by Yaroslav RENKAS, Cand. Sc. (Hist.)
For all their merits and demerits, Joseph Stalin and Sir Winston Churchill shall always be alive in human memory as men who have played a signal part in history. Virtually mountains of books have been written about them. And yet every new book is an event for the reading public. Like one just off the press here in Russia: Stalin and Churchill: Their Meetings, Talks, Discussions (Moscow, Nauka Publishers, 2004, 564 pp.). Its author, an eminent Russian historian Oleg Rzheshevsky, cites documents from the personal files of the leaders of the Anti-Hitler Coalition illuminating their role during the Second World War.
Proceeding from this evidentiary material and the correspondence between Sir Winston and Stalin, the author probes into the fabric of Soviet-British relations and shows how our two countries allied in the war against Hitler searched for compromise. He looks into the possibilities and limits of such compromise, and into the significance of two-way negotiations and personal contacts. Some of these documents supplied with commentaries, maps and illustrations are published for the first time.
Joseph Stalin and Sir Winston Churchill opened their diplomatic duels immediately after Germany's attack on the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Their initial contacts in the war against Hitler are examined in the first chapter of the book.
On December 8, 1941, Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden set out aboard the cruiser Kent for negotiations with the Soviet Government. This visit was undertaken on Winston Churchill's initiative and by agreement with Stalin with the object of concerning further action against Hitler.
Our country was in dire straits at that time. The German forces had slashed deep into Soviet territory: 400 to 450 km in the northwest, 450 to 600 km in the central, western sector, and 300 to 350 km in the southwest.
In September and October the retreating Soviet armies had to evacuate from Kiev, Odessa a ... Read more