Below, an excerpt from the Boston Globe book review of John Mosier’s Deathride: Hitler vs. Stalin — The Eastern Front, 1941-1945. I wonder if such a text would be banned by Russia’s history commission (if it still exists).
What emerges from these pages is a struggle between vicious Soviet bunglers with a craven leadership willing to sacrifice millions to survive versus vicious German technocrats with a leadership that didn’t anticipate the dangers of military over-extension and the advantages its rival possessed by fighting a defensive war in a primitive land with unlimited cannon fodder. That said, Mosier believes that Stalin was closer than anyone (including Stalin himself) knew to running out of men, some of whom by 1943 were getting only two days of training.
Now back to those myths that lay shatteredon Mosier’s pages. Stalin wasn’t immobilized by Hitler’s perfidy in1941, only stuck in a 1914 reverie that permitted him to believe he hadweeks to mobilize and to think a diplomatic resolution was plausible.The Nazis were defeated in Russia more by Father Fall than by GeneralWinter — that is, not when the land was full of ice but when the roadswere full of mud. Stalin would have entertained an armistice but foughton mostly because Hitler wouldn’t consider one. And as for Kursk, thatwasn’t the clear-cut victory that Soviet propagandists claimed.
Wars have a chilling bottom line, andMosier’s is this: The war in the East was Hitler’s to lose and he did.Several times on the verge of victory, the Germans were not defeated by asuperior rival, only by superior will or at least the willingness topay the price of victory. Stalin won the war “only because he waswilling to sacrifice approximately 27 million Russians.” Horrifyingconclusion, horrifying battle, horrifying victory.