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offensive of the Red Armies on l2 January would have untoward results, not only for the Third Reich, but for the relations between east and west in the postwar era. In February 1945, Stalin issued an order of the day acclaiming the recent victories on the Oder front and boasting that "The success of this [Soviet] drive resulted in breaking the German attack in the West." Unfortunately, and unwisely, Winston Churchill opened the door to this and a flood of similar Russian propaganda claims by addressing a telegram to Stalin on 6 January 1945, in which he personally asked for Soviet help by the prompt beginning of a major offensive. Only a few years later, representatives of the USSR engaged in negotiations on American claims for the repayment of wartime shipping loans would allege that these debts had been canceled when the Russian armies "saved" the American forces in the Ardennes. Postwar Russian propaganda in this same vein reached a peak in a series of articles by Col. N. Nikiforov alleging that the Soviet attack in January 1945 "averted the danger of the rout of the Anglo-American armies." [16]

Was the risk assumed by Hitler and his senior military advisers in the Ardennes offensive a valid one? Field Marshals Jodl and Keitel, the artisans but not the architects of this venture, gave a joint answer shortly before their execution: "The criticism whether it would have been better to have employed our available reserves in the East rather than in the West, we submit to the judgment of history." [17]

[16] The USSR Information Bulletin, 12 May 1948, and Novoye Vremya, No. 18, 18 February 1948. The most recent of such Soviet claims is that made by Marshall Grechko in Pravda, 9 May 1960.

[17] In answers to a questionnaire submitted by the Historical Section, USFET, on 20 July 1945, which answers were signed by both Jodl and Keitel.