Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Whitewashing of Stalin

He had the blood of millions on his hands, yet Joseph Stalin has escaped Hitler-style demonization.

Eric Margolis discusses the myths of World War II.
In the end, Churchill and US President Franklin [Roosevelt] were so obsessed with crushing Germany, and so seduced by "Uncle Joe" Stalin, they handed half of Europe to the Soviet Union....
Have we learned nothing from the 20th Century’s apocalyptic wars? As Buchanan says, Churchill’s giveaway of Eastern Europe at Moscow and Yalta was a far graver blunder than Chamberlain’s concessions at Munich in 1938.


Life in the Philippines said...

true, one tends to think of communism as the monster, but it has to be driven by someone....

elena maria vidal said...

Interesting point.

El Jefe Maximo said...

Stalin is most definitely insufficiently demonized; he was surely among the most evil individuals of the 20th Century. Alas, as a dictator, he was far cleverer than his rivals.

As for Mr. Margolis's point on handing Eastern Europe to Stalin, I am not sure that, at the time that disaster played out, that Churchill or Roosevelt could have done much about it. I have never interpreted Yalta as so much a giveaway of eastern Europe, but rather putting political form to something that was going to happen anyway.

Churchill was certainly aware that such a calamity was likely to occur (all the correspondence on his attempts to allocate British/Soviet spheres of influence in the Balkans makes this obvious, if nothing else does). But the UK was hardly in a position financially or militarily to object to Stalin's plans.

As for Roosevelt: it's difficult to know what he really thought. Many authorities have taxed him with naivety about "Uncle Joe." But the President was warned, by General Marshall and others that the end of the war would see only two military powers in Europe -- the US, if it stayed, and the USSR.

Once the Germans failed in Russia, Soviet domination of Eastern Europe was probably a certainty. Hitler's mad decision to go to war with the US and USSR at once ensured it.

The only possibility of avoiding this outcome would have been the collapse of Germany in the west, with the German armies still deep in Russia. Since the Americans did not appear on the continent until 1944 (in hindsight a second front might have been possible in 1943) -- there was in reality little possibility eastern Europe would escape the Soviets.

I have often wondered about what might have happened had the anti-Nazi plotters been able to kill Hitler in 1943. The more famous attempt in East Prussia in July 1944 (coupled with a coup in Berlin) is well known (a film on that effort is soon to be released), but it seems to me that the failure of Operation "Flash" - an effort to bomb Hitler's aircraft flying back from Russia, was perhaps an even greater tragedy.

Trouble was, the 1944 plot was so late. . .Germany was already in deep military trouble in both east and west. Success of Unternehmen Walküre probably would have ended the war sooner, but I doubt the geopolitical consequences would have been much different.

Had the Nazi regime collapsed in 1943, when the Germans still had military cards, subsequent history might have been very different, and Stalin.

El Jefe Maximo said...

and I would have added to my comment...Stalin deprived, perhaps, of such a large empire in Eastern Europe.

elena maria vidal said...

Thank you for the reflections.