Jahrbücher für Geschichte Osteuropas:  jgo.e-reviews 5 (2015), 2 Rezensionen online / Im Auftrag des Instituts für Ost- und Südosteuropaforschung in Regensburg herausgegeben von Martin Schulze Wessel und Dietmar Neutatz

Verfasst von: Hiroaki Kuromiya


Präventivkrieg? Der deutsche Angriff auf die Sowjetunion. Hrsg. von Bianka Pietrow-Ennker. Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 2011. 252 S. = Die Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Eine Buchreihe. ISBN: 978-3-596-19062-1.

More than twenty years ago, Wladimir Resun, a Russian émigré, published a book (Icebreaker/Der Eisbrecher) under the pen-name of Viktor Suvorov, contending that far from having been caught off guard by Adolf Hitlers Operation Barbarossa, Iosif Stalin had induced Hitlers attack as an excuse to export revolution abroad, including to Germany itself. If so, the history of the twentieth century would have to be rewritten. Naturally this sensational thesis has been subjected to scrutiny by professional historians, whose conclusions have been overwhelmingly against it. The present volume represents such scholarly analyses. In fact, this book is a reissue of the same title published in 2000, except that the editor Pietrow-Ennker has updated her introduction and Anton Koro­lenkow, a Russian historian, has contributed a new essay. All other essays seem to have been published without change. Therefore it seems appropriate for this review to focus on the two new essays.

Pietrow-Ennkers introduction briefly summarizes the state of scholarship in the West and in Russia. She states that the task of the contributed essays is to draw up a provisional balance sheet (eine Zwischenbilanz). Given the lack of new contributions by western historians, one can conclude that as far as historical research in the West is concerned, there is not much new. As the editor notes, already in the original edition, Juri Gorkow had used archival documents from the Russian Ministry of Defense to refute the Suvorov thesis convincingly. (Some of these documents were published in Russia earlier, however.)

The only new contribution by Korolenkow is worth reading carefully: it summarizes and refutes those Russian works that seek to prove that Stalin pursued preventive war against Hitler. Korolenkow takes up works by Mikhail Meltiukhov (at least three editions have been published), O.V. Wishliov, A. Sakharov, V. Molodiakov, and others. None of these present new evidence, but base their arguments on several well-known facts: in late 1940 Stalin allegedly considered joining the Anti-Comintern Pact, and in May 1941 Stalin gave a speech in which he exhorted the graduates of the Red Army Academy stating thatNow we have to move from defense to offense … the Red Army is a modern army, and a modern army is an army of offense.Korolenkow examines each of these facts carefully and concludes that no evidence exists to suggest that Stalin intended to implement and prepare for offensive war against Germany. Stalin is a complex figure whose ideas no one understands clearly. Therefore his speeches and actions have often defied and still defy easy or clear interpretation. Nevertheless, there is little evidence that suggests that Stalin intended to wage preventive war. Although Koro­lenkow cites judicious Russian historians, his views of Russian historiography in general is rather negative: many historians still write ideological clichés based on a selective use of facts and evidence. Perhaps he might have emphasized this latter point by discussing recent major publications of documents from the Russian Foreign Intelligence Archive (which is tightly closed to outside researchers). One of these is L.F. Sotskov Sekrety polskoi politiki 19351945 gg. Rassekrechennye dokumenty sluzhby vneshnei razvedki Rossiiskoi Federatsii (2010). Using those documents that suit his views, Sotskov comes close to stating that Poland was responsible for World War Two! Unfortunately, this sort of blatant manipulation of facts is still quite usual in Russia.

In dealing with Soviet history, one has to be extremely careful not to forget that numerous documents of import have not been declassified. If they ever were declassified, they would almost certainly rewrite the history of the Soviet Union. As Gorkow notes, Stalin tried to control not merely the planning and preparation of a preventive strike but even any discussion of it (p. 208). Even so, one should assume that Moscow did have some kind of plan of offense. Military command demanded it. In this particular case, however, any detailed and concrete plans are unlikely to surface. Unlike political intrigue, military intrigue would have required military specialists and military preparations. Stalin and his coterie alone could not have schemed for an offensive war against Germany.

Hiroaki Kuromiya, Bloomington, IN

Zitierweise: Hiroaki Kuromiya über: Präventivkrieg? Der deutsche Angriff auf die Sowjetunion. Hrsg. von Bianka Pietrow-Ennker. Frankfurt a.M.: Fischer, 2011. 252 S. = Die Zeit des Nationalsozialismus. Eine Buchreihe. ISBN: 978-3-596-19062-1, http://www.dokumente.ios-regensburg.de/JGO/erev/Kuromiya_Pietrow-Ennker_Praeventivkrieg.html (Datum des Seitenbesuchs)

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