Between Churchill and Stalin: The Soviet Union, Great Britain, and the Origins of the Grand Alliance

By Steven Merritt Miner | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
WE MUST BE GUARDED IN RELATIONS WITH THE ENGLISH JUNE-DECEMBER 1941

N ot until July 3, twelve days after the German invasion, could Stalin bring himself to address the nation whose diplomatic affairs he had so badly mishandled. Thanks to the Nazi-Soviet Pact, Hitler had achieved a degree of domination over Europe unknown since the time of Napoleon. Like the French Emperor, Hitler turned against Russia to consolidate his grip on the Continent.1 In his broadcast to the Soviet people, Stalin tried to answer the inevitable charges of ineptitude leveled at himself:

It may be asked: how could the Soviet Government have consented to conclude a non-aggression pact with such treacherous monsters as Hitler and Ribbentrop? Was this not a mistake on the part of the Soviet Government? Of course not! A non-aggression pact is a pact of peace between two States. It was such a pact that Germany proposed to us in 1939. Could the Soviet Government have declined such a proposal? I think that not a single peace-loving State could decline a peace treaty with a neighboring Power, even though the latter was headed by such monsters and cannibals as Hitler and Ribbentrop.

Realizing, undoubtedly, that such a feeble justification would quell few doubts, Stalin offered a retrospective analysis of the Nazi-Soviet Pact that would later even convince many in the West, including Cripps: "What did we gain by concluding the non-aggression pact with Germany? We secured

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