"COMPASS"; COMMUNIST LEAGUE: April 1996, No.123:

In January 1996, the Association of Communist Workers (Alliance Editor's Note 7th February 2000: This organisation has since been disbanded into the social-democratic party led by Arthur Scargill and known as the "Socialist Labour Party") and the Association of Indian Communists held an extremely interesting meeting in the Conway Hall London, devoted to exposing the slanderous misrepresentation of the Republican forces in the Spanish Civil War presented in Ken Loach's recent film 'Land and Freedom'.
 The main speaker was Bill Alexander, author of 'British Volunteers for Liberty'.
Bill Alexander himself fought in the British section of the International Brigade and movingly and eloquently disposed of Loach's attempt to whitewash the near-Trotskyist 'Party of Marxist Unification.'
In particular, Bill Alexander paid tribute to Stalin's policy of military aid to the Republican forces and characterised the policy of 'non-intervention' pursued by the European imperialist powers as the principal cause of the Republic's defeat.
This stimulated a member of the audience to point out that the Soviet government participated in the Non-Intervention Agreement, and to ask if this indicated some duality in Soviet foreign policy, perhaps between rival groups in the leadership of Communist Party of the Soviet Union -- one pursuing a Marxist-Leninist policy and one not.
Ella Rule replied from the platform that she felt that there was no duality in Soviet policy on Spain, since the Soviet policy of non-intervention was not simultanous with, but succeeded by the Soviet policy of military aid to the Republican government.

While respecting Ella's long-standing defence both of the Soviet Union and of the Spanish Republic, we do not believe that her theory on Soviet policy on Spain can be reconciled with known facts.
In January 1936, a number of ostensibly left-wing Spanish parties and organisetions, created an electoral bloc called the 'Popular Front'. This adopted:

At elections in February 1936, the Popular Front gained an overwhelming majority of deputies Despite the moderate nature of the Popular Front's programme, it was unacceptable to the Spanish aristocracy, and in July 1936 : The rebel military junta:  THE ATTITUDE OF THE WESTERN IMPERIALIST POWERS
The attitude of the British imperialist government was made clear at the very beginning of the civil war. It was to deny, on 31 July 1936, the legitimate Spanish government its traditional right under international law to purchase arms to defend itself. This action was disguised as: But since Spain's neighbour, France, also had a Popular Front government:  on 20 July 1936 the Spanish government: However, the sympathies of the British imperialist government, headed by Stanley Baldwin, lay with the Spanish rebels, and: In other words, if France were to give military assistance to the Spanish government, its defensive alliance with Britain would be declared null and void. 

Thus, according to Blum's testimony to the French Chamber of Deputies in July 1947,

So, on 25 July 1936, The United States imperialist government applied the 1935 Neutrality Act to the Spanish Civil War, but US corporations exported large quantities of much-needed oil to the rebels, this being exempted from its provisions: On the other hand, like Britain and France, the USA: But the arms embargo did not affect both sides in the civil war equally, 
 since the rebels were in receipt of large supplies of arms from Germany, Italy and (to a lesser extent) Portugal: On the other hand, Furthermore: As Australian-born author and translator Gilbert Murray said in a letter to the 'Times' in October 1936: SOVIET HUMANITARIAN AID TO THE SPANISH PEOPLE
From the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. both the Comintern and the Soviet Union organised extensive humanitarian aid to the Spanish people.

On the outbreak of the civil war, the decision was taken: 

By 6 August 1936, Soviet and Comintern relief for Spain: In addition to organisations linked with the Comintern, a: THE QUESTION OF SOVIET MILITARY ASSISTANCE TO SPAIN

On the question of whether the Comintern and the Soviet government should give material assistance to the war effort of the Spanish Republic1 there were from the outset different views in high Soviet circles.
On this question:

and for two months the Comintern was silent on the question of the war: 'NON-INTERVENTION'
On 1 August 1936, France addressed a Note to the British government: As Julio Alvarez del Vayo, who was Spanish Foreign Minister for most of of the Civil War period, relates: the British government allowed it to be thought that the initiative for 'non-intervention' came from the French Popular Front government in order to make the policy more acceptable to democratic public opinion than if it were known to emanate from a British Tory government: On 23 August 1936, As historian Edward Carr notes: The People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs of the USSR, Maksim Litvinov, admitted to a plenary session of the League of Nations in September 1936 that the Soviet government had adhered to the 'Non-Intervention' Agreement solely in order to oblige the French imperialists: THE 'NON-INTERVENTION COMMITTEE'
On 26 August 1936 the French government put forward a new proposal: The 'Non-Intervention Committee' functioned on: the Soviet delegate -- and every other -- having the right of veto over all decisions. 

All the European powers adhered to the 'Non-Intervention Committee --officially called the 'Committee for Non-Intervention in the Internal Affairs of Spain' - except for:

On 28 August 1936, an order was issued by the Soviet On 9 September 1936, the Non-Intervention Committee had:  THE TRUE ROLE OF 'NON-INTERVENTION'
The Non-Intervention Agreement: denying:   Although Germany, Italy an Portugal had signed the 'Non-Intervention Pact', they had not the sligghtest intention of adhering to its provisions, but continued to supply arms in large quantities to the Spanish rebels. Thus the real role of the Non-Intervetntion Agreement' was to provide a screen behind which the Fascist powers could arm the rebels:
"Non-Intervention' was a farce which assisted the Fascist powers in their war against the Spanish Republic:  The true role of 'Non-Intervention' was admitted by Maksim Litvinov , who was People's Conmissar for Foreign Affairs between 1930 and 1939: and by the German Ambassador to Britain, Joachim von Ribbentropp, who declared that the 'Non-Intervention Committee' Stalin, in his report to the 18th Congress of the CPSU in March 1939, put the matter even more strongly -- implying that 'Non-Intervention' was immoral and treacherous:  THE CAMPAIGN AGAINST 'NON-INTERVENTION'

As the true character of 'Non-Intervention' became increasingly clear, outspoken opposition to it arose in democratic and anti-fascist circles. This opposition was reflected in circles normally supportive of Soviet policy:

These circles included sections of the international communist movement, particularly in France. For example, headlines in 'L'Humanite' (Humanity), organ of the Communist Party of France, in September 1936 read: Maurice Thorez, General Secretary of the Communist Party of France, wrote in 'L'Humanite':  In August 1836, Paul Nizan wrote in the Comintern journal, 'International Press Correspondence': In a speech during the first week in September 1936, interrupted by shouts of 'Aeroplanes for Spain!, French Prime Minister Leon Blum countered the campaign against 'Non-Intervention' by the reminder that the policy was supported by the Soviet government: The campaign against 'Non-Intervention' was reflected within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. From early in the civil war, a rift was observable in the higher circles of the CPSU between those who stood for the furnishing of arms to the Spanish Republic -- that is, the Marxist-Leninists and genuine anti-fascists -- on the one hand, and those who stood for collaboration with the Western imperialist powers in the policy of 'Non-Intervention' on the other hand.
Lieutenant-Colonel Simon, the French military attache in Moscow, reported to the French Minister of National Defence Eduard Daladier in August 1936, the existence of two rival factions in the leadership of the CPSU: THE CHANGE OF SOVIET POLICY TOWARDS SPAIN
As a result of the democratic pressure instanced above, the Marxist-Leninists in the leadership of the CPSU were able to bring about a fundamental change in Soviet policy towards the supply of arms to the Spanish Republic.
On 7 October 1936, Samuel Kagan, Counsellor at the Soviet Embassy in London (who was Acting Soviet Representative on the Non-Intervention Committee) presented Lord Plymouth with a list of violations of the Non-Intervention Agreement and concluded with an ultimatum:   On 15 October 1936, Stalin sent a telegram to Jose Diaz, leader of the Communist Party of Spain, saying: On 23 October 1936, Soviet Ambassador to Britain Ivan Maisky, who had now taken over as Soviet representative on the 'Non-Intervention Committee', sent a further statement to Lord Plymouth, saying: On 27 August 1936, Marcel Rozenberg arrived in Madrid as the first Soviet Ambassador to Spain SOVIET MILITARY AID TO THE SPANISH REPUBLIC

The defector Walter Krivitsky, who was at the time Chief of Soviet Military Intelligence in Europe, states that: 

and that it stated: Within days, During the war, However, and under the new Soviet policy,   THE INTERNATIONAL BRIGADES

In September 1936,

and the Spanish Republican Government: On 17 October 1936: The International Brigades: The total number of foreigners: According to Dmitri Manuilsky at the 18th Congress of the CPSU, Spanish resistance:   To sum up, in September 1936 the Soviet government reversed its previous policy and began to supply much needed military assistance to the Spanish Republic.  

It might, therefore. seem at first glance as though the thesis presented at the January 1996 meeting by Ella Rule (p. 1) -- that there was no duality in Soviet foreign policy at the time of the Spanish civil war, since the Soviet policy of 'non-interention' was succeeded by the Soviet policy of military aid to the Republican government -- had validity.  

Indeed, some well-known revisionists, like Dolores Ibarruri, assert precisely this:

But in fact, even after it had begun to supply military equipment to the Republican government, the Soviet Union did not withdraw from the 'Non-Intervention Committee'. On the contrary, To be exact, only on 4 March 1939 did the TASS news agency announce the Soviet Union's withdrawal from the 'Non-Intervention Committee: This was a few days after the British and French governments had officially recognised the rebel government: and only a few weeks before the 'Non-Intervention Committee' was dissolved: A leading role in the decision to remain in the Non-Intervention Committee, and to 'work closely' on it with the British and French imperialists, was played by the Soviet People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maksim Litvinov: In other words, in the situation existing in the Soviet Union in 1936-39, the Marxist-Leninist forces were able to reverse Soviet policy on the supply of arms to the Spanish Republic, but not strong enough to carry this reversal through to its logical conclusion by repudiating the whole concept of 'non-intervention'.

The effect of the continued participation of the Soviet Union in the 'Non-Intervention Committee' was to continue to lend Soviet prestige to the false view that it was capable of playing a progressive role.  

Over the next months, the 'Non-Intervention' Committee' was able to carry through policies which would, without doubt, have been vociferously rejected by progressive opinion had it not been for the screen of Soviet support around them.

Firstly, they were able to sabotage the control plan which was ostensibly_designed to make the paper arms embargo internationally effective.

From the very outset of the civil war, the Soviet Union refused to take part in the international naval patrols around Spain, preferring to 'entrust' this to the imperialist powers -- Britain and France. As Litvinov said in a speech on 14 September 1937:

As a result, Even Litvinov admitted in an election speech on 27 November 1937: And on 17 September 1937, the British and French governments:  Secondly, they were able to halt the influx of volunteers to the International Brigades which played such an important role in the anti-fascist resistance.
On 4 December 1936,  This proposal was: On 10 January 1937, the British Foreign Office declared that: so that: On 16 February 1937, the Non-Intervention Committee decided: On 18 February 1937 the French government issued a decree: and on 20 February 1937 the Soviet government issued a decree stating: Thirdly, they were able to bring about the repatriation of volunteer fighters already serving in the International Brigades:
At a meeting of the Sub-Committee of the Non-Intervention Committee on 23 March 1937, Maisky declared: and was not deterred when the Italian delegate, Dino Grandi, who had: boasted: On 14 July 1937, a new British plan was laid before the Committee. It included: On 31 July 1937, a TASS communique stated: On 5 July 1938, at a plenary meeting of the 'Non-Intervention Committee': Although Franco later -- on 30 December 1938-- rejected the plan, ('Keesing's Contemporary Archives', Volume 3; p. 3,384).
On 23 September 1938, Prime Minister Juan Negrin: The Soviet policies of military assistance to the Spanish republic and of co-operation in the work of the 'Non-Intervention Committee are contradictory and yet after September 1936 they were carried on simultaneously.  

It is, therefore, clear that there was a duality in Soviet foreign policy towards Spain in this period.  

This duality is explicable by the fact that, in addition to Marxist-Leninists like Stalin in the leadership of the CPSU - Marxist-Leninists who favoured military assistance to Spain -- there were also revisionists, people who had departed from Marxist-Leninist principles, and who favoured cooperation with the appeasement policy of the West European powers at the expense of the Spanish Republic. The policy actually pursued by the Soviet government towards the Spanish Republic in this period was a compromise between these two opposed policies.
The most prominent Soviet politician in the second, revisionist, category was the People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, Maksim Litvinov.

Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov was appointed Minister to Britain in January 1918: who was then People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs.  

After being Deputy People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs in 1920-30. In July 1930 he succeeded Georgi Chicherin as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs, a post which he held until 1939.

Litvinov remoulded the Commissariat in his charge, filling it with his nominees:   Litvinov, married to an English wife, was steeped in West European culture: and this was reflected politically in Litvinov's support for cooperation with Western imperialism. He became: In the period leading up to 1939, Litvinoy was particularly associated with Soviet attempts to form a 'collective security' alliance with the more satisfied (and so less aggressive) imperialist powers, such as Britain and France, against the less satisfied (and so more aggressive) imperialist powers, Germany, Italy and Japan: He genuinely believed:   Already, on 17 January 1938, Politburo member Andrei Zhdanov criticised the People's Commissariat for Foreign Affairs for its liberal attitude towards certain imperialist powers: and Vyacheslav Molotov, then USSR Prime Minister, added in a speech to the USSR Supreme Soviet a few days later, on 19 January 1938: As Litvinov 's wife Ivy commented later: Even in 1937 British Foreign Secretary Lord Halifax was already telling Hitler how much the British government admired his suppression of Communism in Germany:  and was proposing to Berlin the formation of a four-power alliance to include Britain, France, Germany and Italy: In other words, the British government was already proposing that:  In these circumstances, Litvinov, however, was, and remained, oppposed to the Soviet government's rapprochement with Germany. He: In May 1939, Litvinov was replaced as People's Commissar for Foreign Affairs by Vyacheslav Molotov. The change reflected the preparation for: For in August 1939 the Soviet government signed the Non-Aggresssion Pact with Germany.

It was at this time that Molotov made a more direct public criticism of 'short-sighted' people in the Soviet Union who 'over-simplified anti-fascist propaganda' and forgot about the danger from other (non-fascist) imperialist powers:

In a biographical article on Litvinov, Henry Roberts points out that Molotov's comment: The revisionist diplomat Andrei Gromyko, who was USSR Foreign Minister in a later period, writes in his memoirs about an incident in 1942: In 1948, however, the Soviet Information Bureau was still commenting politely on Litvinov's removal: In February 1941, Litvinov was further demoted: the step was taken: This action was taken, According to Ivy Litvinov, and John Carswell, the biographer of Ivy Litvinov, writes that: However, in December 1941, some months after the German attack on the Soviet Union, And Litvinov's biographer Vojtech Mastny remarks that in the new situation of Anglo-American-Soviet cooperation, Litvinov was:  Litvinov's biographer Vojtech Mastny notes: In May 1943, having been recalled to Moscow, he is on record as complaining to US Assistant Secretary of State Sumner Welles: However, according to the Soviet revisionist journalist Ilya Ehrenburg, Litvinov: At the same time as Litvinov was recalled from the USA, was recalled to Moscow.


In the first months of 1945, In June 1945 he is on record as complaining to American journalist Edgar Snow: In June 1946 Litvinov gave an interview in Moscow to the correspondent of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Richard Hottelot. According to Hottelot, According to Hottelot, Litvinov declared: so that any attempt by the Western powers to meet Soviet demands:   Because of its content, the interview remained unpublished until after Litvinov's death in December 1951. Hottelot explains Litvinov's frankness by his wish to present his 'political testament to the West': In August 1946, Ilya Ehrenburg notes that:  However, he:  In fact, At Litvinov's funeral in January 1952, with: CONCLUSION

Julio Alvarez del Vayo, who was Spanish Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republican government during most of the civil war, sums up:


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