Mark Collins – “Sowing the Wind: The First Soviet-German Military Pact and the Origins of World War II”

A piece at War on the Rocks reminds us of a little-remembered but important aspect of post-World War I history (with a recent twist at the end of the post):

….
While Soviet-German military cooperation between 1922 and 1933 is often forgotten, it had a decisive impact on the origins and outbreak of World War II. Germany rebuilt its shattered military at four secret bases hidden in Russia. In exchange, the Reichswehr sent men to teach and train the young Soviet officer corps. However, the most important aspect of Soviet-German cooperation was its technological component. Together, the two states built a network of laboratories, workshops, and testing grounds in which they developed what became the major weapons systems of World War II. Without the technical results of this cooperation, Hitler would have been unable to launch his wars of conquest.

After World War I, the victors dismantled the vaunted German army, reducing it to only 100,000 men. The Treaty of Versailles further forbade Germany from producing or purchasing aircraft, armored vehicles, and submarines. These provisions highlighted the Entente’s hope that removing German access to modern technologies of war would force Germany to abandon its militarist past. To the contrary, those particular provisions further convinced the remnants of the German High Command that technological rearmament was essential to restoring Germany’s position. Few works since the opening of the Russian Archives have explored the Soviet-German military pact in its totality. None have focused on its technological aspects. In this article, I offer new conclusions on the subject, drawing from archives in Russia, Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, and the United States. Of particular importance for this piece are the Russian State Military Archive (RGVA), the archives of the German corporations Krupp, M.A.N. and Daimler-Benz, the U.S. National Archive’s Collection of Foreign Records Seized, and Yale University’s Russian Archive Project.

General Hans von Seeckt, in command of the Reichswehr from 1920 to 1926, was eager to work with Soviet Russia, the only other European state equally hostile to the status quo…

Disguised-German-Pilots.png
German pilots disguised as tourists on their way to Lipetsk aerodrome (State Archive of Lipetsk Oblast [GALO], Fond 2176/Opis 1/Delo 1)

Read on. And look at this bit of a reprise before Russian invaded Crimea and Ukraine:

Germany Helped Prep Russia for War, U.S. Sources Say

Funny old world, was?

Mark Collins, a prolific Ottawa blogger, is a Fellow at the Canadian Global Affairs Institute; he tweets @Mark3Ds

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