The entire conduct of Britain and France left no doubt that this unparalleled act of treachery on the part of the British and French Governments toward the Czechoslovak people and the Czechoslovak Republic was not a mere episode in the policy of Britain and France, but, on the contrary, was a major link in their policy of directing Hitler's aggression against the Soviet Union.
The true meaning of the Munich conspiracy was exposed at the time by J.V. Stalin, when he said that "the districts of Czechoslovakia were yielded to Germany as the price of an undertaking to launch war on the Soviet Union" (1) .
The whole essence of the policy of the ruling circles of Britain and France in that period was disclosed by J.V. Stalin at the Eighteenth Congress of the CPSU(B) in March 1939, in the following words:
...the policy of non-intervention means conniving at aggression, giving free rein to war, and, consequently, transforming the war into a world war. The policy of non-intervention reveals an eagerness, a desire not to hinder the aggressors in their nefarious work: not to hinder Japan, say, from embroiling herself in a war with China, or, better still, with the Soviet Union; not to hinder Germany, say, from enmeshing herself in European affairs, from embroiling herself in a war with the Soviet Union; to allow all the belligerents to sink deeply into the mire of war, to encourage them surreptitiously in this; to allow them to weaken and exhaust one another; and then, when they have become weak enough, to appear on the scene with fresh strength, to appear, of course, in the interests of peace, and to dictate conditions to the enfeebled belligerents (2) .
The Munich agreement was greeted with indignation and emphatic condemnation in the democratic circles of various countries, including the United States of America, Great Britain and France. The attitude of these circles toward the Munich treachery of the British and French rulers may be judged from statements made, for instance, by Sayers and Kahn, who in their book, The Great Conspiracy: The Secret War Against Soviet Russia , published in the USA had the following to say about Munich:
The Governments of Nazi Germany, fascist Italy, Great Britain and France signed the Munich Pact - the anti-Soviet Holy Alliance of which world reaction had been dreaming since 1918. The Pact left Soviet Russia without allies. The Franco-Soviet Treaty, cornerstone of European collective security, was dead. The Czech Sudetenland became part of Nazi Germany. The gates of the East were wide open for the Wehrmacht (3).
Through all the phases of the Czechoslovak drama, the Soviet Union alone of all the great powers vigorously championed the independence and national rights of Czechoslovakia. The Governments of Britain and France, seeking to justify themselves in the eyes of public opinion, hypocritically declared that they did not know whether or not the Soviet Union would live up to the pledges it gave Czechoslovakia in the treaty of mutual assistance. But this was a deliberate falsehood, for the Soviet Government had publicly announced its readiness to come to the aid of Czechoslovakia against Germany in accordance with the terms of that treaty, which provided that France should come to Czechoslovakia's aid simultaneously. France, however, refused to discharge her duty.
All this notwithstanding, on the eve of the Munich deal the Soviet Government declared that it was in favor of convening an international conference to render Czechoslovakia practical aid and to take practical measures for the preservation of peace.
When the seizure of Czechoslovakia became a fact, and the governments of the imperialist countries, one after another, had proclaimed their recognition of the fait accompli, the Soviet Government, in its note of March 18, branded the annexation of Czechoslovakia by Hitler Germany, with the complicity of Britain and France, as a wanton act of violence and aggression. The Soviet Government stressed that by her acts Germany had created and aggravated a menace to universal peace, had "upset political stability in Central Europe, increased the state of alarm already created in Europe, and dealt a fresh blow to the sense of security of the nations"(4) .
But the betrayal of Czechoslovakia to Hitler was not the end of it. The Governments of Britain and France ran over one another in their eagerness to sign broad political agreements with Hitler Germany. On September 30, 1938, an Anglo-German declaration was signed by Chamberlain and Hitler in Munich. It stated:
We have continued today our conversation and unanimously come to the conviction that Anglo-German relations are of paramount importance to both countries and to Europe. We regard the agreement signed yesterday evening and the Anglo-German naval agreement as symbolical of the desire of both our peoples never again to wage war against each other. We are resolved to consider other questions too,which concern both our boundaries by means of consultation and to strive in the future to eliminate all causes generating discord, so as to facilitate the maintenance of peace in Europe(5) .On December 6, 1938, the Bonnet- Ribbentrop Franco-German declaration, similar to the Anglo-German one, was signed. It stated that the German and French Governments were unanimous in their belief that peaceful and good-neighborly relations between Germany and France constituted a most essential condition for the consolidation of European relations and for the maintenance of universal peace, and that both Governments would do their utmost to preserve such relations between their countries. The declaration further stated that there were no longer any territorial disputes between France and Germany and that the existing boundary between the two countries was final. The declaration concluded by saying that both Governments were firmly resolved, irrespective of their separate relations with third powers, to maintain contact on all matters concerning their countries and to confer with each other should these matters, in their further development, lead to international complications.
This was a declaration of mutual non-aggression on the part of France and Germany.
Essentially, these agreements meant that both Britain and France had concluded pacts of non-aggression with Hitler. These agreements with Hitler Germany revealed with perfect clarity that the British and French Governments were seeking to guard themselves from the menace of Hitler aggression, believing that the Munich and similar agreements had already flung the gates wide open for Hitler aggression in the East, in the direction of the Soviet Union.
In this way the political conditions necessary for "uniting Europe, without Russia" were created.
The objective was the complete isolation of the Soviet Union.
Isolation of the Soviet Union. Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact
Following the seizure of Czechoslovakia, fascist Germany proceeded with her preparations for war quite openly, before the eyes of the whole world. Hitler, encouraged by Britain and France, no longer stood on ceremony or pretended to favor a peaceful settlement of European problems. The most dramatic months of the pre-war period had come. At that time it was already clear that every day was bringing mankind nearer to an unparalleled catastrophic war.
What was the policy at that time of the Soviet Union on the one hand, and of Great Britain and France on the other?
The attempt of the falsifiers of history in the USA to avoid answering this question merely goes to prove that their conscience is not clear.
The truth is that even in the fateful period of the spring and summer of 1939, on the threshold of war, Britain and France, supported by United States ruling circles, continued their former line of policy. This was a policy of maliciously inciting Hitler Germany against the Soviet Union, camouflaged by pharisaical avowals of readiness to cooperate with the Soviet Union, as well as by certain simple diplomatic maneuvers designed to conceal the real character of their policy from world public opinion.
Of these maneuvers the first were the negotiations which Britain and France decided to open with the Soviet Union in 1939. In order to deceive public opinion the ruling circles of Britain and France tried to create the impression that these negotiations were a serious attempt to prevent the further spread of Hitlerite aggression. In the light of the subsequent march of events, however, it became perfectly clear that as far as the Anglo-French side was concerned these negotiations were from the very beginning nothing but another move in their double game.
This was also clear to the leaders of Hitler Germany, for whom the meaning of the negotiations with the Soviet Union undertaken by the Governments of Britain and France was certainly no secret. Here, for example, is what the German Ambassador to London, Dirksen , wrote in his report to the German Foreign Ministry on August 3, 1939, as is evident from documents captured by the Soviet Army during the defeat of Hitler Germany: "The prevailing impression here was that [Britain's] ties with other states formed during the recent months were only a reserve means for a real reconciliation with Germany and that these ties would cease to exist as soon as the one important aim, worthy of the effort - agreement with Germany - was achieved."
This opinion was firmly shared by all German diplomats who watched the situation in London.
In another secret report to Berlin, Dirksen wrote: "By means of armaments and the acquisition of allies, Britain wants to gain strength and catch up with the Axis, but at the same time she wants to try to reach an amicable agreement with Germany by means of negotiations(6) .
The slanderers and falsifiers of history are trying to conceal these documents, since they shed a lurid light on the situation which developed in the last pre-war months, without a correct assessment of which it is impossible to understand the true pre-history of the war. By undertaking negotiations with the Soviet Union and extending guarantees to Poland, Rumania and some other states, Britain and France, with the support of US ruling circles played a double game, calculated to lead to an agreement with Hitler Germany with the aim of directing her aggression to the East, against the Soviet Union.
Negotiations between Britain and France on the one hand, and the Soviet Union on the other, began in March 1939 and continued for about four months.
The whole course of the negotiations brought out with perfect clarity that whereas the Soviet Union was trying to reach a broad agreement with the Western Powers on the basis of equality, and agreement capable of preventing Germany, even if at the eleventh hour, from starting war in Europe, the Governments of Britain and France, relying on support in the United States, set themselves entirely different aims. The ruling circles of Britain and France, who were accustomed to having others pull the chestnuts out of the fire from them, on this occasion too attempted to inveigle the Soviet Union into assuming obligations under which it would have taken upon itself the brunt of the sacrifice in repulsing eventual Hitler aggression, while Britain and France would not be bound by any commitments to the Soviet Union.
If the rulers of Britain and France had succeeded in this maneuver, they would have come much closer to attaining their basic aim, which was to set Germany and the Soviet Union at loggerheads as quickly as possible. The Soviet Government, however, saw through this scheme, and at all stages of the negotiations countered the diplomatic trickery and subterfuges of the Western Powers with clear and frank proposals designed to serve but one purpose - the safeguarding of peace in Europe.
There is no need to recount all the vicissitudes of the negotiations. We need only bring to mind a few of the more important points. Suffice it to recall the terms put forward in the negotiations by the Soviet Government: conclusion of an effective pact of mutual assistance against aggression between Britain, France and the USSR; a guarantee by Britain, France and the USSR to the states of Central and Eastern Europe, including all European countries bordering on the USSR without exception; conclusion of a concrete military agreement between Britain, France and the USSR on the forms and extent of immediate effective aid to each other and to the guaranteed states in the even of an attack by aggressors(7) .
At the Third Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, on May 31, 1939, V.M. Molotov pointed out that some of the Anglo-French proposals made in the course of the negotiations contained none of the elementary principles of reciprocity and equality of obligations which are indispensable in all agreements between equals.
“While guaranteeing themselves," said V.M. Molotov, "from direct attack on the part of aggressors by mutual assistance pacts between themselves and with Poland, and while trying to secure for themselves the assistance of the USSR in the event of an attack by aggressors on Poland and Rumania, the British and French left open the question of whether the USSR in its turn might count on their assistance in the event of it being directly attacked by aggressors, just as they left open another question, namely, whether they would be a party to guaranteeing the small states bordering on the USSR and covering its northwestern frontiers, should these states prove unable to defend their neutrality from attack by aggressors. Thus the position was one of inequality for the USSR."
Even when the British and French representatives gave verbal assent to the principle of mutual assistance on terms of reciprocity between Britain, France and the USSR in the event of a direct attack by an aggressor, they hedged it in with a number of reservations which rendered this assent fictitious.
In addition, the Anglo-French proposal provided for the rending of assistance by the USSR to those countries to which the British and French had given a promise of guarantees, but said nothing about themselves coming to the assistance of the countries on the northwestern frontier of the USSR, the Baltic States, in the event of an aggressor attacking them.
Taking into account these considerations, V.M. Molotov announced that the Soviet Union could not undertake commitments in respect to some countries unless similar guarantees were given in respect to the countries bordering on the northwestern frontiers of the Soviet Union.
It should also be remembered that when, on March 18, 1939, Seeds, the British Ambassador to Moscow, asked the People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs what the Soviet Union's position would be in the event of Hitler aggression against Rumania - concerning the preparation of which the British were in possession of information - and when the question was then raised by the Soviet side as to what Britain's position would be under those circumstances, Seeds evaded a reply with the remark that Rumania was geographically closer to the Soviet Union than it was to England.
Thus it was quite clear from the very first that Britain's ruling circles were endeavoring to bind the Soviet Union to definite commitments while standing aloof themselves. This artless method was repeated regularly again and again throughout the whole course of the negotiations.
In answer to the British inquiry the Soviet Government suggested that a conference be called of representatives of the most interested states - namely, Great Britain, France, Rumania, Poland, Turkey and the Soviet Union. In the opinion of the Soviet Government such a conference would offer the best opportunity for ascertaining the real state of affairs and determining the position of each of the participants. The British Government, however, replied that it considered the Soviet proposal premature.
Instead of a conference, which would have made it possible to come to agreement on concrete measures to combat aggression, the British Government, on March 21, 1939, proposed that it and the Soviet Government, as well as France and Poland, should sign a declaration in which the signatory governments would obligate themselves to "consult together as to what steps should be taken to offer joint resistance" in case of threat to "the independence of any European state." In arguing that this proposal was acceptable, the British Ambassador laid particular emphasis on the point that the declaration was couched in very noncommittal terms.
It was quite obvious that such a declaration could not serve as an effective means of averting the impending threat of aggression. Believing, however, that even so unpromising a declaration might constitute at least some step toward curbing the aggressor, the Soviet Government accepted the British proposal. But already on April 1, 1939, the British Ambassador in Moscow intimated that Britain considered the question of a joint declaration as having lapsed.
After two more weeks of procrastination the British Foreign Secretary, Halifax, through the Ambassador in Moscow, made another proposal to the Soviet Government, namely, that it should issue a statement declaring that "in the event of an act of aggression against any European neighbor of the Soviet Union, who would offer resistance, the assistance of the Soviet Government could be counted upon if desired."
The underlying meaning of this proposal was that in the event of an act of aggression on the part of Germany against Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, or Finland, the Soviet Union would be obliged to render them assistance, without any undertaking by Britain to come to their aid - in other words, the Soviet Union was to go to war with Germany single-handed. As to Poland and Rumania, whom Britain had given guarantees, the Soviet Union was to render assistance to them too against an aggressor. But even in their case Britain refused to assume any joint obligation with the Soviet Union, leaving herself a free hand and a field for any maneuver, not to mention the fact that, according to this proposal, Poland and Rumania, as well as the Baltic states, were to assume no obligations toward the USSR.
The Soviet Government, however, did not want to miss a single opportunity to reach agreement with other powers for joint counteraction against Hitler aggression. Without the least delay it presented to the British Government its counter-proposal, which was : first, that the Soviet Union, Britain and France should mutually undertake to render on another every immediate assistance, including military, in the event of aggression against any one of them; secondly, that the Soviet Union, Britain and France should undertake to render every assistance, including military, to the states of Eastern Europe situated between the Baltic and the Black Sea and bordering on the Soviet Union in the event of aggression against those states; lastly, that the Soviet Union, Britain and France should undertake to determine without delay the extent and forms of military assistance to be rendered to each of those states in both the above-mentioned cases.
Those were the most important points of the Soviet proposal. It will be easily seen that there was a fundamental difference between the Soviet and British proposals, inasmuch as the Soviet proposal provided for really effective measures for joint counteraction to aggression.
For three weeks no reply to that proposal came from the British Government. This caused growing anxiety in Britain, owing to which the British Government felt constrained in the end to resort to a new maneuver in order to deceive public opinion.
On May 8, the British reply, or, to be more exact, the British counter-proposals, were received in Moscow. It was again proposed that the Soviet Government should make a unilateral declaration in which it "would undertake that in the event of Great Britain and France being involved in hostilities in fulfillment of those obligations [to Belgium, Poland, Rumania, Greece, and Turkey] the assistance of the Soviet Government would be immediately available if desired and be afforded in such manner and on such terms as might be agreed."
Once again the Soviet Union was expected to assume unilateral obligations. It was to commit itself to render assistance to Britain and France, while they assumed no obligations whatever toward the Soviet Union with regard to the Baltic Republics. Britain was thus proposing to put the USSR in a position of inequality - a position unacceptable to and incompatible with the dignity of any independent state.
It was easy to see that the British proposal was really addressed not so much to Moscow as to Berlin. The Germans were being invited to attack the Soviet Union, and were given to understand that Britain and France would remain neutral if only the Germans attacked through the Baltic States.
On May 11, the negotiations between the Soviet Union, Britain and France were still further complicated by a statement made by the Polish Ambassador in Moscow, Grzybowski , to the effect that "Poland does not regard it possible to conclude a pact of mutual assistance with the USSR..."
It goes without saying that a statement of this kind could only have been made by the Polish representative with the knowledge and approval of the ruling circles of Britain and France.
The behavior of the British and French representatives in the Moscow negotiations was so provocative that even in the ruling camp of the Western Powers there were some who sharply criticized this crude game. Lloyd George, for one, severely took the makers of British policy to task in an article published in the French newspaper Ce Soir in the summer of 1939. There was only one reason, he said, for the endless procrastinations in the Anglo-French negotiations with the Soviet Union: "Neville Chamberlain, Halifax and John Simon do not want any agreement with Russia whatever."
It stands to reason that what was obvious to Lloyd George was no less obvious to the bosses of Hitler Germany, who understood perfectly well that the Western Powers had no serious intention of reaching agreement with the Soviet Union, but were pursuing an entirely different aim. It was to induce Hitler to speed his attack on the Soviet Union, offering him, as it were, a premium for doing so by placing the Soviet Union in the most unfavorable conditions in the event of war with Germany.
Furthermore the Western Powers dragged out the negotiations with the Soviet Union endlessly, seeking to drown the major issues in a swamp of minor amendments and counter-variants. Every time the question of real guarantees arose, the representatives of these powers affected an air of perplexed misunderstanding.
Toward the end of May, Britain and France advanced fresh proposals which somewhat improved their previous variant, but which still left open the essentially important questions for the Soviet Union of guarantees for the three Baltic Republics bordering on the Soviet Union's northwestern frontier.
Thus the rulers of Britain and France, while making certain verbal concessions under the pressure of public opinion in their countries, stuck to their previous line and hedged in their proposals with reservations which they knew would make them unacceptable to the Soviet Union.
The behavior of the British and French representatives in the negotiations in Moscow was so intolerable that V.M. Molotov was constrained, on May 27, 1939, to tell the British Ambassador Seeds and the French Charge d'Affaires Payard that their draft agreement for joint counteraction to an aggressor in Europe contained no plan for the organization of effective mutual assistance by the USSR, Britain and France, and that it did not even indicate that the British and French Governments were seriously interested in concluding a pact to this effect with the Soviet Union. It was further plainly stated that the Anglo-French proposal created the impression that the Governments of Britain and France were not so much interested in a pact itself as in talk about a pact. It was possible that this talk was needed by Britain and France for purposes of their own. What these purposes were the Soviet Government did not know. But the Soviet Government was interested, not in talk about a pact, but in organizing effective mutual assistance of the USSR, Britain and France against aggression in Europe. The British and French representatives were warned that the Soviet Government did not intend to take part in pact talks of the purpose of which the USSR had no knowledge, and that the British and French Governments might find more suitable partners for such talks than the USSR.
The Moscow negotiations dragged on endlessly. The London Times blurted out the reasons for this inadmissible procrastination when it wrote: "A hard and fast alliance with Russia would hamper other negotiations"(8) . The Times was apparently referring to the negotiations which British Minister of Overseas Trade Robert Hudson was conducting with Hitler's economic adviser, Dr. Helmut Wohltat , on the possibility of a very substantial British loan to Hitler Germany, of which more anon.
Furthermore, as is generally known, on the day Hitler's army entered Prague the press reported that a delegation of the Federation of British Industries was negotiating in Dusseldorf for the conclusion of an extensive agreement with German big industry.
Another circumstance that could not help attracting attention was that, whereas the men who had been sent to Moscow to conduct the negotiations on behalf of Great Britain were officials of second rank, Chamberlain himself had gone to Germany, and moreover on several occasions, to negotiate with Hitler. It is also important to note that Strang , the British representative, in the negotiations with the USSR, had no authority to sign any agreement with the Soviet Union.
In view of the Soviet Union's insistence that concrete measures to oppose a possible aggressor should be discussed, the Governments of Britain and France were constrained to agree to dispatch military missions to Moscow. However, these missions took an extraordinary long time getting to Moscow, and when they finally arrived it transpired that they were composed of men of secondary rank, who, furthermore, had not been authorized to sign any agreement. Under these circumstances, the military negotiations proved as sterile as the political ones.
The military missions of the Western Powers demonstrated from the first that they did not even desire seriously to discuss measures of mutual assistance in the event of German aggression. The Soviet military mission held that, since the USSR had no common border with Germany, it could render Britain, France and Poland assistance in the event of war only if Soviet troops were permitted to pass through Polish territory. The Polish Government, however, declared that it would not accept military assistance from the Soviet Union, thereby making it clear that it feared an accession of strength of the Soviet Union more than Hitler aggression. Poland's attitude was supported by both the British and the French Missions.
In the course of the military negotiations the question also arose as to what armed forces the parties to the agreement were to put in the field immediately in the event of aggression. The British named a ridiculous figure, stating that they could put in the field five infantry divisions and one mechanized division. And this the British proposed when the Soviet Union had declared that it was prepared to send into action against an aggressor 136 divisions, 5,000 medium and heavy guns, up to 10,000 tanks and whippets, over 5,000 war planes, etc. It will be seen from this how unserious was the attitude of the British Government toward the negotiations for a military agreement with the USSR.
The facts cited above fully confirm the inescapable conclusion:
1. That throughout the negotiations the Soviet Government strove with the utmost patience to secure agreement with Britain and France for mutual assistance against an aggressor on a basis of equality and with the condition that this mutual assistance would be really effective, i.e., that the signing of a political agreement would be accompanied by the signing of a military convention defining the extent, forms and time-limits of assistance, since all preceding developments had made it abundantly clear that only such an agreement could be effective and could bring the Hitlerite aggressor to his senses, encouraged as he was by the fact that for many years he had been able to act with complete impunity and with the connivance of the Western Powers.
2. That it was fully evident from the behavior of Britain and France in the negotiations that they had no thought of any serious agreement with the Soviet Union, since British and French policy was pursuing other aims, aims which had nothing in common with the interests of peace and the struggle against aggression.
3. That it was the perfidious purpose of Anglo-French policy to make it clear to Hitler that the USSR had no allies, that it was isolated, and that he could attack the USSR without the risk of encountering resistance on the part of Britain and France.
In view of this it is not surprising that the Anglo-Franco-Soviet negotiations ended in failure.
There was, of course, nothing fortuitous about this failure. It was becoming obvious that the representatives of the Western Powers had planned the breakdown of the negotiations beforehand as part of their double game. The fact was that, parallel with the open negotiations with the USSR, the British were clandestinely negotiating with Germany, and that they attached incomparably greater importance to the latter negotiations.
Whereas the primary purpose of the ruling circles of the Western Powers in their negotiations in Moscow was to lull public vigilance in their countries and to deceive the peoples who were being drawn into war, their negotiations with the Hitlerites were of an entirely different character.
The program of the Anglo-German negotiations was formulated plainly enough by British Foreign Secretary Halifax, who was making unambiguous overtures to Hitler Germany at the very time his subordinates were negotiating in Moscow. In a speech at a banquet of the Royal Institute of International Affairs on June 29, 1939, he declared his readiness to come to terms with Germany on all the problems "that are today causing the world anxiety." He said: "In such a new atmosphere we could examine the colonial problem, the problem of raw materials, trade barriers, the issue of Lebensraum, the limitation of armaments, and any other issue that affects the lives of all European citizens(9) .
If we recall how the Conservative Daily Mail which was closely associated with Halifax, interpreted the problem of Lebensraum as early as 1933, when it recommended the Hitlerites to wrest Lebensraum from the USSR, there can be not the slightest doubt as to what Halifax really meant. It was an open offer to Hitler Germany to come to terms on a division of the world and spheres of influence, an offer to settle all questions without the Soviet Union and chiefly at the expense of the Soviet Union.
As early as June 1939 British representatives inaugurated strictly confidential negotiations with Germany through Hitler's commissioner for the four-year plan, Wohltat , who was then in London. He had talks with Minister of Overseas Trade Hudson and Chamberlain's closest adviser, G. Wilson. The substance of those June negotiations is still buried in diplomatic vaults. But in July Wohltat paid another visit to London and the negotiations were resumed. The substance of this second round of the negotiations is now known from captured German documents in the possession of the Soviet Government which will shortly be made public.
Hudson and Wilson suggested to Wohltat , and later to the German Ambassador in London, Dirksen , that secret negotiations be started for a broad agreement, which was to include an agreement for a world-wide division of spheres of influence and the elimination of "deadly competition in common markets." It was envisaged that Germany would be allowed predominating influence in Southeastern Europe. In a report to the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated July 21, 1939, Dirksen stated that the program discussed by Wohltat and Wilson comprised practical, military and economic issues. Among the political issues, along with a pact of non-aggression, special stress was laid on a pact of non-intervention, which was to provide for a "delimitation of Lebensraum between the Great Powers, particularly between Britain and Germany"(10) .
During the discussion of the questions involved in these two pacts, the British would withdraw the guarantees she had just given Poland.
The British were prepared, if an Anglo-German agreement were signed, to let the Germans settle the Danzig problem and the problem of the Polish Corridor with Poland alone, and undertook not to interfere in the settlement.
Further, and this too is documentarily corroborated in the reports shortly to be published, Wilson reaffirmed that if the above-mentioned pacts between Britain and Germany were signed, Britain would in fact abandon her policy of giving guarantees.
"Then Poland would be left, so to speak, alone, face to face with Germany," Dirsksen comments in his report.
All this signified that at a time when the ink with which Britain's guarantees to Poland were signed had not yet dried, the rulers of Britain were prepared to surrender Poland to Hitler.
Furthermore, if the Anglo-German agreement had been concluded, the purpose which Britain and France had set themselves in starting the negotiations with the Soviet Union would have been achieved, and the possibility of expediting a clash between Germany and the USSR would have been further facilitated.
Lastly, it was proposed to supplement the political agreement between Britain and Germany with an economic agreement, which would include a secret deal on colonial questions, for the partitioning of raw materials and the division of markets, as well as for a big British loan to Germany.
The rulers of Britain were thus lured by the seductive picture of an enduring agreement with Germany and the "canalization" of German aggression toward the East, against Poland, whom they had only just "guaranteed," and against the Soviet Union.
Is it then to be wondered that the slanderers and falsifiers of history are so careful to hush up and conceal these facts, which are of paramount importance to an understanding of the circumstances which were thus making war inevitable?
By this time there could already be no doubt that Britain and France, far from seriously intending to undertake anything to prevent Hitler Germany from starting war, were doing everything in their power by secret deals and agreements and by every possible provocation to incite Hitler Germany against the Soviet Union.
No counterfeiters can expunge from history or from the minds of the peoples the overriding fact that under these circumstances the Soviet Union was faced with the alternative:
Either , in its self-defense, to accept Germany's proposal for a pact on non-aggression, and thereby ensure the Soviet Union the prolongation of peace for a certain period, which might be utilized to better prepare the forces of the Soviet State for resistance to eventual aggression.
Or to reject Germany's proposal for a non-aggression pact, and thereby allow the provocateurs of war in the camp of the Western Powers to embroil the Soviet Union immediately in an armed conflict with Germany, at a time when the situation was utterly unfavorable to the Soviet Union, seeing that it would be completely isolated.
Under these circumstances, the Soviet Government was compelled to make its choice and conclude a non-aggression pact with Germany.
In the situation that had arisen this choice on the part of Soviet foreign policy was a wise and farsighted act. This step of the Soviet Government to a very large degree predetermined the favorable outcome of the second world war for the Soviet Union and all the freedom-loving peoples.
To assert that the conclusion of the pact with the Hitlerites formed part of the plan of Soviet foreign policy is a gross calumny. On the contrary, all the time the USSR strove to secure an agreement with the Western, non-aggressive states for the achievement of collective security, on the basis of equality, against the German and Italian aggressors. But there must be two parties to an agreement. And whereas the USSR insistently urged an agreement for combating aggression, Britain and France systematically rejected it, preferring to pursue a policy of isolating the USSR., of conceding to the aggressors, of directing aggression toward the East, against the USSR. The United States, far from counteracting this fatal policy, backed it in every way. As to the American billionaires, they went on investing their capital in German heavy industry, helping the Germans to expand their war industries and thus supplying arms for German aggression. It was as good as saying: "Go on, you Europeans, fight to your heart's content and God be with you! Meanwhile we modest American billionaires will make fortunes out your war by raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in superprofits ."
This being the state of affairs in Europe, the Soviet Union had naturally only one choice, which was to accept the Germany proposal for a pact. After all, it was the best of all available alternatives.
Just as in 1918, when, owing to the hostile policy of the Western Powers, the Soviet Union was forced to conclude the Peace of Brest-Litovsk with the Germans, so in 1939, twenty years after the Peace of Brest-Litovsk, the Soviet Union was compelled to conclude a pact with Germans owing against to the hostile policy of Britain and France.
The slanderous claptrap that all the same the USSR should not have agreed to conclude a pact with the Germans can only be regarded as ridiculous. Why was it right for Poland, who had Britain and France as allies, to conclude a non-aggression pact with the Germans in 1934, and not right for the Soviet Union, which was in less favorable situation, to conclude a similar pact in 1939? Why was it right for Britain and France, who were the dominant force in Europe, to issue a joint declaration of non-aggression with Germans in 1938, and not right for the Soviet Union, isolated as it was because of the hostile policy of Britain and France, to conclude a pact with the Germans?
Is it not a fact that of all the non-aggressive Great Powers in Europe, the Soviet Union was the last to agree to a pact with the Germans?
Of course the falsifiers of history and similar reactionaries are displeased with the fact that the Soviet Union was able to make good use of the Soviet-German pact to strengthen its defenses, that it succeeded in shifting its frontiers far to the West and thus putting up a barrier to the unhampered eastward advance of German aggression, that Hitler's troops had to begin their Eastern offensive not from the Narva -Minsk-Kiev line, but from a line hundreds of kilometers farther West, that the USSR was not bled to death in its Patriotic War but emerged from the war victorious. But this displeasure can only be regarded as a manifestation of the impotent rage of bankrupt politicians.
The vicious displeasure of these gentlemen only serves to bear out the indubitable fact that the policy of the Soviet Union was and is a correct policy.
Creation of an "Eastern" Front, Germany's Attack Upon the USSR, the Anti-Hitler Coalition, and the Question of Inter-Allied Obligations
When concluding the pact of non-aggression with Germany in August 1939, the Soviet Union did not doubt for a moment that sooner or later Hitler would attack it. This certainly was based on the fundamental political and military policies of the Hitlerites. It was borne out by the practical activities of the Hitler government throughout the pre-war period.
That was why the first task of the Soviet Government was to create an "Eastern" front against Hitler's aggression, to build up a defense line along the western frontiers of the Byelorussian and Ukrainian territories and thus to set up a barrier to prevent the unhindered advance of the German troops eastward. For this purpose it was necessary to re-unite Western Byelorussia and Western Ukraine, which the Poland of the gentry had seized in 1920, with Soviet Byelorussia and the Soviet Ukraine, and to move Soviet troops into these territories. This matter brooked no delay, as the poorly equipped Polish troops were unstable, the Polish command and the Polish Government were already in full flight, and Hitler's troops, meeting no serious obstacle, might occupy the Byelorussian and Ukrainian territories before the Soviet troops arrived.
On September 17, 1939, the Soviet troops, at the order of the Soviet Government, crossed the pre-war Soviet Polish border, occupied Western Byelorussia and Western Ukraine and proceeded to build defenses along the western line of the Ukrainian and Byelorussian territories. This was, in the main, what was known as the " Curzon Line," which had been established at the Versailles Conference by the allies.
A few days later the Soviet Government signed pacts of mutual assistance with the Baltic States, providing for the stationing of Soviet Army garrisons, the organization of Soviet airfields and the establishment of naval bases on the territories of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
In this way the foundation was laid for an "Eastern" front.
It was not hard to see that the creation of an "Eastern" front was an important contribution not only to the organization and security of the USSR, but to the common cause of the peace-loving states that were fighting Hitler aggression. Nevertheless the answer of Anglo-Franco-American circles, in their overwhelming majority, to this step of the Soviet Government was to start a malicious anti-Soviet campaign, qualifying the Soviet action as aggression.
There were, however, some political leaders sufficiently discerning to understand the meaning of the Soviet policy and to admit that it was the right thing to create an "Eastern" front. First among them was Mr. Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, who in a radio speech on October 1, 1939, after a number of unfriendly sallies against the Soviet Union, stated:
That the Russian armies should stand on this line was clearly necessary for the safety of Russia against the Nazi menace. At any rate, the line is there, and an Eastern front has been created which Nazi Germany does not dare assail. When Herr von Ribbentrop was summoned to Moscow last week, it was to learn the fact, and to accept the fact, that the Nazi designs upon the Baltic States and upon the Ukraine must come to a dead stop.
While the situation with regard to the security of the USSR was more or less satisfactory on the Western frontiers, at a considerable distance from Moscow, Minsk and Kiev, the same could not be said of its northern frontier. Here, at a distance of some thirty-two kilometers from Leningrad stood Finnish troops, the majority of whose commanding officers leaned toward Hitler Germany. The Soviet Government was well aware that fascist elements among the ruling circles of Finland closely connected with the Hitlerites and wielding strong influence in the Finnish army, were anxious to seize Leningrad. The fact that Halder , Chief of the General Staff of Hitler's army, arrived in Finland as early as in the summer of 1939 to instruct top leaders of the Finnish army could not be dismissed as accidental. There could hardly be any doubt that Finland's leading circles were in league with the Hitlerites , that they wanted to turn Finland into a springboard for Hitler Germany's attack upon the USSR.
It is therefore not surprising that all the attempts of the USSR to find a common language with the Finnish Government with a view to improving relations between the two countries proved unsuccessful.
The Government of Finland declined, one after another, all the friendly proposals of the Soviet Government, the purpose of which was to ensure the security of the USSR, particularly of Leningrad, and this in spite of the fact that the Soviet Union was willing to meet Finland halfway and satisfy her legitimate interests.
The Finnish Government declined the proposal of the USSR to shift back the Finnish border on the Karelinan Isthmus a few dozen kilometers, although the Soviet Government was willing to compensate Finland with an area twice as large in Soviet Karelia.
The Finnish Government also declined the proposal of the USSR to conclude a pact of mutual assistance, thereby making it clear that the security of the USSR from the direction of Finland remained unguaranteed.
By these and similar hostile acts and by provocative actions on the Soviet-Finnish border, Finland unleashed war with the Soviet Union.
The results of the Soviet-Finnish war are known. The frontiers of the USSR in the northwest and particularly in the Leningrad area were shifted farther back, and the security of the USSR was strengthened. This was an important factor in the defense of the Soviet Union against Hitler aggression, inasmuch as Hitler Germany and her Finnish accomplices had to begin their offensive in the northwest of the USSR not in immediate proximity to Leningrad, but from a line nearly 150 kilometres to the northwest of it.
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(1) Eighteenth Congress of the CPSU(B).
(3) Sayers and Kahn, The Great Conspiracy: The Secret War Against Soviet Russia , Boston, 1946, pp. 324-325.
(4) Izvestia , March 20, 1939.
(5) "Archiv fur Aussenpolitic und Landerkunde," September, 1938, S. 483.
(6) Dirsken's memorandum: " On the Development of Political Relations Between Germany and Britain During My Term of Office in London," September, 1939.
(7) Report by V.M. Molotov to the Third Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, May 31, 1939.
(8) Sayers and Kahn, The Great Conspiracy: The Secret War Against Soviet Russia , Boston, p. 329.
(9) "Speeches on Foreign Policy" by Viscount Halifax, Oxford University Press. London, 1940, p. 296.
(10) ""Memorandum of German Ambassador to Britain, Dirksen , July 21, 1939." Archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs.