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Why Germany Attacked the Soviet Union



As dawn was breaking on Sunday morning, June22, 1941, military forces of Germany, Finland and Romania suddenly struckagainst the Soviet Union along a broad front stretching hundreds of miles fromthe Arctic Circle in the far north to the Black Sea in the south. Italy,Hungary, Slovakia, and Croatia quickly joined the campaign – the largestmilitary offensive in history. Soldiers from those nations were soon joined byvolunteers from other European countries, including France, Netherlands,Denmark, Norway, Spain, and Belgium.


Thestunning news of this attack was announced to the world by German radio at 5:30that Sunday morning, when Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels broadcast the text ofa proclamation by Adolf Hitler to the German people that laid out his reasonsfor the historic offensive.


Followingthat was the broadcast of Germany’s declaration of war against the SovietUnion. This was in the form of a diplomatic note to the Soviet government, readby Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop to a packed and hastily organizednews conference of journalists representing the German press, as well asnewspapers across Europe and overseas.


ThisForeign Office statement explains in some detail the German government’sreasons for the momentous decision to attack the USSR. About two hours earlier,Ribbentrop had given the text to the Soviet ambassador in Berlin, while at thesame time the German ambassador in Moscow was delivering a shorter version ofit to the Soviet Foreign Minister.


Germanleaders did not know that the Soviets were already producing the T-34, KV-1 andKV-2 tanks, the heaviest and most deadly in the world, and more formidable thanany German model. Nor they did they know that the Soviet military had more than4,000 amphibious tanks – which were meant only for offensive operations – whilethe Germans had none.

德国领导人不知道苏联已经在生产T-34、KV-1和KV-2坦克,这是世界上最重、最致命的坦克,?#28909;?#20309;德国型号的坦克都更强大。他们也不知道苏联军队有4000多辆两栖坦克,而德国没?#23567;?br />
TheGermans were also unaware of how the Soviets had been preparing their militarycommanders for war. For example, at a secret speech to military academygraduates in May 1941, just weeks earlier, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin said:“In conducting the defense of our country, we are compelled to act in anaggressive manner. From defense we have to shift to a military policy ofoffense. It is indispensable that we reform our training, our propaganda, ourpress to a mindset of offense. The Red Army is a modern army, and the modernarmy is an army of offense.”


Hitlerhimself acknowledged, both in public and in private, that he had misjudged theextent and scale of the Soviet threat. “Certainly, though, we were mistakenabout one thing,” the German leader told a large audience in Berlin on Oct. 3,1941. “We had no idea how gigantic the preparations of this enemy were againstGermany and Europe and how immeasurably great was the danger; how we just barelyescaped annihilation, not only of Germany but also of Europe.”

希特勒本人在公开场合和私下里都承?#24076;?#20182;对苏联的威胁程度和规模判?#40092;?#35823;。1941年10月3日,这位德国领导人在柏林对大批听众说:“当然,我们在一件事上犯了错误。”“我们不知道这个敌人对德国和?#20998;?#30340;准备有多么充分,也不知道危险有多大;我们是如何逃过了灭顶之灾的,不仅是德国,还有整个?#20998;蕖!?br />
TheUS government responded to the news of the German-led offensive with anofficial statement, issued by Deputy Secretary of State Sumner Welles.Completely ignoring the points made by the leaders in Berlin, it claimed thatGermany’s “treacherous” attack was part of a plan by Hitler “for the cruel andbrutal enslavement of all peoples and for the ultimate destruction of theremaining free democracies.”


Actually, it was the Soviet Union – the world’smost oppressive regime at the time – that was dedicated to the eradication of“free democracies” and to the ultimate triumph of “proletarian dictatorship” inall countries. Stalin had made clear his elemental hostility to “freedemocracy” when the Red Army tried impose a Bolshevik regime on Finland in the“Winter War” of 1939-1940. In fact, soldiers of Finland – a parliamentarydemocracy – were now fighting as allies of Hitler’s Germany against theSoviets.


Inrecent years, however, a growing number of historians have assembledconsiderable evidence that validates key points made by Hitler and the Germangovernment, and which shows that the Soviets were preparing a massive assault.The most influential of these historians has probably been a former Soviet GRUmilitary intelligence officer, Vladimir Rezun. In a series of books writtenunder the pen name of Viktor Suvorov, he has presented impressive evidence toshow that the Soviet regime was preparing a massive offensive against Germanyand Europe, and that the German-led attack forestalled an imminent Sovietstrike. It is Stalin, not Hitler – he says – who should be considered the“chief culprit” of World War II.

然而,近年来,越来越多的历史学家收集了大量的证据,证明希特勒和德国政府的观点是正确的,这表明苏联正准备发动大规模进攻。这些历史学家中最有影响力的可能是前苏联GRU(格勒乌,苏军总?#25991;?#37096;情报总局)军事情报官?#22791;?#25289;基米尔·丽?#21462;?#22312;维克多•苏沃洛夫(Viktor Suvorov)笔名所著的一系列著作中,他提供了令人印象深刻的证据,表明苏联政权正准备对德国和?#20998;?#21457;动大规模进攻,而德国领导的进攻阻止了苏联即将发动的攻击。他说,应该被认为是二战“罪魁祸首”的是斯大林,而不是希特勒。

Numerousdocuments and other historical evidence have come to light in recent decadesthat validate key points made in the German statements of June 22, 1941. Thisevidence also thoroughly discredits the simplistic portrayal of theGerman-Soviet clash, and indeed of the Second World War itself, that USofficials and prominent historians presented to the American public during thewar, and for years afterwards.


Even ifthe leaders in Germany, Finland, and other European countries were mistaken inbelieving that a Soviet assault was imminent, they certainly had ample reasonto regard the Stalin regime as a dangerous threat, and to conclude that theSoviets were deploying vast military forces in preparation for attack at somepoint in the future. The reasons given by Hitler and his government to justifythe German-led attack were not lies or pretexts.

即使德国、芬兰和其他?#20998;?#22269;家的领导人错误地认为苏联即将发动进攻, 他们当然有充足的理由将斯大林政权视为一个危险的威胁,并得出结论,苏联正在部署庞大的军事力量,准备在未来某个时候发动攻击。希特勒及其政府为德国领导的袭击辩解的理由不是谎言或借口。

Indeed,the German, Finnish, and Romanian leaders had more valid and substantive causeto strike against the USSR in June 1941 than American leaders have had forlaunching a number of wars – including against Mexico in 1845, against Spain in1898, and against Iraq in 2003. In none of those cases did the country attackedby US military forces present a clear and present danger to the US, or a threatto vital American national interests.


BecauseHitler’s proclamation of June 22, 1941, and the German Foreign Officedeclaration of the same day, explain at some length the reasons and motives forthe fateful decision to strike against the USSR, these are documents ofhistoric importance. The texts of specially prepared translations of these twostatements are given below in full.


While theprophecies of a French statesman [Georges Clemenceau] that there were twentymillion Germans too many – in other words, that this number would have to beeliminated by hunger, disease or emigration – were apparently being fulfilledto the letter, the National Socialist movement began its work of unifying theGerman people, and thereby initiating the resurgence of the Reich. This rise ofour people from distress, misery and shameful disregard was in the form of apurely internal renaissance. In no way did that affect, much less threaten,Britain.


Nevertheless,a new, hate-filled policy of encirclement against Germany began immediately.Internally and externally there came into being that plot, familiar to all ofus, between Jews and democrats, Bolsheviks and reactionaries, with the sole aimof inhibiting the establishment of the new German people’s state, and ofplunging the Reich anew into impotence and misery.


Apart fromus, the hatred of this international world conspiracy was directed againstthose nations that, like ourselves, were neglected by fortune and were obligedto earn their daily bread in the hardest struggle for existence.


Above all,the right of Italy and Japan, just as much as that of Germany, to share in thegoods of this world was contested and in fact was formally denied. The allianceof these [three] nations was, therefore, purely an act of self-protection inthe face of the egoistic global combination of wealth and power that threatenedthem. As early as 1936 [Winston] Churchill, according to statements by theAmerican General Wood before a committee of the American House ofRepresentatives, declared that Germany was once again becoming too powerful andmust therefore be destroyed.


In theSummer of 1939 the time seemed to have come for Britain to begin to realize itsintended annihilation by repetition of a comprehensive policy of encirclementof Germany. The plan of the campaign of lies staged for this purpose consistedin declaring that other people were threatened, in tricking them with Britishpromises of guarantees and assistance, and of getting them to go againstGermany, just as had happened prior to the [First] World War.


I, on theother hand, have been striving for two decades, with a minimum of interventionand without destroying our production, to arrive at a new socialist order inGermany, one that not only eliminates unemployment but also permits theproductive worker to receive an ever greater share of the fruits of his labor.The achievements of this policy of national economic and social reconstruction– which strove for a true national community by overcoming rank and classdivisions – are unique in today’s world.


It wastherefore only with extreme difficulty that I brought myself in August 1939 tosend my [Foreign] Minister [von Ribbentrop] to Moscow in an endeavor there tocounter the British encirclement policy against Germany. I did this only out ofa sense of responsibility toward the German people, but above all in the hopeof finally, in spite of everything, achieving lasting easing of tensions and ofbeing able to reduce sacrifices that otherwise might have been demanded of us.


WhileGermany solemnly affirmed in Moscow that the designated territories andcountries – with the exception of Lithuania – lay outside any German political interests,a special [supplementary] agreement was concluded in case Britain were tosucceed in inciting Poland into actually going to war against Germany. In thiscase, as well, German claims were subject to limitations entirely out ofproportion to the achievements of the German forces.


However,already during our advance in Poland, Soviet rulers suddenly, and contrary tothe treaty, also claimed Lithuania. The German Reich never had any intention ofoccupying Lithuania, and not only failed to present any such demand to theLithuanian government, but on the contrary refused the request of the thenLithuanian government to send German troops to Lithuania in that spirit forthat purpose as inconsistent with the aims of German policy.


Despiteall this I complied also with this fresh Russian demand. However, this was onlythe beginning of continually renewed extortions, which have been repeated eversince.


Thevictory in Poland, which was won exclusively by German troops, prompted me toaddress yet another peace offer to the Western powers [Britain and France]. Itwas rejected, due to the efforts of the international and Jewish warmongers.Already at that time the reason for this rejection lay in the fact that Britainstill had hopes of being able to mobilize a European coalition against Germany,which was to include the Balkans and Soviet Russia. It was therefore decided inLondon to send Mr. Cripps as ambassador to Moscow. He received clearinstructions under all circumstances to resume relations between Britain andSoviet Russia, and develop them in a pro-British direction. The British pressreported on the progress of this mission, except insofar as tactical reasonsdid not impose silence.


While oursoldiers from May 10, 1940, onward were breaking Franco-British power in thewest, Russian military deployment on our eastern frontier was continuing to anever more menacing extent. From August 1940 onward I therefore considered it tobe in the interest of the Reich to no longer permit our eastern provinces,which moreover had been laid waste so often before, to remain unprotected inthe face of this tremendous deployment of Bolshevik divisions.


Thus, andjust as intended by this British-Soviet Russian cooperation, there came aboutthe tying up of such strong [German] forces in the east that a radicalconclusion of the war in the west, particularly as regards aircraft, could nolonger be vouched for by the German leadership. This, however, was in line withthe goals not only of British but also of Soviet Russian policy, for bothBritain and Soviet Russia intended to let this war go on for as long aspossible in order to weaken all Europe and render it ever more impotent.


Russia’sthreatened attack on Romania was in the last analysis equally intended to gainpossession of or, if possible, to destroy, an important base of the economiclife of not only Germany, but of all of Europe. Since 1933 the German Reichsought with boundless patience to win over states in southeastern Europe astrading partners. We therefore also had the greatest interest in their internalconsolidation and order. Russia’s advance into Romania and Greece’s alliancewith Britain threatened to quickly turn these regions as well into a generaltheater of war.


Contraryto our principles and customs, and at the urgent request of the then Romaniangovernment, which was itself responsible for this development, I advised thatit acquiesce to the Soviet Russian demands for the sake of peace, and to cede[the province of] Bessarabia. The Romanian government believed, however, thatit could answer for this before its own people only if Germany and Italy incompensation would at least guarantee the integrity of what still remained ofRomania. I did so with heavy heart, above all because when the German Reichgives a guarantee, that means it also abides by it. We are neither Englishmennor Jews.


I stillbelieve at this late hour to have served the cause of peace in that region,albeit by assuming a serious obligation of our own. In order, however, finallyto solve these problems and achieve clarity concerning the Russian attitudetoward Germany, as well as under pressure of continually increasingmobilization on our eastern frontier, I invited Mr. Molotov to come to Berlin.


My answer:As ever, Germany has absolutely no political interests in Finland. A new war byRussia against the small Finnish nation could not, however, be regarded anylonger by the German government as tolerable, all the more so because we couldnever believe that Finland could threaten Russia. Under no circumstances did wewant another theater of war to arise in the Baltic.


Molotov’sthird question: Is Germany prepared to agree that Soviet Russia give aguarantee to Bulgaria and, in this regard, send Soviet troops to Bulgaria, inconnection with which he – Molotov – was prepared to state that the Soviets didnot intend on that account, for example, to depose the King?