The Grand Camouflage: The Communist Conspiracy in the Spanish Civil War

By Burnett Bolloten | Go to book overview

7
The Popular Front

O UR, task is to win over the majority of the proletariat and to prepare it for the assumption of power...,"La Pasionaria had declared towards the end of 1933. "This means that we must bend all our efforts to organize workshop and peasant committees and to create soviets....

"...The development of the revolutionary movement is extremely favourable to us. We are advancing along the road which has been indicated to us by the Communist International, and which leads to the establishment of a Soviet government in Spain, a government of workers and peasants.1

This policy was in strange contrast to that pursued two years later in Spain. The reversal that had subsequently occurred stemmed, of course, from the resolutions adopted at the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International in 1935, introducing the Popular Front policy. At the root of this new policy lay the deterioration in German- Soviet relations since Adolf Hitler's rise to power in January, 1933, and the fear that Germany's revived military strength would ultimately be directed against the U.S.S.R. Suffering from the after-effects of compulsory collectivization, and bending every effort to strengthen her political and military system, the Soviet Union was careful not to offer any provocation that would draw her into permanent estrangement from the Nazi régime.2 Indeed, Izvestiya, the organ of the Soviet

____________________
1
XIII Pleinon IKKI. Stenograficheskii otchet (Thirteenth Plenum of the Executive Committee of the Communist International; Stenographic Report), p. 531. See also The Communist International, December 5, 1934 ("The Struggle against Fascism, the Struggle for Power, for the Workers' and Peasants' Republic in Spain").
2
" Hitler's bloody suppression of all domestic opposition and his racial persecutions affected diplomatic routine business between Moscow and Berlin as little as it affected similar business between Paris or London and Berlin. Stalin undoubtedly calculated on the strength of the Bismarckian tradition among the German diplomats, a tradition which demanded that the Reich should avoid embroilment with Russia. In the first year of Hitler's Chancellor- ship he did not utter in public a single word about the events in Germany, though his silence was excruciating to the bewildered followers of the Comintern.

"He broke that silence only at the seventeenth congress of the party, in January, 1934. Even then he refrained from drawing the conclusions from events which had ended so disastrously for the European Left, and he vaguely fostered the illusion that fascism, 'a symptom of capitalist weakness,' would prove short-lived. But he also described the Nazi upheaval as a 'triumph for the idea of revenge in Europe' and remarked that the anti-Russian trend in German policy had been prevailing over the older Bismarckian tradition. Even so, he was at pains to make it clear that Russia desired to remain on the same terms with the Third Reich as she had been with Weimar Germany. " -- Isaac Deutscher , Stalin, p. 415.

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