191
CHAPTER V
THE SOVIET UNION’S STRUGGLE FOR PEACE
AND SECURITY AGAINST THE SPREAD
OF FASCIST AGGRESSION
(April 1940–June 1941)
 
[no sub-sections]
 

p The Central Committee of the CPSU and the Soviet Government were well aware of the danger arising from fascist Germany, who, despite the agreement signed with the USSR on August 23, 1939, continued her aggressive plans vis-a-vis the Soviet Union. Germany was a black storm-cloud hanging over the Soviet Union’s Western border. The Party and the Soviet Government therefore observed the strictest caution and restraint, effecting their policy of peace and taking pains not to give any grounds for the USSR’s involvement in military conflict. At the same time all necessary measures were taken to ensure the Soviet Union’s security. Every available opportunity was taken to develop the country’s military-economic potential and build up her defensive might. In pursuing this course, the Communist Party and the Soviet Government were guided by Lenin’s instruction that the main task must be "to ensure the continued existence of an isolated socialist republic surrounded by capitalist enemies."  [191•1 

p “Our Party and the Soviet people,” noted Brezhnev, “remembered the warning by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin that imperialism could, at any point in time, unleash another period of wars against the Soviet Union, and took measures to build up the country’s economic and defensive might."  [191•2 

p The Soviet Government’s report at the Sixth Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, which took place from March 29 to April 3,1940, underlined the .task of ensuring peace and security of the USSR. The Supreme Soviet once more asserted that in the 192 sphere of international relations, the Soviet Union would continue to wage a consistent struggle to safeguard peace and ensure its own security, to expose and wreck machinations spearheaded against the world’s first socialist state. "In a word,” noted V. M. Molotov, head of the Soviet Government, "our foreign policy tasks are to ensure peace among nations, and our country’s security. This implies a position of neutrality and non-participation in the war between the big European powers. This position is based on the treaties already signed by us and fully conforms to the Soviet Union’s interests. At the same time, this position helps restrain the spread of war and its fanning in Europe and it is therefore in the interests of all nations striving for peace and who are already suffering the hardships of war."  [192•1  This foreign policy course was unanimously approved By the session of the USSR Supreme Soviet and was consistently put jnto practice.

p After France’s defeat in June 1940, the international situation deteriorated, and there was a growing threat of German aggression against other countries. At the Seventh Session of the USSR Supreme Soviet in August 1940, a government report was heard on internal and foreign policies. The report held that the world was on the eve of a new stage in the war’s escalation.  [192•2  This threat meant an increased danger of war for the Soviet Union, as well. "In this situation,” stressed the Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars at the session, "the Soviet Union must show vigilance over its external security, reinforcing all its internal and external positions.” The Soviet Government urged the people to do all they could to ensure a further, even more powerful upsurge in the country’s defensive might."  [192•3  Shock labour was the Soviet people’s response to this appeal by the Party and Government. The nation was successfully fulfilling the third five-year economic development plan which provided for the accelerated development of the major branches of the defence industry and the creation of energy and fuel reserves and expansion of industry in the country’s eastern regions. In 1940, 166 million tons of coal were mined, and 15 million tons of cast iron and over 15 million tons of steel were smelted; 48,300 million kilowatt-hours of electricity were produced. By mid-1941, the gross industrial output had reached 193 86% of the 1942 target level adopted by the third five-year plan; output of the means of production had reached 90% and output of the means of consumption—80% of this target. In the first half of 1941, rail freight turnover had reached 90% of the projected 1942 level.  [193•1  2,900 new enterprises were brought into operation.

p From 1938 to 1940, the total volume of output by the machine-building and metal-working industries had increased 76% over the 1937 figure. During the first three years of the third five-year plan, the annual increase in production for the defence indusrty was, on average, 39%.

p The economic plan for 1941 envisaged a substantial increase in the production of cast iron, steel, rolled metal, and in coal and oil extraction, the Party and the Government thus provided for a further steady consolidation of the Soviet state’s economic might and defence capacity. A powerful war industry was built up on the basis of heavy industry. Industries were created which were quite new to Russia: the aircraft, tank-building, motor-car, tractor, alluminium, magnesium and rubber industries.

p This was undoubtedly one the USSR’s greatest achievements of that time. "Back in the pre-war period,” wrote N. A. Voznesensky, "a war industry was built up in the USSR with specialised aircraft, tank, shipbuilding, and other military equipment and ammunition industries. During the Great Patriotic War, they helped multiply the capacity of the USSR’s war industry."  [193•2 

p On the eve of nazi Germany’s perfidious attack on the Soviet Union, the Party and Government passed as a precaution the mobilisation plan on ammunition supply for’ the second half of 1941 and for 1942 with a view to switching industry on a war footing in the event of war.  [193•3 

p In February 1941, the 18th Conference of the CPSU discussed the tasks facing the Party in industry and transport. With the growing danger of attack from fascist Germany, the Conference regarded the development of industry by every possible means as its primary task, and outlined the quickest ways of eliminating defects in industry and transport.

p The resolution of the Conference noted that "the production growth rates of the defence industries in 1940 were 194 considerably higher than the production growth rates for industry as a whole".  [194•1 

p Every month the war industry stepped up its output of new aircraft, tanks, various ordnance pieces, small arms and ammunition. Enterprises connected to the war industry received first priority for the supply of raw materials, equipment, fuel, and electricity. While in 1938 appropriations under the People’s Commissariat of Defence amounted to 2,700 million rubles, in 1941 the figure had grown more than 2.5 times to the tune of 7,100 million rubles.  [194•2 

p N. G. Kuznetsov, People’s Commissar for the Navy during the Second World War, wrote in his memoirs that "due to the international situation, the Government implemented wide-ranging, energetic measures to build up the country’s defence capacity. There was essentially no limit to the means allotted for defence needs. The war industry sharply increased its output of new aeroplanes, tanks, pieces of ordnance and ships (excepting capital ships)".  [194•3 

p Thus, as the threat of German attack on the Soviet Union became more tangible, the Party and the Government drew the proper conclusions and speeded up the implementation of defence measures. Soviet foreign policy was of no small account in the matter of ensuring the USSR’s security.

p The Soviet Government attached great significance to providing for security in the Baltic. It was important for the Soviet Union that the Baltic countries were not transformed into an open door through which the aggressor could invade.

p The treaties of mutual assistance concluded by the Soviet Union with Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia in 1939 conformed to the vital interests of those peoples. Apart from creating the conditions for equal and advantageous co-operation with the USSR, they ensured the security of the Baltic peoples from the threat of Hitler aggression. However, these countries’ fascist governments, against their people’s national interests, carried on with their anti-Soviet course even after signing the mutual assistance pacts. The Soviet Ambassador in Kaunas, describing the policy of Smetona and the rest of the ruling clique, wrote to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs on June 3, 1940: "After concluding the mutual 195 assistance treaty with the USSR in October 1939, Lithuanian ruling circles started looking for ways of counterbalancing the Soviet influence in Lithuania.”  [195•1 

p The three Baltic governments’ hostility towards the USSR came to light especially during a discussion on contingents of Soviet armed forces to be stationed in these countries. Their total number had been established when the mutual assistance treaty was signed. However, as soon as the Soviet Union began introducing military units into Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, their governments erected every possible obstacle to sabotage the operation. They demanded that negotiations be held on the categories of personnel to be included in the contingent of Soviet armed forces. The "Soviet Government agreed to discuss this matter and also other related questions —when Soviet military units, aircraft and tanks would be introduced and the conditions of leasing land and buildings and constructing military bases. The negotiations began at the end of October 1939, but were drawn out for several months by Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In order to cut down the number of Soviet troops to the very limit, the Baltic governments demanded that their overall number should include not only the auxilliary construction units, who would be building and equipping the military bases and settlements, but also the civilian personnel (cooks, waitresses, food and supply workers, teachers, nannies, etc.). Endless disputes on all matters were still unsettled by the time the fascist regimes in the three Baltic countries were overthrown in June 1940.  [195•2 

p In order to politically prepare the Baltic peoples for a war against the Soviet Union, the ruling circles of those countries were at pains to spread anti-Soviet propaganda. One of its targets was also the Red Army units stationed in the Baltic countries. "With the authorities’ knowledge and on their initiative,” wrote the Soviet Ambassador in Riga to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, "the most absurd and hostile rumours are circulating in Latvia concerning our Red Army.... As soon as our troops arrived, the authorities themselves started creating a defamatory and malignant atmosphere.” "The Latvian Government,” the report reads further, "has launched a campaign of terror against all who sincerely express sympathy with our Red Army and see it as genuine support for Latvia’s independence. The high-ranking 196 officers and government circles are waging a cowardly and base war of propoganda against the Soviet Union."  [196•1 

p Describing this anti-Soviet policy of the Baltic countries’ fascist governments, the journal Bolshevik wrote: "Despite the mutual assistance pacts between the Soviet Union and these Baltic republics, the corrupt governments in power in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have done all they could to sabotage peaceful cooperation, to reverse everything and turn the Baltic into a springboard against the Soviet Union. The ruling circles of these countries not only shunned their commitments: they defied the will and vital interests of the peoples of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia."  [196•2 

p In the light of these circumstances, the Soviet Givernment decided to take additional measures to ensure the security of its western borders and their approaches. This was especially necessary since by mid-1940, vith the increasing threat of German attack on the Baltic countries, it became plain that the bourgeoisie .of these countries were incapable of defending their nations from nazi aggression. A crisis arose in the ruling strata which created favourable conditions for the people’s victory over the bourgeoisie. The ruling circles in the Baltic used repressive measures in an effort to forestall the imminent revolutionary crisis. At the same time, they stepped up acts of sabotage against the treaties with the USSR, since these isolated them from international imperialism. Moreover, the governments of these countries embarked on «a course of uniting all reactionary forces for an onslaught against the Soviet Union. In December 1939, a conference was held in Tallinn on the question of organising a military alliance of the Baltic countries which would be spearheaded against the USSR. In March 1940, another conference took place in Riga on the same issue. In June 1940, a so-called Baltic week took place in Tallinn, which was something in the nature of a demonstration of the Baltic countries’ anti-Soviet forces. The ruling circles of these states increasingly appealed to Berlin for help and even intended asking Hitler Germany to establish her protectorate over the whole of the Baltic. Every month saw increased provocations against the Red Army servicemen stationed there according to the treaties; a hostile, anti-Soviet atmosphere was deliberately built up.  [196•3 

197

p In mid-June, the Soviet Government made representations to the governments of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The Soviet Government demanded that governments be formed in these countries that would, both in word and deed, fulfill their obligations under the treaties of mutual assistance with the Soviet Union,  [197•1  These Soviet statements helped the broad masses of the people in the Baltic to realise the anti-popular nature of the ruling circles’ home and foreign policies. The working people of the Baltic countries therefore ardently supported the Soviet demands. Their patience finally ran out and anti-government rallies and demonstrations began to crop up all over the Baltic.

p The ruling cliques, being isolated from international imperialism, did not risk using force against their peoples. Besides, the presence of Soviet units in the Baltic countries had a sobering influence on the most bellicose bourgeois circles, deterring them from this extreme measure. In connection with the revolutionary situation which arose in Estonia in early 1940 and the favourable conditions for the Estonian people’s peaceful victory over the bourgeoisie, A. I. Mikoyan noted: "The Estonian bourgeoisie found themselves isolated and, in contrast to their 1918 or 1919 position, they were now unable to rely on direct military help from the imperialist powers. The working people were backed by a truly mighty force —the Soviet people, who had, by that time, gained decisive victories in socialist construction and in turning their country into a mighty socialist power. All this ensured a quick victory by the people and, moreover, with neither bloodshed nor armed conflict. Power passed peacefully into the hands of the working people."  [197•2  A similar situation took shape in Lithuania and Latvia, where the working people seized power peacefully. Popular Front governments were formed: in Lithuania the government was led by the eminent progressive journalist Justas Paleckis, in Latvia, by Professor August Kirhenstein, in Estonia, by a well-known poet J. Vares. In those historic days, Bolshevik wrote the following about these events: "The Chinese wall which these pitiful governments attempted to erect between the USSR and the Baltic countries has collapsed. A broad popular movement has risen up and cast out from their long-occupied positions the riff-raff that had seized power and scoffed at the working people for many years."  [197•3 

198

p The restoration of Soviet power in the Baltic states, as well as being a victory for the peoples of those countries, was also a triumph for the Soviet people and the Leninist national policy. At the same time, it was a success of Soviet foreign policy; the Baltic peoples had been rescued, if only for a short while, from the blows of the imperialist war, and the security of the USSR’s North-West borders had been consolidated.

p Once Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia became part of the Soviet Union, the latter’s position in the Baltic was strengthened, which in turn promoted peace in Scandinavia.

p The consolidation of the USSR’s position in the Baltic Sea was also significant in that it enabled the Soviet Union to scotch the far-reaching plans of the German General Staff, viz. to turn the Baltic Sea into an "internal German sea”. This would have allowed Germany to supply Finland, her ally in the war against the Soviet Union, by sea. Besides this, the nazis were planning to make use of this "internal German sea" for a rapid seizure of Leningrad.

p The fact that the Soviet armed forces occupied positions west of the former borders meant, actually, that an “eastern” front had been organised against the aggression of fascist Germany.  [198•1 

p The question of recovering Bessarabia was also of great importance to the USSR. The Soviet-Rumanian conflict over Bessarabia arose in 1918 when the bourgeois-landowner government of Rumania, incited by the Western powers, who were out to weaken the Soviet state, seized this parcel of Soviet territory. The Soviet Union had never accepted the fact of Bessarabia’s forcible annexation and had made repeated statements to this effect. A new statement was made at the Sixth Session of the USSR Supreme Soviet in the spring of 1940.  [198•2 

p However, instead of making a realistic appraisal of the situation and entering into negotiations with the Soviet Government to solve the Bessarabian question, the Rumanian Government started a Inilitary built-up in preparation for war and appealed to a number of governments for help, including fascist Italy and Germany.  [198•3  The anti-Soviet attitude of the Rumanian Government gave rise to its policy of rapprochement with the fascist powers, Germany in particular, turning Rumania into the latter’s obedient satellite.

199

p In the light of the tense, alarming state of international affairs, the USSR could no longer accept the Bessarabian situation. In the evening of June 26, 1940, Davidescu, the Rumanian Envoy in Moscow, was summoned to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and handed a Soviet Government statement on the Bessarabian question. "The Soviet Union,” it read, "has never accepted the fact of Bessarabia’s forced annexation and has repeatedly made public statements on the matter. Now that the USSR’s military weakness is a thing of the past, and the present world situation demands a rapid solution of questions which have long been left unsolved, in order to lay a foundation for durable peace between the nations, the Soviet Union considers it necessary and timely to start working jointly with Rumania towards an immediate solution of the question of Bessarabia’s return to the Sovjet Union to restore justice.” Furthermore, the Soviet Government declared that the question of returning Bessarabia was integrally tied up with the question of returning to the USSR "that part of Bukovina whose population was largely related to the Ukraine, both by their common historical fate and their common language and national composition".  [199•1 

p The Soviet demand for the return of Northern Bukovina reflected the national aspirations of the latter’s population: in November 1918, the People’s Vetche of Bukovina adopted a decision on reunification with the Soviet Ukraine.  [199•2 

p In conclusion, the statement said that the Soviet Government proposed to the government of Rumania that:

p 1. Bessarabia be return to the Soviet Union.

p 2. Northern Bukovina be passed over to the Soviet Union. The Soviet Government expressed the hope that the Rumanian Government "would accept the present proposals amd enable the protracted conflict between the USSR and Rumania to be settled peacefully".  [199•3  The Tatarescu Government gave the required answer on June 27, 1940.

p “His Majesty’s Government declares,” it stated, "its readiness to enter immediately, in the broadest sense, into a friendly discussion by mutual agreement, of all the Soviet Government’s proposals."  [199•4 

p This declaration of readiness to "solve by peaceful means" and discuss in "a friendly spirit all proposals" was intended to screen 200   the Rumanian Government’s reluctance to give a clear answer to the USSR’s demand for the return of primordial Soviet territory, Bessarabia.

p By attempting to embark on a prolonged correspondence on this issue, Tatarescu wanted to play for time to enlist the support of the fascist powers and other states for opposing the Soviet Union.

p The Soviet Government immediately saw through this "peaceful manoeuvre" by the Rumanian authorities. It declared the Rumanian Government’s answer to be “indefinite” for it had not given a clear acceptance of the USSR’s proposal that Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina be returned directly to the Soviet Union. The USSR therefore demanded a plain answer to its question and. when Davidescu stated that Bucharest agreed to accept the Soviet proposal, suggested that within 4 days the Rumanian troops should Vacate the territory of Bessarabia and North Bukovina and Red Army units enter the territory. The Soviet Government demanded a reply from Bucharest no later than 12 noon on June 28, 1940. Tatarescu gave Moscow a positive reply before this deadline. On the same day, units of the Red Army entered Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina and on June 30 reached the River Prut, which now marks the border of the Soviet state. The Red Army was greeted with immense joy by the inhabitants of the towns and villages which it liberated. Bessarabia was reunited with Soviet Moldavia which was proclaimed on August 2, 1940 the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

p The removal of historical injustice by returning Soviet lands formerly annexed by the Rumanian landowners and capitalists meant that the Leninist principle of the self-determination of nations had been put into practice.

p At the same time, Bessarabia’s return to the Soviet Union had a great political and strategic significance. The Soviet Union was again a Danube state and made every effort to reestablish its rights as a Danube state. It demanded the right to participate in the drawing up of a new Danube navigation regime and also the restoration of the other Danube states’ rights which had been grossly violated by the Entente powers at the conclusion of the Versailles Treaty.

p At that time, the USSR continued its active diplomatic drive against fascist aggression in South-East Europe. The Balkans had long been small change in the political game played by the big imperialist powers. The latter had, in their own mercenary interests, used every means possible to stir up the strife and hostility between the peoples of the Balkan countries. This was also the 201 situation in the initial period of the Second World War, when the Balkans continued to remain the powder-keg of Europe.

p Nazi Germany represented a particularly serious threat to the peoples of South-East Europe, and the danger increased after France’s defeat. From the middle of 1940, the fascist "Third Reich" assumed the offensive and aspired to subordinate the South-East European states both economically and politically. Germany needed these countries for raw materials, food-stuffs, and as cheap labour reserves. The Balkans also constituted an important springboard for a German attack on the USSR.

p At the same time, Germany saw the Balkans as the shortest route to the British and French colonies in the Middle East. The Hitler Government therefore strove to turn the Balkan countries into German satellites and station its troops there.

p The Soviet Union was the only country whose policies conformed to the interests of the Balkan countries. The main aims of the Soviet policy towards the Balkan Peninsular were to bar the German fascists’ way to the Balkans, help the Balkan peoples preserve their freedom and independence and prevent the spread of war into this part of Europe.

p However, this Soviet policy was opposed by the British and French ruling circles as well as by Hitler Germany. After France’s defeat, Britain took up an even more obstinate stand.

p In the given situation, the Balkan countries could only preserve their independence and resist German pressure and the intrigues of other imperialist powers with Soviet backing and political and economic co-operation. The Soviet Union was making serious efforts in this direction. This is illustrated by Soviet policy towards Bulgaria.

p Evidence in point is the instruction from the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs to the Soviet Ambassador in Bulgaria to declare to the Bulgarian Government that "if the Bulgarians,get into any kind of difficulties, they can count on the Soviet Union which will not abandon them and, if the Bulgarians wish, will be ready to render them effective assistance."  [201•1  The USSR’s suggestion to conclude a mutual assistance pact with Bulgaria illustrates its desire to help Bulgaria safeguard her independence and sovereignty. The People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs made this proposal to the Bulgarian Envoy in Moscow, Antanov, on September 20, 1939. The latter promised to hand the Soviet proposal over to Sofia and report his government’s reply.  [201•2 

202

p On October 16,1939, the Bulgarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs advised the Soviet Charge" d’Affaires in Sofia that Bulgaria could not conclude a mutual assistance pact with the Soviet Union. On December 13,1939, Antanov informed the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs that the Bulgarian Government considered it impossible to conclude any kind of political treaty with the USSR.  [202•1 

p There were a number of reasons for the Bulgarian refusal. A significant factor was British and German pressure. According to the Soviet Embassy in Sofia, Britain threatened the Bulgariar Government that "if it agrees to further rapprochement with the Soviet Union, the British Government will denounce its credit agreement and will demand payment of all debts from Bulgaria".  [202•2 

p Shortly afterwards, the Soviet Government once more suggested a mutual assistance pact with Bulgaria. A. A. Sobolev, General Secretary of the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, was sent to Sofia with a special mission. On November 25, 1940, Sobolev informed King Boris III of the Soviet Government’s statement to the effect that the USSR, taking into account the community of interests of both countries, "renews its proposal of September 1939 to conclude a mutual assistance pact "and that it was ready to "render Bulgaria all manner of assistance, including military, in the event of a threat of attack on Bulgaria, any financial help, foodstuffs, arms and supplies in the form of a loan, if Bulgaria needs it. At the same time, the USSR is prepared to increase its purchases of Bulgarian goods".  [202•3  In conclusion, Sobolev asserted that "The Soviet Union considers it expedient to conclude precisely a pact of mutual assistance which, unlike unilateral guarantees, stresses the full equality of both interested parties."  [202•4 

p Several days later, the Bulgarian Government informed the Soviet Government of its rejection of the Soviet proposal.  [202•5 

p Despite this refusal, the Soviet initiative in extending the hand of friendship to Bulgaria played an important role. Large sections of the public in the Balkan countries regarded it as an act aimed at keeping the Balkans out of the war zone.

p The Bulgarian workers’ party put out a special leaflet containing the text of the Soviet proposal. An article supporting this proposal 203 was printed in Rabotnichesko delo, the newspaper published illegally by this party. It read: "The overwhelming majority of the Bulgarian people, irrespective of organisational affiliation and political conviction, enthusiastically welcome the pact and proclaim their support for its acceptance. The campaign for a petition in favour of the pact has turned into a genuine public plebiscite.... The Bulgarian people —workers, peasants, artisans, intelligentsia, all honest Bulgarians who love their native land, including those sons of Bulgaria who have been sent abroad in soldier’s garb —declare their support for the Soviet proposal."  [203•1 

p The USSR could do nothing to prevent Bulgaria being turned into a German satellite, since the fascist ruling clique, led by King Boris III and Prime Minister Filov, were blinded by class hatred and were pursuing, against the people’s interests, a policy of collusion with Hitler. In mid-November 1940 King Boris III and Hitler came secretely to an understanding about Bulgaria joining the aggressive Triple Pact.

p To justify this policy, the Filov Government spread the rumour that it had the support of the Soviet Union, which allegedly had no objection to the introduction of nazi troops in Bulgaria. On January 13, 1941, TASS published a statement refuting these false allegations. The statement emphasised that "if German troops are in fact in Bulgaria, and if their further movement into Bulgaria is actually taking place, then this is all being done without the knowledge or agreement of the USSR...."  [203•2 

p On January 17, 1941, the Soviet Government made a representation to the German Ambassador in Moscow to the effect that the USSR could not remain indifferent to the events in the Balkans. On the same day the Soviet Ambassador in Berlin made a representation to the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, stating that "the Soviet Union warns against the entry of German troops into Bulgarian territory and into the straits zone, since, as it has repeatedly informed the imperial government, it regards these territories as a zone of its security".  [203•3 

p On February 28, 1941, the Soviet Government reaffirmed its position in relation to Bulgaria. Nevertheless, Filov’s monarcho-fascist clique clinched its deal with Hitler: on March 1, 1941, Bulgaria was proclaimed signatory to the Triple Pact and the 204 fascist Wehrmacht entered Bulgaria. She thus became Hitler’s satellite and a springboard for a German fascist attack on the Soviet Union.

p To justify this perfidious policy, which was against the people’s interests, the Filov Government announced to the Soviet Union that it had agreed to the introduction of German troops into Bulgaria allegedly in order to "preserve peace in the Balkans”. On March 3, the Soviet Government once more asserted that such a policy "leads not to the strengthening of peace, but to the enlargement of the sphere of war, and to Bulgaria’s involvement in that war.... The Soviet Government, faithful to its policy of peace, cannot, in view of this situation, render any kind of support to the Bulgarian Government in pursuing its present policy".  [204•1 

p The USSR took great pains to prevent Germany advancing into Yugoslavia and spreading the war into that country. To this end, on April 5,1941, the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia signed a treaty of friendship and non-aggression. Clause 2 of the treaty stated that if one of the contracting parties were subject to attack by a third state, the other contracting party pledged "to observe a policy of friendly relations towards it".  [204•2 

p By concluding this treaty, the USSR confirmed its friendly relations towards Yugoslavia. In those difficult days, this constituted valuable moral and political backing for the people of Yugoslavia.

p On April 6, 1941, Hitler Germany, without declaring war, invaded Yugoslavia. Nazi Germany had thus decided to turn a deaf ear to the Soviet Union’s warnings, one of which was issued on April 6, 1941, to the German Ambassador.  [204•3 

p The security of Turkey as well as the Soviet Union was threatened by the German occupation of the Balkans. During that uneasy period the USSR came out in support of Turkey: on March 9, the Turkish Ambassador was invited to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs where he was informed, on the Soviet Government’s behalf, that "if Turkey is actually subjected to attack by any foreign powfer and is compelled to take up arms to protect the inviolability of her territory, then Turkey may rely on the Soviet-Turkish non-aggression pact and can count on the full understanding and neutrality of the Soviet Union".  [204•4  The Turkish 205 Ambassador replied that this "declaration will be of great moral support to the Turkish Government" and that it "has no doubt that the Soviet Union will not attack Turkey if the latter is subject to an attack by any power”   [205•1 

p The threat of an attack through the territory of Finland became ever more obvious. After signing the Moscow treaty, the Finnish Government stepped onto the path of drawing closer to Germany and preparing a new war against the USSR. The Finnish Minister of Defence Niukkanen declared that peace meant "coming over to the side of Germany”, and so Finland became an ally of Germany and joined in the preparation of war against the USSR. She allowed German troops, which were preparing to attack the Soviet Union, to be deployed on her territory.

p The Finnish Government, in violation of clause 5 of the peace treaty, began to erect fortifications in the Petsamo region, build air bases, and extend moorings in Liinahamari, etc. Finnish reactionary circles regarded the treaty with the USSR as a means of playing for time while preparing a new war against the Soviet state. Ryti, the Finnish President, admitted in July 1941 that "three weeks after signing the peace treaty it became clear that we would again be waging war against the Soviet Union".  [205•2 

p In order to prepare the people ideologically for such a war the Finnish Government launched an intensive anti-Soviet campaign and banned the Society for Peace- and Friendship with the USSR. Aiming to intimidate anyone who showed feelings of friendship towards the USSR, the Finnish Government organised police reprisals and used firearms to break up a meeting of the above-mentioned society in Turku. These and other measures were all part of a plan to prepare the country for war against the Soviet Union.  [205•3 

p Finland failed to fulfil her obligations under the trade agreements with the USSR, while the latter was irreproachably supplying Finland with provisions.  [205•4  Ryti had to admit this on August 18, 1940.  [205•5 

p On June 22, 1941, Finland, along with Germany, attacked the Soviet Union. Ryti, however, tried to conceal this from the Finnish 206 people, declaring that Finland had become the “victim” of Soviet aggression.  [206•1 

p The USSR did everything it could to preserve the independence of Sweden who, already in the spring of 1940, after the seizure of Denmark, was under threat of attack from Germany.

p Günther, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, in an interview with the newspaper Dagens Nyheter in April 1946 commented on Sweden’s position after the Germans had occupied Denmark and Norway: "On April 9, 1940, hardly any of the members of the government believed —I for one did not —that Sweden would be able to avoid war in the long run."  [206•2 

p On April 13, 1940, a representation was made to the German Ambassador in Moscow in defence of Sweden’s neutrality, reading as follows: "The Soviet Government has great interest in the preservation of Sweden’s neutrality; its violation would be undesirable for the Soviet Government and the latter hopes that Sweden’s inclusion in the German action will not take place."  [206•3 

p In reply to this stern warning, the German Ambassador made a statement to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs on April 16, saying that Germany had no intention of spreading her northern military operation to Swedish territory and would certainly respect the neutrality of Sweden so long as the latter, for her part, observed strict neutrality and did not give any assistance to the Western powers.  [206•4 

p Hansson, the Swedish Prime Minister, thanked the Soviet Government "for the understanding expressed by the Soviet Union on the Swedish position and for supporting her neutral line”. Hansson went on to say that "friendship with the Soviet Union is Sweden’s main support".  [206•5 

p Later on, the Soviet Union continued to help Sweden preserve her neutrality. In July 1940, Boheman, the General Secretary of the Swedish Foreign Ministry, was informed during his stay in Moscow that the USSR was interested in Sweden’s long-term neutrality.

p On October 27, 1940, the Soviet Ambassador in Sweden was instructed to make a fresh statement to the Swedish Government 207 that “ an unconditional recognition of and respect for the full independence of Sweden is the unalterable position of the Soviet Government".  [207•1 

p During the Soviet-German negotiations in Berlin in November 1940 the Soviet Government again mentioned that the USSR was interested in the preservation of Sweden’s neutrality.

p After the Second World War, Swedish Government representatives publicly acknowledged the Soviet Union’s important role in safeguarding Sweden’s independence in 1940. Unden, the Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs, made this particularly clear on October 12, 1945.  [207•2 

p Thus, during the war years, the Soviet Union was the only great power to give decisive support to Sweden’s traditional policy of neutrality.

p The problem of relations with Britain, France and the USA was uppermost in the USSR’s international policies. A major source of worry for Moscow was Britain’s hostile policy which essentially boiled down to provoking conflict between the USSR and Germany.

p On March 18, 1940, the British Government, still led by Chamberlain, proposed to the USSR that the trade talks broken off in October 1939 be resumed. The Soviet Government accepted this proposal. The USSR was prepared to develop trade with Britain on a mutually beneficial basis, but came out firmly against British control over Soviet foreign trade and the development of trade relations with Britain at the expense of Soviet-German trade relations. Yet, this was precisely what the British were working towards, and this was eloquently illustrated by the British memorandum of April 4, drawn up by the Ministry of Economic Warfare. The memorandum demanded that British control posts be set up on Soviet territory to observe and restrict Soviet exports to Germany.

p On April 27, 1940, the Soviet Government sent London a memorandum containing its proposals for developing Soviet-British trade.

p However, a British memorandum of May 8, 1940, passed over these proposals and contained no specific suggestions on this matter. Instead, it raised the questions of guarantees against the re-export of British goods to Germany, of the content of trade agreements concluded between the USSR and Germany, and the 208 limitation of Soviet deliveries to Germany. All this was plain evidence of Britain’s reluctance to adopt a business-like approach to developing trade relations with the USSR, which would have promoted a favourable political atmosphere in relations between the two states. A statement to this effect was made by TASS on May 22, 1940, which indicated, in particular, that "a number of measures taken by the British Government to curtail and limit trade with the USSR (cancelling Soviet orders for machinery), the detention of Soviet merchant ships carrying cargoes for the USSR, the British Government’s hostile position towards the USSR during the Soviet-Finnish conflict and also its leading part in excluding the USSR from the League of Nations could not be conducive to the satisfactory progress of these talks".  [208•1 

p On May 10, 1940, the Churchill Government was formed in Britain. No essential changes, however, came about in the British policy towards the USSR.

p The Churchill Government deliberately made a great fuss over the appointment of Stafford Cripps as British Ambassador in Moscow, and the British press published a lot of propaganda about his "special mission”. It was all done with an eye to arousing Berlin’s suspicion towards the USSR, thereby’ achieving a deterioration in Soviet-German relations.

p The Soviet Government saw through these crafty schemes and declared its readiness to accept Cripps or any other British Ambassador of normal status. On June 5, 1940, Cripps was appointed Ambassador and on the 12th he arrived in Moscow without credentials, which were passed to him by telegraph on June 21, 1940. He brought a message from Churchill to Stalin which proposed "to discuss fully with the Soviet Government any of the vast problems created by Germany’s present attempt to pursue in Europe a methodical process by successive stages of conquest and absorption".  [208•2 

p Soon after his arrival in Moscow, Cripps met and talked with Soviet leaders: J. V. Stalin, V. M. Molotov, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars, and also A. I. Mikoyan, the People’s Commissar for Foreign Trade.

p On July 1, Cripps had a 3-hour talk with Stalin, during which Cripps showed special interest in the state of trade between the USSR and Germany and expressed doubts as to whether 209 “Anglo-Soviet relations were good and friendly enough to ensure a situation in which there would be no danger of any goods supplied by Britain for the internal needs of the Russian economy being sent to the enemy".  [209•1 

p As a result of these talks, Cripps was satisfied that there was a good chance of developing trade ties between Britain and the USSR, since the latter was interested in normalising political and economic relations with Britain and the Soviet Union’s trade relations with Germany would not be able to impede this.

p One might have assumed that the Churchill Government, after receiving this information from Cripps, would have reconsidered its policy towards the USSR and submitted constructive proposals to improve Anglo-Soviet economic and political relations. This did not in fact happen. On the contrary, in the summer of 1940, the British Government took a number of measures which led to their deterioration. In a conversation with Cripps on August 7, 1940, Molotov, People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, compared the briskly developing trade and economic relations between the USSR and Germany with Anglo-Soviet trade and economic relations: "This is not being achieved with Britain; quite on the contrary, the British side has not fulfilled our earlier orders, and, what is more, ill-intentioned moves in respect to the USSR, like the delay over the gold purchased from the Baits, have again taken place—something that does not help to improve relations."  [209•2  Britain refused to acknowledge the admission of the three Baltic states into the USSR, seized the gold deposited in British banks and belonging to these Baltic republics, impounded 24 Estonian and Latvian steamers then docked in British ports, and their crews, who demanded to be allowed to return home, were thrown into concentration camps.

p On July 23, 1940, the Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, S. A. Lozovsky, handed Cripps a note protesting against the illegal action of the British Bank and Treasury which had arrested gold bought from Estonian and Lithuanian banks and now belonging to the State Bank of the USSR.  [209•3  The People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs repeatedly raised the question of the Baltic gold with Ambassador Cripps.

p Cripps replied with an “unofficial” proposal to “freeze” all mutual claims and counter-claims until the end of the war.

210

p In a talk with Cripps on September 14, 1940, A. Y. Vyshinsky, Deputy People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs, said on the matter: “I do not consider it correct or expedient to ‘freeze’ these questions. The Soviet Government regards the British Government’s arrest of Soviet gold as an illegal act."  [210•1 

p On October 9,1940, Vyshinsky had another talk with Cripps and handed him a note concerning the Baltic steamers, illegally impounded by Britain. Cripps declared that he had been instructed by his government "to make an official proposal to the Soviet Government to postpone for 6 months discussion on the controversial Baltic questions and open trade negotiations".  [210•2  On October 19, Cripps visited the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Trade of the USSR and handed over the British proposals on extending trade. On October 22, 1940, during a talk with Vyshinsky, Cripps handed him a British memorandum, to be passed to the Soviet Government, on measures for improving Anglo-Soviet relations and the conclusion of a pact between Britain and the USSR.  [210•3  In doing so, he stressed that the handing over of this memorandum and the proposals it contained, plus the suggestion to begin Anglo-Soviet talks, were regarded by the British Government as secret and confidential.

p The memorandum stated that if the USSR observed "friendly neutrality" in its relations with Britain, concluded a trade agreement with her, and then a non-aggression pact, similar to the treaty with Germany, then Britain would be prepared to take on the following commitments:

p a) In the event of victory, to consult with the USSR on a level with other powers which had rendered Britain assistance or direct military help, on questions of post-war arrangements in Europe and Asia and to take into account the USSR’s point of view;

p b) At the end of the war, not to organise or enter into any kind of alliance directed against the USSR if the USSR refrained from engaging in hostile actions in relation to Great Britain;

p c) "To acknowledge the de facto power of the Soviet Union in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bessarabia, Northern Bukovina and those parts of the former Polish state which are now under Soviet supremacy”;

p d) On the basis of a general trade or barter agreement, to supply 211 the USSR, in the event of an attack on it by a neighbouring power, with available goods or expert assistance, depending on which the USSR required, as far as Britain’s own needs and obligations towards third countries allowed this;

p e) Great Britain guaranteed that an attack would not be made on the USSR by Turkey or Iran or their future allies.  [211•1 

p On November 11, 1940, Vyshinsky gave Cripps a negative appraisal of the British proposals. But Cripps did not take this as a final answer and continued to push for an official reply. During a meeting with Cripps on February 1,1941, Molotov stressed that the personal viewpoint voiced by Vyshinsky on November 11, that the proposals contained in the British memorandum could not serve as a basis for adjusting Soviet-British relations, had been approved by the Soviet Government.  [211•2  Molotov said that the memorandum had given no evidence of a British desire to improve relations with the USSR. He emphasised that the hopes of "the Soviet Government for improving relations with Britain have by no means been justified. On the contrary, while the Soviet side has taken no unfriendly steps whatsoever in relation to Britain, the latter has carried out a number of new unfriendly acts vis-a-vis the USSR in 1940, which does not indicate the British Government’s wish to improve relations between both countries".  [211•3 

p Indeed, an analysis of the British memorandum confirms that the British Government remained silent on all the USSR’s claims (the Baltic gold, the ships, and the return of the seamen, etc.). Besides, Britain avoided recognising the USSR’s Western borders. Thus, to conclude a trade agreement and then to sign a non-aggression pact with Britain would do nothing to change the situation which had taken shape. Moreover, Britain would not accept any firm commitments to supply goods to the Soviet Union even if the latter was subjected to an attack by "a neighbouring power" (i.e. Germany—author). Several days after handing the memorandum to the Soviet Government, the British Government issued a protest on October 29 against the USSR’s participation in the work of the Danube Commission. This plus the ensuing actions by the Churchill Government confirmed that the latter had submitted the proposals without the slightest intention of achieving a radical improvement in Anglo-Soviet relations. These proposals were calculated to worsen Soviet-German relations, and arouse 212 German suspicions towards the USSR. This is also confirmed by the fact that, in early November 1940, on the eve of a visit by the Soviet Head of Government to Berlin, an American journalist was informed in the Foreign Office of the contents of the British memorandum of October 22. In order to cover up the tracks, Cripps “complained” on November 16 to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs, making out that the Soviet Embassy in London had divulged the contents of the memorandum.  [212•1 

p On November 19, Vyshinsky declared to Cripps that, according to Maisky, "the Foreign Office is the source of the rumours; its officials have for several days been informing various journalists about Cripps’ demarche of October 22”, and that he should therefore seek the "source of the divulgence of the October 22 proposals in the British Foreign Ministry".  [212•2 

p In a talk with Cripps on October 2, 1940, Laurence Steinhardt, US Ambassador in Moscow, clearly defined the aims of British policy towards the USSR: “The fundamental error of Allied, and subsequently British, diplomacy in respect of the Soviet Union has been that it has at all times been directed towards attempting to persuade the Soviet Union to undertake positive action which if not leading immediately to an armed conflict with Germany would at least involve the risk of such a contingency."

p Steinhardt drew the conclusion that this policy was doomed to failure. He wrote: " ... It is most unlikely that the Soviet Union will through any serious negotiations or agreement with Great Britain provoke the very event which its entire policy is designed to prevent, namely, involvement in war against the Axis Powers."  [212•3 

p From time to time, the Churchill Government was compelled to put forward proposals on improving relations with the USSR since it could hardly ignore the growing realisation among the British working people that the salvation of the British people lay in cooperation with the Soviet Union.

p This mood gradually penetrated liberal circles. Evidence of this is the fact that the liberal newspaper, News Chronicle, published several articles asserting that Britain would never be guaranteed a genuine peace unless, sooner or later, she co-operated with Moscow.

p Trade union meetings of various kinds, meetings of workers’ and women’s co-operative organisations constantly demanded that 213 friendly relations be established with the USSR. The most notable was a meeting in January 1941 of the People’s Convention, attended by 2,300 delegates from trade unions, workers’ and women’s co-operative organisations. Many delegates pointed out the necessity of opening up friendly relations with the USSR.  [213•1 

p The Churchill Government obviously had to reckon with this growing mood, and so, to counteract the mounting dissatisfaction with its policy towards the USSR, it occasionally advanced proposals on extending Anglo-Soviet trade and economic ties. However, it continued to build its policy line vis-a-vis the USSR on the premise that any improvement in Anglo-Soviet relations must necessarily entail a worsening of Soviet-German relations and would, in the final analysis, lead to a Soviet-German war. With this aim in view, incidentally, Churchill sent a message to Stalin, via Cripps, on April 18, 1941, which spoke of the transfer of three German armoured divisions into the Balkans. On forwarding this message, Cripps drew the Soviet Government’s attention to the fact that if the latter did not take a quick decision to co-operate with the countries still resisting the aggressive powers in the Balkans (implying Britain—author) then the Russians would lose their last chance of defending their borders together with others.  [213•2  Churchill’s letter sent to Eden on March 28, 1941, gives us a clear idea of the ends pursued by the Churchill Government in putting forward a plan to form a front against Germany in the Balkans: "Is it not possible that if a united front were formed in the Balkan Peninsula Germany might think it better business to take it out of Russia.” In that situation Cripps’ proposal on co-operation virtually meant that the USSR would have had to abrogate its non-aggression treaty with Germany and go to war with her. Such an approach could only arouse strong misgivings in the Soviet Government concerning the true intentions of the Churchill Government. These were made most clear by the activities of the British intelligence centre in New York during the Second World War.  [213•3  This centre, in the spring of 1941, collaborating with the American Federal Bureau of Investigation, let it be known to the German Embassy in the USA that, according to very reliable sources, the Soviet Union was preparing to embark upon military aggression at the very 214 moment Germany was to engage in a new big military operation.  [214•1  The desire to mislead the German Government was given as the reason by the British Intelligence Service for the infiltrations of such kind of material. It was quite obvious, however, that the true aim was to provoke Hitler into attacking the USSR.

p Further evidence of this can be found in the Churchill Government’s position on the “mission of Rudolf Hess” who enjoyed Hitler’s unlimited confidence and was his deputy. One need hardly mention that in war-time no one could make a flight to Britain unless he had permission. Hess flew out on May 10, 1941, fully aware of the imminent attack on the Soviet Union. He landed by parachute in Scotland near the estate of Duke Hamilton with whom he had previously exchanged letters.

p In the ensuing negotiations the British side was represented by John Simon, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Ivon Kirkpatrick, an official in the British Embassy in Berlin before the war, now representing the Foreign Office, and also Lord Beaverbrook.

p Hess proposed concluding peace between Britain and Germany and also waging a joint war against the USSR. The Churchill Government rejected these proposals, since it had become quite clear by that time that peace with Germany would be merely a short-term breathing space to be followed by an attack on Britain and her relegation to a second-rate state. Despite this refusal, the Churchill Government refrained from making a public statement explaining its position as regards the "Hess mission" and the proposals made by him. It remained quite silent in spite of the anxiety in Britain and other countries as to whether Britain would continue the war or seek a compromise peace with Germany. Churchill’s mysterious silence amounted, in effect, to a definite assurance for Hitler that Britain would not obstruct him in a war against the Soviet Union and that Germany would thus avoid a simultaneous war .on two fronts. By way of confirmation, the British side virtually discontinued military operations against Germany after June 22, 1941. In particular, British air-raids over Germany practically stopped.

p To return to the first months of 1941, there can be no doubt that the Soviet Government had more than enough facts indicating the British Government’s unwillingness to support and develop friendly relations and co-operation with the Soviet Union.

p Thus, Britain’s policy up to the very perfidious attack by nazi 215 Germany on the Soviet Union was aimed not at improving Anglo-Soviet relations, but at pushing the Soviet Union from its position of neutrality and, in the final analysis, provoking a war between the USSR and Germany.

p In the tense situation ensuing the outbreak of the Second World War, the USSR made great efforts to improve political and business relations with the USA which had noticeably deteriorated since the end of 1939, when, on December 2, 1939, the USA had proclaimed a "moral embargo" on trade with the USSR. At the same time, a fierce anti-Soviet campaign was launched in the USA: articles in the press demanded that diplomatic relations with the USSR be broken off. Legal action had been taken against a number of American organisations which maintained business and commercial ties with Soviet economic bodies, and American specialists were recalled from the USSR. The American authorities forbade Soviet specialists to visit the plants of those firms with which the corresponding Soviet organisations had signed agreements on the supply of machinery and equipment. The authorities even withheld machines and equipment accepted by the Soviet specialists from American firms. The USA was thus endeavouring to curtail trade relations with the Soviet Union. Late in March 1940, the report by the Soviet Government at a session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR gave a corresponding assessment of the state of Soviet-American relations.

p Several days later this assessment was conveyed by K. A. Umansky, Soviet Ambassador in Washington, to Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Umansky also said that the Soviet side was ready to work towards an improvement in these relations. "We base ourselves on the fact that the USA also pursues a policy of neutrality,” he remarked, "however, relations between the two greatest neutral powers, the USSR and the USA, leave much to be desired. They suffer, above all, from the American Government’s discriminatory policy with regard to trade with the USSR.” Hull replied that he was not promising anything but "changed his tone and for the first time began talking about the possibilities of improving relations".  [215•1 

p In practice, the US Government did nothing to improve relations or remove barriers obstructing Soviet-American trade. The Soviet Government was therefore compelled, in the first half of June 1940, again to lodge a protest against the illegal discriminatory acts 216 undermining trade between the two countries. The USA meanwhile continued its former course. On July 2, 1940, the American authorities prohibited the export, without a special licence, of all types of military and semi-military supplies, including equipment for their production. The following were also affected: aluminium, tin, mercury, graphite, rubber, chemicals and others.  [216•1 

p Certainly, these measures theoretically involved many countries, but, in practice, they were spearheaded against the USSR, since machines and various equipment were a major element of Soviet import from the USA. These acts showed the American Government’s insincerity in its repeated avowals of readiness to further Soviet-American trade and improve political relations between the two countries.

p V. M. Molotov, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR, spoke of these relations at the 7th Session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on August 1, 1940: "I shall not dwell on our relations with the United States of America, if only because there is nothing good to be said about them. It has come to our knowledge that some people in the United States do not like the Soviet foreign policy successes in the Baltic. However, the Soviet side energetically protests against the American authorities’ illegal arrest of gold recently bought by our State Bank from the banks of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. In the given case, we can only remind both the United’States Government affld the British Government, which has embarked on the same policy, of their responsibility for these illegal acts."  [216•2 

p Washington’s repeated acknowledgement on August 15, 1940, of the diplomatic status of the three Baltic states’ former envoys also confirmed the USA’s unwillingness to improve relations with the USSR.

p This was also demonstrated by the protracted Soviet-American talks which began in August 1940 and ended in early April 1941. The Soviet side was represented by the Ambassador K.A. Umansky and the Counsellor A. A. Gromyko. Despite their efforts, none of the important trade and economic problems was solved during these 8-month talks. Admittedly, mutually acceptable decisions were made on several of the questions discussed.

p The US Government was compelled to take into account the growing dissatisfaction of business circles who were demanding the 217 restoration of normal conditions for trade and economic relations between the two countries. The Department of State could not also fully ignore the fact that American public opinion was demanding more and more emphatically that friendly mutual understanding be established between the USA and the USSR. The fact that the US Government decided on January 22,1941, to annul the "moral embargo" on trade with the USSR demonstrates that the Department of State was obliged, in some measure, to take these factors into account. It must be noted, however, that even after the embargo was cancelled, the system of granting licences for selling American goods to the Soviet Union continued" to function, retaining its full authority, and was used to limit American-Soviet trade. Moreover, the US Government took new measures to hamper trade with the USSR: the so-called general licences were introduced on January 15, 1941; only Britain and Canada had the right to receive general licences for importing all goods from the USA. The USSR had to obtain licences for the import of each type of goods for each transaction with American firms. This was blatant discrimination against the Soviet Union. On May 7, 1941, the American authorities impounded a cargo of wool and leather purchased by the Soviet Union in Argentina and Uruguay and transferred in the USA onto the Swedish ship Colombia, chartered by Amtorg for shipping to the USSR. On May 14, the Soviet Government made a protest to the American Government via the Soviet Ambassador in Washington.  [217•1  On June 14, the US Government decreed the freezing of foreign accounts, which immediately told on Soviet exports to the USA. All these and similar actions seriously frustrated the development of trade between the two countries. On January 15, 1941, Sumner Welles, Under Secretary of State, reiterated the declaration on the Baltic countries, which signified the USA’s refusal to acknowledge the USSR’s Western border. The American authorities’ unfriendly position with regard to Soviet organisations in the USA was made vefy plain. All this seriously complicated and hampered the normalisation of Soviet-American relations. As Cordell Hull, then the US Secretary of State, admitted in his memoirs, the essence of US “Russian” policy on the eve of Germany’s invasion of the USSR was to "make no approaches to Russia. Treat any approaches toward us with reserve until the Russians satisfied us they were not maneuvring merely to obtain unilateral concessions for themselves".  [217•2  Hull 218 practically confirmed that the USA entertained no desires to improve relations with the USSR. Moreover, Washington did not even wish to respond to the attempts made by the Soviet side to improve Soviet-American relations. Its excuse was that it wanted to "make certain" that the Soviet proposals were not merely “manoeuvres”. This meant that the USA was demanding that the USSR offer some kind of proof of the sincerity of its intentions to improve Soviet-American relations. Obviously, these preliminary demands were designed to impede in advance Soviet attempts to work towards better relations with the USA.

p With the mounting danger of imperialist aggression and the continual attempts to form a united anti-Soviet, imperialist front to organise a military campaign against the USSR, the Soviet Government tried to maintain peaceful relations with Germany and thereby prolong the spell of peace.

p With this in mind, the Soviet Government showed constant concern over removing elements of friction in its relations with Germany. To this end, a Soviet-German convention was signed on June 10, 1940, on the procedure for regulating frontier conflicts and incidents, and also a Soviet-German treaty on the border legal relations was concluded on August 31, 1940. With a view to maintaining peaceful relations, the Soviet Union signed a treaty with Germany on January 10,1941, concerning the Soviet-German border from the River Igorka to the Baltic Sea and a Soviet-German agreement on the settlement of mutual property claims in the Baltic.

p Early in 1941, the Soviet Government proposed that the Soviet-German border be demarcated and redemarcated in order to remove border incidents, or at least reduce them to the minimum.

p Peaceful relations between the USSR and Germany were also promoted by trade ties between the two countries, which began to expand after an agreement was concluded whereby Germany granted a long-term loan to the USSR of 200 million German marks.

p Soviet-German trade ties developed on the basis of two agreements, the first being signed on February 11, 1940, the second on January 10, 1941. These agreements provided for a considerable increase in the volume of Soviet-German trade.  [218•1 

p This development was of great importance to the Soviet Union, which could buy German machinery and equipment vital for the 219 rapid growth of its heavy industry. As a result of the Soviet-German negotiations of December 1940 and January 1941, the Soviet Government achieved Germany’s agreement, on a reciprocal deliveries basis, for the placing of substantial Soviet orders with German firms worth almost 6 million German marks for planers, drilling, grinding and polishing machines, and machines for processing wire, etc. Moreover, up to May 11, 1941, the USSR could order more of these machines, worth another 8.3 million German marks, and also receive ammunition for naval anti-aircraft guns and armour plates and buy the cruiser Lützow. The USSR was thus buying equipment from Germany which was essential for building up its defensive might, i.e. it was buying exactly what Britain, the USA and other countries had refused. In exchange Germany was supplied with cotton, flax, food products, including cereals, and also timber and oil products.  [219•1 

p As a West German military historian acknowledged, "The USSR agreed to supply food products and raw materials in return for German machinery, naval equipment, arms and licences for producing important military goods.... Thus, in return for Soviet deliveries, Germany handed over the fitted-out heavy cruiser Liitzow, naval armaments, models of heavy artillery equipment and tanks, and also important licences."  [219•2 

p By February 11, 1941, the Soviet Union had delivered goods to Germany worth 310.3 million German marks and had placed orders with Germany to the tune of 362.7 million German marks. It is worth noting, however, that by February 1, 1941, a lag had already begun to appear in the German firms’ fulfilment of Soviet orders (30 million German marks).  [219•3  The Soviet side demanded a discussion on ways to remove this lag. Such a discussion took place in March 1941 and concluded with the signing of a protocol, into which were written German commitments on the matter.  [219•4 

p A major aim which the Soviet Government pursued in Soviet-German relations was to prevent the spread of fascist aggression in Europe.

p The political and diplomatic effort of the Soviet Government in defence of the Balkan countries’ freedom and independence and against nazi aggressive acts led to an acute aggravation of the Soviet-German relations. Hitler attempted to assuage the Soviet 220 Government, since he did not wish to reveal his aggressive plans against the Balkan countries until the time was ripe. To this end, Ribbentrop sent a letter to Stalin which was handed to Molotov by Schulenburg on October 17, 1940.

p The letter contained Ribbentrop’s attempts to explain all Germany’s aggressive acts against the small countries in terms of her conflict with Britain. He made assurances that Berlin was striving towards the further improvement of relations with the USSR and invited Molotov to visit Berlin.  [220•1  The Soviet side accepted this invitation, but rejected all Berlin’s attempts to use this Berlin visit to launch a propaganda campaign demonstrating the "friendly relations between Germany and the USSR”. In the event, a brief information was published in the press about the forthcoming visit, and later another one about its completion.  [220•2 

p Molotov’s visit to Berlin took place on November 11–13, 1940. A. M. Vasilevsky, a member of the Soviet delegation, wrote in his memoirs that from a talk with the leader of the delegation which took place on the way to Berlin "it became plain that the Berlin talks would be of a purely political nature and that our trip’s basic purpose was connected with the Soviet Government’s desire to define Hitler’s further intentions and help hold off German aggression as long as possible."  [220•3  During the talks, the German Government’s aspirations to receive Soviet approval for all German aggressive acts (the Balkans, Hungary and Finland) were revealed quite distinctly. Hitler endeavoured to justify this aggressive policy in terms of the need to wage war against Britain, and gave assurances that "Germany has no political interests in the Balkans and is presently operating there exclusively out of the need to furnish herself with certain raw materials. This is purely a matter of military interest, the defence of which is not a pleasant task; for example, in Rumania German troops have to be stationed hundreds of kilometres away from the supply centre”. Hitler even promised that "German troops will leave Rumania immediately peace has been established".  [220•4  At the same time, Berlin wanted the Soviet Government’s agreement on the division of the world into spheres of influence among the powers of the aggressive fascist Triple Pact. Germany’s participation in this pact was a blatant violation of clause4 of the Soviet-German treaty of 1939. To escape 221 explanations to Moscow on this matter, Berlin resolved to propose that the USSR join the Triple Pact, and a draft agreement was drawn up  [221•1  which envisaged the Soviet Union’s "political cooperation" with Germany, Japan and Italy and committed all participants to respect each other’s spheres of influence and strive towards expanding trade and economic ties. Hitler did all he could to incite the Soviet Union to begin conquering territories leading towards the Indian Ocean, i.e. the British colonies, thereby provoking war between the USSR and Britain.

p In order to avoid discussing the Soviet Union’s demands and claims Hitler repeatedly suggested that they stop talking about Soviet-German differences and "concern ourselves exclusively with the dismemberment of the British Empire”. Hitler was thus hoping to draw the Soviet Union into a war with Britain and receive the USSR’s tacit approval of the German fascist aggressive policies in the Balkans and throughout South-East Europe. Ultimately "Hitler was counting on isolating the Soviet Union internationally and dealing a perfidious blow at it. But he made grave miscalculations".  [221•2  As H. Holdack, a West German historian, correctly noted, "Moscow had no intention of engaging the Western powers and conceding Germany her claims in Eastern Europe".  [221•3 

p The Soviet Government guessed the intentions of nazi diplomacy. This is shown by the information sent on November 17, 1940, by the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs to the Soviet Ambassador in London, which read: "As the talks have made clear, the Germans want to appropriate Turkey under the pretence of guaranteeing her security in the Rumanian manner, and they want to whet our appetite by promising to reconsider the Montreux convention in our favour, and offering us their help in this matter. We have not agreed to this, as we consider that, for one thing, Turkey must remain independent, and, for another, the Straits regime can be improved as a result of our negotiations with Turkey, but not behind her back. The Germans and the Japanese are evidently very keen on pushing us towards the Persian Gulf and India. We have refused to discuss this question, as we consider it inappropriate that Germany should offer such advice."  [221•4 

222

p The Berlin talks gave the Soviet Government an opportunity to probe Hitler’s intentions, and were of definite help in this sense. "Having drawn these useful conclusions,” states the Falsifiers of History, "the Soviet Government never again resumed the talks on these questions, despite Ribbentrop’s repeated reminders. As will be seen, this was a sounding out. a probing by the Soviet Government of the position of the Hitler Government, which did not lead, and could not lead to an agreement of any kind."  [222•1 

p Despite the failure of the Berlin talks, nazi propagandists tried to use them to create the impression that the Soviet Union approved Germany’s aggressive acts, in particular, the introduction of German troops into Rumania, and Hungary’s and later Bulgaria’s accession to the Triple Pact and so on.  [222•2  The Soviet Government lost no time in publicly refuting these false allegations in a TASS communication of November 23, 1940. Referring to information in the foreign press to the effect that "the Kremlin was informed about the purpose and numbers of troops sent (by Germany — author) into Rumania”, and to an article in the German newspaper Hamburger Fremdenblatt alleging that Hungary’s accession to the Triple Pact was achieved "with the cooperation and full approval of the Soviet Government”, TASS refuted them as incongruous with reality.

p This refutation by TASS was strongly resented in Berlin. Schulenburg was immediately instructed to pay a visit to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs and express his displeasure at the TASS communication concerning Hungary.  [222•3 

p However, the Soviet Government rejected Schulenburg’s representation. Moreover, he was handed a Soviet Government statement raising the question of Berlin withdrawing German troops from Finland and strongly objecting to German penetration into Bulgaria.

p An important element of the CPSU’s and Soviet Government’s foreign policy activity was to provide for the security of the USSR’s Far Eastern borders, and limit the further spread of war in that region.

p While showing a desire to maintain good-neighbourly relations with Japan, the USSR issued a stern warning to the Japanese ruling circles that it would not tolerate any action by the latter which 223 would harm Soviet interests. "Japan must finally realise,” said the Soviet Government’s report to the Sixth Session of the USSR Supreme Soviet in late March 1940, "that the Soviet Union will on no account permit its interests to be violated. Only on this understanding can Soviet-Japanese relations develop satisfactorily."  [223•1 

p Japan’s hostile policy towards the Soviet Union was once more shown when Japan signed, on September 27, 1940, an alliance treaty with Germany and Italy called the Triple Pact. In this connection, the Japanese Minister for Foreign Affairs, Yusuke Matsuoka, stated on December 9, 1940: "The conclusion of the Triple Pact has established the path Japan will take. Close cooperation with the axis powers has become the guiding principle of Japan’s foreign policy."  [223•2 

p The Japanese Government, forced to reckon with the fact that the USSR had gained a strong international position, started working towards the normalisation of relations with the Soviet Union. In particular, this was reflected in Japan’s changed position in the Soviet-Japanese talks about establishing the border between the Mongolian People’s Republic and Manchukuo in the region of the 1939 conflict on the River Khalkhin-Gol. This was the only reason why the talks ended with the signing of an agreement delineating the border between the two states mentioned.

p Mid-1940 saw the resumption of the negotiations which were concerned with the conclusion of a new fishing convention. Shortly afterwards, in early July, the Japanese Ambassador in Moscow, Shigenori Togo, proposed that the two countries start negotiating on a Soviet-Japanese neutrality pact. Japan, however, put forward a condition which was unacceptable to the USSR: she suggested basing Soviet-Japanese relations on the outdated Soviet-Japanese treaty of 1925. The Soviet Union had no objection to talks on a neutrality pact, but demanded that the Japanese concessions in Northern Sakhalin be abolished as an indispensable condition; fair compensation would be paid for this. But Japan insisted on her demands and even tried to use the conclusion of the Triple Pact with Germany and Italy to exert pressure on the Soviet Union (Japanese protests of December 19 and 24, 1940 against actions by the Soviet authorities concerning the Japanese concessions in Northern Sakhalin).

224

p In February 1941, Foreign Minister Matsuoka informed the Soviet Ambassador of his intention to visit Moscow and Berlin, declaring that the main purpose of his European visit was to meet the Soviet leaders. He gave it to be understood that Japan wished to conclude Soviet-Japanese trade and fishing agreements before the start of the talks on a political treaty.

p On March 24, 1941, Matsuoka arrived in Moscow. While proposing a non-aggression treaty, he advanced a quite unacceptable condition, viz. the sale to Japan of Northern Sakhalin. The Soviet reply to this suggestion was: "Is this a joke?" Matsuoka said that in exchange for this concession, Japan was prepared to replace the Portsmouth and Peking treaties with other agreements and also to renounce several of her "fishing rights".

p On March 26, Matsuoka arrived in Berlin where he had several conversations with Ribbentrop, whom he put in the picture about the Moscow talks. Matsuoka made it quite plain that Japan would always be a loyal ally of Germany in the event of a German-Soviet war.  [224•1 

p Since a Japanese-American war was then imminent, Japan considered it necessary to conclude a neutrality pact with the USSR. So, on April 8, Matsuoka came to Moscow from Berlin and continued negotiations. But until April 13, the very day of his departure from Moscow, he objected to the abolition of the Japanese concessions in Northern Sakhalin, thereby preventing the conclusion of a pact. Only on the day of his departure did he finally concede and the talks were rounded off with the signing of a treaty of neutrality. The signing was accompanied by the exchange of letters stating Japan’s obligation to abolish her concessions in Northern Sakhalin within a period of six months.

p The pact was based on the wording of the Soviet draft put forward to Japan as early as the end of 1940. According to clause 1, the Parties pledged to maintain peaceful and friendly mutual relations and to respect the territorial integrity and inviolability of the other Contracting Party. In the event of one of the Contracting Parties being theobject of a military attack by one or several third parties, stated clause 2, the other Contracting Party would observe neutrality throughout the conflict. Clause 3 stipulated that the treaty was to be effective for 5 years and envisaged the possibility of its automatic renewal.

The conclusion of the Soviet-Japanese neutrality pact was a

225 contribution by the Soviet Union to strengthening peace in the Far East and the security of Soviet Far Eastern borders. It also frustrated American and British attempts to provoke a Soviet-Japanese war. Needless to say, the USSR did not overestimate the significance of the pact, realising that though concluding the pact, the Japanese Government did not abandon its former aggressive plans against the Soviet Union. As before, the Kwantung Army was stationed at the Soviet border. As Matsuoka told the German Ambassador in Tokyo shortly after the neutrality pact was signed, the latter did not mean that Japan would remain neutral in the event of war between Germany and the USSR. No Japanese Prime Minister or Foreign Minister would be able to keep Japan neutral in the event of conflict between Russia and Germany, he said. In this event, Japan would, by force of necessity, have to attack Russia on Germany’s side. In these conditions, a neutrality pact would be useless. Several days after the pact was signed, the Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs said he did not believe in the pact’s durability.  [225•1 

p By mid-1940, nazi Germany had taken over 9 states, including Austria, Belgium and France, and also the region and town of Memel (Klaipeda). Their territories amounted to over 850,000 square kilometres, and their population, to 107 million. The human potential of these invaded states was not the only thing of import for Germany. The Third Reich had acquired the very considerable economic and military resources of nearly the whole of Western Europe. Hitler Germany had seized the total West European arsenal of armaments, the war industry, massive supplies of metal, the metallurgical and other important industries.

p These easy victories had turned the heads of the Third Reich’s leaders and they decided that the time had come to realise the longstanding German imperialist plans to establish German supremacy in Europe and throughout the world. However, it was clear to Hitler and the other fascist ringleaders that while the USSR existed nazi Germany’s supremacy over occupied Europe and her bloody "new order" would remain precarious. What is more, Germany would not be able to fulfil her wild plan of establishing world supremacy. "Hitler understood,” said L. I. Brezhnev, "that the Soviet Union was the stronghold of all revolutionary forces, the most implacable and consistent enemy of fascism and the principal obstacle in the way of the realisation of his criminal designs."  [225•2 

226

p Therefore from mid-1940 Germany began preparations for a war against the USSR which were carried out in top secret. Obviously, this was bound to be reflected in Germany’s relations with the Soviet Union and in all her diplomatic activities. On September 27, 1940, the Triple Pact was concluded in Berlin (Germany, Italy and Japan) constituting a military alliance of the three aggressive powers. It therefore resulted, as Pravda stressed at the time, in the "further aggravation and spread of the war".  [226•1  Nazi Germany started intense activities to recruit allies for her war with the Soviet Union, using political and economic pressure to achieve her aims. Work was started on the plan of war with the Soviet Union. In its final form, the plan was given the code name Barbarossa. It envisaged a Blitzkrieg against the Soviet Union.  [226•2  Berlin regarded the USSR’s defeat as a principal precondition for establishing nazi Germany’s supremacy in Europe, which would secure Hitler’s supremacy over the whole world.

p The Communist Party and the Soviet Government were well aware that nazi Germany was preparing to attack the USSR. They engaged in preparing the country for a rebuff to German aggression but time was vital for an effective preparation. The Soviet Government therefore observed extreme caution and restraint, consistently carrying out the Leninist peace policy and taking care not to give Hitler Germany any/grounds for attacking the USSR.

p At the same time, the Party and the Government took every opportunity to develop the country’s heavy industry and defence might.

p Bourgeois falsifiers of history distort the essence of Soviet foreign policy during the initial period of the Second World War. They “accuse” the Soviet Union of “collaborating” with Germany. These false assertions are designed to relieve the Western powers of responsibility for the outbreak of the war and at the same time to justify the secret talks conducted by British and French diplomacy with German emissaries aimed at ending the war between them and organising a war against the Soviet Union.

p Recently published documents have fully refuted these false accusations against the Soviet Union. The Central Committee of the CPSU and the Soviet Government were well aware of the 227 growing threat of attack by Hitler Germany. This was confirmed by the US Ambassador in Moscow, Steinhardt, in his September 1940 report to the Department of State. Stating Stalin’s views voiced in his talk with Cripps, British Ambassador to the USSR, Steinhardt wrote that Stalin was very frank and realistic. He made it quite clear that his policy was aimed at avoiding conflict with the German army. Stalin admitted that Germany represented the only threat for the USSR and that a German victory would put the USSR in a difficult, if not dangerous, position. He considered, however, that at the time, it was important not to embark on a course of provoking a German invasion by way of changing Soviet policy.  [227•1 

p Describing the Soviet state’s dangerous position at the beginning of 1940, A. I. Shakhurin, former People’s Commissar for the Aviation Industry, reported a characteristic detail: on January 9, 1940, he was suddenly summoned from Gorky,where he worked as First Secretary of the Regional Party Committee to Stalin in the Kremlin. After a brief conversation the following day, he was appointed People’s Commissar and was instructed to start work immediately in his capacity of People’s Commissar for the Aviation Industry. He was not even permitted to return to Gorky to complete his business there. "The Communist Party and the Soviet Government,” he wrote, "aware of the real danger gradually approaching the USSR, implemented a number of important measures of a political, economic, military and diplomatic nature, in order to defend the world’s first socialist state and to postpone as long as possible our entry into the war. At the same time, they did all they could to ensure that the country was prepared for war."  [227•2  To sum up, he said: "Yes, we were preparing for war both economically and politically."

p As the danger of war grew, the Party and the Government took serious measures to strengthen the armed forces and prepare them for combat. With every passing year their numbers increased. Thus, according to data quoted by the late Minister of Defence Marshal of the Soviet Union A. A. Grechko. from "1939 to 1941 alone the Armed Forces’ personnel more than tripled, 125 new divisions were formed and the Red Army raised its combat readiness. The Navy became noticeably more powerful. Within only 11 months in 1940,100 new warships were put into operation. 228 The anti-aircraft defence system was perfected, and air-borne troops were organised."  [228•1 

p On February 25,1941, the CC CPSU and the Council of People’s Commissars adopted the resolution, "On the Reorganisation of the Red Army Air Force”, which approved the plan drawn up by the People’s Commissariat for Defence on the rearmament of the air units.  [228•2 

p The question of perfecting the Armed Forces and their equipment was the subject of repeated discussion at meetings of the Politbureau of the Party Central Committee.

p The CC CPSU based its work on the assumption that the Soviet state and its Armed Forces would have to beat off an attack by the German fascist Wehrmacht. The General Staff also had this in mind when they began work on a draft and plan for the strategic deployment of Red Army troops to repel aggression from the West. This work was carried out under the guidance of B. M. Shaposhnikov, Chief of the General Staff. According to the memoirs of Marshal A. M. Vasilevsky, who contributed to this work since April 1940, the draft plan of strategic deployment was reported straight back to Stalin in September 1940.  [228•3 

p As a result of discussing this plan with Stalin, the General Staff was instructed to re-work it, providing for the main concentration of our troops in the South-West. This work was to be completed by December 15, 1940.  [228•4 

p Late in 1940, the CC CPSU and the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR examined and approved the measures for raising the Armed Forces’ combat readiness. In February 1941, the Party Central Committee and the Government approved the mobilisation plan which was implemented by means of large-scale mobilisation measures. In the spring of 1941 a new plan was elaborated for defending the state borders.  [228•5  Crucial steps were taken to reinforce the defence capacity of the Soviet Western borders. From the middle of May 1941, a number of armies (totalling 28 divisions) began advancing from inner military districts to the border areas. This was the "beginning in the 229 fulfilment of the plan to concentrate and deploy Soviet troops along the Western borders".  [229•1 

p As well as building up the country’s military and economic potential, the Party also carried out an extensive political work in preparing the Soviet people to repel aggression the threat of which was growing. The warning of this was given in particular in the order of the People’s Commissar for Defence on the occasion of the 23rd anniversary of the Great October Revolution, on November 7, 1940, which began with the words: "Comrades, the capitalist war is spreading, it’s reaching our borders, it’s threatening our territory and can endanger our Soviet Motherland."

p The Party stepped up its propaganda campaign imbuing the minds of people with the Leninist idea of the just nature of a war in defence of the socialist state and also of national liberation wars. Young people were brought up oil the heroic feats of the workers and peasants performed during the civil war and on the heroic past of the peoples of Russia. A special kind of patriotism was cultivated which combined love for the Soviet Motherland and internationalism. The Communist Party did everything in its power to consolidate the moral and political unity of the Soviet people, regarding this as an important means of preparing people for the fight against the fascist aggressor.

p The press, radio and other propaganda media were all used to mobilise the Soviet people, to strengthen its moral and political unity and readiness to beat off the enemy. Thus, the new-year edition of Pravda came out with the leader entitled "The Year 1941”, which gave a survey of the USSR’s international and internal position. One of its principal conclusions was that the USSR must build up its defences. "All our work must be subordinated to this need; indeed, it must become the highest law for every citizen of the Soviet Union."  [229•2  The article also stressed the danger of the further extention of the world war which was raging in Europe and could at any moment spread towards the USSR.

p From early 1941, the Soviet Government began to receive a mass of information about Germany’s preparations to attack the USSR. In particular, these reports were forthcoming from the Soviet intelligence officer R. Sorge. So, the information sent by Churchill on April 18, 1941, to the Soviet Government via Cripps contained nothing new. Churchill himself confirmed in his memoirs that Stalin knew an attack was being prepared. Describing his Moscow 230 visit in August 1942, Churchill tells us that one day, during a conversation with Stalin, he mentioned this information. When Stalin was reminded of its contents, he shrugged his shoulders and said: "I remember it. I did not need any warnings. I knew war would come, but I thought I might gain another six months or so.”  [230•1  The purpose of this warning and similar one issued by Washington in early 1941 was to increase German suspicions, aggravate Soviet-German relations and thereby speed up the outbreak of a Soviet-German war to provide Britain with a much-needed breathing space.

p Every month of peace was of great significance to the USSR. Stalin considered it to be vital to avoid giving Hitler Germany the slightest grounds for provocation. At the same tune, the Soviet Government continued to urge the Soviet people to be on their guard and be ready to defend their Motherland. For example, on May 5,1941, in a speech to the graduates of the military academies at a grand meeting in the Great Kremlin Palace, Stalin described the international situation as extremely complex and stressed the danger of deterioration. He appealed for increased vigilance, and also an increase in the combat readiness of the troops. Stalin stated quite definitely that there was a possibility of war with Germany.  [230•2  On June 5,1941, M. I. Kalinin, President of the Presidium of the USSR Supreme Soviet spoke at the Military Political Academy on the danger of an attack on the Soviet Union: "We do not know when we will fight: tomorrow or the next day; and, therefore, in such a situation, we must be ready to fight today."  [230•3  In this way, the leadership of the Soviet state urged the officers to be ready to rebuff the enemy at any moment. The Party leadership and the Government were informed through various channels of Germany’s preparations for war against the USSR. But, while stepping up preparations to repel the enemy, they also attempted to postpone this attack by political and diplomatic means. With this aim in view a TASS statement was issued over the question of Soviet-German relations.

p On June 13, i.e. before the statement was published in the Soviet press, the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs handed the text 231 over to the German Ambassador in Moscow. The Soviet Government was thereby not only demonstrating its peaceful intentions and devotion to the cause of peace, but was also showing its readiness to enter into formal talks with Berlin, hoping, in this way, to prolong the peace with Germany, if only temporarily.

p This statement published in the Soviet press on June 14, 1941 spoke of the rumours appearing in the foreign press about "the nearness of war between the USSR and Germany" and that Germany was therefore concentrating her troops at the Soviet borders in order to stage an attack. The statement noted further that false, provocatkmary rumours were being spread that the Soviet Union had, in its turn, started strenuous preparations for a war with Germany and was concentrating its troops at the Soviet borders. The document stated further that the USSR and Germany were steadfastly observing the 1939 Soviet-German treaty, and "the recent movement of German troops, freed of their Balkan operations, into the Eastern and North-Eastern regions of Germany are supposedly prompted by other motives which have nothing to do with Soviet-German relations".  [231•1 

p The statement said in conclusion that "the summer camp training of Red Army reservists now taking place, and the forthcoming manoeuvres are merely aimed at training the reserves and checking the work of the raiways, which, as is common knowledge, is effected every year. Therefore to make out that these Red Army measures are hostile to Germany is absurd, to say the least".  [231•2  To this day, the statement is subject to the most arbitrary interpretations. It is frequently alledged that it played a totally negative role, taking the edge off the vigilance of the Soviet people, including the military, etc. Such allegations are clearly far-fetched and groundless. The opinion of Marshall A. M. Vasilevsky, who worked in the General Staff in June 1941, is of great interest in this respect. His memoirs contain the following passage on the subject: "Needless to say, we, the workers of the Operational Division, were at first somewhat surprised by this. But there followed no fundamentally new instructions concerning the armed forces nor a review of former decisions on combat readiness, and we came to the conclusion that this was a diplomatic move by our Government and that nothing was to change in the affairs of the Ministry of Defence. Moreover, N. F. Vatutin, the chief of the Operational Division, had explained by the end of the day that the purpose of 232 the TASS statement was to check the true intentions of the Hitlerites. I therefore consider it incorrect to present the TASS statement as a document which assuaged us almost to the point of demobilisation".  [232•1 

p The Soviet Government, having made this diplomatic move, continued its former preparatory measures for a rebuff to a nazi aggression. It also carefully watched Berlin’s reaction to the TASS statement. The Soviet Embassy in Berlin then received instructions from Moscow to follow attentively the reaction of the German press to this statement and immediately report back to the People’s Commissariat for Foreign Affairs in Moscow.

p The nazi government refused to enter into negotiations with the USSR to discuss the state of German-Soviet relations, and the German press hushed up the TASS statement. At a press conference for foreign journalists, the head of the press department of the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs merely remarked that the TASS statement "confirms the peaceful intentions" of Germany.

p Despite Berlin’s failure to react to this peace probe, the Soviet Government made a new attempt at entering negotiations with Germany to elucidate the question of Soviet-German relations. On June 20, it instructed its Ambassador in Berlin to hand a note to the Minister for Foreign Affairs or his deputy about the violations of Soviet frontiers by German aircraft. The note remarked that the German Government had not yet answered the Soviet notes of March 27 and April 21, and that for two months —from April 19 to June 19—German aircraft had violated Soviet airspace 180 times.  [232•2  Discussion of the questions raised by the note could have helped clear up Soviet-German relations in all their totality.

p But even then the German side showed no sign of wanting such a discussion.

p On June 21, the German Foreign Minister and his deputy refused to meet the Soviet Ambassador all day long. It was only at 9.30 p.m. that Weizsacker, the State Secretary of the Foreign Ministry, received him. However Weizsacker refused to discuss the Soviet note and would only comment that it was Germany rather than the Soviet Union that had grounds for such complaints.

p In the evening of June 21, the Soviet Government made one more attempt to start negotiations with the German Government. To this end, Molotov invited Schulenburg to see him at 9.30 p.m. and 233 acquainted him with the contents of the Soviet note. The People’s Commissar informed him that the Soviet Ambassador in Berlin had been instructed to hand this note to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. The People’s Commissar then asked Schulenburg why Germany resented the Soviet Union, if, indeed, it did, and why there were increasing rumours about an imminent war between Germany and the USSR. He also asked Schulenburg what was the reason for a mass departure from Moscow of German Embassy officials and their families and why the German press had shown no kind of reaction to the reassuring and peace-loving TASS statement of June 14.  [233•1 

On June 22 (at 00.40. a.m. Moscow time) a ciphered message was phoned through to the Soviet Ambassador in Berlin informing him of the contents of Molotov’s talk with Schulenburg, with a list of the questions posed by the Soviet side. The telegram also instructed the Ambassador to meet Ribbentrop or his deputy immediately and ask him the same questions. But the Ambassador could not carry out these instructions. Every attempt to obtain a meeting with the minister or his deputy was of no avail. In Berlin, negotiations were already considered irrelevant, since Germany was then making her final preparations for her perfidious attack on the USSR. Only a few hours separated peace from war: at 4 in the morning on June 22, nazi Germany launched a treacherous attack on the Soviet Union. Though the Soviet people knew that the war was inevitable and prepared for it, it nevertheless broke out unexpectedly, like any great misfortune.

* * *
 

Notes

[191•1]   V. I. Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 31, p. 486.

[191•2]   L. I. Brezhnev, Following Lenin’s Course. Speeches and Articles, Vol. 1, Moscow, 1970, p. 121 (in Russian).

[192•1]   The Sixth Session of the USSR Supreme Soviet. March 29–April 3, 1940, verbatim report, Moscow, 1940, p. 42 (in Russian).

[192•2]   The Seventh Session of the USSR Supreme Soviet, August 1–7, 1940, vermatim report, Moscow, 1940, p. 24 (in Russian).

[192•3]   N. A. Voznesensky, The Soviet Military Economy during the Great Patriotic War, Moscow, 1948, p. 15 (in Russian).

[193•1]   N. A. Voznesensky, The Soviet Military Economy during the Great Patriotic War, p. 15.

[193•2]   Ibid., p. 86.

[193•3]   Ibid., p. 78.

[194•1]   The Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Resolutions and Decisions of Congresses, Conferences and Plenums of the CC, Vol. 5, Moscow, 1971, p. 460 (in Russian).

[194•2]   A. G. Zverev, Notes of a Minister, Moscow, 1973, p. 175 (in Russian).

[194•3]   N. G. Kuznetsov, “Before the War”, in Oktyabr, No. 11, 1965.

[195•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 28.

[195•2]   Ibid., p. 29.

[196•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 29.

[196•2]   Bolshevik, No. 13, 1940, p. 10.

[196•3]   Soviet Foreign Policy. Collection of Documents, Vol. IV (1935-June 1941), pp. 510–513.

[197•1]   Ibid.

[197•2]   lbid., p. 510.

[197•3]   Bolshevik, No. 13, 1940, p. #1.

[198•1]   See History of the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet Union 1941–1945, Vol. 1, p. 258.

[198•2]   See The Sixth Session of the USSR Supreme Soviet, p. 40.

[198•3]   B. M. Kolker, I. E. Levit, Rumanian Foreign Policy and Rumanian-Soviet Relations, September 1939–June 1941, Moscow, 1971, p. 88 (in Russian).

[199•1]   Izvestia, June 27, 1940.

[199•2]   N. I. Lebedev, The Iron Guard, Karol II and Hitler, Moscow, 1968, p. 278.

[199•3]   Soviet Foreign Policy. Collection of Documents, Vol. IV, pp. 515–516.

[199•4]   Ibid., p. 516.

[201•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 32.

[201•2]   lbid.

[202•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 32.

[202•2]   Ibid.

[202•3]   Ibid.

[202•4]   Ibid.

[202•5]   Ibid.

[203•1]   Quoted in History of Bulgaria, Vol. II, Moscow, 1955, pp. 254–55 (in Russian).

[203•2]   Soviet Foreign Policy. Collection of Documents, Vol. IV, p. 539.

[203•3]   H. Holdack, Was wirklich geschah. Die diplomatischen Hintergriinde der deutschen Kriegspolitik, Munich, 1949, p. 246.

[204•1]   Izvestia, March 4, 1941.

[204•2]   Soviet Foreign Policy. Collection of Documents, Vol. IV, p. 548.

[204•3]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No, 1, 1974, p. 32

[204•4]   Ibid., p. 34.

[205•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, in Izvestia, March 25, 1941.

[205•2]   V. G. Fedorov, “Finland and the Imperialist Powers on the Eve of the Second World War”. Modem and Current History, No. 6, 1964, p. 53.

[205•3]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives. History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 34.

[205•4]   Ibid.

[205•5]   Ibid.

[206•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 34.

[206•2]   International Affairs, No. 9, 1959, p. 67.

[206•3]   History of International Relations and Foreign Policy of the USSR, Vol. 2, 1939–1945, ed. Prof. V. G. Trukhanovsky, Moscow, 1962, p. 50 (in Russian).

[206•4]   International Affairs, No. 9, 1959, p. 67.

[206•5]   History of Soviet Foreign Policy, Part 1, 1917–1945, Moscow, 1966, p. 371.

[207•1]   International Affairs, _No, 9,_ 1959, p. 68.

[207•2]   Morgentidningen, October 13, 1945.

[208•1]   Izvestia, May 22, 1940.

[208•2]   W. S. Churchill, The Second World War, Vol. II, Their Finest Hour, Boston, 1949, p. 136.

[209•1]   V. G. Trukhanovsky, Britain’s Foreign Policy During the Second World War (1939–1945), Moscow, 1965, p. 174 (in Russian).

[209•2]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, International Affairs, No. 11, 1972, pp. 64–65.

[209•3]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 38.

[210•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 38.

[210•2]   Ibid.

[210•3]   Ibid.

[211•1]   Ibid.

[211•2]   Ibid., pp. 38–39

[211•3]   Ibid.

[212•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 39.

[212•2]   Ibid.

[212•3]   Foreign Relations of the United States. 1940, Vol 1, Washington, 1959, p. 616.

[213•1]   Mirovoye khozvaistvo i mirovaya politika (World Economics and World Politics), No. 2, 1941, p. 105.

[213•2]   L. Woodward, British Foreign Policy in the Second World War, London, 1962, p. 149.

[213•3]   Montgomery Hede, Room 3603. The Story of the British Intelligence Centre in New York during World War II, New York, 1963.

[214•1]   Montgomery Hede. op. cit.

[215•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, International Affairs, _No, 12,_ 1972, p. 53.

[216•1]   R. G. Gorbunov, Soviet-American Trade Relations, Moscow, 1961, p. 20–21 (in Russian).

[216•2]   Ivestia, August 2, 1940.

[217•1]   Soviet Foreign Policy. Collection of Documents, Vol. IV, p. 558.

[217•2]   C. Hull, The Memoirs, Vol. II, New York, 1947, pp. 972–73.

[218•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives. Economic agreements between the USSR and Germany of February 11, 1940, and January 10, 1941; see Soviet Foreign Policy. Collection of Documents, Vol. IV, pp. 491, 537.

[219•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of Diplomacy, Vol. IV, p. 148.

[219•2]   B. Müller-Hillebrandt, Das Heer 1935–1945, Darmstadt, 1954, Vol. II, p. 75.

[219•3]   ADAP, Vol. XII, 1, Gottingen, 1969, pp. 232–33; USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 42.

[219•4]   Ibid.

[220•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 42.

[220•2]   Izvestia, November 10 and 14, 1940.

[220•3]   A. M. Vasilevsky, A Lifetime’s Work, p. 113.

[220•4]   Aktenzur deutschen auswartigen Politik. 1918–1945, Serie D, 1937–1945, Vol. XI, 1, Die Kriegsjahre Vierter Band, Erster Halbband, Bonn, 1964, pp. 458–59.

[221•1]   Akten zur deutschen auswartigen Politik. 1918–1945, Serie D, Vol. XI, Zweiter Halbband, Bonn, 1964, pp. 597–98.

[221•2]   V. Berezhkov, Diplomatic Mission to Berlin, 1940–1941, Moscow, 1966, p. 53 (in Russian).

[221•3]   H. Holdack, Was wirklich geschah. Die diplomatischen Hintergrtinde der deutschen Kriegspolitik, Munich, 1949, pp. 240–41.

[221•4]   History of the Foreign Policy of the USSR, Part 1, 1917–1945, pp. 374–75.

[222•1]   Falsifiers of History. (Historical Survey), p. 99.

[222•2]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of Diplomacy, Vol. IV, p. 155.

[222•3]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 44.

[223•1]   The Sixth Session of the USSR Supreme Soviet, verbatim report, Moscow, p. 41.

[223•2]   L. N. Kutakov, Japanese Foreign Policy and Diplomacy, Moscow, 1964, p. 167 (in Russian).

[224•1]   P. Schmidt, Statist aufdie diplomatischer Bühne, Bonn, 1949, p. 509. Record of conversation between Ribbentrop and Matsuoka of March 27, 1941.

[225•1]   ^USSR Foreign Policy Archives, History of the USSR, No. 1, 1974, p. 46.

[225•2]   L. I. Brezhnev, The Great Victory of the Soviet People, Moscow, 1965, p. 7 (in Russian).

[226•1]   Pravda, September 30, 1940.

[226•2]   For more details of this plan see Top Secret! For the Command Only! Fascist Germany’s Strategy in the War against the USSR, Moscow, 1967, pp. 149–55 (in Russian).

[227•1]   Foreign Relations of the United States, 1940. See International Affairs, No. 11, 1972, p. 64.

[227•2]   Voprosy Istorii, No. 2, 1974, p. 82.

[228•1]   A. Grechko, “V. I. Lenin and the Armed Forces of the Soviet State”, Kommunist,No. 3, 1974, p. 19.

[228•2]   A. S. Yakovlev, The Aim of a Lifetime, Moscow, 1972, p. 241.

[228•3]   A. M. Vasilevsky, op. cit., pp. 105–06.

[228•4]   Ibid., p. 110.

[228•5]   History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 6 volumes, Vol V, Moscow, 1970, p. 128 (in Russian).

[229•1]   A. M. Vasilevsky, op. cit., pp. 118–19.

[229•2]   Pravda, January 1, 1941.

[230•1]   W. Churchill, The Second World War. The Hinge of Fate, London, Vol. IV, 1951, p. 443.

[230•2]   P. A. Zhilin, How Fascist Germany Prepared to Attack the Soviet Union. (Calculations and Miscalculations), Moscow, 1966, pp. 223–24. (in Russian).

[230•3]   See Essays on the History of the CPSU far the Party Training System, Moscow, 1966, p. 305 (in Russian).

[231•1]   Izvestia, June 14, 1941.

[231•2]   Ibid.

[232•1]   A. M. Vasilevsky, op. cit., p. 120.

[232•2]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives. The Soviet note of June 20, 1941.

[233•1]   USSR Foreign Policy Archives. Record of the talk between the People’s Commissar for Foreign Affairs and the German Ambassador, June 21, 1941 (see History of Soviet Foreign Policy, Part I, p. 386).