Operation Pike: Britain Versus the Soviet Union, 1939-1941

Operation Pike: Britain Versus the Soviet Union, 1939-1941

Operation Pike: Britain Versus the Soviet Union, 1939-1941

Operation Pike: Britain Versus the Soviet Union, 1939-1941

Synopsis

This groundbreaking study reveals the extent of British military planning against the Soviet Union during the first two years of the Second World War. These plans, formulated on the widespread belief that Soviet Russia was an active and willing partner in Adolf Hitler's war of conquest, were designed to bring the Soviets to their knees and deprive Nazi Germany of vital raw materials, especially oil. Churchill himself was one of the leading proponents of action that would have led to an Anglo-Soviet conflict even as the war with Germany raged on. Utilizing many never-before published documents, Osborn challenges conventional wisdom that Allied hopes were pinned on a Soviet entry into the war against Germany and proposes instead that, had the Nazis not successfully invaded France in May 1940, the Allies might well have launched their own offensive against the Soviet Union.

Excerpt

Nine months after France and Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany in retaliation for the unprovoked invasion of Poland, Adolf Hitler unleashed his army in a bold and unexpected attack through the Ardennes forest, an area most experts previously considered unsuitable for offensive operations. Within days the Allies found themselves in full retreat in the face of superior German strategy and tactics. German panzers reached the shores of the English Channel on May 20, only 10 days after the attack had begun. The Allied armies were cut in half. After a series of uncoordinated counterattacks on the German armored columns, Winston Churchill ordered the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from Dunkirk. In one of the few bright spots of the fiasco in France, over 300,000 British and French troops escaped to England.

Without the BEF to threaten to their northern flank, the Germans began a new advance to the south on June 5. Panic seized the French capital as the hated Boche threatened to overrun the entire country. While streams of civilians flooded the roads exiting the City of Light, pillars of smoke billowed from the government quarter as the civil service burned sensitive documents. Papers that could not be destroyed in time, or were deemed too important to leave behind, were evacuated from Paris by train.

A month after the onslaught began, Adolf Hitler's troops triumphantly marched through Paris. One hundred miles south of the French capital, advancing German soldiers seized a train stalled on the railway line at the village of La Charité-sur-Loire. The conquerors boarded the train and eagerly rifled its contents. Soon, however, they found that the train was not bearing the ordinary booty of war, for inside its cars were stacks of boxes containing thousands of confidential documents from the French Foreign Ministry and the highest levels of the French army, documents that had escaped the bonfires of Paris. The captured treasure revealed to the Germans that the Allies, aware of their military inferiority in relation to Germany and seeking therefore to avoid coming to grips . . .

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