Posts Tagged ‘stalin’

Title: Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed The World (1940-41)
Author: Ian Kershaw
Genre: World War II, History, Politics

The series of events that marked the opening of the Second World War left most of the world in a state of shock. Suddenly it seemed almost anything was possible. For the aggressors there was no limit to what they could do; for their victims a new Dark Age seemed to beckon. Within this hurricane of events, small groups of individuals were faced with a huge range of decisions on which triumph or extinction could turn.

In this gripping book Ian Kershaw re-creates ten critical decisions taken between May 1940 (when Britain decided to fight on rather than surrender) & the autumn of 1941 (when Hitler decided to destroy Europe’s Jews). In London, Tokyo, Rome, Moscow, Berlin & Washington, politicians & generals, often working with very poor information & vast logistical, financial, economic & military problems, had to decide how they were going to exploit or combat the unfolding crisis. These decisions really did determine the future of the world.

Fateful Choices gives the reader an extraordinary sense both of the real constraints within which leaders worked but also of the role of personality: Churchill fighting on in the face of the catastrophe in France, Hitler ordering the invasion of the USSR despite Germany’s failure to defeat Britain, Stalin trusting Hitler & leaving his country wide open to Operation Barbarossa, Roosevelt realizing that the revolutionary idea of lend-lease could keep Britain fighting, the Japanese high command opting to attack the USA even in the face of evidence that it would fail.

Fateful Choices is a remarkable book that looks into the terrible heart of the modern age, & attempts to understand how decisions that changed or ended millions of lives really came about.

Read more about Sir Ian Kershaw @ Wikipedia

Type: Documentary
Title: Apocalypse: The Second World War
Category: World War II

Thanks to the efforts of a few, private collectors & archivists, these forgotten films have been rediscovered, restored & made available by National Geographic Channel in an extraordinary six-part series: Apocalypse: The Second World War. In addition to stunning footage, the series presents WW2 in an innovative & provocative way, giving audiences an unprecedented sense of the reality of war not conveyed by black & white footage.

Made up entirely of original 35mm, 16mm & 8mm films, Apocalypse: The Second World War includes rare footage of the Polish officers’ massacre at Katyń, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, the inhumane treatment of French soldiers taken prisoner by the Nazis & the sacrifice of Soviet soldiers at Stalingrad.

By bringing this incredible footage together, Apocalypse: The Second World War provides viewers with a ground-breaking portrait of WW2 that depicts not only its complexity, but the perspectives of both its victims & its victors.

Apocalypse: The Second World War is a six-part documentary consisting of the following episodes:

The Aggression (1933-39): Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
The Crushing Defeat (1939-40): Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
Shock (1940-41): Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V
World Ablaze (1941-42): Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV
The Great Landing (1942-43): Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV
Inferno (1944-45): Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV

The War of the Century: When Hitler Fought Stalin, is a BBC documentary film series that examines Adolf Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and the “no holds barred” war on both sides. It not only examines the war but also the terror inside the Soviet Union at the time due to the paranoia of Joseph Stalin – the revenge atrocities, the purge of the armed forces, the near-lunacy orders, & the paranoia of being upstaged by others, especially Marshal Zhukov. The historical adviser is Prof. Ian Kershaw.

Type: Documentary
Title: Stalingrad: The Attack, The Kessel, The Doom

The outcome of World War II in Europe was decided in the East. This tragic & unforgiving battle had two phases: (1) the German attack & eventual occupation of Stalingrad, which lasted from August to November 1942 & (2) the Soviet counteroffensive, which began in mid-November & ended with the liquidation of the German Sixth Army under General Friedrich Paulus. Hitler’s policy of ‘defense to the last’ cost the Germans more than 200,000 lives. The Russians had achieved their most notable & dramatic victory of the war.

This 3-part mini-series contains uncut, digitally remastered footage captured by front-line cameramen during the siege of Stalingrad. The collection of interviews featured here offer terrifying eyewitness accounts of the brutality, horror & hardships suffered by its plagued survivors. This masterfully crafted documentary truly stands as a striking testament to the human spirits unrelenting will to survive.

To watch Stalingrad, click here.

The Ghost of Goebbels: Historical Revisionism & World War II

This article written by Wayne Madsen, political scientist (USA), Strategic Culture Foundation expert, & was published in International Affairs magazine.

An expected outgrowth of the world’s steady descent into total & extreme capitalist control is the increasing tendency by some historians and their accomplices in the media to re-invent certain aspects of history.

Although the history of the Middle East & colonialism have been favorite playgrounds for the historical revisionists, it is World War II & the role played by the Soviet Union in the war that has attracted the attention of most of the alterers of history, both professional & amateur. As we recall the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the 70th anniversary of which we now remember, it is important to note that the “revisionism” of the events of that day began with chief Nazi German propagandist Joseph Goebbels and the disappearance of historical facts “down the memory hole,” as George Orwell put it in 1984, is carried on to this day by Goebbels’s ideological heirs who are mainly funded by the barons of Wall Street through various tax-free right-wing “think tanks” & research institutes in the West.

Although the revisionists claim that the 1939 Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact & its secret protocol to divide eastern Europe into respective German & Soviet spheres of influence somehow made Soviet leader Joseph Stalin a “partner” of Hitler, little attention is paid to secret German-British talks in 1939 that would have divided the world into German & British spheres of influence while making common cause against the Soviet Union.

Goebbels’s ideological heirs would have everyone believe that Stalin & German Fuhrer Adolf Hitler were on the same ideological plane & were conniving to jointly conquer the world. This revisionist account is meant to mask the goals of the Western industrialists at the time. Many of the world’s wealthiest capitalists, including the German-descent British royal family, wanted Hitler to stamp out Soviet Communism & had no problem with the Nazis’ “long march East.”

The pandering of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to Hitler at the 1939 Munich Conference, which saw the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia, was seen in the eyes of many British & American industrial barons as the remnants of Czechoslovakia being safe from Soviet Russia. That same mind-set would exist as Nazi troops invaded Poland, the Baltic states, Yugoslavia, & then, the USSR, itself. Not until December 7, 1941, & the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, would the western industrial barons decide it was time to support the war effort against the Axis Powers, albeit reluctantly.

Certainly, Britain was not alone in its secret campaign to align with the Nazis against the Soviet Union. U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, who enraged many capitalists & Republicans by establishing diplomatic relations with the USSR after he took office in 1933, found himself almost ousted in a coup d’etat in 1933 arranged by Wall Street robber barons intent on declaring a state of national emergency & placing Roosevelt under virtual house arrest. The plot was discovered by retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler & communicated to the U.S. Congress where details of the plot remained secret until 1970. Among the chief coup plotters was Prescott Bush, the father & grandfather, respectively, of two later U.S. presidents. Prescott Bush was a chief Wall Street banker for German Nazi-owned businesses in the years leading up to & following the outbreak of World War II.

In 1936, U.S. ambassador to Berlin, William Dodd, wrote to Roosevelt to warn him that the threat posed to him in 1934 by the Wall Street-Nazi alliance remained as such two years later. Dodd wrote:

A clique of U.S. industrialists is hell-bent to bring a fascist state to supplant our democratic government and is working closely with the fascist regime in Germany and Italy. I have had plenty of opportunity in my post in Berlin to witness how close some of our American ruling families are to the Nazi regime . . . A prominent executive of one of the largest corporations, told me point blank that he would be ready to take definite action to bring fascism into America if President Roosevelt continued his progressive policies. Certain American industrialists had a great deal to do with bringing fascist regimes into being in both Germany and Italy. They extended aid to help Fascism occupy the seat of power, and they are helping to keep it there. Propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare.

The words of Dodd: “propagandists for fascist groups try to dismiss the fascist scare” ring true today. Wall Street of the 1930s & 1940s owned the major media outlets, including the large publishing houses, that gave notoriety to the revisionist commentators & historians of their day. The situation remains much the same today.

There is the distinct danger that soon, the historical revisionists will not be content in putting Stalin & Hitler on the same level. With global media in the hands of a select few capitalists, it is forseeable that Stalin will be re-assessed as the reason Hitler had to conquer most of Europe & Hitler will be painted favorably. There are already signs that this historical revisionism is taking place among the right-wing political parties of Europe that are adopting many of the planks of the neo-Nazi movement, including the meme that Hitler had no choice to invade eastern Europe & the Soviet Union to protect the world against Bolshevism. That argument of the capitalists is nothing new but it is one, 70 years after the invasion of the USSR by the Nazis, that should have long ago been discarded into the ash bin of fascist propaganda.

Final Statement

We, the assembled representatives of historical research communities & civil societies of Belarus, Latvia, Moldova, Russia & Ukraine participating in the Sevastopol International History Conference commemorating 70th Anniversary of the outbreak of 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War, regard the War and our Victory as one of the most tragic and at the same time heroic pages in the common history of our nations.

We are increasingly alarmed with the current rise of revisionism of the history of World War II in the West & in several post-Soviet republics where incendiary political considerations outweigh commitment to historical accuracy.

We consider it absolutely unacceptable to draw the Great Patriotic War against fascism as a ‘fight of two totalitarian regimes’, to deny the justified & liberating nature of that war for our nations, to depict the Red Army’s liberation mission in 11 European countries as ‘Soviet occupation’.

We state that the concept ascribing ‘mutual responsibility’ for unleashing the war to ‘the Nazi & Soviet regimes’ lacks any historical & moral foundations. As historians, we are aware that the responsibility for that devastating war rests fully with the Western powers. Until now the diplomatic archives in London keep guarding the secrets of the British-German talks held in June 1939 on the division of the world into Great Britain’s & Germany’s spheres of influence, aimed to deter Soviet Union from taking part in shaping the future of Europe.

While Hitler’s military machine was destined to exterminate Soviet Union as a ‘hotbed of Bolshevism’, today the Nazism is sometimes being portrayed as a ‘natural response to the red threat’. This is an utmost lie contradicting recognized historical facts.

We claim that all civilized nations should officially outlaw any endeavors to justify fascism, Nazi criminals or collaborationists. Any revisions of the Nuremberg Tribunal outright statements condemning fascism are totally inadmissible.

The present round of revisionism is supposed to provide an ideological backing for “anti-totalitarian” appeals like the notorious OSCE Parliamentary Assembly resolution adopted on July 3, 2009 calling for a trial over the Soviet Union’s allegedly ‘criminal past’. Such campaigns, provoking territorial claims against Russia & compensation demands for ‘damages caused during Soviet occupation’ trigger imminent & far-reaching dangerous consequences for the European security, still not adequately assessed by the short-sighted instigators of these campaigns & their blind contractors.

A distorted view on the meaning and the results of World War II & Russia’s Great Patriotic War would pave the way for a new division of Europe & the world with catastrophic consequences. This is why we are calling upon the academic community for a fair & unbiased research of the period of 1941-1945 in the name of historical truth & our common future. The sacrifices of millions of Russians in the defeat of Fascism & the devastation wrought in the war must not be perverted for current political narratives. Such actions only serve to cause division within Europe, & prevent the advancement of peace & unity amongst peoples.

(Views expressed in this article reflect the author’s opinion & do not necessarily reflect those of RIA Novosti news agency. RIA Novosti does not vouch for facts & quotes mentioned in the story.)

While the Phony War dragged on in the West, world attention turned to an escalating conflict in the East. Following the Soviet occupation of eastern Poland in late September 1939, Stalin’s government began pressuring Finland to make territorial concessions on the Karelian Isthmus. At the time, the Soviet-Finnish border crossed this strip of land between the Gulf of Finland & Lake Ladoga just twenty miles north of Leningrad – well within the range of Finnish artillery – & Stalin was concerned that, should Finland fall under German control, Leningrad’s safety would be compromised.

The Soviet dictator further requested that Finland grant him a thirty-year lease on the port at Hangö, about a hundred miles west of Helsinki, so that the Soviets could establish a naval base there. In exchange, he offered twice as much Soviet territory north of Lake Ladoga.

The Finns agreed to everything except the Hangö lease, which they claimed would violate their neutrality & compromise their independence. The Soviets next began a propaganda offensive, & when that also failed to win them Hangö, they invaded. Stalin initially threw thirty infantry divisions & six tank brigades against the nine Finnish divisions defending Karelia. Later, he sent even more troops north of Lake Ladoga to attack Finland from the east. This latter move showed especially poor judgment.

In general, the Soviets had made the same mistake that Franz Halder was contemplating killing Hitler to prevent: They had invaded Finland in winter, when conditions were simply not suitable for offensive operations. Their mechanized units quickly bogged down in thickly forested, snow-clogged terrain, & thousands of frozen Soviet corpses soon lined the few rough tracks along which tanks could pass. Finally, in January 1940, the Red Army pulled back from its lines north of Lake Ladoga & concentrated its vastly superior firepower on the Karelian front. Outnumbering the Finns there fifty to one, the Soviet troops eventually broke the Finnish lines & threatened Helsinki. On March 12th, the Finnish government asked for an armistice. The fighting ended two days later.

Thus the Red Army won the Winter War but hardly in a satisfactory manner. In Berlin, Hitler took careful notice of the numerous blunders the Soviets made & the great difficulty they had subjugating what was, by anyone’s measure, a considerably inferior Finnish military. How could the Red Army, the Führer must have wondered, possibly stand up to the Wehrmacht?

The initial American military response to Churchill’s plan for a second front in North Africa was firmly negative. On July 11th, 1942, less than three weeks after the prime minister’s visit to Washington, army chief of staff Marshall & navy chief of staff Ernest J. King recommended to the president that he “assume a defensive attitude toward Germany, & use all available means in the Pacific” should the British insist on “any other operation rather than forceful, unswerving adherence to full Bolero plans.”

Roosevelt; however, had no intention of abandoning his “Europe first” strategy & immediately sent the two chiefs to London to work things out with the British. When Churchill proved adamant, Marshall & King, following Roosevelt’s instructions, acceded to the North African landing, now code-named Torch.

If the two chiefs of staff were perturbed by the shelving of Bolero, their agitation was niggling compared to Soviet premier Joseph Stalin’s outrage. In the wake of the PQ 17 disaster, Churchill had already halted the Arctic convoys, & now the second front in France that had been promised for 1942 was also disappearing. Meanwhile, the Germans were once again on the move, advancing on Stalingrad & punishing the Soviets, who continued to bear by far the heaviest part of the fighting against Hitler. Unless the British & Americans became more actively involved & soon, Churchill feared, Stalin might well choose to seek a separate peace. Therefore, the British prime minister decided to visit the Soviet leader personally & use his considerable diplomatic talents to improve, as best he could, Stalin’s morale.

During his subsequent journey to Moscow, Churchill contemplated how he might mollify “this sullen, sinister Bolshevik state I had once tried so hard to strangle at its birth.” In the end, there was little he could do. As he noted later, “Stalin observed that from our long talk it seemed that all we were going to do was no Sledgehammer, no Roundup, & pay our way by bombing Germany.” The RAF had indeed intensified its area-bombing campaign during 1942, but this was hardly equivalent to the Soviet contribution & did nothing to distract the Nazis from their onslaught in the East. “Peering into that Kremlin gloom in August 1942,” David M. Kennedy has written, “some historians have discerned the first shadows of the Cold War. Certainly the Soviets at this point had ample reason to doubt their Western partners.”