The lessons of history must not be forgotten
On 9th May, 1945, Nazi Germany surrendered, marking the end of the war in Europe. Earlier, in the final large scale military operation in Europe in the Second World War, known as the Battle of Berlin, over 15 lakh soldiers of the Red Army defeated the remnants of Hitler’s Army, entered Germany’s capital Berlin and hoisted the red flag on the Reichstag on 2nd May. The war ended with the subsequent surrender of Japan on 15th August that year.
The defeat of Germany, Japan, Italy and their allies was accompanied by a tremendous upsurge in the struggles against imperialism and colonialism, for national liberation, people’s democracy and socialism all over the world. Many countries of Europe and Asia broke free from the imperialist system. In October 1945, the United Nations was founded on the basis of all member countries agreeing to the principle of the right of nations to self-determination, and of the independence and sovereignty of all states, big and small.
Seventy five years later, humanity is confronted by the threat of a Third World War which would be even more destructive than the first two. US imperialism is violating all international norms and agreements with impunity, in its drive to maintain its number one position and establish its hegemony over the world. It has imposed brutal economic sanctions on Iran, Venezuela, Cuba and other countries including Russia. It is using the Corona virus pandemic to launch fascist attacks on democratic rights at home, and to mobilise its European allies, as well as Asian allies including India, to isolate and attack China.
The Anglo-American imperialists have spared no efforts to re-write the history of the Second World War, to suit their nefarious aims. They want to obliterate the heroic and decisive role played by the Soviet Union and JV Stalin, at the head of the anti-fascist and freedom-loving peoples of the world, in bringing the Second World War to an end. They want people to believe that America, Britain and France were “defending the freedom and independence of nations from the fascist powers” while the Soviet Union allegedly collaborated with Hitlerite Germany in subjugating them.
The Second World War was a war for the re-division of the world amongst the leading imperialist powers of the time. Throughout the war, this remained the aim of Germany, Japan, Italy and their allies on one side, and Britain, France, and the US on the other side. Britain, France and the US did not enter the war to liberate people from the yoke of their rivals. They fought to defend and expand their colonial possessions, their markets, sources of raw materials, and spheres of influence.
The role of the Soviet Union in the Second World War was totally different. The Soviet Union was opposed to the imperialist war and waged a persistent diplomatic struggle to defend peace. When the armies of Nazi Germany launched a war of aggression on 22nd June, 1941, the Soviet Union fought back. The Soviet Union did not fight for colonies, markets or spheres of influence, but to defend socialism. The patriotic war of the Soviet peoples inspired the peoples of all countries who were fighting against the occupation forces. Inspired by this war of the Soviet people, the peoples of the colonized and occupied countries rose up against imperialism, fascism and colonialism, for national sovereignty, and for people’s democracy.
After its defeat in the First World War, Germany had been deprived of all its colonies and even some of its territories. The German financial oligarchy brought Hitler’s Nazi party to power, so as to manipulate the German people’s sense of shame and embark on an aggressive military campaign to seize new territories, markets and sources of raw materials. The Nazi party organised the genocide of Jewish people and unleashed brutal repression on the working class, on trade union leaders and all democratic forces within Germany.
The US refinanced and rearmed Germany to advance its aim of establishing domination over Europe in rivalry with Britain. Rockefeller and other American financial oligarchs advanced millions of dollars to finance the militarization program of Nazi Germany. Britain and France pursued a deliberate policy of inciting Germany against Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union repeatedly appealed to Britain and France to develop collective mutual assistance to halt the aggressive campaign of Nazi Germany. Rejecting these proposals, Britain and France signed the infamous Munich agreement with Germany and Italy in 1938. They watched as Germany and Italy attacked and occupied one country after another. The Soviet Union was left with no alternative except to take whatever measures possible to defend itself and the cause of peace. In August 1939, the Soviet Union signed a non-aggression pact with Germany, knowing that it was only a question of time before Hitler would violate the same. In the unfavourable conditions which prevailed as a result of the Anglo-French policy of appeasement towards Germany, the non-aggression pact provided the Soviet Union with 22 months to prepare to withstand the German invasion which began on June 22, 1941.
The US strategized its participation in the Second World War with the aim of emerging as the dominant imperialist power in the world. To achieve this, it wanted to ensure that rival imperialist powers Germany, Britain, Japan, France, as well as the Socialist Soviet Union all were weakened in mutual conflict. Furthermore, it shared the aim of all the other imperialist powers of destroying socialist Soviet Union.
The US did not join the Second World War openly, until December 1941, after Japan attacked Pearl Harbour. Till then, the US stood by as Germany occupied much of Europe and invaded the Soviet Union.
The thoroughly cynical and opportunist policy of US imperialism is revealed in the statement made by Harry Truman immediately following Germany’s aggression on the Soviet Union. Truman, who was then a member of the Senate and later became President of the US, stated: “If we see that Germany is winning the war we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible.” (The New York Times of 24th June, 1941)
The Great Patriotic War waged by the Red Army and Soviet peoples against the German aggression was one of the most violent conflicts in human history. Nearly 70% of Nazi losses throughout the entire course of the Second World War occurred in fierce battles within the Soviet Union. The famous battle of Stalingrad proved to be the turning point in the entire course of the war. The Soviet Red Army drove the Nazi troops out of Russia and all the way back to Germany, liberating many occupied countries along the way.
During this whole period, the Soviet Union repeatedly called upon the US to open a Second Front against Germany in Western Europe, so as to bring the war in Europe to a quick end. The US refused to do so, because it wanted Germany and the Soviet Union to exhaust each other. It landed ground forces in Europe to open the Second Front only when it became clear that the Red Army was on the verge of liberating the whole of Germany on its own. The US wanted to bring Germany and the countries which were getting liberated from the fascist yoke under its jackboots. This is shown in the way US sent its forces in 1944 to Greece to establish a fascist dictatorship, just after the Greek patriots had thrown out the German fascist army. Similarly, the US armed forces invaded Korea and established a fascist military dictatorship in South Korea in 1945.
Today, when the world is witnessing fascist attacks on workers’ rights and all democratic rights, persecution of people based on their religion, race and nationality, unjust wars of conquest in the name of fighting “Islamic terrorism”, and the dangerous prospect of a Third World War, it is essential to draw the appropriate lessons from what took place 75 years ago.
The most important lesson is that as long as the imperialist system exists, it will inevitably lead to wars waged by rival capitalist ruling classes for conquering territories, markets and sources of raw materials from one another. It will inevitably lead to the suppression of the working class and widespread violation of democratic rights and human rights. The only way to secure lasting peace and progress is for the workers and oppressed peoples of all countries to unite and advance the struggle to overthrow the imperialist system.
Down with imperialist disinformation about the Second World War!
Red salute to the heroic role of the Soviet peoples in defeating fascism!
Onward with the struggle against imperialism, imperialist wars and fascist attacks on human and democratic rights!