The aspiration for this article is to enlighten some Puffins about the several about-turns the Communists were forced into before, during and after the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact when Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union were enemies, the best of friends and finally combatants. The best of friends period lasted for nearly 2 years and during this time, everything that had been said beforehand was turned on its head and afterwards reverted to the normal state of affairs.
Contrary to protestations by Stalin (this was during his watch) and his henchmen, foreign Communist Parties were under the control of the Comintern and did nothing without approval from its Executive Committee. Any deviations from the approved line were jumped upon from a great height. Add to this the perpetual hunt for Trotskyists and it was a nervous time for those trying to herd the cats that made up the communist world.
The leap from being anti-Nazi on August 23 1939 to being Adolf’s best friend on the following day was too much for some of the members of the various Communist Parties. Many could not reconcile themselves to it and left, others followed the line dictated by the Comintern and stayed in place. Cognitive dissonance comes easier to some more than others.
The first thing to explain is the Comintern or Communist International, also known as the Third International. It was founded at a Congress in Moscow on 2nd March 1919. Its objective was World Communism (bit like a red version of the islamic ummah). The riveting main topic of discussion was the difference between bourgeois democracy and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Communist Parties of just about everywhere and assorted revolutionaries were invited to attend. Lenin’s ideal for this was freedom of discussion but uphold decisions in a disciplined fashion. Plain old authoritarianism in other words.
In all, between 1919 and 1935, seven Congresses were held. The first few were ever more dedicated to world revolution ending in the paradise of socialism everywhere. It is clear the tramp was born decades too late, he would have loved all this. Once various uprisings had been put down in Germany, Italy and Hungary, the goal of world revolution was slightly amended to a kind of worship of the Soviet Union and belief in its infallibility. One of the more wonderful ideas was that moderate socialists were to be labelled as social fascists and communists were urged to destroy them. Such is the brotherly love among the left. All this was projected to end in the collapse of capitalism.
In 1920 during the Second Congress the Soviets made sure the foreigners would do their bidding by setting 21 conditions for admittance to the Comintern. Among these were
- The affiliated Parties should create a parallel illegal apparatus alongside the normal open Party. At decisive moments this should do its duty to the Party and in every way assist the revolution.
- Each affiliated Party is obliged to render every possible assistance to the Soviet Republics in their struggle against counter-revolutionary forces. At this time there was a civil war going on in Russia.
- All resolutions of the Congresses and Executive Committee are binding for all Parties in the Comintern even if, for example, they were requested to spy on their own country for the benefit of the Soviet Union.
With such an organisation, the Soviets engineered their grip on most of the communist parties ending up with Stalin’s effective absolute control of them. The best examples I could find of the level of control exercised by the Comintern concern the CPUSA or Communist Party of the USA.
During the 1920s the CPUSA was riven by factional infighting. It never had more than 50,000 members or so at that time and many were immigrants who could not speak English and were not well educated. In fact, intellectual was one of the more common insults they bandied about. By the 1930s Stalin called the leaders to Moscow where he personally gave them a severe dressing down and told them to stop fighting each other. Factionalist became the new insult to replace intellectual. His changes resulted in Earl Browder becoming the CPUSA leader, others were still seen a factionalists, incorrigible or otherwise.
As stated earlier, the various Communist Parties and the Comintern itself denied that there was any Soviet control over the external Community Parties. Even today the successor to the KGB still tries to deny this and also that those Parties were told to spy and to provide spies to serve in other countries. The truth was somewhat different.
The CPUSA was ordered to create bit underground and overground Parties. They were told to infiltrate the Labour Unions but this was not very successful. They were told to create their own parallel unions but these were also not very successful. The underground part of the CPUSA eventually became the interface between the overground Communist Party and Soviet Military Intelligence. Using Communist Party members to infiltrate the Government was not easy for the CPUSA, by 1930 it had less than 3,000 English speakers and these were the people who would have to worm their way into the Government.
The CPUSA was told to set up a competitor to the US equivalent of the TUC, minute details were provided not by the Americans themselves but by the Comintern. To show how ill-informed Stalin was about the USA, he ordered the CPUSA to set up unions for farm workers. He was convinced the peasants in the USA were the same as those in the Soviet Union and would support the revolution. The CPUSA slavishly followed instructions, to little avail. It seems telling Stalin he was on the wrong track was something nobody was prepared to do.
Before Hitler came to power the Soviets and the Germans were co-operating in the German re-armament program; the Russians allowing the Germans to test their equipment in the deserted wastes of Russia. This had started in the 1920s when the establishment in Berlin and the military decided one world war was not enough and they needed another so they could build an Empire to rival Great Britain’s.
In 1935 the Comintern, worried by the ever more powerful Nazis, ordered worldwide communist parties to welcome those it had previously hated or shunned, including socialists and Catholics. Hitler became more and more bellicose against the Soviets, neither was in a position to attack the other but by this time they were no longer friendly. It was basically the Soviets against the rest of the world. That is until the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact.
Overnight, the German enemy became the best friend, we of course remained the enemy. The comrades had to be instructed how the world, now upside down for them, was a better place. Many couldn’t resolve this issue and left the Party. Others swallowed the new line completely, among them Earl Browder, a true believer. His grandson is Bill Browder, CEO and co-founder of Hermitage Capital Management, a company specialising in the Russian markets with a very murky past. Another co-founder was Edmund Safra who died in mysterious circumstances in a fire in his Monaco flat.
The Nazis and the Soviet Union were allies and the capitalists in the West were the enemy. It is unsure how closely they worked together. It is almost certain that some of what the Soviet spies were delivering to Moscow also found its way to Berlin. This would not have been helpful to us in particular because we were actually at war with Germany. The two sides were allies for close to two years until Operation Barbarossa when the Germans attacked the Russians. Again, overnight, the communists had to revert to what used to be normal (Nazis = enemy) except the wicked capitalists in the West were now their allies as well. The Nazis were not only their foe but had invaded Russia.
This state of affairs continued until the end of the war when the Cold War broke out and we, who had been allies for about 4 years, were now the enemy again. Anyone who could continue to serve the communist cause while performing such mental gymnastics was not interested in logic, it was a deep love of the cult that is communism. For the Soviets it was about surviving the Nazi onslaught any way it could, for those in the rest of the world only complete submission to the communist ideals can explain their continued support.
There are parallels between communism and islam. Both lie their faces off to achieve their objectives, both are convinced they possess the only truth and both want to take over the world. There is no good reason they should succeed. We will need to resist.
© well_chuffed 2020
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