This article was published by Alliance (Marxist-Leninist) as part of the publication Alliance, issue #30, “Marx, Lenin and Stalin on Zionism.”
At the early stages of the Comintern, the views of Lenin were still unchallenged by the later revisionist opposition, who would finally succeed in hi-jacking the Comintern, only by 1928.
Even when Stalin took over the leadership of the CPSU(B), until 1925 his views were not easily ignored. Matters within the Comintern, were however dominated by the succeeding revisionist factions – first of Zinoviev, and then those of Bukharin, and then by that of Dimitrov-Kuussinen-Manuilsky.
At the early stages then, policies were in general correctly Marxist-Leninist. For instance, article (11f), was passed at the Second Congress of Comintern (still attended by Lenin), that condemned the attempts of foreign imperialism to establish the divisive “Jewish” state of Israel; in Arab Palestine.
“(11 f) It is essential constantly to expose and to explain to the widest masses of the working people everywhere, and particularly in the backward countries, the deception practiced by the imperialist Powers with the help of the privileged classes in the oppressed countries in creating ostensibly politically independent States which are in reality completely dependent on them economically, financially, and militarily. A glaring example of the deception practiced on the working classes of an oppressed nation by the combined efforts of Entente imperialism and the bourgeoisie of that same nations is offered by the Zionists’ venture (And by Zionism as a whole, which under the pretense of creating a Jewish state in Palestine in fact surrenders the Arab working people of Palestine, where the Jewish workers form only a small minority to exploitation by England). In present international circumstances there is no salvation for dependent and weak nations except as an alliance of Soviet republics.”
Theses 2nd Comintern Congress: AThe National & Colonial Question A; Ed J.Degras; Vol 1; p.144.
It must be asked then, why Andrey A. Gromyko, the UN representative of the USSR, and the Soviet ambassador to the USA, voted at the United Nations, to recognise the formation of the state of Israel in 1947? While the European Communist Parties were being ideologically re-educated by the Cominform, in the weakened state of the USSR it turned out that Andrei Gromyko was appointed to the United Nations. Gromyko’s later overt revisionism was clear. But at that time, he was not revealed as a revisionist.
The Palestine Communist Party had been agitating very publicly that there should be no division of the territory of Palestine between Jewish immigrants and the local indigenous Palestinians Arab population. However at the very first session of the UN in San Francisco, Gromyko voted for the division of Palestine and the establishment of the state of Israel. This policy went against the long history of Marxist-Leninists, who had argued that Jews should be assimilated in the country they lived, and should join the class struggle there.
The result was a temporary victory for the revisionist faction inside the leading echelons of the CPSU(B), led by Khrushchev.
As Walter Laquer, one of the most well known historians of the Zionist movement puts it, Gromyko was very much in the vanguard of the push for an independent Israel. Even propelling the hesitant President Truman and the USA into his wake:
“President Truman and his advisers were firmly resolved not to give any lead to the United Nations but to wait for the emergence of a consensus. Much to the surprise of the Zionists the Soviet attitude was much more positive. This first became evident when the Jewish Agency asked to be permitted (as a matter of simple justice’) to appear at the UN on behalf of the Jewish people since the Arabs were already represented there. They had the immediate support of the Soviet delegation, and on May 15 Gromyko spoke not without sympathy about the aspirations towards Palestine of a considerable part of the Jewish people, of the calamities and sufferings they had undergone throughout the last war, (which defy description’) and the grave conditions in which the masses of the Jewish population found themselves after the war. He mentioned partition as one of several possible solutions. This unexpected support continued throughout 1947 and led later that year to the Soviet decision to vote for partition. Traditionally the Soviet attitude to Zionism had been extremely hostile, and since Moscow reverted to is earlier position not long after the state of Israel came into being once can only conclude that the short-lived rapprochement came exactly at the right moment for the Zionists. Without it they would not have stood a chance… On 15 may 1947 the General Assembly approved the establishment of a committee of eleven to investigate the Palestine question to make proposals for a settlement…The UNSCOP committee (United Nations Special Committee on Palestine) majority came out in favour of partition.. And were published on 31 August 1947. Both the majority and the minority reports were drafted by the same man – Dr Ralphe Bunche…. a hesitating President Truman gave his assent to the partition scheme on 9 October 1947… The vote was taken on 29 November and the motion carried by 33 to 13…. The state of Israel came into being at a meeting of the National Council at 4 pm on Friday 14 May 1948.. The first country to recognise the new state was the USA.. Within the next few days the Soviet Union, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Guatemala Uruguay and other countries followed.”
Laquer W; AA History of Zionism”; New York; 1976; p. 578; 582; 586.
It is clear that Gromyko was also fighting a propaganda war for an independent state of Israel based in Palestine, inside the USSR. Clearly even members of the Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee (see below) such as Solomon (or Shlomo) Mikhoels were influenced by this, as related by Teller:
“In a small and select group the conversation turned to Gromyko’s speech on the Palestine question. Actor-director Shlomo Mikhoels alluded to a passage in one of the Yiddish classics by Mendel Mocher Sefarim in which a Jew ask a Russian peasant to point him the way to the Land of Israel. “Gromyko”, said Mikhoels in exaltation, “is that good Gentile who shows us the way to the Land of Israel.”
Teller, Judd T: “The Kremlin, The Jews and the Middle East”; p.106; New York; 1957;
What seems to have happened is apparent from recent detailed memorandums that reveal that the USSR first did take a principled Marxist-Leninist line which was then subverted.
In order to be clear, we show this process below, citing both the primary and the secondary source.
The tremendous refugee problem after the war, obviously consisted of a huge Jewish population. The USSR government was already aware of proposals that this should be remedied by the formation of a state inside Germany:
“20 February 1945, the Third European Division of the USSR People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (NKID) sent a memorandum (from the Jewish Committee – dated 11.11.1944 – ed) to Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs V. G. Dekanozov. It informed him that the Soviet Embassy in Italy had forwarded two letters to the NKJD, one addressed to I. V. Stalin, the other to V. M. Molotov, from the Rome-based Jewish Committee of the International Union of Emigrants and Refugees. Enclosed with the letters was a proposal for creating an independent Jewish state on German territory and a map of Germany where the prospective state was delineated.”
Strizhov I;:” The Soviet Position on the Establishment of the State of Israel”; Op Cit; p.303
As will be discussed later, proposals were also made by the progressive Soviet Jews for the resolution of the problem in the Crimean republic of the USSR. However by now, the Zionists had already made Palestine their goal.
Initially the objective reality of a larger settler population – whether illegally arrived or not – inside Palestine was to be confronted by the remaining Marxist-Leninists within the CPSU(B), by the correct insistence that the mandate of Britain over Palestine should be lifted; and possibly replaced by a Mandate responsible to the entire UN.
It was rightly pointed out, by the CPSU(B) Marxist-Leninists, that the British had “failed” to peacefully resolve the situation.
This was articulated on 27 July 1945 in a memo signed by M.M.Litvinov in his post as, Chairman of the “Committee on Preparing Peace Treaties and the Postwar Order.” Although Litvinov was at best a vacillating Marxist-Leninist, and at worst a concious enemy of the USSR state [as several sources can attest to] – nonetheless the key memo itself had been set up by the diplomats within the USSR People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (NKID), who:
“Sent a memorandum entitled ‘The Palestine Question'” to Stalin, Molotov and the Deputy Ministers of Foreign Affairs. Its conclusion read:
1. No matter how hard the British may try to prove that their present policy in Palestine conforms to the Balfour Declaration, it is obvious that they have failed to live up to the mandate entrusted to them. This was admitted in the.. statements by high-ranking British statesmen. This is sufficient justification for taking the Palestine mandate away from the British.
2.The Palestine question cannot be duly settled without impinging upon the wishes and rights of Jews or Arabs, or perhaps both. The British government is in equal measure subject to the influence of the Arab states and world Jewry. Hence its difficulties in choosing the correct means to settle the Palestine problem.
3. The US government is subject to the same influences. While British Palestine policy is necessarily affected mainly by orientation towards Arab interests, the American government is subject in the first place to the influence of the powerful US Jewry. It should be recalled that at the latest presidential elections both the Democratic and the Republican parties felt compelled to issue declarations on their attitude to Palestine, demanding unrestricted immigration of Jews and unrestricted rights for Jews to their own land. At the same time, the US government would hardly choose to quarrel with the Arabs, in view of the fact that the oil pipeline from Saudi Arabia in which they have a stake will run through hundreds of kilometres of Arab territory. That would put the US government in as difficult a position regarding Palestine as the British government.
4. The USSR, free from either Arab or Jewish influence, would be in a better position to tackle the Palestine issue. This at least entitles it to request a temporary trusteeship over Palestine until a more radical solution is found.
5. The British attach to Palestine, which guards the approaches to the Suez Canal and has an outlet for Iraqi oil on its territory, too much importance for us to expect them to consent even to a temporary transfer of Palestine to the hands of another state, particularly, the USSR.
6. In the event that the Soviet request is rejected the following solution suggests itself: transfer of Palestine to the collective trusteeship of three states – the USSR, USA and Britain. These three powers will be able to take the requisite decisions collectively, paying less tribute to the opinion of the Arab or the Jewish population than either the American or British government acting on its own would feel obliged to do.
7.The provisions of collective trusteeship shall be bound neither by the Balfour Declaration nor by any promises Britain has earlier given as the mandatary power, so that the new collective administration could tackle the Palestine problem in all fairness, in accordance with the interests of the entire population and the new imperatives of political realities and general security.”
Strizhov I;:” The Soviet Position on the Establishment of the State of Israel”; Op Cit; p.304-305; Citing 5.Arkhiv vneshnei politiki MID SSSR (AVP),fond (f.) . 07,opis’ (op.) 12a, papka (pk.) 42, delo (d.) 6, pp. 36-8
This generally correct line, given the new circumstances, continued to hold until May 1946.
By then the British and the USA imperialists had continued the general policy of divide and rule. They had established the Anglo-American Committee, which had alienated both Jews and Arabs:
“In December 1945 an Anglo-American Committee was set up to investigate the situation in Palestine. It was entrusted with a wide range of tasks connected with the Palestine problem as a whole. The Committee’s report was made public in April 1946 and was met with an outburst of violent recriminations throughout the Arab states and with bitter disappointment on the part of the Jews.”
Strizhov I;:” The Soviet Position on the Establishment of the State of Israel”; Op Cit; p.305
The previous line of the USSR was brought up to date, in order to acknowledge that the Anglo-American Committee had attempted to continue the British imperialist mandate “jointly.”
In the circumstances, the correct Marxist-Leninist line was taken – to use the UN to “reveal the aspirations” of the imperialists to “prevent the interference of other countries” in settling the issue.
It was correctly stated (and consistent with previous Marxist-Leninist views) that anti-racism and anti-Semitism was a reflection of larger forces and could not be dealt with simply by creating a state – that anyway could not “house” every one subject to racism.
Moreover it correctly noted that in the current situation unless the issue was brought up, the British and USA would succeed in enforcing their will – “our silence on the Palestine issue.”
The correct approach however was to allow the Arabs to raise the question at the UN. This was put in an up-dated memo to Dekanozov, Molotov’s Deputy:
“A memorandum entitled ‘The Palestine Question’, based on the results of the Litvinov Committee, was compiled by the Middle East Department of the USSR Foreign Ministry and on 15 May 1946 was sent to Dekanozov. It read: ‘Attempts by Britain and the US jointly to continue the British mandate outside the framework of the UN reveal their aspiration to prevent the interference of other countries in the settlement of the Palestine question until Palestine is fully under the control of the US and Britain. Our silence on the Palestine issue might be interpreted by the US, Britain, Arabs and Jews as the Soviet Union’s partial approval of the proposals put forth by the committee. Bearing this in mind and in view of the fact that official and unofficial representatives of both Arab states and Jewish organizations are running to the Soviet Union in order to have the Palestine problem settled it would be expedient to set forth the Soviet point of view on the Palestine problem in two or three articles to be published in the press. Later our diplomatic representatives may refer to these articles in private conversations if they are approached by Arab or Jewish representatives in connection with the Palestine question.”
Strizhov I;; Op Cit; p.305 citing: AVP, f. 06, op. 08, pk. 42, d. 694, pp. 2-4
After this preamble, the most likely Marxist-Leninist position advisable, was crystallised as being to reject the Anglo-American Committee’s position as “incompetent” and to insist upon abrogation of the British mandate in Palestine:
“Presumably, our position on the Palestine question should be as follows:
1.The Anglo-American committee set up to study the Palestine question without the participation of the UN was not competent to discuss. ..and tackle the Palestine problem without the participation of the parties directly concerned.
2.The Jewish question in Europe cannot be solved through Jewish immigration to Palestine, inasmuch as only complete eradication of racism and the democratization of European countries can create normal conditions for the existence of the Jewish masses.
3.The British mandate in Palestine should be abrogated since it is impeding a radical solution of the Palestine question and jeopardizing security in the Middle East. All foreign troops should be withdrawn from Palestine.
4. Palestine should be placed under the trusteeship of the UN which within a certain period of time will lay the groundwork for a sovereign and democratic Palestine. We must not submit the Palestine question for consideration by the UN. It should be raised by the Arab UN members themselves. We should only voice our opinion and uphold it. It would be expedient to postpone the publication of articles on the Palestine question until the session of the Council of Foreign Ministers has completed its deliberations.”
Strizhov I; Op Cit; p.305 citing: AVP, f. 06, op. 08, pk. 42, d. 694, pp. 2-4
The best elements of the Jewish immigrants into the Palestine lands, were the left wing Poalei-Tsion (led by L. Levite and M. Erem) and the Hashomer-Hatsair Workers Party (led by Y.Barzilai), had participated in the Palestine-USSR Friendship League. They were already in contact with the Soviet Ambassador to Poland V.Z. Lebedev.
As he wrote to Soviet Deputy Foreign Minister A.Ia Vyshinskii, the Hasomer-Hatsair were in agreement with the principle of a federation of an Arab-Jewish state with two national chambers. This differed from the Poalei-Tsion. (Strizhov I; Op Cit; p.306).
The US Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles now showed the USA policy response, which was to accept the challenge of ensuring an imperialist led take-over of the United Nations.
Accordingly the British were persuaded to agree publicly to their failure:
“In mid-February 1947 the British government officially admitted that since it was unable to find a solution to the Palestine problem, it was going to ask the United Nations to recommend one.”
Strizhov Op Cit; p.307; citing Sumner Welles, We Need Not Fail (Boston:1948), p.41.
Even as late as 5 March 1947, the Middle East Department of The USSR Foreign Ministry were pursuing a correct Marxist-Leninist line.
They sent Vyshinskii a memo entitled “The Palestine Problem” (October 1946-February 1947), which based itself upon the previously cited points 2 and 3 of the May memo.
But more public stands were shortly to be needed by the Soviet hidden revisionist representatives to the UN. By 6 March the UN Soviet delegate Boris Shtein had noted that although until then, the UN had “refrained from formulating its stand on the Palestine question,” the fact that the discussion was now tabled would force a public stand by the USSR.
This was an ideal opportunity for the Soviets take the principled Marxist-Leninist line: to demand the withdrawal of British troops, the full independence for Palestine, and a full democratic statute.
But since Arab-Jewish “contradictions” would still exist, the resolution could only be exercised via a United Nations “collective trusteeship” – specifically thereby rejecting a British “trusteeship” only.
At least this would ensure the possibility of real Soviet brakes upon the Zionist settlers and their wars against the Arabs for land.
This line was indeed put, or outlined, in the following internal memo to Vyshinsky:
“Up until now the USSR has refrained from formulating its stand on the Palestine question. However, the upcoming discussion of the issue by the UN impels us to formulate our position. First of all, the USSR must come out resolutely for the abrogation of Britain’s Palestine mandate. Britain has not coped with its responsibilities as the mandatary power. Throughout the duration of the mandate… Britain has not succeeded in establishing order in the country and preventing almost un-intermittent bloodshed. Substituting British trusteeship for the mandate is also out of the question. The change of signboard will not change anything. What could be considered is collective trusteeship over Palestine by the UN as an organization or by several nations (in effect, permanent Security Council members). However, this possibility is excluded by the fact that the population of the country, both Arabs and Jews, are mature enough for independence. Neither Arabs nor Jews would agree to any trusteeship whatsoever and want complete independence. The Soviet Union cannot but support the demand for full independence for Palestine.. The withdrawal of British troops from the country should be the first and obligatory precondition for the independence of Palestine. Still, granting independence to Palestine would not take the edge off Arab-Jewish contradictions in the country. The Soviet Union cannot see any way of settling them other than by democratic means. Thus, alongside independence, Palestine should obtain a democratic statute ensuring full and genuine equality (civil, political and national) for the population of Palestine as a whole. The statute is to be worked out by the UN Organization, which is subsequently to become a guarantor of its implementation. The fact that Britain has relegated the Palestine question to the United Nations for discussion, enables the USSR for the first time not only to voice its views on the issue but also to take an active part in Palestine’s fate.”
Strizhov I; Op Cit; Citing p.308; AVP, f. 07, op. 12, pk. 42, d. 6, pp. 140-1.
In Gromyko’s speech of 17 May 1947, made to the UN, he correctly pointed out, in accordance with the general USSR line, that:
“The mandate administration established in Palestine in 1922 has not proved itself.”
Strizhov I; OP Cit; p.308.
He even went on to note, that no single West European state had protected the “elementary rights” of the Jewish people, and that “vast numbers” were homeless and without subsistence. Again this was consistent with the line evolved previously.
But then he radically departed from the previously agreed line – of setting up a democratic Palestine with “full and genuine equality for all the population of Palestine as a whole.”
Instead Gromyko proposed a Partition of Palestine, seemingly as a fall-back position, if a democratic Palestine was not agreeable.
In reality this unacceptable and revisionist line was designed to open the door on an imperialist settlement of the Palestine question:
“Gromyko pointed out that neither past history’ nor the conditions now obtaining in Palestine’ justified a one-sided settlement of the Palestine question’ that ignored the legitimate rights’ of both the Arab and Jewish populations. The Soviet delegation had come to the conclusion that the legitimate interests of both the Jewish and the Arab peoples of Palestine could be safeguarded only if an integral Arab Jewish democratic state’ were established. If this variant proved unattainable’ due to the deterioration of Arab-Jewish relations, then it would be necessary to consider the second variant, which had gained currency in Palestine: the partition of Palestine into two independent sovereign states – one Jewish and one Arab.”
Strizhov I;:Op Cit; p.309; 1zvestiia, 16 May 1947.
It is not surprising, that some Zionist observers were surprised by this line from someone claiming to be the representative of the USSR, as the line was quite in “contradiction to the explicitly anti-Zionist attitude”:
“Gromyko’s speech, an Israeli diplomat commented many years later, ‘was in complete contradiction to the explicitly anti-Zionist attitude which both communist ideologists and practical politicians had expressed repeatedly and consistently over several decades.. therefore came as a great surprise.”
Strizhov I;:Op Cit; p.309; Avigdor Dagan, Moscow and Jerusalem” (London, 1970), pp. 19-20.
On the 15 May 1947, UNSCOP (United Nations Special Committee On Palestine) was established and it reported to the General Assembly on 13 October 1947. Speaking in support of partition, the Soviet representative Tsarapkin:
“Pointed out that the Jews’ desire to create their own state was understandable, and it would be unjust to deny the Jewish people the right to realize these aspirations. The creation of a Jewish State has become a ripe and urgent issue’.Having supported in principle the recommendations submitted by a majority in the special committee’ for the partition of Palestine, he declared: If this session of the General Assembly decides to establish a Jewish and an Arab state, it would be a big stride forward in the settlement of the Palestine question as a whole.”
Strizhov I;:” ASoviet Position”; Op Cit; p. 309-310; Pravda, 16th October 1947.
The final proposals were put to the General Assembly after having been agreed to by the ad hoc committee including the Soviet Ukrainian and Belorussian delegates:
“On 25 November 1947 the ad hoc committee adopted the proposal for the partition of Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish. The Soviet, Ukrainian and Belorussian delegates all voted for the proposal. The Partition Plan was considered and put to the vote at the General Assembly plenary sessions held between 26-29 November 1947. The session’s proceedings were marked by heated debate.”
Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p. 310.
When on 26 November 1947, Gromyko addressed the plenary session, he defended Partition on the grounds that it met the demands of the Jewish people, and he insisted that the Soviet delegation had been insistent and quite un-ambiguous upon this matter:
“The resolution of the question of Palestine on the basis of its partition into two independent states will have great historic significance inasmuch as it meets the legitimate demands of the Jewish people…In the opinion of the Soviet delegation, the plan for the settlement in Palestine submitted by the committee and stipulating that the Security Council is to be entrusted with its practical implementation, fully coincides with the interests of maintaining and strengthening international peace and the promotion of inter-state cooperation. Therefore the Soviet delegation supports the recommendation for the partition of Palestine. Unlike some other delegations, the Soviet delegation has from the very outset taken a clear-cut and unambiguous stand upon this question and is consistently upholding it. It will not engage in manoeuvring or manipulations with votes as is regrettably the case at the Assembly, in particular in connection with the debates on the Palestine issue.”
Strizhov I; Ibid; p. 310; vnethnaiapohuha Soretskogo Sniuza (Moscow, 1948), pp. 244-2, 244-5.
On 29 November 1947 the General Assembly adopted Resolution 181(11) on the partition of Palestine into two states. This decision, endorsed the establishment of the State of Israel.
Resolution 181(11) established in January 1948, a special UN commission to “supervise” preparations for the creation of the Arab and the Jewish states.
While this objectively supported the long term imperialist plans for the Middle East, a certain myopia on the part of the imperialists prevented their seeing immediately that they should be pleased.
Initially therefore, it encountered opposition from the British who obstructed its’ work. On the floor of the UN, the US supported the British and argued that it was not possible to perform the task of partition peacefully. But the USA in turn was heatedly opposed by Gromyko who insisted that there should be no such problem:
“The work of the commission generated acrimonious debate and differences in the UN Security Council which was to ensure the implementation of the resolution. At the Security Council meeting on 19 March 1948 the United States representative Warren Austin submitted a proposal for convening the 2nd Special Session of the General Assembly ‘to establish UN trustee-ship over Palestine’, claiming that ‘it is allegedly impossible to carry out the Palestine partition program.. .by peaceful means’. In reply, Soviet representative Gromyko declared that the US stand had nothing in common with the General Assembly resolution and that the Soviet Union could not agree with that position.”
Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p.310; Pravda, 21 March 1948.
Because of the impasse, it was sponsored that the UN establish a trusteeship plan. This had been the original Soviet intention as shown by the above memos put to the Foreign Ministry.
Now however, Gromyko expressly argued against these plans, and in effect, Gromyko ensured that partition would occur with very likely, a quick Israeli take-over of the whole of Palestine:
“On 30 March 1948 when two US resolutions providing for an immediate truce between the Arabs and the Jews and the convocation of a special General Assembly session to reconsider the earlier decision on partition were submitted to the Security Council, Gromyko criticized the US trusteeship plan, characterizing the partition of Palestine as a just solution and insisting that US allegations about the impossibility of effecting the partition by peaceful means were groundless. He said the Palestine Commission should continue its work in order to carry out the partition ‘so long as the General Assembly decisions remained in force’. “
Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p.310-311; Pravda, 1 April 1948.
Now that in effect the damage had been done, the Soviet delegation promptly abstained from the decision to convene a special General Assembly. But at the General Assembly hearing on 20 April 1948, Gromyko again severely attacked the USA and Britain for refusing to accept partition:
“They are out to torpedo the partition decision and impose on the United Nations their decision on Palestine’s future, prompted by the self-seeking interests of the US ruling circles..have put forward new.. proposals to establish trusteeship over Palestine.”
Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p. 311; Izvestiia, 23 April 1948.
The rejection of the previously “acceptable” UN trusteeship line, was now masked in high flown language as expressed by Tsarapkin:
“On 3 May 1948 Tsarapkin, addressing the 1st Committee, rejected the US attempts to impose a trusteeship regime on the peoples of Palestine’. He said: The high level of cultural, social, political and economic development of the Jewish people is indisputable. Such a people should not be put under trusteeship. Such a people has every right to a sovereign state of its own. Any attempts to impose trusteeship on such a people will only discredit the main idea and essence of trusteeship. And are the Palestinian Arabs less deserving of independent existence in their own state than Arabs living outside Palestine? Certainly not. Both the Jewish and the Arab people in Palestine have undoubtedly reached such a stage of political, economic and social development that placing them under trusteeship of any kind is out of the question.”
Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p. 311; Izvestiia, 6 May 1948.
What was therefore the USA and British motives in now delaying?
It is true that the certain perceptive USA diplomats probably correctly and honestly, viewed the Partition as “un-workable.” Loy Henderson’s memorandum of September 22 was entitled “Certain Considerations Against Advocacy by the USA of the Majority Plan” and argued against Partition as follows:
“In summary, Henderson’s main points were that support of the majority plan would undermine US relations withe the Arab and Moslem worlds; that the USA would be expected to make a major contribution to the implementation of the Plan; that any plan for partitioning Palestine was unworkable; that adoption of the plan would not dispose of the Palestine problem; and finally that the proposals in the plan Awere not based on any principle of an international character…. but in definite contravention of… the Charter of the UN as well as the principles on which American Concepts of government are based.”
Wilson E.M. “Decision On Palestine-How the US Came to Recognise Israel”; Stanford;1979; p.117
But the real reason of the higher politicians of the USA, was to enable the maximum possible land grabbing by the Zionists.
While the filibustering at the UN was going on, the Jewish settlers were feverishly grabbing land and terrorising the Palestinians. This reality was referred to, but in a veiled manner by Gromyko who in effect – again simply justified the on-going practical “partition” as a “reality”:
“At the 1st Committee Session on 4 May 1948, Gromyko called on the General Assembly to admit that partition was in fact being implemented. This, he said, was clear from a statement made by a representative of the UN Secretariat, from reports of the Jewish Agency and publications in the US and elsewhere. ‘While the General Assembly is engaged in discussions, the Jewish state will become a reality despite the efforts of some UN members to create all kinds of obstacles’, he asserted.”
Finally the discussions were ended by the practical establishment of the state of Israel.
It was claimed by Pravda that the USA had “suffered a fiasco”:
“On 14 May 1948 the Special Session of the UN General Assembly ended, for on that day the establishment of the State of Israel was proclaimed in Tel Aviv. Pravda commented: ADevelopments at the Special Session of the General Assembly showed that the US, on whose initiative it had been convened, suffered a fiasco. The initial plans of the US were frustrated. The US delegation did not even dare to put its proposal for establishing a trusteeship regime over the whole of Palestine to the vote. The General Assembly also rejected the British proposal for a provisional regime for Palestine. This proposal, amounting to trusteeship but presented in a disguised form, was criticized by the delegation of the USSR and some other countries. In the course of the debate on the Palestine issue, the USSR pursued a consistent policy, upholding the decision on the partition of Palestine and exposing all scheming with respect to Palestine.”
After the fait accompli, when “On 16 May 1948 Moshe Shertok (later Sharett), Foreign Minister of the Provisional Government of Israel, sent a cable to Molotov”, asking for official recognition it was granted:
“In a telegram to Shertok of 17 May 1948 Molotov replied:
‘This is to inform you that the Government of the USSR has decided to extend official recognition to the State of Israel and its Provisional Government. The Soviet Government believes that the creation by the Jewish people of its sovereign state will serve the cause of strengthening peace and security in Palestine and the Middle East and expresses confidence that friendly relations between the USSR and the State of Israel will develop successfully.”
Strizhov I;:” ‘Soviet Position”; Ibid; p. 313; Pravda, 18 May 1948.
Soon after, within a month later, on 26 June 1948, the appointments were announced of P.I. Ershov, as “USSR Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in the State of Israel”; and of Mrs. Golda Meyerson “Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the State of Israel in the USSR”. (Strizhov I;:” ASoviet Position”; Ibid; p. 313). On 7 September 1948 Golda Meyerson, was received by Molotov in Moscow:
“After presenting her credentials, she said that her government had instructed her to take the first opportunity to express to Molotov the gratitude of the people and Government of the State of Israel for the help rendered by the Soviet Union in the United Nations….. The Soviet Government, Molotov replied, regarded this as its duty, all the more so in that it was fully in keeping with Soviet USSR policy vis-a-vis other peoples’… Molotov pointed out that the State of Israel was off to a good start and that there was a basis for the creation of a viable state.”
Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p.314; AVP, f. 06, op. 10, pk. 46, d. 623, p.1.
As only one of the outstanding issues (leaving aside the whole matter of the Arab peoples’ response to this “legalised theft” of their lands) was that of continued Jewish immigration, and from where this would come? Would there be immigration from the USSR?
It was asserted by the diplomatic heads of the USSR that this would be from the “capitalist countries” if at all, and not from the Soviet countries. This was the previous Marxist-Leninist line of the Soviet Foreign Ministry until it was subverted by Gromyko:
“On 15 September 1948, while on a protocol visit to I. N. Bakulirt, head of the Middle East Department of the USSR Foreign Ministry, Meyerson declared:
‘The State of Israel will become viable when its population increases several-fold”.
Bakulin, like Deputy Foreign Ministers V. A. Zorin and F. T. Guseev to whom Meyerson also paid her respects on 15 and 17 September, respectively, made it clear that this immigration would have to come solely from the capitalist countries and that Israel could not even cope with all the repressed and persecuted Jews from these countries.”
Strizhov I; “Soviet Position”; Ibid; p.314;AVP, f 06, op. 10, pk. 46, d. 624, p.1.
There are as far as we know, no documents that show an approval of Gromyko’s step in the partition of Palestine – a step that allowed the formation of a singular state of Israel – by Stalin or the other minority Marxist-Leninists of the Central Committee.
This apparent volte-face by the USSR leaders of the international communist movement, totally alienated the Palestinian communists who were left very weakened. It has certainly assisted the alienation of the best of the Arab militants from the Marxist-Leninist movement. In Gromyko’s own English version of his memoirs, there is no discussion of this episode. (Gromyko “Memoirs”; New York; 1989. )
Nor is there any discussion of this episode in the official “History of Soviet Foreign Policy” edited by Gromyko himself, with another revisionist B.N. Ponomarev. (Gromyko A.A. & Ponomorev B.N. Ed:”Soviet Foreign Policy; 1945-1980″; Vol II; Moscow; 1980). Nonetheless, Gromyko does point out that a key member of the Soviet delegation to the UN was another arch-revisionist – Dmitri Manuilsky:
“At San Francisco and later at the first four sessions of the General Assembly and a number of other international meetings up to 19563 the Soviet Ukrainian delegation was invariably headed by Dmitri Zakharyevich Manuilsky, for whom I had the deepest regard.”
Gromyko “Memoirs” Ibid; p. 128.
The argument is today raised that: “Stalin sabotaged the Palestinian struggle”.
Various explanations to supposedly “explain Stalin’s support of the formation of Israel” are offered by non Marxist-Leninist sources.
We examine these below.
Standard Non Marxist-Leninist Explanations For “Stalin’s Support of Israel”;
1. “Stalin wanted to alienate the Arab Nations from the British”
Sudoplatov, amongst others, suggests it was deliberate ploy to undermine British rule:
“Clearly the intention was to strengthen the Soviet stand in the Middle East and to undermine the British influence among Arab states who objected to the Jewish state, by showing their inability to stop the Jews.”
Sudoplatov; op cit; p.292-293.
It is also alleged by Sudoplatov that Stalin said to Vetrov, who was Molotovs’ assistant & later an Ambassador to Denmark:
“Let’s agree to the establishment of Israel. This will be a pain in the ass for the Arab states & will make them turn their backs on the British. In the long run it will totally undermine British influence in Egypt, Syria, Turkey and Iraq”.
Albert Axell, “Stalin’s War Throughout the Eyes of His Commanders”; New York; 1997; p.296.
This tortuous explanation, in an alleged quotation from Stalin (rather like the older school of historians who state that in 1066 on a certain date and hour, William had a vision after eating grapes and said that he dreamed of his dynasty etc…) is buttressed by a “conversation with a confidential source”, who yet… remains nameless.
2. “Stalin wanted to justify pre-emptively an attack upon Soviet Jewry”:
He “wanted to neutralize the rumors about his changed course on the nationality policy… He felt that he had a psychological and political alibi for future events (arrests exiles, propaganda campaigns).” Vaksberg; Op Cit; p.184
We reject these “explanations” as self-evidently superficial, and again rather strained. But then what does explain these events?
A MARXIST-LENINIST ARGUMENT TO UNDERSTAND WHAT HAPPENED
We argue instead, that the only logical answer is two-fold:
(1) Firstly, the USSR, was not under Stalin’s full un-impeded control. Even following the victory of the Great People’s Anti-Fascist War, revisionist influence within the CPSU and in the leading echelons of the so called People’s Democracies undermined Marxist-Leninist policies; Stalin and the Marxist-Leninists, were in a minority in the Central Committee of the CPSU(B).
(2) Secondly, that post Second World War, Stalin and the USSR were in a position of a temporary objective weakness with respect to the foreign imperialism of the USA. Although epitomised by the “Atomic Gap”, closing that gap still left the USSR in an objectively weaker position than the USA.
PREMISE 1: Stalin And Marxists-Leninists Were In A Minority
Many lines of evidence make clear that revisionists had gone underground in order to continue subverting the Soviet Union, and outnumbered the honest Marxist-Leninists. Even astute observers of the USSR like President Harry S. Truman of the USA, who was a deadly foe of Communism, observed that:
“Stalin was a prisoner of the Politburo’.”
Resis A: ’Stalin, the Politburo & Onset of the Cold War. 1945-1946″, no.701, Carl Beck papers, Pittsburgh 1988; p.9. Citing D.Yergin: the Shattered Peace.”; Boston; 1977.; pp 101-104.
Previous issues of Alliance have discussed the general analysis underpinning this premise. In order to erect a facade behind which the revisionists could operate, a cult of Stalin was built. As time goes by, more evidence supporting this view emerges. We cite a participant in the Second World War:
“Konoplyanko, ex-KGB officer:
“I would put the blame for Stalin’s cult not so much on Stalin himself, but mostly on his environment – the cult was launched from the top not from the bottom.. His toadies and bootlickers competed in currying favour with him by praising him to the skies.”
A.Axell Ibid; p.179-180
It is true that the victory of the USSR in the Second World War gave the Marxist-Leninists strength. This victory was gained, in spite of the enormous sabotage performed from within the party and the army, both penetrated by traitors to the Soviet Union. This is confirmed by interviews with several of Stalin’s generals. For instance with General Shavrov:
“Author: General what puzzles me is why would Stalin undercut himself, I mean weaken the army with the pre-war purges? (Von Rauch says that of 6,000 of Stalin’s highest ranking officers who were arrested on charge of treason, 1500 were executed.”
Shavrov: “The T-34 tank was delivered to the army in 1939.. The weak points (were identified).. In two months time after the tanks was sent back to the factory, the whole research team on the T-34 was arrested.. Who gave the order? We don’t think it was Stalin. Nobody knows for certain who was responsible. Was it treason? Of course Hitler was interested in this.. I know another case.. The Lake Khasan Battle against the Japanese army in 1938. When the Japanese struck were about 200 miles away… That night and for a few more days, our regimental commanders, divisional commandeers, and senior commanders were arrested. At the very moment of the Japanese attack!.. Who did it? This question is still un-answered.”
A.Axell Ibid; p.20.
General Sergeyev has a similar view of the degree of sabotage:
“In 1990, General Igor Sergeyev, who was Deputy Commander-in-chief of Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces disclosed that 35,000 commanders’ were expelled from the Party and arrested in 1937-8. Between 1932 and 1939, the army’s numerical strength actually decreased. He said that experienced soldiers were replaced with hastily trained men’”.
A.Axell Ibid; p. 34
Similar is the testimony of the Czech President Eduard Benes:
“The Czech President Eduard Benes in his post war memoirs said that he learned in 1937 of the existence of the anti-Stalin clique in the Red Army which had close contacts with the Nazi officers.. Czech officials are said to have been shocked to learn that their country’s’s military secrets hitherto known only to the Russians through their mutual aid alliance, were also know to the German high Command. The secrets they claimed were given to Berlin by Marshall Mikhail Tukhachevsky. Some corroboration came from G.E.R. Gedye, the Prague correspondent of the New York Times, who cabled on 18 June that Atwo of the highest officials in Prague” say that the they have ‘definite knowledge that secret connection between the German General Staff and certain high Russian generals have existed since Rapallo.”
A.Axell Ibid; p.35
Stalin’s general response to this sabotage, within the Marxist-Leninist movement, both internally and externally of the USSR, was to weld together a small group of solidly Marxist-Leninist elements around him; to continue to pursue a correct line both outside and within the USSR.
Externally, the approach led to the creation of the Cominform, to pursue the task of ensuring Marxist-Leninist leadership in the Peoples’ Democracies. This occurred after a certain consolidation had taken place.
Internally within the USSR, this policy led to among other things, the creation of a Foreign Policy bureau to deal with the post Second World War manipulations of imperialism. Stalin took the Politburo function of foreign relations into his own hands, and he placed key tasks in the safekeeping of a few chosen comrades, a “sextet” of proven Marxist-Leninists upon whom Stalin could place trust:
“In the conduct of his postwar foreign policies Stalin had no use for the ordinary type of foreign ministry.. he reserved all important decisions to himself.. For a number of years the Politburo was practically eliminated; to Akeep some members away from participation in the decision,” a Asextet” was appointed to deal with international as well as a number of other issues. Among the members of the small committee, in addition to Stalin were Vyacheslev Molotov, Lavrenti Beria, Georgi Malenkov, and until his death in 1948, Andrei Zhdanov.”
Dallin D.J. “Soviet Foreign Policy After Stalin”; Philadelphia 1961; p.3.
Stalin attempted to place strategically important branches of the foreign department directly under his own control:
“No less important than the sextets’ and septets’ was the large Foreign Department of the CC of the CPSU, the existence of which was not publicly acknowledged.. It was divided into sections by countries. The ties between these sections and the corresponding offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were often very close. While the official Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not always headed by a member of the supreme Politburo-Presidium (For example neither Maxim Litvinov or Andrei Vyshinsky was a member of the Politburo), the foreign department of the CC was the organ of the “general” or “first” secretary.. This left the ultimate power.. In the hand of the party’s leader.”
Dallin D.J. “Soviet Foreign Policy After Stalin”; Philadelphia 1961; p.3.
Even then the revisionists were too numerous to be kept entirely out of influential positions. For example, Nikolai Voznosensky – who was a revisionist already under suspicion but only later unmasked by Stalin, was added to the small “sextet” group. It is extremely doubtful that this was “on Stalin’s suggestion” as suggested by Dallin. As detailed elsewhere, Stalin had already realised the nature of Voznosensky’s revisionism. (See For instance Issues Number 12 and 14 of Alliance.)
But in fact it was only later, in 1949 in fact to effect Voznosensky’s arrest and execution. But wherever possible, Stalin ensured that the more steadfast and resolute Marxist-Leninists took the leading and responsible roles. Zhdanov was in the highest and most trusted category:
“In the early 1940’s the Foreign department of the CC was headed by Georgi Malenkov. Malenkov was succeeded by Andrei Zhdanov, whose role was enhanced when the leadership of the dissolved Comintern was incorporated into one of the departments of the CC.”… In 1944-45 under Zhdanov’s direction the Foreign Section of the CC carried out the remarkable operation of dispatching to the respective countries the leaders of the future governments of the satellites selected among emigres in the Soviet Union. The foreign Ministry acquired growing importance in the postwar era as the channel for relations with the communist parties of the satellites.”
Resis; Ibid; p. 4.
Again attempting to ensure Marxist-Leninist control, Stalin removed Ivan Maisky and Maxim Litvinov from diplomatic functions in London and Washington. But since all posts could not possibly be filled without recourse to skills that the revisionists undoubtedly still retained, they were given a post in heading two commissions – respectively the commission for state reparations and the commission for postwar peace treaties. (Vladislav Zubok & Pleshakov, Constantine “Inside the Kremlin’s Cold War-From Stalin to Khrushchev”; Cambridge Mass; 1996; p.28).
The two key ambassador posts in the USA and England were filled initially by Molotov. Litvinov in particular was suspected of secret contacts with the Western ruling classes. This was confirmed when he met with the CBS correspondent Richard C. Hottelet, and warned him to alert the West that “they had to beware of Soviet ambitions for territory,” saying:
“The outmoded concept of security in terms of territory – the more you’ve got the safer you are”.. No Western concessions would satisfy the Soviet leadership.”
Zubok & Pleshakov, Ibid p.37-38.
“If the West acceded to Soviet demands.. It would lead to the West being faced, after a more or less short time, with the next series of demands.”
D.Holloway; Op Cit; p.167
It was fully intended by Litvinov, that President Truman would be informed of this conversation, and “in secret” he was so informed. However Soviet Security was also aware of what had transpired. Within a month Litvinov was relieved of his position. One year later Litvinov told Alexander Werth a Western journalist in Moscow:
“That Russia could have cashed in on the goodwill that it had accumulated during the war, but that Stalin & Molotov did not believe that goodwill provided a lasting basis for policy; they had therefore grabbed all they could while the going was good.”
D.Holloway; Op Cit; p.167
In Summary, even though the Bolshevik party, was penetrated by revisionists, Stalin tried to ensure a personal control of the Ministry of Foreign affairs. However, given the paucity of Marxist-Leninists in the leading echelons of the CPSU, revisionists like Gromyko and Manuilsky, and Vosnoskensky were able to slip into key positions like that at the UN.
PREMISE 2: The Objectively Weak Post-war Soviet Union
How can it be legitimately argued that the Soviet state was objectively weak – even if only temporarily – over 1945-1948? After all the Soviet Union had just in effect, been the decisive factor in liberating the world from German and Japanese fascism. The heroic self-sacrifice of the USSR and its peoples in the war had gained many admirers in the working classes of the world. However, the Soviet people had been through an enormously costly war, moreover one on its own land, and a new frightening technology of the atomic bomb had been used.
(i) Human and Material Losses of the USSR in the Second World War
Neither the USA nor even the British had suffered the degree of destruction of either the industry, or the human resources that the USSR had. Professor John Erikson estimated in 1994, that the German invasion had led to 49 million solider and civilian deaths in Russia, far more than the previous conservative estimate of 20-25 million. In addition there was a drastic decline in Russian’ birth rate. (Cited by Axell A, Ibid; p. 177). The material damage was huge also :
“In July 1944 the Emergency State Commission headed by Niklai Svernik put a preliminary figure of damage at 375 billion rubles, not including damages to a large portion of Ukraine, Byelorussia, the Baltic countries, and the Finnish Karelia. The Maisky Commission (Ivan Maisky was head of the Reparations Commission of the Soviet Union-ed) assessed the overall damage Amust be no less than 700-800 billion rubles… surpassing the national wealth of Germany or England..”
Zubok & Pleshakov; Ibid; p.31.
Stalin pointed out to US Senator Claude Pepper on September 15th 1945, that (Cited Resis p. 3 Ibid. From:FRUS 1945, Vol V 881-893; dated Sep 15th 1945):
“Our people are tired, they couldn’t be induced to make war on anybody anymore.”
It is apparent that a certain degree of war weariness was bound to affect decision making. This affected the manner in which re-building the Soviet Union was approached.
(ii) The Post-Hiroshima Reality
As early as March 1942, the highest echelons of Soviet government were aware of the activities in the West towards the bomb. The secret British Maud Report of July 1941 had concluded that:
“It will be possible to make an effective uranium bomb which, containing some 25 il of active material, would be equivalent as regards destructive effect to 1,800 tons of T.N.T.; and would also release a large quantity of radioactive substances which would make places near to where the bomb exploded dangerous to human life for a long period.”
D.Holloway:”Stalin and the Bomb”; New Haven, 1994; p.79
Details of this were obtained by Anatolii Gorskii (codename Vadim) the NKVD London resident, and John Cairncross and Klaus Fuchs and transmitted to Beria. (D.Holloway:”Stalin and the Bomb”; New Haven, 1994; p82). Beria sent a memorandum to Stalin and the State Defence Committee urging evaluation of this information. (D.Holloway:”Stalin and the Bomb”; New Haven, 1994; p.84). Although a USSR nuclear programme was undertaken soon, the reality was that the decision itself was taken during the siege of Stalingrad. Consequently initial progress was understandably slow.
The scientific advances made under the Manhattan Project in the USA were also well known to the USSR. As the war proceeded, the imminent defeat of the Germans raised the question of joint Allied intervention against Japan. At Yalta, the meeting took place between Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, at which plans for the post war period were drawn up. In the section entitled “Agreement Regarding Japan”, it was made clear that after Germany’s surrender (“in two or three months time”), the USSR would enter into war against Japan on condition that the USSR regained its rights in the border zones with Japan, and was granted the Kurile Islands. In full these conditions were that:
“1. The status quo in Outer Mongolia (the Mongolian People’s Republic) shall be preserved.
2. The former rights of Russia violated by the treacherous attack of Japan in 1904 shall be restored, viz:
a) The southern part of Sakhalin as well as the islands adjacent to it shall be returned to the Soviet Union;
(b) The commercial port of Dairen shall be internationalized, the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union in this port being safeguarded, and the lease of Port Arthur as a naval base of the U.S.S.R. restored;
(c) The Chinese-Eastern Railroad and the South Manchurian Railroad, which provide an outlet to Dairen, shall be jointly operated by the establishment of a joint Soviet-Chinese company, it being understood that the pre-eminent interests of the Soviet Union shall be safeguarded and that China shall retain sovereignty in Manchuria;
3. The Kurile Islands shall be handed over to the Soviet Union.”
(February 11, 1945. “A Decade of American Foreign Policy : Basic Documents, 1941-49; Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC: 1950. WWW: World War II Page WW II Conferences Page; Avalon Home Page: William C. Fray & Lisa A. Spar.).
It was explicitly noted that reference to Outer Mongolia would require the “concurrence of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek.” But this was to be pursued by the USA President Roosevelt, and these claims of the USSR were to Abe unquestionably fulfilled after Japan has been defeated.” But then, by the next meeting of the Allied leaders, at the Potsdam Conference of July 1945, the USA had successfully exploded a test device at Alamogordo on July 16th. In the interim Roosevelt had died.
Marshall Zhukov relates how Stalin and Molotov discussed the seemingly “casual” probing statement of the new USA President- Harry Truman, to Stalin that the USA had a “new weapon of unusual destructive force”:
“They’re raising the price,” said Molotov.
Stalin gave a laugh, “Let them. We’ll have to.. speed up our work.”
Holloway D; Ibid; p. 117.
Obviously both Stalin and Molotov understood the implications of Truman’s remark.
The USA exploded the first nuclear devices used in warfare – at Hiroshima on August 6th 1945 and Nagasaki on August 9th 1945. At this stage, the USSR programme was still incomplete.
So the USA possession of the atomic bomb was a potent threat, as both the American and the Soviet state leaders understood. As Yuli Khariton, a scientist who became one of the Soviet creators of the bomb said (Zubok & Pleshakov; Ibid; p.43):
“The Soviet Government interpreted Hiroshima as atomic blackmail against USSR, as a threat to unleash a new even more terrible and devastating war.”
This assessment accords with that of the British Ambassador to the USSR, Sir Archibald Clark Kerr who wrote to then Foreign Secretary Eden:
“The victory over Germany had made the Soviet leaders confident that national security was at last within their reach.
“Then plumb came the Atomic bomb.. At a blow the balance which had seemed set and steady was rudely shaken. Russia was baulked by the West when everything seemed to be within her grasp. The three hundred divisions were shorn of much of their value.”
Cited in D.Holloway:”Stalin and the Bomb”; New Haven, 1994; p.154.
This atomic possession, grounded a new threatening approach of the USA. This was manifested when Truman demanded the “right” of safe entry to any world port they “needed for security”. This threat, was specified in Truman’s Navy Day Address when he announced the so called 12 Principles of operating for the USA state:
“On Navy Day October 27 1945, President Harry S.Truman set forth his views … Although the US was demobilizing rapidly.. It would still retain the largest Navy. in the world, and one of the largest air forces. It would retain the atomic bomb .. The US needed this vast peacetime force not for territorial aggrandizement, because: Outside the right to establish necessary bases for our own protection, we look for nothing which belongs to any other power.’ A large military force was also needed to uphold the peace & the twelve fundamentals of US foreign policy.. Emphatically he said: “We shall refuse to recognise any government imposed upon any nation by the force of any foreign power.”
Resis Ibid, p. 4.
The Hiroshima bombing called into question the diplomatic gains won first at Yalta and Potsdam by the USSR. The Japanese had been on the verge of surrendering, and had posed by the time of Hiroshima no significant military threat. Moreover the entry of the Soviets into the Far Eastern theater of war, had been previously agreed at Yalta, between the Allies.
But if the USSR entered the theater, the USA was worried that concessions would have to be made to it. Hiroshima was therefore both a pre-emptive strike against the USSR presence in the Japanese-Pacific arena, and a threat for the future post-war realpolitik’.
Nonetheless the Soviets entered the Far Eastern war there as they had promised, and as they had been asked to by the USA previously. From August 9th at 00.10 am the Red Army attacked the Japanese in Manchuria. Thus the USA had not fully achieved their goal of preventing the USSR entry into the Far eastern war.
(See Holloway; Ibid p. 128.).
As Resis comments, the Navy Day speech of Truman (see above) was an assertive speech that
“Plainly coupled implicit threat with explicit friendliness”.
(Resis Ibid, p. 5).
For the Soviet Government, Molotov replied 10 days later in a speech to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. He stated that the imperialists were “exploiting the atomic bomb in international affairs”, and predicted the USSR would have atomic energy also.(Resis Ibid, p. 6).
He pointed out the continuing attempt to isolate the USSR in a renewed anti-Soviet bloc. Kaganovich warned in a speech in Tashkent, that:
“Our country still finds itself in capitalistic encirclement.”
Cited Resis Ibid, From Pravda, p. 10, Feb 8, 1946.
Molotov warned of the need to return to the task of “overtaking and surpassing the economically most developed countries of Europe and the USA,” in per-capita industrial production in the near future. This required a strategic decision regarding heavy or light industry. There was a division in the ranks of even the Marxist-Leninists on this question. Malenkov and Voroshilov explicitly pumped for heavy industry. Voroshilov in a speech in 1946, arguing that anyone who called for a priority to light industry was a latter-day “servitor of fascism”. (Resis Ibid, p. 11). Yet Zhdanov, only the previous day on Feb 6th had called for light industry priority. He said:
“Because the people who over the course of many years of war bore sacrifices and privations, legitimately demanded that material and every-day living conditions should speedily improve. All this is no trifle. The task of improving every-day living conditions and material well-being of the masses, improving the production of consumers’ goods, is a cause which must be defended, fought for, and invested with the same Bolshevist enthusiasm with which we moved in solving war tasks. The people will only thank us for this.”
Resis Ibid, p. 11
Clearly this difference of viewpoint, reflected a genuine debate about the merits of the case, in which legitimate differences were being though over.
Later Stalin pointed out in a key speech in February 9th 1946, preceding the elections to the USSR Supreme Soviet, that although there had been an alliance of “freedom loving states”, including the USSR, UK, USA, the process of uneven capitalist developments had continued unabated. Inevitably there would be another war, although this would be some time off – some 15-20 years. This could allow “special attention” to be “focused to expand the production of consumer goods.” (Resis Ibid, p. 16, Pravda February 10th, 1946).
Stalin also predicted that the next world war would be a war started between the imperialists in order to re-divide the world.
That the rulers of the USA were indeed in a bellicose and belligerent mood, is shown by the manner in which Stalin’s speech was interpreted. The USA Charge d’affaires, George Kennan in Moscow was requested to analyze Stalin’s speech. Kennan wrote the infamous “long telegram”, in which he insisted that the USSR was preparing to go to war for expansion. But this interpretation did not fit with either the speech of Stalin, or the message being sent out consistently by the Soviets, as noted by later independent historians such as Albert Resis.
Other interpreters of Moscow included the British Charge d’affaires in Moscow, Frank Roberts. He cabled to both London and Washington, that Moscow really did want peace at this juncture. (Resis Ibid, p. 19. ). And Stalin’s actions fully corroborated this.
Resis points out the “conciliatory deeds” of Stalin made in order to convey peaceful intent:
“In September 1945, despite Soviet claims on Bear Island and Spitzbergen, Moscow had announced the withdrawal of the Soviet Command from Norway without any quid pro quo and before the Western Allies withdrew their troops. This action was followed on April 6th 1946, when Moscow announced the withdrawal of the Soviet Command from the Danish Island of Bornholm, leaving no Soviet troops in Scandinavia. On the same day Moscow stated that it would complete evacuation of Soviet troops from China by the end of April. Moscow also announced (or was compelled to announce) that it would complete evacuation of all troops from Iran within one-month and a half. On May 22, 1946, Moscow announced that Soviet troops had been completely withdrawn from Manchuria, and on May 24 that the evacuation of Soviet troops from Iran had been completed. At the Paris Peace Conference the Soviet Union abandoned its request for a trusteeship over Tripolitania in favour of its passing to Italian trusteeship under United nations control.”
Resis A; Ibid; p. 25.
The Breaking of the Atomic Monopoly
However all signals from the USSR assuring the imperialists of the USSR peaceful intentions were in vain. The USSR was again being isolated. Therefore, on August 20th, ten days after the bombing of Nagasaki, the State Defence Committee correctly decreed that a special committee would:
“direct all work on the utilization of the intra-atomic energy of uranium.”
Holloway D; Ibid; p. 129.
As previously noted, the Special Committee on the Atomic Bomb was headed by Lavrenti Beria. It was set up by a special decree with extraordinary powers, and reported directly to Stalin himself. This special body was only dissolved by the Khrushchev revisionist controlled Politburo meeting after Stalin’s death, in fact the same one that arrested Beria. Yet it was this same Special Committee, that had succeeded in developing the bomb for the USSR and closing the USA military superiority:
“Focusing all the country’s forces on the solution of this complex problem called above all for the establishment of a new state management body endowed with appropriate power. Such a body, which was entrusted with practically unlimited authority, was the Special Committee, headed by L. P. Beria (a member of State Defense Committee and Vice Chairman of the USSR Council of People’s Commissars) and was founded by the USSR State Defense Committee’s Resolution No. GOKO-9887 of 20 August 1945. The Committee was founded under the State Defense Committee, but after the State Defense Committee was abolished in September 1945, the Special Committee functioned as a body of USSR Council of People’s Commissars (and after March 1946 as a body of the USSR Council of Ministers). In reality, the Special Committee was an independent state control body directly subordinate to Soviet leader J.V.Stalin. It functioned for almost eight years until it was abolished in accordance with a CC CPSU Presidium Resolution of 26 June 1953 at the same tumultuous meeting at which Beria was arrested. Thus, the Special Committee’s activities covered a most important, formative period of the Soviet atomic project, that is, the establishment and growth of the USSR atomic-energy industry, the development and testing of the first Soviet atomic bomb (in 1949) and early improved atomic bomb designs, and the development and virtual completion of the first Soviet hydrogen bomb (RDS-6), which was first tested in August 1953.”
Cold War International History Project; WWW: “Research Notes: the Russian Nuclear Project..the A-bomb Effort, 1946” by G. A. Goncharov, N. I. Komov, A. S. Stepanov http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/CWIHP/BULLETINS/b8-9a38.htm
But again it was not possible to exclude fully the evident and known revisionists, such as Nikolia Vosnosensky, still the head of Gosplan, let alone political waverers like Malenkov. (Holloway D; Ibid; p. 134). Gosplan had apparently already expressed disapproval of the Plan, at an earlier stage of the Soviet plans. (Holloway, reference 78 note to p.86) . The industrial managers on the committee were Vannikov, Zaveniagin and Pervukhin. Two scientists on the committee were Khurchatov and Peter Kaptisa. In addition the NKVD representative was General V.A.Mekhnev. Beria reported to Stalin weekly on the progress. The mandate of the Committee of necessity had to be broad, and encompassed special dispensations for all matters related to the production of uranium:
“Considering and resolving all the most basic issues which arose in the course of the early Soviet atomic project, the Special Committee was empowered to supervise all work on the use of atomic energy of uranium:- the development of scientific research in this sphere;- the broad use of geological surveys and the establishment of a resource base for the USSR to obtain uranium…;- the organization of industry to process uranium and to produce special equipment and materials connected with the use of atomic energy; and the construction of atomic energy facilities, and the development and production of an atomic bomb”
Cold War International History Project Op Cit; Goncharov et al; Web site http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/CWIHP/BULLETINS/b8-9a38.htm
The USSR atomic bomb followed the design of the USA bombs, and they were termed the RDS systems. By August 1949, RDS-1 was successfully exploded:
“RDS-1 meant the analog of the first U.S. plutonium-239 implosion type atomic bomb tested on 16 July 1945 in New Mexico (and of the U.S. atomic bomb exploded over Nagasaki on 9 August 1945). This bomb was successfully tested in the USSR on 29 August 1949. RDS-2 signified the analog of the uranium-235 gun type bomb exploded over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. This bomb passed a design verification in the USSR, but was not tested. Later the abbreviation RDS-2 was used to denote the improved plutonium-239 implosion type atomic bomb tested in 1951. During the period through 1954 the USSR verified and tested three more types of improved atomic bombs: RDS-3, RDS-4, and RDS-5.”
The speed of the USSR catch-up of the technological gap, surprised the USA imperialists. The speed was no doubt, owed in part to successful Soviet espionage. However, even authors hostile to Marxism-Leninism recognise the achievements of Soviet science, and industry which had to overcome the appalling devastation of Nazi invasion:
“The short duration and arrangement of the parallel works became possible thanks to… intelligence materials about the designs of the U.S. atomic bombs Fat Man and Little Boy, prototypes of RDS-1 and RDS-2, Soviet atomic bombs, which the leaders of the USSR atomic project decided in 1946 should be copied as closely as possible from the American designs. It should be emphasized that the availability of the intelligence materials could not substitute for independent experimental, theoretical, and design verification of the Soviet atomic bombs which were being prepared for testing. Owing to the extraordinary responsibility of the leaders of and participants in the Soviet atomic project, RDS-1 was tested only after thorough confirmation of the available information and a full cycle of experimental, theoretical, and design studies whose level corresponded to the maximum capabilities of that time.”
Since on December 25th 1946 the first Soviet nuclear reactor started a controlled chain reaction, the imminent likelihood of a tangible USSR atomic weapon had become clear. This began to tilt the balance of power back into the hands of the USSR.
It was at this juncture that the Szalarsa Poremba, First Cominform meeting was held in September 1947.
This exposed the French and Italian parties for revisionist tendencies, and laid the planks for exposing Titoite revisionism (See Alliance 18). Previous leaders of the ECCI such as Dimitrov, were deliberately excluded by Stalin. There is only one rational explanation – that Stalin had become convinced of their inability and sabotage, during the life of the previous Third International:
“As early as June 1946, Stalin had spoken with Dimitrov and Tito about the need of establishing an Information Bureau.. Rather than simply reviving the Comintern, on which Stalin heaped a torrent of insults and abuse which caused Dimitrov to become alternately pale and flushed with repressed anger”
Eugenio Reale :”Founding of the Cominform”, In M. M.Drachkovitch & Branko Lazitch (Eds): “The Comintern..”; Stanford (USA); 1966; p. 257-60.
The Continuing USSR Weakness Following the Acquisition of the Bomb
As we saw, the temporary military and political weakness of the USSR in being able to counter the atomic intimidation of the USA, had partially ended with the successful completion in August 1949, of the USSR atomic bomb. But even then the sharpest imperialist observers of the USSR noted military weaknesses. On just the atomic front the USA had already stockpiled over a hundred atomic bombs by the time the USSR was successful in building and exploding one. In fact, the Western imperialists remained confident that the German Nazi invasion had left the USSR significantly weakened. As the USA ambassador to the USSR, Admiral Alan G. Kirk, commented at a meeting of U.S. ambassadors at Rome, March 22-24, 1950:
“There were certain weaknesses in the Soviet Union which should be considered. The two basic shortages in terms of raw materials were those of rubber and petroleum. It was generally believed that there were no more large unexploited oil reserves available to the Russians. The other important weakness was that of the transportation system which in all respects, rail, highway, and water, was not highly developed in a modern sense.”
FRUS 1950-, Volume III, p. 823.
This was certainly not an isolated view, despite the public shrill fear-mongering of the USSR, that the Western Imperialists actively fanned. Colonel Robert B. Landry, Air Aide to President Truman in 1948, reported the weakness of the Russian mobilisation capability when directed at the West:
“I was told at the G-2 [intelligence] briefing that the Russians have dismantled hundreds of miles of railroads in Germany and sent the rails and ties back to Russia. There remains, at present time, so I was told, only a single track railroad running Eastward out of the Berlin area and upon which the Russians must largely depend for their logistical support. This same railroad line changes from a standard gauge, going Eastward, to a Russian wide gauge in Poland, which further complicates the problem of moving supplies and equipment forward.”
Cited Frank Kofsky: “The War Scare of 1948”, London; 1993, 1995. pp. 293-94.
As a recent commentator has pointed out, the highest levels of the US officialdom knew very clearly how affected the USSR had been by the war:
“In a memorandum to Secretary of State Dean Acheson dated April 5, 1950, Willard L. Thorp, Assistant Secretary of State for Economic Affairs, offered his view of the Soviet Union’s economic condition vis-a-vis the United States’s. Thorp wrote this memorandum in response to a draft of NSC-68, the “State-Defense Staff Study,” which high-level State Department officials like Thorp received on March 30, 1950. They were instructed to provide written comments on it prior to the delivery of the final version of NSC-68 to President Truman set for April 7, 1950. Thorp’s comments concerned the overall economic conditions of the two countries and the amount each country devoted to military spending in relation to its total expenditures.
Disagreeing with the draft’s thesis that Athe USSR is steadily reducing the discrepancy between its overall economic strength and that of the United States,” Thorp stated:
“I do not feel that this position is demonstrated, but rather the reverse.. that the gap is actually widening in our favour.”
He pointed out that the United States’s economy increased twofold over the Soviet Union’s economy in 1949. Steel production in the U.S. outpaced steel production in the Soviet Union by two million tons, and stockpiling of goods and production of oil far exceeded Soviet amounts. Furthermore,
“if one compares the total economic capacity [of the two countries],” Thorp writes, “the gap is so tremendous that a slight and slow narrowing [on the part of the Soviets] would have little meaning.” As for Soviet military investment, Thorp opines: “I suspect a larger portion of Soviet investment went into housing.”
FRUS: 1950, Volume I, pp. 218-20. Cited In an Internet exchange dated October 1997, Upon a Controversy between Lloyd Gardner & John Gaddis; See MA Thesis of Curt Cardwell.
That Stalin tried hard to remain at peace with the Western imperialists was even accepted by A High Priest of The Cold War Warrior Western Academics, John Lewis Gaddis:
“What is often forgotten about Stalin is that he wanted, in his way, to remain ‘friends’ with the Americans and the British: his objective was to ensure the security of his regime and the state he governed, not to bring about the long-awaited international proletarian revolution; he hoped to do this by means short of war, and preferably with Western cooperation.”
John Lewis Gaddis: “Intelligence, Espionage and Cold War Origins”, DH, Spring 1989, 209.
Other academic Cold War historians, already cited above, have agreed with Gaddis’ view, such as V. Mastny; and Zubok and Pleshakov.
It is now necessary to detail the changing roles and leadership of the Soviet Security apparatus, in order to then correctly interpret the events of the so called Zionist Plot and the Doctors Plot. This forms the next section of this article.