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Uncommon Knowledge: Joseph Stalin — Waiting For Hitler

“If you’re interested in power, [if] you’re interested in how power is accumulated and exercised, and what the consequences are, the subject of Stalin is just unbelievably deep; it’s bottomless.” – Stephen Kotkin

In part two of our discussion, Stephen Kotkin, author of Stalin: Waiting for Hitler, 1929–1941, discusses the relationship between Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler leading up to and throughout the Second World War. Kotkin describes what motivated Stalin to make the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact with Hitler and the consequences of his decision.

Kotkin dives into the history of the USSR and its relationship with Germany during WWII, analyzing the two leaders’ decisions, strategies, and thought processes. He explains Stalin’s and Hitler’s motivations to enter into the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact even without the support of their respective regimes. Stalin’s goal was to defeat the West, and he saw the pact as an opportunity to do so by driving a wedge between Germany and the capitalist West. Kotkin analyzes Stalin’s decisions leading up to the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union and the disinformation Germany was feeding Soviet spies to prevent Stalin from moving against Hitler first.

Recorded on January 25, 2018.

Did you miss part one? Listen to part one of the episode here.

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

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