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Kremlin Conceals Real Reasons for Defeats

Exaggerates Moscow Conference Results to Hide Lack of
Competent Army Leaders, Failure to Inspire Revolutionary Struggle

(11 October 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 41, 11 October 1941, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Kremlin is making fantastic claims for the results of the Moscow three-power conference on aid to the Soviet Union.

Thanking the representatives of the imperialist democracies for the “bountiful supplies” already sent to the USSR, Stalin on October 1 put forth the claim that the promised aid will enable the Soviet forces “forthwith to strengthen their relentless defense and. develop vigorous attacks against the invading army.” Lozovsky, chief or the Soviet Information Bureau, stated that the Moscow agreement has colossal explosive powers” and “will have a deadly practical nature for the Germans.”

A Moscow dispatch in the Daily Worker, October 4, declares:

“The pooling of the vast resources of the U.S.A., Great Britain and the USSR are guarantees that Hitler will meet his doom, the Izvestia stated.”

The Daily Worker, October 6, calls the conference results a “deadly blow to Hitler.”

These claims about the extent and importance of the forthcoming material aid from the Allies are in sharp contrast to the attitude of the Stalinists and their press in the days immediately preceding the conference.

Harry Pollitt, leading British Stalinist, publicly declared on September 21:

“Churchill’s policy announced on September 9, completely failed to satisfy public disquiet ... Taken in conjunction with statements by Lords Moyne and Clement Attlee in behalf of the government, we have a declaration of definite policy which can be summed up as limited assistance to Russia, rejection of military action and ‘ceaseless study of the problem’.” (Daily Worker, Sept. 22)

On the very day of the conclusion of the conference, the Daily Worker, October 2, still said editorially:

“Some materials have reached the Soviet Union from America, but thus far it has been only a token. Neither the vast quantity nor the full range of materials necessary for effective aid to the Soviet Union has been sent.”

But even material aid is not sufficient in itself to save the situation, added the Daily Worker, stating:

“Not only is much larger and speedier aid necessary for the Soviet Union, but our country ... must undertake equal responsibility for the military destruction of Hitler.”

That is, open up a western front.

Situation Not Changed

Has the attitude of the Churchill government, as described by Pollitt, now changed overnight? Has the Soviet Union’s military situation, for which the Daily Worker says more help is needed than mere material aid, now taken a magical turn for the better?

Not at all. These fulsome claims for the results of the Moscow conference are made in order to stifle the doubts and serious concern of the Stalinist ranks everywhere, about the causes for the disastrous defeats continuously suffered by the Red Army since the inception of the war.

This agitation about the significance of the “aid” promised by Churchill and Roosevelt is only a Stalinist smoke-screen to hide the real question: Why has the Red Army suffered only defeats since the first days of the war?

The Red Army, at the outset of the war, was numerically superior to the Nazi army. It possessed arms and material equal in quantity and quality to what the Nazis could immediately utilize against it. The morale of the Soviet soldiers was superior to that of Hitler’s soldiers. The Red Army had the advantage of a defensive position, behind prepared and natural defenses, and could maneuver on familiar terrain. Why, then, the defeats?

Stalinist Ranks Asking Questions

The Stalinist leaders are being compelled to explain away questions along this line which events have aroused in the minds of the Stalinist ranks.

Such are the questions which “A Veteran Commander”, Stalinist military commentator, vainly tries to answer in the Sunday Worker, October 5:

“Question 1: How were the Nazis able to cross the Dnieper in view of the following: (a) The Soviets had the advantage of the Dnieper; (b) About equal forces numerically; (c) Sufficient military equipment?”

“Question 2: In quite a number of Soviet military reports I have read that Soviet troops have met with numerically superior forces ... In view of the assertion that the Soviets have a larger military manpower than the Nazis, how can we account for the Nazi superiority admitted in so many reports?”

“A Veteran Commander’s” reply to the question on the Dnieper defeat simply evades the issue by raising all sorts of new speculations. The level of his answer is indicated by this:

“Militarily speaking, no equipment is ever ‘sufficient.’ But this is a fine point, and we better drop it for a moment.”

These Stalinist evasions cannot, however, silence the insistent questions. Why the defeats of the Red Army despite its superiority in manpower, equality in materiel, etc.?

The Lack of Leadership

No amount of Stalinist smoke screens can hide the fact that the Red Army command is hopelessly inferior in leadership and staff work to the Nazi officers’ staff.

In these defeats are revealed the consequences of Stalin’s beheading of the armed forces of the USSR in 1937 and 1938.

During the frameup purges of those years, no less than 40,000 Red Army officers, including almost the entire general staff of experienced and trained generals, were executed or imprisoned by Stalin.

The Red Army, with its officers corps depleted by Stalin’s purges, lacks qualified leadership. This accounts in great part for the unending defeats.

While the Red Army goes on from one debacle to another, Stalin continues to hold in his prisons and concentration camps thousands of trained officers and industrial experts, loyal elements who can provide the type of leadership so sadly lacking.

That is why all those who have at heart the true interests of the Soviet Union must raise the insistent demand that the Soviet Government immediately release all pro-Soviet political prisoners and restore them to their rightful place in industry and the Red Army. At the same time, the government must revive the democratically-elected Soviets and legalize all pro-Soviet political parties.

The release of the tens of thousands of loyal revolutionists and experienced officers – men who proved their worth in the Civil War of 1918-20 and in the building of Soviet industry and the army – will provide much of the needed leadership for the military and industrial machine of the Soviet Union. The mobilization of the masses, through the democratically-elected Soviets, will reinvigorate the morale of the Soviet masses, organize them for a total defense, and strengthen their resolve to fight on to victory.

These measures will enable the Soviet forces to hold their ground and beat back the Nazi army. But that alone, however, will not assure ultimate victory.

The Economic Factor

For victory cannot be assured on the basis of military factors alone. In the last analysis, the military superiority of the Nazis is a measure of the superior economic resources which Hitler commands.

The industrial productivity of Germany alone is greater than that of the Soviet Union. Added to this initial Nazi economic advantage, is the productivity and resources of all the occupied countries.

This is a factor which even the Stalinists are forced to recognize.

In answering the question why the Red Army with an initial superiority of manpower is reported to be meeting numerically superior forces, “A Veteran Commander” states:

“In evaluating the strength of both sides on the Eastern Front one should not think in terms of pre-war populations, but definitely admit that the 170,000,000 (it is not more than that now) of the Soviet Union are now facing a combination of 400,000,000 people, either fighting, producing for war or threatening war. Now all the answers become clear.”

In a word, Hitler’s admitted superiority now flows, according to this Stalinist, from the peoples of the occupied territories – those people who, under a revolutionary leadership, might be a dagger in Hitler’s back.

This Stalinist “expert”, of course, fails to mention the decisive source of Hitler’s strength, the German people.

The German Workers

Hitler’s strength lies, above all, in the fear of the German workers of another Versailles “peace”, the yoke of a foreign conqueror.

By his complete political identification with the “democratic” imperialists, Stalin alienates the German workers from the Soviet Union. The German people are led by Stalin’s policies to associate the Soviet Union with his imperialist “allies”, who, if victorious, would impose a new oppressive Versailles “peace”.

A pledge from the Soviet Union that it is fighting to defeat Hitler in order to aid in the establishment of a Socialist United States of Europe, and that the Soviet Union will fight against a Versailles “peace”, will do more than any other thing to undermine Hitler’s influence in Germany.

The masses of the occupied countries are already seething with revolt. Far from desiring to aid Hitler, they are seeking that program and leadership which will organize and lead them in the revolutionary overthrow of Hitlerism. If Hitler still can utilize the resources of the conquered countries against the Soviet Union, it is only because the peoples of the occupied territories as yet lack the program, organization and leadership to destroy the invader.

Stalin’s “Appeal”

How does Stalin appeal to these subjugated peoples? He asks them, in effect, to fight for a restoration of the old traitorous capitalist regimes and appeals to them in terms of the reactionary ideas fostered by the capitalist classes.

Daniel T. Brigham, in a dispatch from Berne, Switzerland to the New York Times, October 5, describes how the Moscow radio addresses the populations of the Axis and occupied countries.

“To stress the righteousness of the Soviet cause against fascism today,” reports Brigham, “the Moscow radio propaganda cites for its hearers’ benefit, with regional incidents, how, although the Communist regime has changed and no longer ‘resists God,’ the Fascist and National Socialist regimes continue those reprehensible persecutions that they originated in the early Nineteen Thirties.”

The masses are not primarily concerned with the fate of religion and the churches. The churches have not been able to save the masses from fascist oppression. They have not shown any ability or willingness to fight for a new social order without classes and exploitation.

The religious leaders, who have sided largely with reaction and supported the ruling regimes, appear to most of the workers as part of the oppressor class.

Road to Victory

The masses want socialism, peace, bread, freedom from exploitation. But Stalin appeals to them only in the language of a church father, without reference to their material needs and aspirations. Such an appeal can only repel the masses.

Instead of this reactionary claptrap, it is necessary for the Soviet government to issue a direct, revolutionary appeal to the masses of occupied Europe, and to the workers of Germany, calling on them to join hands with the Soviet Union for the creation of the Socialist United States of Europe.

This is the only road to final victory for the Soviet Union. This is the only hope for the free future of the oppressed peoples of Europe.

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