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

2. The struggle for the creation of an anti-war front during the outbreak of hotbeds of war

World economic crisis 1929-1933 put an end to the temporary stabilization of capitalism. The international situation has become even more aggravated. Japan's invasion of Manchuria in 1931 and the coming to power of fascism in Germany in 1933 left no doubt that the capitalist world was rapidly moving towards a new big war.

During this period, the revolutionary struggle of the proletariat and the working masses intensified. In many countries, the influence of communist parties increased.

The working class and its communist parties initiated the formation of anti-war committees, sought to intensify the activities of trade unions, youth unions, the Mezhrabpom, MOPR, societies of friends of the Soviet Union, progressive societies of the intelligentsia, etc. Numerous rallies were held in many countries under the slogans: "Against the threat of war!", "War on the imperialist war!", "Defend the Soviet Union!", "Down with Japanese imperialism!" etc. An international committee for assistance to China was set up, headed by R. Rolland and A. Barbusse {1016} .

After the Japanese attack on China, mass anti-war demonstrations took place in Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama and some other cities. In the appeal with which the CPJ addressed the working people in September 1931, the slogans were proclaimed: “Stop the production of weapons! Workers, peasants, unemployed, organize strikes and protest demonstrations against the war!”, “Japanese soldiers at the front, fraternize with Chinese soldiers!”, “Defend revolutionary China and the Red Army! (China. - Ed.)", "Defend the Soviet Union!", "Down with Japanese imperialism!" {1017} .

In connection with the events in the Far East, the course of Japanese militarism towards pan-Asianism, its propaganda of the struggle against "white imperialism", for the creation of an "East Asian sphere of mutual prosperity" posed a particular danger. This course determined Japan's policy towards Manchuria, the creation of pan-Asian economic and political blocs, a policy ultimately directed against China and the USSR.

The capture of Manchuria, the bloody events in Shanghai, like all the atrocities of the Japanese predators, aroused the anger and indignation of the peoples of Asia and the whole world, roused thousands of patriots to fight aggression. The tasks of the CPJ during this period were formulated in one of the documents developed jointly with the Comintern. It said: “The war will inevitably exacerbate the class contradictions within the country to the extreme. It will set before the Japanese proletariat and its Communist Party the task of combining [313] the struggle against war with the struggle for the vital interests of the workers, peasants and all working people, against their economic and political slavery, with the aim of turning the imperialist war into a civil war, with the aim of the revolutionary overthrow of the bourgeois-landlord monarchy. {1018} .

The 12th Plenum of the ECCI, held in August-September 1932, indicated that the CPJ was obliged to intensify its work in the army and navy, especially in Manchuria, to reveal the inextricable link between the imperialist war and the direct preparation of military intervention against the USSR, on the one hand, and to strengthen military-police reaction and robbery of the working masses in Japan itself - on the other {1019} .

With the beginning of Japanese aggression in the Far East, especially difficult tasks arose before the Communist Party of China. Defining them, the Comintern directed the communists to organize a mass anti-Japanese movement in China, to universal armed resistance to the invaders. The plenum noted that the CPC should continue to "make every effort to ensure the hegemony of the proletariat in the mass anti-imperialist movement in Kuomintang China, widely and consistently apply the tactics of a united front from below in the anti-imperialist struggle of the masses ..." {1020} .

From the first days of hostilities, the Communist Party of Japan began organizing mass demonstrations and meetings, and an anti-war campaign at enterprises. Under her leadership, several major strikes took place, which acquired a political, anti-war character. Through the efforts of the communists, illegal circles were created at universities and colleges. In May and August 1932 anti-war demonstrations took place in many villages. The party did a great deal of work among the soldiers, drawing them into the revolutionary movement.

Other communist parties of the Asian continent also joined the movement against the war. In India, the Communist Party from 1925 to 1933 was virtually deprived of a unified leadership: all members of the Central Committee were in prison. In 1933, a new Central Committee was elected, which led the leadership of the party throughout the country. In close cooperation with the Communist Parties of Japan and China, the Communists of Korea and Taiwan opposed the war, constantly increasing their ranks.

The creation and strengthening of parties of a new type—communist parties—in many countries of the Asian continent was a step towards consolidating the forces of the peoples of Asia against Japanese aggression, for preventing a new world war, and along the path of developing a national liberation movement. The communists of Asian countries opposed imperialism as selfless fighters, unafraid of reprisals and persecution. Where the people took up arms, they were in its first battle ranks. Under the leadership of the Communist Parties, strikes, demonstrations, and campaigns were successfully carried out in many Asian countries against the transport of military materials for Japan.

The peoples of the planet, realizing perfectly well that the boundary line between peace and war is becoming more and more blurred, have intensified their movement against unleashing a new imperialist war, against the aggressive course of the Japanese military, against preparing an attack on the Soviet Union. On February 6, 1932, the joint appeal of the communist parties of Germany, France, England, Czechoslovakia and Poland was published, which stressed the need to protect China from the threat of division by the imperialist powers, to strengthen international proletarian [314] assistance to the anti-imperialist movement of the Chinese people. The appeal called on the working class of the bourgeois West to fight against the attempts of the imperialists to organize an anti-Soviet military campaign {1021} .

At the call of the communist parties of Europe and America, anti-war demonstrations, strikes of dock workers, workers of military factories protesting against the shipment of weapons to Japan took place in many cities. The Committee of Friends of China, set up on the initiative of the Communist Parties of the USA, Britain, Holland and other countries, rendered enormous assistance to the Chinese people in their just struggle against the Japanese invaders. In addition to raising funds to help the Chinese people, the committee led the organization of the boycott of Japanese goods.

Thus, the Japanese invasion of China caused the revolutionary progressive forces everywhere to become active against the imperialists' preparations for a new war, the formation of its center in the Far East, and attempts to turn Manchuria into a springboard for an attack on the world's first socialist state.

In connection with the rapid growth of fascism in Europe, the danger of war increased. By the very course of events, the German working class and its Communist Party were brought to the forefront of the anti-war and anti-fascist struggle.

Of great importance at that time was the idea of ​​convening an international anti-war congress, supported by the Comintern. On April 27, 1932, the Political Commission of the ECCI set up a preparatory commission and sent a corresponding letter {1022} to the Communist Parties . The international initiative committee for the preparation of the congress included the most prominent progressive figures: A. Barbusse, M. Gorky, T. Dreiser, P. Langevin, G. Mann, M. Andersen-Nekse, B. Russell, R. Rolland, General A. Sandino , Sen Katayama, E. Sinclair, A. Einstein and others. In its appeal, the committee called on “all women and men, regardless of their party or trade union affiliation, all proletarian, cultural, educational and socio-political organizations to unite to hold a large international congress of the struggle against war” {1023}.

It was a desire to rally against the war not only supporters of the communist parties, but also all parties and organizations interested in maintaining peace.

However, the secretary of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Workers' International, F. Adler (July 6, 1932), and then the bureau of the Executive Committee of the International (July 23, 1932), opposed the convocation of the congress, qualifying it as a "communist maneuver", supposedly conceived "primarily for the struggle with the socialist parties" {1024} . They endorsed the decision of those parties that sabotaged the anti-war congress and declared that they "recognize this position as correct" {1025} . However, the leaders of the Social Democracy were forced to take into account the growth in the masses of anti-war sentiment and sympathy for the USSR. At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Workers' International in Zurich on May 19-20, 1932, they first noted the threat of an anti-Soviet war and declared the solidarity of the workers with the Soviet Union if it was attacked{1026} . The social democratic parties addressed their own governments [315] with good appeals to pursue a policy of peace and disarmament. They led a campaign to collect signatures on a petition for disarmament in order to present these signatures to the League of Nations. Although this campaign was of some importance in creating anti-war public opinion, in general, the policy of the Social Democracy continued to unfold in line with bourgeois pacifism, and the right-wing leaders of the Social Democracy, as before, participated in anti-Soviet campaigns and accused the USSR of aggressive intentions, thereby helping bourgeoisie and diverting the attention of the masses from the real sources of danger of war.

Thanks to the active work of the Communist Parties, their affiliated organizations and other progressive associations, the campaign for the convening of a world anti-war congress reached out to a broader mass than previous campaigns. In the summer of 1932, at anti-war rallies and meetings, the working people adopted resolutions against the imperialist war, elected delegates to the congress, established anti-war committees, on the basis of which district, district and national committees were formed. They managed to create even in many countries where the Communist parties were in an illegal position. By the beginning of the Congress, there were 35 national and more than 1,000 local anti-war committees {1027}.

The bourgeoisie excelled in slander and attacks on the participants in the movement. Anti-war meetings and conferences were banned in a number of countries. The Swiss and British authorities did not allow the congress to be held in their countries.

The World Anti-War Congress took place on August 27-29, 1932 in Amsterdam. It was attended by 2,200 delegates from 29 countries and hundreds of guests. The most numerous were the delegations of Germany - 759 people, France - 585 people and Holland - 458 people {1028} . The Soviet delegation was denied visas to enter Holland, and its members had to address the congress by radio. The majority of congress delegates - 1865 people - are workers, 249 are representatives of the intelligentsia, 72 are peasants. According to party affiliation, the delegates were divided as follows: communists - 830 people, social democrats - 291, independent socialists - 24, representatives of other parties - 10 people and over 1000 - non-party {1029}. The congress represented more than 30 million people of different social status, different political views, but striving for peace and curbing fascism.

In his report, A. Barbusse stressed that the main goal of the congress, which is open to all parties, is to unite the broad masses against the imperialist war, not only communists, but also social democrats, members of trade unions, pacifists - everyone who stands for peace.

Calling for the strengthening of the anti-war movement, the delegates exposed the imperialists' preparations for a world war and an attack on the USSR, rejected malicious fabrications about "red imperialism", and highly appreciated the consistent peace-loving policy of the Soviet Union.

The manifesto of the Amsterdam Anti-War Congress called for the creation of a "collective mass barrier against war." It stated: "Congress sees salvation only in the unity of action of the workers, peasants and all the exploited and oppressed on the globe." He emphasized the vital need to "create a united front of all the oppressed throughout the world" and called on the masses as "the only irresistible force in the terrifying chaos of modernity to rise in close disciplined [316] ranks against this chaos and raise their powerful voice against it" {1030}

Closing the congress, A. Barbusse summed up its most important results: “His strength and dignity lies in the fact that, having avoided the terrible trap of official pacifism, which sows illusions and turns healthy forces to fruitless theorizing, divorced from reality ... brought the question of war to the ground , considering it as a question about people bleeding" {1031} .

To lead the struggle for peace, the Amsterdam Congress created a permanent World Committee for the Struggle Against War of 115 people, which included A. Barbusse, D. Bernal, P. Vaillant-Couturier, M. Gorky, G. Miglioli, R. Rolland, Saint Katayama, E. Stasova, K. Zetkin, N. Shvernik, A. Einstein and others.

Despite the fact that the work and decisions of the congress still showed an excessive sharpening of the blow against the official line of the Social Democracy and the influence of certain sectarian attitudes was felt, the main provisions proclaimed in Amsterdam were in the interests of mobilizing all anti-war forces.

The trade union and women's conferences held during the congress, meetings of peasant delegates, pacifists, youth, writers, and doctors were influenced by him. They also said their resolute "no" to the imperialist war.

Much attention was paid to the tasks of the anti-war struggle by the 12th Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern. The main report delivered by O. Kuusinen noted the further intensification of the military preparations of the capitalist powers; the attempts of the German monopolists to join the ranks of the imperialist predators who are plundering the world; the orientation of aggressive plans primarily against the USSR and China; the emerging desire of the imperialists to take the Land of Soviets in pincers from the east and west {1032} .

The XII Plenum of the ECCI stressed with particular force the task of defending the USSR and the Chinese revolution, called on the Communist Parties to intensify the struggle against the threat of an imperialist war, actively respond to all anti-Soviet campaigns, popularize the peace policy of the USSR, systematically wage an ideological struggle against chauvinism and nationalism and its extreme form - fascism, to propagate proletarian internationalism, to expose every measure of preparation for war. The significance of the united front tactic was specifically pointed out, with the help of which the Communist parties could involve the unemployed, youth, women, peasants and everyone who, although not sharing the views of the Communists, was ready to resist the imperialist massacre {1033} in the anti-war movement .

The Comintern and the Communist Parties sought to develop the anti-war movement on a broad social basis. Summing up the results of the Amsterdam Congress, the magazine Rundschau (an organ of the ECCI) wrote in an editorial: “This is not about the cause of one party, but about a truly mass movement, embracing all the forces that want to fight against the imperialist war.”

The Political Secretariat of the ECCI recommended that the bodies created by the Amsterdam Congress be given a broad non-partisan character and "lead [317] and influence them by persuasion" {1034} . This instruction was put into practice. Only in the last months of 1932 were there an International Conference for the Peace of Delegates from Enterprises and Trade Unions in Amsterdam, and a congress of the International League of Women for Peace and Freedom in Grenoble. The movement to create anti-war committees and hold national congresses in defense of peace, for the rallying of anti-fascists, intensified.

A characteristic example of international solidarity was the actions of the Communist Parties of France and Germany. In May 1932, the Central Committee of the KKE called for the launching of the "Anti-Fascist Action" campaign, and in July an anti-fascist united front congress was held in Berlin. In October, the Communist Parties of Germany and France published a joint declaration, which called on the working people of these countries to unite their efforts against chauvinism and nationalist propaganda, against fascism {1035} . On October 31, 1932, a grandiose international rally was held in the Hall of Bouillet in Paris, at which M. Thorez and E. Telman, who had illegally arrived in France, spoke.

The PCF, KKE and other European communist parties exposed the conspiracy of the Western powers in Geneva at the end of 1932, when, under the guise of an attempt to restore Germany in equal rights, these powers took care, first of all, of her equal rights to armaments and thereby helped to free the hands of German militarism. Then, on December 30, 1932, near Essen (Germany), representatives of the communist parties of Austria, England, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Poland, France and Czechoslovakia gathered for a conference. It decided to intensify work on the international rallying of the working people, to launch the mobilization of the masses against the production and transportation of military materials in connection with the increased danger of military intervention against the USSR and Japan's attack on China, to strengthen and expand the ties between the Communist Parties,{1036}.

Especially burning was the problem of creating a broad front of anti-war forces with the coming to power of the Nazis in Germany and the emergence of a hotbed of war in Europe. The Comintern warned that Hitler's government is a government of ruthless struggle not only against the German proletariat, but also against world socialism, it is "a government of preparing a revanchist war of German imperialism against Poland and France and provocations against the USSR ..." {1037} . The Communists explained to the masses that German fascism had war as its goal and was "the bearer of imperialist war" {1038}. They pointed out that with the establishment of the fascist dictatorship in Germany, new difficulties arose in the struggle to prevent an imperialist war, and therefore an even more energetic and persistent mobilization of the forces of the working people was necessary.

Anti-war meetings organized on the initiative of the communist parties became one of the forms of international rallying of the working people. For example, in September 1933, a meeting of Polish, Czech and German miners and metalworkers took place near Moravsk-Ostrava {1039} . In October 1933, in Metz (France), the delegates of the railroad workers of France, Belgium, and the Saar discussed [318] measures to combat the war, in particular, the question of a boycott of transportation for Japan, Germany, Austria, and Poland {1040} .

Communist workers, members of the mass organizations adjoining the Comintern, together with other supporters of peace, painstakingly and persistently worked to expand the network of anti-war committees, participated in organizing and holding national anti-war congresses. In France, where the anti-war movement reached its greatest extent, by the spring of 1933 there were already about 500 local committees {1041} .

In early March 1933, a national anti-war congress was held in London, attended by 1,500 delegates representing 1.5 million workers. He expressed the will of the advanced sections of the British working people to fight against the imperialist war. The delegates enthusiastically received a telegram from the crew of the steamer "Stanleyville", which refused to carry military cargo to Japan {1042} . In the same month a congress was held in Montevideo by the South American fighters against the war {1043} .

In April 1933, the Scandinavian Labor Conference was held in Copenhagen, 400 delegates of which represented 35 trade union organizations and other workers' unions of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Iceland {1044} . In June 1933 anti-war conferences were held in Holland and Bulgaria {1045} .

An important role in the development of the movement against war and fascism was played by the European Anti-Fascist Congress, which took place on June 4-6, 1933 in Paris in the Salle Pleyel. Many organizations actively participated in its preparation. The 3,500 congress delegates from all European countries represented more than 3 million working people—communists, part of the Social Democrats, progressive intelligentsia, and broad strata of the non-Party {1046} .

The decisions of the congress were based on the idea of ​​forming a united front based on the rallying of all anti-fascists and opponents of the war without distinction of party, trade union or religious affiliation. The Congress did much to expose the fascist terror in Germany and the aggressive aspirations of the Hitler government. In the document he adopted, it was noted that the offensive of fascism meant a direct transition to imperialist aggression and the struggle against it was closely intertwined with the struggle against war. It was instructed "in order to unite all forces against fascism and war, to establish close business relations between anti-fascist committees and committees for the struggle against war" {1047} .

The anti-fascist Central Committee created by the Congress became the initiator of many anti-fascist and anti-war campaigns: the boycott of German courts in ports, protest demonstrations in front of German embassies and consulates, the sending of Marxist literature to Germany, etc. Anti-fascist committees and committees for the fight against war increasingly acted together. Later, P. Togliatti wrote that “from the time of the congress in the Hall of Pleyel, a movement began that, without being associated with any party, created in at least one country - in France, the ground on which the workers and grassroots functionaries of the Social Democratic parties and reformist trade unions began to draw closer to the communist workers and leading cadres of the Communist Party” {1048} . [319]

In August 1933, the anti-fascist Central Committee and the World Committee for the Struggle against War merged into the World Committee for the Struggle against War and Fascism. The movement headed by him, known as the Amsterdam-Pleyel movement, set itself the task of rallying all anti-fascists and opponents of the imperialist war on the basis of a united front.

A notable phenomenon in the international anti-war struggle was the American Congress against Fascism and War, held in New York on September 29-October 1, 1933. It was attended by more than 2,600 delegates from 35 states {1049} . Arriving at the congress, A. Barbusse made an impassioned appeal to the American working people "to join the movement against fascism and the imperialist war" {1050} . Congress formed the American League Against War and Fascism. A year later, the league, despite the withdrawal of some organizations from it, managed to convene a second congress, whose delegates represented 1,807,000 Americans {1051} .

In September-October 1933, the Far East Anti-War Congress was held in Shanghai, the Australian Anti-War Congress, which was attended by delegates from 340 different organizations, the World Youth Congress against the War, which brought together 1,100 delegates from 34 countries, the International Student Conference against War and Fascism, and others { 1052} .

In most countries, a powerful wave of meetings, rallies and demonstrations of protest against the Nazi terror swept through. In December 1933, when the fascist court in Leipzig was preparing the verdict against G. Dimitrov, there were days in Paris during which 20 demonstrations took place in the workers' districts. The movement involved not only communists, but also workers - social democrats, members of reformist and Christian trade unions. Significant forces of the intelligentsia became active participants in the anti-fascist and anti-war struggle.

With the advent of fascism, on the one hand, and the growth of the anti-war movement of workers, on the other, it became increasingly difficult for right-wing socialist leaders to ignore changes in the mood and psychology of the masses. At the Paris session of the Executive Committee of the Socialist Workers' International in August 1933, they were compelled to acknowledge the turn of the rank and file Social Democrats towards the struggle against the war danger, which had been intensified many times over by fascism. The left current, represented at the session by groups of left socialists from France, Italy, Austria, youth socialist organizations in Spain and Belgium, demanded agreements with the communists for practical action against fascism and war. Their speeches testified to the fact that the desire for unity of action with the communists was growing in the social democratic ranks. However, the leaders of the Socialist International categorically rejected this. F.{1053}.

The Communists, aware of their role and responsibility to humanity, persistently pursued an anti-war policy. At the Thirteenth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Comintern (1933), new important conclusions were drawn, in particular, the proposition was formulated that by its struggle the proletariat [320] is capable of delaying the war. “... The peace policy of the Soviet Union,” O. Kuusinen said in the report, “may, if not prevent a war altogether, then still significantly complicate the military policy of the imperialist enemies of the USSR and, perhaps, even somewhat delay the start of this war, primarily on condition active and effective support for his peaceful policy by the proletariat of the capitalist countries" {1054}. The plenum spoke out against the fatalistic thesis that it was impossible to prevent an imperialist war and put forward the idea of ​​the revolutionary influence of the struggle for peace and the promotion of its growth and the strengthening of the forces of socialism.

In accordance with the conclusions of the CPSU(b) and other communist parties, the plenum named the main centers of the war - Japan and Germany. His documents noted that the League of Nations, from which Japan and Germany had left and which Italy was about to leave, under certain conditions, could contribute to the fight against warmongers. The question was seriously raised that the Communist Parties should learn to fully expose the bourgeois slander on the foreign policy of the USSR and reveal to the masses the peaceful nature of its measures.

Along with this, the Comintern has not yet made a turn towards bringing the fight against the war danger to the fore, while continuing to orient itself towards directly socialist revolutions. The recognition of the necessity of a socialist revolution and the dictatorship of the proletariat distinguishes every communist and genuine revolutionary from reformists and compromisers, but that was not the point. Life brought to the fore the anti-fascist, anti-war, general democratic tasks, through the solution of which lay the path to the socialist stage of the struggle. At the same time, the majority of working people, anti-fascists in the capitalist countries were not yet ready to fight for the overthrow of capitalism, but were vitally interested in the fight against fascism and war.

The 13th Plenum of the ECCI continued to sharpen the blow against the Social Democracy, which narrowed the possibilities of creating a broad anti-war front. Nevertheless, the conclusions of the thirteenth plenum on questions of combating the war and on the class essence of fascism already contained the seed of new important decisions aimed at uniting the forces fighting against fascism and the war.

In connection with the rapid growth of fascism in Germany, the Communist Party called on the masses to unite, explaining to them that "Hitler is war", that his coming to power means a national catastrophe for the country. The German working class widely supported the KPD, which received about 6 million votes in the Reichstag elections in November 1932. However, in Germany - on one of the decisive sectors of the front of the struggle against fascism and war - primarily because of the social democratic policy of splitting the proletarian movement, despite the heroism and selflessness of the communists, it was not possible to rally all the anti-fascists who could resist the forces of obscurantism, reaction and militarism.

Thus, the events in Germany revealed the main factors that prevented the anti-fascist and anti-war rallying of the masses. Fascist terror led to the fact that the positions of the KKE were significantly weakened. All attempts by the German communists to achieve unity of action with other parties and organizations ran into resistance from the right-wing Social Democrats, who, by their actions, contributed to the preservation of the split in the working class, and, consequently, to the strengthening of the Nazi fascist dictatorship. [321]