World War 2 National Socialism and the Holocaust

Chapter 4: Further Soviet Expansion And Cooperation With Germany, November 1939 To June 1941 :: Absolute War: Soviet Russia in the Second World War by Chris Bellamy

Response / Thought Quotes

  • “Our units saturated by technology (especially artillery and transport vehicles), are incapable of maneuver and combat in this theatre: they are burdened and chained down by technology which can only go by road. The troops are frightened by the forest and cannot ski.”
  • “The troops were ill-prepared for operations in forests and for coping with freezing weather and impassable roads … Artillery material was of particular concern. During the freezing weather in Finland, the semiautomatic mechanisms in the guns failed. New types of lubricants had to be developed immediately.”
  • “Today we are too fascinated with manoeuvre wars and we underestimate the struggle to break through defensive fortifications like the Maginot and Siegfried lines and others like them”
  • “Soviet regular troops are now so firmly in occupation of Outer Mongolia that there is no longer any pretense that this area does not come under the direct control of the Trans-Baikal Military district.”
  • “In this respect he was the complete opposite of Stalin, who amazed everyone with his ostensible modesty and total lack of desire to impress. Unlike Hitler, Stalin thought that if his limitless power over millions of his subjects was evident, there was no need to advertise it.”
  • “… to be a historic personality. I also flatter myself with the thought that I will also go down in history. That is why it is natural for two political leaders like us to meet. Please, Mr Molotov, transmit to Mr Stalin my greetings and my proposal that we hold a meeting in the not too-distant future.”
  • “If Britain is defeated,’ said Molotov, who was not renowned for his sense of humour, ‘why are we sitting in a shelter? And whose bombs are falling so close their explosions can be heard even here?”
  • “… everything looks all right in the north. Finland has been very naughty to us, so we moved our border away from Leningrad. The Baltics — these traditional Russian lands — belong to us again. The Belorussians are all living together now, the Ukrainians, together, and the Moldovans, together. Looks all right in the west.”

Thought Questions

  • Describe the background and purge of the Soviet military in the late 1930s
  • Why was Finland a complicating factor in the defense of the Soviet Union?
  • Describe the military importance of the Gulf of Finland
  • Describe the territorial negotiations between Finland and the Soviet Union prior to the Soviet Invasion
  • Describe how the 1939– 40 Soviet- Finnish war, known as the ‘Winter War’ unfolded and concluded
  • What was the ‘Mannerheim Line’?
  • In what ways did the Soviet Finnish Winter War impact Soviet military doctrine and planning?
  • In what ways did the Soviet Finnish war reinforce existing beliefs in Germany?
  • In what ways did the Soviet experience in the Winter War impact Soviet preparations for war with Germany?
  • Compare and Contrast: the occupation of the individual Baltic states
  • Describe The Battle at Khalkin Gol (Nomonhan) and its impact on the Soviet military
  • Compare and Contrast: The interaction of Hitler and Stalin and to their respective military establishments before war
  • Compare and Contrast: the evolution of relationships of Hitler and Stalin to their respective military leaders over the course of 1939-41
  • Describe the location and military significance of Bessarabia and its territorial changes
  • Describe the location and military significance of Bukovina and its territorial changes
  • Describe the location and military significance of Moldova and its territorial changes
  • What evidence is there to Finnish use of chemical weapons during the Winter War?
  • What was the purpose of the NKVD in 1939-40 and how did it participate in military activities and civilian persecution?
  • What was the “Stavka” in 1939-40? What were its strengths and limitations? What was the source of these and how were they acted upon in light on the events of 1939-40?
  • In light of the development of the Red Air force, Explain and Expand: “Stalin seems to have greatly underrated the value of radios”
  • What is the concept of inter-arm cooperation and why / In what ways was it crucial during 1939-40?
  • Explain and Expand: “The Soviet-Finnish war therefore reinforced many ideas that were already around.”
  • What is the concept of “Auftragstaktik”
  • In what ways did modern equipment prove to be a liability as well as an asset in the 1939-40 military activities (both Soviet and German)?
  • Explain and Expand: “One of the key lessons learned was the importance of camouflage”
  • Explain and Expand: “At the politico-strategic level, the key lesson was that you cannot always count on assistance to be received in the invaded country”
  • What was the Soviet (and later German) system of dual command?
  • Why was Stalin relieved by the German occupation of Norway?
  • Compare and Contrast: The geographic position of Odessa and Leningrad
  • How did Germany tempt the Soviet Union with inclusion in the tripartite pact between Germany, Italy and Japan
  • Summarize the misunderstandings that Hitler and Germany and Stalin and the Soviet Union had developed or reinforced by the events of 1939-40
  • What were the key minerals that were provide to Germany by the Soviet Union in 1939-40
  • In what ways did the Soviet Union benefit from the economic relationship with Germany during 1939-40
  • Explain and Expand: “there was now nobody else to get in the way.”

Primary Sources

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