Chapter 3 - The Cold War Builds From the Hitler-Stalin Pact to the Iron Curtain 1939 to 1950

Belgium, Holland, Denmark and Norway and the Battle of Britain as “capitalist” wars and did not stop until Hitler’s June 1941 invasion of Soviet Russia. Then Stalin switched sides and the Russian people fought heroically against the Germans on their western front in what Moscow called “The Great Patriotic War” against “fascism.” Fascism, however, was the ideology and political system of the Italian dictator and Hitler ally, Benito Mussolini. In any case, the U.S. sent vast amounts of critical “lend-lease” military equipment to the Soviet Union (via Great Britain), and after Pearl Harbor in 1941 entered full-scale war on core fronts against Nazi Germany from the Atlantic to North Africa to Europe and against Japan throughout the Pacific and East Asia.

Soviet Collaboration with Imperial Japan is evident in the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact of April 1941 and four and a half years of ensuing Soviet decisions that removed Japan’s concerns about its northern flank and greatly facilitated its attack in December 1941 on Pearl Harbor and its wars in the Pacific, Southeast Asia, and China. While the United States and its democratic allies were heavily engaged on each Japanese war front determined to defeat Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union remained “neutral,” and, in fact supportive of Japan’s imperial actions. A strike by Soviet forces in the last hours of the war against a weak Japanese occupation army in Manchuria, China (and seizure of the Kurile Islands) in August 1945 occurred only after U.S. battlefield victories, city bombings and use of an atomic weapon had assured Japan’s imminent unconditional surrender.

Winning the Second World War. In the above circumstances, the Soviet Union’s survival and Germany and Japan’s unconditional surrender in the Second World War could not have been achieved by the heroic Russian people alone, but required years of intensive U.S. and Allied global warfare against German and Japanese forces on a wide range of fronts from which Soviet forces were totally absent. These fronts include years of Allied bombing of Axis military and industrial centers in homelands and foreign base areas far from Soviet reach. In addition, massive flows of direct U.S. “lend-lease” military assistance to the Soviet Union were critical to building Soviet military capabilities after the Nazi invasion, and intensive U.S. and Western Allied warfare against Japan deterred Japanese forces from entering lightly-defended Soviet Siberia. Had the Japanese done so, they would surely have moved west to destroy key Soviet industrial areas in the Urals, link up with their Nazi allies, and turn a conquered Soviet Union into Axis occupation zones. Only U.S./Western warfare, ultimately including the U.S. threat of atomic weapons, could have made a difference at that point.

Post-War Soviet Totalitarian Betrayals and the Emergence of a U.S. Freedom Strategy. In the period after the Second World War, the Soviet Union continued to deceive the democratic West with solemn international pledges at Yalta, Potsdam, the United Nations and elsewhere on human rights, free and open elections, democratization, and peaceful cooperation. The Soviets and their Communist proxies rejected U.S. proposals for international nuclear arms control and the Marshall Plan for economic recovery and met U.S. demobilization by building a massive military machine far beyond peacetime defensive need. They intensified state terror at home, and violently Sovietized Eastern Europe as captive nations in Moscow’s Marxist-Leninist image. They constructed the fortified Iron Curtain; and undertook unprecedented subversion and “active measures” intelligence operations throughout the democratic West, notably including the United States. The U.S. and Western democracies woke up only slowly to the accelerating new totalitarian dangers they faced from the Kremlin. They continued to focus on bringing freedom and democracy to Germany and Japan, turned to the Truman Doctrine to form alliances to protect and extend the sphere of freedom, and moved toward a Western strategy for meeting the Soviet Union’s global challenge.

1. Three Totalitarians: The Communist Soviet Union, National Socialist Germany, Imperial Japan

The boundless suffering and sacrifice of the Russian people in defense of their motherland against the Nazi armies that invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941 were truly extraordinary and are justifiably renowned and honored. Yet, “The Great Patriotic War” (as Russian leaders always describe it) was only part of the far larger Second World War that began twenty-one months earlier in September 1939 and, over the next six years, involved key fronts fought across the globe by the democratic Western Allies against the world’s two major Axis powers, the totalitarian powers Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. In the fateful months of the War before Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, Moscow was collaborating with Germany on the basis of Stalin’s pact with Hitler. After the invasion, the Soviets were solely preoccupied with the Soviet-German front

[Book pg. 46]