The Lost Lesson of the Nonaggression Pact
Seventy-five years ago this month, Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia signed a pact of evil called the “nonaggression pact,” the consequence of which still remains misunderstood.
This was not the only wartime pact signed between these two monsters. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia entered into: a treaty of friendship on September 28, 1939; a comprehensive trade agreement on February 11, 1940; and another trade agreement on January 10, 1941.
Communists have pretended since June 1941, the month when Germany attacked Russia, that “Stalin was playing for time.” That is not true. Communists worked feverishly to help Hitler defeat the Western nations resisting him. The very term “playing for time” was invented only after Hitler attacked Stalin.
On September 17, 1939, Georgi Dimitrov issued orders to all communist parties and their affiliates throughout the world to oppose the democracies in the world war. Vyacheslav Molotov, addressing the Supreme Soviet on October 31, 1939, said that it was criminal to wage a war against Hitlerism disguised as a fight for the democracies. Pravda on January 26, 1940 informed Communists around the world that “Germany does not want war, but peace.” Renegade Communist Louis Fischer in his May 1940 book observed that the Bolsheviks were doing everything possible to avoid acts that displeased the Nazis and that “Bolsheviks did not merely justify their deeds in Poland, but they defended what the Nazis were doing in Poland as well. “
Only the Soviets recognized the Nazi puppet government in Norway and supported the Nazi invasion of Norway and Denmark. The Soviets allowed German troops to travel through Russia in support of those military operations. Russia allowed German warships to use its naval bases.
Communist-led military formations in the French Army quickly surrendered when France was attacked, making this Nazi conquest easier. During the Battle of Britain, Soviet intelligence services provided the Luftwaffe with detailed information on air defenses and aircraft production.
American Communist “peace movements” attacked all help for Britain but were instantly dissolved the moment Hitler attacked Russia. Veterans of the Communist-led Abraham Lincoln Brigade, who fought against the Nationalist in the Spanish Civil War and insisted that the democracies help fight France, marched in the streets of New York City to oppose America entering the war against Nazi Germany.
Betty (Goldstein) Friedan, feminist icon and Stalinist, after the nonaggression pact was signed, wrote a long poem criticizing British imperialism, mimicking President Roosevelt’s call for Americans to be idealistic and help Britain. Friedan went to Washington with eight fellow college students at Smith College to oppose Lend-Lease for Britain. In April 1941, Friedan used her campus newspaper to oppose American involvement in war and Goldstein was denounced for being a tool of Nazi-Communist propaganda.
Benjamin Gitlow, once the most prominent Communist in America, described the actions of American Communists after the non-aggression pact: “They called upon the country to stay out of war. They attacked Roosevelt’s defense program. They did everything in their power to keep the American armed forces small and inadequately armed. They fought bitterly every measure adopted by the country to bolster the position of the democracies, and did everything in their power to wreck Lend-Lease.”
Another famous ex-Communist, Arthur Koestler, wrote: “I remember the day when I learnt from a letter that the Communists in the U.S.A. had embarked on a propaganda campaign against the blockade of Germany and against American help for the Allies. Some of my former friends, Communist refugees from Germany, actively participated in the campaign, which was indirectly supported by the American Nazi Party.”
Louis Budenz, once editor of the Communist Party newspaper the Daily Worker, noted that he “… was given strict instructions by the ninth floor [offices of the Party’s bosses] not to deride Hitler in cartoons, but to open both barrels on Britain….The Communist leaders went out of their way to make use of the workers wherever possible – not for the workers’ benefit, but for the purpose of paralyzing production that might hurt Hitler.”
The very words “Nazi” and “German Fascist” vanished in the Soviet Union, as did any book or magazine or film that might offend the Nazis. Menachem Begin, in his interrogation by the NKVD, noted that “[h]e did not say ‘Hitler’ Germany, he did not say ‘Nazi’ or ‘Fascist’ Germany, just Germany. The Blood Covenant [to be loyal to the Nazis] was binding on the N.K.V.D. officer even while interrogating a prisoner in complete isolation.”
What does this mean today? Marxism during the nonaggression pact proved itself as absolutely and irremediably evil as Nazism. Communism allowed Nazism to conquer Europe and did all it could to help the Nazis defeat Britain. Quite properly, after the war, the West insisted on “de-Nazificaiton.” What we failed to do was insist on “de-Bolshevization” as well, and we have been paying the price ever since.