Felix Morrow

How Stalin Serves Hitler

A Letter to a Communist Worker,
Discussing the Effect of Stalinist Propaganda in Nazi Germany

(2 March 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 9, 2 March 1940, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Dear Will:

Thank you for sending me the article from the Feb. 25 Sunday Worker. I have noted all the passages you have marked: the headline – German Communists lead fight on Nazi hunger – the picture of Thaelmann and the demand for his freedom, the assertion that “The Communists are just as merciless and penetrating in their exposure of the lies of the German imperialists as with the war propaganda of the Anglo-French bloc.”

You SO desperately want to believe that the Comintern is undermining Hitler in Germany, and to disprove my arguments that the Comintern now serves Hitler in return for the Stalin-Hitler pact, that you painstakingly searched out every conceivable word in that article which might prove your point. But you didn’t underline very much! The few things you underlined are so much embroidery; the main content of the article, and in this it undoubtedly accurately reflects, as it claims, the type of propaganda being carried on by the Comintern in Germany is – a justification of the Hitler-Stalin pact.

If, the day before the Hitler-Stalin pact, I had asked you: “Is it possible for Hitler to conduct a foreign policy beneficial to the German workers?” – what would you have answered? No! How can bestial fascism do anything which serves the interests of the workers! You understood then, quite firmly, that there was no difference between Hitler’s treaties and Hitler’s breaking of treaties: no difference, for instance, between Munich and his march into Austria. Everything that he did, at home or abroad, was reactionary. Everything without exception.

Now, however, you and your party try to tell me, Hitler has done something very good. “Very good” is, indeed, a miserable understatement. Few rulers, indeed, have ever achieved anything remotely comparable on behalf of their people. Just see what, according to that Sunday Worker article, Hitler has done for the German people by concluding his pact with Stalin:

“The German-Soviet pact shows that the vital interests of the German people can definitely be protected by peaceful treaties, provided that the German working people decide foreign policy and, have the power to guarantee such treaties.”

Yes, I note the “provided that”. But the Stalin-Hitler pact was concluded without those provisions; the German workers had no voice in it and no power to guarantee it. Apparently, therefore, “the German people can definitely be protected by peaceful treaties” even though they are bound and gagged and tortured by Hitler!

Here is another tremendous compliment paid to Hitler by the same Sunday Worker article:

“... The Soviet Union’s pacts with Germany rescued the German people from the worst of counter-revolutionary wars and ditched the predatory plans of the Allied warmakers against both the Soviet and the German peoples.”

Hitler has seldom had such compliments paid to him, even by his own lickspittles. Just think! With a wave of his pen, Hitler saved the German people “from the worst of counter-revolutionary wars” and “ditched the predatory plans of the Allied warmakers.”

Effect of Stalinist Propaganda in Germany

What, logically, would be the effect of such propaganda on German workers who want a free, united Germany, who want to be rid of Hitler, but fear also the occupation of Germany by the Allies ?

If he accepted the propaganda of your party, the German worker could only conclude:

“After all, Hitler at the helm is not the worst thing. He has saved us from the worst of counter-revolutionary wars, has ditched the predatory plans of the Allied warmakers, has protected our vital interests by peaceful treaties with the Soviet Union. Better that than another Versailles. We must wait until after the war before overturning a regime which can do these things.”

Not even the terrible hardships of the war as it unfolds, the daily toll of dead and wounded, the hunger at home as the blockade finds its victims from afar, not even these things, which caused the German proletariat to make a revolution in 1918, will spur to revolt the German worker who is under the influence of your party. For, to revolt, the workers in 1918 had finally to see: the main enemy is at home, the Kaiser, the Junkers, the capitalists, they are responsible for this war. The way to stop the war is for us, the workers, to stop fighting, to stop working for this war machine.

Stalin Whitewashes Hitler’s War Guilt

But the worker under the influence of your party will never get to that point of revolt! For your party is not telling him that Hitler is responsible for this war. Your party is not telling the German worker that the main enemy is at home. Your party is telling him that the Allies are responsible for the war. I quote another of the many key paragraphs you did not underline:

“Brushing aside the legalistic ‘origins’ of the present war, the Communists point to THE REAL PROVOCATION OF THE WAR IN THE SYSTEMATIC EFFORTS OF THE ANGLO-FRENCH IMPERIALISTS to bring the Soviet Union and Germany into a head-on collision. With this goal in view, the British imperialists supported art entire series of German fascist aggressions ... The Soviet Union effectively scotched these plots by its pacts with Germany,”

If your party could convince the German workers that “the systematic efforts of the Anglo-French imperialists” is the “real provocation of the war”, then why should they cease fighting and working for the German army? What would be the use, if the Anglo-French are alone responsible for the war? To stop war, one must deal blows at those responsible. They, according to your party, are outside Germany. The main enemy is not at home.

Leninist Slogans Absent from Comintern Line

The article points out correctly that the Anglo-French are not fighting for the freedom of Poland, the Czech and Austrian peoples. But search that article, and all the others of your party since the Hitler-Stalin pact, and nowhere will you find the elementary slogans on this question dictated to every real Leninist: For the freedom of the Polish, Czech, Slovak peoples from the yoke of Hitler! Is it an accident that a lengthy article describing Communist propaganda in Germany does not say these things? No, it is by design: the Leninist slogans against war are completely alien to the Comintern line in Germany.

In America, your party is raising the slogan: “Not a man, not a cent, not a gun, for the imperialist war!” Why don’t your party raise the same slogan in Germany ? Because, in return for the pact with Stalin, your party serves Hitler. To serve him well, it must do so not too crudely. Therefore, as the article puts it, “One of their central rallying cries is the demand for the release of Thaelmann.” Thaelmann should be freed. But can that possibly be a CENTRAL rallying slogan?

Look through that article again, and what other “rallying cries” do you find ? “They call the people to action against the fearfully low wages and the sky-high of war profits, the mistreatment and bad food” – and these “action” slogans are justified by this: “The Communists emphasize that the fight for the immediate interests of the people is identical with the struggle against the war policy of German big capital.”

A Pseudo-Radical Cover for Serving Hitler

That sounds radical, until you analyze it. Is “the war policy of German big capital” identical with fearfully low wages, war profits, etc., or is it something more? We, the Trotskyists, would say that low wages, profiteering, etc., although to be fought against, are merely accompaniments to German imperialism’s war policy. The war policy itself is: the aim of imperialist expansion, the attempt to redivide the world. In other words, German imperialism, Hitler, is responsible for the fact of war itself.

But your party cannot say this, for it has already blamed the war on the Allies. Nor can it even fight against low wages and hunger effectively.

In a word, do you want a picture of your party in Germany? Then look at the Socialist party of France, or the British Labor Party. They, too, talk of fighting low wages and hunger; but their war policy makes it impossible. Thus they serve the British and French rulers – as your party serves Hitler.

More, much more, can be said on this question. I shall return to it next week.


Felix Morrow

Last updated on 17 July 2018