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Mistah Supa-Bad

“Stalin dominated Russia’s war more absolutely than Hitler controlled Germany’s. The Nazi empire was fatally weakened by the rivalry, self-indulgence, strategic folly and administrative incompetence of its leaders. In the Soviet Union, there was only one fount of power, from whom there was no escape or appeal. [General] Ismay, Churchill’s personal Chief of Staff, recoiled from the cringing subservience of Russia’s generals when he first visited the Kremlin in 1941. ‘It was nauseating,’ he wrote, ‘to see brave men reduced to such abject servility.’ The Soviet Union’s defeats in 1941-42 were chiefly attributable to Stalin’s own blunders. In the years that followed, however, in striking contrast to Hitler, the master of Russia learned lessons. Without surrendering any fraction of his power over the state, he delegated the conduct of battles to able commanders, and reaped the rewards. He displayed an intellect and mastery of detail which impressed even foreign visitors who were repelled by his insane cruelty. He showed himself the most successful warlord of the Second World War, contriving means and pursuing ends with a single-mindedness unimaginable in the democracies. Terror was a more fundamental instrument of Russia’s warmaking than of Germany’s. Even Stalin’s most celebrated marshals were never free from its spectre.” – Max Hastings, Armageddon

Published inMax HastingsPolitics & LawThe Second World War

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