CHAIRMAN JOSEPH STALIN - DOCUMENT SIGNED 07/14/1938 CO-SIGNED BY: KLIMENT VOROSHILOV, MARSHAL KIRILL MERETSKOV - HFSID 285996
Sale Price $13,600.00
JOSEPH STALIN, KLIMENT VOROSHILOV, and KIRILL MERETSKOVWith war looming in 1938, Stalin signs a key document reorganizing a Red Army recently beset by his devastating purges! Extremely rare! Document signed (in Cyrillic alphabet): "S", "K. Voroshilov", "K. Meretskov", 3 pages, 7½x12. Moscow, 1938 July 14. Initialed by Stalin on p1, countersigned by Voroshilov and Meretskov (as Secretary) on p3. Headed: "Top Secret Copy No 1 Protocol No 12 of the meeting of the Chief Council of War of the Workers' and Peasants' Red Army". In Cyrillic script, with accompanying English translation. Decisions of a meeting held that day, attended by Stalin, Voroshilov, [Foreign Minister Vyacheslav] Molotov, and by five high-ranking army generals: [Efim] Shchadenko, [Boris] Shaposhnikov, [Aleksandr] Loktionov, [Dimitrii] Pavlov, and [Kirill] Meretskov (who also signed the document as Secretary). The document provides detailed instructions for reorganizing Soviet military commands in the Kiev Special Military Region and Byelorussian Special Military Region (the Western Republics of the USSR, which would bear the brunt of any German invasion). The document also demands in two days (by July 16) a list of nominees for positions of army group commanders, deputy commanders, chiefs of military staffs and members of military councils for the affected regions. JOSEPH STALIN (1879-1953) was General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party from 1922-1953. Although he had tripled Soviet military spending and doubled the size of the armed forces in the 1930s, Stalin also weakened Soviet defenses by a ferocious purge of the Red Army, part of his effort to rid himself of all real and imagined opposition, demonstrated in the Purge Trials of 1936-1938. Tens of thousands of military officers, including half of those of brigade command rank and higher, were executed, imprisoned or dismissed. By mid-1938, however, the USSR faced deadly foreign threats on many fronts. Hitler's rearmament of Germany was proceeding apace. Germany had already absorbed Austria (March 1938) and was making demands on Czechoslovakia which would result in its dismemberment, sanctioned by Britain and France at the Munich conference, in September. The Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) was being won by the Fascists, with General Franco's armies, aided by Germany and Italy, prevailing over Loyalist forces supplied by the Soviet Union while Britain and France declined to intervene. Imperial Japan, increasingly dominated by expansion-minded army generals, was threatening Soviet Asia. One day after this meeting, Japan formally demanded withdrawal of Soviet forces from disputed territories bordering the Japanese puppet state of Manchukuo, and a bloody, undeclared Russo-Japanese war ensued, beginning in August 1938. (The USSR would win these battles, convincing Japan to turn its ambitions elsewhere, but that outcome was not yet known.) Finland, too, independent since World War I, was seen by Stalin as an avenue for invasion of his lands, and he would respond with the Winter War against Finland (1939-1940). Stalin had diplomatic options too. He would shock the world in August 1939 by signing with Germany a nonaggression pact, and secret protocols dividing Eastern Europe between them. (Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, present at the meeting documented here, would negotiate that pact with his German counterpart.) However, it was by no means certain that even the most duplicitous diplomacy could forestall war, as indeed it didn't. Hitler would invade the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. It's no wonder, then, that Stalin saw an urgent need to reorganize Soviet defenses and re-staff the commands shattered by the purges.KLIMENT VOROSHILOV (1881-1969) was a member of the Politburo (1926-1952) and People's Commissar for Defense (1934-1940) and was personally involved in the Great Purge. He was named a marshal of the Soviet Union in 1935. Voroshilov was removed from his post as Defense Commissar after defeats in the Russo-Finnish War (1939-1940). From 1953-1957, he was Chairman of the Presidium. KIRILL MERETSKOV (1897-1968), a veteran of the Russian and Spanish Civil Wars, was a member of the Soviet General Staff and would soon be placed in command of the Leningrad Military Region. First decorated by Stalin, and later arrested and tortured in 1941 on the dictator's orders, he was reprieved and returned to military duty. One of the ablest Soviet Generals, he led the assault on Japanese forces after the USSR entered the war in the Pacific in 1945. An interesting note is that two other officers present at this meeting, Loktionov and Pavlov would be arrested and shot in 1941. Stalin's autograph is one of the rarest of all 20th century world leaders. Lightly soiled. Last two pages are worn at edges. Pages have been renumbered in upper right corner in pencil. Paperclip impression at upper left corner. Otherwise, fine condition. Accompanied by PSA/DNA LOA.
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