THE IDEA OF THE POPULAR FRONT
WHEN on 30th January, 1933, Hitler became Chancellor of Germany, the Communists, both in Germany and elsewhere, were faced with a new situation, which, if they did not appreciate it immediately, was forced on their attention in the months that followed. His appointment was disastrous for the Communists in two ways. Within Germany he set to work to destroy the Communist Party, breaking up its organization, seizing its funds and rounding up its more active members for incarceration in "protective custody". But his anti-Communist action was not confined to the Germans. He made it plain that he had not forgotten the project he had discussed in Mein Kampf for creating a great Lebensraum for Germany in Russia and its "borderlands" (which meant especially the Ukraine). The Nazi victory, therefore, implied not merely the destruction of the largest Communist Party in Europe to the west of the Soviet frontier, but also a threat of war to the Soviet Union itself, as soon as the Nazis should have carried out that rearmament of Germany in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles which was their preliminary objective.
For Communists who still had minds of their own, and had not yet conditioned themselves to accept all Stalin's actions as inspired by an infallible wisdom, he could not but be held to have incurred a grave responsibility for what had happened in Germany. Ever since 1928 the line given to Communist parties in Europe through the Comintern under Stalin's guidance had been one of "left extremism", a policy of refusal