The Last Secret: The Delivery to Stalin of over Two Million Russians by Britain and the United States

The Last Secret: The Delivery to Stalin of over Two Million Russians by Britain and the United States

The Last Secret: The Delivery to Stalin of over Two Million Russians by Britain and the United States

The Last Secret: The Delivery to Stalin of over Two Million Russians by Britain and the United States

Excerpt

War has its priorities which the longer perspective of peace sometimes painfully deranges. In war one great aim obviously over-rides others, and gives, for the time, an absolute validity to the lesser decisions which it entails. Afterwards we may reflect and, on reflection, think otherwise. But who can judge between the two judgments? The comfortable after-wisdom of the historian is a luxury: he has no responsibility: he can afford to be wrong. Therefore he can only state the facts and, like the tragedian, present rather than solve moral dilemmas.

This book is such a tragedy. It describes the consequences of an over-riding war-time priority which, at the time, seemed absolute. Today, those consequences will shock us. At the time they did not. To many they were unknown. Those who knew of them regarded them as necessary. In the context of the time, perhaps they were necessary. And since they were judged necessary, they were also judged moral. For men are not satisfied with necessity: they must justify it with morality—sometimes with a false morality which may outlast the real necessity.

The real necessity, in this story, was the alliance between Soviet Russia and the West which alone, after the mistakes of both partners in the I930s, could defeat Germany and destroy Nazism. That alliance was, in its origin, self-defensive. To each party it was the sole means of survival. Apart from that one over‐ riding need, there was no rational trust, no identity of aim. Nevertheless, in the West, where public opinion was powerful, the alliance of necessity had to be represented as an understanding, a sympathy between peoples of similar ideals. By 1944 British propaganda had for three years recorded the sufferings and extolled the heroism of the Russian people. It had concealed the true character of the Russian government. It had suggested that its aims were similar to our own. Thereby it had created a public attitude towards that government which made possible, and even acceptable, certain great betrayals.

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