Thursday, 10 June 2010

Stalin trusted prices too much

Milt at No Minister has been doing some reading. And this bit from Suvorov's account of Soviet Second World War planning is very interesting. Milt highlights Golikov's (Chief of GRU, military intelligence) early warning signals that the Nazis might be gearing up to attack the Soviets:
One of the vital things Germany would need, if it were to be ready to fight such a war, was sheepskin coats - no fewer than six million of them. As soon as Hitler decided to attack the Soviet Union, his General Staff would have to order industry to begin producing millions of sheepskin coats. This would be reflected immediately on the European markets. In spite of the war, mutton prices would fall because of the simultaneous slaughter of millions of animals, while sheepskin prices would rise sharply.
Pretty reasonable, if we expected the Nazis to behave reasonably. They didn't count on Hitler's overoptimism about a quick victory in a summer invasion that wouldn't require winter preparations. And so the price of sheepskins didn't move, there was no evidence of Nazi battalions gearing up for winter combat, and the Soviets were surprised.

It's rather neat though that the Soviets understood the operation of prices well enough to watch them as military intelligence.

Had they reckoned Hitler to have even more foresight, they might have expected little change in mutton prices as the Nazis might reasonably have bought up excess mutton for freezing or canning to feed the armies.

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