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

Hitler’s Invasion Follows Stalin Purges and Neglected Warnings—June 1941. As Hitler had first foreshadowed in his 1925 book “Mein Kampf,” (“My Struggle”) Germany on June 22, 1941 launched a 3-million man, 134-division invasion of the Soviet Union, which thanks to Stalin’s trust in his collaboration with Hitler, as contrasted with his paranoia at home, was poorly prepared for this predictable war. Just prior to the invasion, Stalin had decimated Soviet senior military ranks in infamous terror purges involving public show trials, forced “confessions,” and the execution of a large part of the Red Army’s leadership, of whom some were ironically accused of collaborating with Germany. Soviet armaments, training, and border defenses were left woefully inadequate and hundreds of thousands of Russian soldiers and civilians perished in the fact of the invasion. As heir of the “Great Lenin” and head of the Marxist-Leninist “dictatorship of the proletariat,” Stalin had feared “encirclement” by his own people, including senior Communist Party officials, Red Army generals, and the population at large. All Soviet citizens were victims of the big lies of Communism and Soviet glory. Far from being democratic, humanitarian, or just, Communist power was that of an iron fist, backed by the secret police, a gulag system of concentration camps, and a totalitarian regime that thrived on terror and never tolerated the legitimizing principles of free choice and consent.

As an admirer of Hitler’s style in hunting down ethnic minorities and other “enemies” and establishing deadly concentration camps, Stalin long collaborated with his National Socialist ally and ignored a series of dire warnings about the impending German invasion. In 1941, these warnings were confirmed by Soviet agents including Richard Sorge, the Soviet Union’s master spy in Tokyo. Khrushchev’s Secret Speech of 1956 indicates that warnings also came from Winston Churchill through Great Britain’s Ambassador to Moscow.

Initial U.S. “Lend-Lease” Military Aid to the Soviet Union—1941, 1942. When Hitler’s June 1941 invasion finally forced the Soviet Union to switch sides and actually to oppose the Nazi armies, the United States at once initiated a massive flow of military aid to the Soviets. Within a week of the invasion, the U.S. Department of State convened representatives of industry and the military for this purpose, while a U.K.-Soviet agreement promising mutual aid was signed in July. By September, a joint U.S.-U.K. mission to Moscow had established critical Soviet arms requirements and further U.S.-U.K. procedures and large lines of credit for Allied arms shipments to the Soviet Union were made concrete in a joint protocol signed by the three parties in Moscow on October 1, 1941, all before Pearl Harbor. After Japan’s Pearl Harbor attack on December 7, 1941 and Hitler’s December 11 declaration of war on the United States, the U.S. entered the Second World War full force, leading to even further increases of American assistance to the Soviet Union with a U.S.-Soviet Master Lend Lease Agreement on March 11, 1942. A mutual aid agreement between Great Britain and the Soviet Union was later extended in May 1942 to a twenty-year treaty.

Aid through Northern Ports and Iran. During the First World War, U.S. and British aid flowed to Russia through the northern ports of Murmansk and Archangel until Lenin’s unilateral armistice in November 1917 and his formal treaty with Imperial Germany at Brest-Litovsk in March 1918 (see Chapter 2). When the Soviets had switched sides in that war, the U.S. and Great Britain had been forced to use their military forces to guard the supplies they had sent to help the social-Democratic Russian Provisional Government coalition from seizure either by nearby German forces or by Bolshevik radicals who had overthrown that government. In the Second World War, demoralized Soviet forces similarly fell back hundreds of kilometers and lost hundreds of thousands of troops to death or capture by the German invaders. The U.S. and Great Britain now used these same northern Russian ports as in the First World War to send massive amounts of critical supplies, including arms, food, and energy stocks to the Russian people. Other substantial U.S. and British aid came from the south by overland route through Iran.

U.S. Lend-Lease Aid Data and Soviet Cover Ups. Kremlin leaders during both Soviet and post-Soviet times have sought to conceal the data and indeed the very reality of the critical role of U.S. wartime aid to the Soviet forces and people and Western historians have generally ignored its extraordinary scale and importance. Yet there are important sources that document the U.S. aid so vital to Soviet survival in the Second World War. The scope of this aid makes even more repugnant the subsequent post-war Soviet betrayals and deceptions that are key elements of Soviet Cold War history.

Major General Deane on the “Strange Alliance” and U.S. Aid to the USSR—1941 to 1945. Major General John R. Deane was assigned from senior staff positions in the Pentagon to head the U.S. Military Mission in Moscow in October 1943 to direct the massive U.S. Lend-Lease aid program to the Soviet Union until

[Book pg. 52]