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

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  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.
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3. The growth of armaments in the capitalist countries

The further aggravation of the contradictions of capitalism was the objective basis for imperialism to create a constant military danger. But it would be a mistake, on this basis, to consider the militarists as unwitting victims of the historical process, to exclude the role of the subjective factor. Like all previous exploiting classes, the capitalists have always regarded wars as a completely natural matter, considering the preparation and leadership of their conduct as their inalienable prerogative. Thus, a certain unity was obtained, the closest interweaving of the objective and subjective prerequisites for a new war. History irrefutably testifies that from the first days of the peaceful period, the militaristic wing of the monopoly bourgeoisie quite consciously, systematically, and purposefully conducted all-round preparations for new wars.

The greed of the imperialist bourgeoisie, the absolute incompatibility of its fundamental interests with the progressive development of mankind, was especially manifested in the constant all-encompassing arms race. The First World War ended, the wartime armies were demobilized, and the growth of armaments continued. Five months of peacetime have already passed, but still, according to V. I. Lenin, “... the entire capitalist world is armed from head to toe and is waiting for the moment, choosing the best strategic conditions, examining methods of attack” {62} .

The politicians of the bourgeoisie understood that the working people were extremely exhausted by the war and that it was impossible to come forward openly with a program of armaments. In order to appease the peace-hungry masses and divert their attention from the militaristic activities of governments, long and fruitless verbal tournaments were organized at numerous meetings of the League of Nations devoted to the problem of disarmament {63}. Hiding behind the guise of supporters of peace, the capitalist powers sought only to weaken their imperialist neighbors (especially likely opponents) and sought to strengthen their military might in every possible way. And it is no coincidence that all the projects and proposals for "disarmament" were drawn up in the capitalist countries, as a rule, by those who directly planned the war: the general staff. Things got to the point that in 1926 Hindenburg was going to appoint one of the most notorious militarists of that time, Colonel-General von Seeckt {64} , to be Germany's representative in the disarmament negotiations [26] in the League of Nations system. But the German militarists still did not dare to throw such a brazen challenge to world public opinion.

Is it any wonder that the League of Nations has not succeeded even in the smallest measure and even for the shortest period of time in stopping the arms race? Real disarmament was not at all included in the calculations of the founders of this international organization.

The growth of armaments in the world of capital was also facilitated by the fact that in the course of the war many decisive positions in the political life of the belligerent countries were seized by the military. Describing this circumstance, V. I. Lenin wrote in January 1920: “... the most criminal and reactionary imperialist war of 1914-1918 brought up in all countries and brought to the forefront of politics in all, even the most democratic republics, precisely tens and tens of thousands reactionary officers preparing terror and carrying out terror in favor of the bourgeoisie, in favor of capital against the proletariat” {65}. Speaking about the growing role of reactionary officers in the political life of the capitalist countries, V. I. Lenin also emphasized that it was provided with the sympathy of the bourgeoisie and landowners {66}. As the American anti-fascist historian G. Fried rightly noted, the Weimar Republic took better care of the officers of the old regime than the Wilhelmian monarchy itself {67} .

The growth in armaments was ensured primarily by an increase in military budgets, largely associated with an increase in the technical level of the bourgeois armies. Under lulling speeches about the past "last war" and "eternal peace", the imperialist governments, here openly, there secretly, steadily increased appropriations for military needs.

In Germany, in addition to the official appropriations for military needs, from thirty-five million to seventy-four million marks were annually uncontrolled and secretly "snatched" from the funds of other ministries {68} . From December 1925 to March 1927 alone, the Japanese military received more than 900.5 million yen {69} on emergency military budgets. Italy's military spending per capita increased in 1927 against the pre-war period (1909) by 64 percent {70}. This was how matters stood in the countries of the future fascist coalition.

A similar picture was observed in other capitalist countries. Even according to official figures, the annual spending of the US War Department for the first three post-war years, on average, exceeded the pre-war level by more than nineteen times {71} . The New York World rightly wrote at the time: “The United States spends more on preparing for future wars than any other state in the world. It is pointless to talk about savings in federal government spending if this senseless waste continues .

The military budgets of all the principal capitalist countries in aggregate (excluding Germany) increased from 1912 to 1924/25 by 1,442 million rubles {73} . Military [27] spending per capita in the mid-1920s was (in dollars): in the USA - 5.7, in France - 8.7 (for comparison, we note that in the USSR - 1.5).

The rapid growth of direct military spending continued in the second half of the 1920s. According to the League of Nations, France's expenditure on the maintenance of the land army, air and naval forces increased from 5,543.6 million francs in 1925 to 11,599.7 million francs in 1930/31 {74} . Huge sums for the preparation of the war were attracted additionally. So, in 1927/28, in connection with the adoption of the laws "On the general organization of the army in peacetime", "On the composition of personnel and the size of the army", "On the recruitment of the army" and other military measures, an additional 5 billion francs were allocated {75} .

Even the global economic crisis of 1929-1933 did not stop the increase in military spending. According to the estimates of the Berlin Market Institute, made on the basis of the military budgets of 53 countries, the index of world production (the level of 1928 is taken as 100 percent) was 54 in 1913, and did not exceed 56 in 1932; at the same time, the index of world expenditure on armaments rose from 64 in 1913 to 107 in 1932 {76} .

There was a certain peculiarity in the growth of armaments in the 1920s: the emphasis was placed primarily on the improvement of weapons, military equipment and the professional training of personnel, which was due to the emergence of new means of armed struggle. Noting this striving of the bourgeoisie, V. I. Lenin wrote in 1920: “... after the great imperialist massacre, all governments in the world began to fear the army of the whole people, open to the peasants and workers,.. and specially equipped with especially improved equipment of military units» {77} .

Many military theories of those times were also aimed at substantiating just such a course: the theory of "independent air warfare", "small professional armies", "mechanized" or "tank" warfare.

The English military theorist Fuller vividly expressed the cherished dream of the exploiting classes: “... the ideal army to strive for is not an armed people, but one person, moreover, not some super-scientist, but simply a person capable of pressing a button or removing a cork and thus put into action the machines invented by the best minds of science in peacetime.

The most far-sighted military theorists understood the impracticability of such aspirations. They had to reckon with the real state of affairs and take into account the growing role of man in modern wars. The former chief of the general staff of the French army, General M. Debenet, wrote: “We must not forget that technology that has gained dominance and become the god of war is in itself inert. Whatever its character, be it guns, machine guns, planes, tanks, gases, or other deadly weapons, they acquire value [28] only in the hands of man; therefore, the first requirement of technology is the requirement ... in human strength» {79} . The French general was echoed by the Austrian - Eimansberger: "And in the future, the decisive factor will not be the machine, but the person who uses it"{80} .

Most of the military leaders of the capitalist states not only recognized the decisive role of man in war, but also rejected the idea of ​​a small professional army, considering it incapable of protecting the fundamental interests of the ruling classes. Italian lieutenant colonel R. Maretta in the book "What will tomorrow's war be like?" wrote: "It is madness to allow oneself to be blinded by the ghost of a small shock army" {81} . And the governments of the major imperialist powers, as a rule, followed the course of maintaining and expanding mass armies. In the victorious and neutral countries in 1925 the number of armed forces was almost 1.2 million more than in 1913 {82} . The world war is over, Germany is defeated, and the victors are stubbornly increasing the size of their armies.

A specific feature of the post-war period was the rapid growth of "unofficial armies". In all capitalist countries, military-trained reserves were trained by various non-army organizations (sports clubs, rifle unions, fascist combat detachments, etc.). In the United States, such personnel were created primarily in the National Guard. The new national defense law passed by the US Congress in June 1920 (in force until 1950) set the upper threshold for its strength at 436 thousand people, that is, 70 percent more than the subsequent (1922-1935) average annual number of regular US armed forces {83} .

In Japan, various militarist-fascist organizations were engaged in the preparation of the unofficial army: the Union of Reservists of the Empire, the Cherry Society (Sakuraikai), which consisted of officers from the Ministry of War and the General Staff of the Army, the Society for State Foundations (Kokuhonsha), in which included about 200 large representatives of the military ("gumbatsu") and monopolies ("zaibatsu") {84}. According to 1928 data, out of 5 million students in Japanese secondary and higher schools, more than 1,400,000 people {85} received military training.

In Germany, immediately after the First World War, hotbeds of militarism became the German Officers' Union, which united up to 100 thousand people, and the soldiers' unions, numbering up to two million people at the end of 1927. Since 1918, one of the largest armed organizations of the monopoly bourgeoisie, and Junkers, the “Steel Helmet” (“Stahlhelm”) {86} , has been actively operating . The remilitarization process was also greatly facilitated by such reactionary paramilitary organizations as the Imperial Flag Union (Reichsbanner), the Young Germans Order (Jungdeutsche Orden), the Tannenbergbund, the Werewolf and others. The armed detachments of the National Socialist Party were formed and strengthened. Numerous [29] cases of financing by the Reichswehr {87}military exercises organized by assault detachments, as well as the transfer of large quantities of weapons to them, were registered as early as 1929. Contrary to article 177 of the Versailles Peace Treaty, which categorically forbade civil unions and institutions to deal with any military issues, especially training or exercises "in the art of war or the use of military weapons” {88}, all these organizations trained personnel for the army.

Particularly widespread militarization of the population was carried out in those countries where fascism had already succeeded in seizing state power. So, in Hungary, all young people aged 12 to 21 had to attend the Levente military sports society without fail. According to the report of the chief leader of this society, by October 1927, 700 thousand people {89} were involved in military training .

Fascist Italy, in essence, was turned into a real military camp - children of 6-8 years old were part of the detachments of the so-called "wolf cubs", 8-14 years old - in the detachments of "balilla", organized according to a military model; young people aged 14-18 were included in the "avant-garde" detachments, and from the age of 18 the most "tested" and "trustworthy" were transferred to "youthful fascist combat groups"; university youth were part of special paramilitary fascist organizations; "military culture" courses were introduced at universities and secondary schools; in order to receive a high school diploma, a student had to pass an examination for an officer's rank. This fascist system was given legal form in the law of December 31, 1934 "On the militarization of the Italian nation", which established that "military training should begin as soon as the child is able to learn,{90} .

The total strength of the unofficial army in many capitalist countries was enormous. According to available data, by 1927 it was over 656,000 in Great Britain, 800,000 in Italy (excluding Boy Scouts), 1,855,000 in the United States of America, and almost 4 million in Germany {91}. A deep scientific assessment of the role and place of these armed detachments of the bourgeoisie is given in the theses “The Tasks of the Comintern in the Struggle Against War and War Danger”, approved by the VIII Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) in May 1927: “Before the World War of 1914, capitalism did not know the wide distribution of this type of purely class counter-revolutionary army. He used "state" organs, the standing army, the police, and the gendarmerie to fight the mass movements. The aggravation of the class struggle after the war removed the last vestiges of "democratism" from the bourgeoisie. Everywhere the capital organizes its fighting organizations, the number of which in a number of countries exceeds the size of a regular army. The task of these detachments, in addition to maintaining an internal reaction in "peaceful" time, is in wartime to: a) to be a permanent reliable reserve for the suppression of revolutionary movements that arise during the war or towards the end of it; b) to drive the masses with bayonets to war in the event of mobilization; c) to[30] to be ready personnel for modern armies in case of an imperialist war» {92}.

Using every means to increase and train the informal army, the imperialist bourgeoisie paid special attention to increasing the combat capability of the regular armed forces. This was taken care of by the governments of all capitalist countries, but the German monopolists showed particular resourcefulness, forced, at least outwardly, to reckon with the restrictions contained in the Treaty of Versailles. Suffice it to point out that, according to some sources, the Weimar Republic in 1930 spent as much on the maintenance of the 100,000-strong Reichswehr as France spent on the maintenance of an army of 750,000 men {93} .

Even under the conditions of the "democratic" Weimar Republic, German imperialism succeeded in reviving the army, the main instrument for carrying out its aggressive plans. Already in those years, the army again became a “state within a state”, “a gray overcoat closed in itself with a unified spirit, again a model of diligence, discipline, order, Prussian duty in peacetime; thanks to tireless, persistent, often exhausting work, an army perfectly trained in military affairs, outwardly monolithic and again authoritative, is a force for a hostile coalition, despite its small number. All the negative phenomena of November 9 have been completely overcome; the machine is functioning again to the smallest wheel...» {94} .

Particular attention was paid to the selection and training of officers. The training of reserve officers from among the students of higher and secondary specialized educational institutions was increasingly developed. For example, in the USA in 1928 it was organized in 325 educational institutions; officer ranks were awarded annually to more than 6 thousand students who were included in the corps of reserve officers {95}. Command cadres grew rapidly in Weimar Germany as well. Article 160 of the Versailles Peace Treaty, according to which the total number of officers, including staff of headquarters, should not exceed 4 thousand people, was grossly violated. Already in 1929, in the Reichswehr, for every thousand soldiers, there were 100 officers, 30 senior non-commissioned officers and 300-400 non-commissioned officers, there were 992 officers in the general staff of the Reichswehr - 303 officers more than in the general staff of the Kaiser's peacetime army. The size of the apparatus of the War Ministry also greatly exceeded the staff of the Kaiser's Ministry. The system of early transfer of a large part of the officers to the reserve and their transfer to the state pension was widely used.

In the selection and staffing of the officer corps, the principle of bourgeois class was steadily pursued. The overwhelming majority of the officer corps, and especially the generals, in all imperialist countries consisted of representatives of the top of the ruling classes. This is irrefutably evidenced by statistical data for a number of countries, including Weimar Germany (see Table 4).

The Reichswehr of Republican Germany was the direct heir to the Kaiser's army and its militaristic traditions. This was manifested, in particular, in the fact that officers of noble origin enjoyed special influence in the Reichswehr. Nobles made up only a little over 0.1 percent of the total population of the Weimar [31] Republic, but on May 1, 1932, 52 percent of Reichswehr generals, 29 percent of colonels, 23 percent of lieutenant colonels, 16 percent of majors, 17 percent of captains and captains, 23 percent of lieutenants and lieutenants {98} . Characteristically, during the years of the republican regime in Germany, the number of officers of noble origin in the army almost did not decrease (21.3 percent in 1921 and 20.5 percent in 1932){99} .

Table 4. Class origin of the generals and officers of the German Reichswehr (as of 1930) {96}

Generals and officers by origin Quantity (percentage)

From large industrialists, bankers, large merchants, directors, leading employees of the economy 7.3

From landowners, large tenants 5.3

Of the officers 54.4 {97}

From senior officials and freelancers 28.1

From the lower and middle officials, employees, peasants, handicraftsmen and artisans 4.8

From workers 0.1

The class selection of the officer corps largely determined its face. The allegiance of this corps to the monopoly bourgeoisie, due to its belonging to the class of masters, was reinforced by a widely developed system of ideological indoctrination of the personnel of the army and navy. And in this the ruling classes relied on everything most reactionary and ossified, in order to achieve the desired result—to ensure the blind obedience of the masses to the will of the imperialist governments. Even the bourgeois press, describing the system of education of the Reichswehr personnel, was forced to admit that it was carried out by “methods of the reactionary Prussian-Kaiser school”, that “all officers, from the captain and above, are selected feudal reactionary elements. Any independent thought in the Reichswehr is unceremoniously killed, faith in authority is cultivated,{100} . And it is no coincidence that these officers later formed the backbone of the Nazi army.

The officer corps was brought up in a reactionary spirit in Japan as well. In the Miyako newspaper on March 3, 1930, Lieutenant General Tamon published an article under the meaningful title "The Brain of the Nation and the Army", in which he directly stated that "no administrative or political organization of the country can replace the officer corps, which carries a high the spirit of Japonism, boundless devotion to the divine emperor and willingness to die for him” {101} . [32]

In order to ensure the unquestioning obedience of the rank and file, the bourgeois governments did not disdain discipline with a cane. For example, in the Horthy army, officers and non-commissioned officers widely used degrading physical punishment of soldiers {102} . The basis for the political education of personnel in all bourgeois armies was the incitement of nationalism and chauvinism, the shameless lie that the army supposedly stands outside politics, above classes and serves the whole of society, inciting hatred towards the revolutionary masses of all countries, and especially towards the peoples of the Soviet Union.

Many bourgeois armies took part in new colonial wars and various armed actions against the peoples of other states. So, after the capture of the city of Nanjing by the Chinese National Revolutionary Army, ships of the US Navy, as well as a British ship on March 24, 1927, subjected the residential quarters of the city to a brutal bombardment, as a result of which 2 thousand people were killed and wounded.

One of the main directions in the arms race was the technical improvement of the military machine. The equipment of military formations with more advanced means of armed struggle increased sharply. If at the beginning of the war of 1914-1918. each wartime infantry division had 24 machine guns in France and the USA, then in 1927 in France - 483, and in the USA - already 947 {103} . The number of combat aircraft grew especially rapidly during the first post-war decade. According to the official certificate of the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, submitted to the League of Nations, by the end of 1927, the air forces of France had 6114 aircraft, the United States of America - 3800, Great Britain - 3460, Italy - 1700, Poland - 498 aircraft {104 } .

The race also continued in the construction of the navy (Table 5). In the United States in 1922 the cost of materiel (ships and their weapons) was almost 3.6 times higher than before the war (in 1912 - 402 million dollars, in 1922 - 1,446 million dollars) { 105} .

In the imperialist countries there was an intensified militarization of all branches of the economy, especially industry. In Japan in 1929, 63 percent of the products of the machine-building and metal-working industries were produced at factories in military arsenals. In 1930, about 50 percent of all workers in these two branches of industry were engaged in war production {106} . More than 2 thousand factories of factories in Japan had orders for the military and naval ministries {107} . By 1931, private companies, having received large government subsidies, built 8 aircraft factories, 6 aircraft engine factories, as well as factories for precision instruments, radio equipment, and others {108} .

In Poland, in order to more carefully adapt the entire state apparatus to the war during 1927-1929. in almost all ministries, state banks, departments, and institutions, up to the voivodeship departments, military departments were organized, which were headed by proteges of the dictatorship of J. Pilsudski.

In almost all capitalist countries, the chemical (especially nitrogen) industry, which is of tremendous importance for military affairs, developed at a rapid pace. [33]

Table 5. Maritime rivalry between major capitalist powers {109}


The arms trade has become widespread. In 1931 alone, according to official (greatly underestimated) data, England exported arms worth $13,366,000, the United States $3,897,000, France $2,730,000, and Italy $2,243,000. Small countries were also rushing to snatch their share of the fat war pie. In the same 1931, Czechoslovakia sold weapons worth 3,922 thousand dollars, Sweden - 3,705 thousand dollars, Belgium - 1,490 thousand dollars, and Holland - 708 thousand dollars {110} .

With the obvious connivance and direct financial assistance of the US and British monopolists, the process of secret remilitarization of Germany was rapidly developing. In his article "Leaders and Workers of Arms Factories", published on March 1, 1942 in the company's magazine, H. Krupp boasted that almost from the very moment of the defeat of Germany in November 1918, and even when the winners at Versailles were arguing about the conditions , on which the Krupp company could continue to exist, he began [34] secretly to prepare for the subsequent rearmament of Germany {111} . Already in 1922, a secret agreement was concluded between the command of the Reichswehr and the Krupp firm on the development of designs for tanks and artillery pieces {112}. And in October 1926, General Haye, taking command of the Reichswehr from von Seeckt, told him: “You again put Germany in the saddle. All that remains for me is to keep her in it.” {113} .

Even more favorable conditions for the secret rearmament of the Reichswehr were created after the work of the Allied Military Control Commission in Germany ceased in December 1926. In 1928-1929. the construction of military aircraft, armored vehicles and tanks began. To get around the restrictions imposed by the Treaty of Versailles, German monopolists entered into various alliances with foreign firms or set up shell companies abroad, as a result of which German designers could produce military equipment in foreign factories. Part of the combat aircraft was built at the Heinkel factories, relocated after the war to Sweden and Denmark, the other part was produced at the enterprises - branches of the Dornier company in Italy, Switzerland and Spain {114}. By the end of 1929, in Germany itself there were 12 aircraft-building firms, 4 firms that built gliders, 6 aircraft engines, 4 firms that produced parachutes {115} . In 1929, a new mortar model was created. Around 1931, a tank was made, which was the prototype of those T-IIIs with which the German tank divisions crossed Western Europe in 1940. Further development of this design made it possible in 1943 to begin production of tiger tanks {116} . Active research was carried out in the field of military chemistry. Production of military optics at the enterprises of the Zeiss concern from 1923-1924. by the beginning of the 1930s, it had more than quadrupled {117} .

Measures to arm Germany were carried out in deep secrecy, but the nationwide course towards the all-round revival of the military-economic potential was an open secret. In 1929, 13 countries, including France, China, Spain and Belgium, informed the League of Nations that Germany was their main supplier of weapons and ammunition {118} . Subsequently, German monopolists and former Hitlerite generals and admirals admitted that it was the secret remilitarization of Weimar Germany that created the decisive prerequisite for the rapid growth of Germany's aggressive military power after the seizure of power by fascism {119} .

Even the briefest analysis of the practical activities of the imperialist states in the first post-war decade irrefutably [35] proves the profound correctness of the official statement of the Soviet delegation at the IV session of the preparatory commission of the League of Nations for disarmament in November 1927: “...neither quantitative nor qualitative growth of armaments no one dares to deny" {120} . This was the situation in all the major capitalist powers, including Germany, which already in the 1920s grossly violated many of the military articles of the Versailles Peace Treaty.