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Western Democracy's debt to Stalinism


goosebump

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May 23, 2008
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Most of us realise that the Red Army were the main architects of Hitlers downfall between 1941 and 1945, but the extent to which this is true is probably less evident.

The general perception seems to be that Stalin turned the tide of WWII at Stalingrad and Kursk, paving the way for the opening of Western Front in June 1944, wherein the Soviet and Allied Forces converged on Reich in 1944/45 to finally destroy the Wehrmacht.

The reality is quite different, and is detailed particularly well in Max Hastings book, Armageddon, which deals with the collapse of Germany post D-Day.

The scale of the Soviet losses in comparison to those of the Allied Forces is astounding. Hastings calculates that for every Allied Soldier killed in battle, 30 soldiers of the Red Army were killed.

Hasting's explains that while the military and political leaders of the Allied armies were very reluctant to use infantry to make tactical breakthroughs, or to endure short terms causalities in pursuit of strategic aims, Russian leaders, at Stalin's insistence, frequently poured troops in encounters with the Nazi's most zealous Waffen SS units, who were almost exclusively committed to the Eastern Front.

This can be seen in the relative progress of the Allied and Soviets armies in late 1944 and early 1945. After breaking out of Normandy in Aug 1994, it took the Allies until March 1945 to cross the Rhine at Remagen, even though they were facing the weakest units of the faltering Wehrmacht.

Conversely, the Red Army advanced from the Vistula to the Oder, a distance of 300 miles, against the strongest units in the Wehrmacht, in less than 4 weeks in Jan 1945.

This is probably the greatest irony in modern European History.

The West often preens itself about the their successes in WWII, and the virtues of democracy in holding the line against totalitarianism.

However, the events of 1944 and 1945 clearly show that Western Democracy did not survive on its own merits. On the contrary, Western Democracy only survived because of the existence of a regime that was arguably more brutal and terrible than anything the Nazis sought to visit on their nearest neighbours.
 


Mercurial

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However, the events of 1944 and 1945 clearly show that Western Democracy did not survive on its own merits. On the contrary, Western Democracy only survived because of the existence of a regime that was arguably more brutal and terrible than anything the Nazis sought to visit on their nearest neighbours.
That's an interesting claim, but I'm not sure what, if anything, you think follows from it.
 

Truth.ie

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If it wasn't for the Russians we'd all be speaking German.
If it wasn't for the Germans we'd all be speaking Russian.
 

goosebump

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That's an interesting claim, but I'm not sure what, if anything, you think follows from it.
Nothing really, other than perspective.

I suppose its a question of how democracies conduct warfare.

In describing how the Red Army basically killed Nazism for the benefit of the West, Hastings presents an interesting dilemma in his analysis.

Democracies will rightly conduct warfare on a humanitarian basis, avoiding unnecessary bloodshed in their own forces, and the forces of their enemy.

But if their enemy doesn't operate on the same principle, and engages in warfare in the same manner as the Nazis, its almost inevitable that they will triumph.

Should democracies therefore suspend their principles, if the alternative is defeat to totalitarianism?
 

goosebump

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If it wasn't for the Russians we'd all be speaking German.
If it wasn't for the Germans we'd all be speaking Russian.
The Russians never had designs on Western Europe.

Stalin had repeatedly implored Churchill and Roosevelt to open a Western Front, and he only advanced as far as Berlin for symbolic reasons.

If he had really wanted to make a land grab in the West, he wouldn't have paused on the Vistula for 3 months in 1944.
 

Mercurial

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Nothing really, other than perspective.

I suppose its a question of how democracies conduct warfare.

In describing how the Red Army basically killed Nazism for the benefit of the West, Hastings presents an interesting dilemma in his analysis.

Democracies will rightly conduct warfare on a humanitarian basis, avoiding unnecessary bloodshed in their own forces, and the forces of their enemy.

But if their enemy doesn't operate on the same principle, and engages in warfare in the same manner as the Nazis, its almost inevitable that they will triumph.

Should democracies therefore suspend their principles, if the alternative is defeat to totalitarianism?
I think that's an extremely interesting question/problem - you might think about adding your response above to the original OP (just a suggestion).

I am inclined to think, without wishing to sound like a conspiracy nut, that most democracies already engage in acts of compromise, even if this is usually kept hidden from the public.

Sometimes these acts of compromise are made more openly and with public support - I'm thinking of those who support places like Guantanamo, for example.
 

kerdasi amaq

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Hmm, how many Soviet soldiers were shot by their own side?
 

ManOfReason

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If it wasn't for the Russians we'd all be speaking German.
If it wasn't for the Germans we'd all be speaking Russian.
But thanks to the Americans you are still speaking English.
 

Truth.ie

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The Russians never had designs on Western Europe.

Stalin had repeatedly implored Churchill and Roosevelt to open a Western Front, and he only advanced as far as Berlin for symbolic reasons.

If he had really wanted to make a land grab in the West, he wouldn't have paused on the Vistula for 3 months in 1944.
Really?
So what was the Spanish Civil War all about?
and the mushrooming of Communist Branches all over the West, as far as the U.S.
They planned to nake communism global
Even as late as the 80's they were launching proxy wars in Latin America and arming Commie groups in Europe.
 
H

Henry Thomas

If it wasn't for the Russians we'd all be speaking German.
If it wasn't for the Germans we'd all be speaking Russian.

Always put a good word in for the Nazis, like a good Irish Republican!!!!
 

BlackLion

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Oct 21, 2010
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Most of us realise that the Red Army were the main architects of Hitlers downfall between 1941 and 1945, but the extent to which this is true is probably less evident.

The general perception seems to be that Stalin turned the tide of WWII at Stalingrad and Kursk, paving the way for the opening of Western Front in June 1944, wherein the Soviet and Allied Forces converged on Reich in 1944/45 to finally destroy the Wehrmacht.

The reality is quite different, and is detailed particularly well in Max Hastings book, Armageddon, which deals with the collapse of Germany post D-Day.

The scale of the Soviet losses in comparison to those of the Allied Forces is astounding. Hastings calculates that for every Allied Soldier killed in battle, 30 soldiers of the Red Army were killed.

Hasting's explains that while the military and political leaders of the Allied armies were very reluctant to use infantry to make tactical breakthroughs, or to endure short terms causalities in pursuit of strategic aims, Russian leaders, at Stalin's insistence, frequently poured troops in encounters with the Nazi's most zealous Waffen SS units, who were almost exclusively committed to the Eastern Front.

This can be seen in the relative progress of the Allied and Soviets armies in late 1944 and early 1945. After breaking out of Normandy in Aug 1994, it took the Allies until March 1945 to cross the Rhine at Remagen, even though they were facing the weakest units of the faltering Wehrmacht.

Conversely, the Red Army advanced from the Vistula to the Oder, a distance of 300 miles, against the strongest units in the Wehrmacht, in less than 4 weeks in Jan 1945.

This is probably the greatest irony in modern European History.

The West often preens itself about the their successes in WWII, and the virtues of democracy in holding the line against totalitarianism.

However, the events of 1944 and 1945 clearly show that Western Democracy did not survive on its own merits. On the contrary, Western Democracy only survived because of the existence of a regime that was arguably more brutal and terrible than anything the Nazis sought to visit on their nearest neighbours.
"Us" needs a history lesson. Russia played a big part more so that US or Britain but were not "main architects" of Hitlers downfall.
 

Kommunist

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Feb 2, 2012
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Really?
So what was the Spanish Civil War all about?
and the mushrooming of Communist Branches all over the West, as far as the U.S.
They planned to nake communism global
Even as late as the 80's they were launching proxy wars in Latin America and arming Commie groups in Europe.
Factually incorrect.

The USSR suffered approximately 20-27m casualties alone due to both the onslaught and the massive counter-attack. The USSR received roughly 10% of their total supplies in aid from the West combined, this aid was in the form of supplies, it was important, but it was not a crucial determining factor in the Second World War. As far as I am considered, the mass genocide of civilians in Dresden and other German citizens by the RAF contributed to the war effort, as did the spreading of forces in N.Africa and the general occupation of Eastern Europe.

The Red Army was bigger, much more determined and far more bloodthirsty. The Fascist army was well trained, well equipped and very well maneuvered, 300km deep within the USSR however - It became a war of attrition that required numbers, and the USSR had those numbers.

The USSR would have won fighting Nazi Germany alone, however with double the casualties practically guaranteed and it would have undoubtedly taken longer, the German High Command made several mistakes throughout the war (dividing their forces in the South) and of course advancing quickly and stretching themselves thin, as I have stated, the damage caused would have been far more tremendous - But the USSR would have triumphed in the end due to numerical superiority and the strategic relocation of much of the heavy industry + high command past the Ural mountains. At one point during the advance on Moscow there was talk of abandoning Moscow and treating past the Volga river, the Germans could have never logistically held that much land for a long period of time.
 

Kommunist

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I think people find it hard to swallow that the USSR did more work then the battered western European states and the US.

You'd wonder who was in a position of strength when the red army was pushing through Europe while the US was asking for a second front against Japan, it is definitely interesting.
 

Analyzer

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Joined
Feb 14, 2011
Messages
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Historically, the West has had a very dim view of the Russians, and will minimize any acknowledgement of gratitude to the peoples of the Soviet Union.

And the strange thing is that this sense of ingratitude is even more accentuated, in the experts of accentuation in academia and the media in the West.

Just look at the attitude of Western politicians today, and the Western media over the Russians getting more money for their hydrocarbons.

What I am saying is that the Russians should not get upset at the hypocrisy of the West, but just accept it as something that is unlikely to change.
 

owedtojoy

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Joined
Feb 27, 2010
Messages
46,055
Most of us realise that the Red Army were the main architects of Hitlers downfall between 1941 and 1945, but the extent to which this is true is probably less evident.

The general perception seems to be that Stalin turned the tide of WWII at Stalingrad and Kursk, paving the way for the opening of Western Front in June 1944, wherein the Soviet and Allied Forces converged on Reich in 1944/45 to finally destroy the Wehrmacht.

The reality is quite different, and is detailed particularly well in Max Hastings book, Armageddon, which deals with the collapse of Germany post D-Day.

The scale of the Soviet losses in comparison to those of the Allied Forces is astounding. Hastings calculates that for every Allied Soldier killed in battle, 30 soldiers of the Red Army were killed.

Hasting's explains that while the military and political leaders of the Allied armies were very reluctant to use infantry to make tactical breakthroughs, or to endure short terms causalities in pursuit of strategic aims, Russian leaders, at Stalin's insistence, frequently poured troops in encounters with the Nazi's most zealous Waffen SS units, who were almost exclusively committed to the Eastern Front.

This can be seen in the relative progress of the Allied and Soviets armies in late 1944 and early 1945. After breaking out of Normandy in Aug 1994, it took the Allies until March 1945 to cross the Rhine at Remagen, even though they were facing the weakest units of the faltering Wehrmacht.

Conversely, the Red Army advanced from the Vistula to the Oder, a distance of 300 miles, against the strongest units in the Wehrmacht, in less than 4 weeks in Jan 1945.

This is probably the greatest irony in modern European History.

The West often preens itself about the their successes in WWII, and the virtues of democracy in holding the line against totalitarianism.

However, the events of 1944 and 1945 clearly show that Western Democracy did not survive on its own merits. On the contrary, Western Democracy only survived because of the existence of a regime that was arguably more brutal and terrible than anything the Nazis sought to visit on their nearest neighbours.
I agree with Hastings, but the OP and thread title are wrong. Hastings said nothing new, just highlighting something that had been said for some time.

The West owes little to Joseph Stalin because a price was paid in the abandonment of Eastern Europe to Stalin's Empire. That debt was at least partially paid. Also, the Red Armies campaign in Germany was generously supported by Western logistics.

The West owes a lot to the Russian people who sustained such enormous casualties and made such incredible sacrifices.

And a debt to Stalin - ism, Stalin's brutal and murderous ideology? Little or nothing.
 

leftsoc

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Joined
Mar 8, 2005
Messages
2,848
Most of us realise that the Red Army were the main architects of Hitlers downfall between 1941 and 1945, but the extent to which this is true is probably less evident.

The general perception seems to be that Stalin turned the tide of WWII at Stalingrad and Kursk, paving the way for the opening of Western Front in June 1944, wherein the Soviet and Allied Forces converged on Reich in 1944/45 to finally destroy the Wehrmacht.

The reality is quite different, and is detailed particularly well in Max Hastings book, Armageddon, which deals with the collapse of Germany post D-Day.

The scale of the Soviet losses in comparison to those of the Allied Forces is astounding. Hastings calculates that for every Allied Soldier killed in battle, 30 soldiers of the Red Army were killed.

Hasting's explains that while the military and political leaders of the Allied armies were very reluctant to use infantry to make tactical breakthroughs, or to endure short terms causalities in pursuit of strategic aims, Russian leaders, at Stalin's insistence, frequently poured troops in encounters with the Nazi's most zealous Waffen SS units, who were almost exclusively committed to the Eastern Front.

This can be seen in the relative progress of the Allied and Soviets armies in late 1944 and early 1945. After breaking out of Normandy in Aug 1994, it took the Allies until March 1945 to cross the Rhine at Remagen, even though they were facing the weakest units of the faltering Wehrmacht.

Conversely, the Red Army advanced from the Vistula to the Oder, a distance of 300 miles, against the strongest units in the Wehrmacht, in less than 4 weeks in Jan 1945.

This is probably the greatest irony in modern European History.

The West often preens itself about the their successes in WWII, and the virtues of democracy in holding the line against totalitarianism.

However, the events of 1944 and 1945 clearly show that Western Democracy did not survive on its own merits. On the contrary, Western Democracy only survived because of the existence of a regime that was arguably more brutal and terrible than anything the Nazis sought to visit on their nearest neighbours.
Apart from the virtue of recognising historical truth, the point is important for the future. Fascism would have survived indfinitely in Europe had it not been for the USSR. It only ended in Spain Portugal and Greece because they needed to join the EEC. It was a stable and self-sustaining variety of liberal capitalism. Despite the ludicrous attampts of Hollywood to rewrite history (The Sound of Music , Schindler's list etc) fascism was the form of capitalism preferred by the ruling classes of Europe in the 20's and 30's.

Should things go badly in the currrent crisis there is no good reason to suppose their grandchildren will not opt to finance parties like the Golden Dawn , if thats what it takes to hold on to their money. More likely they would opt for slightly more subtle varieties but there is actually no limit to the brutalities the rich will resort to in order to hang on to their possessions. It is only two genrations since they gave us Hitler, do you really think they have changed all that much? Look closely at the next banker you see in the news before answering.
 

shutuplaura

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The Soviets won the war in the east in spite of stalinism, not because of it.
 

Franker65

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I disagree that the Russians could have won the war without the help of the Western Allies. The strategic bombing campaign against arms production, oil production and the German workforce was instrumental in reducing military effectiveness. It also had the effect of drawing Luftwaffe units away from the eastern front.

In terms of Russian casualties, you have to point out that the Russian leadership were very careless in terms of committing their troops and inept training and leadership lead to the vast encirclements of 1941. Stalin's purges eliminated any semblance of effective Soviet military leadership early in the war, meaning a great deal more Soviet troops died than was necessary.
 

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