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Albert Goldman

Where We Stand

(13 September 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 37, 13 September 1941, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The General Staff of the Red Army

The magnificent resistance offered by the Soviet army to the Nazi attack is correctly attributed to the morale of the soldiers in the Red Army.

The Stalinist leaders try to use this fact as proof that all that Stalin did before the war was justified – especially the arrest and execution of Tukachevsky and thousands of other leading officers of the Red Army.

Politicians and journalists in the service of the “democratic” imperialists are also now singing the praises of Stalin. While they do not say that the execution of the leading officers was justified, they claim that the way the Soviet soldiers are fighting proves that the execution did no harm to the Red Army.

What a shameless misuse of the courage and sacrifice of the Soviet soldiers!

The fact remains that the Red Army has suffered serious defeats and has been compelled to relinquish huge and economically important slices of territory. It may be that by its fighting capacity the Red Army will succeed in stemming the advance of the Nazi army, and even of defeating it, if the German losses are great enough. But if that happens, it surely will not be because of Stalin and his general staff. In a long war the economic superiority of Germany would be the decisive factor. But in the early stages of any war that factor is not decisive. The decisive factors at the beginning of a war are the number of men, the equipment, training and morale of the army, and the quality of the staff work.

Numerically the Red Army is larger than the German army. In equipment, both quantitatively and qualitatively, the Red Army is at least equal to the German army. In morale it is superior.

Why, then, should the Red Army be retreating? Why shouldn’t the Red Army be on German soil rather than vice versa? Why should an army composed of such valiant fighters be losing so many battles?

The only answer possible is the inferior staff work of the Red Army command. Every other military factor favors the Red Army. The explanation for the defeats lies, therefore, in the lack of staff work and the lack of staff work is due to the execution of the leading army officers. That should be as plain as day to everyone not a Stalinist or a pro-war journalist interested in covering up the real defects of the Red Army.

Why the “Democrats” Are Pleased

Why are all the politicians and journalists, serving the interests of the “democratic” imperialists, so elated at the showing of the Soviet Army? Why are they so enthusiastic about the “successful” defense of the Soviet Union?

It is because their standards are altogether different from the standards of those sincerely devoted to the interests of the Soviet Union. The servants of the “democratic” imperialists are interested in the resistance of the Soviet Army to the Nazi imperialist army only insofar as that resistance is of aid to the “democratic” imperialists. Their hope is that the Soviet Army will exhaust the Nazi army and assure victory for the “democracies.” At the same time they hope that the Soviet Army will itself become exhausted so as to leave the Soviet Union at the mercy of the “democracies.”

To the “democratic” imperialists every week that the Soviet Army continues to fight means that much more time in which they can prepare and it means more losses for the Nazy army. What do the “democrats” care about the territory that the Soviet Union loses? What do they care about the enormous sacrifices which the Soviet people must undergo?

To the “democratic” imperialists the destruction of the Soviet Union would be welcome if only it does not take six weeks but sixteen weeks – better still if it takes a year and involves a winter campaign for the Nazi army.

The Stalinists Fall In with This

And the miserable Stalinists fall in with that attitude! They who boasted about the invincibility of the Red Army, they who proclaimed that the Red Army would be in Berlin before the Nazi army would take Moscow, are now proclaiming as victories the constant retreat of the Red Army.

And they dare to justify the murder of the leading officers! They forget to mention, of course, that it was Tukachevsky and his associates who mechanized the Red Army and who built the so-called Stalin line of fortifications.

The Red Army would in all probability be invincible, had not the Stalinist bureaucracy chopped its head off and left it in the hands of tenth-raters. One of the reasons that Hitler ordered the attack on the Soviet Union was that he knew how weakened the Red Army was by the acts of Stalin. The fascist imperialists, like the “democratic” ones, did not count on the spirit of the Red Army but, alas, they were right in counting on the weakness and incapacity of the Red Army staff.

The magnificent morale of the Red Army may yet prove the rock upon which Hitler will break his head. Hitler may be beaten ultimately because of the enormous losses suffered by his army in the campaign against the Soviet Union. Or it may even be that the Soviet Army, after exhausting the Nazi army, may actually drive the Nazi army back.

If that happens the Stalinists will boast that it was due to the execution of the leading officers. But the Soviet soldiers know better – they know that they are compelled to make such enormous sacrifices because of Stalin. They surely know that they are compelled to retreat now, in spite of their resistance, because of Stalin.

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Last updated: 21 March 2019