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Henry Judd

Big Four Moscow Meeting Disputes
Fate of Germany

(17 March 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 11, 17 March 1947, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Another international gathering of the imperialists, the most significant of all the post-war conferences, has begun in Stalin’s Moscow capital. This gathering is supposed to decide the fate of Germany and Austria; in a word, the future of Europe itself. In all likelihood, it will do much more toward revealing the predatory designs of the major imperialist powers – particularly the rival intentions of America and Russia – than it will accomplish toward concluding peace treaties. Labor Action will publish a series of running articles dealing with the Moscow Conference, and analysing the various proposals and disagreements that come to the surface during the Conference.

Important as other post-war conferences may have been (Paris Conference, General Assembly of the UN at New York City, etc.), none can compare with the conference at Moscow. Here are gathering the Big Four, for the purpose of writing peace treaties for Austria and Germany. The preliminaries – treaties with the Axis satellite powers – have been disposed of; now the great rival imperialist powers get down to business on issues that vitally concern their respective drives for power and possession. Germany and Austria, lying at the heart of Europe and encompassing a population of 70 millions, together with immense natural resources and potentially powerful industries – these are two countries over which the Big Four are bound to clash and come close to blows.

Again the imperialists are gathering for their interminable discussions. This time the setting is Moscow, home of the brutal Stalinist dictatorship that has conquered and now oppresses huge areas and tens of millions of European people; land of the enslaved Russian people, ruled over by the cruelest of despots and his GPU forces. This is indeed a fit setting for bargaining over destroyed Germany. Bargainer Molotov can be in direct contact with his master, Stalin; Bargainer General Marshall, replacing Byrnes, can deal with people who talk his military lingo – the Russian Army Marshals who surround Stalin; Bevin of England and Bidault of France can voice then-weak complaints and their muted demands, with a fond hope that the two supreme powers will pay them Some attention. Moscow is the proper gathering spot for this collection of imperialist intriguers,cynical double-dealers and shrewd manipulators. This is the home of Stalin, master of them all.

Nobody believes that the Moscow Conference will get very far toward settling the problems of Europe, even on the imperialist basis around which the Big Four all have a common understanding. Secretary of State Marshall has voiced the hope that the final Peace Treaty with Austria will be drafted; and, at best, the issues involving Germany will be clarified. The wide divergencies between the rival imperialists, particularly Russia and the United States, is most clearly expressed in their clash over what to do about Germany. The basic issues are the following;

  1. The question of reparations. The Russians, anxious to participate in looting the wealth, resources and production of the Ruhr area, are demanding reparations in the form of current German-Ruhr production. America and England, desiring to utilize the Ruhr for their own exclusive purposes, oppose this.
  2. What shall be the production of Germany? Shall the country be aided in the reconstruction of its economic power, or shall it continue to stagnate as it does today Who shall own and control the industry? The Russians are anxious to continue their particular form of imperialist expropriation of German industry, known as “nationalization.” The Americans prefer to back up German capitalists and industrialists.
  3. What shall be the new frontiers of Germany? Poland’s frontier; disposition of the Saar, the Ruhr and the Rhineland.
  4. What shall be the form and structure of a new German government? Shall there be a centralized government, as the Russians propose in the hope that their Quisling “Socialist Unity Party” will be able to expand into the Western zone; or shall there be the American-British conception of a weak, decentralized, federated system of German states, easy for the Anglo-Americans to control?

These are some of the basic disagreements, all of them centered around the desire of the respective great powers to dominate Germany, make use of its 65 million people for their own purposes and squeeze out their rivals and enemies. Whatever comes out of the Moscow Conference – the most important imperialist gathering since the war’s end – it is safe to predict it will reinforce the charge that imperialism, Russian, American, British and French alike, has Europe in its grip and is responsible for the low state to which the. Continent has fallen. The Moscow Conference is one way of learning the aims of the imperialists, of describing them to world opinion, and of indicating the uncompromising socialist opposition to the whole business. Labor Action will follow the important developments in Moscow.

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