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If Stalin was so inept - why did he defeat 80% of the Germans!?

Reader comment on item: [Iraqi] WMD Lies

Submitted by Mark K (United Kingdom), Jan 2, 2004 at 10:31

While I am often a fan of Mr Pipes - he over-simplifies eastern WW2 history here, and ... to the Russian efforts.

First, I agree there is no doubt that Stalin wanted to prevent or postpone German invasion via peace-treaties (as did every western leader post WW1) and his forward troop deployment and "loose not one inch of russian soil!" tactics cost the Russians millions of losses (rather than fighting for territory); as did his devistating purges of the officer-class, replacing them with political cronies.

The allies made their fair share of mistakes leading upto the war - Chamberlain in believing it was preventable, the world for not making totally clear to Germany the consequences of war, the US for ignoring the signs of a coming Japanese attack, the British in Singapore, etc. And lets not forget the impregnable French Maginot line of course...Or the western refusal to construct the required heavy tanks until late in the war (that cost us a 5:1 loss aganst German tanks, which was almost criminal).

Also I totally agree that Hitlers stupidity lead to his downfall - attacking Russia was the mother of all mistakes, as was his decision to split his attacks, rather than drive straight for Moscow first - when defeating Russia was still possable before Russia recovered.

Strategic stupidity is not the sole fault of tyrants (although they do tend to do it on a far grander scale)

The difference is that after these initial defeats, Stalin realised his error of interfering with military strategy and allowed his military leaders to have a much greater say over strategy - including the famous Gen Zukov (who was also demoted after the war, a fitting reward!)

Despite Russians initial [almost catistrophic] losses - to portray the total war on the eastern front as a result of Russian ineptitude does a gross injustice. War on the eastern front was inevitable - Germany wanted Liebenstaum (room to grow in German I think!) and oil- and Russian was the prize they wanted.

Without Russian willpower , raw technology (ie the russian T34 tank was far superior to anything the west had until late in the war, although in most other areas they were behind) and sheer willingness to accept large-scale casualties for their goals.

Irrespective of Stalin's initial gross errors Russia was bound to have a very hard fight - and the fact that Germany spent about 80% of its units on the eastern front proves this- by absolute comparison the battles on the west were small side-shows (but important ones at that). A German general was heard to quote later in the war that the Russians had learnt to fight well, they learnt it from us!

Read history again - and ask how the west would have done in the battles of Stalingrad, Kursk or Moscow in the Russians places....
The simple answer is that it is doubtful we could have sustained the losses required, provided the armaments (such as the T34-84 or heavy tanks) needed, or fought with such courage. (or sometimes such tactical inpetitude it must be said)

While there is no doubt Stalin was a terrible tyrant (who after WW2 killed some 20million of his own citizens!), we should correct history raise a glass to Russian courage, as sometimes good things (defeating Nazism) are done by by evil leaders with couragous people...

...PS - for the record all of my relatives fought on the western front, and had Hitler won my grandfather would not have survived...

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