Was it feasible to avert World War II from the start? What was Stalin actually up to in 1939? No matter the answer to these questions, the story ended up with: “Hitler is going to attack the Soviet Union on June 22,” a secret cipher from Soviet spies said.
Before such news, there had been no mention of a conflict between the USSR and Germany. On the contrary, Hitler and Stalin were actively conversing, plotting their control over Europe. Especially after Foreign Ministers Molotov and Ribbentrop signed the non-aggression pact, a secret protocol, on August 23, 1939.
Historians have determined that Hitler addressed six letters to Stalin, and it’s worth noting that the Soviet leader’s responses are still hidden in Russian archives… Nevertheless, the two “burglars” just separated Europe.
Molotov’s directions on November 9, 1940, featured a comprehensive list of Soviet interests – from India to Spitsbergen, the Kremlin seriously regarded itself as a world power or just attempted to threaten Hitler with the geography of its interests. Poland, France, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg were no longer on the list. The Soviet leadership accepted that half of Europe was under German control. Stalin obtained eastern Poland, the Vilna area, and Bessarabia in exchange for their quiet. Meanwhile, the Poland-Soviet Union Non-Aggression Treaty was also in effect.
Stalin expected a fight in the future, but back then, in the 1930-the 40s, now was the time for him to take advantage of the situation. By signing secret agreements with the Third Reich, Stalin seemed to have started the long game. It eventually passed the boundary of diplomacy and became a full-fledged collaboration with Nazi Germany.
Was Stalin able to prevent World War II? Yes, basically not cooperating with the Nazis, not seeing the Nazis as friends, when the whole world was afraid of doing so, it was normal for the USSR to cooperate with them, and especially not to take loans from Germany with very favorable conditions for the Germans just to bring imbalance to the “Western” world. And because “Capitalism” is an enemy, he chose just to split the globe, slaughtering his own folks among other things, and when the fuhrer “fooled” Stalin, he chose to be a “hero” to everyone. But that’s another story…
On June 22, 1941, the day the Third Reich officially declared war against the USSR, Vyacheslav Molotov issued a proposal that no longer included the phrase “friendship by blood.”
As if there hadn’t been a congratulatory message from Stalin to Hitler on Norway’s takeover a couple of months before.
Russian diplomacy has generally been one-sided. Putin expressed similar to Molotov things regarding Turkey and Turks in December 2015: “The Turkish people are friendly to Russia. We don’t want relations with the Turkish people to be curtailed specifically. Well, as for the current Turkish leadership – nothing lasts forever under the moon.” I doubt Putin read Molotov because he stated something similar about Georgia and Georgians, as well as Ukraine and Ukrainians. Both Soviet and Russian tyrants, who rose to power via propaganda and brutality, like talking about other people’s democracies while remaining silent about their own.
If Russians would just learn 5% of the truth about what happened 70-80 years ago, it would be a propaganda shock, which Putin does not require. Putin wants the quiet people to think that a war was won 71 years ago by Russians, not Belarusians, Ukrainians, Georgians, Armenians, Azerbaijanis, or anybody else who “is attempting to steal the Russian victory.”
There is one difference between Hitler’s Germany and Putin’s Russia: the Germans sang Haydn’s hymn with the lyrics “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,” whereas Russians now yell about the “Russian world.” Despite the fact that fascist ideology proclaims the supremacy of one nation wherever you look in both circumstances, Hitler was simply more astute. And now “Putler” (Putin+Hitler) is doing the same in Ukraine. But the problem is that he is doing it not for the first time. Russian military presence in Transnistria 1992 – present (not Putin directly). Chechnya – two big wars, as a result of the occupation 1991-2009. The Russian-Georgian War 2008. Ukraine 2014-2021 and full-scale in 2022. Syria – On September 30, 2015, the Russian military joined in Syria’s civil conflict on the side of Bashar al-Assad’s pro-Russian regime. Russian airplanes deliberately struck people and rescuers in late February of 2016. Amnesty International, a human rights organization, observed assaults on schools, hospitals, and civilian residences and declared, “We have repeatedly called on the Syrian and Russian governments to abide by international humanitarian law and have urged Russia to conduct credible, independent investigations into its forces’ attacks on hospitals and other serious violations,” – Tirana Hassan, Crisis Response Director at Amnesty International. All of these are examples that show the resemblance between Hitler’s and Putin’s ways to act in geopolitics.
World War II history is complicated and full of secrets, falsehoods, and alliances. While many question if it could have been averted entirely, the fact remains that leaders such as Stalin decided to pursue their own interests at the expense of others. The non-aggression pact signed by Germany and the Soviet Union resulted in the division of Europe and the deaths of countless people. The consequences of these actions continue to plague us now. Russian President Vladimir Putin, in particular, is employing propaganda and military force to extend Russian influence and restrict the opposition. From the annexation of Crimea to the current war in Ukraine, Putin has demonstrated a readiness to put his own interests ahead of the well-being of others, especially his own people.
Featured image: Stalin, Putin y Hitler. Graphics by Carmen Vivas. Retrieved from https://www.elindependiente.com/tendencias/historia/2022/03/05/hitler-stalin-y-un-final-para-putin-como-el-de-mussolini/