Streetwise Professor

July 11, 2010

History as Seen by a Tarantula*

Filed under: Financial crisis,History,Military,Politics,Russia — The Professor @ 5:04 pm

There’s nothing like a historical debate to get the juices jangling here on SWP, and methinks Sergei (“The Tarantula”) Lavrov has provided the material (H/T LR).  Where does one begin?  Where does one end?  There’s just so much here.

Lavrov is Orwellian in his invocation of Orwell:

It is difficult to interpret such attempts to politicize history as anything other than euphoria in the spirit of “winner takes all” (presumably in the Cold War), that is, the right to interpret history according to the well-known method so well described by George Orwell.

Lavrov then proceeds to politicize history in a quintessentially Orwellian fashion.

Here are some of the high points (or low points, depending on how you look at it):

The history of World War II has been rewritten many times. Elements of this approach, which was dictated by considerations of ideology and political expediency, were also present in the Soviet Union. At the same time, even during the Cold War nobody ever tried to equate the Nazi regime and the Stalinist dictatorship. It occurred to no one to compare the Nazi threat, which meant the enslavement and destruction of entire peoples, to the policies of the Soviet Union, which was the only force capable in the beginning of opposing the military machine of Nazi Germany and, in its final phase, of ensuring its defeat, which was accelerated by the opening, however late, of a second European front in 1944.

Nice of him to mention the “second European front in 1944”–but no mention of the earlier efforts.  More importantly, there is a very revealing lacuna here.  Yes, Naziism meant the enslavement and destruction of entire peoples.  But Stalinism, and Bolshevism generally, had a body count that rivaled Hitler’s: and among the people enslaved and slain wholesale by Bolshevism and Stalinism were Russians.  To say that the USSR was not monstrous in the same way that Nazi Germany does not imply that the USSR was monstrous in its own, special, murderous way.

Historical revisionism has been used to attempt to link August 23 and September 1, 1939 – the conclusion of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact and Germany’s attack on Poland. These two events are taken completely out of historical context, ignoring the Munich Agreement of 1938, which led to the dismemberment and occupation of Czechoslovakia; the Anglo-German Declaration, which was signed at the same time and was essentially a non-aggression agreement between Great Britain and Nazi Germany (the so-called ” peace in our time” agreement); and a whole series of other events that prepared the way for German aggression and directed it towards the East. As always, the sequence of events was critical. Were it not for the Munich Agreement, much of what followed would not have occurred.

By denouncing the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact the Russian Parliament has admitted that the Soviet Union made a mistake. And we are justified in expecting that in other nations which dealt with the Nazis it was done not at the political leadership level but at the political decision-making level. The West, like Soviet Russia, was not blameless. Why is this difficult to admit now that the Cold War has seemingly ended?

M-R is always good for a food fight around here, so let’s have at it.  Me first.

First, the linkage of 23 August and 1 September 1939 is not, as Lavrov suggests, a latter day invention of revisionists.  It was understood that the events were linked at the time.

Second, M-R was not foreordained by Munich.  Stalin made a deal in which he thought he would profit.  We’ve been over this before, so I won’t belabor it.  He was wrong in his calculation, but make no mistake: he made a calculation that he would advance his interests by dealing with Hitler.  Period.

Third, Lavrov’s implication here is that those in the West have completely overlooked Munich and heaped blame for the war only on the poor, misunderstood USSR.  That is complete bullshit.

Look.  I grew up in the United States during the ’60s and ’70s.  During that time, Munich was emblematic of the moral and strategic failure of Western governments.  Any proposal to make a compromise with international adversaries–most notably, the USSR–was met with accusations that such efforts would represent another Munich.  Every American president wanted to avoid another Munich at all costs.  One American president, Kennedy, wrote a book excoriating the weakness of the French and British over Munich.  I heard about Munich from the time I could remember: I seldom heard about Molotov-Ribbentrop.  To say, as Lavrov does, that M-R has been singled out for calumny while Munich has been swept under the rug is complete, utter, tripe. Only marginal loons like Pat Buchanan extol Munich.  It wasn’t difficult for virtually everyone in the West to come to honest grips with Munich before the Cold War ended.  It isn’t difficult now.

It is difficult to understand that the Western nations were prevented for reasons other than ideological preferences from implementing in 1945-1946 the principles that later led to the lessening of tensions during the 1970s, that is, from choosing to “engage” the Soviet Union. This would have encouraged Stalin to follow a moderate policy in Europe, but this chance was lost—not just for Europe but for the Soviet Union itself.

If it’s difficult for you to understand, Sergei, you are past all hope.  Yeah.  Sure.  Stalin would have been the soul of cooperation and moderation had the US and the UK just “engaged” him and not reverted to pre-war anti-Bolshi policies.  This is so self-evidently risible that it doesn’t require deconstruction.

What about the Phony War, which points to the unsavory plans of the Western Allies toward the Soviet Union in connection with Nazi Germany’s attack on Poland?

Who even knows what “unsavory plans of the Western Allies toward the Soviet Union” Lavrov is talking about.  Hey Sergei: Your paranoia is showing!  And about the Phony War.  Riddle me this: if the USSR, with the world’s largest military, was so incapable of taking on the Germans even with the potential support of Poland and perhaps the Western Allies that it was forced to treat with Hitler, how could you possibly expect the Western Allies to confront Hitler aggressively after Poland had fallen and the USSR was neutral?  And the USSR wasn’t so neutral, was it?  During the Phony War–and when the war turned anything but phony when the Germans attacked west–where did the Wehrmacht’s gas come from?  The fodder for its horses?  The food for its soldiers?  Do I need to tell you?

The establishment of a sustainable model of economic and social development—socially oriented with universal suffrage and supported by a significant middle class—was only possible during the Cold War and on the basis of new technology.

So just when is Russia going to adopt a sustainable model, then?

Freedom came from the East . . . .

Those who falsify history forget about what they gained as a result of the Red Army’s liberation campaign, including territory. The victory over Fascism and the events preceding the war, like it or not, gave all countries of Central, Eastern and Southeast Europe, as well as the former Soviet Union, their modern boundaries, which most members of the Euro-Atlantic family have no objection to. Would we like to return to the past—to a Europe burdened by the territorial problem?

Somehow, it seems to have escaped the notice of those in the path of the Red Army that anything approaching “freedom” came in its wake.  To suggest otherwise is truly Orwellian.  Moreover, I guess Sergei believes that the Poles, for instance, should overlook the inconvenience of nearly 50 years of brutal occupation because it gained territory in the aftermath of WWII.  Recall, moreover, that Stalin’s whole point of enlarging Poland was to gain territory under Soviet control at German expense.  It was hardly a gift to the Poles.  And if we want to discuss “territorial problems,” how about discussing, oh I dunno, Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Moldova?

Lavrov’s attempts at economic exegesis betray a cluelessness about the the subject which is very difficult to exaggerate:

It was in response to the “challenge of the Soviet Union and socialism” that Western Europe’s economic development model became socialist.

Uhm, post-War Western Europe was not a libertarian’s paradise, but it wasn’t an example of a socialist development model either.  The welfare state and socialism are two different things.

Erroneous conclusions were eventually drawn from the end of the Cold War. Some thought that in the absence of the “Soviet threat” it was no longer necessary to restrain market forces by government regulation, so that it now became possible to engage in “financial alchemy,” including the financial pyramids from which liberal capitalism began at the start of the 18th century. The devastating consequences of such shortsightedness and the unwillingness to understand the historical pattern that Europe followed in the “hothouse” conditions of the Cold War are all too obvious to ignore and continue along the same path. Moreover, this mistake should not be repeated in the sphere of “strict security,” which is no less important in terms of its consequences for the future of Europe.

I see, the end of the Soviet threat (scare quotes aren’t necessary, Sergei: the threat was real enough) led to the unleashing of capitalism, red in tooth and claw, which begat the financial crisis.

Yeah.  Whatever.  I mean this is totally ahistorical drivel.  Overlooking that the connection between economic liberalization and the financial crisis is extremely remote, even assuming such a connection, ask the question: when did this move to liberalizing economies in the West begin?  With Carter, tentatively, in the late-1970s, Thatcher in 1979, and Reagan in 1981.  In other words, at the height of the Cold War.  The Cold War waxed its hottest at any time since the early-1960s at precisely the same period that restraints on market forces were relaxed throughout the West.  So much for your theory of cause and effect.

I could go on, but I’ll stop here.  I’m sure that this is enough to get the comments flying.  Have at it, folks!

* For newcomers, and those who have forgotten.  Last year I gave a talk about Russian energy policy to a group of US Foreign Service officers.  (I’ll talk to another group in 2 weeks.)  Afterwards, one guy came up to me and related the story of an intelligence specialist, Russian by birth, who said: “Sergei Lavrov is fascinating, in the same way a tarantula is fascinating.”

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  1. Okay, last attempt to explain why you can’t compare apples and oranges and call them the same thing.
    1. There is a difference between state-controlled national TV, which comes into everyone’s home, and which is the main if not only source of information for over 90 percent of Russians, and newspapers, internet resources, and even radio, which does not come into everyone’s home and which, in most cases, must be paid for.
    2. Therefore, it is not appropriate to compare Russia’s Channel One with RFE/RL.
    3. Kasyanov was the Prime Minister of Russia. He was not a “fringe” candidate like some representatives of tiny parties in the US. He was made a “fringe” candidate because he was blacklisted from appearing on TV (see above).

    Comment by mossy — July 16, 2010 @ 6:01 am

  2. Kasyanov was a political appointee who was selected as opposed to elected. I don’t believe Russia to be an oppressive place to the point that “Putvedev” could successfully suppress the developement of a popular pro-Kasyanov sentiment.

    Numerous other examples besides RFE/RL are provided. Feel free to directly deal with each of them. Numerous other examples can be given as well.

    Russians have other TV channels besides “state-controlled national TV,” in addition to radio, numerous newspapers, with many having access to the internet. On the first point about Russian TV, I understand the fluff factor to clear slanting. American TV mass media has limits as well.

    Getting back to the embrace of a seeming idealism on foreign policy and historical matters, one can reference instances like so-called “humanitarian intervention” and how Carter’s administration pursued human rights. The latter made it a point to highlight abuses in the USSR, while not being as stern on the greater abuses occurring at the time in Romania and China. Beijing was considered a valuable Cold War strategic asset and Bucharest was a nice pain in the ass to see in the Warsaw Pact.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 16, 2010 @ 8:48 am

  3. If over 90 percent of the population gets their news only from TV and you prevent a candidate from appearing on TV, that pretty much kills his chances.
    Yes, there are many channels in Russia, but the majority of them don’t provide news coverage. Local channels are in most cases now controlled, one way or another, by the oblast or city, and effectively by the center. Non-state channels get the same black list.
    It doesn’t matter how many examples you give, the difference between apples and oranges remain. The state controls tv, over 90 percent of the population get their info from tv. That’s the apple. Compare that to network tv in the US, not oranges. Even that isn’t a fair comparison, because Americans use — not have theoretical access to, but use — more sources of information than Russians do.

    Comment by mossy — July 16, 2010 @ 10:43 am

  4. Why such great oversight of such hypocrtical positions on Russia as detailed at this thread?

    The answer suggests that Russia isn’t so unfree as some make it out to be, with the West (US in particular) having more limits than what some are willing to acknowledge.

    I expect the US on the whole to be freer than Russia. The break from the Soviet past isn’t so distant.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 16, 2010 @ 10:56 am

  5. @Siegfried: re free/unfree. Please comment on (a) the “Forbidden Art” trial, and (b) the just passed legislation re giving the FSB the right to detain people for merely creating the conditions that could lead to the commission of a crime. These both suggest that yes indeed, the break from the Soviet past is not distant at all. Indeed, the distance is getting shorter as time passes.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — July 16, 2010 @ 3:58 pm

  6. “What about…” Professor eh?

    Fair enough seeing how I do the same.

    Taking a holistic approach, I don’t see Russia lurking back to the Soviet past. Someone in Russia informed me that state TV recently ran Mikhalkov’s documentary on the Whites (which if I’m not mistaken had previously aired on Russian TV) and another film giving a non-Communist era overview of Mihailovic and Vlasov.

    That’s more like the kind of Russia I want to see, as opposed to anti-Russian crap, suggesting that Russia doesn’t have a past to be proud of.

    To get back to your query:

    On such matter, I lean to the libertarian view of letting such things go. Among a good number of Soviet born Russians, I see a difference on this opinion. Russia is still developing. Given the past, I’m wary of some rapid change, which might have negative ramifications when compared to a more gradual approach.

    Something else might very well be at play as well. What if certain kinds of “art” (garbage in some instances is more appropriate) is getting encouragement and funding abroad as some other kinds of art are limited? This question relates to what was especially evident in Russia during the 1990s.

    On “art” (garbage):


    A provocative painting by Lena Hades, a Moscow artist, depicts a double-headed eagle holding a vodka bottle, an anti-Semitic banner, a harmonica, a satellite and a Dostoevsky novel.


    This is somewhat on par with depicting Israeli soldiers wearing German WW II era helmets with the Star of David on them as they enter Gaza. For further “artistry,” paint a blue armband around these soldiers showing a white discuss with the Star of David in it.



    Hades has posted images of her paintings, including “Chimera of the Mysterious Russian Soul” with the double-headed eagle and “Our Russia” with the obscenity-strewn curtain, on her LiveJournal blog.

    Hades told The Moscow Times that her artwork aimed to depict “the inconsistencies of the mysterious Russian soul.”

    “Only a Russian can pray and curse simultaneously,” Hades said. “A Russian is a saint and a sinner all at once.”

    Hades said her paintings were “partly self-criticism” because she was “half-Russian.” She said she was born in the Kemerovo region and also has Jewish and Tatar roots.


    The first part of the above excerpted can be reasonably viewed as being on the bigoted side.

    When done in a certain way, so-called “self criticism” is good. As for her background serving as some sort of a qualifier, others can do the same from a different angle.

    On a related matter, I note how a regular Russia Profile panelist has casually used terms like “colonize” and “conquest” to describe Russian manner in Ukraine and Poland. I suspect that he wouldn’t be so free in using such terms when describing Israeli actions.

    For the record, my own preference is to refrain from being overly rhetorical in a way that overlooks key variables to a given subject. This doesn’t preclude me from making appropriately frank replies to half baked comments.



    “Amen. For our freedom and yours, so to say,” Ivanova responded on her own blog, citing a famous patriotic slogan popularized by Poles during their 1830-31 war with Russia.


    Concerning Russo-Polish relations, I’m reminded of a recent Moscow Times article describing the “Russification” of Poland without noting the earlier attempt at “Polonizing” Russia.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 16, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

  7. Yes, there is great romanticizing of the pre-Revolutionary era and the Whites (see the movie Kolchak). That sort of stuff is all over. And then we jump to the Stalin era, which was “yes, a lot of people were killed but it was all for industrialization” and then take another leap to a totally false period of prosperity and great power status under Brezhnev (“they feared us but respected us”). There is no crtique of Lenin, the revolution, the destruction of churches and clergy, the first prison camps, etc. People respect Kolchak and Stalin in the same way.
    If you were imagining that there was/is some sort of communist view of the Soviet past being propagandized, there wasn’t and there isn’t. But that doesn’t mean that there is a serious critique or analysis of the past going on either.

    Comment by mossy — July 19, 2010 @ 4:52 am

  8. There was the anti-White propaganda of the Soviet period. One of them exaggerates the Western support the Whites received and downplays the foreign support for the Reds. Richard Pipes shares this view.

    I’m all for a balanced overview. Part of what might be at play is a maturation process of going from one extreme to another, followed by a more objective course. Note that movies for the masses on historical figures like Patton and Kolchak are prone to some inaccuracy.

    Some see the Brezhnev period as one of relative stability with the USSR having arguably peaked around the late 1950s/early 1960s.

    Soviet geopolitical influence peaked during Brezhnev’s period as GS of the CPSU. However, that growth occurred as things were showing signs of crumbling (especially in retrospect).

    This very last point is noted by Gorbachev when discussing what he inherited as Soviet leader.

    Consider how a dead tree can see branches coming out of it, as well as how the nails and hair on corpses grow for a period following death.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 19, 2010 @ 10:51 am

  9. The linking of Kolchalk and Stalin is loose.

    During WW II, the anti-Communist White leader Denikin issued a statement calling for Russians to not support the Nazis. A prominent English language Russian based editor recently wrote about how a relative of his who fought on the White side had sought fighting on the Soviet side during WW II.

    Communists and anti-Communists of the same national grouping the world over can share some (stress some) points of agreement.

    For that matter, the Western support for Stalin during WW II didn’t see Roosevelt and Churchill becoming Communists.

    On the matter of inaccurate films on historical figures, during WW II, Hollywood produced such on Stalin. As the Cold War begins, one of these films was revised at the end to show an expansionist USSR.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 19, 2010 @ 11:05 am

  10. “I’m all for a balanced overview. Part of what might be at play is a maturation process of going from one extreme to another, followed by a more objective course.”

    Yeah, truth looks extreme compared to lie but I don’t see any problem with that nor reason to make a “balanced overview” just to be less extreme. If you realize Soviet propaganda was full of lies does that make your opinion extreme? How should “balanced overview” look like in that case? Saying there was propaganda elsewhere? Why do you have such problems when someone questions things like “USSR would win against Nazis without West’s help anyway” – after all, one who questions it is just trying to make a “balanced overview”, something you call for. Why did Stalin accepted such help if it wasn’t necessary for USSR, it would be much bigger victory for Soviets if they really defeated Nazis alone and not just tried to say that after few decades? Why have Russian supporters such problems when people state USSR helped to defeat Nazism but it started to fought it no sooner than it was invaded by its former ally and that Soviets might very well remain friends with Nazis if Germans didn’t start Barbarossa?

    Comment by deith — July 19, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

  11. “If you realize Soviet propaganda was full of lies does that make your opinion extreme?”



    On the other points, there’s ample reason to find fault with the Western attitude to Hitler before and during M-R.

    The term “phony war” is used to describe a period after Britian declares war on Germany for the latter’s attack on Poland.

    Note that Britian didn’t declare war on the USSR.

    As noted, Allied aid made the Soviet war effrt easier. There’s good reason to believe that the Soviets would’ve prevailed without that aid – albeit with greater difficulty. The Nazis’ resources became greatly limited as well.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 19, 2010 @ 12:10 pm

  12. Actually “Siegfried” or should that be Arthur/RTR/Ostap Bender/Michael Tal/Phobodunce/Voice Of Reason, there is far more evidence to suggest that Russia would have collapsed without British and American aid.

    For example, most of the food supplied to the Red Army was supplied under lend lease, along with many of the basics required just to keep an army on it’s feet, let alone in action, including POL, ammunition, supply trucks, trains, freight wagons, not to mention the tanks, from Matilda’s, Valentines, Churchills, Grants and Shemans (which were highly prised by Soviet tank crews, being issued to many Guards units), the aircraft such as Hurricanes, Spitfires, P-38’s, P-40’s, B-25’s etc.

    In addition the majority of T-34’s were produced using US supplied armor plate which was vastly superior to Russian produced armor plate.

    Then we have the small matter of Barbarossa being delayed by a couple of months due to the Germans being forced to go and bail out their Italian allies in Greece and Yugoslavia, culminating with the virtual decimation of the German Paratroop force on Crete.

    What would have happened if Germany had been able to enjoy another 2 months of good weather in its invasion of the USSR? What if they had had the tens of thousands of German troops, tanks, and airpower that was stuck on garrison or combat duties in the Balkans, Crete and Greece?

    Bye bye Moscow most likely.

    Comment by Andrew — July 23, 2010 @ 5:31 am

  13. Where do you get this info. on some of the materials for the T-34 Andrew or whoever the **** you are?

    I agree that the Serbs did their share during WW II.

    Numerically, the bulk of Nazi forces were stationed against the USSR. The Nazis were clearly challenged on issues pertaining to raw materials and man power.

    FYI, contrary to your claim, in camparison to the T-34, the Sherman wasn’t highly thought of by experienced Red Army tankers. This explains why the Red Army preferred to use the Sherman in more of a backup role.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 24, 2010 @ 12:57 am

  14. No, the Sherman was not disliked “by experienced Red Army tankers” nor used “in more of a backup role”, whatever that nonsense might mean. Buy a clue.

    Comment by peter — July 26, 2010 @ 5:35 am

  15. Actually, in comparison to the T-34, it has been likened to a tin can on tracks.

    Western WW II documentaries overwhelmingly stress the T-34’s importance to the Red Army’s successs over the Shermans – in comparison, the latter is rarely mentioned as being utilized by the Red Army.

    Later chump.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 27, 2010 @ 8:39 am

  16. You cannot be serious. “Has been likened” by who? By “experienced Red Army tankers”? Can we have a reference please? And which T-34 are you talking about — the original one or T-34/85? Like I said, buy a clue.

    Comment by peter — July 27, 2010 @ 10:50 am

  17. No, no, no.

    The T-34 gets ranked as one of the best in the way that the Sherman doesn’t.

    Kindly reference your supporting sources if possible.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 27, 2010 @ 5:39 pm

  18. Once again, you wrote, and I quote, that “in camparison to the T-34, the Sherman wasn’t highly thought of by experienced Red Army tankers. This explains why the Red Army preferred to use the Sherman in more of a backup role.” You have yet to produce any reference to support your naked assertion. What part of “reference” do you not understand?

    Comment by peter — July 27, 2010 @ 6:55 pm

  19. As I correctly suspected, you provide zilch to back up the dubious suggestion that the Sherman

    – played a substantial role in Red Army tank warfare

    – was on par with the T-34 in effectiveness.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 28, 2010 @ 12:26 am

  20. ????????? ?????

    ? ???? «???????» ?????? ????????? ? ?????? 1942 ???? (?????? ????? ???????? 5-? ??????????? ??), ?? ? ???????? ??????????? ???? ???? ???????? ? ????????? ??????? ?????? ? ????? 1943 ???? (? ??????? ????? «???????» ?? ???????????). ??????? ? ????? 1944 ????, «???????» ????????? ??????? ??????????? ?? ???? ????????? ?? ???? ??????? ??????? ????????????? ?????.

    ???????? ??????? ???????????? ????? ??????, ???????? ?????????? ???????? ?????? ??????? ?? ????????? ? ?????????? ???????, ? ????? ????? ??????? ???????? ?????????? ???????????? ? ??????? ?????. ??????? ??????? ?? «????????» ????????? ??????. ?? ????????????? ?????? ????? ???????? ????? ??, ??? ? ????? ??????? ?? ??? ??????????? ??????????? ?????? ??????????????? M3, ? ? ?????? ? ???? ? ???? ??????? ??? ??????? ???????? ???????????? ???????????? ???????.

    ????? 1943 ???? ????????? ????????? ?????????? M4A2, ??????????? ??? ?????? ?????????? ???????. ?????, ???????????? ????, ????? ??????? ????????? ????????? ?????? ???????, ??? ???????? ?????????? ????????? ???????? ??? ???????? ?? ??????????? ?????? ???????. ????????????? ????????? ??????? ? ??????? ???????????? ??????? ??????? ???????, ? ???? ???????? ????? ???????????????.

    ? ????? ???? ??????????? ????????? ?????????????? ?????????? ?-34, ? ?????????? ????? ?? ???????, ??? ?????-???? ?????? ???????. ????? ?????????????? ??????? ??????? ???????? «????????», ?? ????????? ? ?????????? ???????, ? ????? ????????????? ????? ?????? ? ????? ?? ????? ????????, ??? ?????????????? ?????? ?????????.

    ? ???? ?????, ?????????? ?? ????-????, ????????? ?????????? ? ????????? ????? (?? ?????? ???????? ?????????? ??? ??????), ??? ????????? ?????????? ???????? ? ?????????. ??????? ?????????? ??????????? ? ???? «????????» ????????? ??????? ? ????? ??????? (????????, 1-? ??????????? ???????????????? ??????, 9-? ??????????? ???????? ??????), ??????????? ?????? ???? ????? ?????. ????? ? ????? ? ??? ?? ?????? ?????????????? ???????????? ??????? ????? ? ?????? ????? ?-60 ? ?-80 ?????????? ????????????.

    ?????????? ????? 1945 ???? M4A2(76)W HVSS ???? ?????????? ?? ??????? ??????, ? ????????? ??????? ? ????? ?????? ??????.

    Comment by peter — July 28, 2010 @ 2:55 am

  21. Okay. Sherman not used in Kursk.

    Can get more academic if need be on some excerpts at this link:

    Excerpts in question:

    The Sherman’s ONLY virtue was reliability. It was poorly-armoured, it’s gun was always too weak, and it had a reputation for burning.

    The T-34 has to be considered ‘best all-round’: mainly because of the ‘all-round’ stipulation: an excellent balance of armour, firepower and mobility: the three factors that make up the tank. At any stage of the war it could defeat its enemies and withstand their attacks to a reasonable extent, and its maneuverability/mobility was always something the Germans were jealous of. It’s diesel engine made it less of a ‘Ronson lighter’ [guaranteed to light first time]. It made 500hp and had a 76mm gun: in 1940. It was improved as the war went on: always a characteristic of a great tank. It had all the Sherman’s advantages but none of its drawbacks. T-34 casualties were high due to poor training before 1944 and lack of radios.

    Second would have to be the Panther: again an excellent balance of characteristics. It was let down by being too complex and by having suspect reliability, especially the transmission. Unlike the Sherman and T-34, the Panther arrived quite late (July 1943) and could not be built in large enough numbers.

    The only remaining contender is the German Panzer Mark IV: again a reliable workhorse of a tank, used and produced all through the war. It was overshadowed by its more ‘glamorous’, animal-named comrades, but would have to be rated better than the Sherman (equal in armour and mobility, more firepower) but a bit behind the T-34 (much slower in real conditions, only equal in firepower and perhaps slightly behind in armour).

    One could name other excellent tanks such as the British Comet and American Pershing, or the Soviet IS-2 and -3, and the German Tigers 1 and 2: but these tanks, though formidable, were too late (Comet and Pershing) or were not good ‘all-rounders’ (the German and Soviet heavies). Others like the German Pz III, the British Churchill and Cromwell, and the Soviet KV1 were decent tanks that did much for their respective armies, but ‘greatest’ as a balance of technical superiority, practicality, ease of manufacture… the T-34 I think.


    The Best all round tank of wwll…. has to be the soviet T-34. an unbelievable machine which when compared with the tanks of the axis and allies forces in term of Armour, firepower, durability. and reliability. the T-34 is the best at none while the second best at all. it is also worth noting that to manufacture these tanks was considerably quicker than their counterparts allowing for vast numbers to be produced in an incredibly short space of time.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 28, 2010 @ 3:22 am

  22. Why on earth have you posted this pile of retarded apples-to-oranges crap from some teenage site?

    All I’m asking you to do is substantiate your claim that, I quote, “in camparison to the T-34, the Sherman wasn’t highly thought of by experienced Red Army tankers. This explains why the Red Army preferred to use the Sherman in more of a backup role.”

    Can you provide your source please? Or shall we assume you just made that up?

    Comment by peter — July 28, 2010 @ 4:30 am

  23. “We” can assume whatever.

    A more academic breakdown will confirm that the Sherman didn’t out-perform the T-34. In addition, there’s a consensus that the Sherman was more vulnerable when struck than the T-34.

    The Sherman receives praise in comfort and the positioning of its instrumentation. That seems to be the extent of its plusses.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 28, 2010 @ 5:08 am

  24. “We” can assume whatever.

    So it’s a yes, you just made those “experienced Red Army tankers” up.

    A more academic breakdown will confirm…

    Given your nonexistent credentials and reputation, you are clearly in no position to perform “a more academic breakdown”.

    … the Sherman was more vulnerable when struck than the T-34.

    Apples and oranges, in more ways than one.

    The Sherman receives praise in comfort and the positioning of its instrumentation.

    Positioning of its instrumentation? Like I said, you simply haven’t the foggiest clue what you’re talking about.

    Comment by peter — July 28, 2010 @ 6:03 am

  25. Appropriately applies to your last set of comments and others:

    “Sorry to be blunt, but you need some professional help here. I’m out of this round. I don’t argue with crazy people.”


    More bluntly put, you’re a trolling idiot with a perverse fetish, which includes not being able to successfully prove your point.

    I didn’t make up ANYTHING. Obviously, the tin can reference relates to the vulnerability of the Sherman when taking hits to it. That comment was made by T-34 tankers at an event which included intelligent people having a greater knowledge and interest in the subject than yourself.

    Internet forums can be positive when free of your putrid likes.

    Comment by Siegfried — July 28, 2010 @ 10:26 am

  26. … the tin can reference relates to the vulnerability of the Sherman when taking hits to it.

    Oh give me a break, Mike. You are too retarded to even figure out HTML tags (you know, those little thingies one uses to make hyperlinks and bold/italic stuff), what do you possibly know about “the vulnerability of the Sherman when taking hits to it”?

    Comment by peter — July 28, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  27. Siegfried, you are obviously a bit of an idiot, so I will spell it out.

    The Lend Lease tanks such as the Churchill and Sherman were highly prized by their Soviet crews.

    The T-34 is vastly overrated due to post war Soviet propaganda.

    Its main benefit was that it could be produced in very large numbers, however it was extremely prone to exploding violently when hit, as shown by the fact that it’s crews had only around a 30% chance of survival at best when hit. Part of this was due to the extremely cramped nature of the tank, but much was caused by shoddy welding and poor production values.

    It’s fire control system was extremely poor (no stabilised gun, such as on the Sherman) with rudimentary sights and no range finder.

    The 76mm gun was adequate in 1941 and early 42, but almost useless by 1943, and even when the 85mm gun was introduced it was far less effective than the 75mm used by the Germans on the Panther or even the MK IV, as well as being vastly inferior to the 17pdr used on the Sherman Firefly.

    For anyone who doubts the wartime reputation of the Sherman amongst the Red Army, consider that in January of 1945, 1st Guards Mechanized Corps, an elite unit, turned in its T-34/85s and was completely re-equipped with Sherman M4A2s.
    Amongst the other units using the Sherman were the 3rd Guards Mechanized Corps, 9th Guards Mechanized Corps and many individual Tank Brigades.

    For a good (and honest) overview of the T-34, try reading “T-34 Mythical Weapon” by Robert Michulec & Miroslaw Zientarzewski which strips away most of the Soviet BS about the T-34 in actual service.

    Comment by Andrew — August 5, 2010 @ 1:15 am

  28. Also interesting to note that when Sherman 76’s encountered T-34/85’s in Korea they slaughtered the Russian made tanks with little problem with a kill loss ratio of over 3 to 1 in the Shermans favor.

    Comment by Andrew — August 5, 2010 @ 2:09 am

  29. This back and forth on the M-4 Sherman and T-34 is quite fascinating. My take is that the T-34/76 was superior to the Mk III’s and Mk IV’s that represented the vast bulk of German armored forces in June 1941 and well into 1942, not to mention Mk II’s or Czech tanks that were still in German formations.

    One of the T-34’s main virtues was its wide track. Another was its sloped armor.

    If you look at a T-34, the crudity of the manufacturing is evident. But the Soviets were able to produce in numbers, and that’s what mattered. And, as the upgunning to the 85 mm shows, the design was flexible.

    Early versions of the M-4 were undergunned and underarmored. They also had a very bad tendency to burn. But they were also produced in such huge numbers that overcame many of their defects. The upgunned Shermans were indeed far more effective than the original. The Israelis even upgunned some Shermans to a 44 caliber 105 mm piece. The Israelis also replaced the gasoline engines with diesels, which were less prone to turning the tanks into “Ronsons.” These served effectively in the ’67 War.

    It should also be mentioned that the T-34 evolved from US Christie tanks that the Soviets bought: the US army wasn’t remotely interested. The family resemblance is closest if you look at the suspensions and track wheels. The T-34 used a Christie suspension.

    The ProfessorComment by The Professor — August 5, 2010 @ 11:13 am

  30. поиск по базе билайн, поиск по базе мтс…

    […]Streetwise Professor » History as Seen by a Tarantula*[…]…

    Trackback by поиск по базе билайн, поиск по базе мтс — December 27, 2011 @ 8:13 am

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