Stalin and Hitler's grand plans for naval supremacy
Based largely on recently published Soviet documents and German archival sources, The Lure of Neptune illumines the collaborative yet competitive relationship that existed shared by the German and Russian navies between the First and Second World Wars. Tobias Philbin charts the uneven evolution of the symbiosis that developed as both Stallin and Hitler sought to build fleets that exceeded their grasps. Philbin contends that the course of Russo-German naval relations offers bot a window into the inter-war political climate of the two nations as well as a case study of how a hostile geopolitical environment can unite powers that embrace mutually hostile doctrines.
Philbin reveals the lessons both Germany and Russia learned from the First World War, the ways in which the war affected their respective pursuit of naval supremacy, and the influence their policies had on one another. Of particular interest, he exposes Stalin's ambitions for naval superiority, his willingness to exchange long-term security for short-term advances, and his opinion of Hitler's policies.
Analyzing Russo-German naval relations in detail, Philbin scrutinizes Russia's exchange of oil and raw materials for German naval technology, Germany's establishment of Basis Nord on the Russian coast, Russo-German cooperation in merchant raider exploits, and the day-to-day interactions of Russian and German naval leaders. Philbin's findings underscore the synergy between German and Soviet naval policy during the 1920s and 1930s, the relatively intimate relationship pursued by the countries following the Hitler/Stalin Pact, and the irreconcilable national objectives that ultimately thwarted their collaborative naval efforts.
Tobias R. Philbin III is a senior analyst with the Department of Defense and author of Admiral von Hipper: The Inconvenient Hero. He lives in Alexandria, Virginia.