Stalin's Curse: Battling for Communism in War and Cold War
A chilling, riveting account based on newly released Russian documentation that reveals Joseph Stalin’s true motives—and the extent of his enduring commitment to expanding the Soviet empire—during the years in which he seemingly collaborated with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and the capitalist West.
At the Big Three conferences of World War II, Stalin persuasively played the role of a great world leader. Even astute observers like George F. Kennan concluded that the United States and Great Britain should view Stalin as a modern-day tsarist-like figure whose primary concerns lay in international strategy and power politics, not in ideology. Now Robert Gellately uses recently uncovered documents to make clear that, in fact, the dictator was an unwavering revolutionary merely biding his time, determined as ever to establish Communist regimes across Europe and beyond, and that his actions during these years (and the poorly calculated Western responses) set in motion what would eventually become the Cold War. Gellately takes us behind the scenes. We see the dictator disguising his political ambitions and prioritizing the future of Communism, even as he pursued the war against Hitler. Along the way, the ascetic dictator’s Machiavellian moves and bouts of irrationality kept the Western leaders on their toes, in a world that became more dangerous and divided year by year.
Exciting, deeply engaging, and shrewdly perceptive, Stalin’s Curse is an unprecedented revelation of the sinister machinations of the Soviet dictator.
the seizure of all assets of Germans and persons of “German ethnicity.” The only exception was for those who fought for the Partisans. The others were held to be “collectively guilty” for the crimes of Nazism, and roughly one quarter-million people were interned; the lucky ones had already fled.18 The Communists used “the rich and fertile land of Vojvodina” to entice new families from Montenegro and Bosnia and to compensate “people from poor mountainous regions devastated by war.”19 The ethnic
of “catch up and overtake,” Soviet science and economics had been able to shoulder the task. Moscow wanted to cure Washington of thinking that it had absolute technological superiority.48 News of the Soviet bomb came not long after the clash over Berlin and just before the October victory of the Communists in China. Together these events made the American government feel vulnerable and threatened. The Democrats, who had been keen on cutting the defense budget, suddenly reversed themselves. At a
later and leaving nothing to chance, he gathered key members of the Politiburo and Dimitrov to create the Department of International Information. It was a branch of the Soviet party’s Central Committee and would direct antifascist committees, foster liaisons with foreign comrades, and so on—in other words, carry out more or less the same tasks done by the Comintern. They assigned a new leader to avoid all suspicion, but Dimitrov continued as before.37 When citizens heard what had happened,
million people, mostly in the countryside but in urban areas as well.50 On September 16, 1946, to curtail demand for food, the regime raised prices in state stores and eleven days later took away the bread-rationing privileges of 27.5 million people who worked in rural areas, but not on farms.51 That day also ended permission for peasants and others to grow food on minuscule private plots that had been appropriated over the years from collective farms. Now their tiny dreams of minimal economic
hope we will not soon be able to devise such a bomb. In the meantime Britain and the United States will try to take advantage of the U.S. monopoly to impose their plans on Europe and the wider world. Well, this is not going to happen!”32 Once the bomb was dropped on Japan, Stalin drastically accelerated the program. On August 20, having had enough time to evaluate its impact, he set up a new committee to take charge of all matters pertaining to atomic energy. Thus began the incredibly expensive