Soviet Information Bureau, Moscow
The Soviet press has published the following communique issued by the Soviet Information Bureau, entitled "Falsificators of History (An Historical Note)":
At the end of January, the State Department of the United States of America, in collaboration with the British and French Foreign Offices, published a collection of reports and various records from the diaries of Hitlerite diplomatic officials, under the mysterious title: "Nazi-Soviet Relations, 1939-1941."
As evident from the preface to this collection, as far back as the summer of 1946 the Governments of the United States of America, Great Britain and :France had already agreed to publish archive materials of the German Foreign Office for 1918-1945, seized in Germany by American and British military authorities. Noteworthy in this connection is the fact that the published collection contains only material relating to the period of 1939-1941, while material relating to the preceding years, and in particular to the Munich period, has not been included by the Department of State in the collection and thus has been concealed from world public opinion. This action is certainly not accidental, but pursues aims which have nothing to do with an objective and honest treatment of historical truth.
In order to justify in some way before world public opinion the unilateral publication of this collection of unverified and arbitrarily chosen records made by Hitlerite officials, the British and American press fabricated and circulated an explanation according to which "the Russians rejected the proposal of the West to publish jointly a full account of Nazi diplomacy." This statement of Anglo-American circles does not correspond to the fact. The real facts are as follows:
In connection with reports which appeared in the foreign press during the summer of 1945 to the effect that preparations for the publication of documents captured in Germany had been initiated in England, the Soviet Government approached the Government of Great Britain, insisting on participation of Soviet experts in a joint study of the German documents captured by Anglo-American troops. The Soviet Government held that publication of such documents without common consent was inadmissible and that at the same time it could not assume responsibility for the publication of the documents without careful and objective verification, for unless these elementary conditions were observed, publication of the said material could only lead to the worsening of relations between the member states of the anti-Hitlerite coalition.
The British Foreign Office, however, declined the Soviet proposal on the grounds that the Soviet Government had prematurely raised the question of exchanging copies of the captured Hitlerite documents.
It is also well known that on September 6, 1945, the American delegation to the Political Directorate of the Control Council in Germany submitted its draft directive on the handling of German archives and documents. This draft provided for the institution of a uniform procedure for the whole of Germany for collecting and keeping archives, and gave the right of access to them to representatives of member states of the United Nations. It also provided for the possibility of copying the documents and publishing these copies. This proposal was examined at four meetings of the Political Directorate, but its further examination was postponed at the request of the British and Americans on the plea that they had no instructions; subsequently, after the American representative had stated that the Government of the United States of America was preparing a new proposal, and had requested that the submitted draft be invalidated, this question was withdrawn from the agenda of the Political Directorate.
Thus, the allegation that the Soviet Government refused to take part in preparing the publication of German archive materials is false.
Simultaneously with the publication of the above-mentioned collection, a fresh campaign of unrestrained baiting and slander, as if at the wave of a magic wand, swept the United States and countries dependent on it, in connection with the non-aggression pact concluded between the USSR and Germany in 1939, and allegedly directed against the Western Powers.
Thus the true purpose for which the collection of documents on relations between the USSR and Germany in the period of 1939-1941 was published in the United States of America evokes no doubt whatever. This was not done for the purpose of giving an objective exposition of historical developments, but in order to present a distorted picture of events, to heap lies on the Soviet Union, to slander it, and to undermine the international influence of the Soviet Union as a truly democratic and staunch fighter against aggressive and anti-democratic forces.
This treacherous attitude is in conformity with the views on the character of inter-allied relations which are typical of the ruling circles of the Anglo-American countries, and the substance of which is that, instead of honest and sincere relations between allies, instead of mutual confidence and support, there is being pursued a policy of using every means, including even slander, for the purpose of weakening one's ally, of exploiting him in one's own narrow interests, and of strengthening one's own position at the expense of that ally.
One should not, moreover, lose sight of the efforts being made by the ruling circles of the United States of America to undermine, by means of their campaign of slander against the USSR, the influence of progressive elements in their own country, who advocate better relations with the USSR.
The attack on progressive elements in the United States of America is undoubtedly aimed at undermining their influence in view of the Presidential elections to be held in the autumn of 1948.
The collection is full of documents concocted by Hitlerite diplomatic officials in the depths of the German diplomatic offices. This fact alone should have served as a warning against unilateral use and publication of documents which are one-sided and tendentious, giving an account of events from the standpoint of the Hitler Government, and which are intended to present these events in a light which would be favorable to the Hitlerites. Precisely for this reason, the Soviet Government was opposed to unilateral publication of the captured German documents without preliminary thorough and joint verification of them.
Even the French Government news agency, France Presse, found itself compelled to admit that the procedure of publication of the materials to be published by the three Governments without the knowledge of the Soviet Union, "is not quite in accord with normal diplomatic procedure". Nonetheless, the British Government did not agree with this.
The American, British, and French Governments have unilaterally published the German documents without hesitating to falsify history in their efforts to slander the Soviet Union, which bore the brunt of the struggle against Hitlerite aggression.
By doing so, these Governments have assumed full responsibility for the consequences of this unilateral action.
In view of this, the Soviet Government on its part feels itself entitled to make public the secret documents concerning relations between Hitler Germany and the Governments of Great Britain, the United States of America and France which fell into the hands of the Soviet Government, and which the above-mentioned three Governments concealed from public opinion.
They concealed these documents; they do not want to make them public. But we believe that after all which has taken place these documents must be made public, so that historical truths can be re-established.
The Soviet Government possesses important documents which were captured by Soviet troops during the smashup of Hitler Germany; publication of these documents will help to present a true picture of how Hitler's aggression and the Second World War were in reality prepared and developed.
The same purpose is also served by the historical note, "Falsificators of History", now being published by the Soviet Information Bureau under the Council of Ministers of the USSR.
Secret documents pertaining to this subject will be published shortly.
American fakers and their British and French associates are trying to create the impression that the preparations for German aggression which developed into the Second World War were begun in the autumn of 1939. Yet who can swallow this bait nowadays but absolutely naive people prepared to believe any sensational fabrication?
Who does not know that Germany began preparing for war immediately after Hitler had come to power? Who does not know, moreover, that the Hitler regime was established by German monopoly circles with the full approval of the ruling camp of England, France and the United States?
In order to prepare for war and to provide herself with the most modern armament, Germany had to restore and develop her heavy industry, and first of all her metallurgical and war industries in the Ruhr. Having sustained defeat in the first imperialist war Germany, then under the yoke of the Versailles treaty, could not do this with her own forces in a short period. German imperialism was rendered powerful support in this matter by the United States of America.
Who does not know that in the post-Versailles period, American banks and trusts, acting in full accord with the Government, made investments in German economy and granted Germany credits running into billions of dollars, which were spent on reconstruction and development of the war industrial potential of Germany? It is known that the post-Versailles period was marked for Germany by a whole system of measures directed toward the reconstruction of German heavy industry and in particular of the German war industrial potential.
Of tremendous importance in this respect was the so-called Dawes Reparation Plan for Germany by means of which the United States of America and England planned to render German industry dependent upon American and British monopolies. The Dawes Plan cleared the road for a heavy influx and infiltration of foreign, chiefly American, capital into German industry.
As a result of this, the rise of German economy caused by an intensive process of re-equipment of production machinery had already begun in 1925. At the same time, German exports rose sharply and by 1927 reached the level of 1913, while in the case of manufactured goods they even surpassed that level by 12 per cent (in 1913 prices). During the six years from 1924 through 1929, the influx of foreign capital into Germany totalled between 10 and 15 billion-odd reichsmarks for long term investments and more than six billion reichsmarks for short term investments. According to some sources, the volume of capital investments was considerably higher. This led to a colossal growth of the economic, and in particular, of the war, potential of Germany. A leading part in this matter was played by American capital investments which amounted to no less than 70 per cent of the total long term loans.
Well known is the role played by American monopolies headed by the DuPont, Morgan, Rockefeller, and Lamont families and other industrial barons of the United States in financing German heavy industry and in establishing and expanding exceedingly close connections between American and German industries. The leading American monopolies proved to be most closely connected with German heavy industry, war industry concerns and banks.
The leading American chemical concern, E. I. duPont de Nemours & Co., Inc. and the British Imperial chemical trust (Imperial Chemical Industries) which was one of the largest shareholders of the General Motors automobile trust, maintained close industrial relations with the German chemical concern, I. G. Farbenindustrie, with which in 1926 they concluded a cartel agreement for a division of the world powder market. Before the war, the president of the Board of Directors of Rohm and Haas Company in Philadelphia was a partner of the head of the same company in Darmstadt (Germany). Incidentally, at present, the former director of this concern, Rudolf Mueller, is active in "Bizonia" and plays an important part among the leaders of the Christian Democratic Union. Schmitz, the German capitalist president of I. G. Farbenindustrie and a member of the board of Deutsche Bank, controlled the General Dyestuffs Corporation, an American firm, during the period from 1931 to 1939. After the Munich Conference (1938), the American Standard Oil trust signed a contract with I. G. Farbenindustrie under which the latter was given a share in the profits from the production of aviation gasoline in the United States and in return willingly ceased exporting from Germany synthetic gasoline which it was producing and which Germany was storing up for war needs. Such connections are not typical of American capitalist monopolies alone. Thus, extremely close economic relations not only of commercial but also of military importance existed, on the very eve of war, between the Federation of British Industries and the German Reichs Industrie group. In 1939, representatives of these two monopolies issued a joint statement in Dusseldorf which said in part that the purpose of the agreement was "to secure the fullest possible cooperation between the industrial systems of their respective countries." And this took place at a time when Hitler Germany had swallowed Czechoslovakia! No wonder that the London magazine Economist wrote in this connection: "Is there not something in the Dusseldorf air that makes reasonable men lose their senses ?"1
1 Corwin D. Edwards, Economic and Political Aspects of International Cartels, 1944.
The well known Schroder Bank in which a leading part was played by the German steel trust Vereinigte Stahlwerke, which was organized by Stinnes, Thyssen and other captains of Ruhr industry and had its headquarters in New York and London, furnishes a typical example of the close interweaving of American and German as well as British capital. Allen Dulles, director of Schroder Banking Corporation in New York, which represented the Schroder interests in London, Cologne and Hamburg, played a leading role in the affairs of this bank. The well-known Sullivan & Cromwell law firm headed by John Foster Dulles, now Mr. Marshall's chief adviser and closely connected with Rockefeller's world oil trust, Standard Oil, as well as with the Chase National Bank, the most powerful bank in America which made enormous investments in German industry, played the leading role in the New York headquarters of the Schroder Bank. In his book which appeared in New York in 1947, Richard Sasuly stresses the fact that no sooner had inflation been checked in Germany in the post-Versailles period and the reichsmark had gained strength than a torrent of foreign loans rushed into Germany. Between 1924 and 1930 Germany's foreign debt increased by more than thirty billion reichsmarks. With the help of foreign, chiefly American, capital, German industry, especially the Vereinigte Stahlwerke (a German firm), was extensively reconstructed and modernized. Some loans were granted directly to companies which played a leading part in rearmament.2
2 Richard Sasuly, I. G. Farben, Doni and Gaer, New York, 1947. p. 80.
Dillon, Read & Co., one of the largest New York banks, of which James Forrestal, the present Secretary of Defense, had been a director for a number of years, played a leading part in financing the German steel trust Vereinigte Stahlwerke in that period along with the Anglo-German-American Schroder Bank.3
3 Stock Exchange Year Book, London, 1925; Who's Who in America; Who's Who in American Finance; Moody's Manual of Corporations; Poor's Manual of Corporations, 1924-1939.
It was this golden rain of American dollars that fertilized the heavy industry of Hitler Germany and in particular her war industry. It was billions of American dollars invested by overseas monopolies in the war economy of Hitler Germany that re-established Germany's war potential and placed in the hands of the Hitler regime the weapons it needed for aggression. Relying on the financial support which came chiefly from American monopolies, Germany within a short period of time re-established a powerful war industry that was capable of producing enormous amounts of first-rate armament, thousands upon thousands of tanks, planes, and guns as well as naval ships of the latest designs and armament of other kinds. Fakers of history would like to forget all this, as they are trying to evade responsibility for their policy which supplied Hitler aggression with arms, unleashed the Second World War and led to war disaster without parallel in history, which cost mankind millions upon millions of victims.
Thus it must not be forgotten that the first and foremost prerequisite of Hitler aggression was provided by the resurgence and modernization of Germany's heavy industry and war industry, and that this became possible only as a result of the direct and extensive financial support rendered by the ruling circles of the United States of America. And yet this is not all.
Another factor of decisive importance which helped to unleash Hitler aggression was the policy of the ruling circles of England and France which is known as the policy of "appeasing" Hitler Germany, a policy of renouncing collective security. At present it should be clear to everyone that it was this policy of British and French ruling circles as expressed in their renunciation of collective security, in their refusal to resist German aggression, in their connivance with Hitler Germany's aggressive demands, that led to the Second World War.
We shall now turn to further facts. In 1933, soon after Hitler came to power, a "Pact of Accord and Cooperation" was signed in Rome by the four Powers – Great Britain, Germany, France and Italy – through the efforts of the British and French Governments. This pact signified that the British and French Governments came to terms with German and Italian fascism, which even at that time did not try to conceal its aggressive intentions. At the same time, this pact with the fascist states signified the renunciation of the policy of strengthening the united front of the peace-loving powers against the aggressive states. By coming to terms with Germany and Italy behind the backs of the other powers who were taking part in the disarmament conference which was being held at that time and was discussing a Soviet proposal on the conclusion of a non-aggression Pact and of a pact on the definition of an aggressor, Great Britain and France dealt a blow to the cause of peace and the security of nations. Soon after, in 1934, England and France helped Hitler to take advantage of the inimical attitude of their ally Poland – ruled by her gentry – toward the USSR, and this resulted in the conclusion of the non-aggression pact between Germany and Poland which formed one of the important stages in the preparation of German aggression.
Hitler needed this pact for the purpose of disorganizing the ranks of the adherents of collective security and to show by this example that what Europe needed was not collective security but bilateral agreements. This enabled the German aggressor to decide for himself with whom to conclude agreements and when to conclude them, whom to attack and when to do so. Beyond any doubt, the German-Polish pact constituted the first serious break in the edifice of collective security. Hitler grew bold and openly took a series of steps to re-establish Germany’s armed forces without encountering any opposition on the part of the rulers of England and France. On the contrary, soon after that, in 1935, a naval agreement between Britain and Germany was concluded in London where Ribbentrop had arrived for this purpose. Under this agreement, Great Britain consented to re-establishment of German naval forces in a strength which nearly equalled that of the French Navy. Besides, Hitler obtained the right to build submarines with an aggregate displacement amounting to 45 per cent of that of the British submarine fleet. During the same period, Hitler Germany also took unilateral actions aimed at abolishing all other restrictions on the growth of Germany's armed forces that had been imposed by the Treaty of Versailles. These actions encountered no opposition on the part of England, France or the United States. The appetite of the fascist aggressors grew every day with the manifest connivance of the United States, Great Britain and France.
It was certainly not accidental that at that time both Germany and Italy easily got away with their armed interventions in Ethiopia and Spain.
The Soviet Union alone consistently and firmly pursued its policy of peace, championing the principles of the equality and independence of Ethiopia, who was moreover a member of the League of Nations, and the right of the lawful Republican Government in Spain to receive the support of the democratic countries again German and Italian intervention.
"The Soviet Union," said V. M. Molotov at the session of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR on January 10, 1936 in connection with Italy's attack on Ethiopia, "has demonstrated in the League of Nations its fidelity to this principle – the principle of the political independence and national equality of all states, in the case of one of the small countries, Abyssinia. The Soviet Union has also taken advantage of its membership in the League of Nations to put into practice its policy toward an imperialist aggressor."4 Molotov said also at that time that "The Italo-Abyssinian war shows that the threat of a world war is growing and is steadily spreading over Europe."5
4 V. M. Molotov, Articles and Speeches, 1935-1936, p. 176.
5 V. M. Molotov, Articles and Speeches, 1935-1936, p. 177.
And what were the Governments of the United States, Great Britain and France doing at that time, under whose eyes the fascist bandits were dealing ever more insolently with their victims? They did not as much as lift a finger to curb the German and Italian aggressors, to defend the rights of nations which were being trampled upon, to preserve peace and to stop the Second World War which was approaching. The Soviet Union alone was doing everything possible in order to block the fascist aggressors' way. The Soviet Union came forward as the initiator and champion of collective security. As early as February 6, 1933, M. M. Litvinov, the Representative of the Soviet Union in the General Commission on Disarmament, proposed that the Commission adopt a declaration on the definition of aggression and aggressor.
In proposing a definition of aggressor, the Soviet Union held that it was necessary in the interests of general security and in order to facilitate agreement on the maximum reduction of armaments to define the term "aggression" with the utmost possible precision in order to "forestall every pretext for its justification." This proposal was, however, declined by the Conference, which was acting under the direction of England and France for the benefit of German aggression. Everybody knows what a persistent and prolonged struggle was waged by the Soviet Union and by its delegation to the League of Nations, headed by Litvinov, to maintain and consolidate collective security. Throughout the whole prewar period, the Soviet delegation upheld the principle of collective security in the League of Nations, raising its voice in defense of this principle at practically every session of the League of Nations, in practically every commission of the League of Nations. It is known, however, that the voice of the Soviet delegation remained a voice in the wilderness.
The whole world is familiar with the proposals made by the Soviet delegation concerning measures for strengthening collective security, proposals which, on the instruction of the Soviet Government, were addressed to Mr. Avenol, Secretary-General of the League of Nations, on August 30, 1936, with a request that they should be discussed by the League of Nations.
It is also known, however, that these proposals were buried in the archives of the League of Nations and that no action was taken on them. It was clear that England and France, who controlled the League of Nations at the time, rejected collective resistance to German aggression. They rejected collective security because it stood in the way of their newly adopted policy of "appeasing" German aggression, a policy of concessions to Hitler aggression. Naturally, this policy could not but result in the intensification of German aggression, but the ruling Anglo-French circles believed that this was not dangerous because, having satisfied Hitler aggression by concessions in the West, they could then direct this aggression to the East and utilize it as a weapon against the USSR.
In his report to the Eighteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March, 1939, J. V. Stalin, analyzing the reasons for the growth of Hitlerite aggression, said:
"The chief reason is that the majority of the non-aggressive countries, particularly England and France, have rejected the policy of collective security, the policy of collective resistance to the aggressors, and have taken up a position of non-intervention, a position of neutrality.”6
6 J. V. Stalin, Report on the Work of the Central Committee to the Eighteenth Congress of the CPSU (B).
In order to confuse the reader and at the same time to slander the Soviet Government, Neal Stanford, an American journalist, asserts that the Soviet Government was opposed to collective security, that Litvinov was dismissed and replaced by Molotov in the post of the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs because he had been pursuing a policy of consolidating collective security. One could hardly imagine anything more stupid than this fantastic assertion. It is clear that Litvinov did not pursue any policy of his own, but the policy of the Soviet Government. On the other hand, everybody knows what a struggle for collective security was waged by the Soviet Government and by its representatives, including Litvinov, throughout the prewar period.
As regards the appointment of Molotov to the post of People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs, it is perfectly clear that in the complex situation, when fascist aggressors were preparing the Second World War, when Great Britain and France, backed by the United States of America were plainly abetting the aggressors and spurring them on to start a war against the USSR, it was necessary to have in such a responsible post as that of People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs a political leader with greater experience and greater popularity in the country than Litvinov.
The rejection of the collective security pact by the Western Powers was not fortuitous.
It was in that period that the struggle between two lines in world affairs had developed. One was that of the struggle for peace, for the organization of collective security and for resistance to aggression by the joint efforts of the peace-loving nations. This was the line the Soviet Union was pursuing, consistently and staunchly defending the interests of all peace-loving nations, great and small. The other line was that of rejecting the organization of collective security, of refusing to oppose aggression; and this inevitably encouraged the fascist countries to intensify their aggressive activity and thereby helped to unleash a new war.
Historical truth, as can be seen from all this, consists of the facts that Hitlerite aggression became possible, firstly because the United States of America helped the Germans to establish within a short time a war economic base for German aggression and thus provided this aggression with arms; and secondly, because the rejection of collective security by the ruling Anglo-French circles disorganized the ranks of the peace-loving countries, disrupted the united front of these countries against aggression, paved the road for German aggression and helped Hitler to unleash the Second World War.
What would have happened if the United States had not financed Hitler Germany's heavy industry, and England and France bad not rejected collective security, but on the contrary had organized jointly with the Soviet Union collective resistance to German aggression? The result would have been that Hitlerite aggression would lack armament, Hitler's annexationist policy would have been caught in the vise of a system of collective security, the Hitlerites' chance of success in unleashing the Second World War would have been reduced to the minimum.
And if in spite of unfavorable conditions, the Hitlerites had still ventured to unleash the Second World War, they would have been defeated in the very first year of war. Unfortunately, this did not happen because of the ruinous policy which was pursued by the United States of America, England and France during the course of the whole prewar period.
It is they who are guilty of allowing the Hitlerites to unleash with some measure of success the Second World War, which lasted nearly six years and took millions of human lives.
developments have shown with still greater clarity that by their
concessions to and connivance with fascist countries, which in 1936
formed a military-political bloc known as the "Berlin-Rome
Axis", the ruling circles in Britain and France had only
encouraged and goaded Germany toward aggression.
Rejecting the policy of collective security, Britain and France took up a position of so-called non-intervention, characterized by J. V. Stalin thus:
"...the policy of non-intervention might be defined as follows: 'Let each country defend itself from aggressors as it likes and as best it can. That is not our affair. We shall trade both with aggressors and with their victims.' But, actually speaking, the policy of non-intervention means conniving at aggression, giving free rein to war, and consequently transforming the war into a world war."7
7 Eighteenth Congress of the CPSU (B), Stenographic Report, Ogiz, 1939, p. 13.
Stalin further pointed out that:
"...the big and dangerous political game started by the supporters of the policy of non-intervention may end in a serious fiasco for them."8
8 Ibid, p. 14.
As far back as 1937, it became perfectly clear that a great war was being hatched by Hitler with the direct connivance of Great Britain and France. Documents of the German Foreign Ministry captured by Soviet troops after Germany's defeat reveal the true essence of Great Britain's and France's policy of the time. These documents show that, essentially, Anglo-French policy was aimed not at mustering the forces of the peace-loving states for a common struggle against aggression, but at isolating the USSR and directing the Hitlerite aggression toward the East, against the Soviet Union, at using Hitler as a tool for their own ends.
The rulers of Britain and France were well aware of the trend of Hitlerite foreign policy, defined by Hitler as follows:
"We, the National Socialists, consciously put an end to our prewar foreign policy. We begin where we ended six centuries ago. We stop the Germans' eternal drive to Europe's South and West, and turn our eyes to the lands in the East. We break at last with the colonial and commercial policies of prewar times and go over to a territorial policy of the future. But when we now, in Europe, speak of new lands, we should have in mind first of all only Russia and the bordering countries under her rule. Destiny itself seems to show us the way."9
9 A. Hitler, Mein Kampf, Munich, 1936, p. 742.
It was customary until lately to consider that entire responsibility for the Munich policy of treachery rests with the ruling circles of Britain and France, with the Governments of Chamberlain and Daladier.
The fact that the American Government undertook to make the German files public, while excluding the documents pertaining to the Munich agreement, shows that the United States Government is interested in whitewashing the heroes of the Munich treachery and in putting the blame on the USSR. The substance of Britain's and France's Munich policy was sufficiently clear even before this. Documents from the archives of the German Foreign Ministry, now at the disposal of the Soviet Government, furnish, however, abundant new data which reveal the true meaning of the prewar diplomacy of the Western Powers; they show how the destinies of nations were played with, how brazenly these Powers traded in other peoples' territories, how they had been secretly re-dividing the map of the world, how they encouraged Hitlerite aggression, and they show the efforts made to direct that aggression toward the East, against the Soviet Union.
This is eloquently borne out, for instance, by a German document recording a conversation which took place between Hitler and the British Minister, Halifax, in the presence of Von Neurath, the German Foreign Minister, in Obersalzburg on November 19, 1937. Halifax declared that
"he (Lord Halifax) and the other members of the British Government were fully aware that the Fuehrer had attained a great deal, not only inside Germany herself, but that having destroyed Communism in his country, he had barred the road of the latter to Western Europe, and that therefore Germany was entitled to be regarded as the bulwark of the West against Bolshevism."10
10 The Record of a conversation between the Fuehrer and Reichskanzler and Lord Halifax, in the presence of the Reichsminister of Foreign Affairs, in Obersalzberg, Nov. 19, 1937; from the Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking on behalf of the British Prime Minister, Chamberlain, Halifax pointed out that there was every possibility of finding a solution even of difficult problems if Germany and Britain could reach agreement with France and Italy too.
Halifax said that
"there should not be an impression that the Berlin-Rome Axis, or that good relations between London and Paris, would suffer as a result of Anglo-German rapprochement. After the ground is prepared by Anglo-German rapprochement, the four great West-European Powers [i.e., Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy] must jointly set up the foundation for lasting peace in Europe. Under no conditions should any of the four Powers remain outside this co-operation, or else there would be no end to the present unstable situation."l1
11 Cit. The Record of a conversation.
In other words, Halifax, as far back as 1937, had proposed to Hitler on behalf of the British Government, that Britain as well as France should join the Berlin-Rome Axis.
To this proposal, however, Hitler replied with a statement to the effect that such an agreement among the four Powers seemed to him very easy to arrange if good will and a kindly attitude prevailed, but that it would prove more difficult if Germany were not regarded "as a state which no longer carried the moral and material stigma of the Treaty of Versailles."
In reply to this, Halifax, according to the record, said:
" 'Britishers are realists and perhaps more than others are convinced that the errors of the Versailles dictate must be rectified. Britain has always exercised her influence in this realistic sense in the past.' He pointed to Britain's role with regard to the evacuation of the Rhineland ahead of the time fixed, the settlement of the reparations problem, and the reoccupation of the Rhineland."12
From the further record of Hitler's conversation with Halifax, it is evident that the British Government viewed favorably Hitler's plans for the "acquisition" of Danzig, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. Having discussed with Hitler the questions of disarmament and the League of Nations, and having noted that further discussion was needed, Halifax stated:
"All other questions can be characterized as relating to changes in the European order, changes which sooner or later will probably take place. To these questions belong those of Danzig, Austria, and Czechoslovakia. England is only interested that these changes should be effected by peaceful evolution, so as to avoid methods which may cause further convulsions, undesired either by the Fuehrer or by other countries."13
This conversation evidently was not the mere sounding out of an interlocutor, which sometimes is called for by political necessity; it was a deal, a secret agreement of the British Government with Hitler about satisfying the annexationist appetites of the latter at the expense of third countries. In this connection, the statement in Parliament of the British Minister Simon on February 21, 1938, is noteworthy. He said that Great Britain had never given special guarantees regarding the independence of Austria. This was a deliberate lie, because such guarantees were given by the Treaties of Versailles and St. Germain.
At the same time, British Prime Minister Chamberlain stated that Austria could not count upon any protection on the part of the League of Nations:
"We must not try to delude ourselves, and still more, we must not try to delude small weak nations into thinking that they will be protected by the League against aggression and acting accordingly, when we know that nothing of the kind can be expected."14
14 Times, February 23, 1938, p. 8.
In this way the makers of British policy encouraged Hitler to annexationist actions.
In the German archives captured by the Soviet troops in Berlin, there is also a record of Hitler's conversation with Henderson, British Ambassador to Germany, which took place in the presence of Ribbentrop on March 3, 1938.15 From its very outset Henderson stressed the confidential nature of the conversation, intimating that its content would be withheld from the French, Belgians, Portuguese and Italians, who would merely be told that a conversation took place as a continuation of negotiations which had been carried on between Halifax and Hitler and related to questions of concern to Germany and Britain.
15 Record of a conversation between the Fuehrer and Reichskanzler and the British Royal Ambassador which took place in the presence of Reichsminister for Foreign Affairs von Ribbentrop, on March 3, 1938 in Berlin, from the Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Speaking on behalf of the British Government, Henderson in this conversation stressed that:
"This is not a commercial deal but an attempt to establish the basis for a genuine and cordial friendship with Germany, beginning with the improvement of the situation and ending with the creation of a new spirit of friendly understanding."16
Without objecting to Hitler's demand to "unite Europe without Russia," Henderson drew attention to the fact that Halifax, who at that time became Foreign Secretary, had already agreed to those territorial changes which Germany intended to make in Europe, and that
"the purpose of the British proposal was participation insuch a reasonable settlement."
Henderson, according to the record, also said that Chamberlain
"displayed great courage when heeding nothing, he unmasked such international phrases as collective security, etc...."
"Therefore," added Henderson, "Britain declares her readiness to remove all difficulties and asks Germany whether she is ready, for her part, to do the same.”17
When Ribbentrop intervened, drawing the attention of Henderson to the fact that the British Minister to Vienna "in a dramatic way" had made a statement to von Papen on events in Austria, Henderson hastened to dissociate himself from the statement of his colleague, declaring that "he himself, Neville Henderson, often expressed himself in favor of Anschluss." Such was the language of prewar British diplomacy.
Immediately after that deal, on March 12, 1938, Hitler seized Austria, having met with no resistance on the part of Britain and France. At that time, only the Soviet Union raised the voice of warning, and once again came forward with an appeal to organize collective protection of the independence of countries which were threatened by aggression.
It was on March 17, 1938, that the Soviet Government sent a note to the Powers in which it expressed its readiness "to proceed to discussion, with other Powers in or outside the League of Nations, of practical measures" which "would aim at stopping further aggression and eliminating the increased danger of a new world butchery."18
18 Izvestia, March 18, 1938.
The reply of the British Government to the Soviet note proved the unwillingness of the British Government to hinder these plans of Hitlerite aggression.
The reply stated that a conference for taking
"concerted action against aggression would not necessarily, in the view of His Majesty's Government, have a favorable effect upon the prospects of European peace."19
19 Note of the British Foreign Office of March 24, 1938.
The next link in the chain of German aggression and the preparation of war in Europe was the seizure of Czechoslovakia by Germany. And this most important step in unleashing war in Europe could be taken by Hitler only with the direct support of England and France.
On July 10, 1938, Dirksen, the German Ambassador to London, reported to Berlin that for the British Government
"one of the most essential planks of its program is to find a compromise with Germany", and that "this Government displays with regard to Germany such a maximum of understanding as could be displayed by any of the likely combinations of British politicians."20
20 Political Report, London, July 10, 1938, in addition to Report A No. 2589 of July 10, a.c.; from the Archives of the German Foreign Office.
Dirksen wrote that the British Government "has come nearer to understanding the most essential points of the main demands advanced by Germany; namely: to keep the Soviet Union out of deciding the destinies of Europe; likewise to keep out the League of Nations; as well as the advisability of bilateral negotiations and treaties."
Dirksen also reported to Berlin that the British Government was ready to make great sacrifices to "meet the other just demands of Germany,"
Thus, between the British Government and Hitler there was indeed established a far-reaching accord on foreign policy plans, which fact Dirksen so lucidly reported to Berlin. It is not necessary to recall the universally known facts relating directly to the Munich deal. But one cannot forget that on September 19, 1938, i.e., four days after Hitler's meeting at Berchtesgaden with Chamberlain, who arrived for this purpose by plane, representatives of the British and French Governments demanded from the Czechoslovak Government the transfer to Germany of the Czechoslovak regions populated mainly by .Sudeten Germans.
They maintained that if this demand were not complied with, it would be impossible to preserve peace and to secure the vital interests ofCzechoslovakia.
The Anglo-French sponsors of Hitler's aggression attempted to cover their treachery with the promise of an international guarantee of the new frontiers of the Czechoslovak State as "a contribution to the pacification of Europe."21
21 Correspondence respecting Czechoslovakia, September 1938, London, 1938, C md 5847, p. 8-9.
On September 20, the Czechoslovak Government replied to the Anglo-French proposals. It declared that "acceptance of such proposals would be tantamount to the voluntary and full disruption of the State in all its directions." The Czechoslovak Government drew the attention of the British and French Governments to the fact that "the paralysis of Czechoslovakia would result in deep political changes in all Central and Southeastern Europe."
"The balance of power in Central Europe and in Europe in general," stated the Czechoslovak Government in its answer, "would be destroyed; that would entail far-reaching consequences for all other states and especially for France."
The Czechoslovak Government addressed its "last appeal" to the Governments of Britain and France to reconsider their point of view, emphasizing that this was in the interests not only of Czechoslovakia, but of her friends as well, in the interests of "the entire cause of peace and the cause of the healthy development of Europe."
The Anglo-French rulers remained implacable. On the next day, the British Government sent to the Czechoslovak Government a note in reply, suggesting that the latter should withdraw its answer to the original Anglo-French proposals and "speedily and seriously weigh the matter" before creating a situation for which the British Government could take no responsibility. The British Government further emphasized that it could not believe that the Czechoslovak proposal of arbitration would now be acceptable. In the opinion of the British Government, the British note stated, "the German Government does not consider the situation to be such as could be solved by arbitration as suggested by the Czechoslovak Government." In conclusion, the British note threateningly warned the Czechoslovak Government “that if British advice is rejected, the Czechoslovak Government will be free to take any steps it may deem befitting the situation which may develop later."
At a conference of Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini and Daladier held in Munich on September 29 and 30, 1938, the disgraceful deal, which had been completely agreed upon in advance among the chief participants in the conspiracy against the peace, was finally concluded. The fate of Czechoslovakia was decided behind her back. Representatives of Czechoslovakia were invited to Munich only meekly to await the results of the conspiracy of the imperialists. The entire conduct of Britain and France left no doubt that this unheard-of act of treachery on the part of the British and French Governments in regard to the Czechoslovak people and republic, far from being a chance episode in the policy of these States, represented a highly important phase in their policy aimed at goading the Hitlerite aggressors against the Soviet Union.
The true meaning of the Munich conspiracy was then exposed by J. V. Stalin who said that "the districts of Czechoslovakia were yielded to Germany as the price of undertaking to launch war on the Soviet Union."22
22 Eighteenth Congress of the CPSU (B), Stenographic Report, Ogiz, 1939. p. 14.
The essence of that policy of the Anglo-French ruling circles of the time was exposed by J. V. Stalin at the Eighteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), in March, 1939.
"The policy of non-intervention means conniving at aggression, giving free rein to war, and consequently transforming the war into world war. The policy of non-intervention reveals an eagerness, a desire, not to hinder the aggressors in their nefarious work: not to hinder Japan, say, from embroiling herself in a war with China, or better still, with the Soviet Union; not to hinder Germany, say, from enmeshing herself in European affairs, from embroiling herself in a war with the Soviet Union; to allow all belligerents to sink deeply into the mire of war; to encourage them surreptitiously in this direction; to allow them to weaken and exhaust one another; and then, when they have become weak enough, to appear on the scene with fresh strength, to appear, of course, in 'the interests of peace', and to dictate conditions to the enfeebled belligerents."23
23 Eighteenth Congress of the CPSU (B), Stenographic Report, Ogiz, 1939, p. 13.
The Munich agreement was met with indignation and emphatic condemnation in the democratic circles of various countries, including the United States of America, Great Britain, and France. The attitude of these circles toward the Munich treachery of the Anglo-French rulers may be judged bythe statements made, for instance, by Sayers and Kahn, who in their book The Great Conspiracy: the Secret War Against Soviet Russia, published in the United States of America, had the following to say about Munich:
"The Governments of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Great Britain and France signed the Munich Pact – the anti-Soviet Holy Alliance of which world reaction had been dreaming since 1918. The Pact left Soviet Russia without allies. The Franco-Soviet Treaty, cornerstone of European collective security, was dead. The Czech Sudetenland became part of Nazi Germany. The gates of the East were open wide open for the Wehrmacht."24
24 Sayers and Kahn, The Great Conspiracy: The Secret War Against Soviet Russia, Boston, 1946, pp. 324-325.
Through all phases of the Czechoslovak drama, the Soviet Union alone of all the Great Powers vigorously championed the independence and national rights of Czechoslovakia. Seeking to justify themselves in the eyes of public opinion, the Governments of Great Britain and. France hypocritically declared that they did not know whether or not the Soviet Union would live up to its pledges, given to Czechoslovakia in accordance with the treaty of mutual assistance. But this was a deliberate lie, for the Soviet Government had publicly declared its willingness to stand up for Czechoslovakia against Germany in accordance with the terms of that treaty, which called for simultaneous action on the part of France in defense of Czechoslovakia. France, however, refused to discharge her duty.
Notwithstanding all this, the Soviet Government declared on the eve of the Munich deal that it was in favor of convening an international conference to render practical aid to Czechoslovakia and to take practical measures for the preservation of peace. When the seizure of Czechoslovakia became an accomplished fact, and the governments of the imperialist countries, one after another, declared their recognition of the accomplished fact, the Soviet Government, in its note of March 18, branded the seizure of Czechoslovakia by Hitlerite Germany, which was accomplished with the aid of Britain and France, as a wanton act of violence and aggression.
In that note, the Soviet Government stressed that by her acts Germany had created and aggravated the menace to universal peace, had “upset political stability in Central Europe, had increased the elements of the atmosphere of alarm created in Europe still earlier, and had inflicted a fresh injury to the feeling of security of nations."25
25 Izvestia, March 20, 1939.
But the handing over of Czechoslovakia to Hitler was not the end of the business. The Governments of Britain and France were, each of them, eager to be first to sign broad political agreements with Hitlerite Germany. The Anglo-German declaration was signed in Munich on September 30, 1938, by Chamberlain and Hitler. This declaration said:
"We have continued today our conversation and have unanimously come to the conviction that Anglo-German relations are of paramount importance to both countries and to Europe. We regard the agreement signed last evening and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement as symbolizing the desire of both our peoples never again to wage war against each other. We are resolved to consider other questions, too, which concern both our countries, by means of consultation and to strive in the future to eliminate all causes generating discord, so as to facilitate the safeguarding of peace in Europe."26
26 Deutsch-Englische Erklarung, Munchen, September 30, 1938, .Archiv fur Aussenpolitik und Landerkunde, April 1938 – Marz 1939, S. 483.
That was Britain’s and Germany's declaration on mutual non-aggression. The Bonnet-Ribbentrop Franco-German declaration, similar to the Anglo-German one, was signed on December 6, 1938. It stated that the German and French Governments were unanimous in their belief that peaceful and good-neighborly relations between Germany and France constitute the most essential condition for the consolidation of relations in Europe, and for maintenance of the general peace, and that both Governments will do their utmost to secure the preservation of such relations between their countries. The declaration further asserted that between France and Germany there were no longer any controversial questions of a territorial nature, and that the then existing boundary between the two countries was final.
The declaration concluded by saying that both Governments were firmly resolved, without reference to their specific relations with third Powers, to maintain contact with each other on all matters concerning their countries, and to confer with each other should later development of these matters lead to international complications.
That was France's and Germany's declaration on mutual non-aggression. Essentially, these agreements meant that both Britain and France concluded non-aggression pacts with Hitler. These agreements with Hitlerite Germany revealed with perfect clarity that the British and French Governments, in their desire to ward off the menace of Hitlerite aggression from their countries, believed that the Munich agreement and similar other ones flung the gates wide open for Hitlerite aggression in the East, aggression against the Soviet Union. It was thus that the political conditions for "uniting Europe without Russia" were created. What they were after was the complete isolation of the Soviet Union.
After the seizure of Czechoslovakia fascist Germany proceeded with her preparations for war quite openly, before the eyes of the whole world. Hitler, encouraged by Britain and France, no longer stood on ceremony or pretended to favor the peaceful settlement of European problems. The most dramatic months of the prewar period had come. At that time it was already clear that every day was bringing mankind nearer to the unparalleled catastrophe of war.
What was, at that time, the policy of the Soviet Union on the one hand, and of Great Britain and France on the other?
The attempt of the falsifiers of history in the United States of America to avoid answering this question merely goes to prove that their consciences are not clear.
The truth is that even during the fatal period of the spring and summer of 1939, on the threshold of war, Britain and France, supported by ruling circles in the United States, continued the former course of their policy. This was a policy of provocative incitement of Hitler Germany against the Soviet Union, camouflaged not only with pharisaical phrases about their readiness to cooperate with the Soviet Union, but also, with certain simple diplomatic maneuvers intended to conceal the real character of their policy from world public opinion.
Among such maneuvers were, in the first place, the 1939 negotiations which Britain and France decided to open with the Soviet Union. In order to deceive public opinion, the ruling circles in Britain and France tried to depict these negotiations as a serious attempt to prevent the further extension of Hitlerite aggression. In the light of all the subsequent developments, however, it became perfectly clear that so far as the Anglo-French side was concerned, these negotiations were from the very beginning nothing but another mote in their double game.
This was also clear to the leaders of Hitler Germany, for whom the meaning of the negotiations with the Soviet Union, undertaken by the Governments of Britain and France, was certainly no secret. Here, for example, is what the German Ambassador to London, Dirksen, wrote in his report to the German Foreign Ministry on August 3, 1939, as is evident from documents captured by the Soviet Army during the defeat of Hitler Germany:
“The prevailing impression here was that [Britain's] ties with other states formed during the recent months were only a reserve means for a real reconciliation with Germany and that these ties would cease to exist as soon as the one important aim, worthy of effort – an agreement with Germany – was achieved."
This opinion was firmly shared by all German diplomats who watched the situation in London.
In another secret report to Berlin, Dirksen wrote:
“By means of armaments and the acquisition of allies, Britain wants to gain strength and to catch up with the Axis, but at the same time she wants to try to reach an amicable agreement with Germany by means of negotiations."27
27 Dirksen's memorandum On the Development of Political Relations between Germany and Britain during my Term of Office in London, compiled in September 1939.
The slanderers and falsifiers of history are trying to keep these documents .hidden since they shed a bright light on the situation during the last prewar months, without correct assessment of which it would be impossible to understand the true prehistory of the war. By undertaking negotiations with the Soviet Union and giving guarantees to Poland, Romania and certain other states, Britain and France, with the support of the ruling circles in the United States, played a double game calculated to lead to an agreement with Hitler Germany, for the purpose of directing her aggression to the East, against the Soviet Union.
The negotiations between Britain and France on the one hand, and the Soviet Union on the other, began in March, 1939, and continued for about four months.
The whole course of these negotiations showed with perfect clarity that whereas the Soviet Union was trying to reach a broad agreement with the Western Powers on the basis of equality, an agreement capable of preventing Germany, even though at the last moment, from starting a war in Europe, the Governments of Britain and France, relying on support in the United States, set themselves entirely different aims. The ruling circles in Britain and France, accustomed to having others pull their chestnuts out of the fire, on this occasion too attempted to foist obligations upon the Soviet Union under which the USSR would have taken upon itself the brunt of the sacrifice in repulsing a possible Hitler aggression, while Britain and France would not bind themselves by any commitment to the Soviet Union.
If the rulers of Britain and France had succeeded in this maneuver they would have come much closer to attaining their basic aim, which was to get Germany and the Soviet Union to come to grips as quickly as possible. The Soviet Government, however, saw through this scheme, and at all stages in the negotiations it countered the diplomatic trickery and subterfuges of the Western Powers with its clear and frank proposals intended to serve but one purpose – the safeguarding of peace in Europe.
There is no need to recall all the vicissitudes through which the negotiations went. We need only bring to mind a few of the more important points. It suffices to recall the terms put forward during the negotiations by the Soviet Government: the conclusion of an effective pact of mutual assistance against aggression between Britain, France, and the USSR; the granting of a guarantee by Britain, France, and the USSR to states of Central and Eastern Europe, including all the European countries bordering on the USSR, without exception; the conclusion of a concrete military agreement between Britain, France, and the USSR on the forms and volume of immediate effective aid to each other and to the guaranteed states in the event of an attack by aggressors.28
28 Report by V. M. Molotov to the Third Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, May 31, 1939.
At the Third Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on May 31, 1939, V. M. Molotov pointed out that some of the Anglo-French proposals moved during those negotiations had contained none of the elementary principles of reciprocity and equality of obligations, indispensable for all agreements between equals.
"While guaranteeing themselves," said V. M. Molotov, “from direct attack on the part of aggressors by mutual assistance pacts between themselves and with Poland and while trying to secure for themselves the assistance of the USSR in the event of an attack by aggressors on Poland and Romania, the British and French left open the question of whether the USSR in its turn might count on their assistance in the event of its being directly attacked by aggressors, just as they left open another question, namely, whether they could participate in guaranteeing the small states bordering on the USSR and covering its northwestern frontier, should these states prove unable to defend their neutrality from attack by aggressors. Thus, the position was one of inequality for the USSR."
Even when the British and French representatives gave verbal consent to the principle of mutual assistance on terms of reciprocity between Britain, France, and the USSR in the event of a direct attack by an aggressor, they hedged it in with a number of reservations which rendered this consent fictitious.
In addition to this, the Anglo-French proposals provided for help on the part of the USSR to those countries to which the British and French had given promises of guarantees, but they said nothing about their own help for the countries on the northwestern frontier of the USSR, the Baltic States, in the event of an aggressor attacking them.
In view of the above-mentioned considerations, V. M. Molotov announced that the Soviet Union could not undertake obligations with respect to some countries unless similar guarantees were given with respect to the countries situated on the northwestern frontier of the Soviet Union.
It should also be remembered that when, on March 18, 1939, Seeds, the British Ambassador to Moscow, asked the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs what the Soviet Union's position would be in the event of Hitler's aggression against Romania – concerning the preparation of which the British possessed information – and when the question was then raised by the Soviet side as to what Britain's position would be under those circumstances, Seeds evaded reply, stating that Romania was geographically closer to the Soviet Union than it was to England.
Thus, from the very first step, it was already quite clear that British ruling circles were endeavoring to bind the Soviet Union to definite obligations, while they themselves would stand aloof. This artless method was then again and again repeated regularly throughout the whole course of the negotiations.
In reply to the British inquiry, the Soviet Government suggested that a conference be called of representatives of the most interested states – namely Great Britain, France, Romania, Poland, Turkey, and the Soviet Union. In the opinion of the Soviet Government, such a conference would offer the best opportunities for ascertaining the real state of affairs and for determining the positions of all the participants. The British Government, however, replied that it believed the Soviet proposal to be premature.
Instead of calling a conference which would have made it possible to agree on concrete measures to combat aggression, the British Government on March 21, 1939 proposed to the Soviet Government the signing, together with it as well as with France and Poland, a declaration in which the signatory governments would undertake to "consult together as to what steps should be taken to offer joint resistance" in the event of a threat to "the independence of any European state."
In arguing that this proposal was acceptable, the British Ambassador laid particular emphasis on the point that the declaration was couched in terms which involved hardly any commitments.
It was quite obvious that such a declaration could not serve as an effective means of fighting the impending threat on the part of the aggressor. Believing, however, that even a declaration promising so little might constitute at least some step forward in the matter of curbing the aggressor, the Soviet Government consented to the British proposal. But already on April 1, 1939 the British Ambassador in Moscow communicated the information that Britain considered the question of a joint declaration as having lapsed.
After two more weeks of procrastination, the British Foreign Secretary, Halifax, through the medium of the Ambassador in Moscow, made another proposal to the Soviet Government to the effect that the Soviet Government should issue a declaration saying that "in the event of an act of aggression against any European neighbor of the Soviet Union, who would offer resistance, the assistance of the Soviet Government could be counted upon if desired.”
What this proposal meant was mainly that in the event of an act of aggression on the part of Germany against Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, or Finland, the Soviet Union would be obliged to render them assistance without any obligation on the part of Britain to render assistance – i.e., for the Soviet Union to become involved in a war with Germany singlehanded. In the case of Poland and Romania, too, who did receive Britain's guarantees, the Soviet Union was to render them assistance against an aggressor; but even in their case Britain refused to assume any obligations jointly with the Soviet Union, leaving herself a free hand and a field for maneuvers of any kind, not to mention the fact that, according to this proposal, Poland and Romania as well as the Baltic States assumed no obligations whatever with respect to the USSR.
The Soviet Government, however, did not want to miss any opportunity to bring about agreement with other Powers for a joint struggle against Hitler's aggression. Without the least delay it presented to the British Government its counterproposal which consisted of the following:
(1) That the Soviet Union, Britain and France should mutually undertake to render one another immediate assistance of every kind, including military, in the event of aggression against one of these states;
(2) That the Soviet Union, Britain, and France should undertake to render any kind of assistance, including military, to the states of Eastern Europe situated between the Baltic and the Black Seas and bordering on the Soviet Union, in the event of aggression against these states; and
(3) The Soviet Union, Britain and France were to undertake to determine within a short space of time the volume and forms of military assistance to be rendered to each of these states in both cases mentioned above.
These were the most important points of the Soviet proposal. It is not hard to see that there was a fundamental difference between the Soviet and British proposals, inasmuch as the Soviet proposal provided for really effective measures for joint counteraction to aggression.
No reply to that proposal came from the British Government for three weeks. This caused growing anxiety in Britain, owing to which the British Government felt constrained in the end to resort to a new maneuver in order to deceive public opinion.
On May 8 the British reply, or, to be more exact the British counterproposals, were received in Moscow. It was again proposed that the Soviet Government should make a unilateral declaration in which it "would undertake that in the event of Great Britain and France being involved in hostilities in fulfillment of these obligations" [to Belgium, Poland, Romania, Greece, and Turkey] "the assistance of the Soviet Government would be immediately available if desired and would be afforded in such manner and on such terms as might be agreed."
Once again the Soviet Union was expected to assume unilateral obligations. It was to undertake to render assistance to Britain and France who on their part assumed no obligations whatever to the Soviet Union with regard to the Baltic Republics. Britain thus suggested that the USSR be placed in an unequal position, unacceptable to and incompatible with the dignity of any independent state.
It is easy to see that actually the British proposal was addressed not so much to Moscow as to Berlin. The Germans were invited to attack the Soviet Union, and were given to understand that Britain and France would maintain neutrality if only the Germans attacked through the Baltic States.
On May 11 the negotiations between the Soviet Union, Britain, and France were further complicated by a statement made by the Polish Ambassador in Moscow, Grzybowski, to the effect that "Poland does not consider it possible to conclude a pact of mutual assistance with the USSR..."
Naturally, such a statement could only be made by the Polish representative with the knowledge and approval of the ruling circles of Britain and France.
The behavior of the British and French representatives in the Moscow negotiations was so provocative that even in the ruling camp of the Western Powers there were some who sharply criticized this crude game. Thus, Lloyd George published a sharp article in the French newspaper Ce Soir in the summer of 1939 directed against the makers of British policy. Referring to the causes of the endless procrastination in which the negotiations between Britain and France on the one hand, and the Soviet Union on the other, were stuck, Lloyd George wrote that there could be only one answer to that question: "Neville Chamberlain, Halifax, and John Simon do not want any agreement with Russia whatever."
It goes without saying that what was obvious to Lloyd George was no less obvious to the bosses of Hitler Germany, who understood perfectly that the Western Powers had no intention of reaching a serious agreement with the Soviet Union, but were pursuing an entirely different aim. That aim was to spur Hitler on to hurry with his attack upon the Soviet Union, guaranteeing him a premium, as it were, for such an attack by placing the Soviet Union in the least favorable conditions in the event of a war with Germany.
Furthermore, the Western Powers dragged out the negotiations with the Soviet Union endlessly, seeking to drown major issues in a swamp of minor amendments and innumerable versions. Each time the question of some real obligations came up, the representatives of these Powers pretended not to understand what it was all about.
Toward the end of May, Britain and France made new proposals which somewhat improved the previous version, but still left open a question of essential importance to the Soviet Union – namely, the question of guarantees for the three Baltic Republics situated on the northwestern frontier of the Soviet Union.
Thus, the rulers of Britain and France, while making certain verbal concessions under the pressure of public opinion in their countries, stuck to their previous line and hedged in their proposals with such reservations as they knew would make them unacceptable to the Soviet Union.
The behavior of the British and French representatives in the negotiations at Moscow was so intolerable that on May 27, 1939, V. M. Molotov had to tell British Ambassador Seeds and French Charge d'Affairs Payard that their draft agreement for joint counteraction to an aggressor in Europe did not contain a plan for the organization of effective mutual assistance of the USSR, Britain, and France, and that it did not even indicate that the British and French Governments were seriously interested in a corresponding pact with the Soviet Union.
It was further plainly stated that the Anglo-French proposal led one to think that the Governments of Britain and France were not so much interested in the pact itself as in talk about a pact. Possibly Britain and France needed this talk for some aims of their own. The Soviet Government did not know what these aims were. The Soviet Government was interested, not in talk about a pact, but in organizing effective mutual assistance of the USSR, Britain, and France against aggression in Europe. The British and French representatives were warned that the Soviet Government did not intend to take part in talk about a pact, the aim of which the USSR did not know, and that the British and French Governments might find more suitable partners for such talk than the USSR.
The Moscow negotiations dragged on endlessly. The London Times blurted out the reasons for this inadmissible procrastination when it wrote:
"A hard and fast alliance with Russia would hamper other negotiations."29
29 Sayers and Kahn, The Great Conspiracy: The Secret War against Soviet Russia, Boston, 1946, p. 329.
In referring to "other negotiations" the Times apparently implied the negotiations which Robert Hudson, Minister of Overseas Trade, was conducting with Dr. Helmut Wohltat, Hitler's economic adviser, on the possibility of a very large British loan to Hitler Germany, of which more anon. Besides, as is known from press reports, on the day that Hitler's army entered Prague, a delegation of the Federation of British Industries conducted negotiations in Dusseldorf with a view to concluding an extensive agreement with big German industries.
A circumstance that attracted attention at the time was that men of secondary importance were sent to conduct the negotiations on behalf of Great Britain in Moscow, while Chamberlain himself went to Germany to carry on negotiations with Hitler, and that on several occasions. It is also important to note that the British representative for the negotiations with the USSR, Strang, had no authority to sign any agreement with the Soviet Union.
In view of the demand of the Soviet Union that the parties should proceed to concrete negotiations concerning measures to fight a possible aggressor, the Governments of Britain and France had to consent to send their military missions to Moscow. But it took those missions an unusually long time to get to Moscow, and when they did get there, it transpired that they were composed of men of secondary importance who, furthermore, had not been authorized to sign any agreement. That being the case, the military negotiations proved to be as futile as the political ones.
The military missions of the Western Powers demonstrated at once that they even had no desire to carry on serious conversations concerning means of mutual assistance in the event of aggression on the part of Germany. The Soviet military mission proceeded from the fact that, since the USSR had no common border with Germany, it could render Britain, France, and Poland assistance in the event of war only if Soviet troops were permitted to pass through Polish territory. The Polish Government, however, declared that it would accept no military assistance from the Soviet Union, thus showing that it feared the growth of strength of the Soviet Union more than Hitler's aggression. Both the British and French missions supported Poland's position.
In the course of the military negotiations, the question also came up as to the strength of the armed forces which should be put in the field at once by the parties to the agreement in the event of aggression. The British named a ridiculous figure, stating that they could put in the field five infantry divisions and one mechanized division. That was what the British offered at a time when the Soviet Union declared that it was prepared to send to the front against the aggressor one hundred and thirty-six divisions, five thousand medium and heavy guns, up to ten thousand tanks and whippets, more than five thousand war planes, etc. The above shows with what an utter lack of seriousness the British Government treated the negotiations for a military agreement with the USSR.
The facts cited above fully bear out the conclusion that suggests itself, and this conclusion is as follows:
(1) Throughout the negotiations the Soviet Government strove with the utmost patience to secure agreement with Britain and France for mutual assistance against an aggressor on a basis of equality and on the condition that the mutual assistance would be really effective, i.e., that the signing of a political agreement would be accompanied by the signing of a military convention establishing the volume, forms, and time limits of the assistance, as all the preceding events had shown clearly enough that only such an agreement could be effective and might bring the Hitlerite aggressor to his senses, encouraged though he was by complete impunity and by the connivance of the Western Powers during the course of many years.
(2) Britain's and France's behavior during the negotiations with the Soviet Union fully confirmed that a serious agreement was farthest from their thoughts, since British and French policy was guided by other aims which had nothing in common with the interests of peace and the fight against aggression.
(3) The perfidious purpose of Anglo-French policy was to give Hitler to understand that the USSR had no allies, that the USSR was isolated, that he could attack the USSR without running the risk of encountering the resistance of Britain and France.
It was no wonder, therefore, that Anglo-French-Soviet negotiations ended in failure.
There was, of course, nothing fortuitous about that failure. It was becoming ever more obvious that the breakdown of the negotiations had been planned beforehand by the representatives of the Western Powers in their double game. The point was that, along with open negotiation with the USSR, the British conducted backstage negotiations with Germany, and they attached incomparably greater importance to the latter.
Whereas, by their negotiations in Moscow, the ruling circles of the Western Powers sought primarily to lull the vigilance of the public in their countries, to deceive the peoples that were being drawn into war, the negotiations with the Hitlerites were of an entirely different nature.
The program of the Anglo-German negotiations was formulated plainly enough by the British Foreign Secretary, Halifax, who was addressing unequivocal appeals to Hitler Germany at the very time his officials continued negotiations in Moscow. In a speech at a banquet of The Royal Institute of International Affairs on June 29, 1939, Halifax expressed a readiness to come to terms with Germany on all the problems "that are today causing world anxiety." He said:
"In such a new atmosphere we could examine the colonial problem, the problem of raw materials, trade barriers, the issue of Lebensraum, the limitation of armaments and any other issue that affects the lives of all European citizens.”30
30 Viscount Halifax: Speeches on Foreign Policy 1934-1939, Oxford University Press, London, 1940, p. 296.
If we recall how the conservative Daily Mail which is close to Halifax, treated the problem of Lebensraum as far back as 1933 when it suggested to the Hitlerites that they should wrest Lebensraum from the USSR, there remains not the slightest doubt as to what Halifax really meant. It was an open offer to Hitler Germany to come to terms for a division of the world and of the spheres of influence, an offer to settle all the questions without the Soviet Union and mainly at the expense of the Soviet Union.
As early as June, 1939, British representatives inaugurated strictly confidential negotiations with Germany through Hitler's Commissioner for the Four Year Plan, Wohltat, who had come to London. Conversations were carried on with him by the Minister of Overseas Trade, Hudson, and Chamberlain's closest adviser, G. Wilson. The substance of those June negotiations is still buried in the recesses of diplomatic archives. But in July, Wohltat paid another visit to London and the negotiations were resumed. The contents of that second round of negotiations are now known from captured German documents in the hands of the Soviet Government, which will soon be made public.
Hudson and G. Wilson suggested to Wohltat, and later to the German Ambassador in London, Dirksen, the starting of secret negotiations for a broad agreement, which was to include an agreement for the division of spheres of influence on a world-wide scale, and for the elimination of "deadly competition in the general markets.” It was envisaged that Germany would be allowed predominating influence in southeastern Europe. In a report to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, dated July 21, 1939, Dirksen pointed out that the program discussed by Wohltat and Wilson comprised political, military, and economic issues. Among the political issues a special place, along with a pact of non-aggression, was assigned to a pact of non-intervention which was to provide for a "delimitation of Lebensraum between the great Powers, particularly between Britain and Germany."31
31 Memorandum of the German Ambassador to Britain, Dirksen, of July 21, 1939. Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the discussion of the questions involved in these two pacts, the British representatives promised that, in the event these pacts were signed, Britain would renounce the guarantees she had just given Poland.
In case an Anglo-German agreement was signed, the British were prepared to let the Germans settle the Danzig problem and that of the Polish Corridor with Poland alone, undertaking not to interfere in the settlement.
Further – and this too finds a documentary confirmation in Dirksen's reports which will shortly be published – Wilson reaffirmed that in case the abovementioned pacts between Britain and Germany were signed, the British policy of giving guarantees would be virtually abolished.
"Then Poland," says Dirksen on this point in his report, "would be left, so to say, alone, face to face with Germany."
All this meant that the rulers of Britain were prepared to surrender Poland to Hitler as his prey, at a time when the ink with which Britain's guarantees to Poland had been signed had not dried. At the same time, if the Anglo-German agreement had been concluded, the purpose which Britain and France had set themselves in starting the negotiations with the Soviet Union would have been achieved and the possibility of expediting a clash between Germany and the USSR would have been further facilitated.
Lastly, it was proposed to supplement the political agreement between Britain and Germany by an economic agreement which would include a secret deal on colonial questions, on the distribution of raw materials, on the division of markets, as well as on a big British loan for Germany.
Thus, the rulers of Britain saw an alluring picture of a stable agreement with Germany and the so-called "canalization" of German aggression toward the East, against Poland to whom they had but recently given a "guarantee" and against the Soviet Union.
Is it to be wondered at that the slanderers and falsifiers of history carefully hush up and try to conceal these facts of decisive importance to an understanding of the situation in which war was thus becoming inevitable?
By this time there was already no doubt left that, far from intending to make any serious attempt to prevent Hitler Germany from starting the war, Britain and France, on the contrary, were doing everything within their power, by means of secret deals and agreements, by means of every possible kind of provocation, to incite Hitler Germany against the Soviet Union.
No forgers will ever succeed in wiping from history or from the consciousness of the peoples the decisive fact that under these conditions, the Soviet Union faced the alternative: either to accept, for purposes of self defense, Germany's proposal to conclude a non-aggression pact and thereby to ensure to the Soviet Union the prolongation of peace for a certain period of time, which might be used by the Soviet State better to prepare its forces for resistance to a possible attack on the part of an aggressor; or to reject Germany's proposal for a non-aggression pact and thereby to permit war provocateurs from the camp of the Western Powers immediately to involve the Soviet Union in armed conflict with Germany at a time when the situation was utterly unfavorable to the Soviet Union and when it was completely isolated.
In this situation, the Soviet Government found itself compelled to make its choice and conclude a non-aggression pact with Germany.
This choice was a wise and far-sighted act of Soviet foreign policy under the conditions which then obtained. This step of the Soviet Government to an enormous extent predetermined the favorable outcome of the Second World War for the Soviet Union and for all the freedom-loving peoples.
It would be a gross slander to assert that the conclusion of a pact with the Hitlerites was part of the plan of the foreign policy of the USSR. On the contrary, the USSR strove at all times to have an agreement with the Western non-aggressive states against the German and Italian aggressors for the achievement of collective security on the basis of equality. But there must be two parties to an agreement.
Whereas the USSR insisted on an agreement for combating aggression, Britain and France systematically rejected it, preferring to pursue a policy of isolating the USSR, a policy of concessions to the aggressors, a policy of directing aggression to the East, against the USSR.
The United States of America, far from counteracting that ruinous policy, backed it in every way. As for the American billionaires, they went on investing their capital in German heavy industries, helping the Germans to expand their war industries, and thus supplying German aggression with arms. They might as well be saying: "Go on, Messrs. Europeans, wage war to your hearts' content; wage war with God's help; while we, modest American billionaires, will accumulate wealth out of your war, making hundreds of millions of dollars in super-profits."
Naturally, with this state of affairs in Europe, there only remained one way out for the Soviet Union: to accept the German proposal for a pact. This was, after all, the best of all the possible ways out.
Just as in 1918, owing to the hostile policy of the Western Powers, the Soviet Union was forced to conclude the Brest Peace with the Germans, so in 1939, twenty years after the Peace of Brest, the Soviet Union was compelled to conclude a pact with the Germans, owing to the same hostile policy of Britain and France.
The claptrap of slanderers of all hues to the effect that the USSR should in no case have allowed itself to conclude a pact with the Germans can only be regarded as ridiculous. Why could Poland, who had Britain and France as allies, conclude a non-aggression pact with Germany in 1934, and the Soviet Union, enjoying less favorable conditions, could not conclude a similar pact in 1939? Why could Britain and France, who were the dominant force in Europe, issue jointly with the Germans a declaration on non-aggression in 1938, and the Soviet Union, isolated because of the hostile policy of Britain and France, could not conclude a pact with the Germans?
Is it not a fact that of all the non-aggressive great Powers in Europe the Soviet Union was the last to make a pact with the Germans?
Of course, the falsifiers of history and other reactionaries are displeased with the fact that the Soviet Union succeeded in making good use of the Soviet-German pact to strengthen its defenses; that it succeeded in moving its frontiers far to the West and in barring the way of the unhampered eastward advance of German aggression; that Hitler's troops had to begin their offensive to the East, not from the Narva-Minsk-Kiev line, but from a line hundreds of kilometers farther west; that the USSR was not bled to death in the Patriotic War, but emerged victorious from that war. This displeasure, however, should be regarded as a manifestation of the impotent rage of bankrupt politicians.
The vicious displeasure of these gentlemen can only be regarded as a demonstration of the indubitable fact that the policy of the Soviet Union has been and remains a correct policy.
When concluding the pact of non-aggression with Germany in August, 1939, the Soviet Union did not doubt for a moment that sooner or later Hitler would attack it. This certainty was based on the fundamental political and military policies of the Hitlerites. It was borne out by the practical activities of the Hitler Government throughout the prewar period.
That was why the first task of the Soviet Government was to create an "Eastern" front against Hitler's aggression, to build up a defense line along the western frontiers of the Byelorussian and Ukrainian Republics and thus to set up a barrier to prevent an unhindered advance of the German troops eastward. To do this it was necessary to reunite Western Byelorussia and Western Ukraine which the Poland of the gentry had seized in 1920, with Soviet Byelorussia and the Soviet Ukraine, and to move Soviet troops there. This matter brooked no delay as the poorly equipped Polish troops proved to be unstable, the Polish command and the Polish Government were already in full flight, and Hitler's troops, meeting no serious obstacles, could occupy the Byelorussian and Ukrainian territories before Soviet troops got there.
On September 17, 1939, the Soviet troops, at the order of the Soviet Government, crossed the prewar Soviet-Polish border, occupied Western Byelorussia and Western Ukraine and proceeded to build defenses there along the western line of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian territories. In the main, it was the line which is known in history as the "Curzon Line" established at the Versailles Conference of the Allies.
A few days later the Soviet Government signed pacts of mutual assistance with the Baltic States, providing for the stationing of Soviet Army garrisons on the territory of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, the organization of Soviet air fields and the building of naval bases there.
Thus the foundation was laid for the "Eastern" front.
It was not hard to see that the creation of an “Eastern" front was an important contribution not only to the organization of the security of the USSR but to the common cause of the peace-loving states that were fighting against Hitler's aggression. Nevertheless, the answer of Anglo-Franco-American circles, in their overwhelming majority, to this step of the Soviet Government was to start a malicious anti-Soviet campaign, describing the Soviet action as aggression.
There were some political leaders, however, sufficiently discerning to understand the meaning of the Soviet policy and to admit that it was the right thing to create an "Eastern" front. First among them was Mr. Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, who in his radio speech on October 1, 1939, after a number of unfriendly sallies against the Soviet Union, stated:
"That the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace. At any rate, the line is there and an Eastern front has been created which Nazi Germany does not dare assail. When Herr von Ribbentrop was summoned to Moscow last week, it was to learn the fact and to accept the fact that the Nazi designs upon the. Baltic States and upon the Ukraine must come to a dead stop."
While the situation with regard to the security of the USSR was more or less satisfactory on the western frontiers, at a considerable distance from Moscow, Minsk, and Kiev, the same could not be said about the northern frontier of the USSR. Here, at a distance of some 32 kilometers from Leningrad, stood Finnish troops, the majority of whose commanding officers oriented themselves toward Hitler Germany. The Soviet Government was well aware of the fact that the fascist elements among the ruling circles of Finland, who were closely connected with the Hitlerites and who wielded strong influence in. the Finnish Army, were striving to capture Leningrad. The fact that Halder, the Chief of the General Staff of Hitler's Army, arrived in the summer of 1939 in Finland to instruct the highest leaders of the Finnish Army, could not be regarded as a mere accident. There could hardly be any doubt that the leading circles of Finland were in league with the Hitlerites, that they wanted to turn Finland into a springboard for Hitler Germany's attack upon the USSR.
It is therefore not surprising that all the attempts of the USSR to find a common language with the Finnish Government with a view to improving relations between the two countries remained futile.
The Government of Finland declined, one after another, all the friendly proposals of the Soviet Government, the purpose of which was to guarantee the security of the USSR, particularly of Leningrad – and this in spite of the fact that the Soviet Union was willing to meet Finland halfway and to satisfy her legitimate interests.
The Finnish Government declined the proposal of the USSR to move the Finnish border on the Karelian Isthmus a few dozen kilometers, although the Soviet Government was willing to compensate Finland with an area twice as large in Soviet Karelia.
The Finnish Government also declined the proposal of the USSR to conclude a pact of mutual assistance, thereby demonstrating that the security of the USSR from the direction of Finland remained unguaranteed.
By these and similar hostile actions and provocations on the Soviet-Finnish border, Finland unleashed the war against the Soviet Union.
The results of the Soviet-Finnish War are known. The frontiers of the USSR in the northwest and particularly .in the Leningrad area were shifted further away and the security of the USSR was strengthened. This played an important part in the defense of the Soviet Union against Hitler's aggression, inasmuch as Hitler Germany and her Finnish accomplices had to begin their offensive in the northwest of the USSR, not in close proximity to Leningrad, but from a line nearly 150 kilometers to the northwest of it.
In his speech at the session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on March 29, 1940, V. M. Molotov said:
"...the Soviet Union having smashed the Finnish Army and having had every opportunity to occupy the whole of Finland did not do so and did not demand any indemnities for her war expenditure, as any other Power would have done, but confined her demands to a minimum.
“...We pursued no other object in the Peace Treaty than that of safeguarding the security of Leningrad, Murmansk, and the Murmansk Railway."
It should be noted that although by their whole policy with regard to the USSR the Finnish ruling circles played into the hands of Hitler Germany, the Anglo-French bosses of the League of Nations immediately took the side of the Finnish Government, declared through the League of Nations that the USSR was the "aggressor" and thereby openly approved and supported the war which the Finnish rulers had started against the Soviet Union. At the bidding of its Anglo-French bosses, the League of Nations, which had disgraced itself by its connivance with and encouragement of the Japanese and German-Italian aggressors, obediently passed a resolution against the Soviet Union and demonstratively "expelled" the latter from its midst.
But matters did not end there. In the war which the Finnish reactionaries started against the Soviet Union, Britain and France rendered the Finnish militarists every kind of assistance. The Anglo-French ruling circles kept inciting the Finnish Government to continue hostilities.
The British and French rulers systematically supplied Finland with arms, and made energetic preparations to dispatch to Finland an expeditionary corps a hundred thousand strong.
In the three months that had passed since the beginning of the war, Britain, according to a statement made by Chamberlain in the House of Commons on March 19, 1940, delivered to Finland 101 airplanes, over 200 artillery pieces, hundreds of thousands of shells, aerial bombs and anti-tank mines. At the same time Daladier reported to the Chamber of Deputies that France had sent to Finland 175 airplanes, about 500 artillery pieces, over 5,000 machine guns, 1,000,000 shells and hand grenades and various other arms.
An exhaustive idea of the plans of the British and French Governments at that time may be obtained from a memorandum handed by the British to the Swedes on March 2, 1940, which read:
“The Allied Governments understand that the military position of Finland is becoming desperate. After carefully considering all the possibilities, they have reached the conclusion that the only means by which they can render effective help to Finland is by the dispatch of an Allied force, and they are prepared to send such a force in response to a Finnish appeal."32
32 Note of me British Legation, dated March 2, 1940. (From the "White Paper" of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.) Stockholm, 1947, p. 120.
At that time, as Chamberlain stated in the House of Commons on March 19,
"Preparations for the expedition were carried on with all rapidity and at the beginning of March the expedition was ready to leave.... two months before Mannerheim had asked for it to arrive."
Chamberlain added that this force reached 100,000 men in strength.
At the same time, the French Government was preparing an expeditionary corps of 50,000 men – the first of a series – to be sent to Finland via Narvik.
The British and French rulers were engaged in these bellicose activities at a time when Britain and France were absolutely inactive on the front against Hitler Germany, at the time of "the phony war," as it was called.
But the military assistance to Finland against the Soviet Union was only part of a broader scheme of the British and French imperialists.
The above-mentioned "White Paper" of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs contains a document penned by the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs Guenther. In this document we read that:
"The dispatch of this force was part of the general plan of an attack upon the Soviet Union" and that beginning March 15, this plan "will be put into effect against Baku and still earlier through Finland."33
33 Gunther's notes, March 2, 1940, the “White Paper" of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Stockholm, 1947, p. 119.
Henri de Kerillis, in his book, De Gaulle, Dictateur, wrote the following about that plan:
"According to this plan, the main features of which were explained to me by Paul Reynaud34 in a letter which is in my possession, the motorized expeditionary corps, after landing in Finland through Norway, would quickly disperse Russia's disorganized hordes and would march on Leningrad..."35
34 Then a member of the French Government.
35 Henri de Kerillis, De Gaulle, Dictateur. Montreal, Edition Beauchemin, 1945, pp. 363-364.
In France this plan was drawn up by De Gaulle and General Weygand, who was then in command of the French troops in Syria, and who boasted that
"with certain reinforcements and 200 airplanes he would seize the Caucasus and enter into Russia as a knife enters into butter."
It is also known that in 1940 the French General Gamelin worked out a plan for military operations to be conducted by the British and French against the USSR, in which special attention was given to bombing Baku and Batumi.
The preparations of the British and French rulers for an attack upon the USSR went on full blast. The General Staffs of Britain and France were diligently drawing up plans for such an attack: Instead of waging war against Hitler Germany, these gentlemen wanted to start war against the Soviet Union.
But those plans were not fated to materialize. At this time Finland was defeated by the Soviet troops and was forced to surrender, in spite of all the efforts of Britain and France to prevent her capitulation.
On March 12, 1940, the Soviet-Finnish Peace Treaty was signed.
Thus the defense of the USSR against Hitlerite aggression was strengthened also in the north, in the Leningrad area, where the defense line was shifted to a distance of 150 kilometers north of Leningrad with Vyborg included.
But this did not yet mean that the formation of an "Eastern" front from the Baltic to the Black Sea had been completed. Pacts had been concluded with the Baltic States, but there were as yet no Soviet troops there capable of holding the defenses. Moldavia and Bukovina had formally been reunited with the USSR, but there too, there were still no Soviet troops capable of holding the defenses. In the middle of June, 1940, Soviet troops entered Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. On June 27, 1940, Soviet troops entered Bukovina and Moldavia. The latter had been severed by Romania from the USSR after the October Revolution.
Thus the formation of an "Eastern" front against Hitlerite aggression from the Baltic to the Black Sea was completed.
The British and French ruling circles, which went on abusing the USSR and calling it an aggressor for creating an "Eastern" front, evidently did not realize that the appearance of an "Eastern" front signified a radical turn In the development of the war – a turn against Hitlerite tyranny, a turn in favor of a victory for democracy.
They did not realize that it was not a question of infringing or not infringing upon the national rights of Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, but that the point was to organize victory over the Nazis in order to prevent the conversion of those countries into disfranchised colonies of Hitler Germany.
They did not realize that the point was to build up a barrier against the advance of the German troops wherever that was possible, to organize a strong defence and then to launch a counter-offensive, smash the Hitlerite troops and thereby create the opportunity for the free development of those countries.
They did not realize that there existed no other way to defeat Hitler's aggression.
Was the British Government right when it stationed its troops in Egypt during the war, in spite of the protests of the Egyptians and even resistance on the part of certain elements in Egypt? Unquestionably it was right. That was a highly important means of barring the way to Hitler's aggression toward the Suez Canal, of safeguarding Egypt against Hitler's attempts, of organizing victory over Hitler, and thus averting the conversion of Egypt into a colony of Hitler Germany. Only enemies of democracy or people who have lost their senses can assert that the action of the British Government in that case constituted aggression.
Was the United States Government right when it landed its troops at Casablanca in spite of the protests of the Moroccans and of direct military counteraction on the part of the Petain Government of France whose authority extended to Morocco? Unquestionably it was right. That was a highly important means of creating a base to counteract German aggression in immediate proximity to Western Europe, of organizing victory over Hitler's troops and thus creating the opportunity for liberating France from Hitler's colonial oppression. Only enemies of democracy or people who have lost their senses could regard these actions of American troops as aggression.
But then the same must be said about the actions of the Soviet Government which by the summer of 1940 organized an "Eastern" front against Hitlerite aggression and stationed its troops as far west as possible from Leningrad, Moscow, and Kiev. That was the only means of barring the way of an unhindered advance of the German troops eastward, of building up strong defenses and then launching a counteroffensive in order to smash, jointly with the Allies, Hitler's Army and thus prevent the conversion of peace-loving countries of Europe, among them Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland into colonies of Hitler Germany. Only enemies of democracy or people who have lost their senses could describe those actions of the Soviet Government as aggression.
But it follows from this that Chamberlain, Daladier, and their entourage, who described this policy of the Soviet Government as aggression and organized the expulsion of the Soviet Union from the League of Nations, acted as enemies of democracy or as people who had lost their senses.
From this it follows, further, that the present-day slanderers and falsifiers of history who work in company with Messrs. Bevin and Bidault and describe the creation of an "Eastern" front against Hitler as aggression are also acting as enemies of democracy or as people who have lost their senses.
What would have happened if, prior to Germany's attack, the USSR had not created an “Eastern" front far to the west of the old frontiers of the USSR, if that front had not been on the 1ine Vyborg-Kaunas-Byelostok-Brest-Lvov, but had followed the old frontier – Leningrad-Narva-Minsk-Kiev?
That would have given Hitler's forces an opportunity to win hundreds of kilometers, bringing the German front some two to three hundred kilometers nearer to Leningrad-Moscow-Minsk-Kiev, greatly accelerating the Germans' advance into the interior of the USSR, hastening the fall of Kiev and the Ukraine, leading to the capture of Moscow by the Germans and to the capture of Leningrad by the combined German and Finnish forces, and compelling the USSR to pass tothe defensive for a long time, which would have enabled the Germans to release some fifty divisions in the east for a landing on the British Isles and for reinforcing the German-Italian front in the area of Egypt. Most likely the British Government would then have had to evacuate to Canada, while Egypt and the Suez Canal would have fallen under Hider's sway.
But that is not all. The USSR would have been compelled to transfer a large part of its troops from the Manchurian border to the "Eastern" front to strengthen its defenses, and that would have enabled the Japanese to release some thirty divisions in Manchuria and to send them against China, against the Philippines, against southeastern Asia in general, and in the final analysis against the American armed forces in the Far East.
As a result of all that, the war would have dragged on at least for two more years. The Second World War would then have ended, not in 1945, but in 1947 or somewhat later.
That was how matters stood with regard to the question of an "Eastern" front.
Meanwhile, events in the West took their course. In April, 1940, the Germans occupied Denmark and Norway. In the middle of May, German troops invaded Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. On May 21, the Germans reached the Channel and cut off the Allies in Flanders. Toward the end of May, the British troops evacuated Dunkirk, withdrawing from France to England. In the middle of June, Paris fell. On June 22, France surrendered to Germany.
Thus, Hitler trampled on all and sundry declarations of non-aggression issued jointly with France and Britain.
It meant the utter fiasco of the policy of appeasement, of the policy of renouncing collective security, of the policy of isolating the USSR.
It became clear that, by isolating the USSR, France and Britain had broken up the united front of the freedom-loving countries, had weakened themselves, and had placed themselves in isolation.
On March 1, 1941, the Germans occupied Bulgaria.
On April 5, the USSR signed a pact of non-aggression with Yugoslavia.
On June 22 of that year Germany attacked the USSR. Italy, Romania, Hungary, and Finland joined Germany in the war against the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union joined the war of liberation against Hitler Germany.
Different circles in Europe and America took different attitudes toward this event.
The nations enslaved by Hitler breathed a sigh of relief, as they were certain that Hitler was bound to break his neck between the two fronts, the Western and the "Eastern".
The ruling circles of France were full of malicious glee as they did not doubt that "Russia would be smashed" in practically no time.
A prominent member of the Senate of the United States of America who is now President of the United States, Mr. Truman, stated on the day after Germany's attack upon the USSR:
"If we see that Germany is winning the war we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible.”36
36 New York Times, June 24, 1941.
A similar statement was made in 1941 in Great Britain by the then Minister of Aircraft Production, Moore-Brabazon, who said that so far as Britain was concerned, the best outcome of the struggle on the Eastern front would be the mutual exhaustion of Germany and the USSR, as a result of which Britain would be enabled to attain a position of dominance.
These statements undoubtedly expressed the position of reactionary circles in the United States and Great Britain.
However, the overwhelming majority of the British and American people favored the USSR, demanding unity with the Soviet Union for a successful struggle against Hitler Germany.
It is to be believed that the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Mr. Churchill, reflected these sentiments when he said on June 22, 1941 that:
"The Russian danger is therefore our danger and the danger of the United States, just as the cause of any Russian fighting for his hearth and home is the cause of free men and free peoples in every quarter of the globe."
A similar position with regard to the USSR was taken by the Roosevelt Administration in the United States of America.
A beginning was thus laid for an Anglo-Soviet-American coalition against Hitler Germany.
The anti-Hitler coalition set itself the aim of smashing the Hitler regime and liberating the nations enslaved by Hitler Germany. Despite differences in the ideologies and economic systems of the Allied states, the Anglo-Soviet-American coalition became a mighty alliance of nations which merged their efforts in the liberation struggle against Hitlerism.
Of course, there were differences among the Allies on certain questions during the war too. It is well known, for example, how significant were the differences on such major questions as the opening of a second front, the obligations of the Allies, their moral duty toward each other.
Seizing upon these differences, the falsifiers of history and all sorts of calumniators are endeavoring to "prove", contrary to obvious facts, that the USSR was not, and could not be, a loyal and sincere ally in the struggle against Hitlerite aggression. But since the joint struggle against Hitler Germany and the behavior of the USSR in that struggle provide no material for such an accusation, they turn to the past, to the prewar period, asserting that during the "negotiations" with Hitler in Berlin in 1940, the representatives o£ the Soviet Union behaved in a perfidious manner, not as allies should behave.
They assert that during the Berlin "negotiations" perfidious "plans for the partitioning of Europe", territorial claims of the Soviet Union "southward from the Soviet Union toward the Indian Ocean", "plans" concerning Turkey, Iran, Bulgaria and other "problems" were discussed and agreed upon. For this purpose the slanderers make use of reports of German ambassadors and other Hitlerite officials, all sorts of memoranda and German drafts of some sort of "protocols" and other similar "documents".
What actually happened in Berlin? It must be said that the so-called "Berlin negotiations" in 1940 actually amounted to nothing more than V. M. Molotov's return visit to two visits paid by Ribbentrop to Moscow. The talks which took place concerned, mainly, Soviet-German relations. Hitler tried to turn them into the basis for a broad agreement between the German and Soviet parties. The Soviet side, on the contrary, used them to sound out, to probe the position of the German side without having any intention of concluding any agreement with the Germans. In the course of these talks, Hitler maintained that the Soviet Union ought to acquire an outlet to the Persian Gulf by occupying western Iran and the British oil fields in Iran. He said, further, that Germany could help the Soviet Union to settle the matter in regard to its claims on Turkey, including the amendment of the Montreux Treaty on the Straits; and while completely ignoring the interests of Iran, he carefully protected the interests of Turkey, obviously regarding the latter country as his present, or at any rate, his future ally. As far as the Balkan countries and Turkey were concerned, Hitler regarded them as a sphere of influence of Germany and Italy.
The Soviet Government drew the following conclusions from these talks: Germany did not value her connections with Iran; Germany was not connected and did not intend to establish connections with Britain, which meant that the Soviet Union might find a reliable ally in Britain against Hitler Germany; the Balkan States had either been already bought over and converted into Germany's satellites [Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary], had been enslaved like Czechoslovakia, or were on the way to being enslaved like Greece; Yugoslavia was the only Balkan country that could be relied upon as a future ally of the anti-Hitler camp; Turkey was already either bound by close ties to Hitler Germany or intended to form such ties.
Having drawn these useful conclusions, the Soviet Government never again resumed any talks on these questions despite Ribbentrop's repeated reminders.
As can be seen, this was a case of sounding out, of probing the position of the Hitler Government by the Soviet Government, which did not and could not end in any sort of agreement.
Is it permissible for peace-loving states to practice such a sounding out of an enemy's position? Unquestionably it is. It is not only permissible, but at times it is a direct political necessity. It is only necessary that such a sounding should take place with the knowledge and consent of allies, and that its results should be communicated to allies. At that time, however, the Soviet Union had no allies; it was isolated and unfortunately had nobody with whom to share the results of its sounding.
It should be said that a similar – although ill-smelling – sounding of the position of Hitler Germany was effected by representatives of Britain and the United States of America during the war, after the organization of the anti-Hitler coalition of Britain, the United States of America and the USSR. This is evident from documents captured by Soviet troops in Germany.
From these documents it can be seen that in the autumn of 1941 and also in 1942 and 1943, in Lisbon and in Switzerland, negotiations were carried on, behind the back of the USSR, between representatives of Britain and Germany, and later between representatives of the United States of America and Germany, on the subject of peace with Germany.
One of the documents – a supplement to a report by Weizsaecker, the German Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs – reviews the course of these negotiations in Lisbon in September 1941. This document shows that on September 13, there was a meeting between Aitken, the son of Lord Beaverbrook, an officer of the British Army and later a Member of Parliament, representing Britain, and Gustav von Koever, a Hungarian, who acted with the authority of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs; this can be seen from a letter addressed by Krauel, the German Consul General in Geneva, to Weizsaecker, the German Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
During the course of these negotiations Aitken posed the question directly: "Could not the coming winter and spring be used to discuss, behind the scenes, the possibilities of peace?"
Other documents tell of the negotiations which took place between representatives of the Governments of the United States of America and Germany in Switzerland in February, 1943. In these negotiations, the United States of America was represented by a special delegate of the United States Government, Allen Dulles (the brother of John Foster Dulles) who figured under the pseudonym of "Bull" and had "direct instructions and authority from the White House". His German opposite number was Prince M. Hohenloe, a man closely connected with the ruling circles of Hitler Germany, who acted as Hitler's representative under the assumed name of Pauls. The document containing a summary of these negotiations belonged to the German Security Service (SD).
As evident from this document, the conversation touched on important questions concerning Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Romania, Hungary and – this is particularly important – the question of the conclusion of peace with Germany.
During the conversation, Dulles (Bull), stated that:
"In future, a situation will never again be permitted to arise where nations like Germany would be compelled to resort to desperate experiments and heroism as a result of injustice and want. The German State must continue to exist as a factor of order and rehabilitation. The partition of Germany or the separation of Austria is out of the question."
Concerning Poland, Dulles (Bull) stated:
"...by extending Poland to the East and preserving Romania and a strong Hungary, the establishment of a cordon sanitaire against Bolshevism and Pan-Slavism must be supported."37
37 The conversation Paul–Mr. Bull, from the documents of German Archives.
The record of the conversation further says that:
"Mr. Bull more or less agrees to the political and industrial organization of Europe on the basis of large territories, on the assumption that a federated Greater Germany (similar to the United States of America) with the adjoining Danubian Confederation will constitute the best guarantee of order and rehabilitation in Central and Eastern Europe."38
Dulles (Bull) also stated that he fully recognized the claim of German industry to the leading role in Europe.
It must be noted that this sounding was effected by the British and Americans without the knowledge or consent of their ally, the Soviet Union, and that nothing was communicated to the Soviet Government concerning the results of it, even by way of subsequent information.
This could mean that the Governments of the United States of America and Great Britain had in this instance made an attempt to inaugurate negotiations with Hitler for a separate peace.
Clearly, such behavior on the part of the Governments of Britain and the United States of America can only be regarded as an infringement of the most elementary requirements in respect of their allied duty and allied obligations.
It therefore follows that the falsifiers of history, in accusing the USSR of "insincerity" are trying to shift the blame where it does not belong.
Beyond any doubt, the falsifiers of history and other slanderers know of these documents. If they conceal them from the public, if they keep silent concerning them in their campaign of slander against the USSR, it is because they fear historical truth like the plague.
As regards the differences of opinion concerning the opening of the Second Front, they reflected the different conceptions of the obligations of allies in respect to each other. Soviet people believe that if an ally is in trouble one should help him by all available means; that one should not treat an ally as a temporary fellow traveler, but as a friend; one should rejoice in his successes and in his growing strength. British and American representatives do not agree with this and consider such morality naive. They are guided by the notion that a strong ally is dangerous; that the strengthening of an ally is not in their interests; that it is better to have a weak ally than a strong one; and that if an ally nevertheless grows stronger, then measures should be adopted to weaken him.
Everybody knows that in the Anglo-Soviet and the Soviet-American communiques of June, 1942, the British and Americans assumed the obligation of opening the Second Front in Europe as early as 1942. This was a solemn promise, a vow, if you will, which should have been fulfilled on time in order to make things easier for the Soviet forces, who, during the first period of the war, had borne the full brunt of resistance to German fascism. It is also well known, however, that this promise was not fulfilled either in 1942 or in 1943, despite the fact that the Soviet Government declared on several occasions that the Soviet Union could not reconcile itself to the postponement of the Second Front.
There was nothing fortuitous about the policy of postponing the opening of the Second Front. It was fostered by the aspirations of those reactionary circles in Britain and the United States of America who pursued their own aims in the war against Germany, aims that had nothing in common with the aims of a war of liberation against German fascism. Their plans did not call for the utter defeat of German fascism. They were interested in undermining Germany's power and, mainly, in eliminating Germany as a dangerous competitor on the world market, in conformity with their narrow, selfish aims. They did not, however, at all intend to liberate Germany and other countries from the rule of reactionary forces which are the constant source of imperialist aggression and of fascism, or to carry out fundamental democratic reforms.
At the same time they calculated that the USSR would be weakened, bled white, that as a result of the exhausting war it would for a long period of time lose its importance as a great and mighty power and would, after the war, become dependent upon the United States of America and Great Britain.
The Soviet Union, naturally, cannot consider such an attitude toward an ally as normal.
Diametrically opposed to this policy is the policy pursued by the USSR in relations among the Allies. This policy is characterized by invariably unselfish, consistent and honest observance of its undertakings and by readiness to render, at any time, comradely assistance to its ally. During the past war, the Soviet Union set examples of such a truly allied attitude toward other countries, its comrades-in-arms in the struggle against the common enemy.
Here is one such fact.
It will be remembered that at the end of December, 1944, the Hitler troops launched an offensive in the Ardennes area on the Western front, broke through the front and placed the Anglo-American troops in a difficult position. According to the Allies, the Germans hoped, by attacking in the direction of Liege, to crush the First American Army, reach Antwerp, cut off the Ninth American, Second British, and First Canadian Armies, and arrange a second Dunkirk for the Allies in order to put Britain out of the war.
In connection with this, on January 6, 1945, Winston Churchill addressed to J. V. Stalin the following message:
"The fighting in the West is very heavy and at any time great decisions may be called for from the Supreme Command. You know yourself from your own experience how very anxious the position is when a very broad front has to be defended after temporary loss of the initiative. It is General Eisenhower's great desire and need to know in outline what you plan to do, as this obviously affects all his and our major decisions. Our envoy, Air Chief Marshal Tedder, was last night reported weather-bound in Cairo. His journey has been much delayed through no fault of yours. In case he has not reached you yet, I shall be grateful if you can tell me whether we can count on a major Russian offensive on the Vistula front, or elsewhere, during January, with any other points you may care to mention. I shall not pass this most secret information to anyone except Field Marshal Brooke and General Eisenhower, and only under conditions of the utmost secrecy. I regard the matter as urgent."
On January 7, 1945, J. V. Stalin sent W. Churchill the following answer:
"I received your message of January 6, 1945, on the evening of January 7.
"Unfortunately, Air Chief Marshal Tedder has not yet reached Moscow.
"It is very important to make use of our superiority over the Germans in artillery and air force. For this we need clear weather for the air force and an absence of low mists, which prevent the artillery from conducting aimed fire. We are preparing an offensive, but at present the weather does not favor our offensive. However, in view of the position of our Allies on the Western front, Headquarters of the Supreme Command has decided to complete the preparations at a forced pace, and, disregarding the weather, to launch wide-scale offensive operations against the Germans all along the Central front not later than the second half of January. You need not doubt that we shall do everything that can possibly be done to render help to the glorious troops of our Allies."
In his reply to this message, W. Churchill wrote to J. V. Stalin on January 9:
"I am most grateful to you for your thrilling message. I have sent it to General Eisenhower for his eye only. May all good fortune rest upon your noble venture."
In their desire to expedite aid to the Allied forces in the West, the Supreme High Command of the Soviet forces decided to move the date of the offensive against the Germans on the Soviet-German front from January 20 to January 12. On January 12 a great offensive was launched bythe Soviet forces on a wide front from the Baltic Sea to the Carpathians. One hundred and fifty Soviet divisions were set in motion, supported by a large quantity of artillery and aircraft; they broke through the German front and threw the German troops back for hundreds of kilometers.
On January 12, German troops on the Western front, among them the Fifth and Sixth Panzer Armies, which had been placed in position for another drive, ceased their offensive and during the course of five or six days were withdrawn from the front and transferred to the East against the attacking Soviet troops. The German offensive in the West was frustrated.
On January 17, W. Churchill wrote to J. V. Stalin:
"I am most grateful to you for your message and am extremely glad that Air Marshal Tedder made so favorable an impression upon you. On behalf of His Majesty's Government and from the bottom of my heart, I offer you our thanks and congratulations on the immense assault you have launched upon the Eastern front.
"You will now, no doubt, know the plans of General Eisenhower and to what extent they have been delayed by Rundstedt's spoiling attack. I am sure that fighting along our whole front will be continuous. The British Twenty-first Army Group, under Field Marshal Montgomery has today begun an attack in the area south of Roermond.”
An Order of the Day issued by J. V. Stalin to Soviet troops in February 1945, said, concerning this offensive of Soviet troops:
"In January of this year, the Red Army brought down upon the enemy a blow of unparalleled force along the entire front from the Baltic to the Carpathians. On a stretch of 1,200 kilometers it broke up the powerful defenses of the Germans, which they had been building for a number of years. In the course of the offensive, the Red Army, by its swift and skillful actions, has hurled the enemy far back to the West. The first consequence of the successes, of our winter offensive was that they thwarted the Germans' winter offensive in the West, which aimed at the seizure of Belgium and Alsace, and they enabled the Armies of our Allies in their turn to launch an offensive against the Germans and thus to link up their offensive operations in the West with the offensive operations of the Red Army in the East."
That is how J. V. Stalin acted.
That is how true allies act in a common struggle. These are the facts.
Naturally, the falsifiers of history and the slanderers are called falsifiers and slanderers because they do not entertain any respect for facts. They prefer to gossip and slander. There is, however, no reason to doubt that these gentlemen will, in the end, have to acknowledge the universally known truth, which is, that gossip and slander perish but the facts remain.
Soviet Information Bureau