DOUBLE LIVES is one of a slew of books which have recently appeared reviewing the significance of the Cold War in the wake of the Soviet Union’s disintegration. What did the competition between the Soviet Union and the United States really mean? What were Soviet intentions? These questions have been asked since the Cold War’s beginnings in the late 1940’s. With the ending of the Cold War and the gradual opening up of Soviet archives, these questions are beginning to be pursued in a new and authoritative manner.
Koch focuses on the period between 1933 and 1940, the years encompassing the advent of the Nazi regime in Germany, the Spanish Civil War, and the beginning of World War II. He makes frequent reference to the decades before and after this seven-year epoch, but he believes that Hitler’s hegemony and Stalin’s consolidation of authority through the purge trials of the mid-1930’s are the proper frame for understanding Soviet treatment of the West.
Although his evidence is sketchy, and he often overstates his argument, Koch demonstrates how much in common Hitler and Stalin had as dictators, and how Stalin used the anti-Fascist movement in the West to promulgate Soviet objectives—essentially a free reign for him in Eastern Europe and elsewhere docile governments, infiltrated with Soviet spies or sympathizers.
Koch suggests that Willi Munzenberg, a German Communist, ran the Soviet apparatus of spies and fellow...
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