Isaacs Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

George Stern

On the War Fronts

(22 February 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 8, 22 February 1941, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Turkish-Bulgarian “non-aggression” pact is an indisputable victory for Axis diplomacy. It represents a retreat by Turkey from the edge of the conflict – and this retreat was certainly made at the orders and under the pressure of the Kremlin.

Up until a few days ago the Turks stoutly maintained in their controlled press that German entry into Bulgaria would bring the Turkish army into action in Thrace. British and Turkish staff parleys took place in Ankara. The situation was comparable to that in Moscow in August 1939, when Stalin entertained an Allied military mission – and confronted them with the Nazi-Soviet pact.

German infiltration into Bulgaria has already been in preparation for some weeks and the new pact between Turkey and Bulgaria seems to indicate that full military occupation of Bulgaria will take place without action by Turkey. There remains in the vagueness of the Turkish-Bulgar pact grounds for faint Allied hope that this is not the case. In London this hope was eagerly grasped and it was asserted that it could be “safely assumed” that Turkey would fulfill its obligations under its pact with Britain in the event of a German Balkan move. The Germans seem to think otherwise and in these matters they have usually proved to be the more correct.

The Turks have left themselves an exit in the pact by stating that it does not affect their obligations under other treaties. These obligations, however, mean that Turkey is supposed to enter the war in case at a German attack on Greece or the extension of the war to the Eastern Mediterranean. When Turkey failed to fulfill this promise upon Mussolini’s Greek more, the British put the best face possible on it and stated that Turkish non-belligerence was maintained by “mutual” agreement. But if in the present juncture Turkey stands aside to let Hitler move to Greece’s frontiers it means the loss of British positions in Southeastern Europe and the completion of continental consolidation by Hitler. For Greece will have to bow.

What the newspapers are most obscure about is the role undoubtedly played in this development by the Kremlin. There are reports which suggest that the pact is actually another “deal” between Stalin and Hitler under which Stalin forces Turkey to bow and Hitler promises to keep hands off the Dardanelles.

Other reports even say that Stalin threatened to march against Turkey’s eastern provinces unless it did give in to Hitler.

Just what sop Stalin got this time for his help remains to be revealed in the march of events. It is clear enough right now, however, that Stalin did put screws on the Turks. Involvement of Turkey in hostilities against Germany would have brought the Germans into action on still another Soviet frontier. German victory over the Turks would install them directly adjacent to the Caucasus and establish them on a second coast of the Black Sea. This is what Stalin fears and this is what he would seek to avoid in compelling Turkey to meet Hitler’s terms in return for a temporary and insecure “safety” from attack.

Isaacs Archive   |   Trotskyist Writers Index   |   ETOL Main Page

Last updated: 3 October 2015