Leon Trotsky

The Kremlin’s Role in the War

(June/August 1940)

Written: 17 June & 2 August 1940.
First Published: Fourth International, Vol.1 No.5, October 1940, p.137
Translated: By Fourth International
Transcription/HTML Markup: David Walters.
Proofread: Scott Wilson.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2002. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.

The capitulation of France is not a simple military episode. It is part of the catastrophe of Europe. Mankind can no longer live under the regime of imperialism. Hitler is not an accident; he is only the most consistent and the most bestial expression of imperialism, which threatens to crush our whole civilization.

But in line with the general causes of the catastrophe inherent in imperialism, it is impermissible to forget the criminal, sinister role played by the Kremlin and the Comintern. Nobody else rendered such support to Hitler as Stalin. Nobody else created such a dangerous situation for the USSR as Stalin.

During a period of five years the Kremlin and its Comintern propagandized for an “alliance of democracies” and “people’s fronts” with the aim of preventive war against “fascist aggressors.” This propaganda, as witnessed most strikingly in the example of France, had a tremendous influence upon the popular masses. But when war really approached, the Kremlin and its agency, the Comintern, jumped unexpectedly into the camp of the “fascist aggressors.” Stalin with his horse-trader mentality sought in this way to cheat Chamberlain, Daladier, Roosevelt, and to gain strategic positions in Poland and the Baltic countries. But the Kremlin’s jump had immeasurably greater consequences: not only did it cheat the governments but it disoriented and demoralized the popular masses, in the first place in the so-called democracies. With its propaganda of “people’s fronts” the Kremlin hindered the masses from conducting the fight against the imperialist war. With his shift to Hitler’s side Stalin abruptly mixed up all the cards and paralyzed the military power of the “democracies.” In spite of all the machines of destruction the moral factor retains decisive importance in the war. By demoralizing the popular masses in Europe, and not solely in Europe, Stalin played the role of an agent provocateur in the service of Hitler. The capitulation of France is one of the results of such politics.

But it is by no means the only result. In spite of the Kremlin’s territorial seizures, the international position of the USSR is worsened in the extreme. The Polish buffer disappeared. The Rumanian buffer will disappear tomorrow. Mighty Germany, master of Europe, acquires a common frontier with the USSR. Scandinavia, a place of weak and almost disarmed countries, is occupied by this same Germany. Her victories in the west are only preparation for a gigantic move toward the east. In the attack on Finland the Red Army, decapitated and demoralized by Stalin, demonstrated its weakness before the whole world. In his coming march against the USSR, Hitler will find support in Japan.

The agents of the Kremlin begin to speak once more about the alliance of the democracies against the fascist aggressors. It is possible that as the cheated cheater, Stalin will be forced to make a new turn in his foreign politics. But woe to the peoples if they again trust the dishonest agents of the Kremlin’s chief! Stalin helped convert Europe into bloody chaos and took the USSR to the very brink of the abyss. The peoples of the USSR now cannot help but feel the greatest anxiety .... Only the overthrow of the Moscow totalitarian clique, only the regeneration of Soviet democracy can unleash the forces of the Soviet peoples for the fight against the inevitable and fast-approaching blow from imperialist Germany. Hence Soviet patriotism is inseparable from irreconcilable struggle against the Stalinist clique.

Coyoacan, D. F.
June 17, 1940

(The following statement was issued by Leon Trotsky to the United Press.)

Molotov’s latest speech confirms that the Kremlin continues to be a satellite of Berlin and Rome. The Communist leaders in various countries have calmed their parties with promises that tomorrow if not today Moscow will turn towards the “democracies.” Molotov’s speech belies these promises. Five years of “anti-fascist” people’s fronts are definitely unmasked as charlatanism. Moscow’s foreign policy is determined by power politics and not by political principles.

Molotov, it is true, tried to cover the present Kremlin policy with anti-imperialist phraseology. But its falseness strikes one’s eyes. Molotov unmasked England’s wish to retain her colonies. But he kept silent about Germany’s and Italy’s wish to take them. He spoke about the imperialism of Japan and the United States but he didn’t find a word of condemnation for Hitler’s banditry and Mussolini’s jackal politics. Even more, he underlined for the first time that the German-Soviet Pact assured free hands to Hitler. This unilateral and thoroughly sham “fight” against imperialism only reveals that Moscow’s politics is not independent but serves the interests of one imperialism against the other.

An increase in population of 23,000,000 doesn’t solve the problem of security of the USSR. The victory of Hitler-Mussolini over Great Britain would immediately place the move towards the east on the order of the day for German imperialism. It would at once become clear that in following the line of least resistance the Kremlin, oligarchy only, accumulated difficulties and dangers.

Coyoacan, D.F.
August 2, 1940

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Last updated on: 22.4.2007