Workers Hammer No. 192

Autumn 2005


The Soviet Union in battle against Nazi Germany

The 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe was on 8 May. The smashing of the Nazi regime was carried out by the Soviet Red Army. The Trotskyist position was for unconditional military defence of the Soviet Union, and for revolutionary defeatism towards all sides in the inter-imperialist conflict between the Allied “democracies” and the Axis powers led by Nazi Germany. Polish Marxist Isaac Deutscher noted that the heroic resistance of the Soviet workers showed that the revolutionary gains of October 1917 still persisted, despite being undermined by the Stalinist bureaucracy. This remained true until the USSR was destroyed by counterrevolution in 1991-92.

Eight months have passed since the fateful date of 22 June 1941 when Hitler began his march on Russia. From that day the two most powerful armies in the world have been locked in epic combat from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Although the German Panzer divisions have in this time conquered a territory no smaller than that of Germany itself, nothing foreshadows the breakdown of the superhuman heroism with which the Russian revolution fights for its life and for its banner. Bleeding profusely it finds its greatness anew. The destiny of the world now hangs in the balance across the vast spaces of the USSR….

One fundamental truth about the German-Soviet war has to be understood: the heroic resistance of the Russian workers and peasants is proof of the vitality of revolutionary society. Soviet workers and peasants are defending everything which, in spite of various deformations, has remained of the revolution: an economy without capitalists and landlords. They defend what they see as their socialist fatherland — and here the accent is on the adjective no less than on the noun. They defend it not because, but in spite of the privileges which the new bureaucracy has usurped for itself; not because, but in spite of the totalitarian regime with its GPU, concentration camps, cult of the leader, and the terrible purges. Whoever has had an opportunity to observe Soviet reality even for a short time knows that the totalitarian regime had not strengthened but weakened the Soviet state. The huge quantity of modern weapons which the Red Army wields in battle could have been produced on a far greater scale and in better quality without the whip that lashes the backs of the Soviet workers. The sword of the revolution would be sharper today if it had been honed by a true democracy among the working masses. Solidarity with Russia does not in any way demand that this truth be concealed.

— Isaac Deutscher, “22 June 1941” (February 1942)