This book, based on extensive work in Russian archives, investigates how strategy, organisational rivalry and cultural factors came to shape naval developments in the Soviet Union, up to the invasion of 1941. Focussing on the Baltic Fleet, the author shows how the perceived balance of power in northern Europe came to have a major influence on Soviet naval policy during the 1920s and 1930s. The operational environment of a narrow inland-sea like the Baltic would have required a joint approach to military planning, but the Soviet navy's weak position among the armed services made such an approach hard to attain. The Soviet regime also struggled against the cultural heritage of the tsarist navy and the book describes how this was overcome. In a special Appendix dedicated to the purges of 1937-38, surviving party records from the Baltic Fleet Intelligence Section are used to illustrate the mechanisms of the Great Terror at local level.
Table of Contents
1. Preparing for War in the Baltic 2. Strategy 3. Organisational Rivalry 4. Culture 5. 'Mare Clausem' and the Prospects of War 6. The Meaning of 'Small Wars' 7. The Navy of the Military Specialists 8. The Era of Collective Security - and of Coastal Defence 9. Support for the Red Army 10. The Navy of the Red Commanders 11. Towards the Great Oceanic Navy 12. Ready for Offensive Operations? 13. The Navy of the Soviet Admirals 14. The Lessons of War and Peace 15. Appendix: The Great Terror in the Baltic Fleet
Gunnar Åselius is a Historian at the Swedish National Defence College, Stockholm.