Sunday, June 19, 2011

Solzhenitsyn on Churchill and Roosevelt

The great Russian writer on how Eastern Europe was handed over to the Communists. To quote:
In their own countries Roosevelt and Churchill are honored as embodiments of statesmanlike wisdom. To us, in our Russian prison conversations, their consistent shortsightedness and stupidity stood out as astonishingly obvious. How could they, in their decline from 1941 to 1945, fail to secure any guarantees whatever of the independence of Eastern Europe? How could they give away broad regions of Saxony and Thuringia in exchange for the preposterous toy of a four-zone Berlin, their own future Achilles' heel? And what was the military or political sense in their surrendering to destruction at Stalin's hands hundreds of thousands of armed Soviet citizens determined not to surrender? They say it was the price they paid for Stalin's agreeing to enter the war against Japan. With the atom bomb already in their hands, they paid Stalin for not refusing to occupy Manchuria, for strengthening Mao Tse-tung in China, and for giving Kim Il Sung control of half Korea! What bankruptcy of political thought!(Read entire article.)
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9 comments:

Mercury said...

I undertaand him, and I used to think that way too. But after reading an exhaustive history of the war, the answer is very simple: Stalin was already there.

In reality, relations between the USSR an the western powers were very tenuous the whole time and had deteriorated tremendously by 1944/1945. When the Allies invaded Germany, they did actually try to rush to take as much German land as possible before the Russians got there. But when it came down to it, by that time the Red Army was 25 million men strong, morale through the roof. The British Army was barely left, and the US didn't have the numbers to compete and were about to enter endgame with Japan. There was simply no way to save eastern Europe without a huge fight that the allies would have certainly lost, leaving the USSR in control of even greater swathes of land.

Germany was dismembered and parts handed to Pokand as part of a "deal" where the USSR would take Poland's eastern edge and adds it to Belarus. Stettin, Posen, Danzig, Breslau etc were the compensation. And once again, the Red Army, the largest military force ever assembled, was in control. Who could protest?

The Western Confucian said...

Many thanks for the link.

Dymphna said...

I always thought Yalta was a stunning act of cruelty.

elena maria vidal said...

Mercury, I thank you for the clear explanation of the situation which sheds SOME light on why things happened as they did. However, I'm with General Patton, who wanted to take down the Soviets after he had finished with the Nazis.

You are welcome, Joshua. Thank YOU!

Dymphna, very true and I guess we couldn't expect anything else when we had people like Alger Hiss at Yalta influencing some major decision-making.

Mercury said...

Elena, I agree - I wish they'd have driven them out too. But it was truly impossible, given the circumstances.

Matterhorn said...

It WOULD have been impossible to take out the USSR, if done as outright conquest. The Russians are too patriotic, and the country too vast. I wonder, though, if it might have been possible if it had been spun as a liberation war, and internal rebellions incited at the same time. If the Red Army could have been persuaded to defect, the regime would have collapsed. I wonder if there was any chance of such ideas succeeding. If only they had.

elena maria vidal said...

I think General Patton, who was there, was aware of the daunting logistics. I doubt that he thought of taking over Russia but helping to get rid of the Soviet regime was probably more what he was thinking of, as you suggest Matterhorn. There were actually many Russians fighting on the side of the Germans because they wanted to free Russia from Stalinism. The soldiers ended up as POW's and many were eventually handed over to the Soviets.

Matterhorn said...

Yes, I have heard of Russians (and other Eastern Europeans) fighting on the side of the Germans, as a way of trying to bring down Stalinism. I have also heard that the Nazis' racist persecution of Slavs alienated many who might otherwise have collaborated with the Germans for this purpose. It all goes to suggest what might perhaps have been possible if the Allies had extended a genuinely helping hand to the populations under Soviet rule.

elena maria vidal said...

Exactly, instead of handing them over to the Communists!