861.00 Party, All Union Communist/209: Telegram

The Chargé in the Soviet Union (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

99. The XVIII Party Congress opened at 5:00 o’clock yesterday and was followed by Stalin’s report on the work of the Central Committee. Although the newspapers have not yet appeared the following is the summary of the part of Stalin’s speech dealing with foreign affairs as contained in the Tass16 bulletin received by the Embassy.

Stalin began with a comparison between the “capitalist world” which was characterized as suffering from a new economic and political crisis as contrasted with the steady progress in the Soviet Union in all fields. In discussing the crisis in the “capitalist world” Stalin emphasized the growth of unemployment and the fall in production in the majority of countries in 1938 as compared with 1937 and stated that the crisis had been more noticeable in countries which have not yet put their economy on a war basis. In discussing the economy of Italy, Germany, and Japan he emphasized the depletion of the gold reserves of those countries and said that although German industry appeared to be still expanding as a result of military operations unless some unforeseen development occurred that German economy would soon suffer from the same decrease in production already apparent in Italy and Japan whose economy had been placed on a war footing sooner than that of Germany.

In discussing the political aspects of the present international situation Stalin’s remarks, following closely the views expressed on this subject in the new Party history17 declared that the “Second Imperialist War” directed in the first instance against the Imperialist interests of England, France, and the United States by the Fascist nations had already begun. He ridiculed the attempts of the aggressor nations Germany, Italy, and Japan to depict their military alliance as harmless geometrical formulae of “axes” and “triangles” and to mask their real designs under the guise of a struggle against the Comintern. Stalin asserted that the capitulatory policies of the bourgeois democratic powers is explained on more than upset economy or military weakness since together they are superior in force to the Fascist nations but by “their fear of the revolution which may break out if the non-aggressive countries are drawn into a war and that war becomes [Page 740]world-wide. Bourgeois politicians know that the first Imperialist War has made the revolution victorious in one of the greatest countries. They fear that a second Imperialist War may lead to the triumph of the revolution in one or more countries.” The principal reason, however, Stalin stated, is the failure of the non-aggressive countries in the first instance England and France to follow the policy of collective security and resistance to the aggressors and their adoption of a position of “non-interference and neutrality”; the aim of this policy of neutrality and non-interference is to involve the aggressor nations in a war with the Soviet Union. Germany was permitted to absorb Austria and Czechoslovakia in an attempt to induce that country to attack the Soviet Union and the outcry in the bourgeois press following the Munich Agreement18 in regard to Russian military weakness and internal disorder was open encouragement to German aggression against the Soviet Union. Stalin added that the uproar in the Anglo-French and North American press in regard to German designs on the Ukraine was in this connection “characteristic” and that “this suspicious uproar was for the purpose of arousing Soviet anger against Germany to poison the atmosphere and to provoke a conflict with Germany without visible reason.” Stalin asserted that the Soviet Union commanded sufficient force to prevent the realization of any designs on the Ukraine if the Germans were mad enough to attempt an attack and that certain politicians and newspapers of Europe and the United States were beginning to realize that the hope of turning German expansion eastward had been dispelled and that they now see that Germany is “turning to the west and demanding for itself colonies”. “It is possible to think that the Germans were given the regions of Czechoslovakia as a price for an obligation to begin war with the Soviet Union, but the Germans are now refusing to honor the check.”

In discussing the Soviet Union vis-à-vis the capitalist countries, Stalin after stating that the “Second Imperialist War” had created a new situation in the relations between nations and a state of uncertainty in international relations due to the overthrow of the elements of international law and the deterioration in value of international agreements, made special reference to the armaments engaged in by all countries both great and small. This had forced the Soviet Union to strengthen its armed forces and to take certain steps to strengthen the international position of the Soviet Union. Stalin referred to [Page 741]the Soviet entry into the League in 193419 and the reasons therefor and mentioned without comment the conclusion of the Franco-Soviet,20 Soviet-Czechoslovak21 and Soviet-Mongol22 treaties of mutual assistance and the treaty of non-aggression with China.23

That portion of his speech devoted to international affairs and the foreign policy of the Soviet Union concludes with the following words:

“The foreign policy of the Soviet Union is clear and comprehensible: (1) We stand for peace and for the strengthening of business likely to affect ties with all countries. We stand and will stand on that position insofar as these countries will maintain such relations with the Soviet Union and insofar as they do not attempt to infringe the interests of our country. (2) We stand for peaceful, close, and good neighborly relations with all neighboring countries which have a common frontier with the Soviet Union. We stand and will stand on that position insofar as these countries will maintain such relations with the Soviet Union and insofar as they do not attempt to infringe directly or indirectly the interests, integrity, and inviolability, of the frontiers of the Soviet state. (3) We stand for the support of peoples who have become victims of aggression and who are struggling for the independence of their fatherland. (4) We do not fear threats on the part of aggressors and are ready to answer with redoubled blow a blow from the incendiaries of war attempting to infringe the inviolability of the Soviet frontiers. Such is the foreign policy of the Soviet Union. In its foreign policy the Soviet Union bases itself first, on its growing economic, political, and cultural strength; second, on the moral and political unity of our Soviet social system; third, on the friendships of the peoples of our country; fourth, on its Red Army and Navy; fifth, on its policy of peace; sixth, on the moral support of the workers of all countries who are vitally interested in the preservation of peace; seventh, on the good sense of those countries who are not interested for one or another reason in the violation of peace. The tasks of our Party in the realm of foreign policy are: (1) to continue in the future as well as to carry on the policy of peace and of strengthening of business-like ties with all countries; (2) to observe caution and not to permit our country to be drawn into a conflict by the provocateurs of war, who are accustomed to using others as cats’ paws; (3) to strengthen in every way the military might of our Red army and naval Red fleet; (4) to strengthen the international ties of friendship with the toilers of all countries who are interested in peace and in friendship between peoples.”

  1. Telegram in two sections.
  2. Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union, an official communication agency of the Soviet Government.
  3. History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks), Short Course, edited by a Commission of the Central Committee of the Party (Moscow, 1938, et seq.).
  4. Signed at Munich, September 29, 1938, between Germany, the United Kingdom, France, and Italy; for text, see Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919–1939, 3d Series, vol. ii, document No. 1224, p. 627, and Documents on German Foreign Policy, 1918–1945, Series D, vol. ii, document No. 675, p. 1014.
  5. September 18, 1934.
  6. Signed at Paris on May 2, 1935; for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clxvii, p. 395.
  7. Signed at Prague on May 16, 1935; for text, see ibid., vol. clix, p. 347.
  8. Protocol of Mutual Assistance between the Mongolian People’s Republic and the Soviet Union, signed at Ulan-Bator-Khoto on March 12, 1936; for text, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxl, p. 666.
  9. Signed at Nanking on August 21, 1937; for text, see League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. clxxxi, p. 101.