The victory of the counterrevolution in the Soviet Union and other states of socialist construction paved the way for extensive campaigns aimed at falsifying history by national and international centers of capitalism, the mechanisms of bourgeois states, and the bourgeois media. The role of the USSR throughout its history is distorted through the use of fabricated narratives from the Nazi propaganda machine. This falsification attempting to revise history still plays a part in shaping the worldviews of future generations.
Today, this campaign of revisionism continues through textbooks, documentaries, movies, and other publications. Its purpose is to prevent the discovery of the truth so that the path to socialism is slandered and blocked, leaving people with the belief that capitalism is everlasting. In this sense, the communist takes on the task of revealing these distortions, defending the truth and the history of the international communist movement. The study of the history of the communist and workers’ movement is a source of inspiration and strength for today’s revolutionary communists. Simultaneously, it serves as a root of lessons and conclusions for contemporary struggles and the impending socialist revolution.
The Outbreak of the Second Imperialist World War
Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, the USSR had laid the foundation of a socialist economy. Despite the capitalist world being plunged into a crisis, the USSR, which was surrounded by imperialist powers, achieved unprecedented advancements with significant improvements in living standards. The superiority of socialism was prominently evident, drawing the ire and hostility of capitalists. People in the capitalist world endured the misery, poverty, and unemployment brought by the crises of 1929-33 and 1937-38. These crises fueled competition among capitalist states, demonstrating that the symptoms of capitalism remained unaddressed, regardless of changes in its management. It was during this period that fascism emerged in Germany and Italy as a product of capitalism. This set the stage for competition to ignite into a global confrontation: World War II.
Similar to the first imperialist world war, World War II resulted from imperialist competition for the redistribution and control of markets. These hostilities were exacerbated by the capitalist crisis and the existence of the USSR, which served as a convenient scapegoat for the ruling classes. The fact that the USSR was a common enemy of all capitalist states led, before and during the war, to the shared objective of the “Allied” and Axis powers undermining the workers’ state. Alongside Japan, Italy, and Germany, the USA and Great Britain supported the rise to power of Hitler, thus confirming that fascism is the offspring of capitalism. For the USA and Great Britain, Nazi Germany acted as the shock trooper in the assault against the USSR.
To obfuscate this reality, capitalist states equate socialism-communism with fascism by distorting the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. They attempt to argue that the USSR “strengthened Hitler,” thereby concealing the fact that the non-aggression pact provided the USSR with 21 months to prepare for the historic moment when the hammer and sickle would fly over the German parliament. Furthermore, they obscure the fact that the USSR had made efforts to reach an agreement with Britain and France. Prior to this, both powers had already entered into agreements with Germany.
In 1933, prior to the Pact’s signing, Hitler secured the support of German (such as Krupp and Thyssen), British, and US monopolies, which bolstered the German economy, its war industry, and its armaments. In the same year, Hitler assaulted the German Communist Party and the Communist International through the Reichstag fire incident. On November 25th, 1936, the “Anti-Comintern Pact,” originally signed by Germany and Japan, expanded to include Italy, Hungary, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Slovakia, Romania, Croatia, and Bulgaria, among others. Concurrently, the Spanish Civil War commenced. The Western bourgeois democracies left the Spanish democratic government defenseless and even bolstered the fascist Franco.
Britain, France, and the USA all pursued appeasement policies toward Germany. None of them took any measures against the annexation of Austria. These countries even dispatched political representatives to engage with the Third Reich, such as Lord Halifax of Britain meeting with Hitler, and Hoover with Goring. US political figures and industrialists also convened a meeting in November 1937 in San Francisco with a plan to jointly organize the Russian and Chinese markets. The policies of appeasement paved the way for the Nazi invasion of Czechoslovakia, ultimately leading to its surrender.
The Munich Conference in 1938, which involved Britain, France, Germany, and Italy, compelled the Czechoslovak government to accept its conditions by ceding the part of the country with a German minority to Germany. During this conference, non-aggression pacts were signed with Germany by France and Britain. By March 1939, Germany was allowed to proceed unhindered in completing its conquest of Czechoslovakia.
Contrary to capitalist propaganda, the USSR condemned the attack on Austria and called on all states to preserve peace. Britain rejected this proposal. The USSR, having signed an agreement with Czechoslovakia in 1935, was prepared to defend it against Nazi invaders. Although France did not fulfill its obligations under the same agreement, the USSR declared its commitment to supporting Czechoslovakia and accurately characterized its conquest as an act of aggression. The USSR stood as the sole country attempting to prevent the war, maintaining a policy of peace and voicing political opposition to a new imperialist war.
However, recognizing that it was the target of overthrow, the USSR needed to leverage inter-imperialist contradictions. Consequently, when the opportunity arose, it joined the “anti-Hitler” alliance.
In March of 1939, Britain and France initiated negotiations with the USSR for a joint defense agreement. However, Britain and France insisted on one-sided commitments from the USSR. Simultaneously, from July to August of 1939, Britain engaged in secret negotiations with Germany, resulting in the signing of a non-aggression pact. This agreement unveiled that the negotiations with the USSR were a tactic to exert pressure on Germany and secure a larger share of the spoils.
This approach of the capitalist states highlighted the contradiction within the bourgeois sectors of their respective countries. On one hand, certain segments of the capitalist class in Europe favored aligning with Germany, while on the other, some leaned towards Britain. Faced with this complex situation and the onset of Japanese aggression against the USSR, the Soviets opted to accept Germany’s proposal for a non-aggression pact. The signing of this pact by the USSR bought time for its defense preparations and introduced divisions within the imperialist alliances. Meanwhile, Germany entered into the Pact of Steel with fascist Italy.
Accompanying the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact is the so-called “secret protocol,” which purportedly outlined the division of European states between the USSR and Germany. Contrary to the misrepresentation of these events by bourgeois historians, Germany’s attack on Poland on September 1, 1939, marked the beginning of the war. Britain and France declared war on Germany without direct involvement, while the US maintained a neutral stance.
The crossing of the Red Army into Poland to block the advance of the Nazi troops was but only the beginning of the road to victory of the Soviet Union, smashing the “invincible” Wehrmacht, liberating Europe, and raising the red flag in Berlin.