Workers Vanguard No. 893
25 May 2007
German Trotskyists on World War II
German Imperialism and the Lie of Collective Guilt
The Red Army Smashed the Nazi Regime!
Workers Revolution Will Avenge the Victims of the Holocaust!
This article is an edited translation from Spartakist No. 163 (Summer 2006), publication of the Spartakist Arbeiterpartei Deutschlands, German section of the International Communist League (Fourth Internationalist). The article was based on a 2005 SpAD educational presentation.
On the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the liberation [of Germany from Nazism], there was widespread debate in society about the Third Reich and World War II. The German bourgeoisie and their SPD [Social Democratic Party]/Green government took the opportunity of the various commemorative ceremonies to advance the interests of German imperialism. In contrast to the Japanese ruling class, which honors its butchers every year—as Kohl and Reagan also did in 1985 with the SS murderers in Bitburg—the German bourgeoisie prefers, in view of their indescribably terrible crimes, to shed a few crocodile tears at commemorative events.
Other examples include building the Holocaust memorial in the center of Berlin or displaying a bit of anti-fascism every couple of years by organizing an uprising of decent people, whenever the daily racist terror, which is promoted by the state, threatens to damage Germanys image once again. The central ideological means they resort to is preaching that all Germans are guilty of the Nazis crimes—collective guilt—in order to let those who are really guilty off the hook: the German bourgeoisie, the ruling class at that time and today. The issue was and is that the German bourgeoisie wants to play a role on the world stage; to promote this goal it cynically manipulates the memories of its crimes.
With capitalist reunification and the counterrevolutionary destruction of the [East German] DDR deformed workers state in 1990 and the destruction of the Soviet degenerated workers state in 1991-92, German imperialism has become stronger. It is now undertaking the first steps to compete against the global hegemony of U.S. imperialism. German interests are again represented in the Balkans, in Afghanistan, on the Horn of Africa, and soon they will also be represented in Congo. In 1999, [SPD Chancellor Gerhard] Schröder and [Green Party Foreign Minister Joschka] Fischer proclaimed, Never again Auschwitz, which served to justify participating in the U.S.-led NATO war against Serbia. The sole purpose of this was to carry through the first military intervention by German imperialism since the end of World War II, give the Bundeswehr practical experience and station troops in the Balkans. The hypocrisy of the bourgeoisie of Auschwitz then and now only serves to pave the way for the next round of dangerous resurgence of German nationalism. Collective guilt chains the working class to its own bourgeoisie and prevents it from calling the bourgeoisie to account for its crimes.
On 8 May 2005, at the Berlin demonstration by the so-called Spasibo [Russian for thank you] alliance against the Nazis, Peter Gingold, a Jewish Stalinist and fighter in the bourgeois French resistance, made a speech (which got more than a little applause). What he said corresponded to a contribution he made in the South Baden Stattzeitung (March 2005) under the title: For the Majority of the German Population, the Defeat of the Nazis Was Their Own Defeat. Gingold confirmed this infamous assertion when he said that the Germans didnt prevent 1933, that is, the seizure of power by the Nazis. But the overwhelming majority of the German proletariat was in the KPD [Communist Party of Germany] and SPD and in the unions, which at the end of the 1920s were led mostly by Social Democrats. The bourgeoisie brought the fascists to power because it feared workers revolution. The fascists were based on the petty bourgeoisie (peasants, students, the intelligentsia, civil servants, etc.) that had been ruined by the world economic crisis at the end of the 1920s, on the cops and on the lumpenproletariat, that is, the long-term unemployed and totally impoverished who had lost any connection to the working class. Fascism was the last means of rescuing bourgeois class rule.
In the 1938 Transitional Program, the founding document of the Fourth International, Leon Trotsky, co-leader of the October Revolution alongside Lenin, exposed the lies of the Stalinists and, comparing the defeat in Germany in 1933 with the experience of Russia in 1905, showed who bore the responsibility for the Nazi victory:
The Bolshevik faction had at that time  not celebrated even its third birthday. It is completely otherwise in Germany, where the leadership came from powerful parties, one of which had existed for seventy years, the other almost fifteen. Both these parties, with millions of voters behind them, were morally paralyzed before the battle and capitulated without a fight. History has recorded no parallel catastrophe. The German proletariat was not smashed by the enemy in battle. It was crushed by the cowardice, baseness, and perfidy of its own parties. Small wonder then that it has lost faith in everything in which it had been accustomed to believe for almost three generations....
The protracted failure of revolutionary work in Spain or Germany is but the reward for the criminal politics of the Social Democracy and the Comintern.
The Revolutionary Tradition of the German Workers Movement
With the outbreak of World War I, the SPD went over openly to the side of its own bourgeoisie by voting for war credits to the Kaiser on 4 August 1914 and then herding the working class into the slaughter of World War I. Lenin called the SPD a bourgeois workers party, that is, a party with a bourgeois program entirely in the framework of capitalism, but with a proletarian base. It was strategically necessary to split the working-class base of the SPD from its bourgeois leadership. The SPD bears the responsibility for the defeat of the postwar revolutionary wave; their betrayal was the key to rescuing bourgeois rule. The SPD drowned the [1918-19] revolution in blood and had the leadership of the KPD—Karl Liebknecht, Rosa Luxemburg, Leo Jogiches and Eugen Leviné—murdered.
As for the young, recently founded Communist Party, it was too inexperienced. In 1923, the KPD leadership, discouraged by Stalin from fighting for power, recognized the revolutionary crisis too late. They made the call for an uprising dependent on the agreement of the left wing of the SPD, which was equivalent to giving the revolution a third-class burial (see Spartacist [English-language edition] No. 56, Spring 2001). Since the attempts of the German working class to find a way out of the capitalist crisis through proletarian revolution—inspired by the 1917 October Revolution—were unsuccessful, the situation resulted in a right-wing radicalization of the petty bourgeoisie.
The defeat of the 1923 revolution in Germany sealed the isolation of the young Soviet workers state at the time. The developing Soviet bureaucracy took advantage of the disappointment and apathy that spread among the exhausted masses, and, under Stalins leadership, seized control and power over the Bolshevik Party at the end of 1923 to early 1924. Stalin replaced Bolshevik internationalism and the struggle for world revolution with the dogma of building socialism in one country. The Communist International, founded as the party of world revolution, was transformed into an instrument to foster illusions in peaceful coexistence between the Soviet Union and imperialism, which was decisive in chaining workers to the bourgeoisie.
This counterrevolution was political, not social; the Stalinist bureaucracy was based on the collectivized property forms that had been created by the October Revolution. Thus the state remained a workers state, although bureaucratically degenerated, and it was the duty of the international proletariat to defend it against the class enemy. For many years, the Trotskyist International Left Opposition carried out a struggle against Stalin & Co. and against the destruction of the party in order to return the Comintern to its revolutionary program.
The Betrayal by the SPD and KPD in 1933
The defeats of workers revolutions and the world economic crisis at the end of the 1920s enabled the Nazis to grow. But the workers wanted to fight and the bourgeoisie was no longer in a position to stem the danger of revolution through bourgeois democracy. There was a mass radicalization, and three consecutive bonapartist regimes—Brüning in 1930, Papen in 1932, Schleicher in 1932-33—could not get the crisis under control for the bourgeoisie, which increasingly counted on Nazi terror against the workers movement and saw the smashing of the workers movement as the only possibility to save its rule. The SPD leadership feared mobilizing the workers against the Nazis because workers would become more radicalized and slip out of the control of the SPD and its class-collaborationist program. The KPD leadership under [Ernst] Thälmann, as well as Stalin, refused, however, to force the SPD into a united front, even declaring the SPD social fascist. The KPD instead came up with the slogan After Hitler, us. In the face of the threatened destruction of the workers movement and the fascist seizure of power, this was nothing other than a declaration of capitulation.
In contrast, the Trotskyist Left Opposition warned of the danger of the Nazis taking power and fought to organize the workers in proletarian united fronts in order to smash the Nazis. The betrayal by the Stalinists and Social Democrats was enormous: while workers, organized by the hundreds of thousands into party militias, had waged street battles against the Nazis, sometimes overcoming their political divisions, the Nazis were able to come to power without a shot being fired. The betrayal of the KPD weighs twice as heavily because it was seen as the party of the Russian Revolution in which the vanguard of the proletariat was organized.
Nothing is more demoralizing than a defeat without a fight. When, following this historic betrayal, no criticism was raised in the ranks of the Third [Communist] International, the Trotskyists began to fight to build a new revolutionary International. Meanwhile, in 1935 the Stalinists came out for building popular fronts
—alliances of workers parties with sections of the bourgeoisie—against fascism. Based on class collaboration, the popular front—an obstacle to class struggle against the capitalist system that produces the Nazis—in reality paves the way for the Nazis. This was expressed most clearly in the mid 1930s when the Stalinists treacherously strangled the Spanish Revolution, which resulted in Francos fascists taking power.
It was the Red Army that smashed the Nazi regime and brought to an end the Holocaust—the industrial murder of millions of Jews, Roma and Sinti [Gypsies]
—and the persecution and murder of Communists and countless others. After the victory of the Red Army, the lie of the collective guilt of all Germans for the Holocaust and the other Nazi atrocities was a central means of defending the rule of the German bourgeoisie in West Germany. Thus the responsibility of the bourgeoisie, which had brought Hitler to power in order to smash the working class, was shifted to the people. And if everyone was guilty, then no one, in particular the bourgeoisie, really was. In his memoirs, And Red Is the Colour of Our Flag, the German Trotskyist Oskar Hippe powerfully described the purpose of the lie of collective guilt after World War II:
The declaration that there is a collective guilt in the German people also belongs to this struggle against the proletariat, since from the outset they want to discriminate against the proletariat, the overwhelming majority of the people. They want to drive home the idea that their failure was due to their inferiority, and to explain once and for all that the proletariat is incapable of taking a grip on its own fate and revolutionising society.
After the war, the KPD and SPD leaderships had their own reasons for adopting the lie of collective guilt. It enabled them to shift the responsibility for their own betrayal—their cowardly capitulation to the Nazis in 1933 without a fight—onto the shoulders of the German working class which they had betrayed. Today DKPers [members of the present-day German Communist Party] seek to blame the Nazi seizure of power on the unwillingness of the German people (i.e., the workers) to fight. This is an outrageous whitewash of the betrayal of the KPD leadership. What is behind this is the program expressed in an 11 June 1945 call issued by the KPD:
In our opinion it would be wrong to impose the Soviet system on Germany, because this road does not correspond to the current conditions of development in Germany.
Our opinion is rather that the decisive interests of the German people in the current situation dictate another path—that of an anti-fascist, democratic regime, a parliamentary-democratic republic with all democratic rights and freedoms for the people.
So they stood for the rule of the bourgeoisie—democratic, of course. An article in the DKP paper unsere zeit (10 June 2005) explained: The call of the Central Committee of the KPD of 11 June 1945 is one of the most brilliant and creative texts published by the German communists in their history.
In fact, however, Nazi leaders and the bourgeoisie fled from East Germany, where the Red Army was in power, to the imperialist West. The increasing confrontation between the Soviet Union and its imperialist democratic wartime allies culminated in the first Cold War. Consequently, in the late 1940s in East Germany, as in the rest of East Europe, the bourgeoisie was expropriated and a deformed workers state, the DDR, was erected on the model of the bureaucratically degenerated workers state of the Soviet Union.
World War II—An Imperialist War
One central point in the Stalinist and social-democratic propaganda on World War II, as well as in the collective-guilt propaganda, is to present World War II as a war between democracy and fascism. But World War II, like World War I, was an imperialist war; in fact it was simply the continuation of the earlier war. With regard to the Soviet Union, the Trotskyists had a side—with the Soviet Union. They also supported uprisings of oppressed colonial peoples if these were directed against imperialist domination, whether in India against Britain, in China against Japan and the U.S., in Indochina against France, etc.
After World War I, the victory of the proletarian revolution in Russia left its mark on the consciousness of all classes in Europe. And both the bourgeoisie and the Trotskyists expected revolutions as the outcome of a new world war. The capitalist rulers had drawn their own lessons from the Revolution. For example, the fraternization of German and Russian soldiers on the Eastern Front in December 1917 was initially seen by the Reichswehr merely as a sign that the Russian army was disintegrating. In the Museum of the Red Army exhibition in the Berlin district of Karlshorst, next to a photo titled Fraternization of German and Russian Soldiers, there is the following comment:
In hindsight, after the November Revolution  in Germany, this rapprochement of the soldiers was regarded as the beginning of subversion by Bolshevism. Later, this understanding influenced the orders of the National Socialists in the war strategy against the Soviet Union.
The Trotskyists had prepared very thoroughly for the occurrence of a new world war. Their model was the struggle of Karl Liebknecht and of the Bolsheviks in World War I. Their principled position was presented in the decisive programmatic document, Trotskys 1934 War and the Fourth International. The general strategic task to which the whole work of a proletarian party during war should be subordinated is to turn the imperialist war into a civil war. It explains:
18. The sham of national defense is covered up wherever possible by the additional sham of the defense of democracy. If even now, in the imperialist epoch, Marxists do not identify democracy with fascism and are ready at any moment to repel fascisms encroachment upon democracy, must not the proletariat in case of war support the democratic governments against the fascist governments?
Flagrant sophism! We defend democracy against fascism by means of the organizations and methods of the proletariat.... And if we remain in irreconcilable opposition to the most democratic government in time of peace, how can we take upon ourselves even a shadow of responsibility for it in time of war when all the infamies and crimes of capitalism take on a most brutal and bloody form?
19. A modern war between the great powers does not signify a conflict between democracy and fascism but a struggle of two imperialisms for the redivision of the world.
Only one point was added to the revolutionary program for World War I: the duty of the world proletariat to fight for the unconditional military defense of the gains of the October Revolution, despite the usurpation of political power by the bureaucratic caste headed by Stalin:
Defense of the Soviet Union from the blows of the capitalist enemies, irrespective of the circumstances and immediate causes of the conflict, is the elementary and imperative duty of every honest labor organization.
When Germany invaded the Soviet Union, the Soviet Trotskyists who were imprisoned in Stalins camps volunteered to defend the Soviet Union with arms in hand. And when the Stalinist bureaucracy refused out of fear, the Trotskyists relinquished some of their rights and extended their working day to 12 hours to help the Soviet Union win the war.
On the question of the defense of the Soviet Union there were fights within the Fourth International; the clearest and best-documented fight was in the American section, the Socialist Workers Party. Under pressure of petty-bourgeois public outrage over the Hitler-Stalin pact and the Soviet-Finnish war, the petty-bourgeois opposition of Shachtman, Burnham and Abern wanted to give up defense of the Soviet Union. In 1940 they split the party, taking 40 percent of the membership with them.
In 1938, in A Fresh Lesson—After the Imperialist Peace at Munich, Trotsky answered the central question of what bourgeois democracy actually is:
Democracy can be maintained only so long as class contradictions do not reach an explosive state. In order to mitigate social frictions the bourgeoisie has been compelled to provide feed for a broad layer of petty-bourgeois intellectuals, and the bureaucracy and aristocracy of labor. The bigger the feeding-trough the more ardent is social patriotism. The reformist feeding-trough has nowadays been preserved only in those countries which were able in the past to accumulate vast wealth, thanks to the exploitation of the world market, and their pillage of the colonies. In other words, in the condition of capitalist decay a democratic regime is accessible (up to a certain time) only to the most aristocratic bourgeoisie. The basis of social patriotism remains colonial slavery.
The Stalinists, entirely in line with their popular-frontist politics and their support for the bourgeoisies of the democratic imperialist allies of the Soviet Union in World War II, laid the blame for the war on Germany. But there was never German guilt for the war, because it was an imperialist war. As Lenin already explained in World War I, for Marxists the question of who shoots first is irrelevant for evaluating a war. Germany and Japan made it into the ranks of major imperialist powers only at the end of the 19th century. When it came to dividing up the world, they were too late. Since they had less reserves, they had designs on the colonies being plundered by Britain and France. The U.S. was waiting to skim the cream at the end. It went to war against Japan above all to resolve who would get to exploit and enslave China and Asia.
The Defense of the Soviet Union
The Stalinist, popular-frontist fairy tale of an anti-fascist war of the democracies served only to chain the American and West European working class to their own bourgeoisies. In 1917, the Bolsheviks had seen the extension of the Russian Revolution to the advanced imperialist countries as its only road to survival. In particular, they counted on the German working class, the strongest and best-organized in Europe. But the German proletariat had been defeated by its bourgeoisie, and young German workers, now stuck in Wehrmacht uniforms, were deployed against the Soviet Union. At the time, only the Trotskyists fought for independent class politics in the tradition of Lenin and Liebknecht. James P. Cannon, leader of the American Trotskyists, spoke to this point in 1942:
We make a fundamental distinction between the Soviet Union and its democratic allies. We defend the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union is a workers state, although degenerated under the totalitarian-political rule of the Kremlin bureaucracy. Only traitors can deny support to the Soviet workers state in its war against fascist Germany. To defend the Soviet Union, in spite of Stalin and against Stalin, is to defend the nationalized property established by the October revolution. That is a progressive war.
—A Statement on the War, Fourth International,
Vol. III, No. 1, January 1942
(emphasis in original)
It was the Soviet Union that had to bear the brunt of this war. Even when it was in an alliance with the U.S. and Britain, the Soviet Union almost always faced 90 percent of the German troops (and at no point in the war was it less than two-thirds). As for the economic support the Soviet Union received, especially from the U.S., it amounted to at most 10 percent of its own industrial output. And it was the Red Army that smashed the Nazi regime. It brought the Holocaust to an end. It liberated Europe from enslavement and bloody oppression by the Nazis.
The policies of the Stalinist bureaucracy ruling over the Soviet state, and preventing any initiative by the masses, led to the devastating loss of 27 million Soviet citizens. Three million died in the first three months alone. Stalin trusted his 1939 pact with Hitler, even though he had been warned, for instance by the heroic Soviet spies Richard Sorge and Ozaki Hotsumi. You can also find out a lot about this in Khrushchevs secret speech at the 1956 Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union under the strange title, On the Cult of Personality. (Except that he does not answer the question: Where were you, Khrushchev?) In this speech, he showed that Stalin was demoralized and hid like a coward for the first ten days following the German attack.
One of the main ways that Stalin had weakened the Soviet Union was by exterminating almost the entire officer corps three or four years earlier, including Tukhachevsky, for example. Rokossovsky, one of the most important generals in the Soviet struggle for the liberation of Europe, had fortunately not been murdered but only transferred, and was therefore able to become active again. Even Zhukov had been purged, but he was reinstated because there were not enough officers. A gigantic myth was created that Stalin led the Great Patriotic War. In actual fact, however, it was his generals and the soldiers of the Red Army who won the war, in spite of Stalin. Stalins favorite general was Vlasov, who later betrayed and went over to Hitler.
When the Stalinist bureaucracy propagated the notion that the war against Germany was a Great Patriotic War to defend Mother Russia, it represented a politically decisive turn. The invasion of the Soviet Union took place on 22 June 1941. Stalin made his first speech on July 3, declaring:
The war against fascist Germany cannot be regarded as an ordinary war.
At the same time it is the great war of the whole Soviet people against the fascist German troops. This patriotic peoples war against the fascist oppressor has as its goal not only to rid us of the danger approaching us, but also to help all the peoples of Europe.
—Exhibition catalogue, Der Krieg gegen die Sowjetunion 19411945 [The War Against the Soviet Union 1941-1945]
So, right from the beginning the war was waged under the motto of Russian nationalism. And that hindered the mass desertion of German units going over to fight alongside their Soviet class brothers against the common class enemy, the German bourgeoisie. With this, the Stalinists also managed to displace the October Revolution as the goal the Soviet working class identified with and to replace it with the Great Patriotic War. This went along with the elimination by the Stalinist bureaucracy of the entire layer of Bolsheviks who had led the October Revolution.
According to the propaganda spread in the Red Army and the working class, the Germans were all fascists, the Wehrmacht was a fascist army, etc. That is why at Stalingrad there were posters and inscriptions in Russian (also documented in the museum in Berlin-Karlshorst) such as: How Many Germans Did You Kill Today? and No German Should Leave Stalingrad Alive. Later the Red Army distributed leaflets to the German soldiers to get them to capitulate, but the example of capitulation they gave was that of Hitler-loyal, arch-reactionary General Field Marshal Paulus, who had commanded the German troops in Stalingrad. They also founded the National Committee for a Free Germany, with Graf [Count] von Einsiedel at its head, in order to demonstrate, in line with the popular- front policy, that they did not want revolution but a settlement with the bourgeoisie. Other leaflets said that soldiers who did not surrender would be killed.
This had nothing to do with revolutionary internationalist propaganda, which would have exploited the fact that the soldiers they faced were German workers who may have been the children of Communists, or perhaps even Communists themselves. There was a big anti-German hate campaign by Ilya Ehrenburg, a Jewish Soviet author, who became the mouthpiece for Stalins own nationalist campaign. Although it was dropped after the Red Army reached Germany, the content of the Stalinist policy did not significantly change.
Although it was very difficult to defect, some did. Gerhard Bögelein, for example, was a German worker who changed sides and became a soldier in the Red Army. Right after the reunification in 1990, he was thrown into jail by the vindictive West German courts in Hamburg. Karl Kielhorn organized an anti-fascist committee in a Soviet prisoner-of-war camp, where they read Marx and he was recruited to the CP. We Spartakists defended Bögelein and Kielhorn against the vengeance of the Fourth Reich. Heinz Kessler, who was later a founder of the National Peoples Army in the DDR, and who became an army general and then Minister of Defense, had gone over to the Soviet Union when he was a Wehrmacht soldier. We are proud to have defended him against the anti-Communist witchhunt after the capitalist counterrevolution.
The invasion of the Soviet Union spurred massive resistance, which is the main reason why the Soviet Union was able to prevail in the end. The Nazis and the Wehrmacht command believed they would win within four months. The Wehrmacht command thought that by winter the Soviet Union would already have collapsed like a house of cards; thats why the German soldiers supposedly didnt need any winter clothing.
There was a difference between the defense of Leningrad and the rest of the Soviet Union. In Leningrad there existed a high degree of consciousness that they were defending the birthplace of the October Revolution. And it is precisely because of the October Revolution that Hitler and his Wehrmacht leadership wanted to completely wipe out Leningrad and let the population starve to death, even if they attempted to surrender. The order was to accept no surrender. The siege lasted 900 days, and the number of people who died in the defense of Leningrad and in the city itself—about one million—was higher than the number of soldiers of American and British imperialism killed in World War II, which was a total of 800,000. But the Nazis did not succeed in taking Leningrad.
The victory at Stalingrad was a psychological turn in the war, and the military turn was the battle of Kursk in 1943. The Soviet Union bore the brunt of the war against the Nazis and was able in the end to beat back the German armies. The Western Allies were counting on their imperialist rival Germany and the Soviet degenerated workers state to destroy each other on the battlefield. This is why the Allies opened the second front only in June 1944, with the invasion of Normandy. The only reason the Western Allies opened a second front was to push back Soviet influence in Europe, fearing that the Red Army would liberate the whole of Germany.
The reports by the SD (Security Service of the Reichsführer SS) in the catalogue for the exhibition, The War Against the Soviet Union 1941-1945, give a good example of the attitude of the German population toward the Soviet Union. There is a document there on the populations reaction to the campaign against Soviet Untermenschen [subhumans]. There had been a Nazi exhibition on this theme in Berlin, at which the resistance group led by Jewish Communist Herbert Baum planted a bomb.
The Nazi propaganda tried to paint a picture of Jews, Slavs and Communists as subhuman, and with that aim they exhibited pictures taken in concentration camps of people they themselves had almost starved to death, as typical examples of the peoples they wanted to wipe out. An April 1943 SD report noted that the way the Germans viewed these people had changed, because now hundreds of thousands of workers from the East as well as prisoners of war were working in Germany. The report gives examples of how the population supported the forced laborers, who included many highly skilled workers, so that later the death penalty had to be imposed for helping forced laborers or workers from the East. Nevertheless, support for them continued. There are examples of Polish and other forced laborers in the countryside basically being taken in by families.
Another example is when the Nazis tried to capitalize on the shooting of 4,000 Polish officers at Katyn. They dug up the graves of the Polish officers, who had been captured by the Red Army in Eastern Poland during the German-Polish war in 1939. The Polish officers were certainly hardened counterrevolutionaries, but it does not mean that we support their execution by the NKVD [Soviet secret police]. In any case, the Goebbels propaganda machine tried to capitalize on this. The SD reported that in Germany people would say: We have no right to complain about this Soviet action, because on the German side Poles and Jews were wiped out on a much larger scale. Of course that doesnt fit into the distorted picture presented by collective-guilt propaganda, that all Germans were somehow Nazis and supported them.
[TO BE CONTINUED]
Part One of the article German Imperialism and the Lie of Collective Guilt (WV No. 893, 25 May) stated in regard to Stalins massive purge of the Soviet officer corps in the lead-up to World War Two: Rokossovsky, one of the most important generals in the Soviet struggle for the liberation of Europe, had fortunately not been murdered but only transferred, and was therefore able to become active again. Even Zhukov had been purged, but he was reinstated because there were not enough officers. In fact, K.K. Rokossovsky was imprisoned under brutal conditions in August 1937, released in March 1940 and promptly restored to military command. G.K. Zhukov, while questioned during the purges, was not himself purged. (From WV No. 894, 8 June 2007.)