Thursday, May 21, 2009

The Chief Culprit by Viktor Suvorov

It doesn't surprise me to see all the five star reviews on amazon; ignorance and conspiracy theories usually deliver what readers are inclined to agree with when a factual foundation is missing. Viktor Suvorov, AKA Rezun, is a spy and traitor. Those who want to conceive of him as anything else are free to do so, but both those titles are a part of his history and who he is. The author is a self-proclaimed 'intelligence operative' and not an historian, which should already mean something to those who think this account comes anywhere close to historical discourse. This is also not someone who ever had access to Soviet/Russian archives. He claims to have seen German documents in Podolsk, but claiming so and proving it are two different things. This book is a combination of "ideas" taken out of a dozen or so of Suvorov's other works. There is a reason the majority of his books were never translated, they are worthless. The man is smart, but his grasp of history is fickle, whether he does this on purpose or actually believes in his own lies is a question I cannot answer. And I have to say, overall, this book was painful to read. Not solely because I know of his lies, but mainly because of how he tries to bring things that have nothing in common together. In reading this book I find it interesting that no one noticed how many sides Suvorov caters to. For Germany he provides an acquittal to Barbarossa, Stalin was readying for war, they had a right to defend themselves. He appeases Russians by blaming everything on Stalin, the Soviet Union was strong, the Red Army the greatest, but Stalin forgot who to trust and not to trust. And he appeases Stalinists by describing how smart and ruthless Stalin was, hence his bashing of figures like Mikhail Tukhachevsky and his cheerleading for Stalinist purges.

This is a book built on fallacies, straw men, twisted facts, omitted context, and baseless theories delivered in the form of a kindergarten lecture. Starting with his introduction, a standard is set that Suvorov adheres to in the rest of his text. On pg. xix the author mentions how the Soviet Union contained two field armies in June of 1939 neither of which were deployed in the "European part of the Soviet Union", for a moment we will give him the benefit of the doubt (since no sources or citations are listed). He also claims that by June 1941 there were twenty-six field armies deployed in the European 'part of the country' (in reality there were about 21, two of which were only on paper and without any troops, source is Боевой Состав Советской Армии). The end result is the question of if Stalin trusted Hitler why did he deploy so many troops against him. Well, to begin, in June of 1939 Stalin did not share a border with Hitler. By June of 1941 the Soviet Union had also been involved in a few wars/invasions, that is the Winter War, war with Japanese troops at Khalkhin Gol, the invasion of Eastern Poland, and the occupation of the Baltics and Bessarabia and Bukovina. All of this context is forgotten about. Lastly, while Stalin might have trusted in the non-aggression pact, that is not Hitler per se, but a beneficial pact to both countries, he was not stupid and understood that war was on the horizon.

Now, on pg. xxii we're presented with the idea that since Zhukov and Vasilevsky wrote up a pre-emptive strike against Germany, they were awarded the rank of Marshal two years later. There is no correlation between one and the other aside from in the author's mind, fallacy doesn't even begin to cover the kind of ignorance being pandered here. Yet these kinds of out-of-context conclusions are the type of evidence you should be prepared to believe in, since that's all he'll give you. Leaving out context once more he describes the leaders of the Communist Party as all having aliases, which they did, hinting that they took those aliases because of their criminal pasts. He of course leaves out the fact that Trotsky, Kamenev, and Zinoviev most likely undertook aliases to hide their Jewish identities which they no longer identified with.

What Suvorov is also keen to do is make up situations, create straw men, and then knock them down all the while casting blame on various figures. He blames Trotsky and Lenin for 'demolishing the Russian army' and claims that Germany's position was 'completely hopeless' leaving out the fact that Germany proper had yet to be invaded and it was the French army that was collapsing, as well as the Russian army which simply could do nothing more of substance after the casualties from Brusilov's offensive. What evidence does he give you? None, aside from "Russia was allied with the mighty French and British colonial empires", empires that would have been defeated on mainland Europe if not for Russia's advances against Germany in 1914 and the destruction of two Russian armies at Tannenberg. But, once more, are the conclusions you, the reader, have to accept without question. Simulatenously he blames Lenin and Trotsky once again on the treaty of Brest-Litovsk, forgetting that German forces were forging into Russian territory practically unopposed and it was a sacrifice Lenin was willing to make since he believed in a future world revolution which would return the territory to Russia. This is actually evident in the book itself, pg. 28, when he quotes Zinoviev saying that peace will be temporary and that peace with Germany will only be 'episodic'. Unfortunately this is solely a quote that starts the chapter, not something Suvorov would go into detail about, since it would prove counterproductive to his underlying lies. Suvorov also forgets that one of the reasons the Bolsheviks were able to seize power was thanks to their platform of being against the war, one of the main reasons Alexander Kerensky's government did not last. Will you read about any of this here? No, because this man is not an historian, nor does he know much about the subject matter he dictates to you, the reader.

When discussing the treaty of Rapallo, which he never names (go figure), he describes how Stalin apparently "prepared Germany for a second world war." He forgets that Stalin was not in a position to dictate such actions in the early 1920s, he also omits how much the Soviets received from the Germans through their officer exchange programs, etc. (see " The Red Army and the Wehrmacht: How the Soviets Militarized Germany, 1922-33, and Paved the Way for Fascism" although most of the militarization really took part after Hitler came to power).

On pg. 20 Suvorov claims Stalin 'presented Hitler with Poland, and the rest of Europe.' Really? What happened to the fact that Stalin wanted to ally with England and France against Hitler? What happened to Stalin wanting to send the Red Army to help protect Czechoslovakia before England and France gave it away at Munich? You won't find that information here, rather, Stalin 'presented' Hitler with Poland, sure thing.

The chapter on "Stalin and the Destruction of Soviet Strategic Aviation" is greatly lacking. The Soviet Union, after the purges of the Red Army, convinced itself through propaganda that any attack would be easily repulsed and the war would be taken to the enemy. Hence there was no need for a strategic air force, rather one that supported the Red Army operationally and tactically. Hence the IL-2 and the PE-2 rather than ineffective mass strategic bomber strikes which from a large altitude did less damage than they were worth. The reason Soviet pilots were no match for their German counterparts? They weren't taught to dogfight. Proof? None. Once more context is forgotten when speaking of Soviet T-34 and KV tanks. Yes, they were excellent designs and proved their worth in battle. But, the Germans still succeeded in destroying or capturing the majority of them throughout 1941 for a variety of reasons, not exactly proof of a country preparing to go to war with battle-tested weapons and crews. It isn't only the tank design that needs to be studied but in what atmosphere they operated in. The chaotic days of June/July 1941 were not representative of an armed force readying for war, rather a surprised Red Army scrambling for its life.

Suvorov also claims that BT tanks were to be used as an 'offensive' tank along the enemy's road system, aka autobahn. Problem is, BT tanks were built in the early 1930s, before the creation of the autobahn. In general, little is said of the design history of any tank and the problems they encountered, only that they were 'the best in the world.' Suvorov's biggest problem is that he thinks defensive actions on the part of an armed force consist solely of defensive actions. Counter-attacks and offensives are a moot point for him, this master strategist, who apparently has no idea of what defensive warfare consists of. Thus, when speaking of paratroopers, he states that they can only be used on the offensive, OK, but that offensive action can be part of a defensive campaign.

Some of the nonsensical 'facts' Suvorov draws to the readers attention are an order issued by Tukhachevsky on June 23, 1921, then follows up with 'twenty years later, Russia would be invaded...' Really? Did this order of Tukhachevsky about how to handle 'bandits' predict the German invasion of the Soviet Union? If not, why is it mentioned? Stretching reality to fit his own twisted version of history, nothing more nothing less.

One of the worst chapters of this book is entitled 'The Cleansing' rather the the purge that actually took place. This chapter tries to claim that the Red Army purges were not as detrimental to the Red Army as many had assumed. True enough, the problem is the atmosphere that they left in their wake. Over 600 generals were arrested, those who took their place were new to their positions. One example, Kirponos, the commander of the Kiev Military District on the eve of the German invasion of the Soviet Union commanded a division during the Winter War against Finland. He was a competent commander but totally out of his league as a military district, and soon front, commander. Independent thinking and actions were curbed, generals sought out orders and assurances of those orders before they could even begin to think or act. Once again, context is ignored, numbers are thrown around as if they are the answer to all your questions.

All of the above is found within the first 100 pages of this book. At times I have to say I have to force myself to continue to read such drivel. There is also plenty I've left out and which would require pages upon pages to document and put into a historical context. Hard to feel anything but pity and disgust at such a horrid work of fiction being passed off as history, even worse, accepted as the latter by a gullible public.

11 comments:

Adam said...

Obviously you oppose most of Suvorov theories.

The Theory that Stalin (USSR) was preparing for massive attack on Germany is not new!
This is what ALL (Werhmacht) German Army leaders said in Nuremburg trials.
Even Hitler mentioned it in 1942 speech and even his radio message in 1945!
Indeed this is what they believe it is true that the Soviet is preparing to attack.
BT Tank was not build for Autobahn but for good roads in General! Europe has good roads; USSA has two bad things Road and Fools everybody knows that and no need to prove it!

The German leaders mention their reasons "Why they believe the Soviet will attack”
Brief summary
-Their lineup of troops on the German border
- Their concentration of Artillery and divisions (motorized) on the Reich boarder
- Building Air fields adjacent to Boarder
- Their aggressive attitude after polish campaign and their insisting on get extra port on Baltic Sea ... Germany agreed and give them that port.
- Their attitude to Finland!
- The hostile attitude of Molotov during his visit in January 1941
- The advance of the red army close to Oil Field in Romania 1941almost 200 Kilometer from those fields “German General said it was nightmare if they attack those fields!! Germany is lost! No oil at all.
-The Simovic Putsch who is supported by England and show defy German interest was fully supported by USSR! Sure your friend will not support Simovic putsch unless he is hiding something!
That’s why Goering said this last issue removes any doubts from Hitler's mind that USSR will attack the Reich.

These are the summary of the reasons mentioned by German heads in Nuremburg! Which shows clearly Stalin wanted to attack?
NOW Suvorov simply brought more evident from his knowledge of Russian materials Archives; memoirs!

it is completely foolish to think Stalin will stand still and will not attack! Of course he wills one way or another. Still some people counters attack this idea by saying! There was no D-day discovered or found for that plan!
Ha if Stalin put a date for his Barbarossa! Do you think anybody will know this!
We are talking about the USSR system!
Stalin hides from Zhukov that he found Hitler's body and kept on blaming him “Where Hitler’s body? Did he escape... just to annoy Joukov and demolish his acheivemnt “and the subject remain secret till 196x even after Stalin died! Zhukov still think the same till he find out - 196x 10 years after staling died - that Stalin was playing game with him!

Now do you think if Stalin put the date! Who would know this! Perhaps a dozen of High commands!!
Do you think this will be known to the public! Destroy the entire Soviet issue that they are innocent and Hitler started the war on peaceful USSR!

T. Kunikov said...

All of what you mention is pure conjecture. Also, Suvorov has never seen a Soviet archive in his life.

Wojciech said...

Suvorov is a trained ingelligence officer. And a trained officer of General Staff. It took 5 years. Of analytical studies. Therefore I think that he does have a preparation to analyse military data. And science seems to me looking for data, analysing them, interpreting, checking and writing conclusions. I think that he has more background and preparation for analysis of data on troop assembly then historians who spent their time at universities. So I would rather believe his analysis - and he gives sources and references.
According to Zhukov (I read his book) SU was mobilised for almost 2 years 7/24. Not prepared for war? And defeating Germany since winter 41? ending in Berlin? And conquering all eastern europe in 39-40? was the latter bad preparation for war? And what kind of war? Generals were so stupit that they could not place units for defense? The same generals who defended quite well in 41 and 42?

T. Kunikov said...

"Suvorov is a trained ingelligence officer. And a trained officer of General Staff."

And a traitor, no need to state the obvious.

"And a trained officer of General Staff."

What general staff? Military? I don't think so. Even if he was, doesn't make his lies any more believable.

"It took 5 years. Of analytical studies. Therefore I think that he does have a preparation to analyse military data. And science seems to me looking for data, analysing them, interpreting, checking and writing conclusions. I think that he has more background and preparation for analysis of data on troop assembly then historians who spent their time at universities."

No. He has no historical training, or interest it seems, in the period in question. Hence all of his omissions, false facts, and incorrect conclusions.

"So I would rather believe his analysis - and he gives sources and references."

They are lacking and it's been shown in the past that Suvorov amends his sources to suit his needs, puts words in their proverbial mouths, etc. In either case, his sources are lacking and so is his grasp of the time period, as I have shown in more than enough detail.

"According to Zhukov (I read his book) SU was mobilised for almost 2 years 7/24."

Mobilized in what sense? For invading half of Poland? For invading Finland? Perhaps, but not for a war with Germany and her allies.

"Not prepared for war? And defeating Germany since winter 41? ending in Berlin? And conquering all eastern europe in 39-40? was the latter bad preparation for war? And what kind of war? Generals were so stupit that they could not place units for defense? The same generals who defended quite well in 41 and 42?"

Conjecture, no evidence, no context. You only have baseless assertions which aren't worth responding to.

Anonymous said...

"...I find it interesting that no one noticed how many sides Suvorov caters to."

I have. He even caters to his minority readers. When I read it (in Polish) at first I thought it was a book written only for the Poles and no one else! No wonder every Pole I talked to was enamored of it. Ever since Stalin wacked Trotsky, who was a US citizen, a Jew, and a Wall Street agent (see: Wall Street And The Revolution"), the whole world is fed an uninterrrupted diet of guess-what-else-that's-evil-Stalin-did. And that Rezun might want to cash in on that, seems quite plausible to me. The German vicious attack on Russia was about as pre-emptive as the one on Poland. Historically, Russia was never very hungry for the far West. I wonder what the hell would the commissars wanna do in Paris, Barcelona, or Rome that they couldn't do in Prague, Warsaw, or Budapest? Common sense is enough to dismiss Rezun's reverie. Marc

T. Kunikov said...

That would depend on whom you consider a 'minority.' He has something for Germans, Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, those from the Baltics, and, of course, Americans.

Anonymous said...

> Trotsky, who was a US citizen, a Jew, and a Wall Street agent (see: Wall Street And The Revolution")

Sounds like you meant Antony Sutton's bit of trash. That's as bad as anything Rezun has ever cranked out.

Anonymous said...

> Ever since Stalin wacked Trotsky ... the whole world is fed an uninterrrupted diet of guess-what-else-that's-evil-Stalin-did.

While there's been much Cold War propaganda since 1945, Stalin was hailed as Dear Old Uncle Joe for a long time after Trotsky's assassination. Whatever else the Cold War involved, it wasn't done for Trotsky's sake.

Anonymous said...

> Even Hitler mentioned it in 1942 speech

That sounds about right. From Hitler's Table Talk we can see that there is no indication that he ever took the USSR seriously as a military opponent before November 1941. Even as late as 1942 he was still associating the war on the eastern front with the European settlers' wars against the North American Indians. He began to shift towards emphasizing the capabilities of the Soviet military only as the war went badly.

Rezun has proven himself to be unreliable and can't be trusted. But maybe future documentary revelations will support the thesis of some kind of preemptive strike being intended by Stalin. Maybe. But it's clear from Hitler's own private discussions that he did not see the motive for invading the USSR as a preemptive strike to stop a perceived military threat. His discussions were more concerned with noting that in the future Soviet cities should be deprived of support and go to waste while any peasants should have their reading level restricted merely to what they need to understand road signs so they can follow directions given by German settlers. I don't blame the Nuremberg accused for leaving that part out and stressing the claim that they were preempting a Soviet strike.

EmmaL said...

I was very pleased reading this review, after reading to many glowing reports of this 'historical' book. In fact I wish you could have made it through the entire thing just so I could enjoy you eviscerating it false fact by false fact. I find I learn best when my brain is stimulated, and after reading (parts) of this book it has made me hungry to learn what actually happened.

T. Kunikov said...

"In fact I wish you could have made it through the entire thing just so I could enjoy you eviscerating it false fact by false fact."

Well, maybe one day I'll find the strength and time to finish it. Although I doubt that will be anytime soon, unfortunately.

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