I have written extensively regarding Viktor Suvorov’s book, The Chief Culprit: Stalin's Grand Design to Start World War II. My several posts can be found here.
To make a long story short, Stalin supported and strengthened Hitler, baiting him to start World War II against Britain and France with the anticipation that the western capitalist countries would so weaken themselves that the expansion of Soviet communism would be free to clean up and take over the remains. Just before Stalin was to invade Germany, Hitler struck first. The rest is the history with which we are familiar.
Through either an email or comment (I don’t recall which) I was introduced to the work of Mark Solonin. With his permission, I offer a brief review of one of his posts, entitled Comrade Stalin's Three Plans.
He begins with a statement that is agreeable to all – whether one believes Suvorov’s account or the more traditional version:
The fact is that Hitler’s attack on the Soviet Union at dawn on June 22, 1941 became a horrible surprise for Comrade Stalin.
Germany’s attack astonished the inhabitants of the Kremlin’s offices, stunning them and putting them into a state of shock. That is the fact.
Solonin then introduces the revisionist story – fully consistent with the work of Suvorov:
There is another fact. In May-June of 1941 the Soviet Union’s military forces were in a state of covert strategic deployment. All aspects of strategic deployment (mobilization of reservists, strategic regrouping and concentration of troops, operative deployment of alignments) were carried out in a strict secrecy unheard of even by Stalin’s harsh standards.
As secretly and quietly as can be imagined for such a large movement, Stalin brought to the western borders a significant massing of the Red Army.
Solonin cites Suvorov’s first book on this topic, Icebreaker – written twenty years earlier.
Viktor Suvorov’s hypothesis also bore that main characteristic of the genuine scientific theory, which is this: new facts and documents fit within its boundaries the same way cartridges fit in a pistol clip. New facts fit his theory with precision and clarity, without violating its structure, but rather enhancing its lethal power.
On the other hand, no alternative concepts were formulated in the 20 years after The Icebreaker was published. There was not a single book or a single article.
While many important records and documents remain inaccessible to independent researchers, Solonin goes on to document in a detailed fashion what is known and can be authenticated, what is reasonable with some difficulty to authenticate. He does not apologize for the fact that the Soviets under Stalin were tremendously skilled at hiding the true nature of their plans.
He identifies these plans, plans that changed three times over the course of the several years leading up to war. The first plan is quite clear:
Based on quite authentic documents, we can see that exactly this kind of decision was made. Stalin quite clearly expressed the main goals of his foreign policy all the way back to September 2, 1935, in a letter to Molotov and Kaganovich:
"The old Entente no longer exists. Instead, there are two Ententes emerging: the entente between Italy and France, on the one hand, and the entente between Britain and Germany, on the other. The more violent the fight between the two, the better it is for the USSR. We can sell grain to both of them so they can fight. It is not at all in our benefit if one instantly destroys the other. It’s beneficial for us if their fight is as long-lasting as possible, but without the fast victory of one over the other.”
These countries would so weaken each other that they would be ripe for revolution.
Citing other documents from the time of 1939 and thereafter, it seems clear that Stalin understood that coming to an alliance with Britain would likely stop Hitler from war. This, of course, would not be conducive toward achieving Stalin’s desired outcome.
Plan two was a plan for war against Germany. Plan two can be reconstructed in detail, given documents released in the 1990s.
What conclusions can we draw based on the available documents?
Firstly, an operational plan against Germany did exist, and work on that plan went on for many months – from at least August, 1940, with no consideration of the Non-Aggression Pact.
Secondly, starting in August, 1940 the strategic deployment plans mentioned earlier no longer name Great Britain as a potential enemy of the USSR; Germany is constantly named the main enemy, with potential support to be provided to it by Italy, Hungary, Romania, and Finland.
Thirdly, all of the currently declassified plans for the Red Army’s strategic deployment present practically the same document, which changes slightly from one version to another. At issue is not only the semantic, but also the textual, similarity of all the plans.
The targeted cities and regions were all East Prussian, Polish and Slovak. A concrete month and year was established – August, 1941 – although a concrete date has not been established from available documents.
No one has yet found any other plans for the Red Army’s strategic deployment, except these. With all the Russian archives at their disposal, Suvorov’s opponents have not, in the past 18 years, managed to present to the world a single document in which the beginning (only the beginning!) of the Soviet-German war was being planned in the form of a strategic defensive operation on Soviet territory. (Emphasis in original.)
Plan three differed little from plan two:
Strictly speaking, the new “Stalin's third plan” did not, from the point of view of operational intent, differ at all from Plan # 2. Large-scale offensive operation was still planned beyond the USSR’s state borders.
In assessing this plan, Solonin focusses on a meeting of May 24 – a meeting with Stalin and to include the senior-most command of the Soviet military. Based on a handwritten note from Marshal Vasilevskiy, Solonin concludes:
…the range of “possible dates” of the beginning of the operation narrows down to two months: from the middle of July through the end of August 1941. (Emphasis in original.)
He goes on to explain how he comes to this conclusion.
After reviewing these three plans, Solonin examines the Soviet troop and equipment movements to the west – done in secret and done in almost the opposite manner than if intended to be defensive.
June 19 is a critical date:
From June 14 through June 19, the border district command received an order to move the Front administration ("Front" was the largest troop formation, the Soviet equivalent of German Armies Group) to the field command post by June 22-23. A June 19 telegram from the Head of the General Staff to the Commander of the forces of the Kiev SMD stated the following: “by 22.06.1941 the administration is ordered to head to Ternopol, leaving in Kiev the district administration subordinate to you ….the apportionment and redeployment of the Front must be kept strictly secret.”
On June 22, Hitler invaded – a most devastating and crushing invasion. Stalin was left with his now worthless plans for a never-to-be offensive operation.
How many days were left between June 19 and the scheduled beginning of the grandiose offensive operation? We will be able to answer this question only after the database available to historians is radically expanded. The most important thing, however, is already known for certain today: neither of Stalin’s three plans was implemented.
If you are familiar with Suvorov’s work, there is little of surprise here; however the detail provided is invaluable for someone like me who is not doing primary research. Solonin’s work is also valuable in that he demonstrates and corroborates in detail the validity of Suvorov’s work.