitler the opportunity for war with the west.
Once the Nazis came to power, Stalin used all his might to push them toward war. (P. 31)
Why was Stalin so supportive of Hitler? Did Stalin somehow miss the part about Hitler’s stated desire in Mein Kampf to advance toward the territories in the east?
According to Suvorov, Hitler’s statement about advancing to the east appears only once in the book; his main enemies identified in the book are internally the Jews, and externally the French and the Jews. (P. 21) Suvorov cites Part 2, Chapter XIII:
We must understand the following to the end: Germany’s most evil enemy is and always will be France…. The task of the day for us is not is not the struggle for world hegemony….France systematically tears apart our people and according to her plans strangles our independence…. We simultaneously hear protests and slogans against five or even ten different countries, and forget that first of all we need to concentrate all our physical strength and mental powers to deliver a blow to the heart of our vilest enemy….France will inevitably strive to make Germany into a weak and crushed nation….At the current moment, our only enemy is France – that nation, which deprives us of our rightful existence. (P. 21)
From Chapter XIII of Hitler’s book:
We must take every point of the Versailles Treaty separately, and systematically make it clear to the broadest masses of the population. We must achieve an understanding among 60 million German men, women, and children, and make them feel the shame of this treaty. We must make those 60 million have a deep hatred of this treaty, so that their scorching hatred brings the will of the people together and evokes a cry in unison: GIVE US BACK OUR ARMS! (P. 21)
This was the realization of Lenin’s dream – that someone would arise in Germany to make a struggle against the treaty. Stalin chose to achieve his ends through the hands of Hitler. If Stalin could ensure a German strike against France, Britain was certain to intervene. This would set the stage for revolution through war.
Stalin Rebuilds German Military Power
Germany was Russia’s primary enemy in the Great War, and would likely be the Soviet Union’s primary enemy in any future European war. Yet, Stalin took steps to aid Germany in its militarization when, due to Versailles, Germany had no other avenue toward this end. The Soviets were not bound by this treaty prohibition.
A secret reorganization of the German army began with the help of the Soviet government.
On November 26, 1922, an agreement about the production of metal airplanes and plane engines was signed with the German aviation firm Junkers Flugzeugwerke. It was this agreement with Junkers that paved the way for large-scale Soviet-German military cooperation. In July 1923 two new agreements were set out: one was about the production of munitions and military equipment and the other about the construction of a chemical plant. On April 25, 1925, an agreement was signed about the creation of a secret air force center in the Russian city of Lipetsk for training German military pilots. One hundred D-XIII-type military planes were bought by the Soviet government for the Germans from the Dutch company Fokker. (P. 17)
In the subsequent years, several German aircraft types were developed and tested in the USSR. Hundreds of fighter pilots, air reconnaissance observers, and members of bomber squadrons were trained. (P. 17)
In 1926, near the Soviet city of Kazan, a tank school for the Reichswehr was created. German tankers wore Soviet uniforms there. Stalin fully equipped future German Panzer generals: he gave them tanks, fuel, ammunition, transport, housing, repair facilities, and a gigantic well-guarded weapons range – to create, to invent, to test. Kazan became the birthplace and alma mater of German armored divisions. (P. 18)
In Podosinki (today’s Kuzminki), the first joint Soviet-German chemical weapons tests were conducted. (P. 18)
Stalin Sets the Trap
According to this agreement, it turned out that Hitler started the war. This was beneficial for us from the military and from the moral standpoint. With his actions, he would provoke war with France and England, by going against Poland. We could remain neutral.
Stalin turned out to be a rare strategist who planned history, a phenomenal tactician who organized victories under a foreign flag and with foreign hands.
A. Avtorkhanov, Origins of Partocracy (P. 105)
Stalin was craftier than Hitler. Craftier, and more sly.
A. Antonov-Ovseenko (P. 111)
The agreement in question is that between the Soviets and Germans, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, named after the Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov and the Nazi German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop, officially the Treaty of Non-aggression between Germany and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and also known as the Ribbentrop–Molotov Pact or Nazi–Soviet Pact, was a non-aggression pact signed in Moscow in the late hours of 23 August 1939.
The pact's publicly stated intentions were a guarantee of non-belligerence by either party towards the other, and a commitment that neither party would ally with or aid an enemy of the other party. This latter provision ensured that Germany would not support Japan in its undeclared war against the Soviet Union along the Manchurian-Mongolian border, ensuring that the Soviets won the Battles of Khalkhin Gol.
In addition to stipulations of non-aggression, the treaty included a secret protocol that divided territories of Romania, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Finland into Nazi and Soviet "spheres of influence", anticipating potential "territorial and political rearrangements" of these countries.
Stalin and Hitler agreed to divide the territory between them, and leave each other in peace to do so.
But how is this a trap? In what way did Stalin pull one over on Hitler?
Before the signing of this treaty, Stalin also held dialogue with the British and French. Stalin knew of the guarantee to Poland. The British and French were looking for Soviet support against the Germans. Throughout this time, Stalin is holding separate discussions with all parties – the British and French on the one hand, the Germans on the other. Ultimately Stalin sided with the Germans. According to Suvorov, Stalin chose this course in order that Britain and France declare war on Germany:
If a novice player sits down to play cards with a pro, he usually makes one mistake: he picks up his cards…. On August 11, 1939, British and French delegations arrived in Moscow for talks about joint action against Germany. The governments of Great Britain and France repeated the mistake of novice card-players. They sat down at the table with Stalin’s pros and lost the talks. Neither the British nor the French envoys understood Stalin’s intentions. Stalin’s plan, in fact, was very simple: force France and Britain to declare war on Germany, or push Hitler to actions that would prompt France and Britain to declare war on Germany. (P. 106)
The Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact did just this. It ensured a collision course between Germany’s gains from this pact and Britain’s March 1939 guarantee to Poland – according to Buchanan in his book “Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War,” “…the most fateful British declaration of the twentieth century,” a “fatal blunder”; a guarantee that both the British and French confirmed in the latest talks with the Soviets.
According to Schultze-Rhonhof, Stalin explains to the Politburo his decision for alliance with Germany, as opposed to with England-France: a trio of England, France, and the Soviet Union against the Germans would end the war too quickly. Germany fighting only against France and England would drag out longer, wearing out the forces of the participants further. (P. 543)
Stalin now knew that Hitler would be punished for invading Poland. The key to the ignition of World War II fell into Stalin’s hands. It remained for Stalin only to give Hitler the green light: Attack Poland, I will not act against you…. (P. 108)
All-the-while knowing that Britain and France would.
Hitler didn’t know that signing this agreement signified the start of World War II. Stalin did. (P. 108)
Stalin wanted a long, drawn out war between the western powers – after which he would send Soviet forces in to move quickly through depleted enemies. He also wanted a common border with Germany – not necessary or even desirable if the Soviets desired a defensive posture in the coming conflict, but quite helpful if Stalin wanted later to attack. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact offered a solution to both issues.
Just over one week later, Stalin got his wish. Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. The Red Army did not cross the border for more than two weeks. Hitler took the blame for starting the war; Stalin avoided blame due to this delay.
On September 3, Britain and France declared war on Germany. After the Red Army invaded Poland, no similar declaration against the Soviet Union was made.
Stalin Purposely Chose World War
Suvorov explains that, had he wanted to do so, Stalin could have defended Polish and other territories without any treaty agreement with the Germans. He uses as an example the Soviet actions in Mongolia just a few short months before:
On June 1, 1939, the government of the Soviet Union officially declared: ‘We will defend the borders of the Mongolian People’s Republic as we defend our own.” (P. 105)
The Soviets proceeded to do just this, securing a major victory over Japanese forces.
If Stalin was successful in the furthest reaches of the Soviet Union, could he not have made the same commitment to his neighbor immediately to the west? He needed no treaties with Germany, no agreements with England and France, to secure the borders of Poland.
If the USSR had been interested in safeguarding peace in Europe, it would not have needed agreements with Great Britain and France. Stalin could have solved the problems of Europe’s safety on his own. He only had to make his position clear to Hitler: If Hitler were to begin a war against Poland, then he would not receive Soviet oil, grain, cotton, iron ore, magnesium, chrome, zinc, nickel, and tin. (P. 106)
Stalin could have declared the intent to defend Polish territory as if it was his own – just as he did for Mongolian territory against the Japanese. (P. 106)
As a final result of the Moscow pact, Hitler committed suicide and Stalin became the unbound Red ruler of a huge anti-Western empire, created with the West’s help. At the same time, Stalin managed to keep his reputation of a naïve, trustful simpleton, and Hitler entered history as a duplicitous villain. It is accepted that Stalin was not ready for war, but Hitler was ready. But the one who wins the war is the one who prepares for war by dividing his enemies and making them fight against each other, not the one who makes loud pronouncements. (P. 113)