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Origins of the Cold War, Part One,1917-1945

1 2 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16                          p.4

June 22, 1941 3:15 AM:

Three German armies--- 3.3 million soldiers--- pour across the Bug and Niemen Rivers to invade the Soviet Union in violation of their "Peace and Friendship" treaty. German bombers attack 66 Soviet airfields, destroying one-fourth of all Soviet airplanes. [Within six days five Russian armies were destroyed. Operation Barbarossa's success was partly due to Stalin's initial paralysis and to the fact that he had decimated the upper ranks of the military with his political purges in the previous decade. (12) Three days after the start of the invasion Hitler confided to Baron Oshima, the Japanese Ambassador to Germany: "I knew that if I left Russia alone and continued my fight against England, [Russia] would stab us in the back when we were least able to resist." (13) For three years, until mid-1944, 95% of the German ground forces were engaged on the Eastern Front. Three-fourths of all German casualties were suffered there. Four years of bitter fighting and Hitler's scorched-earth retreat caused the destruction of...

1700 Soviet cities and towns
70,000 Soviet villages
three-fourths of the industrial plant of the USSR (which President Kennedy later compared to the "destruction of this country east of Chicago")
An estimated 27 million Soviet citizens died.--- American and British deaths combined were less than a million. (14)

Stalin had been amply warned that the invasion was coming. Die Rote Kapell (Red Orchestra), the Soviet spy network in western Europe, as early as January had sent intelligence that the Germans had cancelled preparations for a Channel invasion of England and were moving troops to the east. Later the Brussels, German and Swiss branches of the Red Orchestra had each sent the exact date of the invasion--- May 15---and then its postponement to 3:15 AM of June 22. Also he had received warnings from the US and British governments and from Richard Sorge, the Soviet spy in Japan. He believed that the German build-up in the East was designed to pressure him into delivering more supplies to Germany and to conceal Hitler's real plan-- to invade England. He also suspected the British of sending phony warnings designed to induce him to mobilize his troops, thereby provoking Hitler to attack him and so avert an invasion of Britain. (15)]

June 24, 1941

FDR promises to give aid to the Soviet Union. Senator Harry S Truman (D-MO): "If we see that Germany is winning, we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning, we ought to help Germany. And that way let them kill as many as possible, although I don't want to see Hitler victorious under any circumstances. Neither of them think anything of their pledged word." [At this point in time, the world was mostly unaware of the 17-22 million deaths in the Soviet Union caused by Stalin's policies of forced collectivisation of farms and purges of his "enemies".] (16)

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© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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