The "imperialist war" had finally broken out in earnest; Stalin stepped up deliveries of raw materials to Germany.
Topitsch observes that, "In the Kremlin it was at first expected that there would be long-drawn-out battles with a heavy rate of attrition -- as in the First World War -- in the course of which the two sides would go on destroying each other until general exhaustion brought about a revolutionary situation." However, Germany's stunning victory over the Low Countries and France -- within a matter of weeks -- came as a real shock.
Had it not been for those policies, promulgated and enforced by a Comintern completely subservient to Moscow, Weimar Germany's left would not have been split by the Communists' relentless attacks on the Social Democrats ("social fascists," Stalin called them).
The two parties, which together commanded far more votes than Hitler's National Socialists (and initially more muscle as well), could have almost certainly prevented Hitler's rise to power and, with it, World War II.
Yet a more thorough analysis of the interplay of the main events has led me to the conviction that at the very least this viewpoint needed a radical modification.
It became more and more apparent that Stalin was not only the real victor, but also the key figure in the war; he was, indeed, the only statesman who had at the time a clear, broadly based idea of his objectives.The Hitler-Stalin Pact of August 1939 -- which granted Hitler cover by the Red Army on the Eastern Front -- was intended to encourage Hitler to open hostilities.Stalin was delighted with the German invasion of France.Resentful of his deformity (his left arm was permanently damaged in an accident), he was vengeful, never forgetting (let alone forgiving) a slight.According to his boyhood friends, Iosif "coddled grievances for years," and, in Service's words, saw "malevolent human agency in every personal or political problem he encountered." He joined the fledgling party at the age of 20, having left the Tiflis (Tbilisi) Theological Seminary a few months before graduation in 1899.Following his declared goal of eschewing stereotypes and looking at his subject afresh, Service gives us a portrait of a paranoid and murderous despot, not a one-dimensional, cartoonish baddie.In villainies of such a scale, there is never a single smoking gun.He is not alone in suggesting that Stalin was planning a military offensive against the West.Grigore Gafencu, Romania's sometime foreign minister and ambassador to the USSR during the war, felt that Stalin had secretly provoked Germany into attacking.If Stalin's aspirations were not fully realized, the outcome of the war does not detract from Topitsch's theory that "the Second World War was only a phase -- though an important one -- in the realization of Lenin's grand strategy to subjugate the capitalist or 'imperialist' nations -- in other words, all those which had not yet undergone the process of Sovietization."Topitsch's book is not without its flaws, particularly in A. One also wonders if the author believes that fascism is "the most extreme form of capitalism" (p. The translators' capricious usage in anglicizing German and Russian names is bothersome as well.For "Moldavia and Wallachia" we read "Moldau and Wallacheit while the Vistula and Narew Rivers are rendered as "Weichsel" (German) and "Narev" (? Transliteration of Russian names generally straddles proper German and English usage, so that the reader encounters, instead of "Zhukov" or "Schukow," the translators' "Schukov." There are an irritating number of typos as well such as "Nersky" for "Nevsky" and "Frisch" for "Fritsch."Villains fascinate, and mass murderers doubly so. To learn, and guard against, the warning signs of advancing savagery?