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Ernest Erber

Stalin Gave Hitler Green Light to Start the Second World War

(14 October 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 41, 14 October 1946, pp. 3 & 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The spectacle of a Russian judge sitting on the Tribunal at Nuremberg and joining in the condemnation of the Nazis for “planning and waging a war of aggression” establishes a new low in hypocrisy.

Not that the Kremlin gang is the only government that should have sat in the prisoners’ dock instead of the judges’ bench. All the warring imperialist governments belonged in the dock. None have the right to sit in judgment upon others. But the case of the Russians is especially reprehensible because even a short memory cannot have forgotten that they directly participated, cheek by jowl, with Hitler in “planning and waging” the war upon Poland which raised the curtain on World War II.

Who can have forgotten that it was the Hitler-Stalin pact of August 1939 which gave the Nazi regime the green light for war? Who can have forgotten that the invasion of Poland by Hitler’s armies was undertaken through agreement with Stalin? Who can have forgotten that Stalin joined in the assault upon Poland and dealt the death blow to Polish resistance? Who can have forgotten that the two “victors” met over the mortally wounded body of Poland to divide the booty? Who can have forgotten that Stalin said his friendship with Hitler was “cemented by blood” as a result of their joint Polish campaign? Who can have forgotten that the Stalinist and Hitlerite press united in accusing England and France of having fomented the war?

Who can have forgotten?

Millions have already forgotten.

Power of Propaganda

The overwhelming power of propaganda has all but eradicated from the public mind the outline of events of the Hitler-Stalin pact period. The propaganda’s success was in large measure due to the efforts of the Allied propagandists to wipe out the memory of the Hitler-Stalin pact after Russia became their ally. It was, however, the cynical role of Russia itself after Hitler double-crossed Stalin, in posing as the fiercest and most consistent anti-Nazi power of them all that made the Hitler-Stalin pact seem unreal. After Ilya Ehrenburg’s venomous hate campaign against the German people, after the Russian war-cry of “kill more Germans,” the memory of the Hitler-Stalin pact seemed like some vague recollection of something that may have been merely a bad dream. Stalin as a friend of Hitler? It just doesn’t seem possible.

The sheer gall of the Russian propaganda continued right through the Nuremberg proceedings and was capped with their demagogic denunciation of the verdict for not imposing the death penalty on all the defendants. After having listened to the anti-German line of the Russians since June 1942, who can believe that he heard the same people say the following:

“It is fear of losing world supremacy that dictates to the ruling circles of Great Britain and France the policy of fomenting war with Germany.”

In these terms Molotov described the “aggressors” in his report to the Supreme Soviet on October 31, 1939.

Molotov’s report followed the signing of the second treaty between Russia and Germany. The first one paved the way for their joint war on Poland. The second one decided the details of the division of Eastern and Northern Europe between them and planned for a joint “peace” offensive against England and France. Appended to the treaty was a propaganda statement signed by Molotov and Ribbentrop in the form of a protocol. We reproduce it in full elsewhere on this page. Its contents reveal that the bloc between Hitler and Stalin went beyond joint military and economic measures. They embarked upon a common political project. Their aim was to pin upon England and France the onus of being “war-mongers” and manipulate mass peace sentiment to force a settlement that would leave Hitler and Stalin in control of Eastern Europe.

Economic Treaties

The diplomatic treaties were reinforced with economic treaties that provided for the supply of Germany with many crucial materials cut off by the British blockade and for the transit across Russia of certain vital commodities supplied by Japan.

The Hitler-Stalin bloc led to an immediate cessation of all anti-fascist propaganda in Russia, including the stopping of anti-Nazi films and plays and the disappearance of anti-fascist books from book stores. The Communist International applied the same line throughout the world. It stigmatized anti-fascist propaganda as “warmongering” and conducted “peace campaigns” in England and the United States. Mosley, leading British fascist, and Gallacher, Communist member of Parliament, vied with each other in denouncing the British government’s part in the war and demanding peace. The British Communist Party organized “People’s Peace” meetings throughout the country. In the United States, the Peace Mobilization movement, organized by the Communist Party, picketed the White House under the slogan of “The Yanks aren’t coming!” and conducted a tremendous agitation in the union movement against lend-lease aid to Britain. Browder and Fritz Kuhn, Nazi Bund “Fuehrer,” sounded almost indistinguishable in their support of the Hitler-Stalin “peace” efforts.

Stalin Sent “Regrets”

When a bomb narrowly missed Hitler in the Munich beer hall shrine, the Russian government “expressed its regrets and indignation at the attempt to assassinate Chancellor Hitler” and “expressed satisfaction over his escape” and sent its “condolences to the injured and to the relatives of the dead.” The Moscow radio broadcast the German version of the incident, including its blame of the British Intelligence Service for the bombing.

Hitler showed himself just as tender and considerate for the welfare of his partner. On Stalin’s sixtieth birthday both Hitler and von Ribbentrop sent messages of congratulations. Stalin replied to thank them and to state to von Ribbentrop that the friendship was “cemented in blood.” (Meanwhile Hitler’s hangmen were adding to it the blood of the Jewish population of Poland.)

Stalin and von Ribbentrop clinked glasses in a sumptuous Kremlin banquet toasting their “friendship.” Red Army bands played the Nazi Horst Wessel Lied as German diplomatic delegations landed at Russian airports and Nazi bands defiled the Internationale by playing it on Templehof airdrome when Molotov visited Hitler. The swastika and the hammer and sickle flew side by side on these occasions.

Molotov explained:

“One may accept or reject the ideology of Hitlerism as well as any other ideological system: that is a matter of political views.” (Some translations of his speech said, ”... that is a matter of TASTE.”)

Today the Stalinist propagandists would have us believe that this was all a clever game on the part of the Russians, that it was necessary to “buy time” to prepare for war. But how then was it that the Russian armies were so badly prepared? How was it that Hitler’s attack caught them by surprise? But if it really was a game the Russians were playing and everything the Russians said and did was compounded of lies, duplicity, hypocrisy and double-dealing, all designed to deceive the Nazis, did it not also deceive and miseducate the people, both within Russia and Germany and throughout the world? Did it not deceive the members of the American Communist Party? Did not Browder and Foster repeat the same lies in the United States?

Was all this necessary as an elaborate cover to trick the Nazis? If this was the case, how can anyone believe the Stalinist regime today? How do we know that Molotov’s and Vyshinsky’s speeches at the Peace Conference are not a gigantic hoax to cover up some other ends? To say that the American, English and French diplomats also lie is not saying anything new. All it is saying is that Stalinist Russia is not different; it plays imperialist power politics in the same dirty manner.

That is why the spectacle of Hitler’s partner sitting on the judges’ bench at Nuremberg and pointing an accusing finger at the prisoners in the dock causes an honest man to become nauseous with disgust.

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