Masters Thesis

1941: Soviet mobilization for a first strike

After Stalin’s failed negotiations with Britain and the subsequent signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop treaty, the Soviet Union looked to gather the resulting spoils from the west’s war with Nazi Germany. As Hitler’s military continued to gain quick victories throughout Europe, Stalin’s calculations were soon stalled. Stalin now realized that a battle with Germany was inevitable. What followed from this point onward are Stalin’s attempts to upgrade the Red Army for war. I will argue that Stalin planned to strike Germany first. Evidence for this claim will base itself in the military doctrine of the Red Army, which has always been based on offensive strategies. The documentation of Soviet war plans point towards this direction. However, in order for the Soviet offensive to be successful, certain force levels would have to be attained. In the end, the Germans attacked first, while Soviet troops were in the preparatory stages of mobilization