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Fourth International, March 1947


Review of the Month

The Moscow Conference of the Big Four Foreign Ministers


From Fourth International, March 1947, Vol.8 No.3, pp.67-69.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


Bellicose ‘Peacemakers’

The first peace settlement after World War I was the infamous Versailles Treaty dictated to conquered Germany by the victorious Allies. This time the drafting of terms for defeated Germany has had to be placed last on the agenda of the Allied “peace” plans for Europe. This testifies to the irreconcilable antagonism among the victors in the Second World War. Their respective aims and interests are mutually exclusive. So far as their respective economic and political schemes for the reconstruction of Germany are concerned, they are all bankrupts.

When the Foreign Ministers of the Big Four meet on March 10 in Moscow to discuss peace terms for Germany and Austria, their first and principal concern must be to arrive at a peace settlement amongst themselves. The secret conference in Potsdam in July-August 1945, which laid down the conditions for the present savage treatment of Germany became the starting point for growing divergences and sharper clashes between the peacemakers. Since then their disagreements have become more acute and the sources of friction have multiplied. Their discussions have become more bellicose in tone with each successive meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers from the London Conference in November 1945 to the Paris Conference last September.

Now at Moscow all these contradictions will be brought to a head, not alone because this is the final and decisive “peace” conference but also because of the key position of Germany. Germany is the heart and nerve center of Europe. There all the difficulties and problems harassing the tortured peoples of Europe are tied in a single knot. There the interests and aims of the two contending power blocs, headed by the United States on the one side and the Kremlin oligarchy on the other, clash most violently.

Each of the Big Four governments will enter the parleys at Moscow determined to gain the maximum advantages for their utterly reactionary programs in Europe.

Military Boots Dictate Terms

At the head of the imperialist gang will be the United States. Represented by Secretary of State Marshall, the five-star General and former Chief of Staff who drafted Wall Street’s war plans and participated in all the Allied conferences of World War II. This General of the Army is the epitome of Wall Street’s imperialist diplomacy. He travels to Moscow after a year in China. There behind a smokescreen of impartial arbitration he worked to buttress that advance post of US militarism in Asia by propping up Chiang Kai-shek’s shaken dictatorship, reorganizing the Kuomintang armies and supervising the miIitary campaign against the forces of the Stalin-dominated Yenan regime. Now he will proceed to dispose of the question of Germany, key sector in the West for welding a ring of steel around the Kremlin’s “buffer zone” in Eastern Europe and around the Soviet Union itself.

Surrounding Marshall will be a galaxy of brass-hat diplomats: General Mark Clark from Austria, General Clay from Germany, and his own former aide, Bedell Smith, now Ambassador to the USSR. While these American representatives may continue to speak the language of diplomacy, they will’ negotiate at this “peace” table as commanders of the mightiest military power on earth and monopolizers of the atom bomb. Thus armed, these military men intend to exert the utmost pressure upon Stalin and force him to retreat while Wall Street promotes its plans for the subjugation of Europe.

Now that Germany has been totally crushed and eliminated as a competitor on the world market, Washington seeks to integrate that shattered country into its system of vassal states. To enable monopolies like du Pont, General Electric and General Motors to take over strategic branches of German industry, to facilitate the investment of American capital, and pare down heavy occupation costs, the United States must now permit a restricted revival of German economic life and a regulated consolidation of its regime. In this way the American imperialists hope to build up a base in Central Europe for their counterrevolutionary control of the rest of the European continent and for their eventual assault upon the Soviet Union.

Laborite Flunkeys Of Imperialism

Bevin, as the spokesman for the Laborite flunkies of British imperialism, will be guided by similar motives. The program of all the Attlees and Bevins for Germany does not contain a trace of working class internationalism. Their policy is in all essentials identical with that of the British Tories. They cynically trample on the democratic right of nations to independence and self-determination. They want to bring Germany into a political and economic bloc of Western European countries in order to revive England’s waning markets, vanishing prestige and power and to construct an anti-Soviet bulwark.

These are the reasons behind the reversal in Anglo-American policy toward Germany signalized by Byrnes’ demands in his Stuttgart speech last September 6 for a centralized government and amalgamation of the separate areas. The recent merger of the English and American economic zones in the first step toward this goal. After tearing Germany to pieces at Potsdam, the Anglo-American imperialists now propose to patch the country together the better to fit it into their reactionary designs.

The French imperialists, however, are bent upon dismembering Germany still further. They expect to pump new blood into the senile body of capitalist France by severing the Ruhr and Rhineland as well as the Saar region from the Germany. Most of the smaller neighbors of the Germans – Holland, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark and even tiny Luxembourg – have likewise put in their bid for slices of German territory.

After almost two years of military rule by their conquerors, the prostrated German people, the most advanced in Europe, still find themselves an object of attack by the imperialist vultures. Is it any wonder capitalist “democracy;’ brought in on bayonet points, has made so few converts there?

Stalin’s Crimes in Germany

If the German people had been given a helping hand from the East, if the workers had been assured of solidarity and support from the Soviet Union, Moscow would today be an irresistible pole of attraction for the German masses. But the Stalinist bureaucracy has collaborated so closely with the Anglo-American imperialists, and inflicted such injuries upon Germany that the masses are more and more repelled from the USSR which they tend to identify with the despotic Kremlin rulers.

The list of the Kremlin’s crimes against the German people is almost endless. It has sanctioned the partition of Germany; removed and plundered machinery and livestock, factories and entire branches of industry; enslaved millions of war-prisoners and engaged in brutal transfers of whole populations. It has deprived the German people of elementary democratic rights, bureaucratized and held down the labor movement. In brief, it has done everything in its power to discredit the very idea of communism.

Despite the agrarian reforms it has encouraged and despite its cynical attempts to win sympathy in the Soviet-occupied areas, the Kremlin regime does not appear to the German people in any better light than the imperialist beasts of prey. The Stalinist bureaucracy approaches the problem of Germany, not from the standpoint of promoting the common welfare of the German and Soviet peoples, but exclusively from the standpoint of safeguarding its own caste privileges. It participates in power politics without regard for either the national sentiments and aspirations of the German people or for the interests of the working class.

The Kremlin’s Dilemma

As the forthcoming conference in their capital approaches, the rulers in the Kremlin are torn by conflicting considerations. On the one hand, they fear the specter of a resurgent capitalist Germany which with the backing of the Anglo-American powers might against become a sword aimed at the vitals of the USSR. But in its present weak and lacerated state Germany cannot supply the goods desired by the Kremlin to repair its own devastated economy.

Thus Stalin wavers between two policies: one tending toward a head on collision with the US in an attempt to keep Germany divided and enfeebled; the other envisaging a new agreement with the United States in which German industry will be restored by American aid sufficiently to provide many manufactures Russia needs. Russia has asked for 10 billion dollars in reparations from Germany. This colossal claim could be traded off as part of such a deal, along with Germany’s future.

Neither Germany nor Austria will have a voice or vote at the Moscow conference. Their destinies will be decided by the Big Four, actually by the Big Two, in accordance with the requirements of power politics. The Moscow conference will continue and aggravate the evil work started at Potsdam.

Thanks first to the imperialist war and now to the imperialist “peace,” most of the German nation today is starving, jobless, homeless, hopeless, and helpless. Tuberculosis and diseases of malnutrition have struck tens of thousands. In the House of Commons on February 5 Richard Law, spokesman for the British Conservatives, acknowledged the appalling effects of their own actions: “We have there in the heart of Western Europe twenty to thirty million human beings rotting to death before our eyes.”

‘Democracy’ In Action

Under the present military regimes of starvation and repression, the promises of democracy sound like a grim-joke to the German masses. Instead of a thoroughgoing denazification, they see amnesty extended to hordes of fascists. Thousands of highly-placed Nazis have become advisers to the occupying authorities; Schacht and Von Papen have been acquitted in the Nuremburg Trials. They see the Allied conquerors monopolize the choicest dwellings and reserve the best transportation for themselves. They see quisling parties and politicians patronized while any free political activity is rigorously prohibited and independent trade union action forbidden.

The situation is no better in Austria, which was explicitly guaranteed independence by the Allied powers. The treaties already drafted for the satellite countries are an infallible indication of what is in store for the German and Austrian peoples. Whatever else the Council of Foreign Ministers may disagree upon at Moscow, their final “peace” terms will mean the continued ruination, impoverishment, degradation and oppression of Germany and Austria.

The workers of America cannot be partners to these abominable crimes against Germany and Austria. Instead of being dominated by foreign powers, the peoples themselves have the right to determine their own conditions of life and labor. Bymes has declared in the name of the US Government that American occupation forces will remain indefinitely in Germany. The labor movement should answer by demanding that all occupation troops be withdrawn from Europe and the soldiers brought back home.

The projected annexations and reparations threaten to drain the very life blood from Germany. These too must be vigorously opposed. The workers of the United States must proclaim their solidarity with the people of Germany and Austria in defiance of their common oppressors.

Not only the fate of Germany and Austria is at stake in Moscow. The future of all Europe is being decided there.

Europe’s Mortal Enemies

The European continent cannot hope to emerge from its present devastation and decay without the revival of Germany, the central power station of European industry. The Big Four, however, aim to remould German economy and reshape the map of Europe in accord with their special strategic interests. These conflict all along the line with the vital needs of the European masses and with the realities of European economy. Europe is not only a geographical but an economic unit. Yet today it is cut up into forty states of assorted sizes and strengths. None of these nations, carved out of the body of Europe, have any real independence. In the last analysis they will all be compelled to enter either the orbit of the United States or that of the Soviet Union.

This politically divided Europe is an anachronism. It must unite or perish. None of the countries can withstand the tremendous pressures exerted by the world powers: Under the prevailing chaos of small competing and mutually hostile states, with their own customs barriers, armies, and petty ambitions, the European peoples are doomed to be driven ever deeper into despair and decay.

The governments meeting in March at Moscow are deadly foes of any genuine unification of Europe. They cannot, and do not intend, to provide peace, security, or prosperity for Europe. While the present setup remains, Europe can only go from bad to worse, with its impoverished and vassalized countries condemned to be the prey of rival capitalist cliques and pawns in the struggle for supremacy between the great powers.

The peoples of that unhappy continent have a way out of their misery. This solution of their problem is neither easy nor simple but it alone can achieve enduring and fruitful results. That is the road of revolutionary struggle directed toward the abolition of capitalism and the establishment of socialism.

The Only Road

Europe can throw off its chains and be united in a progressive manner only through the revolutionary action of the exploited masses led by the working class. Their joint war against all their oppressors conducted under the banner of socialist emancipation can enable the European peoples to defend themselves against the encroachments of Anglo-American imperialism and the depredations of the counter-revolutionary Kremlin oligarchy.

To the false and reactionary “peace” of the Big Four, we Trotskyist counterpose the revolutionary program summarized in the slogan: “Socialist United States of Europe.” The Resolution adopted by the Conference of the Fourth International in April 1946 correctly shows what the accomplishment of this urgent task can mean for tormented Europe and the rest of the world.

A socialist Europe will be based on the economic unification of the continent, suppressing all tariff walls, planning its economy, and at the same time presenting the best framework for the development and flourishing of its national civilizations and cultures. National borders in the new Socialist Europe will be determined democratically according to language national culture and the freely expressed sympathies of the populations.

A Socialist Europe will grant complete independence to all the colonies, establishing friendly economic relations with them and leading them progressively, without the use of violence and by example and collaboration, toward a Socialist World Federation.

The USSR, freed of its directing bureaucratic caste, will join the Socialist European Federation, which will aid in solving its difficulties, and attain a level of prosperity and culture never before achieved. The slogan of the Socialist United States of Europe is the only realistic alternative to the plans of reaction which are leading the continent toward barbarism and chaos.

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