Written: April 1943
Source: Socialist Appeal, vol. 5 no. 8 (April 1943)
Transcription: Lisi 2004
Markup/Proofread:: Emil 2006
The winter is nearly over in Russia, and now is the time to draw a balance sheet of the successes of the Red Army, and of the war.
The capitalist press has been lavish in its praise of the tremendous achievements of the Soviet Unit and its army. It is clear that had the Nazi invaders been faced with the old Tsarist army, they would have swept into Asia long ago. But the matchless spirit and hatred of the imperialist invader, who brings not only national oppression, but the restoration of the capitalists and the landlords, whom the peoples of the Soviet Union have overthrown, have led to this unsurpassed resistance.
The material preponderance of Germany, armed with a far superior technique and industrial structure, and basing herself on the resources of the whole of Europe, has not been sufficient to offset the enthusiasm and self-sacrifice of the masses of the Soviet Union. Armed with a planned and organised economy the Soviet Union has stood the test.
But Imperialist Germany is wreaking a terrible revenge on the masses in Russia for their resistance. And without the support of the masses of all nationalities the Soviet Union would have collapsed long ago. The Daily Telegraph reveals how in the battle of the Donetz, the peasants supported the Red Army though armed only with knives, pickaxes and shovels.
Russia is bleeding from every pore. The losses in this most terrible war must be the greatest in all history. The Red Army’s advance is unparalleled in history but the German army is still almost intact and has not been destroyed.
The principle reason for this is not far to seek. The just hatred of the Soviet masses of the imperialist invader has been deliberately distorted and misdirected into a hatred, not of the capitalists and their Nazi agents, but of the German rank and file, of all Germans as such. The whole propaganda to the Russian masses by the Stalin Government has been of an incredibly revolting nationalist and chauvinist character. Soviet War News every week prints pages of this disgusting stuff. On the wireless, in the cinemas, and in the newspapers, all are filled with a racial hatred which could compare with that of Goebbels. To cite one or two examples. Alexei Tolstoy, writing in Soviet War News of February 13th, 1943, in an article entitled: “Tough Guys, Thick Heads”:
“The Hitlerite army is held together by German training and discipline and German thick-headedness. The German soldier still has plenty of this. The Red Army will have to exert no little effort and deliver not a few blows to make the Germans whine like curs. But they soon will whine, make no mistake, because the Red Army has become really angry.”
D. Manuilsky, one of the leaders of the so-called Communist International writes in Soviet War News, February 8th, 1943, in an article entitled “Hitler’s Accursed Generation”:
“At Stalingrad, Hitler deceived his men. But let us admit frankly that they were deceived because they wanted to be deceived, because his lies correspond to the mentality bred in them by a whole lifetime of lies and deceit. They are slaves deprived of rights, without individual minds; slaves accustomed to complete subordination.
“Hitler promised to make them masters of the earth. He stole scraps of reactionary ideology from every quarter in order to justify the greedy desires of German imperialism, and poisoned the psychology of the young German generation so that they became a demoralised gang of plunderers and murderers.
“This generation, unscrupulous and brutal, is merely robbing other peoples’ countries. With cold cruelty it is exterminating the inhabitants of occupied lands.
“Hitler has created an accursed generation of moral cripples which brings humanity nothing but devastation, death and destruction. The Hitlerite is brave when he has a rifle and faces a defenceless person. He is ready to commit the meanest, most incredible crimes if he is sure he will not be punished...”
And Manuilsky ends his article:
“...they will understand how terrible is the responsibility with which they have saddled eighty million Germans.”
Here is the reason for the resistance of the German army. Hitler tells them that the war is a struggle for national survival and the propaganda of the Stalinists serves only to back him up. If the war remains a purely military struggle there is no reason why it should not continue for years. Churchill’s estimate of a long war is based on this consideration. The Anglo-American imperialists intend cutting Germany to pieces and oppressing the German people like the Nazis themselves have oppressed other peoples in Europe.
The allied imperialists look with not an unfavourable eye on the fact that the Soviet Union is compelled to bear the brunt of the war. And indeed, has this not always been the policy of all imperialists, to simultaneously weaken their “Allies” while using them to deal blows against their enemies? The Daily Worker of March 23rd quotes Eugene Tarle, the Russian historian who demonstrates historically this policy, on the part of British imperialism, in the Napoleonic war against Tsarism:
“What the British opposition publicist Cobbett said much later about Lord Castlereagh applies to many European statesmen of that time. Cobbett said: ‘In 1912 My Lord desired with equal ardour two things— firstly, Russian victory over Napoleon and, secondly, that this victory should not come to the Russians too soon.’”
The Daily Worker columnist comments: “And have we not also some Castlereaghs today?”
But of course, the Stalinists refuse to draw the conclusions from this. The policy of British imperialism in the last war, while fighting to defeat Germany, was to systematically weaken their “dear ally” Tsarist Russia. How much more so must this inevitably be the policy today when they are faced not with a feudal-capitalist state, but a workers’ state (even if somewhat degenerated).
If the war continues on the present basis, the Soviet Union will emerge from the struggle weakened and shaken. It will be greatly dependent on the good-will of the Allies. They are collecting huge resources in men and material which would be comparatively fresh, while coldly calculating to the last ounce and the last minute the resistance of the Soviet Union.
The heroism of the Russian workers and soldiers, despite material handicaps, has been sufficient to save the Soviet Union from military defeat. But even this is not sufficient to save the Soviet Union from world imperialism. Stalin’s nominating of himself as a Marshall is a significant indication that the military generals and the officer caste have taken control in the Soviet Union. They will lean more and more in the direction of Anglo-American imperialism. “Victory” under such conditions would not be a safeguard against the imperialist pressure to re-introduce capitalism into Russia. Taking advantage of Russia’s weakness the capitalists would take advantage of her need for machinery and materials—even food—as a weapon against collective ownership.
The nationalist methods of Stalinism in fighting the war, are leading the Soviet Union to destruction. There is only one means whereby the Soviet Union can be safeguarded: that is the method of the revolutionary war of Lenin and Trotsky. A socialist appeal to the workers of Germany and Europe to end the fratricidal struggle by overthrowing the Nazis and going forward not to the “New Order” of imperialism in Europe, but to a United Socialist States of Europe. Such a policy would secure the support not only of the German workers, but the workers and soldiers of Britain and America. Stalinism is stabbing the Russian workers and peasants in the back by reliance on world imperialism. The only genuine allies of the Soviet Union are the workers of all countries—not least of all the workers of Germany, for the fate of the Soviet Union is bound up with their fate.