Stalin Considered Giving Hitler Ukraine And Baltic Republics? – OpEd

A few days after Hitler broke his alliance with Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union, the Soviet dictator used a diplomatic back channel to explore whether the Nazi leader would be prepared to end the war if Stalin agreed to hand over to German rule Ukraine, the Baltic republics and perhaps even more.

That is the conclusion of a Friday article by historian Nikita Petrov in “Novaya gazeta” an article that undercuts both Stalin’s carefully cultivated stance as someone who was prepared to fight the invader to the end and Vladimir Putin’s use of World War II as a legitimating and mobilizing tool in Russia today (novayagazeta.ru/comments/73493.html).

The history of these events is by its very nature murky and can be reconstructed only by a careful reading of Russian archival materials, Petrov suggests. But the basic facts of the case are these: In the first days after the German attack, Lavrenty Beria on Stalin’s order directed NKVD officer Pavel Sudoplatov to meet with a Bulgarian diplomat to explore what it would take for Hitler to stop his invasion of the Soviet Union.

Among the concessions Sudoplatov was authorized to discuss with the Bulgarian who Moscow believed would communicate his conversation to Berlin was the handing over to Hitler of Ukraine, the areas that Stalin had occupied in 1940-41 on the basis of the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, and perhaps more.

Such a sacrifice would constitute “a new Brest peace” but would save Stalin and his regime, Petrov points out by allowing the communist regime to continue to function beyond the Urals.

Obviously, discussing anything of this then or later was incredibly dangerous given that such things would have constituted in the clearest way treason, but information about them came out in the interrogations of Sudoplatov and Beria in 1953. And Petrov mines these sources for his article, even reproducing the key Sudoplatov declaration.

As many have pointed out, Stalin believed in Hitler and in his own ability to cut a deal right up to the moment of the German invasion. The archives suggest that he continued to believe in his ability to cut a deal with Hitler even after that time. In fact, however, Stalin was manipulated by double agents before June 22, 1941, and by his own fears after that time.

Nothing came as a result of Stalin’s feeler. Hitler was confident that his forces could defeat the Soviet Union and therefore ignored what was passed on by the Bulgarians. But there were consequences in the USSR for those most immediately involved because Stalin never forgot, Petrov continues.

Despite his regime’s presentation of him as the great military leader during World War II, Stalin remembered that “three people knew the secret of his cowardice and the depth of the collapse in 1941.” The Soviet dictator ordered Abakumov to arrest Sudoplatov, although Beria urged the secret police chief not to obey lest he and Beria himself be next.

And there was a third potential victim of Stalin’s malignant memory: Vyacheslav Molotov, who certainly knew about the meeting with the Bulgarian diplomat in June 1941 and Stalin’s willingness to sacrifice much of the country to save himself. Had Stalin lived, Petrov says, all three would have come to a bad end. But his death kept him from realizing his goal.


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Paul Goble

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

3 thoughts on “Stalin Considered Giving Hitler Ukraine And Baltic Republics? – OpEd

  • June 20, 2016 at 11:44 am
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    A lot of nonsense. The great Red Army won WWII in Europe singlehandedly. Of the axis forces killed, 95% were killed fighting the Red Army. Sit Max Hastings notes this fact in 2 books. It was only Hitler and the west that that said that the Soviet Union could be defeated in 6 weeks. To this day the west is frustrated and wishes they were as great as the Red Army. The kiddy “war hawks” are at the Russian border today hoping they can frighten the Russians. Not going to happen.

    Reply
    • June 20, 2016 at 12:39 pm
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      Jesus. Walter, how much did the Russian government pay you to type up this wheelbarrow of BS?

      Reply
  • June 24, 2016 at 6:21 am
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    There seems to be some assumption that Hitler received this proposal. “Moscow believed [the Bulgarian diplomat] would communicate his [NKVD officer Pavel Sudoplatov’s] conversation to Berlin”. The fact that Hitler continued his self-destructive campaign against Russia suggests that he didn’t receive any such proposal.

    Reply

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