WW2 Anniversary

|   17 June 2011

Stalin – a complete idiot

Stalin – an incompetent idiot 70 years ago today.

Joseph Stalin was an almost unimaginably appalling person. A man responsible for the death of millions and the forced deportation of whole nations, someone who took sadistic pleasure in the torture of his close associates and their wives. We know all that and we are, rightly, disgusted.

But not enough has been written about what an incompetent leader he was. And today is the 70th anniversary of one of the best examples of that incompetence. It was on 17 June 1941 that Stalin read a report from the People’s Commissar of Defence which said: ‘A source working in the German Aviation Headquarters reports: 1. Germany has concluded all necessary measures for war in preparation for an armed assault against the USSR and an attack can be expected at any moment.’ The report could not have been more accurate. In fact, as everyone should know, the Germans launched their attack on the Soviet Union – the largest invasion in the history of the world – just five days later, on 22 June 1941.

Stalin read the report and then scrawled over it: ‘you can send your ’source’ to fxxk his mother. He is not a ’source’ but a disinformant.’ Stalin was quite simply in a state of denial. He thought if he could pretend that the Germans were not about to invade, then they wouldn’t.

In recent years there has been an attempt in some quarters partially to excuse Stalin’s behaviour – suggesting that at the time he was overwhelmed with sometimes contradictory reports. Well, I don’t accept that. For my book and TV series ‘WW2 Behind Closed Doors’ we made an extensive study of the information reaching Stalin in the spring of 1941, and the only proper conclusion to draw from it was that Germany was about to invade. And scribbling obscenities on reports which painted an accurate picture of events just about sums up Stalin as a leader of his nation seventy years ago.

Winston Churchill wrote that Stalin and his advisers were ‘the most completely outwitted bunglers of the Second World War’ because they allowed themselves to be caught unprepared by the Germans on 22 June 1941. And that judgment still stands.

So next time you think of Stalin, yes, do remember him as a sadistic killer, one of the worst tyrants of history – but also remember that in 1941 he was a complete idiot.

Bookmark and Share

3 Responses to “Stalin – a complete idiot”

  1. Interested says:

    In my opinion, dictators generally aren’t that intelligent. They’re cunning when it comes to seizing power, but after they’ve been in power quite a while they become used to not being questioned seriously. As a result, they become more crude and arrogant, and more liable to make stupid mistakes. Stalin seems to have been a classic example, as well as Hitler and the dictators of the Middle East.

  2. Nicked says:

    I agree with interested. The ruthless skills and powers that are needed to get to be a dictator dont are not what is needed to run a country under crisis.

  3. Julian says:

    Whilst accepting Stalin was incompetent and viewing the invasion with hindsight… what if?

    What if Stalin had taken all the reports being passed to him seriously, what if he had fully mobilised everything the Russians had and he moved her army to Poland in attempt to stop the Nazi Blitzkrieg before it reached Russian territory?

    No other army of any nation had stopped the German army, we had been saved by the English Channel. Had Stalin moved his troops to meet the onslaught on day one, could we have seen the whole Russian fighting machine wiped out and Russia left wide open.

    Is it possible that Stalin’s incompetence may actually have been the Soviet’s and the West’s saving grace.

    Had Hitler and Stalin both been intelligent and competent strategists we would certainly be living in a wholly different Europe today, no?