Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front
The full story of the first and only time American and Soviets fought side-by-side in World War II
At the conference held in Tehran November 1943, American officials proposed to their Soviet allies a new operation in the effort to defeat Nazi Germany. The Normandy Invasion was already in the works; what American officials were suggesting until then was a second air front: the US Air Force would establish bases in Soviet-controlled territory. Though pushing relentlessly for the United States and Great Britain to do more to help the war effort—the Soviet body count was staggering—Stalin, recalling the presence of foreign troops during the Russian Revolution, balked. His concern was that the American presence would inflame regional and ideological differences. Eventually in early 1944, Stalin was persuaded to give in, and Operation Baseball and then Frantic were initiated. B-17 Superfortresses were flown from bases in Italy to the Poltova region (in what is today Ukraine).
As Plokhy's fascinating and utterly original book shows, what happened on these airbases mirrors the fate of the Grand Alliance itself. While both sides were fighting for Germany's unconditional surrender, differences arose that no common purpose could overcome. Soviet secret policeman watched overthe Americans, shadowing every move, and eventually trying to prevent fraternization between American airmen and local women. A catastrophic air raid by the Germans revealed the limitations of Soviet air defenses. Relations soured and the operations went south. Based on previously inaccessible archives, Forgotten Bastards of the Eastern Front offers a bottom-up history of the Grand Alliance itself, showing how it first began to collapse on the airfields of World War II.
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