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Germany - New Documents: Stalin Planned to Send a Million Troops to Stop Hitler

Published on: October 19, 2008 11:18 AM
By: The Sunday Telegraph
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Soviet T10 tankGermany - Papers which were kept secret for almost 70 years show that the Soviet Union proposed sending a powerful military force in an effort to entice Britain and France into an anti-Nazi alliance.

Such an agreement could have changed the course of 20th century history, preventing Hitler’s pact with Stalin which gave him free rein to go to war with Germany’s other neighbours.

The offer of a military force to help contain Hitler was made by a senior Soviet military delegation at a Kremlin meeting with senior British and French officers, two weeks before war broke out in 1939.

The new documents, copies of which have been seen by The Sunday Telegraph, show the vast numbers of infantry, artillery and airborne forces which Stalin’s generals said could be dispatched, if Polish objections to the Red Army crossing its territory could first be overcome.

But the British and French side - briefed by their governments to talk, but not authorised to commit to binding deals - did not respond to the Soviet offer, made on August 15, 1939. Instead, Stalin turned to Germany, signing the notorious non-aggression treaty with Hitler barely a week later.

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The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, named after the foreign secretaries of the two countries, came on August 23 - just a week before Nazi Germany attacked Poland, thereby sparking the outbreak of the war. But it would never have happened if Stalin’s offer of a western alliance had been accepted, according to retired Russian foreign intelligence service Major General Lev Sotskov, who sorted the 700 pages of declassified documents.

“This was the final chance to slay the wolf, even after [British Conservative prime minister Neville] Chamberlain and the French had given up Czechoslovakia to German aggression the previous year in the Munich Agreement,” said Gen Sotskov, 75.

The Soviet offer - made by war minister Marshall Klementi Voroshilov and Red Army chief of general staff Boris Shaposhnikov - would have put up to 120 infantry divisions (each with some 19,000 troops), 16 cavalry divisions, 5,000 heavy artillery pieces, 9,500 tanks and up to 5,500 fighter aircraft and bombers on Germany’s borders in the event of war in the west, declassified minutes of the meeting show.

But Admiral Sir Reginald Drax, who lead the British delegation, told his Soviet counterparts that he authorised only to talk, not to make deals.

“Had the British, French and their European ally Poland, taken this offer seriously then together we could have put some 300 or more divisions into the field on two fronts against Germany - double the number Hitler had at the time,” said Gen Sotskov, who joined the Soviet intelligence service in 1956. “This was a chance to save the world or at least stop the wolf in its tracks.”

When asked what forces Britain itself could deploy in the west against possible Nazi aggression, Admiral Drax said there were just 16 combat ready divisions, leaving the Soviets bewildered by Britain’s lack of preparation for the looming conflict.

The Soviet attempt to secure an anti-Nazi alliance involving the British and the French is well known. But the extent to which Moscow was prepared to go has never before been revealed.

Simon Sebag Montefiore, best selling author of Young Stalin and Stalin: The Court of The Red Tsar, said it was apparent there were details in the declassified documents that were not known to western historians.

“The detail of Stalin’s offer underlines what is known; that the British and French may have lost a colossal opportunity in 1939 to prevent the German aggression which unleashed the Second World War. It shows that Stalin may have been more serious than we realised in offering this alliance.”

Professor Donald Cameron Watt, author of How War Came - widely seen as the definitive account of the last 12 months before war began - said the details were new, but said he was sceptical about the claim that they were spelled out during the meetings.

“There was no mention of this in any of the three contemporaneous diaries, two British and one French - including that of Drax,” he said. “I don’t myself believe the Russians were serious.”

The declassified archives - which cover the period from early 1938 until the outbreak of war in September 1939 - reveal that the Kremlin had known of the unprecedented pressure Britain and France put on Czechoslovakia to appease Hitler by surrendering the ethnic German Sudetenland region in 1938.

“At every stage of the appeasement process, from the earliest top secret meetings between the British and French, we understood exactly and in detail what was going on,” Gen Sotskov said.

“It was clear that appeasement would not stop with Czechoslovakia’s surrender of the Sudetenland and that neither the British nor the French would lift a finger when Hitler dismembered the rest of the country.”

Stalin’s sources, Gen Sotskov says, were Soviet foreign intelligence agents in Europe, but not London. “The documents do not reveal precisely who the agents were, but they were probably in Paris or Rome.”

Shortly before the notorious Munich Agreement of 1938 - in which Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister, effectively gave Hitler the go-ahead to annexe the Sudetenland - Czechoslovakia’s President Eduard Benes was told in no uncertain terms not to invoke his country’s military treaty with the Soviet Union in the face of further German aggression.

“Chamberlain knew that Czechoslovakia had been given up for lost the day he returned from Munich in September 1938 waving a piece of paper with Hitler’s signature on it,” Gen Sotksov said.

The top secret discussions between the Anglo-French military delegation and the Soviets in August 1939 - five months after the Nazis marched into Czechoslovakia - suggest both desperation and impotence of the western powers in the face of Nazi aggression.

Poland, whose territory the vast Russian army would have had to cross to confront Germany, was firmly against such an alliance. Britain was doubtful about the efficacy of any Soviet forces because only the previous year, Stalin had purged thousands of top Red Army commanders.

The documents will be used by Russian historians to help explain and justify Stalin’s controversial pact with Hitler, which remains infamous as an example of diplomatic expediency.

“It was clear that the Soviet Union stood alone and had to turn to Germany and sign a non-aggression pact to gain some time to prepare ourselves for the conflict that was clearly coming,” said Gen Sotskov.

A desperate attempt by the French on August 21 to revive the talks was rebuffed, as secret Soviet-Nazi talks were already well advanced.

It was only two years later, following Hitler’s Blitzkreig attack on Russia in June 1941, that the alliance with the West which Stalin had sought finally came about - by which time France, Poland and much of the rest of Europe were already under German occupation.



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Read Comments (12)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Oct 19, 2008 at 11:41 AM Anonymous Says:

Its what he did what counts.

2

 Oct 19, 2008 at 02:03 PM Anonymous Says:

Yeah, Stalin was such a "tsaddik"......such an oyhev yisroel.........gevaldik..........
The people of the Sudentland voted to rejoin Germany, and in today's Austrian constitution the people of Austria are not allowed to vote on whether they want to rejoin Germany. Ironically Germany and Austria are BOTH technically occupied countries because they did not ever sign a peace treaty. They are like the Palestinian Authority under international law!

3

 Oct 19, 2008 at 02:26 PM Chaim Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

Yeah, Stalin was such a "tsaddik"......such an oyhev yisroel.........gevaldik..........
The people of the Sudentland voted to rejoin Germany, and in today's Austrian constitution the people of Austria are not allowed to vote on whether they want to rejoin Germany. Ironically Germany and Austria are BOTH technically occupied countries because they did not ever sign a peace treaty. They are like the Palestinian Authority under international law!

Nonsense. Both Germany and Austria signed multiple treaties regarding the final disposition of their borders after the surrender.

4

 Oct 19, 2008 at 06:05 PM anonymous Says:

In 1938 Czechoslovakia was the most advanced military power in Central Europe, The Skoda Works produced some of the finest weapons. Czechoslovakia appealed to Poland to resist Germany and Poland refused. Chamberlain's surrender sealed the death of German, Austrian and Czech Jewish children.
However, the German military power was destroyed at STalingrad with the surrender of Field Marshal Paulus the highest Nazi Officer ever to surrender.

5

 Oct 19, 2008 at 07:13 PM bigwheeel Says:

Sending the Russian Red Army through Poland [to confront the german army] would have been futile, because --as is pointed out in the news report-- Stalin, being the paranoid, cold-blooded murderer that he was, purged the Red Army of its top commanders, in 1937. So much, that when the nazi armies attacked Russia, they "sliced" through, without any [meaningful] resistance. They were practically unstoppable, because the Russians had no leadership. Only in 1942 did the Red Army get going. Marshal Zhukov and Shaposhnikov (who was of Jewish ethnicity) practically rebuilt the upper command and led the USSR to victory!

6

 Oct 19, 2008 at 09:46 PM Anonymous Says:

Chaim, you are incorrect. There was no German fuhrer or Austrian leader to sign an official peace treaty and that is why Germany is considered still to be an "enemy" under the UN. This is different than what happened with Japan. Nevertheless, how often do you hear people use "yimach shmo" on Stalin compared to Hitler? The reason is because the Jewish communist movement created a sympathetic feeling for the USSR not only because it recognized the Zionist state but because it was intent on destroying Germany and its power back to the early 1930s. How else can people ignore the brutality of the Soviet regime under Stalin while remaining obsessed about everything else?!

7

 Oct 20, 2008 at 05:33 AM anonymous Says:

Soviet Russia had not gas chambers and Jewish children survived. I was in Italy who baked shmura matzas in Usbekistan in 1942 when the gas vans were roaring in Chelmno where my mother A'H perished. Lubavitch had Talmud Torahs in Russia

8

 Oct 20, 2008 at 02:25 AM Sechel Says:

If Hshem wanted to, and the world merited, then the disapparance of Hitler, could have happened in many ways. First, Hitler's car was struck head on, while he was still batteling within the Nazi party for leadership. Several people were killed in his car but he escaped death or serios injury. Upon exiting the car, he said, "I knew that I will escape, as have yet to complete my mission." Second, he could have been killed in the Admiral Canaris' conceived assassination attempt on Hitler. Instead, Hitler escape, and Admiral Canaris was hung.

The point is: Hshem wanted Hitler to succeed, that is why he did!!

9

 Oct 20, 2008 at 12:40 AM AuthenticSatmar Says:

This is no different than the issue with Iran that we face today. Many countries have asked to attack their nuclear plants, and have been denied UN permission. One day history will show what a mistake it was.

10

 Oct 22, 2008 at 09:33 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

Chaim, you are incorrect. There was no German fuhrer or Austrian leader to sign an official peace treaty and that is why Germany is considered still to be an "enemy" under the UN. This is different than what happened with Japan. Nevertheless, how often do you hear people use "yimach shmo" on Stalin compared to Hitler? The reason is because the Jewish communist movement created a sympathetic feeling for the USSR not only because it recognized the Zionist state but because it was intent on destroying Germany and its power back to the early 1930s. How else can people ignore the brutality of the Soviet regime under Stalin while remaining obsessed about everything else?!

You make it sound like the subsequent Soviet leaders were such benign characters! Yes, compred to Stalin they were. But the fact remains that the peoblem wasn't with stalin YMS"H [alone] He didn't appear in a vaccuum! The Soviet system of government is fundamentally, a bloody, murderous system! Just like hitler YMSH"V couldn't [and didn't] execute his evil plans slone, so did stalin have the help and acquiescenc of the upper echelons of the population!

11

 Oct 22, 2008 at 09:49 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #7  
anonymous Says:

Soviet Russia had not gas chambers and Jewish children survived. I was in Italy who baked shmura matzas in Usbekistan in 1942 when the gas vans were roaring in Chelmno where my mother A'H perished. Lubavitch had Talmud Torahs in Russia

But Stalin YMSH"V wanted to get all the Jews together and "Dump" them in Biro-Bidjahn, the so-called Jewish Republic, (in 1953, at the "Blood-Libel" of the so-called [Jewish]-Doctors' conspiracy!) only to be starved and frozen to death! But Hashem made a Miracle [on Purim] and he had a stroke. So he was incapacitated and and incapable of executing his evil plans!!!

12

 Oct 22, 2008 at 09:41 PM bigwheeel Says:

Reply to #8  
Sechel Says:

If Hshem wanted to, and the world merited, then the disapparance of Hitler, could have happened in many ways. First, Hitler's car was struck head on, while he was still batteling within the Nazi party for leadership. Several people were killed in his car but he escaped death or serios injury. Upon exiting the car, he said, "I knew that I will escape, as have yet to complete my mission." Second, he could have been killed in the Admiral Canaris' conceived assassination attempt on Hitler. Instead, Hitler escape, and Admiral Canaris was hung.

The point is: Hshem wanted Hitler to succeed, that is why he did!!

Yes, indeed! Same goes for the german empire. Namely, the third reich! As we trace the [historical] events chronologically, we can see, two simultaneous developments. First, to the germans it was more important to devote resources to the annihilation of the Jews than to bolster their faltering military! Second, once their mission of exterminating the Jews was accomplished, their empire (thousand year reich) crumbled rapidly!!!

13

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