Felix Morrow

Churchill ‘Satisfied’ with Red Army Showing

He Does Not Desire the Victory of Soviet Union

(4 October 1941)

Source: The Militant, Vol. V No. 40, 4 October 1941, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan.
Copyleft: Felix Morrow Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2019. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

Winston Churchill made a very optimistic speech to the House of Commons on Tuesday, reporting that the balance of battle is definitely swinging in favor of Britain. In line with this optimism, he indicated himself satisfied with the showing made by the Red Army.

Why this complacency of the “democratic ally” in the face of the terrible defeats sustained by the Red Army? An attitude similar to that of Churchill pervades the American bourgeois (and Stalinist) press. Is this merely propaganda to put the best face on a bad situation?

No, it is not merely propaganda. The real point is that the standard of the rulers of the “democracies” for a “good” showing by the Red Army is an entirely different standard than that of the pro-Soviet workers.

All that the “democracies” desire of the Red Army is that it continue to engage the Nazi forces in combat for another year or so. That meanwhile tens of millions of Soviet workers and peasants remain behind to become vassals of Hitler, that the key industrial and agricultural areas of the USSR fall into Hitler’s hands, that millions of Red Army soldiers are destroyed or fall prisoners – all this is no skin off the nose of Roosevelt and Churchill. On the contrary, they would prefer to see the Soviet Union so weakened in this war that the workers’ state cannot recover.

The struggle of the Red Army is desired by the "democracies” merely as a stop-gap to provide more time to prepare the Anglo-American forces to defeat Hitler. If that stop-gap is purchased at the cost of the laying waste of the Soviet Union, the “democracies” are not a bit troubled. What would alarm them would be a victorious Red Army, marching on Berlin.

Stalinists Accept Bourgeois Standard for Red Army

By this bourgeois standard, Roosevelt and Churchill are satisfied with the Red Army. And the Stalinists fall in with that standard! They boast about the successful “strategy” of preventing the destruction of the Red Army by the constant retreats which leave more and more of the territory and population of the Soviet Union under the Nazi heel.

No self-respecting worker can follow the Stalinists in accepting the standard of the bourgeois “democracies” for the showing of the Red Army. The working class standard must be the Red Army’s success in hurling back the Nazis. And by that standard, the plight of the Red Army is terrible indeed.

Our fervent hopes for the victory of the Soviet Union must not blind us to the terrible realities of the present situation. Stalin is now, as always, the organizer of defeats, and only of defeats.

Inferiority of Stalin's General Army Staff

The utter incompetence of the Stalinist leadership of the war must be recognized and understood.

Why has the Red Army lost one battle after another? Why the continued retreats, abandoning irreplaceable industrial and agricultural areas? There is only one factor which can explain these terrible events – the bankruptcy of the Stalinized general staff of the Red Army, air fleet and navy.

Soviet defeats after a long war could be explained by the industrial superiority of the Nazi war machine, which is able to replace materiel much faster than Soviet industry can. But the powerful industrial machine of Hitler is not the explanation for the defeats incurred by the Soviet Union during the first three months of war. The Soviet Union has been preparing war materiel for decades. When the Nazi-Soviet war began, the Soviet Union must have had as many or nearly as many planes, tanks, etc. as the Nazis, and the Red Army was certainly numerically superior to the German forces. Soviet morale, all observers agree, was extraordinary high.

There remains, then, only one other factor in which the Soviet Union was so completely inferior that it can explain the defeats of the first three months – the inferiority of the general staff and the officers’ corps.

The Stalinists have brazenly attempted to claim that the execution of the leading generals in 1937 and the subsequent mass purges of the officers’ corps – not less than 40,000 were executed or imprisoned or driven from their posts – served to improve the functioning of the Red Army. This ghastly argument can now only meet with contempt from any serious worker. In stripping the Soviet armed forces of their leadership, Stalin did more for Hitler than Hitler could have done for himself.

A further proof of the inferiority of the Soviet general staff is provided by the figures on comparative casualties of the contending armies.

It has always been an axiom of military science that the attacking force loses, in killed, wounded and prisoners, much larger number’s than the defending force (three to one should be the relative losses where the forces are comparably equal, say many military experts). But there is a general consensus of opinion that the Red Army, the defending force, is losing more than the attacking force in this, war. Even the best figures of the British do not credit the Red Army with inflicting equal losses. Only the incompetence of Stalin’s general staff can explain the fact that the Nazis are inflicting greater losses than they sustain in an offensive.

We must now face the question of the extent of the losses so far incurred by the Soviet Union.

The Stalinist “strategy” of retreating eastward has stripped the country of key industrial and agricultural areas which make it impossible to reequip and supply the Red Army at the level at which it began the war. This is the terrible truth.

The territories now occupied by the Nazis were the most densely populated areas of the USSR. Twenty-three million people lived in the territories, “won" during the Stalin-Hitler pact and now lost (the Baltic states, Bessarabia, western Byelo-Russia, western Ukraine, Moldavia). Two-thirds of the Ukraine (the entire Ukraine included over forty millions) are lost. At least another ten million lived In Byelo-Russia and the adjoining territory which is now in Hitler’s hands. Thus territory formerly occupied and worked by over 63 million people is now lost.

Not all this population fell into the hands of the Nazis. But those who fled are refugees, who in economic terms are more liability than asset for some time to come.

The importance of waterways for transportation in the USSR is understood by those who know how inadequate is the railroad and highway system. Yet two of the most important waterways (not to speak of the rivers lost so far), the Baltic and Black seas, are now rendered almost useless. Except for besieged Leningrad and the Hango peninsula, the Soviet forces are driven out of the Baltic. The Black Sea is, with the siege of its chief port, Odessa, a war zone.

The Meaning of the Dnieper and Donetz

The two key Western industrial areas of the Soviet Union were the Dnieper and Donetz basins. The Dnieper area is entirely lost. The dramatic incident of the blowing up of the dam has perhaps obscured the fact that the dam was but the key construction in a great industrial area of metallurgical plants, not only iron and steel, but also the non-ferrous metals vital for war industry; of chemical, die and soda plants, and allied industries; of such irreplaceable war plants as that of Szaporozh, the great armor-plate plant. All this is gone. And the Nazis are driving on Kharkov, key to the Donetz basin.

The Dnieper and Donetz basins accounted for 75 per cent of the iron and coal, and a major proportion of the manganese of the Soviet Union (to mention no other items). About half of these raw materials resources are now in the hands of the Nazis.

Of the significance of the agricultural areas lost, one need only recall that the Ukraine has been known as the breadbasket of the Soviet Union.

Stalin seeks to cover up the dread significance of these losses by analogies with Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812. An utterly false analogy. The Russian armies of 1812 could retire with their muskets and make bullets by handicraft methods in the interior of Russia. But tanks, airplanes and railroad guns cannot be made without heavy industry areas like those of the Donetz and Dnieper.

The facts are terrible to contemplate. But we must face them. Stalin has led the Soviet Union to the very brink of catastrophe.


Last updated on: 24 March 2019