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

Development of the anti-war movement

1. The international working class is the leading anti-war force

The Soviet Union was not alone in the struggle for peace. He fulfilled this sacred mission in close unity with all progressive forces.

planets. The most principled, resolute and consistent opponent of the war was the international working class and its vanguard, the communist parties. Objectively, the broadest masses of the people were interested in the success of the anti-war movement: the peasantry, artisans, the petty bourgeoisie of the city, the intelligentsia and all honest people who understood what horrors a new world war could bring.

Coming out against the military adventures of the ruling classes is a long tradition of the working-class movement, which the communists are purposefully developing. In the program documents of the First International, written by K. Marx and F. Engels, the need for a resolute struggle of the proletariat against predatory wars was repeatedly emphasized. “If the emancipation of the working class requires the fraternal cooperation of the workers,” wrote K. Marx, “then how can they accomplish this great task in the presence of a foreign policy that, pursuing criminal goals, plays on national prejudices and sheds blood and squanders wealth in predatory wars?” people?" {986}

Developing this position, he spoke of the duty of the working class "to master the secrets of international politics, to follow the diplomatic activities of their governments and, if necessary, to counteract it by all means ...". When it is not possible to prevent a war, the proletariat is called upon to unite to fight it, striving to ensure that “the simple laws of morality and justice, which should guide private individuals in their relationships, become the highest laws in relations between peoples.

The struggle for such a foreign policy is part of the general struggle for the emancipation of the working class .

The anti-war movement of the masses under the banner of the working class was a serious obstacle to imperialism's path to the First World War. Long before it, the proletariat proclaimed its task to prevent a military catastrophe. However, the dominance of the opportunists in the majority [305] of the parties of the Second International led to the fact that the solution of this task was frustrated. When the war broke out, the leaders of most of the Social Democratic parties voted in parliaments for war credits. They made a class peace with the bourgeoisie and, under the slogan of "defence of the fatherland", called on the working people to go to the front, became open allies and accomplices of "their own" imperialist bourgeoisie, which was waging a predatory war. Opportunism grew into social-chauvinism, joined forces with nationalism and militarism.

V. I. Lenin and the Bolshevik Party, while remaining faithful to socialism and proletarian solidarity, rallied the revolutionary internationalists of other countries around themselves. They raised high the banner of struggle against the world war of robbers. The Bolshevik Party was the first political party to proclaim the slogans: turn the imperialist war into a civil war, prepare and carry out a revolutionary way out of it, resolutely “break with social chauvinism and centrism, create a new, revolutionary International. The Bolshevik Party showed in practice how to combine the struggle for peace with the struggle for revolution. Her tactics in 1914-1917. became a model of proletarian tactics in the conditions of the imperialist war.

With the victory of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the movement for peace merged in the politics and actions of the international proletariat with the struggle to defend the Soviet state from the encroachments of the imperialists. This happened because, V. I. Lenin explained, that the proletarians of other countries understood: "... any victory of the international bourgeoisie over Soviet Russia would mean the greatest victory of world reaction over the working class in general" {988} .

After the First World War and the defeat of the anti-Soviet intervention, during the period of temporary and partial stabilization of capitalism, the working class and its communist parties vigilantly followed all the tricks of the imperialist politicians, realizing the danger of new predatory wars. The peoples of the Soviet Union, led by the Communist Party, stood at the head of the peace-loving forces. It was she who, by her example, experience, consistency and intransigence towards the enemies of the world, inspired the anti-war movement and enriched it with new traditions.

The emergence of the Soviet state on the world stage, the formation of communist and workers' parties, the growth of the national liberation struggle in the colonial and dependent countries led to the fact that the anti-war movement assumed a more massive and militant character. A powerful factor in its strengthening was the growth in the size of the working class in the largest capitalist states, the leading political force in the anti-war struggle. If at the beginning of the 20th century the industrial proletariat of England, the USA, France and Germany numbered 30 million people {989} in its ranks , then by the 1930s - more than 60 million. The proportion of workers (including families) in society was: in the USA in 1929 - 65-66 percent, in England in 1931 - 80, in Germany in 1933 - 68-71 percent {990} .

The prestige and influence of the communist parties increased. This was evidenced by the growth of the Third Communist International. If at the time of its creation (March 1919) there were only a few communist parties and communist groups in the world, then in 1928 57 parties were represented at the Congress of the Comintern. There were 445,300 communists in their ranks in the capitalist countries. In 1935, the Comintern already united [306] 76 communist parties and organizations, and the number of communists in the capitalist world grew to 785,000 {991} .

The communist parties, relying on the Leninist ideas and experience of the CPSU (b), influenced the working class through mass international organizations: red and revolutionary trade unions that were part of the Red International of Trade Unions (Profintern); organizations of the International working aid (Mezhrabpom); the International Organization for Assistance to the Fighters of the Revolution (IOPR); Komsomol, united in the Communist Youth International (KIM); various societies of friends of the Soviet Union, etc. They also carried out work in mass proletarian organizations adjoining other political trends - social democracy, anarcho-syndicalism, etc. The advanced proletarians - members of the Revolutionary Trade Union Organization (RPO) - acted in the ranks of reformist trade unions in many countries that were members of the International Union of Trade Unions (Amsterdam International),{992} . The communists had some positions in the organizations that were part of the anarcho-syndicalist international of trade unions, which in 1933 united more than 1 million members {993} .

The increase in the solidarity and organization of the proletariat, the strengthening of the influence of the communist and workers' parties contributed to the intensification of the activities of various world congresses and conferences that advocated peace and against the threat of war. In a number of cases, such international forums have begun to shift from positions of abstract pacifism to a more active struggle against the specific perpetrators and instigators of new wars and armed conflicts. The anti-war movement was expanding in individual colonies and dependent countries.

Although the Communist Parties of the capitalist countries were not yet able to win the majority of the working class over to their side and remained small in many countries, they nonetheless had stable ties with the working masses and actively participated in their struggle to preserve peace. But wider than the organizational impact was the political influence of the communist movement. Its strength lay in the fact that it came up with a program that met the fundamental interests of broad sections of the people and outlined the path of struggle against the emerging war.

In the struggle to unite the working people against the offensive of the bourgeoisie and its military adventures, the tactics of the united workers' front, worked out in 1921, played an important role. Anti-war tasks assumed particular importance in the second half of the 1920s, when the danger that imperialism was preparing for a new world war became clear. At the VIII Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern in May 1927, the theses "The Tasks of the Communist International in the Struggle Against War and the War Danger" were adopted.

The theses spoke of the growth of militarism and fascist tendencies in the capitalist countries, the desire to strengthen the rear for war, the ideological preparation of the bourgeoisie for war, and outlined the tactical line of the communist parties in the struggle against the imperialist war.

In 1928, at the Sixth Congress of the Communist International, a clear and detailed program of struggle against the imperialist [307] war was worked out. In the decisions of the Congress it was written: "Capitalism is the cause of the wars of modern history" {994}, and it is also said that during armed clashes between imperialist states, the proletariat fights to defeat its own governments, seeking to turn the imperialist war into a civil one. The same position of principle must be taken by the working class of the capitalist countries in the event of a war by the bourgeoisie against the national-revolutionary movement of the colonial peoples and in the event of a counter-revolutionary war of imperialism against the proletarian dictatorship. At the same time, the proletariat supports and wages national revolutionary wars and wars of socialism against imperialist aggression, organizing the defense of national revolutions and proletarian dictatorships.

The congress noted that the growing danger of a new imperialist war was based on the striving of the capitalist powers to destroy Soviet power in the USSR and stifle the Chinese revolution. “But with the sharpening of the contradictions between the imperialist powers themselves, it is also possible, before this war breaks out, a clash between the two imperialist groups of states in the struggle for world hegemony” {995} .

Thus, the Marxist-Leninist analysis of the international situation made it possible for the Sixth Congress of the Comintern even 11 years before the Second World War to predict a possible variant of its occurrence, to outline a program for the anti-war movement, to work out a whole range of measures that the communist parties should have carried out in the struggle against the aggression of the imperialist powers.

The Comintern rightly emphasized the need to link the anti-war movement with the class struggle against capital, but at that time it believed that only by overthrowing the bourgeoisie in the most important imperialist countries could the unleashing of a world war be prevented {996} . As a result, the anti-war platform of the Sixth Congress of the Comintern unnecessarily sharpened the blow against the Social Democracy and pacifist movements. Nevertheless, the program of action worked out against the imperialist war was the most important political document, which had a tremendous impact on the subsequent course of the anti-war struggle.

The development of events in the 1920s showed that the Social Democracy, as the main support of the bourgeoisie in the working class, was striving with all its might to preserve capitalism, spreading illusions about its "peacefulness" and thereby covering up its aggressiveness. It was guided by the fact that internationally intertwined capital allegedly creates a commonality of social interests, the possibility of eternal peace between different countries. Denying the militancy of imperialism, K. Kautsky believed that in Europe its "desire for expansion" had disappeared; if we talk about military violence, then "industrial capitalism does not need it" {997} .

In the decision of the Marseille Congress of the Socialist Workers' International (August 1925), social democratic theorists attempted to justify imperialist aggression. They looked for its roots not in the nature of imperialism, but in the development of the national liberation movement in the colonial and dependent countries, and also in the fact that “the Communist International harbors the illusion that the liberation of the workers can be brought on the bayonets of the victorious Red [308] Army and that a new world war is needed for the victory of the world revolution” {998} . Thus, the right-wing leaders of the Social Democracy betrayed the workers' cause, going over to the ideological positions of the imperialist bourgeoisie in questions of war and peace.

At the Brussels Congress of the Socialist Workers' International (August 1928), the leaders of the Social Democracy, under the pressure of circumstances, were forced to speak about the vices of capitalism, about its inherent tendencies that push for war, and to come up with a pacifist disarmament program. But they continued to keep the workers who followed them from decisive struggle and continued to slander the Soviet Union and the Comintern. O. Bauer, for example, stated in his speech that "the Bolsheviks are now orienting themselves towards new wars as the source of a new revolutionary wave" {999} . The Menshevik F. Dan, calling the Soviet system "the socialism of war", advocated the replacement in the USSR of "the regime of dictatorship by a regime of republican democracy and political freedom" {1000}.

The course of the Social Democrats towards class cooperation with the bourgeoisie in the field of foreign policy split the international working-class movement and significantly weakened the anti-war struggle of the working people.

As before, during the years of partial stabilization of capitalism, the working class and its communist parties were the organizers of mass demonstrations of the working people against the military actions of the capitalist powers, using international progressive organizations. The largest anti-war action was the 900,000-strong political strike of French workers in October 1925 against the colonial war of the imperialists in Morocco and Syria. During its course, the labor movement for the first time in the history of France showed full and unconditional solidarity with the peoples of the colonies, demanding for them the right to self-determination.

In the spring of 1927, in response to provocations against the Land of the Soviets and the military intervention of the Anglo-American imperialists in China, a campaign was widely launched under the slogans "Hands off Soviet Russia!", "Hands off the Chinese revolution!". As soon as the events in China became known, the Political Secretariat of the ECCI sent a telegram to the leadership of the Communist Parties, stating: “There is no doubt that the conspiracy was organized by England, provoking war with the USSR. The Chinese ports are occupied by the imperialists. The situation is extremely tense. There is a war against the Chinese revolution; a war against the USSR is threatening. All Communist Parties are obliged to raise the broadest masses to their feet, to use all auxiliary organizations and the youth. It is categorically necessary to organize mass anti-British demonstrations as soon as possible, if possible before the British embassies and consulates. Where possible, requests to parliament are needed, demands for clarity in the position of the government”{1001} . As a sign of solidarity with the Soviet people, a many-thousand-strong demonstration of British workers took place in London, condemning the provocateurs and warmongers.

In June 1927, the Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party of Bolsheviks, taking into account the aggravation of the international situation caused by Great Britain breaking off diplomatic relations with the USSR, addressed a letter to all party organizations, to all workers and peasants, in which he called for vigilance.

At the World Congress of Friends of the USSR, held in Moscow in November 1927, the Appeal of the Congress of Friends of the USSR was adopted. In it [309] envoys from 43 countries firmly stated that the war against the USSR would be regarded as the greatest crime against humanity.

A certain role in the anti-war campaign of 1927 was played by the Mezhrabpom, as well as the League for the Struggle against Colonial Oppression (Anti-Imperialist League). With their help, the best representatives of the intelligentsia and many leaders of the national liberation movement were drawn into the struggle against the imperialist war.

The Communist Party of Germany actively fought against the militarization of the country. When the government began to implement a program to expand the navy, a campaign was launched in the country at its call under the slogan "Not a single pfennig for the construction of battleships!". In 1928, the KKE came out in favor of holding a popular poll against the construction of armadillos. By October 1928, 1.2 million {1002} signatures had been collected .

The communists of all countries tried to rouse the broad masses of workers and peasants to anti-war actions. They issued appeals, leaflets and pamphlets that exposed the imperialist policy of preparing for war, and explained to the working people the connection between their immediate demands and anti-war slogans. In accordance with the decisions of the VI Congress of the Comintern, a conference of 13 Communist Parties, held on May 16, 1929 in Brussels under the leadership of the Western European Bureau of the ECCI, proposed to celebrate the International Day of Struggle Against the Imperialist War on August 1 every year and worked out the forms of the anti-war campaign {1003}. The 10th Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern (July 1929) approved this decision and recommended that the Communist Parties "take all the necessary preparatory measures in order to give the international proletariat's action on August 1 against the imperialist war and in defense of the USSR the character of a militant review of the revolutionary proletarian forces" {1004} .

As one of the main slogans of the Communist Party put forward the defense of the Soviet Union from the imperialist attack. On August 1, 1929, in many capitalist countries, despite the police terror, anti-war demonstrations and strikes were organized, numerous rallies and meetings were held. In France, for example, on the outskirts of Paris, 8,000 workers of the CitroŽn automobile plant, 65 percent of the workers of the Saint-Denis region, left the mines of 70 percent of the miners of Saint-Etienne, about 90 percent of the dock workers in Bordeaux and Marseilles went on strike. Strikes also took place in Lille, Roubaix, Rouen, Nancy, Longwy, Toulouse and other cities. In Troyes, the soldiers of the cavalry battalion fraternized with the strikers of the textile factories {1005}. Summing up the results of these events, the French Communist Party in its decision noted that in the most important regions of the country the workers supported its call and that part of the demonstrations also covered the province {1006} .

Anti-war demonstrations also took place in the USA, England, Germany, Poland, Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece, Argentina and other countries. However, the Comintern and the Communist Parties assessed the speeches of August 1, 1929 as a partial success, since the movement did not take on the necessary scope, did not embrace the entire proletariat, the connection with the struggle for the united front of the workers was still weak, and the network of anti-war committees was not wide enough. [310]

The communist parties appealed to the workers - members of the social democratic parties and reformist trade unions - to create a united front to fight for the daily needs of the working people and against the war. The proletarian press paid great attention to exposing the imperialist plans of the ruling circles of France, England, and Japan, and exposed the anti-Soviet orientation of the projects for the creation of a "pan-Europe", a "Balkan federation" and the like. The magazine Communist International emphasized that in the difficult conditions of the growth of capitalist contradictions and the intensification of the struggle on the world stage, the campaign to hold an international anti-war day in 1930 should “become the most important factor delaying the war, strengthen and expand the resistance of the working class against any attempt at imperialist war and strengthen his will to defend the USSR" {1007}

On August 1, 1930, demonstrations and strikes took place, which turned out to be more massive than on the anti-war day of the previous year. But as a result of the repressions of the bourgeois governments, the stubborn opposition of the Social Democratic leaders, as well as shortcomings in the organizational work of the communist parties and individual manifestations of sectarianism in their ranks, the majority of the working class still remained aloof from active participation in the movement. “The bottleneck of the fighting day in 1929/30 was,” wrote the Communist International, “that these campaigns often had a narrow party character and did not sufficiently mobilize the broad masses of workers and peasants” {1008}. The communists underestimated the strength of the links between social democratic workers and their leaders. And when the Communists aimed their blows in the anti-war campaign also against the Social Democracy, without separating its reactionary leaders and the rank-and-file Social-Democratic workers to the necessary extent, this naturally hindered the creation of a united anti-war front of the workers.

The end of the stabilization of capitalism, the unfolding of the most severe crisis of 1929-1933, the intensification of the aggressiveness of imperialism introduced new elements into the anti-war struggle of the international working class. The undoubted merit of the Communist Parties was that, taking into account the new situation, they were the first to raise the question of the need for mass mobilization of the working people for peace and against the imperialist war and began a stubborn struggle to create a broad anti-war front. The CPSU(b) played an outstanding role in this. On its initiative, supported by other communist parties, questions of war and peace were discussed in March-April 1931 at the 11th plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern in Moscow.

M. Kashen made a report "On the Intensification of the Military Danger and the Tasks of the Communists". He, like G. Dimitrov, E. Telman and others who participated in the debate, showed that the international situation had become aggravated, that plans for intervention against the USSR were hatched in the imperialist countries of Europe, while the ruling circles of France were at the head of various kinds of anti-Soviet speeches. The remnants of the White Guard officers who had taken refuge abroad, it was pointed out at the plenum, are constantly financed by the imperialist powers, and are being prepared for the struggle against the Land of Soviets. Materials were cited on the active support of the intervention plans by the US ruling circles.

The strengthening of militarism, as well as the growth of armaments in the world of capital, determined the anti-war nature of the documents adopted by the 11th Plenum of the ECCI. In particular, his resolution read: “The unfolding world economic crisis as a result of the struggle of the imperialist [311] powers for markets exacerbates all imperialist contradictions, making them especially acute. The danger of military conflicts between the imperialist powers is growing. But the growth of contradictions in the interests of the imperialists does not weaken, but, on the contrary, exacerbates the danger of an intervention war against the USSRĽ {1009} .

The speeches of all participants in the plenum were permeated with the idea of ​​the need to intensify anti-militarist work. “Our duty,” said M. Kashen, “is to develop a powerful broad movement against imperialism, its murders and destruction, against the unheard-of cruelty of aviation, chemical and bacteriological warfare, against the mass slaughter that is now being prepared and which will once again flood humanity in an ocean of blood” { 1010} . G. Dimitrov pointed out that sympathy for the Soviet Union alone was not enough to prevent intervention. The war machine of mass coercion, he emphasized, "does not stop at the passive unwillingness of the masses to fight, and ... only the active revolutionary struggle of the masses under the leadership of the Communist Party can delay its launch or, when it is in motion, disorganize it" {1011}. The speakers called for popularization among the working people of the capitalist countries of the glorious traditions of the anti-war struggle under the slogan "Hands off Soviet Russia!", the uprising of French sailors on the Black Sea in 1919 and other historical examples of proletarian solidarity.

The decisions of the 11th plenum stressed that it was "necessary to strengthen the anti-militarist work of the communist parties, and especially the communist youth unions ..." {1012} . Its resolution stated that it depended on the activity of the communist parties and every communist whether “sympathy for the working class of the USSR on the part of the broadest masses of workers, working peasants, oppressed nations of the capitalist countries will turn into an active revolutionary struggle against the danger of war and military intervention against the USSR, or to the capitalists it will be possible to again lead the working people to a fratricidal war” {1013} .

The struggle of the working class and the communist parties for the expansion of the front of the opponents of the imperialist war ran, as before, against the opposition of the leaders of the right-wing Social Democrats. Thus, at the Fourth Congress of the Socialist Workers' International in Vienna, being unable to deny the increased danger of war, they propagated the old thesis that its threat comes from the dictatorial regimes of "Reds or Whites", that is, from the USSR. The chairman of the executive committee of this international, E. Vandervelde, in his speech tried to prove that the Soviet regime could not exist without a strong militaristic apparatus {1014} .

At the same time, there were speeches at the Congress of Vienna that reflected the views and moods of the advanced part of the Social Democrats, who were striving for an active anti-war struggle. The representative of the Independent Labor Party of Great Britain, F. Brockway, proposed to associate the movement against the war with the struggle against imperialism and capitalism, and in the event of its unleashing, advocate the overthrow of capitalism {1015} . But these proposals were rejected by Congress. [312]

Thus, in response to the growing danger of war, the anti-war movement of broad sections of the population became more active, led by the international working class and its militant vanguard, the Comintern. The emergence of hotbeds of a new imperialist war for the redivision of the world put before the revolutionary proletariat the task of creating a broad anti-war front.