The Cold War and Its Origins, 1917-1960 - Vol. 1

By D. F. Fleming | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
ALLIES IN WAR 1941-1945

ON JUNE 22, 1941, the German juggernaut rolled over Russia's borders, from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Finland, Hungary, Rumania and Italy joined in the war, for what everyone expected to be a quick kill.

In the United States the isolationists, whose leadership was strongly conservative, were overjoyed. They had been deeply embarrassed by the German cooperation with the Communists. "Now they were free to go berserk with the original Nazi party line that Hitler represented the only bulwark against Bolshevism."1

The isolationists wanted to stay out of the war, which would now be won by Germany. Another large segment of American opinion thought that it would be a good thing if the Nazis and Reds killed off each other. After the barbarity and rapacity of the German Fascists had become too obvious to doubt, they were still widely equated with the much feared Reds, especially during the Russo-German truce. Now the evil partners had fallen out. Let them destroy each other!

On the day after the German assault on Russia Senator Harry S. Truman said: "If we see that Germany is winning the war we ought to help Russia, and if Russia is winning we ought to help Germany, and in that way let them kill as many as possible."2

As a policy this proposal was, of course, impossible of execution. It is rarely possible to be on both sides of any issue, or to fluctuate from one side to the other. To do so in a war to the death, in which we were already committed to one side by our deepest interests, would indeed require diplomatic and military jugglery of supernatural proportions. It is as a revelation of his thinking that Mr. Truman's statement is important. He made no distinction between (a) the fervid appeasement of Hitler by the British and French Governments before Munich and the Russian attempt to ward him off and hold him in check afterwards; (b) between fascism and communism; or (c) between the aggressor and his victim.

A Warm Welcome from Britain. In Britain there was no hesitation about greeting Russia as an ally in a common cause. Britain had survived after Dunkirk, with quick aid from the United States. Then in August 1940 her air force had defeated the German attempt to take control of the skies over Britain and the Channel. Respite had been won from conquest, but not from

____________________
1
Robert Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, p. 303.
2
The New York Times, July 24, 1941.

-135-

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