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Stalin’s Policy Means Doom of USSR

Kremlin Unable to Hide Scope of Reverses

Lack of Leadership, Due to Stalin’s
Army Purge of 1937–38, Is Reason for Defeats

(18 October 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 42, 18 October 1941, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The existence of the Soviet Union now hangs in the balance. Stalin himself can no longer conceal that he has led the Soviet Union to the brink of catastrophe. No longer does Stalin – the self-appointed Commissar of War, Head of the Council of Defense, etc. – brag about the “invincibility” of Soviet arms.

Hitler’s military machine has already seized or immobilized 75 per cent of the industrial area of the USSR. Leningrad and other vital cities, not only in the Don basin but in the very heart of the Soviet Union, are either occupied or immediately threatened. Nazi armies are driving relentlessly toward the political and economic nerve-center of the Soviet Union, Moscow. The Red Army is being forced back on all fronts.

The latest Moscow dispatches are shot through with the panic that is gripping the Kremlin.

Despite the rigid censorship Stalin has clamped down on dissemination of news of the real situation, Red Star, official organ of the Red Army, on October 10 had to admit that on the Moscow sector “conditions ... are serious; the danger is great; the enemy is advancing.” On October 13, it issued still another appeal to the Soviet troops acknowledging that “our resistance is entering a critical phase; the enemy must somehow be stopped.”

The bewilderment and panic of the Stalinist tops is expressed in that desperate cry, “the enemy must somehow be stopped.” Somehow! These bankrupts admit that they do not know what to do.

Since the start of the war the Soviet rulers have labeled all justified expressions of alarm as “panic-mongering”. For such statements as are now wrung from Red Star, the GPU jails and shoots Soviet workers and peasants as “panic-mongers, spies and diversionists, etc.”

For the first time since the war began, Moscow dispatches contain references to the appalling losses among the retreating Soviet forces. “On the Vyazma salient the Russians have met with great losses,” reports the Moscow correspondent to the New York Times, October 14. And the Kremlin censor dares not delete!

Stalin’s Boasts

As the Red Army suffers defeat after defeat, Stalin tries to uphold his shattered prestige by belittling Soviet losses. A Kremlin spokesman recently claimed that the Nazis have suffered a three- to-one loss in trained manpower and a two-to-one loss in guns, tanks, etc. ... Hence the Kremlin boast: The more defeats, the surer the final victory! Hitler is draining away his forces, his resources – this has been the Kremlin’s chief device for minimizing the defeats.

Stalin had boasted on July 3 in his radio address from Moscow:

“Comrades, our forces are numberless. The overweening enemy will soon learn this to his cost.”

That illusion of inexhaustible manpower, which Stalin has projected to cover up the results of the complete lack of military leadership, is exploded.

The latest Moscow dispatches now complain, “the Germans have numerical superiority ... The Germans ... by sheer weight and numerical strength have been able to penetrate the Soviet lines.” (New York Times, October 9)

It is precisely after Stalin openly assumed all posts, including that of Commander-in-Chief, that the Red Army has suffered its most terrible defeats. He tries to brazen it out. He himself, of course, has nothing to say in this hour of crisis. But his Vice-Commissar of Foreign Affairs, Lozovsky, beating on a hollow drum to try and drown out the repercussions of the defeats, declares:

“After every so-called German death blow the Soviet Union seems to grow stronger.” (New York Times, October 12)

The current Stalinist campaign to get the Allied imperialists to open a Western Front is further evidence to the contrary. Stalin whines and pleads with the “democracies” to save his regime by creating a military diversion.

Only two weeks ago, the Stalinists were proclaiming that the promised material aid from Britain and American had dealt a “death blow” to Hitler. Now the Kremlin must provide the Soviet masses with some other illusions. A military diversion – that will “somehow” save the Soviet Union!

What of the “death blow” dealt to Hitler – on paper – just two weeks ago? “Even the full tide of the vital economic help cannot settle anything ... The United States and Britain must assume the joint and immediate responsibility of an active Western Front,” pleads the Daily Worker, October 14, under instructions from the Kremlin. These words conceal the implied threat that Stalin will capitulate to Hitler if such action is not forthcoming immediately.

Stalin cannot and will not this time evade his own responsibility by blaming the defeats on “faithless allies,” as he did when Hitler scrapped the Stalin-Nazi pact.

It cannot be denied that the Soviet Union at the beginning of the war confronted. Germany with at least equality in manpower, a tremendous concentration of mechanized equipment, a higher level of army morale, and the advantages of defensive positions behind natural and prepared fortifications.

The defeats of the Red Army, the terrible blows to the USSR, are the sole responsibility of Stalin.

These defeats are the end product of Stalin’s bloody purge of the Red Army in 1937–38, when he slaughtered or imprisoned no less than 40,000 trained and experienced officers. Stalin beheaded the Red Army. Today, that army faces the fascist foe without leadership, without a unified strategic plan, without competent direction. Stalin has betrayed the entire revolutionary movement, disoriented and cut to pieces the vanguard of the world proletariat. He thus deprived the Soviet Union of its mightiest weapon against Hitler, the revolutionary class struggle of the European working class.

Not a word has the Kremlin issued to arouse and: guide the masses of Germany and the occupied countries to revolutionary combat against Nazi imperialism. All the explosive powers of revolt contained in the peoples ground under Hitler’s heel are being dissipated for lack of leadership and organization, while the Kremlin remains silent for fear of offending its. “democratic” allies.

The conclusion is inescapable:

Unless there is a change in policy, the Soviet Union is doomed.

Unless the USSR ceases to stake everything on aid from the imperialists, and issues a revolutionary appeal to the workers of the world, including Germany, the workers state faces disaster.

The doors of Stalin’s dungeons must be opened to release the tens of thousands of pro-Soviet elements now deprived of their right to defend the Soviet Union. These pro-Soviet elements – who have proved their loyalty and ability in the Civil War of 1918–20 and in the construction of Soviet industry – can make up, at least in part, for the present fatal lack of leadership.

The democratically-elected soviets must be revived to give the masses initiative, reinvigorate their morale and organize them for the revolutionary defense of the workers’ state.

Above all. the Soviet Union must rally the masses of Europe for proletarian revolutionary struggle around the only banner which can have hope or meaning for them in this epoch of the death agony of world capitalism:

For the Socialist United States of Europe!

This is the only herald of salvation for the Soviet Union.

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