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"... at just this moment it had been announced that Oceania was not after all at war with Eurasia. Oceania was at war with Eastasia. Eurasia was an ally... There was, of course, no admission that any change had taken place. Merely it became known, with extreme suddenness and everywhere at once, that Eastasia and not Eurasia was the enemy.... Oceania was at war with Eastasia! The next moment there was a tremendous commotion. The banners and posters with which the square was decorated were all wrong! Quite half of them had the wrong faces on them. It was sabotage! The agents of Goldstein had been at work! There was a riotous interlude while posters were ripped from the walls, banners torn to shreds and trampled underfoot....

"Oceania was at war with Eastasia: Oceania had always been at war with Eastasia. A large part of the political literature of five years was now completely obsolete. Reports and records of all kinds, newspapers, books, pamphlets, films, sound-tracks, photographs — all had to be rectified at lightning speed. Although no directive was ever issued, it was known that the chiefs of the Department intended that within one week no reference to the war with Eurasia, or the alliance with Eastasia, should remain in existence anywhere. The work was overwhelming, all the more so because the processes that it involved could not be called by their true names."

  • George Orwell, 1984

  • Operation Unthinkable

    The Soviet Union had consistently abandoned friends and allies for expediency’s sake. One point must be remembered : all major powers were alike to the Soviet state, whether democracies or fascist states. The other world powers were all capitalists, committed to the overthrow of Communism, and hence, behond the pale of morality to Soviet statesmen. Any action was moral if it hastened the downfall of capitalism in the world.

    Churchill’s top secret plan to attack the Soviet Empire was scheduled for 1 July 1945. British, US, Polish and German forces were to attempt to liberate East Germany and Poland and bring Stalin back to the conference table. If the West could invade Eastern Germany and Poland and inflict on Stalin a crushing, short, sharp defeat, Stalin might have to rethink his domination of Eastern Europe. If they did not succeed, Allied forces would be sucked into a Third World War.

    One potential flash point between East and West was the area at the top of the Adriatic, Venezia Giulia, just below the Julian Alps. This is the point where the planners believe that World War Three might start in the closing months of the Second World War. The problem was that Tito and the Yugoslav communist partisans were coming up this way, and the British forces closing in. Tito was trying to take Trieste and the fear was that if there’s a clash in this area here, Stalin will weigh in on Tito’s side and the Americans will have to support the British and it’ll all kick off.

    The other flash points the Allies were concerned about were up in Austria, where the Red Army was facing Allied forces. Units of the US and Soviet armies finally met on 25 April 1945 at Torgau on the river Elba.

    During the Great Patriotic War, the Soviet lost over 25 million citizens, and the country lost a third of its national wealth. In the grand scheme of things, Stalin believes that because of this sacrifice, he’s got every right to take as much European territory as a prize as he can get away with.

    By 08 May 1945, Western forces had pushed some 150 miles beyond the Yalta agreed boundaries to a line of contact with the Soviets. So this whole area the Allies took in addition to what was agreed, that was beyond the Yalta line. But because of the logistics, they pushed on. The Americans are very keen to give it up; Churchill wants to hang onto it as a bargaining chip. Churchill cabled his Foreign Secretary, Anthony Eden: ‘The Allies must not retreat from their present positions until we are satisfied about Poland and also about the temporary character of the Russian occupation of Germany. If these problems are not settled before the US armies withdraw from Europe and the Western world folds up its war machines, there is very little prospect of preventing a Third World War.’

    Churchill’s other concern as the war closed was Soviet designs on the Denmark peninsular. British forces are coming up here and just managed to close off the point here [near Lemberg] just as the Soviets arrive 12 hours later and British forces are getting, as it happened, erroneous reports that up here in Copenhagen, Soviet paratroops are landing. So there was a very real fear in the air that the Soviet were going to press on up through Denmark and perhaps up into the Low Countries.

    Winston Churchill had long worried about the limitless Soviet ambitions. Fifteen years earlier, he told the Commons on 29 June 1931 "I think we ought to recognise that the dangers which come from Russia are at the root of the failure of Disarmament in Europe. This mighty Power, outside the family of nations, outside the concert of Christendom, proclaiming a creed destructive of all existing civilisation, pursuing an economic policy funda— 964 mentally disturbing to industry, not influenced by any consideration of morals or of humanity, with many lost provinces to retrieve, possessed of unlimited manpower, and rapidly equipping itself with all the most frightful and devastating instrumentalities of modern war — there you find a reason why you are not making the progress in your Disarmament Conferences that you had a right to hope for."

    And the Soviet Union had a history of switching sides as needed. In 1917, Kaiser Wilhelm II joined forces with the communist Lenin to undermine the czarist empire with which the so-called Central Powers - Germany and Austria-Hungary - had been at war since 1914. On November 7, 1917, a coup d'état went down in history as the October Revolution. The Soviets seized power, and Russia later terminated the Triple Entente military alliance with France and Britain. Two decades later, Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union signed a ten-year nonaggression pact on August 23, 1939, known as the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact after the two foreign ministers who negotiated the agreement: German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet foreign minister Vyacheslav Molotov, in which each signatory promised not to attack the other. Turn about was fair play, when the German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact fell apart in June 1941, and Nazi forces invaded the Soviet Union.

    The British Prime Minister wanted a new front created in the east to stop the Soviet offensive as soon as possible. Churchill was overwhelmed by the feeling that with Nazi Germany defeated a new threat emerged posed by the Soviet Union. That’s why London wanted Berlin to be taken by Anglo-American forces. Churchill also wanted Americans to liberate Czechoslovakia and Prague with Austria controlled by all allies on equal terms.

    Churchill constantly sent telegrams to Roosevelt, warning him about the threat from further Soviet advances. But Roosevelt was anti-imperial and he suspected that anything Churchill hatches or suggests is part of his ambition to maintain the influence of the British Empire. The US President, who was in a very poorly state, nevertheless bluntly told Churchill: ‘I’ve tried to make it clear to you, Winston, that while we’re your allies and in it to victory by your side, you must never get the idea that we’re in it just to help you hang on to your archaic, medieval empire’.

    One American general though, was ready for another scrap. George Patton was probably the most rabidly anti-Soviet military officer. Attacking the Soviets sooner rather than later was a view advocated by Patton, and by Hitler’s replacement Admiral Karl Donitz, not to mention Allen Dulles and the OSS. Six weeks before D-Day, the irrepressible American General George Patton had been quoted in Knutsford, England, as having said that the British and American peoples were destined to rule the world together. Since the Soviets had apparently been left out of this equation, the remark made newspaper headlines. Patton's handwritten diary entry noted that General Eisenhower had “talked to the P.M. about the incident and Churchill told him that he could see nothing to it as Patton had simply told the truth.”

    Patton's Third Army was ordered to halt as it reached the German border and was prevented from seizing either Berlin or Prague, moves that could have prevented Soviet domination of Eastern Europe after the war. "We may have been fighting the wrong enemy all along. But while we're here, we should go after the bastards now, 'cause we're gonna have to fight 'em eventually. I'll say this; the Third Army alone with very little help and with damned few casualties, could lick what is left of the Russians in six weeks. You mark my words. Don't ever forget them . . . Someday we will have to fight them and it will take six years and cost us six million lives. ...

    "They could probably maintain themselves in the type of fighting I could give them for five days. After that it would make no difference how many million men they have, and if you wanted Moscow I could give it to you. They lived on the land coming down. There is insufficient left for them to maintain themselves going back. Let's not give them time to build up their supplies. If we do, then . . . we have had a victory over the Germans and disarmed them, but we have failed in the liberation of Europe; we have lost the war!...

    "In my opinion, the American Army as it now exists could beat the Russians with the greatest of ease, because, while the Russians have good infantry, they are lacking in artillery, air, tanks, and in the knowledge of the use of the combined arms, whereas we excel in all three of these. If it should be necessary to fight the Russians, the sooner we do it the better."

    Due to concerns that Patton was mentally ill, his telephones were tapped and his residence bugged. Soon the wiretappers heard him expressing violently anti-Soviet views and even suggesting that ex-members of the Wehrmacht should be rearmed and used to help the U.S. Army force the Red Army "back into Russia." In one conversation with Eisenhower's deputy, McNarney, he allegedly said, "In ten days I can have enough incidents happen to have us at war with those sons of bitches and make it look like their fault."

    On May 8, 1945, as people everywhere celebrated the end of World War II, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill asked his War Cabinet to draw up a plan to invade the Soviet Union. The generals were asked to devise means to “impose upon Russia the will of the United States and the British Empire”. Churchill assured them the invasion would be led by the United States and supported by the defeated German Army.

    The plan was handed to Churchill just two weeks after the Germans surrendered in Europe, according to the long-secret documents, reported in the Daily Telegraph 01 October 1998. The Cabinet Office had steadfastly said there was no such plan. Then suddenly in 1998, the plan called Operation Unthinkable suddenly appeared in the then PRO [Public Records Office] and it was reference CAB 120/691. Obviously, by then, the Cabinet Office believed with the Cold War over, that Russia was not going to be too upset with our plans to attack them. The maps and plans were never brought into the public domain; they were either destroyed or they’re still withheld.

    Alan Brooke, Britain’s Chief of Army Staff, wrote in his diary: “Winston gives me the feeling of already longing for another war.... The idea is of course fantastic and the chances of success quite impossible. There is no doubt from now onwards Russia is all-powerful in Europe.”

    The generals drew up a plan, appropriately codenamed Operation Unthinkable, which proposed Western forces attack the Soviets on a front extending from Hamburg in the north to Trieste in the south. The War Cabinet listed out the total allied strength in Europe on July 1, 1945: 64 American divisions, 35 British and Dominion divisions, 4 Polish divisions, and 10 German divisions. The German divisions were purely imaginary because after the mauling they received from the Russians, the surviving soldiers were in no hurry to fight. At most, the allies would have mustered 103 divisions, including 23 armoured ones. Against this force were arrayed 264 Soviet divisions, including 36 armoured. Moscow commanded 6.5 million troops – a 2:1 advantage – on the German border alone. Overall, it had 11 million men and women in uniform.

    The idea was a two-thrusted attack: northern on a line from Stettin through to Bydgoszcz, curving up and taking some of the Baltic coast. There would be Allied assaults coming in through here into Gdansk; this was thought to be a fairly easy area to take. The tricky part would be the southern flank which would come up through Cottbus, through Poznan and peel off there and take Wroclaw. The problem is that the southern flank, Czechoslovakia, it is absolutely heaving with Soviet forces and the danger is, if the Allies pushed too deep into Poland, they’d be cut off by a southern thrust from the Red Army in Czechoslovakia.

    The War Cabinet stated: “The Russian Army has developed a capable and experienced High Command. The army is exceedingly tough, lives and moves on a lighter scale of maintenance than any Western army, and employs bold tactics based largely on disregard for losses in attaining its objective. Equipment has improved rapidly throughout the war and is now good. Enough is known of its development to say that it is certainly not inferior to that of the great powers. The facility the Russian have shown in the development and improvement of existing weapons and equipment and in their mass production has been very striking. There are known instances of the Germans copying basic features of Russian armament.”

    "A quick success might induce the Russians to submit to our will at least for the time being; but it might not. That is for the Russians to decide. If they want total war, they are in a position to have it.... the elimination of Russia could only be achieved as a result of: the occupation of such areas of metropolitan Russia that the war making capacity of the country would be reduced to a point at which further resistance became impossible. Such a decisive defeat of the Russian forces in the field as to render it impossible for the USSR to continue the war."

    The assessment, signed by the Chief of Army Staff on June 9, 1945, concluded: “It would be beyond our power to win a quick but limited success and we would be committed to a protracted war against heavy odds. These odds, moreover, would become fanciful if the Americans grew weary and indifferent and began to be drawn away by the magnet of the Pacific war.”

    One of the most controversial parts of the plan was the use of German troops. After VE Day, 700,000 Wehrmacht troops are kept within military formations inside the occupation zone. Obviously disarmed but they were kept in their units until the end of 1945. Even the replacement Nazi government, presided over by Admiral Doenitz, continues in office for up to two weeks after the end of the war. But the problem was how the British, US and Polish forces would have reacted to operating alongside their recent enemy is hard to fathom.

    Stalin believed that there were plans to use the German troops later. He emphasized that it was an outright violation of the inter-governmental agreements that said the forces surrendered were to be immediately disbanded. The Soviet intelligence got the text of a secret telegram sent by Winston Churchill to Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery, the commander of British forces. It instructed to collect the weapons and keep them in readiness to give back to Germans in case the Soviet offensive continued.

    British planners believed that once the West had attacked the Red Army, Stalin would have taken Norway and moved down as far as Trondheim. He would also have invaded Greece, he would have taken Turkey and taken Iraq and Iran for the oil. At the same time, they believed that once hostilities started, Stalin would immediately ally himself with Japan; so problems on all fronts.

    On June 10, 1945 Churchill replied: “If the Americans withdraw to their zone and move the bulk of their forces back to the United States and to the Pacific, the Russians have the power to advance to the North Sea and Atlantic. Pray have a study made of how then we could defend our island.”

    British general election took place on the 5th July, because all the votes cast by troops in the Far East had to be counted, the results would not be announced until three weeks later. Much to everyone’s surprise the Labour party, under Clement Attlee, win a landslide victory in the British general election.

    US President Harry Truman said there was no chance the Americans would offer help – let alone lead an attempt – to drive the Russians from Eastern Europe. With a new government and new administration, it was put away in a bottom draw and forgotten. The Unthinkable file was closed.

    Eisenhower’s plan, made with the approval of President Trueman, was called Totality and added the use of 20–30 atomic bombs to utterly destroy Russian industrial production by bombing 20 cities. The civil casualties calculated to break Russian morale and cause social and political collapse.

    Operation Unthinkable

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    Page last modified: 30-06-2021 11:39:02 ZULU