Kursk battle - the greatest battle in stories of humanity. Generally speaking, the name of the Battle of Stalingrad that preceded it became nominal, and the word "Stalingrad" firmly entered into all the languages of the world. Still, the Stalingrad battle was not decisive in that war. Three weeks later, after the crushing defeat at Stalingrad, the Germans were able to launch a counteroffensive in the Donbas and Kharkov directions. Rejecting the troops of the South-Western Front and the left wing of the Voronezh Front on 150 – 200 km, they again seized the strategic initiative, imposing their will on the Soviet command. Victory was still very far away. Only as a result of the Kursk battle, the course of the war was broken, and it became clear that the final defeat of the enemy was a matter of time.
But today we would like to talk not about these great battles, but about the factors that led to the very possibility of the Second World War. Much of what we will tell is unknown to the general reader and, it seems, will force us to take a considerable new look at the grandiose and tragic events of those years that are not so distant from our time.
As is known, Hitlerite Germany unleashed World War II. But what reasons pushed her to unleash aggression? To understand this, we need to take a certain historical excursion. Not everyone knows this, but at the beginning of the twentieth century Germany was in a demographic and, accordingly, in an economic dead end. From only 1850 to 1910, the country's population has increased by 30 millions, or 90%! The ruling and intellectual circles of Germany were terrified that the country would soon be unable to feed the rapidly growing population. As a result of these processes, in German society an opinion was formed that the state needed large colonies to which an excess population could be sent. The exploitation of the colonies, in turn, would stimulate the economic development of Germany. But for the implementation of these plans, first of all, it was necessary to neutralize the opposition of the major colonial powers - Britain and France. In addition, of course, a powerful land army and a powerful military fleet were needed, since the rivals on the world stage would never have lost their positions without a fight. As a matter of fact, as a result of the influence of these factors, Germany already in the second half of the XIX century was focused on the European war.
Germany had never before had its own military fleet. The several battleships built in 1848, commanded by the land Prussian generals and whose crews consisted of Swedes and British, of course, could only act as "floating coastal artillery", but they were not an instrument of world domination. The corvettes, frigates, and gunboats that were in the possession of the “supreme boat commander” (as army zuboscals called the commander-in-chief of the Navy) were not able to intimidate any serious enemy.
After the formation of the empire in 1871, the fleet became the favorite brainchild of the German ruling circles. But only in the 80-s of the XIX century, Germany began to create this fleet. Now the enemy was supposed to be intimidated by demonstrating the naval power of armadillos, cruisers, torpedo boats, mines and coastal fortifications. In 1888, a new ruler, William II, took the German throne. Supporters of colonial conquest relied on him. And he met their expectations. “The trident squeezes our hand,” the new emperor loved to say. And he added: "The ocean will magnify Germany."
1 July 1911, the Kaiser Wilhelm II sent a military vessel "Panther" to the port of Agadir, located on the Atlantic coast of Morocco. The purpose of the raid was to gather information about the French influence in Africa and search for a colonial niche for Germany. But although the Panther was just a cannon boat, and Agadir was a port of secondary importance, the arrival of a military vessel gave rise to a deep international crisis. The growth of German military power has long caused concern among its neighbors in Europe; now Germany, in search of "a place in the sun", seemed to have thrown a direct challenge to the colonial interests of France and Great Britain. For several weeks, fear of waiting for a big war reigned in Europe. However, by the end of July, when Winston Churchill, then the Minister of the Interior, later the Maritime Minister, and during the Second World War, the British Prime Minister, stated that “the troublemaker is losing ground,” the tension subsided. But the crisis has changed Churchill's views on the future. In contrast to the previous convictions of Germany’s intentions, he now believed that Germany was striving for domination and was ready to use force for that. He concluded that war was inevitable and that it was only a matter of time. It was for the war that he began to prepare the British Navy, taking up the post of naval minister, which years later had far-reaching consequences.
The episode with “Panther” caused an unprecedented rise in anti-German sentiments both in the UK and on the continent, especially in France. But long before the Panther raid, Berlin began to challenge Britain and France to regions as far away as South Africa, Morocco, the Middle East, and the Pacific, and embarked on an unprecedented program of military and naval construction. Soon, Germany acquired colonies in the Pacific - the Caroline, Marshall and Mariana Islands, and also captured the Chinese peninsula of Shandong. In London, they came to the conclusion that the prospect of gaining a German power, which possesses simultaneously dominant land and naval power, is completely unacceptable. As a result, the seemingly impossible happened: England, which traditionally considered France its main rival in Europe, and Russia in the world, offered them an alliance. In 1907, the Trinity Agreement, known to us as the Entente, was formed. Now in Europe two military-political groups were preparing to oppose each other, preparing for a clash.
The main field of disagreement was the Balkans, where Serbia was the main ally of Russia, and opponents were Austria-Hungary, Germany and Turkey, who suspected Russian Tsar Nicholas II intended to unite under the Russian auspices of the Slavic lands and seize the Black Sea straits. In 1908, Vienna decided to annex Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Germany demanded that Russia and Serbia recognize this action of fact. Russia, the prestige of which was inflicted deadly humiliation, resigned. Turkey organized the Balkan wars three times with sympathy of the central powers. Russia did not intervene. In 1913, Germany supported the reorganization of the Turkish army and sent a German general to assume command of Constantinople.
At the same time, a militarist and anti-Russian campaign broke out in Germany. In Berlin, a huge plywood Kremlin was built, which burned to the din of fireworks, the national anthem and the friendly hooting of the burghers. Why is Russia not so pleased Germany, except for the fact that it showed an increased interest in the Balkans? Berlin had long-term geopolitical views. “First, only after eliminating the threat from Russia, Germany, having opened the Second Front, could successfully fight the French and the Anglo-Saxons for world domination,” noted the American historian Richard Pipes. “Secondly, in order to become a serious competitor in Weltpolitik (world politics), Germany needed access to Russia's natural resources, including food, and this access could be obtained on acceptable terms only if Russia became a dependent state.”
Plans of hostilities were developed on both sides, and the allies made ever more stringent obligations of mutual support. The information coming to Berlin indicated that Russia and France, unlike Germany, would not soon be ready for war, on the basis of which it was concluded that time was working against them, that is, it should take advantage of it now, while this advantage there is also. In the event of war, there was only one plan developed — the Schlieffen plan: first, German troops smashed the French army in six weeks, then in six weeks the combined Austrian and German troops smashed Russia. The decision of Paris and / or Moscow to mobilize meant the immediate implementation of the plan. At the same time, France and Russia, sensing the threat of the German blitzkrieg, agreed to make a simultaneous mobilization if any member of the Triple Alliance makes it. This introduced an element of automatism in the further development of events. After the inevitable victory in the war, according to the calculations of the German strategists, no one could have prevented Germany from pursuing the colonial expansion that was so necessary for her.
28 June (new style) 1914, the heir to the Austrian throne, Franz Ferdinand went on a visit to annexed Bosnia. The Mlada Bosna organization, which advocated unification with Serbia, placed seven terrorists on the streets of the motorcade in the streets of Sarajevo. High school student Gavrilo Princip did not miss, killing the archduke and his wife. A week later, the Kaiser invited the Austrian ambassador and said that Germany would fully support Vienna if she wanted to clear up relations with Serbia. The wheel of escalation of the conflict was launched. Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph, who already turned 84 of the year, still decided to use force, relying on German help and the passivity of Russia. 23 July Serbia was presented 48-hour ultimatum. Nicholas II wrote in his diary: "Austria presented an ultimatum to Serbia with demands, of which 8 is unacceptable for an independent state." Henry Kissinger (who was not only the US Secretary of State, but also a historian) quite accurately described the situation: “Bulgaria, whose liberation from Turkish rule was carried out by Russia through a series of wars, was leaning toward Germany. Austria, after annexing Bosnia-Herzegovina, seemed to be trying to turn Serbia, Russia's last standing ally in the Balkans, into a protectorate. Finally, since Germany reigned in Constantinople, Russia could only guess whether the era of Panslavism would end with Teutonic domination over what it had been striving for over the course of a century.
28 July Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, and a day later the shelling of Belgrade began. But worse, Vienna announced mobilization. This put the situation out of control of the creators of politics, and allied commitments and plans of military deployment came into play. Nicholas II issued a decree on partial mobilization of the Kiev, Moscow, Kazan and Odessa military districts, assuring Wilhelm II that it was directed exclusively against Austria-Hungary. Kaiser demanded to stop mobilization, threatening to start his own otherwise - against Russia. In St. Petersburg on that alarming day, information was received that the German mobilization had already begun. Nicholas II, who held continuous meetings with senior military and government, 30 July announced a general mobilization. In response, William 1 of August declared war on Russia.
Then he asked France if she intends to remain neutral. In the event of a positive response from her would require the transfer of the fortresses of Verdun and Toulon. President Raymond Poincaré responded evasively, and then, having staged a border incident, Germany declared war on France. Schlieffen plan was put into action, the war on the Western Front began immediately. The English cabinet hesitated, but when 5 August, Germany, violating the neutrality of Belgium, entered its territory, also declared war. The long-prepared flywheel of the war began to spin automatically. After Great Britain, the British dominions declared war on the Reich - Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Union of South Africa. In the end, Belgium, Serbia, Japan, Italy, Romania, Portugal, Egypt, China, Greece, the South American republics and, subsequently, the United States acted on the side of the Entente; and Germany and Austria-Hungary were joined by Turkey and Bulgaria, creating the Fourth Alliance. The war lasted more than four years. She claimed the lives of twenty million people. According to its results, Austria-Hungary disappeared from the political map and three of the four monarchies that entered the war fell - the Romanovs, the Hohenzollerns and the Habsburgs. Only the Windsor dynasty survived.
Japan was in a curious situation in 1914. On the one hand, its main competitor in the Asia-Pacific region (APR) was not Germany, but quite the opposite. The countries of the Entente — Britain, France, Russia, and the United States — were a great threat to Tokyo. However, the war with such a coalition was hardly within the powers of Japan. In the imperial government, in the end, it was decided that it was much more profitable to take what was at hand rather than get involved in a long, expensive and most likely hopeless conflict. Japan declared war on Germany.
Military operations in Asia were fundamentally different from the bloody battles of the European armies. With the beginning of the war, Japan easily cleared Shandong from German troops. Then the Imperial fleet conducted a number of amphibious operations, which brought the empire German colonies in the Marshall, Caroline and Mariana Islands. At this, the First World War ended for Japan. In the summer of 1916, the Japanese government demanded that London recognize Japan’s former German possessions in the Pacific and Shandong. The deterioration of the situation on the Western front and the actual collapse of the Russian front forced Britain to make concessions. 16 February 1917 a corresponding secret agreement was signed, about which no one knew anything until the Paris Peace Conference (1919 - 1920). Thus, Britain "presented" Japan with non-German colonies. The views of the Chinese, of course, no one asked. Germany, in general, lost its already insignificant colonies.
By the way, the idea that Germany is threatened with overpopulation and that it absolutely needs to expand its “living space” was false. It came from the views of Thomas Malthus, dominant at that time in European science, who believed that the growth of the Earth’s population is linear, that is, everything grows and increases and ultimately mankind faces death from, let's say, “populations”. In fact, Malthus was wrong. The patterns noted by him in the demographic processes of a linear nature did not have and had already faded by that time. It went to stabilize the growth of the population of Europe, Germany did not threaten death from overpopulation.
But this is clear only now. At that time, the Germans looked around in horror, feverishly looking for a way to expand their territory in which they could accommodate an excess of population. It was this circumstance that prompted Germany to an active foreign policy aimed at acquiring colonies on other continents. And this circumstance inevitably led her to an armed confrontation with France and Britain, the largest colonial powers in the world, who would never voluntarily renounce their position as the main colonizers of the planet. World War was becoming inevitable.
Already during the war, it became clear that Germany overestimated its strength and was unable to crush the two largest European states, especially since the United States loomed behind them, having entered the 6 war of April 1917 of the year and finished off already exhausted Germany. Therefore, the German intellectual circles reconsidered their views and came to the conclusion that it was necessary to abandon the idea of taking away part of their colonies from European states, and the problem of expanding “living space” (“Lebensraum”) should be solved at the expense of Russia. Already 20 June 1915, prominent representatives of the German bourgeoisie handed the Reich Chancellor Bethmann Holweg a “top secret” memorandum in which they wrote: “We want full international recognition corresponding to our cultural, economic and military power. Obviously, we will not be able to achieve at the same time all the goals in the field of national security in the face of such superiority of our enemies. However, the military successes achieved at the cost of such a large number of victims should be used to the utmost of possibilities ... The frontier line on the eastern border and the basis for maintaining the growth of our population will be the lands that Russia must cede. This should be the territory populated by the rural population, which will give us healthy peasants - an eternally young source of popular and state power. ”
Memorandum signed to launch the general discussion on military purposes in Germany 352 teachers of higher educational institutions, 148 judges and lawyers, 158 priests, 145 high-ranking officials, mayors and deputies of the magistrates, 40 parliamentarians, 182 industrialists and financiers, 18 force generals and admirals, 52 landlords and 252 artists, writers and publishers. (Mather V. “Adolf Hitler”. Trans. From German. Minsk: LLC “Potpourri”, 2002).
Germany was defeated in the war and not only did not acquire new colonies, but lost even those that had. But the idea of an “onslaught to the East” (“Drang nach Osten”) was not rejected, on the contrary, it won over all new and new supporters. It was she who armed Adolf Hitler, who, in Mein Kampf, wrote directly and with all frankness: “We start where we stopped six centuries ago. We stop the holy campaign of the Germans, to the south and west of Europe, and look to the land in the east. We finally complete the pre-war colonial policy and turn to the land policy of the future. Having decided to get new lands in Europe, we can get them, by and large, only at the expense of Russia .... The German sword must conquer the land of the German plow and so ensure the daily bread of the German nation. ”
And he was completely sincere: he really did just that. And not only is he alone, but in general a great many Germans, especially in the circles of the intelligentsia. Hitler was only the bearer and exponent of these views. The editor-in-chief of the central Nazi newspaper Folkischer Beobachter (People's Drummer), later the head of the NSDAP’s foreign policy department and one of the seven official leaders of the Nazi party, Alfred Rosenberg, wrote the future path of German politics no less frankly than Hitler: "Germany offers Britain - if the latter provides Germany with a rear cover in the West and a free hand in the East - the destruction of anticolonialism and Bolshevism in Central Europe."
A few years later, in his book The Crisis and the New Order in Europe, Rosenberg explained that, in his opinion, all Western European countries can safely engage in expansion without interfering with each other. England will take care of its old colonies, France - Central Africa, Italy - North Africa; Germany should be given over to Eastern Europe. Germany will extend its influence to the Baltic and Scandinavian countries. As a result, the “German Continental Union” will be created. But the creation of the "German Union" is only the first step. The second task is to conquer Russia: “To give the German peasant freedom in the East (Russia) is the main prerequisite for the rebirth of our nation ... A new colonial empire in the East ... with its own access to the sea, will not only solve the problem of German unemployment ..., but this empire subordination of all Danube countries should bring Germany closer to European hegemony. ” It is curious that the Nazi leaders not only never concealed their plans, but, on the contrary, declared them loudly, to the whole world. And having come to power, they tried to implement these plans, and even nearly realized.
Rosenberg did not write anything new. The idea of attacking the Soviet Union in alliance with the powers of the West has been actively exaggerated in German military circles since the beginning of the 1920s. But political plans are one thing. Since the Lebensraum expansion projects to the East, which became more and more popular, provided for only a military solution to the problem, concrete military plans are also needed. Such a plan was developed by the former head of the Eastern Front (1914 - 1916), the head of the German delegation during the Brest talks, General M. Hoffmann (1869 - 1927). This plan went down in history as 1922's Hoffmann Plan. Its main thesis read: “None of the European powers can give way to another predominant influence on the future of Russia. Thus, the solution of the problem is possible only by uniting large European states, especially France, England and Germany. These united powers should, through joint military intervention, overthrow the Soviet power and restore Russia economically in the interests of the British, French and German economic forces. With all this, the financial and economic participation of the United States of America would be valuable. ... The special interests of the United States of America should be ensured in the Russian economic region. ”
Simply put, Russia must be crushed, dismembered and divided among the Western powers. It was the design of precisely those ideas that arose during the First World War, when Hitler was still fighting on the Western front and could not even imagine that he would someday be engaged in political activities. The “Hoffmann Plan” was met in Germany very carefully: it reflected the economic interests of influential groups. In addition, this plan was officially communicated to England and France. In France, the plan was introduced to the French president (1920 - 1924) Alexander Millerand, Prime Minister Aristide Briand, Chief of Staff of the High Command during the war, General Weigand and other prominent politicians and military leaders. In England - G. Deterding, owner of the Royal Dutch / Shell oil trust, who lost his possessions in Baku and a number of influential British politicians. Under the auspices of Deterding in London in 1926 - 1927, two conferences were held on the Hoffmann Plan. “Bolshevism should be eliminated,” was the slogan of Hoffmann. And here, in a very opportune way, the way out onto the political arena of a new, exclusively aggressive political movement — National Socialism — arrived in time. The Hoffmann-Rechberg Group (Rechberg — one of the co-owners of the German Potash Trust) was the first source of funds for the National Socialist movement in its early days, when this party was still too little known. And Hitler immediately adopted the “Hoffmann Plan” - he completely divided it.
The Hoffman Plan envisaged two main thrusts: North-Baltic and Southeast. The North Baltic direction allowed, firstly, to create a powerful direct base for an attack on the USSR. On all other routes, the German army would have to make a long, difficult and rather dubious transition through foreign territory with a hostile population and an undeveloped rail link. Secondly, this path leads directly to the vital center of the Soviet Union.
To accomplish these tasks, the plan envisaged the establishment of German supremacy on the Baltic Sea of the “German Union” and the creation of military bases along its shores aimed at Leningrad. In accordance with the plan, Germany should encourage the creation of defensive structures by Denmark and Sweden, blocking the Sunda and Belt Straits - the “Baltic Dardanelles”. Subsequently, Rosenberg, in pursuance of the “Hoffmann Plan,” even offered Denmark a guarantee of the German-Danish border. And Denmark in 1935, the year began to build air bases and submarine bases in the fjords.
On the continent, the first base of the offensive was to be Polish Gdynia near Danzig: the cargo turnover of Gdynia at that time overtook the cargo turnover of any other Baltic port. Later, Memel, the Lithuanian port, which lies much closer to the following bases, Riga and Revel, was to join this base. Memel is, on the one hand, a lever for an isolated war with the Lithuanians, which at twenty-four hours will lead to the disappearance of the Lithuanian army; on the other hand, Memel is a lever to Germany’s military absorption of the entire Baltic, since immediately after the defeat of Lithuania in Riga and in Reval, covert German colonial governments would arise absolutely by themselves. From the north, Leningrad is in even greater danger. "Finnish fjords in the North Baltic direction should represent the front line of the offensive." In addition, the flight distance from Finland to Leningrad is calculated in minutes. Strategically, Leningrad is an ideal operational goal. The distance from it to the border in the south (the border with Estonia) is 12 km, in the north (the border with Finland) - 35 km. This is where the actual gates leading to Leningrad are located. From the west, a third border directly approaches Leningrad - the Gulf of Finland, which belongs to the one who dominates the Baltic Sea. This border is located no more than 48 km from Leningrad (from Kronstadt). Leningrad is the second political, cultural and economic center of the USSR, its capture will deal a strong, perhaps fatal blow to the Soviet state.
The southeastern direction of the “Hoffmann plan” provided for a strike in the direction of Ukraine and the Caucasus. It was Hoffmann in the First World who initiated the creation of an “independent Ukrainian state”, whose recognition under a separate peace treaty, even before the conclusion of the Brest-Litovsk peace, he almost snatched out in February 1918 of the year, thanks to personal pressure on Austria. This time, according to the plan, the main goals of Germany should be: Kiev to create a center of Ukrainian separatism, a coal center in the Donbass and an oil center in the Caucasus. The occupation of Austria will be the first "natural" step to the south. The next stage is the crushing of Czechoslovakia. The defeat of Czechoslovakia is not a problem. It is located as if in a vice: between Germany, Austria, Poland and Hungary. "Within a few days, isolated Czechoslovakia will be torn to shreds ... The uprising of German separatists inside the country and in Slovakia, which will occur simultaneously with the German, Hungarian and Polish invasions, will only complete the picture."
The main ally of Germany in the implementation of its plans, according to Hoffmann, should be Poland. Even during the First World War, Hoffmann established close contact with Pilsudski and his "colonels" from the "Polish military organization." Even then, Hoffmann, being in opposition to General Ludendorff, who actually led all German military actions on the Eastern Front, insisted that Poland should be “spared” by Germany, and at the same time he supported Piłsudski’s plans regarding Belarus and Lithuania. It was the Polish troops who took the position of the German troops after the Versailles Treaty in order, with the support of France, the USA and England, to launch in 1920 a new aggression (intervention) against Russia.
Note that the Hoffmann course for a rapprochement and a military alliance with Poland, Hitler subsequently maintained consistently and achieved success. In December, 1938 in the report of the 2 (intelligence) department of the General Staff of the Polish Army emphasized: “The dismemberment of Russia lies at the heart of Polish policy in the East. ... Therefore, our possible position will be reduced to the following formula: who will take part in the section. Poland should not remain passive at this wonderful historical moment. The task is to prepare well in advance physically and spiritually ... The main goal is to weaken and defeat Russia. ” In a conversation with I. von Ribbentrop, held in Warsaw in January 1939, "Beck did not hide the fact that Poland claims to the Soviet Ukraine and the access to the Black Sea." (Jozef Beck, Colonel, Minister of Foreign Affairs, at that time the de facto ruler of Poland.) That later everything did not go "according to plan", and Germany found itself in a state of conflict with Poland - it was not Hitler’s fault: .
In the Far East, Japan was to be an ally of Germany. The latter was assigned the same role in the east as Germany in the west. The reasons why Japan will fight with the USSR were listed: “1. The Japanese aristocratic ruling circles are the mortal enemies of the communists. 2. The Japanese believe that they did not get enough as a result of the Russian-Japanese war. 3. The Japanese need part of Southeast Siberia and all of Manchuria to carry out their plans. 4. As long as Russia is weak, it can be done. Currently considered the most appropriate. " It was further stated: “But the most important of all reasons is the fact that England, France and other large countries would like to see such a war. Even the United States can forgive Japan for its other actions if it strikes communism with this blow. ”
The result of the new “crusade”, according to the “Hoffmann Plan”, should be the creation of a new Eastern European empire in Germany, stretching from the White Sea in the north to the Sea of Azov in the south, covering part of northern Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Don region. Together, this was about half of the European part of the USSR, which should be either directly included in the empire, or subordinated to the nominal administration of various German vassals (Baltic Order, Finland, Poland, etc.). As for the other half of the European part of the USSR, the Caucasus should be transferred to the Georgian, Armenian and other separatists; this meant in practice that the Caucasus would also fall under German control, while other “zones” and “spheres of influence” were left to the UK, in addition to its “interests” in Central Asia. Siberia should become a protectorate of Japan, an Asian participant in the “crusade”, and its buffer state.
From the USSR, according to the “Hoffmann Plan”, only a narrow space between Moscow and the Urals should remain after that, and there, as a new state, the old “Muscovy” should be restored. In "Neo-Muscovy" "the Russian government should rule, the main activity of which should consist in the extermination of the remnants of communism and the distribution of orders and concessions to German firms." At this Eastern campaign will end.
General Hoffman died in the 1927 year, but "his cause continued to live." It is easy to see that Hitler in his policy implemented precisely the provisions of the “Hoffmann Plan”, with whom he was well acquainted (we recall that it was the “Hoffmann-Rechberg Group” that was the first to support Hitler even when he was an almost novice novice politician). Quite in the spirit of the Hoffmann plan, the Fuhrer sought to rally the countries of the West around him and make the Eastern campaign a “joint venture”. He also sought a military alliance with Poland, directed against the USSR. Became close to Japan, began to strengthen its position in the Baltic States and Northern Europe. Carried out the Anschluss of Austria, the seizure and dismemberment of Czechoslovakia.
But then the failure went. Stalin played the lead - even went to an international conflict (war with Finland) and pushed the borders of Leningrad to a more or less safe distance. He occupied the Baltic states and thereby deprived Hitler of the possibility of creating a northern bridgehead for an attack on the Soviet Union. He annexed Western Ukraine and Western Belarus to the USSR, and as a result Germany did not succeed in organizing a center for the unification and mobilization of Ukrainian and Belarusian nationalists who are aggressive in relation to Russia.
At the international level, too, there were sheer failures. For a number of reasons, rather, of a personal nature, Germany was not in union, but in conflict with Poland. Also failed to make an alliance with the Western powers, had to fight with them. Japan, on which Hitler was counting, did indeed consider plans for an attack on the Soviet Union and was preparing for this attack. But the signing of the non-aggression treaty between the USSR and Germany in 1939 (the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact) made a stunning impression on the Japanese. It was not by chance that the conclusion of the pact was seen in Japan as a betrayal. N. Generalov, Charge d'Affaires of the USSR in Japan, reported: “The news of the conclusion of the non-aggression pact between the USSR and Germany made a stunning impression here, resulting in obvious confusion, especially the military and the fascist camp”.
A similar assessment was given by the English ambassador to Tokyo R. Craigy, according to the report of which, this event "was a heavy blow for the Japanese." Japan protested to Germany, stating that the Soviet-German treaty contradicted the Anti-Comintern Pact, according to which its signatories pledged "without concluding any political treaties with the USSR without mutual consent." The Japanese cabinet headed by K. Hiranum, who was a supporter of the joint Japanese-German war against the USSR, was forced to resign on August 28 on August 1939. And on April 13, 1941, despite the fact that Japan was one of the initiators of the Anti-Comintern Pact, the USSR and Japan signed a neutrality pact, which excluded the war on two fronts for the USSR.
And yet all these failures do not suggest that the “Hoffmann Plan” was unreal. Still as real! And even despite these failures, it was largely implemented by Hitler in practice. And he could well succeed, albeit not quite in the form in which Hoffmann himself imagined it.
As you know, Hitler signed the Directive No. 21 (plan "Barbarossa") 18 December 1940 of the year. However, the project itself took shape and was formed over the course of decades, regardless of Hitler, and long before the latter was engaged in political activities at all. This project was the design of the ideas that were in the West, primarily in Germanic society of the time; it was also a reflection of the tendencies that existed in it. In a fairly complete form, this project was formulated in the “Hoffmann Plan”, and it was this plan in a slightly revised form that formed the basis of the “Barbarossa” plan and the basis of Hitler’s foreign policy.
As we pointed out in the first part of our publication, Hitler’s Barbarossa Plan was based on the so-called Hoffmann Plan, a military-political project drawn up by General Max Hoffmann (1869 - 1927) as early as the 20s. In short, the plan envisaged a kind of new “crusade” of the united European powers - first of all Germany, England and France - against Soviet Russia with the aim of its dismemberment and actual enslavement in the economic and geopolitical interests of the West, Germany, first of all. The plan was terribly real. He was acquainted with the ruling, military, and industrial circles of England and France, in which he received very favorable attention. But this plan, we note, was created long before Hitler came to power, and even long before the Nazi party became any serious political force.
Recall that Hitler, at the very beginning of his political path, was acquainted with the “Hoffmann Plan” and fully supported him (“the Hoffmann-Rechberg group” was the first source of funds for the national-socialist movement in the days of its inception) and much later, having come to power, he consistently sought to put the “Hoffmann Plan” line into practice; and this line in the first place envisaged the establishment of friendly relations with Britain and France. On the other hand, it is difficult to doubt that the policy of the leading European powers of that time was greatly influenced by the “Hoffmann Plan”, with which the leaders of the designated powers were familiarized and treated with sympathy. Otherwise, their actions in the political arena in those years defy rational explanation and begin to look like some kind of insanity.
The practical implementation of the “Hoffmann Plan” has entered the active phase since 1935. According to the Versailles Peace Treaty, Germany had no right to build more than 4 battleships and 6 heavy cruisers. However, in the summer of 1935, Britain, in violation of the Treaty of Versailles, signed a naval agreement with Germany under which the latter received the right to have a fleet in 35%, and submarines in 60% of the British. The agreement looked paradoxical, because the increase in the German fleet, and especially the number of submarines, seemed to threaten above all the power of Britain itself. It was the German submarines, as the British themselves admitted, that almost knelt their country on their knees during the First World War and almost killed the island nation with hunger.
The secret agreement was disclosed in the program of naval construction in Germany. The program primarily involved the construction of submarines with a 250 tonnage, that is, even less than the very first German submarines of the First World War in 260, and even more modern 600 - 1400 tonnage. The widely known publicist in the West, Soviet intelligence officer Ernst Henry ( N. S. Rostovsky, 1904 - 1990) in her sharp articles exposed the essence of the agreement: “Germany builds small submarines not because she has no money, but because her future position requires it - the shallow Gulf of Finland. This is also the reason for the mass production of dwarf torpedo boats with speed in 45 nodes. ” Even the new German cruisers, battleships like the Deutschland, are adapted to "relatively shallow waters." The then German Foreign Minister Konstantin Neurath in 1935, speaking of the Baltic Sea, declared: “We must control this region and not give Russia access to the ocean.” For Britain, since the time of Peter I, there was no better music than these words.
The Maritime Pact claimed the redistribution of the world and the alliance between Britain and Germany. Not without reason, according to the English historian I. Festus, Ribbentrop, who signed him, returned to Germany a great statesman, “even greater than Bismarck,” as Hitler noted later. Hitler himself called this day "the happiest in his life." In those days, Goebbels wrote down: “The Fuhrer is happy. He told me about his foreign policy plans: the eternal alliance with England. Good relationship with Poland. But the expansion in the East. Baltic belongs to us ... ".
For contemporaries, the purpose of the agreement was not in doubt. So, the Dutch envoy in Berlin considered the naval agreement concluded between England and Germany to be a dangerous step, but he believed that “Russia must still be kept in strict isolation. Germany will establish complete domination over the Baltic. Turkey will forever close Russia's access to the Mediterranean Sea, and Japan will keep a close watch on the small Pacific front. ” But the naval agreement was only one of the steps towards the goal envisioned by the Hoffmann Plan. As E. Henry noted, new airports began to be built in the Baltic states, which should extend the network of European air routes through Sweden to Finland.
However, it's not just that. The arrival of Hitler to power meant that Japan’s aggressive plans against the USSR, which she, in general, did not conceal, could soon find reality. Goebbels in August 1935 wrote in his diary: “The conflict Italy - Abyssinia - England, then Japan - Russia is already at the door. Then our great historical chance will come. We must be ready. Grand Perspective.
The disturbed US ambassador to Germany, William Dodd, in the summer of the same year noted:
“Japan should dominate the Far East and seize Vladivostok. Germany must dominate Europe, but above all in the Baltic, and if Russia resists, Japan will attack it from the east. This will inevitably happen if the League of Nations is powerless. Then France and Italy will be relegated to the level of secondary powers, and the Balkans will be subordinated to Germany, while Russia will remain in its former position, as it was in its historical past. In the end, either the United States will have to cooperate with North and South America with Germany, or the Germans will subjugate the countries of this hemisphere. ”
Now Hitler sought only to enlist the support of British partners. “Germany and Japan could jointly attack the two sides on the Soviet Union and defeat it.” Thus, they would free not only the British Empire from an acute threat, but also the existing order, the old Europe from its sworn enemy, and, moreover, would secure for themselves a “living space” Hitler tried to implement this idea of a planetary anti-Soviet alliance for two years, trying to convince her first English partner. At the beginning of 1936, he presented it to Lord Londonderry and Arnold J. Toynbee, ”writes I. Festus. The reaction of the British side was quite encouraging, and Goebbels writes in his diary on 9 June 1936, “The Fuhrer foresees a conflict in the Far East. Japan will crush Russia. This colossus will collapse. Then our great hour will come. Then we will stock up on land a hundred years ahead. ”
The success of the “Hoffmann Plan” completely depended on the attitude of the great European powers towards him, it was they who had to ensure Hitler's rear in the West. Hitler argued, Goring recalled, “that France will not do anything without the approval of England and that Paris has become the diplomatic branch of London. Consequently, it was enough to settle the matter with England, and then everything will be all right in the West. ” “The Führer,” Göring showed at the Nuremberg Tribunal, “made every effort to come to an agreement. In order to achieve an alliance with England, he was ready to guarantee the territorial integrity of Holland, Belgium and France. He even admitted the possibility of abandoning Alsace-Lorraine ... Finally, he was not averse to sign the Asian Pact, which guarantees India from an attempt by the USSR. ”
The desire for rapprochement on anti-Soviet soil was mutual, with or without Hitler. In 1928, the generals who commanded the occupying forces of England and France in Germany carried out military maneuvers, practicing an attack strategy to the east. French Marshal Foch, who commanded Allied forces in 1918, sent Hoffmann welcome messages through the Neues Wiener Journal: “I’m not so crazy to believe that a handful of criminal tyrants can continue to dominate half of the continent and vast Asian territories. But nothing can be done until France and Germany are united. I ask you to convey my greetings to General Hoffmann, the greatest champion of the anti-Bolshevik military alliance. ”
Already in 1930, French Prime Minister A. Briand withdrew troops from Germany, 5 years before the expiration of their stay. And it was not by chance that W. Churchill wrote in the 1932 year: “To subordinate the former Russian empire to its power is not only a matter of a military expedition, it is a question of world politics ... We can carry it out only with the help of Germany.”
England’s position on Germany was beyond any doubt. So, in the summer of 1937, Mr. W. Dodd, in his recording of the conversation with British Ambassador Genderson, said:
“Although I suspected that Henderson was inclined to support the German conquests, I did not expect that he would go so far in his statements ... Germany should subjugate the Danube-Balkan zone, which means its domination in Europe. The British Empire along with the United States should dominate the seas. England and Germany should establish close relations over the whole world. Developing his thought further, he stated: “France has lost its meaning and does not deserve support. In Spain, Franco will be the master. ”
British Prime Minister S. Baldwin declared in those days: “We all know the desire of Germany, expressed by Hitler in his book, to move east ... If in Europe it came to a fight, I would like it to be between the Nazis and the Bolsheviks” .
In November 1937, British Foreign Minister E. Halifax, on behalf of the new Prime Minister, N. Chamberlain arrived in Berlin. Halifax will write later that he "liked all the Nazi leaders, even Goebbels." But the main thing was a meeting with Hitler. It took place on November 19. Preserved the transcript of the conversation Halifax with Hitler. The British minister made clear to Hitler that England "would not interfere" with him in Eastern Europe.
However, the main difficulty for the ruling circles of London and Paris was that no nation would support an open call for war. Especially against the USSR, the events when the calls for intervention in Russia led Europe to a social explosion were still fresh in the memory. Therefore, before their peoples, the leaders of France and England acted as fighters for peace. The external form of their policy has become "appeasement." But the deception could not continue forever, put an end to it by the Munich Agreement, which gave the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia to Germany. This was claimed by none other than W. Churchill himself, who at the same time noted that the most striking thing in the shameful deal in Munich was that it happened publicly, the betrayal was done openly and without a shadow of embarrassment. At the same time, the British and French behaved as if no Soviet Union existed.
The surrender of the Sudetenland of Germany fit well into the mainstream of a principled policy chosen by the Western powers and aimed at encouraging Hitler's expansion to the east. Former Minister of Economy Reich Yalmar Schacht in his speech before the Nuremberg Tribunal said:
“The Weimar Republic did not suit some Western countries because of the concluded Rapall Treaty. Therefore, all the requests and proposals of the Weimar Republic, these countries answered "no." But when Hitler came to power, everything changed. Take the whole of Austria, remilitarize the Rhineland, take the Sudetenland, take the whole of Czechoslovakia, take everything - we will not say a word. Before the conclusion of the Munich Pact, Hitler did not even dare to dream of the inclusion of the Sudetenland into the empire. The only thing he thought about was autonomy for the Sudetes. And then these fools, Daladier and Chamberlain, all presented him on a golden saucer. Why didn't they give the Weimar Republic even one-tenth of such support? ”
Well, the Weimar Republic that preceded the Third Reich really did not suit the Western powers. And precisely because in 1922, in the Italian city of Rapallo (during the Genoa Conference), she concluded an agreement with Soviet Russia on the restoration of bilateral relations. This meant a breakthrough by the Soviet side of the diplomatic and economic blockade and prevented the creation of a single anti-Soviet bloc of European states, which these same countries did not like in any way. For Germany, which lost to the First World War, the treaty was also of great importance. He created more favorable conditions for her resistance to the dictates of the victorious powers. This situation was extremely annoying to the Western governments, and they did everything to strangle the Weimar Republic, Hitler’s rise to power corresponded to their interests much more.
Hitler did not confine the accession of the Sudetenland to the Reich, and 15 March 1939, German troops entered Bohemia and Moravia. The Czech Republic was occupied, part of its territory was ceded to Hungary, and Cieszyn region was cut off by Poland. Slovakia gained "independence" under the German protectorate. Neville Chamberlain said: “There was no aggression!” We note that Britain and France were the guarantors of the independence of Czechoslovakia. But Chamberlain referred to the proclamation of “independence” by Slovakia: “This declaration did away with the state from the inside, the inviolability of the borders of which we guaranteed. His Majesty’s Government cannot consider itself further bound by this promise. ”
At the same time, Britain immediately transferred to Germany the gold reserves of Czechoslovakia in the amount of 6 million pounds, which the Czechoslovak government sent to the basements of the Bank of England on the eve of the occupation for preservation. Saved!
As you can see, the implementation of the "Hoffmann Plan" was in full swing. However, the failure went on. The British conservative deputy L. Emery recalled, not without surprise: "Almost in one day Chamberlain moved from appeasement to threats." What happened? What changed? According to the American historian W. Shearer, two days after the liquidation of Czechoslovakia, “Chamberlain descended upon the epiphany. It did not descend by itself. To the Prime Minister’s great surprise, most British newspapers (even the Times) and the House of Commons were hostile to Hitler’s new aggression. Moreover, many of his supporters in parliament and half of the cabinet rebelled against continuing the course toward appeasing Hitler. Lord Halifax, as the German ambassador reported to Berlin, insisted on the Prime Minister’s comprehensive assessment of what had happened and a sharp change in course. It became clear to Chamberlain that his position as head of the government and leader of the Conservative Party is in danger. ” About the same reaction was in France.
"Farsighted" Western leaders could not calculate the reaction of the masses of their countries. And those were scared. The wounds of the First World War have not yet healed, her memory was still fresh. Millions of people followed the actions of Hitler with anxiety and wondered: when will the expansion and strengthening of Germany end? What will it lead to? The Sudeteners were presented to Hitler, at least according to, though at least treacherous and shameful, but still some sort of agreement. But he swallowed up the rest of Czechoslovakia, without looking at anything at all, without making the slightest attempt at least somehow, at least with someone to coordinate his actions. The ghost of the new war began to emerge clearly in Europe. The population of European countries panicked. The masses were not interested in the cunning plans of the rulers, they became frightened and they were ready to overthrow any government that would continue the course. Democracy, you know. With all the shortcomings, she has her merits.
In addition, there was concern in political circles: what if everything goes wrong and the result will turn out to be completely different than what is expected? The ideal for England would be a clash between Germany and the USSR, their mutual weakening, and even better destruction. The space from the borders of France to the Urals and further in this case turned into a new America (from the time of its conquest), free for expansion. The policy of "neutrality" and "non-interference" in those specific conditions became nothing more than a new form of traditional English "cheap imperialistic policy" when all work is done by outsiders. But the question arose: what will happen if Hitler wins the war, but Germany does not weaken, but only intensifies?
The general point of view of the British establishment, which he adhered to for centuries, was as follows: the main interest of Britain is to prevent the domination of one country in Europe. As the military historian and theorist J. Fuller pointed out: "The greatness of Britain was created and maintained by maintaining the balance of power, its future security always depended on the restoration of balance." Hitler’s encouragement violated that balance. Another military theorist, Colonel Pollack, wrote: “As long as the European powers are divided into groups and we are able to oppose them to one another, the British Empire may not fear its enemies, except the House of Commons ... Our foreign policy is highly selfish and not because we want this, but because we have no choice ... Our purpose is to be either the European affairs executive or nothing! ”
So, as a result of the policy of encouraging the expansion of Hitler, there was a real danger that Germany would become the only dominant power in Europe, and Britain in this case would really become nothing. The threat of such a turn of events made a significant part of the British establishment, even Churchill’s pathological anti-Soviet, reconsider their attitude to the foreign policy pursued by the empire and oppose it. For Chamberlain, in the new, changed conditions, the frank continuation of the previous foreign policy course meant political suicide. This explains the sudden change in the key of his speeches, which so surprised many. Chamberlain reacted instantly to the drastically changed situation, in his regular speech he already said: “We are told that the seizure of Czechoslovakia was dictated by unrest within this country ... If there were unrest there, did they not stimulate them from the outside? .. Is this the end of the former adventure or start a new one? Will this attack on a small state be the last or others will happen? .. It would be a big mistake to believe ... that our nation ... has lost its fighting spirit so much that it will not make every effort to resist such a challenge if it follows. " This was a major turning point for Chamberlain and the whole of Britain.
We will not deal here with the policy of the USSR in the period we are describing. We only note that the American historian W. Ulam noted: “Soviet diplomacy between October 1938 and March 1939 revealed excellent composure and nerve strength.” Nevertheless, the situation after Munich has changed, it was necessary to look for new solutions that are suitable for the new situation. The American ambassador to the USSR, J. Davis 1 on April 1938, telegraphed to Secretary of State Hull that Moscow had to deal with "hostility from all capitalist states", that it was surrounded by enemies on all sides and that in such a situation it was very likely "in the near future an alliance with Germany. "
As we know, the diplomatic and economic rapprochement between the USSR and Germany really happened, the Western powers literally pushed them into each other’s arms. This rapprochement ended with the signing between the two countries 23 of August 1939 of the non-aggression pact for a period of 10 years. The secret protocol to the non-aggression pact established the territorial boundaries of the division of Poland. This document protected Germany from the threat of a war in the USSR on the side of Poland. Previously, the USSR made every effort to conclude an agreement on mutual assistance with Britain and France, but they deliberately sabotaged it by delaying the negotiations, not wanting to assume any obligations and sending secondary-level officials to Moscow who had no authority to sign any documents and undertake obligations on behalf of their governments. The pact was concluded only after it became clear that the Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations failed, and Moscow faced the prospect of another Munich, but this time at the expense of Poland and the USSR. In order not to remain in a situation of political isolation or one on one with Hitler, in the Kremlin they chose to gain time and went for a deal.
But Hitler moved completely different considerations. As is known, in the “Hoffmann Plan” Poland was assigned the role of one of the main allies of Germany in its “campaign to the East”. Ribbentrop's proposal to Poland, made by him just a month after the signing of the Munich Agreement, seemed to be fully consistent with these plans. It included the accession of Poland to the Anti-Comintern Pact, its participation with Germany in the campaign against Russia and its share in the division of Ukraine. Ribbentrop seduced the Poles by creating Great Poland from the Baltic to the Black Sea. In exchange, Hitler demanded only Danzig and the possibility of arranging the Polish corridor (laying through it the highway and railway).
Under the Versailles Treaty, the German Danzig became a “free city” under the control of the League of Nations, limited functions (customs, police, border guards) were transferred to Poland. That is, Danzig formally did not belong to Poland and was under the jurisdiction of the League of Nations. The Polish corridor was also the heir to Versailles. Part of the territory of Germany was simply taken away from her and transferred to Poland, so that the latter would have access to the Baltic Sea. Thus, Germany was divided into two parts - the Reich and East Prussia (now the Kaliningrad Region), and between them lay the Polish territory, more precisely the territory selected by the victorious powers from Germany. None of the points of the Treaty of Versailles annoyed Germany in the same way as the one on which the Polish Corridor was formed. Nevertheless, Hitler, who had far-reaching plans, approached the issue of the corridor very moderately.
J. Fuller noted that "the demands made by Germany were not unreasonable." Hitler held a similar opinion and therefore hoped for mutual understanding between Poland and was not going to fight with her. So, in March 25 of 1939, in an interview with the commander-in-chief of the ground forces, von Brauchitsch, he spoke about the undesirability of a violent solution of the Danzig question. As for the Poles, they really liked the proposals of the German side about Great Poland. But they were still wary of Germany, and just in case they asked for guarantees from Britain and France. They did not, however, take into account Hitler's explosive temper. 1 April 1939, the Chamberlain government gave security guarantees to Poland. This infuriated the Fuhrer. According to the testimony of Admiral Canaris, he, having learned about the guarantees, exclaimed: “I will brew such a satanic potion that they will have eyes on their foreheads!”
Had Hitler been a more restrained person, perhaps, given Poland’s benevolent attitude towards his projects, the question of British guarantees could be circumvented. But he had already bit the bit. On April 11, it issues a directive regarding the general preparation of the armed forces for the war in 1939 - 1940, and on April 28 denounces the Anglo-German maritime treaty 1935 of the year and the Polish-German non-aggression pact.
Further known. September 1 Germany's 1939 attacks Poland. September 3 Berlin receives an ultimatum from London and Paris, the rejection of which is tantamount to a declaration of war. The Second World War begins. September 17 Soviet troops enter the territory of Western Ukraine and Western Belarus. Why 17 th? Stalin feared accusations of aggression. 16 September the Polish government fled to Romania. And there is no government - therefore, there is no one to declare war.
And there is one interesting point. “Imagine that somewhere in the 1939 year (and perhaps a year or two earlier) the USSR makes claims to Poland, demanding that Western Ukraine and Western Belarus be illegally occupied by the Poles. Poles rush for help to the West. But the leaders of Britain and France reply that they never recognized the accession of these territories to Poland, that the officially recognized and approved by the League of Nations Poland’s eastern border runs along the so-called “Curzon Line” (approximately where the border of Poland with Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine). So it would be better for the Poles to agree amicably with the Soviets.
“Nonsense,” you say. And no. This is exactly the answer that the Poles received from the French and British 17 on September 1939, when the Red Army began its liberation campaign! So the Polish government (who lived, though, at that time on the territory of Romania) had no choice but to declare that it did not consider the Soviet Union as a belligerent, and order the Polish army not to resist the Soviet troops ”(Vladimir Veselov. Broken nightstand. M .: Yauza, 2007).
Simply put, the legality of the accession to the USSR of Western Ukraine and Western Belarus was recognized by the great European powers and even by the Polish government in exile even then, in September, 1939 of the year! And whether the treaty of Stalin and Hitler about dividing Poland was secret or not secret, does not matter. To the USSR there can be no complaints.
At this time in the West "strange war" was unfolding. On the front line, the French posted huge posters: "We will not make the first shot in this war!" There were numerous cases of fraternization of French and German soldiers, who visited each other, exchanging food and spirits. When the overly commanding commander of the French artillery regiment, who was in position in the Belfort area, began a preliminary adjustment of possible targets, for this he was almost put on the court-martial. In the future, in order to avoid similar incidents so that any hotheads foolishly began to fight seriously, the advance units of the French troops were forbidden to charge weapon live ammunition and ammunition. English and French planes limited themselves to reconnaissance flights, and, in Churchill's words, “scattered leaflets calling for the moral position of the Germans.” On September 3-27, only the British Air Force brought down 18 million leaflets on the heads of German inhabitants. As the Marshal noted self-critically aviation Arthur Harris, who later became famous for the bombing of German cities: “I personally believe that the only thing we have achieved is that we met the needs of the European continent in toilet paper for five long years of war.”
English historian Philip Knightley writes:
“Britain entered the Second World War without enthusiasm. Many high-ranking conservatives admired Hitler ... Much of the wealthy people made it clear that they wanted to avoid any trouble. Twenty-two Laborites, a member of parliament, signed a manifesto calling for the speedy conclusion of a truce. Having transferred to France the Belgian border 158 thousands of soldiers, 25 thousands of vehicles, 140 thousands of tons of various military goods, the UK did not try to fight the enemy for eight months. ”
From London, the Soviet ambassador I. Maisky reported that “Chamberlain, speaking in parliament and emphasizing Britain’s determination to wage war to the end” ... at the same time makes it clear that if Hitler put forward any new, more acceptable proposals, the British government is ready it would be to consider them. "
However, if the Western powers did not want to fight with Hitler, then they were ready to fight seriously with the Soviet Union. These days, the USSR negotiated with Finland in order to push the border away from Leningrad through the exchange of territories. Finland was ready to accept more than generous offers from the USSR, which even Marshal Mannerheim considered quite reasonable, and thereby preserve peace. Mannerheim advised his president and prime minister "not to reject Soviet proposals, seriously study them and most likely agree on them, because from a military point of view, they are only beneficial to Finland." Only exceptional pressure from Britain and France forced Finland to reject the proposed exchange of territories and compensation by the USSR.
26 November 1939, a well-known incident took place near the village of Minela. According to the official Soviet version of 15: 45, Finnish artillery bombarded the territory of the USSR, as a result of which 4 was killed and 9 of Soviet servicemen were injured. On November 28, the USSR government denounced the Soviet-Finnish non-aggression pact and withdrew its diplomatic representatives from Finland. 30 November began fighting.
According to historian V. Trukhanovsky, for Chamberlain and his associates, this was the best way out - the war against Germany switched to a joint war with Germany against the Soviet Union. The governments of England and France, who had fallen asleep during the war with Poland, suddenly woke up and launched vigorous activity. Responding to a parliamentary inquiry on 12 in March, Prime Minister Daladier said that France had supplied 1940 aircraft to Finland, 145 guns 496 thousand machine guns, 5 thousand rifles and 400 million cartridges. In turn, his colleague Chamberlain informed the members of the British Parliament in March 20, that from England to Finland were sent 19 plane, 101 guns, 114 thousand. Shells, 185 antitank guns, 200 machine gun "Vickers», 100 thousand. Gas shells, 50 15 bombs , as well as a large number of uniforms and equipment.
With the outbreak of the Winter War, a French military mission led by Colonel Haneval was sent to Finland. At the headquarters of the Commander of the Armed Forces of Finland, Marshal Mannerheim, there was a personal representative of the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Ground Forces in France, General Gamelin, General Clement-Grancourt. According to Captain P. Stellen, a member of the French military mission, the main task of the French representatives was to "keep Finland at war with all its might."
In pursuance of the decisions of the Supreme Council of the Allies, the French headquarters developed a plan of military operations against the USSR, providing for the landing of the Anglo-French assault force in Pechenga (Petsamo), as well as bombing attacks on important objects on Soviet territory. England and France developed a project for the transfer to Finland through Scandinavia 150 thousand soldiers and officers. In January, French Prime Minister Daladier was instructed by General Gamelin and Navy Commander Admiral Darlan to investigate the issue of air strikes over the territory of the USSR. The blow was supposed to be on the oil fields of Baku, Grozny, Maikop and others from airfields in Syria, Iraq and Turkey.
The Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Air Force, General Bergerie, in a conversation with Captain P. Stelenny in December 1939, said that the Anglo-French allies would attack the USSR not only in the north, in Finland, but also in the south, in Transcaucasia. “General Weygan commands troops in Syria and Lebanon. Its forces will advance in the general direction of Baku in order to deprive the USSR of the oil extracted here. From here, Weygun's troops will move towards the Allies advancing on Moscow from Scandinavia and Finland. ”
“I was flattered,” Stelenn wrote in his memoirs, “that they confidentially introduced me to an operation of such a large scale. The plan of the operation was expressed on the map with two curved arrows: the first is from Finland, the second is from Syria. The pointed tips of these arrows were connected in the region to the east of Moscow ”(IA Chelyshev, USSR — France: difficult years 1938 – 1941. M., 1999.).
But all these far-reaching plans were thwarted by the Red Army. Having carried out the necessary training, the significantly reinforced Soviet troops launched a decisive offensive on the Karelian Isthmus on February 11 on February 1940. Having broken through the main defensive line, by February 21 they reached the second lane of the Mannerheim line, March 3 were on the outskirts of Vyborg, 7 - March March 9 broke through to its outskirts. 9 March Mannerheim informed the government that the Finnish army is facing the threat of complete defeat. Despite the entreaties of England and France, who assured that their troops were already on the way, 12 March 1940, the Finnish delegation in Moscow was forced to sign a peace treaty on Soviet terms.
Nevertheless, even after the end of the Soviet-Finnish war, General Gamelin argued that the question of opening military operations against the USSR should come first. The action plan included air strikes, a submarine war in the Black Sea, the entry of Turkey into the war, supported by French troops from Lebanon. “The Russo-Finnish truce should not lead to any change in the main goals that we were able to set for ourselves in 1940, but it should prompt us to act more quickly and vigorously.” General Zhono in May 1940 of the year believed that not in the West, but “in the Caucasus, war will find its end,” assuring Aviation Minister Laurent-Ainan: “You will not fight on the Western Front, will fight in the Caucasus.”
The English historian E. Hughes later wrote: “The provocation by England and France of the war with Soviet Russia at a time when they were already in the war with Germany ... gives grounds for proposing a more sinister interpretation: switching the war to anti-Bolshevik rails so that the war against Germany was over and even forgotten. ” Even more frankly put it and named the English magazine “Labor Center” in February 1940 in Russia:
"The most chauvinistic, aggressive, reactionary forces of British and French imperialism, which are trying by all means to expand the war and eliminate the impasse in the West by opening hostilities in the East, are united with the former Munich elements who got involved in this war by mistake and against their will precisely because they tried to unleash an anti-Soviet war, and who would now only be glad to find a way to turn this war into an anti-Soviet war and build on this basis Irova counter-revolutionary front under the leadership of the English. "
The situation did not change much after Hitler attacked France and defeated it. Former Wehrmacht general Müller-Gillebrandt wrote: “In France, immediately after the outbreak of war against the Soviet Union, thousands of volunteers from both the civilian population and the French army, which existed on unoccupied territory and in North Africa, declared their desire to accept it participation. After much hesitation, Hitler in August 1941, with great reservations, gave permission to form a foreign legion in the army. This is how the Legion Tricolore came about. Only volunteers from occupied France were admitted to it, while volunteers from the French army were denied admission, which greatly affected their pride ”(Müller-Gillebrand B. German Army 1933 - 1945 g. M., 2003.).
“After the outbreak of war against the Soviet Union, separate legions were created consisting of Danes, Dutch, Norwegians, Flemings, Walloons, some of whom were transferred to the formation of the Viking division, and the other was used to recruit newly formed foreign forces” (Muller-Hillebrand ).
But this still does not end there. In 1998, the State Archives of Great Britain declassified the plan for Operation Unthinkable, developed on Churchill’s instructions by British General Staff at the end of the war, when the defeat of Germany was just around the corner. The plan was ready for 22 in May 1945 of the year and provided for the start of the war of the Western powers against the USSR in the summer of the same year. The British military expected that 47 British and American divisions, Canadians, the Polish and American volunteer corps, and 10 - 15 former Wehrmacht divisions would take part in the fighting. The generals from the "united headquarters" soberly believed that it was difficult to talk about the final victory over the USSR. But due to the suddenness of the strike and the advantages in the air, Soviet troops can be pushed back into the interior of Poland with the subsequent transition to a protracted "total" war. The final political goal is to impose the will of the United States and the British Empire on the Soviets. [From the Plan "Unthinkable": "The possibility of assistance from the Germans is discussed in Annex IV; according to calculations, in the early stages of a military campaign, 10 German divisions can be re-formed and re-equipped. ”]
Stalin, by the way, from intelligence reports, knew about everything, and therefore the Soviet troops in Germany received an order to regroup their forces and engage in strengthening defense. But on July 5 1945 in England, an event occurred that Churchill experienced as a slap in the face until the end of his days: his conservative party lost the parliamentary elections. Sir Winston was forced to resign. Plan "Unthinkable" went to the archive.
As you can see, the plan "Barbarossa", designed to attack the Soviet Union, was a reworking of the previous "Hoffmann Plan." In turn, the Hoffmann Plan itself is just the tip of the iceberg. On the whole, this plan was a reflection of the deep-seated tendencies of the entire Western society, at least a large part of this society, deeply hostile to the very existence of the Soviet state, with or without Stalin. Last but not least, the strong political position and skillful diplomacy of the Soviet leadership of those years played a role in disrupting the “Hoffmann Plan” (we have no opportunity here to talk about all this). There was also a coincidence of a number of factors that neutralized it in general. Nevertheless, the “Hoffmann Plan” was completely real, and the Soviet Union was really threatened by a fight not only with Hitler and his allies, but in general with the whole united, completely democratic Europe, as well as Japan and, possibly, the United States. In Soviet times, when the post-war USSR sought to normalize relations with the West, it was customary to keep quiet about it. But now, perhaps, all this can be spoken frankly.