Germany and Russia's contradictory relationship - BBC News
The war between Germany and the Soviet Union officially began in . causing the vast majority of German casualties during World War II as a. The earliest stages of the German-Russian postwar relationship remain murky. Immediately after the First World War, the German government. The outcome of the First World War was disastrous for both German Reich and Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. between the two countries, which.
Its officers had performed well as small-unit commanders, but the newly created army lacked officers with higher command and staff experience. The two nations were still major powers, however. And even a weakened Russia still had a large population and vast unexploited natural resources.
Both countries saw the Western Allies as their primary threats, and both believed that the only means of national survival was in building superior military forces.
The earliest stages of the German-Russian postwar relationship remain murky. Immediately after the First World War, the German government had little thought for long-term foreign policy as it contended with one internal crisis after another.
But a few individuals were able to look beyond the short term. One of them was the visionary Col. Hans von Seeckt, newly appointed commander of the German army. Seeckt was interested in developing military cooperation with the new Soviet regime and saw Russia as a place where Germany could secretly produce weapons far from the prying eyes of the Allied disarmament inspectors. In early Seeckt began sending out feelers to the Russian regime through Turkish contacts he had made during the war.
These initial forays were conducted privately, without the knowledge or consent of the German government. Seeckt was not alone in seeing Russia as a place where Germany might pursue military production.
Officials in the German Foreign Office also considered developing economic and military contacts with the Soviet Union, and by members of the Foreign Office began secret discussions with the Soviet War Ministry about selling German weapons and technology to the Soviet regime.
It might seem strange for Germany to establish relations with a communist revolutionary state just after brutally suppressing a Soviet-supported rebellion by German communists—which it did in —but both sides saw a certain logic to it. And Russia, for its part, could offer the Germans plenty of space to build secret factories to produce the modern weapons the Western Allies had denied them, without fear of discovery by the IAMCC.
With both nations desperately needing to reestablish themselves as military powers, their governments entered into secret negotiations. General von Seeckt carefully laid the groundwork for the alliance, creating in late an office under his direct control within the Reichswehr staff: Seeckt later dispatched Col.
The published version of the treaty established friendly relations between the two nations that included trade and investment. But the treaty also had a secret annex, signed two months later, that established close military cooperation between the two powers. These included aircraft manufacturing plants, ammunition factories, and a poison gas plant. Russia would also set up tank and gas warfare schools, and provide the Germans with bases where they could train airmen. German officers of the elite general staff were assigned to teach in the Soviet army and air force staff academies.
The Rapallo agreement was a diplomatic and military masterstroke: To keep it that way, every effort was made to deceive the Allies as the extensive military activities got underway. Upon completing their training they were reinstated in the army as if they had never left. Some accounts of the secret German military testing in Russia finally did leak out in the late s.
By that time, none of the Allied powers wanted to confront Germany over what appeared to be minor breaches of the Versailles Treaty. As long as Germany was ostensibly disarmed, the Western powers did not want to provoke a crisis.
The earliest efforts to rearm were inauspicious ones, however. From toa series of industrial cooperative programs involving weapons production—among them an ammunition factory and a small poison gas factory—were set up on Soviet soil. These proved to be the least successful of the joint ventures.
German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact - HISTORY
The Russians hoped for much, but in the early s the new Soviet state was too poor to order weapons, ammunition, or aircraft in sufficient quantities to cover the cost of the German investment.
After a short period of joint production, the German armaments firms closed their factories. One industrial enterprise did have a lasting impact. The German army sponsored a deal with Junkers Aircraft Company to build a secret factory in Russia in the village of Fili, just outside Moscow, in At the time, Junkers had the most advanced all-metal aircraft designs in the world.
To work on the Junkers project, the Soviets assembled an aircraft design team under the brilliant young engineer Andrei Tupolev. The Germans liked Tupolev and his team, and admired their desire to learn. But the factory languished because the Soviet regime was unable to buy more than a handful of aircraft.
After manufacturing only airplanes in two years, and losing a great deal of money in the process, Junkers pulled out and turned the plant over to the Russians. Yet, by providing the Russian designers and engineers with access to the latest western technology and ideas, this brief cooperation provided a major boost to the fledgling Soviet aircraft industry.
Tupolev and his team took over the Fili factory and began manufacturing the TB-1 and TB-3 bombers—both of which showed a strong similarity to the Junkers designs of the era. By the early s the Soviet aircraft industry was growing at an astounding rate, and by the middle of the decade, the Soviet Union possessed one of the largest and most modern air forces in the world.Battle of Moscow 1941 - Nazi Germany vs Soviet Union [HD]
The air force training programs established in Russia came far closer to achieving what German visionaries had in mind. The Germans had created a large and technically advanced air force during World War I, and they were determined to maintain a secret force that could be expanded as soon as the hated Versailles Treaty was renounced.
To do so, the German army needed a place to train its airmen and develop new technologies and tactics. The Russians offered the Germans a base at the spa town of Lipetsk, miles southwest of Moscow.
It proved ideal, and became the focus of a secret Luftwaffe rearmament and training program in the late s. The Lipetsk base, which opened inwas home to 60 to 70 permanent German personnel, including instructors, technicians, and test pilots. After completing the rigorous training program, as thorough as any offered in the world at the time, the airmen would return to Germany and be officially reinstated in the army. During the eight years it was in operation, more than Reichswehr airmen were trained in Russia.
Germany–Soviet Union relations, 1918–1941
To ensure the training was as modern as possible, the Reichswehr managed to quietly obtain one of the hottest fighter planes of the era: The D XIII, powered by a British hp Napier engine, was one of the fastest airplanes of its time and set several speed records in the early s.
There the planes served as trainers for the advanced fighter course and as fighter-bombers used to train German pilots in dropping bombs and attacking ground targets.
During the next few years the base also acquired several Heinkel HD 21 and Albatros L 68 trainers, and some Junkers transports that were used for the observer and navigator courses. With plenty of aircraft the school had 66 planes inthe Germans were able to mount relatively large air exercises. The German air wing also carried out air support for Red Army maneuvers, and the Germans and Russians gained experience in the complicated art of air-ground operations.
By the late s, the Lipetsk school had expanded to include a flight test center. Although the Versailles Treaty had forbidden the Germans an air force, they were still allowed civil aviation, and in the s companies such as Junkers, Dornier, and Heinkel were producing some up-to-date and even innovative designs. Some of these were not the transport or sport planes they purported to be, but were designed as bombers or reconnaissance planes.
Inthe peak year for training and testing at Lipetsk, German trainers, instructors, and testing personnel were stationed there. A similar success story was unfolding with armor development. One of the most painful mistakes the German General Staff made in World War I was its belated appreciation of the role of armored vehicles on the battlefield.
In contrast to the Allies, who had fielded tanks by the thousands inGermany started late and had manufactured only a handful of tanks by the end of the war. Although denied tanks by the Versailles Treaty, the Germans made the development of modern armored forces a high priority in the s. The tank prototypes were to incorporate the most advanced engines and transmissions, be gas-proof, and be able to cross rivers. In the order was followed up by contracts to produce light tanks, also with all the latest engineering features.
In keeping with the highly secret nature of the program, the Germans used code names for the armor in all military correspondence: By the German companies had produced six prototype heavy tanks and four light tanks and shipped them to the Russian industrial city of Kazan to be tested.
Along with military personnel, dozens of German engineers were secretly brought to Russia to oversee the armored experiments. The Soviets were just beginning to organize mechanized forces inso they were especially eager to support the German tank school and testing station.
The revolutions of did not reach Russia, but its political and economic system was inadequate to maintain a modern army. It did poorly in the Crimean war. As Fuller notes, "Russia had been beaten on the Crimean peninsula, and the military feared that it would inevitably be beaten again unless steps were taken to surmount its military weakness.
Prussia was shaken by the Revolutions of but was able to withstand the revolutionaries' call to war against Russia. Prussia did go to war with Denmark, however, and was only stopped by British and Russian pressure.
Prussia remained neutral in the Crimean War. Prussia's successes in the Wars of German Unification in the s were facilitated by Russia's lack of involvement. The creation of the German Empire under Prussian dominance inhowever, greatly changed the relations between the two countries. As a result, Russia and Germany were now on opposite sides Russia-Germany border before World War I Earlier on it seemed as if the two great empires would be strong allies.
The League stated that republicanism and socialism were common enemies and that the three powers would discuss any matters concerning foreign policy. Bismarck needed good relations with Russia in order to keep France isolated. This upset the British in particular, as they were long concerned with preserving the Ottoman Empire and preventing a Russian takeover of the Bosphorus.
Germany hosted the Congress of Berlinwhereby a more moderate peace settlement was agreed to. Germany had no direct interest in the Balkans, however, which was largely an Austrian and Russian sphere of influence. The upper inscription reads "agreement". The uncertain Britannia right and Marianne left look to the determined Mother Russia centre to lead them in the Great War. InBismarck formed a Dual Alliance of Germany and Austria-Hungary, with the aim of mutual military assistance in the case of an attack from Russia, which was not satisfied with the agreement reached at the Congress of Berlin.
The establishment of the Dual Alliance led Russia to take a more conciliatory stance, and inthe so-called Reinsurance Treaty was signed between Germany and Russia: Russia turned its attention eastward to Asia and remained largely inactive in European politics for the next 25 years.
The czarist system collapsed in