Soviet offensive plans controversy
The Soviet offensive plans controversy refers to the debate among historians on the question of whether the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was planning to invade Germany (and Europe more generally) prior to the German invasion of the Soviet Union which began on 22 June 1941.
Vladimir Rezun, a former officer of the Soviet military intelligence, argued in his 1987 book Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War (written using the pseudonym Viktor Suvorov), and in several subsequent books for such offensive plans. He argued that the Soviet forces were organized for offensive operations against Germany, and were mobilizing along the German-Soviet frontier for a Soviet invasion of Europe slated for 6 July 1941, but they were unprepared for defensive operations on their own territory, contributing to the initial enormous defeats when Germany attacked first.
After Icebreaker, many other researchers, articles, and books have argued similarly.
Suvorov's outline of argued Soviet plans include the following:
- The Soviet Union (USSR) was intrinsically unstable. It had to expand to survive. According to Suvorov's interpretation of the “permanent revolution theory”, the communist system had to expand and occupy the entire world to survive. Otherwise, the system would fail in a peaceful and/or military struggle with surrounding "capitalist" countries. Stalin and other Soviet leaders had always understood this. They therefore started preparations for a large-scale war of aggression and conquest. To mislead the West, however, they officially declared an adherence to the more peaceful theory of "Socialism in One Country", according to which Socialism can win in a single country, without being overthrown. A related point is that one of the main differences between Trotskyism and Stalinism is criticism of Stalin’s "Socialism in One Country" policy. If Suvorov is right, then Stalin actually had views similar to Trotsky, but was more covert.
- The Soviet Union made extensive preparations for a future war of aggression during the 1920s and 1930s. Suvorov provided an extensive analysis of Stalin's preparations for war. According to Suvorov, there were supposed to be three Five Year Plan phases that would prepare the Soviet Union for war. The first one was to be focused on collectivisation, the second focused on industrialisation, and the third phase would emphasize the militarisation of the country.
- According to this, the collectivisation of agriculture (and possibly even the Holodomor) should be seen as partly being a preparation for the future war, aimed at crushing and controlling the peasantry, who had been a major problem during the Russian Civil War, with numerous peasant uprisings. The Great Purge is also seen partially as a preparation for the future war, replacing army leaders and others seen as inefficient and possibly disloyal, and reducing the influence of Jews and other ethnic minorities and increasing Russian influence, in order to increase the support of the Russian people for the regime during the coming war.
- Stalin escalated tensions in Europe by providing a combination of economic and military support to the Weimar Republic, and later to National Socialist Germany. After World War I, the Allies attempted to impose severe restrictions on the Weimar Republic to prevent it from rearming and again becoming a significant military threat. During "the early 1920s until 1933, the Soviet Union was engaged in secret collaboration with the German military to enable it to circumvent the provisions of the Versailles Treaty", which limited Germany's military production. Moscow allowed the Germans to produce and test their weapons on Soviet territory, while some Red Army officers attended general-staff courses in Germany. The basis for this collaboration was the Treaty of Rapallo, signed between the two nations in 1922, and subsequent diplomatic interactions. This collaboration ended when the anti-communist National Socialists took power in 1933. But, according to Suvorov, in the years 1932-1933, "Stalin helped Hitler come to power by forbidding German Communists to make common cause with the Social Democrats against the National Socialists in parliamentary elections". Suvorov claimed that Stalin's plan and vision was that Hitler's should play the role of "icebreaker" for the Communist revolution. By becoming involved in wars with European countries, Hitler would justify the USSR's entry into World War II by attacking National Socialist Germany and "liberating" and Sovietising all of Europe. When concluding the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in 1939, Stalin "clearly counted on the repetition of the 1914–1918 war of attrition, which would leave the "capitalist" countries so exhausted that the USSR could sweep into Europe virtually unopposed".
- According to Suvorov and others, Stalin always planned to exploit military conflict between the capitalist countries to his advantage. He said as early as 1925 that "Struggles, conflicts and wars among our enemies are...our great ally...and the greatest supporter of our government and our revolution" and "If a war does break out, we will not sit with folded arms – we will have to take the field, but we will be last to do so. And we shall do so in order to throw the decisive load on the scale”.
- Stalin planned to attack National Socialist Germany from the rear in July 1941, only a few weeks after the date on which the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union took place. According to Suvorov, the Red Army had already redeployed from a defensive to an offensive stance. Suvorov also stated that Stalin had made no major defensive preparations.
- Hitler's intelligence identified the Soviet Union's preparations to attack Germany. Therefore, the Wehrmacht had drafted a preemptive war plan based on Hitler's orders as early as mid-1940. On 22 June 1941, Germany began the invasion of the Soviet Union.
Argued disappointment over the war’s outcome
After devastating losses the Soviet Union survived and even expanded but Stalin is argued to have seen the outcome of World War II as a (long-term) defeat.
A review of the book The Last Republic by Suvorov wrote that "Stalin revealed his disappointment over the war’s outcome in several ways. First, he had Marshal Georgi Zhukov, not himself, the supreme commander, lead the victory parade in 1945. Second, no official May 9 victory parade was even authorized until after Stalin’s death. Third, Stalin never wore any of the medals he was awarded after the end of the Second World War. Fourth, once, in a depressed mood, he expressed to members of his close circle his desire to retire now that the war was over. Fifth, and perhaps most telling, Stalin abandoned work on the long-planned Palace of Soviets. The enormous Palace of Soviets, approved by the Soviet government in the early 1930s, was to be 1,250 feet tall, surmounted with a statue of Lenin 300 feet in height – taller than New York’s Empire State Building. [...] All the world’s "socialist republics," including the "last republic," would ultimately be represented in the Palace. The main hall of this secular shrine was to be inscribed with the oath that Stalin had delivered in quasi-religious cadences at Lenin’s burial. It included the words: "When he left us, Comrade Lenin bequeathed to us the responsibility to strengthen and expand the Union of Socialist Republics. We vow to you, Comrade Lenin, that we shall honorably carry out this, your sacred commandment.""
"Fourteen Days that Saved the World"
Some have gone further and argued that a German preemptive attack prevented "the Soviet conquest of Europe scheduled to begin early in the morning of Sunday 6 July 1941. Suvorov’s revelations about the massive expansion of the NKVD (the blood-soaked forerunner of the KGB) are particularly chilling: these killers would have moved behind the assault troops to liquidate “class enemies.” The Bolshevik torture chambers and death pits which claimed millions of victims in the enslaved nations of the East would have spread throughout the West as well. With Germany and France under the Soviet jackboot, Italy and Spain would quickly have fallen too. And Stalin’s one million paratroopers would have made short work of seizing the airfields of southern England to clear the way for a full-scale invasion. Lenin and his pupil Stalin never made any secret of their desire for a Second World War to establish a Communist Europe. For the fact that this monstrous plan failed, the pseudo-democrats, simpering priests and court historians have no-one to thank but Adolf Hitler. If it had not been for the man they love to hate, they would have been the first against the wall."
Communist supporters and spies in Western countries
The Soviet Union had extensive networks of Communist supporters and spies in Western countries. Assuming Suvorov's theory is correct, they may have been involved in Communist offensive plans and long-term attempts to cause conflicts between capitalist countries.
One example is the senior U.S. Treasury department official and prominent Jewish Communist spy Harry Dexter White. He and other Communist spies have been argued to have had an important part in causing the American policies which contributed to the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Support and criticisms
Various other historians, both Russian and non-Russian, have supported the theory. This despite the theory being very politically incorrect in various ways and possibly especially in Russia, where WWII is still known as the “Great Patriotic War” and where more recently censorship regarding the Soviet Union and WWII has been implemented.
Others have criticized the theory.
Wikipedia claims that the theory is “generally discounted” but cites only the personal opinion of one historian from 1998 as claimed evidence for this. Wikipedia also cites numerous historians and books by different authors supporting the theory, with many of these sources being more recent than 1998.
- Could Hitler Have Won? A Thoughtful Look at the German-Soviet Clash Reassesses the Second World War
- Russian Specialist Lays Bare Stalin's Plan to Conquer Europe, Book review
- Exposing Stalin's Plan to Conquer Europe, How the Soviet Union 'Lost' the Second World War
- Revising the Twentieth Century’s ‘Perfect Storm’
- Hitler Spoils Stalin’s Surprise, A Review
- Red Army Wartime Leadership, Reviews
- The Chief Culprit
- DEATHRIDE: Hitler vs. Stalin: the Eastern Front, 1941-1945
- Stalin's Aggressive War Plans Disclosed
- Historian Details Stalin's Two-Year 'Mobilization' Plan for European Conquest
- Stalin's Secret War Plans, Why Hitler Invaded the Soviet Union
- Fourteen Days that Saved the World
- Germany’s Incredible Courage To Defend Europe: How Hitler’s Invasion of The Soviet Union Surprised Stalin
- Viktor Suvorov, Thomas B. Beattie. Icebreaker: who started the Second World War? Hamish Hamilton, 1990. ISBN 0-241-12622-3, ISBN 978-0-241-12622-6.
- Exposing Stalin's Plan to Conquer Europe http://codoh.com/library/document/2770/
- Fourteen Days that Saved the World http://www.heretical.com/miscella/14days.html
- Operation Snow: How a Soviet Mole in FDR's White House Triggered Pearl Harbor http://www.amazon.com/Operation-Snow-Soviet-Triggered-Harbor/dp/1596983221
- The Communist Agent Who Caused Pearl Harbor — and Global Economic Havoc http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/history/item/17147-the-communist-agent-who-caused-pearl-harbor-and-global-economic-havoc