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came to power on January 30, 1933. Only the Soviet Union
understood the dangers to world peace. In January 1934, Stalin told
the Party Congress that
`the ``new'' (German) policy ... recalls the policy of the former
German Kaiser, who at one time occupied the Ukraine and marched
against Leningrad, after converting the Baltic countries into a place
d'armes for this march'.
He also stated:
`(I)f the interests of the U.S.S.R. demand rapprochement with one
country or another which is not interested in disturbing peace, we
adopt this course without hesitation.'
Stalin, Works, vol. 13, p. 309.
coming to power, Great Britain had led the crusade
the Soviet Union. In 1918,
was the main instigator of the
military invervention that mobilized fourteen countries. In 1927,
Great Britain broke diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union and
imposed an embargo on its exports.
In 1931, Japan invaded Northern China and its troops reached the
Soviet border in Siberia. The Soviet Union thought at the time that
war with Japan was imminent.
In 1935, fascist Italy occupied Ethiopia. To oppose the danger of
fascist expansion, the Soviet Union proposed, as early as 1935, a
collective system of security for Europe. Given this perspective,
it signed mutual assistance treaties with France and Czechoslovakia.
made vicious attacks against Stalin who had, with these
treaties, `betrayed' the French proletariat and the world revolution.
At the same time, official voices of the French bourgeoisie were
declaring that their country was not obliged to come to the aid of the
Soviet Union, should it be attacked.
In 1936, Italy and Germany sent their élite troops to Spain to fight
the legal republican government. France and Great Britain adopted a
`non-intervention' policy, leaving free reign to the fascists. They
were trying to placate
and to push him East.
In November of the same year, Germany and Japan signed the
Anti-Cominterm Pact, which Italy joined soon after. The Soviet Union
On March 11, 1938, Radio Berlin announced a `Communist uprising in
Austria' and the Wehrmacht (German army) pounced on that country,
annexing it in two days. The Soviet Union took up Austria's defence and
on Great Britain and France to prepare collective defence. `Tomorrow
will perhaps be too late', underscored the Soviet leadership.
concentrated his troops on the border with
Czechoslovakia. The Soviet Union, with treaty obligations towards
the threatened country, placed 40 divisions on its Western border and
called up 330,000 reservists. But in September, Great Britain and
France met in Munich with the fascist powers, Germany and Italy.
Neither Czechoslovakia nor the Soviet Union were invited. The great
`democracies' decided to offer
the Sudeten region of
Czechoslovakia. Along with this treacherous act, Great Britain signed
on September 30 a declaration with Germany in which the two powers stated
that they regarded the agreement `as symbolic of the desire of our peoples
never to go to war with one another again.'
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the U.S.S.R.,
Documents and Materials Relating to the Eve of the
Second World War (New York: International Publishers, 1948).
vol. 1, p. 271.
France did the same in December. Nevertheless, the Soviet Union
offered its aid to Czechoslovakia in case of German aggression, but
this offer was declined. On March 15, 1939, the Wehrmacht seized
Prague. By cutting up Czechoslovakia,
offered a piece of the
cake to the reactionary Polish government, which greedily gobbled up
A week later, the German army occupied the Lithuanian territory of
Klaipeda, an important Baltic port. Stalin could see that the monster
was advancing East and that Poland would be the next victim.
In May 1939, the Japanese army attacked Mongolia, which also had a
military assistance treaty with the Soviet Union. The following
month, Soviet troops, led by an unknown officer,
battle with the Japanese army. It was a sizeable military
confrontation: Japan lost more that 200 planes and more than 50,000 of
its soldiers were killed or wounded. On August 30, 1939, the last
Japanese troops left Mongolia.
The next day, another Soviet border was set aflame: Germany invaded Poland.
Everyone knew that this aggression would take place: to ensure an
optimal position and begin his war either against Great Britain and
France or against the Soviet Union,
had to `resolve Poland's
fate'. Let us look at the events of the previous months.
In March 1939, the Soviet Union began negociations to form an
anti-fascist alliance. Great Britain and France allowed time to pass,
maneuvered. By this attitude, the two great `democracies' made
understand that he could march against Stalin without being worried
about the West. From June to August 1939, secret British-German talks
took place: in exchange for guaranteeing the integrity of the
British Empire, the British would allow
to act freely in the
East. On July 29,
Charles Roden Buxton
of the Labour Party fulfilled
a secret mission for Prime Minister
to the German Embassy.
The following plan was elaborated:
`Great Britain would express her willingness to conclude an agreement
with Germany for a delimitation of spheres of interest ....
`1) Germany promises not to interfere in British Empire affairs.
`2) Great Britain promises fully to respect the German spheres of
interest in Eastern and Southeastern Europe. A consequence of this
would be that Great Britain would renounce the guarantees she gave to
certain States in the German sphere of interest. Great Britain
further promises to influence France to break up her alliance with the
Soviet union and to give up her ties in Southeastern Europe.
`3) Great Britain promises to give up the present negotiations for a
pact with the Soviet Union.'
, vol. 2, pp. 110--111.
The Soviet intelligence services ensured that Stalin was aware of these
In August 1939, negociations between Britain, France and the Soviet
Union entered their final phase. But the two Western powers sent second
rank delegations to Moscow, with no mandate to finalize an accord.
insisted on binding, precise engagements so that should there
be renewed German aggression, the allies would go to war together. He
wanted to know how many British and French divisions would oppose
should Germany invade the Soviet Union.
He received no response. He also wanted to draw up an accord with
Poland so that the Soviet troops could engage the Nazis on Polish soil
in case of German aggression. Poland refused, thereby making any
possible accord effective. Stalin understood perfectly that France
and Britain were preparing a new Munich, that they were ready to
sacrifice Poland, encouraging
to march on the Soviet Union.
U.S. Secretary of the Interior, wrote at the time in his
`(England) kept hoping against hope that she could embroil Russia
and Germany with each other and thus escape scot-free herself.'
Harold L. Ickes,
The Secret Diary of Harold L. Ickes
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954), p. 705.
`France would also have to renounce to Central and Eastern Europe in
favor of Germany in the hope of seeing her wage war against the Soviet
Union. Hence France could stay in security behind the Maginot Line.'
A la veille de la Seconde Guerre
mondiale (Moscow: Éditions Novosti, 1973), p. 262.
The Soviet Union was facing the mortal danger of a single anti-Soviet
front consisting of all the imperialist powers. With the tacit
support of Britain and France, Germany could, after having occupied
Poland, continue on its way and begin its blitzkrieg against the USSR,
while Japan would attack Siberia.
At the time,
had already reached the conclusion that France and
Britain had neither the capacity nor the will to resist. He decided
to grab Western Europe before attacking the USSR.
On August 20,
proposed a non-aggression pact to the Soviet
Union. Stalin reacted promptly, and the pact was signed on August 23.
On September 1,
attacked Poland. Britain and France were caught
in their own trap. These two countries assisted in all of
adventures, hoping to use him against the Soviet Union. Right from
1933, they never stopped speaking in praise of
Communism. Now they were forced to declare war against Germany,
although they had no intention of doing so in an effective manner.
Their rage exploded in a virulent anti-Communist campaign: `Bolshevism
is fascism's natural ally'. Half a century later, this stupid
propaganda is still be found in school books as an unquestioned
truth. However, history has shown that the Germano-Soviet
Non-Aggression Pact was a key for victory in the anti-fascist war.
This may seem paradoxical, but the pact was a turning point that allowed
the preparation of the necessary conditions for the German defeat.
In fact, the Soviet Union concluded this pact with the clear
understanding that sooner or later war with Nazi Germany was
inevitable. Once Germany had decided to sign an accord with the USSR,
Stalin forced out of
a maximum of concessions, ensuring
the best possible conditions for the war to come. The September 23,
1939 issue of Pravda wrote:
`The only thing that was possible was to preserve from German invasion
Western Ukraine, Western Byelorussia (two provinces seized from the
Soviet Union in 1920) and the Baltic countries. The Soviet
government forced Germany to make the engagement to not cross the line
formed by the Thasse, Narew, Bug and Vistula rivers.'
Les secrets de la Seconde Guerre
mondiale (Moscow: Éditions du Progrès, 1972), p. 35.
In the West, those who sympathized with
politics immediately cried out: `The two totalitarianisms,
Fascism and Bolshevism, shared up Poland.' But the advance of the
Soviet troops corresponded to the interests of the masses in these
territories, since they could get rid of the fascists, the landed
gentry and the capitalists. This advance also helped the entire world
movement. The most realistic bourgeois saw clearly that
by advancing its troops, the Soviet Union gave itself a better
starting position for the coming war. For example,
on October 1, 1939:
`(T)hat the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly
necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace. At any
rate, the line is there, and an Eastern Front has been created
which Nazi Germany does not dare assail.'
Winston S. Churchill,
, p. 449.
Unable to see through their dream of seeing the Nazi army charge
through Poland to attack the Soviet Union, France and Britain were
forced to declare war on Germany. But on the Western Front, not a
single bomb would bother Nazi tranquility. However, a real internal
political war was launched against the French Communists: On
September 26, the French Communist Party was banned and thousands of
its members were thrown into prison.
Henri de Kerillis
`An incredible tempest swept through bourgeois minds. The crusade storm
raged. Only one cry could be heard: War on Russia. It was at this
moment that the anti-Communist delirium reached its apogee.'
Cited in La grande guerre nationale de l'Union
soviétique (Moscow: Éditions du Progrès, 1974), p. 20.
At the same time, Stalin spoke with great insight to
`The French Government headed by
Government in Britain have no intention of getting seriously involved
in the war with
They still hope to incite
to a war
against the Soviet Union. By refusing in 1939 to form with us an
bloc, they did not want to hamper
in his aggression
against the Soviet Union. Nothing will come of it. They will have to
pay through the nose for their short-sighted policy.'
The Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov
Jonathan Cape, 1971), p. 171.
Knowing that war with Germany was inevitable, the Soviet government
was extremely worried about Leningrad's security, as it was only
32 kilometres from the Finnish border. On October 14, 1939, Stalin
sent a memorandum to the Finnish government about the
problem of the defence of Leningrad. The Soviet Union wished to be
able to `block the access to the Gulf of Finland'. It asked of
Finland that it be ceded by lease the Port of Hanko and four islands.
To ensure the defence of Finland, it asked for part of the ithmus of
Karelia belonging to Finland. In exchange, the Soviet Union would
offer to Finland part of Soviet Karelia, twice the size.
Ministère des Affaires Étrangères de Finlande,
Documents sur les relations finno-soviétiques (Paris: Éditions
Flammarion, 1940), pp. 93--95, 109.
Encouraged by Germany, Finland refused. On November 30, 1939, the
the Soviet Union declared war on Finland. A few days later,
instructions for the coming war with the Soviet Union. Here is one
`On the flanks of our operation we can count on active intervention
from Romania and Finland in the war against the Soviet
, vol. 1, p. 118.
Britain and France, worried about not getting caught up in this
`strange war', charged headlong into a real war against the Bolshevik
menace! In three months, Britain, France, the U.S. and fascist Italy
sent 700 planes, 1,500 canons and 6,000 machine guns to Finland,
`victim of aggression'.
Ambitions et méprises du Troisième
Reich, (Moscow: Éditions du Progrès, 1972), p. 74.
The French General
went to Syria and Turkey to prepare an
attack against the Soviet Union from the South. The French Chief of
Staffs prepared to bomb the Baku oilfields. At the same time, General
`In fact, Baku, with its annual oil production of 23 million tons,
dominates the situation. If we succeed in conquering the Caucasus, or
if these refineries were simply set alight by our air force, the
monster would collapse exhausted.'
L'Allemagne face à la guerre
totale (Paris: Éditions Grasset, 1940), p. 228.
Even though no shot had been fired against the
fact that they were in a state of war, the French government regrouped
an expeditionary force of 50,000 men to fight the Reds!
declared that Britain would send 100,000 soldiers.
Falsificateurs de l'Histoire (Brussels:
Éditions ABS, 1948), p. 118.
But these troops were unable to reach Finland before the Red Army
defeated the Finnish army: a peace accord was signed on March 14,
1939. Later on, during the war, a Gaullist publication appearing in
Rio de Janeiro claimed:
`At the end of the 1939--1940 winter,
political and military plot failed. Its purpose was to provoke a
backlash against the Soviet Union and to end the conflict between the
Anglo-French alliance and Germany through a compromise and an
anti-Comminterm alliance. This plot consisted in sending an
Anglo-French expedition to help the Finns, the intervention thereby
provoking a state of war with the Soviet Union.'
Petite encyclopédie politique du monde (Rio de
Janeiro: Éditions Chanteclair, 1943), p. 136.
The Germano-Soviet Pact and the defeat of Finland prepared the
conditions for the Red Army's victory over the Nazis.
These two events had four important implications.
They prevented the formation of a united front of the imperialist
powers against the socialist Soviet Union. A German attack in 1939
would certainly have provoked a Japanese intervention in Siberia.
What in fact happened was that the Soviet Union succeeded in signing
with Japan a Non-Aggression Pact that held until the defeat of fascism.
France and Britain, which had both refused throughout the thirties a
collective security system, were forced into an effective military
alliance with the Soviet Union once Germany broke the Germano-Soviet
The Soviet Union was able to advance its defences by 150 to 300
kilometres. This factor had great influence on the defence of
Leningrad and Moscow at the end of 1941.
The Soviet Union won 21 months of peace, allowing it to decisively
reinforce its defence industry and its armed forces.
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Fri Aug 25 09:03:42 PDT 1995