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Many lessons of World War 2 'hidden' in plain sight from war historian Richard Overy

If Russia and the
United States led
by President
Roosevelt, had not
cooperated, even
the heroism and
sacrifice of the
Russian people may
not have prevented
a Nazi victory.

The RT 1  news service funded by the Russian government is a beacon of truth in a world of deceit of the corporate mainstream newsmedia. Had RT been around earlier, it is much less likely that the fabricated pretexts for war against Yugoslavia, Iraq, and Afghanistan would have been accepted and those wars could have been prevented.

Yet, for all its valuable contributions to truth and democracy, many of the journalists and reporters at RT still have considerable gaps in their understanding of the history of the 20th century and of the part played by the Soviet Union. (This article has been promoted from a comment here, owing to some important points it makes. It is not intended to detract from important commemorations in Russia of lives lost in the final battles in which Russia was victorious over Hitler and thus rid the world of WW2 Nazi threat.)

British historian Richard Overy, when interviewed by Oksana Boyko on the Worlds Apart episode of 7 May put a somewhat flawed view about Nazism and Communism. Whilst she was able to challenge a number of Richard Overy's claims, she left others unchallenged. One was Overy's assertion that Josef Stalin was a brilliant and inspired leader who led and inspired the Soviet people to victory over Nazi Germany.

In truth, millions more lives were lost than should have been necessary to defeat Nazi Germany as a result of 1) Stalin's blind trust in Hitler prior to the start of Operation Barbarossa on 22 June 1944, and 2) Stalin's treachery towards his own people and allies before and during the Second World War.

As a result of the surprise Hitler/Stalin pact of August 1939, Nazi Germany was able to conquer Poland and Western Europe whilst having vast amounts of raw materials shipped across the border from the Soviet Union. So much was sent that even Soviet industry and Soviet consumers suffered from the shortages. 2 

As Hitler was using these raw materials to wage war against the West, he was also using these materials to secretly prepare for his invasion of the Soviet Union.

Stalin's treachery and poor judgement caused many millions
more Soviet citizens to die than should have been necessary
to defeat Nazism. Examples include: 1) his betrayal of countries
fighting Nazi Germany prior to 22 June 1941, including Poland,
France and Britain; and 2) his blind trust in Hitler after 23 August
which caused him to ignore warnings from British and U.S.
intelligence, and even one his own spies, 5  that Nazi Germany
was preparing to launch an invasion.

Notwithstanding Stalin's unconscionable conduct towards Hitler, Western leaders including British Prime Minister Winston Churchill 3  and American President Franklin Delano Roosevelt understood that German Nazism, and not Communism, posed a mortal threat to humankind. They tried to warn Stalin of Hitler's plans, when their intelligence services made them aware of these preparations, but Stalin ignored these warnings.

Even Soviet agent, German communist Richard Sorge 5 , who worked in the German embassy in Tokyo, warned of the planned invasion, but his warning was ignored. A German soldier who swam across the River Bug to warn of the invasion, just prior to the invasion was shot for his trouble. 4 

As a result the vast majority of Soviet soldiers were caught entirely by surprise on the morning of 2 June 1941. Hundreds of thousands were needlessly captured and killed in the first few months of the war.

Most of the more capable commanders of the Red Army, including Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky (pictured), had been killed by Stalin during the Great Purge of 1938. They were murdered after show trials because Stalin feared that they may have held a residual loyalty to their former commander-in-chief Leon Trotsky, then in exile in Mexico. Had the Red Army been led more capably by these officers, the scale of sacrifice necessary to defeat the Nazi invasion would not have been nearly as great.


1. ↑  I previously understood 'RT' to have be the acronym for 'Russia Today' but this is apparently not the case.

2. ↑  I read this in World War Two - a Short History (2043) by Norman Stone but, unfortunately, can't cite the page number.

3. ↑  British Prime Minister Winston Churchill appears to have behaved commendably in the early stages of the war when he refused to make peace with Nazi Germany after its conquest of mainland Europe. Given that Churchill was soundly defeated by the Labor Party in the general elections of July 1945, it is not inconceivable that Churchill was motivated in part by wanting to hold on to power against the staunchly anti-Nazi opposition Labor Party

4. ↑  World War Two - a Short History (2043) by Norman Stone p58.

5. ↑  See Richard Sorge | Wikipedia, Richard Sorge (Sep 97)| Spartacus Educational, Richard Sorge | Find a Grave. Richard Sorge was uncovered and arrested on 14 Oct 1941. As described in Wikipedia:

The Japanese made three overtures to the Soviet Union, offering to trade Sorge for one of their own spies. However, the Soviet Union declined all the offers, maintaining that Sorge was unknown to them.

Richard Sorge was hanged on November 7, 1944, at 10:20 a.m. Tokyo time in Sugamo Prison; Hotsumi Ozaki was hanged earlier in the same day. The Soviet Union did not officially acknowledge Sorge until 1964. It was argued that Sorge's biggest coup led to his undoing, because Stalin could not afford to let it become known that he had rejected Sorge's warning about the German attack in 1941. ...


The following was posted beneath US military trying to catch up with Russian hypersonic weapons (26/11/18) | The Duran by Seraphim Hanisch

A century ago, the leaders of Russia understood that, unless the criminal rulers who had caused the First World War were removed from power, another even more terrible war was inevitable. In spite of Russian efforts, the rulers of the United States, Britain, Germany, France, Japan and Italy were not removed. As a consequence, just as Lenin and Trotsky - so vilified even by most of today's alternate newsmedia - had warned, the world endured another terrible war from 1937 until 1945 in which 60 million died.

Assuming that Vladimir Putin understands that an endless conventional and nuclear arms race cannot possibly preserve a worthwhile peace, does he have any other proposal to remove from the world, once and for all, the threat of war?

On 13 May Paul Craig Roberts published The Lies About World War II in which he put new and controversial views about the Second World War argued by British Historian, David Irving in his books Hitler's War and Churchill’s War: The Struggle for Power.

Paul Craig Roberts and David Irving correctly agree with Hitler's denunciation of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles where Germany was dismembered and made to pay ruinous reparations to the countries of the victorious Entente. However, he goes on to argue that Britain, France, and their allies, and not Nazi Germany were the aggressors when Nazi Germany invaded Poland on 1 Septemper 1939.

Superficially, many of Paul Craig Roberts' arguments seem correct. The Polish government's refusal to negotiate with Nazi Germany over its territorial claims for regions of Poland, including Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) inhabited by millions of Germans, seems to make Nazi Germany's subsequent war against Poland seem somewhat justified. For their part, by guaranteeing military support to "the Polish military dictatorship" against Germany's claims, Britain and France are also held to be to blame for the outbreak of war.

Paul Craig Roberts' rightly denounces subsequent war crimes of the western powers during the war, including the deliberate killing of more than 305,000 Germans by the aerial bombardment of cities. He also accuses US President Roosevelt (FDR) of unconscionable conduct towards Britain, including financial extortion, in its time of vulnerability. I am not in a position to confirm or refute such allegations. Nonetheless, it still seems to me that humanity still had a vital stake in Britain's and America's war against Nazi Germany. As I will be posting to Paul Craig Roberts:

Whilst I think you are the single most insightful and informative of all bloggers of which I have become aware in recent years, I think your recent article about the Second World War is way off the mark and I intend to show you how in the near future.

For all of Churchill's glaring faults, humanity is clearly indebted to Churchill's Britain for refusing to make peace with the Third Reich after France surrendered in June 1940. Humanity is also indebted to FDR for backing Britain, even if he had to do so clandestinely prior to 1942.

Contrary to what is said by many who now rightly defend Russia against the war plans of the US, I believe the Soviet Union would have been defeated without support from Britain and the US. I believe the Red Army would have lost largely thanks to Stalin's purge of the best Red Army officers in 1938. [1]

Had he won, Hitler would have ethnically cleansed Eastern Europe and Russia in order to create lebensraum for the German "master race." The Third Reich would have had access to all the natural resources of Russia and the other Soviet republics. The world would have been ruled for decades by Nazi Germany, Japan and the notorious 'isolationist' President Charles Lindbergh's United States.

The real secret of the Second World War is that those who contributed the most to the defeat of Japan and the Third Reich were betrayed by Churchill and FDR's successor, Truman, most notably in Greece and Korea (in both these countries former collaborators were rearmed by the British or American 'liberators' and turned on resistance fighters).

Another hidden secret of the Second World War was that it was needlessly prolonged. One of many examples is the reconquest of Italy by Germany in September 1943 after the Italians had liberated themselves from Mussolini on 25 July 1943. Even though America and Britain had air superiority, they allowed Nazi Germany forces to reconquer almost all of Italy. Nicola Bellomo, one of the very few Italian generals who tried to resist the German invasion was subsequently tried and executed on 11 September 1945 for the "war crime" that two British prisoners were killed trying to escape from a prisoner-of-war camp that he was in command of at the time.

Had Britain and the US both made, and remained at, peace with Nazi Germay after 1940, history since 1945 would have been even more terrible than it was.


[1] Two other reasons why the Nazi invasion might have succeeded are: 1. The Red Army was needlessly surprised on the morning of 22 June 1941, because Stalin ignored warnings of Nazi Germany's invasion plans from Britain, the US and even from his own agent, Richard Sorge, in the German Tokyo embassy; and 2. After the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact in August 1938, Stalin supplied Nazi Germany with vast quantities of the raw materiels necessary for the Wehrmacht to prepare for its invasion of the Soviet Union as well as to continue to wage war against the western European democracies and Britain.

The following was posted as a comment in responst to Debunking Lies and Myths About the So-called ‘Soviet-German Pact’ (VIDEO) (28/9/19) by Drago Bosnic | Fort Russ

Much of the broader context is missing.

Whilst Neville Chamberlain, and indeed, the Polish regime did betray Czechoslovakia in 1938, after Nazi Germany invaded Poland in 1 September 1939, Britain, the British Commonwealth and France, for all their serious faults, did oppose Germany's aggression against Poland. At the same time, the Soviet Union under Stalin, sided with Hitler against Poland. Prior to 17 September 1939, when the Red Army invaded Poland from the east, fierce Polish resistance had caused significant problems for the German invasion. The Polish Army stopped the German army outside of Warsaw and it would have required a much more costly fight on the part of the Wehrmacht to subdue Warsaw. It is conceivable that the cost might have been too high for Germany to bear.
Hitler could well have been removed from power, the war would have been over and only a miniscule fraction of 60 million lives need have been lost.

After the subjugation of Poland, Stalin supplied the Third Reich with vast quantities of raw materials that it needed to conquer Western Europe, including France, and then bombard Britain. As Britain heroically resisted the Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain, Stalin continued to send raw materials to Germany. After the Luftwaffe was defeated by the RAF, no thanks to Stalin, Hitler began preparations to invade the Soviet Union. In the ensuing months, Stalin ignored warnings of Hitler's invasion plans from Britain, the U.S. and even from his own spy, German communist Richard Sorge in the German Tokyo embassy.

Poland was eventually liberated by the Red Army, but not until after the Red Army stood still on the East Bank of the Vistula, for 63 days from August until October 1944, whilst the German army suppressed the Warsaw Uprising and then thence razed Warsaw to the ground. It seems that for all of Nazi Germany's monstrous crimes against the Soviet Union in the three years prior to the Warsaw Uprising, Stalin was still willing to shamefully collaborate with Hitler against Poland as he had in 1939. This furher betrayal effectively devalues the worth of the terrible sacrifice that Soviet citizens had to make to defeat the Third Reich. No doubt, this also causes some Poles in, 2019, to feel justified, in siding with NATO against Russia and the rest of humanity.

Video: Russian intellectuals say they are proud of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact!?

This 7 minute video with English subtitles, entitled "The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 80 Years Later: Russia Forced to Shoulder Blame For WWII in Poland!" , is embedded in the abovementioned article. It is . It shows a number of Russian academics attempting to justify the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Near the end, one of the academics states "Actually. I think that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is an achievement is an achievement of Soviet Democracy. An achievement. We should be proud of it."


Update: 24 Aug 2021

MFA Russia (@mfa_russia), which published the above video, has disallowed the viewing of the above embedded video on this site. It can be viewed only on YouTube at They have similarly disallowed the viewing of that same video within the article Debunking Lies and Myths About the So-called ‘Soviet-German Pact’ (VIDEO) (28/8/2019) | Fort Russ. The Fort Russ article similarly attempts to justify the September 1939 Motolov-Ribbentrop Pact and the subsequent collaboration between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union right up until the launching of Operation Barbaraossa on 22 June 1941. I can only assume that @mfa_russia objects to my debunking of the attempted justification which that video also tries to support.

The following is a response to the latter part of CrossTalk Bullhorns on impeachment: Impasse, the 23 December edition of RT's CrossTalk discussion. You can view the 30 minute program at the above link or below, where it is embedded. In my comment, I strongly dispute the panel's assertion that it was the Western Allies - France and Britain - and not Stalin that did the most to facilitate Hitler's launching of the Second World War. Whilst those countries' betrayal of Czechoslovakia at the Munich conference of 1938 should be condemned, I consider Stalin's subsequent appeasement of, and collusion with, Hitler to have been even more unconscionable. I tried to post the comment below to that page, but it was deleted. I intend to find out from the RT site administrators whether or not this apparent censorship was intentional. - JS

The case against supposed 'historical revisionism' concerning the outbreak of the Second World War was abysmal. Whilst, of course, the policy of appeasement by Britain and France prior to 1 September 1939 cannot be excused, the following facts are ignored by the CrossTalk panel:

Whilst they (and Vladimir Putin) have acknowledged Stalin's murder of most of the Polish officer corps at Katyn wood, Stalin's Betrayal of Poland did not start and did not end there.

Until the Red Army invaded Poland from behind on 17 September, the Polish Army's resistance to the German invasion was stiffening. "Rising '44 - the Battle for Warsaw" (2003) by Norman Davies shows how the Red Army stood still on the East bank of the Vistula, whilst the German Army brutally suppressed the Warsaw uprising from August until October 1944. [1]

The fact remains, that from 1 September 1939 until 22 June, Britain and France [2] fought on alone against Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy, whilst the Soviet Union shipped across the border much of the raw materials needed by the Third Reich to invade Denmark, the Benelux countries, Denmark, Norway and then France. Whilst, in the skies above Britain, from July until October 1940, 'the few' fought against German bombers and fighters, the Soviet Union continued to ship raw materials across to Germany.

The supply of raw materials continued as the Germans and Italians conquered the Balkans and attempted to conquer North Africa.

How does the panel think the Red Army would have fared, had Britain made a separate peace with Hitler? How does the panel think the Red Army would have fared had President Roosevelt (FDR) not (against previous promises to American voters) succeeded in bringing the United States into the war against Nazi Germany? Could any country have endured proportionately more losses than did the the Soviet Union and still survive?

In spite of Stalin's treachery, when the British and Americans learned of Hitler's plans to invade the Soviet Union they warned Stalin, but these warnings were ignored. Stalin also ignored warnings of the invasion from his agent, German Communist Richard Sorge who worked in the German Tokyo embassy. [3]

The Soviet Union contniued to send raw materials across the border into the Third Reich right up until the morning of 22 June 1941, when after all the time that Stalin had supposedly bought the Soviet Union, the Red Army was surprised and routed terribly. [4]

So much for Stalin's brilliant plans to use the Moltov-Ribbbentrop Pact of August 1938 to better prepare for war against Nazi Germany.

Appendix: Embedded copy of "CrossTalk Bullhorns on impeachment: Impasse" (23/12/19)


[1] Even the Greek Communist ELAS resistance fared little better than the Polish Home Army after October 1994 because of Churchill's infamous "percentages agreement" with Stalin, as documented in "The Kapetanios" (1972) by Dominique Eudes.

[2] After 22 June 1940, when Vichy France signed a truce and effectively sided with Nazi Germany from that point on, 'France' refers to the Resistance and the conventional Free French armed forces of Charles de Gaulle.

[3] Richard Sorge was to be subsequently uncovered and arrested by the Japanese. The Japanese, who were not then at war with the Soviet Union, offered to return Richard Sorge, but Stalin did not take up the offer. Sorge was executed on 7 November 1944. In 1964, Nikita Khruschev posthumously awarded Richard Sorge with the title of "Hero of the Soviet Union".

[4] Even when the war finally turned in favour of the Red Army on 2 February 1943 at the conclusion of the Battle of Stalingrad, the Red Army still had to pay a terrible cost to drive Nazi Germany and its allies all the way back to Berlin. This was largely thanks to Stalin murdering or imprisoning the Red Army's best officers in the purges of 1938. Had those officers still been alive, the cost paid by the Soviet Union would not have been nearly as high.

The otherwise insightful and highly informative British/Syrian PressTV journalist Richard Medhurst recently tweeted:

Russia lost over 25 million people during World War II, more than any other nation. Around 80% of German casualties were inflicted by the Red Army. Hollywood and Western education teach the story differently but the world owes Russia a huge debt of gratitude for crushing the Nazis.…

I responded:

See "Many lessons of World War 2 'hidden' in plain sight from war historian Richard Overy (8/5/15). Whilst the courage & sacrifice of Red Army soldiers should not be forgotten, the terrible magnitude of this sacrifice was largely a consequence of:

  1. Stalin's purge the Red Army officer corps in 1938;
  2. Stalin's signing of the Molotov/Ribbentrop pact in August 1939;
  3. the Red Army's invasion of Poland on 17 September 1939 just as Polish resistance to the German invasion was stiffening (by one account account I have read);
  4. Stalin's supply of vitally needed raw materials, right up until the morning 22 June 1941, to the German Reich, as it conquered Western Europe, and thence tried to use the Luftwaffe to subjugate Britain in what became known as the "Battle of Britain"
  5. Stalin ignoring warnings, right up until the morning 22 June 1941, from Britain, the U.S. and even his own spy, communist Richard Sorge who worked in Germany's Tokyo embasssy, that Germany was going to invade;
  6. Stalin ordering the execution of one German soldier who tried to warn the Red Army of the impending invasion; and
  7. Russian popagandist Ilya Ehrenberg actually encouraging victorious Red Army soldiers to rape German woman;

Whilst the anger that Red Army soldiers felt towards German people near the end of the war was understandable, in the context, the widespread rape of German women by Red Army soldiers, amongst so much other brutality towards the conquered German people could only have persuaded many German soldiers to fight harder, thus causing the already terrible count of Red Army dead to go even higher.

Had the Soviet Union's leadership, instead, been humane and more competent, the sacrifice necessary to defeat Nazism would have been less by an order of magnitude, conceivably less than the 286,959 Americans who also died in the fight against Nazi Germany and Japan.