Jan 9, 2009, 10:12 AM |

From: mozerdozer
Date: Jan 8, 2009 @ 3:30pm
Subject: For You Review

by mozerdozer
Wethersfield, CT. United States
Member Since: Feb 2008
Member Points: 821

    Stalin's Blindness:

He deceived himself about Hitler, and it cost millions of Russian lives...   

What was Joseph Sralin thinking when he allied himself with Adolf Hitler for nearly 2 years at the beginning of World War II?  What did Stalin know about Hitler's intentions to turn on him, and when did he know it?                      

Historians have grappled with these questions ever since foreign ministers Joachim von Ribbentrop and Vyacheslav Molotov signed the infamous Nazi-Soviet non-aggression pact on 23 August 1939, and the subsequent German attack on the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941.  Operation Barbarossa, as the German invasion was called, blindsided Stalin and came closer than most people realise to achieving its aim of inflicting a swift, mortal blow to his country.  In What Stalin Knew, David E Murphy, a former CIA agent who was in charge of Soviet operations, provides the most thorough answers to date.  His systematic examination of the "product" of Soviet intelligence during the critical 22 months of the pact, and of how Stalin angrily rejected most of the reports of his spies, is an absorbing account on several levels - tactical, psychological, and moral.  The result is a devastating indictment of the Soviet tyrant on all those grounds.

Stalin's apologists have always maintained that he had no choice but to agree to the pact with Hitler, since he needed to buy time to prepare for war.  Britain and France's appeasement at Munich a year earlier, and their lack of serious interest in forging an alliance with Russia, left Stalin with no choice, they claimed.  In fact, Murphy points out, the Soviet leader was much more than Hitler's reluctant partner.  He was enthusiastic about dividing the spoils of Poland, which he attacked from the east 16 days after Hitler's armies attacked from the west, and seizing control of the Baltic states.  And, most tellingly, he slipped quite comfortably into the role of defending Germany and vilifying the British and the French.

So comfortably that the case can be made that Stalin may have wondered what kind of outcome he really wanted from the war he helped unleash.  In the most controversial part of his book, Murphy offers the first English translation of a speech Stalin allegedly made on 19 August 1939, right before formalising his agreement with Hitler.  In it, he argued that if the West defeated Germany in a long war, that country would be ripe for Sovietization; but if Germany won in a long war, it would be too exhausted to threaten the Soviet Union, and a Communist takeover would be likely in France.  Hence a win-win situation for the Soviet Union, and his conclusion that "one must do everything to ensure that the war lasts as long as possible in order to exhaust both sides."