Australian History. 1942

Communists and the War

Second Front

by D. Lovegrove

Source: "Reason in Revolt", Source documents of Australian Radicalism;
First Published: in the “Labor Call” October 15th, 1942;
Republished: as A Review of the Report of the Ironworkers’ Union Federal Council and Communists and The War;
Transcribed: by Chris Clayton.

LIKE the other Communist arguments in the Ironworkers’ Report, the Second Front argument is conspicuous for those little fits of forgetfulness which distinguishes the publications of the Communist Party.

It seems incredible that in some 20 pages of what is described on the first page as a

“... clear, detailed analysis of the situation both in Australia and abroad” ... there is not one reference to the Russian-German Pact (24/8/39) or the Russian-Japanese Pact (12/4/41)

Instead, Page 6 informs us that the quick defeat of France

“... can be attributed to the rotten capitalist, imperialist leadership of France, and the Fascists who had wormed their way into the key positions in the French Government.”

This may be true. But it is also true that the defeat of France can be attributed to other things.

For instance, the organised sabotage of the French Communist Party, which sought to end the war as soon as the Russian-German Pact was signed, and which did its best to smash the morale of the French workers.

Or perhaps France could have been saved by a Second Front in Europe. Who knows? There may be something in this [...], for so many people are now urging its potent powers.

“... The main subsequent characteristic of the war was the steady defeat on every front of Great Britain after France had been defeated. We saw Yugo-Slavia overrun, quick defeat of Greece and the British troops in Crete, and the serious nature of the battle for the Atlantic, which resulted in millions of tons of Allied ships going to the bottom.”

This account carefully omits any mention of the Battle for Britain, and it is possible to search in vain for any reference to the epic struggle of the British workers in defence of their island home.

Apparently the only sentiments permissible in the Ironworkers’ “Report” are sentiments having nothing of any good to say about their own kinsmen, whose heroism and sacrifice during those terrible months alone makes today possible, even the planning of a Second Front in Europe, and alone makes possible today the enormous British supplies without which Russia could never have survived.

Instead, we are informed that “By the middle of last year Hitler though h was strong enough, after drawing the teeth of Great Britain, to dispose of the Soviet Union and to grab the oil and other products necessary to clean up the world.”

What is this but an admission that despite the “imperialist” character of the war before June 22, 1941, Russia would have been better off today if there had been a Second Front in Europe since 1939?

For if it was Hitler’s intentions to smash Britain in the West, as an indispensable condition for the attack on Russia in the East, surely it would have paid Russia to have prevented the defeat of France, and the German occupation of Western Europe?

And the Nazi air war on Britain?

At the worst, Russia could have been no worse off, for the Allies would have still held Western Europe and Germany would have been compelled to fight a Second Front for the past three years.

This possibility, like many others, finds no reference in either the Ironworkers’ Report or in any of the Communist Party’s clumsy attempts to falsify and distort history.

“The Second Front issue is not one that has been developed by armchair strategists. Who are the greatest military leaders of this war? One man stands out the greatest national and military leader of all — Stalin. He stands head and shoulders above anyone else, and he makes the demand for the Second Front.”

Apparently the disposition of Allied forces (including Australians) is to be left to the judgement of Stalin and those people in the Allied countries who agree with him upon this question, at the moment.

(Or perhaps the Ironworkers’ Council itself will determine grand strategy, in the event of another Dieppe).

But Australians will continue to prefer the judgment of their own race and their own Governments.

Two other remarkable admissions deserve honorable mention. Page 19 advises that: —

“Towards the end of last year, just after our management committee arrived at its decision to support the war, Japan entered into it. This did not alter the character of the war for us.”

And page 12 advises that:

“We have decided that we have a new attitude to the war and a new attitude towards production. So our Management Committee decided t campaign for increased production. We campaigned to avoid strikes, with the result that we have been surprisingly successful, when we remember that our union has deliberately and in a planned way been involved in more strikes than other unions in the last few years.

“These were not just the sporadic strikes that are typical of the coalfields, but planned strikes, because we made strikes our business.”

It would appear, therefore, that the Ironworkers’ Union wants to increase production because Germany attacked Russia, and not because Japan attacked Australia. (As they point out, Japan’s entry into the war “did not alter the character of the war for us.”)

In other words, the Communists admit that their self-styled “campaign to increase production” is not connected with Australia’s needs, but with Russia’s needs.

Once this is understood, it is not difficult to assess the Communist “Second Front” propaganda at its real worth.

And irrespective of the admiration and sympathy, which all Australians instinctively feel for Russia’s heroic resistance to the Nazis, Australians know that the small white population charged with the defence of our great island continent faces even greater peril than does Russia.

For Russia has the manpower to survive, while Australia, as a nation, could conceivably be utterly annihilated.

And while Australia’s sons are fighting for our survival in the deadly jungles north of this continent, Australians can feel nothing but contempt for people who show no concern for this life and death struggle, but who are more concerned with getting reinforcements in Russia than they are concerned with getting reinforcements to New Guinea.

The Ironworkers’ Report (page 11) has the impudence to state that: —

“It is no accident that some people in the Labor Movement say, put Australia first. This is the attitude of the Fascist Stephenson gang, who call themselves the Australia First Movement.”

It ill becomes people with the record of political chicanery held by the Communist Party to characterise as “Fascist” those Australian Laborites whose first allegiance is devoted to Australia.

Laborites reading the Ironworkers’ Report (page 7) will find glowing references to the retreat of the Red Army from last June to November. They will find no references to the magnificent retreat of less than 1000 Australians, surrounded by 15,000 crack Japanese troops, in the dank infested jungles of Malaya last February.

But these Australians were, of course, merely attempting to stem the deadly Japanese onslaught thrusting upon Australia. And why should they be worthy of mention?

For the Communists point out in their Ironworkers’ Report that they “arrived at its decision to support the war” before Japan entered it, and not because Japan entered it.

Australians will therefore assess the Communist lip service to the war, to Democracy, and to labor at its true worth.

And as plain speaking seems the only answer to cynical falsification, the Communists should be reminded that Russia is our Ally today because Russia was attacked, and not because we were attacked.

That the magnificent struggle of the Russian people is primarily for the defence of their own country, and that Russian assistance to the Allied cause is at present confined to its own defence.

That the success of this defence depends upon the ability of Great Britain and the U.S.A. to supply Russia, and engage Germany and Japan upon a dozen other Fronts throughout the world today.

That Australia, which itself is in desperate need of British and American assistance, is in no position to direct British and American policy in Europe.

That Australia is in desperate need of a Second Front in the Pacific.

That the first concern of Australians is the defence of Australia.

And that people who do not understand this simple truth have little claim to be known as Australians, and less claim to advise other people where they should do their fighting.