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George Stern

On The War Fronts

Red Army Blasts Myth
of Hitler Strength

Soviet Resistance Gives Impetus
to Struggles of Conquered Peoples

(August 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 32, 9 August 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Germany’s blitzkrieg invasion of the Soviet Union, now in its seventh week, has slowed to bare walking pace. In titanic battles on the central portion of the 1,800 mile front around Smolensk, the Red Army has held the Nazis for nearly three weeks. Unable to dent Soviet defenses there, the Germans have apparently transferred their central pressure to the Ukrainian front, toward Kiev and it is here that the next major battles are apparently about to unfold.

The Red Army stand against Hitler’s legions has come as a revelation to the rest of the world. Churchill and Roosevelt have greeted it as “magnificent” and the press gives surprised recognition to the fact that the Red Army has exploded the myth of Nazi invincibility.

This explosion has been felt in the widest reaches of the insecure Nazi European empire. In Norway, in Holland, in Yugoslavia, and even in France it has given fresh impetus to the continuing struggles of the conquered peoples. The very prospect of a Nazi bog-down on the Russian steppes has released hopes that a turn in the tide of war has already come.

So far the Red Army has made its stand quite alone. The stepped-up British air offensive in Germany has been supplemented only by minor operations off Northern Finland, where a possible British invasion is being rumored. In Washington, an arrangement has just been announced under which material aid is to be extended by this country.

Clash May Now Come with Japan

Since the transpacific route via Vladivostok is the only practicable one for these supplies to take, this issue is likely in the near future to bring Japanese-American tension to a head. The Japanese imperialists, being pushed against the wall of isolation, will have to decide whether they can, in their own interest, allow American shipments of military supplies to the USSR; pass unhindered through Japanese-controlled seas.

In Washington it has already been indicated that any Japanese attempt at interference will be met by any necessary means. The actual test of this issue may touch off war in the Pacific.

For the moment, Japan’s stress is still southward, despite multiplying reports of Japanese troop concentrations in Manchukuo along the Siberian frontier. The U.S. economic sanctions of last week did not prevent the Japanese from proceeding with their unopposed occupation of Indochina. Washington consequently followed up by imposing an embargo on aviation gasoline. The Japanese appear to be opening up pressure on Thailand (Siam) with a view to getting into position for eventual operations against the British in Malaya.

The Situation of Japan Is Desperate

But the development of events will not allow the Japanese to concern themselves only with a drive southward. U.S. shipments to the Soviet Union will once again bring Japanese relations with the Axis into review and will force a crucial decision in Tokyo, Any move beyond Indo-China and possibly beyond Thailand will bring Japan into a clash with the Anglo-American bloc and the developments to the north may bring it simultaneously into conflict with the Soviet Union.

For Japan, its forces already strained and stretched wide on Chinese battlefields, the prospect is grim indeed. And this accounts in no small measure for the stronger attitude now being taken in Washington. From Washington’s point of view, the Red Army stand against Hitler has provided an interval in which it may prove possible to deal with the Japanese. During the next month the Battle of Asia in World War II may open.

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Last updated: 27 May 2016