Jeffrey Nyquist comments on Suvorov’s book The Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II and reflects on the lessons to be learned from history.Soviet GRU defector Viktor Suvorov has come out with a new book titled The Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II. It is Suvorov’s thesis that Stalin tricked Hitler into starting the war. This was easily done because Hitler was impetuous. Stalin, on the other end, had the virtue of patience and was more deceptive. In addition, Stalin had absolute control over the Soviet Union. He enslaved hundreds of millions of people for one purpose: to build a military machine second to none for the conquest of Europe. To assure his grand design, Stalin implemented a strategy of “divide and conquer.” He plotted to set Hitler against France and Britain. At the same time, Stalin set about to build the greatest war machine the world had ever seen.
At the Nuremberg trials in 1946, the defense attorney for deputy Fuhrer Rudolf Hess argued that Stalin was equally responsible for starting the war. The Soviet leader set the war in motion by signing a secret pact with Hitler. The agreement involved a joint invasion and partitioning of Poland. In the course of this invasion Stalin cheated Hitler by delaying the Soviet invasion of Poland for 17 days. Hitler was shocked at the betrayal. “Where are the promised Russian troops?” Stalin’s coy answer: “Our forces aren’t ready.” As Nikita Khrushchev later explained, “According to this agreement [the Hitler-Stalin pact], it turned out that Hitler started the war. This was beneficial for us from the military and from the moral standpoint. With his actions, he would provoke war with France and England, by going against Poland. We could remain neutral.”
While Germany was at war with England and France, the Soviet Union was free to invade its neighbors without risk. “The Soviet Union entered World War II as an aggressor,” wrote Suvorov. “Poland, Finland, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania – all the western neighbors of the Soviet Union – fell victim to the Red Army.” Millions of gulag prisoners were harvested in the newly conquered territories. Stalin got what he wanted, and had no qualms about helping resource-starved Germany by sending oil, grain, cotton, iron ore, magnesium, chrome, zinc, nickel, and tin to Hitler. “Without these things,” wrote Suvorov, “Hitler could not have fought.” But Stalin wanted Hitler to fight, because Hitler was – according to Stalin – the “icebreaker” of the revolution.
After the war Hitler’s foreign minister, Joachim von Ribbentrop, was arrested and put on trial at Nuremberg. What war crimes did this diplomat commit? He had direct knowledge of Stalin’s secret treaty with Hitler. During the Nuremberg trials the Russians warned Ribbentrop to keep his mouth shut. But under cross examination the Nazi diplomat was forced to admit that Stalin and Hitler had worked together. A copy of the secret Hitler-Stalin pact was produced during Deputy Fuhrer Hess’s trial. This created a sensation in the court room, until a Soviet judge demanded the suppression of “this anonymous document.” The Allied judges supported their Soviet colleague.
The West is always slow to understand Russian strategic thinking. The Hitler-Stalin pact was about dividing and conquering. It was aimed at the West. And today, the bosses in the Kremlin continue to aim at the West. By giving nuclear and missile technology to Iran, the Russians prepare a new “icebreaker.” But today, there are many strategies on many continents: there is Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, the North Koreans, and the rapidly arming Chinese.
Strategy is not always about fighting. It is about long-range consequences. If you unloose X, then you unleash Y. Therefore, strategy is psychological and sociological. Consider the strategic outcome of the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington. Thousands of Americans were killed and the U.S. president responded by invading two Islamic countries – Afghanistan and Iraq. These invasions exposed the U.S. administration to withering criticisms from the Left. As long wars invariably prove unpopular, the discrediting of Bush and the Republican Party became a foregone conclusion. In this case, the “icebreaker” of the revolution was al Qaeda. The result of Bush’s overreaction spelled defeat for the Republican Party and victory for the American Left. And now the Americans have elected a president who wants to get rid of 80 percent of America’s nuclear arsenal.
The Americans never reckoned with the fact that their real enemy sits in Moscow. And so, America has been played off against the Islamic world. The Republican Party has been defeated. The American people have turned to the Left, and the American economy is being “socialized.” Here is a disastrous outcome, and one that promises worse violence to the future. What will happen when American troops leave Iraq? What will happen to the world economy as the American’s spend trillions they haven’t got? Will there be communist revolutions? Will the United States continue as a great power?
Suvorov asked the question: who really started World War II. Perhaps, before it’s too late, we should ask who started the “war against terror.” Was Osama bin Laden the mastermind, or was it the KGB agent, Ayman al-Zawahri? (Before his death, the assassinated FSB/KGB defector Alexander Litvinenko publicly stated that al-Zawahri was working for Moscow, and that Russia was behind the global terror campaign.)
Suvorov’s methodology is to look at facts that haven’t been properly analyzed. When asked by a journalist why so many historians missed the role that Stalin played in starting World War II, Suvorov responded: “Are you asking why they are all so brilliant?” If someone asks today why the CIA and FBI haven’t grasped Moscow’s role in 9/11, I must give Suvorov’s answer. It is an amazing truth, that most events aren’t properly examined after the fact. Myths are propagated and false interpretations become set in stone. This is because normal people don’t question first impressions. They are superficial in their analysis. That is the way the world works. To question a myth, one has to have a questioning mind. Facts speak truth only to the few. As Suvorov points out, “Poland was divided not in the Imperial Chancellery, but in the Kremlin.” We might also recall that modern terrorism wasn’t invented in Baghdad or Kabul, but in Moscow.
I am very familiar with Mr. Suvorov’s books. What is unclear to me is why, after the collapse of Communism, the Russian government would continue to support terrorism? After all Russia itself seem to suffer from Islamic terrorism – war in Chechnya, tragedy in Beslan, hostage taking in Moscow’s Northwest theater, etc. I just don’t see what they have to gain, except perhaps as ineffectual response to NATO’s expansion closer to Russian borders.