Stalin's Drive to the West, 1938-1945: The Origins of the Cold War

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9780804724159: Stalin's Drive to the West, 1938-1945: The Origins of the Cold War

Exploiting new findings from former East Bloc archives and from long-ignored Western sources, this book presents a wholly new picture of the coming of World War II, Allied wartime diplomacy, and the origins of the Cold War. The author reveals that the story - widely believed by historians and Western wartime leaders alike - that Stalin's purposes in European diplomacy from 1938 on were mainly defensive is a fantasy. Indeed, this is one of the longest enduring products of Stalin's propaganda, of long-term political control of archival materials, and of the gullibility of Western observers.
The author argues that Stalin had concocted a plan for bringing about a general European war well before Hitler launched his expansionist program for the Third Reich. Stalin expected that Hitler's war, when it came, would lead to the internal collapse of the warring nations, and that military revolts and proletarian revolutions like those of World War I would break out in the capitalist countries. This scenario foresaw the embattled proletarians calling for the assistance of the Red Army, which would sweep across Europe.
The book further shows that the wartime disputes between Stalin and his Western allies originated over the postwar redisposition of the territories Stalin had gained from his pact with Hitler. The situation was complicated by the incautious, unrestricted commitment of support to the Soviet Union first by Churchill and then by Roosevelt, and wartime circumstances provided cover to obscure these diplomatic failures. The early origins of the Cold War described in this book differ dramatically from the usual accounts that see a sudden and surprising upwelling of Cold War antagonisms late in the War or early in the postwar period.

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About the Author:

R.C. Raack is Professor of History, Emeritus, at California State University, Hayward.

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The Nazi-Soviet "nonaggression" pact of August 1939 was in truth a mutual aggression pact against small countries, which could not be admitted by the Soviets even in their glasnost phase. They rationalized Stalin's attacks as the establishment of a defensive position against the Germans, an apologia prominent in much Western revisionist scholarship about the cold war's beginnings. This careful writer dispels such views by examining Communist Party archives and boldly claims his study will "superannuate countless earlier histories." The operating thesis is that Stalin's ambitions as a world leader were grander than mere self-defense: as an orthodox Leninist, he sensed that 1939 was the time to reignite the international proletarian revolution by means of the chaos attending the coming war. Raack follows up with a narrative of the Soviets' diplomatic blandishments and secret political preparations for the communization of Germany and Poland as the Red Army advanced in 1944^-45. Though scholarly (footnotes comprise one-third the length), this study marks a signal advance in accuracy in its field. Suitable for large, complete collections. Gilbert Taylor

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