History of World War II 1939–1945 The origin of war. The struggle of progressive forces for the preservation of peace

Marx-Engels |  Lenin  | Stalin |  Home Page

  History of World War II 1939–1945 The origin of war. The struggle of progressive forces for the preservation of peace 
Selected Articles from the History of World War II 1939–1945 in 12 volumes.
PDF Download

4. Aggressive foreign policy of the capitalist states

In the twenty years that separated the world wars, it is difficult to find a year when there was no war in any part of the globe. The most significant of these—an armed intervention against the Soviet state—was organized by the imperialist powers even before the end of the First World War. The intervention was a decisive factor in the development of the civil war in Russia. V. I. Lenin noted that it was “world imperialism ... that caused us, in essence speaking, a civil war and is guilty of prolonging it ...” {121} . Armed intervention and civil war were the clearest manifestation of class hatred and the most acute form of the class struggle of the imperialist bourgeoisie, the exploiters overthrown in Russia, against the workers and peasants.

On the part of the working people of Soviet Russia, the civil war was just, liberating, legal. They had to pay a heavy price for their right to build socialism. During the three years of the war against the interventionists and the White Guards, the number of killed, wounded, died from epidemics and famine in the RSFSR alone amounted to approximately eight million people. The invaders inflicted enormous damage on the national economy of the country, which had already suffered during the First World War.

The defeat suffered by imperialism in its attempts to stifle the socialist revolution "in its cradle" further inflamed the hatred of the ruling circles of the capitalist states for the Land of Soviets, for the workers', democratic and national liberation movement. This hatred manifested itself in the crimes of the interventionists against Soviet Russia, in the bloody massacres of the imperialists and their henchmen against the workers and peasants who had risen to the revolutionary struggle in Bulgaria, Hungary, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Finland, and Estonia. Counter-revolutionary terror also manifested itself in one form or another in France, the United States of America and many other capitalist states.

The leading role in the intrigues and actions of the counter-revolution everywhere belonged to the ruling circles of the victorious powers in the First World War. The main force of world reaction in the first post-war years was the imperialists of the United States of America, Britain and France. The "democratic freedoms" of the bourgeois world served only as a cover for the dictatorship of its rulers.

During these years, the imperialists unleashed a series of wars against the peoples of the colonial and dependent countries, who had risen to fight for national liberation. The imperialists forced Greece to come out against the revolution in Turkey, which overthrew the power of the Sultan, providing it with arms and financial assistance. In 1919, England began a war against Afghanistan, which had embarked on the path of national liberation. The United States of America carried out continuous acts of aggression against the countries of the Western [36] hemisphere. During 1918-1919. their troops repeatedly invaded the territory of Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Panama, Haiti. The real war was undertaken by the United States of America in 1926-1933 against the legitimate government of Nicaragua, headed by President X. Sacasa and national hero A. Sandino. Spain and France in 1921-1926 waged war against the popular masses of Morocco, who created the independent Republic of Rif, France in 1920-1926 opposed the Druze national liberation uprising in Syria. An open Anglo-American intervention in China began in 1927, facilitating a counter-revolutionary coup for the right-wing circles of the Kuomintang headed by Chiang Kai-shek.

All these wars and interventions did not obscure the imperialists' main goal - the destruction of the Soviet state. The inglorious defeat in the war against the newly born Republic of Soviets taught the ruling circles of the Western countries nothing. In an effort to keep Soviet Russia in constant tension and hinder peaceful socialist construction, the imperialists resorted to organizing raids by armed bands: Finnish reactionaries on Karelia, Petliurists on the Ukraine, Basmachi on Central Asia. In 1929, the Chinese militarists organized an armed conflict on the borders of the USSR.

The imperialists were planning a new armed intervention and hoped to carry it out through the joint efforts of the united anti-Soviet front of the capitalist powers. In the mid-1920s, the leading role in the struggle to create such a front belonged to the ruling circles of England and the United States of America. Germany was supposed to be used as the main striking force and instrument of the entire world reaction against the socialist state. Strong and at the same time dependent on the British and American monopolies, Germany had to justify their confidence and take on the mission of armed struggle against the revolutionary forces of the European continent. A kind of "division of labor" has developed between England and the United States. American banks and monopolies took on a major role in the revival of heavy industry and the military potential of Germany, which was the most important aspect of the Dawes Plan. British diplomacy was engaged in the political formation of the anti-Soviet bloc.

The German imperialists wanted new territories as a reward. German Foreign Minister G. Stresemann explained his position quite frankly in a private letter. “I count ...,” he wrote, “to get back the German lands in the East” {122}. The word "back" had a special meaning here, it reflected the opinion of the German imperialists that they "in the East" should own all those lands to which the German conquerors rushed from the Middle Ages until the First World War. Such a course was fully consistent with the secret plans of the German military. One of its typical representatives, General Trainer, wrote in his diary at that time: “Since I became Minister of War, all my thoughts have been directed only towards the realization of one goal: the liberation of the country (by “liberation” the German militarists always understood the seizure of neighboring lands. — Ed.).It is clear that I could not openly express this goal either to the public or when visiting the troops. Such a goal cannot be achieved by a quick onslaught, but only with great patience. In a difficult parliamentary struggle, I sought to raise the Reichswehr to the highest level of perfection and in the coming time to turn it into a combat instrument of the modern method of warfare . [37]

In order to deceive public opinion, highly experienced British diplomacy decided to present the creation of an anti-Soviet bloc as a "defense" of the capitalist world from the "Soviet threat", as a guarantee of European security. In February 1925, British Foreign Secretary O. Chamberlain wrote a secret note in which he wrote that Soviet Russia "loomed like a thundercloud over the eastern horizon of Europe - threatening, incalculable, but above all isolated." He proposed "defining a security policy in spite of Russia and even, perhaps, precisely because of Russia" {124} . This was how the aggressive essence of the “security policy” proposed by him was outlined.

For the practical implementation of the outlined policy in October 1925 in Locarno (Switzerland) a conference of representatives of England, France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, Poland, and Czechoslovakia was convened. It was seen as a political continuation of the Dawes Plan. This is how F. Kellogg, who at that time held the post of US Secretary of State, assessed it. "The Locarno Conference," he said to Congress, "is an outstanding achievement; it naturally followed the work of the Dawes Committee" {125} . She legally formalized the new policy of yesterday's winners towards Germany.

For tactical reasons, the United States of America did not take a direct part in the Locarno Conference, but in terms of its activity it was not inferior to the leading power, England. The true role of the United States was then exposed by E. Telman: “American bankers do not officially participate in Locarno. Not a single representative of the American bourgeoisie signed the treaty. But American finance capital, which regards Europe as a great colony from which it can extract monstrous profits, cooperated most actively in the implementation of Locarno. In the offices of the bankers, big industrialists, and big agrarians, the representatives of American finance capital made it clear that American imperialism wanted Locarno .

There were sharp imperialist contradictions between the participants in the Locarno Conference. However, they faded into the background before the hatred of the Soviet Union, which became the leitmotif of the entire work of the conference and its decisions. With good reason, the correspondent of the newspaper of the French Communists wrote from Locarno: "Diplomatic representatives have only one thing in common: hatred of Bolshevism and the Soviet state" {127} .

An expression of anti-Sovietism was the guarantee pact of Germany, Belgium, France, England and Italy, signed as a result of the Locarno Conference. His first article established "the preservation of the territorial "status quo" arising from the borders between Germany and Belgium and between Germany and France, and the inviolability of these borders ...". The second article obligated these countries "not to undertake any attack or invasion against each other and not in any case to resort to war against each other" {128} . The guarantee of observance of the contract was assigned to all its participants.

Thus, in the guarantee pact one can clearly see a completely definite course characteristic of the foreign policy of England, France and the USA. Its meaning was to insure these countries against German aggression and at the same time open the way for it to [38] the East, against the Soviet Union. It was this course that was later reflected in the Munich imperialist conspiracy.

The participants in the Locarno Conference plotted an aggressive war against the Soviet Union. But in the face of public opinion, they resorted to the false subterfuge that it was a war that would be undertaken by the Soviet Union. They met with great satisfaction the speech of German Foreign Minister G. Stresemann, who declared that if war breaks out against Soviet Russia, “Germany will not be able to consider itself indifferent and will, despite difficulties, fulfill its obligations ... Germany will not be able to avoid war if it starts. And then, playing on the anti-Soviet sentiments of the audience, Stresemann raised the issue of arming Germany {129}. Answering him, O. Chamberlain said: “Germany will become an ally of all the other member states of the League. Her strength will become their strength. Her weakness will be their weakness. All other states will be forced to help Germany, and those who disarmed Germany will have to arm her again. So, Stresemann achieved what he wanted: the obligations of England and France, behind which the United States of America was also behind, to ensure the armament of Germany. And how to use these weapons, in which direction to turn the muzzles of the guns - Stresemann had his own thoughts, which he was not going to share.

In Locarno, the representatives of Poland and Czechoslovakia, A. Skshinsky and E. Beneš, played a shameful role, signing arbitration treaties with Germany. The real meaning of the agreements was as follows: instead of guaranteeing the Polish-German and Czechoslovak-German borders, as was done with regard to the Franco-German and Belgian-German borders, the solution of all disputed issues was left to a permanent conciliation commission of representatives of both parties and representatives appointed by them. Thus, conditions were created for the capitulation of the bourgeois governments of Poland and Czechoslovakia, as soon as Germany again proceeds to the traditional "drang nach Osten" {131} .

Germany's arbitration treaties with Poland and Czechoslovakia dealt a crushing blow to the system of alliances created after the First World War by bourgeois France not only against the Soviet state, but also in the interests of its own security from German aggression. In an attempt to preserve this system, the French government concluded alliance treaties with Poland and Czechoslovakia in Locarno. The treaties provided for mutual assistance, but not against any German aggression, but only against the unprovoked use of weapons by Germany in its relations with one of the contracting parties {132} . This by no means ruled out a "peaceful" seizure by Germany of the countries of Eastern Europe or the passage of its troops through these countries to attack the USSR.

The newly appeared Locarno "peacemakers" were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The voices of the right-wing leaders of the Social Democratic parties joined the general choir that glorified Locarno. The Socialist Workers' International {133} declared the Locarno Conference "the first step towards the pacification of Europe". In contrast to this, the XIV Congress of the CPSU(b) perspicaciously noted that the Locarno "guarantee agreements" [39] ... in fact mean nothing more than the alignment of forces for a new war" {134} .

The immediate consequences of Locarno were the critical events of 1927, when England made a serious and extremely dangerous attempt to start a war against the Soviet Union with a united anti-Soviet front, although its formation was far from complete. But this circumstance did not bother British politicians. They believed that the provocations they had undertaken would set in motion all the forces hostile to the USSR and consolidate the role of England as the leader of the anti-Soviet front. In the same year, Trotskyists became more active in the USSR, going over to an open struggle against the Communist Party and the Soviet state.

On February 23, 1927, British diplomacy launched an offensive. It sent a note to the Soviet Union with fictitious accusations and a threat to break off trade and diplomatic relations. In April, with the express consent of the British and American ambassadors, the Chinese police raided the Soviet plenipotentiary representation in Peking. A month later, the British police made a similar raid on the Soviet trade mission in London and on the Anglo-Russian Cooperative Trade Society (ARCOS). On May 27, the British government broke off diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. On June 7, at the instigation of British reaction, the Soviet ambassador P. L. Voikov was murdered in Warsaw. The governments of England and the USA encouraged Poland in every possible way to take military action against the USSR. American businessmen provided Poland with large funds for the purchase of weapons.

However, the decisive role in the war planned by British imperialism against the USSR was assigned to Germany. After the assassination of P. L. Voikov, the British Foreign Office asked the German Foreign Office whether the passage of British troops through its territory to the east would be allowed. Berlin was in no hurry to answer, realizing that such a passage of troops would inevitably draw the Germans into the war {135} . On July 23, 1927, Stresemann stated in the Reichstag that Germany did not intend to participate in a military campaign against the USSR and would remain neutral.

This position of Germany was due, on the one hand, to Soviet foreign policy, which was expressed in a number of important actions that counteracted the Locarno agreement, and on the other hand, to clashes of imperialist interests. One of the manifestations of these contradictions was the repeated statements by the German leaders in a closed circle that they would go only to such a war that would be beneficial to their country, and not to any other power, for example, England. The French leaders also assured the Soviet government that Britain would not be able to lead them onto the path of a break with the USSR.

England was never able to complete the creation of the anti-Soviet front and undertake a "crusade" against the USSR. The 15th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, in a resolution on the report of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, noted: “... the correct policy of the Central Committee ensured, under the most difficult conditions of the reporting period, the strengthening of the international power of the USSR, the enhancement of the role of our country as a factor in international peace, the growth of the authority of the USSR as a center of world revolutionary movement" {136} .

Under the conditions of the world economic crisis that began in 1929, all the contradictions of imperialism were further aggravated. [40]A new plan arose in the ruling circles of a number of imperialist powers to resolve contradictions at the expense of the Soviet Union by way of war. The alignment of anti-Soviet forces in the camp of imperialism has undergone some changes. In connection with Britain's foreign policy defeats, anti-Soviet intrigues in Europe hastened to lead the ruling circles of France. In an effort to create a political bloc of European states against the USSR, the government and military command of France launched an active activity in the Baltic countries, Eastern and South-Eastern Europe. French military missions systematically visited these countries, negotiated the unification of weapons and the supply of weapons, the training of military personnel, as well as the reorganization of the armies. Significant loans were provided for rearmament. The fascist dictator of Poland, Pilsudski, and the Rumanian reactionaries enjoyed particular sympathy among the French imperialists. Poland and Romania received the largest loans and credits for the purchase of weapons. The French imperialists assigned a large role in the plans for the anti-Soviet war to the remnants of the White Guard rabble, which was hastily put on alert, retrained and armed.

Again, with all its acuteness, the question arose of whether Germany would join the anti-Soviet front. People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR MM Litvinov, in a report at a session of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR in December 1929, said: “... in Germany there are individuals, groups, organizations and even parties that aim to radically change the entire policy of Germany in the direction of anti-Soviet machinations. ..” {137} The foreign policy of the USSR waged an active struggle for the preservation of good neighborly relations with Germany. This struggle was facilitated by the interest of German industrialists in trade with the Soviet Union, as well as the development of imperialist conflicts in connection with French plans for hegemony in Europe.

The aggravation of imperialist contradictions was also reflected in Italian-French relations. Italy made its own claims to participate in the leadership of Europe. British diplomacy played on these contradictions.

Japanese imperialism was intensively preparing for war. Like the German monopolists, the ruling circles of Japan hatched anti-Soviet plans, not wishing, however, that their implementation would benefit the United States and Britain.

Thus, in the second half of the 1920s and early 1930s there were two anti-Soviet "military alarms" {138}. In 1927, British reaction, and in 1930 French reaction, vigorously provoked an attack by a number of states associated with them on the Soviet Union. The main direction of the policy of England, France and the USA, calculated on the mutual weakening of the Soviet Union and Germany by a war between them, on the destruction of Soviet power, was clearly outlined. The USA, Britain and France tried to pursue a similar line with respect to Japan.

However, thanks to the activity of peace-loving forces, primarily the Soviet Union, in both cases the war was prevented. At the same time, the "military alarms" organized by the imperialists had grave consequences for the cause of peace and largely predetermined the development of events on the road to World War II. [41]

With the growth of Germany's economic and military power and the growth of the predatory aspirations of its ruling circles, a corresponding program of action was developed, which the German leaders did not even consider it necessary to hide. Summing up the vast amount of information received, Vansittart, Undersecretary of Foreign Affairs of England, wrote on May 12, 1930, that the German government was striving to restore its country as a world power and colonial empire, to annex Austria, to rearm its army, and to change the Polish-German frontier {139} . British politicians consoled themselves with the thought that Germany would supplement this program with plans for a war against the USSR and stop there. But, as events have shown, the German imperialists went much further in their plans for the struggle for world domination.

The complicated situation in Europe, which diverted the attention of the capitalist governments, was used by the Japanese imperialists to prepare and immediately launch a war against China, beginning it with the capture of Manchuria. The Japanese government decided to cover up the aggression with anti-Soviet slogans, counting on the benevolent position of its imperialist rivals. Japan's invasion of Manchuria was not just another local war but was an integral part of those actions that represented a new stage in the emergence of the Second World War - the formation of its specific centers. The background to these events includes the Dawes Plan, the Locarno conference, and attempts at new anti-Soviet campaigns.