December 5, 2017


Harpal Brar

This sixtieth anniversary, this festival of progressive humanity, has become the occasion for the bourgeois falsification of history. Western bourgeois ideologists, from Trotskyist slanderers to pennya-liner journalists, are busily engaged in juggling facts and falsifying events. There is a kind of division of labour between the Trotskyist variety of bourgeois ideologues, on the one hand, and the ordinary (‘ordinary’ because shorn of ‘Marxist’ and ‘left’ terminology and therefore more easily recognisable and less dangerous) bourgeois ideologists, on the other hand.

This sixtieth anniversary, as was the case with the sixtieth anniversary of the D-Day landings last year, has been greeted with a torrent of nauseatingly unctuous and hypocritical cant in the imperialist print and electronic media, with the sole purpose of hiding the real meaning, content and causes of the second world war, and to belittle the decisive contribution of the socialist USSR in smashing the seemingly invincible Nazi war machine. Ten years ago, on the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the victory against fascism, we were treated to headlines such as ‘Germany’s fate settled in the Atlantic’, ‘How Hitler was defeated by his own madness’ etc, when the fact is, as every well-informed person knows, that the fate of Nazi Germany was sealed on the eastern front, in the titanic battles of Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad and Kursk. Here is one example, which typifies the thrust of the entire imperialist propaganda machine, of precisely the kind of falsification of history alluded to above:
British democracy is alive and kicking. That is the message from the people of this country on this anniversary weekend. For those who fought to destroy Hitler’s Third Reich fifty years ago were inspired by more than a love of country, passionate though that was. They went to war and won the victory over fascism for a greater cause. This infused their patriotism and earned them immortal greatness. Ordinary folk knew in their hearts that what was at stake was no less than the survival of simple, decent values: their right to be heard, to speak their minds without fear of the knock on the door at dawn, to run their lives according to their own lights. To live and let live, to go about their daily business in freedom under the law. Above all, to make and unmake governments elected in their name. The struggle and sacrifice of those who fought in the European war enabled Britain to remain a sovereign nation. Let us never forget that the red, white and blue Union flag we fly this weekend flew alone in the face of an all-conquering Nazi tyranny before the tide turned in 1942. We were fighting for our own freedom and to free Europe from despotic rule.*

Of course, no one except the most malicious person would deny that ordinary British people, and the British soldiers who fought in the second world war, were inspired by the ideal of ridding humanity of the menace of fascism. That, however, is not at issue. What is at issue is the cause for which the ruling classes of Britain, France and the United States went to war against Germany. 

All objective observers agree that British imperialism went to war against Nazi Germany not in the interests of freedom and the fight against fascism but to protect its own colonialist and imperialist interests after all the attempts of safeguarding the same through appeasement (that is through bartering other people’s freedom in return for saving its own skin and material interests) had resulted in an ignominious and scandalous collapse. 

Here, briefly, are the facts that led to the Union flag flying alone ‘in the face of an all-conquering Nazi tyranny before the tide turned in 1942’.
1. Imperialism’s hatred for the USSR 

All imperialists, of the nazi and ‘democratic’ variety alike, and all imperialist politicians, social democrats no less than Conservatives, were fired by an intense hatred of the USSR, the only socialist state at the time, for the simple reason that through planned socialist construction, she was building a new life for her people, free of exploitation, oppression, unemployment, misery and degradation. And this at a time when the entire capitalist world was in the iron grip of the hitherto worst slump, which had forced fifty million working people on to the scrap heap, rendering them jobless, homeless and hungry. The Soviet Union alone stood as a shining beacon and an example to the world’s workers of how their lives too could change qualitatively for the better if only the state power was in the hands of the working class. Encircled as she was by bloodthirsty imperialists, the USSR was well aware of the dangers confronting it. Its leadership followed an extremely complicated, and singularly scientific policy on the question of war with imperialism, which may be summarised as follows.
2. The Soviet position on war with imperialism

First, it was the endeavour of the Soviet Union not to embroil herself in a war with imperialism

Second, since it was not entirely up to her to avoid such a war, then, if imperialism should impose a war on the Soviet Union, the latter should not find herself in the position of having to fight alone, let alone having to face the combined onslaught of the principal imperialist countries

Third, to this end, divisions between the fascist imperialist states on the one hand and the ‘democratic’ imperialist states on the other should be fully exploited. These divisions were real, based on the material interests of the two groups of states under consideration. Uneven development of capitalism had seen to it that Germany, Italy and Japan, having spurted ahead in the capitalist development of their economies (a development that had rendered obsolete the old division of the world), were demanding a new division, which could not but encroach upon the material interests of the ‘democratic’ imperialist states. There was thus real scope for this conflict of interests to be exploited by the socialist USSR

Fourth, to this end, the USSR, pursuing a very complicated foreign policy, did its best to conclude a collective security pact with the ‘democratic’ imperialist states, providing, in the event of such  aggression taking place, for collective action against the aggressors.

Fifth, when the ‘democratic’ imperialist states, overcome by their hatred of communism, refused to conclude a collective security pact with the USSR and continued their policy of appeasement of the fascist states, in particular that of Nazi Germany in an effort to direct her aggression in an eastwardly direction against the Soviet Union, the latter was forced to try some other method of protecting the interests of the socialist motherland of the international proletariat.

 Addressing the eighteenth party congress of the CPSU in March, 1939, Stalin exposed the motives behind the policy of non-intervention adopted by the ‘democratic’ imperialist countries, particularly Britain and France, thus:
The policy of non-intervention reveals an eagerness, a desire . . . not to hinder Germany, say . . . from embroiling herself in a war with the Soviet Union, to allow all the belligerents to sink deeply in the mire of war, to encourage them surreptitiously in this; to allow them to weaken and exhaust one another; and then, when they have become weak enough, to appear on the scene with fresh strength, to appear, of course, ‘in the interests of peace’, and to dictate conditions to the enfeebled belligerents.
 Cheap and easy!*
Further, referring to the Munich agreement, which surrendered Czechoslovakia to the Nazis (the leader writer of The Sunday Times cited above, displaying monumental ‘forgetfulness’, studiously avoided any reference to this pact, correctly fearing that such a reference would at once expose the hypocritical assertion that Britain’s ruling class went to war against Nazi Germany in the interests of the fight against fascism and for ‘decent values’), Stalin continued:
 One might think that the districts of Czechoslovakia were yielded to Germany as the price of an undertaking to launch war on the Soviet Union . . .*
By way of outlining the tasks of Soviet foreign policy, as well as by way of a veiled warning to the ruling classes in the ‘democratic’ imperialist countries, Stalin went on to stress the need ‘to be cautious and not allow our country to be drawn into conflicts by warmongers who are accustomed to have others pull chestnuts out of the fire for them’.†

Thus it was that in the face of intransigent refusal on the part of Britain and France to conclude a collective security pact, and in the aftermath of the Munich agreement, about which the Soviet Union was not even consulted, that the latter turned the tables on the foreign policy of Britain and France by signing, on 23 August 1939, the German-Soviet non-aggression pact.

Sixth, in signing this pact, the USSR not only ensured that she would not be fighting Germany alone, but also that the latter would be fighting against the very powers who had been trying, by their refusal to agree on collective security, to embroil the USSR in a war with Germany. On 1 September 1939, Hitler invaded Poland. Two days later, the Anglo-French ultimatum expired, and Britain and France were at war with Germany.

Of course, it is understandable that imperialism even today should attack and accuse the USSR and Stalin of ‘betrayal’ for concluding the non-aggression pact with Germany (conveniently ‘forgetting’ that the real betrayal had taken place at Munich a year earlier), for this pact advanced the cause of socialism and the liberation of humanity from the yoke of fascism. But those sorry Marxists who still, taking their cue from imperialism, continue to criticise the USSR for concluding the German-Soviet non-aggression pact, need to have their heads examined. They could do far worse than listen to the right-wing Austrian Professor Topitsch.

Professor Topitsch, whose anti-communist credentials and proimperialist sympathies are impeccable, and who cannot therefore be accused of harbouring any soft corner for Stalin or the USSR that he led, has this to say on the issue under consideration:

Thorough analysis of the interplay of the main events has led me to the conviction that . . . Stalin was not only the real victor, but also the key figure in the war; he was, indeed, the only statesman who had at the time a clear, broadly-based idea of his objectives.*

The events of the summer of 1939 show the fateful consequences of Hitler’s lack of statesmanlike qualities and a world-oriented political vision, and make him look very inferior to his Russian counterpart. With regard to political intelligence and political style, their relationship is like that of a gambler to a chess grandmaster, and the assertion that the führer fell like a schoolboy into the trap set for him by Moscow can hardly be called exaggerated.†
 On the Hitler-Stalin pact the same author writes: 
After the conclusion of this treaty Hitler and Ribbentrop may have regarded themselves as statesmen of the highest calibre; instead their actions betrayed a frightening lack of political intelligence. Whereas Stalin had thoroughly pondered over the content and phraseology of the agreements, his opposite numbers were obviously incapable even of carefully reviewing the consequences which might result for Germany from those fateful documents. In point of fact, the two treaties fitted in perfectly with Soviet long-term strategy, to involve Germany in a war with the British and the French, make it dependent on Russia and, if the opportunity should arise, bring about its extinction as an independent power. Far-sighted as he was, Stalin was already thinking at this early stage of obtaining a favourable starting point for the realisation of such plans.*
By its April 1941 Treaty of Neutrality with Japan, the Soviet Union successfully managed to achieve in the east that which it had achieved in the west through the non-aggression pact with Germany.

Seventh, the provisions of the additional secret protocol went far enough to safeguard the Soviet ‘spheres of interests’, which proved vital to Soviet defences when the war actually reached her.

Finally, the German-Soviet non-aggression pact bought the Soviet Union an extremely valuable period of two years for strengthening her defence preparedness before she entered a war she knew she could not stay out of forever

When the war was finally forced on the Soviet Union, she made the most heroic contribution in the crowning and glorious victory of the allies against Nazi Germany. The Red Army and the Soviet people showed their tenacity, and the tenacity and superiority of the socialist system, by defeating the Nazis in the USSR and pursuing them all the way to Berlin, liberating in the process country after country from the Nazi jackboot occupation and bringing socialism to eastern Europe.

All revolutionary and honest bourgeois historians and politicians agree on the above summary. Only the most die-hard anti-communists, particularly the Trotskyites, ever dare to dispute it.

3. Bourgeois predictions of a Soviet collapse 

By the summer of 1941, through a combination of luck and some bold strokes, Hitler’s armies had chased the British off the continent of Europe and thus become the masters of western and central Europe, whose people groaned under fascist occupation. Hitler was at last in a position to wage war against the USSR, which he launched under the codename Operation Barbarossa at 3.30am on 22 June 1941. 

When, on that fateful day, the German army crossed the border into the USSR, most western bourgeois politicians and military strategists gave her no more than six weeks before what they regarded as her inevitable collapse in the face of the mighty German armed forces. Their judgement had obviously been coloured by the fate of countries such as Poland and France, each of which lay prostrate within less than two weeks of being invaded by the German army. They were affected too by the fate of the British army, so humiliatingly expelled from the Continent in the May 1940 fiasco, which goes by the name of the Dunkirk spirit. 

Furthermore, the bourgeois ideologues believed in their own anti-Soviet propaganda to the effect that the Soviet army had been ‘decimated’ and ‘decapitated’ as a result of the trial and execution of Tukhachevsky and other army officers on treason charges and was therefore in no position to wage war; that the Bolshevik party had been ‘denuded’ of leadership consequent upon the three Moscow Trials of the leading Trotskyites and Bukharinites on charges of treason, murder, sabotage and wrecking; that as a result of ‘forced’ collectivisation the peasantry was sullen and therefore most likely to revolt against the Soviet regime in the conditions of war. 

In all this, the bourgeois ideologists were cruelly deluded.
Even before the war against the Soviet Union started, the chief imperialist ideologue, namely, Leon Trotsky, made, with malicious glee, a number of predictions about the ‘inevitable’ defeat of the USSR in the then coming war. In his Revolution Betrayed, he wrote:
Can we, however, expect that the Soviet Union will come out of the coming great war without defeat? To this frankly posed question we will answer as frankly; if the war should only remain a war, the defeat of the Soviet Union will be inevitable. In a technical, economic and military sense, imperialism is incomparably more strong. If it is not paralysed by revolution in the west, imperialism will sweep away the regime which issued from the October Revolution.*

In 1940, nearing the end of his life – a life full of irreconcilable hostility towards Leninism – Trotsky, with a zeal worthy of a better cause, again predicted the defeat of the USSR and triumph of Hitlerite Germany:

We always started from the fact that the international policy of the Kremlin was determined by the new aristocracy’s . . . incapacity to conduct a war . . .
The ruling caste is no longer capable of thinking about tomorrow. Its formula is that of all doomed regimes ‘after us the deluge’ . . .
The war will topple many things and many individuals. Artifice, trickery, frame-ups and treasons will prove of no avail in escaping its severe judgement.†
Stalin cannot make a war with discontented workers and peasants and with a decapitated Red Army.‡
 The level of the USSR’s productive forces forbids a major war . . . the involvement of the USSR in a major war before the end of this period would signify in any case a struggle with unequal weapons.
The subjective factor, not less important than the material, has changed in the last years sharply for the worse . . .
Stalin cannot wage an offensive war with any hope of victory. Should the USSR enter the war with its innumerable victims and privations, the whole fraud of the official regime, its outrages and violence, will inevitably provoke a profound reaction on the part of the people, who have already carried out three revolutions in this century . . .
The present war can crush the Kremlin bureaucracy long before revolution breaks out in some capitalist country . . .*
 4. Bourgeois predictions belied 

Not only Trotsky, but also the imperialist bourgeoisie (which paid Trotsky so well, and for whom it opened the columns of its press, to write such rubbish and to spew out so much anti-Soviet venom) believed in these baseless assertions. It therefore came as a total surprise to the imperialists when the Soviet Union, far from collapsing under Nazi attack, proved to be the only force, not only to withstand but also to defeat and smash to smithereens the Nazi war machine. 

As usual, and happily for humanity, all Trotsky’s predictions were totally belied. After initial reverses in the first few weeks of the war, attributable in the main to the Nazi surprise attack, the Soviet defences stiffened. Before long they struck back. The rest of the world, like Trotsky, had given the USSR only a few weeks before collapsing in the face of the onslaught of the allegedly invincible Nazi war machine. The Red Army and Soviet people, united as one under the leadership of the CPSU and their supreme commander Joseph Stalin, exploded this myth of Nazi invincibility. Soviet victories in the titanic battles of Moscow, Stalingrad, Kursk, Leningrad and Berlin will forever be cherished not only by the peoples of the former, great and glorious Soviet Union, but also by all progressive humanity.

Each of these battles involved upwards of a million men on each side, and, in the words of Harrison E Salisbury:

 Each inflicted on the Germans the kind of casualties which leave a lasting mark not only on an army but on a nation.*
The Battle of Moscow had been an epic event . . . It had involved more than two million men, 2,500 tanks, 1,800 aircraft and 25,000 guns. Casualties had been horrifying in scale. For the Russians it had ended in victory. They had suffered the full impact of the German ‘Blitzkrieg’ offensive and, notwithstanding their losses . . . they had been able to mount an effective counterattack. They had begun to destroy the myth of German invincibility . . .†
This is how Marshal Zhukov evaluates the significance of the Battle of Moscow:

The final results of the Battle of Moscow proved to be inspiring for the Soviet side and depressing for the enemy.
A German General, Westphal . . . has acknowledged that the German army, once considered invincible, was on the brink of destruction . . . The Germans lost a total of more than half a million soldiers, 1,300 tanks, 2,500 guns, 15,000 trucks and a great deal of other equipment . . .
 The Soviet counteroffensive of the winter of 1941-42 was conducted under difficult conditions of a snowy, cold winter and, what is most important, without numerical superiority over the enemy . . .
For the first time in six months of war, in the Battle of Moscow the Red Army inflicted a major defeat on the main forces of the enemy. It was the first strategic victory over the Wehrmacht since the beginning of World War II . . . The skilled defensive operations [by the Soviet army], the successful launching of counterattacks and the swift transition to a counteroffensive greatly enriched Soviet military art and demonstrated the growing strategic operational tactical maturity of Soviet military commanders and improved military mastery of Soviet soldiers in all services. 
 The defeat of Germany at Moscow was also of great international significance. The people in all the countries of the anti-Nazi coalition received the news of the outstanding victory of the Soviet army with great enthusiasm. All progressive mankind linked that victory to its hopes for an approaching liberation from fascist slavery.
 The failures of German forces at Leningrad, at Rostov, near Tikhvin and the Battle of Moscow had a sobering effect on the reactionary circles of Japan and Turkey and forced them to assume a more cautious policy toward the Soviet Union
After the defeat of Germans before Moscow, the strategic initiative on all sectors of the Soviet-German front passed to the Soviet command . . . After the defeat of the Nazis at Moscow, not only ordinary Germans but many German officers and generals were convinced of the might of the Soviet state and recognised that the Soviet armed forces represented an insurmountable obstacle to the achievement of Hitler’s objectives.*
Marshal Zhukov concludes his account of the Battle of Moscow with the following question, and his answer to it:
 I am often asked the question: ‘Where was Stalin at the time of the Moscow battle?’ 
Stalin was in Moscow, organising the forces and means for the defeat of the enemy. He must be given his due. As head of the State Defence Committee, and with the members of the Supreme Headquarters and leaders of the People’s Commissariats, he carried on major work in the organising of strategic reserves and the material-technical means essential for the military struggle. With his harsh demands, he achieved, one might say, almost the impossible . . .*
 Here is another evaluation, from the opposite end of the political spectrum, of Soviet strength, which the Hitlerites, intoxicated by their own deceptive propaganda and easy victories in the west, had failed properly to take into account

Topitsch correctly points out that Operation Barbarossa was based on an overestimation of German and an underestimation of Soviet military might, as well as other assumptions, which began to come apart from the moment the German army crossed the Soviet frontier
When the Germans crossed the border into the east the feeling often came over them – from the führer down to the common soldier – that they were thrusting open a door into the unknown, behind which Stalin had wicked surprises in store for them, and that in the end doom might be lurking in the endless wastes beyond.†
 After their initial successes, gained through the tactical advantage of their surprise attack on the USSR, the Nazis began to believe that victory was already theirs and indulged in fantastic plans for the future.
But gradually it became clear that the Soviet Union was anything but a ‘Colossus with feet of clay’. In spite of enormous losses, this vast empire could keep hurling new masses of men and material at the invader, and soon increasing numbers of the new types of tanks and the dreaded rocket-launchers appeared on the battlefields. The fourteen-day victory developed into a war lasting at least four years, fought with the greatest bitterness on both sides, and the dramatic victories of the first weeks turned out to be the beginning of the end for the Third Reich.*
Stalin’s ruthless energy made sure that all reserves within the depths of the country were mobilised. Indeed, during the course of this frightful struggle the Soviet Union extended itself and took a decisive step towards becoming a superpower. By contrast, Germany was effectively diminishing itself with every step in its exhausting campaign in the east.†
 The surrender on 1 February 1943 at Stalingrad, by the fascist General Von Paulus and twenty-three other generals, mesmerised the world. The victory of the Red Army at Stalingrad was as incredible as it was heroic. The Nazi losses in the Volga-Don-Stalingrad area were one and a half million men, three and a half thousand tanks, twelve thousand guns and three thousand aircraft. Never before had the Nazi war machine, which was accustomed to running over countries in days and weeks, suffered such a humiliating defeat, a defeat ‘in which the flower of the German army perished. It was against the background of this battle . . . that Stalin now rose to almost titanic stature in the eyes of the world’.*

From now on, nothing but defeat stared the Germans in the face, leading all the way to the entry of the Red Army into Berlin and the storming by it of the Reichstag on 30 April 1945 – the same day that the führer committed suicide. Six days later, Field-Marshall Wilhelm Keitel, acting on behalf of the German high command, surrendered to Marshall Zhukov