This was originally written in rebuttal to Suvorov's thesis, that the USSR was poised to attack Germany in 1941. The OP is content to embrace conspiracy theory and is either unwilling or unable to offer any challenge. I post this, put this out to explain my own interpretation of events, and to invite comment from other knowledgeable people. I would like to solicit different opinions to test my interpretation, peer review and all that...
The original thread is here: http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum....php?p=2181434
My rebuttal is here: http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...&postcount=131
I would invite more knowledgeable members to tear to tear my arguments apart and attack my rebuttal, which follows... There is nothing good about a can of worms before it is kicked over. Before that, it is simply glorified fish food.
The Red Army of 1941 was a decrepit shell of the Red Army that had led the world in 1936 with the development of airborne and air-landed forces, strategic bombing, mechanized warfare and chemical weapons. The vast bulk of the tanks and aircraft were old, conceptually dated by 1939 and quite worn out by 1941. There is a note from one commander to Fedorenko referred to in the book above that drawn attention to the fact that 20% of the tanks listed as serviceable should not be considered so since the tracks were worn out and there were no spares. Half of the amphibious tanks leaked and had been taken out of service. Fully 20% of the tank park was in the shop across the board.
The T-28 is a case in point. A contemporary of the Neubaufahrzeuge, it was large, slow, with riveted construction fabricated from 20mm plate. It was armed with a low-velocity 76mm gun of similar performance to early PzKpfw IVs and rifle-caliber machineguns in three cramped turrets. It was powered by the M-17M engine, which also powered the BT and T-35 and several different aircraft. The engine was no longer in production in 1941 and lack of spares was a systemic problem with Soviet machinery. The T-28 was seriously underpowered so the engine always ran very hot, enough that the rubber-tired roadwheels adjacent to the engine compartment were replaced with steel wheels because the rubber disintegrated. The tank overheated often, and when pressed into use, most broke down and were abandoned before the Germans arrived. Those that saw combat were quickly dispatched by any of the Wehrmacht anti-tank weaponry, including the lowly PzBüsche 39. This was the fate of thousands of T-26 and T-28 and T-35 and BT tanks in the summer of 1941. By winter virtually the entire prewar tank park had been destroyed.
This state affairs came about from two central events. The Red Army of 1936 was very capable, led by Tukhachevsky, a visionary who advocated all these progressive concepts. In May 1937 he was arrested, the start of the Yezhovshchina, the decapitation of the Red Army, where he and most of his "progessive' colleagues were summarily arrested and executed. While this was happening, Guderian was publishing Achtung - Panzer!, which sparked a lively debate about armoured warfare among Wehrmacht circles. In the Soviet Union, you could hear a pin drop.
The status quo prevailed until early 1939, which was a busy year for It was assumed by all that somehow France and Britain would treat with the USSR to form a new Triple Entente to contain Hitler, who was then trying to induce Italy and Japan to join with him in an alliance against the French and British to offset their naval power. Then two things happened: in March, Hitler invaded Bohemia and flipped Chamberlain the bird, an act that alarmed everyone. In May, the Kwantung Army invaded Mongolia, launching a nasty little war between Japan and the Soviet Union.
The assumptions and aspirations of alliance all went sideways after that. Mussolini said that Italy wouldn't be ready before 1943. The Japanese were at war with the Chinese and had aspirations to the south, not north. Stalin ordered full-scale rearmament of the Red Army (and VVS) with immediate effect, perhaps belatedly realizing that the threat was now Germany and not Poland.
Stalin's position seems clear. The last thing he wanted was a two-front war with Germany and Japan. Hitler was greatly overstepping himself, France and Britain were moving to war, and his own army was obsolete, with ideas and equipment that were out of date. If France and Britain were going to war with Germany, this was not a bad thing, especially as it bought the time needed to bring the Red Army's equipment up to date.
One thing led to another. Through back channels it was determined that Stalin was amenable to talk if Hitler was and discussions of a trade agreement began. For both of them it caused a scandal, trading with the devil to radicals on the right and left, but it was good business. Hitler was desperate. Germany was broke, unable to import strategic materials to continue rearmament let alone wage a war, economically and now diplomatically isolated. Hitler was also determined to reassemble the Grossdeutsches Reich, which included Poland, and settle any business with the French and British before they had a chance to rearm. His horoscope said the moon was full, better to act sooner than later.
The trade talks led to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact in August, important for more than just the agreement that divided up Eastern Europe. It gave Germany a free hand to pick a fight over Poland and attack the French and British with a secure flank, as well as supplying the strategic materials that Germany was lacking. Stalin bought time to finish reequipping the Red Army. It is an infamous bargain, scandalous even today.
In any case, from the Kremlin, a war between capitalists was a good thing. I like the comment: where Germany and France would tally their losses in opposite columns, Stalin could tally them all in the same column. No one expected France would collapse so quickly or that the reckoning would come in 1941 and not 1943, when it was anticipated that the Red Army would be ready.
Despite the fact that the Wehrmacht came early, the compact achieved its purpose. Enough had been done before Barbarossa to introduce the new tanks and aircraft that became the mainstay of the Red Army after they recovered from the wreckage of 1941. As it was, the battle for Moscow was a close thing, bitterly fought with a dearth of equipment of any description. T-34 production basically started from scratch in October 1941, with one green tank factory and zero diesel factories. By December there were two new factories, there were shortages of everything but the means were at hand to build more T-34s, enough to hold the line before Moscow and eventually overwhelm the Germans. That design was laid down and introduced into production during that brief hiatus between September 1939 and June 1941, as was the KV-1 that became the IS-2, the first Lavochkin and Yakovlev fighters and the Il-2 Sturmovik, among others. In that sense, the twenty-one months the infamous Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact bought was critical to Hitler's ultimate defeat.
The aftermath of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is also worthy of comment. There is a thread, very long now, where I complained that Western histories are still too full of polemics, relics of the Cold War, that would politicize and condemn Stalin's quest for security as some evil commie plot to conquer the world. I disbelieve this, despite the assertions, particularly with respect to the Soviet occupation of Galicia and the Baltic states.
Stalin was many things, but he was not messianic like Hitler or even Lenin. The record says otherwise, most recently the destruction of the Comintern and execution of the 'Trotskyists'. His obsession was Stalin, his own position and security, and by extension that of the Soviet Union, which had always been besieged by enemies in his lifetime.
It was clear there would be war and Poland was on the table. A glance of the map shows the obvious. It was impossible for Stalin to stand by and allow Hitler to occupy eastern Poland, putting German troops deep into Byelorussia and the western Ukraine. It was also known that these same Baltic states had only nominal armed forces and could not be expected to impede the Germans any more than they did the Red Army, so allowing Germany free access essentially put the Wehrmacht at the gates of Leningrad. That was equally impossible. Militarily, it is impossible to argue that Stalin could justify sitting on his hands, thereby lengthening his frontier with Germany and leaving Leningrad so vulnerable. That's a different view of the map, but it speaks directly to Stalin's primary need for security above and beyond any vision of spreading communism. The only vision Stalin had was in the mirror.
In any case, Suvorov's thesis belongs in the fireplace, lest it spread. If you follow the link to Skoblin's post, he cites the document Suvorov (and Pleshakov) feed from. If you read Tooze, he presents a convincing case that for Germany, war was accepted as eventual by 1936 and by 1938 had become inevitable. Suvorov's ramblings about Stalin's intentions are irrelevant, even if they are correct.
War was going to happen, but it was always Hitler's initiative. He saw it as inevitable, the logical outcome of his Aryan fantasies. Stalin saw it as something to be avoided, at least until he was ready, expected to be 1943. Coincidentally, in 1939 Hitler was planning his war with the USSR for 1943. The easy victories of 1940 allowed him to advance his timetable so he attacked in 1941, two years ahead of schedule. If Stalin had plans in 1941 to launch a war against Germany, it is impossible to consider them as realistic before 1943.
This is a bit longer than I expected, but it could be worse. I once wrote a dissertation on how the VVS got to be as decrepit as it was in 1941 that ran many pages. These days I write about tanks. This is a short description of how the tank park got that way.
I await comments.