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Posted Friday, August 31, 2007

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Friday, August 31, 2007

Was Stalin to blame?

By Tom Segev

Uncle JoeMISCHA Shauli sat at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., completely beside himself. It had been years since the first time he heard about the existence of a document said to prove that Stalin, not Hitler, bore the main responsibility for World War II, and for years he had searched for it with all his skills as a professional detective.

Shauli's last position was as Commander Shauli, Representative of the Israel Police in Russia. Previous to that he had been head of the police fraud investigation unit for the Southern District.

A few years ago Shauli read "Icebreaker: Who Started the Second World War," by Bogdan Rozen. Rozen, who now lives in England, wrote it under the pseudonym of Viktor Suvorov. Shauli, impressed by the book, translated it into Hebrew and saw to its publication here.

From out of the sea of details, a coherent thesis emerges: Stalin dragged Hitler into war to force Europe into chaos and facilitate a communist revolution on the continent. According to Shauli, there is evidence to back up this theory, including a speech by Stalin himself as well as a report obtained by the U.S. Consulate in Prague. The report has been mentioned here and there over the years, but it has never been published, because no one knows where it is today.

Shauli, 59, believed that the definitive evidence was out there, hiding somewhere. He believed, and did not give up, repeatedly setting out to find it, going as far as Washington. No one is happier than he is today: The document is in his possession, and now the history of World War II may have to be rewritten: It was Stalin's fault.

The document, from October 1939, consists of three pages in English that purportedly reflect a dialogue in Moscow between a delegation from Czechoslovakia and a senior Soviet Foreign Ministry official. The Czechs tried to find out why the U.S.S.R. had signed the nonaggression treaty with Nazi Germany, the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of August 1939. A few days later the Germans invaded Poland, and World War II began.

The Soviet official, Alexandrov by name, explained to the Czech delegation that had the Soviet Union signed an agreement with the West, Hitler would not have dared to launch a war, and without that war there would have been no possibility of imposing communism in Europe. He also listed the benefits to the Soviet Union of the pact with Nazi Germany, and of the war.

The veracity of the document must be proved, and even if it turns out to be genuine, its significance is worthy of debate. Mischa Shauli is continuing his investigation. No, he said this week, he does not fear that shifting responsibility for the war from Hitler to Stalin "acquits" Hitler; he is responsible for other crimes.

Postscript by reader Piers Mellor, Saturday, September 15, 2007:

I'VE just read with interest your recent update [above] regarding the Israeli military historian's conversion to the Icebreaker thesis about "Barbarossa" being a preventive strike. I suspect you may already know this, but as it's not mentioned on your site I thought I should point out that the real name of Viktor Suvorov is not "Bogdan Rozen" as given in the Ha'aretz article you link to, but Vladimir Rezun (Bogdanovich is the patronymic; Bogdan Rezun is his father's actual name). As far as I know, "Rezun" is not a Slavicized form of "Rosen" and Suvorov is not Jewish, though I've heard this claim made before by neo-Stalinist "National Bolshevik" types. An old article from the Tel Aviv University News, which can be found at, would appear to rule this out, even if the hysterical claims about "threats" are doubtless completely overblown and taken out of context. Suvorov also dedicated his 1982 work Inside The Soviet Army to ROA leader Andrei Vlasov, hardly the sort of thing a Russian Jewish author would be likely to do.

Journal of Contemporary History (1991, April): Stalin's Plans for World War II
Journal of Contemporary History (1993, January): Stalin Plans his Post-War Germany
Two letters mentioning Suvorov on our website: [1] [2].

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