World War II

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The Second World War was, in the final analysis, a titanic struggle between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s USSR. The truth is that the British and Americans were little more than spectators for most of the war, notwithstanding the enormous sacrifices made by working-class soldiers from these countries to fight fascism.

The cynical calculations of the British and US imperialists led them to hope that Hitler would defeat the USSR, and that in the process Germany would become so enfeebled that it would be possible to finish them both off. To the horror of the imperialists, the USSR inflicted a shattering defeat on the Nazis.

This was despite the criminal policies of Stalin, which nearly collapsed the USSR at the start of the war. It was thanks to the power of a nationalised planned economy that the USSR was able to out-produce and outgun the Nazis.

The intrigues and friction between the imperialist interests of Britain and the USA allowed the war to drag on even longer. The deaths of millions of Soviets on the eastern front were of no real concern to Churchill and Roosevelt. After months of dragging their feet, these powers only threw themselves into the war when they began to fear that communists would take power the length and breadth of the European continent. It was the fear of communism more than fascism that moved the imperialists to decisive action.

The Second World War illustrates the role of imperialism and the power of a planned economy, among other things. This is why it is important for Marxists to study it.

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.