Skip to comments.Discovery of Red Army phrasebook hints at Soviet plans to fight Hitler on British front
Posted on 03/26/2006 9:10:56 PM PST by Tailgunner Joe
IT IS a world away from the holiday phrasebook. A newly discovered relic of the Second World War shows how the Red Army was expected to take a no-nonsense attitude if they ever encountered English speakers.
The Russian-English military phrasebook told officers how to interrogate English-speaking soldiers and civilians, demand food and water and order people to help repair roads for troops. It even included a phrase for how to demand more tea.
But the date of the phrasebook's publication, summer 1940 - a year before the Soviets published their equivalent German phrasebook - is seen as highly significant. Some historians based in the former Soviet Union believe it adds weight to a controversial theory that Stalin would have sent troops to Britain if the Nazis invaded in order to open up a "Second Front" against Hitler.
The 100-page Short Russian-English Military Phrasebook was published by the People's Commissariat for the Defence of the USSR in 1940.
It is clear from the phrases in the book that the Red Army would be taking no chances if soldiers found themselves in an English-language situation. The book includes staples of military confrontations such as "Hands Up!", "Surrender!" and "If you make noise I shall kill you!" all with guides to pronunciation in the Cyrillic alphabet.
Others are aimed at calming down nervous civilians, such as "Do not be afraid of the Red Army men!", "Everything taken by the Red Army from the inhabitants will be paid for!" and even how to ask for more tea.
Some of the phrases serve to remind that the war was fought in an age before the advent of much modern technology, such as how to ask for carrier pigeons or question whether a well had been poisoned.
The book's emergence is seen as supporting the idea that Stalin hoped to attack Hitler through Britain as part of a plan to double-cross the Nazi tyrant.
Kejstut Zakoretskii, a Kiev-based historian, unearthed the phrasebook along with landing plans which apparently included pictures of the British naval base at Scapa Flow and images of British battleships.
He said: "In summer 1941, Stalin believed that the German attack would not be on the USSR, but on Britain. Military threats to Britain from the south would be a very good excuse to send Britain some military assistance, requested by the British or even not requested."
But Euan Mawdsley, professor of international history at Glasgow University, doubted whether the Soviets could have mounted a successful attack through Scotland. He said: "It would have been very difficult indeed."
The British were considering an invasion of Norway, but the Germans beat them to it. The actual British troops sent were in response to the German invasion.
There is evidence that the real target was Swedish steel production. In any event, the pretext went away with the Treaty of Moscow on March 12. The British force (and don't forget the Poles) doesn't sail for another month.
When the Germans invaded Norway, this force ended up in Narvik in an attempt to defend northern Norway from the Germans. It was withdrawn when the Germans invaded France proper.
The forces in the Narvik area were withdrawn after Dunkirk. The Norway evacuation was June 4 - 8 according to a quick check of internet sources, and Dunkirk was wrapped up on June 4.
June 1941 ... June 22, 1941
There were a couple of different British plans for Scandinavia. One of them was, indeed, to send British forces into Norway, through Sweden, and into Finland to assist the Finns in the Winter War against the Russians. That fell through when Mannerheim sued for peace. The second, in the early spring of 1940, was for a pre-emptive strike through Norway (then neutral) and into Sweden (then neutral) to seize the Swedish iron ore fields, from which the Reich was getting the majority of the iron ore it needed.
Hitler didn't have much interest in invading Norway at first, but when it became clear that the British might take steps to cut off the Swedish ore, and block the Norwegian sea lanes, that stirred him into action, and as a result the plans for the invasions of Norway and Denmark were thrown together hastily. The actual German invasion of Norway caught the British by surprise, but they did respond quickly.
"But the date of the phrasebook's publication, summer 1940 ... The book includes staples of military confrontations such as "Hands Up!", "Surrender!" and "If you make noise I shall kill you!" all with guides to pronunciation in the Cyrillic alphabet. Others are aimed at calming down nervous civilians, such as "Do not be afraid of the Red Army men!", "Everything taken by the Red Army from the inhabitants will be paid for!" and even how to ask for more tea"
--- A possibly more reasonable explaination is found in Russia's long time desire for a warm water port. Most of the Middle East and all of India was under British rule or occupation at that time. Relatively easy matter for the Soviets to attack from the 'stans into Iran then turn west into Egypt & east in India.
Doesn't really matter, the point remains that the book was for an invading force, not an allied force.
What a wonderful find!
When one offers Stalin... as opposed to Hitler, you are not given much of a choice.
Another possibility is that Stalin was aware of British plans to hold Norway against the Germans, and was considering taking advantage of the situation to grab it himself.
How does such theory explain phrases directed at English speaking citizenry?
In 1940, Germany and Russia were allies. A phrasebook containing English phraseology directed at an English speaking military and civilian population means Stalin was considering taking part in operation Sea Lion alongside his Nazi allies.
The author is just trying his best to keep that from getting out.
Some on this thread advance theories that the book may have been prepared for possible use in Skandanavia or in Central Asia where British Colonies existed. The Skandanavian theory cannot explain the need for phraseology directed at English speaking civilians and can therefore be eliminated.
The theory about Stalin making a move in South Central Asia for a warm water port has some merit as India, Pakistan and Iran were all British possessions or colonies and some portion of the civilian population might speak English. However, why didn't the book include phrases in local languages such as Farsi, Urdu, Pashtun or Hindi as one would expect when confronting a mixed language allied force/population?
The exclusively English nature of the books points to only one explanation. Stalin was planning to assist his Nazi allies in the invasion of Britian. That is what the author tried so desperately to avoid mentioning.
Agree. The only way he could have gotten troops onto the British Isles was to have the Germans transport them.
Liberal Fruit Claims Discovery of Red Army phrasebook hints at Soviet plans to fight Hitler on British front.
Being a man of simple interpretations, to me, this revelation means only one thing. The "Icebreaker" theory is completely true, the Kremlin's goal was to use WW2 as the entree to conquer all of Europe, and the assault on the UK (from which an island hopping campaign across the North Atlantic, coincident with a simulatneous one across the Aleutians orignating in Kamchatka, would be launched) was a key objective.
Interestingly, keeping all this in mind, and viewing the new demon, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, I'd have to say that significant elements of that old plan are still relevant. What are the West's contingency plans for a multipronged SCO conquest into Europe, SE Asia, the Persian Gulf, and beyond? If the answer is "ICBMs" then whoever made that plan is an idiot. Oh, of course we need ICBMs, but we need a whole lot more than that!
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