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70th Anniversary of Second World War
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70th Anniversary of Second World War
The Falsifiers of History Have the Aim of Covering Up Their Own Preparations for Fascism and War
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70th Anniversary of Second World War
by Chris Coleman*
September 3 marks the 70th anniversary of the declaration of war by Britain and France against Nazi Germany, following Hitlers invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. On the occasion of this 70th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War, the imperialists and their apologists as did the leaders at Gdansk on September 1 have lost no time in attempting once again to rewrite history. They have as an aim to cover up their plans for state arrangements at home which serve their dictatorial rule, and internationally their preparations for a new inter-imperialist war for the redivision of the world. The focus of their falsifications, as ever, is the role of Stalin and the Soviet Union in the lead up to the war, in particular the gross slander that Stalin connived with Hitler, carved up Poland and set off the war. The truth is the precise opposite.
The Second World War was a terrible catastrophe for the entire humanity. There is no doubt such a tragedy could have been avoided, or at the very least limited in its devastation. Facts, readily verifiable from the documents of the time, make clear the causes of the war. It was the ruling circles of Britain, France and the USA who re-financed and re-armed Germany to be the dominating force in Central and Eastern Europe and egged Hitler on to Go East, to realise his cherished dream of taking over territories such as the Ukraine and destroy the Soviet Union and Bolshevism. Faced with Hitlerite aggression, the Soviet Union called on Britain and France to sign a collective mutual assistance pact with military clauses. They refused, choosing instead to sign the Munich Agreement with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, an act of betrayal which sealed the fate of Europe, ceding Czechoslovakia and its powerful armaments industry to Hitler, and giving him the green light to go east and attack the Soviet Union. The Polish government, imperialist itself, took the same stand, for which it was to pay so dearly. Appeasement was not a sign of weakness, as is claimed, but of connivance. The imperialist mentality was to fear communism more than fascism, to follow a short-sighted and self-serving policy which brought the most terrible devastation on the peoples of the world, including their own.
It is also fact, readily verifiable, that the Soviet Union, following the policies of Lenin and Stalin, was a factor for peace in the lead-up, the waging, and the aftermath of the Second World War. It was, after all, the October Revolution which brought the First World War to a close. It was the collective security proposals of the Soviet Union which could, if taken up by the imperialist powers, have prevented, or at least limited, the Second World War. Faced with the refusal of Britain and France to take up these proposals, the Soviet Union had no alternative but to sign a Non-Aggression Pact with Germany in order to give it time to prepare for the inevitable Nazi invasion of its territories. It was also forced to move its Red Army on September 17, 1939, into Ukrainian and Byelorussian territories seized by Poland in 1919-20, thus saving millions from the slaughter visited upon the rest of Poland, and moving its forward defensive line several hundred kilometres west. When the inevitable invasion came, in June 1941, the war took on an anti-fascist character. Millions upon millions were inspired on the world scale to participate in destroying the fascist menace. This was the main factor in the victory of the anti-fascist forces over Nazism. The policy of the Soviet Union was based on steadfast opposition to aggression, invasion, occupation and annexation, to the imperialist redivision of the world and inter-imperialist war. Despite all the waverings, the cynicism, the treachery, the obstruction of the governments of Britain, France and the USA and others, they stuck to their stand. They made huge sacrifices in order to do this, and with great proletarian generosity ensured that the war effort progressed and victory over fascism was ensured. It was not down to the failure or weakness of the policy of the Soviet Union that this victory over fascism in 1945 was not consolidated and the opportunity for peace and democracy cast aside, with the imperialist powers reverting to their old policies, which had brought such disaster to the worlds people, including their own, of containment of communism as their main aim, along with renewing their support for and practice of fascism worldwide.
Why the falsifications of this indisputable history? Everything points to the fact that the attack on communism today is not so much on what it is or has been, but on what it can do. In the 20th century communism solved the problems that faced humanity. It led and inspired people to make huge advances and win great victories. The crises later in the century were due to its abandonment, not its legacy. Now in the 21st century, despite the raised consciousness of the people, the result of the achievements of the 20th century, and the opportunity which that presents to take matters into their own hands, in the last 25 years of retreat of revolution the forces of reaction have been and are determined that the people will take no such initiatives, that they will leave the solution of the problems which face humanity in the hands of those who created them, in the hands of todays so-called benevolent despots. Thus communism must be attacked. Its ideology and politics must be discredited. History itself must be falsified and rewritten.
The attack, the falsifications, come not merely in the form of lies, but as total disinformation which distorts the whole progress of humankind, the basis of change, motion and development, how a new society has been and is being created, and if not challenged deprive the people of any perspective, of an outlook on their lives.
As the late Hardial Bains pointed out in his important work Modern Communism,** the attack is not just on communism but on all real change. History, he says, has been turned on its head, with the worst crimes of the Hitlerite fascists attributed to the communists in general, and to Stalin in particular. This disinformation is intended to disorient the workers, women and youth and provide them with no prospects whatsoever. It is also to divert the attention of the worlds peoples from the crimes being committed today by the imperialists and world reaction in the name of democracy.
The question must be put: How can one believe the stories of those who commit such dreadful and dastardly acts these very days? Guantanamo, Fallujah, Gaza, the bombing of villages in Afghanistan and Pakistan are facts of history too. How can the solution of the worlds problems be left in the hands of those who cause them, who are leading the peoples into such terrible catastrophes?
It is vital that the falsifications of history, such as of the causes and lessons of the Second World War, are exposed and combated. This is necessary not as something in itself, but as part of providing all the information, the perspective, the outlook which only Modern Communism can do to enable the working class and people to discuss and plan the way forward, what kind of new society is needed, how to take matters into their own hands, to bring about democratic renewal and bring into being a pro-social anti-war government, and solve themselves the problems facing society.
* Chris Coleman is the National Spokesperson of the Revolutionary Communist Party of Britain (Marxist-Leninist)
** Hardial Bains, Modern Communism: Communist Party of Canada (Marxist-Leninist), New Historical Basis Series No.1, CPC(ML), 1996
Two Speeches by Hardial Bains, September 1989
On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the invasion of Poland by Germany under Adolf Hitler, Hardial Bains delivered two important speeches in Canada, one in Montreal on September 1, 1989, and one in Halifax on September 21, 1989. The speeches were published in pamphlet form under the title Causes and Lessons of the Second World War, MELS Institute, Toronto, Canada, 1990.
Addressing the gathering in Montreal on September 1, 1989, Comrade Bains began his speech by characterising the war which began fifty years earlier on that day when Nazi Germany invaded Poland; Great Britain declaring war on Germany two days later. It was, he said, a great tragedy for the people of the world. Great Britain had not declared war when the Axis forces of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy or militarist Japan had earlier intervened in Spain or invaded Abyssinia, China, Albania, Austria, or Czechoslovakia. It had followed a policy of appeasement, hoping that Germany would attack and decimate the Soviet Union. The war thus had the character of an inter-imperialist war for the re-division of the world, up to the time in June 1941 when Germany attacked the Soviet Union and the war took on the character of an anti-fascist war of national liberation.
Fifty years later, Comrade Bains said, the same clouds of inter-imperialist war were gathering yet the lessons of that great tragedy which cost as many as 50 million dead are lost on the imperialist powers.
Why did the tragedy happen and who was responsible? The US wanted hegemony over Europe against its rival and so-called ally Great Britain. It refinanced and rearmed Germany, hoping that strengthening Germany would open a market for US finance capital in Europe. Great Britain, meanwhile, wanted to get Nazi Germany to go East and attack the Soviet Union. It was a self-serving, short-sighted policy which, followed too by France, later led to the disaster of the Second World War.
Today the same short-sighted policy is being followed, Comrade Bains said. The US, under the hoax of safeguarding democracy, wants to form a united front under its leadership comprised of all the fascist forces in the world, with the reactionary classes and strata as its main force, and the working class as a bulwark against revolution, independence, freedom and progress. The US began this right after the Second World War with the Nazis and fascists of different countries including Germany and using West Germany as the field of operation. Today, he said, those they put forward as democrats in Poland, the Soviet Union or Hungary are the Nazi-collaborationist forces doing the bidding of US imperialist policy.
In direct contrast, Comrade Bains pointed out, was the Leninist-Stalinist policy of the Soviet Union. He says:
"Under the Leninist-Stalinist policy of the Soviet Union, there never was a country which was invaded by the Soviet Union. There was never a country occupied or annexed, to the extent that right after the October Revolution, just for the sake of having peace, the Soviet Union agreed to hand over large parts of Russia to Germany. The Soviet government made great sacrifices so that the European people would not have to face the spectre of war. The entire Leninist-Stalinist policy was built on supporting the people on the world scale for liberation, not enslaving them, or making any country their colonies. Far from it, it was the Leninist-Stalinist policy which granted Finland and the Baltic states their independence. No bourgeois or czarist Russian government ever agreed to recognise the rights of these nations to independence. It was the Leninist-Stalinist constitution which recognised as a principle the right of nations to self- determination including secession. It was the Bolshevik government which published all the secret treaties and exposed the real goals of the British, French and others to acquire colonies which they could rob. It renounced all the imperialist agreements entered into by the Czar and the Provisional Government. Under the leadership of Stalin, the Soviet Union was the only country which withdrew its armed forces from all the areas which it had liberated during the Second World War. It did so on its own after the war."
Comrade Bains emphasised that the Leninist-Stalinist policy was the policy of freedom, independence and progress. It was not a policy to enslave others. If the Leninist-Stalinist policy was not to enslave others, not to divide the world according to their own interests, then under that policy there cannot be a war for the redivision of the world. Such a war takes place between contending imperialist states. That is why when the Second World War started, it was a war between imperialist powers and it only took on an anti-fascist character once the Soviet Union entered the war as the defender of freedom and democracy. Hitler took advantage of Britain's and France's policy of appeasement and their refusal to form a mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union to further his own inter-imperialist contention with Britain and France. He attacked and occupied their eastern ally, the Republic of Poland which was itself imperialist. Britain's and France's refusal to take advantage of the Soviet Union's policy of peace and good neighbourly relations and refusal to sign a pact of mutual assistance with the Soviet Union led to one of the greatest tragedies for the Polish nation.
Events, he pointed out, proved the true nature of the guarantees Britain and France had given their ally Poland. As Hitler's forces destroyed the Polish state and massacred the Polish people with unprecedented barbarity, Britain dropped leaflets on Germany and not one single British soldier stepped on Polish soil, or was to, throughout the entire war! France, with 4 million troops facing a million Germans, sat on its hands. Today it is claimed that the US, Britain and France "defended Poland" while Stalin "occupied Poland"! The fact is, however, that on September 17, 1939, the Polish state having collapsed, its leaders having fled to Rumania, the Soviet Army marched into territories of the Ukraine and Byelorussia annexed by Poland in the Polish-Russian war of 1919-20, thus saving the population from Nazi persecution and moving its forward defensive line several hundred kilometres west.
Once Poland was under the clutches of Hitler, Comrade Bains said, the Nazis perpetrated one of the worst crimes history has ever known against any nation. Poland suffered the largest number of casualties, in numbers killed per thousand, of any country in Europe, with 6 million killed, including 2.7 million Polish Jews, 50,000 gypsies, 12,000 mental patients, thousands of POWs, and in the first six weeks some 40,000 intellectuals and political personalities.
Looking at the history of the Second World War, especially the inter-imperialist phase, Comrade Bains said, we find the cynicism of the US and British policy. They did not want to have a treaty of mutual assistance with the Soviet Union because this would mean their pistol, Hitler, would not be able to move anywhere. Right to the last minute they refused to enter serious negotiations with the Soviet Union; they diplomatically insulted the Soviet Union many times; carried on discussions without involving the Soviet Union and so on. But what happened to this unprincipled and dangerous policy of theirs? The Leninist-Stalinist policy of safeguarding the Soviet Union, its policy of peace, of good relations with its neighbours, smashed the plans of the Americans, British and French to direct Nazi Germany against it.
On August 24, 1939, the Soviet Union signed a Non-Aggression Pact with Germany after Britain, France and Poland made it clear they did not want a treaty of mutual assistance, they did not want a collective defence with serious military commitments which would have strengthened the Soviet Union as well as themselves. In those circumstances, the Soviet Union very much needed time to further fortify and defend itself. As a result of signing the Non-Aggression Pact, for a time at least, Hitler would not attack the Soviet Union. The Soviet western border was safe for 22 months, as events unfolded. The Pact and improved commercial relations with Germany proved to be in the interests of the Soviet people. History also proved later during the anti-fascist war that the interests of the USSR also coincided with the fundamental interests of the peoples of other countries.
Today, Comrade Bains said, it is claimed that there were secret protocols to the Pact for the division of Poland and spheres of influence. No such protocols existed. Documents of this nature presented by the Nazis to the Nuremburg Trials were rejected as forgeries.
The policy of the Soviet Union, he pointed out, the policy of progressive and democratic humanity at the time, in fact created the conditions for the destruction of Hitler. When Hitler attacked the Soviet Union, the character of the war changed. The Soviet Union had no claims on any country in the world. It had no colonies. It was not calling for the redivision of the world. So that when on June 22, 1941, Hitler violated the Non-Aggression Pact, he was attacking not an imperialist power, a rival for colonies, but a socialist state. The struggle necessarily became an anti-fascist struggle. Millions upon millions were inspired on the world scale to participate in this anti-fascist war. This was the main factor for the victory of the anti-fascist forces over German Nazism.
Today, Comrade Bains said, the whole history of this period is falsified. The object is to egg on the fascist forces, to give them every support to get organised. The object is to groom the fascist forces and present to the world a totally fabricated and groundless falsehood which they call the "Stalinist policy, presenting it as the most dangerous, aggressive and fascist policy. Everything which the imperialists and their apologists do is blamed on the name and work of Stalin. They are trying to suggest that Stalin and Hitler are the same. This doesn't work because the collaborators with Hitler were with the US and not with Stalin. The entire propaganda is to put the people to sleep and give them a false sense of security, to think that there is no danger of fascism.
Fifty years after the disaster of the Second World War, Comrade Bains pointed out, the lessons cry out that first and foremost we must be ideologically clear as to who is the enemy. Who can bring about disaster to the people of the world. Who can organise a cataclysmic war. The attacks on the name and work of Stalin are designed to create a kind of psychology and a massive ideological confusion so that the people accept fascism and reject the progressive and democratic ideals, that the people, especially the younger generation, should be reared on Nazi and fascist ideals. The same self-serving policies followed by Britain and the US before and after the Second World War will give rise to a Third World War.
Comrade Bains argued that the people of the world should fight the US policy. They should defend the Leninist-Stalinist policy. It is not, he said, an ideological question but one of defence of peace, freedom and progress. He said:
"The defence of the Leninist-Stalinist policy means to defend a policy against imperialist war. Is it not a fact that after the Bolsheviks took over Russia they ended the inter-imperialist war? They brought about peace. They were a factor for peace in Europe at the time of the First World War. They were a factor for peace at the time of the Second World War. As long as Stalin was alive, not a single nation had to worry about the Soviet Union. No evil could ever come from there."
"All those who are freedom-loving, all those who wish to have peace in the world should raise their voices. They should defend the Leninist-Stalinist policy of peace, against aggression, against intervention, against occupation, against the imperialist re-division of the world. This is what the history of the last 50 years should teach everyone. They are the only lessons one can draw."
He argued that to be defensive on these questions will give rise to the same kind of tragedy as took place fifty years ago, but on a much greater scale than before. Wisdom and sanity teach us that we should be prepared for any eventuality, even if the force may be small in the beginning. We must wage the ideological struggle to tell the world where we stand, to express our motives, to express our principles, to express our Marxist-Leninist convictions. The working class and the people who love freedom do not want us to be quiet. They want us to clarify what these historic events and the present-day reality mean.
He pointed out that the mentality of the British, the US and France in the 1930s was to consider communism a greater enemy than fascism. This was the mentality of the US and others in the 1980s. Communism is the one thing they want to oppose not fascism. But, he said, they will face the same debacle as in the Second World War.
The Party, he stressed, will always speak the truth on these matters, will always oppose the advent of imperialist war. If war breaks out it will call for the overthrow of any government which leads the country into war and fight for peace and security amongst the peoples. On this basis it will fight for peace.
The Need to Smash Historical Falsifications
Speaking in Halifax, Nova Scotia, on September 21, 1989, Comrade Bains further elaborated some of these points. He emphasised that the Nazi destruction of Poland, beginning September 1, 1939, was one of the most perfidious and barbaric activities in the history of humankind, whether modern or ancient. Within a matter of a few weeks more than a million people had been captured and killed in a systematic manner.
He emphasised the crucial importance of opposing the lies concerning what was behind the German Nazi attack on Poland, principally the lie that it was Stalin whose aim had been to "give free rein" to Hitler to attack Poland and then attack Poland himself. If a climate of historical falsifications is allowed to develop, he said, it will assist the same kind of Hitlerite and fascist forces which arose in the 1930s and 1940s. The truth can be verified by the widely available documents of the time, he said, not to speak of the outcome of the war itself, in which the Soviet Union bore the brunt of the losses in order to save itself and the peoples of Europe from destruction at the hands of the Hitlerites.
Going into the factors behind the Nazi attack on Poland, Comrade Bains pointed out that their origins can be found in the conclusion of the First World War. The Treaty of Versailles, which concluded that war between imperialist robbers for the redivision of the world, was imposed on Germany in order to strengthen the hand of the Anglo-French imperialists in the domination of Europe and the colonies. The unjust and onerous war reparations imposed on Germany caused tremendous hardship to the German people, something seized on by Hitler in his rise to power. Meanwhile the US pursued a policy of rebuilding Germany, both economically and militarily. The US saw Nazi Germany as its pistol to terrorise and dominate all of Europe and destroy the socialist Soviet Union. The British government, faced with the choice of building up fascism against socialism at the risk of their own destruction, or of making a military alliance with the USSR to the benefit of both, chose the former. Hitler, however, as events proved, had no intention of sparing either Britain or France in his aim to conquer the world. In attacking Poland, he was merely obliging the Anglo-American encouragement to "Go East, as well as implementing his own plan outlined long before in Mein Kampf of increasing Germany's Lebensraum ("living space") by taking over the Ukraine.
Against the Hitler menace the Soviet Union called upon Britain and France to sign a collective mutual assistance pact, with military clauses. Had this been signed, Comrade Bains pointed out, it might have saved Europe from the Second World War or at least ensured it was shorter and less destructive. Britain and France, however, chose instead to sign the Munich Agreement with Nazi Germany and fascist Italy, a betrayal which sealed the fate of Europe, specifically ceding Czechoslovakia and its powerful armaments industry to Hitler and egging him on to go East and attack the Soviet Union. The Polish government, imperialist itself, took the same stand, for which it was to pay so dearly, refusing mutual assistance with the Soviet Union, encouraging Germany East and even seizing part of Czechoslovakia itself. All these powers dreaded communism and the liberation struggles of the people more than they feared fascism.
Comrade Bains quoted Stalin as saying in March 1939 that the apparent lack of resistance of Britain, France and others to Hitlerite aggression was not due to weakness. Combined they were far stronger than Germany, economically and militarily. In reality their policy was one of connivance at aggression, giving free rein to war, egging the Germans on to march further east, and thus transforming war into a world war.
Comrade Bains emphasised repeatedly that the claims of the Anglo-American historians that Britain "saved the day" by declaring war on Germany were completely untrue. Britain, France and the US had done nothing to oppose the earlier aggressive activities of Germany, Italy and Japan against Ethiopia, China, Albania, or Spain, not to mention Austria and Czechoslovakia. They had brutally ignored all the appeals of the Soviet Union for collective security against aggression. Communists answering the call of the Communist International at its 8th Congress for a United Front Against Fascism were hounded in the so-called democratic countries. The Anglo-American historians claim that Stalin wanted to conquer the world. Yet there was no single example of annexation by the Soviet Union while Stalin was alive. By contrast after the Second World War the US incited the fascist forces in Greece and established a fascist regime there with the help of British and US forces. It reinstated and organised the Nazi forces in what it called West Germany in direct violation of the Potsdam Agreement. It established the fascist dictatorship of the Shah in Iran, of Syngman Rhee in South Korea, of Bao Dai in Vietnam, among numerous others. Similarly they claim Stalin crushed his ideological enemies. He did no such thing. It was the US which carried out the McCarthyite witch-hunt, sponsored regimes which massacred communists, instituted the brutal policy of "containment of communism, setting up NATO as an instrument of aggression and imperialist war.
Dealing specifically with Poland and the lie that Stalin both gave free rein to the Nazis and then attacked Poland himself, Comrade Bains pointed out that when the Soviet Red Army entered Poland on September 17, 1939, Poland was already conquered, the government had fled, and the Red Army took over primarily Ukrainian and Byelorussian lands, thereby saving millions from the fate Hitler had reserved for the rest of the Polish people.
In conclusion, Comrade Bains pointed out that the entire propaganda on the Second World War has an aim. Its object is to organise a fascist movement, to condone fascist aggression. If the Anglo-American bourgeoisie is successful in this, he said, it will cause a disaster for the peoples of the world, just as the Anglo-American policy caused the disaster of the Second World War. A repetition of this policy will bring the disaster of a Third World War which must be opposed.
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