Written: 4 September 1939.
Source: Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 67, 9 September 1939, pp. 1 & 4.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2016. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.
From many sides I have been asked why I did not express myself sooner on the German-Soviet pact and its consequences. I was prevented by accidental personal circumstances (sickness and a departure from Mexico City to a village). I thought, moreover, the happenings themselves were so clear that they needed no comment. But it proved to be otherwise: In different countries there are still people – in diminishing numbers, it is true – who have the courage to picture the treason of the Kremlin as an act of political virtue. According to those gentlemen Stalin and Hitler have common ends which they are pursuing with methods of secret diplomacy in the interests of ... peace and democracy. Is this argument not a repugnant buffoonery?
Since 1933 I have been showing and proving in the world press that Stalin is seeking an understanding with Hitler. In particular, I proved this prognosis in my declarations before the Dewey Commission of Inquiry in Coyoacan in April 1937 (Case of Leon Trotsky, Harper’s and Bros., New York). Now the cynics in the service of the Kremlin are trying to represent the matter as if their program – “alliance of the democracies” and “collective security” – was corroborated; meanwhile, my prognosis was wrong: I predicted, it is alleged, the conclusion of an aggressive military pact, while Stalin and Hitler completed only a pacifist, humanitarian pact of mutual non-aggression (Hitler is, as known, a strict vegetarian). Isn’t it all too clear why Hitler started the attack on Poland immediately after the embrace of Ribbentrop and Molotov? Some of the less intelligent defenders of the Kremlin remembered, unexpectedly, (they did not know it before) that Poland is a “semi-fascist state.” It seems, that under the beneficent influence of Stalin, Hitler started a war against “semi-fascism.” Or perhaps Hitler only imposed upon the childish confidence of Stalin? If that were so, Stalin could have promptly dispelled the delusion. But in fact the Supreme Soviet immediately ratified the pact at the same moment when the German troops crossed the Polish border. Stalin knew very well what he was doing.
In order to attack Poland and to conduct a war against England and Prance, Hitler needed the friendly “neutrality” of the USSR, plus Soviet raw materials. The political and commercial pacts assure Hitler of both.
At a session of the Supreme Soviet Molotov praised the advantages of a commercial agreement with Germany. There is nothing surprising about it. Germany needs raw materials at any price. When conducting war, expenses are not counted. Usurers, speculators and marauders always thrive on war. The Kremlin supplied petroleum for the Italian campaign against Abyssinia. In Spain the Kremlin charged a double price for the bad arms which it supplied. Now the Kremlin is expecting to get a good price from Hitler for Soviet raw materials. The lackeys of the Comintern even here are not ashamed to defend the Kremlin’s actions. Every honest worker must clench his fist at this policy!
Abasing themselves to the depths of cynicism, the defenders of the Kremlin see the great merit of Stalin in that he is not directly attacking Poland. In this circumstance also they discovered the refutation of my prognosis. But in reality I never predicted that Stalin would conclude an aggressive pact with Hitler. Stalin above all is afraid of war. His policy of capitulation towards Japan in recent years testifies to this. Stalin cannot make a war with discontented workers and peasants and with a decapitated Red Army. I said it many times in the last years and I repeat it again. The German-Soviet Pact is a capitulation of Stalin before fascist imperialism with the end of preserving the Soviet oligarchy.
In all the pacifist masquerades organized by the Comintern Hitler was proclaimed the chief, if not the only aggressor; on the contrary, Poland was for them an innocent lamb. Now when Hitler passed from words to deeds and started the aggression against Poland, Moscow passed to deeds, too ... and is helping Hitler. These are the simple facts. It is impossible to escape from them with rotten sophistry.
The defenders of the Kremlin are referring to the fact that Poland refused to permit the Soviet Army to enter its territory. We do not know the course of the secret negotiations. We may admit that Poland incorrectly appraised its own interests when it refused the direct help of the Red Army. But does, from the Polish refusal to permit foreign armies on her territory, follow the right of the Kremlin to help Germany’s invasion of Poland?
The Kremlin’s advocates refer finally to the fact that the German-Soviet pact broke up the “axis,” having isolated Japan. In reality the USSR took Japan’s place in the structure of the axis. The help of the distant Mikado to the military operations of Hitler in Europe would have an almost illusory character. On the contrary, the help of Stalin has a deep, real value. It is not surprising that Hitler preferred the friendship of Stalin to the friendship of the Mikado. Is it possible that “pacifists,” “democrats” and “socialists” can talk without blushing about this new diplomatic combination?
And about the working class these gentlemen do not think at all. Meanwhile, the chaos provoked by the zig-zags of the Comintern in the minds of the workers is one of the chief conditions for fascist victories. It is necessary to penetrate for a moment into the psychology of a revolutionary German worker, who, in danger of his life, is leading the illegal struggle against National Socialism and suddenly sees that the Kremlin, which commands great resources, not only does not fight Hitler, but on the contrary, concludes an advantageous business deal on the arena of international robbery. Has the German worker not the right to spit in the faces of his teachers of yesterday?
Without any doubt the workers will do it. The only “merit” of the German-Soviet pact is that in unveiling the truth it broke the backbone of the Comintern. From all countries, particularly from France and the United States, come testimonies of a sharp crisis in the ranks of the Comintern, of departures of the imperialist patriots on the one hand, and of the internationalists on the other. No force in the world can stop this decomposition. The world proletariat will step over the treason of the Kremlin and also the cadaver of the Comintern.
Last updated on: 17 March 2016