Written: March 1942
Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. 4 No.6, March 1942
A world already astonished at the dizzying turns of Stalin’s policies, witnessed a new threatened orientation in Stalin’s order of the day, no. 55, on the occasion of the 24th anniversary of the Red Army. In it, Stalin seems to have made the discovery that there is a difference between the German people and Hitler.
“It would be ridiculous,” he said, “to identify Hitler's clique with the German people and the German state. The experience of history shows that Hitlers come and go whereas the German people and the German state remain.”
This is in striking contrast to what Stalin and his supporters have been saying in their propaganda in the last few months. Whereas in the beginning of the war between Germany and Russia, the Kremlin leaders, although not issuing a call to internationalism, did make a distinction between the Nazi gang and the German people. Gradually, however, the propaganda of Stalin became more and more indistinguishable from that of his “democratic allies”. Indeed it became even worse, arousing protests from even the liberals and Labourlefts. Stalin’s national chauvinism was epitomised in the symbolic replacement of the words “Workers of the World Unite!” on the heading of the Red Army paper, the Red Star with the words “Death to the German Invaders.” Innumerable examples appeared in the press, such as the one we reproduce, whose authenticity is guaranteed by its appearance in the official Communist Party publication World News and Views.
“How can the German people not be held to pay for these terrible crimes? And if one states: the German people have nothing in common with these murderers, then the question arises, what proof of this can the German people present? After all these are not isolated cases of men ravaging Russia like Huns. Hundreds of thousands are involved.”
Has Stalin dimly remembered the traditions of Lenin by his newly voiced discrimination between the Nazis and the German people? Nothing could be further from the truth. For there is no mention of socialism or internationalism in the whole speech; there is no appeal to the German workers and soldiers to unite to establish a socialist Europe and world. Under these circumstances, the assurances of Stalin that German soldiers who surrender will be spared their lives, do not carry much weight. The British imperialists and the American imperialists have done no more and no less to their adversaries. What effect can this be expected to have on the Germans, who have been led to believe by Stalin's propaganda that they are fighting for the preservation of Germany against another Versailles? Turns cannot be made overnight and expect to reap response. The mischief rendered by previous propaganda has resulted in a desperate resistance of the German soldiers against the advances of the Red Army – even in the face of complete annihilation.
Veiled behind Stalin's speech is contained a threat to the democracies of a peace with the German state – another Soviet-German alliance – this time not necessarily with Hitler, but if need be with the German militarists.
Stalin did everything possible to avoid the conflict with Hitler and would just as readily return to the policy of German-Russian collaboration. Any terms, any pacts, any alliances – Stalin's sole concern is the preservation of the privileges and power of the Russian ruling caste.
Stalin's war aims, as outlined by himself, are no longer the destruction of Germany, or even the destruction of German fascism, but merely the restoration of Russia's 1940 frontiers. In the course of achieving these aims, he states,
“It is very likely that the war for the liberation of our Soviet land will result in the busting or destruction of Hitler's clique. We would welcome such an outcome...”
We would welcome such an outcome, mark you! Not that the overthrow of German fascism is an intrinsic part of the fight for freedom of the peoples of the world!
The more sober capitalist press has seen the warning and understood its meaning, unfortunately, better than the majority of the advanced workers. They have understood that Stalin is concerned only with the preservation of the borders of Russia and the maintenance of the ruling clique in its present position of power. The Economist, of 28th February, 1942, states:
“…the spectacle of the leader of the Socialist Mecca rousing his people to 'a war of patriotism, of liberation, a just war', without a single reference to internationalism, the world-wide solidarity of the workers, and the inevitability of Communist revolution, must be rather like hearing the Angel Gabriel sounding the Last Trump on a Swanee whistle. Stalin has restated in the most uncompromising terms the war aims of the Soviet people. They are: to liberate Soviet soil, Soviet lands, from the foreign invader – and the Soviet lands are carefully enumerated: White Russia, the Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Karelia. If in the course of ridding the country of the foreign invader, the Russians should drive out the 'Fascist Clique' in Germany, all the better – but Stalin does not raise this point to the dignity of war aim. For the rest neither he nor the Russian people have any quarrel with the German people or with the German State”.
It is noteworthy that not a single mention was made of the democratic “allies” throughout the speech. No felicitations were exchanged with the “grand old warrior Churchill, no reference to the gallant war of the united nations against the worst menace of mankind. Last November on the occasion of the twenty-fourth anniversary of the October Revolution, Stalin boasted: “We now have allies forming a united front with us against the German invaders.” Last November Stalin promised the Soviet masses that his foreign policy would assure not only material aid, but a second front. He stated then:
“But neither can there be any doubt that the appearance of a second front on the Continent ofEurope – and it must appear in the nearest future – will render substantially easier the opposition of the Red Army to the detriment of the German army.”
But in his last speech there were no boasts of the benefits of the alliance with the imperialists of Britain and America; instead of a warning to the Soviet masses that they rely only upon their own resources to overcome the invader.
“The German fascist army” says Stalin, “is directly supported at the front by the troops of Italy, Rumania and Finland. The Red Army, so far, has no such support.”
As we have consistently pointed out, Churchill and Roosevelt have rendered small aid to the Soviet Union. Compared to the Herculean expenditure of Russian men and material, their aid has been derisory and insulting. The whole policy of the British and American ruling class has been to seek the destruction of the Soviet Union and the simultaneous exhaustion of Germany, to the point where Anglo-American imperialism could overcome Germany with ease. In pursuance of this policy the Soviet Union has been left to bear the brunt of the most terrible war machine in history.
It is admitted even by the Communist Party that the “United States has failed to deliver more than 50 per cent of its commitments to the Soviet Union during the past three months.”
Coupled with this, the recent statement of Wendell Wilkie bears the greatest significance that he has “no confidence that Russia could really win this war in a definite way. And I have every confidence that the Americans would not like the peace very much if she did.”
Their calculations have been upset by the unparalleled heroism of the Russian workers and peasants, and Hitler has failed in his objective. Meanwhile the British and American capitalists, while building up their forces for the crushing of Germany in 1943, have looked on with complacency; shedding crocodile tears at the sufferings of the Russian people while Russia was being systematically weakened.