#35 - JRL 2009-158 - JRL Home
From: "Michael Herzen" <mikeh@4herzen.net>
Subject: Ribbentrop - Molotov
Date: Tue, 25 Aug 2009

A great deal of ink has been spilled lately on this (long-decided) issue, and all of it, as far as I can see, has failed to mention one decisive fact. Whether this is due to ignorance, or ideological commitment is unclear.

If Stalin knew he would be attacked and was strictly playing for time, if the Pact was inevitable because of some kind of ‘western treachery’ at Munich or elsewhere, if the Soviet Union is somehow blameless for this grossly repugnant act (so repugnant that it denied the existence of the Pact’s secret protocols until near the very end of its own existence, in 1989), how does one explain the very significant commerce that ensued,
including the shipment of vital strategic materials, especially rubber, to Germany, with Stalin’s insistence on punctilious fulfillment of the commercial clauses of the Pact right up to June 22, 1941?

These materials were used directly against France and Britain. Ultimately, they were used directly against the Soviet Union itself.

Given the indisputable verity that Stalin did NOT believe that Germany was going to attack as attested to by these shipments, but also by his serious damaging of his own army thru the purge of the officer corps, by his thorough discounting all the many reports of the German troop movements and intensions, by his specific orders that no materials near the front be moved to the rear, nor any special measures or alerts be issued in the days before June 22 etc etc, ie by far too many things to enumerate here, there is another explanation for Stalin’s behavior that fits the facts much better. Despite the overt, virulent anti-bolshevism of the Nazi regime, Stalin really admired Hitler, especially his 1934 strike against Roehm during the “Night of the Long Knives”, a prelude to his own purges which began curiously at the end of that same year with Kirov’s fortuitous murder. He felt that Hitler was really like him, more a politician using ideology for pursuit of power than a fanatically committed ideologue. No wonder he was so devastated for the two weeks after June 22 that he could not appear in public, even on the radio ­ he had hugely, even possibly fatally, misjudged Hitler. That he escaped with his life from this egregious error was only due to the absence of any serious opponent ­ his purges had worked even better than he himself had realized.

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