Excerpts from his essay are reproduced below:
Brits of my generation were taught that World War II was a moral enterprise and that as a country, we had fought for freedom, self-determination and democracy. Apparently, we declared war on Germany to defend Poland and six years later, after forging a “special relationship” with America, we had defeated Germany and won the war.
We grew up during what became known as the cold war, and we were led to believe that the forces of Communism could lay waste to the entire world. One American President faced them down when they tried to base missiles in Cuba; another called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”. This worldview was reinforced in the public consciousness by fictional works in both TV and print.
And yet, the British and Americans allied themselves with the Soviet Union during World War II. Evidently, it didn’t matter that the Soviets invaded Poland along with the Nazis, or that they refused to return the Polish territory they captured during that military conquest.
How can the British and American wartime alliance with the Soviet Union, and the behaviour of our leaders towards the dictator Stalin, be reconciled with the claims that the war was a moral conflict and that Britain and America “won” it?
The American journalist Diana West has recently written a book which examines the extent of Soviet influence on American policy both during and after the war. She has been attacked by the former radical leftist David Horowitz for doing this, but the question being asked here is perfectly legitimate: To what extend did the British and the Americans do Josef Stalin’s bidding during the war?
When I visited the Imperial War Museum in London a couple of years ago, there was a plaque on the wall that said serving in the Merchant Navy was the most dangerous thing anyone could do during the war. Having visited Malta not long before, I was familiar with the story of Operation Pedestal, so it was not difficult for me to accept that sailing in a supply convoy during the war was incredibly dangerous. And the Arctic convoys to the Soviet port of Murmansk were among the most dangerous of all.
The arctic convoys were an attempt to meet the obligations of an agreement that had been made by Lord Beaverbrook on behalf of the British government during a trip to the Soviet Union in September of 1941. Beaverbrook had promised to send the Soviet Union 200 aircraft and 250 tanks each month, which would mean handing over to the Soviets between a quarter and a third of the output of Britain’s military manufacturing output. In the House of Commons, Churchill had warned that ‘sacrifices of the most serious kind and the most extreme efforts will have to be made by the British people’ in order to supply Russia with armaments.
Military aid was therefore sent to the Soviet Union by sea, with convoys sailing up the coast of Norway and around the Barents Sea to the Soviet ports of Murmansk and Archangel. These journeys were so incredibly dangerous, and losses were so high, that the British Chiefs of Staff even proposed cancelling convoy PQ16, which was due to sail from Iceland on 18th May 1942.
Churchill, knowing that Soviet Foreign Minister Molotov was due to visit London a few days later, insisted that the convoy go ahead “whatever the cost” because Britain’s “comradeship” with the Soviet Union was at stake. As the acclaimed historian Laurence Rees has said, this shows clearly that the decision to sacrifice British lives was politically motivated. In other words, Winston Churchill was willing to let British sailors die in order to keep Stalin onside.
Why we would go out of our way to help the reds in the first place remains a mystery to me. I tend to agree with Lieutenant General Henry Pownall, the deputy of General Sir Alan Brooke, who wrote on 29 June 1941: “I avoid the expression “Allies”, for the Russians are a dirty lot of murdering thieves themselves, and double crossers of the deepest dye. It’s good to see the deepest cut-throats in Europe, Hitler and Stalin, going for each other.” Senator Bennett Clark of Missouri expressed similar sentiments at the time: “It’s a case of dog eat dog. Stalin is as bloody handed as Hitler. I don’t think we should help either one.”
This assessment of the situation is borne out by the reality of life in the Soviet Union, which was hell on earth. An American sailor named Jim Risk, whose ship was tied up in Moltovsk for almost nine months during the war, experienced the Soviet regime first hand and drew the obvious conclusion: “We had learned that Stalin was a brute just like Hitler was a brute. They were just brutes in a different language.” Several of his shipmates had been full-blown Communists – “pinkies” – when they set sail, but when they cast off their ropes and sailed away from the Soviet Union, “they were no longer pinkies”. In Risk’s opinion, Josef Stalin was “the dirtiest, filthiest personality in the world”.
We now know that Stalin signed the orders for the Katyn forest massacre, which led to thousands of Polish prisoners being executed by agents of the Soviet secret police, the NKVD. What is not so well known is that both the leaders of the “Grand Alliance” were aware of what had happened. Sir Owen O’Malley, acting as ambassador to the Polish government in exile in London, sent a report on the Katyn massacre to the Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden in May 1943 in which he concluded: “there is now available a good deal of negative evidence, the cumulative effect of which is to throw serious doubt on Russian disclaimers of responsibility for the massacre.’
The official policy of the British government was to ignore O’Malley’s report and to say nothing about the Katyn massacre, lest the truth about Stalin find its way into the public consciousness. After all, the public schoolboys running the British Empire couldn’t have the riff-raff thinking they were consorting with murderers and tyrants, old boy. That wouldn’t do at all.
But they were.
Roosevelt was no better than the silver spooners in the UK – if anything, he was worse…
Visit The Frozen North for the rest, including the end notes.
For links to previous articles about the controversy over American Betrayal, see the Diana West Archives.