Category Archives: United Kingdom

Revolutionary Communist Party (PCR): Imperialism Wants a New War in the World

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From Unity & Struggle No. 25, Spring/Summer 2013

Brazil

To satisfy its thirst for profit, the powerful war industry in the U.S. and other countries want another war in the world, whether it is against Syria or Iran, or against both countries at the same time. To do this, the gigantic propaganda machine of capitalism spreads lies and hides the fact that the CIA made agreements with Al-Qaeda to organize attacks against Syria.

Syria is not a socialist country and, therefore, it is not democratic. The principal law of the country’s economy is profit and those who rule and govern are the class of the rich. The elections are manipulated, those who fight for a revolution and real socialism are persecuted and there are numerous cases of corruption in the country. Those with money, the rich families, manage to resolve their problems, but those without, the vast majority of the population, suffer to even get a job.

Despite having socialism in its name and program, the Baath Party (Arab Socialist Renaissance Party) in practice does not defend the scientific socialism of Marx and Lenin, even though in its constitution in 1963 it was a progressive party, it nationalized oil and the land and adopted measures against foreign plunder of the country. But since the 1980s, it has become an instrument in the service of the privileges of a few hundred families and private groups. Consequently, several multinationals have ever more businesses in Syria. For two years the Italian multinational arms company, Finmeccanica, has been among the suppliers of the Syrian government. Finmeccanica is the eighth largest supplier of the Pentagon and also produces in association with the U.S. company Lockheed Martin.

As a dependent country, Syria is greatly suffering the consequences of the present capitalist economic crisis. This is aggravated by the fact that since the 1990s the government has adopted a series of neoliberal reforms that allow for the penetration of foreign capital, it has eliminated the welfare programs and reduced public investment by 50%. Large tracts of land in the city have been privatized and given to large enterprises that raised prices of real estate, forcing thousands of families to live on the outskirts of the cities and to form slums. Today, the country has a large number of unemployed youths, inequality is increasing greatly and poverty is growing. This led to the fact that, in March of 2011, amid the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, the youth took to the streets demanding social and political changes in the country.

It was under these circumstances that the imperialist countries began to operate, sending mercenaries who had been in Iraq to Syria to organize attacks and recruit those dissatisfied with the regime in order to form an army. Even the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda was used by the CIA and is an active member of the so-called Free Syrian Army. Also, the reactionary Turkish government of Tayyip Erdogan bombed Syria at the service of the imperialist strategy, fulfilling the role of provocateur seeking to accelerate the new imperialist war.

But it is not to put an end to capitalism nor to corruption much less to uphold human rights in Syria that the United States, France, Britain and Germany want to bomb Syria and overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad. Incidentally, it is enough to note what occurred when those countries took over Libya, Afghanistan and Iraq after the military interventions of the imperialist countries to see what will happen to Syria in a NATO attack.

Indeed, none of these countries has become more democratic or less violent after the wars of which they were victims. On the contrary, today in Libya, in various public buildings the flag of the terrorist organization Al-Qaeda waves, the one that is accused of carrying out the attacks on the Twin Towers in the United States, which killed more than 3,000 U.S. citizens and which last September 11 led an attack that killed the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens. In Afghanistan, between January 1 and June 30, 2012, 1,145 people died and 1,945 were injured due to attacks. Women and children made up 30% of the victims.

If the imperialist powers had any respect for human rights, the United States would not have financed and aided the military coup in Honduras, tried to overthrow the government of Hugo Chavez and would not continue to support and maintain the bloody dictatorships in Yemen, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

The defense that Russia and China made of the Syrian government has nothing to do with respect for the self-determination of the peoples. Let us recall that these two countries were favorable to the criminal wars against Iraq and Afghanistan and that they supported the various economic sanctions against Syria and Iran, depriving millions of people of food and medicine.

The old lie repeated

Furthermore, to justify a new imperialist war, the United States and other imperialist powers are repeating the same argument (or rather, the same lie) used against Iraq: Saddam has chemical weapons of mass destruction, or against Libya: Gaddafi is massacring the civilian population.

Therefore, the main reason raised by the United States and its allies to pressure the UN to approve the attack on Syria and use its deadly war machine made up of military satellites, nuclear weapons, submarines, drones, intercontinental missiles and millions of armed men deployed in over 1,000 military bases in about 50 countries, is that Syria has “powerful chemical weapons that can be used against the population.”

Look at what the U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, on September 28, when he was asked by the U.S. media about chemical weapons depots in Syria: “U.S. intelligence reports state that the arsenal is in secure locations, but some of them have been moved. It is not clear when the weapons were transferred, nor whether that movement took place recently.” The story goes on to say that the U.S. believes that Syria has dozens of chemical and biological weapons depots scattered throughout the country.

In late August, President Barack Obama declared: “We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also with all the other fighters, the red line would be when we start to see a whole bunch of chemical weapons being moved and used. That would change our calculus.”

There has never even been an international mission to Syria to investigate whether or not the country has chemical weapons. And now, not only that the country has them, but that they are transferring them from one place to another.

But how can one give credit to a government that has already lied so many times? Let us recall some of them: it said it would not drop atomic bombs on Japan and it dropped them; it said it would not use biological weapons against Vietnam and it used them; it said that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and that was a lie. It says Iran is producing nuclear weapons, but so far, despite various inspections by the IAEA it was not able to find a single nuclear weapon in the country; however, according to the Pentagon the U.S. has 5,113 nuclear weapons and Israel has several hundred.

Moreover, what has mainly appeared about Syria are lies and disinformation. On September 28, U.S. and French news agencies made the following report: “Yesterday was the second consecutive day of bombings in the capital (Damascus). Two organizations of anti-Assad activists announced that several bodies were found in a suburb south of the capital. Apparently, the deaths were caused by forces loyal to the dictatorship.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that 40 bodies, including women and children, were dumped in the suburb of Thiyabiyeh. The leader of the organization, Rami Abdul-Rahman, stated he had no details about the deaths. Other groups opposed to Assad, the Local Coordination Committees, estimated that a total of 107 bodies had been found, that many of the bodies showed signs of execution and some of the victims were beheaded. The numbers indicate one of the worst massacres of civilians since the start of the uprising. (O Globo, September 28, 2012).

Note that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it had no details about the 40 deaths. The other said there were 107 deaths. Was it they did not learn how to count or that they did not have time to fix the numbers? And who are the real murderers?

Crimes against the Syrian people, murders and executions are not uncommonly practiced by the so-called rebel forces of Syria. Look at what the Brazilian Ambassador Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, head of an independent international panel investigating the situation in Syria, said unexpectedly: “there are reasonable grounds to establish that anti-government forces of that country are perpetrating assassinations, extrajudicial executions and torture”.

Paulo Pinheiro also denounced the fact that the use of children under the age of 18 years by armed opposition groups is increasing, that these forces do not identify their members with real uniforms or insignia to distinguish them from civilians. Crimes committed by these elements, such as kidnappings, torture and ill-treatment of captured government soldiers, were also rejected by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay.

Concluding, Pinheiro criticized the government for carrying out indiscriminate attacks, such as air strikes and artillery shelling of residential areas. He also opposed the application of sanctions against Syria, because they constitute a denial of the fundamental rights of the people of that country, where according to the UN there are 2.5 million people who need humanitarian assistance. The specialist reiterated the need for a political solution in Syria, stressing that “there is no possibility of a military solution” (Correio do Brasil, September 22, 2012).

This is the truth.

Why imperialism wants war?

Nevertheless, the big bourgeois media want to convince people of the need for another imperialist war; they spread more and more lies, reminding us of Hitler’s propaganda minister, the Nazi Joseph Goebbels, who stated: “a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”

Actually, what is behind the war that is developing in Syria, which has killed 25,000 Syrians, are the interests of the imperialist powers in controlling a country that produces oil and natural gas – Syria produces 380,000 barrels of oil per day and has reserves of 2.5 billion barrels and 240 billion cubic meters of natural gas; it is located in a strategic region of the Middle East and borders on Iraq, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. Moreover, Syria is forced by circumstances, since part of its territory, the Golan Heights, has been occupied by Israel since 1967; it is a country that has supported the fight for a Palestinian State and has almost 500,000 Palestinian refugees on its territory.

Thus, the replacement of the current Syrian government by a government subservient to the domination of the U.S., France and England in the region, besides ensuring the monopolies in these countries control over the oil and gas, would also weakens Iran and the struggle of the Palestinian people and would facilitate the political control of the Middle East. In short, this is a war to secure the interests of the multinationals such as Exxon (U.S.), General Dynamics (U.S.), Raytheon (U.S.), BAE Systems, EADS (Europe), Finmeccanica (Italy), L-3 Communications (U.S.) and United Technologies (U.S.).

In fact, there are various proofs of the presence of CIA paramilitaries in Syria; the government has denounced to the UN the presence of 60,000 mercenaries acting in the country paid by the imperialist powers.

The so-called Free Syria Army receives a lot of money and weapons from Britain, France and the U.S. According to the BBC, the British news agency, the British government gave more than $7 million in “medical supplies and communications equipment” to Syrian armed groups. France, which held Syria as a colony until 1949, defended, through its Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius that “Syrian liberated areas under rebel control will receive financial, administrative and medical assistance.” The French Foreign Minister promised aid of 5 million Euros (12.8 million reales) to the opponents.

On September29, the U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, announced more than $30 million in assistance for food, water and medical services and more than $15 million in “communication equipment” to the unarmed political opposition.

Now, despite the fact that the UN adopted sanctions against Syria – the Syrian government is recognized by that organization and by hundreds of countries – this intervention violates all international laws and shows that imperialism long ago threw the principle of peaceful coexistence among countries and respect for the self-determination of nations into the garbage bin.

These, therefore, are the reasons why one more imperialist war is on the way. This situation places before all free men and women who do not want or accept a world dictatorship of capital and the enslavement of mankind by a handful of imperialist countries governed by a half dozen banks and monopolies, the question of what to do to stop these genocides and prevent new wars from being unleashed by capitalist powers. Such powers, immersed in a serious economic crisis, see their salvation in increasing the exploitation of the workers, seizing the wealth of the people and dominating the world. In the words of Che Guevara: “Capitalist imperialism has been defeated in many partial battles. But it is a significant force in the world and one cannot expect its final defeat without the effort and sacrifice of all.”1

Luis Falcao,  PCR CC

1 Che Guevara, Speech at the Economic Seminar of Afro-Asian Solidarity, 1965

Source

Marxist-Leninist Communist Party of Ecuador (PCMLE): Stalin

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Excerpts from a talk held in the Dominican Republic on the 50th anniversary of the death of Comrade Stalin, at the invitation of the Communist Party of Labour.

During his lifetime Comrade Stalin won the admiration and affection of the working class and all the peoples of the vast Soviet Union, as well as the respect and friendship of the workers of the five continents, the fervour and enthusiasm of the communists of all countries. Of course, he elicited the hatred of the reactionaries, imperialists and bourgeois who felt deeply hurt by the colossal achievements of the Soviet Union, by the great economic, cultural, technological and scientific feats of the workers and socialist intelligentsia, by the great and resounding triumphs of the revolution and socialism, of the communists.

In this plot against Stalin by which they fought communism, the Nazi propaganda stood out for its slander and persistence, which did not let one day pass without launching its dire diatribes.

Of course, this counter-revolutionary and anti-communist hatred also characterized Trotsky and his followers.

Shortly after Stalin’s death, the voices of the “communists” who had assumed the leadership of the Soviet Party and the State were added to the chorus of the reactionaries and anti-communists of all countries who had always reviled Stalin.

From then until our day, anti-Stalinism has been the recurring voice of all the reactionaries, of the ideologues of the bourgeoisie, of the Trotskyists, revisionists and opportunists of all shades.

By attacking Stalin, they are trying to tear down the extraordinary achievements of socialism in the Soviet Union and in what had been the socialist camp; they want to minimize and even ignore the great contributions of the Red Army and the Soviet peoples in the decisive struggle against Nazism, to denigrate the Communist Party and the socialist system as totalitarian, as the negation of freedom and democracy. By attacking Stalin they are aiming at Lenin, Marx and socialism. To denigrate Stalin as bloodthirsty and a bureaucrat means to attack the dictatorship of the proletariat and thereby deny the freedom of the workers and peoples, socialist democracy. To slander Stalin as being ignorant and mediocre is to refuse to recognize his great contributions to revolutionary theory, to Marxism-Leninism. To attack Stalin means to deny the necessity of the existence and struggle of the communist party, to transform it into a movement of free thinkers and anarcho-syndicalists, to remove its Leninist essence, democratic centralism.

The height of anti-Stalinism is to call Stalinists those who betrayed the revolution and socialism in the name of doing away with the “crimes of Stalin” and of making the Soviet Union a “democratic country”. The folly of the reactionaries and opportunists does not allow them to recognize that the confessed anti-Stalinists, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, Gorbachev and Yeltsin, destroyed brick by brick the great work of the Soviet working class and peoples, of the communists, of Lenin and Stalin.

The attacks on Stalin are of such magnitude that even a significant number of social fighters, leftists and revolutionaries have fallen victim to these slanders. Basically, they are sincere people, interested in social and national liberation, who do not know the personality and work of Stalin and therefore join the chorus of these distortions. There are also some petty-bourgeois revolutionaries who attack Stalin from supposedly “humanist” positions.

It is up to us communists to defend the revolutionary truth about Stalin, and it is our responsibility because we are his comrades, the ones who are continuing his work.

The Great October Socialist Revolution was one of the great events of humanity. The workers and peoples of the world’s largest country stood up, undertook a long revolutionary process, led by the Bolshevik Party, which led them to victory in October of 1917. This great feat of the workers and peasants, the soldiers and the intelligentsia was a complex process, full of twists and turns and advances and retreats.

The proletarian revolution that smashed the tsarist empire to pieces was inconceivable without the guidance of Marxism, which established itself as the emancipatory doctrine of the working class; without the efforts of Russian communists, mainly of Lenin by his creative application in the social, economic, cultural, historical and political conditions of old Russia; without the building, existence and struggle of the Bolshevik Party; without the decisive participation of the working class and the millions of poor peasants; without the social and political mobilization of the broad masses; without the existence and fighting of the Red Army; and without the important contribution of the international working class.

Several decades of strikes and street battles; the utilization of parliamentary struggle and the participation of the communists in the Duma; the ideological and political struggle against the bourgeoisie and the tsarist autocracy; the organization of the Soviets of workers, peasants and soldiers; the great theoretical and political debate against opportunism within the party that led to the isolation of the Menshevik theses and proposals and to the formation of the Bolshevik Party governed by democratic centralism; the fierce battles against social chauvinism and social pacifism on an international scale; the profuse and fruitful propaganda activity of the communists; the fight to win ideological and political hegemony within the Soviets; the Revolution of 1905 and its lessons; the February Revolution of 1917, its results and consequences; the great armed insurrection of October; the Brest-Litovsk peace agreements; the revolutionary civil war; the establishment of the dictatorship of the proletariat, these constitute the most salient features and characteristics of the struggle for power of the Russian communists, organized in the Bolshevik Party.

Stalin was born in Gori, a small town close to Tbilisi, in Georgia, on December 21, 1879. His father was a shoemaker, the son of serfs, and his mother, a servant, was also the daughter of serfs.

He joined into the ranks of the party in 1898, when he was 19 years old, and since that time his life, thoughts, dreams and his intellectual and physical effort were devoted to the cause of communism, to the fight for the revolution and socialism.

Until March of 1917 when he moved to Petrograd and joined the editorship of Pravda, Stalin had been and was a tireless organizer of trade unions and the party, of demonstrations and strikes, of newspapers and magazines, a student of Marxism and the author of various documents and proposals. He had been in prison and exile, at Party congresses and conferences. He was a fighter and leader of the revolution.

The revolutionary period that began with the February Revolution was the scene of great ideological and political confrontations against the bourgeoisie and the imperialists, but also against the Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionaries, and also within the Party. The whole process of winning the majority of the Soviets for the policy of the Bolsheviks had in Stalin a great leader and architect. The preparation of the insurrection, the technical and military contacts and preparations and also the debate within the leadership of the Bolshevik Party found in Stalin a protagonist of the highest order; he was a great comrade of Lenin in all aspects of political work.

Stalin was part of the first Soviet government as a People’s Commissar of Nationalities; he participated actively in the revolutionary civil war as a Commissar and Commander on various fronts and showed his military and political ability in forging and consolidating the young Soviet power and strengthening the Red Army. He was one of the most outstanding leaders of the party, the government and the army.

In 1921, by decision of the party and together with Lenin he participated actively in the foundation of the Third or Communist International, which would play a great role in the organization and leadership of the revolution on the international level.

A great task that the proletarian revolution took up was the formation of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), which meant concretely the application of the line of the Party with regard to the nationalities and peoples. The “prison-house of nations” that was the tsarist empire became a community of nations, nationalities and peoples, governed by socialism, which put forward the defence and development of the national cultures and their inclusion in the building of the new society.

Having taken up these responsibilities, his dedication and selflessness in their fulfilment and his theoretical ability made Stalin the General Secretary of the Party in 1922. When Lenin died in 1924, the Political Bureau of the Party designated Stalin as the main leader of the party.

The Communist Party (Bolshevik), under the leadership of Stalin, faithful to the Leninist legacy, pushed through the New Economic Policy (NEP) during the 1920s. Amidst great difficulties, relying on the mobilization of the working class and peasantry, defeating the blockade, sabotage and resistance of the defeated reactionary classes and the force of individual capitalism that emerged in the peasant economy, it succeeded in overcoming the disastrous material, economic and social situation that Russia had been in after the Civil War, with production reduced to 14% of the pre-war period, and which was seen in widespread famine and the profusion of diseases.

In this period a bitter ideological and political battle was being waged within the party between the Bolsheviks and the so-called “‘Left’ communists,” who wanted to “export the revolution” and place the weight of the economy on the peasantry, liquidating it as an ally of the proletariat.

In 1929, the NEP was concluded and the accelerated collectivization of the countryside was begun, the great battle against the kulaks who wanted to reverse the revolutionary process in the countryside.

In 1930, the process of large-scale industrialization was pushed forward with great material efforts and supported by the mobilization of the working class. It was a great feat that required large investments and therefore limited the possibilities for the well-being of the great masses of workers and peasants. Despite this, the revolutionary fervour and enthusiasm allowed for the fulfilment and even over-fulfilment of its goals.

In the West, this was the time of the Great Depression; in the country of the Soviets it was the time of the victorious construction of socialism. The Soviet Union became the second greatest economic and commercial power in the world, after the United States. For eleven years, between 1930 and 1940, the USSR had an average growth of industrial production of 16.5%.

A good part of socialist accumulation had to be invested in the defence and security of the Soviet Union, which had to deal with the arms race to which all the capitalist countries of Europe, the USA and Japan were committed.

For 1938-39, the danger of imperialist war hung over Europe and the world. The German Nazis, the Italian fascists and the Japanese reactionaries were moving quickly to form the Axis. The Western powers headed by the Anglo-French alliance worked feverishly to conclude a pact with Germany in order to encourage it to direct its attacks against the Soviet Union, in order to liquidate the communists, wear down the Germans and enter the war under better conditions. It was a devious and cunning diplomatic game that handed over the Sudetenland and the rest of Czechoslovakia to the Germans.

The Soviet Union was a developing economic and military power, but its military capability was much weaker than that of Germany, France, England or the USA. It was surrounded by powerful enemies and needed material resources and time to prepare itself for the eventual war which was announced with cannons and aircraft.

The Soviet Union needed to combine international diplomacy and politics with its industrial development and military power. This circumstance forced the communists to devote a large quantity of material resources in this direction, but also to seek diplomatic alternatives that enabled its defence.

Several international meetings, endless proposals and projects were addressed to the chancelleries. The Soviet Union could not establish an alliance against Nazism since the main interest of the Western powers made the Soviet Union their target. In these circumstances and for its defence, in August 1939, the Molotov-Von Ribbentrop Pact of “non-aggression between Germany and the Soviet Union” was signed.

This international treaty gave the Soviet Union precious time to push forward its military industry. Utilizing large material resources and the will of the peoples, in a short time it was able to build planes, tanks, cannons, weapons and ammunition in large quantities and simultaneously it could relocate its key industries located in European Russia to the East, behind the Urals.

World War II broke out in 1939. The Germans invaded Poland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, the Balkans, France, Belgium and Netherlands and utilizing “blitzkrieg” tactics, the lightening war, in few weeks they destroyed the armies of those countries and imposed puppet governments.

When it came to the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, the Germans did not have the military capacity to carry out and win with the blitzkrieg; they ran into the resistance of the Red Army, the guerrillas and the great masses of workers and peasants who defended the socialist fatherland. The Red Army put up a fierce resistance and gave way to the Nazi troops, forcing them to penetrate into a vast territory, teeming with guerrillas who persistently harassed them. They could not take Leningrad much less Moscow. In Stalingrad a major battle was waged, street by street, house by house, man by man. The reds resisted and then took the initiative and defeated the German army. That was the beginning of the end of the fascist beast.

The Red Army launched the re-conquest of its territories occupied by the Nazis and advanced victoriously across the mountains and plains of Europe, contributing to the liberation of several of the countries of Eastern Europe, up to Berlin, which was taken on May 9, 1945.

This great victory of the Soviet Union was the fruit of the fortress of socialism, of the unity and will to action of the working class and peoples, of the valour of the Red Army, but it was also a consequence of the diplomatic, political and military genius of the General Staff and the leadership of the Soviet Party and Government, led by Stalin.

At the end of the war, the victory of the revolution took place in several countries of Europe, which established people’s democratic governments, and the victory of the revolution in other Asian countries. The Soviet Union emerged as a great economic and military power that won the affection and respect of workers and peoples of the world, of the patriots and democrats, of the revolutionaries and especially the communists. The Soviet Union, Stalin and the Communist Party were the great protagonists in the defeat of fascism.

The Great Patriotic War meant great human and material sacrifices for the Proletarian State. The victory achieved was built upon the great spiritual heritage of socialism that protected the workers and peoples of the USSR; it was made possible by the great patriotic sentiments with which the Communist Party was able to inspire the bodies and minds of the Soviet peoples, by the deep affection of the workers for Soviet power, by the brave and courageous contribution of the communists who put all their abilities and energy into the defence of socialism. The contribution of the Soviet Union in the Second World War was more than 20 million human beings, of which slightly more than 3 million were brave members of the Bolshevik Party. The Party gave over its best men to the war, it lost invaluable political and military cadres, but it also further tempered the Bolshevik steel, and at the end of the war it had gained more than 5 million new members.

At Yalta and Tehran, at the peace negotiations, the workers and peoples of the world had a great representative, Comrade Stalin, who knew, with wisdom, prudence and composure, how to restore the rights of the peoples and countries that had been victims of the war and fascism, how to contribute to the establishment of agreements and open the way to new levels of democracy and freedom in the world.

World War II was the prelude to the national liberation of dozens of countries on the five continents, who won their independence by breaking with the old colonial order. The Soviet Union led by Stalin was always the safe and reliable rear of this great liberation movement.

In the field of the revolution, the victories achieved in Albania and other countries of Eastern Europe, in China, Korea and Vietnam, gave rise to the formation of the powerful socialist camp. A quarter of the population living on a third of the Earth’s surface were building socialism and had in the Soviet Union, led by Stalin, an enlightening example and unreserved support. In the rest of the world, the working class, the peasantry, the youth and the progressive intelligentsia saw the socialist future of humanity with certainty and confidence.

On the other hand, the end of the Second World War established a new order within the capitalist sphere. The United States became the main world power and had hegemony over the capitalist countries.

There arose a new contradiction in the international sphere: one that opposed the old world of capital to the new world of socialism. The bourgeois ideologues and politicians called this the “cold war”, alluding to the antagonism of the dispute.

Once more the superiority of socialism became evident. In the Soviet Union, but also in the other countries of the socialist camp, the culture and well-being of the masses, science and technology, the social and material progress of the workers and peoples flourished. In 1949 the USSR was able to build the atomic bomb and in 1957 it launched the space race, taking the lead.

Neo-colonialism, a form of imperialist domination that emerged after the independence of the dependent nations and countries, always had a counterweight in the Soviet Union led by Stalin. The peoples of the former colonies always had a loyal friend.

Within a few years, from 1917 to the early years of the 1950s, the proletarians, led by the communists organized in the Bolshevik Party of Lenin and Stalin, built the dreams of a new world, the world of socialism. They built the essentials, many things were lacking, some failed, but humanity never knew a broader and truer democracy, never before were men in their multitudes able to have material and social well-being, equality among their peers. This was proletarian democracy.

It was an epic of the workers and peoples, the realization in life of the scientific theory of Marxism-Leninism, the gigantic effort of the communists, the serene and bold work of the leaders, Lenin and Stalin.

When we speak of Stalin we are referring to the leader, the organizer, the head, the comrade and friend, who was really one of the great builders of the new man, of the new humanity.

This understanding of Stalin cannot be conceived without discovering and learning about his extraordinary theoretical work.

From the beginning of his communist activity he correctly evaluated the role of theory in the process of organizing and making the revolution. He studied the Marxist materials that he had at hand, the Manifesto of the Communist Party, the works of Plekhanov, and soon he began to familiarize himself with Lenin, by his writings and directives, his valour as organizer and head of the communists, until he saw him in person at party events. From that time on they had a great friendship affirmed in militancy and the great commonality of opinions and concerns. Stalin was also a great reader of Russian literature. He was a man of vast culture, which grew daily throughout his life.

How can one not keep in mind in the training of communists in all countries his most outstanding works: Anarchism or Socialism?, Marxism and the National Question, On the Problem of Nationalities, The October Revolution and the Tactics of the Russian Communists, The Foundations of Leninism, Concerning Questions of Leninism, Trotskyism or Leninism?, Dialectical and Historical Materialism, Marxism and Linguistics, Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR, the Reports to the Congresses of the Communist Party.

Stalin was a theoretician of the revolution, a Marxist who recreated and developed revolutionary theory in order to provide answers to the problems put forward by the revolution. He was not a theoretician who speculated with knowledge to try to generate ideas and proposals. No, his theoretical work addressed burning issues that had to do with the development of the class struggle, with the problems that the party, the trade unions, the state and the revolution were facing on an international scale.

The depth of his writings is not at odds with the simple form of making them understood. Stalin is rigorous in his theoretical analysis, his positions are valid; they provide a real guide to action, as he himself pointed out referring to Marxism, but also they are simple and easy to understand.

Stalin’s detractors insist on some issues that we should analyze. All of them: the confessed reactionaries of anti-communism, the Trotskyists, the revisionists and opportunists of all shades agree principally on the following charges: intellectual mediocrity, Lenin’s testament that supposedly condemned him, the building of socialism in a single country, forced collectivization, the bureaucratization of the party and state, the liquidation of the Bolshevik old guard, the great purges, his tyrannical and bloodthirsty character, forced industrialization, his incompetence in the war, the cult of personality.

With regard to Stalin’s intellectual mediocrity, the facts, history and its vicissitudes speak emphatically. The October Revolution, the building of socialism in a large country and for the first time in the history of mankind, his skill in leading the party, the working class and the peoples of the USSR in the great feat of building a new world would not have been possible with a mediocre leader who was poor intellectually. These diatribes fall under their own weight. Trotsky, who claimed to be a great theoretician and man of culture and was one of his detractors in this area, was defeated precisely, in theory and practice, by one who, according to him, was a mediocrity.

In regard to the so-called “Lenin Testament,” a lot of nonsense has been written, such as that Trotsky was the one anointed by Lenin to replace him as head of the Party, as if those notes of Lenin had been hidden by the Central Committee. We say that Lenin’s health was very shaky in those days in which he is supposed to have written the famous “testament”, his sensitivity was weakened by the complaints of his companion. However, Lenin had the revolutionary culture, the Bolshevik training to understand that he could not have written a testament, a last will; he also knew that one leader, whatever his rank, can only give his opinions, not orders, in the collective. For these reasons one must understand these notes of Lenin as opinions; moreover, they were out of the context of the everyday life of the leadership of the Party and State and in no way were they orders to be complied with without question. On the other hand, it is completely false that these notes were hidden from the Central Committee; the latter knew about and discussed them. The results were known; Stalin was chosen the Main Leader of the Bolshevik Party and that was a correct and wise decision. History has shown these facts irrefutably. The one supposedly anointed by Lenin as leader of the Party, Trotsky, was placed by life and the revolutionary struggle in the dustbin of the counter-revolution.

The Leninist thesis of the building of socialism in one country takes into account the uneven development of capitalism and as a consequence the various stages of the class struggle. That situation made it possible to break the chain of imperialism at its weakest link, old Russia. Stalin was the one who continued this line. Relying on the workers and peasants, on the great spiritual and materials reserves of the Soviet peoples he carried out the great feat, defended the revolution and defeated the detractors of this thesis. Those who raised the impossibility of building socialism in the Soviet Union as long as the revolution did not succeed in the capitalist countries of Europe and labelled the peasants as reactionaries and counter-revolutionaries were proven to be wrong. The USSR developed and so far there has been no revolution in any of the capitalist countries in Europe.

On the forced collectivization of the countryside, Stalin’s detractors claim that “he violated the will of the peasants, destroyed the agrarian economy and eliminated the social base of the revolution made up by the medium and rich peasants, the kulaks”. The facts are diametrically opposite. The necessary carrying out of the NEP in the countryside developed the rural bourgeoisie in a natural way and stripped millions of poor farmers of the land, depriving the population of cereals. Basing itself on Marxism-Leninism and taking social reality into account, the Party proposed to bring socialism to the countryside. Relying on the millions of poor peasants, it pushed forward a great social and political movement for the formation of cooperatives, the kolkhozes; this meant the expropriation of the kulaks, in some cases people’s tribunals and drastic sanctions. International reaction spoke of repression and massacres. In reality there was a socialist revolution in the countryside, the work of millions of poor peasants who assumed their role as the protagonists in the life of the country of the Soviets. And, as we know, a revolution unleashes the initiative and achievements of the masses, but also the anger of its enemies. As a result, agriculture and livestock flourished, the Soviet Union became the largest producer of wheat, the mechanization and the modernization of agriculture reached unprecedented levels, at the forefront on the international scale.

Stalin is continually blamed for the bureaucratization that was in reality growing in the party and State. Stalin was never in his life a bureaucrat. Quite the contrary, his dynamism was always expressed in direct contact with the base of the party and with the masses; he was one of the leaders of the Soviets before the revolution. His whole life was in action.

Bureaucracy is a social phenomenon, a degeneration that arises in the bourgeois administration (remember that a good part of the Bolshevik administration had to resort to old tsarist functionaries) that penetrated into the revolutionary ranks, into the party and State. Bureaucracy was really present in the life of the Socialist State; it affected many activists and leaders. In some cases the responsibilities of power were transformed into small or large privileges that were creating a caste of bureaucrats who undermined the functioning of the party and the state administration, which separated the party from the masses.

Stalin did not promote the bureaucracy, but in reality he did not have either the ability or the experience to eliminate it. Several offensives of an ideological character aimed at eliminating it took place, precisely under Stalin’s initiative. The political education, ideological struggle, the validity of democracy in the party, the party elections were expressions of the struggle of the communists against bureaucracy. They cannot be dismissed having been useless. They achieved results; among other things they allowed for the continuation of the social and material achievements of the dictatorship of the proletariat, the ideological, political and organizational cleansing of the party and State, the isolation and expulsion of several groups of opportunists and traitors. However, in fact, they were not able to eradicate the bureaucracy and opportunism. Various opportunists and traitors evaded the ideological struggle and hid. They would return later, after the death of Stalin.

It is clear that bureaucracy is an ideological illness which is persistently reborn and which must be fought relentlessly to the end. Stalin did not promote bureaucracy; rather he was one of its victims.

The accusation made against Stalin that he was a bloody dictator and despot and refers to the ideological cleansing, to the revolutionary repression of the counter-revolutionary outbreaks in the city and countryside, to the alleged liquidation of the Bolshevik old guard.

It is necessary to understand that the dictatorship of the proletariat is not a wedding party in which everything is rosy. No, quite the contrary. A whole armed, economic campaign, a trade boycott, an ideological and political penetration by imperialism and the international bourgeoisie was orchestrated against the dictatorship of the proletariat. In opposition to the new power of the workers, from within society, the old ruling classes, overthrown by the revolution but not physically eliminated, repeatedly carried out acts of sabotage; they tried many times to organize rebellions and uprisings, using mercenaries and men and women of the people who were deceived; they based themselves on religion and the priests, on feudal traditions, on liberal elements in the administration and on some occasions they infiltrated their agents into the party and the Soviet State. Within the party itself, in the new State and in the Red Army, there appeared over and over again degenerate elements who made attacks on the dictatorship of the proletariat in theory and practice, who tried to divert the party, to assume its leadership, to organize coups d’état. Some of these elements had been, in the past, outstanding members and leaders of the party and the revolution and they tried, therefore, to take advantage of their positions to change the course of socialism.

The fight to preserve and defend the line of the Party, its ideological, political and organizational unity was bitter and persistent, because again and again, the counter-revolution grew stronger in its attacks and, during Stalin’s life, it was again and again defeated by the force of reason, by the firmness of the Bolsheviks, by the support of the base of the party and the army, by the support of the masses of workers and peasants.

In reality the Bolshevik old guard, those comrades who dreamt of and organized the Great October Revolution, were falling behind. Some fell in combat for the revolution, others were assassinated by the counterrevolution. Others paid the physical tribute of their lives. Some survived Stalin.

The old Bolsheviks, the veteran communists knew how to face their responsibilities, they learned how to solve problems and unknown issues as they arose, they were put at the head of the great feat of building socialism, and were called “old Bolsheviks” not because they were old, but because of their qualities, for their militant and permanent adherence to the principles of Marxism-Leninism, for their quality as communist cadres and fighters.

The fight against the opportunist factions within the Party and State were real battles that mobilized the party, all its members, they were a demonstration of the proletarian firmness of Stalin and his comrades in arms; they constituted one victory after another, that guaranteed the life of the Soviet State, the building of socialism and the continuation of the revolution.

Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev and Bukharin were the main chieftains of the counter-revolution, who were confronted and defeated, in theory and practice, with the material and political achievements by the political correctness of the party leadership, headed by Stalin.

The dark legend of the work camps, of the confinement, of psychiatric hospitals, of prisons overcrowded with workers and communists, of the mass executions and mass graves are nothing more than the infamous slander of the reactionaries and imperialism, of the Nazis and social democracy, of the Trotskyists and revisionists, of the opportunists. They cannot be proved by any records much less by the existence of concentration camps and mass graves. They fall under their own weight.

Much has been said about Stalin’s incompetence in leading the war. Nothing could be further from the truth. In reality Stalin was not a soldier by training, he did not study in any academy nor could he claim mastery of the military arts, a thorough knowledge of weapons and military strategy and tactics. But it is clear that he was a proletarian revolutionary soldier who learned this art in the very course of the revolutionary civil war in the first years of Soviet power, that he was steeled as such in the difficult years of the building of socialism and that he played an outstanding role in the leadership of the Great Patriotic War, in the resistance against the Nazi invading hordes and in the great political and military offensive that drove the Red Army to take Berlin. No one has claimed that Stalin was a great Military Leader, all the revolutionaries recognize him as the leader of the Soviet proletariat and the peoples, as the political leader of the international proletariat, as a proletarian revolutionary, as a communist.

The accusations that Stalin promoted and used the whole gamut of praise and exaggerations that have been called the “cult of personality” for his prestige continue to be a part of the anti-communist arsenal.

In fact, Stalin daily received praise and recognition from his comrades and friends, from the workers and peasants who expressed them from their heart to express gratitude and recognition. There was also the praise of the opportunists who sought favours from him. The former demonstrations were sincere, a product of the generous spirit of the workers and people, the latter had a dual intention, based on facts; they tried to elevate Stalin above others, above the events and in this way to personally take advantage of this situation.

The cult of personality was in fact a defect of the first experience in the building of socialism. It began with good intentions, but finally it degenerated, it hurt Soviet power and Stalin himself. This is an incontestable fact. But to argue from there that Stalin himself encouraged these campaigns, that he became an egomaniac, a narcissist is a big lie.

Many pages and books can be written about Stalin. In fact there are thousands of publications about his life and work. There are those of his comrades and friends, but also those of his enemies and detractors. In fact the life of Stalin is the life of the first proletarian revolution itself. Stalin did not make the revolution to his measure; the revolution projected Stalin as one of its best sons and leaders.

Pablo Miranda
Ecuador, 2012

Source

The Communist League: The Soviet Union and the Spanish Civil War

no-pasaran-ugt

‘Non-Intervention’? Between ourselves, it’s the same thing as profitable intervention – but profitable only for the other side’.

Charles-Maurice Talleyrand (1754-1838)

INTRODUCTION

In January 1996, the Association of Communist Workers and the Association of Indian Communists held an extremely interesting meeting in the Conway Hall, London, devoted to exposing the slanderous misrepresentation of the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War presented in Ken Leaches recent film ‘Land and Freedom’.

The main speaker was Bill Alexander, author of ‘British Volunteers for Liberty’. Bill Alexander himself fought in the British section of the International Brigade and movingly and eloquently disposed of Leaches attempt to whitewash the near-trotskyist ‘Party of Marxist Unification’.

In particular, Bill Alexander paid tribute to Stalin’s policy of military aid to the Republican forces and characterised the policy of ‘non intervention’ pursued by the European imperialist powers as the principal cause of the Republic’s defeat.

This stimulated a member of the audience to point out that the Soviet government participated in the Non-Intervention Agreement, and to ask if this indicated some duality in Soviet foreign policy, perhaps between rival groups in the leadership of Communist Party of the Soviet Union — one pursuing a Marxist-Leninist policy and one not.

Ella Rule replied front the platform that she felt that there was no duality in Soviet policy on Spain, since the Soviet policy of non-intervention was not simultaneous with, but succeeded by the Soviet policy of military aid to the Republican government.

While respecting Ella’s long-standing defence both of the Soviet Union and of the Spanish Republic, we do not believe that her theory on Soviet policy on Spain can be reconciled with known facts.

THE OUTBREAK OF THE CIVIL WAR

In January 1936, a number of ostensibly left-wing Spanish parties and organisations created an electoral bloc called the ‘Popular Front’. This adopted

“… a liberal programme set in a bourgeois framework and deliberately excluded Socialist demands”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: ‘The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain’; London; 1972; p.76).

At elections in February 1936, the Popular Front gained an overwhelming majority of deputies —

“… 277, as against 132 from the Right and 32 from the Centre”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: ibid.; p.77).

Despite the moderate nature of the Popular Front’s programme, it was unacceptable to the Spanish aristocracy, and in July 1936

“… a revolt against the Spanish Republic broke out in many military garrisons in Spanish Morocco. From thence the revolt spread rapidly throughout Spain…

The rebel forces… were led by General Franco.”

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 2; pp.2199, 2290).

The rebel military junta

“… had at their disposal the greater part of the armed forces of the country… They had also … the promise of Italian and German tanks and aeroplanes if necessary. Against these the Government had only the Republican Assault Guards and a small and badly armed air force”.

(Gerald Brenan: ‘The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Civil War’; Cambridge; 1971; p.316).

THE ATTITUDE OF THE WESTERN IMPERIALIST POWERS

The attitude of the British imperialist government was made clear at the very beginning of the civil war. It was to deny, on 31 July 1936, the legitimate Spanish government its traditional right under international law to purchase arms to defend itself. This action was disguised as

“… an arms embargo against both sides”.

(Robert H. Whealey: Foreign Intervention in the Spanish Civil War’, in: Raymond Carr (Ed.): ‘The Republic and the Civil War in Spain’: London; 1971; p.213).

But since Spain’s neighbour, France, also had a Popular Front government

“… the only other Popular Front regime in Europe” —

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 19; Chicago; 1994; p.520).

On 20 July 1936 the Spanish government

“… asked France . . . for 20 planes. Minister of Air Pierre Cot and Premier Léon Blum … agreed”.

(Robert H. Whealey: op.cit.; p.213).

“In 1935, the Spanish government had signed a trade agreement with France. One of the clauses stipulated that in case of need the Spanish Government could not purchase arms from any country other than France. With this agreement in its hand, the Republican government appealed to the French for the arms and equipment needed to protect the nation from aggression”.

(Dolores Ibarruri: ‘They shall not pass: The Autobiography of La Pasionaria’; London; 1960; pp.201-202).

However, the sympathies of the British imperialist government, headed by Stanley Baldwin, lay with the Spanish rebels, and

“… at the beginning of August (1936– Ed.) M. Léon Blum was informed (by London — Ed.) that the guarantee given by Great Britain to maintain the frontiers of France would not remain valid in the event of independent French action beyond the Pyranees”.

(André Géraud (‘Pertinax’): Preface to: Eleuthère N. Dzelepy: ‘The Spanish Plot’; London; 1937; p.viii).

“The British warning, as we knew at the time was conveyed to M. Yvon Delbos,. the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, in the course of a visit by Sir George Clerk, British Ambassador to Paris. Sir George is understood to have said that, if France should find herself in conflict with Germany as a result of having sold war material to the Spanish Government,. England would consider herself released from her obligations under the Locarno Pact and would not come to help”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: ‘Freedom’s Battle’: London; 1937; pp.69-70).

In other words, if France were to give military assistance to the Spanish Government, its defensive alliance with Britain would be declared null and void.

Thus, according to Blum’s testimony to the French Chamber of Deputies in July 1947,

“… after visiting London on 22-23 July, Blunt was forced to reverse his decision to aid the Republic”.

(Robert H. Whealey: op.cit.; p.220).

So, on 25 July 1936,

“… the Blum government issued a decree forbidding the export of arms from France to Spain”.

(Ivan Naisky: ‘Spanish Notebooks’; London; 1966; p.29).

“The refusal of the French Government to hand over to the Republic the arms that had long ago been ordered and paid for was a veritable stab in the back for Spanish democracy”.

(‘International Solidarity with the Spanish Republic: 1936-1939’ (hereafter listed as ‘International Solidarity’; Moscow; 1976; p.362).

The United States imperialist government applied the 1935 Neutrality Act to the Spanish Civil War, but US corporations exported large quantities of much-needed oil to the rebels, this being exempted from its provisions:

“United States neutrality… favoured Franco, since American companies took advantage of the Neutrality Act’s failure to classify oil as a war material and began sending tankers to Lisbon on 18 July”.

(David Mitchell: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1982; p.70).

On the other hand, like Britain and France, the USA

“… refused to sell arms to the Republic”. (Harry Browne: ‘Spain’s Civil War’; Harlow; 1983; p.38).

But the arms embargo did non affect both sides in the civil war equally, since the rebels were in receipt of large supplies of arms from Germany, Italy and (to a lesser extent) Portugal:

“The Nationalists enjoyed the advantage of… military supplies from Italy and Germany. These played a crucial role in the Nationalist victory, especially at the end of July (1936 — Ed.,) when German and Italian aircraft facilitated the ferrying of the Army of Africa to Spain, thus allowing the Nationalists to sweep through Andaluzia and Estremadura.

(Gerald N. D. Howat (Ed.): ‘Dictionary of World History’. London; 1973; p.1,421).

On the other hand,

“… the fascist government of Italy and the Nazis met no obstacles in sending arms… to the assistance of the rebel generals”.

(Luigi Longo: ‘An Important Stage in the People’s Struggle against Fascism’, in: ‘International Solidarity ; op.cit.; p.11).

“While the legitimate government was being denied the right to purchase any type of arms, the insurgents were receiving all they needed from Germany and Italy”. (Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.202).

Furthermore,

“… the strongly pro-rebel government in Lisbon was not only supplying material but permitting transhipment of German and Italian supplies across its country”

(David T. Cattell: ‘Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War’ (hereafter listed as ‘David T. Cattell (1957)’; Berkeley (USA); 1957; p.21).

As Australian-born author and translator Gilbert Murray said in a letter to the ‘Times’ in October 1936:

“The professedly double-edged embargo really cuts only one way. It keeps the Government forces unarmed for the benefit of the well-armed rebels”.

(Gilbert Murray: Letter to the ‘Times’ (22 October 1936): p.12).

SOVIET HUMANITARIAN AID TO THE SPANISH PEOPLE

From the beginning of the Spanish Civil War, both the Comintern and the Soviet Union organised extensive humanitarian aid to the Spanish people.

On the outbreak of the civil war, the decision was taken

“… to give financial aid to the republicans through the trades unions…

All public statements at this time about shipments from the USSR to Spain emphasised that they consisted of food and other supplies for the civilian population”.

(Edward H. Carr: ‘The Comintern and the Spanish Civil War1; London; 1984; p.16, 24).

By 6 August 1936,

“… there were already 12.1 million roubles in the open current account of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions Fund of Aid to Republican Spain, and by the end of October this sum had risen to 47.6 million roubles.

Food and clothing were purchased and sent to Spain with the money collected by Soviet people…

In December (1938 – Ed.) . . . the trade unions and other organisations had raised another 14 million roubles”.

(‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.301-303).

Soviet and Comintern relief for Spain

“… consisting of food and clothing for women and children, started at the very beginning of the Civil War. In every city and town in the Soviet Union meetings were held during the first weeks of the rebellion to demonstrate solidarity with the Spanish people”.

(David T. Cattell: ‘Communism and the Spanish Civil War’ (hereafter listed as ‘David T. Cattell (1955)’; Berkeley (USA): 1955; p.70).

In addition to organisations linked with the Comintern, a

“… new network of organisations solely for the support of Spain… A typical organisation was the ‘International Committee for Aid to the Spanish People’ in Paris which, between August 1936 and June 1938 collected over half a million dollars”.

(David T. Cattell (1955): ibid.; p.71).

THE QUESTION OF SOVIET MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO SPAIN

On the question of whether the Comintern and the Soviet government should give material assistance to the war effort of the Spanish Republic, there were from the outset different views in high Soviet circles.

On this question,

“… no word came from the Soviet government or from Comintern…

The only decision taken was to give financial aid to the republicans through the trade unions”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; pp.15, 16).

and for two months the Comintern was silent on the question of the war:

“There does not appear to have been a Comintern statement on the outbreak of the Spanish civil war in July 1936”.

(Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents Volume 3; London; 1965; p.392).

“It was not until September 18 1936 that the Secretariat of ECCI… set out to define the attitude of Comintern to the Spanish War, now just two months old”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.20).

NON-INTERVENTION

On 1 August 1936, France addressed a Note to the British government

“… proposing that they associate themselves with the French action and strictly observe a policy of non-intervention in Spanish affairs…

On 4 August Britain returned a positive answer to the French proposal…

Then the French government addressed their proposal to other European powers”.

(Ivan Maisky: op cit.; p.29).

As Julio Alvarez del Vayo, who was Spanish Foreign Minister for most of the Civil War period, relates: the British government allowed it to be thought that the initiative for non-intervention’ came from the French Popular Front government in order to make the policy more acceptable to democratic public opinion than if it wore known to emanate front a British Tory government:

“The simple truth is that Non-Intervention was fathered in London. The legal experts in the British Foreign Office … made such efforts to attribute its paternity to a person less suspect than they of hostility to democratic principles. In M. Blum and the French Government they found the ideal sponsors for their creation. … Millions of supporters of the Popular Front in France … would certainly have raged against the plan had it been frankly labelled for what it was, the work of a British Tory Government. On the other hand, they were able to justify the plan… , in Parliament and in the country, by evoking its supposed paternity.

From that day on, the Quai d’Orsay (the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs)– Ed.), in all that referred to Spain, became a branch of the Foreign Office…

While in July 1936 France ostensibly took the initiative in proposing Non-Intervention, for the next three years she was to be denied any initiative whatever”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op. cit.; pp.68, 70).

On 23 August 1936,

“… the Soviet government adhered to the Agreement on ‘Non-Intervention’ in Spanish Affairs”

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; p.31).

As historian Edward Carr notes:

“Soviet acceptance, in view of the campaign in the USSR and in communist parties abroad in support of the republican government, at first sight seemed a surprising gesture”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.17).

The People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Maksim Litvinov, admitted to a plenary session of the League of Nations in September 1936 that the Soviet government had adhered to the ‘Non-Intervention’ Agreement solely in order to oblige the French imperialists:

“The Soviet government has associated itself with the Declaration on Non-Intervention in Spanish Affairs only because a friendly power (i.e., France — IM) feared an international conflict it we did not do so”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech to Plenary Session of League of Nations (28 September 1936), in: Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; p.31).

THE ‘NON-INTERVENTION COMMITTEE’

On 26 August 1936 the French government put forward a new proposal;

“… the creation in London of a permanent Committee of representatives of all the participating countries, the main aim of the Committee being supervision of the exact observance of the Agreement by the powers which had signed it”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.29).

The Non-Intervention Committee’ functioned on

“… the unanimity principle’, (Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p 36).

the Soviet delegate — and every other — having the right of veto over all decisions.

All the European powers adhered to the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ –officially called the ‘Committee for Non-Intervention in the Internal Affairs of Spain’ — except for

“… Spain, as the country around which the ‘quarantine of non-intervention’ was to be established, and Switzerland, which refused to participate”

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.30).

On 28 August 1936, an order was issued by the Soviet

“… People’s Commissar of Foreign Trade prohibiting the export of war supplies to Spain”.

(Max Beloff: ‘The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia: 1929-1942’, Volume 2: ‘1936-1941’; London; 1949; p.32).

On 9 September 1936, the Non-Intervention Committee had

“… its first meeting, and agreed that it should have a permanent Chairman. This post was offered to the British representative, Lord Plymouth”.

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; pp.30-31).

THE TRUE ROLE OF ‘NON-INTERVENTION’

The Non-Intervention Agreement

“… deprived states of the legal right to give aid to the legitimate government of Spain”.

(David T. Cattell (1957); op.cit.: p.15).

denying

“… the Spanish government the traditional right of buying arms to defend itself against domestic treason”.

(Harry Browne: op.cit.; p.37).

Although Germany. Italy and Portugal had signed the ‘Non-Intervention Pact’, they had not the slightest intention of adhering to its provisions, but continued to supply arms in large quantities to the Spanish rebels. Thus the real role of the Non-Intervention Agreement’ was to provide a screen behind which the Fascist powers could arm the rebels.

‘Non-Intervention’ was a farce which assisted the Fascist powers in their war against the Spanish Republic:

‘While the legitimate government was being denied the right to purchase any type of arms, the insurgents were receiving all they needed from Germany and Italy”

(Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.202).

“When the war ended, the Non-Intervention Pact had leaked copiously — and overwhelmingly in Franco’s direction”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.72).

“Throughout September 1936, while the flow of arms and equipment to the Nationalists from Italy and Germany steadily increased, the ban on shipments from . . . the USSR to Republican Spain remained effective”.

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.23).

“The policy of non-intervention ended by developing into a veritable blockade and an effective intervention in favour of the rebels”. (Eleuthère N. Dzelepy: op.cit.; p.77)

“Non-Intervention became one of the greatest farces of our time”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op.cit.; p.50).

“The so-called policy of non-intervention… in effect meant aiding and abetting the aggressor”.

(Dolores Ibarruri: ‘The Fight goes on’ in: ‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.7).

“Non-intervention… contributed to the victory of fascism in Spain”.

(‘Great Soviet Encyclopaedia’, Volume 31; New York; 1972; p.176).

The true role of ‘Non-Intervention’ was admitted by Maksim Litvinov , who was People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs between 1930 and 1939:

“If the Non-Intervention Committee had anything to boast of, it was that it had genuinely interfered with the supplies for the legitimate Republican army and with the provision of food for the civil population in the territory occupied by the latter”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech at Political Committee of League of Nations (29 September 1938), in: William P.& Zelda Coates: ‘A History of Anglo-Soviet Relations’; London: 1943; p.569).

and by the German Ambassador to Britain, Joachim von Ribbentropp, who declared that the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’

“… might have been better called the Intervention Committee”.

(Joachim von Rippentropp, cited in: David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.71).

Stalin, in his report to the 18th Congress of the CPSU in March 1939, put the matter even more strongly — implying that ‘Non-Intervention’ was immoral and treacherous:

“Actually speaking, the policy of non-intervention means conniving at aggression, giving free rein to war and, consequently, transforming the war into a world war. The policy of non-intervention reveals an eagerness, a desire, not to hinder the aggressors in their nefarious work…

Far be it from me to moralise on the policy of non-intervention, to talk of treason, treachery and so on. It would be naive to preach morals to people who recognise no human morality”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the 18th Congress of the CPSU (B) (March 1939), in: ‘Works’, Volume 14; London; 1978; pp.365, 368).

THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST ‘NON-INTERVENTION’

As the true character of ‘Non-Intervention’ became increasingly clear, outspoken opposition to it arose in democratic and anti-fascist circles. This opposition was reflected in circles normally supportive of Soviet policy:

“The strict neutrality adopted by Moscow in the Spanish struggle was giving rise to embarrassing questions even in the friendliest quarters”

(Walter C. Krivitsky: ‘I was Stalin’s Agent’; London; 1939; p.101).

These circles included sections of the international communist movement, particularly in France. For example, headlines in L’Humanité, (Humanity), organ of the Communist Party of France, in September 1936 read:

“GUNS! PLANES!

END THE BLOCKADE WHICH IS KILLING OUR BROTHERS IN SPAIN”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 5 September 1936; p.1).

“FOR REPUBLICAN SPAIN.

FOR PEACE AND THE SECURITY OF FRANCE”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 7 September 1936; p.4).

“TO THE AID OF THE REPUBLICAN FIGHTERS OF SPAIN”.

(‘L’Humanité’, 14 September 1936; p.4).

“IT IS NECESSARY TO RECONSIDER THE PRINCIPLE OF NON-INTERVENTION”

(‘L’Humanité’, 20 September 1936; p.4).

“THE VOICE OF THE PEOPLE OF FRANCE RISES EVER MORE STRONGLY FOR THE LIFTING OF THE BLOCKADE”..

(‘L’Humanité’, 21 September 1936; p.4).

Maurice Thorez, General Secretary of the Communist Party of France, wrote in ‘L’Humanité’:

“For the honour of the working class, for the honour of the Popular Front, for the honour of France, the blockade that is killing our Spanish brethren and that is killing peace must be lifted”.

(Maurice Thorez, in: ‘L’Humanité’ (9 September 1936), in: David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.24).

In August 1836, Paul Nizan wrote in the Comintern journal, ‘International Press Correspondence’

“This ‘neutrality’… is definitely to be challenged from the point of view of international justice…

While the government in Madrid is being actually affected by real sanctions, the rebels and the rebel government… have every sort of supply they can wish for at their disposal.

The actual blockade of Republican Spain must be raised at once. . .

The Communists will take the lead in this fight for the support of the

Spanish people”.

(Paul Nizan: ‘To the Aid of the Spanish Republic!’. in: ‘International Press Correspondence’, Volume 16, No. 37 (15 August 1936); p.990).

In a speech during the first week in September 1936, interrupted by shouts of ‘Aeroplanes for Spain’, French Prime Minister Léon Blum countered the campaign against ‘Non-Intervention’ by the reminder that the policy was supported by the Soviet government:

“Do not let us forget that the international convention of non-intervention in Spain bears the signature of Soviet Russia.” (Léon Blum: Statement, in: David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.24).

THE DIVISION IN THE CPSU

The campaign against ‘Non-Intervention’ was reflected within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. From early in the civil war, a rift was observable in the higher circles of the CPSU between those who stood for the furnishing of arms to the Spanish Republic — that is, the Marxist-Leninists and genuine anti-fascists — on the one hand, and those who stood for collaboration with the Western imperialist powers in the policy of ‘Non-Intervention’ on the other hand.

Lieutenant-Colonel Simon, the French military attaché in Moscow, reported to the French Minister of National Defence Edouard Daladier in August 1936, the existence of two rival factions in the leadership of the CPSU.

“The moderate faction . . . would wish to avoid all intervention.

The extremist faction on the other hand, considers that the USSR should not remain neutral but should support the legal government”.

(Lt.-Col. Simon: Letter to Edouard Daladier (13 August 1936). in: ‘Documents diplomatiques français: 1932-1939’, 2nd Series (1936-1939). Volume 3; Paris; 1966; p.208).

“Influential circles in the Russian Party, like most Leftists in Western countries, pressed for support for the Spanish republic. But this pressure was, for the time being, subject to the restraint of diplomatic expediency”. (Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.15).

“In foreign affairs, fundamentalist Bolsheviks tended to dislike Maksim Litvinov’s conciliatory approach to the West…

The Soviet press was hostile to the whole idea of Non-Intervention”

(Michael Alpert:: ‘A New International History of the Spanish Civil War’; Basingstoke; 1994; pp.50, 51).

THE CHANGE OF SOVIET POLICY TOWARDS SPAIN

As a result of the democratic pressure instanced above, the Marxist-Leninists in the leadership of the CPSU were able to bring about a fundamental change in Soviet policy towards the supply of arms to the Spanish Republic.

On 7 October 1936, Samual Kagan, Counsellor at the Soviet Embassy in London (who was Acting Soviet Representative on the Non-Intervention Committee) presented Lord Plymouth with a list of violations of the Non-Intervention Agreement and concluded with an ultimatum

“… that unless violations of the Agreement on Non-Intervention cease forthwith, it (the Soviet government — Ed.) will consider itself as freed from the obligations arising from the Agreement”.

(Samuel B. Kagan: Statement of 7 October 1936, in: Ivan Maisky: op. cit.; p.47).

On 15 October 1936, Stalin sent a telegram to José Diaz, leader of the Communist Party of Spain, saying:

“The workers of the Soviet Union are merely carrying out their duty in giving help within their power to the revolutionary masses of Spain. They are aware that the liberation of Spain from the yoke of fascist reactionaries is not a private affair of the Spanish people but the common cause of the whole of advanced and progressive mankind”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Telegram to CC, CPSp (15 October 1936), in: ‘Works’, Volume 14; London; 1978; p.149).

On 23 October 1936, Soviet Ambassador to Britain Ivan Maisky, who had now taken over as Soviet representative on the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’, sent a further statement to Lord Plymouth, saying:

“The Agreement has turned out to be an empty, torn scrap of paper. It has ceased in practice to exist. Not wishing to remain in the position of persons unwittingly assisting an unjust cause, the Government of the Soviet Union . cannot consider itself bound by the Agreement for Non-Intervention to any greater extent than any of the remaining participants of the Agreement”.

(Ivan Maisky; Statement of 23 October 1936, in; Ivan Naisky: op.cit.; p.48-49).

On 27 August 1936, Marcel Rozenberg arrived in Madrid as the first Soviet Ambassador to Spain

“… with an impressive retinue of military, naval and air attachés and experts

(Edward H. Carr; op.cit,; p.22).

SOVIET MILITARY AID TO THE SPANISH REPUBLIC

The defector Walter Krivitsky, who was at the time Chief of Soviet Military Intelligence in Europe, states that

“… the first communication from Moscow about Spain reached him on September 2”,

(Edward H. Carr: op.cit.; p.24).

and that it stated:

“Extend your operations immediately to cover Spanish Civil War. Mobilise all available agents and facilities for prompt creation of a system to purchase and transport arms to Spain”.

(Walter H. Krivitsky: op.cit.; p.100).

Within days,

“… an apparatus based upon Arms Purchase Commissions in European capitals and supervised by the NKVD (the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs — Ed.) . . was set up to organise the purchase of arms”

(Harry Browne: op.cit.; p.38).

“The first appearance of Soviet tanks and planes in the defence of Madrid late in October (1936– Ed.) and early in November made a tremendous Impression”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.63).

During the war:

“… the sending of military aid was never acknowledged…

No official Communist publication ever mentioned the sending of military equipment”.

(David T. Cattell (1955): op.cit.; p.72).

However,

“… the Soviet Union sent to the Spanish Government 806 military aircraft, mainly fighters, 362 tanks, 120 armoured cars, 1,555 artillery pieces, about 500,000 rifles, 340 grenade launchers, 15,113 machine-guns, more than 110,000 aerial bombs, about 3.4 million rounds of ammunition, 500,000 grenades, 862 million cartridges, 1,500 tons of gunpowder, torpedo boats, air defence searchlight installations, motor vehicles, radio stations, torpedoes and fuel”.

(‘International Solidarity’; op.cit.; p.329-30).

and under the new Soviet policy,

“… a little more than 2,000 Soviet volunteers fought and worked in Spain on the side of the Republic throughout the whole war, including 772 airmen, 351 tank men, 222 army advisers and instructors, 77 naval specialists, 100 artillery specialists, 52 other specialists, 130 aircraft factory workers and engineers, 156 radio operators and other signals men, and 204 interpreters”.

(‘International Solidarity’: op.cit.; p.328).

THE INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES

In September 1936,

“… the Secretariat of the Executive Committee of the Communist International took a decision to organise the recruitment of men with military experience”.

(Bill Alexander: ‘British Volunteers for Liberty: Spain 1936-1939’; London: 1982; p.53).

and the Spanish Republican Government

“… agreed, on 12 October 1936, to the formation of the International Brigades’1.

(Bill Alexander: ibid.: p.53).

On 17 October 1936,

“… the first recruits to the International Brigades arrived in Spain”.

(David Mitchell: op.cit.; p.63).

The International Brigades

“… formed a corps d’elite involved in all fighting of any importance until the end of 1938”.

(Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: op.cit.; p.375).

The total number of foreigners

“… who fought for the Spanish Republic was probably about 40,000, about 35,000 being in the International Brigades”.

(Hugh Thomas: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1977; p.982).

According to Dimitri Manuilsky at the 18th Congress of the CPSU, Spanish resistance

“… was made possible by the international support given to the Spanish people by the working people and above all the political support given them by the nations of the Soviet Union and by the father of all working people — Comrade Stalin”.

(Dimitri Manuilsky: Report on the Delegation of the CPSU (B) in the ECCI to the 18th Congress of the CPSU (b) (March 1939), in: ‘The Land of Socialism Today and Tomorrow ; Moscow; 1939; p.71).

THE SOVIET UNION AND SPAIN AFTER SEPTEMBER 1936

To sum up, in September 1936 the Soviet government reversed its previous policy and began to supply much needed military assistance to the Spanish Republic.

It might, therefore. seem at first glance as though the thesis presented at the January 1996 meeting by Ella Rule (p.1) — that there was no duality in Soviet foreign policy at the time of the Spanish civil war, since the Soviet policy of ‘non-intervention’ was succeeded by the Soviet policy of military aid to the Republican government — had validity.

Indeed, some well-known revisionists, like Dolores Ibarruri, assert precisely this:

“When the Soviet Union saw that in practice the Non-Intervention Committee was a cover for activities of the fascist and ‘democratic’ powers in favour of the insurgents, the Soviet Union declared on October 7 1937 (clearly an error for 1936 — Ed.) that it would withdraw its participation in the Non-Intervention Committee”. (Dolores Ibarruri: op.cit.; p.263).

But in fact, even after it had begun to supply military equipment to the Republican government, the Soviet Union did not withdraw from the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’. On the contrary,

“The Soviet Union did not make a move to leave the committee’1.

(David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.50).

“The USSR participated in the Agreement on ‘Non-Intervention’ and in the Committee for the same almost until they ceased to exist”.

(Ivan Maisky; op.cit.; p.32).

To be exact, only on 4 March 1939 did the TASS news agency announce the Soviet Union’s withdrawal from the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’:

“The Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR decided on 1 March of

this year to recall its representatives from the Committee for ‘Non-Intervention'”

(TASS News Agency: Statement (4 March 1939), in: Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p. 202).

This was a few days after the British and French governments had officially recognised the rebel government:

“On 27 February 1939 Britain and France officially recognised Franco and broke off diplomatic relations with the Republican government (Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.199).

and only a few weeks before the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was dissolved:

“On 20 April 1939 the Committee as a whole officially ceased to be”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.203).

A leading role in the decision to remain in the Non-Intervention Committee, and to ‘work closely’ on it with the British and French imperialists, was played by the Soviet People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Maksim Litvinov:

“The Soviet Union’s new policy generally took the form of working closely with France and England on the committee. It is believed that Litvinov was able to persuade the … rasher elements among the Soviet leaders and remain”.

(David T. Cattell (1957): op.cit.; p.50).

In other words, in the situation existing in the Soviet Union in 1936-39, the Marxist-Leninist forces were able to reverse Soviet policy on the supply of arms to the Spanish Republic, but not strong enough to carry this reversal through to its logical conclusion by repudiating the whole concept of ‘non-intervention’.

THE EFFECT OF CONTINUED SOVIET PARTICIPATION IN ‘NON~INTERVENTION’

The effect of the continued participation of the Soviet Union in the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was to continue to lend Soviet prestige to the false view that it was capable of playing a progressive role.

Over the next months, the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ was able to carry through policies which would, without doubt, have been vociferously rejected by progressive opinion had it not been for the screen of Soviet support around them.

Firstly, they were able to sabotage the control plan which was ostensibly designed to make the paper arms embargo internationally effective.

From the very outset of the civil war, the Soviet Union refused to take part in the international naval patrols around Spain, preferring to ‘entrust this to the imperialist powers — Britain and France. As Litvinov said in a speech on 14 September 1937:

“I recall that at the very beginning of the Spanish conflict the Soviet Government proposed that naval control be entrusted to England and France alone, and that it consequently voluntarily renounced the right… to send its naval vessels into the Mediterranean to take part in the control”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Speech of 14 September 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy’, Volume 3 (hereafter listed as ‘Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953)’); London; 1953; p.254).

As a result,

“… the coming into force of control during the night of 19-20 April 1937 swiftly demonstrated the futility of this policy”. (Pierre Broué & Emile Témime: op.cit.; p.342).

Even Litvinov admitted in an election speech on 27 November 1937:

“Control is established on the frontiers and coasts of Spain, but the control immediately springs a leak and whole divisions and army corps, with proportionate military equipment, penetrate to the Spanish mutineers1′.

(Maksim Litvinov: Election Speech of 27 November 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): ibid.; p.267).

And on 17 September 1937, the British and French governments

“… informed the other 25 ‘Non-Intervention’ Powers . . . that they had decided to discontinue their naval patrols of the Spanish coast”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,744).

Secondly, they were able to halt the influx of volunteers to the International Brigades which played such an important role in the anti-fascist resistance.

On 4 December 1936,

“… the Soviet government came forward with a new, extremely important initiative”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.97).

This proposal was

“… that the Governments, parties to the Non-Intervention Agreement, shall undertake to prevent by every means the despatch and transit of volunteers to Spain”, (lvan Maisky: Letter to Non-Intervention Committee (4 December 1936), in: ibid.; 1). 97).

On 10 January 1937, the British Foreign Office declared that

“… the provisions of the Foreign Enlistment Act 1870 … are applicable in the case of the present conflict in Spain”, (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,411).

so that

“… it is … an offence for any British subject to accept or agree to accept any commission or engagement in the military, naval or air service of either party in the present conflict”. (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,411).

On 16 February 1937, the Non-Intervention Committee decided

“… to prohibit the passage to Spain of any ‘volunteers’ whatsoever as from 21 February 1937”

(Ivan Maisky: op.cit.; ibid.; p.106).

On 18 February 1937 the French government issued a decree

“… to forbid the recruiting of volunteers for Spain and their transport thither”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.2,463).

and on 20 February 1937 the Soviet government issued a decree stating:

“1. Citizens of the USSR are forbidden entrance into Spain to participate in the military activities underway in Spain’.

2. Recruiting of persons for participation in the military activities in Spain… is forbidden in the territory of the USSR”

(USSR Decree of 20 February 1937, in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; p.234-35).

Thirdly, they were able to bring about the repatriation of volunteer fighters already serving in the International Brigades.

At a meeting of the Sub-Committee of the Non-Intervention Committee on 23 March 1937, Maisky declared:

“There is nothing more pressing and important for us at the present time than the evacuation from Spain of the so-called ‘volunteers'” (lvan Maisky: op.cit.; p.125).

and was not deterred when the Italian delegate, Dino Grandi, who had

“… only just agreed to… the evacuation of foreign combatants from the Pyrenean peninsula”,

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.125-26).

boasted

“Not one single Italian volunteer will leave Spain until Franco is victorious”.

(Dino Grandi: Statement at Sub-Committee of ‘Non-Intervention Committee’ (23 March 1937). in: Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.125).

On 14 July 1937, a new British plan was laid before the Committee. It included

“… the evacuation of all foreign combatants from Spain”.

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.158).

on 31 July 1937, a TASS communiqué stated:

“The Soviet Government considers that all foreigners… taking part in one way in military operations should be withdrawn from Spain. The Soviet Government is ready to co-operate in accomplishing this by all the means at its disposal”.

(TASS Communiqué (31 July 1937). in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit. p.249).

on 5 July 1938, at a plenary meeting of the ‘Non-Intervention Committee’

“… the British plan for the withdrawal of foreign volunteers from Spain was unanimously adopted”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,735).

Although Franco later — on 30 December 1938– rejected the plan, (‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,384).

on 23 September 1938, Prime Minister Juan Negrin

“… announced that his Government had decided on the immediate and complete withdrawal of all non-Spanish combatants fighting on its side”.

(‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives’, Volume 3; p.3,252).

THE DUALITY IN SOVIET POLICY TOWARDS SPAIN

The Soviet policies of military assistance to the Spanish republic and of co-operation in the work of the ‘Non-Intervention Coinmittee are contradictory and yet after September 1936 they were carried on simultaneously.

It is, therefore, clear that there was a duality in Soviet foreign policy towards Spain in this period.

This duality is explicable by the fact that, in addition to Marxist-Leninists like Stalin in the leadership of the CPSU — Marxist-Leninists who favoured military assistance to Spain — there were also revisionists, people who had departed from Marxist-Leninist principles, and who favoured co-operation with the appeasement policy of the West European powers at the expense of the Spanish Republic. The policy actually pursued by the Soviet government towards the Spanish Republic in this period was a compromise between these two opposed policies.

The most prominent Soviet politician in the second, revisionist, category was the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maksim Litvinov.

THE ROLE OF MAKSIM LITVINOV

Introduction

Maksim Maksimovicb Litvinov was appointed Minister to Britain in January 1918:

“This appointment was officially made by Trotsky”,

(John Carswell. ‘The Exile: A Life of Ivy Litvinov’ London; 1983: p.86)

who was then People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs.

After being Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs in 1920-30, in July 1930 he succeeded Georgi Chicherin as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, a post he held until 1939.

Litvinov’s Influence

Litvinov remoulded the Commissariat in his charge, filling it with his nominees:

“The People’s Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, as the Soviet Foreign Office was called, was an organisation largely created by Litvinov. He recruited its staff and designed its system…

The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, and many of the principal posts abroad, were already (1930 — Ed.) filled with his friends and nominees”.

(John Carswell: ibid.; p.109, 126).

Litvinov, married to an English wife, was steeped in West European culture:

“… Maksim had been soaked in the ways of the West”.

(John Carswell: ibid.; p.103).

“Maksim was the only surviving Old Bolshevik who had thoroughly assimilated Western European culture”.

(Edgar Snow: ‘Journey to the Beginning’; London; 1959; p.312).

and this was reflected politically in Litvinov’s support for cooperation with Western imperialism. He became

“… the best-known Soviet spokesman for . . . cooperation with the West”.

(Alexander Dallin: ‘Allied Leadership in the Second World War: Stalin’ in: ‘Survey’, Volume 21, Nos. 1/2 (Winter/Spring 1975); p.15).

In the period leading up to 1939, Litvinov was particularly associated with Soyiet attempts to form a ‘collective security’ alliance with the more satisfied (and so less aggressive) imperialist powers, such as Britain and France, against the less satisfied (and so more aggressive) imperialist powers, Germany, Italy and Japan:

“The Soviet Government … is prepared, as hitherto, to participate in collective action, the scope of which should have as its aim the stopping of the further development of aggression and the elimination of the increased danger of a new world slaughter”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Press Statement (17 March 1938). in: William P.& Zelda Coates: op. cit.; p 585).

He genuinely believed

“… that Soviet power and influence could best be promoted by collaboration with the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: ‘The Cassandra of the Foreign Comissariat: Maksirn Litvinov and the Cold War’, in: ‘Foreign Affairs’, Volume 54, No. 2 (January 1976); p.376).

Already, on 17 January 1938, Politburo member Andrei Zhdanov criticised the People’s Cornmissariat for Foreign Affairs for its liberal attitude towards certain imperialist powers:

“Almost every foreign power has a consul in Leningrad; and I must say that some of these consuls clearly go beyond their powers and duties and behave in an illegal fashion, engaging in activities prejudicial to the people and country to which they are accredited.

Why does the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs tolerate a state of affairs in which the number of consuls representing foreign powers in the USSR is not equal to but greater than the number of consuls representing the USSR in foreign countries?

Then, comrades, … what are we to think of a situation in which the government of a country (France — Ed.) with which we, the USSR, are in fairly close relations… allows organisations to exist on its territory which plan and carry out terrorism against the USSR?”

(Andrei Zhdanov: Speech on the Work of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs (17 January 1938). in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; p.269, 270).

and Vyacheslav Molotov, then USSR Prime Minister, added in a speech to the USSR Supreme Soviet a few days later, on 19 January 1938:

“Comrade Zhdanov’s remarks about foreign consulates …have been carefully noted by the Council of People’s Commissars, which will in the near future take all the necessary steps.

Now to our relations with France. Here again we must recognise that Comrade Zhdanov’s remarks were well founded. . . . Refuge is found on French territory for every kind of adventurist and criminal organisation, nests of vipers, of terrorists and diversionists … How does this accord with the Soviet-French pact of friendship? The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs should certainly look into this”.

(Vyacheslav Molotov: Speech at USSR Supreme Soviet (19 January 1938), in: Jane Degras (Ed.) (1953): op.cit.; pp.271, 272).

As Litvinov’s wife Ivy commented later:

“At the January (1938– Ed.) session of the Supreme Soviet, Zhdanov, made disparaging remarks about the administrative work of the Commissariat for Foreign Affairs. Litvinov’s name was not mentioned, but criticism is never lightly made in the Soviet Union…

Maksim was aware that he was out of favour”.

(Ivy Litvinov: ‘To Russia with Love’, in: ‘Observer Review’ (25 July 1976); p.17).

Litvinov and the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact

Even in 1937 British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax was already telling Hitler how much the British government admired his suppression of Communism in Germany:

“The great service the Fuehrer had rendered in the rebuilding of Germany were fully and completely recognised, and if British public Opinion was sometimes taking a critical attitude toward certain German problems, the reason might be in part that people in England were not fully informed of the motives and circumstances which underlie certain German measures…

The British Government were fully aware that … by destroying Communism in his country, he had barred the road to Western Europe, and that Germany therefore could rightly he regarded as a bulwark of the West against Bolshevism”.

(Lord Halifax: Record of a Conversation with Hitler (19 November 1937), in: ‘Documents and Materials relating to the Eve of the Second World War: From the Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs’, Volume 1 (hereafter listed as ‘Archives’); Moscow; 1948; pp.19-20).

and was proposing to Berlin the formation of a four-power alliance to include Britain, France, Germany and Italy:

“After the ground had been prepared by an Anglo-German understanding, the four Great West-European powers must jointly lay the foundations for lasting peace in Europe.

The Fuehrer replied that … Lord Halifax had proposed an agreement of the four Western Powers as the ultimate aim of Anglo-German Cooperation”.

(‘Archives’; ibid.; p.29-30, 31).

In other words, the British government was already proposing that

“… Britain, and France as well, should join the ‘Berlin-Rome Axis'”

(Soviet Information Bureau: ‘Falsifiers of History (Historical Information); London; 1948; p.21).

In these circumstances,

“… the Soviet Union faced the alternative:

either to accept, for purposes of self-defence, Germany’s proposal to conclude a non-aggression pact and thereby ensure to the Soviet Union a prolongation of peace for a certain period of time which might be used by the Soviet State to prepare better its forces for resistance to a possible attack on the part of the aggressor;

or to reject Germany’s proposal for a non-aggression pact and thereby permit the war provocateurs from the camp of the Western Powers immediately to involve the Soviet Union in armed conflict with Germany at a time when the situation was utterly unfavourable to the Soviet Union and when it was completely isolated.

In this situation, the Soviet Government found itself compelled to make its choice and conclude the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany”.

(Soviet Information Bureau: ‘Falsifiers of History (Historical Information); London; 1948; p.44).

Litvinov, however, was, and remained, opposed to the Soviet government’s rapprochement with Germany.

“Litvinov . . . disapproved . . . of Stalin’s planned rapprochement with Germany'”.

(Voltech Mastny: op.cit.; p.367).

He

“… never, by word or hint, approved of Stalin’s pact policy with Hitler”.

(Louis Fischer: ‘The Great Challenge’; New York; 1971; p.54).

In May 1939, Litvinov was replaced as People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs by Vyacheslav Molotov. The change reflected the preparation for

“… a momentous change of foreign policy”,

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.145).

for in August 1939 the Soviet government signed the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany.

It was at this time that Molotov made a more direct public criticism of ‘short-sighted’ people in the Soviet Union who ‘over-simplified anti-fascist propaganda’ and forgot about the danger from other (non-fascist) imperialist powers:

“There were short-sighted people in our country too who, tending to over-simplify anti-fascist propaganda, forgot this provocative work of our enemies”.

(Vyacheslav Molotoy: Statement in Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the Ratification of the Soviet-German Pact of Non-Aggression (August 31 1939); London; 1939; p.8).

In a biographical article on Litvinov, henry Roberts points out that Molotov’s comment

“… may be interpreted as a slap at Litvinov”.

(Henry L. Roberts: ‘Maksim Litvinov’ in: Gordon A. Craig & Felix Gilbert (Eds.): ‘The Diplomats: 1919-1939’; Princeton (USA); 1953; p.375).

The revisionist diplomat Andrei Gromyko, who was USSR Foreign Minister in a later period. writes in his memoirs about an incident in 1942:

“During Molotov’s visit to Washington in June 1942, I was struck by a conversation between him and Litvinov while the three of us were driving to the Appalachian mountains. We were talking about the French and the British, and Molotov sharply criticised their pre-war policy, which was aimed at pushing Hitler into war against the USSR. In other words, he voiced the official Party line. Litvinoy disagreed. This had been the prime reason for his removal from the post of Foreign Commissar in 1939 yet here he was, still stubbornly defending Britain’s and France’s refusal to join the Soviet Union and give Hitler a firm rebuff before he could make his fateful attack upon the USSR. Despite having been relieved of his post for such views, Litvinov continued to defend them in front of Molotov, and consequently in front of Stalin.

It was strange listening to someone who appeared not to have noticed Munich and its consequences”.

(Andrel Gromyko: ‘Memoirs’. London; 1989; p.312),

In 1948, however, the Soviet Information Bureau was still commenting politely on Litvinov’s removal:

“In the complex situation when the Fascist aggressors were preparing the Second World War, … it was necessary to have in such a responsible post as that of People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs a political leader with greater experience and greater popularity in the country than Maksim Litvinov”.

(‘Falsifiers of History’; op.cit.; p.16-17).

Litvinov’s Further Demotion

In February 1941, Litvinov was further demoted: the step was taken

“… of depriving Maksim of the one public position he retained — membership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.148).

This action was taken,

“.. according to the official announcement, because of non-fulfilment of his obligations'”.

(Vojtech Mastny: op.cit.; p.367).

According to Ivy Litvinov,

“… as Stalin was leaving the meeting, Lityinov called after him ‘Does this mean that you consider me an enemy of the people?’. The boss removed the pipe from his mouth to say . . . ‘We don’t consider you to be an enemy of the people’ “.

(Ivy Litvinov: op.cit.; p.17).

and John Carswell, the biographer of Ivy Litvinov, writes that

“… this humiliation… was an important stage in Maksim’s disillusionment with the ‘reality’ which the Revolution claimed to have created”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.149).

Litvinov to Washington

However, in December 1941, some months after the German attack on the Soviet Union,

“… Stalin sent for for Litvinov, shook hands with him in a friendly manner and appointed him to Washington”. (Ilya Ehrenburg: ‘Men, Years — Life’, Volume 6: ‘Post-War Years: 1945-1954’, London; 1966; p.279).

And Litvinov’s biograoher Voitech Mastny remarks that in the new situation of Anglo-American-Soviet co-operation, Litvinov was

“… the right person to be chosen to reassure the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: op.cit.; p.368).

Litvinov Voices Dissent from Soviet Foreign Policy

Litvinov’s biographer Vojtech Mastny notes:

“Towards the end of his long and distinguished career in the Soviet diplomatic service, Maksim Litvinov tantalised his foreign interlocutors with increasingly candid expressions of dissent from his employers’ official line. There are several such incidents on record from May 1943 to February 1947”.

(Voitech Mastny: op.cit.; p.366).

In May 1943, having been recalled to Moscow, he is on record complaining to US Assistant Secretary of State Sumner Welles

“… that he was unable to communicate with Stalin, whose isolation then bred a distorted view of the West”.

(Voitech Mastny: ibid.; p.368).

However, according to the Soviet revisionist journalist Ilya Ehrenburg, Litvinov

“… was reticent in his opinion of him (Stalin — Ed.) . . . and only once, when speaking about foreign policy, said with a sigh: ‘He doesn’t know the West'”.

(Jlya Ehrenburg: op.cit.; p.278).

At the same time as Litvinov was recalled from the USA,

“… the other official protagonist of pro-Western reputation, Ambassador to London Ivan M. Maisky”,

(Vojtech Mastny: ibid.; p.368).

was recalled to Moscow.

Litvinov

“… still held the post of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs (the title of ‘People’s Commissar was changed to that of ‘Minister’ in January 1946 — Ed.) but was given work of little importance”.

(Ilya Ehrenburg: op.cit.; p,. 279).

In the first months of 1945,

“… Maksim made no secret of his view that the Yalta agreement, Stalin’s greatest diplomatic victory, was a disaster for the future of international relations”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.; p.158-59).

In June 1945 he is on record as complaining to American journalist Edgar Snow:

“We (Litvinov and Maisky — Ed.) are on the shelf…

The Commissariat (for Foreign Affairs — Ed.) is run by only three men and none of them knows or understands America and Britain…

Why did you Americans wait till right now to begin opposing us in the

Balkans and Eastern Europe? You should have done this three years ago.

Now it’s too late”.

(Edgar Snow: op.cit.; p.314, 357).

In June 1946 Lityinov gave an interview in Moscow to the correspondent of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Richard Hottelot. According to Hottelot,

“.. Litvinov’s attitude was one of resignation mixed with disgust and relief that he was not identified with his government’s foreign policy”

(Richard C. Hottelot: Interview with Maksim Litvinov (June 1946), in: ‘Washington Post’ (22 January 1952); p.11B).

According to Hottelot, Litvinov declared:

“The Kremlin cannot be trusted and cannot be appeased”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Interview with Richard Hottelot (June 1946), ‘Washington Post’ (21 January 1952); p.1).

so that any attempt by the Western powers to meet Soviet demands

“… would lead to the West being faced, after a more or less short time, with the next series of demands”.

(Maksim Litvinov: Interview with Richard Hottelot (June 1946), in:

‘Washington Post’ (21 January 1952); p.1).

Because of its content, the interview remained unpublished until after Litvinov’s death in December 1951. Hottelot explains Litvinov’s frankness by his wish to present his ‘political testament to the West’:

“This strange interlude awakened the impression that . . . it was meant as Litvinov’s political testament to the Western world”.

(Richard C. Hottelot: Interview with Makaim Litvinov (June 1946), ‘Washington Post’, 21 January 1952; p.4).

We knew his career had just come to an end… This was probably Litvinov’s last chance to be heard”.

(Richard C. Hottelot: Interview with Maksim Litvinov (June 1946), in: ‘Washington Post’ (24 January 1952); p.13).:

Litvinov’s Final Demotion

In August 1946,

“… ‘Pravda’ printed a brief notice in small type on its back page to the effect that Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov had been relieved of his post as Deputy Foreign Minister.

There was nothing more. He went into oblivion”.

(‘Washington Post’, 24 January 1952; p.13).

Ilya Ehrenburg notes that

“… Litvinov was not arrested, but Stalin removed him from all functions, … He was pensioned off, not at his own request”.

(Ilya Ehrenburg: op.cit.; p.278, 279).

However, he

“… followed the development of Soviet foreign policy with increasing disapproval. Much of his time was taken up in elaborating a long memorandum to Stalin which analysed and commented on what he called ‘Molotov’s’ errors”.

(John Carswell: op.cit.: p.161).

In fact,

“… his years of retirement were overshadowed by the possibility of denunciation and trial”.

John Carswel~: ibid.; p.161).

The Death of Litvinov

At Litvinov’s funeral in January 1952,

“… the highest ranking mourners were Deputy Prime Ministers”

(‘Washington Post’, 25 January 1952: p.21).

with

“… no one from the Politburo”.

(Henry L. Roberts: op.cit.; p.375).

CONCLUSION

Julio Alvarez del Vayo, who was Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republican government during most of the civil war, sums up

“… the whole saga of non-intervention”

(Ivan Maisky: ibid.; p.203).

as follows:

“It was the finest example of the art of handing victims over to the aggressor States, while preserving the perfect manners of a gentleman and at the same time giving the impression that peace is the one objective and consideration”.

(Julio Alvarez del Vayo: op.cit.; p.252).

AND REVISIONIST ELEMENTS IN INFLUENTIAL POSITIONS IN THE CPSU WERE ACCOMPLICES IN THIS REACTIONARY FARCE.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Alexander, Bill: ‘British Volunteers for Liberty: Spain 1936-1939’; London; 1982.
Alpert, Michael: ‘A New International History of the Spanish Civil War’; Basingstoke; 1994.
Alvarez del Vayo, Julio: ‘Freedom’s Battle’; London; 1937.
Beloff, Max: ‘The Foreign Policy of Soviet Russia: 1929-1941’, Volume 2; ‘1936-1941’; London; 1945.
Brenan, Gerald: ‘The Spanish Labyrinth: An Account of the Social and Political Background of the Spanish Civil War’; Cambridge; 1971.
Broue, Pierre & Temime, Emile:’The Revolution and the Civil War in Spain’; London; 1972.
Browne, Harry: ‘Spain’s Civil War’; Harlow; 1983.
Carr, Edward H.: ‘The Comintern and the Spanish Civil War’; London; 1984. Carswell, John: ‘The Exile: A Life of Ivy Litvinov’; London’;
Cattell, David T.:’Communism and the Spanish Civil War’; Berkeley (USA); 1955.
Cattell, David T.:’Soviet Diplomacy and the Spanish Civil War’; Berkeley (USA); 1957.
Coates, William P. & Zelda: ‘A History of Anglo-Soviet Relations’; London; 1943.
Dallin, Alexander : ‘Allied Leadership in the Second World War: Stalin’, in: ‘Survey’, Volume 21, Nos. 1/2 (Winter/Spring 1975).
Degras, Jane (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy’, Volume 3; London; 1953.
Degras, Jane (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943; Documents’, Volume 3; London; 1965.
Dzelepy, Eleuthere N.:’The Spanish Plot’; London; 1937.
Ehrenburg, Ilya: ‘Men, Years — Life’, Volume 6: ‘Post4~r Years: 1945-1954’; London; 1966.
Fischer, Louis: ‘The Great Challenge’; New York; 1971. Gromyko, Andrei: ‘Memoirs’; London; 1989.
Howat, Gerald M. D. (Ed.): ‘Dictionary of World History’; London; 1973. London; 1960.
Ibarruri, Dolores: ‘They shall not pass: The Autobiography of La Pasionaria’;
Krivitsky, Walter C.: ‘I was Stalin’s Agent’; London; 1939.
Maisky, Ivan: ‘Spanish Notebooks’; London; 1966.
Mastny, Vojtech: ‘The Cassandra of the Foreign Commssariat: Maksim Litvinov and the Cold War’, in: ‘Foreign Affairs’, Volume 54, No. 2 (January 1976). Mitchell, David: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1982.
Molotov, Vyacheslav M.:Statement in the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on the Ratification of the Soviet-German Pact of Non-Aggression of August 21, 1939; London; 1939.
Roberts, Henry L.:’Maksim Litvinov’, in: Gordon A. Craig & Felix Gilbert: ‘The Diplomats: 1919-1939’; Princeton (USA); 1953.
Snow, Edgar: ‘Journey to the Beginning’; London; 1959.
Thomas, Hugh: ‘The Spanish Civil War’; London; 1977.
Whealey, Robert H.: ‘Foreign Intervention in the Spanish Civil War’, in:
Raymond Carr (Ed.): ‘The Republic and the Civil War in Spain’; London; 1971.

– From ‘Documents and Materials relating to the Eve of the Second World War: From the Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs’, Volume 1; Moscow; 1948.
– ‘Documents Diplomatiques Francais: 1932-1939; 2nd Series (1936-1939), Volume 3; Paris; 1966.
-‘Falsifiers of History (Historical Information)’; London; 1948.
-‘L’Humanite’.
-‘International Press Correspondence’.
–‘International Solidarity with the Spanish Republic: 1936-1939’; Moscow; 1976, — ‘Keesing’s Contemporary Archives.
— ‘New Encylopaedia Britannica’.
— ‘Observer Review’.
— ‘Times’.

Grover Furr: Anatomy of a Fraudulent Scholarly Work: Ronald Radosh’s “Spain Betrayed”

9780300089813

Grover Furr

Spain Betrayed: The Soviet Union in the Spanish Civil War by Ronald Radosh (Editor), Mary Radosh Habeck (Editor), Grigory Sevostianov (Editor). Annals of Communism series. Yale University Press, June 2001.

1. Long awaited and published to rave reviews — albeit predictably by Cold War conservatives (Arnold Beichman) and anti-communist liberals (Christopher Hitchens) — Radosh’s commentary on the 81 documents from the Comintern archives in Moscow concerning its involvement in the Spanish Civil War turns out to be notable for quite another reason: it is an utterly fraudulent work. [1]

2. In the course of this review-essay I’ll present a lot of evidence to substantiate this serious charge. I’ll also discuss, though briefly, the major positive reviews of the book. They are full of the same stuff. In several instances, an innocent reader might think that the reviewers had not actually read the documents themselves, but only Radosh’s commentary. For how could anyone compare what the Comintern documents state with what Radosh says about them, without noticing the enormous discrepancies between the two?

3. I won’t say much in this report about the documents themselves. Many of them are fascinating and valuable, though Radosh, in his zeal to arraign the communists, basically neglects them.

4. But one conclusion is so striking that it cannot be left unstated. Far from showing Soviet “betrayal,” these 81 documents make the Comintern, the International Brigades, and the massive Soviet aid to Spain appear in an extremely positive light. Reading the documents alone, and ignoring Radosh’s “commentary,” any objective person will come away with tremendous respect for the communist effort in the Spanish Civil War, not only by the Comintern and the justly famed International Brigades, but of the Soviet Union — or, as Radosh says it, in his crude demonizing synecdoche, of “Moscow” and “Stalin.”

5. Despite itself, Radosh’s book represents something valuable: an object lesson in the rhetorical strategies of anti-communism. Perhaps the biggest question of all — “Why lie, if the truth is on your side?” — will require a few remarks about the uses of anti-Stalinism in foreclosing any objective understanding of the successes and failures of the communist movement.

6. Radosh’s book contains so many errors and distortions that even a much longer review could not discuss them all. Therefore, I examine the documents in which the major “revelations” are supposedly to be found. To identify those, I’ve used (a) the four-page publicity handout from Yale University Press that accompanies the book, and (b) a number of the major reviews favorable to this volume, from leading publications (all are listed at the end). A few other documents were chosen because they seem to me particularly interesting. This close examination constitutes the bulk of the review.

7. I’ll also point out some examples of simple editorial incompetence. Radosh could have provided useful summaries of long and significant documents, or helpful and specific references to other scholarly work — surely the duty of a competent commentator — but scarcely ever does.

8. At the end of the review I’ve included some remarks of a more general nature about the issues raised both by these documents themselves and by Radosh’s commentary. There’s a good deal that can be said by Marxists in criticism of the Bolsheviks and the Comintern during the Stalin period — or of any political group, communist or not, at any period — and in conclusion I’ll allude to one or two things with special reference to Spain. But any and all criticism should be based on what actually happened as that can be deduced from the best evidence available, rather than on fabrications or demonization, as with Radosh and many other Cold-War writers, either from the Right or, not infrequently, the so-called Left.

9. What follows is a short outline of the main ideological frameworks for interpreting the Spanish Civil War. Some knowledge of them is essential to an appreciation of Radosh’s interpretation, the documents themselves, and the present review. Considerations of space preclude any more detailed discussion of the foundational texts of these frameworks. (I am planning a critique of Orwell’s influential book at a future time.)

10. The Spanish Civil War has always posed a special problem for the kind of anti-communist who is determined to argue that the leadership of the international Communist movement never acted out of any idealistic motives. Such people are convinced — at any rate, they are determined to convince others — that all communist struggles, no matter how noble in appearance, were in reality aimed at manipulative, cynical, authoritarian goals, ultimately far worse than those of the capitalist exploiters they professed to oppose. Khrushchev’s portrayal of a malevolent, virtually demonic Stalin after 1956, while it differed little from Trotsky’s, was far more influential, and except in China and Albania quickly became widely accepted within the Communist movement itself. It was essential in smoothing the path for Trotskyist and, in terms of Spain, Anarchist narratives, hitherto current only among tiny, marginalized groups.

11. George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia is basically such an account, though Orwell’s superior literary ability, British patriotism during World War II, and subsequent endorsement of mainstream Cold War ideology, gave his work the status of a somewhat independent authority. Orwell’s book remains the main representative of these anti-communist paradigms, the only book about the Spanish Civil War that most people ever encounter.

12. According to this interpretation, further popularized in British director Ken Loach’s film Land and Freedom (1995), Trotskyists and, especially, Anarchists are the true revolutionaries, collectivizing the land, ceding control of factories to the workers, and promoting egalitarian relations generally. The Communists are portrayed as counter-revolutionaries, whose rank-and-file think they are fighting to defeat the fascists in order that, in the victorious bourgeois-democratic Spanish Republic, they can then initiate a struggle for working-class revolution, but whose leadership — Stalin — aims in reality at a bleak authoritarian dictatorship of the kind Trotskyists, Anarchists, conventional capitalist anti-communists and even fascists, claimed was the state of affairs in the USSR itself. This creates a certain tension within the otherwise “united front” of anti-communist versions of the Spanish Civil War, since capitalist anti-communism is normally aimed at the radical, not the putatively conservative, nature of the communist movement.

13. The Communist version, on the other hand — the version by far the best supported by the evidence — is that the “United Front Against Fascism” and for a liberal, bourgeois-democratic (and therefore capitalist) society was the only way to unite as many social forces as possible, including nationalists, urban capitalists, and wealthier peasants, to defeat the fascists. According to this view, upon victory a Spanish Republic would have a strong, organized working class which would continue the fight for progressive social reforms and, ultimately, socialist revolution. The Communists held that to begin a revolutionary struggle in the midst of the war against the fascist armies would guarantee the defeat of the Republic — a defeat which, in fact, happened.

14. A critique of the Communist view from the Left is certainly warranted — indeed, essential. But what passes for a “left” critique, the Anarchist-Trotskyist version outlined above, accepts the basic premises of the reactionary Cold War critique, to the point that it can be cited in service to the latter, as Radosh does here. To clear the ground for a real Left critique, it is first necessary to recover the historical truth of what did, in fact, happen, both in the Spanish Civil War and in the Soviet Union itself. A real Left critique of the Comintern’s politics which both fully and correctly appreciates its successes and goes beyond it to identify the main roots of its failures, is yet to be made, despite a few promising starts which have long been available, albeit little known (see below, and note 6).

15. Radosh’s own view, as represented in his commentary in Spain Betrayed, is contradictory. In places Radosh argues, according to the fashion of conservative capitalist anti-communists, that the Comintern was hiding its truly revolutionary intentions. In other passages, however, he endorses the Orwell-Trotskyist-Anarchist view that the Communists were a conservative force that “betrayed” the revolutionary potential in Spain. Radosh seems untroubled by, indeed unaware of, this basic contradiction, as in the case of the many passages in which he — in the most generous description of his practice — makes flagrant and egregious errors in reading the very texts upon which he is “commenting.”

Document 5

16. Document 5, a report by Georgi Dimitrov, head of the Comintern, to the Secretariat of the ECCI (Executive Committee, Communist International) of July 23, 1936, contains the following lines:

We should not, at the present stage, assign the task of creating soviets and try to establish a dictatorship of the proletariat in Spain. That would be a fatal mistake.

Radosh claims that this statement (a statement repeated in the press release)

. . . supports the contention of some scholars that the Communists purposely disguised their true objective, social revolution. (5-6)

But it does not. It clearly states that there are “stages,” the present one being the stage of “maintaining unity with the petty bourgeoisie and the peasants and the radical intelligentsia . . .” (11). Radosh’s claim could only be true if he gave evidence that the Communists were denying what everyone would have expected of them — to wish to move to another “stage,” once the fascists were defeated. Radosh gives no evidence that the Communists were making any such claims to have abandoned the ultimate goal of a Soviet-style revolution in Spain. So there can be no question of “disguising their true objective.”

17. It ought also to be noted that Radosh also wants it “both ways.” Sometimes he criticizes the Communists for opposing social revolution, which the Anarchists supposedly stood for. This is Ken Loach’s main contention in Land and Freedom. But other times, as here, Radosh criticizes the Communists for wanting social revolution but supposedly “disguising” their intentions.

18. Document 5 also offers an obvious mistranslation from the Russian. Immediately after the lines quoted above, Radosh et al. allege that Dimitrov wrote the following:

Therefore we must say: act in the guise of defending the Republic. . . . (p.11; emphasis added)

In his commentary Radosh states:

The very careful use of these terms, as well as the injunction to “act under the semblance of defending the republic,” supports the contention of some scholars that the Communists purposely disguised their true objective, social revolution. (pp. 5-6; emphasis added)

19. Evidently Radosh is referring to a different translation of the document than that which finally ended up in the volume, although arguably “in the guise of” and “under the semblance of” convey much the same thing: duplicity, dishonesty. However, there is an interesting footnote in the text of Document 5 attached to the phrase “in the guise.” That note, number 11 on page 515, reads thus: “Literally, ‘under the banner.'” In other words, what Dimitrov actually said is this:

Therefore we must say: act under the banner of defense of the Republic. . . .

20. The question is: What does “under the banner” — in Russian, “pod znamenem” — mean in Russian? The answer is: it means the opposite of what Radosh says it means. Rather than “under the semblance” or “in the guise,” it means “in service to” or “in defense of.” At exactly this time, one of the foremost Soviet philosophical journals was titled “Pod Znamenem Marksisma“: literally, “Under the Banner of Marxism,” often translated as “In Defense of Marxism.” No one would even think of translating that title as “In the Guise of,” or “Under the Semblance of,” Marxism! “Under the banner of” is a military metaphor, meaning “In the ranks of.”

21. In other words, what Dimitrov actually said was:

. . . act in defense of the Republic. . . .

There must be an interesting story behind that footnote. Whoever translated Document 5 — Radosh tells us (p. xxxi) that there were two translators for the Russian documents — that person evidently knew that “in the guise” was not the correct translation, and wanted to tell the world, even if by a footnote, that he or she was not responsible for this particular mistranslation.

22. This is the only mistranslation from the Russian that can be discerned in this collection, because Radosh et al. don’t give us the documents in the original languages (mostly Russian, but a few in Spanish, German and French). This would have been easy to do — on a book-related web page, for example. But the way this mistranslation is treated makes one wonder whether there may be more.

Document 42

23. Radosh spends a lot of words on Documents 42 through 44 because one of the central points of his book is that in these documents, especially Document 42, is to be found the proof that the Communists instigated the Barcelona uprising of May, 1937 as a pretext for violently suppressing their Anarchist opposition.

24. Briefly, the context for Radosh’s comments is as follows, in the words of Helen Graham, who has written authoritatively and most recently on this event (Graham 1999, p. 485):

On the afternoon of Monday 3 May 1937 a detachment of police attempted to seize control of Barcelona’s central telephone exchange (Telefónica) in order to remove the anarchist militia forces present therein. . . . Those days of social protest and rebellion have been represented in many accounts, of which the single best known is still George Orwell’s contemporary diary account, Homage to Catalonia, recently given cinematic form in Ken Loach’s Land and Freedom. It is paradoxical, then, that the May events remain among the least understood in the history of the civil war.

25. Radosh takes Document 42 to be directly related to this event:

. . . we have the proof that the view held by the Communists’ opponents was essentially correct. The Spanish Communist Party, with the support and knowledge of the Comintern and Moscow, had decided to provoke a clash, in the full understanding that the outcome would give them precisely the opportunity they had long been seeking. (174)

Radosh does not bother to tell us what would have been wrong with the communists’ seizing the telephone exchange from the anarchists. After all, the government, not one of the various parties, should have been in control of the exchange. And the assault was led by the Police Chief of Barcelona who, though a communist, was also a government official.

26. The anarchists had clearly been prepared for such an attack for a long time — after all, they had a machine-gun nest in the first floor which prevented the police from seizing the building at once. What justification did the anarchists — not the government, but one of the political parties in Barcelona — have controlling the telephone exchange in the first place?

27. The words that Radosh takes as “proof” that “the view held by the Communists’ opponents was essentially correct” — I emphasize “essentially” because even Radosh feels he has to qualify this statement, evidently realizing he is on weak grounds here — are as follows:

. . . the author of the report noted that the Communists had decided not to wait for a crisis, but to “hasten it and, if necessary, to provoke it” (emphasis added).

But Document 42 says nothing whatsoever about the attack on the telephone exchange, or about any plan for confrontation with the anarchists. The sentence quoted in part by Radosh in his commentary reads this way in full:

In a word, to go decisively and consciously to battle against Caballero and his entire circle, consisting of some leaders of the UGT. This means not to wait passively for a “natural” unleashing of the hidden government crisis, but to hasten it and, if necessary, provoke it, in order to obtain a solution for these problems.  . . . The leadership of the party is more and more coming to the conviction that with Caballero and his circle the Republic will be defeated, despite all the conditions guaranteeing victory. (194)

These lines do not refer at all to the attempt by the Communist Chief of Police to take possession for the Republican government of the telephone exchange that had been unlawfully seized and held by the anarchists, the event that precipitated the “May Days” in Barcelona and to which Radosh tries to tie this statement, or to any plan to incite any actions against the anarchists. Instead, the paragraph quoted just above refers to the previous points 8 through 14 of Document 42, in which the unnamed communist author says that the PCE has decided to take action against the Caballero government. There is nothing whatsoever in this document that connects it with the attempt to retake the telephone exchange.

28. Radosh’s allegation — one of the “bombshell” findings Radosh claims to have found — is a lie. This whole “discovery” is a complete swindle on the unsuspecting reader. I stress this point because Radosh’s supposed “discovery” here has been so widely touted as one of the major “revelations” of these Soviet documents. For example, the Press Release from Yale University Press that accompanied the books publication lists seven documents and summarizes what Radosh says they contain. The blurb on Document 42 reads:

Barcelona — the civil war within the Civil War. The five-day street battle in Barcelona was portrayed by Orwell in Homage to Catalonia and by Ken Loach in the film Land and Freedom. The historical dispute has always been: Was the anarchist reaction deliberately provoked? Document 42 shows that the view held by the Communists’ opponents was essentially correct. The Spanish Communist Party, with the support and knowledge of the Comintern, decided to provoke the clash. (emphasis added)

We should also note, in passing, the esteem in which Loach and Orwell are held by establishment anti-Communist ideologues like Radosh, and the way in which the echo-chamber of the “big lie” functions in the blurb above by pairing these supposed “authorities” with the specious “facts” that Radosh is creating here.

29. Richard Bernstein, whose very positive review of Radosh’s book appeared in the New York Times, tacitly recognizes that Document 42 did not prove what Radosh says it proves:

Two weeks later, the Communists, in the view of this book’s editors, did provoke the desired crisis, unleashing the Barcelona street battles that essentially eliminated the anarchist leadership and led to the replacement of Largo Caballero by a more malleable premier. [emphasis added]

(Bernstein makes it sound like Caballero was the leader of the anarchists; in fact, he was head of the government and a Socialist.)

30. In the interest of good sense, I would like to make a few additional remarks at this point.

1. The assumption, in Radosh’s Commentary and in other anti-communist accounts Radosh quotes, is that, by taking the Telephone exchange away from the anarchists and returning it to government control, the Communists were “provoking” the anarchists.

2. The anarchists had no business whatsoever holding the telephone exchange. The Police Chief, besides being a communist, was also a government officer. If removing an armed group of occupiers who have taken control of the telephone exchange is not a legitimate matter for the police, what is?

3. Imagine if the Communists had occupied the telephone exchange, fortified it with a machine-gun nest, interrupted government phone calls whenever they wanted to, and then a non-Communist police chief had tried to oust them? Would Radosh not take that as evidence that the Communists wanted to take over?

Document 43

31. One of Radosh’s statements about Document 43 has been cited in several favorable reviews of his book:

As the Comintern document cited earlier revealed, Stalin had in mind a Spanish version of the Moscow purge trials most likely to be held in Barcelona. (209) [2] 

The document in question, No. 43, is a report from an anonymous source, presumably to the Comintern. In it the informant states:

The immediate political consequences of the putsch [the anarchist attempt to seize power — this is the way this writer interprets the “May Days” in Barcelona] are very great. Above all, the following one: the Trotskyist-POUMists revealed themselves to the nation as people who belong totally to Franco’s fifth column. The people are nourishing unbelievable animosity toward the Trotskyists. The masses are demanding energetic and merciless repression. This is what is demanded by the masses of people of all of Spain, Catalonia, and Barcelona. They demand complete disarmament, arrest of the leaders, the creation of a special military tribunal for the Trotskyists! This is what the masses demand. (196-197)

In his discussion of this document on p. 176, Radosh wrote:

In other words, the call was out for the creation in Spain of the equivalent of the Moscow purge trials. . .

“In other words” (why not use the same words?) “the call was out for” can only mean one thing: Radosh assumes that our unnamed informant, writing to the Comintern in Moscow, is speaking for someone other than himself. But this assumption is invalid. This document does not mean that any “call is out.” So far as we know, it’s the opinion of the writer alone. After all, he’s reporting to the Comintern. If the PCE, or Soviet advisers, had “put out the call” for a Moscow-style purge trial, he would have said so, for why hide it to the Comintern? And if Stalin had expressed interest in a Spanish “purge trial,” surely this writer would have said so as well.

Document 44

32. Document 44 is a report to the Comintern sent to Marshal Voroshilov, Commissar (Minister) of Defense of the USSR and the man whose office oversaw military equipment and material aid for the Spanish Republic, by a certain “Goratsy,” whom Radosh, in another failure of his editorial responsibility, does not further identify. Radosh accuses the Comintern of lying to itself, in that it states the communist belief

that the “uprising” carried out by “the extremist wing [of the anarchists] in the block with the POUM” was prepared in advance over a “long period of time.” (177) [This refers to the “May Days” in Barcelona — GF].

33. A few considerations are in order:

1. How does Radosh know that this is false? He has not proven it.

Furthermore, Radosh has already claimed that, in Document 42, he has evidence that the Comintern itself planned the Barcelona uprising, whereas here the Comintern reporter blames the uprising on the Anarchists. Why would the Comintern lie to itself? If the Comintern had successfully provoked this confrontation, as Radosh claims, why wouldn’t they be gloating over their success? Instead, they blame it on the anarchists, even in private communications within the Comintern. (206)

2. The document itself claims that the uprising was unexpected by the Communists. Once again: if it had been not only expected, but in fact “provoked,” as Radosh would have it, why would this not be noted, with pride, as a successful operation?

Document 1

34. Here a Spanish Communist in Moscow is writing to the Communist Party in Spain.

Radosh: “. . . the imperative tone taken by Moscow made it clear that there was little room for argument or maneuver by the small and relatively powerless PCE . . . (1-2).

Doc. 1: “After considering the alarming situation in connection with the Fascist conspiracy in SPAIN, we advise you: — . . . Please let us know your opinions on our proposals.” (7,9; emphasis added)

Conclusion: This document is not “imperative” in tone. Radosh is simply trying to make “Moscow” appear dictatorial and high-handed. The text will not support that interpretation, so he simply puts it into his commentary.

35. I put “Moscow” in quotation marks because this message, while certainly sent from the city of Moscow, was sent by a Spanish Communist, “Dios Major,” who signed the document. Why doesn’t Radosh mention this, saying only that “Moscow” sent it? Perhaps because to say that one Spanish Communist is “advising” other Spanish Communists does not support the impression — which Radosh evidently wants to give — that the Bolsheviks, Stalin, the Politburo, or whatever “Moscow” usually conveys, was trying to say anything to anybody. It appears that through metonymy, a linguistic trope in which “Moscow” represents any Communist leader, anywhere, allows Radosh to reduce all Communist leaders to “Moscow,” and “Moscow” to “Stalin.” Demonize Stalin, then, and all Communist leadership is automatically demonized as well.

36. Radosh gives other invidious readings of Document 1, but is rather vague about it. I’ll mention only one more example.

37. Document 1 reads, in part:

4. It is necessary to take preventative measures with the greatest urgency against the putchist attempts of the anarchists, behind which the hand of the Fascists is hidden.

The worst one could say about this piece of analysis — given, we recall, by one Spanish Communist to others, all of whom had extensive experience with the Spanish anarchists and hated them just as the anarchists, in turn, hated the communists — is that it was rhetorical over-statement to say that “the hand of the Fascists is hidden behind” the anarchists’ attempts at seizing power.

38. But here is what Radosh himself says about the anarchists:

Throughout the conflict, Soviet and Comintern advisers would decry the ‘subversive’ activities of the anarchists, and particularly their refusal to curtail revolutionary activities or to allow the formation of a regular, disciplined army. (3, emphasis added)

Radosh admits that the anarchists took this attitude towards the army. Yet how could the Fascists — who certainly had “a regular, disciplined army” — ever be defeated unless the Republic had one too? Guerrilla warfare — what Mao Tse-tung and Vo Nguyen Giap later refined into the doctrine of “People’s War” — is very important. But no theoretician of guerrilla or people’s war ever suggested that a war could be won without “a regular, disciplined army.”

39. In refusing to form such an army the anarchists played directly into the hands of the Fascists. Yet even while admitting this, Radosh attacks the Communists for stating the obvious: that this played into the Fascists’ hands. Elsewhere, in passages Radosh does not comment on, the Communists expressed the view that Fascist agents chose to infiltrate the Anarchists precisely for this reason.

40. Radosh’s Commentary continues:

The demand to establish a single union also stemmed from a new understanding of how to construct a socialist state: not through open revolution, but through the absorption of independent unions or parties into a single entity controlled by the Communists.

Radosh gives no evidence to support this statement at all. He certainly can’t cite Document 1, the document he is supposedly elucidating, because in it Dios Mayor proposes that

the C.G.T. (U.) [the Communist-led union movement] ought to propose to C.N.T. [the Socialist-led union movement] the immediately construction in the center and locally of joint committees to fight against the Fascist insurgents and to prepare the unification of the syndicates.

. . . At the same time you must establish broad social legislation, with extensive rights reserved in the unified C.G.T. . . .

41. Dios Mayor is proposing that the Communists call for unified action and a unified trade union organization. Radosh suggests that there is something underhanded about calling for unification: the Communists want to “absorb independent unions into a single entity controlled by the Communists.” But there is no suggestion of this in the document itself. I would note also Radosh’s concept of “absorption” here is standard anticommunist rhetoric. Other parties might “win a political struggle” for leadership of an organization, but communists only “control” — never “lead” — and “absorb,” with connotations of “suffocation,” “snuffing out independence.” [3] 

42. One might say, “Well, Radosh hates Communism, so for Radosh the communists can never do anything right.” But it’s more than that. For Radosh, if a non-communist makes a good proposal — say, trade union unity — that is good; whereas when Communists do the same thing, it’s bad. That’s because, for Radosh, communists never do anything honestly; their “dishonesty” is a given.

43. The interesting thing is that Radosh, using the documents his collaborators have selected, cannot demonstrate “dishonesty” on the part of the communists. An honest researcher would consider the possibility that, if the evidence at hand did not suggest the communists were “dishonest,” it just may possibly be because the communists were not dishonest.

Document 79

44. Radosh confesses that the previous document, no. 78, “suggests that he [Negrín] enjoyed a degree of autonomy from Communist control” (497). Radosh further acknowledges that even some anti-communist scholars of the SCW believe Negrín was “a more independent figure.” Radosh stresses that Document 79, a report by Marchenko, a Soviet and a Comintern representative, to Litvinov (Soviet Foreign Minister) and Voroshilov,

. . . makes it clear that the Spaniard’s views of politics closely coincided with the Soviets’, while the similarities between his vision for postwar Spain and that of the Soviet Union are striking This document suggests that if the Republicans had won the Civil War, Spain would have been very different from the nation that existed before 18 July 1936 and very close to the post-World War II “people’s democracies” of Europe.

This is false. Document 79 itself reveals that Marchenko was not supportive at all of Negrín’s outline of what a post-war Spanish Republic might look like:

I reacted in a very reserved way to Negrín’s idea and drew his attention to the difficulties and complications that the organization of a new party would cause. . . . If there are military successes, he can begin the formation of “his” united-Spanish political party, with the participation of the Communists if they will allow it, and without the Communists (and that means against them) if they refuse. (499; emphasis added).

The post-WWII “people’s democracies” of Eastern Europe were (a) propped up by the presence of the Red Army; (b) directly on the borders of the USSR; and (c) governed by Communist Parties (or communist-socialist united parties) run frankly by pro-Soviet communists. Negrín’s conception of a post-war Spanish Republic is very different from the post-war pro-Soviet regimes of Eastern Europe, sharing no essential similarity with them at all. Yet the allegation that a post-war Republic would have been forced into the mould of the post-WWII Eastern European regimes is, supposedly, one of the major “discoveries” of this collection of documents. This document alone shows that this claim of Radosh’s is without foundation.

Document 62

45. This is an important report by Palmiro Togliatti, head Comintern representative in Spain, to Dimitrov in Moscow. It is of great interest, and Radosh can find nothing to say about it that is at all negative. He makes false statements about its contents, however.

46. For example, Radosh writes:

Togliatti’s reports of are special importance. It is clear that, unlike other apparatchiks, Togliatti was extremely candid and forthright in his observations. (370, emphasis added)

But Radosh gives not a single example of these “other apparatchiks,” supposedly not-candid and not-forthright. Since Togliatti was later the head of the Italian Communist Party and a major leader of the Comintern, it does not seem to have hurt his reputation to have been “extremely candid and forthright.”

47. Note, too, Radosh’s use of a Russian term for an official of the Italian Communist Party. Radosh would never refer to an official of the Spanish Socialist party as an “apparatchik.” The point here is to give the impression, by whatever means possible, that “Moscow” controls everything.

48. Radosh’s discussion of this report contains several outright lies, including one that is very blatant — always provided that one actually reads the document itself. Radosh states:

At the same time, in Catalonia, Togliatti called for a policy of reinforcing the moderation of the Popular Front, rather than demagogic appeals to a revolution-minded populace. If the anarchists tried to move toward open revolt and stage a coup, he advised one solution only: “We will finally do away with them.” (emphasis added)

Here is the passage (390):

As for the anarchists, on this question, in my opinion, we have not merely hesitated, but made absolutely real mistakes in our tactics [Togliatti is referring to methods of political struggle — GF.] On the role from Barcelona to Valencia, I posed the question to the comrades accompanying me. Their opinion was very simple: the anarchists have lost all influence, in Barcelona (!) there is not even one anarchist worker, we are waiting until they organize a second putsch, and we will finally do away with them [emphasis added].

So this attitude is not that of Togliatti, but of some “comrades.” Here is what Togliatti wrote about this attitude; this passage begins immediately after that above:

This opinion is very widespread in the party, in particular in Catalonia, and when we stick to such an idea, it is impossible to carry out a policy of rapprochement with the anarchist masses and differentiation of their leaders. (390; emphasis added)

Radosh attributed to Togliatti the very views that Togliatti cites in order to strongly oppose them!

49. Again, Radosh writes:

While publicly advocating attempts at cooperation with opposition anarchists, Togliatti noted that their leaders were “scum, closely tied to Caballero,” and had to be fought via “large-scale action from below.” (371)

It is clear from the context of p. 390 — see the emphasis in the quotation above — that the “large-scale action from below” that Togliatti hoped for was action by the “anarchist masses,” as he stated in the passage quoted above, which alone can lead to “differentiation of their leaders.” In other words, Togliatti proposed relying on a democratic plan — winning over the anarchist masses to replace or repudiate their own leadership. Communist authors show appreciation for the political instincts of the anarchist rank-and-file many times in these documents; it is the anarchist leadership they see as the stumbling blocks to effective unity against Franco.

50. In addition to Togliatti, another Soviet adviser, Antonov-Ovseenko comes across very well in these documents. Radosh seriously distorts Document 22. Antonov-Ovseenko wrote:

The PSUC repeatedly proposed to the government that weapons at the rear [i.e. in areas not involved in battle] be seized and put at the disposal of the government. (p. 80)

Radosh calls this “Communist attempts to seize all the weapons at the rear (and thus to disarm the anarchists)” (p. 71). In reality, the PSUC (the Unified Socialist Party) — not just the communists, who were only a part of the PSUC — was proposing that armed men should be at the front fighting the war, and that arms were needed at the front, not in the rear. Orwell himself complains time and again about the obsolete, broken, and useless arms available to his own unit at the front, and that even these arms were in short supply. If, as Radosh suggests here, the armed anarchists were all in the rear, what were they doing there? If armed communists had been “all in the rear,” would Radosh not think this sinister?

51. In Document 21 Antonov-Ovseenko quotes an informant, “X,” who told him that the anarchists were carrying out mass executions in Catalonia and that they had executed 40 priests.

X. told me . . . [t]hree days ago, the government seriously clashed with the anarchists: the CNT seized a priest. . . . The priest pointed out another 101 members of his order who had hidden themselves in different places. They [the anarchists] agreed to free all 102 men for three hundred thousand francs. All 102 appeared, but when the money had been handed over, the anarchists shot forty of them. (76-7; emphasis added).

52. Radosh does not condemn the anarchists at this point for shooting the priests. Nor does he suggest that this charge against the anarchists is false (p. 71). Imagine if the communists had been executing up to 50 people a day, as “X” told Antonov-Ovseenko — would Radosh have let this pass without criticism? Rather, such a document would have been featured as a major find, one of the most important documents in the book. Yet when anarchists are alleged to be committing mass murder, and Communists are opposed to it, Radosh scarcely mentions the matter, and certainly does not praise the Communists for stopping such massacres. This illustrates one of the central weaknesses in Radosh’s commentary: he is, in fact, not much interested in these documents except insofar as they can be used to show the communists as “bad.”

53. A strongly positive review of the Radosh book in First Things states baldly: “Although leftist atrocities against the Church, including the execution of thousands of nuns and priests, were widespread, they are nowhere mentioned in these documents.” In his rush to provide Radosh with another positive review, this anonymous reviewer in a right-wing, “pro-religion” journal clearly never read even Radosh’s own commentary, much less the documents themselves.

Document 46

54. This is a report by Dimitrov, head of the Comintern, to Marshal Voroshilov. Radosh makes many false statements about the contents of this 14-page report. For example, Radosh states that “the writer [of the report] came to the stunning conclusion that the war and revolution “cannot end successfully if the Communist party does not take power into its own hands.” (212). In fact, Dimitrov explicitly refuses to endorse the idea that the only way to victory is if the Communist party takes power.

The influence of the party is growing more and more among the masses, and chiefly among the soldiers; the conviction is growing among them that the war and the popular revolution cannot end successfully if the Communist party does not take power into its own hands. Who knows, that idea may indeed be correct. (232; emphasis added)

Arnold Beichman’s review makes the same inaccurate statement: “It is sad to read these Soviet archives and read the words of a Soviet agent to the Comintern’s Georgi Dimitrov: ‘The war cannot end successfully if the Communist Party does not take power in its own hands.'”

55. In fact, this is a very interesting statement, especially coming from Dimitrov, famous since the Seventh Comintern Congress in 1935 for championing the concept of the Communist International’s abandoning its independent advocacy of socialist revolution in order to make possible “united fronts” with all anti-fascist parties, as in Spain. The Spanish Communists, with the support of the Comintern, were struggling hard to make the United Front in Spain work. Here Dimitrov shows that he himself has doubts about it. The documents published in this volume could indeed provide much evidence for an argument that it was precisely the insistence on a United Front with the Spanish socialists and Anarchists that doomed the Republic. A competent commentary should have discussed this issue.

Document 70

56. This long report by General Walter (a Polish communist general whose real name was Karol Svershevsky) is of special interest since it includes the longest discussion of the International Brigades among the documents in this volume. These pages give Radosh a chance to slander not only the Soviets, but the members of the International Brigades as well, and he tries his best to do so by ignoring positive statements made about the Brigadistas in the documents at hand, while emphasizing the criticisms made about some of them.

57. Radosh begins with the following statement:

By early 1938, the international units were important to the Soviets and the Comintern only as a means of scoring points in the propaganda war and as bargaining chips in negotiations with the other great powers. (431)

Radosh continues immediately with the words, “Nowhere is this more clearly shown than in the series of documents that follow.” However, nowhere in these documents is the statement above documented in the least.

58. Walter shows admirable frankness in discussing both strengths and weaknesses within the Brigades. Radosh ignores the strengths and distorts Walter’s words about the weaknesses.

59. For example, Radosh generalizes Walter’s criticism of some Brigadistas, that they thought themselves superior to the Spanish, and implies Walter said it was true of all Brigadistas. (431)

In Sverchevsky’s words, they [the international soldiers] believed they had come to Spain to save it from the fascists. This viewpoint had led directly to their superior attitude toward the Spanish, whom they treated like second-class citizens. (431)

60. In reality, Walter’s remark is a general one, critical of an ideological attitude to be found in the Brigades (438). The words “second-class citizens” are never used. Rather, Walter’s incisive political criticism is directed towards a shallow understanding of internationalism among many Brigadistas, as illustrated in the following passage:

It seems to me that the fundamental reason for, and primary source of, our troubles lies, first and foremost, in a deeply rooted conviction which stubbornly refuses to die that we, the internationalists, are only “helping,” that we “save” and “are saving” Spain, which, they say, without us would not have escaped the fate of Abyssinia. This harmful theory prevents the German and Italian comrades from seeing the silhouettes of “Junkers” and “Fiats” in the fascist air force; they forget that here, on Spanish soil, they are fighting with arms in hand, that is, in the most effective and revolutionary way, first and foremost against their own enemy, which has already oppressed their own countries and peoples for many years. French “volunteers” do not always notice the direct connection between Franco, De la Roque, and Doriot; they forget . . . that their vital interests lie in preventing a fascist sentinel from looming on the last border, the Pyrenees. The Poles do not completely comprehend that every one of their victories here is a direct blow against the Pilsudski gang, which has turned their country into a prison for the people. . . . (438)

61. Walter is unsparingly frank in his criticisms of the shortcomings of the Brigades. His analysis appears to be a model of honest criticism, including much criticism of the performance of communists. But Walter’s report also contains the highest praise for the Brigades (for example, see the first three paragraphs, p. 436). Typically, Radosh’s commentary is utterly one-sided; he mentions many of Walter’s critical comments, but not a single one of the positive ones.

62. In his extremely positive review, Schwartz is more shameless yet in quoting some of Walter’s frank criticisms of the political problems in the Brigades as though they were characteristic. Radosh and Schwartz are of the same kidney; see Radosh’s praise of Schwartz on p. xxv.

Schwartz: “Anti-Semitism was a serious problem among these “progressive” fighters.”

Document 70: “It is true that even then there were more than enough petty squabbling and strong antagonisms in the international units. The francophobia was most transparently obvious . . . anti-Semitism flourished (and indeed it still has not been completely extinguished). . . . (448)

Schwartz: “Above all, the International Brigades possessed transport, food, and other supplies far in excess of their Spanish counterparts, with whom they resolutely refused to ‘share their wealth.'”

Document 70: “The English and American soldiers not long ago were smoking ‘Lucky Strikes,’ not paying attention to the Spanish fighters next to them, who had spent days looking for a few shreds of tobacco. The internationalists receive frequent packages from home but are very rarely willing to share them with their Spanish comrades.” (453)

Schwartz: “International Brigade officers accounted exactly for the numbers of foreigners killed and wounded in battle, but ‘never knew of the casualties of the Spanish personnel.'” [emphasis added]

Document 70: “Richard, the commander of the 11th Brigade, reporting on the casualties suffered by the brigade at Brunete and Saragossa, always gave the exact number of dead and wounded and frequently even the names of the internationalists. But he never knew the casualties of the Spanish personnel.” (454)

In this case, Schwartz transformed the behavior of one commander, in one battle — behavior that the Communist general Walter was holding up for criticism — as typical of “International Brigade officers” generally. (Schwartz gives no page numbers, so verifying his dishonest quotations is a tedious job.)

63. Neither Radosh nor Schwartz put Walter’s criticisms of the Brigades into context. But Walter does. In addition to high praise for the International Brigades’ heroism and importance in the war (see pp. 436 and 459) Walter explains the difficult problems of overcoming national chauvinism, racism and distrust among nationalities:

The International Brigades and units were created literally within the course of one or two days from those volunteers who were on hand at the time . . . there were subunits that contains dozens of nationalities all of these were people who were absolutely unacquainted, not accustomed to one another, and right off found themselves in a battle. If you add to this the extremely acute shortage of political workers, the lack of qualified military cadres, and a whole number of other needs, then the weaknesses and the solution to this problem (adequate at that time) are not surprising. (448)

Schwartz: “According to Walter, the International Brigades, inspired by slogans of worldwide unity against Fascism, were plagued by a ‘petty, disgusting, foul squabble about the superiority of one nationality over another. . . . Everyone was superior to the French, but even they were superior to the Spanish, who were receiving our aid and allowing us to fight against our own national and class enemies on their soil.'”

Immediately preceding the passage quoted by Schwartz (449) occurs the following passage (Document 70):

The great, very exalted, and revolutionary objective, armed struggle with fascism, united everyone, and for its sake Germans, Italians, Poles, Jews, and representatives of the world’s numerous nationalities, including blacks, Japanese, and Chinese, had to agree among themselves, found a common language, suffered the same adversities, sacrificed their lives, died heroes, and were filled with the very same hatred for the common enemy.

But at the very same time as the volunteers were unifying, this petty, disgusting, foul squabble about the superiority of one nationality over another was going on. . . .” (448-9)

64. At a time when every army in the world except communist-led armies were organized along officially racist lines (and some, like the Israeli army, are officially racist even today), this struggle for internationalism inspired millions around the world. Yet the venomous Schwartz sees the racist attitudes among Brigadistas as “the most shocking element of the picture, especially for those who for sixty years have witnessed the Lincoln veterans preening themselves for their antifascist virtue” (emphasis added). The International Brigades set a standard for anti-racism and internationalism that has never been equaled before or since. Schwartz’s insult is simply a measure of his contempt for such values.

Conclusion: Why Lie If You Have the Truth On Your Side?

65. The flagrant inadequacy of Radosh’s discussion of these very important and fascinating documents itself would fatally mar any work with scholarly pretensions. But there is a deeper problem with Radosh’s work. It is not merely that Radosh fails to comment accurately on the documents he publishes (Habeck did most of the translations; Sevostianov did the archival work in Moscow). More than that: Radosh actually lies, time and again, about the contents of documents which readers can study themselves a few pages after his commentary.

66. Radosh is one of a small number of former Communist Party members who, once they realized that the Soviet-led world Communist movement no longer championed an egalitarian, non-exploitative world and was not the answer to human liberation, simply decided that the other side must, therefore, have been right all along and became uncritical supporters of American capitalism and imperialism. Anyone familiar with Radosh’s history — any reader of his autobiography, Commies and the many reviews of it — might expect to find a lot of anti-communist prejudice — for example, giving a document the most anti-communist possible interpretation whenever there was any ambiguity.

67. But even a wary reader would also expect at least a couple of real “revelations” of communist deviousness, dishonesty, double-dealing, some kind of “betrayal” — something that would at least partially substantiate the claims of Radosh, and of those who reviewed his book positively. Even the wary reader would be unprepared for the extent of Radosh’s dishonesty. Not a single of Radosh’s allegations of Comintern or Soviet trechery is born out by the documents he himself publishes and comments on.

68. Is Radosh deliberately lying about the documents on which he’s commenting? Is he hoping that his only readers will be like-mindedly anti-communist drones that will simply take his word at face value? Or that those who notice his mendacity will be ignored or marginalized? Some of the distortions in the commentary are so blatant that one cannot account for them in any other way.

69. Yet I think that dishonesty and incompetence cannot provide the whole answer. On a deeper level, Radosh’s anti-communism, and specifically his allegiance to the demonization of Stalin, seems to produce a kind of tunnel vision that imposes a systematic distortion on everything he sees or reads.

70. Radosh mentions the name of Stalin dozens of times, although none of his documents were written by Stalin or are under his name, and only a few were sent to him. For Radosh, the word “Stalin” no longer denotes an individual, but is a synecdochal signifier for — depending on the circumstance — the Comintern, the Soviet political leadership, or even any Communist, anywhere. Like a kind of mirror-image of the “cult of personality” that existed from about 1930 until Stalin’s death in 1953, Radosh too attributes all the initiative and agency of all communists to Stalin alone. A more radical reductionism can scarcely be imagined, and is all the more noteworthy since Radosh seems entirely oblivious to his own practice here. It never occurs to him to justify it theoretically, historically, or in any way at all.

71. This ideological distortion is more serious because more pervasive. Many who think of themselves as “liberal” or even “left” share with Radosh a kind of reflexive assumption that, whenever “Stalin” — read, the Comintern — seems to have been acting according to its professed motives of supporting the exploited and oppressed around the world, it must really have been acting out of selfish motives which, if not obvious, are simply cleverly disguised. [4] 

72. I hope that readers of this review will be inspired to read Radosh’s book and see for themselves. In view, however, of the inaccurate and misleading nature of Radosh’s commentary there is only one way to read this book:

First, ignore Radosh’s commentary entirely. Read the documents themselves, and only them, very carefully.

Only after doing that should you read Radosh’s commentary. But every time Radosh makes any kind of assertion about any document, go to that document, find the relevant passage, and note what the document really says.

Often this is not easy to do. Radosh does not include page numbers to the passages of the documents when he gives his comments or summaries. Often he will write things like “As we have seen . . .” ( p. 502); “Nowhere is this more clearly shown than in the series of documents that follow . . .” (p. 431); “The documentary evidence, as we have shown . . .” (p. 372). Here the job of finding the passage in question can take quite a long time. It’s always worth taking the time, though, because what one usually discovers is that that NO previous document has shown anything of the kind.

73. Radosh reminds us that one of the main stumbling blocks for Marxists is the figure of Stalin. Stalin has been demonized — by Trotsky and those who have relied on Trotsky; by some Soviet émigrés, also imitators of Trotsky, in the main; and by Khrushchev and those who have been accustomed to believe that Khrushchev’s so-called “revelations” about Stalin were true. As Robert Thurston has written, the demonized “Stalin” is “a powerful cultural construct in scholarship, film, popular works, etc. The difficulty is to try to get past that construction as best we can.” (Thurston, 2000). Radosh has not even tried.

74. As Roger Pethybridge, a well-known British Sovietologist, commented long ago:

If one considers all the well-known biographies of Stalin, a common feature emerges: the volumes are a quite accurate reflection of biographical method current at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, when historical biographies dwelt on so-called “good” and “bad” kings. The personality who reigned appeared to dominate not only the political but the social and economic life of his kingdom, so that by a sneeze or a yawn he could magically change the whole socioeconomic pattern of his reign. This method of historical biography has long been discounted in the treatment of authoritarian rule in earlier history. It has also been discarded with regard to the study of Nazi Germany. Unfortunately, it still remains as a specter from the past in the study of Soviet personalities in high politics. (Pethybridge, 1976).

75. Since the end of the Soviet Union, many formerly secret Comintern and Bolshevik documents have been published, with more coming out all the time. Like the Comintern documents in Radosh’s book, most of them contradict the widely-propagated, and widely-believed, horror stories about the history of the Communist movement during the Stalin years. [5] 

76. It’s up to us all of us who recognize the desperate need for a truly classless, egalitarian society to learn from the successes and failures of our predecessors, including, especially, the Bolsheviks during the time of Stalin’s leadership. But in order to do this, we must first convince ourselves that we do not already know these things.

77. For example, many of the Comintern documents in this collection support the suggestion made by some on the Left that the United Front Against Fascism was doomed from the outset, even as a tactic in fighting fascism. [6]  For no matter how devotedly the communists supported only bourgeois democratic goals, many capitalist forces refused to co-operate with them, in effect preferring to risk a fascist victory rather than take their chances in a liberal capitalist state with a strongly organized working class and peasantry under communist leadership. The subsequent fate of the communist parties of Western Europe and the USA after World War II, who were viciously attacked by the capitalists despite their adherence to a reform-oriented, non-revolutionary program, further suggests that the united front strategy was wishful thinking.

78. That is, we have to be ready and willing to question the Cold-War, Trotskyist, and Khrushchevite versions of this history, and “do it all again,” so we can actually begin to understand what really happened. [7] 

79. If that’s what we’re about — and I think we should be — then Radosh’s book can help us, by reminding us not to be like him.

Reviews used in this essay 

Beichman, Arnold. “Deceit in the Spanish Civil War.” The Washington Times, Op-Ed, July 17, 2001, p. A21.

Bernstein, Richard. “Aiding Dictatorship, Not Democracy.” The New York Times, July 23, 2001. Cited at <http://www.nytimes.com/2001/07/23/books/23BERN.html>.

Review of Spain Betrayed in First Things 116 (October 2001). Cited at <http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0110/reviews/briefly.html#spain>

Hitchens, Christopher. “Who Lost Spain?” Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2001. Cited at <http://wwics.si.edu/OUTREACH/WQ/WQCURR/WQBKPER/BOOK-1.HTM>

———, “The Unfolded Lie.” Los Angeles Times, July 15, 2001. Cited at <http://www.calendarlive.com/top/1,1419,L-LATimes-Books-X!ArticleDetail-38407,00.html>

Schwartz, Steven. “The Red and the Black. The end of the myth of the Spanish Civil War.” Weekly Standard, July 16, 2001. Cited at <http://www.weeklystandard.com/magazine/mag_6_41_01/schwartz_bkart_6_41_01.asp>

Other materials

Graham, Helen. “‘Against the State’: A Genealogy of the Barcelona May Days (1937).” European History Quarterly 29(4), 485-542.

Pethybridge, Roger. 1976. Review of Ronald Hingley, Joseph Stalin: Man and Legend (New York, 1974), in Slavic Review 35 (March 1976): 136.

Thurston, Robert W. Post to H-RUSSIA list, August 24, 2000.

Notes

1 There is absolutely no question that Radosh is lying in some places — e.g., in Document 62 where, as I discuss in the text, he attributes to Togliatti the views that, in the document itself, which any reader can study a few pages later, Togliatti explicitly criticizes. Radosh does this kind of thing many times.

The book is also an example of incompetence. Radosh simply does a poor job at what a commentator should do: summarizing the documents, isolating the most important aspects of them, putting them into an overall historical context, and so on.

These kind of faults should have been red flags to any editor. But there is a long history of anti-communist works getting published even though filled with errors that would doom any other kind of research.

The uncritical praise of so many reviewers suggests that one purpose of Radosh’s book is to influence those who will not read it carefully. Perhaps someone made the estimation that few people will read such a book anyway, and most of those who do will probably rely on the commentary, rather than study the documents themselves. Again, this is no excuse for the kind of mendacity displayed in Spain Betrayed, but rather a grasping after some kind of explanation for so poor a work.

Finally, the book is a failure. Radosh had boasted for years — in some ways, since the ’80s, when he began publishing stuff about the Spanish Civil War, but explicitly since he began working on this book — that it would “prove” the USSR (“Stalin”) betrayed Spain. In the event it not only fails to “prove” any betrayal; it fails to come up with a single example of anything devious, dishonest, anything at all to make the communist side or the USSR specifically look bad.

2 Radosh betrays his ignorance of Soviet history. “Purge trials” is a term no longer used even by anti-communist Sovietologists. The chistki, or “purges,” were expulsion of Communist Party members for many reasons, most commonly drunkenness, neglect of duty, etc., though sometimes for political deviations. They were completely separate from the three famous Moscow Trials of 1936-8, of persons who confessed to plotting to overthrow the Soviet government. The best, and classic discussion of this is J. Arch Getty, Origins of the great purges: the Soviet Communist Party reconsidered, 1933-1938. Cambridge [Cambridgeshire]; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1985.

3 See the excellent typology of anti-communist rhetoric in James R. Prickett, “Anti-Communism and Labor History,” Industrial Relations 13 (October, 1974), 219-227.”

4 For example, Stalin stated that “The cause of Spain is the cause of all humanity.” The USSR sent huge amounts of aid, in materiel and men, to the Republic both itself and through the Comintern, much of which was not, in fact, repaid. Yet Cary Nelson, a staunch supporter of the American veterans of the Spanish Civil War and a prominent left-liberal, still feels compelled to explain Soviet aid in this way: “Stalin’s motivations, no doubt, were pragmatic. He probably hoped, for example, to use an alliance to help the Spanish Republic as a way of building a general antifascist alliance with the Western democracies.” (“The Spanish Civil War: An Overview,” accessed at <http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/scw/overview.htm> on 20 February 2003). “Pragmatic” in this context explains nothing; the Soviets knew very well that the antifascist alliance they aimed at was jeopardized by their aid to the Republic, but did it anyway. For Nelson, the International Brigade volunteers can, and did, have idealistic motives, but Stalin cannot, even though the whole effort could hardly have taken place without his strong support at every step.

5 For example, the interrogations and confessions by such major figures as NKVD chief Genrikh Yagoda and Marshal Mikhail Tukhachevsky have been published, making it clear that the accusations leveled against them by the Soviet government in the late ’30s were substantially accurate. There is also some additional evidence of Leon Trotsky’s contacts with oppositionists in the USSR who were plotting the overthrow of the government, as well as the first evidence of Trotsky’s contact with the Japanese fascist government, both central claims of the Communist movement in the ’30s but both strongly denied by Trotsky’s followers.

6 See, for example, “Lessons of People’s War in Spain 1936-1939,” Progressive Labor, Vol. 9, No. 5 (Oct.-Nov. 1974), 106-116, cited at <http://www.plp.org/pl_magazine/pws.html> (February 22, 2003). For more on a left critique of the consequences of the Popular Front strategy upon the world communist movement, see “Road to Revolution III: The Continuing Struggle Against Revisionism” (1970), at <http://www.plp.org/pl_magazine/rr3.html#RTFToC5>.

7 J. Arch Getty, the dean of the younger generations of American historians of the USSR, is quoted by the prominent (and very anti-communist) Russian historian Yuri Zhukov as having said Soviet history is poisoned by Cold War “propaganda,” and has to be done all over again. See Aleksandr Sabov, “Zhupel Stalina” (“Stalin’s Boogeyman”), Komsomolskaya Pravda, Nov. 5, 2001.

Contents copyright © 2003 by Grover Furr.

Format copyright © 2003 by Cultural Logic, ISSN 1097-3087.

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Labour Party (EMEP): Current Developments and the Kurdish Question

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April 2006

Introduction

Different Paths in the Kurdish Movement

The US invasion of Iraq has had, among other things, a profound effect on the Kurdish question itself. New alignments, new developments and dissociations are evident and three years after the invasion, there is a need to summarise new factors in this century-old ‘big game’.

Of course, one has to remember that the Kurdish people’s right to self-determination is, under all conditions, valid.

The US invasion created such conditions that, the Kurdish people who were under enormous state terrorism in all ‘parts’ of historical Kurdistan (historical Kurdistan is divided amongst  four states today; Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria, and this makes the Kurdish question unique) started to think that the USA, after all, could be a force of ‘liberation’ for them. This thinking was fomented by the feudal Kurdish forces in Iraqi Kurdistan (Barzani and Talabani), while it created an upheaval in Turkish Kurdistan.

This upheaval is important in many ways. First, Turkish Kurdistan is advanced in comparison to other sections; capitalism has penetrated deeply into this area. Also, about 15 million Kurds live in this section; while the total number of Kurds in all sections is around 22 million.

Under these conditions, it is only natural that the first modern nationalist Kurdish movement, PKK (Kongra-Gel), has taken root in the Turkish section. This modern, socialism-inspired movement radically differs from feudal leaderships in other sections; in essence it does not rely on feudal relations, but dismantles them.

Ocalan’s Capture

The PKK, which is a force supported by millions of Kurds, is extremely cautious towards US imperialism; though its stance softens when it comes to Europe. This caution, together with the influence they command, resulted in a de facto situation in which the PKK is perceived by Washington as a ‘primary threat’ to US’ Kurdish policy. Thus, the leader of the movement, Abdullah Ocalan, was captured by the CIA and MOSSAD, and promptly given to the Turkish state. Ocalan is still a captive in Imrali, an island-jail in which he is the only prisoner.

The capture of Ocalan did not result in a weakening of the national liberation movement; rather, the movement changed policies and tactics. We can say that today, despite serious problems, the PKK movement still is the authority in Turkish Kurdistan; and also is actively struggling for influence in other parts; especially in Iranian Kurdistan.

The historical motive of all feudal Kurdish leaderships was ‘trying to find allies outside the region’ to gain the upper hand against Turks, Arabs and Persians in the region. This outside ally has been imperialist powers like Britain, France and the USA. Though the Kurds have always been deceived by the imperialists and left in the middle of hostile governments, they opted for cooperation with the US again in the Iraq war. Because of historical distrust, we can safely say that the Iraqi Kurds are extremely cautious while dealing with the Americans, and the feudal leadership has had to convince the people of ‘good American interests’. This distrust continues today. The PKK has refused this historical ‘tactic’. This movement, in essence, tried to help form a united Turkish-Kurdish front against the Turkish bourgeoisie. One of the founders of the PKK, Kemal Pir, is Turkish, by the way.

Feeding from this positive legacy, the captured leader of the PKK, Ocalan, has taken a very important stance vis-a-vis the American invasion. Ocalan has repeatedly said from prison that, an ‘independent Kurdistan’ under the wings of Americans will not be independent at all; rather, this would be a second Israel in the region, fomenting hatred amongst the peoples and in the end, bring great harm to Kurds. Though Ocalan has great authority, the ‘new player’ in the region, USA, is trying to use the Kurdish question in its own interests. Thus, while the Kurdistan government in Iraq strengthens, we see riots and revolts of Kurds against the reactionary Syrian and Iranian authorities. There have been major uprisings in both Syrian and Iranian Kurdistan over the last two years.

An Anti-PKK PKK ?

In Turkish Kurdistan, the ‘key’ to all Kurdistan, we see different developments. The US and its ally, the Turkish government, is actively trying to divide the PKK and create a ‘harmless’ PKK out of its ashes. The most important development in this sense was, Ocalan’s brother, Osman Ocalan. Osman Ocalan quit the PKK two years ago, declared that USA was a ‘democratic imperialist’ force and formed his own organisation under the wings of Barzani and the US army. This attempt to divide the PKK was thwarted, but new attempts may happen. Also, the forces of Barzani are undertaking serious political activity in Turkish Kurdistan, mainly through their own, young legal party, HAK-PAR.

Today, the dissociation in the Kurdish movement is also shaping in relation to the natural and definite dissociation of the Kurdish ‘upper classes’ and ‘lower classes’ from each other. It is evident that the pro-imperialist stances are related to the ‘upper classes, the Kurdish bourgeoisie and feudal forces, while criticism of these stances and attempts to create an alternative position are related to the ‘lower classes’, the Kurdish labourers.

US imperialism tries to use the Kurdish problem as a ‘wild card’ to tie Turkey further to its regional policies. But also, it tries to form a political dissociation among Kurds and create ‘its own’ Kurdish movement.

The European Union policies, in essence, are not different. These two main forces are exploiting the Kurdish problem in their rivalry over the Middle East. One side, with its ‘Greater Middle East Project’, is exploiting the issue actively. The other side uses ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ rhetoric to expand its influence among Kurds.

US policies are found to be ‘encouraging’ by the Kurdish reactionary circles and they are trying to create new opportunities for their class interests. After 1980 and during the rise of the PKK, the bourgeois-land owner-feudal lords have been ‘erased’ from the political processes; but now they are again on the rise, on the basis of an anti-PKK stance. This tendency , for the first time in many years, again puts itself openly in the political arena.

The dissociation in the Kurdish movement can be transformed to opportunity by the Turkish and Kurdish peoples. As practice shows, the identities of dissociaters (revolutionary, anti-imperialist or reactionary, pro-imperialist) are much more evident today. The exposition of this lackey politics will be a positive development for Kurds and also other peoples in the region.

Taylan Bilgiç

There is nowhere left to escape from the Kurdish problem! The policies of the last 80 years have collapsed. Nobody believes the nonsensical thesis and claims such as: ‘There are no Kurds; they are in fact mountain Turks. Kurdish is not a language; it is only a dialect of Turkish’. The glaze of the supposedly scientific works like the ‘Sun Language Theory’ (claiming all present languages are derived from Turkish) and the ‘Turkish History Thesis’ (claiming that Turks are the origin of all human races) developed after 1925 in order to rivet these assertions have worn off, they have broken down. The policies of creating one nation, Turkification, melting all the other peoples and cultures into one pot have been condemned and defeated by the realities of life. Now it has had to be accepted that there is such a language as Kurdish! Even if it is for show only and even if it is limited to a few minutes a week, there are state radio and television broadcasts in Kurdish, along with other forbidden languages such as Arabic, Circassian and the Zaza language. Kurds are loudly demanding the expansion of the Kurdish broadcast to private radios and television channels as well as the right to education in their mother tongue. In spite of the various pressures and prohibitions, Kurdish language courses have been opened in Batman, Urfa, Van, Diyarbakır (Kurdish provinces in the East and Southeast regions of the country) and lately in Istanbul. Kurds as a people are demanding that urgent steps be taken in terms of their rights to language, culture, identity and politics.

It is obvious that the reactionary denial policies of assimilation carried out through the use of violence cannot continue. Struggling and not cowering in fear despite all the pain, massacres and the great price paid both physically and morally, caused by the inhumane policies executed throughout the decades; the Kurdish people, resisting for their linguistic, cultural, political and identity rights, are insistent on their demands. The resistance waged by the Kurdish people in spite of all their suffering from cruelty, historical injustice and all the destructions, has united with the common struggle of the workers, labourers and intellectuals of all nationalities and peoples of Turkey to compel the forces in denial and pro-assimilation to retreat.

However, the ruling classes do not want to accept the Kurds as a people or recognise their linguistic, cultural, political and identity rights. The national demands of Kurds do not have the guarantee of laws as yet. The Kurdish question and the demand for the rights of the Kurdish people are still considered as ‘separatist’ and within the framework of ‘terror’ and are responded to with violence. The ruling classes try to say that the Kurdish question can solved by a few small improvements. They try to make it seem as though the Kurdish question has been solved by the campaign by ‘democratisation’ and by the legal regulations within the framework of the Copenhagen Criteria through the process of membership in the European Union, which have been put on paper but still not put into practise. The government wants to make a show by the release of the four Democratic Party (DEP) MPs who were arrested ten years ago and put into prison as a result of a raid on Parliament. It has tried to make it seem as if this was an important phase in the democratisation process, but it did not take long for the falsity of this show to become apparent and for the government to exhibit its genuine character. The former MPs became the targets of the government and the military because of the speeches they made in the demonstrations. Lawsuits were filed against them once again. The meeting planned for Diyarbakir for September 1, International Peace Day, was banned on completely pathetic grounds.

Furthermore, operations are continuing in the region. The people there are being targeted for attacks on the grounds that they are ‘assisting and abetting’ terrorists. The demands of the KONGRA-GEL (the successor to the PKK) for a cease-fire, the taking of democratic steps, providing the opportunity for the armed guerrillas to socialise in everyday life but with the necessary guarantees, are rejected on the pretext that; ‘No negotiations will be held with the terrorists’. Attacks are continuing and the people of the region are being mistreated. There is no end to the claims of torture, and arrests and imprisonments are not decreasing. New Kurdish political detainees and prisoners are daily added to those already in prison. Provocative operations are carried out in the Kurdish provinces such as Diyarbakir, Van and Tunceli and the mayors elected by the people, as in Diyarbakir, are being targeted for attack and being made victims of political lynching.

The thousands of villages that have been forcefully evacuated, the nature that has been destroyed and the tens of thousands of Kurdish peasants who have been mistreated as a result of the policies of violence carried out for years continue to struggle with great difficulties. No steps are being taken to compensate them for all the massacres experienced, the thousands of murders by ‘perpetrators unknown’ and all the violations in the fields of human rights and freedoms. Believing that steps taken in this direction will result in a ‘rise’ in the consciousness of the Kurdish people and that hence new demands will be immediately brought to the agenda, policies of violence are insisted on. The policy of denial is being continued by military precautions and the systematic use of violence. The demands of the sections wanting to return to their villages are not being met. The wronged villagers hesitate to return as they do not believe that they will be able to lead safe and secure lives in their villages.

It is still forbidden for political parties to broadcast in Kurdish, to publish and distribute leaflets and brochures in Kurdish and for the political party administrators to deliver speeches in Kurdish. Lawsuits are filed against political party administrators for having greeted the people in Kurdish in demonstrations and various activities and they are often penalised. Besides the other antidemocratic practices, obstructions and pressures, the representation of the Kurdish people in parliament is prevented by the 10% election quota. The system of ‘rural guardianship’ continues to be enforced along with the military operations and the piling of military forces in the region. Instead of recognizing the Kurds as a people in their own right, meeting their national, economic and political demands and carrying out the necessities for an equal and free environment; the ruling forces and the government think that by hoodwinking the people with a few Kurdish language courses, a few minutes of Kurdish broadcasting every week and a few other crumbs thrown here and there, it will be possible to convince the people that Turkey has become democratised and that the Kurdish question has disappeared. On the other hand, those who are not convinced will be made the targets of violence as ‘terrorists’ by these forces.

The ruling classes do not want to understand that unless the Kurdish labouring people do not freely determine their own destiny and take their place in the course of history as a free nation, the Kurdish question will continue to be a fundamental one and neither acts of violence nor an approach of ‘we crushed them and that is the end to them’ will solve the problem.

Imperialism, the Collaborator Government and the Kurdish Question

The Justice and Development (AKP) government currently in power cannot overlook the Kurdish issue. The AKP has talked about democratisation and entering the European Union (EU) as a fundamental policy and claims that it will be able to solve all Turkey’s deeply rooted problems since the day it came to power. This places it under a great burden in terms of the Kurdish question and the Kurdish people. Stating that: ‘If you act as if there is no Kurdish problem, then there won’t be such a problem’, the Prime Minister has had to swallow his words and come face to face with solving the problem ‘in some way or another’. However the government thinks that it will solve the problem with the attitude we have pointed out above. At this stage, claiming that ‘There is no Kurdish problem’ has ceased to have any worth or plausibility. Certainly nobody believes this any longer. In place of this approach, in the region where the Kurds predominate the AKP is trying to dish out a new kind of relation similar to the one the USA has entered into with the Democratic Party of Kurdistan (PDK) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (YNK) [in Iraq]. This plan, in which the members of parliament who are Kurdish, religious sectarian and owners of capital of the AKP will also take part, has been established in order to divide the KONGRA-GEL.

Now the government is being dragged behind the US. The pro-denial and pro-assimilation forces which are being dragged behind the plan of using of the Kurdish question as a ‘trump-card’, as a continuation of the Iraqi occupation, are becoming partners with the ‘reformed’ and reactionary forces and are establishing a Kurdish political party under the protection of the US. The plan, which aims at the division, neutralisation and liquidation of the KONGRA-GEL or at least its reduction to a marginal level; is to create a Kurdish movement following the same political line as Talabani-Barzani in Iraq. The AKP government is at quits with the plan of the USA.

Though it may seem as if the rulers of the EU, the USA and Turkey are proposing different solutions to the Kurdish question, their moves actually fit into one another. As in the attempt to divide and liquidate the KONGRA-GEL, it seems that there is, at least at present, an agreement on the orientation of the party to be established by Osman Ocalan (Abdullah Ocalan’s brother).

Dividing the democratic Kurdish movement over the KONGRA-GEL, a division shaped by US pressure, aims to strengthen the reactionary, nationalist, feudal Kurdish alternative. The imperialist centres are acting very rapidly in trying to have the feudal-bourgeois collaborator circles form a power which will then be gradually presented as the representatives of the Kurdish people,. It is evident that the reactionary forces of Turkey are totally mobilizing for this initiative to be effective. The weakening of KONGRA-GEL is being seen as the hegemony of the political line of Talabani-Barzani and Osman Ocalan in the region.

This division in KONGRA-GEL is different from the problems, separations or divisions experienced previously. Using the present conjuncture of forces in the region, the imperialists and the reactionary forces of Turkey have made a crucial move in seizing a collaborator section within the Kurdish movement, which has not acceded to cooperating with imperialism. With this move, the US has succeeded in maintaining, through Osman Ocalan’s PWD, a similar position in Turkey to what it had previously obtained in Iraqi Kurdistan through the PDK and YNK administrators. The US has now found a Kurdish representative in Turkey which it will be operating through. The US has taken advantage of the ideological weaknesses of KONGRA-GEL, its delay in taking a definite and clear stand towards the US intervention to the Middle East and its occupation of Iraq and its hesitant attitude toward imperialism. The US is using this as an opportunity to open a breach and is now widening it. 

The AKP has fastened itself to the helm of the US and is now aiming at reaching a solution to the Kurdish question within the framework of this plan. The inclination is to form a ‘Kurdish Platform’, a sort of Kurdish AKP in which Osman Ocalan and his supporters, the big landowners, the tribal chiefs, the representatives of Kurdish nationalist currents and even some of the AKP MPs will participate in some way or other. The EU is also playing this game. The EU is trying to manipulate the democratic longings of the people and the ‘interest’ demonstrated towards the EU and its policies by the Kurdish liberal bourgeois. In the future the EU hopes to increase its influence among the legal Kurdish politicians. 

The Imperialists and the reactionaries in Turkey want to solve the problem of ‘representation’ in relation to the Kurdish question by using the Kurdish Platform as the ‘representative’ of the Kurdish people. KONGRA-GEL is being eliminated from this process. The same tactic is being used against the Democratic Peoples’ Party (DEHAP), which is regarded as a supporter of the same political line. For these reasons, to evaluate this latest division within KONGRA-GEL over Osman Ocalan as being in the same category as previous divisions within the organization would be incomplete and even more importantly would be a major mistake.

In this sense, the DEHAP line is also at a crossroads. The interviews held with Osman Ocalan and his statements in the newspapers and on television recently also indicate this fact. The names of the former Democracy Party (DEP) deputies and certain Kurdish politicians are being mentioned and as well as their readiness to be included in this plan. Under these circumstances, DEHAP will either go forward as an anti-imperialist, anti-US Kurdish democratic movement, or if it hesitates it will fall into the trap of this operation. Its progress along its current political orientation will mean taking its place among the front ranks of not only the struggle for the democratisation of Turkey but also the struggle against US hegemony in the Middle East and against the Greater Middle East Project as a tool of this hegemony. Otherwise it will become just another ordinary Kurdish nationalist movement.

DEHAP advancing along the same platform as the Kurdish and Turkish labourers, with the labour and democratic forces, is significant in terms of the democratic movement and its future in Turkey. A DEHAP acting in this direction will also bring the collaborator “Kurdish Platform” being hatched up to nought.

The Party of Labour (EMEP) and the Kurdish Question

All the labour and democratic forces in Turkey are faced with an important duty of rendering the alliance between imperialism, the reactionary forces of Turkey and Talabani-Barzani-Osman Ocalan unsuccessful. EMEP, as the party of the working class and labourers of all nations in Turkey, will continue with all its efforts for the Kurdish workers and labourers to overcome this danger. Attaching great importance to acting together with DEHAP against this reactionary plot and to struggle, our Party will carry on its struggle with all its organisations, both in the Kurdish region and all over Turkey. It is necessary in this period to be strengthened and united around an anti-imperialist political line. Our party, which established an election front with DEHAP in both the general elections of November 3, 2002 and the latest local elections, will carry on its fight for the advancement of the struggle of all the people of Turkey, whether Kurdish, Turkish or any other nationality, against imperialism and the collaborator reactionary forces of Turkey.

On the other hand, the dark contra-guerrillas, the drug related forces, and the military and paramilitary forces have started to become active again. These developments are also being manipulated to cause panic among the people, to provoke divisions and to incite an oppositional attitude towards the Kurdish democratic movement which is refusing to collaborate. These kinds of provocative initiatives have been brought to the agenda in Van, Diyarbakir, Tunceli and other Kurdish provinces. Our Party will be even more careful to warn the people in the face of the explosions and assassination plots by unidentified forces and in condemning initiatives of this kind.

Again this period in the region is clarifying the demands of the workers and the labourers. It is to be expected that the big landowners, the tribal forces and the despots, who have been left motionless due to the hegemony of the Kurdish movement, will become reactivated and make new moves to regain their previous prestige and privileges. The AKP handing out ‘small bribes’ to the labourers of the region, who are in the claws of unemployment and poverty, are among such moves. The demands of the agricultural sections will become even more fervent. It is to be expected that developments similar to those in Maras and Diyarbakir (two Kurdish provinces in which the poor sections of the Kurdish people partially united to demand land from the big landowners) will take place in other provinces. Taking into consideration that the landowners and the tribal forces will go into action, it will be necessary to take more advanced steps for the organisation of the class struggle in the Kurdish villages. Considering that unemployment and poverty are prevalent in the Kurdish regions, putting forward demands particular to these regions will play an important role in unifying the people and repulsing the attacks.

What is at the head of the agenda in this particular period is to carry forward the anti-imperialist attitude of the Kurdish people and to spoil the games of the feudal nationalist forces. In addition, one of the most important duties of our Party is to develop the struggle in order for the Kurdish workers and labourers to intervene in this process and to stand up to the attacks and resist with their own demands the attacks of the bourgeoisie as well as all other kinds of attacks.

The Current and Urgent Demands of the Kurdish People

A general political amnesty and a cease-fire must be declared and the Kurdish question must be solved as a democratic and political problem. All the mistreatment of the people of the region stemming from the Kurdish question must cease and they must be compensated for their damages. Industry, agriculture and stockbreeding must be supported. The Southeast Anatolian Project (GAP) must be rearranged to the benefit of the people and it must be put to their service. All the enterprises within the scope of privatisation must be removed from such a plan, all the workplaces that have been privatised and closed down must be reopened and work must be provided for the unemployed. The right to education in the mother tongue must be recognized and chairs for the Kurdish language must be opened at the universities. Publishing and broadcasting in Kurdish must be backed up and all relevant bans must be abolished. The system of the rural guard (which completely serve to inform on the Kurdish people) must be eradicated and all special organisations in the region, including the special teams, must be dissolved. A commission to investigate the murders by ‘unknown perpetrators’ must be established and those responsible must be judged and punished. The September 12 Constitution, acting as an cover for the Political Parties Act, the 10% election quota and all other antidemocratic laws must be annulled and the Kurdish people must achieve an equal and free status.

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Grover Furr: Did the Soviet Union Invade Poland in September 1939? (The answer: No, it did not.)

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by Grover Furr

Introduction

Did the Soviet Union Invade Poland on September 17, 1939? Why ask? “We all know” this invasion occurred. “You can look it up!” All authoritative sources agree. This historical event happened.

Here’s a recent article in The New York Review of Books (April 30, 2009, p. 17) by Timothy Snyder, Yale University professor, academic expert in this area — and fanatic anticommunist — who just has to know that what he writes here is, to put it politely, false:

Because the film (although not the book)* begins with the German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 rather than the joint German-Soviet invasion and division of Poland in 1939… the Soviet state had just months earlier been an ally of Nazi Germany… (* “Defiance”)

“Behind Closed Doors” (PBS series 2009):

“After invading Poland in September 1939, the Nazis and the Soviets divided the country as they had agreed to do in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact…”
http://www.pbs.org/behindcloseddoors/in-depth/struggle-poland.html

Wikipedia article: “Soviet invasion of Poland”:

“… on 17 September, the Red Army invaded Poland from the east…”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_invasion_of_Poland

Every historian I have read, even those who do not conform to Cold War paradigms, state unproblematically that the Soviet Union invaded Poland in September 1939.

But the truth is that the USSR did not invade Poland in September, 1939. Even though the chances are at least 99 to 1 that every history book you can find says that it did. I have yet to find an English-language book that gets this correct. And, of course, the USSR had never been an “ally of Nazi Germany.”

I will present a lot of evidence in support of this statement. There is a great deal more evidence to support what I say – much more than I can present here, and no doubt much more that I have not yet even identified or located.

Furthermore, at the time it was widely acknowledged that no such invasion occurred. I’ll demonstrate that too.

Probably the truth of this matter was another victim of the post-WW2 Cold War, when a great many falsehoods about Soviet history were invented or popularized. The truth about this and many other questions concerning the history of the first socialist state has simply become “unmentionable in polite company.”

Demonizing – I use the word advisedly, it is not too strong – the history of the communist movement and anything to do with Stalin has become de rigeur, a shibboleth of respectability. And not only among avowed champions of capitalism but among ourselves, on the left, among Marxists, opponents of capitalism, the natural constituency of a movement for communism.

Some time ago Doug Henwood tweaked me on the MLG list for “defending Stalin.”

I could make a crack about what defenses of Stalin have to do with a “sensible materialism,” but that would be beneath me.
(MLG list May 17 2009)

Doug thinks he knows something about Stalin and the USSR during Stalin’s time. He doesn’t! But you can’t blame him too much, since none of us do. More precisely: We “know” a lot of things about the Soviet Union and Stalin, and almost all of those things are just not true. We’ve been swallowing lies for the truth our whole lives.

I’ll be brief in this presentation. I have prepared separate web pages with references to much of the evidence I have found (not all – there is just too much). I’m also preparing a longer version for eventual publication.

The Nonaggression Treaty Between Germany and the USSR of August 1939

For a discussion of the events that led up to the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 an excellent account is still Bill Bland, “The German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939” (1990). I have checked every citation in this article; most are available online now. It’s very accurate, but far more detailed than the present article requires.

Before we get into the question of the invasion that did not take place, the reader needs to become familiar with some misconceptions about the Nonaggression Treaty and why they are false. These too are based on anticommunist propaganda that is widely, if naively, “believed.”

The most common, and most false, of these is stated above in the PBS series “Behind Closed Doors”

…the Nazis and the Soviets divided the country as they had agreed to do in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact…

This is completely false, as any reading of the text of the M-R Pact itself will reveal. Just read the words on the page (see below).

The Soviets Wanted to Protect the USSR – and therefore to Preserve Independent Poland

[For the text of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact see m-rpact.html ]

It is conventionally stated as fact that the Nonaggression Pact between the USSR and Germany (often called the “Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact” or “Treaty” after the two foreign ministers who signed it) was an agreement to “partition Poland”, divide it up.

This is completely false. I’ve prepared a page with much fuller evidence; see  “The Secret Protocols to the M-R Pact Did NOT Plan Any Partition of Poland”.

No doubt a big reason for this falsehood is this: Britain and France did sign a Nonaggression Pact with Hitler that “partitioned” another state — Czechoslovakia. That was the Munich Agreement of September 30, 1938.

Poland too took part in the “partition” of Czechoslovakia too. Poland seized a part of the Cieszyn area of Czechoslovakia, even though it had only a minority Polish population. This invasion and occupation was not even agreed upon in the Munich Agreement. But neither France nor Britain did anything about it.

Hitler seized the remaining part of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. This had not been foreseen in the Munich Agreement. But Britain, France, and Poland did nothing about it.

So the anticommunist “Allies” Britain, France, and Poland really did participate in the partitioning of a powerless state! Maybe that’s why the anticommunist “party line” is that the USSR did likewise? But whatever the reason for this lie, it remains a lie.

The Soviet Union signed the Nonaggression Pact with Germany not to “partition Poland” like the Allies had partitioned Czechoslovakia, but in order to defend the USSR.

The Treaty included a line of Soviet interest within Poland beyond which German troops could not pass in the event Germany routed the Polish army in a war.

The point here was that, if the Polish army were beaten, it and the Polish government could retreat beyond the line of Soviet interest, and so find shelter, since Hitler had agreed not to penetrate further into Poland than that line. From there they could make peace with Germany. The USSR would have a buffer state, armed and hostile to Germany, between the Reich and the Soviet frontier.

The Soviets — “Stalin”, to use a crude synecdoche (= “a part that stands for the whole”) — did not do this out of any love for fascist Poland. The Soviets wanted a Polish government — ANY Polish government — as a buffer between the USSR and the Nazi armies.

The utter betrayal of the fascist Polish Government of its own people frustrated this plan.

As far as the rest of the world was concerned, the Polish government had two alternatives in the event its army was smashed by an attacking army.

1. It could stay inside the country, perhaps moving its capital away from the invading army. From there it could have sued for peace, or surrendered.

2. The Polish government could have fled to an allied country that was at war with Germany: either France or England.

The governments of all other countries defeated by Germany did one or both of these things. The Polish government — racist, anticommunist, hyper-nationalist, — in short fascist, as bad as they get — didn’t do either. Rather than fight the Polish government fled into neighboring Rumania.

Rumania was neutral in the war. By crossing into neutral Rumania the Polish government became prisoners. The legal word is “interned”. They could not function as a government from Rumania, or pass through Rumania to a country at war with Germany like France, because to permit them to do that would be a violation of Rumania’s neutrality, a hostile act against Germany.

I will discuss “internment” and the international law on this question extensively below.

The USSR did not invade Poland – and everybody knew it at the time

When Poland had no government, Poland was no longer a state. (More detailed discussion below)

What that meant was this: at this point Hitler had nobody with whom to negotiate a cease-fire, or treaty.

Furthermore, the M-R Treaty’s Secret Protocols were void, since they were an agreement about the state of Poland and no state of Poland existed any longer. Unless the Red Army came in to prevent it, there was nothing to prevent the Nazis from coming right up to the Soviet border.

Or — as we now know they were in fact preparing to do — Hitler could have formed one or more pro-Nazi states in what had until recently been Eastern Poland. That way Hitler could have had it both ways: claim to the Soviets that he was still adhering to the “spheres of influence” agreement of the M-R Pact while in fact setting up a pro-Nazi, highly militarized fascist Ukrainian nationalist state on the Soviet border.

Once the Nazis had told the Soviets that they, the Nazis, had decided that the Polish state no longer existed, then it did not make any difference whether the Soviets agreed or not. The Nazis were telling them that they felt free to come right up to the Soviet border. Neither the USSR nor any state would have permitted such a thing. Nor did international law demand it.

At the end of September a new secret agreement was concluded. In it the Soviet line of interest was far to the East of the “sphere of influence” line decided upon a month earlier in the Secret Protocol and published in Izvestiia and in the New York Times during September 1939. This reflected Hitler’s greater power, now that he had smashed the Polish military. See the map at new_spheres_0939.html

In this territory Poles were a minority, even after the “polonization” campaign of settling Poles in the area during the ‘20s and ‘30s. You can see the ethnic / linguistic population map at curzonline.html

How do we know this interpretation of events is true?

How do we know the USSR did not commit aggression against, or “invade”, Poland when it occupied Eastern Poland beginning on September 17, 1939 after the Polish Government had interned itself in Rumania? Here are nine pieces of evidence:

How do we know the USSR did not commit aggression against, or “invade”, Poland when it occupied Eastern Poland beginning on September 17, 1939 after the Polish Government had interned itself in Rumania? Here are nine pieces of evidence:

1. The Polish government did not declare war on USSR.

The Polish government declared war on Germany when Germany invaded on September 1, 1939. It did not declare war on the USSR.

2. The Polish Supreme Commander Rydz-Smigly ordered Polish soldiers not to fight the Soviets, though he ordered Polish forces to continue to fight the Germans.

See rydz_dont_fight.html

3. The Polish President Ignaz Moscicki, interned in Rumania since Sept. 17, tacitly admitted that Poland no longer had a government.

See moscicki_resignation.html

4. The Rumanian government tacitly admitted that Poland no longer had a government.

See moscicki_resignation.html

 

The Rumanian position recognized the fact that Moscicki was blowing smoke when he claimed he had legally resigned on September 30.  So the Rumanian government fabricated a story according to which Moscicki had already resigned back on September 15, just before entering Rumania and being interned (NYT 10.04.39, p.12). Note that Moscicki himself did not claim this!

Rumania needed this legal fiction to try to sidestep the following issue. Once Moscicki had been interned in Rumania – that is, from September 17 1939 on – he could not function as President of Poland. Since resignation is an official act, Moscicki could not resign once he was in Rumania.

For our present purposes, here’s the significant point: Both the Polish leaders and the Rumanian government recognized that Poland was bereft of a government once the Polish government crossed the border into Rumania and were interned there.

Both Moscicki and Rumania wanted a legal basis – a fig-leaf — for such a government. But they disagreed completely about this fig-leaf, which exposes it as what it was – a fiction.

5. Rumania had a military treaty with Poland aimed against the USSR. Rumania did not declare war on the USSR.

The Polish government later claimed that it had “released” Rumania from its obligations under this military treaty in return for safe haven in Rumania.

But there is no evidence for this statement. No wonder: it is at least highly unlikely that Rumania would have ever promised “safe haven” for Poland, since that would have been an act of hostility against Nazi Germany. Rumania was neutral in the war and, as discussed below, insisted upon imprisoning the Polish goverment and disarming the Polish forced once they had crossed the border into Rumania.

The real reason for Rumania’s failure to declare war on the USSR is probably the one given in a New York Times article of September 19, 1939:

“The Rumanian viewpoint concerning the Rumanian-Polish anti-Soviet agreement is that it would be operative only if a Russian attack came as an isolated event and not as a consequence of other wars.”
– “Rumania Anxious; Watches Frontier.” NYT 09.19.39, p.8.

That means Rumania recognized that the Red Army was not allied with Germany, an “other war.” This is tacit recognition of the Soviet and German position that Poland no longer had a government, and therefore was no longer a state.

6. France did not declare war on the USSR, though it had a mutual defense treaty with Poland.

See m-rpact.html for the reconstructed text of the “secret military protocol” of this treaty, which has been “lost” – i.e. which the French government still keeps “secret”

7. England never demanded that the USSR withdraw its troops from Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine, the parts of the former Polish state occupied by the Red Army after September 17, 1939.

On the contrary, the British government concluded that these territories should not be a part of a future Polish state. Even the Polish government-in-exile agreed!

See maisky_101739_102739.html  These documents are in the original Russian, with the relevant quotations translated into English below them.

8. The League of Nations did not determine the USSR had invaded a member state.

Article 16 of the League of Nations Covenant required members to take trade and economic sanctions against any member who “resorted to war”.

No country took any sanctions against the USSR. No country broke diplomatic relations with the USSR over this action.

However, when the USSR attacked Finland in 1939 the League did vote to expel the USSR, and several countries broke diplomatic relations with it. See http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/policy/1939/391214a.html

A very different response! which tells us how the League viewed the Soviet action in the case of Poland.

9. All countries accepted the USSR’s declaration of neutrality.

All, including the belligerent Polish allies France and England, agreed that the USSR was not a belligerent power, was not participating in the war. In effect they accepted the USSR’s claim that it was neutral in the conflict.

See FDR’s “Proclamation 2374 on Neutrality”, November 4, 1939:

“…a state of war unhappily exists between Germany and France; Poland; and the United Kingdom, India, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa,…”

– http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15831&st=&st1=

– also “152 – Statement on Combat Areas” – defines

“belligerent ports, British, French, and German, in Europe or Africa…”

– http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=15833&st=&st1=

The Soviet Union is not mentioned as a belligerent. That means the USA did not consider the USSR to be at war with Poland. For the Soviet Union’s claim of neutrality see soviet_neutrality.html

Naturally, a country cannot “invade” another country and yet credibly claim that it is “neutral” with respect to the war involving that country. But NONE of these countries declared the USSR a belligerent. Nor did the United States, the League of Nations, or any country in the world.

The Polish State Collapsed

By September 17, 1939, when Soviet troops crossed the border, the Polish government had ceased to function. The fact that Poland no longer had a government meant that Poland was no longer a state.

On September 17 when Molotov handed Polish Ambassador to the USSR Grzybowski the note Grzybowski told Molotov that he did not know where his government was, but had been informed that he should contact it through Bucharest. See polish_state_collapsed.html

In fact the last elements of the Polish government crossed the border into Rumania and so into internment during the day of September 17, according to a United Press dispatch published on page four of the New York Times on September 18 with a dateline of Cernauti, Rumania. See polish_leaders_flee.html

Without a government, Poland as a state had ceased to exist under international law. This fact is denied — more often, simply ignored — by anticommunists, for whom it is a bone in the throat.

We take a closer look at this issue in the next section below. But a moment’s reflection will reveal the logic of this position. With no government — the Polish government was interned in Rumania, remember — there is no one to negotiate with; no body to which the police, local governments, and the military are responsible. Polish ambassadors to foreign countries no longer represent their government, because there is no government. (See the page polish_state_collapsed.html , especially the NYT article of October 2, 1939 )

The Question of the State in International Law

See state_international_law.html for more details.

EVERY definition of a “state” recognizes the necessity of a government or “organized political authority.” Once the Polish government crossed the border into Rumania, it was no longer a “government.”

Even the Polish officials of the day recognized this by trying to create the impression that “the government” had never been interned since it had been handed over to somebody else before crossing into Rumania. See the discussion concerning Moscicki and his “desire to resign” on September 29, 1939, also cited above.

So EVERYBODY, Poles included, recognized that by interning themselves in Rumania the Polish government had created a situation whereby Poland was no longer a “state.” This is not just “a reasonable interpretation” – not just an intelligent, logical deduction but one among several possible deductions. As I have demonstrated in this paper, it was virtually everybody’s interpretation at the time. Every major power, plus the former Polish Prime Minister himself, shared it.

Once this is problem is squarely faced, everything else flows from it.

* The Secret Protocol to the M-R Pact was no longer valid, in that it was about spheres of influence in “Poland”, a state.

By September 15 at the latest Germany had taken the position that Poland no longer existed as a state (discussed further here).

Once Poland ceased to exist as a state this Secret Protocol did not apply any longer.

Therefore if they wanted to the Germans could march right up to the Soviet frontier.

Or – and this is what Hitler was in fact going to do if the Soviet Union did not send in troops — they could facilitate the creation of puppet states, like a pro-Nazi Ukrainian Nationalist state.

In any case, once Hitler had taken the position that Poland no longer existed as a state, and therefore that the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact’s agreement on spheres of influence in the state of Poland was no longer valid, the Soviet Union had only two choices: either to

  1. Send the Red Army into Western Ukraine and Wester Belorussia to establish sovereignty there; or
  2. Let Hitler send the Nazi army right up to the Soviet border.

* Since the Polish state had ceased to exist, the Soviet-Polish nonaggression pact was no longer in effect.

The Red Army could cross the border without “invading” or “committing aggression against” Poland. By sending its troops across the border the USSR was claiming sovereignty, so no one else could do so – e.g. a pro-Nazi Ukrainian Nationalist state, or Nazi Germany itself.

* Legitimacy flows from the state, and there was no longer any Polish state.

Therefore the Polish Army was no longer a legitimate army, but a gang of armed men acting without any legitimacy. Having no legitimacy, the Polish Army should have immediately laid down its arms and surrendered. Of course it could keep fighting — but then it would no longer be fighting as a legitimate army but as partisans. Partisans have NO rights at all except under the laws of the government that does claim sovereignty.

* Some Polish nationalists claim that the Soviets showed their “perfidy” by refusing, once they had sent troops across the Soviet frontier, to allow the Polish army cross the border into Rumania.

But this is all wrong. The USSR had diplomatic relations with Rumania. The USSR could not permit thousands of armed men to cross the border from areas where it held sovereignty into Rumania, a neighboring state. Imagine if, say, Mexico or Canada tried to permit thousands of armed men to cross the border into the USA!

Re-negotiation of “Spheres of Influence” September 28 1939

See new_spheres_0939.html

All this is referred to directly in a Ribbentrop (German Foreign Minister)-to-Schulenburg (German ambassador to Moscow) communication of September 15-16 — Telegram No. 360 of 15 September 1939 — with its reference to “the possibility of the formation in this area of new states.”

Note that Ribbentrop is very displeased with the idea that the Soviets would “tak[e] the threat to the Ukrainian and White Russian populations by Germany as a ground for Soviet action” and wants Schulenberg to get Molotov to give some other motive. He was unsuccessful; this was exactly the motive the Soviets gave:

“Nor can it be demanded of the Soviet Government that it remain indifferent to the fate of its blood brothers, the Ukrainians and Byelo-Russians inhabiting Poland, who even formerly were without rights and who now have been abandoned entirely to their fate.
The Soviet Government deems it its sacred duty to extend the hand of assistance to its brother Ukrainians and brother Byelo-Russians inhabiting Poland.”

– TASS, September 17, 1939; quoted in New York Times September 18, 1939, p. 5; also Jane Degras (Ed.), Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy 1933-1941, vol. III (London/New York: Oxford University Press, 1953), pp. 374-375.

The German government was already considering that Poland no longer existed — there’s no reference to “Poland”, only to “the area lying to the East of the German zone of influence”, etc.

Polish Imperialism

A word of explanation regarding the Soviet reference to “the fate of its blood brothers, the Ukrainians and Byelo-Russians inhabiting Poland.”

At the Treaty of Riga signed in March 1921 the Russian Republic (the Soviet Union was not officially formed until 1924), exhausted by the Civil War and foreign intervention, agreed to give half of Belorussia and Ukraine to the Polish imperialists in return for a desperately-needed peace.

We use the words “Polish imperialists” advisedly, because Poles — native speakers of the Polish language — were in the small minority in Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine, the areas that passed to Poland in this treaty. The Polish capitalist regime then encouraged ethnic Poles to populate these areas to “polonize” them, and put all kinds of restrictions on the use of the Belorussian and Ukrainian languages.

Up till the beginning of 1939, when Hitler decided to turn against Poland before making war on the USSR, the Polish government was maneuvering to join Nazi Germany in a war on the USSR in order to seize more territory.

As late as January 26, 1939, Polish Foreign Minister Beck was discussing this with Nazi Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in Warsaw. Ribbentrop wrote:

… 2. I then spoke to M. Beck once more about the policy to be pursued by Poland and Germany towards the Soviet Union and in this connection also spoke about the question of the Greater Ukraine and again proposed Polish-German collaboration in this field.

M. Beck made no secret of the fact that Poland had aspirations directed toward the Soviet Ukraine and a connection with the Black Sea…

(Original in Akten zur deutschen ausw�rtigen Politik… Serie D. Bd. V. S. 139-140. English translation in Documents on German Foreign Policy. 1918-1945. Series D. Vol. V. The document in question is No. 126, pp. 167-168; this quotation on p. 168. Also in Russian in God Krizisa T. 1, Doc. No. 120.)

Polish Foreign Minister Beck was telling Ribbentrop that Poland would like to seize ALL of the Ukraine from the USSR, for that was the only way Poland could have had “a connection with the Black Sea.”

In occupying Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine the USSR was reuniting Belorussians and Ukrainians, East and West. This is what the Soviets meant by the claim that they were “liberating” these areas. The word “liberation” is conventionally used when an occupying imperialist power withdraws, and that’s what happened here.

The Polish Government In Exile

At the beginning of October 1939 the British and French governments recognized a Polish government-in-exile in France (later it moved to England). This was an act of hostility against Germany, of course. But the UK and France were already at war with Germany. (The USA took the position of refusing to recognize the conquest of Poland, but treated the Polish government-in-exile in Paris in an equivocal manner. Evidently it wasn’t sure what to do.)

The USSR could not recognize it for a number of reasons:

* Recognizing it would be incompatible with the neutrality of the USSR in the war.

It would be an act of hostility against Germany, with which the USSR had a non-aggression pact and a desire to avoid war. (The USSR did recognize it in July 1941, after the Nazi invasion).

* The Polish government-in-exile could not exercise sovereignty anywhere.

Most important: if the USSR were to recognize the Polish government-in-exile, the USSR would have had to retreat back to its pre-September 1939 borders — because the Polish government-in-exile would never recognize the Soviet occupation of Western Belorussia and Western Ukraine.

Then Germany would have simply marched up to the Soviet frontier. 

To permit that would have been a crime against the Soviet people, of course. And, as the British and French soon agreed, a blow against them, and a big boost to Hitler as well. See should_the_ussr_have_permitted.html

Polish Government Uniquely Irresponsible

No other government during WW2 did anything remotely like what the Polish government did.

Many governments of countries conquered by the Axis formed “governments in exile” to continue the war. But only the Polish government interned itself in a neutral country, thereby stripping itself of the ability to function as a government and stripping their own people of their existence as a state.

What should the Polish government leader have done, once they realized they were completely beaten militarily?

  • The Polish government should have remained somewhere in Poland – if not in the capital, Warsaw, then in Eastern Poland. If they had set up an alternative capital in the East — something the Soviets had prepared to do East of Moscow, in case the Nazis captured Moscow — then they could have preserved a “rump” Poland.
    There it should have capitulated – as, for example, the French Government did in July 1940. Or, it could have sued for peace, as the Finnish government did in March 1940.
    Then Poland, like Finland, would have remained as a state, though it would certainly have lost territory.
  • Or, the Polish government could have fled to Great Britain or France, countries already at war with Germany.
    Polish government leaders could have fled by air any time. Or they could have gotten to the Polish port of Gdynia, which held out until September 14, and fled by boat.
  • Why didn’t they? Did Polish government leaders think they might be killed? Well, so what? Tens of thousands of their fellow citizens and soldiers were being killed!
    • Maybe they really did believe Rumania would violate its neutrality with Germany and let them pass through to France? If they did believe this, they were remarkably stupid. There’s never been any evidence that the Rumanian government gave them permission to do this.
    • Did they believe Britain and France were going to “save” them? If so, that too was remarkably stupid. Even if the British and French really intended to field a large army to attack German forces in the West, the Polish army would have had to hold against the Wehrmacht for a month at least, perhaps more. But the Polish Army was in rapid retreat after the first day or two of the war.
    • Or, maybe they fled simply out of sheer cowardice. That is what their flight out of Warsaw, the Polish capital, suggests.

Everything that happened afterwards was a result of the Polish government being interned in Rumania.

Here’s how the world might have been different if a “rump” Poland had remained after surrender to Hitler:

* A “rump” Poland might finally have agreed to make a mutual defense pact that included the USSR. That would have restarted “collective security”, the anti-Nazi alliance between the Western Allies and the USSR that the Soviets sought but UK and French leaders rejected.

That would have

  • greatly weakened Hitler;
  • probably eliminating much of the Jewish Holocaust;
  • certainly preventing the conquest of France, Belgium, and the rest of Europe;
  • certainly prevented many millions of deaths of Soviet citizens.

* Poland could have emerged from WW2 as an independent state, perhaps a neutral one, like Finland, Sweden, or Austria.

All this, and more – if only the Polish government had remained in their country at least long enough to surrender, as every other government did.

Conclusion

See conclusion.html

Source

Bill Bland: The German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 1939

MolotovRibbentropStalin

by Bill Bland

Introduction

One of the many stories which circulate about Stalin is that, while the Soviet government was negotiating for a collective security pact with Britain and France directed against German aggressive expansion, he initiated the signing of a pact with Germany which precipitated the Second World War.

Of course, not everything that happened in the Soviet Union at this time was done with the approval of Stalin. In the case of the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact of 1939, however, we have the testimony of Stalin’s closest collaborator, Vyacheslav Molotov, that:

“Comrade Stalin . . suggested the possibility of different, unhostile and good neighbourly relations between Germany and the USSR. . ..
The conclusion of the Soviet-German non-aggression pact . . . shows that Comrade Stalin’s historical foresight has been brilliantly confirmed”.

(V. M. Molotov: Speech at 4th (Special) Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, 31 August 1939, in: ‘Soviet Peace Policy’; London; 1941; p. 16).

The charge that this was a serious mistake on Stalin’s part must, therefore, be examined seriously.

The Reorientation of Soviet Foreign Policy

In his notorious book ‘My Struggle’, written in mid-1920s, the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler expressed frankly the foreign policy the Nazis intended to follow:

“We National Socialists consciously draw a line beneath the foreign policy tendency of our pre-War period. . . . We stop the endless German movement to the south and west, and turn our gaze towards the land in the East. .
If we speak of soil in Europe today, we can primarily have in mind only Russia”.

(A. Hitler: ‘Mein Kampf’; London; 1984; p. 598, 604).

Thus, the coming to power of the Nazi government in Germany in January 1933 heralded a situation in Europe which clearly presented great danger to the Soviet Union — and not, of course, to the Soviet Union alone.

The Marxist-Leninists in the leadership of the Soviet Union, concerned to defend the socialist state, responded to this new, more dangerous situation by reorientating Soviet foreign policy, by adopting a policy of striving for collective security with other states which had, objectively, an interest in maintaining the status quo in the international situation.

The Objective Basis of Collective Security

The objective basis of the Soviet policy of collective security was that the imperialist Powers of the world could be divided into two groups.

One group — Germany, Italy and Japan had a relatively high productive power and relatively restricted markets and spheres of influence. As a result, these Powers had an urgent need to change the world to their advantage; they were relatively aggressive Powers.

Another group of imperialist Powers — Britain, France and the United States — had relatively large markets and spheres of influence and thus had objectively more need to keep the world as it was than to see it changed; they were relatively non-aggressive Powers.

Stalin, who argued that the Second World War had already begun, summed up this position to the 18th Congress of the CPSU in March 1939:

“The war is being waged by aggressor states, who in every way infringe upon the interests of the non-aggressor states, primarily, England, France and the USA. .
Thus we are witnessing an open re-division of the world and spheres of influence at the expense of the non-aggressive states.”

(J. V. Stalin: op. cit.; p. 14).

As a socialist state, a working people’s state, the Soviet Union had the strongest interest of any state in the preservation of peace.

The Soviet government’s policy in the 1930s, therefore, was to strive to form a collective security alliance with the European non-aggressive imperialist states, Britain and France — a collective security alliance strong enough either to deter the aggressive imperialist states from launching war or to secure their speedy defeat.

The Soviet Government summed up this post-1933 foreign policy in 1948:

“Throughout the whole pre-war period, the Soviet delegation upheld the principle of collective security in the League of Nations”.

(‘Falsifiers of History: Historical Information’; London; 1948; p 15).

Appeasement 

Although, as we have seen, Stalin maintained that the British and French imperialists had, objectively, an interest in joining the Soviet Union in such a collective security alliance, the governments of Britain and France, led respectively by Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier, did not recognise this objective fact because of their detestation of socialism and the Soviet Union and their wish to see it destroyed.

As Stalin told the 18th Congress of the CPSU in March 1939:

“England, France and the USA . . . draw back and retreat, making concession after concession to the aggressors.

Thus we are now witnessing an open redivision of the world and spheres of influence at the expense of the non-aggressive states, without the least attempt at resistance, and even with a certain amount of connivance. .

How is it that the non-aggressive countries . . . have so easily, and without any resistance, abandoned their positions and their obligations to please the aggressors?

Is it to be attributed to the weakness of the non-aggressive states? Of course not! Combined, the non-aggressive, democratic states are unquestionably stronger than the fascist states, both economically and militarily. . .

The chief reason is that the majority of the non-aggressive countries, particularly England and France, have rejected a policy of collective security, of collective resistance to the aggressors, and have taken up a position of ‘non-intervention’……

The policy of non-intervention reveals an eagerness, a desire, not to hinder Germany, say, . . . from embroiling herself in a war with the Soviet Union. .
One might think that the districts of Czechoslovakia were yielded to Germany as the price of an undertaking to launch war on the Soviet Union”.

(J. V. Stalin: op. cit.; p. 14-15, 16).

British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax is on record as telling Hitler in November 1937 that

“he and other members of the British Government were well aware that the Fuehrer had attained a great deal. . . . Having destroyed Communism in his country, he had barred the road of the latter to Western Europe and Germany was therefore entitled to be regarded as a bulwark of the West against Bolshevism. .

When the ground has been prepared for an Anglo-German rapprochement, the four great West European Powers must jointly set up the foundation of lasting peace in Europe”.

(‘Documents on German Foreign Policy: 1918-1945’, Series D, Volume 1; London; 1954; p. 55).

Nevertheless, the Soviet Marxist-Leninists understood that this policy of ‘appeasement’ ran, objectively, counter to the interests of the British and French imperialists and counter to the interests of the British working people They therefore calculated that, if the Soviet government persisted in its efforts to form a collective security alliance with Britain and France, sooner or later the appeasers in Britain, which dominated France,. would be forced out of office by the more far-seeing representatives of British imperialism (such as Winston Churchill and Anthony Eden) in cooperation with the British working people.

(This, of course, actually occurred in 1940, but only after war had broken out in Europe).

The Anglo-French-Soviet Negotiations

On 31 March 1939, without consulting the Soviet Union, the British government gave a unilateral guarantee to defend Poland against aggression.

The leader of the liberal Party, David Lloyd George, told the House of Commons:

“I cannot understand why, before committing ourselves to this tremendous enterprise, we did not secure beforehand the adhesion of Russia. . . . If Russia has not been brought into this matter because of certain feelings that Poles have that they do not want the Russians there, . . . unless the Poles are prepared to accept the one condition with which we can help them, the responsibility must be theirs”.

(Parliamentary Debates. 5th Series, House of Commons, Volume 35; London; 1939; Col. 2,510).

The Anglo-French guarantee stimulated public pressure on the appeaser governments to at least make gestures in the direction of collective security.

So, on 15 April 1939 the British government made an approach to the Soviet government suggesting that it might like to issue a public declaration offering military assistance to any state bordering the Soviet Union which was subject to aggression if that state desired it.

Two days later, on 17 April the Soviet government replied that it would not consider a unilateral guarantee, which would put the Soviet Union in a position of inequality with the other Powers concerned. It proposed:

Firstly, a trilateral mutual assistance treaty by Britain, France and the Soviet Union against aggression;

Secondly, the extension of guarantees to the Baltic States (Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Lithuania), on the grounds that failure to guarantee these states was an open invitation to Germany to expand eastwards through invasion of these states;

Thirdly, that the treaty must not be vague, but must detail the extent and forms of the military assistance to be rendered by the signatory Powers.

On 27 May the British and French governments replied to the Soviet proposals with the draft of a proposed tripartite pact. The British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain commented on the British draft in a letter to his sister at this time:

“In substance it gives the Russians what they want, but in form and presentation it avoids the idea of an alliance and substitutes declaration of intention. It is really a most ingenious idea”.

(Neville Chamberlain Archives, University of Birmingham, 11/1/1101).

Vyacheslav Molotov, who had just taken over the post of People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs from Maksim Litvinov, rejected the draft on the grounds that it proposed in the event of hostilities not immediate mutual assistance, but merely consultation through the League of Nations.

On 2 June the Soviet government submitted to Britain and France a counter-draft making these joints.

The British and French governments responded by saying that Finland, Estonia and Latvia refused to be guaranteed.

The Soviet government continued to insist that a military convention be signed at the same time as the political treaty, in order that there might be no possibility of any hedging about the application of the latter. On 17 July Molotov stated that there was no point in continuing discussions on the political treaty until the military convention had been concluded.

On 23 July the British and French governments finally agreed to begin military discussions before the political treaty of alliance had been finalised, and a British naval officer with the quadruple-barreled name of Admiral Reginald Plunkett-Ernie-Erle-Drax was appointed to head the British delegation. No one, apparently, had informed the British government that the aeroplane had been invented, and the delegation left Tilbury by a slow boat to Leningrad, from where they proceeded by train to Moscow. When the delegation finally arrived in Moscow on 11 August, the Soviet side discovered that it had no powers to negotiate, only to ‘hold talks’. Furthermore, the British delegation was officially instructed to:

“Go very slowly with the conversations”;

(‘Documents on British Foreign Policy;’, 3rd Series, Volume 6; London; 1953; Appendix 5; p. 763).

Nevertheless, the military talks began in Moscow on 12 August.

On 15 August the leader of the Soviet delegation, People’s Commissar for Defence  Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, told the delegates that unless Soviet troops were permitted to enter Polish territory it was physically impossible for the Soviet Union to assist Poland and it would be useless to continue discussions.

This point was never resolved before the Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations were negotiations were adjourned indefinitely on 21 August — after the Soviet government had decided to sign the non-aggression pact with Germany.

Warning Shots from Moscow

At the risk of sounding chauvinistic, I think it is fair to say ‘that no diplomats are more expert in hypocritical double-dealing than British diplomats.

Nevertheless, the Soviet leaders were no fools and, as the negotiations for an Anglo-French-Soviet mutual security pact dragged on month after month, a number of warning shots were fired from Moscow.

On 11 March 1939 Joseph Davies, the former US Ambassador in Moscow, now posted to Brussels, wrote in his diary about Stalin’s speech to the 18th Congress of the CPSU a few days before:

“It is a most significant statement. It bears the earmarks of a definite warning to the British and French governments that the Soviets are getting tired of ‘non-realistic’ opposition to the aggressors. . .
It certainly is the most significant danger signal that I have yet seen”.

(J. E. Davies: ‘Mission to Moscow’; London; 1942; p. 279-80).

Then, on 3 May 1939 the resignation was announced of Maksim Litvinov as Soviet People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, and his replacement by a close colleague of Stalin, Vyacheslav Molotov. Although the Soviet government denied that this signified any change in Soviet foreign policy, it was significant that Litvinov’s name was particularly associated with collective security and he was known to be personally sympathetic to the West.

On 29 June the leading Soviet Marxist-Leninist Andrei Zhdanov published an article in ‘Pravda’ which, most unusually, revealed that there were differences in the leadership of the CPSU on whether the British and French governments were sincere in saying that they wished for a genuine treaty of mutual assistance:

“the Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations on the conclusion of an effective pact of mutual assistance against aggression have reached a deadlock. . . .
I permit myself to express my personal opinion in this matter, although my friends do not share it. They still think that when beginning the negotiations with the USSR, the English and French Governments had serious intentions of creating a powerful barrier against aggression in Europe. I believe, and shall try to prove it by facts, that the English and French Governments have no wish for a treaty . . . to which a self-respecting State can agree. .

The Soviet Government took 16 days in preparing answers to the various English projects and proposals, while the remaining 59 days have been consumed by delays and procrastinations on the part of the English and French. 

Not long ago . . . the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs, Beck, declared unequivocally that Poland neither demanded nor requested from the USSR anything in the sense of granting her any guarantee whatever…..However, this does not prevent England and France from demanding from the USSR guarantees . . . for Poland. . .

It seems to me that the English and French desire not a real treaty accepable to the USSR, but only talks about a treaty in order to speculate before the public opinion in their countries on the allegedly unyielding attitude of the USSR, and thus make easier for themselves the road to a deal with the aggressors.
The next few days must show whether this is so or not.”

(A. Zhdanov: Article in ‘Pravda’, 29 June 1939, in: J. Degras (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy’; London; 1953; p. 352, 353, 354).

A final warning shot was fired on 22 July, when it was officially announced that Soviet-German trade negotiations were taking place in Berlin.

The Soviet-German Negotiations

At the 18th Congress of the CPSU in March 1939, Stalin described the basis of Soviet foreign policy as follows:

“We stand for peace and the strengthening of business relations with all countries. That is our position, and we shall adhere to this position as long as countries maintain like relations with the Soviet Union and as long as they make no attempt to trespass on the interests of our country”.

(J. V. Stalin: Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the 18th Congress of the CPSU (b). in : ‘The Land of Socialism Today and Tomorrow’; Moscow; 1939; p. 18).

On 17 April 1939, the Soviet Ambassador in Berlin, Aleksei Merekalov, had a conversation with the German State Secretary, Baron Ernst von Wiezsaecker, who asked him whether there was any prospect of the normalisation of relations between Germany and the Soviet Union. The Ambassador’s reply was in line with Soviet foreign policy:

“There exists for Russia no reason why she should not live with us on a normal footing. And from normal, the relations might become better and better”.

(‘Nazi-Soviet Relations: 1939-1941’, Doc. 1; Washington; 1948; p. 2).

On 29 July the German Foreign Office instructed the German Ambassador in the Soviet Union, Count Fritz von der Schulenburg, to tell Molotov:

“We would be prepared . . . to safeguard all Soviet interests and to come to an understanding with the Government in Moscow. . . . The idea could be advanced of so adjusting our attitude to the Baltic States as to respect vital Soviet interests in the Baltic Sea”.

(‘Documents on German Foreign Policy: 1918-1945’, Series D, Volume 6; London; 1956; p. 1,016).

On 14 August the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Joachim von Ribbentropp, cabled Schulenburg, instructing him to call on the Soviet People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Vyacheslav Molotov, and read him a communication:

“There is no question between the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea which cannot be settled to the complete satisfaction of both countries. . . . The leadership of both countries, therefore, should . . . take action. . .

As we have been informed, the Soviet Government also feel the desire for a clarification of German-Russian relations. . . . I am prepared to make a short visit to Moscow in order, in the name of the Fuehrer, to set forth the Fuehrer ‘s views to M. Stalin. In my view, only through such a direct discussion can a change be brought about, and it should not be impossible thereby to lay the foundations for a final settlement of German-Russian relations.”

(‘Documents on German Foreign Policy: 1918-1945’, Series D, Volume 7; London; 1956; p. 63).

Schulenburg saw Molotov on 16 August and, as instructed, read to him Ribbentropp’s message. He reported to Berlin the same night that Molotov had heard

“With great interest the information I had been instructed to convey. . . ..

He was interested in the question of how the German Government were disposed towards the idea of concluding a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union”.

(‘Documents on German Foreign Policy . . ‘; op. cit., Volume 7; p. 77).

Ribbentropp replied the same day, directing Schulenburg to see Molotov again and inform him that:

“Germany is prepared to conclude a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union. . . . Further, Germany is ready to guarantee the Baltic States jointly with the Soviet Union. . . .

I am prepared to come by aeroplane to Moscow at any time after Friday, August 18, to deal, on the basis of full powers from the Fuehrer, with the entire complex of German-Russian relations and, if the occasion arises, to sign the appropriate treaties”.

(‘Documents on German Foreign Policy . . .’; op. cit. Volume 7; p. 84).

On 17 August Molotov handed Schulenburg the Soviet government’s written reply. The Note began by recalling Germany’s policy of hostility to the Soviet Union in the past, and welcoming the prospect of an improvement in German-Soviet relations. It proposed a number of steps in this direction, beginning with a trade agreement and proceeding ‘shortly thereafter’ to the conclusion of a non-aggression pact.

On 18 August Ribbentropp sent a further urgent telegram to Schulenburg saying that the ‘first stage’ in the diplomatic process (the signing of the trade agreement) had been completed, and asking that Ribbentropp be permitted to make an ‘immediate departure for Moscow’, where he would:

“be in a position . . . to take the Russian wishes into account, for instance, the settlement of spheres of interest in the Baltic area”.

(‘Documents on German Foreign Policy . . . ‘ ; op. cit., Volume 7; p. 123).

On 19 August Schulenburg replied that Molotov had agreed that:

“The Reich Foreign Minister could arrive in Moscow on August 26 or 27.
Molotov handed me the draft of a non-aggression pact”.

(‘Documents on German Foreign Policy . . . ‘, op. cit., Volume 7; p. 134).

On 20 August Hitler himself intervened with a personal letter to Stalin, saying that he accepted the draft of the non-aggression pact but pleaded that Ribbentropp should be received in Moscow

“At the latest on Wednesday, August 27th.”

(‘Documents on German Foreign Policy . . . ‘, op. cit.. Volume 7; p. 157).

Stalin replied to Hitler on 21 August, thanking him for his letter and saying:

“The assent of the German Government to the conclusion of a non-aggression pact provides the foundation for eliminating the political tension and the establishment of peace and collaboration between our countries.

The Soviet government have instructed me to inform you that they agree to Herr von Ribbentropp’s arriving in Moscow on August 23″.

(‘Documents on German Foreign Policy . . . ‘, op. cit.; p. 168).

Ribbentropp and his delegation arrived in Moscow on 23 August, and the non-aggression pact was signed later the same day. Its text was almost identical with the Soviet draft which had been submitted to the Germans on 19 August. Neither party would attack the other, and should one party become the object of belligerent action by a third Power, the other party would render no support to this third Power.

Even more strongly criticised than the pact itself has been a ‘Secret Additional Protocol’ to the pact which laid down German and Soviet ‘spheres of interest’ in Europe.

But the term ‘sphere of interest’ does not necessarily have implications of imperialist domination. Where two states are likely to be affected by war but wish this not to involve them in mutual conflict, then the demarcation of spheres of interest is a legitimate and desirable act.

The ‘secret additional protocol’ declared:

“1. In the event of a territorial and political transformation in the territories belonging to the Baltic States (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) the northern frontier of Lithuania shall represent the frontier of the spheres of interest both of Germany and the USSR. . .
2. In the event of a territorial and political transformation of the territories belonging to the Polish State, the spheres of interest both of Germany and the USSR shall be bounded approximately by the line of the rivers Narew, Vistula and San”.

(‘Documents on German Foreign Policy . . . ‘, Series D, Volume 7; p. 246-47).

In ordinary language, this meant that the German government promised that, when German troops invaded Poland, they would not attempt to advance beyond the ‘Curzon Line’, drawn by the British Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon, after the First World War as the ethnic boundary separating the Poles from the Ukrainians and Byelorussians. The area east of this line had been Soviet territiory which was seized from the Soviet Union following the Revolution.

Germany had thus agreed that it would raise no objection to the Soviet government taking whatever action it considered desirable east of this line.

The Effect of the Non-Aggression Pact

Speaking to the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union on 31 August, Molotov described the Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact as:

“A turning-point in the history of Europe, and not of Europe alone”.

(V. M. Molotov: Speech to Supreme Soviet of 31 August 1939, in: ‘Soviet Peace Policy’; London; 1941; p. 18).

Molotov accepted Zhdanov’s conclusion — that the British and French had never been serious in their attitude to the negotiations:

“They themselves displayed extreme dilatoriness and anything but a serious attitude towards the negotiations, entrusting them to individuals of secondary importance who were not vested with adequate powers. . .
The British and French military missions came to Moscow without any definite powers and without the right to conclude any military convention. Furthermore, the British military mission arrived in Moscow without any mandate at all”.

(V. M. Molotov: ibid.; p. 13).

Molotov declared that the breakdown of the Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations was only superficially the refusal of Poland or accept Soviet assistance, since:

“The negotiations showed that Great Britain was not anxious to overcome these objections of Poland, but on the contrary encouraged them.
Poland . . . had been acting on the instructions of Great Britain and France. .”

(V. M. Molotov: ibid.; p. 12, 14).

He stressed that it was not the Soviet government’s action in signing the pact which had disrupted the Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations. On the contrary, the Soviet government had signed the pact only after the Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations had been irrevocably sabotaged by the British and French governments:

“Attempts are being made to spread the fiction that the conclusion of the Soviet-German pact disrupted the negotiations with Britain and France for a mutual assistance pact. . . . In reality, as you know, the very reverse is true. . . . The Soviet Union signed the non-aggression pact with Germany, amongst other things, because negotiations with France and Great Britain had . . . ended in failure through the fault of the ruling circles of Britain and France”.

(V. M. Molotov: ibid.; p. 20).

The same point was made by the Soviet People’s Commissar for Defence, Marshal Kliment Voroshilov, at a press conference on 27 August 1939:

“Miltary negotiations with England and France were not broken off because the USSR concluded a non-aggression pact with Germany; on the contrary, the USSR concluded a non-aggression pact with Germany as a result, inter alia, of the fact that the military negotiations with France and England had reached a deadlock”.

(K. Y. Voroshilov: Press statement of 27 August 1939, in: J. Degras (Ed.): ‘Soviet Documents on Foreign Policy’; London; 1953; p. 361).

Furthermore, Molotov emphasised that the Soviet negotiations with Germany were on a completely different level to the Soviet negotiations with Britain and France:

“We are dealing not with a pact of mutual assistance, as in the case of the Anglo-French-Soviet relations, but only with a non-aggression Pact.”

(V. M. Molotov: ibid.; p. 18).

So that, as a result of the signing of the German-Soviet pact:

“the USSR is not obliged to involve itself in war, either on the side of Great Britain against Germany or on the side of Germany against Great Britain.”

(V. M. Molotov: ibid.,; p. 21).

Even such anti-Soviet writers as Edward Carr agree that the Soviet government’s decision to sign the non-aggression pact with Germany was an enforced second choice, which was taken only with extreme reluctance:

“The most striking feature of the Soviet-German negotiations . . . is the extreme caution with which they were conducted from the Soviet side, and the prolonged Soviet resistance to close the doors on the Western negotiations”.

(E. H. Carr: ‘From Munich to Moscow: II’, in: ‘Soviet Studies’, Volume 1, No. 12 (October 1949); p. 104).

Indeed, some Soviet leaders — notably Maksim Litvinov, the former People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs — urged that more time should be given for the British and French governments to be pressed by public opinion in their countries into serious negotiations for a pact of mutual assistance.

What precipitated the acceptance of the pressing German proposals for a rapprochement was the discovery by Soviet intelligence that the Chamberlain government was secretly negotiating for a military alliance with Germany, so threatening the Soviet Union with aggression from four Powers — Britain, France, Germany and Italy — combined. The British Ambassador in Berlin, Sir Nevile Henderson, describes in an official report to Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax, dated 29 August 1939, a conversation with Hitler and Ribbentropp:

“Herr von Ribbentropp asked me whether I could guarantee that the Prime Minister could carry the country with him in a policy of friendship with Germany. I said that there was no possible doubt whatever that he could and would, provided Germany cooperated with him. Herr Hitler asked whether England would be willing to accept an alliance with Germany. I said, speaking personally, I did not exclude such a possibility”.

(‘Documents concerning German-Polish Relations and the Outbreak of Hostilites between Great Britain and Germany on September 3, 1939’; (Cmd. 6106); London; 1939; p. 130).

The fact that both German and Soviet troops entered Poland has been used to equate Fascist Germany with the socialist Soviet Union. But, of course, a socialist state cannot be equated with an aggressive imperialist state. It has to be noted,

Firstly, that Soviet troops entered what had been Polish territory only on 17 September — 16 days after the German invasion of Poland – when the Polish state had collapsed, as Molotov stressed to the Supreme Soviet on 31 October 1939:

“Our troops entered the territory of Poland only after the Polish State had collapsed and actually had ceased to exist. . . . The Soviet government could not but reckon with the exceptional situation created for our brothers in the Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia, who had been abandoned to their fate as a result of the collapse of Poland”.

(V. M. Molotov: Speech to the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, 31 October 1939, in: ‘Soviet Foreign Policy’; London; 1941; p. 32).

And the correspondents of the capitalist press agree with Soviet contemporary Soviet sources that the Red Army was welcomed as liberators by the Ukrainian and Byelorussian population concerned. Molotov reported:

“The Red Army . . . was greeted with sympathy by the Ukrainian and Byelorussian population, who welcomed our troops as liberators from the yoke of the gentry and from the yoke of the Polish landlords and capitalists.”

(V. M. Molotov: ibid.; p. 33).

In the House of Commons on 20 September, Conservative MP Robert Boothby declared:

“I think it is legitimate to suppose that this action on the part of the Soviet Government was taken . . . from the point of view of self-preservation and self-defence. . . . The action taken by the Russian troops . . . has pushed the German frontier considerably westward. .
I am thankful that Russian troops are now along the Polish-Romanian frontier. I would rather have Russian troops there than German troops”.

(Parliamentary Debates, 5th Series, Volume 351; House of Commons; London; 1939; Col. 996).

It is outside the scope of today’s seminar to discuss one of the most absurd of the anti-Stalin stories — that Stalin trusted the Nazis to adhere to the pact and was completely taken by surprise when the German army invaded the Soviet Union in 1941.

Who can forget Stalin’s prophetic words in 1931:

“We are fifty or a hundred years behind the advanced countries. We must make good this distance in ten years. Either we do it, or we shall go under”.

(J. V. Stalin: ‘The Tasks of Business Executives’, in: ‘Works’, Volume I13; Moscow; 1955; p. 41).

Exactly ten years later, in 1941, came the German invasion.

The test of the correctness or incorrectness of Stalin’s policy is whether or not it strengthened or weakened the ability of the socialist Soviet Union to defend itself against the future aggression which its leaders knew was inevitable.

Even such virulent anti-Soviet writers as Edward Carr admit that the signing of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact enabled the Soviet Union to put itself in an incomparably stronger defensive position to meet the German invasion:

“The Chamberlain government ., as a defender of capitalism, refused . . . to enter into an alliance with the USSR against Germany. . . .
In the pact of August 23rd, 1939, they (the Soviet government — Ed.) secured:
a) a breathing space of immunity from attack;
b) German assistance in mitigating Japanese pressure in the Far East;
c) German agreement to the establishment of an advanced defensive bastion beyond the existing Soviet frontiers in Eastern Europe; it was significant that this bastion was, and could only be, a line of defence against potential German attack, the eventual prospect of which was never far absent from Soviet reckonings. But what most of all was achieved by the pact was the assurance that, if the USSR had eventually to fight Hitler, the Western Powers would already be involved”.

(E. H. Carr: ‘From Munich to Moscow: II’, in: ‘Soviet Studies’, Volume 1, No. 2 (October 1949); p. 103).

——————————————————————————–

Questions Put By The Audience to The Speaker, And His Replies

Question 1: 

It has been suggested that Litvinov was removed from his post simply because he was a Jew, and as such would have been regarded as unsuitable as a negotiator by the Germans. Is there any truth in this?

Reply: 

In my opinion, no. We know that Stalin supported the replacement of Litvinov, and Stalin was known to be have been opposed not only to racism but to any concession to racism. Litvinov had, personally, been strongly associated with the policy of collective security and reliable sources testify to his conviction that, with more time, the British and French governments would sooner or later endorse this policy. As soon as the Soviet leaders began to give consideration to the possibility of a rapprochement with Germany, therefore, Litvinov ceased to be a reliable instrument of Soviet foreign policy.

Question 2: 

Did Litvinov actually oppose the signing of the non-aggression pact?

Reply: 

I have no concrete information as to whether he opposed it on principle, but he is known to have held the view that more time should be given to allow the Anglo-French representatives to see sense’. But he is on record later as declaring that it had been ‘a mistake’ resulting from Molotov’s ‘lack of understanding of the functioning of Western democracy’.

Question 3: 

In one of Molotov ‘s speeches following the occupation of Eastern Poland, he referred to the Polish state as being the illegitimate child of Versailles and commented that, happily, it had disappeared. This has been interpreted as demonstrating that the Soviet Union always had territorial designs upon Poland. Was the Soviet position one of supporting the destruction of the Polish state?

Question 3a. 

Does this mean that the Soviet Union was prepared to deny the aspirations of the Polish people to have their own state?

Reply: 

There is no doubt that the Polish people constitute a nation, and Marxist-Leninists have always recognised the right of any nation to have its own independent state. The Polish state which existed in 1939, however, did not have its boundaries drawn on ethnic lines; it included, for example, millions of Ukrainians and Byelorussians and I feel sure that it was such facts which lay at the basis of Molotov ‘s statement. In other words it was not any Polish state, but that existing in 1939 which Molotov depicted as a monstrosity. However, that Polish Polish state was not destroyed by the Red Army, but by the German army; the Red Army’s occupation of Western Ukraine and Western Byelorussia began only after the Polish state had collapsed and ceased to exist. The Polish state was restored after the United Nations victory over Germany in 1945.

Question 4: 

Was a protocol signed as part of the non-aggression pact which led to a line being drawn across Poland dividing the spheres of interest of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany? Is this the secret protocol referred to in the West and did such a protocol really exist? Was the dividing line the Curzon Line?

Reply: 

The Anglo-American imperialists published the ‘secret protocol’ after the Second World War, claiming that it had been discovered in the captured archives of the German Foreign Office. I know that the late Soviet President, Andrei Gromyko, denounces the ‘secret additional protocol’ as a forgery in his memoirs, but he was a notorious revisionist and not a source I would place any reliance on. As far as I recall, the Soviet government of the time neither confirmed nor denied its authenticity. However, in the Soviet Information Bureau published in 1948, Falsifiers of History, no charge is made that the document is spurious, and this official pamphlet states:

“The Soviet Union succeeded in making good use of the Soviet-German Pact to strengthen its defences, . . . in moving its frontiers far to the West and in barring the way of the unhampered eastward advance of German Aggression”.
(‘Falsifiers of History’; op. cit.; p. 45).

It would seem that this cannot possibly refer to the treaty itself (which makes no mention of spheres of interest or frontiers), but only to the ‘secret additional protocol’. As I said before, I do not accept the view that ‘spheres of interest’ between states are necessarily an phenomenon to be condemned. A socialist state may have its own spheres of interest which it sees as essential to its defence and, where these may conflict with the spheres of interest of other states, it seems to me correct to try to reach agreement with these other states, to map them out in order to maintain peaceful relations with these other states. On the evidence available to me at present, I believe the published ‘secret protocol’ to be genuine. Yes, the dividing line ‘ran along the old Curzon Line.

The above paper was read by Bill Bland at a seminar organised by the STALIN SOCIETY in London in February 1990.

The German Situation and the Question of Social-Fascism

Demonstrators in East Berlin carry portraits of both German socialist Karl Liebknecht and political activist Rosa Luxemburg in 1988, during a protest march against their assassination in 1919. (AP/Press Association Images)

Demonstrators in East Berlin carry portraits of both German socialist Karl Liebknecht and political activist Rosa Luxemburg in 1988, during a protest march against their assassination in 1919. (AP/Press Association Images)

The greatest factor in the stabilization of capitalism after the first round of wars and revolutions was Social-Democracy. In such countries as Germany and Austria the Social-Democratic leaders actually undertook to organize and maintain the capitalist State against the revolutionary onslaught of the workers. A German Social-Democrat, Noske, drowned in blood the workers’ revolution in Germany in 1918 and 1919. Social-Democratic ministers suppressed strikes, fired at workers’ demonstrations, declared martial law against the workers. A Socialist government in Great Britain sent armies to subdue the uprising of the colonial peoples. The Social- Democrats of France took the initiative in introducing the imperialist martial laws. In. short, everywhere the leaders of Social-Democracy became part and parcel of the bourgeois State apparatus. They advanced the idea that where there is a coalition government, i.e., a government of’ capitalist and Socialist ministers, there we have a transition from capitalism to socialism. The fact of the matter is that a coalition government remains a capitalist government since it does not shake the foundations of capitalism, private property and exploitation. On the contrary, it only serves to strengthen capitalism by deceiving the workers with the idea of peaceful transition to socialism.

In Germany and Austria Social-Democracy actually aided the growth of fascism. Fascist bands were being organized under the protection of Social-Democratic governments. Fascist demonstrations were unmolested by Social-Democratic police presidents while Communist demonstrations were being dispersed. Fascist bands were allowed to arm while the militant Red Front organization of the German workers was outlawed. Martial law and semi-martial law were repeatedly introduced to curb the movement of the workers who demanded an improvement of their intolerable conditions.

In the very same way as Lenin, after the betrayal of the proletariat by Social-Democracy at the beginning of the War, called the Social-Democratic leaders social-patriots and social-chauvinists, so the Communist International, after the new betrayals of Social-Democracy, called its leaders social-fascists –in the sense of paving the way for fascism.

It was disastrous for the proletariat of Germany and of the whole world that the Social-Democratic leaders made common cause with capitalism. It was disastrous that so many millions of workers were deceived by the socialist phrases of the Social-Democratic leaders and believed them to be true fighters for the interests of the working class. It was unfortunate that the Communist Party of Germany could swing only around six million votes and did not have the majority of the working class behind it. It would have been better for the workers of Germany and for the world revolution had the masses of German workers cherished fewer illusions about their Social-Democratic leaders. It would have been difficult for fascism to sweep into power in Germany had there been organized in Germany a powerful united front.

It cannot be denied that there were certain weaknesses in the work of the Communist Party of Germany, but opposition to the united front was not among them. The Communist Party did not succeed in bringing all its members into the reformist trade unions so as to have there a stronger revolutionary support. It did not work sufficiently in the reformist trade unions – and this was the most neglected sector of its activities, although it did build the red trade-union opposition with a membership – prior to the advent of fascism of over 300,000. It did not root itself sufficiently in the factories and plants. It was not flexible enough in approaching Social-Democratic rank-and-file workers. All these shortcomings were repeatedly pointed out by the Communist International, and the Party made strong efforts to improve its work. As a result its influence grew tremendously.

“During the last period before Hitler came to power, the Communist Party succeeded in penetrating the broad masses and even in obtaining influence among the social-democrats, the members of the reformist trade unions and also the members of the Republican Flag (Reichsbanner) organization, for the very reason that it was able to organize the struggle against this emergency decree. The authority of the Party was greatly enhanced, and members of reformist trade unions began to participate in the strikes led by the Red Trade Union Opposition and the Communists. Thus, besides Communists, members of reformist trade unions and even National Socialists participated in the Berlin transport strike committee.” (O. Piatnitsky, The Present Situation in Germany, p. 20.)

The Communist Party of Germany was ready to fight fascism. As a matter of fact, the Communists did fight the fascist bands in the streets on numerous occasions, meeting their attacks and the attacks of the police which, in Prussia for instance, was under Social-Democratic command and everywhere protected the Brown Shirts.

That the Communists were working for a united front with the Social-Democratic workers, if need be through an agreement with the Social-Democratic leaders, may be seen from the following:

In 1925 the Communist Party proposed to the Social-Democratic Party a united struggle against the monarchist danger. Later in the year, seeing that the Communists and the Social-Democrats had a majority of members in the Berlin municipality, the Communists proposed to the Social-Democrats a common program of action for the interests of the workers. In 1926 the Communists called upon the Social-Democratic leaders to join in a plebiscite against returning the property to the former German royal family. In the Spring of 1928 the C.P. proposed joint May-Day demonstrations. In October, 1928, it proposedjoint anti-militarist action against the building of a battle cruiser. In 1929-1932 it repeatedly proposed joint action against wage-cuts. In April, 1932, it proposed a joint struggle of all working-class organizations against an impending wage-cut.

All these proposals were turned down by Social-Democracy. Broad masses of workers responded to some of the Communist appeals for united action. Social-Democratic leaders preferred cooperation with the capitalist parties.

When Von Papen drove the Social-Democrats out of the Prussian government, the Communist Party proposed a joint general strike for the repeal of the emergency decrees and for the disbanding of the Storm Troops. On January 30, 1933, when Hitler came into power, the Communist Party again proposed a general strike to fight reaction. Again in March, 1933, after the burning of the Reichstag, the Communist Party called upon the Social-Democratic Party and the trade unions to declare a general strike against the attack on the workers. All these proposals were rejected by the Social-Democrats who preferred to believe that they could function and maintain a modicum of power under any capitalist régime.

Who is to be blamed?

Trotsky says: the Communists are to blame. Why? Because they called the Social-Democrats social-fascists. Trotsky cannot deny the fact that the Communists were trying to organize the united front. They organized the Anti-Fascist Action which was to unite workers of various parties. They tried to organize the united front in the factories and unions. The Social-Democratic leaders sowed mistrust toward the Communists and toward the united front, and this hampered the Communist action. Trotsky did his bit.

Now he is dissatisfied.

Here is his chief trump:

“Had the Comintern placed, from 1929, or even from 1930 or 1931, at the foundation of its policies the objective irreconcilability between Social-Democracy and fascism, or more exactly between fascism and Social-Democracy; if upon this it had built a systematic and persistent policy of the united front, Germany, within a few months, would have been covered with a network of mighty committees of proletarian defense, potential workers’ Soviets, that is.” (Leon Trotsky, The Militant, March 10, 1934.)

But, my dear Mr. Trotsky, there was no irreconcilability between Social-Democracy and fascism, or more exactly: between the Social-Democratic leaders and fascism. There was no irreconcilability as far as the Social-Democratic leaders were concerned. They certainly had not anticipated that they would be so ruthlessly driven out. They had formed a substantial part of the State apparatus under all regimes prior to that of Hitler and they were convinced that even under Hitler would they retain a certain share of power. No matter how much the Communists would have painted before them the dire results they were to expect from the ascendancy of fascism – they simply would not have believed it. They would have said they knew better.

Witness the conduct of the Austrian Social-Democratic leaders who were supposed to be much more radical than their German brethren and who had the experience of their German comrades. Listen to the testimony of the “Left” Marxist, Otto Bauer, in his interview with the New York Times correspondent, C, E. R. Gedye (published February 18, 1934) as to how the Social-Democrats of Austria were ready to cooperate with the fascist dictator Dollfuss at the expense of the Austrian constitution:

“Since the date of the Hitler triumph in Germany (March 5)when the Reichstag ‘elections’ gave the German Nazis control, our party has made the very greatest efforts to come to an agreement with the government…. In the first weeks of March our leaders were still in close personal contact with Dollfuss and frequently tried to get him to agree to a constitutional solution. At the end of March he promised our leader, Dr. Dennenberg, personally that at the beginning of April he would open negotiations with us for the reform of the Constitution [for the limiting of bourgeois democracy to suit fascism – M.J.O.]. This promise he never fulfilled, for at the beginning of April he passed over definitely to the fascist camp… and refused to speak to any of the socialists. When he said that he could not see the existing leaders we offered to send him other negotiators. He refused sharply. As we could not see him again, we tried to negotiate through other people. Honestly, we left no stone unturned. We approached President Miklas…. Then we tried the clerical politicians, whom we had known for a long time…. But everything was shattered on the stubborn resistance of Dollfuss who simply refused to hear of the socialists again. A group of religious socialists got together with a group of Catholic democrats and tried to induce the Church to intervene. This also failed.”

Suppose you offered them at that time a united front with the Communists to fight Dollfuss? They did not think of fighting fascism. They had no intention of defending bourgeois democracy. Listen to this precious admission by Bauer in the same interview:

“We offered to make the greatest concessions that a democratic and socialistic party ever made. We let Dollfuss know that if he would only pass a bill through Parliament we would accept a measure authorizing the Government to govern by decree without Parliament for two years [our emphasis – M.J.O.], on two conditions, that a small parliamentary committee, in which the government had a majority, should be able to criticize decrees and that a constitutional court, the only protection against breaches of the Constitution, should be restored.”

They certainly were prepared to go far enough. The “Left” Social-Democrats were ready to agree to the abolition of Parliament provided the abolition is passed by Parliament (a procedure actually practiced in Germany under Hitler). They were ready, they say, to agree to a government without Parliament “for two years”, but it is quite obvious that it would not have been over-difficult to induce them to accept an extension of the time. They were interested in maintaining their positions in the trade unions, in the municipalities, in the police power, in the judicial system – knowing very well that those positions would be curtailed under fascism. They clung to a shadow of power at the time when, according to their own testimony, “the dissatisfaction and agitation of the workers against the conservative policy of our Party committee grew as the government provocations increased…. Excitement rose to a fever pitch during the last weeks.” (Ibid.)

It is for not having induced such leaders to organize a united front that Trotsky blames the Communists.

Be it remembered that he does not blame the Communists for not approaching the workers because he knows very well that they did approach the workers and did make every effort to induce them to join the united front. His chief stock in trade is the accusation that the Communist leaders did not make peace with the Social-Democratic top leaders.

Trotsky s argument in support of the possibility of a united front with the Social-Democratic leaders holds no water.

“Social-Democracy [he says] can neither live nor breathe without leaning upon the political and trade union organizations of the working class. Concurrently it is precisely along this line that the irreconcilable contradiction between Social-Democracy and fascism takes place; precisely along this line does there open up the necessity and unbridgeable stage of the policies of the united front with the Social-Democracy.” (The Militant, March 10, 1934.)

This argument is just as incorrect as the English translation of the sentences is rotten. Events have proven that the bourgeoisie resorts to fascism when it finds that Social-Democracy is no longer able to keep in check the revolutionary movement of the masses. For this reason all the mass organizations of the working class, even if dominated by Social-Democratic leaders, are suppressed. But prior to the advent of Hitler the Social-Democratic leaders did not believe this.

They relied on capitalist democracy, on the Weimar Constitution, on the German respect for law and order and – last but not least – on their record in the service of the bourgeoisie. They invented the policy of supporting the “lesser evil” just to have an excuse for collaborating with the bourgeoisie. Their Berlin Chief of Police Zoergiebel opened machine-gun fire on workers participating in a May-Day parade (1929) without a permit. The number of victims was over 30. Their leaders approved of semi-martial law introduced to quell the workers’ revolts. Their leaders supported wage-cuts and armaments. Social-Democracy supported the governments of Bruening, Von Papen and Schleicher. It was ready to support Hitler. Did it not give its recognition to the Hitler government after the elections of March 5, 1933, declaring that Hitler had been legally appointed by Hindenburg and given a clear mandate by a majority of the people? Was it not ready to cooperate with the Hitler government if offered a chance? Was it not assuming the role of a loyal opposition even after being kicked in the face by the Nazi boots? Did not the Social-Democratic parliamentary group, on May 17, 1933, vote unanimously in the Reichstag in favor of Hitler’s policy? Did not Carl Severing remain a supporter of Hitler in spite of all? Did not the same veteran Social-Democratic leader appeal to the population of the Saar to vote for the Nazis? Did not the Social- Democratic union leaders make overtures to Hitler?

When their collapse came, when they were ignominiously driven out without resistance, then the process of revaluation of values began not only among the Social-Democratic workers but also among some of the leaders. One section (Severing & Co.) are just waiting for an opportunity to be “taken in” by the fascists. The center is vacillating. The Left Wing is for a united front with the Communists. The united front is making headway, notably in France, in Spain and also in the United States – under the initiative and leadership of the Communists. But to expect that the leaders of German Social- Democracy would have agreed to the united front with the Communists before January, 1933, is to be a Trotsky.

At the bottom of all this preachment is Trotsky’s Menshevik attitude to Social-Democracy. The old Menshevik asserts himself in the leader of the “Left opposition”. He does not believe that Social-Democracy is “as bad as that”. He is sincere when he says that the Communists should not have called the Social-Democratic leaders social-fascists. He believes they are not. He believes they are also fighters, at least for bourgeois democracy and for the interests of the workers as far as they can be defended under bourgeois democracy. The Social-Democrats to him are “also” socialists. Now it is perfectly true that if the Communists had abandoned their Communist position and made peace with the German Social-Democratic leaders on the terms of these leaders, then there would have been a united front. The trouble is, it wouldn’t have been a united front against fascism.

The travesty of the whole barrage is evident from the experiences of. France. When the united front was established in France, when huge mass movements against fascism began to develop on a united-front basis, the Trotsky group joined the Socialist Party, fused with it, and is fighting within the Socialist Party against the united front.

Here you have the Trotskyites in action.

But why did not the Communist Party attempt an armed uprising in Germany in the early part of 1933 with its own forces? This question is often asked by Trotskyites.

The answer is given by Lenin who explains “the fundamental law of revolution”.

“It is not sufficient for revolution that the exploited and oppressed masses understand the impossibility of living in the old way and demand changes; for revolution, it is necessary that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule as of old. Only when the ‘lower classes’ do not want the old regime,and when the ‘upper classes’ are unable to govern as of old, then only can revolution succeed. This truth may be expressed in other words: Revolution is impossible without an all-national crisis, affecting both the exploited and the exploiters. [Our emphasis – M.J.O.] It follows that for revolution it is essential, first, that a majority of the workers (or at least a majority of the conscious, thinking, politically active workers) should fully understand the necessity for revolution, and be ready to sacrifice their lives for it; secondly, that the ruling class be in a state of governmental crisis, which attracts even the most backward masses into politics… weakens the government and facilitates its rapid overthrow by the revolutionaries.” (V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Russian Edition, Vol. XXV, p. 222.)

In discussing the German situation of the time when Hitler came to power, O. Piatnitsky, a leader of the Communist International, quotes the above Leninist definition of a revolutionary situation and draws the inevitable conclusion. He says:

“Had all these conditions matured in Germany in January 1933? No. The entire bourgeoisie, in the face of the menace of a proletarian revolution, in spite of the existence of discords among them, stood united against the revolutionary proletariat. The overwhelming majority of the petty bourgeoisie followed the bourgeoisie as represented by Hitler, who promised them the return of the ‘grand’ old Germany in which the petty bourgeoisie had lived in more or less tolerable conditions. The proletariat was split by the Social-Democratic Party which was still followed by the majority of the workers. So the exploiters were still able to live and administer, were still able to exploit the working class as of old, although by new, fascist methods.” (O. Piatnitsky, The Present Situation in Germany, p. 27.)

The Presidium of the Executive Committee of the Comintern, evaluating the German situation, came to the only conclusion which a responsible leadership could draw from the existing relationship of the social forces in Germany.

“Under these circumstances [says the Presidium resolution] the proletariat was in a position in which it could not organize and in fact failed to organize an immediate and decisive blow against the state apparatus, which, for the purpose of fighting against the proletariat, absorbed the fighting organizations of the fascist bourgeoisie: the Storm Troops, the Steel Helmets and the Reichswehr. The bourgeoisie was able without serious resistance to hand over the power of government in the country to the National-Socialists, who act against the working class by means of provocations, bloody terror and political banditry.

“In analyzing the conditions for a victorious uprising of the proletariat, Lenin said that a decisive battle can be considered as fully mature,

“ ‘…if all the class forces which were hostile to us have become sufficiently entangled, have sufficiently come to blows, have sufficiently weakened themselves by the struggle which is beyond their strength. If all the vacillating, hesitating, unstable, intermediate elements, i.e., the petty bourgeoisie, petty-bourgeois democracy as distinguished from the bourgeoisie, have sufficiently exposed themselves to the people, have sufficiently disgraced themselves by their practical bankruptcy. If among the proletariat mass sentiment has begun, and is rising strongly in favor of supporting the most decisive, supremely bold and revolutionary action against the bourgeoisie. Then the revolution has matured, and if we have properly taken into account all of the conditions mentioned above… and have properly selected the moment, our victory is assured.’

“The characteristic feature of the circumstances at the time of the Hitler coup was that these conditions for a victorious rising had not yet managed to mature at that moment. They only existed in an embryonic state.

“As for the vanguard of the proletariat, the Communist Party, not wishing to slip into adventurism, it, of course, could not compensate for this missing factor by its own actions.”

Trotsky’s criticism of the Comintern is the expression of the despair of a petty bourgeois frightened by fascism and disbelieving in the revolutionary forces of the proletariat. Trotsky’s proposed policies, therefore, are policies of a frightened petty-bourgeois reformist.

“Democratic slogans and illusions [he says] cannot be abolished by decree. It is necessary that the masses go through them and outlive them in the experience of battle…. It is necessary to find the dynamic elements in the present defensive position of the working class; we must make the masses draw conclusions from their democratic logic; we must widen and deepen the channels of the struggle.” (Leon Trotsky, “Our Present Tasks,” The Militant, December 9, 1933.)

In these words is contained a whole program. It presupposes a general political situation where black reaction is destined to reign supreme for a very long period and where there can be no thought of a determined proletarian fight for power. It presupposes a stable capitalist system. It assumes that the struggle of the workers for the improvement of their immediate conditions must necessarily proceed in parliamentary channels. It therefore advances the struggle for democratic reforms as the prime task of the workers.

Like all such Social-Democratic creations it is both reactionary and utopian.

It is reactionary because it gives up the proletarian struggle for power at a time when conditions are rapidly maturing for such a struggle. It is utopian because it is not possible for the workers at any time to confine themselves to “democratic slogans” alone if they are to defend their right to live.

The workers are hungry. They are oppressed. They must fight for higher wages, social insurance, against police brutality, against lynch laws. Whenever they undertake a real fight they inevitably reach out beyond the limits of bourgeois democracy. They clash with the police. They defy the courts. They break injunctions. They forcibly annul evictions. They “riot”. When capitalism is shaken and undermined as at present the seizure of power becomes a task for the near future. Every fight is a step nearer to the seizure of power. Every battle gives the working class new experience, teaches it the lessons of unity and concerted advance against the bourgeoisie. Only such an advance can yield immediate improvement of the workers’ lives today, can secure for them elementary rights and better economic conditions.

It is the class struggle against capitalism that the Communists are inscribing on the banner of the working class – the class struggle which in its sharpest form is armed uprising, the final battles for the dictatorship of the proletariat.

It is class collaboration on which Trotsky is building the flimsy structure of his “fourth international” program.

Listen to a Trotskyite “Bolshevik” exhorting the world in the following piece of sonorous declamation:

“We, Bolsheviks, consider that the real salvation from fascism and war lies in the revolutionary conquest of power and the establishment of the proletarian dictatorship. [But our ‘belief’ is just a shadow, bloodless, lifeless. – M.J.O.] You, Socialist workers [Read: Social-Democratic bureaucrats – M.J.O.] do not agree to this road. You hope not only to save what has been gained but also to move forward along the road of democracy. [In collaboration with Roosevelt, Richberg and Perkins. – M.J.O.] Good! As long as we have not convinced you and attracted you to our side we are ready to follow this road with you to the end. [It is easier to follow you than bother with rank-and-file workers who may not agree to submit to ‘democratic’ edicts of chiefs of police – M.J.O.] But we demand that you carry on the struggle for democracy not in words but in deeds [For instance, let Norman Thomas pay a new visit to the ‘First Lady’ of the land. – MJ.O.]…. Make your Party open up a real struggle for a strong democratic movement. [Which is to be even more misleading than the Epic or LaFollette movements which contain economic planks in their programs. – M.J.O.] For this it is necessary first of all to sweep away all the remnants of the feudal state. It is necessary to give the suffrage to all men and women who reached their 18th birthday, also to the soldiers in the army [Forget about the hunger of the boys and girls. Give them the happiness of suffrage that will be a balm to their wound. Incidentally it costs the bosses less than social insurance. – M.J.O.] Full concentration of legislative and executive power in the hands of one chamber! Let your Party open up a serious campaign under these slogans! Let it arouse millions of workers, let it conquer power through the drive of the masses. [Hurrah for a new Ebert-Noske-Scheidemann-Ramsay McDonald government. – M.J.O.] This at any rate would be a serious attempt of struggle against fascism and war. [In the same way as Severing, Otto Bauer and Julius Deutsch fought against fascism and war. – M.J.O.] We, Bolsheviks, would retain the right to explain to the workers the insufficiency of democratic slogans; we could not take upon ourselves the political responsibility for the Social-Democratic government; but we would honestly help you in the struggle for such a. government [We would help you to deceive the masses. – M.J.O.] Together with you we would repel all attacks of bourgeois reaction. [And help shoot down workers and farmers who infringe on ‘democratic’ laws in their fight for bread – M.J.O.] More than that, we would bind ourselves before you not to undertake any revolutionary actions which go beyond the limits of democracy (real democracy) so long as the majority of the workers has not consciously placed itself on the side of revolutionary dictatorship. [It will be our democratic duty to break ‘unlawful’ strikes and to disperse ‘unlawful’ assembly. How dare they go beyond the limits of real bourgeois democracy! – M.J.O.]” (Trotsky, “Our Present Tasks,” The Militant, December 9, 1933.)

It must be made clear at the outset that when Trotsky addresses himself to the “Socialist workers”, he means the Socialist leaders – those who prevent the Socialist workers from engaging in the real class struggle. It must be noted, secondly, that the program which he proposes is purely reformist. He would help Social-Democracy to become the government in a capitalist State (“honestly” help it); he would help Social-Democracy improve the machinery of the capitalist State; he would bind himself to undertake no actions that go beyond bourgeois democracy (when he says “real democracy” he ought to know that such democracy exists only as the dictatorship of the proletariat – and that every bourgeois democracy, no matter how embellished, is a sham democracy designed as a weapon of the exploiters against the exploited); in other words he undertakes to help fasten upon the workers the rule of the capitalists operating through the instrumentality of bourgeois fake democracy. It must be noted, third, that not in vain did Trotsky omit such vital demands as higher wages, a shorter labor day, unemployment insurance, the right of the oppressed nationalities. For, the moment the workers undertake the fight for such demands, bourgeois legality goes smash. The limits of bourgeois democracy are overstepped. Trotsky implicitly promises the Social-Democratic leaders not to undertake such actions, not to countenance them. Moreover, he knows well that when the Social-Democrats are in power they will use the State armed forces against the workers if they undertake such actions. When he appeals to the Social-Democrats to join with him, he is forced to confine himself to such innocuous demands as one chamber and the lowering of the voting age. It is only here that the Social-Democrats can meet him half way. And it is on such a program that he is willing to bind up the fate of the Trotskyites with the fate of the Social-Democratic leaders.

Once more we have before us the petty bourgeois who is panic-stricken. He has seen the advent of fascism. He believes that fascism has come to stay. He believes that the working class is crushed. He calumniates the Communist Party of Germany, saying that it is dead when in reality it lives and fights. He does not wish to see the forces making for a social revolution. He does not wish to understand that once the masses rise – and wherever they rise – they must fight for their lives, against hunger, against annihilation at the hands of finance capital – and that means fight against the capitalist State whether in its fascist or in its democratic form. He does not wish to realize that the workers – the masses of the workers, the majority of the workers – will join the banner of struggle against the capitalists, which is always a struggle undermining the capitalist State. He wants to keep the masses of workers from engaging in the struggle against capitalism under Communist leadership. He appeals to the Social-Democratic leaders for a united front on this program. No wonder he is against the united front as built by the Communist Parties. Such united front is directed against capitalism, it does not build fortresses for capitalism. It comes to destroy them.

Source

Winston Churchill on Conspiracies in the Soviet Union

245px-Sir_Winston_S_Churchill

“In the autumn of 1936, a message from a high military source in Germany was conveyed to President Beneš [President of Czechoslovakia – E.S.] to the effect that if he wanted to take advantage of the Fuehrer’s offer, he had better be quick, because events would shortly take place in Russia rendering any help he could give to Germany insignificant.

While Beneš was pondering over this disturbing hint he became aware that communications were passing through the Soviet Embassy in Prague between important personages in Russia and the German Government. This was a part of the so-called military and Old-Guard Communist conspiracy to overthrow Stalin and introduce a new régime based on a pro-German policy. President Beneš lost no time in communicating all he could find out to Stalin. Thereafter there followed the merciless, but perhaps not needless, military and political purge in Soviet Russia, and the series of trials in January 1937, in which Vyshinsky, the Public Prosecutor, played so masterful a part.

[….]

The Russian Army was purged of its pro-German elements […] The bias of the Soviet Government was turned in a marked manner against Germany. […] The situation was, of course, thoroughly understood by Hitler; but I am not aware that the British and French Governments were equally enlightened. To Mr. Chamberlain and the British and French General Staffs the purge of 1937 presented itself mainly as a tearing to pieces internally of the Russian Army, and a picture of the Soviet Union as riven asunder by ferocious hatreds and vengeance.”

– Winston Churchill, “The Gathering Storm: The Second World War, Volume 1,” page 258.

The Tukhachevsky Conspiracy

М.Н._Тухачевский

Yuri Yemelianov

On the 70th Anniversary of the Treason Trials

On the 11th of June 1937 Moscow radio announced the arrest of the former chief of the Red Army General Headquarters Marshal M. Tukhachevsky and 7 other Soviet leading military figures. The arrested were put to trial before the military branch of the USSR Supreme Court. The radio report said that they were ‘accused of having violated their duty as soldiers, of having broken their military oath of allegiance and of having committed treason against the Soviet Union in the interests of a foreign country… It was established that the defendants… had organised an anti-State movement and had been in contact with the military circles of a foreign country pursuing an anti-Soviet policy. In favour of that country the defendants conducted military espionage. Their activity was aimed at ensuring the defeat of the Red Army in the event of the country being attacked. The ultimate aim was the restoration of big land ownership and capitalism. All accused made confessions’.

After a brief trial the USSR Supreme Court passed death penalty on all the defendants. Subsequently a substantial number of other military and Party officials were arrested and put to trial.

Now these events which happened over 70 years ago are used in post-Soviet Russia as a pretext for another noisy anti-Soviet propaganda campaign. Mass meetings and marches with Christian crosses are organised to commemorate the 70th anniversary of these events. TV and other mass media use this occasion in order to continue depicting the USSR history as the time of ‘Great Terror’ against innocent people, falsely accused of crimes which they did not commit. It is also claimed that the arrest of Tukhachevsky and other Soviet military leaders seriously handicapped the Red Army which led to severe setbacks in 1941, loss of great Soviet territories and manpower.

For the first time this interpretation of the arrest and trial of Tukhachevsky and others was made public by N. S. Khrushchev over 50 years ago. The then First Secretary of the CPSU asserted that the German Gestapo concocted papers, which compromised Tukhachevsky and others in order to weaken the Red Army on the eve of World War II. These forged papers were passed to the Soviet Government. Khrushchev claimed that Stalin was pathologically suspicious and this was the reason why he took the German fabrication at its face value and ordered the arrest of Tukhachevsky and others. According to Khrushchev further arrests and trials were caused by Stalin’s paranoia and his inborn cruelty.

Though there are some real facts behind Khrushchev’s version (e.g. the existence of papers forged by the Gestapo) his explanation is refuted by a number of comparatively recent publications made by a number of Russian historians, including the author of the present article. In such books as A. Martirosyan’s ‘The Conspiracy of Marshals’ (Moscow, Veche, 2003), S. Minakov’s ‘Stalin and the Conspiracy of Generals’ (Moscow, Yauza, 2005), ‘The Conspiracies and the Struggle for Power. From Lenin to Khrushchev’ (Moscow, Veche, 2003) by R. Balandin and S. Mironov, a reader will find detailed and ample evidence which contradicts the essence of Khrushchev’s version.

But even before the publication of these and other Russian books a number of authors in the West presented some facts which proved beyond doubt that the Tukhachevsky conspiracy was not a result of Stalin’s gullibility or a figment of his imagination but a stark reality. The appropriate facts were narrated in memoirs by a former German Intelligence chief Walter Schellenberg, in a book by a former NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs) officer Alexander Orlov, who escaped from the USSR to the West in 1938, in a book ‘The Conspirators’ by an American historian Geoffrey Bailey. A brief account of how the Tukhachevsky plot was formed and developed was given in the book ‘Hitler Moves East 1941–1943’ by a former personal interpreter of Hitler, Paul Schmidt (his literary name — Paul Carell).

Summarising all these facts narrated and analysed by Russian, German and American authors one comes to a conclusion that the origin of the June 1937 events differs radically from the explanation given by Khrushchev and modern Russian political mass media. First of all, these events were connected with the struggle going on inside the Soviet Communist Party in the 1920s. One should take into account that since 1918 L. D. Trotsky was the chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council of the Soviet Republic and its People’s Commissar for military affairs. Many of the leading figures in the Red Army were appointed by Trotsky during the Civil War. Sharing the political views of their chief they tended to overrate military methods of administration and the role of the Red Army in the world revolutionary process. Many of them continued to occupy commanding posts in the Red Army after Trotsky was ousted from his posts in 1925.

Despite their public recantations, many of them continued to share Trotsky’s views and attitudes with their typical blend of adventurism and disregard for ideological principles, especially when dealing with the enemies of the Soviet Revolution. The adventurist approach to the problems of military strategy and organisation of the Red Army was characteristic for Tukhachevsky and the group of his supporters. The differences on these issues led to latent but growing confrontation of this group with the majority of the Red Army commanders.

Like Trotsky himself many of the Trotskyists in the Red Army were prone to put their personal ambitions above the interests of the working class and the Soviet state. Some of them dreamt of Bonapartist careers.

The tendency to conclude alliances with politically and ideologically alien forces for the sake of personal struggle for power (so typical for Trotsky during his political career) revealed itself in establishing close relations between some Soviet and German officers. At that time the Versailles treaty barred Germany from having military educational establishments. According to a secret Soviet-German agreement concluded at the initiative of Trotskyist Karl Radek who was then influential in the Soviet Government, a large group of German officers set up their military schools in Soviet Russia thus by-passing the clauses of the Versailles treaty. Not only Radek, but other Soviet leaders supported this agreement since at that time the cooperation of Soviet Russia with Germany was seen as a breakthrough of the united Anti-Soviet front of capitalist states. The possible negative consequences of the agreement were not taken into account.

While the Soviet-German agreement existed Tukhachevsky and a number of other Soviet military commanders cultivated friendly relations with their German colleagues. The latter often invited the Soviet officers to Germany. Unfortunately such contacts were not limited to exchanges of opinions in the field of purely professional problems. Some of the military of both countries tended to discuss the benefits of military rule and possibilities of joint interference of the military into civilian lives of both countries. Plans for mutual assistance of the military of the two countries in case of political changes in the two countries began to evolve.

The Nazi takeover in 1933 interrupted the active military cooperation between Germany and the USSR. Though at that time the German military wholly supported Hitler, they were keen to mind their own interests and were ready to take power if the Nazi regime was to totter. (The German military plotters almost performed a coup d’etat in September 1938. Then they were afraid that Germany would lose the war in case Britain and France would take a resolute stand and defend Czechoslovakia. Only the capitulation of France and Britain at Munich made the plotters discard their plans. Another attempt to overthrow the Hitler government was undertaken by them in July 1944 at the time when the Nazi regime was already doomed.)

Their own plans of military takeover in the USSR were nourished by Tukhachevsky and his supporters. At the same time Tukhachevsky and others tried to enlist support of some ambitious Party leaders for realisation of their Bonapartist plans. According to Paul Carell, ‘since 1935 Tukhachevsky had maintained a kind of revolutionary committee in Khabarovsk… Its members included senior administrative officials and Army commanders, but also some young Party functionaries in high posts, such as the Party leader in the Northern Caucasus, Boris Sheboldayev’.

Despite the termination of the Soviet-German military agreement Tukhachevsky maintained close cooperation with the German generals. Carell wrote: ‘In the spring of 1936 Tukhachevsky went to London as the leader of the Soviet delegation attending the funeral of the King George V. Both his outward and homeward journeys led him through Berlin. He used the opportunity for talks with leading German generals. He wanted to make sure that Germany would not use any possible revolutionary unrest in the Soviet Union as a pretext for marching against the East. What mattered to him most was his idea of a German-Russian alliance after overthrow of Stalin… Tukhachevsky became increasingly convinced that the alliance between Germany and the Soviet Union was an inescapable commandment of history’.

In his book ‘The Conspirators’ Geoffrey Bailey quotes an attested remark by Tukhachevsky made at that time to the Rumanian Foreign Minister Titulescu. He said: ‘You are wrong to tie the fate of your country to countries which are old and finished, such as France and Britain. We ought to turn towards new Germany. For some at least Germany will assume the leading position on the continent of Europe’.

Meanwhile the pro-German statements made by Tukhachevsky in Western European countries during his trip to Britain became known in France and Czechoslovakia. The mutual assistance treaties of both countries with the USSR concluded in 1935 united them in a joint anti-Nazi coalition. The information that such an important figure as Tukhachevsky took a pro-German stand caused grave concern in Paris and Prague. The two governments notified the Soviet Government about Tukhachevsky’s statements.

Meanwhile at the end of 1936 and the beginning of 1937 a number of Red Army officers were arrested in the USSR. During their interrogation the NKVD got information about the existence of a wide-spread plot against the Soviet Government. It was a time when arrests of some saboteurs, connected with the Trotskyist opposition revealed the lack of vigilance and political insight on the part of many Party functionaries.

It all happened at the time when the USSR adopted a new Constitution, called Stalinist, as Stalin was its initiator. Its constitution was meant to promote the democratisation of Soviet society. Unfortunately many of the Party officials, especially on a local level were reluctant to put the principles of the new Constitution into practice. Since 1917 during almost two decades they got accustomed to methods of administration used at the time of the Civil War. Many of them grew accustomed to their unchallenged high positions and they drew support from close circles of their personal friends. In fact their political attitudes were close to those of Tukhachevsky and his supporters. At the plenary session of the Central Committee of the USSR Communist Party held in February-March 1937 many of its members demanded increased repressive measures instead of the democratisation urged by the Stalinist Constitution.

In his speech at this plenary session Stalin spoke about the urgent need to raise the ideological and political level of all Party functionaries and offered a plan for their education. At the same time he severely criticised the tendency of Party officials to surround themselves by groups of their personal supporters. He suggested electing new functionaries at every Party level while the old functionaries were being educated at specially set-up schools. Stalin warned that unless the Communist Party kept close contacts with the working class it might perish. He reminded of the fate of Antaeus from Greek mythology, who lost the battle with Hercules as soon as he failed to have a contact with the Earth, who was his mother.

But the words of Stalin were unheeded by many of the Party officials. They were afraid to lose their jobs and they started to devise plans of mass reprisals in order to get rid of potential competitors for their posts.

Meanwhile Tukhachevsky and other conspirators, using unrest among the Party functionaries, accelerated preparations for a coup d’etat. Tukhachevsky intended to ask the USSR People’s Commissar for Defence K.E. Voroshilov to convene a conference on military problems in the Kremlin. Tukhachevsky planned to come to the conference with his supporters and to surround the Kremlin with troops loyal to him. Stalin and some of his Politbureau colleagues were to be arrested and shot immediately.

After the end of the plenary session of the Central Committee the conspirators increased their preparations. Carell wrote: ‘In March 1937 the race between Stalin and Tukhachevsky was becoming increasingly dramatic… Why did the Marshal not act then? Why was he still hesitating? The answer is simple enough. The moves of General Staff officers and Army commanders, whose headquarters were often thousands of miles apart, were difficult to coordinate especially as their strict surveillance by the secret police forced them to act with the utmost caution. The coup against Stalin was fixed for the 1st of May 1937, mainly because the May Day Parades would make it possible to move substantial troop contingents to Moscow without arousing suspicion’.

At that time Trotsky in his ‘Bulletin of the Opposition’ wrote about a probable rebellion of the Soviet military against Stalin. On the 9th of April 1937 the chief of the Red Army Intelligence Board S. Uritsky informed Stalin and Voroshilov that in Berlin there were rumours about the opposition of the Soviet military to the Soviet leadership.

By that time the Gestapo got wind of the negotiations of Tukhachevsky with the German military leaders. In order to get fuller information about relations between the military leaders of the two countries Gestapo agents penetrated the archives of the Wehrmacht and stole some of the documents pertaining to the contacts of the German military with the Soviet. The Gestapo agents tried to conceal the theft of documents by setting fire to the archives. After the stolen documents were analysed the Gestapo deputy chief Heydrich came to the conclusion that there was ample evidence of the secret cooperation between the leaders of the Wehrmacht and the Red Army. The Gestapo informed Hitler about the documents.

Despite the pro-German statements of Tukhachevsky, Hitler and others in the Nazi leadership were not happy over clandestine contacts between the military leaders of Germany and the USSR. The Nazi leaders considered that the establishment of the military dictatorship in Russia might stimulate similar developments in Germany. And the military dictator of Russia Tukhachevsky might help his German colleagues during the future coup. Hitler decided to thwart the joint conspiracy of the military leaders of the two countries. He ordered the sending of the stolen documents to Moscow, but adding to them fabrications to make the materials even more shocking. German Intelligence chief Walter Schellenberg later wrote that the false additions constituted but a minor part of the whole collection, which was secretly sold to the Soviet Union. (Later in 1971 V. M. Molotov claimed that he, Stalin and other Politbureau members knew about the Tukhachevsky conspiracy before they got the German documents.)

There are different versions of the subsequent events. On the one hand there is substantial evidence that the military coup scheduled for the 1st of May was frustrated at the last minute. Some people present at the time at Red Square remembered that immediately after the beginning of the parade the rumours were spread about an imminent terrorist act against Stalin and other Politbureau members who at that time occupied the tribune on the Lenin Mausoleum. Later NKVD officer Pavel Meshik claimed that he personally arrested a terrorist on the upper floor of the building adjacent to Red Square just when he was getting ready to shoot. Meshik said that he was awarded the Order of Lenin for this arrest.

A British correspondent Fitzroy MacClean who was present at the May Day parade stated that he noticed nervousness in the conduct of the Politbureau members. Some of them hardly watched the parade. According to MacClean only Stalin preserved an unperturbed mien.

On the other hand there is evidence that the coup was postponed. Just before the 1st of May in London it was announced that on the 12th of May there would be the coronation of George VI who had become the King after the abdication of Edward VIII. The Soviet delegation was invited for the ceremony and the Soviet Government decided that Tukhachevsky would be a leader of the delegation. According to Carell, Tukhachevsky ‘postponed the coup by three weeks. That was his fatal mistake’.

On the 3rd of May documents of Tukhachevsky were sent to the British Embassy in connection with his visit to London. But on the next day the papers were called back and it was announced that the Soviet admiral V. M. Orlov would be a chief of the delegation.

On the 10th of May it was announced that Tukhachevsky was relieved from the duties of the deputy of the People’ Commissar for Defence and made the commander of the Volga military district. On the 24th of May Stalin sent a circular letter to all the members and alternate members of the Party Central Committee. They were informed about the conspiratorial activities of Tukhachevsky and others. Since Tukhachevsky was an alternate member of the Central Committee, other members and alternate members of this highest body of the Party were asked to vote for or against his expulsion from the Party and transfer of his case to the NKVD. All the members and alternate members of the Central Committee supported the suggested measures against Tukhachevsky.

The leader of the conspiracy was arrested on the 27th of May. Between 19 and 31 his major collaborators were arrested. But one of them, the deputy People’s Commissar for Defence Y. B. Gamarnik committed suicide just before his arrest.

On the 2nd of June the session of the Military Council of the People’s Commissary of Defence was convened. Though the investigation was not over yet and it was probable that some of the participants of the plot were present at the session Stalin attended it and spoke before it.

He began his speech, saying: ‘Comrades, I think that now nobody has doubts about the existence of military-political conspiracy against the Soviet power’. Stalin explained the reason why the conspiracy was not exposed earlier by euphoria of the Party and the Soviet people. He said: ‘The general situation, the growth of our ranks, the achievements of the Army and the country as a whole decreased our political vigilance, diminished sharpness of our sight’.

Stalin spoke about the dependence of Tukhachevsky and other arrested commanders on the German military and suggested that the conspirators did not have any profound ideological platform. Stalin said: ‘What was their weakness? They lacked contact with the people… They relied on the forces of the Germans… They were afraid of the people’.

Stalin suggested that some of the military officers got involved into conspiracy out of sheer opportunism. At the same time Stalin spoke about some of the plotters who were intimidated by Tukhachevsky and others and were forced to join them. Stalin proposed to forgive such people if they came and honestly told about their participation in the plot.

Refuting concern expressed by some of the speakers at the session that the arrests among the military might weaken the Red Army Stalin said: ‘We have in our army unlimited reserves of talents… One should not be afraid to move people upwards’.

Though Stalin expressed hope that the number of conspirators was not great, soon many of the military, including some of those who participated at the 2nd of June session, were arrested. Among those who were arrested many were innocent. First and foremost their arrests were caused by the atmosphere created by many local Party officials (and Khrushchev was among the most active) who, instead of searching for political and social reasons for the military conspiracy started to foment mass hysteria. They used the Tukhachevsky conspiracy as a pretext to prove that the USSR was full of foreign spies and thus to retain administrative methods typical of the Civil War. (Later Khrushchev tried to conceal his participation in this witch hunt by putting all the blame for it upon Stalin.) The toll of arrested increased also due to slanderous accusations made by careerists in the NKVD, ready to get promotion for their successes in exposing ‘enemies of the people’, or by career-minded military officers, eager to take the posts of those who were arrested.

Now the Russian mass-media assert that the arrests and executions of the Red Army commanding officers were fatal for the development of the Great Patriotic War. It is claimed that the officers’ corps of the Red Army was almost decimated. Some point out that 40 thousand of the commanding officers were subjected to various reprisals in 1937 – 1939. In fact out of 37 thousand officers who were dismissed from the Army in this period about 9 thousand were those who died due to natural causes, got severe chronic diseases or were punished for non-political crimes and misbehaviour. Out of 29 thousand officers sacked for political offences 13 thousand were later restored to the Army. Many of them (like Marshal Rokossovsky) fought heroically in the Great Patriotic War. Four thousand were executed and about 12 thousand served their terms in the labour camps. Though these are large numbers, one should be aware that the total number of the Army officers in 1941 was 680 thousand.

In place of Tukhachevsky and his supporters came a new cohort of generals and marshals who proved quite worthy in performing their military duties. The recognition of this fact came from none other than Joseph Goebbels. When Nazi Germany was practically defeated he recognised at last the merits of those whom he for many years treated as representatives of an inferior race. In his personal diary Goebbels wrote on the 16th of March, 1945: ‘The General Staff presented me a book with biographies of Soviet generals and marshals… Most of them are young; almost none of them is over 50 years. They have a rich experience of revolutionary-political activity. They are convinced Bolsheviks, very energetic people. When one looks upon their faces one can see that they are made of healthy folk staff. Most of them are sons of workers, cobblers, small holding peasants, etc. In short, I must make an unpleasant conclusion that the military leaders of the Soviet Union are of better social origin than our own… From this book it is easy to see what mistakes we made in the previous years’.

Belatedly lamenting that Nazi Germany did not get rid of its own Tukhachevskys before it was too late, Goebbels explained the strength of the Red Army in the fact that it had strong ties with the popular masses. Inadvertently the chief of Nazi propaganda recognised the truth of Stalin when the latter spoke about ‘unlimited reserves of talents’ in the ranks of the Red Army and stated that Tukhachevsky and others ‘lacked contact with the people’ and ‘were afraid of the people’.

The victory over Nazi Germany and its allies achieved mostly by the Soviet effort would not be possible if the Soviet leadership failed to get rid of its ‘Fifth Column’, similar to those which existed in many countries of the world and which allowed Hitler to establish his control over half of Europe. Unfortunately by 1991 both the Soviet Army and the Party changed their character and lost most of their staunch ties with the people. These changes facilitated the temporary triumph of capitalist restoration forces over socialism.

Source

Subhas Chandra Bose in Nazi Germany

v14n2p-9_Montgomery3

Subhas Chandra Bose meeting Hitler

Sisir K. Majumdar

It was probably in Germany that Subhas Chandra Bose (1897-1945) was first known as ‘Netaji’, which literally means ‘leader of leaders’ (‘Führer’ is the equivalent German expression). The period of his stay in Germany was from April 1941 to February 1943. These ‘Berlin Years’ of Netaji are still a riddle for most of his objective and biased biographers. It is still a puzzle how a self-respecting and dynamic personality could put up for two long years with an inhuman fascist clique which desperately tried to submerge the whole of humanity in rivers of blood. But it is beyond any shadow of doubt that he was solely and unequivocally guided by one desire– the liberation of his mother India from the cruel clutches of British colonialism.

Germany and India: The prime idea which motivated Netaji was to explore all possible means for achieving the cherished goal of India’s independence. It seems that he had adopted the concept that the ‘enemy’s enemy is your friend’. He looked at Nazi Germany solely from that perspective. It followed the approach taken by Indian revolutionaries towards German during the First World War. However, the Germany of the Second World War was very different, even with respect to India. After the defeat of Germany in the First World war, the ambition of Germany was to bring about a global redistribution of colonies with the goal of establishing German supremacy on the world stage. Vis-à-vis India, a plan was hatched to form an ‘Afghan Army’ to invade India after the possible defeat of the Soviet Union in order to snatch ‘the jewel of the British Empire’. The idea of India’s independence was no where in German strategic consideration. Indeed, Germany had a long standing covetous eye towards India, and its sympathy and support for India’s struggle for independence was always superficial, and fluctuated with the changing situations on the war front, especially on the Russian front. Netaji was completely unaware of this behind the scene conspiracy. He did not seem to think about this seriously enough initially, and remained blindly optimistic about the German attitude for quite some time.

Low-key Reception: When Netaji arrived in Germany in April 1941, he was received by a low-ranking official of the Foreign Department. He was disappointed at this first encounter. Of course his hotel accommodation was fairly luxurious, with an easy telephonic link to high officials. But he had to wait for more than a year to meet the Führer personally. In the meantime, constant clashes of perceptions on the Indian situation between Netaji and his German hosts became routine. He was confused and bewildered from time to time.

Meeting with Foreign Ministry: Netaji met the higher officials of the Foreign Department on April 3, 1941, and expressed his desire to form an ‘Indian Government in Exile’ and expected its immediate diplomatic recognition from the Axis Powers. He was keen to form an Indian Army with the Indian prisoners of war from North Africa. As requested, he submitted a draft proposal on April 9, 1941. It contained the following (i) The Axis Powers would sign a treaty with the ‘Free Indian Government in Exile’ guaranteeing India’s independence from British rule once the war was won; (ii) The Indian Army would consist of 50,000 soldiers of Indian origin; (iii) After liberating India, Germany would hand over responsibility to the Government in Exile headed by Netaji himself.

However, Netaji probably failed to realize that the Germans might have their own plans regarding India. The German perception had to be different. Agreeing with Netaji’s plan virtually amounted to the declaration of India’s independence as one of the aims of the war. Netaji was no longer a leader of the Indian National Congress which was leading India’s independence movement on India’s soil. Forming an Indian government in exile would antagonize the leaders and the people of India. This would not have offered any political dividend to Germany. The Germans were reluctant to discuss any military plan with Netaji in advance of liberating India. He did not have access to Germany’s war plans, and he provided an opportunity to be used for German expansionist ambitions in India.

Netaji was considered merely a refugee leader who happened to be in exile in Berlin and not ‘the Leader of the great Indian Nation’. He was more an object of sympathy rather than of authority to dictate terms or to influence directions. He was at best treated as an honourable guest; and all guests have limitations in the host’s place; Netaji was no exception.

The Turning Point: The invasion of Russia was being planned. Netaji probably came to know about it; he sent a memorandum to the Germans pleading that the status quo be maintained with Russia in order to achieve total destruction of the British in the Near and Middle East. He was completely against the invasion of the Soviet Union. Netaji met the German Foreign Minister J. Von Ribbentrop, and is reported to have told him emphatically that Indian public opinion was against German fascism, and was sympathetic to the socialist Soviet Union. He insisted with Ribbentrop on a German declaration for India’s independence. Ribbentrop asked lots of intriguing questions about the internal situation in India, and only made a verbal commitment to consider Netaji’s proposal, and promised to arrange another meeting. This did not take place for another seven months. He could not arrange to see Hitler, and did not get what he wanted from Ribbentrop, but he did not lose hope.

Netaji prepared and sent a draft declaration of India’s independence to the German authorities on May 13, 1941, and wanted it published. The declaration envisioned that the people of India would themselves decide on the future constitution of India after she was liberated, and Germany would accept this absolute right. Germany would take full responsibility to liberate India, and after liberation, would recognize that government of independent India. On May 24, he was informed that the time was not right for the publication of such a document. Netaji was told that instead, he could set up the ‘Free India Centre’ in Berlin. Ten million Reichmarks were allotted as a ‘loan’ for the centre, and a monthly allowance of 12,000 Reichmarks was sanctioned for his personal expenses. In spite of this generous hospitality, he was feeling stifled. His movements were under constant surveillance, his telephone was tapped, his letters were opened and censored. He seemed to be locked in an iron cage, an unbearable condition for ‘the Springing Tiger’.

Holiday in Rome: Netaji went on a visit to Rome in May 1941, and stayed there for six weeks with his newly married wife Emilie Schenkl. He also met the then Italian Foreign Minister Galeazzo Ciano, and discussed with him the draft declaration. Ciano took Netaji to the Duce Benito Mussolini on May 5, 1941. Italy at the time was only a puppet of Germany, and too weak to take any independent decision on anything.

On June 22, 1941, Germany invaded Soviet Russia, and the whole political table was turned around. On August 15, 1941, he wrote a long letter to Ribbentrop and pointed out in the strongest possible words that the German invasion of the Soviet Union would be viewed by Indians as the beginning of as invasion of the East, and therefore Germany would be regarded as the enemy of India. he again insisted on the publication of the draft declaration, and his request was again turned down. There was another meeting with Ribbentrop on November 29, 1941. Netaji requested him to arrange a meeting with Hitler, but Ribbentrop made no commitment. He also pointed out the offensive comment made by Hitler in his book ‘Mein Kampf’, and demanded its immediate correction. Part of this particular comment reads as follows: ‘… Quite aside from the fact that I as a man of Germanic blood, would in spite of everything, rather see India under English rule than any other.’ [1] Netaji was unable to persuade Hitler to amend this offensive comment.

Japan Enters the War: The Japanese declaration of war against Great Britain and the US on December 7, 1941, coupled with the advance of the Japanese army towards the Indian frontier radically altered the war situation. The German Foreign Minister prepared a draft declaration on India without any consultation with Netaji. Japan also prepared one. There was an understandable difference in attitude towards India in Germany and Japan, and Netaji tried to cash in on this rift by again insisting on the publication of his own draft declaration. Ribbentrop, however, was interested in using him for Nazi propaganda, and for the invasion of Soviet Union. Netaji, as clever as he was, surely realized that he was in the wrong company in Berlin to achieve the right objective, and also that the world and future history would portray him as an ally of the hated fascist clique. He decided to leave for the Far East. Many historians assign his decision to the failure of Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union in 1942. In fact, he wanted to be nearer home when Japan decided to invade India so that he could be physically available to offer leadership to the people and the prisoners of war of Indian origin in South East Asia. He came to know from the Italian Foreign Minister Ciano on May 4, 1942, that the publication of his draft declaration on India had again been postponed. He was very disappointed. But he had to swallow this indifference silently and with subdued anger.

Encounter with Hitler: It happened on May 29, 1942 at the Reich Chancellery. Though a few other ministers like Ribbentrop were present, Hitler was the sole actor at the show. He seemed to have been reasonably briefed in advance by his military intelligence on the internal situation in India. After an exchange of initial formalities, Hitler gave a long lecture on the world situation of the day. He spoke extensively on the Soviet threat to India once she was freed from the British, and euphorically boasted that for Germany, it is only possible to reach India over ‘the dead body of Russia’. It was more a ‘talking shop’ staged with racial hatred and national chauvinism, banal boasting and empty threats. Netaji firmly drew attention to the comments in ‘Mein Kampf’, and advised Hitler to make a public declaration on his stand and intentions about India. He noted that otherwise enemies would use his comments in the book for anti-German propaganda. But Hitler was not interested in continuing on this topic. He stated that it would take 1-2 years for Germany to spread its influence over India, and for India herself it would take 100-200 years to put her house in order and for reconstruction to achieve Indian unity. Instead of amending his stand on India, he proudly reiterated his well known ugly racist chauvinism against India. In his talk with Netaji, Hitler gave sufficient indications about his expansionist intentions towards India. It was not clear whether Netaji understood it and took it seriously. Possibly, at that juncture of history, there was no other alternative for him but to depend on the devil. Hitler did reassure Netaji that if and when German forces reached the Indian frontier, he would be invited to set foot on Indian soil in the company of German liberators to trigger ‘the revolution’. It was an empty promise and a cruel joke.

It was not a meeting of two national leaders, rather it was a frosty encounter between Hitler the demon-genius and Netaji, a nationalist giant. Netaji spoke very little to his colleagues in Berlin about his unpleasant meeting with Hitler, except that it was not possible to continue a logical dialogue with him. After this episode, Netaji seemed to awaken from his illusion about Hitler.

Within certain limitations he was allowed to pursue his organizational work, and he was able to mobilize Indians living in Germany at the time under the banner of the Free India Centre (total members: 35) with an avowed allegiance to Netaji personally and not to India. It was an granted diplomatic status with fabulous financial grants. One important activity of his in Germany was the formation of the first unit of what he thought would be the future Indian army recruited from the Indian prisoners of war from North Africa. In forming this he had the idea that: it would not be a part of the German military; it would be self sufficient; it would only fight against the British army on Indian soil and not on any other front or country; and, it could not be engaged at the German-Soviet front. But recruitment was very slow. Only 3,500, less than one third of the total Indian prisoners of war from North Africa, were recruited. They took an oath of allegiance to both Netaji and Hitler. This paved the way for using this Indian legion in other war fronts. Contrary to his wishes, after Netaji left Germany this legion was dispatched to Holland and France to perform various military duties.

The Final Departure: Even after deciding to leave Germany for the Far East, Netaji wasted one whole year in Berlin only to meet Hitler. He was held up by the Germans because they wanted to use him in the event of a German victory over Russia. He was allowed to leave only after the German surrender in Stalingrad, and Hitler’s secret plan for India fell apart. The long journey to the Far East was very dangerous. He boarded a German submarine (U Boat) on February 8, 1943 from Kiel with another Indian colleague, Abid Hassan, leaving behind his wife and only child, daughter Anita, and many well wishers in Germany.

[1] Mein Kampf: The National Socialist Movement by A. Hitler, translated by Ralph Manheim; Hutchinson, London, 1974, reprinted 1990; p.601.

Courtesy: ‘South Asia Forum Quarterly’, Vol. 10, No. 1, 1997, Chery Chase, Maryland, pp. 10-14.

Source

Bill Bland: Enver Hoxha As World Statesman

November 1945, preparing to take Tirana; from p.100

November 1945, preparing to take Tirana; from p.100

Hoxha at the Permet Congress 1944; p.64

Hoxha at the Permet Congress 1944; p.64

On Red Square podium, Novmber 1947, with J.V.Stalin & V.Molotov; p.104

On Red Square podium, Novmber 1947, with J.V.Stalin & V.Molotov; p.104

ALL IMAGES FROM “ENVER HOXHA”; Tirana

(Talk by Bill Bland to an Albanian Society meeting in 1985)

Transcribed by Comrade NS

I feel that the title of my address – “Enver Hoxha as World Statesmen” – must have caused some raised eyebrows. Whether they like their policies or not, most people would accept Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachov as world statesmen. But Enver Hoxha was the leader of a small country, the size of Wales with a population of less than three millions. Can the leader of a small country ever really be a statesman, or stateswoman, of world stature?

But it is only a few years ago that tens of thousands of people were marching through the streets of cities all over the world shouting with approval the name of Ho Chi Minh. Ho’s politics were not the same as those of Enver Hoxha, but he was the leader of a small country which inflicted on the powerful United States of America the first military defeat in its history.

Albania too has successfully resisted attempts at absorption, invasion, dismemberment and destabilisation from Greece, from Yugoslavia, from the Soviet Union after the death of Stalin, from China, from Britain and from the United States. It has constructed a planned socialist economy which is, at present, unique in the world.

How has it come about that Albania has followed, in the last forty years, such a different course of development from that of other countries of south-eastern Europe?

The cause cannot be found in any geographical or historical peculiarities of Albania. It lies in the specific character of the leadership of the political party which has been the leading force in Albanian society during these forty years. And pre-eminent in that leadership over these four decades was Enver Hoxha, who died in April at the age of 76.

Some people have expressed surprised that Hoxha’s death should have been reported with such virulent hostility by almost all our press, radio and television. But they should not be surprised.

The successful construction of a planned socialist society in Albania – a society without profit, without millionaires, without unemployment, without inflation, without taxes and with constantly rising living standards – is a threat to everything which “The Sunday Times” and the BBC hold up as “Western civilisation”.

Enver Hoxha would not have been surprised at his obituaries in the British media. When the British press praises someone who call himself a “socialist”, it is time to question the genuineness of his “socialism”. And, of course, this hostile propaganda does not have entirely the results it aims at. In the week in which these obituaries were published, the Albanian society received more applications for membership than in any month in the past twenty-five years. One miner from South Wales wrote to me:

    “Having read the newspaper reports on the death of Enver Hoxha, my experience of the press over the twelve months of the miners’ strike leads me to want to know more about Albania”.

On the other hand, some people were naturally misled by this propaganda. I received several letters which said, in effect:

    “I do not understand why, in your letter of protest to the BBC, you denied that Enver Hoxha was a ‘dictator’. Surely, the Albanian Constitution defines the Albanian state as a ‘dictatorship’”.

Indeed, it does.

But it defines the Albanian state as “the dictatorship of the working class”, not that of an individual. This simply means that the political power in Albania is in the hands of the working class, that the working class rules. Albanians do not present “the dictatorship of the working class” as the opposite of democracy. On the contrary, using the term “democracy” with its classical Greek meaning of “the rule of the common people”, they maintain that working class power is the only genuine democracy.

The Party of Labour of Albania regards Britain as a dictatorship – as a state in which political power is in reality in the hands of Big Business. But they do not imply by that term that Margaret Thatcher is a personal dictator. Nevertheless, the leader of the ruling party in Britain has somewhat more constitutional power than the leader of the ruling party in Albania: he or she is automatically Prime Minister and has the right to appoint and dismiss Ministers.

The leadership of the Party of Labour of Albania, which forms the core of the Albanian society, has always been a collective one, although Enver Hoxha was pre-eminent in that leadership. But this position of pre-eminence was the result of Hoxha’s outstanding abilities and devoted service to the working people, and the respect and love which flowed from these qualities.

Let us look more closely at the causes of Albania’s unique course of social development.

Today, the social system in Greece is very different from that in neighboring Albania. Yet in 1944 the situation in the two countries was closely similar. Both were under German occupation; both had national liberation movements led by their respective communist parties; both had right-wing spurious “nationalist” movements, supported by British gold and weapons, which fought the national liberation movements in collaboration with the Nazi forces; in both countries British troops landed, ostensibly to “help” in liberation.

It was the different reaction of the two communist parties which gave rise to the different outcome in the two countries.

The leaders of the so-called “Communist Party of Greece” signed a truce with the right-wing collaborators, placed their forces under the command of the right-wing government-in-exile and of the British Commander-in-Chief, welcomed the British troops.

The leaders of the Communist Party of Albania – today the Party of Labour – destroyed the collaborationist forces; they thanked the British troops for their “offer of help’ but insisted that they withdraw from Albanian soil. They did so.

Let us look at another facet of Albania’s unique course of development.

In 1945 the countries of Eastern Europe (except for Greece) were following the model of the Soviet Union under Lenin and Stalin in constructing planned socialist societies based on the principles of Marxism-Leninism.

Today only Albania continues to adhere to those principles.

Admittedly, this is not the impression one gets from the pages of “Pravda”. But like our “popular” press, this is now a newspaper which aims not at the truth, but at misleading the masses.

If one studies the specialised Soviet economic journals a very different picture emerges. The so-called “economic reforms” instituted after the death of Stalin have abandoned central economic planning; the profitability of each enterprise has become once more the motive and regulator of production.

True, these profits – as in orthodox “profit-sharing” schemes in the “West” – are shared among the whole staff of the enterprise. But they are distributed according to what is termed “responsibility in profit-making”, which means that the lion’s share goes to management. The latest statistics show that 51% of the profits go to workers (who form 96% of the personnel), while 49% go to management (who form 4% of the personnel).

The restoration of the profit motive in the Soviet Union has meant reliance on market forces, on the laws of “supply and demand”. This means, as elsewhere, that it is often more profitable to produce luxury items for the wealthy than necessities of life for the working people.

Enver Hoxha described contemporary Soviet society as essentially a capitalist society, in which the working people were exploited by a new ruling class, a new capitalist class – the enterprise directors. He noted that all the negative phenomena which are associated with capitalism have began to reappear – crises of “over-production”, inflation, redundancy, etc.

True, the Soviet economic journals do not speak of “unemployment”, only of “surplus labour”. To solve this problem a “youth employment scheme” has been established, and an official campaign that “a woman’s place is in the home”! Letters are published calling – not, of course, for “unemployment benefit”, but for “stipends” for workers who are “between jobs”.

Such development has proceeded – sometimes faster, sometimes slower – in all the formerly socialist countries of eastern Europe, except for Albania.

Whereas the Albanian constitution prohibits foreign aid and credits, the other countries are obliged not only to the Soviet Union, but to Western financial institutions. The hard currency indebtedness of Bulgaria stands at $9 billion, of Hungary at $10 billion, of Yugoslavia at $19 billion and of Poland at $26 billion (on which it cannot pay even the interest due).

Official figures show that in Poland the real wages of the workers fell between 1981 and 1984 by more than 30%.

Inflation in Poland is running at 38% a year, in Yugoslavia at 57%.

Unemployment in Yugoslavia stands at 13% of the work force (30% in the Albanian province of Kosova).

There were, of course, prominent Albanians who sought to lead Albania along this same road of, in Hoxha’s words, “capitalist degeneration”.

It was, above all, Hoxha who led the ideological struggle against the views of these individuals. These struggles are usually portrayed in our press as “personal power struggles”. There were nothing of the sort. There were in each case struggles around principle – with Hoxha standing successfully for the maintenance of independence and socialism for his country.

Whether one is a socialist or not, the question of socialism – how to attain it and how to maintain it – is a question of international importance.

Marxism-Leninism has always held that the state in capitalist countries is always – no matter what its parliamentary trappings – in reality the dictatorship of Big Business. It has always held, therefore, that this state apparatus of force will be used against any attempt to establish a socialist society, so that the working people must be prepared for revolutionary struggle. It has always held that the belief that a fundamental change in society can be attained through the ballot box alone is a dangerous illusion. This does not necessarily mean a bloody and protracted civil war – the number of people who died in the October Revolution in Russia was far less than the number killed on the roads of Manchester on a typical summer Sunday. Hoxha’s famous dictum was:

    “The more the working people are prepared for revolutionary struggle, the greater the possibility of a peaceful transition to socialism”.

Most of the old communist parties, however, have rejected these fundamental tenets of Marxism-Leninism in favor of the concept of “parliamentary transition to socialism”. In Hoxha’s words, they have become “revisionists”, they have “revised” Marxism-Leninism by repudiating its fundamental core.

The leading role in the struggle against this “modern revisionism” was undoubtedly played by Enver Hoxha, who adhered all his adult life firmly to Marxist-Leninist principles. And, as I said, whether one is a socialist or not, these are questions of world importance. Hoxha’s leading role in these questions makes him, in this respect too, a world figure.

Furthermore, he was the author of a whole series of books, not only upon Albania, but on Yugoslavia, on the Soviet Union, on China, on the Middle East, and so on, which are essential reading for any serious student of world affairs.

But it is as the principal architect of Socialist Albania that Enver Hoxha’s qualities of leadership shine most clearly and obviously.

In forty years Albania has been transformed from the most backward country in Europe to an advanced industrialised state.

Where else in the world can one find no unemployment, with the right to work enshrined in the Constitution?

Where else can one find dwelling rents at 3% of income?

Where else can one find no rates, taxes or social service contributions combined with a free health service?

Where else can one find non-contributory pensions at 70% of pay, payable as young as 55 in certain occupations?

A visitor goes from Britain – with its barren industrial waste lands, with its four million unemployed, with its declining social services – to Albania to find a country which is one huge construction site, to a country whose people have well-founded confidence that each year their living standards will improve as production rises.

Some visiting newspaper reporters claim to find Albania “dull’.

They find no Soho “strip-tease” shows, no Mayfair gambling casinos, no pornographic magazines, no heroin pushers, no “pop” music. Enver Hoxha once said:

    “Our young people have no need of drugs to escape from reality”.

Perhaps these reporters find Albanian sporting events dull because one can go to a football match there and cheer for the away team without the risk of getting a knife in one’s back!

Where but in Albania one could go to the cinema for the equivalent of 15 pence?

What other country in the world with a population of less than three millions has 7 symphony orchestras and produces some 15 feature films a year?

Perhaps those who find Albania “dull” have had their cultural values corrupted!

One has only to look at pictures of Albania prior to 1939 – pictures which show its utter backwardness, its poor and illiterate working people, to understand the respect and affection which the overwhelming majority of the Albanian people held for the principal architect of their social progress – Enver Hoxha, to understand the genuine and spontaneous grief which was exhibited at his funeral.

Several monuments to Enver Hoxha are to be erected in Albania.

But the ordinary Albanian may well say – in the words of the inscription to our own Christopher Wren in St. Paul’s Cathedral –

    “If you seek a monument, look around!”

I want to conclude by reading to you the translation of a poem, written the day after Enver Hoxha’s death . . . It expresses eloquently, I feel, the feelings of most Albanians.

Note From Alliance – Regrettably the text of this poem, or its name or identity of its author, is not known to us. 

Source

Enver Hoxha on Africa

HoxhameetsAfricans

Africa is a mosaic of peoples with an ancient culture. Each African people has its own culture, customs, way of life, which, with some variations, are at a very backward stage, for well-known reasons. The awakening of the bulk of these peoples has only recently begun. De jure, the African peoples, in general, have won their freedom and independence. But there can be no talk of genuine freedom and independence, since most of them are still in a colonial or neo-colonial state.

Many of these countries are governed by the chieftains of the old tribes who have seized power and rely on the old colonialists, or the US imperialists and the Soviet social-imperialists. The methods of government in these states at this stage are not and cannot be other than a marked survival of colonialism. The imperialists are ruling most of the African countries again through their concerns, their capital invested in industry, banks, etc. The overwhelming bulk of the wealth of these countries continues to flow to the metropolises.

Some of the African countries have fought for that freedom and independence they enjoy today, while the others have had it granted without fighting. During their colonial rule in Africa, the British, French and other colonizers oppressed the peoples but they also created a local bourgeoisie, more or less educated in the Occidental manner. The leading figures today, have also emerged from this bourgeoisie. Among them there are many anti-imperialist elements, fighters for the independence of their own countries, but the majority either remain loyal to the old colonizers, in order to preserve the close relations with them even after the f ormal abolition of colonialism, or have entered into economic and political dependence on the US imperialists or the Soviet social-imperialists.

The colonizers did not make large investments in the past. This was the case, for instance, with Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, etc. However, the colonizers drained the wealth of all these countries, seized large tracts of land, and developed a proletariat, by no means small in number, in some special branches of the industry, such as in the extraction and processing of raw materials. They also drew large numbers of workers to the metropolises, such as to France, for instance, but also to Britain, as a cheap labour force which worked in the colonizers mines and the factories.

In the other parts of Africa, especially in Black Africa, industrial development remained more backward. All the countries of this region were divided up, especially between France, Britain, Belgium and Portugal. Great underground riches, like diamonds, iron, copper, gold, tin, etc., were discovered there long ago, and industry to mine and process minerals has been set up there.

In many African countries, large, typically colonial cities, were built, where the colonizers lived a fabulous life. Now, on the one hand, the local great bourgeoisie and its wealth is growing and developing there, while on the other hand, the impoverishment of the broad masses of working people is increasing still more. In these countries a certain degree of cultural development has been achieved, but it has more of a European character. The local culture has not developed. It has generally remained at the stage reached by the tribes and is not represented outside them, in the centres with towering sky-scrapers. This has come about because, outside the large centres, were the colonizers lived, stark misery and extreme poverty existed, hunger, disease, ignorance and ruthless exploitation of the people, in the full meaning of the term, reigned supreme.

The African population remained culturally and economically undeveloped and continuously diminished in numbers, declining because of colonial wars, the savage racial persecution, and the traffic in African negroes, who were sent to the metropolises, the United States of America, and other countries to work like animals in the plantations of cotton and other crops, as well as in the heaviest jobs in industry and construction.

For these reasons, the African peoples still have a great struggle ahead of them. This is and will be a very complicated struggle, differing from one country to another, because of the state of their economic, cultural and educational development, the degree of their political awakening, the great influence which the different religions, such as the Christian and Moslem religions, the old pagan beliefs, etc., exert on the masses of these peoples. This struggle becomes still more difficult since many of these countries are actually under the domination of neo-colonialism combined with that of local bourgeois-capitalist cliques. The law there is made by those powerful capitalist and imperialist states which subsidize or control the ruling cliques, which they set up and remove whenever the interests of the neo-colonialists require or when the balance of these interests is upset.

The policy pursued by the big landowners, the reactionary bourgeoisie, the imperialists and the neo-colonialists is intended to keep the African peoples in permanent bondage, in ignorance, to hinder their social, political and ideological development, and to obstruct their struggle to gain these rights. At present we see that those same imperialists who used to lord it over these peoples in the past, as well as other new imperialists, are trying to penetrate into the African continent, by meddling in every way in the internal affairs of the peoples. As a result of this, the contradictions among imperialists, between the peoples and the bourgeois-capitalist leaderships of most of these countries, and between the peoples and the new colonizers, are becoming more and rnore severe every day.

These contradictions must be utilized by the peoples, both to deepen them and to benefit from them. But this can be achieved only through resolute struggle by the proletariat, the poor peasantry, by all the oppressed and the slaves, against imperialism and neo-colonialism, against the local big bourgeoisie, the big landowners and their whole establishment. A special role in this struggle devolves upon progressives and democrats, the revolutionary youth and patriotic intellectuals, who aspire to see their own countries advancing free and independent, on the path of development and progress. Only through continuous and organized struggle by them will life be made difficult for the local and foreign oppressors and exploiters and government impossible. This situation will be prepared in the specific circumstances of each African state.

British and US imperialism have not given to the peoples of Africa any freedom. Everybody can see what is happening in South Africa, for instance. The white racists, the British capitalists, the exploiters, are ruling there, savagely oppressing the coloured peoples of that state, where the law of jungle prevails. Many other countries of Africa are dominated by the concerns and capital of the United States of America, Britain, France, Belgium, and other old colonialists and imperialists, who have become somewhat weaker, but who still hold the keys to the economies of these countries.

In irreconcilable struggle against the revisionists and other opportunists, against all the lackeys of the bourgeoisie and imperialism, against Castroite, Khrushchevite, Trotskyite, <<three worlds>>, and other such views and practices, they have worked out a correct political line and accumulated sufficient experience in the struggle to put this line into practice, becoming the bearers of all the revolutionary tradition of the past, in order to use it and develop it further to the advantage of the workers’ and liberation movement, the preparation and raising of the masses in revolution.

The revolutionary situations existing today make it essential for these parties to maintain the closest possible contacts and consult with one another as frequently as possible, to be able to gain the maximum benefits from one another’s experience and co-ordinate their stands and actions on the common problems of the struggle against the reactionary bourgeoisie and imperialism, against Soviet, Chinese and other brands of modern revisionism, and on all the problems of the revolution.

Now that the peoples have awakened and refuse to live any longer under the imperialist and colonial yoke, now that they are demanding freedom, independence, development and progress, and are seething with anger against foreign and internal oppressors, now that Africa, Latin America and Asia have become a boiling cauldron the old and new colonialists are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to dominate and exploit the peoples of these countries by means of the previous methods and forms. They are quite unable to do without their plunder and exploitation of the wealth, the toil and the blood of these peoples. That is why all these efforts are being made to find new methods and forms of deception, plunder and exploitation, to dispense some alms, which, again, do not benefit the masses, but the bourgeois-land owner ruling classes.

Meanwhile the question has been made even more complicated, because Soviet social-imperialism long ago began to penetrate and entrench itself more and more deeply in the former colonies and semi-colonies, and because social-imperialist China has begun to make feverish efforts to get in there, too.

The revisionist Soviet Union carries out its expansionist interference under the guise of its allegedly Leninist policy of aid for the peoples’ liberation struggle, posing as the natural ally of these countries and peoples. As a means to penetrate into Africa and elsewhere, the Soviet revisionists employ and spread slogans of a socialist colour in order to deceive the peoples who aspire to liberate themselves, to liquidate oppression and exploitation, and who know that the only road to complete national and social liberation is socialism.

The Soviet Union also involves its allies, or better, its satellites in its interference. We are seeing this concretely in Africa, where the Soviet social-imperialist and their Cuban mercenaries are intervening on the pretext that they are assisting the revolution. This is a lie. Their intervention is nothing but a colonialist action aimed at capturing markets and subjugating peoples.

The intervention of the Soviet Union and its Cuban mercenaries in Angola is of this nature. They have never had the slightest intention of assisting the Angolan revolution, but their aim was and is to get their claws into that African country which had won a certain independence after the expulsion of the Portuguese colonialists. The Cuban mercenaries are the colonial army dispatched by the Soviet Union to capture markets and strategic positions in the countries of Black Africa, and to go on from Angola to other states, to enable the Soviet social-imperialists, too, to create a modern colonial empire.

Under the cloak of aid for peoples’ liberation the Soviet Union and its mercenary, Cuba, are intervening in other countries with armies equipped with artillery and machine-guns, allegedly to build socialism, which does not exist in either the Soviet Union or Cuba. These two bourgeois-revisionist states intervened in Angola in order to help a capitalist clique seize power, contrary to the aims of the Angolan people who had fought to win their freedom from the Portuguese colonialists. Agostinho Neto is playing the game of the Soviets. In the struggle against the other faction, in order to seize power for himself, he called in the Soviets to help him. The struggle between the two opposing Angolan clans did not have anything of a people’s revolutionary character.

The fight between them was a struggle of cliques for power. Each of them was supported by different imperialist states. Agostinho Neto emerged the winner from this contest, while socialism did not triumph in Angola. On the contrary, following the intervention from abroad, Soviet neo-colonialism has been established there.

Social-imperialist China, too, is making great efforts to penetrate into the former colonial and semi-colonial countries.

An example of how China intervenes is provided by Zaire, a country ruled by the clique around Mobutu, the wealthiest and most bloodthirsty clique on the African continent. In the fighting which flared up in Zaire recently, the Moroccans of the Sherifian Kingdom of Morocco, the French air force, and China, too, all rushed to the aid of Mobutu, the murderer of Patrice Lumumba. The assistance given by the French is understandable, because with their intervention they were defending their concessions and concerns in Katanga, and at the same time, protecting their men, as well as Mobutu and his clique. But what do the Chinese revisionists want in Katanga? Whom are they assisting there? Are they helping the people of Zaire who are being suppressed by Mobutu and his clique and by the French, Belgian, US and other concession holders? Or are not they, too, assisting the blood-thirsty Mobutu clique? The fact is that the Chinese revisionist leadership is assisting this clique not indirectly, but quite openly. To make this assistance more concrete and more demonstrative, it sent its foreign minister, Huang Hua there, as well as military experts and military and economic aid. Thus, it acted in an anti-Marxist, anti-revolutionary way. China’s interference has exactly the same features as that of King Hassan of Morocco and that of France.

The Chinese social-imperialists are interfering not only in the affairs of that country, but also in other affairs of the peoples and countries of Africa and other continents, especially in those countries into which they are striving to penetrate in every way, in order to establish economic, political and strategic bases there.

Enver Hoxha, Imperialism and the Revolution, Excerpts from “The Peoples’ Liberation Struggle – a Component Part of the World Revolution”

Bill Bland: The National Question in Britain

UK-2005

By W.B.Bland (“Communist League”, London UK)
for The National Committee for Marxist-Leninist Unity (Britain).

Introduction

Geographically, the British Isles consists of two main islands: Great Britain and Ireland.

Great-Britain consists of three communities: those of England, Wales and Scotland.

There is general agreement among those who regard themselves as Marxist-Leninists that the people of Ireland constitute a nation, a nation distinct from the nation (or nations) occupying the island of Great Britain. Politically, however, Ireland is divided into two separate states; the Republic of Ireland, and Northern Ireland. The Republic of Ireland is nominally independent, but is in reality dominated by British imperialism, is a neo-colony of British imperialism. Northern-Ireland is politically a part of ‘the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’, is a colony of British imperialism. Progressive people support the unification and the right to self-determination, to independence, of Ireland.

This article is concerned with two questions:

1) whether the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England constitute separate-nations, or whether they form part of a single British nation; and

2) whether separate Marxist-Leninist Parties should be formed in Scotland, Wales and England, or whether there should be a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain.

The Definition of a Nation

The English word ‘nation’ is derived from the Latin ‘natio’, originally meaning:

” birth, hence a creature’s entire offspring at one time, hence a clan’s offspring, hence a people’s, hence that people itself”.

(Eric Partridge: ‘Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English’; London; 1966; p. 428).

Marxist-Leninists define the term ‘nation’ as follows:

A nation is a historically constituted, stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life and psychological make-up manifested in a common culture”. 

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 307).

To constitute a nation, a community must possess all the above characteristics:

“It is sufficient for a single one of these characteristics to be lacking and the nation ceases to be a nation. . . . It is only when all these characteristics are present together that we have a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 307, 308).

Furthermore, a nation is a:

“. . . historical category belonging to a definite epoch, the epoch of rising capitalism. The process of elimination of feudalism and development of capitalism is at the same time a process of the constitution of people into nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 313).

In order to determine, therefore, whether the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England constitute separate nations, it is necessary to determine whether each of these communities possesses all the characteristics listed by Stalin. If it does not, it is not a nation.

Firstly,

” a common-language is one of the characteristic features of a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 304).

Clearly, the people of England possess a common language — English. The minority languages which once existed in England — Manx and Cornish — have long been extinct. Manx is a Celtic language:

“formerly spoken on the Isle of Man but now extinct”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1994; p. 802)

while Cornish is a Celtic language:

” . . formerly spoken in Cornwall, in south-western Britain; it became extinct in the 18th or early 19th century as a result of displacement by English”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1994; p. 640).

The people of Wales, for the most part, also speak a common language. But this is not Welsh, a Celtic language which is spoken by only a small and declining minority of the population, mainly in the rural areas. According to official figures, the proportion of the population of Wales and Monmouthshire speaking only Welsh has declined from 508 thousand (28.6%) in 1891 to 26 thousand (1.0%) in 1961.

(‘Census of England and Wales: 1891, Volume 4: General Record’; London; 1893′ p. 82; ‘Census 1961: Wales (including Monmouthshire): Report on Welsh Speaking Population)’; London; 1962; p. viii; Charlotte A. Davies: ‘Welsh Nationalism in the 20th Century: The Ethnic Option and the British State’; New York; 1989; p. 39).

The people of Scotland, for the most part, also speak a common language. But this is not Scottish Gaelic (Erse), which is spoken only by a small and declining minority of the population, mainly

“. . . along the north-west coast of Scotland and in the Hebrides islands”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’. Volume 10; Chicago; 1994; p. 566)

According to official figures, the proportion of the population of Scotland speaking only Gaelic has declined from 44 thousand (1.1%) in 1891 to 1 thousand (0.02%) in 1961. (‘Census of Scotland: 1891’, Volume 1: London; 1892; p. xxi; ‘Statesman’s Year Book: 1998-1999’; London: 1998; p. 1,411;

Charles W. J. Withers: ‘Gaelic in Scotland: 1698-1981: The Geographical History of a Language’; Edinburgh; 1984; p. 239).

Furthermore,

” . . many of those recorded as monoglots were old women”.

(Charles W. J. Withers: ibid.; p. 238).

Thus, the common language of the people of Scotland is, for the most part, English.

Secondly,

“. . . a common territory is one of the characteristic features of a nation.”

(Josef V. Stalin: op. cit.; p. 305).

Clearly, the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England each have a common territory. The people of Britain — that is, of Scotland, Wales and England combined — also possess a common territory.

Thirdly,

“. . . a common economic life, economic cohesion, is one of the characteristic features of a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 306.)

As Stalin makes clear, a community possesses ‘economic cohesion’ when its economic life is welded together by well-established physical ties (means of communication, division of labour, financial bonds, etc.) so as to form a single economic whole which, if it does not exist at a particular moment in the form of a separate state, is capable of such separate existence without significant disruption of its economic life.

If, on the other hand, one community is welded to another by well established physical ties, which date back to the rise of capitalist society or beyond, so that they form in combination a single economic whole and their separation would cause significant disruption to the economic life of both, then neither of these communities considered separately possesses economic cohesion.

Scotland, Wales and England have been welded together for many centuries. As early as the 12-13th centuries:

“Edward I of England established authority over Wales”,

(‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia’; Cambridge; 1997; p. 1.126).

and the ‘Statute of Wales’ of 1284:

“.. . annexed Wales to the crown of England”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1994; p. 126).

Then, following the victory of the Welsh noble Henry Tudor (who became Henry VII of England) over Richard III at Bosworth Field in 1485, Wales was finally

“. . . politically united with England at the Act of Union, 1535”.

(‘Cambridge Encyclopaedia’; Cambridge; 1997; p. 1.126).

In the case of Scotland, James VI of Scotland was the great-great-grandson of Henry VII of England and the legitimate successor of Elizabeth I:

“On Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he was recognised as the rightful king of England. Thus the Crowns of England and Scotland were united”.

(‘Encylopaedia Amercana’, Volume 24; New York; 1977; p. 419).

The formal union of the two kingdoms of Scotland and England

” . . . was achieved in 1707..”

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1994; p. 116).

by the ‘Treaty of Union’ of that year.

London is the financial, communications and cultural centre of Britain. There is a common market throughout Britain -the same branded goods are on sale in branches of the same multiple stores in Inverness, Swansea and Manchester. Scottish, Welsh and English capital is inseparably blended into British capital. There is no ‘English monopoly capital’, no ‘English imperialism’; there is British monopoly capitalism, British imperialism. The separation of Scotland, Wales and England would cause great disruption of the economic life of all three communities, as a result of these long-standing physical ties. Thus, Scotland, England and Wales taken separately do not possess economic cohesion, and so are not nations. Britain, however, does possess economic cohesion.

Fourthly,

“. . .a common psychological make-up, which manifests itself in a common culture, is one of the characteristic features of a nation”.

(Josef V. Stalin: op. cit.; p. 307).

Clearly, Britain has, for the most part, a common culture. There are, it is true, immigrants to Britain who have brought with them aspects of other national cultures. In Scotland and Wales, too, cultural elements exist which appear to be distinctively ‘national’ in character. In the case of Scotland, one thinks of Highland dress, of the bagpipes and of such Highland sports as tossing the caber. In the case of Wales, one thinks of the harp and the Eisteddfodds. It must be noted, however, that these ‘national’ elements in the cultures of Scotland and Wales are of significance mainly in the rural areas, and that they are survivals from the past which are declining in importance in relation to the culture of Scotland and Wales as a whole.

For the most part, therefore, Britain has a common culture.

To sum up: the communities of Scotland, Wales and England do not possess all the essential characteristics which go to make up nations, and so do not constitute separate nations. The community of Britain, however, does possess all the essential characteristics which go to make up a nation. Despite, therefore, the existence of declining survivals of pre-national languages and cultures in Scotland and Wales, Britain constitutes a nation, a single nation.

That Britain constitutes a single nation is not only a logical deduction from Stalin’s general principles on the nation, it is Stalin’s explicit view:

“The British, French, Germans, Italians and others were formed into nations at the time of the victorious advance of capitalism and its triumph over feudal disunity.

But the formation of nations in those instances at the same time signified their conversion into independent national states. The British, French and other nations are at the same time British, etc., states. Ireland . . . did not participate in this process”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’. Volume 2; Moscow; 1952; p. 313-14).

“The British, French, Germans and Italians were formed into nations at the time of the victorious development of capitalism and its triumph over feudal disunity”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 16).

“In the West — in Britain, France, Italy and, partly, Germany — the period of the liquidation of feudalism and the constitution of people into nations coincided, on the whole, with the period in which centralised states appeared”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Report on the Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question, 10th Congress of the RCP (B), in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 33).

“Hence the necessity for a stubborn, continuous and determined struggle against the dominant-nation chauvinism of the ‘Socialists’ of the ruling nations (Britain, France, America, Italy, Japan, etc.”

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Foundations of Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 6; Moscow; 1953; p. 152).

“Such nations must be qualified as bourgeois nations. Examples are the French, British, Italian, . . . American and other similar nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’. Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 353).

A ‘Black Nation’-within Britain?

In October 1979, a meeting in London called with the aim of setting up an Afro-Asian-Caribbean organisation in Britain adopted a resolution which declared:

“We now virtually face a two nation situation in Britain, one comprising the majority (i.e., indigenous whites), and the other a loose conglomeration of people originating from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa…These negative and hostile political activities have forced the predictable separate ‘National’ identity among our people”.

(Resolution of Meeting called to form an Afro-Asian-Caribbean Organisation, in: Harpal Brar: ‘Bourgeois Nationalism or Proletarian Internationalism?’; Southall; 1998; p.73).

Basing himself on the Marxist-Leninist interpretation of the national question put forward by Stalin, Brar correctly writes off the concept of separate ‘black and white nations’ in Britain:

“If we apply Stalin’s rigorously scientific definition to that ‘loose conglomeration of people originating from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa’, to wit, the black population of Britain, can we say that this ‘loose conglomeration’ constitutes one nation and that another nation is constituted by ‘the majority, i.e., the indigenous whites’? Most emphatically we cannot.

What common language do the black people of Britain speak? We find that either they do not speak a common language at all, for some speak Bengali, others speak Punjabi, yet others Hindi, others still Arabic and a multitude of other Asian and African languages; or, to the extent that they speak a common language, this is none other than the English language, the language they share with the majority, i.e., ‘the indigenous whites’, if you please. Thus it can be seen that if the community of language is one of the characteristics of a nation, this characteristic is either found wanting among the blacks of Britain or it is a characteristic which they share with the whites.

Take the question of territory. What common territory do the black people in Britain inhabit? It is clear that they do not. They are spread throughout the British Isles. . . . To the extent that they . . . inhabit a common territory, they are obliged no less to share this common territory with the ‘indigenous whites’ as well. So, once again, we find that the attempts of our esteemed gentry to conjure up two nations out of a figment of their own imagination smash their heads against the stone walls of mistress reality.

Is there an internal economic bond which welds the various components of the black population in Britain into a single national whole as distinct from the internal economic bond which welds all the people? . . . Is there, in other words, a community of economic life, of economic cohesion, specific to black people? Once again, to the misfortune of the authors of the resolution, we have to answer this question in the negative.

And when we come to the question of the ‘specific spiritual complexion’, the ‘peculiarities of national culture’, and the psychological make-up of what the authors, in a truly Freudian slip, correctly describe as ‘the loose conglomeration’, matters are wonderfully chaotic.

After all this, what is left of the . . . ‘nation’ constituted by a ‘loose conglomeration of people originating from the Caribbean, Asia and Africa’? Nothing but the blackness of their skin, which is not . . . a characteristic of a nation . . . From this it is not difficult to see how senseless, platitudinous, ignorant and futile are the attempts of this gentry artificially to constitute two nations in this country – one black and one white. . . .

Thus it is clear that the black population of Britain does not constitute a separate nation”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 76-77, 79).

Assimilation is:

“. . . socio-cultural fusion, wherein individuals and groups of differing ethnic heritage acquire the basic habits, attitudes and mode of life of an embracing national culture”.

(‘Webster’s Third International Dictionary of the English Language’; London; 1961; p. 132).

and, in the course of time, the black population of Britain will, like other immigrants of the past, be assimilated into the British nation:

“Despite the obstacles of racial discrimination, and overcoming these obstacles, the black population is sooner or later bound to be assimilated and form part of the British nation, in exactly the same way as the assimilation of earlier migrants took place. . . . Black people, far from constituting a separate nation, are bound to be absorbed into the British nation”.

(Harpal Brar: op. cit.; p. 79).

Of course, this assimilation is not a one-way process:

“The black people . . ., while being assimilated over many generations, are bound to impart variety and richness to the British culture. . . . British culture (as indeed other cultures) has undergone and is constantly undergoing transformation while still remaining British. . . . Take just one example: the British diet. Engels already in the 19th century noted it had become spicy as a result of Britain’s trading position and it has become spicier still since the arrival of black workers in Britain. . . . This, however, is only a trivial example. The most important contribution of black people is to the development of British democratic and working-class culture through their struggle against racial and national oppression, and through their struggle against exploitation and their support for proletarian and liberation movements all over the world”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 84).

Wherever one finds black separatism, Brar notes,

“One can be sure of the presence of a white liberal lurking around the corner to give a helping hand to his disadvantaged black brother. So it is in this case. The high priests of black separatism . . . receive, not unexpectedly, full support for their bourgeois, divisive and anti-proletarian madness from . . . the liberal bourgeois Ken Livingstone”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 43).

For example, writing in the ‘Morning Star’, the newspaper of the revisionist ‘Communist Party of Britain’, of 12 August 1993, Livingstone refers to:

“the rise of racism and the extreme right in Europe today”,

(Ken Livingstone: ‘Strength in the United Fight’, in: ‘Morning Star’, 12 August 1993; p. 5).

and writes:

“The fight against these twin evils must be led by the black and other minority communities who are the target of racist attacks. . . .Because black and minority communities are the first target of racists and fascists, these communities must have the leading role in the antiracist and anti-fascist movement”.

(Ken Livingstone: ibid.; p. 5).

Thus, according to Livingstone, the struggle against racism must be led, not necessarily by the best anti-racists, but by black people whether or not they are, as individuals, the best people to do this. As Brar correctly points out, under the programme of the Anti-Racist Alliance (ARA) and Livingstone, white people can join the struggle against racism only:

‘ . . . as mere auxiliaries”.

(Harpal Brar: op. cit.; p. 4).

This, despite being euphemistically called ‘black self-organisation’, is in fact, racial discrimination, is, ultimately, racial separatism. Writing in the ‘Morning Star’ of 7 February 1994, Bennie Bunsee makes this clear when he says:

“The situation is intensified as black people, in their pilgrimage toward black liberation, realise that every aspect of their oppression . . . leads them to assert their national identity and historical personality, based upon their own history, language, culture and civilisation, as they try to break away from the clutches of Western influence”.

(Bennie Bunsee: ‘Taking Hold of the Reins’, in: ‘Morning Star’, 14 February 1994; p. 6).

Bunsee concludes another article in the ‘Morning Star’ of 16 August 1993, with separatist sentiments which could well have emanated from the fascist British National Party:

“Allied to this demand of black people is the rejection of concepts like ‘integration’ and multiracialism or multiculturalism “.

(Bennie Bunsee: ‘A Right to Self-Organisation’, in: ‘Morning Star’, 16 August 1993; p. 7).

Brar justly comments:

“Ever since the founding of the ARA, the ‘Morning Star’ has’ provided every facility to the leaders of the ARA to help them propagate their reactionary, divisive ideology of black separatism”.

(Harpal Brar: op. cit.; P. 28).

and correctly notes that

“. . . the struggle against racism requires the joint efforts of the entire proletariat, without distinction . . . . The ARA have set their face against this, the only correct way of fighting racism”.

(Harpal Brar: ibid.; p. 11).

The Development of Nations

A nation,

“. . . like every historical phenomenon, is subject to the law of change, has its history, its beginning and end”.

(Josef V.Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Marxism; 1953; p. 307).

In fact, nations are a product of the development of capitalist society:

“Modern nations are a product of a definite epoch — the epoch of rising capitalism. The process of elimination of feudalism and development of capitalism is at the same time a process of the constitution of people into nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: “The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953; p. 16).

Nations did not exist prior to the development of capitalist society:

“How could nations have arisen and existed before capitalism, in the period of feudalism, when countries were split up into separate, independent principalities which, far from being bound together by national ties, emphatically denied the necessity for such ties? . . . There were no nations in the pre-capitalist period, nor could there be, because there were as yet no national markets and no economic or cultural national centres and, consequently, there were none of the factors which put an end to the economic disunity of a given people and draw its hitherto disunited parts into one national whole”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 351).

The development of communities to nationhood goes through three fundamental stages:

firstly, that of the tribe;

secondly, that of the pre-nation or nationality;

and thirdly, that of the nation.

The English word ‘tribe’ is derived from the Latin ‘tribus’, tribe. and has the meaning of

“A group of persons forming a community and claiming descent from a common ancestor’.”

(‘Oxford English Dictionary’, Volume 18; Oxford; 1989; p. 503).

It is the typical form of community under primitive communism and, as has been said, is based upon kinship.

With the development of tools and techniques, classes appear and primitive communism gives way to slavery and then to feudalism:

“In conformity with the change and development of the productive forces of society in the course of history, men’s relations of production, their economic relations, also changed and developed.

Five main types of relations of production are known to history: Primitive communal, slave, feudal, capitalist and Socialist”.

(‘History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union: Short course Moscow’; 1939; p. 123).

As the tribal community disintegrates, tribes come together into federations and kingdoms; a common language, based on one of the tribal languages, appears; a common psychology and a common culture emerge. This process leads to the eventual development of a new type of community: the pre-nation or nationality — a community based no longer on kinship, but on geographical location. A pre-nation has a common territory, a common language, and a common culture; it does not, however, possess economic cohesion. A pre-nation is the typical form of community under slavery and feudalism.

“Of course, the elements of nationhood . . . did not fall from the skies, but were being formed gradually, even in the pre-capitalist period. But these elements were in a rudimentary state and, at best, were only a potentiality, that is, they constituted the possibility of the formation of a nation in the future, given certain favourable conditions. The potentiality became a reality only in the period of rising capitalism, with its national market and its economic and cultural centres”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 351).

With the development of capitalism within the framework of feudal society, the development of pre-national characteristics was accelerated, and alongside this the process of establishing economic cohesion throughout the territory of the pre-nation. This latter process transforms the pre-nation into a nation:

“With the appearance of capitalism, the elimination of feudal division and the formation of national markets, nationalities developed into nations”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Concerning Marxism and Linguistics’, in: ‘Selected Works’: Tirana; 1979; p. 511).

As Stalin said, the development of a pre-nation into a nation is not inevitably completed. It is completed only:

” . . . given certain favourable conditions”.

(Josef V. Stalin:- ‘The National Question and Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 11; Moscow; 1954; p. 351).

When, for example, two or more pre-nations are in course of development on adjacent territories, their development towards separate nationhood may be arrested at a certain stage and give way to fusion, to their merging into a single nation. This single nation will have the language and culture of one of the pre-nations participating in this fusion, and the languages and cultures of the other pre-nations participating in the fusion will gradually disappear:

“Linguistic crossing cannot be regarded as the single impact of a decisive blow which produces its results within a few years. Linguistic crossing is a prolonged process which continues for hundreds of years. . . . .

Further, it would be quite wrong to think that the crossing of, say, two languages results in a new, third language. . . . As a matter of fact, one of the languages usually emerges victorious from the cross, retains its grammatical system and its basic word stock, and continues to develop in accordance with its inherent laws of development, while the other language gradually loses its quality and gradually dies away”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Concerning Marxism in Linguistics’, in: ‘Selected Works’; Tirana; 1979; p. 523).

As will be shown, this has been the pattern of development, of the British nation, which has evolved from the fusion of several pre-nations – principally those of Scotland, England annd Wales.

The Development of the British Nation

For geographical and ethnical reasons, the development of pre-nations in the British Isles took place principally in six distinct regions: in the Isle of Man, in Cornwall, in Scotland, in Wales, in England generally and in Ireland.

The Development of the Manx Pre-nation

The Manx pre-nation developed in the Isle of Man, in the Irish Sea, and:

“. . . became attached to Norway in the 9th century. In 1266 it was ceded to Scotland, but it came under English control in 1406 when possession was granted to the Stanley family (the Earls of Derby) and was later purchased by the British”.

(‘Statesman’s Yearbook: 1998-99’; London; 1999; p. 1,482).

The Manx language was:

“. a member of the Goidelic group of Celtic languages”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998; p. 802).

The Manx pre-nation did not complete its development to nationhood, but was absorbed. into the English pre-nation and, later, in the 19th century, into the British nation. The Manx language:

” . . . was displaced by English”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia-Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998; p. 802). 

and is:

“. . . now extinct”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998; p. 802).

The Development of the Cornish Pre-nation

The Cornish pre-nation developed in the extreme south-west of the English mainland, in Cornwall.

After the Norman Conquest of England in 1066:

“the indigenous manors of Cornwall were taken over to form the basis of an earldom”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

and in 1337, the Duchy of Cornwall:

“. . . was created by royal charter by Edward III for his eldest son, Edward the Black Prince”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

Since then:

“the monarch’s first-begotten son at the time of his birth”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

has been created Duke of Cornwall.

The Cornish pre-nation did not complete its development into nationhood, but merged into the English pre-nation and, later, in the 18th century, into the British nation. Since then, Cornish:

“has not been spoken as a living language”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 3; Chicago; 1998; p. 642).

The Development of the Scottish Pre-nation

By the middle of the 9th century, the tribal kingdoms of the Scottish mainland had been united into:

“A largely Celtic monarchy”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1998 p. 562).

Then, in the 13th century, England

“. . . attempted to impose direct English rule over Scotland”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1998 p. 562).

but in the 14th century was forced to recognise:

“Robert Bruce . . . as King Robert I of Scotland’.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1998 p. 562).

The Shetland and Orkney Islands, north of the mainland of Scotland, were from the 9th century:

“. . . ruled by Norway and Denmark”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 8; Chicago; 1998 p. 1,001).

but in the 15th century became part of the Scottish pre-nation when they:

“. . . passed into Scottish rule . . . in compensation for the nonpayment of the dowry of Margaret of Denmark, queen of James III”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 8; Chicago; 1998 p. 1,001).

The Scottish pre-nation did not complete its development to nationhood, but merged with the developing English pre-nation.

The Development of the Welsh Pre-nation

The Welsh pre-nation had, by the 13th century, developed to the point where the old tribal kingdoms had been united under Llewellyn ap Grufydd, who:

“. . . proclaimed himself Prince of Wales and received the homage of the other Welsh princes.”

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998 p. 427).

In the 16th century:

“Wales was incorporated within the realm of England”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 12; Chicago; 1998 p. 461).

and its native culture underwent:

” . . . progressive Anglicisation”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 12; Chicago; 1998 p. 461).

so that the Welsh pre-nation did not complete its development to nationhood, but merged with the English pre-nation and, later, into the British nation.

The Formation of the English Pre-Nation

By the 10th century, the English pre-nation had developed to the point where the West Saxon king, Athelstan, had become:

“. . . the first king to have direct rule of all England”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1998 p. 29).

The development of the English pre-nation was interrupted in the 11th century by the Norman Conquest. The feudal system introduced into England by the Normans differed fundamentally from that on the European Continent in that its estates consisted of:

” . . . manors scattered through a number of shires”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1998 p. 31).

thus making the lords much weaker relative to the central (royal) state power. This contributed greatly to the early rise of capitalism in England.

The civil war which broke out in Britain in the 17th century:

“. . . was a class struggle, was revolutionary and was progressive. . . .The bourgeoisie of the 17th Century. . . . just because they were the historically progressive class of their time, . . . could not but fight for their own rights and liberties without also fighting for the rights and liberties of all Englishmen and of humanity as a whole”.

A.L. Morton: ‘A People’s History of England’; London; 1979; p. 229).

The Fusion of the Welsh and English Pre-nations

In 1276, Edward I of England:

“invaded Wales and subjugated Llewellyn in 1276-77”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 7; Chicago; 1998 p. 427).

In 1485, Henry Tudor, the grandson:

” . . . of Owen Tudor, a Welsh squire”,

defeated and killed Richard III of England,

” . . . at the Battle of Bosworth. Claiming the throne by just title of inheritance and by judgment of God in battle, he was crowned on October 30″.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 5; Chicago; 1998 p. 839).

As a result:

“. . . it was widely felt in Wales that at last a true Welshman by origins and upbringing ruled in London”.

(Graham Jones: ‘A Pocket Guide: The History of Wales’; Cardiff; 1990; p. 47).

And when Wales was:

“. . . politically united with England at the Act of Union, 1535”,

(‘Cambridge Encylopaedia’; Cambridge; 1997; p.1,126).

“. . . articulate Welshmen were fully convinced that the political incorporation of England and Wales . . . had been a conspicuous success story. . . . Affluent and educated Welshmen confidently declared that the assimilation of England and Wales had been a happy and gladsome marriage of equals”.

(Geraint H. Jenkins: ‘The Foundation of Modern Wales: 1642-1780’; Oxford; 1993; p. 301).

The Fusion of the Scottish and English Pre-nations

James VI of Scotland was the:

” . . . great-great-grandson of Henry VII (of England — Ed.) and the legitimate successor of Eliizabeth I. . . . On Elizabeth’s death in 1603, he was recognised as the rightful king of England. Thus the crowns of England and Scotland were united”.

(‘Encylopedia Americana’, Volume 24; New York; 1977; p. 419).

Scotland and England:

” . . . remained separate kingdoms under a single monarch — except for the brief period during the English civil war when the monarchy was deposed — until 1707″.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 10; Chicago; 1993; p. 563).

The union of the two kingdoms of England and Scotland was:

“. . . strategically as well as economically desirable. That union was achieved in 1707”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 29; Chicago; 1994; p. 116).

The Treaty of Union of 1707:

” . . . was the immediate product of the exclusion of developing Scottish mercantile interests from England’s expanding imperial trade”.

(Michael Keating & David Bleiman: ‘Labour and Scottish Nationalism’; London; 1979; p. 21).

Following this,

“. . . during the Victorian age, Scotland enjoyed a prosperity so great by comparison with that of the past that unionist sentiment seemed likely to destroy Scottish national self-conciousness altogether”.

(Harold J. Hanham: ‘Scottish Nationalism’; London; 1969; p. 11).

The Formation of the British Nation

The development of the Scottish pre-nation and of the Welsh pre-nation did not proceed to the formation of nations. It was interrupted in such a way that these pre-nations fused with the developing English pre-nation to form the British-nation.

The Development of the Irish Nation

The Irish pre-nation was developing across the Irish Sea, but had not had yet reached the point of the formation of a united kingdom when the forces of Henry II of England of England:

“invaded Ireland in 1171”,

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1998; p. 379).

and Henry:

” . . . proclaimed himself overlord of the entire island”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1993; p. 379).

In January 1801, Ireland was politically united with Britain in:

“. . . the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland”.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1993; p. 380).

Despite the continuing foreign oppression, capitalism — and with it, the Irish nation — continued to develop. By the 19th century, these developments had given rise to an Irish national movement:

“In the West, Ireland responded to its exceptional position by a national movement”,

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 315).

And:

” . . an Irish provisional government was proclaimed in 1916″.

(‘New Encyclopaedia Britannica’, Volume 6; Chicago; 1993; p. 380).

In order to defeat the Irish national movement, the government collaborated with the Protestant settlers in the north of the country (Ulster) to impose in 1920 partition of the country into two parts:

” . . Northern Ireland and Southern Ireland, each to have its parliament and each to retain representatives in the British parliament”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ‘An Encyclopedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval and Modern’; London; 1972; p. 984).

When the people in the south refused to accept this position, the British government:

“. . . granted (Southern — Ed.) Ireland Dominion status as the Irish Free-State (Northern Ireland retaining the right of keeping the existing arrangement”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ibid.; p. 984).

In April 1949:

“. . . the REPUBLIC OF IRELAND was officially proclaimed in Dublin”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ibid.; p. 1,177).

In the following month, the British government adopted legislation:

“. . . recognising the independence of the republic, but affirming the position of Northern Ireland within the United Kingdom”.

(William L. Langer (Ed.): ibid.; p. 1,177).

Thus, Northern Ireland is, in fact, a colony of British imperialism, while the nominally independent Republic of Ireland, is in fact a British neo-colony.

Marxist-Leninists have always regarded British rule over Ireland (or any part of Ireland) as unacceptable colonial oppression and fought for the right of the Irish nation to self-determination:

“What shall we advise the English workers? In my opinion they must make the repeal of the Union’ (i.e., the separation of Ireland from Great Britain) . . . into an article of their pronunziamento“.

(Karl Marx: Letter to Friedrich Engels, 30 November 1867, in: Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 276).

“Marx, in proposing in the International a resolution of sympathy with the ‘Irish nation’ and the ‘Irish people’ preaches the separation of Ireland from Great Britain”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943; p. 279).

“It was precisely from the standpoint of the revolutionary struggle of the English workers that Marx in 1869 demanded the separation of Ireland from England”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ”The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 274).

Pseudo-Nationalism

Within Britain — excluding Northern Ireland — there are no national tasks to be accomplished:

“In those advanced countries (England (i.e., Britain — Ed.) , France, Germany, -etc.) the national problem has been solved for a long time; . objectively, there are no ‘national tasks’ to be fulfilled”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘A Caricature of Marxism and “Imperialist Economism”‘, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 295).

In:

“The advanced countries of Western Europe the bourgeois, progressive, national movements came to an end long ago”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: ‘The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935; p. 275).

But if the communities of Scotland, Wales and the black inhabitants of Britain are not nations, are not oppressed nations under the ‘foreign rule’ of the English, if there are no national tasks to be fulfilled within Britain, what is the real character of so-called Scottish, Welsh and black nationalism?

Clearly, they are spurious-nationalisms.

In a genuine struggle for national liberation, workers and national capitalists of the oppressed nations have a certain temporary, common interest. But Scottish, Welsh and black workers and capitalists have no such common interests. The political effect of this pseudo-nationalism is, therefore, to preach class-collaboration in circumstances which make such class collaboration the opportunist surrender of the interests of the working class to those of the capitalist class:

“From this it is not a far cry to ‘common ground for joint action’ on which the bourgeois and the proletarian must stand and join hands as members of the same ‘nation”‘.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Social-Democratic View of the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 1; Moscow; 1952; p. 38).

Marxist-Leninists understand that the cause of the special problems of Scottish, Welsh and black workers is the existence of British monopoly capital. Thus, the aim of British Marxist-Leninists is to lead a united British working class to overthrow the rule of British monopoly capital.

Political organisations which put forward the concepts of Scottish, Welsh or black ‘nationalism’ in Britain are objectively seeking to divert the working class from building class unity and from their real enemy, British monopoly capital, towards an imaginary enemy: ‘England’.

A Single Marxist-Leninist Party for-Britain?

The second question to be discussed in this article is: whether separate Marxist-Leninist Parties should be formed in Scotland, Wales and England, or whether there should be a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain.

This second question is in no way dependent upon the first question already dealt with, namely, whether the peoples of Scotland, Wales and England form separate nations or whether they form parts of a single British nation.

This is because Marxist-Leninists have always held that there should be one — and only one — Marxist-Leninist Party for each state (.excluding any geographically separate colonies):

“Every party desiring to affilate to the Communist International must bear the name: Communist Party of such and such a country (Section of the Third, Communist International)”.

(Vladimir I. Lenin: “The Conditions of Affiliation to the Communist International’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 10; London; 1946; p. 205).

The 2nd Congress of the Communist International adopted in July 1919 the following thesis on Party organisation:

“There shall be in each country only one single unified Communist Party”.

(2nd. Congress of the Comintern: ‘Theses on the Role of the Communist Party on the Proletarian Revolution’, in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents;, Volume 1; London; 1971; p. 135).

Already in April 1917 Stalin had said:

“Experience has shown that the organisation of the proletarians of a given state on national lines tends only to destroy the idea of class solidarity. All the proletarians of a given state must be organised in a single, indivisible proletarian collective”.

(Josef V. Stalin: Report on the National Question, 7th (April) Conference of the RSDLP (B), in: ‘Works’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1953; p. 58).

This principle applies equally in the case of multi-national states (states which include within their frontiers more than one nation) as in the case of states which embrace a single nation. Tsarist Russia, for instance, was a multi-national state, and Lenin and Stalin fought unreservedly for the principle of a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Russia:

“We want to draw together the proletarians of the different nations. What should we do? Split up the proletarians of all Russia into separate parties and you will achieve your aim!, answer the Federalist Social-Democrats. . . .

The Social-Democratic (i.e, Marxist-Leninist — Ed) Party which functions in Russia calls itself ‘Rossiiskaya’ (All-Russian — Ed.) and not ‘Russkaya’ (Russian — Ed).. Obviously, by this it wanted to convey to us that it will gather under its banner not only Russian proletarians, but the proletarians of all the nationalities in Russia, and, consequently, that it will do everything possible to break down the national barriers that have been raised to separate them”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘The Social-Democratic View of the National Question’, in: ‘Works’. Volume 1; Moscow; 1952; p. 36, 41).

In accordance with this principle, Lenin and Stalin consistently expressed strong opposition to similar moves to establish separate Marxist-Leninist Parties in other multi-national states:

“The idea of national autonomy creates the psychological conditions for the division of the united workers’ party into separate parties built on national lines. Austria, the home of ‘national autonomy’, provides the most deplorable examples of this. As early as 1897 . . . the once united Austrian Social-Democratic Party began to break up unto separate parties. . . . There are now six national parties”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953; p. 342-43).

And, of course, once the principle of separate national Marxist-Leninist parties within a multi-national state is accepted, it becomes logical to work for the splitting of other organisations of the working class, such as the trade unions, into separate national bodies:

“The breakup of the party is followed by the breakup of the trade unions, and complete segregation is the result. In this way the united class movement is broken up into separate national rivulets”.

(Josef V. Stalin: ibid.; p. 343).

The Marxist-Leninist principle on this question is thus quite clear:

There should be one — and only one Marxist-Leninist Party for each state
(excluding any colonies geographically separated from it). And this principle applies equally to multi-national states as to states which embrace a single nation.

As we have seen, Scotland, Wales and England are not separate states, but form part of the state of the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’. This state includes ‘Northern Ireland’, which is a British colony geographically separated from the mainland of Britain.

It follows that, according to Marxist-Leninist principles, there should be one — and only one — Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain, embracing Scotland, Wales and England.

Conclusions

According to Marxist-Leninist principles,

1) Scotland, Wales and England are not separate nations, but form part of a single British nation; and

2) there should not be separate Marxist-Leninist Parties for Scotland, Wales and England, but a single Marxist-Leninist Party for the whole of Britain.


Author: W.B. Bland
The Marxist-Leninist Research Bureau
NCMLU


NOTE: The second part of this article, dealing with the question of devolution within Britain, was to be written later in 1999. To the knowledge of either the Communist League or the NCMLU – this task was never undertaken.

____________________________________________________________________

BIBLIOGRAPHY

2nd CONGRESS OF COMINTERN: ‘Theses on the Role of the Communist Party on the Proletarian Revolution’, in: Jane Degras (Ed.): ‘The Communist International: 1919-1943: Documents’, Volume 1; London; 1971.
BRAR, Harpal: ‘Bourgeois Nationalism or Proletarian Internationalism?; Southall; 1998.
DAVIES, Charlotte A.: ‘Welsh Nationalism in the 20th Century: The Ethnic
Option and the British State’; New York; 1989.
HANHAM, Harold J.: ‘Scottish Nationalism’; London; 1969.
JENKINS, Geraint H.: ‘The Foundation of Modern Wales: 1642-1780’; Oxford; 1993.
JONES, Graham: ‘A Pocket Guide: The History of Wales’; Cardiff; 1990.
KEATING, Michael & BLEIMAN, David: ‘Labour and Scottish Nationalism’; London; 1979.
LANGER, William L. (Ed.): ‘An Encyclopaedia of World History: Ancient, Medieval and Modern’; London; 1972.
LENIN, Vladimir, I.: ‘On the Right of Nations to Self-Determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 4; London; 1943.
– ‘The Socialist Revolution and the Right of Nations to Self-determination’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5; London; 1935.
– ‘A Caricature of Marxism and “Imperialist Economism”‘. in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 5′; London; 1935.
– ‘The Conditions of Affiliation to the Communist International’, in: ‘Selected Works’, Volume 10; London; 1946.
MORTON, A. L.: ‘A People’s History of England’; London; 1979.
PARTRIDGE, Eric: ‘Origins: A Short Etymological Dictionary of Modern English’; London; 1966,
STALIN, Josef V.: ‘The Social-Democratic View of the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 1; Moscow; 1952
– ‘Marxism and the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 2; Moscow; 1953.
-Report on the National Question, 7th (April) Conference of the RSDLP, in: ‘Works’, Volume 3; Moscow; 1953.
– Report on the Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question, 10th Congress of the RCP (B), in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953.
– ‘The Foundations of Leninism’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 6; Moscow; 1953.
– ‘The Immediate Tasks of the Party in the National Question’, in: ‘Works’, Volume 5; Moscow; 1953.
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WITHERS, Charles W. J.: ‘Gaelic in Scotland: 1698-1981: The Geographical
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Source

American Party of Labor: Who Started the War?

SovietWorldWarII

Anti-Communist Hysteria on the Rise

It seems that once again a specter is haunting Europe, if not the world. Yes, the specter of communism, which was supposedly totally discredited, debunked and rendered wholly irrelevant since 1989. The ruling classes of Europe and the industrialized imperialist world are again putting all their efforts into exorcising this demon; whereas ten years ago they scoffed at Marxism and communism as the profits of the internet boom, outsourcing and neo-liberalism rolled in, they are now in a total panic. That “discredited” theory has got them so terrified that they have, in the past few years, began not only to dredge up all the standard anti-communist propaganda of the Cold War years, but have even resorted to re-writing and re-interpreting history so as to invent new myths.

In Ukraine, the push for international recognition of the 1932-33 famine as genocide was successful under the aegis of Viktor Yushenko. A museum dedicated to the “victims of communism” was opened in Washington D.C. The Katyn massacre is bandied about endlessly while the millions of Polish civilians who died at the hands of the Germans are virtually ignored and the victories Polish People’s Army, which participated in the liberation of Warsaw and the capture of Berlin, is utterly forgotten on the world stage. The 60,000-100,000 Bolshevik prisoners of war who died in Polish captivity after the Russo-Polish war, a war started by Poland, are completely forgotten as well—they don’t count. The history of the Second World War is being actively re-written so as to totally omit the pivotal role played by the USSR and the world’s communist parties in the victory over fascism. Worse still, in 2009 there has been a trend to equate communism and Nazism, to proclaim them allies, and to actually blame Stalin for starting WWII. The praise for Hitler, allowing him to circumvent the Treaty of Versailles and re-arm, the hypocritical Non-Intervention in Spain and the betrayal of Munich are all to be forgotten. We are supposed to believe that it was the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact which gave Hitler a green light to go to war, while ignoring years of collaboration and encouragement for Hitler from the Western powers.

How far has the hysteria gone? In July of 2009, an OSCE parliamentary resolution drafted by Lithuanian Vilija Aleknaite-Abramikiene called for the 23rd of August to be made a day of remembrance for the “victims of Nazism and Stalinism.” This resolution attributes blame for WWII equally upon both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union; Munich and the years of Western support and collaboration with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy are ignored entirely. Possibly as a result of this decision, a new wave of articles hit the newspapers and internet around August to the 1st of September 2009, practically if not literally proclaiming Stalin guilty for starting WWII. This demonstrates that the hysteria has reached such a pitch that the ruling classes of Europe are more than willing to re-write even the most basic historical facts. It is absurd beyond all explanation that the Western powers could spend years trying to downplay if not totally ignore the Soviet Union’s role in destroying fascism in the Second World War, yet they are willing to make a most idiotic leap of logic to blame the whole war on the Soviet Union. One might ask whether or not such people would prefer the masses to believe that Stalin alone rather than Hitler started the war; I am inclined to believe yes. The ruling classes of Europe do not fear Nazism resurgent, but communism is a real threat. It is that fact which serves as a principle reason for the rise of anti-communist hysteria, which we will explore in detail later in this text. For the moment, let us focus on the allegation itself.

Addressing the Allegation

Anyone familiar with history has heard the term “Big Lie.” The term was coined by none other than Adolf Hitler, who explained that people would more likely believe a big lie simply because they would not expect anyone to tell such preposterous lies. Of course that theory is rather absurd; I could tell a big lie by claiming to have a pet dinosaur, and most would simply laugh at the claim. “Big Lies” do exist however, and those which are effective are those which are on one hand often repeated, and on the other so multi-layered that most people simply do not have the requisite knowledge to challenge them. A claim with one or two falsehoods or logical fallacies is easy to spot, but the lies surrounding this new mythology of the Second World War and the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact contain so many distortions and omissions that they are difficult to answer in detail without filling entire books. The best way to challenge these lies is to break down the claim into various parts and address each one in concise fashion. Thus let us begin to do just that.

Claim: Nazi Germany & the Soviet Union, by way of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Agreement, were Allies.

Firstly, a non-aggression pact is not an alliance. This might seem like legalistic quibbling, until one considers that Poland signed a non-aggression pact with the USSR in 1932, and later concluded a non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany in 1935. One would be hard pressed to find any mainstream source of historical literature referring to Poland and the USSR or Poland and Germany as “allies,” despite the fact that Poland took advantage of Germany’s dismantling of Czechoslovakia to invade and seize part of the newly independent fascist Slovakia. It is worth noting that the territory seized from Czechoslovakia by Poland had a minority Polish population, a fact the reader should keep in mind for later.

One might claim that the pact was an alliance because of the transfer of raw materials to Germany. This fails for several reasons; first among them is the fact that again, Poland signed a trade agreement with Nazi Germany after signing the non-aggression pact with the latter. Again, nobody speaks of the “allies” Germany and Poland “carving up” Czechoslovakia. Furthermore, the US was still shipping vital scrap metal and oil to Japan despite the latter’s conquest of Manchuria and invasion of China. Japan received 80% of its oil from the US, which only cut off oil exports in 1940 when Japan invaded French Indochina. Again, who claims that the US and Japan were allies?

Much has also been said about the collaboration of American corporations with Nazi Germany, IBM most likely being the most notorious due to the role their products had in the Holocaust. Does anyone blame America for the Holocaust? While much is said today about the resources gained from the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, not a word is mentioned about the key role played by German subsidiaries of GM and Ford in arming the Wehrmacht. The switch-over from civilian to military production in these plants was not only known, but encouraged by the US-based corporate HQs of these companies. Perhaps far more importantly, the US corporations Standard Oil and Texaco provided Germany with vital supplies even after the war began. Standard Oil even assisted the Germans in creating synthetic fuel, which proved crucial to Germany’s war effort.

When considering whether the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, even taking into account the resource transfers to Germany, was the catalyst for the Second World War, it helps to realize that Albert Speer, armaments minister of Germany and a close confident of Hitler, once remarked that Hitler would not have gone to war had it not been for the capability to synthesize fuel.

Why did the USSR sign the Non-Aggression Pact with Germany? Western Conciliation and Collaboration sets the Stage

In Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler laid out what he saw as a plan for the salvation and preservation of Germany and its people. Hitler understood that Germany could not possibly rely on a maritime empire with far-flung colonies like those of Britain or France. As such he envisioned a European, contiguous land empire expanding eastward. Unlike the fallen Austro-Hungarian Empire, which Hitler despised for its multi-ethnic, cosmopolitan nature, Germany’s new empire would expand into Belarus, Ukraine and European Russia, but the population would either be killed, deported, or sterilized and used as slaves. Upon invading the USSR in 1941, this process of ethnic cleansing, enslavement and extermination began from the first days of the invasion and would continue until the Germans were finally pushed out of Soviet territory. Incidentally the plan for the whole campaign was to take all the land up to what was called the Archangel-Astrakhan line, running from the north all the way to the Caspian Sea in the south. With chilling sobriety, German planners estimated that countless millions would die from starvation alone. This was the threat hanging over the USSR since Hitler came to power.

Speaking in the 18th Congress of the VKP (b) in March of 1939, Stalin put forth the line that the outside world could be divided into two camps. On one hand there were the “democracies” consisting of the United Kingdom, France and the US, all of which had an interest in maintaining the status quo. In the other camp were Germany, Japan and Italy. Having turned to fascism and nationalism in response to their economic predicaments, they had a natural inclination to seek out new markets via military means. Germany had no colonies and based on Hitler’s ideas, a genetic imperative to expand eastward. Italy had few colonial possessions but its eyes were focused on what seemed like easy targets such as Albania and Abyssinia. Japan held some colonial possessions for some time and had already began to expand starting with its conquest of Manchuria in 1931, and by 1939 it had already been engaged in a war against China for almost two years. While the “army faction” of the military junta ruling Japan wished to expand the China war into a war against the USSR, the navy faction sought new sources of oil and rubber in the colonial possessions of France, England, America and the Netherlands.

Given the situation at the time, it was clear that though England, France and the United States were imperialist states, they represented a far lesser evil than the rising Axis powers. Moreover, these states had a desire for peace, on one hand because their populations were not keen on going to war, on the other hand because they had large markets under their control and no reason to buck the status quo. The Soviet Union had an even greater interest in preserving peace; having barely completed its industrialization, it was imperative to equip and modernize its armed forces. Based on this disposition, the policy of the USSR was to seek collective security with England and France against Germany and Italy. There was only one problem with this strategy: the English and French had to be willing.

During the Russian Civil War, numerous imperial powers invaded the dying Russian Empire, hoping to strangle Bolshevism in the cradle and hopefully snatch their own piece of territory. Among the armies of intervention were the French and the British. When the Whites and their allies failed, the British and French attempted to create a “cordon sanitare” around the Soviet Union in hopes of stopping the spread of communism. The success of the fascists in defeating the communists of Germany and Italy suggested that they may become a bulwark against the USSR and communism. As such, though it was against their own objective interests, the Western powers became increasingly friendly to both Hitler and Mussolini.

From the time Hitler came to power in 1933, Britain and France began to cow to Germany at every opportunity. Britain made the first move, signing a naval treaty with Germany in 1935 which was vital to its rearmament. Nothing was done to prevent the Germany’s reoccupation of the Rhineland in 1936. Probably the most egregious act of Britain and France in terms of appeasement prior to Munich was the “Non-Intervention Agreement” concluded with the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. This agreement prevented the Spanish Republic, the legally elected government of Spain, from having the right to buy weapons for its own defense. While the Republic was isolated by its neighbors, Germany and Italy sent thousands of men, along with planes and tanks for the nationalist rebels. The rebels were provided with oil on credit by Texaco. Upon seeing that Non-Intervention actually meant allowing the nationalists to destroy the Republic with ease, the Soviet Union quickly withdrew from the embargo and began to supply the Republic with high-tech arms. Thousands of pilots and other military advisors were sent to Spain while the Comintern organized volunteers from around the world to fight in the International Brigades. German and Italian U-Boats torpedoed Soviet merchant ships sailing to Spain, while on one occasion a Royal Navy vessel watched as the German Kriegsmarine shelled the Spanish coast in support of a nationalist attack. Spain was sacrificed in the hopes that Germany would look east and only east. Next on the chopping block would be Austria and Czechoslovakia.

The Germans managed to pull off their crooked “Anschluss” with Austria without any opposition from abroad. In the case of Czechoslovakia, the last democracy in Central Europe, the fate of this small country would be decided without its presence at the negotiating table. Also excluded was the Soviet Union, which later attempted to send weapons to Czechoslovakia (which sadly ended up in German hands). The annexation of the Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia meant that the country’s border defenses ended up in the hands of the Germans, leaving the last democracy in Central Europe to be picked clean by Germany, Hungary and Poland. Slovakia became a German client state under the fascist regime of Josef Tiso. Hitler was not satisfied with Munich though; he felt that he had been swindled, and “denied” the war he desired.

Soviet attempts to create an Alliance with Britain and France; the Ultimate Betrayal at Munich

Recognizing the threat posed by Nazi Germany, and with an understanding that their capability for war was at the time insufficient, the Soviets strove to create a collective security pact with Britain and France. When the Molotov-Ribbentrop Non-Aggression Pact was signed, the Soviets had been embroiled in negotiations with the British and French for six months. Negotiations stalled when the Soviets demanded transit rights through Poland and Romania should war with Germany break out. Both Poland and Romania were at the time anti-communist states with fascist or quasi-fascist regimes; both were embroiled in territorial disputes with the USSR as well. The British and French seemed willing to conclude a political agreement, but the Soviets quite rightly judged this to be useless without a military agreement. Stalin believed that there was the possibility the English would conclude a pact with the USSR and then not come to aid militarily if war broke out. Considering the Anglo-French reaction to the invasion of Poland, this fear might have been right in hindsight.

As negotiations broke down, it was the Germans who began to suggest an agreement to the Soviets. At first the Soviets did nothing; it was clear this was a ploy to spoil the negotiations with the French and English. At the same time however, it was becoming clear that the English and French were deliberately dragging out the negotiations, particularly on the military aspect of a pact. This idea was supported by the fact that the Anglo-French military delegation headed to Moscow not by plane but by a slow ship to Leningrad. With the English and French clearly sabotaging the negotiations in a vain hope of deterring Hitler by the mere threat of an alliance, the Soviets began to talk to the Germans.

In his book Stalin’s Wars, author Geoffery Roberts points out that aside from the lack of a provision condemning aggression against a third country by a party to the agreement, this Non-Aggression Pact was not much different than any other non-aggression pact the Soviets had signed in the 20s and 30s. Roberts characterized the pact as a pledge of Soviet neutrality in the event of a German war against Poland. It is also worth noting that prior to the beginning of negotiations with the Germans, Soviet intelligence as well as Stalin himself were convinced that a German attack on Poland was inevitable. All that mattered is where Germany would stop, an issue we will explore in detail later.

Roberts goes on to point out that in August 1939, it was not clear that Poland would fold so easily against the German war machine, which had yet to debut in combat save for limited action in the Spanish Civil War. While the English and French had guaranteed Poland’s independence, there was still the possibility of a Munich-style betrayal, which would have handed to the Germans either a part of Poland’s territory if not the whole country itself. This was a critical threat for the USSR because Poland in 1939 included the territories of Western Belarus and the Halychyna (Galicia)/Volhynia (Volyn) regions of Ukraine. Were Germany to occupy, by whatever means, all of 1939-era Poland, it would have brought their armies far closer to Kiev, Leningrad and Moscow. From East Prussia the Germans could also easily move up through the Baltic countries. To prevent this from happening, the Soviets agreed to “spheres of interest” in Eastern Europe that would theoretically keep the Germans at bay. Thus the pact not only bought the USSR time to reorganize and arm its forces, but also helped push the border westward. Of course the Soviets were aware that the Germans might not honor their part of the deal, and they were not pleased when the Soviets retook Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina from Romania, a move which brought them dangerously close to Germany’s vital oil supply from the fields of Ploesti.

After the war had already broken out, Stalin gave his opinion on the pact and the fall of Poland to Germany in a meeting with Georgi Dimitrov, leader of the Comintern, who noted it down in his diary. “A war is on between two groups of capitalist countries…for the redivision of the world, for the domination of the world! We see nothing wrong in their having a good hard fight and weakening each other. It would be fine if at the hands of Germany the position of the richest capitalist countries (especially England) were shaken. Hitler, without understanding it or desiring it, is shaking and undermining the capitalist system…We can maneuver, pit one side against the other to set them fighting with each other as fiercely as possible. The non-aggression pact is to a certain degree helping Germany. Next time we’ll urge on the other side…Formerly…the Polish state was a national state. Therefore, revolutionaries defended it against partition and enslavement. Now (Poland) is a fascist state, oppressing the Ukrainians, Belorussians, and so forth. The annihilation of that state under current conditions would mean one fewer bourgeois fascist state to contend with! What would be the harm if as a result of the rout of Poland we were to extend the socialist system onto new territories and populations?”

After 1945, that vision came true.

The Partition of “Poland”

Part of the “big lie” surrounding the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is the claim that “Germany and the Soviet Union attacked and divided up Poland.” At face value this seems true, until one actually looks at the details. While the Germans attempted to get the Soviets to invade as soon as possible, Molotov rejected premature intervention. The Soviets never crossed the Polish border until 17 September, after the Polish government had fled the country and the Germans had declared that they no longer recognized the existence of a state named “Poland.” This declaration gave the Germans “legal” grounds to drive right up to the Soviet frontier. In fact on several occasions German forces did attempt to just that, in hopes that the Soviets would not contest any ground they managed to grab. Thus, Red Army troops were sent into Galicia and Volyn under the orders to prevent the Germans from seizing these territories.

Did this invasion constitute an aggressive attack? Does this prove that the USSR was attacking Poland as an “ally” of Germany? Hardly—as noted before, Poland had a non-aggression pact with Germany when it seized a non-Polish territory of Czechoslovakia. Nowhere today in the mainstream media do we hear about dastardly Poland’s “alliance” with Germany and how the Nazis and Poles “carved up Czechoslovakia.”

There are some other facts worth considering as well. Most important of all are the facts surrounding the lie that the USSR invaded “Eastern Poland.” The territory of “Eastern Poland” at the time consisted of Ukrainian and Belorussian territories seized by Poland in a war of aggression back in 1921. With the Bolsheviks tied down in the Civil War, Poland rejected the borders it had been granted and attempted to take Belarus and Ukraine. The Poles managed to defeat Ukrainian nationalist forces and were poised to take Kiev when they were pushed all the way back to Warsaw by the Red Army. Despite this success, the Bolsheviks still had to contend not only with the White Guards but also the armies of the imperialist intervention. They signed the Treaty of Riga with Poland, ceding the disputed territories of Volyn and Galicia in Western Ukraine and territory in Western Belarus. Polish rule was unpopular; in fact a Ukrainian nationalist insurgency broke out in the late 20s, and the Germans even used supporters of this nationalist movement in their war against Poland in 1939. Had the Germans been allowed to take all of 1939 Poland, they would have been dangerously close to the USSR’s most vital territory.

It is also worth noting the reaction of the world to the Soviet invasion, particularly in contrast to the reaction to the German invasion. Honoring their pledge to Poland in word though not in deed, the English and French declared war on Germany on the 3rd of September 1939. Neither declared war on the USSR however. England, France and Romania had military alliances with Poland, and none of these countries declared war on the USSR. The League of Nations did not declare the Soviet invasion an act of aggression, nor did any other country. In fact not even Poland declared war on the USSR. Poland’s supreme commander even ordered the army not to resist the Red Army, while still urging continued resistance to the Germans. Here is the text of his order of 17 September 1939:

“The Soviets have invaded. My orders are to carry out the retirement into Rumania and Hungary by the shortest routes. Do not engage the Soviets in military actions, only in the event of disarming our units by them. The task for Warsaw and Modlin, which must defend themselves against the Germans, remain unchanged. Units towards whose formations the Soviets have approached should negotiate with them with the aim of the exit of the garrisons into Rumania or Hungary.

            Supreme Commander

            Marshal of Poland E. Rydz-Smigly”

It is also interesting to note that Winston Churchill himself, a die-hard anti-communist and a beloved icon of anti-communist authors today, was in favor of the Soviet action in Poland. Again, author Geoffery Roberts provides us with Churchill’s words from a radio broadcast of the 1st of October 1939:

“Russia had pursued a cold policy of self-interest. We could have wished that the Russian armies should be standing on their present line as the friends and allies of Poland instead of invaders. But that the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace…I cannot forecast to you the action of Russia. It is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest. It cannot be in accordance with the interest or the safety of Russia that Germany should plant itself upon the shores of the Black Sea, or that it should overrun the Balkan states and subjugate the Slavonic peoples of south-eastern Europe. That would be contrary to the historic life-interests of Russia.”

The idea of an innocent Poland, beset upon by two predatory “totalitarian” “allies” has long stood as a useful myth not only to the anti-communists of Poland but also to the English, who have long maintained this myth to paint their involvement in the Second World War as being a selfless act in defense of a weaker nation. As laughable as this is, many still believe today that the USSR’s invasion of Galicia, Volyn and Belarus can be equated with Germany’s invasion, which not only occupied Polish land but also ethnically cleansed Poles from the Wartheland as they resettled the area with German colonists. Then again, most people have never heard of Galicia or Volyn.

Why Are They Rewriting History?

The history of the Second World War is complex beyond words. Thousands upon thousands of books have been written on the subject. Every major battle has produced its own collection of books, and in some cases documentaries and feature films. The history of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is itself incredibly complex. Here we have discussed only a bare minimum of facts, specifically key facts necessary for the refutation of this modern attempt to rewrite history. Exposing the facts about Western collaboration with fascism can only do so much good. The key issue is that in the past few years, fear of communism among the elite has risen to a level not seen since the McCarthy era. Why, if communism is supposedly dead and buried, do they need to go to such great lengths as to actually re-write history to a degree not even seen during the Cold War?

It is not entirely coincidental that as capitalism descends once more into crisis and as the leading imperialist countries find themselves embroiled in two losing wars, the drive to push communism beyond the pale of political discourse has led to the rewriting of history’s most basic facts. 1991 was supposed to mark the triumph of capitalism and the free market. It was called “the end of history.” Capitalism brings prosperity, the free market conquers all. Reality brought something much different however.

Within a few years, people who never had to worry about paying the rent, making ends meet or getting quality medical care suddenly found themselves helpless at the hands of rapacious thugs, gangsters and oligarchs. Millions were displaced as nations broke apart. Stability gave way to chaos, hopelessness, violence, sex slavery and human trafficking. Nationalism reached a fever pitch and tens of thousands of people were ethnically cleansed. Europe experienced its bloodiest conflict since the WWII. At first, many in Eastern Europe accepted the excuse that they had dismantled their old economies “too fast,” as though this was carried out according to their will as opposed to that of their respective ruling classes advised by and in collusion with businessmen and investors from around the globe. Things would get better after joining NATO and the EU, or a strong leader like Vladimir Putin would solve everything. It is now nearly 20 years since the fall of the Eastern Bloc, and the leaders who promised prosperous societies with respect for “human rights” have failed. They have failed and the people know it.

Now in the throes of an economic crisis, one which now threatens the imperialist European Union, the specter of communism is again haunting Europe. With the US still suffering from massive unemployment, that specter is haunting the US as well. All over the world, even people who were once mainstream liberals are now starting to question capitalism itself. Many are no longer just questioning “unregulated capitalism” but capitalism itself. When we look at the riots in Greece unfolding before our eyes, or the struggle of the TEKEL workers in Turkey, when we see an increasing number of Eastern Europeans admitting that they had a better life under their revisionist regimes than their incompetent politicians today, we easily understand why it is necessary for the European elite to equate communism with Nazism, the latter being a monster fed and raised by capitalism itself. No wonder the American elite pays Glenn Beck to scare the politically and historically illiterate with the same idiotic conflation. After 1991 they could proclaim capitalism triumphant and Marx discredited. Today Marx has been vindicated; economic crisis, unemployment and poverty are all inherent and eternal in capitalism and always will be.

There is no lie too great for the international ruling class when it comes to scaring the proletariat away from the path of liberation and emancipation. A few years ago they tried to erase the Soviet Union’s massive contribution to the defeat of fascism, the bastard child of capitalism. Today they are trying to tell us that Stalin was just as responsible for starting the Second World War. We can be certain they will continue raising the mythical body counts of communism to absurd levels as well. Try as they may, however, they will never exorcise this spirit from the mind of the working class, the one class of society that has the power to both provide for society’s needs and run society itself.

As Enver Hoxha once said: “No force, no torture, no intrigue, no deception can eradicate Marxism-Leninism from the minds and hearts of men.”

Sources

Furr, Grover. “Did the Soviet Union Invade Poland in 1939?.” Cyrano’s Journal (2009): n. pag. Web.

Pauwels, Jacques. “Profits über Alles! American Corporations and Hitler.” Labour/La Travail 51. (2003): n. pag. Web.

Roberts, Geoffery. Wars: From World War to Cold War, 1939-1953. 1st. Yale University Press, 2007. Print.

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