Continuing to work through Herman Sadulaev’s historical thesis, which attempts to explain the Soviet Union’s military unpreparedness for the Nazi surprise attack on June 22, 1941. Where we left off: Sadulaev posited that the German troop build-up on the USSR’s western flank, was thought to be in preparation for a German invasion of Iran. It was a well-known fact that Germany would love to take Iran away from Great Britain and make it Germany’s colony, instead. Seeing as how Iran had tons of oil and was also the gateway to the Caucasus. From the Soviet geopolitical point of view, Great Britain was more of an enemy than Nazi Germany, when it came to defending the Caucasian oil fields. Soviet intelligence knew that the Brits had been scheming to seize Soviet oil fields in Baku. Red Army planners had already worked out a counter-scheme to preventatively seize Iran, in order to keep it out of British hands.
Once Operation Barbarossa was launched, though, the entire geopolitical situation in the world changed overnight. The Soviets immediately scrapped their plan to seize Iran by themselves. Still, Iran was seen now as a potential ally of Germany, and needed to be taken out of the game. Hence, the Soviets soon allied with Great Britain and embarked on a joint occupation of that nation. What an irony: Those very same Red Army units which had been concentrated on Iran’s border in order to fight against the Brits (to protect Baku), now fought shoulder to shoulder with those same Brits, crushing and partitioning Iran. To prevent these ancient Aryans from joining into an alliance with Hitler! In addition, Iran served as the conduit station for around 30% of all the “land-lease” aid to the Soviets. Sadulaev believes that “this strange little war” within a war holds the key to decoding the 1941 catastrophe.
Ready But Not Prepared….
Before the invasion: Huge masses of Soviet troops were massed along the Western border; and yet were not at all prepared to engage in battle [against the Germans]. The concentration was mostly just a show of antlers. Same thing happens in modern times, when we (Russians) conduct elaborate war games near a threatened region.
Stalin knew, of course, all about Hitler’s invasion preparations. Even a child could see that Hitler was preparing something big. It’s just that Stalin (and the whole Soviet leadership) believed the target was to be Iran, and not the USSR. And they also believed that India was next in line, after Iran. Hitler was playing a crafty game, and most likely wanted people to believe precisely this. Stalin was even waiting on pins and needles for Hitler to submit his ultimatum: To allow German troops to pass through a corridor on Soviet territory, on their way to the Iranian oil fields. Hitler might even demand that the Soviets cede certain western territories for “temporary annexation”, in order to facilitate communication within his various units. Stalin did not plan to obey any such ultimatum, nor permit such annexations; and this is why he had ordered such a concentration of troops on the Western border.
In fact, the Kremlin even hoped to utilize this tricky situation in the military horse-trading between Moscow and Berlin, on the one hand; and Moscow and London, on the other. For example: The USSR will not permit Hitler’s troops to enter Iran; but Great Britain must leave Iran of its own free will; and then the Red Army will occupy Iran. The situation promised to be sharp and crisis-like; but NOBODY was expecting a full-fledged Nazi invasion and war against the Soviet Union, just like that. Without at least a preliminary attempt to build an anti-Britain alliance.
Since September 3, 1939 Germany had been in a constant war against Great Britain. And this war was not just a formality either: Military operations were taking place in Africa, there was an air war and a war at sea. One needs to recall that the England of that time was not the “tiny little island” that it is today. It was a vast empire, including numerous dominions: Canada, India, Australia, New Zealand, etc. And the United States of America was a factual ally as well.
The combined military and economic potential of Great Britain and the U.S. exceeded any potential, not only of Germany, but the whole of continental Europe. By the summer of 1941 this powerful anti-German coalition was not even fully mobilized. To attack the USSR, having an unfinished war with London in one’s rear-view mirror; a London that controlled almost half the world — well, that was simply insane! [yalensis: so they didn’t realize that the author of Mein Kampf was sort of a madman?]
And this explains why the Soviet leadership saw the concentration of German troops on the Western border and did not draw the necessary conclusions. For sure, they were awaiting some kind of ultimatum about the supposed transit corridor to Iran; possibly even demands to annex some territories; possibly some provocation to incite Soviet troops to attack, some type of border incident, after which Berlin would submit its demands. They assumed that Germany’s goal was to pressure the USSR into an anti-Britain pact. And all of this explains those now seeming strange orders that were issued at the time: To keep units in military readiness, but not to react to any provocations; to not open fire; to not shoot down German planes; etc.
[to be continued]