This important book draws on vital new archival material to unravel the mystery of Hitler's invasion of Russia in 1941 and Stalin's enigmatic behavior on the eve of the attack. Gabriel Gorodetsky challenges the currently popular view that Stalin was about to invade Germany when Hitler made a preemptive strike. He argues instead that Stalin was actually negotiating for European peace, asserting that Stalin followed an unscrupulous Realpolitik that served well-defined geopolitical interests by seeking to redress the European balance of power. Gorodetsky substantiates his argument through the most thorough scrutiny ever of Soviet archives for the period, including the files of the Russian foreign ministry, the general staff, the security forces, and the entire range of military intelligence available to Stalin at the time. According to Gorodetsky, Stalin was eagerly anticipating a peace conference where various accords imposed on Russia would be revised.
But the delusion of being able to dictate a new European order blinded him to the lurking German danger, and his erroneous diagnosis of the political scene-colored by his perennial suspicion of Great Britain-led him to misconstrue the evidence of his own and Britain's intelligence services. Gorodetsky highlights the sequence of military blunders that resulted from Stalin's determination to appease Germany-blunders that provide the key to understanding the calamity that befell Russia on 22 June 1941.
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(229mm x 152mm x 24mm)
Yale University Press
Publisher: Yale University Press
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US Kirkus Review »
An intense, and densely written, study of the strategic and diplomatic reasons for the German invasion of Russia in WWII and of why Stalin wasn't better prepared to defend the country. Gorodetsky (East European History/Tel Aviv University, Israel) draws on a wealth of Soviet materials previously unavailable, as well as on material from German and British archives, to argue that this lack of preparation until just weeks before Germany launched its attack was not motivated by political naivete but rather by Stalin's own brand of realpolitik - a hope for European peace on terms dictated by Germany, terms in which Stalin would have a part, as an ally of Hitler's through the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact. Gorodetsky looks carefully at the various corespondences and examines the aims that blinded Stalin to the dangers that were building as Germany deployed its troops closer and closer to the Russian border. In addition, Gorodetsky also examines the effect that the Stalinist purges of the 1930s had in Russia's attempts to formulate a strategic response to the German buildup of troops without provoking the Wehrmacht into further action. Gorodetsky's arguments are clear once the reader has managed to unearth them from the mounds of dense, jargon-filled prose in which they are buried. There are few sentences shorter then a full paragraph, and the book is more than twice as long as it needs be. Gorodetsky's concluding chapter, a concise 7 pages, sums up all the 300 pages that precede it. Alas for the reader that this chapter comes at the book's end rather than at its beginning. Well argued . . . and argued and argued. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Gabriel Gorodetsky
Gabriel Gorodetsky holds the Samuel Rubin Chair of Russian and East European History at Tel Aviv