By Frederico Costa and Érico Cardoso
Every human being who loves freedom owes the Red Army more than he will ever pay in a lifetime.Ernest Hemingway
May 9, 1945 marks the surrender of Germany to the Soviet Union in World War II, after two months of the Battle of Berlin between the Red Army and the Nazi Army. The so-called “D-day”, the landing of troops from 13 countries commanded by the USA and England on the French beaches of Normandy, occurred a year before the German surrender to the USSR, was an Allied military advance that won the liberation of France, but not victory over Germany. The US victory over Japan was not celebrated until August 15, 1945.
The Second World War began with a dispute between imperialist powers in 1939, but soon, in 1941, it assumed the character of a war of conquest of the USSR by the German Nazi state. The war left destruction never seen before. Deaths reached an estimated total of 70 to 85 million human beings, counting those who died from starvation and disease as a direct result of the war, that is, more than 3% of humanity . Dozens of cities were reduced to rubble. Resources capable of nourishing, clothing, providing housing, health, education and work to alleviate poverty were used for purely destructive purposes. The environment, in many places, with forests and arable fields, has been reduced to ashes. Such devastation reached human behaviour and subjectivity itself: with generalized violence and systematic massacre of populations. Murder developed on an industrial scale. Examples of this were the Nazi concentration camps, the bombing of the German city of Dresden and the two atomic bombs dropped on Japan which was already defeated.
The structural roots of this catastrophe are present in the very competitive nature of the capitalist mode of production that intensifies with monopoly capitalism. Imperialism elevates competition to the political-economic level, taking an increasingly military-economic dimension by dividing the world between the imperialist powers. States and their armed forces participate in disputes between powerful industrial and financial groups. The world wars were the product of the imperialist system’s tendency towards aggressive expansionism.
After the first inter-imperialist war (1914-1918), the victory of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Red Army, created and led by Leon Trotsky, against the invasion of the USSR by a military coalition of 14 countries, prevented the restoration of capitalism in Russia. However, the fact that there were no new victories weakened the Soviet proletariat. The workers’ state (expropriation of the bourgeoisie, monopoly of foreign trade and planned economy) survived, but in a deformed way, with the emergence of the rule of bureaucracy and its political expression: Stalinism.
In fact, the Second World War was not a struggle between democracy and fascism, but a dispute between imperialist powers for world hegemony. German imperialism was no different from other imperialisms: crimes against humanity weigh on all of them. However, German imperialism, despite being subjected to the humiliating Treaty of Versailles, soon recovered from the defeat of World War I, helped by the interest of the big monopolies and other Western imperialisms in crushing the socialist revolution in Germany itself (1919 and 1923) and then invaded the USSR. Under the banner of Nazism, the country soon returned to being a much stronger military power than in the First World War and triggered the Second World War that began with the occupation of Poland on September 1, 1939,
The objective of imperialism was to destroy the Soviet Workers’ State: 70% of the Nazi armed forces and another three million soldiers were deployed against the USSR
Hitler easily won the war in Western Europe, with victories in the Netherlands and France in 1940. It was then that the Nazi military machine turned, in 1941, to its central objective: the destruction of the Soviet workers’ state, the which meant a full-scale counter-revolution. On June 22, 1941, Operation Barbarossa began. To destroy the Red Army, Hitler mustered at least 152 German divisions, including 19 Panzer divisions and 15 motorized infantry divisions, as well as 15 Finnish and 14 Romanian divisions. In terms of equipment, the German forces totalled about 3,350 tanks, 7,200 artillery pieces and 2,770 aircraft that represented 65% of the first-line air force (GLANTZ; HOUSE, 2009).
It was a real disaster for the Soviets. A completely preventable disaster. Even with 39,000 guns and mortars, more than 9,000 planes and 11,000 armoured vehicles, after the first week of battles, there was little left.
“The German invasion of the Soviet Union in June 1941, together with the Stalinist sabotage of the Red Army (liquidation of its generals, refusal to prepare the country for the German attack, and the blockade of the resistance in the first days of the invasion), practically led to the destruction of the USSR in 1941”.COGGIOLA, 2015, p. 178-179
However, after a series of colossal defeats, the Soviets stopped the Nazis at the gates of Moscow, in a battle that officially lasted from 30 September 1941 until 20 April 1942, despite Stalin’s excessive errors. Hitler, at an event in Berlin on October 4, 1941, even claimed that the advance to Moscow would be in its final stages, being the greatest battle in history and that, once killed, the Soviet dragon would never rise again (NAGORSKI, 2015). The cost was very high for the Red Army: 1,896,500 losses among dead, missing, prisoners and hospitalized. It is important to note that, due to the treatment given by the Nazis to Soviet prisoners, most of them were sentenced to death.
The strategic turning point came with the Nazi defeat at Stalingrad in February 1943. If it won, German imperialism would emerge strengthened both strategically and economically, with possibilities to launch an offensive against Moscow, the Middle East and even Great Britain. However, of the mighty 330,000-strong Nazi 6th and 4th Armoured Army, only 91,000 hungry and exhausted soldiers remained, including 22 generals who surrendered on February 2, 1943. This Soviet victory was consolidated with another in the largest battle of tanks in a war: the Battle of Kursk, between July and August 1943. From that event onwards, Hitler no longer met the conditions for a major offensive against the USSR, dedicating himself only to defensive battles to postpone the final defeat. From a military point of view,
[…] during the European summer of 1942, the German high command had concentrated 70% of its armed forces against the USSR, that is, 179 divisions, not counting the 71 divisions of its allies (22 Romanian divisions, 14 Finnish, 10 Italian, 13 Hungarian, 1 Slovak and 1 Spanish). Thus, that summer, 250 divisions – about 3 million men – were fighting against Soviet forces .WERTH, 2015, p. 16
The best German troops were on the Eastern Front and not on the Western Front, in addition, the Red Army inflicted 75% of the casualties to the Third Reich army in the war (COGGIOLA, 2015). In an attempt to distort the fundamental importance of the Red Army to the end of Nazi barbarism, the mythology was created that the German defeat was caused by numbers and not by skill, with the Soviet victory obtained at the price of rivers of blood, while the Generals and Nazi marshals were deified for having fought with few resources and a lot of intelligence, and could have won had it not been for Hitler’s disastrous leadership.
In fact, the victorious march of the Red Army was an event of revolutionary consequences, going beyond the military aspect. Vassily Zhukov, the Marshal who commanded the Soviet forces in the annihilation of the Third Reich, thus portrays this progressive movement.
The victories of the Soviet Army helped the struggle for national liberation in European countries occupied by the Nazis. This struggle was led by the Communist Party and other workers’ parties, which united hundreds of thousands of patriots. With the advance of the Soviet Army towards the Dniester and the gateway to the Balkans, the anti-fascist movement became more active in the satellite countries of Germany. In Bulgaria and Romania, the uprising and national liberation armies grew in number. That summer, Bulgarian partisan units numbered around 30,000 fighters, which immobilized the royalist army. In May, the Hungarian Front was formed on the initiative of the communists in Hungary and, in Romania, a national-democratic bloc was formed, which organized an anti-fascist armed uprising.
In Yugoslavia, Albania and Greece, under the leadership of the Communists, the partisans fought very bravely against the fascist invaders in battles that kept 19 fascist divisions occupied and immobilized.
The Polish people, regardless of Mikolajczyk’s treasonous policy and his government in exile, intensified the armed struggle against the Nazi invaders (TCHUICOV, 2017, p. 15).
The USSR flag flying in Berlin signified the victory of the achievements of the October Revolution of 1917, despite Stalinist deformation and Nazi barbarism. The defeat of the Third Reich opened up emancipatory possibilities for humanity as a whole, from national liberation movements in oppressed nations to the struggle for civil rights in advanced capitalist countries. The victory over Nazism was not the work of Russian nationalism, but of the proletariat of the Soviet Union armed against the greatest monster that imperialism has ever created against communism: Nazi-fascism. Hitler’s defeat was the second greatest victory of the world proletariat after the Bolshevik Revolution.
The struggle against Nazism and the expansion of imperialism against Russia: an essay on World War III
US imperialism became hegemonic in the capitalist world after the second world war, it created a series of permanent financial, military, espionage organizations such as the IMF, NATO, the CIA against the USSR and the international revolution. Whenever necessary, imperialism resorted to the worst Nazi methods, torture, chemical weapons, dictatorships against oppressed peoples, whether Palestinians, Vietnamese, Latin Americans, Iraqis or Afghans.
After the social counter-revolution in the USSR, NATO’s eastward expansion did not cease. NATO, which had 16 members in 1990, now has 30. The overaccumulation of capital from this process of global expropriation, contradictorily, caused an immense crisis in the USA in 2008 and in the European Union in 2010. Countries such as Russia and China occupied spaces in the world market in a vacuum caused by the retreat of the imperialist powers and became players with extraordinarily large resources, such as the mass of the Chinese workforce, or the Russian energy, military and technological resources. As Moniz Bandeira said, “empires are more dangerous when they decline” .
Since the end of the USSR, decadent imperialism has carried out, in new forms and rhythms, another Barbarrossa operation. Dozens of new military bases were established in former workers’ states and former Soviet republics. The entire region was conquered taking advantage of the historical dissatisfaction of those populations with Stalinist bureaucracies, fratricidal wars (Yugoslavia), corruption of rulers, coups d’état, “colour revolutions”, hybrid warfare and the use of Nazi mercenaries to repress resistance. Ukraine to join the EU and NATO.
This offensive had its peak in the neoliberal 1990s. The economy was profoundly privatized, de-industrialized and suffered a major speculative attack in 1998. Yugoslavia was torn apart by an artificial fratricidal war that involved the direct military intervention of Yankee and European imperialism. All this did not happen without provoking a growing reaction from some peoples and governments in the region, which were forced to renationalise, centralize and plan strategic fractions of the economy, which was in opposition to the imperialist neoliberal orientation. Against this resistance, a strategy was devised to recolonize countries such as Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.
This strategy has been explicitly documented. In May 2019, the Rand Corporation, the think-tank of the US military-industrial complex, had listed six options in the matter: 1. Arm Ukraine; 2. Increase support for jihadists in Syria; 3. Promote regime change in Belarus; 4. Explore tensions in the South Caucasus; 5. Reduce Russian influence in Central Asia; 6. Rival the Russian presence in Transnistria.
But even the most sophisticated strategy, under the best prepared logistics and with enormous resources in dollars, weapons and information technology, cannot reverse the trends towards the decline and overcoming of imperialism whose offensive dialectically strengthens a bloc of sanctioned countries, supported by productive forces that are less dependent on speculative financial circuits and that are about to create alternatives for the de-dollarization of their economies. These inter-bourgeois contradictions and between blocks of nations have created tensions that make the current war in Ukraine the prelude to the third world war.
The growing resistance on the part of the Eurasian bloc must not feed any illusions that the bourgeois forces that lead these oppressed nations will be able to offer consistent resistance in the anti-imperialist struggle. For only the proletariat organized in a communist and revolutionary international will be able to carry out this task. The construction of this organism today passes through the tactic of the anti-imperialist united front, which must submit to the strategy of permanent revolution in the face of the inability of the struggle of the Eurasian leaderships to defeat imperialism.
Today, in Ukraine, a new struggle against imperialism and Nazism is being revived. The USSR has not existed since 1991. Russia today is an anomalous capitalist country, at best a regional power. However, it is not an imperialist country. Objectively, the Russian Special Operation in support of self-determination of the republics of Donetsk and Lugansk in the Russian-speaking region of Donbass (eastern Ukraine) is a progressive action for workers and oppressed peoples around the world against the new Operation Barbarossa.
First, because it represents support for the struggle for national emancipation of approximately 3.5 million workers who suffer attacks from a regime born from a fascist coup in 2014, when the US/NATO invested efforts to arm neo-Nazi movements that continue the policy of collaboration with the military occupation of the country by Nazi troops during World War II against the USSR. In Ukraine, the US soon appropriated the country’s energy resources. Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden has been placed on the board of directors of the country’s leading gas company, Burisma Holdings Limited. The Pentagon has developed several chemical weapons laboratories banned by a treaty signed by 183 countries since 1972 in the Chemical and Biological Weapons Convention (BWC).
Second, by expressing an active resistance to the plans of imperialism in crisis to break up Russia into semi-colonial protectorates.
Third, after World War II it is the biggest imperialist front against a country: military aid to the Ukrainian Nazi government, censorship, economic sanctions, Russophobia, strategic NATO siege, a ban on all parties opposing the regime, torture and persecution of trade unionists , communists and all who seek to clarify the facts. Once again, imperialism uses Nazism against the oppressed peoples, this time much more explicitly, through mercenaries, against the oppressed peoples of Eastern Europe.
In short, supporting the self-determination of Russian-speaking regions and the denazification of Ukraine is an anti-imperialist action as it clashes with the interests of world finance capital. On this 9th of May, in addition to commemorating the 77th anniversary of the defeat of Nazism, it is necessary to unconditionally stand by Russia in its fight against imperialism.
The day will come that will be the day of definitive victory over Nazism, when humanity will definitively bury imperialism and capitalism.
Long live the 77 years of the defeat of Nazism! Long live the Red Army! All support for Russia against imperialism and Nazism in Ukraine!
COGGIOLA, Osvaldo. The Second World War : causes, structures, consequences. São Paulo: Editora Livraria da Física, 2015.
GLANTZ, David M. & HOUSE, Jonathan. Clash of the Titans : How the Red Army stopped Hitler. São Paulo: C&R Editorial, 2009.
NAGORSKI, Andrew. The Battle of Moscow : the bloody struggle that defined the course of World War II. São Paulo: Contexto, 2013.
RAND Corporation, Extending Russia , Available at: https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR3063.html – Accessed April 4, 2022.
Zhukov, Vassily. The conquest of Berlin : 1945: the defeat of the Nazis. São Paulo: Context, 2017.
WEISSHEIMER, Marco Aurélio. Moniz Bandeira: “Empires are more dangerous when they decline”, in Carta Maior. Available at: https://outraspalavras.net/outrasmidias/moniz-bandeira-imperios-sao-mais-perigosos-Quando-declinam/ – Accessed on May 6, 2022.
WERTH, Alexander. Stalingrad 1942 : The Beginning of the End of Nazi Germany. São Paulo: Context, 2015.
 Professor at the State University of Ceará (UECE) and coordinator of the Institute of Studies and Research of the Workers’ Movement (IMO);
 Doctoral student of the Postgraduate Program in Education at the State University of Ceará – PPGE/UECE.
 The world population in 1940 was estimated at 2.3 billion people.
 https://outraspalavras.net/outrasmidias/moniz-bandeira-imperios-sao-mais-perigosos-Quando-declinam/ Accessed on April 5, 2022.