Alliance with the Soviets in World War II

 Posted by on 5 February 2013 at 10:00 am  Communism, History, World War 2
Feb 052013

I posted these remarks on World War II to Facebook yesterday. The ensuing comments were quite interesting, so I thought I’d share my initial remarks here too.

Now that I’ve gotten to the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact in “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich,” I have a question… I’ve heard various people (of the non-interventionist bent) claim that Britain, France, and the United States should not have allied with Soviet Russia. Undoubtedly, even if that alliance was necessary to win the war, turning over eastern Europe to the Soviets at the end of the war was a major, major evil. (The alliance did not necessitate that, from what I’ve read. Instead, FDR appeased the Soviets as much as Chamberlain did Hitler.)

I’ve also heard such people say that we should have allowed the Nazis and the Soviets to destroy each other. But what does that mean? It seems to mean that when Germany attacked Russia, the Allies should have left Russia to fight its own war, without any coordination with them.

In that case, given how close Hitler came to Moscow, wouldn’t it be very likely that he would have defeated Russia, such that the Allies would have faced a much, much greater threat from Hitler — perhaps an undefeatable threat — even with help from the United States?

I’m sure that I’ll come to my own answers as the narrative progresses, but I still want to understand this “we should not have allied with the Soviets” view better. Right now, it seems wildly unrealistic to me.

I’m enjoying The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (paperback, kindle, or audible) so much more than I thought I would. It’s an intensely detailed history. I’ve seen some people criticize it as “journalistic,” but I vastly prefer such fact-rich histories to those light on facts but heavy on interpretation. When the author draws conclusions, I want those conclusions to be overwhelmingly supported by the evidence drawn from primary sources.

To be clear, I don’t merely dislike interpretation-heavy histories when the underlying ideology is, say, pro-Marxist. Such histories are so unreliable as to be useless. Rather, I dislike any interpretation-heavy histories — even when the underlying ideology is Objectivist. I don’t trust anyone to come to conclusions for me, even when we share the same basic philosophic principles. While I’d be interested to hear what an Objectivist historian would say, ultimately, I want to make my own integrations and draw my own conclusions. I’ve got my own brain, and I’m not interested in any convenient pre-packaged history.

Perhaps my college years in St. Louis rubbed off on me. I’m a one-woman “Show Me State” … and darn proud of it too!

  • c_andrew

    Rather, I dislike any interpretation-heavy histories

    My grandfather left me some history books – in trust as it were because they are supposed to stay in the family – that were completed shortly after WWI. Indeed, the section on that conflict is titled, “The Great War.”

    In an approach unique to any other histories I have seen, while the compilers do offer some historical analysis, the thrust of their volumes is a blow by blow retelling of history. They give you the tactics and strategies of the Greeks vs the Persians on the battlefield and what kind of political infighting was occurring at their respective governments at home. From what I can tell – I haven’t read from them in 20 years given my time constraints – the analysis they provide is with the idea of tying the concretes presented into a coherent whole rather than with any ideological bent in mind.

    It’s not quite the same as giving you history by a presentation of original historical documents although they do provide those as well when they consider them to be important – but it is very close to that approach.

    It was finished in the early 1920′s and given its length, I assume that the project would have had to have started in the late 19th century. At least, that appears to be the intellectual milieu in which it is based. And far superior, in my estimation, to any similar work coming out of the 20th century, including the Durants’ “History of Civilization” which I like but which suffers from the left wing pre-disposition of its creators.

    I think that the reason that most non-interventionists decry the Allied-Soviet alliance is that they think that the drop of the Iron Curtain was a direct consequence of that alliance instead of the outcome of connivance with subversives on the allied side, combined with the moral disarmament of the West that led to a rather supine posture on their part. Churchill makes it clear in his 6 volume work that he feared this outcome beginning with the suggestion by Stalin that 50,000 to 100,000* political executions of germans would be required (at the Tehran Conference) which FDR passed off as a joke (perhaps 49,000 would do) as well as the concessions made to Soviet political control of Eastern Europe – at the Yalta Conference – particularly granting Soviet Communist “Polish” government essential control of that country and the forced repatriation of “Soviet and Yugoslavian citizens regardless of consent.” This process was finalized at Potsdam where Truman faced Stalin without the assistance of Churchill who had been replaced by Attlee, the Labour Party Prime Minister who initiated the grand nationalizations of the British Economy post WWII and whose sympathies were leftist but not communist.

    The other thing that the non-interventionists tend to miss is the hatred held by most of the governing class in the United States for the Germans. The Morgenthau Plan, partially instituted in JCS 1067 and parts of which were incorporated into the Potsdam Agreement, would have necessitated the death or removal of 25 million Germans according to former president Herbert Hoover (who ran the relief efforts for the European continent after WWI and probably knew whereof he spoke). To which, FDR is rumored to have replied, “So What?”

    This level of antipathy was NOT general in the US population; in fact, when press reports were published about the Morgenthau plan (allegedly leaked by George S. Patton) there was enough public dismay that FDR denied the reports and shelved the direct implementation of the Morgenthau plan.

    Any mindset that is willing to see the death by gov’t fiat of 25 million people as an acceptable thing are surely going to find the political repression of former allies of their enemies as small potatoes indeed.

    And so while I agree that the alliance with the USSR made a proper disposition of Eastern Europe after WWII very difficult, the outcome we were left with was not an inevitable consequence of that alliance but a result of decisions made by our respective ruling classes to not stand up to the Soviet machine.

    And on the flip side, had the Germans captured Moscow, they would not only have gained the political ascendancy, but they would have had the major rail and industrial nodes under their control. This would have allowed much easier reinforcement of their Caucasus armies and the inevitable capture of the Caspian oil fields. One of the great disadvantages the German military machine operated under was the paucity of fuel – and this would have removed that advantage from the Allied side. All in all, I think we had to “sup with the devil.” It’s just that our political leaders, guided perhaps by active subversion by Soviet allies in our institutions of state, or by pure political naivete were disinclined to “use a long enough spoon.”

    *This is roughly 4 times the number of officers that the Soviets executed in Poland as a means of asserting political control in that country in the Katyn Forest Massacre of 1940.

Suffusion theme by Sayontan Sinha