As the war in Europe drew to its close a war weary Britain heaved a huge sigh of relief. The war against Japan still raged but for now the Country was safe. Or was it?
- Jonathan Walker.
Of all the Allies leaders Churchill alone saw with great clarity the threat posed to the Free World by Stalin and the huge Soviet Armed Forces. Our erstwhile Ally in the fight against Germany and suffering staggering losses that dwarfed the other parties, Stalin now looked to secure his borders with malleable client states; to create a buffer zone which included a Communist Poland. This so deeply unsettled Churchill that he set his Joint Planning Staff (under great secrecy) to prepare plans for an immediate assault on the Soviet Forces in Europe.
Jonathan Walker has produced a fascinating study of Operational Unthinkable (as it was titled) from primary sources and detailed research. The book is studded with quotes and excerpts from major players and archived material alike which paints a chilling picture of the risks that the scheme would have involved.
An in depth review of relative strengths and weaknesses of all Forces involved on both sides coupled with a review of the political problems posed (would the British public fresh from the revelations of Auschwitz-Birkenau support their Soldiers fighting alongside replenished and rearmed Wehrmacht formations for example) is at the heart of the book. The shock of Churchill's election defeat and the death of Roosevelt are all covered in the broad scope of Walker's analysis.
There does seem to be a habit of many works of the time of skimming over the immediate post war period. This excellent book works very hard at filling in the gaps between VE Day and the formation of NATO and the Bundeswehr. I highly recommend it.