Background: Signal was a twice-monthly propaganda publication by the Nazis that appeared in numerous languages. This article, published in early August 1941, justified the German invasion of the Soviet Union. It presents the Nazi propaganda line that Germany had attacked only to forestall a planned Soviet attack not only on Germany, but on all of Europe.
The source: "Der Sinn des Kampfes," Signal, 1. August 1941, pp. 4-5.
The Meaning of the Battle:
For the Freedom and Unity of Europe
The left map shows Soviet conquests before the Nazi invasion. The right map shows the alleged position of Soviet military units just prior to the German invasion.
It was a great moment in world history when Germany decided to take up the battle against Bolshevism and the Soviet Union. For a quarter century, the nightmare of Bolshevism caused humanity to fear. It seemed as if there were no way to defend against the preparations for world revolution being made by this enormous empire over the years. In Moscow, the lives and happiness of millions of people prepared for the the day on which communism would begin its march into the world. Millions of the masses in this enormous empire were left without shoes, clothing, and life's necessities to allow factories to be built for cannons and airplanes.
Nothing changed as the new English war broke out in fall 1939. It was only a bit too early for Moscow. They were not yet done with the preparations, and did not feel strong enough to join in the great game from the beginning. Stalin concluded a treaty of friendship with Germany, and waited. To the west of the German Reich, both the French and Germans had built defensive walls of steel and concrete. Everyone believed at the time that there was no way to attack such defenses. If war were to be fought here, it would have to last a long time, leading to the exhaustion of Germany and the Western powers. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union could rearm and, as the only remaining strong power after the others were exhausted by the war, fall upon them.
Stalin's Calculations Were Wrong
Things turned out differently. The war in the West lasted only for a short time. It lasted less than a year. France was overrun. Stalin's calculations were wrong. To still reach the old goal, he had to stop Germany from ending the war. Through continuing pressure and the massing of troops on Russia's western border, by occupying positions from which Germany could easily be stabbed in the back, the Reich was prevented from using its full strength against England.
It began when the Russians attacked Finland. That was followed by taking over Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia. The world could see what it would mean for Europe were Bolshevism successful in defeating Germany and treating all the other European states in the way it treated the Baltic states. By occupying the Baltic nations, the Soviet Union took a big and important step toward the Baltic Sea, which is of great importance for the life of the German Reich, as well as that of all the Northern European states.
Romania as the Pretext
The Bolshevik plan became clearer when they attacked Romania. In Moscow, one probably hoped that their attack could cause general confusion in Romania, bringing the government to collapse, and allowing it to spread red revolution to neighboring lands. Here, too, the goal was to strike hard at Germany. It was important that peace prevail along the Danube and into the Balkans, that the fields could be tilled in peace and work in the mines continue, if Central Europe was to be provided with foodstuffs and raw materials. They did not succeed in disrupting peace. Instead, Bulgaria, always a prime goal of Soviet Russian policy, grew closer to Germany. One will remember that Russia complained about that, although Stalin had promised to keep a certain distance from Europe in the treaty with Germany, which he had already violated in Romania. When the Yugoslavian Putsch appealed to Moscow, the Soviet Union concluded a treaty with this government, which under the circumstances could be seen as nothing other than a major provocation against the great German Reich.
At this point, Moscow probably saw that it had gone too far. They therefore gave the impression of placing great importance on good relations with Germany. The leadership of the Reich, however, could no longer be deceived. When Molotov visited Berlin at the end of the previous year, the Bolsheviks already demanded giving up Finland, giving up Bulgaria, and sacrificing Turkey. At the same time, the Reich government received increasing reports about growing activity of communist offices, and increased sabotage and espionage in Germany and other European lands. And the Soviets marched the mass of their striking forces to Germany's eastern border.
The more Germany looked likely to defeat England, the more energetically the Soviet union worked to tie down the military forces of the Reich in the East, therefore keeping them from the most important task. It became a loyal ally of England, which for years had tried to win Soviet friendship.
The Red Army Marches
As of 1 May, there are 118 infantry divisions, 20 cavalry divisions, and 40 motorized and tank units along Germany's eastern border. That is:
Airfields along the border are full of bombing and fighter planes. Paratroop formations with numerous transport planes are in readiness.
These are attack forces that stand directly along our border: tank units, motorized infantry, heavy motorized artillery, paratroopers, and bomber formations.
Four army groups have been formed.
The northern-most army group, stationed between Memel and Suwalki, directly threatens East Prussia. It consists of about 70% infantry, 30% tank and motorized units.
Several more armies are stationed to the south around Bialystok, which bulges into Germany. A reserve army is stationed to the east. About 35% of these troops are tank or motorized forces.
Around Lemberg, which also bulges into German territory, strong Red Army units are stationed. About 40% are tank, motorized, and cavalry divisions.
A further army group stationed in Bessarabia threatens Romania and the other Balkan states.
Those forces are not there to defend the border, but are ready for a major attack with broader goals. These facts by themselves make the Soviet Union's plans clear enough, but those plans are proven by the finding of secret communist directives and the discovery of important documents and maps from the general staff, in which battle lines and objectives deep in German territory are noted. A report of the Yugoslavian military attaché in Moscow of 17 December 1940 stated: "According to information from Soviet circles, the process of building up the air force, the tank corps, and the artillery, based on experiences of the current war [with Finland], are in full gear, and will be completed by August 1941. That is also apparently the point until which no significant changes in Soviet foreign policy are to be expected."
All of Europe Quickly Joined
It is clear that the world realized what was happening, and also imagined what would happen if the attack on Germany succeeded. The Führer of the German Reich took action before this stab in the back could happen. In all nations of the world, even broad circles in England and America, one heard joy that Germany had the strength and intelligence to reckon with the old enemy of Europe to the East, even before a final decision with England. Germany's allies, led by Italy, Romania, Slovakia, and Hungary declared war on Soviet Russia. Finland, too, joined the Reich. Sweden allowed the passage of German troops. Armies of volunteers formed everywhere, first in Spain, still bleeding from the wounds of its battle against communism, then in Denmark, Norway, Holland, and even in France, which broke its relations with Moscow. In short, everyone in Europe quickly joined in as the war against Russia began. Never before in human history were the peoples of Europe so united, since the fate of the nations, indeed of the whole world, depends on victory over the Soviet Union.
However, it is not only a matter of destroying Bolshevism forever, but also of compensating for a problem that had formerly ben evident only in the West, where England and the United States are attempting to cut off all of the European continent from oceanic commerce. During the World War of 1914-1918, England's blockade would never have achieved its goal of starving Europe if Russia had not closed its doors to Europe at the same time. We did succeed in defeating Russia then, but it was too late, and we lacked the means to exploit the conquered territories to feed Central Europe. Just as England was protected by the water that surrounds it, Russia was protected then, and earlier, by its vast land area that made it impossible for armies to occupy the entire country.
The Pinchers Are Broken
Today things are different. The battles already won during this war have proven that it is possible with the help of the motor to quickly cover large distances. Unlike Germany's exhausted situation in 1917, Europe today is able to put such conquests to use, and not only for itself, but for all those states that England and America keep from importing necessary goods across the seas. The world is holding its breath over German victories in Russia. They will make blockading Europe by sea ineffective over the long term. The pinchers holding Europe have been broken. Given its overpopulation, Europe in the past had constantly to worry if it could import enough to eat, and if it could import enough raw materials for its industrious workers. It is freed from the fear that someone could block its food supply whenever it wanted, and not only for today, but for all time.
Not only will Europe be free, it will also strive to maintain its unity and cooperation between all its nations, which enable it to defend against external threats. That is the meaning of this battle, for which Germany has taken on the main burden for the benefit of all the peoples of Europe.
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