The lecture was held on 21 May 2010 at the Tallinn conference “World War II – Conclusions Not Made”    

First of all, I would like to thank hospitable friends, first of all, Mr Tunne Kelam and others Estonian politicians, who unlike other politicians from other countries do not afraid to ask questions and do not afraid to hear answers, that can be arisen to questions connected with the war history, that is wanted to be forgotten by many or to be left as before in the captivity of the Stalin falsifications. I am very glad, I am really very glad, that our conference, as far as I know this is the first conference for the last 20 years after collapse of USSR, when it is possible a new consideration of the Second War history. The first international conference, that collected specialists-historians, who are ready not to repeat Stalin-Breznev old myths, that this conference takes place in Tallinn, in the capital of the country, that has gone boldly from totalitarian camp to the free Europe. I am very grateful you, that this conference is happened.

As concerns the subject of my lecture, that unfortunately, I am forced to speak about things, enough complicated, that is why my lecture considers only matters of military history, in the narrow sense of the word that means – history of war. The military history, I insist to this, this is not humane knowledge, but this is exact science, science of facts, numbers and documents. I will try so much, but this is very difficult to make easy, so I must notify in advance, that we are waited half an hour of intensive work. Theme of my lecture consists of two parts:

1. Stalin military-strategic plans - what Stalin was going to do in frames of the Second World War.

2. Rout of the Red Army in the summer, 1941.

As you can see, every of these themes could be considered as one or even some lectures as each of them is separate scientific problem.

None the less, I should put together these two complicated subjects to frames of one lecture. And this is no coincidence. The point is in this, that the second subject is often used to refuse the first one that is it is known, that the Red Army suffered a shattering defeat in 1941 year that the world history did not know war catastrophe on such scale. This fact, absolutely not correctly, in my opinion, is used as argument in favour of that fact that Stalin was not going to attack Europe, that Stalin did not have active attack plans, because, as our opponents say, how it is possible to have so weak army to plan incursion into Europe. To my mind, such logic does not have any right to existence, because this one is logical.

It is possible our today knowledge about what is Red Army itself in view of 1941 year model not the same as Comrade Stalin had got about this one. And some minutes later I show this to you.

That is why in great degree it is not sence to try to reconstruate Stalin plans through our today knowledge. This is first of all.

In the second place, very often people are forced to do things, which are not logical.

For example, in November, 1939 Mannerheim, Finnish Army Commander-in-Chief knew personally about conditions of his army. He knew, that there were 3,5 million persons in Finland, but 180 million persons were in USSR. He knew, that there were three divisions and one brigade in Finland of piece time, but USSR could send to front 10 thousand of tanks, approximately one tank agaist one Finnish platoon. According to all logic understanding Finland had to be given way, but, as we know in reality Finland decided to be in war, fought and even it was not crushed. So any attempt to evaluate Stalin plans through today knowledge about real conditions of Red Army

is absurd absolutely, but none the less, I meet with this attempt continuously. That is why we decided with other my collegues, who will speak after me, that it is sence to unite these two subjects.

But we begin from the point, that, I think, certainly, you saw this picture in Estonia, that is why nobody is suprized with it. You see Europe map before yourself. Here you can see Ribbentrop remarkable signature, Comrade Stalin signature (I.Stalin) is higher and one more Stalin signature there, where it is marked with red color - they corrected there. It means, they sat and corrected Europe map – there Comrade Stalin decided this small piece in region of Lvov salient to take for himself and even he put signature to confirm this one. After that, when they divided Europe, they celebrated this fact with glass of champagne. Moreover date of 28.09.39 is put there. It is incredibly at all, that it is kept so far. I look at this and do not believe my eyes.

After that when they divided Europe, Soviet Union and Germany came to contact, a line was arisen, that in the strict sense was not named as a border even, but this was a delimitation line of Germany and Soviet Union common interests at territory of former Poland state.

After that, when this line was arisen, theoretically two armies could found themselves in conditions of contact. Probably, from this moment it was started to plan and prepare a defeat of its ally (that ally, with him champagne was drunk) as well as incursion into Europe.

I think this incredible miracle, that we have fully authentic documents today. This is so surprisingly! I cannot understand completely – why these documents were not fired. I cannot understand – why these documents are taken off the security in the beginning of 1992 year. I held these originals in my hands. Yes, these ones exist undoubtedly. Originals exist that written by hand of Vasilevsky, Deputy Chief of Red Army staff. It is understood, that with the following signature stamps: “Confidential”, “Only one copy”, “Only personally”.

At this moment we have got the following documents: ideas about deployment plans of battle actions from the side of Red Army in Europe in August, 1940 – this is the first document. The same document - October, 1940 – this is the second document. These are broadened manypaged texts, including maps. Considerations concerning plans of South-West front battle actions – this is low salient here, there Lvov is located. There, where it is written Lvov – this is Lvov salient from December, 1940 – this is the third document. We have got materials – look through these ones. We have considerations concerning plans of strategic deployment from the side of Red Army in March, 1941.

We have directive of People’s Commissar, the Chief Military Officer. This directive is addressed to West military district commander. This is the district which located at the second salient, which is higher, where it is written Belostock. I have calculated four or five documents. Consideration of strategic attack plan in 1941 year - we have received six documents. We have got six authentic documents. Moreover, we have got materials about the so-called command-staff play at the map. It means, I stress, the chief command structure of Red Army worked through the strategic operation during training in January, 1941 year.

German soldiers enter Grodno, soon after the Nazis had entered the Russian town. Due to the rapid collapse of the Red Army in the face of the invasion, the city was taken by German forces practically intact.

So, we have got six documents, as minimum, the most important. All documents are not only common by idea, but even common by text, because we see that one document was simply rewritten with small modifications, in order to receive others.

This is very important, in my opinion. This says that there was common idea, which is added, modified, corrected and polished, but left in generally and in common without changes.

What was this idea? This was idea about large-scale strategic attack operation that definitely was going to take place behind Soviet Union borders and that definitely at the west of Soviet border. Idea of operation is left about the same. The main thrust would be done at line of Lvov-Krakov. You can see Lvov-Krakov. The main thrust was going from here and then two thrusts to west, one thrust from Lvov to Lublen (Lvov-Lublin) and the second thrust from territory of Belostock salient, from Brest to Demblin and from Belostock to Warsaw. This logics is understood. If we have two salients, turned to West, that it is clear idea to gather round and crush Germany forces, which are located between these salients. Blue dotted line – this is a line of Soviet Army supposed offensive moving in course of fulfillment of the first strategic task as in the text – “the first strategic task”. During 30 days Red Army was going to come to this blue line, but this blue line is placed at distance about 200 or 300 km to West. It means for one month the victorious Red Army was going to destroy the main forces. This is written in such way, I only quote the text.

Basic tasks, the first strategic tasks – to destroy the main forces of Germany Army, deployed between Visla and Soviet border, destroy, annihilate the enemy and come to the line, which is shown there.

Then the document from March, where it is given consideration about the plan of strategic deployment from the side of Red Army in March, 1940 year, that I held in my own hands. Then it is written a text about red dotted lines – to delivery a blow to Berlin or to delivery a blow to Prague and Vienna. One more auxiliary blow is directed to north direction to Gdantseg (now it is called Gdansk).

It is difficult to understand sense of humor of my opponents, who are looking at these maps, but continue to talk that Soviet headquarters planned offence of its boards or some counter-stroke. It is interesting, to my mind, this picture. This is that, what should be happened – conditional military actions during command-staff play in January, 1941 year. What is interesting here? First of all, scope is seen. I do not know, how can understand me translator, but there is one expression of Mayakovski: “scope of step sazhen”. It means that this is so large scope. So, during five weeks, a little more than one month, I repeat again - during five weeks Red Army was going to be at this red line that is South Poland, Slovakia, big piece of Hungary, almost all Romania. Actually, Red Army goes out to boundary of river Dunai-Tissa.

It is very interesting, I ask you, unfortunately I do not have a pointer, please pay your attention, from where Soviet offensive is started – this is a red dotted line, from where the red arrows are coming. As you can see, salient is started behind the Soviet border, initial region for salient that is located to West from Soviet border. Namely this one what our opponents call with word “counter-stroke”. I repeat again, such sense of humor, I cannot understand. It is curious to see, how bravely battle actions were planned! Comrade Stalin and High officers were such kind of high opinion about Red Army. This is seen very well, if look at this picture.

Photo: Jaanus Ree


But please see how many tasks Red Army should decide simultaneously. It deliveries the main attack to Krakow and Budapest. This is the main blow. Then, when Germany Army is destroyed as “put on all one’s finery” at south territory of Poland and Slovakia, Red Army goes to the below direction to Rumania and occupies this one. Red Army does all of this during five weeks! At the same time, please see, what grey arrows do – this is supposed attack of Germany, Hungary and Romania Army, this means that enemy tries to break through this from south, from south end of Lvov salient, then after river Dnestr, but Red Army encircles and destroys the enemy.

Two grey arrows more – these are attempts of enemy to delivery counterstroke and borders of defence, where Red Army stops them. It means that Red Army decides the task simultaneously – it leads so large scope attack to Krakow-Budapest, encircles the group of enemy broken through below south of Dnestr and parries two blows directed to Lvov and Kovel. Comrade Stalin had such opinion about battle power of his Army.

But now please look at this, how Red Soviet Headquarters imagine correlation of forces.

Soviet forces are drawn by red, but enemy – by green. These ones are grandiose attack plans. This destroy of enemy is supposed to be happened during five weeks, when such correlation of forces is existed – enemy has divisions even more. Please pay your attention – the green arrow, green column is higher. Yes, Soviet Army has small advantage in airplanes as well as in tanks, because Soviet Union made tanks in such quantity that is more than number made by all European countries all together, even as much as twice.

It was not possible to plan its actions in other way. But enemy, who had some superiority in the foot and infantry divisions, was planned to be destroyed and smashed, none the less.

But what say our opponents, when they look at all of this. They say that – well, yes, well there were such plans, but you see for this General Headquarters exist that to compose and create plans. This is not surprise. Who did say you that these plans should be done? How it is possible to object to this – no way. This is absolutely logically.

That is why during 18 years we ask our opponents – we have shown you six plans of attack operations. But please find even one plan of defence action. During 18 years you have all archive documents of Russia in your hands. Please show a plan of defence action, if the General Heatquarters, in your opinion, do what they want – if they develop what they want. 18 years passed. For this long time a child became young man or woman, but our opponents have found nothing.

But what concerns this picture, where you see command-staff play in January, 1941, that I especially kept silence about this curious point. Play can be performed in different way. For example, the first day of play, the second day of play, the third day of play – such kind of logics. Here it was done in another way. Battle actions from that red line are began on 8 August. This is not the first, the second or the third day, but this is 8 August. And Red Army comes to this below, big line on 16 September. This means this is play, that our opponents want to represent as idle play of mind, was attached to absolutely specific dates.

But this is not everything yet.

Exact dates of August and September are needed to plan battle actions. You should know exactly, what is period of year, length of light day, rising, sunset, air temperature, conditions of ground and water and so on. Battle actions began on 8 August, 1941. According to play conditions the year was specified. On 8 August 1941 the play started and this one came to this line on 16 September, 1941. About this fact our opponents do not say anything. They simply ignore this one. They simply ignore this argument.

What concerns considerations of March, 1941 as to plans of strategic deployment, that is shown in this map – I have held these documents in my own hands – and at one of back page (this is very large document) – at the back of one page you could see the following note, written by Vatutin clear nice hand, Chief of Strategic Department, General Headquarters – “To start attack on 12 June”. Unfortunately, Vatutin did not write two numbers and we cannot categorically confirm that it is talked about 12 June, 1941. But, I think, that fact of this note arisen says that people planned battle actions, but not considered materials theoretically.

The article will continue in Maailma vaade No 19 (Estonian version only)

Mark Solonin is a historian and publicist on the history of World War II