There is a crisis of credibility in the West regarding the deficient manner in which Soviet history is treated. This is because the history of the USSR is mediated through the filter of US anti-intellectualism – which informs US Cold War disinformation. The US position has been – throughout the 20th Century – one of a pathological rejection of ‘Socialism’ and the deliberate misrepresentation of the facts and figures that comprise ‘reality’. Through the creation of mythic counter-narratives, a certain (negative) view of Soviet history has been fabricated which is the ‘preferred’ US position. This is similar to how the pseudo-archaeology of (Zionist) Israel deliberately ‘misreads’ bits of rock and sand so as to ‘justify’ a literal belief in obviously contrived Biblical stories, etc. It makes no difference what view of the USSR an individual holds, (as that is a private matter), but it does matter that the US interpretation is terminally ‘flawed’ and of little use in discerning and ascertaining historical truth. In-short, the American position regarding Soviet history is fatally ‘flawed’ and good for nothing other than perpetuating ignorance, prejudice and fear.
Nearly every Western history of the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) contains within it – to a greater or lesser extent – a thoroughly ‘bourgeois’ premise – but as Marx advised, we must pick our way through it and extract the most ‘progressive’ elements that come nearest to the truth, or meet our rhetorical requirements. This process, if used correctly, can disentangle the wheat from the chaff. The dross can be disposed of and the useful content checked, refined and put into good usage. The bourgeois viewpoint misrepresents Soviet history a priori and therefore cannot be trusted. However, these gaps in legitimate knowledge can be resolved by accessing reliable Russian language internet sites which often contain data from the Soviet Archives. The immense and monumental effort demonstrated by the Soviet Red Army, and the extensive leadership skills of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, is often (and ‘falsely’) portrayed as a manifestation of the ‘immorality’ of the Soviet System, and the ‘bloodthirsty’ nature of the character of Joseph Stalin. This fits-in quite nicely with the Trotskyite lies that there was no ‘difference’ between the Nazi Germans and the Soviet Union. All of this nonsense is incorrect and ahistorical.
The Nazi German Offensive of 1941 stalled on the outskirts of Moscow in December due to the sudden worsening of the winter and the dogged determination of the Red Army. Whilst the Soviet government evacuated to the East – Joseph Stalin decided to stay in Moscow and go out fighting. As matters transpired, the freezing temperatures and deep snow took away the Nazi German advantage in quality and quantity of weaponry and technology. A stalemate ensued that saw the Red Army attempt large-scale counter-offensives across a broad area that only pushed the Nazi Germans back through relatively small geographical areas. Hitler viewed these Soviet counter-offensives as an excuse to ‘straighten his lines’. However, despite this lack of apparent widescale Soviet success, the Nazi Germans suffered terrible casualties in soldiers, weaponry, trucks, tanks and even horse! These loses had dug deeply into the Nazi German stockpiles to the extent that German industry could only replace around 10% of the loses. Furthermore, younger and less experienced soldiers were having to be called-up for duty born in 1922 and 1923. Although Soviet casualties were just as bad or in many cases far worse – the USSR was able to absorb these loses in a more sustainable manner, and replace Red Army soldiers whilst efficiently producing simplistic but highly effective weaponry and machines. As most skilled-workers were now serving in the Soviet Red Army, the T-34 Tank was designed to be easily produced from simple moulds in relatively crude pieces, and assembled by unskilled workers (often peasants from the countryside transferred to the city to fill the gaps in this vital workforce). Many of these peasant-workers (which included disabled-workers) were taught how to put each piece together like a jigsaw puzzle. When fully functional, each tank would be wheeled outside where a fully trained Tank Crew would be patiently waiting in line to pilot the machine straight into battle!
Hitler overcame his supply problems by amalgamating decimated military units and downscaling the size of his military formations. By changing the definition of how many men (or tanks) comprise a division – he was able to reform his shattered formations and bring all numbers up to required levels. The same process was used with tanks and trucks – with soldiers having to ‘walk’ or use a smaller pool of horses (the Nazi Germans had lost 179,000 horses in 1941 and could only replace these loses with around 20,000 in 1942). This restructuring was bolstered with the fresh reinforcements arriving from Germany, with Romania, Hungary, Italy, Slovakia and even Spain being pressured into providing more troops and resources (and taking-on more of the substantial fighting). The Finnish already had 150,000 men under arms, but that army was deployed to the far north guarding the sea and the approaches from Norway, etc. Scattered throughout the Nazi German military formations were Battalions of Swedes and Norwegians. There were even Swedish volunteers fighting with the Finnish! All in all, Hitler possessed a very effective and formidable military formation despite the losses of 1941 – which still included a fully functioning Luftwaffe.
Hitler and his generals assumed that as the surprise was now lost in their attack to the north (around Moscow), the Soviets had probably fully recovered from the shock of the early days of the invasion and massively prepared to ‘halt’ any further Nazi German attempts in that direction. As there had also been substantial fighting to the centre – Hitler ordered that the German Offensive of spring, 1942 be toward the south and the city of Stalingrad. This had the further objective of cutting the Soviet oil supplies in the area which would severely hinder the Red Army from effectively functioning, and solve the German supply problems. The Soviets had indeed built their defences firmly around Moscow – but had also switched from an aggressive defence to a strategic defence. The aggressive defence had been designed to stop the Nazi Germans from taking any more land – whilst probing for weaknesses in the German lines that could be easily exploited and possibly turned into a powerful counter-attack. Throughout late 1941 and into early 1942, it became obvious that although the Red Army could hold the Germans – it was not yet able to ‘break’ the Nazis through offensive actions. Instead, five or six miles of continuous lines of defence were structured which were designed for the Germans to break through the first two or three lines of defence – and then get bogged-down and surrounded on all sides by an enveloping Red Army. This strategy did not require complicated manoeuvres into position and sudden dexterity as the situation changed – as the Red Army was already in the required position. This meant that the Nazi Germans could not advance any further into the USSR, would continue to lose valuable men, weaponry and machines, whilst not being able to obtain any of their war aims. This also implied that the Soviet Union was ‘waiting’ for something to happen outside of this engagement that would potentially alter the balance of power into its favour.
If Stalingrad was attacked – the Soviet Red Army would protect it through the application of a ‘strategic defence’ as explained above. This was not a secret plan or even a desperate plan, as all the details had been worked-out before-hand and even explained to the US and UK. The roots of this situation had their origin in May, 1941, when Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov visited first London and then Washington, on a mission to gain assurances that the Western Allies would open a Second Front in Europe during 1942. This was before the invasion of the USSR by Nazi German on June 22nd, 1941 – and involved the further (although at this point ‘lesser’) consideration of the Soviet Union receiving ‘lend-lease’ supplies. This indicates that the Soviet Union knew that an invasion was immanent and that the Communist Party had a long-term plan which possessed a number of permutations and contingencies. Churchill was of the opinion that a Second Front in 1942 would be entirely dependent upon the prevailing conditions existing at the time. Roosevelt was sympathetic and willing to help – but said that there would be a problem of securing boats so quickly to transport large numbers of US soldiers to Europe. However, Churchill did authorise the attack on the French port of Dieppe on August 19th, 1942 – which saw around 6,050 soldiers comprised of the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, various British Commando Units, US Army Rangers, Free French troops, Polish and Czechoslovakia troops – which landed from the sea by the Royal Navy, together with a regiment of tanks whilst protected by the RAF. The attack was a disaster which saw the attackers suffer over 1,400 killed, over 2,000 wounded and thousands captured.
As no joint Second Front was opened in 1942, the Soviets were of the opinion that the US and UK had been engaging in ‘secret’ discussions with the Nazi Germans discussing a ‘separate peace’. This might well have arisen from intelligence reports compiled by Soviet spies operating within Nazi Germany. The point of this approach was for the Western Allies to allow Nazi Germany and the USSR to weaken one another to such an extent – that the Western Allies could then easily finish off the winner. Churchill’s bizarre Dieppe adventure occurred just days before the start of the start of the Battle of Stalingrad (August 23rd, 1942 – February 2nd, 1943) and could well have been calculated to throw the Soviets of the scent of any ‘behind the scenes’ manoeuvrings. Whatever the facts of the matter, the Soviets were to maintain a ‘strategic defence’ until the Western Allies initiated a Second Front in Europe and forced Hitler to draw away valuable assets from the Eastern Front to reinforce his Western Front. As no Second Front was forthcoming – the Soviets maintained their planned ‘strategic defence’ throughout the Stalingrad campaign. This was a logical and clear plan that worked appropriately within the conditions that prevailed. The immediate Soviet objective was ‘not to lose’ – and when this was accomplished – ‘turn to the offensive’ and push the Nazi Germans out of the USSR. This is the reality of the situation. From this position, the Soviet Red Army was able to independently work its own way out of the problem and eventually ‘smash’ the Nazi German presence!
Earl F Ziemke & Magna E Bauer: Moscow to Stalingrad – Decision in the East, Military Heritage Press, (1988), Pages 304-305