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4 August 1941
Heavy fighting at Smolensk and Sortavala, north of Lake Ladoga
Guderian is ordered back from the Russian front for a conference with Hitler
Axis aircraft carry out a night attack on the Suez area
8,000 Electrical Workers Strike at Con-Edison
From Labor Action, Vol.م No.㺟, 4 August 1941, p.ك.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
NEW YORK CITY – The 8,000 skilled electricians in Electrical Workers Union, Local 3, AFL, are out out on a general strike, the first general strike in the industry since 1907.
By unanimous vote and with great enthusiasm the men have undertaken to smash the Brotherhood of Consolidated Edison Employees, a company union which is being used by big boss Con-Ed in an attempt to undermine Local 3.
So strong has been the stranglehold of Con-Ed on its employees that at an NLRB election held a year and a half ago, the Brotherhood of Consolidated Edison Employees, a stooge union, won against Local 3 and the CIO. With the company’s nerve strengthened by the results of the election, it went further and took away from Local 3 the construction jobs on its new $1,000,000 power plant at 39th Street and First Avenue, Manhattan.
For 20 years Local 3 men had been getting the work on all construction for the Con-Ed system – at the union scale. But the 600 construction jobs on the new plant were filled by members of the stooge union – at an average wage of $1 an hour, instead of the $2 paid union men. And, whereas the union. week is 30 hours, the 50-hour week was instituted. It was only after Local 3 began its agitation that the company was compelled to shorten the week to 40 hours.
The strikers claim: that these 600 construction jobs belong to Local 3 at union wages and conditions. They say, if they let Con-Ed get away with this union-busting ruse, other employers will soon follow suit, and union standards, won through long and bitter struggles, will be permanently undermined.
On Tuesday morning, when the strike began, more than 3,000 men congregated at strike headquarters and threw their mass picket line about the new plant, This was at 7 a.m. Later the pickets divided into groups and went to other construction jobs to picket, leaving about 600 at the First Avenue plant. Several hundred strikers picketed the main office of the company on Irving Place.
At the union meeting held at Manhattan Center Monday night, at which the strike vote was taken, rank and file members were the ones who urged the strike. It is a well known fact among Local 3 men that it costs the big monopolist of the light and power of New York City only half a cent a kilowatt hour to make power which it sells to the public at 7 cents a kilowatt hour. When this aristocrat of profit-makers goes in for breaking down decent union standards by means of its stooge union, bona fide union men have something to say about it, and they did.
Because electrical construction workers are key men on all building jobs, the general strike of Local 3 involves some 250,000 building workers. Walls and floors cannot be completed in new buildings without electrical installation. Local 3 expects many of these building workers to strike in sympathy.
Before the workers voted to strike, there had been futile conferences with the company and with the State Mediation Board. The Electrical Contractors Association, with whom Local 3 has an agreement, was considering applying for an injunction to restrain the union officers from calling the strike. However, Harry van Arsdale, business manager of Local 3, told the men: “Your officers may be restrained from telling you to strike. But there is no injunction on earth compelling you to work.” The men liked that.
Meanwhile, William Green, one of the labor leaders more worried about the boss war than about union men, was singing his theme song down in Washington: “Strikes must be avoided at all costs.”
Of Special Interest to Women
From Labor Action, Vol.م No.㺟, 4 August 1941, p.ق.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The primary purpose of the furious campaign AT THIS TIME to collect aluminum is NOT AN URGENT NEED FOR THAT METAL.
The false impression has been created that there is a shortage. The fact is that there is, and will be, plenty.
Not only are the present needs of the imperialist war machine being amply met, but huge quantities of the metal are being stored up for the future. When the workers of the monopolist Aluminum Company of America were striking some months ago, they accused the company of a merciless speed-up not only to meet the demand of the market but to pile up tons of reserves to be sold in the future – AT WAR PRICES, of course.
With the government policy of allocating supplies and cutting down civilian consumption, it will be a very long time before the present supply will be used up!
Furthermore, according to the New York Times, “Oxidized aluminum is among the most abundant things in the earth’s crust. If we are efficient enough about arranging the energy transaction with nature, we will be repaid, with all the pure aluminum we can use.”
Why, then, at this time, the rush to collect old pots and pans? Here is the answer:
The war-makers are using every trick in the bag in an effort to make the people WHO DON’T WANT WAR, think they do!
By hook or crook Washington is trying to stir the overwhelmingly anti-war population into war activity. An all-out aluminum campaign is as good a pretext as any other. Hitler is not the only would-be master of mass psychology.
But I have my doubts. A working woman may give a Woolworth aluminum pot that has been used until it became bent and burned through. But that is not going to make her feel she has enough of a stake in the boss war TO SEND HER SON OR HUSBAND TO FIGHT FOR IT.
In America the ruling class is just starting to “sell” the war to the common people. In England, Germany and the other belligerent countries, they are still at it and have not yet succeeded.
Mrs. Jean Knox, the new major general in command of the Women’s Auxiliary Territorial Service in England, thinks she can knock them down and drag them in by promising women more dates.
By the simple lure of a snappy uniform she hopes to increase her force from 50,000 to 200,000, to do cooking, secretarial and other work in the army.
She says she has designed a four-paneled skirt and a tailored jacket in which her troops will look so ravishing that they will get all the dates. This in turn is supposed to act as an inducement to more young women to join up and wrap themselves in that magic uniform.
“JOIN THE ARMY AND GET MORE DATES!”
Don’t laugh! You can’t expect the British war-makers to shout: “JOIN THE ARMY AND FIGHT FOR OUR PROFITS IN INDIA!”
At the fruit and vegetable counter in the A&P two women were picking oranges and bitterly complaining about rising prices.
“Yesterday these oranges were fifteen for twenty-five cents today they are thirteen. I suppose tomorrow they will be eleven.”
“They tell us to eat vitamin foods,” replied the second woman. “That’s fine if you have the money. Look at this head of lettuce. Imagine paying fifteen cents for for few leaves of lettuce in the summertime. Honest it galls me.”
“Heaven knows they’re not putting oranges and lettuce into airplanes. I suppose they raise the prices of everything – just on general principles.”
The general principle on which the prices of the necessities of life are being boosted daily is that WAR IS A PROFITEER’S PARADISE
For the bosses, financiers, food brokers and big merchants war is an El Dorado.
Mr. Henderson, who is supposed to be curbing the appetites. of these pay-triots, is too busy with other matters to do anything: about the prices of oranges and lettuce.
Just now he is occupied with cutting down the output of automobiles in favor of bombers – thus threatening masses of workers with unemployment and the general dislocation of their lives.
As was to have been expected from a boss politician, Mr. Henderson is giving too much attention to the war needs of the bosses and, too little to the vital needs of human beings.
I have an idea that thousands of organized working-class housewives, assembled in Washington from all over the country, picketing OPACS, would make Mr. Henderson sit up and take notice of the prices of oranges and lettuce and a few other things!
At Southampton and Newport, where the rich go for the summer to escape from the stuffiness of their air-conditioned penthouse apartments, the price of food is, if possible, of less concern to the dowagers and debutantes than ever.
They fete each other at brunches, lunches, dinners, dances, beach racetrack and garden parties. Turn to the society page of any paper any day and read something like the following:
“The 400 guests danced under a huge marquee erected on the lawn. The interior of the marquee was lined with turquoise blue with white pleating and blue and white were used in the other decorations.”
This gives you a rough idea of the style in which the “haves” enjoy themselves.
That the price of food has gone up 15 per cent since the beginning of the war does not give these women of the boss class any gray hair. Skyrocketing prices which to the working woman spell malnutrition and poor health for their families, to the wives and daughters of the war profiteers mean MORE LAVISH PARTIES!
German Type IXC submarines were slightly larger than the original Type IXBs. U-155 had a displacement of 1,120 tonnes (1,100 long tons) when at the surface and 1,232 tonnes (1,213 long tons) while submerged.  The U-boat had a total length of 76.76 m (251 ft 10 in), a pressure hull length of 58.75 m (192 ft 9 in), a beam of 6.76 m (22 ft 2 in), a height of 9.60 m (31 ft 6 in), and a draught of 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in). The submarine was powered by two MAN M 9 V 40/46 supercharged four-stroke, nine-cylinder diesel engines producing a total of 4,400 metric horsepower (3,240 kW 4,340 shp) for use while surfaced, two Siemens-Schuckert 2 GU 345/34 double-acting electric motors producing a total of 1,000 metric horsepower (740 kW 990 shp) for use while submerged. She had two shafts and two 1.92 m (6 ft) propellers. The boat was capable of operating at depths of up to 230 metres (750 ft). 
The submarine had a maximum surface speed of 18.3 knots (33.9 km/h 21.1 mph) and a maximum submerged speed of 7.3 knots (13.5 km/h 8.4 mph).  When submerged, the boat could operate for 63 nautical miles (117 km 72 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h 4.6 mph) when surfaced, she could travel 13,450 nautical miles (24,910 km 15,480 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h 12 mph). U-155 was fitted with six 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedo tubes (four fitted at the bow and two at the stern), 22 torpedoes, one 10.5 cm (4.13 in) SK C/32 naval gun, 180 rounds, and a 3.7 cm (1.5 in) SK C/30 as well as a 2 cm (0.79 in) C/30 anti-aircraft gun. The boat had a complement of forty-eight. 
Leutnant zur See Ludwig von Friedeburg relieved Rudolph from August to November 1944, when Rudolph resumed command for another month. During these four months, U-155 had the youngest U-boat commander during the war since Von Friedeburg was only 20 years old. In December, Kptlt. Erwin Witte took over, and was relieved in April 1945 by Oblt.z.S. Friedrich Altmeier. Altmeier commanded the boat for one month before the German surrender she was then scuttled by the Royal Navy. The wreck was located, largely intact, in 2001.
U-155 conducted ten patrols, sinking 26 ships totalling 126,664 gross register tons (GRT), one warship of 13,785 tons and damaging one auxiliary warship of 6,736 GRT. She was a member of one wolfpack. She sank a warship and a troop transport ship, and damaged a cargo ship, with one salvo of four torpedoes on 15 November 1942 during her fourth patrol, and shot down a P-51 Mustang aircraft on her final patrol.
U-155 left Kiel on her first patrol on 7 February 1942. Her route took her 'up' the North Sea, through the gap between the Faroe and Shetland Islands and into the Atlantic. South of Cape Farewell in Greenland, she sank Sama and Adellen on the 22nd.
She then moved on to the US east coast, sinking the SS Arabutan about 81 nmi (150 km 93 mi) off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina on 7 March. On the 10th the First Watch Officer (1WO) Oberleutnant zur See Gert Rentrop was washed overboard.
The boat docked at the Lorient U-boat base on the Atlantic coast of German-occupied France on March 27.
Having left Lorient on 24 April 1942, U-155 steamed to the eastern Caribbean Sea and that portion of the Atlantic adjacent to it. She attacked Brabant southwest of Grenada on 14 May. The ship sank in eight minutes.
The U-boat sank another six ships one of them, Sylvan Arrow, was torpedoed on 20 May, but did not go down until the 28th, following a salvage attempt.
The submarine returned to Lorient on 14 June.
U-155 ' s third and most successful foray was conducted in similar waters to her second effort, beginning in Lorient on 9 July. She sank Barbacena with torpedoes east of Barbados, but others, such as Piave, went to the bottom with the more economic deck gun. Another victim, Cranford, met her end within three minutes. Part of her cargo was 6,600 tons of chrome ore. Two injured survivors were treated on U-155 before water, supplies and directions were handed over to their colleagues.
The submarine's skipper apologized for sinking one ship (Empire Arnold on 4 August), to the Chief Officer, who told him it was a bad business and wished it [the war] was over. Piening replied: "So do I".
Maschinengefreiter Konrad Garneier was lost overboard during an air attack on 19 August.
In all, the boat sank ten ships, a total of 43,514 tons.
Three of a spread of four torpedoes hit targets, one aal (eel: U-boat slang for torpedo), damaged USS Almaack, a US Navy-requisitioned cargo transport two others sank escort carrier HMS Avenger and the British troop transport Ettrick on 15 November 1942 northwest of Gibraltar. Of 526 men on Avenger, there were 12 survivors. Ettrick ' s master was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE).
The boat also sank Serroskerk in mid-Atlantic. There were no survivors.
U-155 ' s fifth sortie involved her move to the western Caribbean and southern Florida, USA. She sank Lysefjord west of Havana on 2 April 1943, and on 3 April sank the oil tanker Gulfstate about 50 nmi (93 km 58 mi) east northeast of Marathon Key, Florida (in 2013 the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Remediation of Underwater Legacy Environmental Threats (RULET) project found the sunken Gulfstate to be a potential source of oil pollution.  )
On the return journey U-155 was attacked by an unknown aircraft on 27 April northwest of Cape Finisterre, Spain.
To try and counter the air threat, U-155 was grouped together with U-68, U-159, U-415 and U-634 in the Bay of Biscay. The formation was attacked by four de Havilland Mosquito aircraft on 14 June — three from No. 307 Polish Night Fighter Squadron and one from No. 410 Squadron RCAF. One Mosquito, hit in the port engine, was forced to break off its attack and return to base where it made a belly landing. Five men in the boat's crew were wounded they were treated by U-68 ' s doctor on their return to Lorient on 16 June.
Patrol number seven was as long as any of the others, to a point northeast of the Cape Verde Islands but the boat did not find any targets.
The submarine's eighth patrol took her toward the northeast coast of Brazil. While sinking Siranger she took the third mate prisoner (he had been wounded, and was operated-on by the boat's doctor). He was taken back to Lorient and was eventually transferred to the POW camp at Milag Nord near Bremen.
U-155 ' s ninth patrol was, at 105 days, her longest, but like her seventh, found no targets. On 4 May 1945, the boat shot down a North American P-51 Mustang aircraft of No. 126 Squadron RAF and on 23 June 1944, Mosquitos of 248 Squadron attacked, killing Matrosenobergefreiter Karl Lohmeier and Mechanikerobergefreiter Friedrich Feller and wounding seven others. Her patrol terminated at Lorient the same day.
Her tenth and final patrol left Lorient on 9 September 1944, the last by a U-boat from the base. The patrol was uneventful she returned to Germany by a circuitous route, and docked at Flensburg on 21 October.
On 30 June 1945, after the German surrender, she was transferred from Wilhelmshaven to Loch Ryan, Scotland for Royal Navy Operation Deadlight, the scuttling of surrendered German U-boats, and sunk on 21 December the same year.
U-155 was located and identified in 2001 by a team of divers led by nautical archaeologist Innes McCartney, revealing the wreck was lying upright on the sea bed, largely intact, at a depth of 73 metres (240 ft 40 fathoms). 
Her crew held their 25th reunion in 1995 with former Oberleutnant zur See Johannes Rudolph and one of the Mosquito pilots who attacked the boat in June 1944 'on board'.
FDR and Churchill meet on ship, map out Atlantic Charter
On August 12, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill meet on board a ship at Placentia Bay, Newfoundland, to confer on issues ranging from support for Russia to threatening Japan to postwar peace.
When Roosevelt and Churchill met for the first time as leaders of their respective nations, chief among the items on their agenda was aid to the USSR “on a gigantic scale,” as it was desperate in its war against its German invaders. A statement was also drafted, which Roosevelt chose to issue under his name, that made it plain to Japan that any further aggression would “produce a situation in which the United States government would be compelled to take counter-measures,” even if it meant “war between the United States and Japan.”
The president and the prime minister also agreed to compose and make public a document in which the United States and Britain declared their intention “to ensure life, liberty, independence, and religious freedom, and to preserve the rights of man and justice.” They also promised to strive for a postwar world free of 𠇊ggrandizement, territorial or other,” addressing those nations currently under German, Italian, or Japanese rule, offering hope that the integrity of their sovereign borders would be restored to them. This document would be called the Atlantic Charter and, when finally ratified by 26 nations in January 1942, would comprise the founding principles of the United Nations.
Roosevelt Now Imitates Wilson’s Points’
From The Militant, Vol. V No. 34, 23 August 1941, p.ل.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The Roosevelt-Churchill eight-point statement of “war aims” invited immediate comparison with Woodrow Wilson’s Fourteen Points, enunciated before a joint Congressional session on January 8, 1918, in the fourth year of World War I. The comparison is apt – and devastating.
Wilson’s Fourteen Points, of which the Roosevelt-Churchill statement is a pale copy, has been proved the most fraudulent promise in all history.
The declaration of Wilson included several claims significantly omitted from the present eight-point statement. Roosevelt and Churchill cannot attempt to justify their war even to the extent that Wilson did.
“Open Covenants Openly Arrived At”
Wilson’s first “war aim” called for:
“Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed frankly and in the public view.”
The “open covenants of peace, openly arrived at” was the monstrous Treaty of Versailles, drawn up in secrecy by the representatives of the four largest Allied powers, Wilson, Clemenceau Lloyd George and Orlando. This treaty simply looted and dismembered the conquered nations for the aggrandizement of the victors. Not even the people of the victorious powers, let alone those of the defeated nations, participated in the establishment of this “peace.”
An FDR-Churchill Omission
After World War I, diplomacy did not proceed “frankly and in the public view.” On the contrary diplomacy became more secret and devious, on tbe part of the “democracies” as well as the totalitarian nations. The diplomatic dealings of the American and British governments have always been conducted behind closed doors. The very statement of “war aims” just announced followed discussions and decisions of which the American and British peoples had no advance knowledge and in which they did not participate.
The Roosevelt-Churchill statement cautiously excludes Wilson’s first point. A mere mention of open diplomacy would expose the shady character of the negotiations between the American and British “democratic” governments. It would embarrass future negotiations for an imperialist settlement.
Freedom of the Seas
Wilson’s second point, for “absolute freedom of navigation upon the seas,” is the model for the Similar statement in the new eight-point declaration. What was meant by “freedom of the seas” was demonstrated after the last war, when the Allies destroyed German sea power, seizing the German merchant marine as well as navy. American and British imperialism then established the policy of maintaining an absolute naval supremacy over the combined navies of all the other nations. “Freedom of the seas” meant freedom to rule the seas.
No “Economic Barriers”
The fourth “war aim” of Wilson was the removal – “so far as possible” – “of all economic barriers and the establishment of an equality of trade conditions among all the nations consenting to the peace . ”
During the years following World War I, there was an unparalleled extension of “economic barriers” and a frenzied competition between all the imperialist nations for trade advantages and control of world markets. Every European country erected insurmontable tariff walls. For its part, the United States raised tariffs to a point which virtually excluded imported competitive products from this country.
Roosevelt and Churchill repeat this pious pledge of “trade equality,” with the qualifying phrase, “without disregarding their (American and British) present obligations.”
“Present Obligations” Excepted
What are these “present obligations”? They are the real war aims of Roosevelt and Churchill, embodied, no doubt, in a secret agreement designating American and British “spheres of influence” with respect to world trade, colonies and markets, in the event of an Allied victory.
Wilson’s fifth point was another grim joke. This promised the establishment of “guarantees . that national armaments will be reduced to the lowest point consistent with domestic safety.”
This pledge was carried out with the disarming of – the Central powers. But the armaments race did not slacken. It grew more feverish and intense. Wilson’s “peace” – as every imperialist peace – served merely as the interlude for increased preparations for the next war, World War II.
Related to Wilson’s disarmament pledge was his proposal for a “general association of nations,” his fourteenth point. This was the genesis of the League of Nations, which, the United States scorned to join. The League was fashioned merely to further the hegemony of British and French imperialism on the European continent. It crumbled to dust with the impact of the violent resurgence of German imperialism.
The Roosevelt-Churchill “disarmament” proposal frankly states that their “future peace” is based on the disarmament of “nations which threaten, or may threaten aggression outside their frontiers” – that is, the imperialist competitors of Wall Street and the “City.” All else is reduced to the nebulous promise to “aid and encourage all practicable measures which will lighten . the crushing burden of armaments.”
Self-Determination in the Colonies
“Wilson’s fifth point has no parallel in the present, Allied statement. It deals with the disposition of the colonies. Wilson called for “a free, open-minded, absolutely impartial, adjustment of all colonial claims, based upon a strict observance of the principle that in determining all such questions of sovereignty the interests of the populations concerned must have equal weight with the equitable claims of the government whose title is to be determined.”
This did not disavow the principle of colonial exploitation, but it did give some “recognition” to the rights of self-determination of the colonial peoples. After the last war, the victorious imperialist nations fought for colonial spoils like jackals over a piece of carrion. Germany was stripped of her colonies, which were parcelled out mainly to Britain, France and Belgium. The possessions of Turkey in Asia Minor were divided up between England and France. In all these transactions, “the interests of the populations concerned” not only did not have “equal weight,” they had no weight whatsoever! One imperialist marched in as the other marched out.
Nor did American imperialism pay more attention to the “interests of the populations concerned” in imposing its domination over colonial nations, in the period following World War I, American bullets sang the tune of Wall Street imperialism in Nicaragua, Haiti, Porto Rico, the Dominican Republics, the Philippines and in China.
A Significant Silence
Roosevelt and Churchill dare not mention the colonial question in their “war aims.” That might raise the question of the “interests of the populations concerned” in the enslaved colonies of American and British imperialism, the questions of India, the West Indies, the Malay States, the African colonies.
Seven of the Wilsonian Fourteen Point dealt with specific questions of the restoration of nations and self-determination for nationalities conquered or ruled by the Central powers.
After the war, each European nation found itself confronting some counter-claim. The need for alignments had induced the lead ing Allied imperialist powers to promise the same territories to different nations. The Versailles Treaty and the other “peace” treaties revamped but did not alter the system of subject, peoples, in Europe. The Austrian Empire oppressor of half a dozen subject peoples, was ruthlessly pared down to a weak dependency of 6,000,000 inhabitants from a country of 60,000,000. Czechoslovakia was established as an independent nation to play the role of pawn for French and British imperialism in Central Europe, and this new nation became in turn the oppressor of national minorities.
An independent Hungary was set up, which included subject Rumanians. Rumania was re-established, with rule over a largc group of subject Hungarians. Poland, which Wilson declared must be established as an independent state “which should include the territories inhabited by indisputably Polish populations,” was given domination over 15,000,000 Ukrainians. “Poor little Serbia” became Yugo-Slavia, the persecutor of the Croatians. Wilson’s “self-determination” resolved itself into a post-war Europe that groaned with the new sufferings of oppressed nationalities.
What the 8 Points Slur Over
Wilson was more specific about the restoration of nations in Europe. Roosevelt and Churchill have already made too many conflicting commitments. They have undoubtedly, parcelled out Europe twice over in bribes to win over the small nations to the side of the imperialist democracies. And above all, there are the inevitable conflicting claims between the democratic imperialists and the Soviet Union, a, delicate point which Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin now prefer to slur over.
The most fraudulent of the Fourteen Points was the sixth, dealing with the newly-founded Soviet Union. Wilson declared for:
“The evacuation of all Russian territory and such a settlement of all questions affecting Russia as will secure the best and freest cooperation of the other nations of the world in obtaining for her unhampered and unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development and national policy and assure her of a sincere welcome into the society of free nations under institutions of her own choosing . ”
The “Sincere Welcome”
The “fulfillment” of this promise was the imperialist armed intervention against the Soviet Union from 1918 to 1921. American troops, sent by Wilson without the consent of Congress, participated in this war. And the “sincere welcome” accorded the Soviet Union by the United States government was the refusal to recognize the Soviet government for 15 years.
The Roosevelt-Churchill statement fails to mention their new “ally,” the Soviet Union. They dare not place themselves on record, as Wilson did, for the “unembarrassed opportunity for the independent determination of her own political development” of the Soviet Union. Wilson risked that “concession” solely because he believed the Soviet Union of 1918 would not survive for a year.
History has proved that. Wilson’s Fourteen Points were compounded of hypocrisy and fraud. They were the veneer covering the ruthless imperialist aims for which this nation was thrust into World War I.
That is the character of the present Roosevelt-Churchill eight-point statement of “war aims.” Like Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the Roosevelt-Churchill statement will be blown away by the harsh winds of any future imperialist “peace.”
How Leon Trotsky Organized the Red Army
From The Militant, Vol. V No. 33, 16 August 1941, p.ك.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
The name of Leon Trotsky is inseparably bound up with the formation, life and victories of the Red Army. In addition to all his other gifts and achievements, Leon Trotsky established himself as one of the outstanding military leaders and strategists in history. No one will succeed in obscuring the connection between his role in organizing and building the Red Army and its successes, including the present heroic resistance of the Red soldiers against the Nazi onslaught.
No army was ever organized under such obstacles as confronted Lenin, Trotsky and the Bolsheviks in the organization of the first victorious army of the proletarian revolution.
When the workers seized power in Russia, in October 1917, the country’s economy verged on complete chaos as a result of the three years of imperialist world slaughter. Industry and trade were disrupted. The transportation system had collapsed the system of communications existed in name only. There were no supplies for troops. The deposed landlords and capitalists did everything in their power to sabotage and undermine all constructive work. At the same time, the forces of the counter-revolution, supported by the imperialist world, threw army after army against the encircled revolution.
The Difficulties of Creating the Red Army
But even this did not exhaust the difficulties. In his report on the First Anniversary of the foundation of the Red Army, in February 1919, Trotsky analyzed the conditions at the time as follows:
“Disintegration of industry is of course an unfavorable condition for the creation of an army. But this was not all. The collapse of the old army left in its wake a bitter hatred of everything connected with militarism. The old army had exacted unbelievably heavy sacrifices it had known only defeats, degradations, retreats, millions of corpses, millions of cripples, and billions in expenditures. It is hardly surprising that this war left in the minds of the popular masses a terrible revulsion to military life and everything connected with the old military clique. And it was under such conditions, Comrades, that we began building the army. Had we been compelled to begin on virgin soil, then we would have had from the outset, greater hopes and greater prospects. But no, the army had to be built on a soil of impoverishment and exhaustion, under circumstances when hatred of war and things military seized millions upon millions of workers and peasants. That is why a great many people, not only our enemies but also our friends, stated at the time that in the next few years nothing would come of our attempts to build an army in Russia.”
Still more: every other new regime in history immediately drew upon the old army organization for its own military work, For example, the armies of the Great French Revolution came into being as a result of the fusion of feudal regiments with the newly-formed national militia. No similar fusion was possible in the case of the Red Army: The corroded Czarist army not only fell apart but remained a source of infection and demoralization. This terrible obstacle had to be destroyed root and branch. The army of the revolution had to be built up brick by brick. Everything – discipline, fighting tradition, military authority, centralized organization, unified command, and so on – had to be built on new foundations, under fire, and against insuperable odds.
How the Army Was Built
An attempt was first made to form a volunteer army. The decree issued on February 23, 1918, supplied a few volunteer regiments of irregulars. On May 28, 1918, conscription was instituted. But no real army was in the field when Trotsky was placed in charge. There was only its human raw material comprising of: 1) bands of irregulars 2) refugees escaping from the White Guards 3) peasants mobilized on the neighboring districts 4) detachments of workers sent by industrial centers 5) groups of trade unionists and communists. These had to be forged into a new army, with a correct military organization, on the basis of new ideas, new discipline and new methods, under the direction of qualified commanders. Under whose leadership was this accomplished? Here is how Lenin depicted the situation in relation to the Red Army on March 15, 1920:
“After all, what did we begin with? Before Trotsky we had Krylenko, Dybenko, Podvoisky and we were left with this collegium, Kolchak and Denikin pasted the daylights out of us. Why? Because there were seven of us sitting together, and we had first to learn things for a space of two years and only then did we accept (the principle of) unified authority.” (Lenin’s Collected Works, Third Russian Edition, vol. XXV, pp.㻔)
In Lenin’s opinion, before Trotsky took charge of the Red Army, there was no leadership, only “a collegium.” But Lenin affirmed a great deal more. In 1920, i.e., the critical year of the Civil War, he recognized that Trotsky had had to fight for two years for his basic political-strategical ideas in building the Red Army. This struggle had to be conducted not only against rank-and-file party opposition, but also against opponents in the Central Committee, and the Politbureau, who on several important occasions obtained a majority. This struggle, sometimes extremely sharp and bitter, concluded with the rout of the opposition and with the unreserved acceptance of those ideas, methods and principles which were first elaborated and applied by the Chairman of the Revolutionary Military Council, and which were later adhered to by the Soviet General Staff.
Of the five major political-strategical conflicts which arose in connection with the creation of the Red Army, we shall deal briefly only with the crucial struggle against the so-called “Military Opposition.”
In essence this was a struggle against alien class tendencies which manifested themselves in the military sphere by the advocacy of the ideas and methods of guerrilla warfare. Had the champions of guerrillaism prevailed, the doom of the first workers’ state would have been sealed on the battlefields of the Civil War.
The Basis of the “Military Opposition”
The chaos of guerrilla warfare, as Trotsky pointed out, expressed the peasant element that lay beneath the revolution, whereas the struggle against it was likewise a struggle in favor of the proletarian state organization as opposed to the elemental, petty bourgeois anarchy that was undermining it.
The majority of the army recruits were peasants. The country itself was a sea of insurgent peasantry to whom this type of warfare is not only traditional but instinctive. The Bolsheviks were likened by Lenin to a drop in these vast waters.
Against this background the methods and ways of guerrilla (or “irregular”) fighting found a response in the ranks of the party, a response reflecting the pressure – intensified by the crisis – of the peasantry. This tendency was so strong as to exert a temporary influence upon Lenin. Zinoviev, who together with Kamenev was the least military-minded of the Bolsheviks, flirted for a time with the “Military Opposition.” But its real inspirer and behind-the-scenes organizer was none other than Stalin.
Political struggles over new ideas and new problems almost invariably assume at the beginning the form of a struggle around organizational issues. This was the case with the struggle for the correct political-strategical foundations for the Red Army. The Stalin-led “Military Opposition” stood for ideas which made impossible a correct military organization. Their ideas were in reality the ideas of vulgar petty bourgeois “democrats” translated into military terms. They favored the electoral method of choosing commanders they opposed the enlistment of military experts, the introduction of military discipline on a proletarian basis the centralisation of the army unified command, and so on. The dispute centered round the utilization of former Czarist officers. The champions of guerrillaism seized on it because it provided them with the best cover for their false line .
Polemicising against Stalin-Voroshilov and Co., at the time, Trotsky wrote:
“We should indeed have a low opinion of ourselves and our party, of the moral force of our idea, of the attractive power of our revolutionary morale, if we thought ourselves incapable of winning over thousands upon thousands of ‘specialists’ including military ones.”
The opposition to military specialists in reality reflected an. exaggerated estimate of the powers the bourgeoisie and a contempt for the power of the masses which is so typical of petty-bourgeois outlook Stalin-Voroshilov and Co. feared the “specialists” because they themselves lacked the necessary knowledge, ability and confidence.
In 1920, Lenin summed up the experience as follows:
“Thousands of former officers, generals and colonels of the Czarist army betrayed us . you know this, but tens of thousands continue to serve us, while still remaining partisans of the bourgeoisie, and WITHOUT THEM WE WOULD NOT HAVE HAD A RED ARMY. And all of you know that when we tried to create a Red Army without them two years ago, what we got was GUERRILLAISM, CONFUSION. This is what we got: we had 10 to 12 million bayonets, but not a single division we did not have a single division good enough for the front, and we were unable to fight with millions of bayonets against the insignificant regular army of the White Guards.”
Trotsky’s Achievements Remained After Him
Out of this “guerrillaism” and “confusion” a mighty army was forged which proved victorious on 22 fronts. Were such an army organized in Russia in the space of less than three years in peace-time and under normal conditions it would have constituted an extraordinary military achievement. When and where and by whom was another army built under such adverse conditions The revolution was saved because Trotsky’s line on the military arena carried with Lenin’s aid against Stalin and all his Voroshilovs. Trotsky’s success also secured the subsequent development of the Red Army. At the end of the Civil War, the Red Army numbered five million men, most of whom are still alive and many of whom are now fighting on the old battlefields of 1918.
But Trotsky’s work in the army did not stop with the termination of the civil war. It was continued for five more years. History knows of many military leaders who succeeded in creating extraordinary commanding staffs but few of them created staffs that did not fall apart after their departure. The commanding staff of the Red Army – likewise forged on the anvil of the revolution – was one of the great conquests of the October revolution. The Red Army as it exists today is primarily the handiwork of Trotsky and his General Staff. These men, the legendary heroes of the Civil War, advanced to leading positions under Trotsky and met with unbridled opposition at the bands of the “Military Opposition” above all, Stalin.
We cite only the case of Tukhachevsky, universally recognized as one of the ablest Soviet military leaders and strategists. Toward the end of 1919, Tukhachevsky found himself unceremoniously shoved aside. He appealed to Trotsky, whom he telegraphed from Kursk on January 19, 1920, as follows:
“I turn to you with an urgent request to free me from unemployment. I have been aimlessly sitting on the Staff of the South-West Front for almost three weeks, and have been completely without work for about three months. I have been unable to obtain any explanations either for the delay or for failure to get another assignment. If I have rendered any service after almost two years of command of various armies, then I ask to be given the opportunity to use my abilities in some active work . ”
Tukhachevsky’s term of “unemployment” coincided with Stalin’s brief sojourn during that period at the Southern front. Stalin utilized this occasion to deal an underhand blow to the Red Army command. If Stalin had the final say, Tukhachevsky – whom he dubbed Marshal in 1935 and murdered in 1937 – would have languished in oblivion and inactivity. But Stalin had very little to say or to do with the constructive work of the Red Army in 1918. Most of that period he spent in civilian pursuits. The few months he did pass at the front were devoted more to political intrigue in favor of the “Military Opposition” than to the military struggle. Suffice it to point out that although formally a member of the Revolutionary Military Council, he never took part in any of its sessions. That is one of the reasons why the minutes of this body remain unpublished to this day.
Stalin’s Crimes Against the Red Army
Stalin’s direct intervention in military affairs from 1921 to the end of 1937 comes down to the following three political maneuvers: 1) the removal of Trotsky in 1925 from the post of Commissar of War (achieved by Stalin with the aid of Zinoviev and Kamenev) 2) the appointment of Frunze to this post, and Frunze’s mysterious death in November 1925 3) the appointment of Voroshilov – then a follower of Bukharin-Rykov – in Frunze’s place.
Long after Stalin concentrated political power in his own hands, he had to leave the command of the Army in the hands of those who commanded it under Trotsky.
Throughout his term as Commissar of War, Voroshilov remained a mere figurehead. The work of the Red Army in all its fields was from 1925 to 1937 under the direction of the eight generals and other members of Trotsky’s General Staff, whom Stalin murdered in 1937 as “enemies of the people.” It was they who continued to build the Red Army on the foundations laid down by Trotsky. They modernized and mechanized it. They planned and constructed the fortifications in the West (the so-called Stalin line) as well as in Siberia. They drafted the mobilization plans. They prepared the strategic plans for meeting future attacks.
The internal logic of Stalin’s Moscow frameups drove him in 1937 to extend his purge to the Red Army. The Red Generals, who had submitted to Stalin politically, resisted the weakening of the armed forces. They paid with their lives. To extend his personal sway to the armed forces, Stalin had first to destroy the flower of the command of the Red Army, Navy and Airforce.
The heroic resistance of the Red Army to the Nazi onslaught now presents the whole world with additional factual evidence of Stalin’s infamous frame-ups of Tukhachevsky, Yakir, Uborevich, Alksnis and others. If, as the Stalinists lie, they were Hitler’s agents, the German High Command would have been adequately informed concerning the defenses of the USSR, its fortifications, mobilization plans, and other military secrets. Why then have the Nazi armies been caught by surprise?
The quality of the Red Army’s resistance is proof of how ably and loyally these men had fulfilled their tasks prior to Stalin’s savage blows to the fighting power of the Soviet army. All of Stalin’s crimes against the Red Army since 1937 have not been able to undo the work initiated by Trotsky in August 1918, and carried on for the next 20 years by the men who served under him. It is the Army of the October Revolution and the Civil War – Trotsky’s Red Army – that is now fighting so heroically.
This declaration is the Atlantic Charter, which was a pivotal policy statement issued during World War II by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill. The leaders of the United Kingdom and the United States drafted the work and all the Allies of World War II later confirmed it.
- What was the intention of the Atlantic Charter? Use evidence from the document to support your answer.
- Consider the historical context of the document. How would this document foreshadow the United States' involvement in Europe?
- How did the second point of the Charter contradict United States' actions in its own "sphere of influence?"
Paul Mooney (August 4, 1941 – May 19, 2021) May 19, 2021 5:37 PM Subscribe
Paul Mooney, who wrote for Richard Pryor and appeared on ‘Chappelle’s Show,’ dies at 79 [The Washington Post] A onetime circus ringmaster, Mr. Mooney got into comedy after watching Lenny Bruce perform at a bar in the early 1960s. He went on to adopt a similarly profane style, with routines about American politics and racism, mocking stereotypes about Black people and incorporating the n-word into his stand-up in an effort to deprive the term of its power.
Archived link for the WaPo obit. About his writing partnership with Richard Pryor: The duo worked together on movies, comedy specials and television shows such as “Saturday Night Live,” which Pryor agreed to host in 1975 after insisting that Mr. Mooney serve as a guest writer. In an electric high point of theepisode, Pryor played a job applicant who interviews with Chevy Chase, the show’s breakout star. An ensuing word-association test devolved into an increasingly dangerous exchange of racial slurs. Often cited as one of the greatest sketches in SNL history — Mr. Mooney likened it to a hydrogen bomb that he and Pryor dropped on “America’s consciousness” — the sketch also inspired debate over its authorship, with Chase and Mr. Mooney both taking credit. For his part, Mr. Mooney said the concept was inspired by a patronizing exchange he had with SNL creator Lorne Michaels, who questioned his comedy credentials at length before allowing him to work on the show. “Easiest sketch I ever write,” he recalled in a 2007 memoir, “Black Is the New White.” “All I do is bring out what is going on beneath the surface of that interview with Lorne and the NBC execs in the jai alai greenroom.”
posted by Iris Gambol at 7:29 PM on May 19 [14 favorites]
For his part, Mr. Mooney said the concept was inspired by a patronizing exchange he had with SNL creator Lorne Michaels, who questioned his comedy credentials at length before allowing him to work on the show. “Easiest sketch I ever write,” he recalled in a 2007 memoir, “Black Is the New White.” “All I do is bring out what is going on beneath the surface of that interview with Lorne and the NBC execs in the jai alai greenroom.”
August 1941: Making the Cut
Elmer’s August 18th letter home contained two important pieces of news, neither of which might have seemed all that surprising to his doting parents: he officially received a Fireman 2nd Class rating, and he was not in love with his girlfriend, Pat.
On August 9th he took his two engineering exams, and despite receiving a 3.93 out of 4.0 grade on his training course he anxiously awaited the results. Eight other men in the broiler rooms applied for the new rating as well, including his buddies Ossie, Jim, and the Grossman brothers. Elmer fretted over the better than even odds. “[Nine] men are trying. They may only rate the five best . . . that’s the way the Navy works.” He also worried about whether or not his commanding officers recommended him for the promotion. “I believe I am well liked,” he wrote after the fact. “I always do my best.” At the very least, he was not cutthroat so as to want to see his friends fail. “I hope we all make it,” he wrote. When the results came in, Ossie and Jack Grossman both made the cut, but Jim and Harold Grossman did not. That, unfortunately, is just how the Navy works.
Elmer’s new rating was welcome news, particularly in light of his money situation. All the time he was spending dockside that August was cutting into his finances – less work meant more time, and more time on land meant more movies, beers, milkshakes, and sandwiches. But he didn’t just spend his money on himself. He also purchased a “Chinese kimono” for Pat with an embroidered dragon on the back. The robe cost $4.50, which is about $80 in 2019 dollars. “Next week I should get my raise” of about $5, he reported. “Hot dog.”
Grandpa did not specify why he bought Pat such a nice gift. It may have been out of loyalty, friendly affection, or as thanks for all the small gifts she sent him over the past few months. But his feelings towards her stopped short of love. “You know mom, I don’t know if Pat is the girl for me or not,” he wrote, perhaps not realizing that those words put together in a sentence usually meant the latter. “Not that I have anyone else in mind. She is a good kid and sends me books, candy, and is real sweet. But I am not sure I love her.” Elmer explained that he attached himself to her partly because his shipmates all seemed to have girls of their own. “I was never much of a ladies man,” he sheepishly admitted.
Elmer decided to let her down gently – perhaps too gently to make a clean break. He stopped writing her as often, and told his parents that he had made no promises to her about the future. But he also seemed to hope that Pat would end up pulling the trigger herself on their long distance courtship. “Pat goes out with fellows occasionally. Perhaps she will find someone else.” He then told his parents that he would continue responding to her letters, and that they did need “to tell Pat about this – just suit yourself about it.” In the words of future singer-songwriter Neil Sedaka, then a two-year old growing up in Brooklyn, “breaking up is hard to do.”
So far I have found very little information on Pat, apart from these letters. Perhaps someone reading this blog has more information . . . did Grandpa ever talk about his pre-Pearl Harbor girlfriend? Maybe his letters are sitting in a box somewhere in a St. Louis attic, gathering dust, sandwiched between or perhaps buried under a mound of artifacts from a more successful future courtship with another good kid. Or maybe she threw them into the fireplace.