OBVIOUSLY, NOT ALL SOVIET expectations were accurate. For instance, the Kremlin must have watched with a mixture of awe and horror as the Blitzkrieg swept through Western Europe and brought the Swastika all the way to Paris and to the English Channel. Yes, Stalin wanted a war of Hitler against Great Britain and France, but not such a quick one. Germany's swift and militarily brilliant victory in Western Europe was bound to strengthen the Führer's conviction that he was invincible and chosen by fate to rid the world of Bolshevism, his next target. Hitler's turn eastward meant that Stalin failed in his effort to stay out of the war, and the German military would come dangerously close to breaking the back of the Stalinist system. None of this was predictable. Even during the last days of September 1938 the Kremlin could not have foreseen future developments in highly volatile Central Europe with any degree of certainty. A year later it was still not clear what Great Britain would do or how well the French would fight should it come to a shooting war with Germany.
However, it is impossible to overlook the fact that the most accurate analysis of the European scene in the summer of 1938 had been made in the Kremlin. Great Britain stooped to coercing President Beneš and to designing such clumsy measures as the Runciman mission, which were unworthy of its democratic tradition. France dug a hole for itself by declaring its "solemn," "indisputable," and "sacred" obligations toward Czechoslovakia. In a matter of just a few weeks it would climb out of the hole on the ladder of betrayal. Eventually, just as Moscow had predicted, both countries would within a year get into the war they had hoped to avoid.
What happened to the second wave of socialist revolutions anticipated by the 7th Congress of the Communist International in 1935 and by Zhdanov in Prague three years later? It did not take place quite the way Moscow had hoped; in fact, World War II failed to fragment European societies into hostile classes, but instead bonded most nations involved in the fighting, on both sides. Therefore, the second wave of revolutions was actually launched in 1944 by the Red Army when it entered Eastern and Central Europe. Imposing communism with troops and secret policemen lacked elegance. It would have been nicer if Soviet-style regimes had grown organically from the suffering and upheavals caused by the latest capitalist war. They would have been more ligitimate and therefore also more self-reliant and stable. This technique had furthermore important geographic limitations because the Red Army's presence was a necessary (though not sufficient) precondition for the emergence of communist elites. Nevertheless, the second wave of proletarian revolutions would take place, if only in the portion of Europe under Stalin's control. It would come to a successful conclusion in February 1948 with the communist coup d'état in Prague, as Zhdanov had predicted in the same city a decade before. Into the ruins fertilized by Europe's war against Nazism Stalin would plant seeds that would yield his East European empire.