Operation Barbarossa and the Stalinist “explanation” of the Pact

June 22, 2011 at 6:19 pm (bloggocks, fascism, history, Jim D, Russia, stalinism, thuggery, war)


Over at Nooman’s increasingly bizarre ‘Socialist Unity’ blog, the unpleasant Stalinist and antisemite Jon Wight rehashes the standard Stalinist “explanation” for the Molotov – Ribbentrop  non-aggression pact (aka the ‘Stalin-Hitler pact’), finally ended seventy years ago by Hitler’s ‘Operation Barbarossa’ invasion of the USSR.

“Under no illusions about the motives of the fascist dictator, the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact, signed two years earlier between both countries, wasn’t so much a pact cementing friendly relations between two rival powers as a temporary deferment of future hostilities. Soviet strategy in signing the pact was to buy the time necesssary to prepare for the inevitable war to come…”

In fact, the Pact was the only international agreement that Stalin never broke, and he consistently refused to believe NKVD and GRU (military intelligence) warnings that Hitler intended to invade in 1941.

Karl Dietricht Bracher’s ‘The German Dictatorship’ (Penguin, 1973) gives a rather more credible assessment:

“The union of interests of the two mortal enemies, celebrated with toasts by Stalin to Hitler and accompanied by the about-face of propaganda and the belief that dictatorships ‘do not have to pay heed to vacillating public opinion’ [Ribbentrop to Sculenburg 3 August 1939] was, at least on the part of Germany, totalitarian diplomacy of the purest water. Future war booty was distributed, complete turns could be made in a matter of hours, agreements could be torn up and new ones made. To be sure, there were reservations and dismay, not only in the German Foreign Office but also amongst National Socialists [ie Nazis -JD] and Communists…Yet Moscow’s unequivocal support of Htler’s aggression is no more justifiable than the West’s sacrifice of Czechoslovakia the years before. The Russian occupation of Eastern Poland and the invasion of Finland made it quite clear that an ‘aggression’ pact had been concluded. To Hitler, it broughty temporary protection; to Stalin, territorial gains and the prospect of  the ‘inevitable’ internecine war of capitalism and its ‘fascist afterbirth’; to Poland, a death sentence: the fourth partition.”

Here’s what we at ‘Shiraz’ wrote on the seventieth anniversary of the Pact.

And here’s how the left-wing cartoonist Low depicted the Pact at the time:


(Above) Hitler: “The scum of the earth, I believe?”; Stalin: “The bloody assassin of the workers I presume?”


  1. Jim Denham said,

    My contribution to the ‘Socialist Unity’ debate…as it appears now:


    Comment by Jim Denham — 22 June, 2011 @ 6:40 pm

    …I’m rather proud of that.

  2. Rosie said,

    “As is well known I’m a broadminded and diplomatic sort of trot, but in this case I just find these kind of apologetics for the butcher of moscow and his friendship with adolf hitler a bit hard to take. That the military recovered (no thanks to stalin who had a nervous breakdown) and the russian people made enourmous sacrifices to drive out the Nazi beast, should not be used as a cover for the murderous old bastard.”

    And how about that from our chum johng? Of the two Johns here, he’s definitely the better guy.

  3. Max Dunbar said,

    John does often say quite sensible things

  4. Laban said,

    “It is a question whether Hitler or Stalin loathed it most. Both were aware that it could only be a temporary expedient. The antagonisms between the two empires and systems were mortal.”

    Churchill went on to note that the Russians had “burnt into their minds” the disasters of 1914, when their frontiers were more favorable than in 1939. They had to “be in occupation of the Baltic States and a large part of Poland by force or fraud before they were attacked. If their policy was coldblooded, it was also at the moment realistic in a high degree.”

  5. Orwellianism in the consumer age « Poumista said,

    […] Black Flame, Marxism and the IST: debating power, revolution and Bolshevism“. // Jim Denham responds to Socialist Unity’s whitewashing of  the Molotov-Ribbentrop non-aggression pact. // […]

  6. sackcloth and ashes said,

    Socialist UnityMitford is becoming more deranged by the day.

  7. Chris said,

    I have just returned from a conference in Kyiv on post-Stalinism in which this was discussed. During which I visited the memorial of Babyn Yar where 100,000 Ukrainian Jews, civilians and Red Army POW’s were murdered. This would not have happened without the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and negligence of Stalin who told the besieged Red Army to ‘start digging their graves’.

    Amongst many others Major General Pyotr Grigorenko recorded in his memoirs that the Red Army was ordered to dismantle strong border defensive positions in order not to offend the Nazi’s or appear aggressive during the period of the Pact. On the day the Germans invaded the USSR, the Kremlin transferred millions of roubles as part of a trade agreement to Nazi Germany. In the USSR after Stalin’s death there were many officially published accounts of the utter military negligence of Stalin from the time of the pact through the early disastrous years of the war, such as the terrible encirclement of Kyiv. In the period before the war there is plenty evidence of the Stalinist regime preparing for the war including the population through extensive pro-war propoganda. During the period of the pact the opposite was done, Confirming that Stalin genuinely entered into the agreement not as a ploy.

    To consider the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact the act of strategic genius has no basis in fact unless one considers the death of millions of people in the first years of the German invasion as a necessary and understandable tactical necessity. In which case you would be an idiot devoid an ounce of humanity.

  8. sackcloth and ashes said,

    ‘In which case you would be an idiot devoid an ounce of humanity’.

    That’s Jon Wight summarised in one sentence.

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