Q: There is a tremendous buildup of the Strategic Air Command forces after LeMay
takes over the Strategic Air Command in '48. This must have caused considerable alarm in Washington.
VZ: Oh, enormous alarm. And basically Stalin could not prevent it.
And he had no -- had nothing to -- had no means to react to it, to
deal with this situation. So he came up with desperate countermeasures almost.
For instance one of, one of his reactions to that buildup of the SAC
forces was to concentrate an enormous armored fist in Eastern Europe and Central
Europe. And the idea behind it was -- that was when these immense tank
armies of, appeared in Central Europe -- the idea was, okay, if they want
to intimidate us with their, from their air bases, their strike from the
air bases, we can intimidate them by our armor groups in Central Europe.
If they strike at us, we strike at Western Europe. Of course it was not
the same thing, but Stalin could not reach the United States. He was not
capable of reaching the United States. No delivery means. Missile designers were
still in the very beginning. At that time, the idea of an intercontinental
ballistic missile was a pipe dream. Also he, because of this desperate situation,
he tried to organize a strike group in the Far East up the north to invade Alaska.
I mean, although some people believe it was, that those were other signs of Stalin's
paranoia and reckless aggressiveness at the end of his life -- the man was just sick
-- but in a strategic sense, I think, he was desperate to come up with some deterrence,
or countermeasures so that the Americans would know that the Soviet Union could do
something in response.
back to Interview Transcripts