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Question for Stalinists

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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 13 Apr 2012, 01:51
Ideology: Left Communism
New Comrade (Say hi & be nice to me!)
Post 12 Jun 2012, 16:59
I have heard nothing but negative things about Stalin but considering that I live in America I have to expect that most of that stuff is either highly exaggerated or out right lies. Can you tell me some good things about Stalin and why you are a Stalinist?
"Anarchy is order."
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 12 Jun 2012, 17:57
We have dozens such threads, use the search function.
If you're interested you should also check out "Another view of Stalin" by Ludo Martens which is freely available on-line or a shorter article called "Lies "Concerning the History of the Soviet Union" by Mario Sousa.
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 12 Jun 2012, 18:38
I'm not a Stalinist but I can tell good things about Stalin. He was the main Soviet commander during WWII, and he was a great commander. Honest historians such as Chris Bellamy would tell you that he was quite important for the victory against Nazi Germany. According to me, this is his greatest achievement, and it's worth everything. In France, where Communist resistance was strong, he was also considered a symbol of antifascism. He may have been terrible, and he must have done some mistakes, and maybe some crimes. But we owe him a lot.
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
Ideology: None
Forum Commissar
Post 13 Jun 2012, 01:54
While I certainly agree that the defeat of the fascists was a tremendous accomplishment, I wonder why you don't think Stalin's actions at the beginning of the conflict were a little clumsy... if not criminally negligent?

Or do you believe that those stories about him dismissing intelligence of a surprise attack are just anti-Stalinist propaganda?
Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 13 Jun 2012, 03:07
This should be moved to Red Square IMO



As for Shig's post, i think this excerpt might be useful.

From Molotov Remembers:

All the history books say that Stalin miscalculated
the beginning of the war.

To some extent, but it was impossible not to
miscalculate. How could you know when the
enemy would attack? We knew we would have
to deal with him, but on what day or even what
month [...]
It is known there were fourteen dates.
We are blamed because we ignored our intelligence.
Yes, they warned us. But if we had
heeded them, had given Hitler the slightest excuse,
he would have attacked us earlier.
We knew the war was coming soon, that we
were weaker than Germany, that we would have
to retreat. The question was, retreat to where –
to Smolensk or to Moscow, that’s what we discussed
before the war.
We knew we would have to retreat, and we
needed as much territory as possible. We did
everything to postpone the war. And we succeeded
– for a year and ten months. We wished
it could have been longer, of course. Stalin
reckoned before the war that only in 1943 would
we be able to meet the Germans as equals.
But there were the intelligence reports [...]
What is written about this is contradictory. From
my point of view, there couldn’t have been another
beginning for the war. We delayed it and,
in the end, we were caught asleep; It turned out
to be unexpected. I think we could not have relied
on our intelligence. You have to listen to
them, but you also have to verify their information.
Intelligence agents could push you into
such a dangerous position that you would never
get out of it. Provocateurs everywhere are innumerable.
That’s why you cannot trust intelligence
without constant and scrupulous checking
and rechecking.
Some naïve people, philistines, have written in
their reminiscences: the intelligence agents
spoke out, deserters from the enemy crossed the
border [...]
You couldn’t trust such reports. But if you were
too distrustful you could easily go to the other
extreme.
When I was the Predsovnarkom I spent half a
day reading intelligence reports. The only thing
missing was the date of the invasion! And if we
had trusted these reports [and gone on a war
footing] the war could have started much earlier.
The task of intelligence was to report in a timely
manner.
On the whole everyone expected the war would
come and it would be difficult, impossible for us
to avoid it. We delayed it for a year, for a year
and a half. If Hitler had attacked us half a year
earlier, you know, bearing in mind our situation
then, it would have been very dangerous. So it
was impossible to begin obvious preparations
without revealing to German intelligence that
we were planning serious measures.
....
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 13 Jun 2012, 05:10
Quote:
Or do you believe that those stories about him dismissing intelligence of a surprise attack are just anti-Stalinist propaganda?

This is exactly what I believe. We speak much about Victor Serge and a few famous reports, but why don't we speak about the other reports which state that Nazi germany was not going to attack? The Soviet Union was preparing for war against Nazi Germany, they knew that Germany would attack and they had no interest to hide the truth. But they didn't know when they would attack exactly, and who.

Also, why don't we speak about the other criminals of the French government? Didn't they had some intelligence reports? France was maybe the main military power.
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
Ideology: None
Forum Commissar
Post 13 Jun 2012, 05:31
What do you make of those stories about Stalin hiding himself away for several days at the start of the war and those other stories about him not allowing troops to defend themselves properly (on the grounds that it "provoke" the Germans)?

OP-Bagration wrote:
Also, why don't we speak about the other criminals of the French government? Didn't they had some intelligence reports? France was maybe the main military power.
Sorry ... what are you referring to here?
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 13 Jun 2012, 05:47
Quote:
What do you make of those stories about Stalin hiding himself away for several days at the start of the war

This is Cold war propaganda, made-up by bourgeois historians such as Nicolas Werth, the son of Alexander Werth who was a great journalist. Now we have all the evidences showing that Stalin was active during the first days of the war. For example, as far as I can remember, he visited a factory.

Quote:
those other stories about him not allowing troops to defend themselves properly (on the grounds that it "provoke" the Germans)?
If I make no mistake, it was only against provocations. For example if a German plane crossed the border. Of course not for a full attack. On the contrary, Soviet commanders had sealed letters containing their orders in case of attack.

Quote:
Sorry ... what are you referring to here?

I mean, when France was attacked, it was a total surprise for them. They were not ready, they didn't knew how Germans would attack. This is what I would call a total failure. But it was also a political failure because they didn't want war against Nazi Germany. So if Stalin was a criminal for what he did, what were the French?

Stupid people think it is normal that the Soviet governement receives accurate intelligence reports. They blame Stalin because, according to them, it is normal to trust any intelligence report stating that Germany will attack. But, my God, look at France!
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Oct 2007, 23:49
Ideology: Social Democracy
Komsomol
Post 13 Jun 2012, 08:08
I always saw Stalin as comparable to Hitler in terms of military campaigns. Anytime either got involved with planning and strategy, it was a dismal failure. The Battle of Moscow showed that when Stalin stood aside and didn't plan, Zhukov and the other marshals could get stuff done. Stalin was an organizer, and a competent administrator on a macro level. Battlefield and strategic tactics was a nuance that never came to him
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Loz
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Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 13 Jun 2012, 14:25
Quote:
I always saw Stalin as comparable to Hitler in terms of military campaigns. Anytime either got involved with planning and strategy, it was a dismal failure. The Battle of Moscow showed that when Stalin stood aside and didn't plan, Zhukov and the other marshals could get stuff done. Stalin was an organizer, and a competent administrator on a macro level. Battlefield and strategic tactics was a nuance that never came to him

My god you're full of shit.
The lies and ignorance you're spewing here is absolutely sickening.

Here's plenty of evidence (including what Zhukov himself wrote) against your slanders:

Stalin as supreme commander of the Russian forces in the Second World War would be a theme for a special work. His great gift of military organization showed itself here again. Without any question, streams of energy proceeded from him throughout the war, and that energy halted the Germans before Leningrad and Moscow. They had to seek the road to victory in another direction-- toward the Volga. Strategically they fell into exactly the same situation as the counter-revolutionary generals of the civil war. As then, Stalingrad had once more to become the battlefield on which the outcome of the war would be decided. Stalin had already won one victory there, at the outset of his career; once already he had prevented the enemy from crossing the Volga. The strategic problem was familiar to him. For the second time in his life he achieved his strategic triumphs on the same spot.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 365

"Hitler fooled us," he [Stalin] said, in a calm but somewhat harsh voice. "I didn't think he was going to attack now."
He was silent. The launch still floated beside us, and Captain Karazov still stood at attention.
"We did all we could to avoid war," Stalin said. "We did all we could to avoid the ruin it causes. But now we no longer have any choice. We have to accept the battle, for life or for death; and we can only win if the whole people rises as one man against the Germans."
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 169

After dinner, before taking his leave, Rokossovsky shook my uncle's hand, and said, "You have thanked us for what we did. Let me say that without your constant support, the victory would have been impossible. I will never forget the phone call you put through to me at my command post that night in November when the Germans were entering Istra and threatening to encircle Moscow. After I put down the phone, I ordered an attack and our troops re-occupied Istra."
Svanidze, Budu. My Uncle, Joseph Stalin. New York: Putnam, c1953, p. 179

Stalin knew there was no hope of bringing the war to an early end but he had to bolster the morale of his people. The second battle of Moscow had begun, and Soviet Intelligence reported that the Fuehrer had given his Generals a fortnight in which to take the city.
Soon the Germans took Khimky, the small port on the Moscow-Volga-Canal, four miles from Moscow, and connected by trolley-bus to the city, and at this point Stalin personally took command of the defense operations. He urged the Soviet troops at all costs, to hold out for a few days to enable reinforcements, maneuvering their positions, to complete their reconcentration. To give his Generals and troops new strength, Stalin applied the right psychology, and frequently telephoned the field headquarters of his different Generals.
"Hello, here is Stalin, make your report," he would say. After listening to their reports, he would urge encouragingly: "Hold out. We shall be coming to your assistance in three to four hours time. You will have your reinforcements"!
And the over-tired defenders of Moscow, near to collapse, held-out, and the Soviet counter-offensive was opened.
Then came a communique Signed by Marshals Timoshenko and Zhukov which announced the "crushing defeat of the Wehrmacht before Moscow."
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 144

In all, the State Committee for Defense adopted some 10,000 resolutions on military and economic matters during the war. Those resolutions were carried out accurately and with enthusiasm....
Stalin himself was strong-willed and no coward. It was only once I saw him somewhat depressed. That was at the dawn of June 22, 1941, when his belief that the war could be avoided, was shattered.
After June 22, 1941, and throughout the war Stalin firmly governed the country, led the armed struggle and international affairs together with the Central Committee and the Soviet Government.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 268

I can only repeat that Stalin devoted a good deal of attention to problems of armament and material. He frequently met with chief aircraft, artillery, and tank designers whom he would question in great detail about the progress achieved in designing the various types of equipment in our country and abroad. To give him his due, it must be said that he was fairly well versed in the characteristics of the basic types of armament.
Is it true that Stalin really was an outstanding military thinker, a major contributor to the development of the Armed Forces and an expert in tactical and strategic principles?
From the military standpoint I have studied Stalin most thoroughly, for I entered the war together with him and together with him I ended it.
Stalin mastered the technique of the organization of front operations and operations by groups of fronts and guided them with skill, thoroughly understanding complicated strategic questions. He displayed his ability as Commander-in-Chief beginning with Stalingrad.
In guiding the armed struggle as a whole, Stalin was assisted by his natural intelligence and profound intuition. He had a knack of grasping the main link in the strategic situation so as to organize opposition to the enemy and conduct a major offensive operation. He was certainly a worthy Supreme Commander.
Here Stalin's merit lies in the fact that he correctly appraised the advice offered by the military experts and then in summarized form--in instructions, directives, and regulations--immediately circulated them among the troops for practical guidance.
As regards the material and technical organization of operations, the build-up of strategic reserves, the organization of production of material and troop supplies, Stalin did prove himself to be an outstanding organizer. And it would be unfair if we, the Soviet people, failed to pay tribute to him for it.
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 284-285

The Second Front dawdled, but Stalin pressed unfalteringly ahead. He risked the utter ruin of socialism in order to smash the dictatorships of Hitler and Mussolini. After Stalingrad the Western World did not know whether to weep or applaud. The cost of victory to the Soviet Union was frightful. To this day the outside world has no dream of the hurt, the loss and the sacrifices. For his calm, stern leadership here, if nowhere else, arises the deep worship of Stalin by the people of all the Russias.
Statement by W.E.B DuBois regarding COMRADE STALIN on March 16, 1953

The modern Stalin was instantly recognizable. Harriman, who saw a great deal of Stalin during the war as Roosevelt's emissary and then ambassador, was deeply impressed by him: "his high intelligence, that fantastic grasp of detail, his shrewdness... I found him better informed than Roosevelt, more realistic and Churchill... the most effective of the war leaders."... At Tehran the British Chief of the General Staff, General Brooke, thought that Stalin's grasp of strategy was the fruit of "a military brain of the highest caliber." At Tehran Stalin did not, in Brooke's view, put a foot wrong.
Overy, R. J. Russia's War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 348

For his part, Harriman rated Stalin 'better informed than Roosevelt, more realistic than Churchill, in some ways the most effective of the war leaders'.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 252

Stalin possessed, all western observers in the Hitler war agreed, excellent strategic judgment.
Snow, Charles Percy. Variety of Men. New York: Scribner, 1966, p. 258

He [Stalin] spent whole days, and often nights as well, at headquarters. Zhukov wrote: "In discussion he made a powerful impression.... His ability to summarize an idea precisely, his native intelligence, is unusual memory.... his staggering capacity for work, his ability to grasp the essential point instantly, enabled him to study and digest quantities of material which would have been too much for any ordinary person.... I can say without hesitation that he was master of the basic principles of the organization of front-line operations and the deployment of front-line forces.... He controlled them completely and had a good understanding of major strategic problems. He was a worthy Supreme Commander."
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 486

He [Stalin] was never a general let alone a military genius but, according to Zhukov, who knew better than anyone, this "outstanding organizer...displayed his ability as Supremo starting with Stalingrad." He "mastered the technique of organizing for operations...and guided them with skill, thoroughly understanding complicated strategic questions," always displaying his "natural intelligence...professional intuition" and a "tenacious memory." He was "many-sided and gifted" but had "no knowledge of all the details." Mikoyan was probably right when he summed up in his practical way that Stalin "knew as much about military matters as a statesman should--but no more."
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 439

Like most people with whom I associated, I connected the turnabout in the course of the war with Stalin, and stories of him as a human being encouraged the magnification of his charisma. Therefore, though I had begun the war with doubts about the "wisdom" of Stalin's leadership, I ended it believing that we had been very lucky, that without Stalin's genius, victory would have taken much longer to achieve and would have entailed far greater losses, had it come at all.
Grigorenko, Petro G. Memoirs. New York: Norton, c1982, p. 139

Could Russia have won without Stalin? Was Stalin indispensable to the Soviet war effort? An expert on Russia, Dr. Bialer, has written: 'It seems doubtful that the Soviet system could have survived an extraordinary internal shock, such as the disappearance of Stalin, while at the same time facing the unprecedented external bowl of the German invasion.'
Another expert, America's wartime Ambassador to Moscow, Harriman, says: 'We became convinced that, regardless of Stalin's awful brutality and his reign of terror, he was a great war leader.' (Replying to a question I [the author] put to him on his visit to Moscow in May 1975, Harriman called Stalin 'one of the most effective war leaders in history'.) Harriman is categorical: 'Without Stalin, they never would have held.'
Giving full support to Harriman, but going a step further is Joseph McCabe, who has been described by eminent historians as 'one of our deeper thinkers' and 'one of the most learned men' of the 20th century. McCabe has recorded that when Hitler's armies fell upon Russia in 1941 Stalin became the West's leader in the gravest crisis through which the world has passed since the fall of Rome.
Axell, Albert. Stalin's War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 195


And Stalin, as a commander-in-chief, had no equal either among our allies or among our enemies. To the present moment [1982] , Europe is the way Stalin left it. Even now the knots tied in the Far and Middle East remained untied.
Grigorenko, Petro G. Memoirs. New York: Norton, c1982, p. 212

The criticism of Stalin as a military leader in Khrushchev's report at the closed session of the 20th Party Congress is on the level of small-town gossip. The one serious criticism of Stalin it contained was that he did not call a halt to the operation near Kharkhov when a threat to our flanks arose, and this criticism misses the point. In the case of Kharkhov, Stalin acted as the serious military leader. During the moment of crisis, persistence was what was most required. Stalin's conduct, his unwillingness to come to the telephone, was geared toward calming his nervous subordinates, and it underlined the fact that he was convinced of the operation’s success. Khrushchev acted like a child. He was frightened by the prospect of being encircled and he failed, along with his commander, to provide any protection for his threatened flanks....
(Such is the truth. I can and I do hate Stalin with all the fibers of my soul.)
Grigorenko, Petro G. Memoirs. New York: Norton, c1982, p. 212

Stalin was convinced that in the war against the Soviet Union the Nazis would first try to seize the Ukraine and the Donets Coal Basin in order to deprive the country of its most important economic regions and lay hands on the Ukraine grain, Donets coal and, later, Caucasian oil. During the discussion of the operational plan in the spring of 1941, Stalin said: "Nazi Germany will not be able to wage a major lengthy war without those vital resources."
...Stalin was the greatest authority for all of us, and it never occurred to anybody to question his opinion and assessment of the situation. Yet his conjecture as to the main strike of the Nazi invader proved incorrect.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 250

During the war, Stalin had five official posts. He was Supreme Commander-in-Chief, General Secretary of the Party's Central Committee, Chairman of the USSR Council of People's Commissars, Chairman of the State Defense Committee, and People's Commissar for Defense. He worked on a tight schedule, 15 to 16 hours a day.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 349

Stalin made a great personal contribution to the victory over Nazi Germany and its allies. His prestige was exceedingly high, and his appointment as Supreme Commander was wholeheartedly acclaimed by the people and the troops.
Mikhail Sholokhov was quite right in saying in an interview to Komsomolskaya Pravda during the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Victory that "it is wrong to belittle Stalin, to make him look a fool. First, it is dishonest, and second, it is bad for the country, for the Soviet people. And not because victors are never judged, but above all because such 'denouncements' are contrary to the truth."
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 363

I am often asked whether Stalin was really an outstanding military thinker and a major contributor to the development of the armed forces, whether he was really an expert in tactical and strategic principles.
I can say that Stalin was conversant with the basic principles of organizing operations of Fronts and groups of Fronts, and that he supervised them knowledgeably. Certainly, he was familiar with major strategic principles. Stalin's ability as Supreme Commander was especially marked after the Battle of Stalingrad.
The widespread tale that the Supreme Commander studied the situation and adopted decisions when toying with a globe is untrue. Nor did he pour over tactical maps. He did not need to. But he had a good eye when dealing with operational situation maps.
Stalin owed this to his natural intelligence, his experience as a political leader, his intuition and broad knowledge. He could find the main link in a strategic situation which he seized upon in organizing actions against the enemy, and thus assured the success of the offensive operation. It is beyond question that he was a splendid Supreme Commander-in-Chief.
Stalin is said to have offered fundamental innovations in military science--elaborating methods of artillery offensives, of winning air supremacy, of encircling the enemy, splitting surrounded groups into parts and wiping them out one by one, etc.
This is untrue. These paramount aspects of warcraft were mastered in battles with the enemy. They were the fruit of deep reflections and summed up the experience of a large number of military leaders and troop commanders.
The credit that is due here to Stalin is for assimilating the advice of military experts in his stride, filling it out and elaborating upon it in a summarized form--in instructions, directives, and recommendations which were immediately circulated as guides among the troops.
Besides, in the matter of backing operations, building up strategic reserves, organizing arms production and, in general, the production of everything needed in the war, the Supreme Commander proved himself an outstanding organizer. And it would be most unfair if we failed to pay tribute to him for this.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 367-368

I would like additionally to say a few words about Stalin as Supreme High Commander. I would hope that my service position during the war, my constant, almost daily contact with Stalin and, finally, my participation in sessions of the Politburo and the State Defense Committee which examined all the fundamental issues concerning the war, give me the right to say a few words on this topic. In doing so I shall not discuss his Party, political and state activity in wartime, inasmuch as I do not consider myself sufficiently competent to do so....
Was it right for Stalin to be in charge of the Supreme High Command? After all he was not a professional military man?
There can be no doubt that it was right.
At that terribly difficult time the best solution, bearing in mind the enormous Leninist experience from the Civil War period, was to combine in one person the functions of Party, state, economic and military leadership. We had only one way ou___"t: to turn the country immediately into a military camp, to make the rear and the front an integral whole, to harness all our efforts to the task of defeating the Nazi invaders. And when Stalin as Party General Secretary, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars and Chairman of the State Defense Committee also became the Supreme High Commander and the People’s Defense Commissar, there opened up more favorable opportunities for a successful fight for victory.
This combining of Party, state. and military leadership functions in the figure of Stalin did not mean that he alone decided every issue during the war....
It is my profound conviction that Stalin, especially in the latter part of the war, was the strongest and most remarkable figure of the strategic command. He successfully supervised the fronts and all the war efforts of the country on the basis of the Party line and he was able to have considerable influence on the leading political and military figures of the Allies in the war. It was interesting to work with him, but at the same time extremely taxing, particularly in the initial period of the war. He has remained in my memory as a stern and resolute war leader, but not without a certain personal charm....
Stalin possessed not only an immense natural intelligence,but also amazingly wide knowledge. I was able to observe his ability to think analytically during these sessions of the Party Politburo, the State Defense Committee and during my permanent work in the GHQ. He would attentively listen to speakers, unhurriedly pacing up and down with hunched shoulders, sometimes asking questions and making comments. And when the discussion was over he would formulate his conclusions precisely and sum things up. His conclusions would be brief, but profound in content .
I have already noted that during the first few months of the war Stalin’s inadequate operational and strategic training was apparent. He rarely asked the advice of the General Staff officers or front commanders. Even the top Operations Department men in the General Staff were not always invited to work on the most important GHQ operations directives. At that time decisions were normally taken by him alone and not always with complete success....
The big turning point for Stalin as Supreme High Commander came in September 1942 when the situation became very grave and there was a special need for flexible and skilled leadership in regard to military operations. It was at that time that he began to change his attitude to the General Staff personnel and front commanders, being obliged constantly to rely on the collective experience of his generals. “Why the devil didn’t you say so!
From then on, before he took a decision on any important war issue, Stalin would take advice and discuss it together with his deputy, the top General Staff personnel, heads of chief departments of the People’s Defense Commissariat and front commanders, as well as people’s commissars in charge of the defense industry....
The process of Stalin’s growth as a general came to maturity. I have already written that in the first few months of the war he sometimes tended to use Soviet troops in a direct frontal attack on the enemy. After the Stalingrad and especially the Kursk battles he rose to the heights of strategic leadership. From then on Stalin would think in terms of modern warfare, had a good grasp of all questions relating to the preparation for and execution of operations. He would now demand that military action be carried out in a creative way, with full account of military science, so that all actions were decisive and flexible, designed to split up and encircle the enemy. In his military thinking he markedly displayed a tendency to concentrate men and material, to diversified deployment of all possible ways of commencing operations and their conduct. Stalin began to show an excellent grasp of military strategy, which came fairly easily to him since he was a past master at the art of political strategy, and of operational art as well....
I think that Stalin displayed all the basic qualities of a Soviet general during the strategic offensive of the Soviet Armed Forces. He skillfully supervised actions of the Fronts .
Stalin paid a great deal of attention to creating an efficient style of work in the GHQ. If we look at the style from autumn 1942, we see it as distinguished by reliance on collective experience in drawing up operational and strategic plans, a high degree of exactingness, resourcefulness, constant contact with the troops, and a precise knowledge of the situation at the Fronts....
Stalin as Supreme High Commander was extremely exacting to all and sundry; a quality that was justified, especially in wartime. He never forgave carelessness in work or failure to finish the job properly, even if this happened with a highly indispensable worker without a previous blemish on his record....
As Supreme High Commander, Stalin was in most cases extremely demanding but just. His directives and commands showed front commanders their mistakes and shortcomings, taught them how to deal with all manner of military operations skillfully....
I deliberately leave untouched the expressions used by Stalin so as to give the reader the usual flavor of Stalin’s talk. He normally spoke succinctly, pithily, and bluntly....
Vasilevskii, Aleksandr M. A Lifelong Cause. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1981, p. 447-451

It would be quite wrong, however, to look at Stalin from only one point of view. I have to say that he was an extremely difficult man to deal with, liable to fly off the handle and unpredictable. It was hard to get on with him and he took a long time to get used to .
If Stalin was ever unhappy about something, and the war, especially at the beginning, certainly gave plenty of causes, he could give a dressing down unjustly. However, he changed noticeably during the war. He began to be more restrained and calm in his attitude to us officers of the General Staff and main departments of the People’s Defense Commissariat and front commanders, even when something was going wrong at the front. It became much easier to deal with him. It is clear that the war, its twists and turns, failures and successes had an effect on Stalin’s character....
Joseph Stalin has certainly gone down in military history. His undoubted service is that it was under his direct guidance as Supreme High Commander that the Soviet Armed Forces withstood the defensive campaigns and carried out all the offensive operations so splendidly. Yet he, to the best of my judgment, never spoke of his own contribution. At any rate, I never happened to hear him do so. The title of Hero of the Soviet Union and rank of Generalissimus were awarded to him by written representation to the Party Central Committee Politburo from front commanders. In fact, he had fewer military orders than did the commanders of fronts and armies. He told people plainly and honestly about the miscalculations made during the war when he spoke at a reception in the Kremlin in honor of Red Army commanders on 24 May 1945: .
Vasilevskii, Aleksandr M. A Lifelong Cause. Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1981, p. 452

This nationalist revival and Stalin's strong leadership, were extremely significant in the eventual victory of Russia over Germany.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 163

"The only really military man in the family was my father," says Svetlana. "He really had this talent. He really liked it, and the best performance he gave in his life was as organizer of the Red Army during the Second World War. He did what he was born for."
...The fact that our country managed to get through the war was to Stalin's huge merit. And then the economy was restored, and atomic weaponry was created, which to this day has maintained the peace.
Richardson, Rosamond. Stalin’s Shadow. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1994, p. 170

According to Zhukov, Stalin 'mastered questions of the organization of front operations [there being about a dozen large sectors, or "fronts", at any given moment] and groups of fronts', a point sustained by chief-of-staff Vasilevsky. Lest this be dismissed as mere post-Khrushchev propaganda aimed at rehabilitating Stalin's image as a war leader, consider that General Alan Brooke, who encountered Stalin in 1943, judged him 'a military brain of the very highest order'. And Brooke was arguably the keenest British military mind of the war, a professional who held in contempt politicians who dabbled in strategy, and also the one western general whom Stalin accused to his face of being unfriendly to Russia.
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 242

After British Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke met Stalin he commented: 'Never once in any of his statements did Stalin make any strategic error, nor did he ever fail to appreciate all the implications of a situation with a quick and unerring eye.'
Axell, Albert. Stalin's War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 165

Like many Russian generals, Krivoshein respected Stalin as Commander-in-Chief, calling him a 'worthy commander'. He said that he agreed with British Field Marshal Alanbrooke's estimate of Stalin as a man with a 'military brain of the finest order'. But Krivoshein added a proviso. 'Stalin', he said, 'had very good assistants in the armed forces, and they managed to tell him which way was the right way. But Stalin was able to use his formidable strength to manage military affairs and achieve victory--which was no small achievement.'
Axell, Albert. Stalin's War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 55

Author: Admiral, how do you assess Stalin's role in the war?
Admiral Gorshkov: Stalin's good point was that he could choose very talented military leaders. Stalin was of course also an outstanding political, state and military leader. This is not only my opinion, but that of Churchill and Lord Beaverbrook and many other prominent foreign personalities. Stalin had a broad understanding of military matters. And he was able to find solutions and make decisions in the most difficult situations.
Author: So, you would say that Stalin was the Supreme Commander not just in name?
Gorshkov: Yes.
Axell, Albert. Stalin's War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 124

Author: Actually, many persons in the West do not give Stalin credit for his role in the defeat of Hitler's Germany; and there are books by experts, and an encyclopedia or two, that say that Stalin 'interfered' with his commanders in the field....
Admiral Gorshkov and General Pavlovsky: That is not correct.
Axell, Albert. Stalin's War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 124

At the conclusion of his memoirs, Marshal Vasilevsky asks: 'Was it right for Stalin to be in charge of the Supreme High Command? After all, he was not a professional military man.' And Vasilevsky's answer: 'There can be no doubt that it was right.'
...The stocky Marshal, who had frequent, almost daily contact with Stalin throughout the war, held some of the highest posts in the Armed Forces: Chief of Operations of the General Staff; Chief of the General Staff; Deputy Defense Minister. In the summer of 1945 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief of Soviet Forces in the Far East in the war against Japan....
Looking back on the war Vasilevsky mentions 'Stalin's growth as a general', although he does not fail to mention miscalculations by the Supreme Commander in the early months of the invasion. He points out that after a year or two Stalin 'successfully supervised the Fronts and all the war efforts of the country'.
Axell, Albert. Stalin's War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 180

When Marshal Konev was asked his impression of Stalin by the Yugoslav writer and political activist, Djilas (the year was 1944), he replied: 'Stalin is universally gifted. He was brilliantly able to see the war as a whole, and this made possible his successful direction.'
Axell, Albert. Stalin's War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 181

A perusal of memoirs, speeches and articles leads one to conclude that there is virtual consensus among Russia's wartime generals and admirals that Stalin was a military leader of extraordinary insight, that he was an exceptional Commander-in-Chief. This is apparent in the recollections of many Marshals, including Meretskov, Vasilevsky, and Bagramyan. According to these men there was nothing synthetic about Stalin's name as Marshal and Generalissimo.
Axell, Albert. Stalin's War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 181

In his book, Reminiscences and Reflections, Zhukov sums up his views about Stalin:
'I am often asked whether Stalin was really an outstanding military thinker and a major contributor to the development of the armed forces, whether he was really an expert in tactical and strategic principles. I can say that Stalin was conversant with the basic principles of organizing the operations of Fronts and groups of Fronts, and that he supervised them knowledgeably. Certainly he was familiar with major strategic principles. His ability as Supreme Commander was especially marked after the Battle of Stalingrad.' He adds that Stalin had 'rich intuition and ability to find the main point in a strategic situation', which is high praise indeed from a soldier of Zhukov's stature.
Axell, Albert. Stalin's War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 182

.....
In the first phase of the war the army paid a heavy price for, among other things, the loss of self-reliance which its commanding staffs had suffered as a consequence of the purges. The warning was not, however, wasted on Stalin. He had the sense to give back to his generals their freedom of movement, to encourage them to speak their mind, to embolden them to look for the solution of their problems by way of trial and error, and to relieve them from fear of the boss's wrath, a fear which weighed so heavily on Hitler's generals. He [Stalin] punished his officers with draconic severity for lack of encourage or vigilance; he demoted them for incompetence, even when the incompetents happened to be Voroshilov and Budienny; and he promoted for initiative and efficiency. Hitler's generals had a shrewder appreciation of Stalin's method than Hitler himself when they said that the top rungs of the Russian ladder of command 'were filled by men who had proved themselves so able that they were allowed to exercise their own judgment, and could safely insist on doing things in their own way'.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 494

It is nevertheless true that, like Hitler, Stalin took the final decision on every major and many a minor military issue. How then, it may be asked, could the two things be reconciled: Stalin's constant interference with the conduct of the war, and freedom of initiative for his subordinates? The point is that he had a peculiar manner of making his decisions, one which not only did not constrict his generals, but, on the contrary, induced them to use their own judgment. Hitler usually had his preconceived idea--sometimes it was a brilliant conception, sometimes a bee in his bonnet --which he tried to force upon a Brauchitsch a Halder or a Rundstedt. For all his [Hitler] so-called dilettantism, he was a doctrinaire in matters of strategy, impatient with those who could not see the merits of his particular dogma or plan. Not so Stalin. He had no strategic dogmas to impose upon others. He did not approach his generals with operational blue-prints of his own. He indicated to them his general ideas, which were based on an exceptional knowledge of all aspects of the situation, economic, political, and military. But beyond that he let his generals formulate their views and work out their plans, and on these he based his decisions. His role seems to have been that of the cool, detached, and experienced arbiter of his own generals. In case of a controversy between them, he collected the opinions of those whose opinion mattered, weighed pros and cons, related local viewpoints to general considerations and eventually spoke his mind. His decisions did not therefore strike his generals on the head--they usually sanctioned ideas over which the generals themselves had been brooding. This method of leadership was not novel to Stalin. In the early 20s he came to lead the Politburo in an analogous way, by carefully ascertaining what were the views of the majority and adopting these as his own. Similarly, the generals were now receptive to his inspiration, because he himself was receptive to their thoughts and suggestions. His mind did not, like Hitler's, produce fireworks of strategic invention, but his method of work left more room for the collective invention of his commanders and favored a sounder relationship between the commander-in-chief and his subordinates than that which prevailed at the 0berkommando der Wehrmacht.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 495

This is not to say that Stalin simply followed the majority of his commanders. Even that majority was, in a sense, of his own making. In the depths of defeat he radically renewed and rejuvenated the high commanding staffs. He brushed aside all sterile pretensions of seniority and paid attention only to performance in battle. Nearly all his famous marshals and generals held subordinate positions or were juniors when war broke out. The basic selection of the new military elite took place during the battle of Moscow, when Zhukov, Vasilevsky, Rokossovsky, and Voronov came to the fore. It continued with the battle of Stalingrad, in which Vatutin, Yeremenko, Malinovsky, Chuikov, Rotmistrov, Rodimtsev, and others made their names. It was nearly completed during the battle of Kursk, the turning-point in the meteoric career of the young Cherniakovsky, who within three years rose from major to army general.. These men, nearly all in their 30s or 40s, unhampered by the deadweight of routine, avidly learned in the hard school of battle until they became their enemies' equals and then superiors.
[Footnote]: Stalin's method of work is quite well illustrated in the following quotation which describes--in a too popular and simplified manner but correctly in substance--his intervention in one of the more important episodes of the Stalingrad battle, the disagreement between Vasilevsky and Rokossovsky over whether they should strike first at von Paulus or at Manstein. The disagreement had been referred to Stalin. Rokossovsky protested against the diversion of Malinovsky's army, which had been placed under his orders, for the operation against Manstein. Stalin sounds the views of other generals:
Moscow General Headquarters.
Stalin (speaks over the phone): What is your opinion? Turn against Manstein? Thank you. (Puts down receiver and calls again). Hallo... There is a proposal from Vasilevsky that we should dispose finally of Manstein. It is proposed that Malinovsky's army be used for that. What is your opinion? To leave it with Rokossovsky? Thank you. (Puts down the receiver and calls again.) Vasilevsky proposes to shift Malinovsky's army and to assign it to Yeremenko in order to route Manstein. Your opinion? (Listening) No, that's no answer. Yes or no? You would like to think it over? All right.
In the end Stalin sides with Vasilevsky and orders the attack on Manstein.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 496

Stalin did not make Hitler's mistakes; he never interfered in the tactical dispositions of the generals. It was for them to execute the variations on the given theme. Also, he never undervalued the courage of his enemies. Speaking of Mannstein, he said: "If he had not been one of Hitler's generals I would have made him the senior professor of our Military Academy."
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 342

Having assumed responsibility for the change in the deployment, as provided for in the Supreme Command's directive, I nevertheless reported in to the Supreme Commander.
After listening to my arguments Stalin said:
"Do as you think better, you're in a better position to judge on the spot."
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 2. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 354
User avatar
Soviet cogitations: 2293
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 10 Aug 2010, 14:21
Party Bureaucrat
Post 13 Jun 2012, 21:03
I should search in my books, but I think that Joukov's book is not totally accurate. The main idea in this text is that Stalin learned to become a good general. But I think that, at the very beginning of the war, Joukov played a very important role. Therefore I wonder if he is not trying to hide his own mistakes.
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"Fishing is part of agriculture" Gred
"Loz, you are like me" Yami
"I am one of the better read Marxists on this site" Gred
[+-]
Soviet cogitations: 57
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 17 Oct 2009, 09:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 13 Jun 2012, 21:56
Stalin was surely not great or extraordinary at military affairs but he surely wasn't incompetent as generally portrayed in popular history.
Mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited; and to abstract oneself from this fundamental division; and from the antagonism between poor and rich means abstracting oneself from fundamental facts.
Joseph Stalin
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Soviet cogitations: 1020
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 20 Jul 2011, 15:17
Party Member
Post 13 Jun 2012, 22:12
fuser wrote:
Stalin was surely not great or extraordinary at military affairs but he surely wasn't incompetent as generally portrayed in popular history.


Fuser, how is Stalin talked about in India? Is he as detested as he is in the West?
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Soviet cogitations: 57
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 17 Oct 2009, 09:10
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Pioneer
Post 13 Jun 2012, 22:21
Largely he is a forgotten man but still the level of detest for him is far lower than west. Outside of the leftist circles, he is even remembered as a great nation builder but on par with Hitler.


But without any ideological polarization, Stalin is nobody for most of the Indians.
Mankind is divided into rich and poor, into property owners and exploited; and to abstract oneself from this fundamental division; and from the antagonism between poor and rich means abstracting oneself from fundamental facts.
Joseph Stalin
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Soviet cogitations: 2820
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 16 Feb 2005, 02:51
Party Bureaucrat
Post 14 Jun 2012, 05:25
Stalin did seem to have a tendency to not foresee and plan for worst case scenarios.
1. Winter war, severely underestimated Finland's willingness and ability to fight, unprepared for an actual war, and the Red Army performed abysmally.
2. Barbarosa, despite the lack of inaccurate intelligence, Stalin could have at least made contingencies for a sooner than expected German attack.
3. Korean war, failed to plan for the possibility of a full scale US intervention, the Chinese were kept in the dark in regards to the plan until the last minute.

Quote:
We knew the war was coming soon, that we
were weaker than Germany, that we would have
to retreat. The question was, retreat to where –
to Smolensk or to Moscow, that’s what we discussed
before the war.
We knew we would have to retreat, and we
needed as much territory as possible.

That is somewhat contradictory to what historically happened, if retreat was the original plan, then the main groupings of troops wouldn't have been placed along the new border, but on the old border instead, not only would it have saved them from the historical fate of encirclement and destruction at the onset of war, the main direction of German advance could have also been ascertained, and there would have been sufficient time for preparation before the Germans reach the main defence lines. Placing the main line of defence along the new border suggested that the Red Army was expected to check German advances at tactical depths, something the Red Army could not accomplish until Kursk, after German army was grounded down from two years of brutal fighting.
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Soviet cogitations: 4465
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 30 Mar 2010, 01:20
Ideology: None
Forum Commissar
Post 14 Jun 2012, 06:04
Loz wrote:
My god you're full of shit.
The lies and ignorance you're spewing here is absolutely sickening.

No need to be so angry there. Do you realize that one of the quotes you've used is basically a paraphrase of Soviet Sindorin's point?
Soviet Sindorin wrote:
Stalin was an organizer, and a competent administrator on a macro level. Battlefield and strategic tactics was a nuance that never came to him

Quote:
He was "many-sided and gifted" but had "no knowledge of all the details." Mikoyan was probably right when he summed up in his practical way that Stalin "knew as much about military matters as a statesman should--but no more."
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 439
Loz
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Soviet cogitations: 11879
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 06 Dec 2009, 23:17
Philosophized
Post 14 Jun 2012, 06:17
Quote:
Do you realize that one of the quotes you've used is basically a paraphrase of Soviet Sindorin's point?

No. All other quotes explicitly say otherwise.
Stalin wasn't, like Hitler, a "master" of details such as the types of ammunition available for each gun (something Hitler knew by heart, according to Speer) and he didn't, like Hitler, interfere with the development of tanks and aircraft, but saying things like "Anytime either got involved with planning and strategy, it was a dismal failure" is nothing but slander.
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Soviet cogitations: 3618
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 22 Oct 2004, 15:15
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Politburo
Post 18 Jun 2012, 22:01
I don't think anybody claims that Stalin was a military genius or "the greatest commander of all times" (as Hitler liked to refer to himself
). But the idea that Stalin was absent for the first few days of the war (because of course the idiot just couldn't believe that his totalitarian soulmate Hitler would betray him instead of joining forces to kill democracy and eat babies
) is just plain nonsense.

This one is of Khrushchev's manufacture, I believe. This was one of many of the charges made in the 1956 speech, when Khrushchev tried just about every accusation to see if it would stick. Later on, it was rather convincingly denied by Zhukov at a time when he already had every interest in bashing Stalin.
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Soviet cogitations: 172
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 28 Feb 2012, 16:12
Ideology: Left Communism
Pioneer
Post 18 Jun 2012, 23:20
Stalin did lots of bad things, but he was most definitely a decent supreme commander.

Soviet Military Doctrine was smarter than the West gives it credit for: Western historians often forget how flawlessly the Soviets took Manchuria. The War Nerd tells it better than I do: http://www.exile.ru/articles/detail.php ... LOCK_ID=35
Cm'on baby, eat the rich!!! - Motörhead
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Soviet cogitations: 3618
Defected to the U.S.S.R.: 22 Oct 2004, 15:15
Ideology: Marxism-Leninism
Politburo
Post 19 Jun 2012, 00:09
Manchuria was absolutely a clinical demonstration of how to do it right. Against an enemy that was already on the ropes at the time, but still. A great showcase that often gets overlooked. But what else is new? People tend to know every detail of all kinds of western front battles, but they draw blank expressions at names like Bagration and Vistula-Oder. But that can't be helped. It is purely due to the political reality of the Cold War that people probably know Stalingrad, but other than that, they think that the Eastern Front was some kind of picnic.

Anyway, this is diverging from the subject of Stalin further and further. I guess by this time, they were "leaving it to the generals" much more than in the early stages of the war. Although of course that is kind of simplistic as well. People often say that the best approach to war is to leave everything to the generals, but it's always more complicated than that. There is always the postwar situation to consider. Independently of each other, Stalin and Khrushchev both came down on Zhukov like a ton of bricks after the war, which may not be a nice way to treat a distinguished general, but you also have to be careful with creating new Bonaparte figures.
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