April 15, 2107, Israel
Joseph Stalin, the early years, strong man rising to the top, the hard way.
When I worked on Wall Street back in the 1980's there was talk of a "correction", the market was too high, stocks were overvalued and everyone knew the prices had to come down. The only question was, when?
Sell today and then you feel stupid tomorrow when the price continues to rise. Wait and then the "Correction" comes and you lose everything you have gained until now. Timing is everything.
1941, Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union, the unthinkable happens, Stalin is totally unprepared.
This is a question that has troubled many over the decades and is still discussed today. We look at the facts, we scratch our heads and wonder, how could a man like Stalin not see this coming.
Just a little important background; Joseph Stalin, born Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili, was certainly a cruel and ruthless but wise man. He rose from dire poverty and an a terribly abusive childhood to become one of the most powerful men in the world. He was trained as a priest but found a new way and it would be brutal.
Unlike the American president he was not elected, he muscled his way to power. He was not educated at Harvard, but on the mean streets of his native Georgia and then Siberia. He stood barely 5 foot 5, had a body damaged by disease and a badly damaged left arm. This was not a stupid man.
He trusted no one and eliminated his political opponents. Even close friends and family were not spared.
In 1939 he signed a non aggression pact with Hitler; both sides agreed not to attack each other. They divided up Poland as if it were their personal cake. Stalin never trusted Hitler and even on the day of the signing he told his inner circle that it was all "Just a game". Stalin was buying time.
Stalin was a very meticulous man and had read Hitler's Mein Kampf and underlined certain passages, the ones' describing Hitler's opinion on the Slaves and his ultimate plan for them. Unlike the American (FDR) the Georgian (Stalin) was not naive. He knew who he was dealing with but he felt he bought a few years to prepare his army. The general estimate is that Stalin wanted and planned on 4 years of military build up before the confrontation with Germany.
Stalin was a ruthless man, not for nothing did he choose the name Stalin - Man of Steel, for this he was. Already as a young man he robbed banks, was involved in kidnappings and assassinations. The young Jughashvili was arrested, and exiled to Siberia on several occasions but he always managed to escape.
He trusted no one, he sent hundreds of thousands to the Russian Gulag including members of his own family. When he issued order 270 that no Russian should ever surrender to a German he followed through. He said there are no Russian POW's (prisoners of war) there are only traitors. When the Germans informed him that they had his son Yakov and were willing to trade him for a top Nazi, Stalin responded, "I have no such son", and then proceeded to arrest his own daughter in law as the wife of a traitor. She was sent away. Yakov was shot. Joseph Stalin was not a naive cuddly kind of man.
And yet, he was caught by surprise by the German invasion. Why?
First lets take a look at the reasons why Stalin should not have been caught by surprise
So now again we must ask, a man knows an attack is coming, all the signs are there and yet he does not prepare. (Beginning to see my point? I am talking about you and me, Mr. Joe common who knows an attack is coming, has all the warning signs but stubbornly refuses to take any defensive actions.)
What was Uncle Joe (Stalin) thinking?
We have some ideas. He had this crazy idea that Great Britain could not be trusted. Britain after all had always been an imperialist power and was thinking in terms of an empire. Stalin always believed that the UK, the US and Germany were natural allies and would combine forces against the USSR. Crazy? Stalin knew that all these countries were anti Bolshevik, anti communist, they had a common goal.
Stalin actually read Mein Kampf and knew that Hitler had always wanted an alliance with Britain. Hitler liked the British and thought of them as brothers. He was not far off as in fact much of the British royalty is of German stock. Many of Britain's rulers were cousins with German rulers during the times of the Kaisers. The connections between Great Britain and Germany's royal families go back more than 300 years. English and German blood has intermingled for 1,500 years. King George the 5th of England was a first cousin to Kaiser Wilhelm the ll of Germany. Queen Victoria (1819 - 1901) was their common grandmother. Georges' father King Edward the 7th was brother to Victoria mother of Wilhelm ll of Germany. Family.
July 19, 1940, in a speech at the Reichstag Hitler appeals to the British for peace.
Can you begin to understand Stalin now?
So when Rudolf Hess of Germany flew to Scotland (an independent mission) to discuss peace, Stalin saw his fear of Germany and Britain joining against him coming true.
Looking back it looks a little bit crazy, how can anyone in their right mind think that the United States, Great Britain and Germany would become allies against the Soviet Union?
Crazy? But that is exactly what happened once Hitler was dead. Stalin was correct. Most of the dreaded evil German Nazis were magically "denazified" (Yes, I am not making this up, there was a process called denazification.) Officially this process was to get rid of Nazi influences in Germany but in actuality it was a process whereby an individual, deemed necessary for American national security, underwent a brief process by which his Nazi past was expunged, erased or forgiven. (Read, The Nazis Next Door,The shocking story of how America became one of the world's safest
postwar havens for Nazis. Thousands of Nazis -- from concentration camp
guards to high-level officers in the Third Reich -- came to America )
So what happened? For the sake of "national security and combating communism" the USA forgave leading Nazis their sins and hired them to work for the American government and industry. So you actually had for many years proven German Nazis working for the American government to combat the supposed threat of communist world domination.
All during the war years the populations of Eastern Europe took "revenge" against the Jews. Revenge for what? For the crimes of the NKVD and the USSR. Why blame the Jews for the actions of Stalin? Because to the Eastern European people the enemy was the "Moscow Bolshevik Jew". The USSR was controlled by Jews. (in their distorted unfocused minds).
Thus in fact Stalin was correct in his assessment. The only thing was that he was off by a few years. In fact Germany, the USA and The United Kingdom did unite against Soviet Russia and did blame the Jews. In fact many American Jews were persecuted as agents of communism. Countless Jews lost their jobs as the Committee on "Un American Activities" conducted its witch hunts and persecuted whom it perceived to be the enemy. Many believe that Jews were singled out as targets. (On the floor of the House of Representatives, Congressman John Rankin made a speech which consisted of virtually nothing more than a list of Jewish names.)
A small number of Jews were even executed. Stalin was proven correct. But his timing was off. So Stalin was not as paranoid as you might have thought until now.
This was an ugly chapter in history. The Jews and the nation of Poland were sacrificed on the alter of the "greater good". The naive Roosevelt trusted Stalin too much. Churchill was caught in the middle and put in his place as the leader of a declining empire. At the end of the war only two super powers would remain: the US and the USSR. Churchill would be voted out of office. (although he was one of the greatest, if not thee greatest Britain who ever lived.)
And our lesson for today, besides an important view of history, is that the enemy is always at the door step.
You might be attacked and say, I had all the tools ready but I did not think the enemy would attack here, or now. Of course I did not trust the scum and the thieves and the home invaders, I am not stupid. I knew they were coming. I just did not expect the attack to occur now. Like Stalin our timing is off.
Russia is a powerful nation; they could be caught by surprise, they could absorb millions of deaths and the loss of the air force and 34,000 tanks and still come back to win. Can you?
Woody Allen on the "House on Un American activities". Be careful not to become that which you are fighting.
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