Stalin’s Politburo explains Ribbentrop pact

 

According to the minutes of a meeting on 19 August 1939, Stalin’s Politburo had charged Manuilski, the President of the Comintern, and Dimitrov, its Secretary, to work out instructions (as directed by Stalin) to give to the Communist leaders abroad on account of the Soviet-German Pact that was signed on 23 August.

The two documents below seem to constitute such instructions.

 

On 26 August 1939 the following was published by The Times, London (p. 9):

 

COMINTERN'S MOTIVES

Reports, which cannot yet be confirmed, were circulating this afternoon to the effect that the British and French Com­munists have received a communication from M. Dimitroff in the name of the Comintern. The document in question is said to give the following reasons for the Russo‑German pact: ‑-

(1) New tactics are felt to be necessary in view of the experience of the past five years, which have led to undesirable electoral and other alliances with democratic and bourgeois parties;

(2) Although the adhesion of Russia to the democratic Peace Front would have checked the Axis [!], it would have been a derogation of Communist principles to support capitalist countries;

(3) the Soviet Government and the Comin­tern have therefore decided that it is best to hold aloof from any conflict, while remaining ready to interfere when the Powers engaged therein are weakened by war in the hope of securing a social revolution;

(4) The Pact is a great diplomatic and ideo­logical victory for Russia at the expense of the Axis;

(5) The chief obstacle to the conclusion of an agreement between France, Great Britain, and Russia, and the chief encouragement to the conclusion of the present Pact, were the hostile attitude of Poland, Rumania, and the Balkan Entente.

Whatever the real reasons behind the Pact, French opinion has fully accustomed itself to the unpleasant reality without any loss of moral. There is every reason to believe, however, that certain German agents are busy at work in the slender hope of undermining it. One form of attack is the assurance that once Herr Hitler has got Danzig and the 1914 border back again, he will present the world with a “constructive plan” of European peace and disarmament. These assurances have so far fallen upon the stony ground of remembrance.

 

On 8 September 1939 the following news item appeared in the Swedish daily Svenska Pressen in Helsinki (translated by Carl O. Nordling):

 

Moscow, September.

The day before the non-aggression pact with Germany was concluded, all the top Communist leaders in Russia and abroad got the following circular, kept in the form of a dialogue:

 

- Have the final aims of the Comintern been changed?

- No. The final aim of the Comintern is still the same: world revolution.

- Is a world revolution possible at the moment?

- No, all attempts at activating a world revolution have failed.

- Could not the outbreak of a world revolution be hastened through reinforced agitation?

- No. (Here follow enumerations of the causes why this is impossible in the various countries.)1

- How could a world revolution be hastened?

- A lengthy war. (Here follow detailed explanations and quotations from Marx, Engels and Lenin.) 1

- Is a European war in the interest of Comintern?

- Yes, provided that such a war paves the way for a revolution among the masses. (Here follow quotations from Lenin.) 1

- Would a pact between the Soviet Union, England and France expedite a war?

- No, such a pact between Russia and the Western Powers would occasion Germany to forbear to plunge into a “military” adventure.

- Will a Russo-German pact hasten the outbreak of war?

- Yes, since the neutrality of Russia gives Germany the possibility to carry out her plans.

- What will happen if the Soviet Union does not agree to any pact at all?  Whether with Germany or with England and France?

- As long as the Soviet Union does not pronounce her stand, a peaceful solution of the conflict is possible.

- What has the Soviet Union to set about in order to hasten the world revolution?

- Support Germany, so that Germany can start a war, and then try to effect the war to become a lengthy one.

 

From information received, the circular was drawn up at a meeting in the Kremlin2 attended by Stalin, Molotov, Voroshilov, Zhdanov, Lazar, Kaga­no­vich3, Andreev, Shvernik, Mikoyan, Beria, Kalinin a.o. [=and others].

 

The circular has been prepared in order to forestall discontent amongst the Communist leaders and to explain to them why the pact with Germany has been created.4

 

 

Note 1. The content of this addendum was not published in the Svenska Pressen article.

 

Note 2: The names of the attendees of the Kremlin meeting pertain to all the members of the 1939 Politburo, except Comrade Khrushchev (who went duck-hunting that Saturday).

 

Note 3: The original seems to have provided Comrade Kaganovich with his first name (Lazar) to distinguish him from his apparatchik brother. The ignorant Svenska Pressen editor treated this name as pertaining to an additional person by placing a comma between first name and surname.

 

Note 4: There is nothing to indicate that any of the Communist leaders abroad actually received the circular personally.

 

 

 

For an evaluation of the significance of the circular, see Did Stalin evoke World War II?.

 

 

Carl O. Nordling