About the 80th anniversary of the beginning of World War II (the truth and falsification of history) Part II
Some in the West in connection with this date began to say that the responsibility for the unleashing of the war lays not only on Nazi Germany, but also on the USSR, allegedly because “The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact” gave Hitler the green light.
Commenting these statements let’s mention that the West totally forgets what has led to the signing of the Soviet-German agreement in 1939 and that earlier there has been signed the “Munich Moment” when England and France let Hitler “maul” Sudety in Czechoslovakia in September 1938. Already in mid-March 1939 Nazi Germany without any opposition fr om the Western powers occupied the whole territory of Czechoslovakia and installed a puppet regime in Slovakia.
At that time the USSR was the only big power in Europe that did not get its hands dirty by entering into an agreement with Hitler.
But what should have been done then? It was necessary to ensure one’s national and state interests and stop Hitler’s continued aggression towards the east, something England and France were seeking for. Moscow knew that Hitler’s next victim would be Poland and then the Baltic states. This would mean that German troops would be standing on the Soviet borders, not very far from Leningrad, Minsk, Kiev and Odessa – the most important political, industrial and cultural centers of the USSR. At that moment Moscow did its utmost to form a coalition against the aggressor but didn’t get support from London and Paris.
The Soviet-German Pact of 1939 was an answer to the “Munich Moment”. If it happened, there would not have been the Soviet-German Treaty of Non-aggression.
Some experts refer to the notion that when Stalin decided to sign the agreement on August 23rd, he must have understood that an attack on Poland was unavoidable. They quote his speech on the session of the Politburo and the Executive Committee of the Communist International on August 19th when he said: “If we accept the German suggestion that you all know about … Germany will, without doubt, attack Poland, and then England and France will unavoidably declare war.”
The facts proof that such a Stalin’s speech a fake, it was made up by the French intelligence late autumn of 1939. Thanks to the declassification of the Politburo archives we know for sure that on August 19th there was no such a meeting. Take a look at the article by Russian specialist Sergey Sluch published in the journal «History of the Fatherland». In this article the history of the origins and legalisation of this falsification is described in details.
One should not follow the tradition of the "cult of personality” and look at Stalin as at some kind of superman who knew everything in advance.
According to the archive sources, at that moment the Kremlin thought it was more likely that the situation would develop according to the Munich scenario. England and France would compel Poland to give Hitler the “Danzig corridor” and there would be no war.
Such speculations could be found in many reports made by the Soviet intelligence. Diplomates thought the same way, for instance, Ivan Maysky, the USSR Ambassador to Great Britain, wrote those days in the diary: "There is a smell of a new Munich Agreement in the air… If Hitler shows even the slightest sign of adaptability, the story of the previous year may be repeated".
After 80 years we know that Hitler did not want to show adaptability. The Polish leadership was no less determined and rejected all German claims in a “proud and self-conceited way” as Churchill wrote in his memoirs. But in August 1939 the events could have developed under different scenarios. That is why the wording in the secret protocol to the Soviet-German agreement is so vague — "in case of territorial alterations…": Stalin would not take any commitments to Hitler. In fact, with having signed the agreement with Germany, the USSR took only one commitment – not to attack Germany during the next ten years. That’s all.
We should not also forget what was the condition of the Red Army in 1939. As the war with Finland had shown, the Red Army was not ready to fight against the Wehrmacht in 1939. It was necessary to modernize it and to provide it with modern weapons. Repressions weakened the officer corps. In addition, the number of soldiers was growing, which aggravated the lack of commanding officers. The military academies had to educate them. New types of tanks and airplanes were to be designed.
When it comes to the direct threat of Hitler’s attack on the USSR, it is clear that any responsible leader of a country could not avoid taking such a probability into account, even if they had an agreement of non-aggression in their hands. Hitler could rip it apart at any moment as he had already ripped apart many agreements Germany had entered into and as he had broken many promises and commitments he had made. After Poland had been defeated Hitler could send his army both to the West and to the East. A new Munich Agreement was not excluded – another agreement between Great Britain and France on the one side and Germany on the other, this time about and at the expense of the USSR. The Kremlin had to be in fear of such a scenario.
The anti-German character of the Soviet actions on September 17th was understandable to Churchill, for example. In a speech broadcast on October 1st,1939 he said: "The fact that the Russian army should stand at that line was entirely necessary for the security of Russia that faced Nazi threats. Anyway, this line exists and there is the Eastern front that Nazi Germany will not dear to attack". In this context, everything that was going on between the USSR and Germany was only a temporary armistice before the decisive battle. The most intelligent and insightful people in the West understood it already then.
The adding of the word "friendship" to the name of the agreement of September 28th on the border looks like a mistake, a very unfortunate and awkward act by Stalin and people who surrounded him. This rhetorical twist was necessary to show Berlin that Stalin was ready to abide the agreement – finally, the goal was to postpone the moment of "Hitler's turn to the East" as much as possible. In reality, it was clear that there was no talk about any kind of friendship.
As a "proof" of the so-called alliance between the USSR and the Third Reich one also mentions the joint parade of Soviet and German troops in Brest on September 22nd, 1939…
In fact, there was no parade. There was a military ceremony of the handover of the town from one state to another with a minimal diplomatic ceremony. By the way, in spite of a common myth this was the only event of that kind.
German troops left towns and lowered the flag, Soviet troops came and hoisted theirs. No solemn content and huge symbolic meaning were attributed to this event. Brest and the Brest fortress were taken by Germans on September 14th and September 17th respectively. However, in accordance with the Soviet-German agreement, Brest was in the Soviet zone of interest, and with having put pressure on Germany through diplomatic channels the USSR managed to reach an agreement with Germans on the handover of the whole of Brest including the fortifications. It was an indisputable victory - we got a valuable defensive boundary and a borderline along rivers. German troops were not satisfied with the fact that Brest had to be handed over. The ceremony is described by the commander of the 29th tank brigade of the Red Army S.М. Krivoshein (participant in the infamous "parade" from the Soviet side). According to his description, one suggested Germans that they should leave the town in a column of march and the Soviet troops, also in a column of march, should enter the town. In spite of the fact that "orchestras were playing military marches", this event was not anything but a military ceremony and had no political or any symbolic significance.
One cannot use moral evaluations in this context. In addition, the notion of the scale and the importance of Soviet deliveries to Hitler are exaggerated. In any case, one should take into account what the USSR got in exchange.
The Soviet Union continued to be neutral until July 22nd,1941. The neutrality of the USSR, which was officially announced on September 17th, was recognized by Great Britain, France and the USA. When the USSR sent troops to Poland, neither France nor Great Britain, nor even Poland itself qualified it as an act of war.
Sometimes people say that since Stalin traded with Hitler and sent raw materials to belligerent Germany, it means that the USSR can’t be called a neutral state. But this is a typical example of double standards when it comes to the assessment of these events. In the period 1939-1941, prior to Pearl Harbor, the USA sent weapons to Great Britain. Does it mean that they lost their status of a neutral country? No, it doesn’t. Or does anybody doubt that Sweden who sent strategic raw materials to Germany during the war was a neutral country in World War II? Moreover, Sweden did not lose this status even when it allowed Hitler to transit German troops through its territory.
In the Baltic countries the main state ideology is the thesis that in 1939-1940 there was Soviet occupation, which led to repressions, deportations, the formation of collective farms and other unpopular measures of sovietisation. One says the same about Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and Bessarabia.
Occupation means submission and the use of violence against the population. Yes, there were repressions on these territories (as in other parts of the USSR). The realities of the Stalin regime alienated many people from the Soviet order, but not the majority. The inhabitants in the Baltic states, Western Ukraine, Western Belarus and Bessarabia became citizens of the USSR - with all consequent rights and responsibilities. The poor and the middle class got quite a lot from the Soviet power - land that earlier belonged only to those who had certain privileges, first and foremost the Poles. "New citizens" wh ere included in all parts of the Soviet society, also in the governing and creative elite. Is it occupation? Compare with the German occupation of other countries or with the regimes created by Great Britain and France in their colonies and protectorates.
But in many European countries people insist that liberation of western European countries was not a liberation but a new occupation.
In this context one might ask a question: what would have happened with the countries like Poland, Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia that were occupied in 1939-1941 or with countries that became totally dependent on Hitler, if Soviet soldiers-liberators had not come? For how long would the genocide of the local population have been going on, the killing of civilians - children, old people and women? Would it in principle be possible to talk about European values if approximately 1 million Soviet soldiers had not sacrificed their lives in the fight against the Nazi plague?