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

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

August 12, 1942

In Moscow Prime Minister Churchill breaks the bad news in person to Stalin: There can be no Anglo-American "second front" in Europe in 1942, as FDR had unwisely promised. He cites military unreadiness to launch an invasion by September, the last month of favorable weather. He proposes landings in North Africa and continued saturation bombing of Germany as a substitute for the second front to help ease the burden of USSR on the Eastern Front. [There was considerable speculation and demand from those on the left for a second front. (19)]

February 2, 1943

The last remaining units of the Sixth German Army surrender at Stalingrad after an heroic five-month defense of the city by the Soviets. [This was the turning point of the war and the beginning of the German defeat. They are pushed back 250 miles, almost back to the starting point of their summeroffensive, before their line is stabilized at the beginning of March. (20)]

April, 1943

The Russians break diplomatic relations with the Polish government-in-exile. [The Nazis had revealed the burial in Katyn Forest of thousands of Polish officers who had disappeared during the Spring of 1940, naming the Soviets as perpetrators. The Soviet Union denied responsibility for the massacre, saying the Nazis did it in 1941. The Poles asked the International Red Cross to investigate the affair. Stalin regarded this as an act of hostility and installed a puppet regime in Lublin. The Soviet Union maintained its innocence of the Katyn atrocity until 1990 when the world learned that the NKVD, on Stalin's direct order, had systematically murdered 15,000 Polish officers in Kalinin, Katyn and Starobelsk and buried them in mass graves.] (21)

May 22, 1943

The Soviet Union announces that it has abolished the Comintern, or Communist International, which had been organized in 1919 to foment communist revolutions in other countries. [This brings favorable comment from most Americans, including Joseph Davies, ambassador to the Soviet Union, Eric Johnston, president of the US Chamber of Commerce and even Rep. Martin Dies (D-TX), chairman of the House Committee to Investigate Un-American Activities. The major skeptics were prelates of the Catholic Church, William C. Bullitt, former ambassador to USSR, and die-hard isolationists such as Rep. Hamilton Fish (R-NY). (22)]

July 17, 1943

The KGB in Moscow receives a coded message from the Soviet Embassy in Washington that four German officers have recently arrived in England from Switzerland with an offer to arrange the assassination of Hitler in exchange for a negotiated peace with Great Britain and America, leaving out the Soviet Union. [The information had been supplied by Maurice Halperin, an analyst with the Latin America division of the OSS, who was also spying for the Soviet Union. As a result Stalin became very distrustful of the true intentions of FDR and Churchill despite their repeated statements to him that their governments would insist on Germany's unconditional surrender. This event could be cited as one of the major sources of the Cold War. Halperin was later accused of espionage by his courier Elizabeth Bentley, but he denied the charge and was never brought to trial. However, after the war the FBI began cracking the Soviet code and decrypting messages from the Soviet consulates to Moscow; in July 1995 the National Security Agency started releasing these TOP SECRET documents to the public, including the one about this plot. (23)]

Notes and Sources

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© Janette Rainwater 1997-2001

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