Raack, R.C., "Stalin's Role in the Coming of World War II,"  World Affairs, (vol. 158,  no.4) Spring 1996

Viktor Suvorov" is the nom de plume of a former officer of Soviet military intelligence long resident in England. In the 1980s, he published a new history of Stalin's wartime military plans that should have shaken established historical terra firma--were his account to be believed. In 1990, British publisher Hamish Hamilton finally put out an English translation of his book-length expose, The Ice-breaker. In it, Suvorov offers a new view of Stalin's war aims, a view elaborately supported with citations from Soviet military memoirs and other appropriate documents. Viking Press put out Suvorov's book in New York the same year.

The subtitle of the 1990 London edition read: "Who Started the Second World War?" Certainly that must have caught the attention of a number of readers. But in spite of the abiding interest in the history of the war of 1939-1945, especially in these anniversary years, neither the London nor New York edition was ever reviewed in journals of opinion and review, nor in the major professional historical journals in this country.(1) Surely the publishers, Hamish Hamilton and New York's Viking, wanted their publication to succeed--and therefore sent out the usual number of review copies. Why, then, the strange silence?

A book under a similar title, How War Came, by London professor D.C. Watt, was published in England and in the United States in 1989. It was reviewed, generally favorably, by at least fifteen journals (just counting those reviews cited in the American Book Review Digest and Book Review Index).(2) Professor Watt presented a relatively conventional account of the coming of the war, one based overwhelmingly on Western and German materials, a history quite without the support of the vast number of new sources on the subject then, in the early days of glasno, popping out from behind the former Iron Curtain.

Actually, the two books are in no way comparable in content, just similar in title: Watt's is a broader, far more traditional approach to a long reported subject; Suvorov's has one focus only, Stalin's war plans, largely ignored by most writers, and exploiting a wholly different, new range of sources, chiefly military-historical.

Suvorov made his novel argument from much neglected historical ground. That ground: the plan for an attack westward that he says Stalin had in mind in 1941, when the latter, allegedly positioned for an attack west, was caught flat-footed by the anticipatory German attack. There is not the faintest hint of such a Soviet war scheme in Watt's text. Suvorov also suggested a new account of what the Soviet boss also had to have had in mind two .years earlier, in 1939, when he signed the "nonaggression" pact with Hitler, a move that set up the conditions for the German and Soviet attacks on Poland. The pact made general European war inevitable, given earlier British guarantees to Poland, and put the Wehrmacht on Soviet borders within a month. Yet Without that mutual German-Soviet frontier, which Stalin deliberately helped to create in 1939; there could have been no direct German attack on the Soviet Union in 1941.

Watt, as suggested earlier, was not alone in failing to lean forward in order to get a better look back. Countless other writers also failed to ask the question, wholly and oddly ignoring Hitler on the subject, though he was the main cause of it all. Hitler had several times remarked that he had to attack the Soviets before they attacked him.(3) Was he right? Did Stalin have plans for using war, and in particular the 1939 war, to the Soviet Union's and Bolshevism's advantage? In Stalin's eyes, the interest of one was identical with that of the other. Widely broadcast Marxist-Leninist theory, proclaiming wars between "imperialist" powers as the unavoidable path to their inevitable destruction in proletarian and colonial revolutions, should have focused contemporary and historical attention on the connection between the existing war and Stalin's likely interest in profiting from it.

These obvious diplomatic connections, Hitler's prophesy and Lenin's, have been almost universally ignored by historians--who have failed to ask the obvious question, What did Stalin actually expect from the second "imperialist" war. They evidently preferred to believe the word of Stalin and his friends that his purposes in making the pact were purely defensive, as were his purposes when Hitler suddenly attacked in 1941. In fact, much Western "informed" opinion then completely accepted ambiguous Soviet assurances that they had lost interest in the central tenets of Marxist-Leninist-driven international adventurism.(4)

Does the above introduction catch the attention of readers who by now find good reason to be suspicious of all kinds of apparitions produced by the media? And suspicious, too, where apparitions lack--in this case the missing reviews of a book put out by major publishers with a dramatic new historical line of argument? In fact, even in Britain only one major journal of opinion reviewed the Suvorov book; favorably, by the way.

John Zametica, writing that review in The Spectator, made one point readers may have already anticipated. He suggested that Suvorov's book was likely to be attacked "by many academic historians whose previous work would not make much sense if Suvorov is right." Among the attackers one might have anticipated finding many of those academic authors, and others, who wrote about the events of 1938-1941, from the crisis over Hitler's takeover of Austria and the Sudetenland to the German attack on the Soviet Union. But Suvorov got a different treatment: not reviewed and thereby advertised to a wider public, but ignored, allowed to quietly slip beyond the pale of academic opinion, effectively closeted; indeed, virtually beyond the reach of all the various intelligentsias grouped for information on the west side of the Atlantic around the American super-regional newspapers and established journals of opinion.(5) Was Suvorov perhaps the victim of an intellectual "cleansing" over here?

Just what is the history, not, to repeat, at all exclusive to academic authors, that the purport of Suvorov's work could demolish, should its arguments hold?

A reader nowadays seeking the causes of World War II would be likely to find an edition of the following generally accepted history-- here well rounded down for brevity's sake. It is the central historical basis underpinning the system of beliefs widespread in the West, which for years frequently helped put a good, at least more favorable, spin on explanations of Stalin's wartime and postwar behavior, and often still does. The conventional history goes as follows: Stalin's mistrust of the Western democracies, Great Britain and France, had increased radically after they effectively withdrew support from Czech President Benes in the face of Hitler's demands on the latter, in the months leading up to the Munich crisis of September 1938. The Soviet Union was then linked by a mutual defense pact to Czechoslovakia as well as to France, both agreements parts of the network of collective security the European powers had slowly been building up against Nazi Germany. But, to continue, when the British and French agreed with Hitler at Munich to allow him to annex German-populated parts of Czechoslovakia on demand, Stalin lost faith in the democracies. He thought their willingness to appease Hitler by satisfying his claims on Czechoslovakia and their failure to consult the Soviet Union in the matter portended little less than their equivalent willingness to see Hitler take all he wished all over the European east. Then he would be ready for the grand assault on the Soviet Union itself.(6) For, as all knew, Hitler had loudly broadcast his hostility to what he called "Judeo-Bolshevism," and his determination to achieve "living space" to the east for the German people. Given Hitler's known propensities, it would have been difficult to construe that vague expansionist aim as not including at least most of the western Slavic lands of the Soviet Union.

Anticipating the war coming with the Germans, Stalin, reacting (so the story continues), made haste to counter what he saw as Western scheming with some of his own. He would agree to let Hitler advance some steps to the east to take half of Poland in return for his agreement to Stalin's moving Soviet borders to the west by taking its other half. Stalin could thereby create a new and large defensive glacis against the Germans, composed of eastern Poland and the other east central European states and territories he got from this deal, a land bulwark standing before the eight million square miles of original Soviet territory. As a result, Hitler, because of his war against Poland, would fall into the British-promised confrontation with the Western powers. Stalin would thereby gain both the time and space he desperately needed for the build-up of his own defenses, for he knew Hitler was determined to make his move against him soon. Hence Stalin's pact with the Nazis and his agreement to supply Germany with many of the raw materials it then needed to make war with England and France in the west of Europe were both defensive moves, parts of a calculated stall to gain vital space and time.

Stalin's brand of Bolshevism was not aggressive, so the story emphasizing Stalin's defensive aims runs, in spite of the wars he quickly made on Poland and Finland in the aftermath of the pact, and notwithstanding his subsequent brutal occupation of the small Baltic states. He had, we have often read, long before quietly deflated the bloody Bolshevik expansionism originally authored in revolutionary days by Lenin and Trotsky, one of its failed efforts being the earlier, catastrophic (for the Bolsheviks), bungled invasion of Poland in 1920. Though Stalin was himself part of the commissarial apparatus over the Red army, and one of the main bunglers during that invasion, believers in this history nonetheless argued, against great evidence to the contrary, that he had later abjured such costly foreign adventures and the prescriptions of his dead Leninist mentor who commanded them. Stalin, this history goes on, was mainly concerned for domestic safety, fearful for the Soviet Union's future. So many history writers and others have judged for the last fifty years or so in sympathetic understanding of this era of the Soviet boss's foreign policy. He had, they contend, few, if any, alternatives to the pact with Hitler and his own warrior's role in the destruction of what remained of independent east central Europe.

But Stalin had fatefully miscalculated, so the tale continues. For, following the unexpected and sudden fall of France in 1940, the rest of the European continent was soon in Hitler's hands. With no serious enemies on the Continent to the west, the Fuhrer began to mass his armies to move against the Soviet Union. This early turn the Soviet dictator, whose plans to gain time and build in safety had been cut short by the German victories everywhere in Europe, had not foreseen. And though, following the pact with the Germans, he had rushed to rearm, and had indeed vastly expanded his defensive lines to the west, and had seemingly gained almost two years to prepare for war, the Red armies were nonetheless overran by the initial German assault when it came in June 1941. Likewise, the Red Air Fleet all along the line of German advance was virtually demolished, caught spreadeagled on its aerodromes. All this happened even after Stalin had received countless warnings of the impending attack From the beginning of the German assault, the Russians were almost everywhere in pell mell retreat. Millions of their troops were lost; when not dead, prisoners in the hands of the Germans and their allies. The major cities and industries of the Soviet west were soon in the latter alliance's hands. Monumental political disaster had been followed by monumental military disaster.

There is more than just a little wrong with the story just told (which also frequently leaves out the massive dimensions of the catastrophe Stalin, "humanity's greatest genius," as he was fond of being called, brought on the Soviet state). Yet, however implausible, it is still the one still most often repeated. Read a history book on the subject if you doubt me, or check your college textbooks if you still have them. The New Yorker is just one among the popular journals that regularly bombard readers with amateur histories of aspects of Hitler's war, also endlessly confirming, if only implicitly, the Stalinist defensive story.

Even during the war, the same story convinced many policy planners in London and Washington seeking a line on which to found in historical experience projections of postwar Soviet behavior. And it was evidently swallowed by our wartime Western leaders, Winston S. Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. It therefore lay, as accepted history, behind much crucial decisionmaking and postwar planning during World War II--behind the key political and military decisions taken at Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam. At those crucial conferences the choices with respect to Western treatment of the wartime ally, Stalin's Soviet Union, based on Western expectations of Stalin's behavior in the years to follow, were made. And when made, they were often made to Stalin's advantage out of both ignorance and misunderstanding of what really had happened.

The same story was subsequently offered to Western citizens to justify their wartime leaders' misplaced confidence in the Soviet Union even long after the Cold War had begun, when Soviet armies were ensconced all across the center of Europe and Stalin's borders and sphere of influence had been considerably expanded in Asia. Just a few years ago, former Soviet Communist Party chief Mikhail Gorbachev was still publicly playing out the tale to reinforce his own latter-day, bold-faced exculpation of Stalin.(7)

Behind the story, in its variant tellings never far removed from that above, lies the efficient voice of Stalinist propaganda and the willingness of leading Westerners, gullible journalists and politicians, and countless later historians to believe Stalin's defenders and to take his propaganda at face value. This now seems astonishing and should have seemed so from the beginning. For Stalin's Western contemporaries had no good reasons to hope for the best from their suddenly acquired wartime ally, Hitler's former wartime ally. Nor had those who followed. In fact, they had even less reason to see the best in him, as so many seem to have preferred to do over the years. We must by now recognize the long-time transcendence of the unlikely fable repeated above as the successful and enduring product of perhaps the best propaganda campaign ever conducted. But the recent opening of many former East Bloc archives heretofore long closed to independent researchers makes it certain that it cannot go generally unchallenged much longer.

If that long purveyed historical tale is indeed false, what kind of a history is to replace it? Following Suvorov, Stalin did not want peace at all, not in 1938, at the time of the Sudetenland crisis, or in 1939, or 1941. Nor was he defensive, nor reactive. Indeed he was not buying time for defense, but to prepare for attack, just waiting for the right moment for his own march westward. He saw Hitler as "the icebreaker" clearing the Bolshevik path west, the demonic nihilist who would tear apart the frail fabric of post-Versailles Europe, toppling governments, economic and social order everywhere, setting nation against nation, people against people, group against group. And, therefore, Hitler, the icebreaker, would open the Continent wide for the easy penetration of the Marxist terribles simplificateurs and their dream of imperialist wars put aside forever by the coming triumph of proletarian revolutions everywhere--when the masses at last rose against the capitalist war-makers in the conditions of privation, despair, and turmoil brought on by Hitler's war. The internationalist ideal of a European pax sovietica, ensured in triumph, as necessary, by the westward march of the Red army, heaping its brand of savage mayhem on the Nazi brand, making war to end all war, would triumph. The moment of that intervention, Stalin's push to the west by means of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army, Suvorov argues, was set for the early summer of 1941.

If this argument were actually widely read and widely discussed, readers seeing Suvorov's elaborate apparatus of citations from Soviet military-historical documentation might begin to reconsider the entire old history of the coming of the war. And if it were considered and subjected to the test of historical proof, the apparently seamless web of pseudo-history outlined earlier might at last be shredded. For if Stalin did indeed intend to attack to the west at a moment of his own choosing, his motives in making the pact with Hitler in 1939 were patently neither defensive nor despairing, as so many have believed, but part of an elaborate scheme to end a mutually exhausting war, to effect the political, social, and economic collapse of the European powers. The Bolshevist path to the heart of Europe and beyond would be cleared where necessary by the Red army and prepared. as Suvorov argued, by the chaos and mass bloodletting of Hitler's war.

Author Suvorov, writing military history, did not deeply examine the documentation available back when he wrote to seek out the political scheme that drove and created the need for Stalin's military plan. But, in fact, such a plan for war and revolution had to have, and did have, a supporting politics.

The authors of those politics of aggressive war were clearly Stalin and his Kremlin insider cronies. Lenin had broken the path they followed. It was they who actually broadcast the scheme of war and subsequent pan-European revolution outlined above. We find it reported from authentic sources high up inside the Communist International itself. (Not only was Stalin a member of its Presidium, but Comintern chief Georgii Dimitrov was a frequent guest in the Kremlin and regularly in touch with Stalin and those of Stalin's inner circle who personally conveyed the decisions of the vozhd' to Stalin's agencies of political control, in Dimitrov's case, of international political control.) Long before Hitler's assault eastward of June 1941, Stalin and his inner circle foresaw the best outcome of the European war as exactly what Suvorov described in its military aspects almost fifty years later: the domestic collapse of the warring powers arising out of local discontent (which the Red army might forcibly encourage) ensuing from the war and its inevitable privations. He was preparing the Red army to jump in as soon as expected civil strife--repeating the domestic unrest and revolutions in the warring nations of 1917 and 1918--erupted in the west of Europe behind the fighting Allied and German armies.

Suvorov only sketched this risky scheme when he wrote. But we have it by now from three reporters, one independent source confirming the other, each telling what he heard from the mouths of the Kremlin leaders, their Comintern intimes, and other high Soviet sources.

As is well known, the lives of the Kremlin plotters stretching back to Lenin, and the lives of all those mature in years who trafficked there, and the key force driving them, Marxist-Leninist "scientific" soothsaying, had received much of their historical outfitting from the revolutionists' perceptions of the events of the First World War. Many of the revolutionaries' fantasies had taken actual shape in its appalling crucible. Hence, the Kremlin's Marxist-Leninist predictions and resulting plans were firmly cast in the mold set by its bloody events, as viewed through Lenin's bequeathed rose-colored spectacles.

The most detailed of these sources on Stalin's war is downright antique by the standards of contemporary history writing.(8) But the most recent, confirming evidence of the plan, that from the Comintern itself, became available only recently from a newly opened party archive in the former East Bloc. Its record of this frightful scheme for a drive to the west was supplied by the boss of the German Communist Party in Moscow exile, Stalin-true and close to the Comintern executive committee. That boss's report, copied down in February 1941 by another high, Stalin-friendly source, outlined the possible outcomes then foreseen in the Kremlin for the war raging to the west, in which the Soviet Union was then not directly involved.(9)

That February, Walter Ulbricht, the German Communist leader (years later, back in Germany, the author of the infamous Berlin wall), told his fellow exiles in Moscow what he had evidently just learned: the Kremlin-predicted possible scenarios for the end of the war then going on in western Europe.(10) One of them was the reckless scheme of international revolution supported by the Red army described above. It obviously had to be the outcome most favored in the Kremlin, because only it, among all possible suggested outcomes, brought the Soviet Union closest to its Bolshevist international goals.(11)

We still cannot be certain how long the plan had been nurtured in the heads of Stalin and his Kremlin band.(12) It augured revolutionary breakdowns of civil society behind the lines of the warring powers to be exploited by Bolshevik agitators. The Red armies, the Kremlin prognostication went, would, following the model of 1917-1922, march to the aid of the embattled proletarians (or, perhaps, imagined embattled proletarians) and the workers' and soldiers' councils in revolt to the west. Revolutionary governments would be set up all over Europe. Lenin's plans for international revolution in the aftermath of World War I would be fulfilled in the course of World War II.

There is another potential flaw in Suvorov's argument beyond his failure to supply a convincing source for the political scheme. This dramatic scenario, given the preconditions required by its implicit timetable of events for the Red march west, does not at all match the wartime conditions that obtained when Stalin was planning to attack Hitler, according to Suvorov on 6 July 1941. For, at that time, Hitler, if we imagine that he had not yet attacked the Soviet Union, as he in fact had on 22 June, would have been at the height of his military strength. He was tied down, not insignificantly, but only on several lesser battlefields, because of his and his allies' continuing war with Britain. Hence, this essential part of Suvorov's argument, especially the military timetable he outlined, merits a vast amount of doubt. But the general scheme for a Red military thrust westward is now too well founded in historical fact to doubt without first proving invalid the so far unchallenged testimonies behind it. In any event, the two historical arguments, one establishing the Kremlin's political scheme and one its military counterpart, must surely remain separate. The plan itself can by now be taken as proved out of the mouths of the authors and their close collaborators, though, as noted, it went largely unsubstantiated in Suvorov's account.(13)

Now we also find a major military-historical aspect of Suvorov's argument confirmed by evidence not available to him when he wrote. And this evidence, some from conclusions drawn from Soviet military archives and another vital bit from other previously restricted East Bloc archives, also merits very close attention. First of all, we report the results of an important recent article by another Soviet military-historical writer, V. I. Semidetko. He came to a conclusion about Soviet military behavior in early summer 1941 that he appears hardly to have expected when he began his research on "Results of the Battle in White Russia."

Semidetko was in all likelihood wholly unaware of Suvorov's work when he wrote. Yet he concluded, writing in the Soviet magazine Military-Historical Journal (Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal), in 1989, after research on the early months of the Soviet-German war in newly opened Soviet military archives, that the reason the German army had so easily sliced eastward through the Red army on the central, White Russian front in June 1941 (where both armies, attack and defense, were of approximately equal strength) was that the latter was in an attack position.(14) This is, of course, the very discovery central to the argument Suvorov made several years earlier to explain that same military debacle. The Red army, Suvorov then said, was positioning itself to attack west, hence wholly out of its defensive positions. Because of the Kremlin's longstanding doctrinal emphasis on assault, those positions had, in any event, long been neglected. The Red army was, therefore, totally vulnerable before the onrushing Germans who, anticipating Stalin's attack, attacked first.

Now other accounts confirming Suvorov's and Semidetko's separately reached conclusions on this key point--the fact of their separateness is itself important--have come into my hands, One is a source Soviet in provenance, again, diplomatic, or from diplomatic intelligence, and totally independent from the military sources cited by the two Russians. A third, totally independent, source producing the same astonishing information! It derives from Czech archives, long under Stalinist and post-Stalinist superintendence in communist Prague, and hence closed to independent researchers until very recently.

As the warnings of German war preparations on the Soviet western border, many of them British and American, one indeed from the German ambassador to the Kremlin,(15) poured into Moscow on the eve of the German attack, Stalin was clearly determined to still the diplomatic waters and quiet talk of a German invasion. What his purposes in doing this might have been we can now only speculate. And such a line of speculative inquiry, which would lead us away from the central purpose of this report, can be saved for another day.

The Kremlin had sent an emissary, a leading (but, in this source, unnamed) Soviet journalist, to Soviet Ambassador Ivan Maiskii in London. Apparently the latter, who, no doubt on instructions from Moscow, had long played an ostensibly independent game of currying favor for his bosses among the many responsive political groups and individuals in and about democratic London, conveyed much, perhaps all, of Stalin's soothing message to the British. We know that Maiskii had a long meeting with a very high British Foreign Office official on 15 June. There he was importuned to pass on to Moscow yet more urgent warnings of the coming German attack. (The reader will recall how sophisticated British interceptions of German communications were in those days.) The number of proofs the British diplomat proffered this time apparently shook Maiskii's faith in his own boss's disavowals for the first time.(16) (Disavowals proclaimed by "humanity's greatest genius" were surely not going to be readily doubted by someone who might be summoned home to Moscow.).

The British presumably then distributed Stalin's message denying the likelihood of a German attack to their allies as political intelligence. Three days later the report from Moscow was written down by at least one of them, Karel Erban, an analyst with the foreign ministry-in-exile of the Czechoslovak National Committee, and passed along to the Czech leadership in London.(17)

Erban reported that Moscow advised that the Soviets were in no way fearful of the Germans, explaining away the Teutons' massing on the Soviet borders as merely a test of the alertness and readiness of a potential opponent. Still, the Moscow emissary said, if necessary they were then ready to offer much, economically and politically, to buy Hitler off, even if the effect were only temporary. Explicitly mentioned was allowing German armed help to neutral Turkey (and, implicitly, therefore, what Berlin had long sought, a Turkish pirouette, voluntary or involuntary, into the German camp). Such a move, perhaps expected after Hitler's latest successful Balkan campaigns, would go unchallenged from Moscow. This indicated Stalin's at least temporary abandonment of Russia's traditional interest in far southeastern Europe, especially in Bulgaria and the straits-- an interest Stalin, via Molotov, had only recently urgently pursued to Hitler's evident disgust during Soviet-German negotiations in Berlin in November 1940.

That kind of German move to the southeast, Stalin likely imagined, would deflect Hitler's attention from Soviet borders for some time (as well as stretch Wehrmacht forces much farther southeastward, creating a vulnerable Balkan flank), as his Yugoslav, Greek, and Cretan campaigns of the spring of 1941 had also done. (A swift Soviet attack southward into Rumania, which Suvorov lists as essential to Stalin's plan for the anticipated attack on Germany, would not only have cut off Hitler's oil supply, it could also have trapped German armies to the south and east, keeping them from returning to the home front to meet the main Soviet attack westward across former Poland when it came.)

Stalin's evident plan to divert the resources of the potential Nazi enemy and also postpone at the expense of the Bulgarians his march directly eastward was likewise designed, the Soviet emissary reported, to weaken both sides in the war by seeing it drawn out as long as possible. For clearly, had Hitler taken Stalin's bribe, the British would have been drawn into further military involvement in the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean. The Soviet yielding on Turkey to entice the Germans southeastward then could have required Hitler to postpone his attack until well into the fall. That postponement would have likely meant a delay, for climatic reasons, until the next spring. It would have given the Red army the chance to be first off the mark--if Stalin truly had the summer 1941 attack timetable that Suvorov alleges in mind (or even a 1942 timetable, as another historian has since argued.(18) So little fear of the Germans existed in Moscow, the reporter from the Kremlin advised, that the Red army was already in its attack, rather than defensive, positions.

Much of the fascinating information conveyed in this report, a document certainly unknown to the vast majority of researchers on the history of the Second World War, is confirmed by other sources. This confirmation lends credence to the source in general, and for our purposes, gives vital, wholly independent testimony about the astonishing, and vulnerable, attack posture of the Red army in the week before the German attack of 22 June 1941.

These findings on Soviet military behavior on the eve of Hitler's attack would certainly appear to require revived interest in the controversial conclusions of author Suvorov, especially as they are visibly central to the reconsideration required by a number of other new archival revelations bearing on this linchpin episode of modem history. So it seems important here to tell even more of the history of Suvorov's writing on this subject with a view to trying to tell why most anglophone history readers interested in the war have so far likely missed his account.

In fact, his conclusions appear to have been extensively challenged in English print by only one writer, Tel Aviv University Professor Gabriel Gorodetsky. He wrote his first critique in an original exchange of historical arguments with the Russian writer in the British Royal United Services Institute [RUSI] Journal a military magazine, back in 1986.(19) In fact, it was just before that exchange that Suvorov's arguments first appeared outside Russian emigre circles.

The RUSI Journal editors may have already decided, when they resolved to print Suvorov's then astonishing history, that it was controversial enough to require a quick rebuttal. Editors do sometimes use that technique to take themselves off the hook when putting out something that might appear utterly outlandish--in this case Suvorov's arguments, so at odds with received history, in one respect even potentially pro-German. For Hitler himself, as reported earlier, justified his attack on the Soviet Union by arguing that he had to strike east before the Soviets struck west. And what could be less politically correct, then as now, than agreeing in any way with the universally unlamented (in adult circles of the sane at any rate) Nazi Fuhrer. Another explanation is also possible. Gorodetsky may have seen the original Suvorov article and subsequently volunteered his argument to the editors in rebuttal.

In fact, Suvorov's arguments have been challenged on various grounds at other times (by this writer, for example, wondering how the Kremlin's plan for a thrust to the west in the aftermath of the anticipated internal breakdown of the warring states could have been set, as Suvorov has it, for 6 July 1941, when Hitler was actually militarily at his strongest and his conquered empire relatively in hand).(20) Yet historian Gorodetsky did not then try to rebut Suvorov's arguments, or even his strange timetable for the Soviet attack, by employing sources countervailing Suvorov's military-historical sources or disputing their authenticity. Rather, he cited diplomatic records, those of Soviet provenance published being, of course, carefully selected and edited and extremely unreliable. And he used none of his arguments to rebut Suvorov's assertions of a Kremlin political scheme lying behind the military plans. So Gorodetsky never really challenged Suvorov's contention that Stalin had, first of all, a political plan for a march west that the military plans were to realize. He simply ignored the political issue. Hence, while some of Gorodetsky's diplomatic arguments are indeed informative and challenging, he did not then directly cross intellectual swords with Suvorov on either of his key arguments. Nor has Gorodetsky since, in more recent writing on the same subject, shown even slight awareness of the documents for years in print that indicate there was a comprehensive political plan for a Soviet international intervention to the west.(21)

By contrast with the almost universal silence in the anglophone organs of review, which played its perhaps indicative role at the appearance of the English translation of Suvorov's book (five years after his RUS1 Journal article), when the German version of The Icebreaker, the earliest book-length edition of his argument, came out in 1989 (with a slightly different subtitle, Hitler in Stalin's Planning [Hitler in Stalins Kalku"(22)]), it was reviewed prominently. Reviewers included two very well informed reporters on the period, Professor Alexander Fischer of Bonn University (recently deceased, but previously a member of the important Parliamentary Committee for the Reexamination of the German Past) and Gunther Gillessen, a long-time history editor at Germany's most prestigious newspaper, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. Professor Fischer, the author of numerous books and documentary compilations on the diplomacy of the period, including Soviet diplomacy, found Suvorov's book daring--but not convincing. Still, he tactfully reserved final judgment by contending, properly, that real conviction required seeing what the Soviet archives might someday have to say. Editor Gillessen described the book as too argumentative and, echoing Fischer, insufficiently convincing on the basis of its solely circumstantial proofs.(23)

The reader familiar with the tragic course of modern German history and the enormous weight of the need for historical and juridical clarification of the events resting upon the German people even today, several generations down the line from the disasters perpetrated by the Hitler Reich, will appreciate how careful German writers have to be in evaluating histories that might in any way shed a favorable light on the actions of the former German Fuhrer.

The gist of what might almost be called an unspoken contract among responsible German writers is that efforts to offload German responsibility for the war must not be undertaken lightly. The easy kind of offloading of historical responsibility that could be suggested by a too ready acceptance of Suvorov's arguments or similar contentions tending to unburden the history of the Third Reich must be avoided at all costs. The recent long, often savage, discussion in the German press about the sources of Hitler's murderous behavior (including an effort by some historians and others to locate them beyond Germany), the so-called "battle of historians" (Historikerstreit),(24) has clearly revealed how painful the entire, necessary historical discussion can be in a German society racked by guilt to a point close to spiritual self-annihilation. One can see the critical reservations of both German reviewers with respect to the validity of Suvorov's arguments (which undeniably merited considerable skepticism) as falling well within the focus of this observation. So the extreme caution dictated by the terrible events of the past in Germany has had effectively the same censorious effect as the apparent lack of interest in reconsidering this part of the past has had in the anglophone west.(25)

The very fact that the first book-length version of Suvorov's work appeared first in German is not only important for historiography, but also for the discussion of the historical events it purports to reveal. Suvorov's appearance in German, commercially published in book form, testifies to the key role of the pact and the Soviet war in the ever-running and lively, if restricted, German public historical discussion of wartime events and behavior. Its publication helped to reopen the issue almost never discussed, seemingly certainly settled, because of that long prevailing interpretation (prevalent in Germany, too) of the coming of World War 11.(26) For how could Hitler have begun the war he so desperately wanted in 1939 if the Soviet Union had actively supported, with military help or at least with masses of military supplies and provisions, the states on its west flank that blocked German aggression to the east, toward the Soviet Union? Even Hitler would have likely shied at such odds when also faced with powerful enemies to the west. But had that perennial risk-taker marched anyway, he would have caused a far different war, different alliances, and different timetables, than those the record gives us.

Further international developments in the continuing discussion of the issues related to Suvorov's work, and a new book by him with more elaborate proof of his arguments, have recently appeared. The argument for his history has grown much stronger. Hence, these issues now are now being discussed even more widely, if oddly still outside the headline areas of historical concern in the anglophone countries. The current discussion on the Continent was stimulated by the appearance of Suvorov's first book in both Polish and Russian editions.(27)

One could have anticipated the appeal of a Polish edition in post-Communist, newly liberated Poland. After all, World War II is the central event in modem Polish history. The Poles were the first, and ultimately the most thoroughly ravaged, victim of the Soviet-Nazi alliance of 1939 to 1941. They lost half their prewar territory to Stalin, numberless citizens to his and German death camps (the largest group of the millions of Jews killed in German death camps were Polish citizens), and spent the years 1944 to 1989 as prisoners in the tyrannical system Stalin and his friends invented for them--and had devised as well for anyone and everyone their Red army could corral. Finding Poles taking a big historical interest in their most recent, and most enduring--over the centuries-traditional tormentors, the Russians, will come as no surprise to those who know the east central European historical terrain.

But the 1992 Russian edition of Suvorov is, for purposes of this discussion of the fate of his ideas, the most important. For it manifestly helped bring discussion of the issue of Stalin's alleged war plan to a central place in the current Russian historical debate over Stalin and Stalinism.

Although the Russian edition of Suvorov appeared only in 1992, three articles on the same general subject, Stalin's military planning early in World War II, have since appeared in recent issues of post-Soviet, Russian historical journals. The leading historical journal Otechestvennaia istoriia (Fatherland History) reprinted just a year ago, in Russian translation, an article by the German military historian Joachim Hoffmann, "The Soviet Union's Preparation of a War of Attack in 1941."(28) The second article, in Novaia i noveishaia istoriia (Recent and More Modern History), "Did Stalin Prepare a Preventative Assault against Hitler in 1941 ," appeared at about the same time.(29) Its author, Colonel-General Iu. A. Gor'kov, took up one set of plans found some time back in former Soviet archives titled, "Observations on a Plan for the Strategic Development of the Forces of the Soviet Union in the Event of a War with Germany and Its Allies." The latter plan, prepared in May 1941 by then Komdarm (later Marshal) Georgii K. Zhukov, was published in 1991 in outline form in the sensation-loving German newsmagazine Der Spiegel.(30)

Hoffmann's article is an entirely different research effort from that of Suvorov to prove that Stalin intended to attack west in the early part of the war. It first appeared in 1991 in a volume of articles first published in German under the title Two Roads to Moscow (Zwei Wege Nach Moskau. Vom Hitler-Stalin Pakt zum "Unternehmen Barbarossa'")(31) Again Professor Gorodetsky was included in the same volume, nestled in print beside Hoffmann, aiming a rebuttal at Suvorov (reinforcing the impression that some editors fear to see historians who suspect Stalin of having aggressive plans wander alone and unchallenged, or in some cases, wander at all through the historical landscape). Strangely enough, virtually the same article, with some additions, had been published two years earlier in the usually reliable German historical journal Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeschichte (Contemporary History Quarterly). There Gorodetsky had once again had his say on Suvorov.

Gorodetsky undertook to disestablish, just as testily as in his previous rebuttals of Suvorov (which he termed this time around: "the newest, most extreme, and most inaccurate portrayal of these events"),(32) the notion that Stalin had any such plan. But, once again, the attack was directed against the Russian emigre writer, not directly against the (perhaps nonetheless indicatively) subjoined Hoffmann, whose newer article right next door went unmentioned.

Hoffmann's work supports many of Suvorov's findings. But Gorodetsky evidently had not seen it when he wrote, except in a much earlier (1983), less-final, edition. Once again Gorodetsky jumped to his anti-Suvorov conclusion without examining any of Hoffmann's military-historical sources (in the most recent article, mainly German reports of interrogations of Soviet prisoners), just as he had not criticized the military-historical sources cited by Suvorov in his earlier effort to demolish the bases of the latter's then radical historical hypothesis. Moreover Gorodetsky still wrote manifestly unaware of the long published record of the Kremlin's political plans for the war.(33) These schemes, which, as noted earlier, Suvorov also missed, have since 1954 been readily available in English and were available earlier elsewhere. Rather, Gorodetsky blackballed the very notion that such non-defensive thinking was abroad in the Kremlin by identifying it with thoughts originated (presumably by anti-Stalinists) during "the height of the Cold War."(34) And, in a field in which new historical sources and surprises even then appeared almost daily, he offered as support for his newest rebuttal of Suvorov in print only materials that appeared at least two years before the German publication of Two Roads to Moscow.

Even with such frail props for his position, Gorodetsky nonetheless declared "absurd" the contention that Stalin was planning an attack to the west. And, having missed a number of recent accounts questioning on the basis of Soviet sources the assumption that Stalin's political purposes from 1939 to 1941 were benign and defensive, accounts provided as early as 1989 and 1990 by Soviet authors like V. I. Dashichev and M. I. Semiriaga, Gorodetsky came to the (as the reader by now knows, incorrect) conclusion that there is "a complete lack of witnesses [testifying to] Stalin's intentions."(35)

Gorodetsky connected the attention directed to Suvorov in Germany to the effort to displace German guilt elsewhere. He argued that the book's popularity in Germany (by contrast with its having virtually disappeared from view in England and France and, he might have added, the United States derived from secret support from neo-Nazis (historical reporting guilty by association?). In fact, Professor Gorodetsky, if he had kept up on the massive bibliography of German writings in his area of study, would know that the German historical interest in the eastern war front (and in eastern Europe in general, as measured by the amount of German academic reporting on Slavic subjects by contrast with, say, French) has for years been greater than elsewhere in the west of Europe-- for geographically obvious reasons, if for no other. This greater interest alone could account for the concern in Germany --just as, ten or so years ago, there was monumental German public interest and discussion of the very pro-Soviet, Moscow-originated television series, which played with far less eclat in the States under the title "The Unknown War." (The reader will perhaps recall its, often playing on PBS stations among others, with the Soviet-edited episodes introduced and narrated by Butt Lancaster. The original author of the series, Roman Karmen, was a famous Soviet film propagandist who had also authored violently anti-American films.) So Gorodetsky takes an odd posture indeed for a historian. One would expect a scholar to be committed to the open exchange of ideas, and not to their burial, the fate of Suvorov's English-language versions, which Gorodetsky implicitly celebrates.(36)

Colonel Gor'kov's article is interesting in that it denies that the May 1941 plan (that he helpfully prints) for a Soviet assault to the west was more than an effort to design a reactive assault in the face of the much reported German preparations for Hitler's attack on the Soviet Union. Emphasizing the defensive nature of the Soviet war plan, Gor'kov denies that the Soviets had any additional plan for the occupation of territory in the aftermath of this projected sweep west, a sweep which would, if successful, have brought them as far into Germany as Breslau and Danzig.

Yet the nonexistence of supplemental Soviet planning is unimaginable. How could either side have left the Red army standing along lines well inside Germany after such a vast initial military success---had it been brought off as Zhukov planned for his Kremlin boss? Was the Red army simply to remain in occupation of much of eastern Germany and what had earlier been Nazi-occupied central and even western Poland? Or was it, after a successful advance west, to hold steady along a newly established defense line while fighting a ferocious war of attrition against the Germans--a war supported by the Kremlin's vast resources in people and raw materials--until, as Stalin could have imagined, the German home front collapsed and the Red army marched west once more, this time almost unimpeded?

Yet, in the unlikely case that peace and not international revolution was what Stalin had in mind, the Soviets would surely have needed a political-military plan for the Red army's eventual negotiated return from its front in east central Europe to Soviet borders once Hitler had been defeated and peace made. The Red army could not simply have marched a couple of hundred miles into Hitler's well-armed Germany, as Zhukov's scheme imagined, and then have retreated to its original positions. To what purpose? There had to have been some other planning somewhere, at some level, for some sort of political result from a successful invasion according to the plan Gor'kov reported.

Gor'kov, however, seems unaware that the military plan he discusses might have some relation to contemporary Kremlin thinking about what was to follow its projected success in the campaign westward. And he, too, appears unaware of the Stalinist propensity to political adventurism already discussed earlier, discussed even in the Soviet historical press (and elsewhere) by Gor'kov's Russian colleagues, Dashichev and Semiriaga (again, to name only two).

Gor'kov's 1993 article is important nonetheless because it, like the Russian publication of Hoffmann in translation, brought the issue of Stalin's war plans into direct historical focus in the current lively Russian discussion of this key period of the Soviet past. Gor'kov took up in his discussion both Suvorov and a number of journalistic reports on the subject of Stalin's military plans that appeared in the Russian press, as well as a local Moscow historical "roundtable" held on the issue in May 1992 at the Institute for Military History of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.(37)

The third article, which appeared in Otechestvennaia Istoriia in the first issue of 1994, also keeps Suvorov in focus. The writer's purpose is clearly defensive, reporting chiefly the opinions of the many German critics of Hoffmann and Suvorov (ignoring, like just about everyone writing, those post-Soviet historians who have tried to prove Stalin's aggressive purposes). But the author, A. I. Borozniak, nonetheless notes that some of them have argued, like Professor Fischer, that the matter cannot be resolved until the Soviet archives, some of which still today remain closed to independent researchers for obvious political reasons, have been thoroughly examined.(38) More recently the very same Otechestvennaia istoriia has published several articles by Russian historians who have gotten into archives that are actually open to independent scholars, as the central "Presidential Archive" is not. The gist of their findings, in the case of three of them, is that Soviet doctrine encouraged "imperialist" war and that Stalin radically changed Soviet propaganda guidelines in the winter of 1941 (at the very time Walter Ulbricht was reporting to German party comrades the news of possible Red army support for revolution in the west) from denunciation of all "imperialist wars" to support for a war of assault.(39)

The discussion of Stalin's role in bringing on the war is now underway west and east, though some historians seem determined to cut off that discussion by denouncing challenges to the traditional view of Stalin's benign purposes as "absurd." Bringing Suvorov's and other arguments for Stalin's aggressive schemes into the currently raging post-Soviet Russian historical discussion of Stalin's role in local and international history should help draw these issues back into the mainstream of current international historical discussion over the next few years. And that is where they belong, over there and over here, as well---especially in view of the propensity of some post-Soviet Russian historians over there, as well as Stalin's defenders to the West, to discount in advance his responsibility for the disasters of World War II. Given the current Russian government's tendencies to accept military solutions to crises and to unabashed use of threat in dealing with its weaker neighbors, and even with the United States, a responsible historical debate, based on open archival access, leading to an honest understanding of the Soviet past and the debacles Soviet behavior has brought about domestically and internationally is wholly in order.


1. Suvorov's book was actually briefly reviewed, together with D.C. Watt's (see text, and note 2 below) and one other on the same period, in The New York Review of Books, 12 October 1989, 11-16, by Professor (emeritus) Gordon A. Craig, of Stanford University. But Craig wrote of the German edition of the work for the review's American readership--the English version had not yet been published. Craig, who has written and taught over the years in the field of German history, but who has done little work in Soviet or east central European affairs, military or other, in the Stalin period, found Suvorov's arguments wanting. Craig opined that if Stalin indeed had a plan to attack west in 1941, as Suvorov contends, then Western military attaches and embassies in Moscow would have reported it. He found "no references to it in the diplomatic files of foreign embassies or in the reports of their military attaches." Even if we assume that Craig had exhausted the files and reports in many relevant archives, he had to have meant Western files and reports, for in 1989 many of the former East Bloc's archives had not yet been opened to Western and other independent researchers. Moreover, a scholar who has slogged through masses of Western and other diplomatic documents out of Moscow should know that in Stalin's paranoically secretive state, foreign diplomats and military observers did not have free run of the Soviet countryside, and especially of the recently occupied border regions in the Soviet west, to make their observations. Many Western diplomats alluded to this frustrating situation in their reports. Therefore, this argument against Suvorov hardly seems telling.

2. New York, 1989.

3. See Ralf Georg Reuth, Goebbels (translated from the German, New York, n. d.), citing Goebbels's diaries for 16 June 1941. In February 1945, Hitler repeated his insistence that Stalin had intended to attack westward. See Alan Bullock, Hitler und Stalin (translated from the English, Berlin, 1991), 924-26, 939, 941.

4. Many writers seemingly seized the commercial occasion offered by the fiftieth anniversary of the coming of the war in 1989 to write books about 1939. When the storm of revelations began to break in the Soviet Union in early 1988, and elsewhere in the former East Bloc soon after, they were likely either unaware of what was happening or were bound to contracts and other schedules that obliged them to meet the 1989 anniversary date. The new materials, vital to the history of the coming of the war, went unincluded. On those at the top in Western diplomacy who led the movement of belief in Stalin's defensive purposes, see R. C. Raack, Stalin's Drive to the West, 1938-1941. The Origins of the Cold War (Stanford, 1995), 55, 89.

5. 5 May 1990, 30. The book was ignored by major academic journals and specialty (Slavic studies-oriented) journals and was reviewed in the United States only in two relatively obscure military journals. In both cases the reviewers discounted Suvorov's account, one very strongly (in the Journal of Soviet Military Studies 4 [ 1991]: 195-97; the second review was a brief one, in Air Force Magazine 7 [1991]: 55). The JSMS's reviewer argued that the German military records did not support Suvorov's arguments, that the Soviets were unprepared, and that Stalin rejected Zhukov's plan for a preemptive strike. But see note 26, the discussion of the work of the German military historian Joachim Hoffmann, who makes his argument in partial support of Suvorov from just those German records. See also the discussion of Zhukov's plan in the text. In the U.K., the book went unreviewed in the two most important academic journals with a Slavic focus.

6. Igor Lukes, in several articles, has successfully debunked the notion that Stalin was willing to give the Czechoslovaks strong military support in 1938. See Lukes's articles, "Did Stalin Desire War in 19387 A New Look at Soviet Behaviour during the May and September Crises," Diplomacy and Statecraft, 2 (1991): 2-53; and "Benesch, Stalin und die Komintern 1938/1939. Vom Munchener Abkommen zum Hitler-Stalin Pakt," Vierteljahrshefte fur Zeitgeschichte, Jg. 1993, Heft 3, 325-53.

7. Gorbachev in Pravda, 3 November 1987. A representative, albeit small, sample of writings by popular as well as academic writers supporting the notion of Stalin as defender follows. Not all of the authors would agree on all the aspects of the story outlined in the text above. But the gist of the history, that Stalin's purposes in 1939 were defensive, is there, explicitly or implicitly. See, Winston S. Churchill, "The Gathering Storm" in The Second World War, I (Boston, 1948), 391-94; Arnold J. and Veronica Toynbee, eds., "The Eve of War, 1939" Survey of International Affairs 10 (London, 1958): 23, 25, 504; A. J.P. Taylor, The Origins of the Second World War (New York, 1968), 163-64, 241,261, 263, 267, 278; D.C. Watt, How War Came. The Immediate Origins of the Second World War (London, 1989), 112-13, 117-19, 369-70, 372-73; Peter Calvocoressi, Guy Wint and John Pritchard, Total War. The Causes and Course of the Second World War (second ed., Harmsworth, 1989), 71, 96-100, 106; Hermann Graml, Europas Weg in den Krieg. Hitler und die Ma"chte 1939 (Munich, 1990), 251. By contrast with the above writers, James E. Macsherry, Stalin, Hitler and Europe. The Origins of World War II, 1933-1939, vol. II (Cleveland, 1970), gave proper attention to those Soviet sources extant when he wrote, but nonetheless optimistically contended that (well before the recent openings of former East Bloc sources and archives), "It is comparatively easy to form a clear picture of Soviet foreign policy in 1938 and 1939" (v). Only yesterday the notion of Stalin's defensive purposes in 1939 was suggested as if there were no possible challenge to it by Jonathan Haslam, "Soviet Foreign Policy, 1939-1941: Isolation and Expansion," Soviet Union 18 (1991): 106.

8. See my article, "Stalin's Plans for World War II" in Journal of Contemporary History, 26 (1991): 215-27.

9. Walter Ulbricht's speech in the archive of the Stiftung der Parteien und Massenorganisationen der DDR im Bundesarchiv (Berlin), Wilhelm Pieck Nachlass 36/528: "Politischer Informationsabend am 21.2. 1941." Pieck also noted that Ulbricht had just previously spoken in the Presidium of the Executive Committee of the Comintern. See also, "Did Stalin Plan a Drang nach Westen?," in World Affairs, 155 (1992), 13-22; especially the "Afterword;' 22, for background.

10. The reader will perhaps recall that the Soviets had, by February 1941, when Ulbricht spoke, already engaged in several undeclared wars, all related to the general European war first formally declared by Britain and France following the German invasion of Poland in September 1939. The Soviets had been involved in major battles with the Japanese along the Manchurian frontier through the late summer of 1939. They invaded and warred on Poland in the same late summer and early fall in collaboration with Hitler, then repeated the same performance in Finland later the same year without his help. Some months later they had forced the Baltic States and the Rumanian provinces of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina into the Soviet Union in 1940 under military threat. But too many history writers, often seeing the events of 1938 to 1945 solely through lenses crafted in the west of Europe and in the United States, have frequently overlooked the connections between Soviet adventurism in the east and the headline-grabbing German war in the more familiar European west.

11. Most accessible among several accounts, unless the reader reads Lithuanian, is the testimony of former Lithuanian Foreign Minister Vincas Kreve-Mickievicius, reported in English in U.S. Congress, House of Representatives, Select Committee on Communist Aggression, Third Interim Report (Washington, D.C., 1954), 340-45, 451-63. J. Edgar Hoover supplied an apparently independent report of the same from one of the "highest Russian sources" to A. A. Berle, 17 June 1940, in United States National Archives, M982, R25. See also, Grigorii A. Tokaev, Stalin Means War (London, 1951), chapter 2, passim.

12. In all likelihood from the earliest days of Bolshevist power in Russia, as the plan roughly duplicates Lenin's scheme for the war against Poland only recently published: V. I. Lenin, "Ia proshu zapisivat' menshe: eto ne dol'zhno popadat' v pechat'," Istoricheskii arkhiv, number 1/1992, 12-30; see also, Joachim Hoffmann, Stalins Vernichtungskrieg, 1941-1945 (Munich, 1995), 18.

13. See R. C. Raack, "Stalin's Plans for World War II," passim, and and the same author's "Stalin's Plans for World War II Told by a High Comintern Source," The Historical Journal 38 (1995).

14. V. I. Semidetko, "Istoki porazheniia v Belomssii," in number 4/1989, 30-1.

15. S. A. Gorlov, in Novoe vremia, number 8/1991, 38-9; and V. V. Sokolov, "Diplomaticheskii khod vo imia mira," Vestnik ministerstva inostrannykh del SSSR, number 20/1990, 57-58.

16. Gabriel Gorodetsky, "Was Stalin Planning to Attack Hitler in June 19417" RUSI Journal (June 1986): 71-72.

17. Dated 18 June 1941, and found in the Archiv ministerstva zahranicnich veci' (Prague), in file 4-70-114.

18. Joachim Hoffmann, "Die Angriffsvorbereitungen der Sowjetunion 1941" in Bernd Wegner, ed., Zwei Wege nach Moskau. Vom Hitler-Stalin-Pakt bis zum "Unternehmen Barbarossa" (Munich 1991), 367-88.

19. Viktor Suvorov, "Who was Planning to Attack Whom in June 1941, Hitler or Stalin?" RUSI Journal, (June t985): 50-55; Gorodetsky, ibid., June 1986, 69-72; and again, Suvorov, "Yes, Stalin Was Planning to Attack Hitler in June 1941," ibid., 73-74.

20. At a conference held in the Italian resort of Bellagio on the anniversary of the German attack, at least four of the historians dealt directly with that issue, but only two reporters brought up the issue of Stalin's plans for an attack west--both to denounce the notion. A German there, Gerd U"berschar, talked of "Hitler's Decision to Attack the Soviet Union in Recent German Historiography" (published in Soviet Union 18 [1991]: 297-316). He cited Suvorov's RUSI Journal articles, Suvorov's book and Hoffmann (on the latter, see note 18 below), and criticized the arguments of both.

Alexander Dallin, reported on "Stalin and the German Invasion," (printed in the same issue of Soviet Union 18, 19-37) Dallin remarked that "the notion of a likely Soviet attack on Germany in 1941 (or 1942) is absurd . . . [a] wholly untenable . . . hypothesis" (ibid., 20). He cites (21, fn 3) Suvorov's articles, but not the book, and Hoffmann's article. Dallin credited Gorodetsky's article in the Wegner volume (see note 21) with delivering "a skillful rebuttal" (ibid.). He did not tell the evidence and reasoning that supported his assertion. Karl Drechsler, a historian from the former East Germany, "Germany and its Allies and the War against the Soviet Union, 1940-1942," ibid., 39-58, made no mention of the issue, obviously central to his theme. Neither did British writer Jonathan Haslam (see note 7).

21. Gabriel Gorodetsky, "Stalin und Hitlers Angriff auf die Sowjetunion," in Wegner, 347-66.

22. Stuttgart, 1989.

23. Fischer in Das historisch-politische Buch, 1989, 117; Gillessen in "Politische Bucher," FAZ, 27 April 1989.

24. See the discussion in Charles S. Maier, The Unmastered Past (Cambridge, Mass., 1988).

25. An early version of a argument similar to that of Suvorov, Ernst Topitsch, Stalin's War: A Radical New Theory on the Origins of the Second World War (translated from the German, London, 1984), had none of the research substance in military documentation, or even in other source materials, to convince the present writer that it was, as written, more than a hypothesis.

26. The manifest self-censorship of German historians writing on the subject, to the detriment of all history writing, is described by GUnter Gillessen in a review of Joachim Hoffmann's book, Stalin's Vernichtungskrieg (see note 12), as "connected to political concerns and emerging in self-inflicted denials of professonal knowledge."

27. Lodolamacz (Warsaw, 1991), and Lodokol (Moscow, 1992). Suvorov's new book is Den' "M" (Kiev 1994).

28. Published in number 4/1993, 19-31, from what appears to be the identical German edition, in Wegner, 367-88.

29. "Gotovil li Stalin uprezhdaiushchii udar protiv Gitlera v 1941 g.," in number 3/1993, 29-45. The issue had in fact been taken up earlier in Moscow's Voenno-istoricheskii zhurnal, 6/1991 (26-33), which published "Planiroval li Stalin voinu protiv Gitlera?" This article, a segment from a 1970 book by two German authors who, writing then had nothing like the evidence available now, sought to refute the notion that Hitler was compelled to fight a preventative war. My impression in reading this Russian version was that the journal's editors were eager to publish what they could to set aside that notion.

30. "Schukows Angriffsplan," Der Spiegel, 24/ 1991, 148.

31. See note 15. The volume recently appeared in an English-language edition.

32. Wegner, 362, note 1. Gorodetsky also attacks a 1983 article ("Der Rote Armee bis Kriegsbeginn 1941 ," in Horst Boog, et al., Das Deutsche Reich und der Zweite Weltkrieg, IV [Stuttgart, 1983], 56-75) by Hoffmann as "without substantial proofs" in Wegner, ibid.

33. See note 11.

34. Gorodetsky's article with a similar title to that in the Wegner volume, "Stalin und Hitlers Angriff auf die Sowjetunion. Eine Auseinandersetzung mit der Legende vom deutschen Pra"ventativschlag," in Vierteljahrshefte far Zeitgeschichte, Jg. 37 (1989): 645-72. Gorodetsky's attribution of guilt by chronological association in Wegner, 363, note 13.

35. V. I. Dashichev, "Der Pakt der beiden Banditen," and "Stalin hat den Krieg gewollt," in Rheinischer Merkur/Christ und Welt, 21 and 28 April 1989; and M. I. Semiriaga, "17 sentiabria 1939 goda," Sovetskoe slavianovedenie 5 (1990): 14; and "Sovetskii soiuz i predvoennyi politicheskii krizis," Voprosy istorii 9 (1990): 54-61. Two well-known American experts who have also been highly skeptical of Stalin's alleged defensive plans, Robert Conquest and Robert C. Tucker are, like Hoffmann, sharply attacked in the Vierteljahrshefte article: 646 fn 3, 658 fn 40. Gorodetsky contends that the notion that Stalin had expansionist plans and aimed at the takeover of east central Europe are long out of date (in Wegner, 363, fn 13). (Tucker had argued in 1977 that Stalin's territorial schemes for international Bolshevism reached back to Lenin. See "The Emergence of Stalin's Foreign Policy," in Slavic Review, 36 [1977]: 588-89).

36. In the Vierteljahrshefte article (note 34), 645-48, Gorodetsky's apparent joy in Suvorov's obscurity in the anglophone countries, (646); G. invidiously connects Suvorov's popularity with the "revisionist" side of the Historikerstreit in Germany, ibid., 645-46. To this particular conclusion one might readily jump, and not without reason. But to what purpose? It seems perfectly obvious that historians should stick to getting the facts, setting then down, and critically considering arguments derivable from them, without attributing "politically incorrect" motives to those with whom they intellectually disagree.

37. Gor'kov, 29.

38. "22 iiunia 1941 goda: vzgliad c 'toi' storony," in issue 1/1994, 148-56. What author Borozniak, apparently delighted that these Germans, some of them at least, are eager to get Stalin (and the Russians) off the hook, does not appear to recognize is that a number of the German critics of the notion of Hitler's preventative war are guiltly of the same fatal blunder made by the mass of American historian "revisionists" writing about the Cold War: they attempt to divine the purposes of Stalin from research in domestic archives alone. But this obviously flawed research, and the resulting inevitably flawed findings, have not prevented their publishers from selling a lot of books.

39. See, in number 1/1995, L. N. Nezhinskii and I. A. Chelyshev, "O doktrinal'nykh osnovakh Sovetskoi vneshnei politiki v gody 'kholodnoi voiny'," 3-27, and, in number 2/1995, Vladimir A. Neveshin, "'Rech' Stalina 5 maia 1941 goda i apologiia nastupatel'noi voiny," 54-69, and M. I. Mel'tiukhov, "Ideologichiskie dokumenty maia-iiunia 1941 goda o sobytiiakh vtoroi mirovoi voivy," 70-85.

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