Felix Morrow

Stalin Moves into Baltic Countries

(22 June 1940)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. IV No. 25, 22 June 1940, p. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The complete occupation and transformation into military camps of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia by Soviet troops last weekend was almost universally recognized as a move inspired by fear of Hitler. With France out of the war, the Nazi armies completely dominated continental Europe, able to turn and rend the partner whose “peace and friendship treaty,” freeing Hitler from any worry about a fight on two fronts, had so enormously facilitated the Nazis’ speedy victory. Occupation of the tiny Baltic states provided certain strategic advantages in case of hostilities with Germany, but these seemed pitifully paltry as contrasted with the enhanced power of Nazi Germany now as compared with last August when Stalin entered the “peace” pact with Hitler.

From Stockholm it was reported by Otto Tolischus of the New York Times that “Germany makes little secret of her displeasure” at the Soviet move.

Almost the only source that did not characterize the step as a defensive move against Germany was the Stalin regime and its Stalinist press abroad. For Stalin could not admit now, any more than when he sought strategic bases in Finland, that he was seeking protection against the consequences of his “peace” pact of last year. Then, he had justified the pact on the ground that it made impossible a German war against the Soviet Union; that advantage of the pact, Stalinists had argued throughout the world, outweighed all its evil consequences. Now, less than ten months after the pact, Stalin could not admit that he was convulsively adding to his defenses to guard against that which the pact with Hitler was to have made impossible.

Since the Stalin cult of infallibility precluded telling the truth, the occupation of the Baltic states had to be justified by preposterous lies. The official Soviet communiques solemnly declared that the Lilliputian states had “prepared an attack on the Soviet garrisons” stationed there.

The Baltic states could very likely play the role of puppets of a great power preparing an assault upon the Soviet Union. But with the Allies cracking under Hitler’s blows, the only great power which could be manipulating the Baltic puppets would be Germany – and that Stalin could not admit for it would condemn his entire policy. Hence his absurd lies, which convince no one and which further discredit the Soviet Union in the eyes of the world’s workers.

Stalin’s Bankrupt Policy Endangers the S.U.

It does not require an admission from Stalin to establish the utter bankruptcy of the Stalin-Hitler pact. When the Nazis marched on Poland, Stalin counted on a second Munich as the most likely aftermath. On the day the German troops marched, Molotov smiled skeptically when the Polish ambassador told him that France and England would fulfill their commitments to Poland; “we shall see,” said Molotov unbelievingly. Neither Molotov nor his master had understood that the European crisis had gone too far for a second Munich.

The only other possibility which occurred to the Kremlin minds was that, if war did come, it would be of long duration. Precisely the Stalin-Hitler pact, however, wiping out the possible danger of a war on two fronts, enabled Hitler to concentrate all the war power of German economy in the West to assure a short war. Stalin’s intelligence service undoubtedly acquainted him with the fact that Hitler’s military machine actually believed in the reality of the blitzkrieg timetable which Hitler was publicly enunciating – with August 15 as the outside date for successful completion of the European phases of the war; but Stalin did not use this information to reorganize his policy. He followed that policy out to its dead end.

And what a dead end! Never in the worst days of the war of intervention of 1918-20 was the infant Soviet republic in a more dangerous position than is the Soviet Union today, thanks to Stalin’s strategy.

The European labor movement, which Lenin considered to be the most important bulwark defending the Soviet Union, lies crushed under Hitler’s war machine, as the end-result of Stalin’s foreign policy. Lenin said the Soviet Union must take advantage of the contradictions between the imperialist powers; instead, Stalin let himself be used, first by one imperialist power, then the other. Lenin said the Soviet Union must take advantage of the contradictions between the imperialist powers in order to advance the world revolution, the only real safeguard of the Soviet Union; Stalin permitted himself to be used by the imperialist powers to crush, one after another, the labor movements of Europe.

How Stalin Destroyed Europe’s Labor Movement

In 1936, in the name of the “defense of the Soviet Union” provided by the Franco-Soviet pact, Stalin’s French lieutenants prevented the revolutionary June strikes from culminating in a complete social revolution; instead they told the workers to be good French patriots, to surrender the factories and to obey the coalition with the bourgeoisie, the Popular Front government of Blum-Daladier. That government and its successors, backed by the Stalinists, broke the back of the French working class. Hounded and denuded of its gains and rights, the French workers could scarcely be inspired by the French bourgeoisie to hurl back Hitler.

That same French Popular Front government of Blum-Stalin refused to provide arms to the Spanish Loyalists. Meanwhile the Spanish Popular Front government created by the Stalinists broke the morale of the Spanish workers and peasants by forcing them to dissolve their factory, land and soldiers’ committees; forced them to limits their struggle against Franco within the impotent confines of bourgeois democracy. To achieve this foul end Stalin’s GPU assassinated the flower of the Spanish revolutionists – all this in Stalin’s vain attempt to establish his respectability and to win the good-will of British imperialism. Instead the British facilitated Franco’s victory – and another labor movement was wiped off the map.

Having perpetrated all this evil without adding a particle to the security of the Soviet Union, Stalin then sought protection in the pact with Hitler – with what results we have now seen.

Neither to the British workers nor to the American nor to any other labor movement left in the world can Stalin turn with any assurance of aid in this moment of terrible danger to the Soviet Union. Millions upon millions of workers who before that were ready to defend the Soviet Union would not turn a hand for it now, after the Hitler-Stalin pact and the invasions of Poland and Finland. Our prediction that the defensive positions gained by the pact and the invasions would not compensate in any way for the loss among the workers of their former faith and trust in the Soviet Union has been verified. That, and the crushing of the European labor movement by Hitler’s victories, leave the Soviet Union bereft of all outer defenses.

Soviet Now Faced by United Capitalist Europe

The Soviet Union could endure as an isolated workers’ state in a capitalist world for 23 years thanks only to the fact that Europe was not a capitalist unity but was divided by imperialist rivalries. Now Hitler is in the process of unifying Europe on the most reactionary basis imaginable. The Soviet Union is confronted by a united capitalist Europe.

This is the end of Stalin’s road of “socialism in one country.” Stalin and the “realists” who rallied to him turned their back on the dream of world revolution and concentrated on a “practical” task. At every stage the interests of the world revolution, of the world working class, were subordinated, were sacrificed, to the needs of the Soviet Union – so they said. And this is the result.

If Stalin remains at the helm of the Soviet Union, he will bring it to destruction at the hands of the imperialists, we ha,ve predicted. The truth is here now for all to see. The masses of the Soviet Union, if they are to save themselves and the nationalized economy from imperialist assault, must overthrow Stalin. The destruction of the Stalinist bureaucracy is an absolute necessity for the Soviet Union. Only a revolutionary-internationalist policy and a revolutionary leadership capable of inspiring the world working class to a new effort can save the Soviet Union.

Last updated on 1 February 2019