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George Stern

Behind the Lines

Partitioning of Rumania Done
Without Stalin’s Consent

(7 September 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 4 No. 36, 7 September 1940, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The further partitioning of Rumania summarily ordered last week by the Axis powers at the Vienna conference gives fresh evidence. of the actual position now occupied by the Stalin government in Adolf Hitler’s constellation.

Bessarabia and Bukovina had evidently been part of the same Hitler-Stalin bargain which operated in Poland, in the Baltic and in Finland. But the Vienna conference showed quite clearly that Hitler regards himself as the sole arbiter of the new order in the Balkans and that Stalin recognizes his overlordship.

The dismemberment of Rumania has obviously been an essential part of Hitler’s schedule for assuring himself an undisturbed Balkan granary. Bessarabia and Bukovina were assigned to Stalin. Hungary was assured of the return of Transylvania and no doubt before long Bulgaria will be presented with Dobruja. What remains of Rumania itself has already become in effect a German protectorate, along the lines of Slovakia.

The orders were handed out to Rumania without benefit of consultation with the Kremlin. Hitler was demonstrating who was boss and Stalin, by dutifully exerting convenient pressure on the Carol government, showed that he knew his part was to carry out the commands of the Berghof oracle. While all the journalistic wiseacres are still putting chips on Stalin’s card in Southeastern Europe, Stalin is still playing his hand at Hitler’s nod.

The operation of the Stalin-Hitler pact in the first year of the war has shown sufficiently that as far as Stalin is concerned he is going to play along with Hitler as long as Hitler continues his winning streak. British success in holding off the first aerial attacks on England will not in itself be enough to shake Stalin loose from Hitler’s tail. Only the United States will be able to do that, and Stalin knows that the United States will be in no position to start doing it for some time to come.

So for the present the “reorganization” of the Balkans is proceeding under Hitler’s direction and with Stalin’s full if not overjoyous compliance.

After Rumania, it is quite obvious, Greece is to be laid on the carving table. Here too the Kremlin is vitally involved. The advance of Italy at Greek expense will force Turkey to another hour of decision such as that it faced when Italy entered the war. At that time, under the influence of the collapse of France and the pressure of Moscow, Turkey let its pledges to England pass and stayed neutral. In the coming period of pressure on Greece, the Turks will have to decide whether they must accept a new German-Italian order of things in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The chances are they will.

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Last updated: 16 August 2020