Streetwise Professor

May 30, 2010

A Cossack Bike–in St. Louis

Filed under: Military,Russia — The Professor @ 2:05 pm

When going for a hike this afternoon outside St. Louis, in the parking lot I pulled in next to a guy driving a Ural motorcycle, complete with sidecar.  It looked pretty old school, and I asked the owner when was it made.  He said “1999.”  I said “looks more like 1949.”  To which he replied: “Well, it’s based on a 1939 BMW design.”  Apparently the Soviets bought some German bikes in Sweden, smuggled them into the USSR, and reverse engineered them.  (La plus ca change.)  They were originally built in Moscow and Leningrad, but the factories were moved to Gorky in the Urals to escape the Germans in 1941.  All in all, this bike is a microcosm of the history of Soviet/Russian manufacturing; industrial espionage combined with the endurance of obsolete designs.

The subject of the Urals brings to mind another encounter, earlier this week in Houston.  (No grass grows under my feet.)

I met with a Russian guy I’ve known slightly for years.  He is a mathematician by training who has a pretty big job in a big bank’s commodity trading business.  Anyways, being interested in all things Russian, I asked him where he is from originally.  He said: “Siberia.”  I asked where in Siberia.  He said: “oh, a city you’ve probably never heard of, Yekaterinburg.”  I laughed and said I know a good deal about it, because I have a very dear friend from there, and know someone else who had spent a lot of time there while she was adopting her children.  He was quite surprised.  He told me of how his family–originally from Moscow–came to (then) Sverdlovsk  His dad was a ballistics engineer, and he was sent to help build one of the secret military factories in the Uralmash complex.  (Uralmash being famous today primarily as the home of the eponymous, and infamous, Russian mafia organization.)  He said that they lived in crude barracks during the construction.  Most of the laborers had been brought (against their will) from the countryside, and many brought some of their animals with them.  He said that for a kid it was wonderful to be around farm animals, but that his mother, a “refined Moscow woman” was understandably distressed.

His memories of Yekaterinburg/Sverdlovsk from Soviet times are somewhat harrowing.  He said that “Yekaterinburg suffered every disaster that was visited on the Soviet Union, from the murder of the Czar, to nuclear accidents (with leukemia being the leading cause of death in my era), to the anthrax release, and so on.”  He says he reflexively wears a hat in the rain to this day because he had to do that growing up because of the presence of nuclear and toxic fallout in the rain when he was growing up.

Two vignettes of Russia, in the middle of the ???.

And, to add to the experience, while writing this post I received an email informing me that “Soviet Russia” is now following me on Twitter.  That actually sounds a little ominous, LOL.

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Craig pirrong and Craig pirrong, Craig pirrong. Craig pirrong said: Updated my SWP blog post: ( http://streetwiseprofessor.com/?p=3869 ) [...]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Streetwise Professor » A Cossack Bike–in St. Louis -- Topsy.com — May 30, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  2. Thanks for the enjoyable post. Interesting. And now I want a Ural.

    Comment by nathan — May 30, 2010 @ 9:26 pm

  3. ??? – ? not ?. AFAIK, the design and machinery were purchased. Copying certainly had its place, but direct transfer of technology was always preferrable. The story about stoopid Russkies fueling the Reich’s buildup right up until the start of the war has another side. Raw materials were not some gift to placate Hitler. They were bartered for machinery and technology transfers. Both sides were happy with the arrangement. The Germans kept inflation down, the Soviets got much needed technology. It’s almost certain that the Soviet Union got the better side of the bargain. Raw resources are just that – crap dug out of the ground. Machinery, OTOH, proved very useful for building arms with which to kill Germans.

    Moar Yekaterinburg trivia… Edouard Rossel was the Governor of Sverdlovsk Oblast up until recently. He is German. So was the Prussian noble Yekaterina the Great. At the end of the Seven Years’ War, she spared her homeland, leaving Prussian militarism alive and well for another 2 centuries, instead of nipping it in the bud right there and then. Yekaterinburg was renamed Sverdlovsk during the Soviet period. Sverdlov was a famous Jewish Bolshevik. It was also Yeltsin’s hometown. Uralmash has a Georgian connection: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kakha_Bendukidze . Bendukhidze quit Russia for Georgia and is a staunch libretarian (he can afford to be). Professor would like him.

    P.S.
    http://images.icanhascheezburger.com/completestore/2008/8/6/128624978972760165.jpg

    Comment by So? — May 30, 2010 @ 11:09 pm

  4. And here is what tends to happen when Russians don’t steal a design in the West:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rpXB1572-Sg

    That’s a new bridge in Stalingrad Volgograd, in case you wondered.

    Comment by Ivan — May 31, 2010 @ 2:26 am

  5. Another reason why you might want to stick to a German design, be it 1939. They had to learn it the hard way in Nicaragua, though:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Managua

    “The purchase of 350 new buses marks the first significant investment in public transportation in Managua in post-revolution Nicaragua. The project is still in its beginning phases, with more buses coming from the Russian Federation. ”

    Now, here is some more recent news on how that government investment is working out:

    http://blog.kp.ru/users/nicasasha/post127246016

    Transportation co-operatives of Managua organized a march against the government, demanding that something be done about the 110 new Russian buses breaking down all the time. They feel cheated and threaten to return the buses to the government. They say if the government fails to take action they will demand back their money and the old American school buses they traded in for the new Russian ones.

    Comment by Ivan — May 31, 2010 @ 2:51 am

  6. A hat. What a wuss.

    Regarding the bridge in Ivans post. The engineers were quite proud of the fact that it withstood the harmonic swaying stating that “the paint didn’t even chip!”

    Glass, half full or half empty?

    Comment by TRex — May 31, 2010 @ 2:54 am

  7. Tis what happens when you take a Great Ancestor’s name in vain.

    Comment by So? — May 31, 2010 @ 3:57 am

  8. At least driving over the bridge should be fun. Look at the bright side folks.

    Comment by Sublime Oblivion — May 31, 2010 @ 2:09 pm

  9. > Both sides were happy with the arrangement.

    Absolutely. Surprisingly, Russia keeps issuing protests every time it is reminded of that happiness.

    Comment by Ivan — May 31, 2010 @ 2:35 pm

  10. Right, it’s all about the prospective. I think it was the first episode of “Parks and Recreation”, which is all about a project of turning a pit into a park. Some character observed that for Russians this would be very easy to accomplish: just call that pit a park, done.

    Comment by Ivan — May 31, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  11. “Absolutely. Surprisingly, Russia keeps issuing protests every time it is reminded of that happiness.”

    Oh, goody, another one who wishes the USSR had let Nazi Germany conquer all of Poland, occupy the Baltic States, and launch Op Barbarossa and Generalplan Ost against the 1938 Soviet border.

    Comment by rkka — May 31, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

  12. rkka, I don’t wish USSR did or did not do anything, for the simple reason that I wish it never existed. I’m just pointing out the obvious fact that the USSR was one of the two allied aggressors who started WWII.

    Comment by Ivan — June 1, 2010 @ 1:16 am

  13. Ivan, I totally agree. No USSR – German Reich in charge of Eurasia. But it would have been a kinder, gentler, more humane Reich than the one in our timeline. There’d be no Hitler, because there’d be no Jewish Bolsheviks to besmirch the Jewish race and antagonize the Aryan one. It’s a well known fact that prior to losing its colonies in WW1, Germany treated the natives far better than the English and the French. So a German Reich without Hitler would have been just like the Roman Empire – a bigger, more cohesive European Union. Alas, it weren’t to be. New Carthage has prevailed instead. But fear not, my dear Ivan. In the 18th century, all decent cultured people spoke French. But then Russia defeated France. In the 19th – German. But then Russia defeated Germany. Now all decent people speak English…

    Comment by So? — June 1, 2010 @ 1:59 am

  14. Like I said, you’re just upset that Op Barbarossa and Generalplan Ost didn’t Get to start at the 1938 Soviet border. There was only one aggressor starting WWII in Europe, and that was Nazi Germany. Winnie Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty at the time, made it clear:

    “We could have wished that the Russian armies stood on their present line as friends and allies of the Poles instead of as invaders. But that the Russian armies should stand on their line is clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace.”

    Adolpf got that war on all by himself. He was the sine qua non.

    and were it not for the Polish governments preferring conquest by Nazi Germany to accepting Soviet assistance, WWII in Europe might not have been a six-year horror killing ~40 million people.

    Comment by rkka — June 1, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  15. rkka, I am not interested in the Soviet government’s reasons for allying itself with the Nazis and starting WWII. I am merely pointing out that this is precisely what they did. They committed acts of aggression against Poland and the Baltic states, and they did it on prior agreement with the Nazis. They even held a joint military parade in Brest, Belarus to celebrate the occasion.

    It is not a coincidence that Russia refuses to release the documents on Katyn massacre to this day. It is a direct consequence of the fact that only one of the two aggressive totalitarian regimes was dismounted.

    For Churchill, it was a political necessity to utter that nonsense. What is it for you, rkka?

    Comment by Ivan — June 1, 2010 @ 12:41 pm

  16. It’s certainly not a well known fact that Germany treated the indigenous people of its colonies better than the French or German. I have never heard of such a thing. Not having compared colonial policies, I can’t definitively say that the Germans were any worse, but certainly not that they were better. In regards to how the Germans treated the Herero in Namibia, it seems likely that they were probably worse.

    As for the repeated claims that the Molotov-Robbentrop Pact was completely innocent and only served to help the USSR anyway, that is completely false.

    1) The secret protocols that allowed the USSR to invade the Baltic states, half of Poland, invade Finland, and seize Bessarabia was certainly aggression. Considering that it is highly unlikely Hitler would have invaded Poland without the deal, it can’t be claimed that it kept the Nazis away from the Soviet Union. Without the pact, the Wehrmacht still would have been in Silesia instead of on the Vistula. And it is utter nonsense to claim that the invasion of Finland somehow limited the Germans. If anything it is the opposite, as after the Winter War the Finns agreed to host German soldiers which they would have unlikely done without the prior Soviet invasion. Possibly the same in regards to Romania. The result of M-R was not to keep the Germans as far west as possible. It enabled them to go east. But it did result in the USSR moving their borders west as well which was more important to Stalin. It was two powerful countries conspiring against the weaker ones between them.

    2) The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was essential in allowing Germany to crush France. This was not what Stalin intended. He hoped Germany and the Allies would exhaust themselves like in World War One. Instead, he created the conditions that allowed for the terrible defeats in 1941 and first half of 1942. And since it kicked the British off the continent, it also prevented any meaningful second front that could have relieved pressure. So the Pact gravely harmed the USSR even if Stalin originally thought it would assist security. By undermining the security of other countries, he harmed his own.

    3) Since Stalin moved the Red Army west after the M-R Pact, it meant abandoning the fortifications on the Stalin Line which were allowed to deteriorate, and exposed large formations of the Red Army to attack. So moving westward helped to undermine Soviet defense when Hitler finally did attack. Whether or not improved Soviet defeneses would have compensated for not having eastern Poland is debateable, but it certainly means that the new western border is not of such value as some may think.

    3) The raw materials sent to Germany kept them into the war. Without those materials, it is highly unlikely Germany would have had the food, oil, and other materials needed to keep their armies in the field or their factories running. No Soviet raw materials would have meant no Operation: Barbarossa.

    4) Diplomatic activities between the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and Operation: Barbarossa clearly show the USSR wanted to increase its collaboration with Germany in order to expand Soviet power and influence (especially at British expense). The USSR looked for ways to increase cooperation, and help the Germans against the British. Instructions to communist parties was to blame everything on Churchill and obstruct any US aid for Britian. Stalin allowed his arctic ports to assist German naval operations against Norway and other north Atlantic operations. He enabled Hitler to buy raw materials from Japan and other countries to ship across the trans-Siberian railroad to circumvent the British blockade. Stalin and Molotov even wanted to join the Tripartite Pact. It was Hitler, not Stalin, that wanted to limit cooperation because he knew he was going to invade the Soviet Union.

    Stalin’s intent towards other countries was always malign and expansionist, but unlike Hitler, Stalin was no gambler. He didn’t like to take risks and always preferred to act in collaboration with other great powers. Thus he used his pact with Hitler to expand the USSR. He used his alliance with the West to legitimize his occupation of Eastern Europe. But once he didn’t have such support, he was always careful not to push too hard. I think his experience in the Russian Civil War and Polish-Soviet War convinced him that the fortunes of war can change greatly and to be wary of taking on such risks. Instead, he looked for opportunities and then exploited them if they became available.

    Comment by Chris Durnell — June 1, 2010 @ 2:28 pm

  17. “”rkka, I am not interested in the Soviet government’s reasons for allying itself with the Nazis and starting WWII. I am merely pointing out that this is precisely what they did.”

    Prove it. Adolph himself didn’t think so:

    “It’s a pity that we have to be locked in this death struggle (with Great Britain and France) while our real enemies in the East can sit back and wait…” The M-R Pact was a real source of great frustration to Hitler in 1939.

    They committed acts of aggression against Poland and the Baltic states, and they did it on prior agreement with the Nazis.”

    Again, the barely hidden wish that Op Barbarossa and Generalplan Ost having had the advantage of being launched against the 1938 Soviet border.

    “They even held a joint military parade in Brest, Belarus to celebrate the occasion.”

    The military parade at Brest was part of the ceremony by which the Wehrmacht handed the Brest fortress over to the Red Army. Getting it back in 1941 was very expensive for the Germans. It is clear you wish the Wehrmacht had retained that locality, plus more land to the 1938 Soviet border.

    “It is not a coincidence that Russia refuses to release the documents on Katyn massacre to this day.”

    Now you’re being more Polish than the Poles, lol!

    “It is a direct consequence of the fact that only one of the two aggressive totalitarian regimes was dismounted.”

    Nazi Germany, facilitated by Western anticommunists, caused a six-year orgy of bloodshed killing ~40 million people. The USSR did not. The USSR played the main role in ringing Nazi Germany to an end.

    “For Churchill, it was a political necessity to utter that nonsense.”

    Prove it.

    “What is it for you, rkka?”

    The truth.

    “Considering that it is highly unlikely Hitler would have invaded Poland without the deal, it can’t be claimed that it kept the Nazis away from the Soviet Union. Without the pact, the Wehrmacht still would have been in Silesia instead of on the Vistula. And it is utter nonsense to claim that the invasion of Finland somehow limited the Germans.”

    Why? What would hold Hitler back?

    Comment by rkka — June 1, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

  18. @So? – Catherine the Great did not “save” Prussia at the end of the Seven Years War. It was her husband, Peter the Third, who abandoned Russian conquests in East Prussia in exchange for Friedrich’s support against Denmark. Although Catherine was Peter’s wife at the time, her influence on his decision-making was minimal. As for “humane” German colonial policy, Herero massacre in early 1900s or Austrian occupation of Serbia during WW1 attest to the contrary.

    @Chris Durnell – Your remarks are great except in small factual sense. Stalin was wary of assisting Hitler and most definitely did not allow German Navy to use Soviet Arctic ports (before June 22nd 1941 there was very little reason for Germans to be in the Arctic in the first place). Nevertheless, M-R pact did little to boost Soviet military performance (the key to losses in 1941 lies in delayed Soviet mobilization and troops concentration – the Red Army would have been destroyed regardless of whether it was placed near Grodno or Smolensk).

    Comment by Denis — June 1, 2010 @ 5:03 pm

  19. As to Soviet raw materials keeping Germany in the war, please give your analysis of German strategic stockpiles, production, and other sources of imports.

    You give no indication of knowing how the Stalin Line would have delayed the Wehrmacht in the event of no M-R Pact. For instance, it was garrisoned on 22 June 1941, contrary to what you write. And when the Germans got to it, it did offer substantial resistance. Nor do you appear to know anything about the Molotov Line.

    You are correct that Stalin was no gambler, preferring to act as part of a great power coalition. Unfortunately, his alliance offer to the British in April 1939 was talked into the ground.

    Comment by rkka — June 1, 2010 @ 5:09 pm

  20. @rkka

    ” The M-R Pact was a real source of great frustration to Hitler in 1939. The M-R Pact was a real source of great frustration to Hitler in 1939.”

    Hitler initiated the talks that led to signing M-R pact by sending Ribbentrop to Moscow in August 1939. Did Ribbentrop fly there against Fuehrer’s will?

    “Nazi Germany, facilitated by Western anticommunists, caused a six-year orgy of bloodshed killing ~40 million people. The USSR did not. The USSR played the main role in ringing Nazi Germany to an end.”

    No one is denying the heroic contribution of Russian people to Allied victory in the WW2. Nevertheless, Soviet participation in the war does not make Stalin’s regime any more democratic – on the contrary, victory in the war led to ever-rising number of convicts in Gulag (as reported by Serov to Khruschev in the KGB report on purges in the 1950s).

    Also, could you provide more info on anti-communist aid to Nazis? So far, I can recall only one country that built its steel, car and tank factories with the help of American and British engineers in the 1930s – the USSR.

    Comment by Denis — June 1, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  21. From Hitler’s perspective, the M-R Pact did not work out as he expected. And as for anticommunists aiding Hitler, His Majesty’s Government, under Neville Chamberlain, gave Nazi Germany the Skoda Works of Pilzen, one of the great armaments complexes of Europe. Fully a third of the tanks with which Germany conquered Poland and France were of Skoda design and manufacture.

    Comment by rkka — June 1, 2010 @ 6:41 pm

  22. Stalin was taking back Russian territory upto the Curzon line. Nothing more. If he were a co-agressor, the French and the British would have declared war on him too. They didn’t. The declared war on Germany and did… nothing while Germany was busy in the East. Letting Hitler out of the bottle is on their conscience. MR was simply the best deal Stalin could get.

    Comment by So? — June 1, 2010 @ 7:03 pm

  23. @rkka

    “Considering that it is highly unlikely Hitler would have invaded Poland without the deal, it can’t be claimed that it kept the Nazis away from the Soviet Union. Without the pact, the Wehrmacht still would have been in Silesia instead of on the Vistula. And it is utter nonsense to claim that the invasion of Finland somehow limited the Germans.”

    “Why? What would hold Hitler back?”

    The threat of a two-front war. That is, the repeating of the same catastrophe that led to the German ultimate defeat in 1918.

    Comment by Dixi — June 2, 2010 @ 2:36 am

  24. Stalin was taking back Russian territory upto the Curzon line. Nothing more…

    Yes, exactly. Stalin wanted a piece of Poland, he got it. He was too stubborn and short-sighted to see the bigger picture.

    … MR was simply the best deal Stalin could get.

    That’s the standard last-resort argument for failure — things would have been even worse otherwise.

    Comment by peter — June 2, 2010 @ 4:54 am

  25. “The threat of a two-front war. That is, the repeating of the same catastrophe that led to the German ultimate defeat in 1918.”

    Hitler was explicit that he was willing to have a two-front war in order to take out Poland. In fact, he was in a two-front war from 3 September 1939.

    Yur ignorance is now revealed.

    “Yes, exactly. Stalin wanted a piece of Poland, he got it. He was too stubborn and short-sighted to see the bigger picture.”

    He saw the bigger pitcture, which is why he offered Great Britian and France a full-dress military alliance in April 1939.

    Too bad Chamberlain was determined on his concept of “Germany and England as two pillars of European peace and buttresses against Communism”

    Comment by rkka — June 2, 2010 @ 6:03 am

  26. He saw the bigger pitcture, which is why…

    How do you know? The only thing we know for fact is that the eventual German “?????????? ?????????” took Stalin by complete surprise, the rest is opinions. Closet stalinists maintain he only lost his strategic genius once for a brief moment in 41, but Occam’s razor says he’s never had it in the first place. Like So? said already, the keywords here are “the Curzon Line”. There’s nothing in Litvinov/Molotov’s diplomacy that couldn’t be explained by Stalin’s stubborn determination to invade Poland in one way or another.

    Comment by peter — June 2, 2010 @ 8:48 am

  27. So what exactly should Stalin have done? The West rejected an alliance. Poland was doomed. Creating a buffer and delaying Hitler was all that was left. German agression was not surprising, the timing was. Stalin could not believe that Hitler would attack without having planned for a lengthy campaign. Winter clothes, and such.

    Comment by So? — June 2, 2010 @ 9:23 am

  28. I know because Stalin was no gambler, knew of Hitlers plans for Lebensraum in the East, and tried toassemble a great power coalition to oppose Hitlers plans. Chamberlain preferred deals with Hitler.

    As for the “treacherous attack” being a complete suprise, one wonders why he declared a “special period of military threat” in April 1941, mobilized several military districts, and ordered the assembly of a 99 division strategic reserve on the Dnepr from those mobilized forces by 15 May 1941.

    Comment by rkka — June 2, 2010 @ 9:28 am

  29. “As for the “treacherous attack” being a complete suprise, one wonders why he declared a “special period of military threat” in April 1941, mobilized several military districts, and ordered the assembly of a 99 division strategic reserve on the Dnepr from those mobilized forces by 15 May 1941.”

    Aha! Suvorov is right! Stalin was about to invade Europe, but gallant Hitler pre-empted him and did his best to defend Western Civilization against Eastern Asiatic Barbarian hordes of Mordor and their Bolshevik Jew overlords! Rah, rah, rah…

    Comment by So? — June 2, 2010 @ 9:42 am

  30. I know because Stalin was no gambler…

    So MR wasn’t a gamble because Stalin was no gambler? That’s a circular argument, isn’t it?

    As for the “treacherous attack” being a complete surprise, one wonders…

    No, one doesn’t. It’s an indisputable historical fact that the German attack took Comrade Stalin by complete surprise, so he apparently wasn’t as much on top of things as popular myth would have us believe. You are entitled to your own opinions of course, but not to your own facts.

    Comment by peter — June 2, 2010 @ 1:28 pm

  31. Under the circumstances, a gamble would have been letting Germany launch Op Barbarossa and Generalplan Ost against the 1938 border.

    The indisputable fact is Stalin understood that there was a grave risk of war in the spring of 1941, which is why he authorized the countermeasures I described.

    Comment by rkka — June 2, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

  32. “It’s a well known fact that prior to losing its colonies in WW1, Germany treated the natives far better than the English and the French. So a German Reich without Hitler would have been just like the Roman Empire – a bigger, more cohesive European Union.”

    This might have been – call it the Niall Ferguson Pity of War timeline, in honor of Niall’s book saying Britain ought to have let the Kaiser take France then the East – was the subject of a late 1960s book by a German historian named Fritz Fischer. The title? Griff Nach Der Weltmacht, The Grasp for World Power. It does not make for pleasant reading, as it becomes quite clear the economic objectives of the 2nd Reich bore remarkable similarity to the 3rd Reich, sans genocidal intent. Given this remarkable continuity of German aims, what would a sane Russian foreign policy under any government have been?

    rkka may be wrong to say M-R saved Moscow but right to say that England’s elites were riddled with pre-war Nazi sympathizers who saw Berlin as the bulwark against Bolshevism and a power that would bring a new Economic Order on the Continent.

    Stalin did have a nervous breakdown of sorts once he found out the Germans attacked, that much is clear. And some think when they came to his dacha in late June early/July 1941 that he expected to be shot by his entourage.

    Comment by Mr. X — June 2, 2010 @ 2:37 pm

  33. One might say that the bloody sacrifices of the Russian people spared Russia’s honor from Stalin’s too clever by half diplomacy and crimes.

    Churchill and the British people spared England’s honor, when by all intents Britain’s leaders (but not necessarily the people, though they probably would have agreed to neutrality) wanted to sue for peace. And without Britain, or Hitler turning on Russia in Barbarossa and Russians doing 75% of the bleeding and dying, it is very difficult to conceive of any scenario whereby the U.S. could lead the Western Allies to liberate Western Europe from the Nazis grip short of nuclear war.

    Hitler spared the British at Dunkirk precisely because Rudolf Hess and others were telling him that high level diplomats in UK embassies across Europe (some of them classmates or Oxbridge types like Philby, Burgess and co) were meeting covertly with their Nazi counterparts to sue for peace. Britain would get to keep its empire while the Reich would have Europe and Russia. These are all facts.

    But getting on the high horse about M-R when there were so many appeasers in the West who made Hitler’s conquests possible (for one, the absorption of Czechoslovakia without a fight vastly enhanced Nazi military power, nearly doubling the Wehrmacht’s number of tanks, for example plus capturing the Brno works intact) is a bit hypocritical.

    Comment by Mr. X — June 2, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

  34. Note how some say that parts of Russia aren’t “Russian,” while suggesting that parts of inter-war Poland (present day western Ukraine and western Belarus) are “Polish.”

    On another point, history shows that Hitler didn’t particularly fear the negative ramifications of being engaged in a two front war.

    Comment by Clayton — June 2, 2010 @ 3:04 pm

  35. @Mr. X – invoking Fischer’s hypothesis (based on a thin evidence in the first place) might be a bit too much. After all, similar argument could be made about Russian entry in the World War I with Grand Duke Nikolay’s plan for pan-Slavic hegemony over Europe (alternatively, read van der Oye’s book on Nicholas II ambitions in the Far East for some outrageous xenophobic imperialism). Similarly, given this tradition along with the the Stalinist propaganda of the 1930s about the imminence of the world revolution and rising tide of old-school Russian nationalism in the late 1930s, one can ask “what would a sane German/Polish/Japanese/Romanian foreign policy under any government have been?”

    @rrka

    “Under the circumstances, a gamble would have been letting Germany launch Op Barbarossa and Generalplan Ost against the 1938 border.”

    Why do you think Stalin taking over half of Poland in 1939 was so crucial to the Soviet war effort in 1941? Since you mentioned Operation Barbarossa, you must know that Wehrmacht reached 1938 border by mid-July at the latest (for instance, Minsk was taken on the 6th day of war). The key to Soviet losses in the summer of 1941 was not the initial location of the Red Army, but the deficiencies in its armanements, morale and soldiers’ education level. I guess it takes the military genius of Stalin to recognize that mass purges of army and economic apparatus will have no effect on the Soviet military and industry…

    Comment by Denis — June 2, 2010 @ 3:30 pm

  36. If Op Barbarossa gets launched from Narva, Leningrad is indefensible, no question. Moscow might still be defensible, by a hairs breadth.

    Having AG Center’s main supply dumps east of Brest instead of at Warsaw pays Germany big compound interest over time.

    Stalin’s meeting logs show him in the office until June 28, and back at it three days later.

    Not much of a nervous breakdown if you ask me.

    Comment by rkka — June 2, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

  37. Denis, the Wehrmacht blasted un-purged Western armies numbering over 3 million to pieces in six weeks the year before, suffering only 27000 German troops killed in the process. This suggests that asuch strategic depth as possible was a very Good Thing to have when facing the Wehrmacht.

    Comment by rkka — June 2, 2010 @ 3:53 pm

  38. Oh, and Denis, World Revolution was Trotskys propaganda, not Stalins.

    Soviet military power was derided in the countries you name, both before the Purges and after. the West discovered Tukhachevskiis military genius only after he was safely dead.

    Your statements are anti-facts. The repel truth.

    Comment by rkka — June 2, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

  39. “After all, similar argument could be made about Russian entry in the World War I with Grand Duke Nikolay’s plan for pan-Slavic hegemony over Europe (alternatively, read van der Oye’s book on Nicholas II ambitions in the Far East for some outrageous xenophobic imperialism).”

    ****

    Never mind the Hapsburg and Ottoman imperialist opposition to the aspirations of some. “Xenophobic imperialism” gets selectively applied.

    Along with the Brits and French, the Russians and Germans got entangled in an alliance system which they were to regret.

    Comment by Clayton — June 2, 2010 @ 8:36 pm

  40. Wow. How did we get from a post about a motorcycle to an intense debate about Barbarossa and other aspects of WWII? :) I’ve fallen behind with the comments due to travel preparations, but will try to read all and respond when I get to France.

    Keep it up!

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — June 2, 2010 @ 8:38 pm

  41. … Leningrad is indefensible, no question. Moscow might still be defensible, by a hairs breadth.

    That’s assuming that the pace of German advance would’ve been about the same as it was in reality. It’s a lot of assumption. Are you saying that the failure of the RKKA to mount any meaningful resistance was due to its fundamental weakness rather than strategic and operational blunders?

    Comment by peter — June 3, 2010 @ 6:17 am

  42. My main reason for believing this is my study of the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe. These forces utterly crushed, or put to headlong flight, un-Purged Western armies numbering over three million men in six weeks in 1940. German forces lost only 27,000 troops killed in so doing. I attribute the initial disasters the Red Army suffered in 1941 to the same cause.

    As to the quality of the Red Army’s resistance, the Germans seem to have thought it was the best they had faced up to that point in the war.

    Comment by rkka — June 3, 2010 @ 9:13 am

  43. So you insist that the reason for the initial disasters the Red Army suffered in 1941 was its hopeless inferiority to Die Wehrmacht. In contrast, Stalin blamed those disasters on his generals — so much so that he ordered a few of them executed. Do you think he was totally wrong and the Western Front was doomed regardless of what Pavlov et al. did or didn’t do?

    Comment by peter — June 3, 2010 @ 10:53 am

  44. “My main reason for believing this is my study of the Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe. These forces utterly crushed, or put to headlong flight, un-Purged Western armies numbering over three million men in six weeks in 1940. German forces lost only 27,000 troops killed in so doing. I attribute the initial disasters the Red Army suffered in 1941 to the same cause.”

    Combat effectiveness counts for a lot, and the Germans were simply better than anyone in the spring of 1941, a point AK has made frequently. The only way the Red or Western armies could catch up was with experience. Could it have been done with less blood, and faster, had Stalin not shot his generals? Indeed. But even Western historians like Overy admit that the most crucial experience was not with the generals purged at the top but at the mid-level officer ranks where young talent was (perhaps brutally) pushed to the fore.

    And not to rain on Stan Mishin’s parade of Russia alone, but the Germans did suffer substantial losses on Crete. A sting from a wasp from the point of view of casualties, but the Greek and Balkan resistance mounted by the British with their Yugoslav and Hellene allies might have delayed Nazi logistics JUST enough so that they reach Moscow’s gates two weeks later than schedule. Not that taking Moscow by itself, as with Napoleon, would have ended the war in the Nazis favor.

    As to the quality of the Red Army’s resistance, the Germans seem to have thought it was the best they had faced up to that point in the war.”

    I do not think Fischer’s evidence was light, and I think the German plans of 1917 when it appeared Russia was collapsing and the East was within their grasp were far more serious than anything the Czar’s advisors, admittedly detached from reality, ever plotted.

    Comment by Mr. X — June 3, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

  45. “So you insist…”

    I insist on nothing. I have studied, and I suspect.

    “…that the reason for the initial disasters the Red Army suffered in 1941 was its hopeless inferiority to Die Wehrmacht.”

    There you go again, putting words in my mouth. Stop it. As seen by the outcome of the 1941 campaign, the Red Army’s inferiority to Die Wehrmacht was far from hopeless. Die Wehrmacht’s infantry branch was in ruins by 12/31/1941, having suffered 60%-70% casualties, infantry losses Germany had no hope of replacing. And when you have offensive objectives for a land war raging on a ~2000km front, you won’t do well at all without a healthy infantry branch. I suspect it is fair to say that the Germans were in a lost position by the end of 1941.

    Die Wehrmacht bore a strong resemblance to the Kido Butai, Imperial Japan’s naval aviation branch, and to the IJN’s cruiser/destroyer force. These forces were intensively trained in the prewar period, were astoundingly victorious initially, and were irreplacable in any possible timeframe once dogged attrition inflicted by, and countermeasures developed by, their industrially superior enemies, had done their work. Die Wehrmacht relied on achieving cheap victories over its opponents. It got them in 1939, 1940, and early 1941. It started getting expensive victories on 22 June 1941. It had no hope of sustaining them.

    “Do you think he was totally wrong and the Western Front was doomed regardless of what Pavlov et al. did or didn’t do?”

    I note that Kuznetsov and Kirponos both managed to avoid large forces being encircled in the initial days. The Germans still won victories from both of them, but paid a high price in time and casualties. Pavlov did not. Whether this was due to culpable incompetence on Pavlov’s part or the fortunes of war I am not in a position to judge.

    “Could it have been done with less blood, and faster, had Stalin not shot his generals? Indeed.”

    From the earliest days of Barbarossa, Halder, Chief of the German General Staff, noticed Red Army actions to break up the German combined arms team, to isolate and beat up the German infantry. It was an expensive way to do business, but, for instance, the Brits in North Africa never figured it out. They went from defeat to defeat, until they finally gave Rommel enough fuel at Tobruk to get himself into a logistically untenable position at El Alamein.

    Comment by rkka — June 3, 2010 @ 4:13 pm

  46. Stop it.

    OK, I take “hopeless” back.

    … Whether this was due to culpable incompetence on Pavlov’s part or the fortunes of war I am not in a position to judge.

    Neither am I, but that’s not what I asked, is it?

    Comment by peter — June 3, 2010 @ 7:48 pm

  47. Again, Kuznetsov and Kirponos managed to avoid the disaster that befell Pavlovs forces. I do not assume culpable incompetence on Pavlovs part. Neither do I exclude it.

    Comment by rkka — June 3, 2010 @ 9:18 pm

  48. Rkka,

    “The threat of a two-front war. That is, the repeating of the same catastrophe that led to the German ultimate defeat in 1918.”

    Hitler was explicit that he was willing to have a two-front war in order to take out Poland. In fact, he was in a two-front war from 3 September 1939.”

    By “the threat of a two-front war” I meant, of course (and you KNOW it), Hitler willing to avoid the same thing being repeated as in the WWI, that is, the two-front war against Russia/SU and the western democracies simultaneously. Hitler needed the M-R pact to avoid this scenario and he got it…

    Comment by Dixi — June 4, 2010 @ 4:43 am

  49. How is M-R to blame for Western passivity in September 1939?

    Comment by So? — June 4, 2010 @ 5:10 am

  50. The Germans had no fear of the Soviets in 1939. The General Staff was confident of crushing the Poles in 2-3 weeks, and did not fear Soviet intervention. (Megargee, Inside Hitlers High Command, University Press of Kansas, 2000, pg 68.). In conference with his generals on 23 May 1939, Hitler was explicit that he was willing to have a two-front war.

    Hitler was going to invade Poland in the Summer of 1939, Pact or no Pact.

    Comment by rkka — June 4, 2010 @ 5:17 am

  51. “Hitler was going to invade Poland in the Summer of 1939, Pact or no Pact.”

    What Hitler MIGHT have done WITHOUT the M-R pact…we DO NOT KNOW. But what we KNOW is that by signing the M-R pact Hitler DID avoid the same scenario of repeating that had let to the German ultimate Collapse in 1918, that is, two SIMULTANEOUS wars on TWO fronts against ALL MAJOR MILITARY powers.

    Comment by Dixi — June 4, 2010 @ 5:33 am

  52. Without Soviet involvement in such a pact, the Nazis before 1941 would’ve undoubtedly been in places like Vilnius, Chisinau, Lviv and Brest.

    In the often times cold world of diplomatic reality, Stalin’s willingness to do M-R had reason – said without enthusiasm. At the same time, it’s fair to conclude that he wasn’t so swift in picking up on the Nazi attack on the USSR in 1941. His earlier purging of the Red Army officer corps didn’t help the Soviet war effort. Somewhat akin to managing the Yankees, he had great resources to work with, to offset faulty decision making.

    Comment by Clayton — June 4, 2010 @ 5:43 am

  53. We “know” that Hitler and some of his allies eventually took over the Baltics and Moldova, along with a good chunk of territory further east.

    Comment by Clayton — June 4, 2010 @ 5:47 am

  54. “How is M-R to blame for Western passivity in September 1939?”

    BY September 1939 after the signing of the M-R pact, the Western democracies KNEW: 1. No hope of the second front AGAINST Germany in the East (in contrast to the the WWI) 2. Furthermore, the M-R pact had made the SU and Germany allies so that Germany could count on, at the minumum, Stalin remaining passive in case France and the UK would start a military campaign against Germany and, at the maximum, on the Russian material (or even military help?) in the case Germany asked for it in its potential military confrontation with the Western democracies. The situation had COMPLETELY changed…thanks to the M-R pact.

    Comment by Dixi — June 4, 2010 @ 5:48 am

  55. “We “know” that Hitler and some of his allies eventually took over the Baltics and Moldova, along with a good chunk of territory further east.”

    We also KNOW that the SU took more than half of Europe and HOLD it until its complete collapse.

    Comment by Dixi — June 4, 2010 @ 5:50 am

  56. Sorry,
    Meant, of course, “HELD it until it itself completely collapsed”

    Comment by Dixi — June 4, 2010 @ 5:53 am

  57. Again, Kuznetsov and Kirponos managed to avoid the disaster that befell Pavlovs forces…

    No, you still don’t get it. I will explain.

    Pavlov’s competence is merely part of the broader question, which is if, and to what extent, the utter catastrophe of the first weeks was caused not simply by the Wehrmacht’s overwhelming might, but by concrete mistakes of concrete individuals and low troops morale. Your and Stalin’s opinions on this seem to be quite different. Me? I’m not much into armchair generaling, but if I must, I’d side with Stalin here — except, of course, I’d point the finger higher up the ladder.

    Either way, I just can’t see how that theory of yours about what precisely would happen in 41 if history took a different turn in 39 could possibly be verified or falsified. In my book it’s called “not even wrong”.

    Comment by peter — June 4, 2010 @ 7:33 am

  58. Dixie- By your standard, we do not KNOW that Hitler would have refrained from attacking Poland if Stalin had refused Ribbentrops visit. In other words, your position contains no information at all.

    Peter, I agree that it is not possible to know definitively how Barbarossa would have gone with no M-R Pact. History does not permit repitition of the experiment.

    Comment by rkka — June 4, 2010 @ 8:49 am

  59. @ rkka

    “World Revolution was Trotskys propaganda, not Stalins.”

    Seriously? Haven’t you heard of the “Third Period” in the history of Comintern (1929-36 – pre-Popular Front) that advocated the aggressive stance towards both left- and right-wing Communist parties and impending class conflict followed by Soviet intervention. Read Dimitrov’s diaries, published by Yale U Press, for more details on how Stalin was an architect of this policy. Unless you suggest that in that time Comintern and its Moscow HQ were controlled by Trotsky :)

    “Kuznetsov and Kirponos managed to avoid the disaster that befell Pavlovs forces. I do not assume culpable incompetence on Pavlovs part.”

    2 Panzer Groups in Belarus vs. only one in Ukraine and Baltics might be the possible explanation…

    Comment by Denis — June 4, 2010 @ 10:55 am

  60. And Dixi- The Pact did cause a revolution in British foreign policy, but not the one you think.

    It was a revolution of opposition to Hitler.

    “For all the other acts of brutality at home and aggression
    without, Herr Hitler had been able to offer an excuse, inadequate
    indeed, but not fantastic. The need for order and discipline in Europe,
    for strength at the centre to withstand the incessant infiltration of
    false and revolutionary ideas – this is certainly no more than the
    conventional excuse offered by every military dictator who has ever
    suppressed the liberties of his own people or advanced the conquest
    of his neighbors. Nevertheless, so long as the excuse was offered
    with sincerity, and in Hitler’s case the appearance of sincerity were
    not lacking over a period of years, the world’s judgement of the man
    remained more favorable than its judgement of his actions. The faint
    possibility of an ultimate settlement with Herr Hitler still, in these
    circumstances, remained, however abominable his methods, however
    deceitful his diplomacy, however intolerant he might show himself of
    the rights of other European peoples, he still claimed to stand
    ultimately for something which was a common European interest, and
    which therefore could conceivably provide some day a basis for
    understanding with other nations equally determined not to sacrifice
    their traditional institutions and habits on the bloodstained altars
    of the World Revolution.

    The conclusion of the German-Soviet pact removed even this faint
    possibility of an honorable peace.”

    Lord Lloyd of Dolobran “The British Case” Eyre & Spottiswoode Limited.
    London, 1939, pgs 54-5, with a preface by Lord Halifax, the Foreign
    Secretary.

    And Lord Lloyd was no isolated right-wing crank. Within months of his
    book being published, he was a member of Churchill’s Cabinet, the
    Secretary of State for Colonies.

    Comment by rkka — June 4, 2010 @ 5:57 pm

  61. “The conclusion of the German-Soviet pact removed even this faint
    possibility of an honorable peace.”

    Precisely, and the M-R pact guaranteed that Hitler/Germany would avoid the two-front war in the coming military concflict with the Western democracies. An so he/it also DID. But especially, after having signed the M-R pact, everything seemed to go Stalin’s and the World Revolution’s way, including that the capitalist class enemies (that is Germany on one and France and the UK on the other side) got entangled in a devastating war with each other. One would only need to sit back and wait that a new momentum for the World Revolution would (sooner or later) arise among war-weary Europeans (just like in Germany in 1919)… Only if the “un-Purged Western armies numbering over three million men” (as you yourself emphasize) would not have collapsed so soon (in contrast to the WWI)…

    Comment by Dixi — June 8, 2010 @ 6:12 am

  62. I’m glad we have come to agreement. You still seem to misunderstand Lord Lloyd’s point about the impact of the M-R Pact though.

    You see, the “honorable peace”Lloyd is talking about is peace between Nazi Germany and the British Empire. That is what the M-R Pact destroyed.

    You see, what Lloyd is saying is, without the Pact, the Russia-hating anticommunists making up the British government at the time, folks like yourself in other words, would have kept trusting Hitler. Therefore, there would have been no two-front war when Hitler attacked Poland, because the Brits would not have declared warin the first place. And the French government, terrified of acting against Hither without British support, would probably stayed out of it too.

    So you see, without the M-R Pact, hitler would have gotten his slendid little war against an isolated Poland, could have then occupied the Baltics, and could then launch Barbarossa against the 1938 Soviet border.

    Comment by rkka — June 8, 2010 @ 7:41 am

  63. Where exactly Lord Lloyd states that – there not being a M-R pact – attacking Poland would have been OK?

    Besides five months before the M-R pact, i.e. by March 31, 1939, both France and the UK had pledged themselves to guarantee Polish independence.

    ”… in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist with their national forces, His Majesty’s Government would feel themselves bound at once to lend the Polish Government all support in their power. They have given the Polish Government an assurance to this effect. …
    I may add that the French Government have authorised me to make it plain that they stand in the same position in this matter as do His Majesty’s Government.”
    (Statement by the Prime Minister (Champerlain) in the House of Commons on March 31, 1939).
    Therefore Stalin KNEW that after such a pledge both France and the UK would have no other choice than declare the war on Germany, if Germany attacked Poland. For anything else would have meant a Europe governed by Germany including, quite possibly, even France and the UK. Therefore for Stalin the M-R pact was like, quoting David Bowie, “…putting up a fire with gasoline…” , i.e., no threat of entering a two-front war for Germany any more. And, as we KNOW, Stalin WAS right…

    Comment by Dixi — June 11, 2010 @ 5:41 am

  64. I note that His Majestys Government also guaranteed the independence of Czechoslovakia.

    I’m sure you’ll be able to tell us all about how the Brits declared war on Nazi Germany when the Germans destroyed Czechoslovak independence in the spring of 1939.

    Comment by rkka — June 11, 2010 @ 11:38 am

  65. You see, what Lloyd is saying is…

    I think you are taking Lloyd’s words way out of context and proportion, but well, at least you stop short of calling the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact a “brilliant strategic coup” on Stalin’s part.

    So you see, without the M-R Pact, hitler would have gotten his slendid little war against an isolated Poland, could have then occupied the Baltics, and could then launch Barbarossa against the 1938 Soviet border.

    I’m curious how this jibes with your earlier thesis that “Conquering and looting France was a huge money-maker for the Germans, and without those resources a German war effort in the East quickly runs out of (financial, then actual) gas.”

    Comment by peter — June 13, 2010 @ 5:53 am

  66. Oh, Adolpf has lots of options after conquering Poland and occupying the Baltics. Getting support from the anticommunist Russophobe Brits running His Majesty’s Government for a crusade against the Bolshies is one. Taking out France is another. Taking a break to exploit his conquests is a third. Adolph has lots of options, and the freedom of action to exploit them.

    Comment by rkka — June 13, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

  67. The Pact wasn’t a brilliant strategic coup. It was about the least crappy of a set of options ranging from crappy to catastrophic.

    Brilliant would have been getting The Grand Alliance together in 38 or 39, as Litvinov offered and Churchill advocated. That would have prevented a six-year orgy of blood and horror killing forty million in Europe alone.

    The attitude described by Lloyd was the main impediment to that.

    Comment by rkka — June 13, 2010 @ 3:33 pm

  68. Brilliant would have been getting The Grand Alliance together in 38 or 39, as Litvinov offered…

    I think this simplistic Soviet narrative about the evil British rejecting Litvinov’s brilliant offers out of blind anticommunism and Russophobia is a bit, well, simplistic. The devil is in the details as they say, especially in diplomacy.

    The attitude described by Lloyd was the main impediment to that.

    Never attribute to attitude that which can be adequately explained by self-delusion — of which there was plenty on both sides. The stakes were very different though, and so was the eventual price of Stalin’s and Chamberlain’s delusions for their respective countries.

    Comment by peter — June 14, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

  69. I’d certainly like to see how an alternative interpretation of the triangular diplacy of the time could be supported.

    Got one?

    On the British side, there certainly was plenty of self-delusion to go along with their anticommunism, such as Halifax’s belief that the Poles were a militarily superior partner compared to the Soviets.

    I am not aware of a similar magnitude of delusion on the part of the Soviet government.

    Comment by rkka — June 15, 2010 @ 5:57 am

  70. Got one?

    One what?

    Comment by peter — June 15, 2010 @ 8:06 am

  71. Can you support an alternative view of the triangular diplomacy between the British, German, and Soviet governments from 1938 to 1939?

    Comment by rkka — June 15, 2010 @ 3:44 pm

  72. Can you support an alternative view…

    No, no, you are clearly the one with alternative views here, so the onus is on you to convince the rest of us that mainstream history got it all wrong.

    I can agree that Lloyd’s argument that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the last nail in the coffin of appeasement is fine as far as post hoc ergo propter hoc arguments go, but that’s not very far.

    As for the rest, I disagree with your entire approach. I told you already, never attribute to ideology that which can be adequately explained by botched realpolitik. Just as Munich before it, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was, to use Talleyrand’s words, worse than a crime — a mistake. For whatever reason, Stalin priced himself out of a deal with Britain and France, and it eventually cost his country 25 million lives.

    Comment by peter — June 16, 2010 @ 4:56 pm

  73. The point is, there was never any deal with the British to be had, in view of Chamberlains clear preference for a deal with Germany.

    This is indicated by Von Dirksen’s cable to Berlin of 24 July 1939:

    Here’s German Ambassador Dirksen, cabling Berlin from London on 24
    July, 1939, on the state of Anglo-German discussions:
    “General ideas as to how a peaceful adjustment with Germany could be
    undertaken seem to have crystallized…  On the basis of political
    appeasement, which in to ensure the principle of non-aggression and to
    achieve a delimitation of political spheres of interest by means of a
    comprehensive formula, a broad economic program is being worked out…
    About these plans entertained by leading circles, State Advisor
    Wohlthat, who, on British initiative, had long talks about them during
    his stay in London last week, will be able to give more detailed
    information.  The problem that is puzzling the sponsors of these
    plans most is how to start the negotiations.  Public opinion is so
    inflamed, that if these plans of negotiations with Germany were to
    become public they would immediately be torpedoed by Churchill and
    others with the cry ‘No second Munich!’ or ‘No return to appeasement!’
    The persons engaged in drawing up a list of points for negotiation
    therefore realize that the preparatory steps vis-a-vis Germany must be
    shrouded in the utmost secrecy.  Only when Germany’s willingness to
    negotiate has been ascertained, and at least unanimity regarding the
    program, perhaps regarding certain general principles, has been
    attained, will the British government feel strong enough to inform the
    public of its intentions and of the steps it has already taken.  If it
    could in this way hold out the prospect of an Anglo-German adjustment,
    it is convinced that the public would greet the news with the greatest
    joy, and the obstructionists would be reduced to silence.  So much is
    expected from the realization of this plan that it is even considered
    a most effective election cry, one which would assure the government
    parties a victory in the autumn elections, and with it the retention
    of power for another five years.
    …In conclusion, I should like to point out that the German-Polish
    problem has found a place in this tendency toward an adjustment with
    Germany, inasmuch as it is believed that in the event of an
    Anglo-German adjustment the solution of the Polish problem will be
    easier, since a calmer atmosphere will facilitate the negotiations,
    and the British interest in Poland will be diminished.”

    Zachary Shore “What Hitler Knew” Oxford University Press, 2003, pgs
    117-118, citing Dirksen’s report of 24 July 1939.

    You choose not to be convinced. You provide nothing but a smokescreen as to why.

    Comment by rkka — June 16, 2010 @ 9:19 pm

  74. The point is, there was never any deal with the British to be had, in view of Chamberlains clear preference for a deal with Germany.

    That’s another circularish argument. There is no easy way to know whether talks are going nowhere because parties involved have preferences elsewhere or it is the other way around.

    24 July 1939

    So what? Plan A out, plan B in. It’s open to debate whether it was by Stalin’s design or Molotov’s incompetence that the triple alliance talks degenerated into “bazaar haggling”, but it’s easy to pinpoint the moment when the British finally got fed up with it. 12 July, Halifax to Seeds: “I appreciate the fact that I am setting you an arduous task in instructing you to reject the two chief proposals which M. Molotov made to you at your last interview, but we are nearing the point where we clearly cannot continue the process of conceding each fresh demand put forward by the Soviet Government. Our patience is well-nigh exhausted.”

    Comment by peter — June 17, 2010 @ 8:58 am

  75. “It’s open to debate whether it was by Stalin’s design or Molotov’s incompetence that the triple alliance talks degenerated into “bazaar haggling””

    Oh yes, and a mistaken policy by the British is ruled out summarily, with no evidence or argumentation.

    And what was the “exhausting” Soviet “fresh” demand?

    Comment by rkka — June 18, 2010 @ 5:34 am

  76. The demand that the political and military agreements be signed simultaneously and a new definition of “indirect aggression”. I’m surprised you don’t know.

    Comment by peter — June 18, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  77. Oh, and I did know.

    Now, what was so “exhausting” about those demands?

    Could it be that the Soviet government had learned from the experience of the Franco-Soviet alliance, where the French government, under HMG pressure, stalled on making a military staff agreement to put military meat on the bare diplomatic bones of that alliance?

    Could it be that the Soviet government had learned from the experience of Munich, where Anglo-British pressure had forced a change in Czechoslovakia’s policy in favor of Nazi Germany?

    I can well see that a British government intending to pull similar stunts again might well find these “demands” “exhausting”.

    Comment by rkka — June 18, 2010 @ 4:07 pm

  78. That’s “…Anglo-French pressure…”

    My apologies

    Comment by rkka — June 18, 2010 @ 4:09 pm

  79. Okay, and your point now being?

    Comment by peter — June 18, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

  80. In your opinion, were those unreasonable demands for the Soviets to have made?

    Oh, and if Halifax thought the demand for a military convention was a fresh demand, he wasn’t paying attention to Litvinov’s April proposal:

    http://www.lituanus.org/1989/89_1_02.htm

    “On 17 April the Soviets proposed a pact to the British and French consisting of three basic elements: an agreement between the three powers for mutual assistance in case of war; a detailed military convention; a guarantee of the East European states lying between the Baltic and the Black Sea. These proposals formed the core issues of the protracted negotiations between the USSR and the Western powers during the following months”

    Comment by rkka — June 18, 2010 @ 7:19 pm

  81. In your opinion, were those unreasonable demands for the Soviets to have made?

    No, they weren’t entirely unreasonable, they were unrealistic.

    Oh, and if Halifax thought the demand for a military convention was a fresh demand, he wasn’t paying attention…

    Err, that’s not at all what Halifax thought. Maybe it’s you who needs to pay attention.

    Comment by peter — June 19, 2010 @ 3:45 pm

  82. “No, they weren’t entirely unreasonable, they were unrealistic.”

    Why were they unrealistic?

    Comment by rkka — June 19, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  83. Because Stalin wanted something for nothing.

    Comment by peter — June 19, 2010 @ 5:54 pm

  84. Shaposhnikov offered 120 divisions on an Eastern Front lasting more than a few weeks.

    British military types from CIGS Ironside on down seemed to understand that this was far from nothing.

    Comment by rkka — June 20, 2010 @ 5:53 am

  85. Shaposhnikov offered 120 divisions…

    136 to be precise, but what does it matter who offered what in mid-August, way after both sides had given up on each other? And what exactly does that have to do with Molotov’s demands of July 10? You seem to shift the subject or move the goal posts every time you post, can you please slow down a bit and try to formulate some sort of meaningful point?

    Comment by peter — June 20, 2010 @ 10:22 am

  86. Yes, you’re correct, 120 Rifle and 16 Cavalry.

    And Ironside, the one actually charged with waging the war that was coming, didn’t want to give up in July.

    Its not at all clear that Chamberlain hadn’t “given up” before the talks even got under way.

    Comment by rkka — June 20, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

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