On Point: Seventy Years After the Hitler-Stalin Pact


by Austin Bay
August 26, 2009

"Communazi" became magazine shorthand for their collaboration,dark slang connecting the two totalitarian ideologies of the Soviet Union andNazi Germany after they ratified the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

Thatfaux-peace agreement and its secret protocols, signed 70 years ago on Aug. 23,1939, divided Eastern Europe between the Nazis'swastika and the communists' hammer and sickle. The pactshocked Western Europe and the U.S., but Poland, in the land trapped betweenthe armies of National Socialism and Marxist Internationalist Socialism,understood the immediate implications. Poland's two old enemies, both withterritorial and imperial ambitions, were setting the political conditions forwar.

And warcame on Aug. 31, 1939, when the Germans faked a Polish attack on a Germanborder outpost, giving Berlin a pretense. The panzers attacked in the earlyhours of Sept. 1, beginning what Nazi propagandists'dubbed the Poland Campaign and what contemporary historybooks call World War II.

Theterm "communazi" is illustrative, for both murderous, anti-libertyideologies demand state control of the economy, culture and media, and bothcrush individual autonomy. The communists' clever spin that enthralled Westernintellectuals was to "redefine" democratic and liberal terms tocamouflage their authoritarian goals. George Orwell called it Newspeak in hisclassic novel, "1984." Even the revelations of the summer of 1989,when Eastern Europe began to slip from the Soviet Union's post-WWII grasp,failed to shake many of the Marxist faithful in the West.

TheHitler-Stalin Pact did not shake Marxist true believers in 1939, either. AfterPoland fell, with first Germany claiming territorial spoils, then Russiantroops moving in from the east, Western communists kept faith with Moscow.

TimeMagazine wrote on April 15, 1940, the month before the German assault onFrance, "Active new (France) Premier Paul Reynaud last week orderedMinister of Interior Henri Roy to get ready a decree making any furtherCommunist or Nazi agitation in France punishable by long imprisonment or death.Police said current Red propaganda in France almost exactly duplicates Nazipropaganda urging the Allies to make immediate peace." The Time articlespecifically addressed the "communazi" phenomenon.

Thecommunists, with their Nazi allies, were undermining Western defenses withpropaganda and political agitation.

Thecozy collaboration ended when Adolf Hitler launched a sneak attack on Russia inJune 1941. The reeling Soviets suddenly became an ally of the West."Communazi" became banished jargon. The Reds had switched sidesagain. During the 50 years of Cold War following WWII, however, communists usedthe same anti-Western and anti-American propaganda tropes Hitler used, with amore pernicious and long-lasting effect.

Much ofal-Qaida's anti-American propaganda builds on Soviet anti-American agitpropspread throughout the Middle East and developing world by communist cadres.Sexual sensationalism, control of Hollywood and Wall Street by evilcapitalists, and cowboy militarism crop up in al-Qaida's list of Americanfaults and were included in both communist and Nazi anti-American bilge.

Thecareful revolutions of 1989 and the subsequent end of the Cold War freed mostof Eastern Europe from the Soviet empire, but the "communazi"collaboration in the Hitler-Stalin Pact left a few territorial disputes thatstill have geostrategic implications.

Moldovais an example. Based on an understanding of "spheres of influence"hammered out by the Soviet and German foreign ministries, one Hitler-Stalinpact protocol gave a slice of Romania to the Soviet Union.That slice became the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic(SSR). Post-Cold War, the SSR became the nation of Moldova.

ManyMoldovans see themselves as ethnically Romanian. However, a separatist,pro-Russian "statelet," Transdniestr, exists within Moldova, and ethnicRussians living in it are "protected" by Russian troops.

Amajority of Moldovans believe Russia prefers this fractured situation. ThroughTransdniestr, Moscow extends its "sphere of influence"and can disrupt Moldova and vex Romania. Moscow does notlike the fact Romania joined NATO. Moscow routinely accuses Romania of makingtrouble in Moldova and notes Romania annexed the region from Russia after WorldWar I.

Modern Moldova remains in a bind.

To find out more about Austin Bay and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

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