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Jack Weber

Why Did Hitler Resurrect
the Anti-Comintern Pact?

(6 December 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 49, 6 December 1941, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Why the Pact Is Now Revived

Why did Hitler feel it necessary to bring out and polish up the Anti-Comintern Pact at this time? Most people considered that pact well buried at the time the Hitler-Stalin Pact was signed in 1939. For that reason Hitler’s bid to be considered as a super-Wrangel at the moment he invaded Russia, failed completely of its purpose. Why the second staging of this poor comedy?

The most obvious reason for its resurrection has to do with the German masses and their attitude towards the war. One of the overhead expenses of dictatorship is that the masses are always taken by surprise by the sudden moves of the Fuehrers. The signing of the pact with Stalin came as such a surprise, but at least it was probably a more or less pleasant surprise in one sense, since it seemed to assure the Germans that at least there would be peace with Russia so that any war might be a short war.

The sudden invasion of the Soviet Union was again a surprise, this time a most unpleasant one, particularly in view of the fact that Germany was still at war with an unbeaten England. The initial surprise has turned into dismay and now into gloom everywhere in Germany as the masses become aware of the terrible and unending losses of men and material deep in the steppes. The renewal of the Anti-Comintern Pact was a weak attempt at keeping up morale as the prospect of the end of the war fades into the dim future. Goebbels and Hitler were trying to reassure the masses that the war might be long but the victory would surely be theirs. See! Hitler was saying to the masses, all these countries sign this pact because they believe, whether they like it or not, that we will win the war.

The German people must have felt little comfort however in seeing the new signatory powers – Finland, Denmark, Slovakia, Rumania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Nanking-China. These weighed little in their minds against the entry of the U.S. on the side of the enemy. The Nazis failed miserably in this first aim, to reassure the Germans and to present them with some concrete fruit of the much-touted “new order” in Europe.

Effect on Japan-U.S. Crisis

A second aim was to press Japan back in line and thus disrupt the Washington conference between Hull and Kurusu. But Berlin need not credit itself with the breakdown of the attempt at compromise. That breakdown was due to the fundamental nature of the imperialist conflict. Hitler will be elated at the spread of the war to the Pacific because it will weaken the enemy in the Atlantic. But the Germans masses will get little comfort over the thought that this means the extension and prolongation of the war.

The pact did serve Hitler’s purposes in the case of Finland. This was the Nazi method of forcing Finland to give an unequivocal negative answer to Washington and London in their attempt to have her drop out of the war. It seems likely as a result that England will declare war on Finland, as well as Rumania and Hungary, as demanded by Stalin.

It is possible that Hitler also had in mind what might happen after Litvinov arrived in Washington. He wanted to lay first claim to the Anti-Comintern Pact! For it is not impossible that the Allies will yet sign their own Anti-Comintern Pact. Is seems safe to predict that Litvinov, that League of Nations advocate of democracy, is ready to make concessions on behalf of Stalin looking towards the “democratization” of the Soviet Union – after the war. Stalin seeks in this way to obtain external support for the continuance of his regime, a support that will be lacking completely inside the Soviet Union when the war ends.

Not for nothing did Roosevelt try to persuade the Catholic clergy here that Russia allowed perfect freedom of religious worship. Not for nothing did Hopkins fly to Moscow and come away “thrilled” to give the signal for a complete rehabilitation of the Kremlin dictator in the eyes of the American masses. Davies’ infamous article in the American magazine fits into this same scheme of things. The Allies propose to extract political concessions for their aid, and Stalin is not unwilling.

Intervention and Intervention

Democracy – to the capitalists – is something entirely different from proletarian revolution. The Soviet Union – they say – has no business interfering in the affairs of other countries. Stalin has agreed to that, as his speeches clearly indicated. Not only his speeches, but his endorsement of the Atlantic Charter. The Comintern, originally designed for working class intervention wherever the workers needed aid, designed then also as the instrument for rallying proletarian aid for the Soviet Union precisely in a situation such as the present one, must be publicly sacrificed. Since the Comintern under Stalin long ceased to be the instrument for the proletarian revolution, nothing real will be sacrificed by this concession.

The democracies propose in this fashion to make clear to the workers that they have no right to intervene anywhere in the present world situation – as a class. The workers may think it strange that this notice should be served at the very moment when the imperialists of all lands show how necessary it is for them to intervene in every corner of the earth – for their own interests. But there is intervention and intervention. At the least, the present situation is pregnant with political lessons for the workers.

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