Review by Daniel W. Michaels.
For several years now, a former Soviet military intelligence officer named Vladimir Rezun has provoked heated discussion in Russia for his startling view that Hitler attacked Soviet Russia in June 1941 just as Stalin was preparing to overwhelm Germany and western Europe as part of a well-planned operation to “liberate” all of Europe by bringing it under Communist rule.
Writing under the pen name of Viktor Suvorov, Rezun has developed this thesis in three books. Icebreaker (which has been published in an English-language edition) and Dni M (“M Day”) were reviewed in the Nov.–Dec. 1997 Journal of Historical Review. The third book, reviewed here, is a 470-page work, “The Last Republic: Why the Soviet Union Lost the Second World War,” published in Russian in Moscow in 1996.
Suvorov presents a mass of evidence to show that when Hitler launched his “Operation Barbarossa” attack against Soviet Russia on June 22, 1941, German forces were able to inflict enormous losses against the Soviets precisely because the Red troops were much better prepared for war — but for an aggressive war that was scheduled for early July — not the defensive war forced on them by Hitler’s preemptive strike.
In Icebreaker, Suvorov details the deployment of Soviet forces in June 1941, describing just how Stalin amassed vast numbers of troops and stores of weapons along the European frontier, not to defend the Soviet homeland but in preparation for a westward attack and decisive battles on enemy territory.
Thus, when German forces struck, the bulk of Red ground and air forces were concentrated along the Soviet western borders facing contiguous European countries, especially the German Reich and Romania, in final readiness for an assault on Europe.
In his second book on the origins of the war, “M Day” (for “Mobilization Day”), Suvorov details how, between late 1939 and the summer of 1941, Stalin methodically and systematically built up the best armed, most powerful military force in the world — actually the world’s first superpower — for his planned conquest of Europe. Suvorov explains how Stalin’s drastic conversion of the country’s economy for war actually made war inevitable.
A Global Soviet Union
In “The Last Republic,” Suvorov adds to the evidence presented in his two earlier books to strengthen his argument that Stalin was preparing for an aggressive war, in particular emphasizing the ideological motivation for the Soviet leader’s actions. The title refers to the unlucky country that would be incorporated as the “final republic” into the globe-encompassing “Union of Soviet Socialist Republics,” thereby completing the world proletarian revolution.
As Suvorov explains, this plan was entirely consistent with Marxist-Leninist doctrine, as well as with Lenin’s policies in the earlier years of the Soviet regime. The Russian historian argues convincingly that it was not Leon Trotsky (Bronstein), but rather Stalin, his less flamboyant rival, who was really the faithful disciple of Lenin in promoting world Communist revolution. Trotsky insisted on his doctrine of “permanent revolution,” whereby the young Soviet state would help foment home-grown workers’ uprisings and revolution in the capitalist countries.
Stalin instead wanted the Soviet regime to take advantage of occasional “armistices” in the global struggle to consolidate Red military strength for the right moment when larger and better armed Soviet forces would strike into central and western Europe, adding new Soviet republics as this overwhelming force rolled across the continent. After the successful consolidation and Sovietization of all of Europe, the expanded USSR would be poised to impose Soviet power over the entire globe.
As Suvorov shows, Stalin realized quite well that, given a free choice, the people of the advanced Western countries would never voluntarily choose Communism. It would therefore have to be imposed by force. His bold plan, Stalin further decided, could be realized only through a world war.