The Cold War’s Other Eastern Bloc?

Bogumil,

Oh, you were not aware about the information I mentioned in my previous comment? Those were some interesting tidbits that I found, and there were a couple more worthy of mention that predated the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact by several years. There has been a decades-long debate among Western scholars between the early 1970s and early 2000s on whether the Soviets were planning to enter an alliance with the German Reich, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan. The exact implications of such an alliance vary, ranging from an earlier implementation of CMEA and the Warsaw Pact in Eastern Europe to the entire Eurasian landmass being split into German, Italian, Soviet, and Japanese spheres of influence. The debate itself is not so much about what the Soviets intended to do once they had joined such an alliance, but whether Adolf Hitler and the NSDAP were willing to refrain from waging war on the Soviet Union and whether Josef Stalin and the CPSU were determined to overcome their stances in the Comintern.

There were a number of factions within the CPSU that preferred some form of détente, agreement, cooperation, or alliance with the German Reich. They argued that Stalin’s official Anti-German stances to the Comintern did not truly reflect his unofficial positions on the German Reich. Regardless of whatever concessions they expected to receive from the NSDAP, these CPSU factions were consistently after the same objective: to promote peace and understanding between the Soviet Union and the German Reich. Their activities predated the Second World War and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact because they had suffered a serious setback when Stalin’s paranoia caused him to purge elements of his armed forces and his government.

Officially, the CPSU advocated for a foreign policy of ‘Collective Security’ in Europe. On paper, it meant ensuring that no nation in Europe would be capable of threatening the western borders of the Soviet Union. In actual practice, however, the Soviet Foreign Ministry ended up supporting the Germans and Italians on the one hand and the British and French on the other. At stake in the prospect of German-Soviet rapprochement was the German Reich’s positions toward Czechoslovakia, Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe.

The scholars of this debate maintained that the NSDAP and the CPSU both shared the same intentions for Eastern Europe. The NSDAP wanted to reunite Sudetenland and Danzig with the rest of the German-speaking world. The CPSU conversely wanted a collective security buffer against the French, the British, and the Americans. This collective security buffer involved the establishment of Socialist nations across Eastern Europe, which would have been tantamount to implementing the CMEA/Warsaw Pact alliance in the 1930s. The NSDAP would have been able to join that collective security buffer, but there were other factors in the German-speaking world preventing such a possibility from ever happening.

The first steps in the construction of the collective security buffer begin between 1934 and 1936. The CPSU sought a Non-Aggression Pact with Czechoslovakia and the NSDAP proposed a similar one to Poland. The CPSU’s Non-Aggression Pact was meant to serve as the beginnings of a defensive bulwark against the Allied Powers. The NSDAP’s Non-Aggression Pact was actually a sincere one in order to coax the Polish into supporting them against the Soviets.

Next, something needed to be done about the Baltic states, Belarus, and Ukraine. The CPSU wanted Belarus and Ukraine under their control, whereas the NSDAP wanted the Baltic states. The NSDAP’s Non-Aggression Pact with the Polish complicated this because, if Warsaw conceded to the NSDAP’s demands for German territories, Poland will be compensated by regaining its own former territories across a large chunk of western Ukraine.

Third, the questions of Finland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Albania, Greece and Turkey need to be addressed. Should Finland and Bulgaria fall under Soviet influence? Should Hungary and Romania fall under German influence? If Fascist Italy did not invade Albania, should Albania be brought under Soviet influence? What about Greece or its eastern neighbor, Turkey?

The scholars, based on my readings of their arguments, posited that the outcome of the Second World War would have been different if the Soviet Union and the German Reich found some points of mutual agreement on where to draw their spheres of influence. They maintained that the Soviets were fine with the Germans reuniting the German-speaking world, but they were counting on them to serve as the bulwark of their collective security buffer. Everything depended on the possibility that some faction inside the NSDAP would be willing to support such an offer.  

Barring the Strasserists, I have been developing a curiosity on where Hermann Göring stood on this particular matter because his name pops up in reference to this issue between 1933 and 1937. It is not too surprising to me since Göring played an influential role in the economic policies of the NSDAP. But did Göring somehow became convinced that the German Reich was better off being an ally of the Soviet Union? Was he under the influence of his cousin, Herbert Göring, whose government office pertained to the public finances of the German Reich? 

How do we even begin to deconstruct everything I had just discussed so far? The simplest way to approach the scholarly debate, Bogumil, is to realize that the Soviet Union could have fought the Second World War alongside the Germans, Italians, and Japanese. Everything depended on how the German Reich and Soviet Union should define their spheres of influence in Eastern Europe. The countries in question are Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, and Turkey.

If I was caught in a scenario comparable to this one, here’s how I envisaged the ideal scenario:

-The Soviet Union retains control of Belarus and Ukraine, adding Finland, Poland, Bulgaria to its sphere of influence as satellite states.

-The German Reich acquires Hungary, Romania, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia as satellite states.

-Fascist Italy should have Albania and Greece on the condition that the Soviet Union is allowed access to the Mediterranean Sea, establishing naval bases beyond the Black Sea.

That leaves us with Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Turkey. The German Reich acquires Czechia and lets Slovakia become a Soviet satellite state. Yugoslavia should be partitioned between pro-German Croatia and pro-Soviet Serbia. And Turkey is allowed to remain neutral. In short, six German satellite states, five Soviet satellite states, two Italian satellite states, and a cooperative Turkey willing to work with the Germans, Soviets, and Italians.   

I should preface, Bogumil, that everything that I had just written here did come close to becoming a reality in the early years of the Second World War. If for whatever reason the NSDAP decides to dispute those territorial claims or the fact that they owe the CPSU about 200,000,000 Reichsmarks between late June and early July of 1941, the CPSU was more than willing to renegotiate in exchange for a swift armistice from the NSDAP. All the NSDAP have to do is come back to the diplomacy table and keep the Wehrmacht’s guns pointing at the Allied Powers.

Signed,

-DAH



Categories: Politics

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