Stalin, Soviet Strategy and the Grand Alliance

  • John Erickson


The German invasion of the Soviet Union launched on 22 June 1941 found London and Moscow each after its own fashion catastrophically unprepared for such an eventuality. Double-vision afflicted both in equal mèasure. The Foreign Office, though aware of the scale of the German military build-up in the east, was convinced that this was but a prelude to further Soviet-German negotiation and possible Soviet capitulation to German demands. Stalin, in possession of mountains of intelligence data,1 did not expect Hitler to embark on a two-front war; at worst, he anticipated that an ultimatum would precede war.. His immediate preoccupation was to avoid a ‘provocation’, British-inspired, to involve him in war with Germany. Alternatively, he had to be on the lookout to thwart any devious Anglo-German ‘compact’ for a separate peace which would free Hitler’s hands to strike in the east, a suspicion fuelled by the bizarre circumstances of the ‘Hess affair’.


General Staff Offensive Operation Soviet Force Eastern Front German Invasion 
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  1. 1.
    See J. Lewis, Changing Direction: British Military Planning for Post-war Strategic Defence, 1942–47 ( London: Sherwood, 1988 ), pp. 138–9.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1995

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  • John Erickson

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