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David Hebden has comments Sunday, July 20, 2003 on the Keitel memoirs and the nature of Operation Barbarossa




MANY thanks for making available the memoirs of Field Marshal Keitel. In the section dealing with preparations for Operation Barbarossa [Hitler's attack on Russia], click to enlargeKeitel refers to the invasion as a "preventive attack". What's remarkable is that the editor, Walter Görlitz, felt compelled to insert the following note at the bottom of the page: "Keitel used the phrase Präventiv-Angriff to underline his view, but the editor of this book would be more inclined to accept the view of one of the leading experts in this field, Dr. H.-A. Jacobsen, that the German attack on Russia was an unprovoked aggression."

Do you know if Mr. Gorlitz was responsible for the cuts made to the text of the German edition?

David Hebden

PS: Stalin's speeches of May 5 1941. [1] [2] There seems to have been a mix-up with the paperback edition of the Alfred Weeks book, Stalin's Other War. The text of Joseph Stalin's main speech to the academy graduates is not given. However, remarks made by Stalin at a reception later that day are reproduced:

"Permit me to make a correction. A peace policy keeps our nation at peace. A peace policy is a good thing. At one time or another we have followed a line based on defense. Up to now we have not re-equipped our army nor supplied it with modern weapons.

"But now that our army is undergoing reconstruction and we have become strong, it is necessary to shift from defense to offense.

"In providing the defense of our country, we must act in an offensist [nastupatel' nym] way. Our military policy must change from defense to waging offensive actions. We must endow our indoctrination, our propaganda and agitation, and our press with an offensist spirit. The Red Army is a modern army - a modern army that is an offensist army [nastupatel'naya armiya]."

NOTE: This is from A. N. Yakovlev, ed., 1941 god. Dokumenty (Moscow: Mezhdunarodmw Fond "Demokratiya," 1998).

Another appendix contains a speech, whose very existence was disputed for years:

J V StalinThe following is J. V Stalin's secret speech to the Politburo of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, August 19, 1939:

"The question of war or peace has entered a critical phase for us. If we conclude a mutual assistance treaty with France and Great Britain, Germany will back off of Poland and seek a 'modus vivendi' with the Western Powers. War would thus be prevented but future events could take a serious turn for the USSR. If we accept Germany's proposal to conclude with it a nonaggression pact, Germany will then attack Poland and Europe will be thrown into serious acts of unrest and disorder. Under these circumstances we will have many chances of remaining out of the conflict while being able to hope for our own timely entrance into war.

"The experience of the past 20 years shows that in peacetime it is impossible to maintain a Communist movement throughout Europe that would be strong enough so that a Bolshevik party could seize power. A dictatorship by this party becomes possible only as the result of a big war. We are making our choice and it is clear. We must accept the German proposal and politely send the Anglo-French delegations back home. The first advantage we will get will be the destruction of Poland up to the very approaches to Warsaw, including Ukrainian Galicia.

"Germany has given us full leeway in the Baltic Countries and has no objection to returning Bessarabia to the USSR. Germany is also prepared to yield on giving us a sphere of influence in Rumania, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The question of Yugoslavia still remains open.... At the same time we must anticipate what will ensue from the destruction of Germany in war as well as from a German victory. If it is destroyed, the sovietization of Germany follows inevitably and a Communist government will be established. We must not forget that a sovietized Germany would face great danger if such sovietization occured after the defeat of Germany in a short war. England and France would be powerful enough to seize Berlin and destroy a Soviet Germany. We would not be able to come to the aid of our Bolshevik comrades in Germany.

"Therefore, our task consists in helping Germany wage war for as long as possible with the aim in view that England and France would be in no condition to defeat a sovietized Germany. While hewing to a policy of neutrality and while waiting for its hour to come, the USSR will lend aid to today's Germany and supply it with raw materials and foodstuffs. Of course, it follows that we will not allow such shipments to jeopardize our economy or weaken our armed might.

"At the same time we must conduct active Communist propaganda especially as directed at the Anglo-French bloc and primarily in France. We must be prepared for the fact that in France in wartime the Communist Party there must abandon legal activities and go underground. We realize that such work will require an enormous sacrifice in lives. However, we have no doubts about our French comrades. Above all their task will be to break up and demoralize the French army and police. If this preparatory work is completed in a satisfactory way, the security of Soviet Germany is assured. This will likewise ensure the sovietization of France.

"To realize these plans it is necessary that war last as long as possible and that all efforts should be made, whether in Western Europe or the Balkans, to see that this happens.

"Let us look now at the second possibility - namely, that Germany becomes the victor. Some propose that this turn of events would present us with a serious danger. There is some truth to this notion. But it would be erroneous to believe that such a danger is as near and as great as they assume. If Germany achieves victory in the war, it will emerge from it in such a depleted state that to start a conflict with the USSR will take at very least 10 years.

"Germany's main task would then be to keep a watch on the defeated England and France to prevent their restoration. On the other hand, a victorious Germany would have at its disposal a large territory. Over the course of many decades, Germany would be preoccupied with the 'exploitation' of these territories and establishing in them the German order, Obviously, Germany would be too preoccupied to move against us. There is still another factor that enhances our security. In the defeated France, the French Communist Party would be very strong. A Communist revolution would follow inevitably. We would exploit this in order to come to the aid of France and win it over as an ally. Later these peoples who fell under the "protection" of a victorious Germany likewise would become our allies. We would have a large arena in which to develop the world revolution.

"Comrades! It is in the interests of the USSR, the Land of the Toilers, that war breaks out between the Reich and the capitalist Anglo-French bloc. Everything must be done so that the war lasts as long as possible in order that both sides become exhausted. Namely for this reason we must agree to the pact proposed by Germany and use it so that once this war is declared, it will last for a maximum amount of time. We must step up our propaganda within the combatant-countries so that they are prepared for that time when the war ends."

Source: From the central collection of Historical Documents of the former "Special Archive of the USSR", Folder 7, Set 1, Doc. 1223. It is reproduced from Dimitrov's diary in T. S. Bushuyev, "Proklinaya-Poprobuite Ponyat"' ("Curse It but Try to Understand"), a review of two books by Viktor Suvorov, Novyi Mir, no. 12 (1994), pp. 232-33.



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David Irving replies

SO far as I know Walter Görlitz made all the cuts to the text of the Keitel memoirs himself, in the spirit of the prevailing fears of writers in Germany. He too was very pleased to see the missing passages restored in the British edition, which was republished in 2002 by Cooper Square, New York. Of course, pre-emptive strikes, as preventive attacks are now called, are no longer considered to be war crimes, evidently. This innovation comes rather too late to rehabilitate the field marshal.

 © Focal Point 2003 David Irving