World War II

d dayThe Normandy landings were an impressive and costly military operation, but they cannot be compared to the scale of the Red Army's offensive in the east. This was quite clear to anyone with the slightest knowledge of the conduct of the war, including the Allied commanders and the governments they represented. 

The truth is that the war against Hitler in Europe was fought mainly by the USSR and the Red Army. For most of the war the British and Americans were mere spectators. Following the invasion of the Soviet Union in the Summer of 1941, Moscow repeatedly demanded the opening of a second front against Germany. But Churchill was in no hurry to oblige them. The reason for this was not so much military as political.

The policies and tactics of the British and American ruling class in the Second World War were not at all dictated by a love of democracy or hatred of fascism, as the official propaganda wants us to believe, but by class interests. When Hitler invaded the USSR in 1941, the British ruling class calculated that the Soviet Union would be defeated by Germany, but that in the process Germany would be so enfeebled that it would be possible to step in and kill two birds with one stone. It is likely that the strategists in Washington were thinking on more or less similar lines.

But the plans of both the British and US ruling circles were fundamentally flawed. Instead of being defeated by Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union fought back and inflicted a decisive defeat on Hitler's armies. The reason for this extraordinary victory can never be admitted by the defenders of capitalism, but it is a self-evident fact. The existence of a nationalised planned economy gave the USSR an enormous advantage in the war. Despite the criminal policies of Stalin, which nearly brought about the collapse of the USSR at the beginning of the war, the Soviet Union was able to swiftly recover and rebuild its industrial and military capacity.

— From D-Day and the truth about the Second World War

This in depth article deals with the horrors that capitalism has inflicted on humanity. In the first part of this article we see the real face of the capitalist class, both its predatory nature on a global scale and its capacity for violent suppression of any mass popular revolt that challenges its right to rule. Some will say, yes but this was in the past; now the system has become more civilised and humane. Recent history shows that this is utterly false.

Saturday marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Battle of Stalingrad, with the surrender of German troops, a key turning point in the Second World War, where about 800,000 German and Axis troops were either killed or captured, including the entire German Sixth Army and its commander-in-chief – a shattering blow to Hitler.

Continuing the theme of Trotskyism and the Second World War, this volume covers the period 1943-45. The articles and documents contained within this book covers the period of the emergence of the WIL and the setting up of the Revolutionary Communist Party. Many documents are appearing in print for the first time since they were written.

Seventy years ago this week the “phoney war” well and truly ended and the mass bombing of London and other keys cities by the Nazi Luftwaffe began. The Blitz, as it was to become known, cost the lives of thousands of workers as the nightly bombing raids from Germany laid waste to both houses and industry.

This is the first volume of Ted Grant’s Writings. It covers the period from 1938 to 1942, when he was involved in building up the forces of Trotskyism in Britain. During the early years of the Second World War, Ted became editor of the Socialist Appeal and political secretary of the Workers’ International League. In this role Ted emerged as the principal theoretician of the British Trotskyist movement.

At the end of the Second World War a revolt took place among the armed forces of Britain in South East Asia that is little remembered. The soldiers realised that Britain was retaining them to fight new colonial wars, against peoples they had supposedly just "liberated". The soldiers sympathised with the peoples of South East Asia who sought genuine liberation. It led to a revolt that affected the army, the navy and the air force with strikes spreading among troops from South East Asia to India, the Middle East and North Africa.

In the early hours of August 24 seventy years ago Germany and Soviet Russia signed a "non-aggression pact", which divided the states of Northern and Eastern Europe into German and Soviet "spheres of influence", effectively slicing Poland into two halves. Ben Peck looks back at what happened and explains why such an incredible event could take place – and the price that was paid.

Winston Churchill is one of the most famous figures in British history and the official approach is that it would be unpatriotic not to admire him. The purpose of this article is to draw aside the veils of myth and legend which establishment historians and fawning admirers have spun around him and look at the real Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill. The facts reveal a different man altogether.

The following article was written by Alan Woods in 2004 to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the D-Day Normandy Landings in 1944. There are many myths surrounding the Allied invasion of Europe, and the Second World War in general, but what is the true story?

This book by Ted Grant is a unique contribution to the history of British Trotskyism. It begins with the debate on Trotskyism in the British Communist Party in 1924 and ends with the break-up of the Revolutionary Communist Party in 1949 and the beginning of more than thirty years of work within the Labour Party. Ted Grant was the founder and political leader of the “Militant Tendency”, which haunted the Labour leadership, and was eventually expelled along with the Militant editorial board in 1983.

The NEC of the Labour Party in 1954 argued in favour of German rearmament against the Soviet "threat". The Labour left argued that a re-armed West Germany, backed by the United States, would be facing a hostile and armed East Germany, backed by Russia, making World War III "inevitable." Ted Grant replied to both, putting forward an internationalist position.

The first democratic elections in Germany after the war, in 1946, saw the workers' parties triumph, especially the Social Democrats, a swing of the petty bourgeoisie toward the Christian Democrats, the collapse of the openly right-wing parties and a total rejection of the Nazis. Ted Grant pointed out that this was the answer to those, including the Stalinists and Labour leaders, who blamed the German workers for Hitler's crimes. The relative setback of the Stalinists and protest vote in the Soviet Zone also indicated that German workers were in favour of Socialism, but were repelled by the Stalinist caricature of it.

After WWII, the leadership of the Fourth International were still repeating old and out-dated ideas. Among such leaders was Pierre Frank, one of the leaders of the Parti Communiste Internationaliste (PCI), the French section of the International. He wrote an article which argued that in Western Europe, there had been established only Bonapartist governments, ie 'Governments by the Sword', denying, in other words, that 'normal' capitalist democracy existed. Ted Grant's reply was a devastating critique of Frank's muddled and un-Marxist approach.

On the eve of 1946 post-war Britain was on her knees. The British ruling class reached a deal with the former U.S. allies for a huge loan, but the repayment conditions were very severe. The Labour leaders in office were willingly carrying out the dirty job of asking British workers to postpone any demands to improve their conditions. Ted Grant looked at the consequences of these policies for the workers.

As soon as Germany and Japan had been knocked out of the war, the scramble for the markets of the world intensified among the Allied victors. Despite the official lies about the reasons for Lend-Lease, it was only granted in the first place by the Americans after they had stripped British imperialism of the major part of her investments, markets and interests abroad. The sugary phrases about “co-operation” in the “great battle of democracy” are shown to have been but a cover for the real interests of imperialism.

After the end of the Second World War, the Allies announced a savage and vengeful programme of enslavement of Germany and the German people. Of course, the responsibility for the crimes of the Nazis was not to be laid on their real backers, the German capitalists and bankers and the British and French capitalists. The burdens of dismemberment and defeat were to be thrown onto the backs of the thrice oppressed and enslaved German workers and peasants, the first victims of Hitlerism.

This document was presented by Ted Grant as a policy document at the March 1945 Central Committee of the RCP, approved in August at the national conference and printed in Workers International News in September. The resolution presents a broad analysis, an estimation of the political situation coming out of the war and a tentative perspective for the future.

In October 1944 the Communist Party of Great Britain held a national conference where the leadership did everything possible to disguise in revolutionary sounding language their support for the Tories, for Churchill, for the Atlantic Alliance and so on. Some dared to criticise from the ranks but these were soon silenced. Ted Grant exposed the contradictions in the position presented by the leadership of the party.

We publish for the first time in electronic form, this important document written by Ted Grant in the autumn of 1944. It analyses the consequences of the inevitable victory of Anglo-American imperialism and the growing grip of Stalinism over the European masses due to the immense prestige gained by the Red Army. It also explains why the imperialists would find themselves in a relatively weak position and would need to grant concessions to the masses in Europe. Imperialism would be forced to do this in order to carry out a counterrevolution, albeit in a democratic form, with the help of the leaders of the mass reformist and Stalinist parties.

At the end of the war, the tremendous psychological shock occasioned by the events of the war, the collaboration of the bourgeoisie of the defeated countries with the Nazi invaders, had undermined the former habitual acceptance of bourgeois domination over the nation. As Ted Grant wrote in 1944, "The problem of the German revolution cannot be separated from the problem of the revolution in all Europe. The war has tied the fate of all the European countries together. Events in one will have immediate repercussions in all the others."

In July 1944 the Allies had their forces in France ready to march eastwards towards Germany. In the British media there were calls for punishment of all Germans, conveniently ignoring the fact that the German workers had always been opposed to Hitler, whereas the British bourgeois had welcomed his crushing of the German labour movement in 1933.

Contrary to the official mythology about Churchill, by 1944 he was already losing support among the people of Britain. This article by Ted Grant, written at the time and based on local election results, shows that the workers were becoming radicalised. This was to be confirmed in a dramatic way just after the war when Labour won a landslide victory.

In return for Stalin’s help in ensuring the continuation of capitalism in Europe, the Allies were prepared temporarily to make concessions to him. The real purpose of the Three Powers Talks in Moscow was to come to some arrangements for the post-war world.

The summer of 1943 marked a dramatic turn in the Second World War. In this article Ted Grant analysed the implications of the Allied invasion of Sicily and the opening of the Second Front, the attempts by Churchill to reach a deal with the Italian monarchy and prop up a regime of the accomplices of fascism which would preserve the interests of Anglo-US imperialism against the rising revolutionary tide. As in the case of North Africa with Giraud, Allied imperialism was dropping the "democratic" mask showing their real aims and interests in the war.

More than halfway into the Second World War the mood among the British workers was changing. The bourgeois could feel the changing mood and attempted to manoeuvre by making false promises. All this was putting pressure on the Labour Party, where the contradiction between the leaders in the coalition government and the workers in general was becoming ever more evident.

The text of the thesis adopted at the National Pre-Conference of Workers' International League, August 22 and 23, 1942. Edited for publication in The Unbroken Thread, full version available on the Ted Grant archive.

As Hitler's armies advanced into the Soviet Union, Ted Grant explained that it was the abandonment of genuine workers' democracy and internationalism and its replacement by a dictatorial national bureaucratic regime that weakened the ability of the country to stop the Nazis. In spite of this the duty of British workers was to defend the land of October with all means possible.

The French ruling class had miserably succumbed to Nazi domination in 1940. Now Britain faced the threat of invasion. In France the bourgeoisie refused to arm the people for fear that these arms would eventually be turned against them. The revolutionary socialists in Britain posed the demand of expropriating the capitalists and arming the workers to stop any Nazi invasion.

Germany was making rapid advances on all fronts, shocking the British and Americans. On this basis Mussolini decided to back what he thought was going to be the winning horse. This forced the USA to speed up its decision to actively participate in the war and also to woo Russia into the Allied camp. As Ted Grant predicted “Armageddon is upon us. Millions will be crushed under the advancing tanks and warplanes.”

"An endless period of destruction and slaughter opens out before the peoples of the world. It can be ended, not by the victory of either imperialism, which would merely lay the basis for new wars and is not in the interests of the workers of any country, but by the victory of the workers over imperialism." Ted Grant in the early period of the Second World War.

In the early stages of the war Germany wished to maintain nominal neutrality among the other nations in Europe, especially among those with whom she shared a common frontier. Britain, in order to strike at Germany, tried to spread the war as widely as possible, neither being in the least concerned with the ‘rights of small nations’. As Ted Grant wrote, “The people of Europe can look forward to a few months more or less of the present deadlock, then the sanguinary slaughter – there is no other prospect.”

After the first few months of war in March 1940, preparations for an even worse scenario of slaughter were being undertaken by all imperialist powers by mobilizing the masses of each country against the "enemy". The labour and Stalinist leaders' bankrupt policies left the workers unarmed. Here Ted Grant makes a balance-sheet of the first months of War.

As the war dragged on Ted Grant highlighted the real reason for the war, the conflict between German and British imperialism for domination of Europe. The war was presented as one against Nazi dictatorship, but at the same time the British had a liking for Franco and were also courting Mussolini, revealing the fact that their opposition to “dictatorship” was pure hypocrisy.

One of the last interviews on the war situation given by Trotsky in January and March 1940 and published in three sections in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch issues of March 10, 17 and 24, 1940. Read the interviews at www.marxists.org.

As the world stood on the brink of world war Ted Grant wrote, “If world capitalism has no solution for its problems excepting new and more horrible slaughter of whole nations, it is time this insane system were ended… The sole way out for the youth lies in the overthrow of capitalism and workers’ power and socialism. Our path lies in building up the revolutionary socialist youth which alone can lead us away from the nightmare of war which hangs over us.” 

With preparations for war in full swing the small Workers' International League gathered around Ralph Lee and Ted Grant was the only voice that stood out defending a real internationalist position. Here we provide our readers with the lead article of the August 1939 edition of Youth For Socialism, signed by Ted Grant.

As armaments were piled up in preparation for the Second World War Ted Grant explained that, “This war machine is for the defence of the trading interests and the colonial loot of British imperialism, for what is making for war is the intensified and sharpened struggle for markets between the different countries of the world.”

"We can state one thing with certainty. The agreement between Stalin and Hitler would essentially alter nothing in the counter-revolutionary function of the Kremlin oligarchy. It would only serve to lay bare this function, make it stand out more glaringly and hasten the collapse of illusions and falsifications. Our political task does not consist in “saving” Stalin from the embraces of Hitler but in overthrowing both of them."

"We live in an epoch of the universal liquidation of Marxism in the ruling summits of the labour movement. The most vulgar prejudices now serve as the official doctrines for the political and trade-union leaders of the French working class. Contrariwise, the voice of revolutionary realism rings against this artificial sounding board like the voice of “sectarianism”. It is all the more insistently necessary to repeat over and over again the fundamental truths of Marxist policies before audiences of advanced workers." (Trotsky)

The main ideas in this document, published in the name of the Communist League of France, came from Trotsky, parts being dictated to secretaries during the hectic weeks when he was trying to find a place to live, and the whole being edited by him. This program was a response to the pre-revolutionary situation that developed after February 6, 1934, when fascist and reactionary groups staged an armed demonstration against the Daladier government at the Chamber of Deputies.

"The war of 1914-18 officially ushered in a new epoch. Its most important political events up to now have been: the conquest of power by the Russian proletariat in 1917 and the smashing of the German proletariat in the year 1933. The terrible calamities of the peoples in all parts of the world and even the more terrible dangers that tomorrow holds in store result from the fact that the revolution of 1917 did not find victorious development on the European and world arena."

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