The Second World War
Michael Sayers and Albert E. Kahn
From The Great Conspiracy
"The fateful decade 1931-1941," the U. S. State Department declared in its official publication Peace and War: United States Foreign Policy, "began and ended with acts of violence by Japan. It was marked by the ruthless development of a determined policy of world domination on the part of Japan, Germany and Italy."
In 1937 Italy joined Germany and Japan in their Anti-Comintern Agreement; Japan struck again in China, seizing Peiping, Tientsin and Shanghai. The following year, Germany seized Austria. The Berlin-Rome-Tokyo Axis was formed "to save the world from Communism." .
Addressing the Assembly of the League of Nations in September 1937, the Soviet Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov said: -
Under the mask of the Anti-Comintern Agreement, Germany, Japan and Italy were marching towards the conquest and enslavement of Europe and Asia.
Two possible courses faced the world: unity of all nations opposed to the Nazi, Fascist and Japanese aggression and the halting of the Axis war menace before it was too late; or disunity, the piecemeal surrender to aggression, and inevitable Fascist victory. The Axis Propaganda Ministries, the agents of Leon Trotsky, French, British and American reactionaries all combined in the international Fascist campaign against collective security. The possibility of unity against aggression was attacked as "Communist propaganda"; dismissed as a "utopian dream"; assailed as an "incitement to war." In its place was offered the policy of Appeasement, the scheme of turning the inevitable war into a united onslaught against Soviet Russia. Nazi Germany made the most of this policy.
The British Prime Minister, Neville Chamberlain, the hero of appeasement, said collective security would divide Europe into "two armed camps."
The Nazi newspaper Nachtausgabe declared in February 1938: -
Speaking in Manchester on May 10, 1938, Winston Churchill replied: -
Churchill was called a "war-monger." . . .
In September 1938, the policy of Appeasement reached its culmination. 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 wide-open for the Wehrmacht (1)
"The Munich Agreement," wrote Walter Duranty in The Kremlin and the People, "seemed to mark the greatest humiliation which the Soviet Union had suffered since the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk."
The world awaited the Nazi-Soviet war.
Returning to England, waving a scrap of paper in his hand, with Hitler's signature on it, Neville Chamberlain cried: -
"It means peace in our time!"
Twenty years before, the British spy Captain Sidney George Reilly had cried: "At any price this foul obscenity which has been born in Russia must be crushed. . . . Peace with Germany! Yes, peace with anybody! . . . Peace, peace on any terms - and then a united front against the true enemies of mankind!"
On June 11, 1938, Sir Arnold Wilson, Chamberlain's supporter in the House of Commons, declared: -
Unity is essential and the real danger to the world today does not come from Germany or Italy . . . but from Russia. But the first victims of the anti-Soviet Munich Pact were not the Soviet peoples. The first victims were the democratic peoples of Europe. Once again, the anti-Soviet facade covered a betrayal of democracy.
In February 1939, the British and French Governments recognized the Fascist dictatorship of Generalissimo Franco as the legitimate government of Spain. In the last days of March, after two and a half years of epic, agonizing struggle against overwhelming odds, Republican Spain became a Fascist province.
On March 15, Czechoslovakia ceased to be an independent state. Nazi Panzer divisions rumbled into Prague. The Skoda munitions works and twenty-three other arms factories, comprising an armaments industry three times as great as that of Fascist Italy, became Hitler's property. The pro-Fascist General Jan Sirovy, one-time leader of the Czech interventionist armies in Soviet Siberia, handed over to the German High Command the arsenals, storehouses, a thousand planes and all the first-rate military equipment of the Czechoslovakian Army.
On March 20, Lithuania surrendered its only port, Memel, to Germany.
On Good Friday morning, April 7, Mussolini crossed the Adriatic and invaded Albania. Five days later, King Victor Emmanuel accepted the Albanian crown.
From Moscow, even as Hitler was moving into Czechoslovakia, Stalin warned the appeasement politicians of England and France that their anti-Soviet policy would end in a disaster for themselves. Stalin spoke in Moscow on March 10, 1939, before the Eighteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
The undeclared war, said Stalin, which the Axis powers were already waging in Europe and Asia, under the mask of the Anti-Comintern Pact, was directed not only against Soviet Russia but also, and now in fact primarily, against the interests of England, France and the United States.
"The war is being waged," said Stalin, "by aggressor states, which in every way infringe upon the interests of the non-aggressive states, primarily England, France and the U.S.A., while the latter draw back and retreat, making concession after concession to the aggressors . . . without the least attempt at resistance and even with a certain amount of connivance. Incredible but true."
The reactionary politicians in the Western democracies, particularly in England and France, said Stalin, had rejected the policy of collective security. Instead, they still dreamed of an anti-Soviet coalition camouflaged by diplomatic phrases like "appeasement" and "non-intervention." But this policy, said Stalin, was already doomed. Stalin added: ". . . certain European and American politicians and newspaper writers, having lost patience waiting for `the march on the Soviet Ukraine,' are themselves beginning to disclose what is really behind the policy of nonintervention. They are saying quite openly, putting it down in black and white, that the Germans have cruelly `disappointed' them, for instead of marching farther east, against the Soviet Union, they have turned west, you see and are demanding colonies. One might think that the districts of Czechoslovakia were yielded to Germany as the price of an undertaking to launch war on the Soviet Union, and that now the Germans are refusing to meet their bills. . . .
"Far be it from me," said Stalin, "to moralize on the policy of non-intervention, to talk of treason, treachery and so on. It would be naive to preach morals to people who recognize no human morality. Politics is politics, as the old, case-hardened bourgeois diplomats say. It must be remarked, however, 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."
The Soviet Union still wanted international co-operation against aggressors and a realistic policy of collective security; but, Stalin made clear, such co-operation must be genuine and wholehearted. The Red Army had no intention of becoming a cat's-paw for the appeasement politicians of England and France. Finally, if the worst carne, the Red Army was confident of its own strength and of the unity and loyalty of the Soviet people. As Stalin put it: -
". . . in the case of war, the rear and front of our army . . . will be stronger than those of any other country, a fact which people beyond our border who love military conflicts would do well to remember."
But Stalin's blunt, significant warning was ignored.
In April 1939, a poll of British public opinion showed that 87 per cent of the English people were in favor of an Anglo-Soviet alliance against Nazi Germany. Churchill saw the Anglo-Soviet rapprochement as "a matter of life or death." In a speech on May 27, Churchill sharply declared: -
On July 29 David Lloyd George backed up Churchill's pleas with these words: -
The voices of the British people and of English statesmen like Churchill and Lloyd George went unheeded.
"A hard and fast alliance with Russia," observed the London Times, "would hamper other negotiations.". . (2)
As the summer of 1939 drew to a close and war in Europe loomed ever nearer, William Strang, a minor Foreign Office official whom Chamberlain had sent to Moscow, remained the only British representative carrying on direct negotiations with the Soviet Government. Public pressure forced Chamberlain to make another show of negotiations with Russia. On August 11, a British military mission arrived in Moscow to conduct joint staff talks. The British mission had traveled from London on a thirteen-knot vessel, the slowest possible means of transport. When the mission arrived, the Russians learned it had no more authority than Strang to sign any agreement with the Soviet Government. . . .
Soviet Russia was to be isolated and left alone to face a Nazi Germany passively, if not actively, supported by the Munich minded governments of Europe.
Joseph E. Davies later described the choice that the Soviet Government was forced to make. Writing to President Roosevelt's advisor, Harry Hopkins, the former Ambassador to the Soviet Union stated on July 18, 1941: -
Twenty years after Brest-Litovsk, the anti-Soviet politicians of Europe had again forced Soviet Russia into an undesired, self-defensive treaty with Germany.
On August 24, 1939, the Soviet Union signed a Non-aggression Pact with Nazi Germany.
2. World War 11
On September 1, 1939, Nazi mechanized divisions invaded Poland at seven points. Two days later, Great Britain and France declared war on Germany. Within two weeks, the Polish regime, which under the influence of the anti-Soviet "Colonels' clique" had allied itself with Nazism, refused Soviet aid and opposed collective security, fell to pieces, and the Nazis were mopping up the scattered remnants of their former ally.
On September 17, as the Nazi columns raced across Poland and the Polish Government fled in panic, the Red Army crossed the prewar Polish eastern border and occupied Byelorussia, the western Ukraine and Galicia before the Nazi Panzers could get there. Moving swiftly westward, the Red Army occupied all the territory which Poland had annexes' from Soviet Russia in 1920.
"That the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace . " declared Winston Churchill in a radio broadcast on October 1. "An Eastern Front has been created which Nazi Germany does not dare assail. When Herr yon Ribbentrop was summoned to Moscow last week it was to learn the fact, and accept the fact, that the Nazi designs upon the Baltic states and upon the Ukraine trust come to a dead stop."
The advance of the Red Army to the west was the first of a series of moves by the Soviet Union counterbalancing the spread of Nazism and designed to strengthen Soviet defenses in preparation for the inevitable showdown with the Third Reich. . . .
During the last week in September and the first days in October, the Soviet Government signed mutual assistance pacts with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These agreements specified that Red Army garrisons and Soviet airports and naval bases were to be established in the Baltic States.
There began immediately a wholesale deportation of the Nazi Fifth Column in the Baltic area. Within a few days 50,000 Germans had been deported from Lithuania, 53,000 from Latvia and 12,000 from Estonia. Overnight, the Baltic Fifth Columns so laboriously built up by Alfred Rosenberg suffered a devastating blow, and the German High Command lost some of its most strategic bases for the contemplated attack on the Soviet Union.
But to the north, Finland remained as a potential military ally of the Third Reich.
The most intimate working relationship existed between the German and the Finnish High Commands. The Finnish military leader, Baron Karl Gustav von Mannerheim, was in close and constant communication with the German High Command. There were frequent joint staff talks, and German officers periodically supervised Finnish army maneuvers. The Finnish Chief of Staff, General Karl Oesch, had received his military training in Germany, as had his chief aide, General Hugo Ostermann, who served in the German Army during the First World War. In 1939, the Government of the Third Reich conferred upon General Oesch one of its highest military decorations. . . .
Political relations between Finland and Nazi Germany were also close. The Socialist Premier Risto Ryti regarded Hitler as a "genius"; Per Svinhufrud, the wealthy Germanophile who had been awarded the German Iron Cross, was the most powerful behind-the-scenes figure in Finnish politics.
With the aid of German officers and engineers, Finland had been converted into a powerful fortress to serve as a base for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Twenty-three military airports had been constructed on Finnish soil, capable of accommodating ten times as many airplanes as there were in the Finnish Air Force. Nazi technicians had supervised the construction of the Mannerheim Line, a series of intricate, splendidly equipped fortifications running several miles deep along the Soviet border and having heavy guns at one point only twenty-one miles from Leningrad. Unlike the Maginot Line, the Mannerheim Line had been designed not only for defensive purposes but also for garrisoning a major offensive force. As the Mannerheim Line neared completion in the summer of 1939, Hitler's Chief of Staff, General Halder, arrived from Germany and gave the massive fortifications a final inspection. . . .
During the first week of October, 1939, while still negotiating its new treaties with the Baltic States, the Soviet Government proposed a mutual assistance pact with Finland. Moscow offered to cede several thousand square miles of Soviet territory on central Karelia in exchange for some strategic Finnish islands near Leningrad, a portion of the Karelian Isthmus and a thirty-year lease on the port of Hango for the construction of a Soviet naval base. The Soviet leaders regarded these latter territories as essential to the defense of the Red naval base at Kronstadt and the city of Leningrad.
The negotiations between the Soviet Union and Finland dragged on into the middle of November without results. In order to reach some agreement, the Soviet Government made a number of compromises. "Stalin tried to teach me the wisdom of Finnish as well as Soviet interest in compromise," declared the Finnish negotiator, Juho Passikivi, upon his return to Helsinki. But the pro-Nazi clique dominating the Finnish Government refused to make any concessions and broke off the negotiations.
By the end of November, the Soviet Union and Finland were at war. "The Finnish nation," declared the Finnish Government, "is fighting for independence, liberty and honor. . . . As the outpost of Western civilization, our nation has the right to expect help from other civilized nations."
The anti-Soviet elements in England and France believed that the long-awaited holy war was at hand. The strangely inactive war in the west against Nazi Germany was the "wrong war." The real war lay to the east. In England, France and the United States, an intense anti-Soviet campaign began under the slogan of "Aid to Finland."
Prime Minister Chamberlain, who only a short time before had asserted his country lacked adequate arms for fighting the Nazis, quickly arranged to send to Finland 144 British airplanes, 114 heavy guns, 185,000 shells, 50,000 grenades, 15,700 aerial bombs, 100,000 greatcoats and 48 ambulances. At a time when the French Army was in desperate need of every piece of military equipment to hold the inevitable Nazi offensive, the French Government turned over to the Finnish Army 179 airplanes, 472 guns, 795,000 shells, 5100 machine guns and 200,000 hand grenades.
While the lull continued on the Western Front, the British High Command, still dominated by anti-Soviet militarists like General Ironside, drew up plans for sending 100,000 troops across Scandinavia into Finland, and the French High Command made preparations for a simultaneous attack on the Caucasus, under the leadership of General Weygand, who openly stated that French bombers in the Near East were ready to strike at the Baku oil fields.
Day after day the British, French and American newspapers headlined sweeping Finnish victories and catastrophic Soviet defeats. But after three months of fighting in extraordinarily difficult terrain and under incredibly severe weather conditions, with the temperature frequently falling to sixty and seventy degrees below zero, the Red Army had smashed the "impregnable" Mannerheim Line and routed the Finnish Army.(3)
Hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union ended on March 13, 1940. According to the peace terms, Finland ceded to Russia the Karelian Isthmus, the western and northern shores of Lake Lagoda, a number of strategic islands in the Gulf of Finland essential to the defense of Leningrad. The Soviet Government restored to Finland the port of Petsamo, which had been occupied by the Red Army, and took a thirty-year lease on the Hango peninsula for an annual rental of 8,000,000 Finnish marks.
Addressing the Supreme Soviet of the U.S.S.R. on March 29, Molotov declared: -
The undeclared war of Nazi Germany against Soviet Russia went on. . . .
On the day that Finnish-Soviet hostilities ceased, General Mannerheim declared in a proclamation to the Finnish Army that "the sacred mission of the army is to be an outpost of Western civilization in the east." Shortly afterwards, the Finnish Government began to construct new fortifications along the revised frontier. Nazi technicians came from Germany to supervise the work. Large armament orders were placed with Sweden and Germany. German troops began arriving in considerable numbers in Finland. The Finnish and the German commands set LP joint headquarters and held joint army maneuvers. Scores of Nazi agents swelled the staffs of the German Embassy at Helsinki and the eleven consulates around the country. .
The lull in the west came to a sudden end in the spring of 1940. On April 9 German troops invaded Denmark and Norway. Denmark was occupied in a single clay without resistance. By the end of the month the Nazis had crushed organized Norwegian resistance, and the British troops, which had come to aid the Norwegians, were abandoning their few precarious footholds. A puppet Nazi regime was set up in Oslo under Major Vidkun Quisling.
On May 10, Chamberlain tendered his resignation as Prime Minister, having brought his country to possibly the most desperate situation in its long history. That same day, as the King asked Winston Churchill to form a new cabinet, the German Army invaded Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. By May 21, the Germans had smashed their way through crumbling opposition, reached the Channel and cut off the Allies in Flanders.
Panic swept through France. Everywhere, the Fifth Column was at work. French troops were deserted by their officers. Whole divisions found themselves without military supplies. Paul Reymud told the Senate that French Army chiefs had committed "unbelievable errors." He denounced "traitors, defeatists and cowards." Dozens of top-ranking French officers were suddenly arrested. But the arrests came too late. The Fifth Column was already in control of France.
The former French Minister of Aviation, Pierre Cot, later wrote in Triumph o f Treason: -
With every hour, confusion mounted and the debacle grew, as the French soldiers fought on desperately, hopelessly, and the world watched the betrayal of a nation on a scale never witnessed before. . . .
From May 29 through June 4, the British Army evacuated its troops from Dunkirk, heroically rescuing 335,000 men.
On June 10, Fascist Italy declared war on France and England.
On June 14, Paris fell, and Petain, Weygand, Laval and the Trotskyite Doriot became the Nazi puppet rulers of France.
On June 22, an armistice between Germany and France was signed in the Compiegne Forest in the very same railroad car in which Marshal Foch had dictated the terms of surrender to the defeated Germans twenty-two years before.
As France crumbled, the Red Army again moved swiftly to strengthen the defenses of the Soviet Union.
In the middle of June, forestalling an imminent Nazi Putsch in the Baltic States, Soviet armored divisions occupied Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
On June 27, the Red Army moved into Bessarabia and northern Bukovina, which Rumania had snatched from the Russians after the Revolution.
The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany now faced one another on their future battle lines.
Toward the end of July, the Nazis launched mass air raids over London and other English cities, pouring down tons of explosives upon the civilian population. The raids, which increased in ferocity throughout the next month, were intended to terrify and paralyze the whole nation, and swiftly bring an already gravely weakened England to her knees.
But with Churchill as Prime Minister profound changes were taking place within Great Britain. The confusion and division which had resulted from Chamberlain's leadership had given way to determination and growing national unity. Across the narrow Channel the British people saw the workings of the Fifth Column. Churchill's Government acted swiftly and with resolution. Scotland Yard and British Intelligence swooped down on Nazi agents British Fascists and leaders of secret Fifth Column intrigues, In, a sudden raid on the London headquarters of the British Union of Fascists, the authorities seized important documents and arrested many Fifth Columnists. The leader of the British Fascist Party, Sir Oswald Mosley, was arrested in his own apartment.sensational arrests followed. John Beckett, a former Member of Parliament and founder of the anti-Soviet and pro-Nazi People's Party; Captain A. H. Ramsay, Tory Member of Parliament for Peebles; Edward Dudley Elan, an official in the Ministry of Health, his wife Mrs. Dacre Fox, and other prominent Pro-Nazis and Fascists were arrested. A Treachery Bill was passed, providing the death penalty for traitors.
Showing that it had learned well the lesson of France and of the Moscow Trials, the British Government in July 1940 announced the arrest of Admiral Sir Barry Domvile, former Director of Naval intelligence. Domvile, a friend of Alfred Rosenberg and of the late General Max Hoffmann, had been involved in most of the anti-Soviet conspiracies since 1918. At the time of his arrest, Domvile was the head of a secret pro-Nazi society in England called The Link which was organized with the aid of Heinrich Himmler, Chief of the Gestapo. . . .
Assured against treachery from within, the British people faced the ordeal of the Nazi air blitz without flinching, and defended themselves. On the single day of September 17, 1940, the RAF downed no less than 185 German planes over England.
Meeting such fierce and unexpected resistance, and mindful of the Red Army on his eastern borders, Hitler paused at the Channel. He did not invade the British Isles. . . .
The year was 1941. An air of tense expectancy hung over the whole of Europe as Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany, the two greatest military powers in the world, prepared to lock in battle.
On March 1, the Germans entered Sofia, and Bulgaria became a Nazi base.
On April 6, after a popular revolt had overthrown Regent Prince Paul's Yugoslavian regime and Nazi agents were forced to flee the country, the Soviet Government signed a non-aggression pact with the new Yugoslavian Government. That same day, Nazi Germany declared war on Yugoslavia and invaded it.
On May 5, Stalin became Premier of the U.S.S.R.(4)
At four o'clock on the morning of June 22, 1941, without any declaration of war, Hitler's tanks, air force, mobile artillery, motorized units and infantry were hurled across the borders of the Soviet Union on a stupendous front stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea.
Later that morning Goebbels broadcast Hitler's war proclamation. It read in part: -
Italv, Rumania, Hungary and Finland joined the Nazi war on Soviet Russia. Special Fascist contingents were raised in France and Spain. The united armies of a counterrevolutionary Europe had launched a Holy War against the Soviets. The Plan of General Max Hoffmann was being tested in action. . . .
On November 11, 1941, the American Undersecretary of State, Sumner Welles, said in a speech at Washington: -
On December 7. 1941, without warning, Japanese bombing planes and battleships attacked the United States of America. Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy declared war on the United States. . . .
On December 9, in an address to the American people, President Roosevelt said: -
The masks were off. The secret war of the Axis Anti-Comintern against Soviet Russia had merged with the world war against all free peoples.
On December 15, 1941, in a Message to Congress, President Roosevelt declared: -
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