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Albert Goldman

Stalinist Repression of Masses in Poland

(26 May 1945)

From The Militant, Vol. IX No. 21, 26 May 1945, p. 5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Stalin’s ruthless and treacherous act in arresting sixteen representatives of the Polish underground affords an opportunity for the representatives of American and British imperialism and their hangers-on to shed copious tears and incidentally prepare the masses for a possible conflict with the Soviet Union. The cynicism of the Kremlin dictator in first inviting the Polish leaders to a conference and then arresting them is surpassed only by the hypocrisy of the spokesmen of American and British imperialism, who have not lifted and will not lift a finger on behalf of the thousands and tens of thousands of Polish and Jewish workers who have been deported by Stalin to the concentration camps of Siberia.

Where were the protests of the official representatives of the United States and Great Britain when Erlich and Alter, leaders of Jewish socialist workers, were arrested and murdered by Stalin? These Jewish socialist leaders with a record of many years of service to the cause of socialism were charged with being fascists by the cynical GPU. Only their immediate friends and the revolutionary workers rejected the charge as a slander and accused Stalin of murdering two of his conscious political opponents. The officials who are now protesting the arrest of the sixteen Polish leaders of the official underground were then silent as the tomb.

When Stalin, by agreement with Hitler, seized the eastern part of Poland he deported tens of thousands of Jewish and Polish workers to the Soviet Union. Most of these deportees are still in his clutches. The capitalist press writes nothing about their fate; there is no hue and cry about their whereabouts. It is absolutely certain that when the Stalinist army drove the German army out of Poland more thousands of Polish workers were arrested by the GPU and deported. Stettinius and Eden did not see fit to lodge any protest in favor of the unknown workers who were dealt such cruel blows by Stalin’s GPU.

* * *

Stalin’s Motives

The Stalinists and their fellow- travellers are shouting to high heaven that the sixteen arrested Poles are guilty of “diversionary activities.” It was to be expected that the Stalinists would accuse any one they want to arrest for political reasons of being guilty of sabotage or some other crime allegedly committed against the Stalinist army. But if the charges are true why did it take the Stalinists so long to make them public? Why did they conceal the fact of the arrest for several weeks? As a general proposition it is safe to reject as a falsehood any charge made by the Stalinists against political opponents where the Stalinists are unwilling to permit an impartial investigation of the charges.

Why should Stalin act in such an arbitrary manner at this time? He is evidently determined to retain complete control of Poland and he chooses this method of openly flouting the Allies to notify them that he intends to be master of Poland. It is not of course excluded that Stalin will compromise with the Allies but the compromise will, nevertheless, leave him in control of that country. Arresting the sixteen Poles who, at his invitation, came to discuss a possible settlement of the Polish situation, gives Stalin an additional trump card.

Stalin acts on the hypothesis that to grab as much as he possibly can, including Polish officials, can do him no harm in the final settlement. He will have that much greater bargaining power. Creating a provisional government in Austria and seizing, through Tito, the city of Trieste, can serve the same purpose of giving him something to yield, in order to assure that he keeps what he really wants.

Allied Opposition

On the other hand British and American imperialism are deeply concerned with Stalin’s highly independent attitude. There seems to be no limit to his ambitions. It appears that both the British and American Governments have determined to show Stalin that he should not count on their continued yielding. That is the explanation of Churchill’s warning that he will not tolerate totalitarian governments in Europe. (Churchill will of course only tolerate his own kind of dictatorships.)

The firm note sent by London and Washington on the question of Trieste is another indication that British and American imperialism are not going to permit Stalin to have his own way everywhere. The incident of Stalin’s arrest of the representatives of the Polish Underground has aroused a good deal of popular resentment. London and Washington are not slow to exploit this resentment in order to mobilize popular sentiment against the Soviet Union.

* * *

Class-conscious workers should follow a course that is absolutely independent of, and against, both Stalin and the British and American imperialists. We do not in the slightest approve Stalin’s treacherous arrest of official representatives of an underground movement, some of whom represent socialist workers. If there are any fascists among those arrested let Stalin prove it in an open trial, where labor representatives can be present.

If London and Washington concern themselves with the sixteen Polish officials let the world labor movement demand an accounting of Stalin about what has happened to the thousands of Polish and Jewish workers who have been deported from Poland to the Soviet Union and are now in the clutches of the GPU.

Let the world labor movement demand that the peoples of Poland be given the right to determine their own fate. We have to trust in the Stalinist bureaucracy and its puppet, the Lublin Government. We have no trust in British and American imperialism and in the London Government-in-exile. We are for the masses of Poland and for their unconditional right to choose their own government.

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