Identifier

etd-04242012-152215

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

Since the end of World War II, a rather consistent narrative has appeared regarding the origins of this terrible conflict: Hitler started it. The victorious western powers emerged as innocent victims in the titanic struggle while the USSR, once allied to both Hitler and the west, took on the role of principal villain during the Cold War. With the collapse of communism and the partial opening of Soviet archives, a re-assessment appeared, principally under the heading of the “Collective Security School.” As politically incorrect as it may seem, sober reflection indicates that the Soviet Union was actually the peacemaker in the inter-war period, while Britain and France engaged in a dangerous game of deception and underhandedness regarding the USSR. With all options exhausted, the Soviets turned to Hitler, making the attack on Poland easier. In this dissertation, I present documentary evidence of Soviet intensions and western duplicity. The Soviets did not seek to divert a conflict; they did not want war in any manner. The USSR was undergoing massive internal upheaval in economic, social, political, and military spheres. Soviet leaders could not risk an open contest for fear of losing the bigger prize: the Soviet Revolution. Soviet diplomacy pursued a consistent path of collective security until western intransigence became too great. The Nazi-Soviet Non –Aggression Pact of August 23, 1939, far from being a goal of Soviet policy, was simply a last resort.

Date

2012

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Marchand, Suzanne

Included in

History Commons

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