Stalin's speech on August 19, 1939

Stalin's speech on August 19, 1939 was a speech, alleged to have been given in secret by Joseph Stalin to Soviet leaders, wherein he supposedly described the strategy of the Soviet Union on the eve of World War II.

The historicity of the speech is still the subject of academic debate. Plausible textual copies of this speech found in various reputable archives have been academically studied and published, however no formal first-hand evidence of a Politburo meeting held on August 19, 1939 or the delivery of the quoted speech has yet been proven. Speeches given in secret were common at the time, the Politburo being a closed and secretive body. There are also contrary views that these copies were intended originally as propaganda and disinformation. Accordingly until consensus is reached by historians, the discussion of the documents supporting such a thesis are described in this article as an "alleged" speech.

In these reports, Stalin is represented as talking about his strategic view of the growing conflict in Europe, and his view that it would be beneficial for the Soviet agenda, insofar as it would weaken the West, allowing possible territorial expansion. It has been speculated Fact|date=August 2007 that if this was Stalin's view, the same strategic approach may have led to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact pact of non-aggression between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union.

Historical background

Summary of documents

In the source material available to historians, Stalin is represented as expressing an expectation that the war would be the best opportunity to weaken both the Western nations and Nazi Germany, and make Germany suitable for "Sovietization". There is also expectation of eventual territorial expansion to the Baltic countries, Finland and Poland, with the approval of either the Western powers or Germany.

Historians who have studied these documents have suggested that if such a speech took place, which is usually considered plausible but not proven (see below), then this view may have formed the basis for the Nazi-Soviet pact of non-aggression signed in 1939, known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, which was also signed days later around 23 – 24 August 1939.

Source material and timeline

The first version of this speech was published on November 28, 1939, in the Swiss journal "Revue de Droit International." Since then several versions, varying in content, have been in circulation.

In Pravda of November 30, 1939, the day of the outbreak of the Winter War, Stalin was asked for his opinion on the report of "the speech" allegedly made "by Stalin to the Politburo on August 19", in which he is said to have expressed the thought that the war should go on as long as possible, so that the belligerents are exhausted." Stalin stated this was an incorrect assertion, and was quoted by Pravda as saying [] :
# that it cannot be denied that it was France and England that attacked Germany and consequently they are responsible for the present war;
# that Germany made peace proposals to France and England, proposals supported by the Soviet Union on the grounds that a quick end to the war would ease the situation of all countries and peoples;
# that the ruling circles of England and France rudely rejected Germany's peace proposals.

In 1994, Russian publicist T. S. Bushuyeva published an archival reference of the speech in an article printed in the "Novy Mir" magazine (#12, 1994), based on what she claimed was recent findings in Soviet Special Archives of a text that according to her was supposedly recorded by a Comintern member present at the meeting. (The archive files location: Centre for the Preservation of Collections of Historical Documents, former Soviet Special Archives; fund 7, list 1, file 1223, in Russian: Центр хранения историко-документальных коллекций, бывший Особый архив СССР, ф. 7, оп. 1, д. 1223).

The actual original text is not available yet. Bushuyeva also printed a Russian translation of a version available in French. This caused another surge of speculations on the issue. Bushuyeva omitted to mention that the referred archival record was from stock related to the documents of General Staff of the French Army.

Historicity and debate

Whether this speech was ever given by Stalin is still the subject of dispute by historians and no proof is as yet unanimously accepted. According to Viktor Suvorov's book "M-Day", Soviet historians laid special emphasis on proving that no Politburo meeting took place on August 19, 1939. Nevertheless, Suvorov states in his book that Russian military historian Dmitri Volkogonov has found evidence that a meeting really took place on that day.

An article in the "Otechestvennaya Istoriya" (History of the Fatherland), Отечественная история, 2004, № 1) by Sergey Sluch (С.З. Случ) critically reviews the history of the "Stalin's Speech", its textologial analysis, and possible reasons and sources of the possible forgery. Carl Nordling, a Finnish statistician and amateur historian, pointed out some counter-theses to Sluch' disapproval of the existence of such speech. [ [ Vivos Voco: Я.Г.Яксв,"Певэ Ярюкхмю,Йнрнпни Ме Ашкн" ] ] [ [ Случ С.З. Советско-германские отношения в сентябре-декабре 1939 года и вопрос о вступлении СССР во Вторую мировую войну ] ]


*Revue de Droit International, de Sciences Diplomatiques et Politiques (The International Law Review), 1939, Nr. 3, Juillet-Septembre. P. 247-249.
*"Otechestvennaya Istoriya" Отечественная история, 2004, № 1, pp. 113-139.
*A.L.Weeks "Stalin's Other War: Soviet Grand Strategy, 1939-1941" ISBN 0-7425-2191-5

See also

* Viktor Suvorov, a controversial historian who used the speech as an evidence for his thesis in works such as “Icebreaker”
*“Stalin's Missed Chance”, a research work by military historian Mikhail Meltyukhov, covering Stalin's alleged offensive plans

External links

* [ Stalin's speech to the Politburo on 19 August 1939, reconstructed from renderings in Novyi Mir, Moscow, and Revue de Droit International, Geneva] , pieced together by Carl O. Nordling, Sweden
* [ "Did Stalin deliver his alleged speech of 19 August 1939?] " by Carl O. Nordling
*ru icon [ Tatjana Bushuyeva’s article in Novyy Mir]
*ru icon [ Irina Pavlova about documents related to beginning of World War II]
*ru icon [ Irina Pavlova about findings by Bushueva]

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