Feeding the German eagle : Soviet economic aid to Nazi Germany, 1933-1941 / by Edward E. Ericson
Includes bibliographical references (p. -448)
This study analyzes the development, extent, and importance of the Nazi-Soviet economic relationship from Hitler's ascension to power and particularly from the signing of the August 19, 1939, Commercial Agreement until the launching of Operation Barbarossa. The Fuhrer's rearmament efforts and aggressive foreign policy had left Germany dangerously short of raw materials. Closer economic relations with the USSR seemed to be the answer. Although Hitler was at first unconvinced, the possibility in 1939 of a major war changed his mind. Having bided his time, Stalin was now in the driver's seat. Germany craved Soviet oil, manganese, and grain and transit shipments of Indonesian rubber much more than the USSR required the Reich's tools and machines. Through delays and hard bargaining, therefore, Stalin was able to achieve most of his demands in the 1939 and 1940 economic settlements. He not only had gained territory and weakened his capitalist enemies, but also would obtain the technology and equipment he needed to rebuild his economy and military. The plan made perfect sense. Hitler, however, never majored in logic. Instead of the long war everyone expected, the Wehrmacht quickly crushed the French Army. Then, instead of concentrating on England, Hitler returned to his Lebensraum agenda. If the USSR would not, indeed could not, provide him with the resources necessary for a sustained struggle against the West, he would take the goods by force. The German generals agreed. In the meantime, Germany still needed Soviet raw materials. Therefore, when Stalin showed himself in cautious opposition to the increasingly eastward-looking Reich, Hitler assented to the status-quo arrangements of the 1941 agreements and repeatedly ordered close adherence to the terms of the economic treaties. All the while, the buildup for the invasion continued. Stalin assumed, along with the rest of the world, that Hitler would first issue an ultimatum. When Hitler actually invaded, Stalin next assumed that the Red Army would repulse the Germans. But Stalin had already unwittingly supplied the Reich with enough resources to carry the Wehrmacht to the gates of Moscow. A little more and the bite of the German eagle might well have been fatal.
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