Nazi-Soviet Pact/Stalin’s Speech

The first of Wednesday’s readings, the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact, was a document that created a mutually beneficial, albeit brief, truce between Hitler’s Germany and Stalin’s Russia. Although both countries had fundamentally different political systems and ambitions, Russia favored entering into a non-aggression pact because it knew that Germany was a highly industrialized, blossoming state that posed them a significant threat. Stalin knew that if Hitler chose to strike Russia, they would not be adequately prepared to defend themselves. At first the truce benefitted Germany because once they decided to engage most of Europe, they knew that they would not be required to fight a two-front war as they had to do in the past during WWI. Hitler saw fit to violate this pact, which it appears to have been his intention all along, because it was part of his political ideology to remove the Jewish problem in the east in order to make room for the Lebensraum to house the burgeoning German population. He believed that Russia could be easily taken, allowing Germans to reclaim the territory that is rightfully theirs, from the Bolshevik/Jewish “menace.”

The second of Wednesday’s readings, Stalin’s speech form 1946, was the speech that highlighted his re-election campaign. In this speech he attributed Russia’s victory to the effectiveness of the country’s Soviet system. Stalin adamantly professed the efficacy of the system when he stated, “The issue now is no longer the viability of the Soviet state system, because there can be no doubt about its viability…” While it is true that Russia was much more effective fending off Germany in WWII than WWI, Stalin asserted that no other system could have achieved such positive results. While arguing for the efficacy of his Five Year plans, he compared Russia’s output in 1941 to that of 1913. He used suspect reasoning while justifying his argument with these statistics because Russia was in such a dismal state of affairs in 1913 that the gains experienced during this interval of time could in fact be considered, “the simple and ordinary development of a country from backwardness to progress.” Once Germany violated their Non-Aggression pact, Russia was put on the defensive and nearly taken over by Germany. For a nation as large and populous as Russia, the industrialization achieved by 1941 was still relatively lackluster. When Stalin stated in his speech that “it does not resemble the picture of the way our army was supplied during the First World War, when the front suffered chronic shortages of artillery and shells, when the army fought without tanks and aircraft, and when one rifle was issue for every three men,” he is partially incorrect because that was the Red Army’s state of affairs for much of the first half of the war. During the battle of Stalingrad troops were sent into battle rifleless, similarly to WWI. Also, Stalin was forced to pass order #227, which stated that any man who made an attempt to retreat was to be gunned down by his own troops who were stationed in the rear of the lines.[1] He failed to take into consideration the fact that any population facing the brink of total annihilation will do anything in their power to survive by focusing the entire nation’s efforts and resources towards the war effort, regardless of what system is in place. Stalin used the Russian victory as a springboard to launch his reelection campaign. He only highlighted the positive aspects of the war, which obviously cumulated with a Soviet victory against their antagonistic, Nazi-German enemy. What he chose to exclude from his speech was the 21 to 28 million deaths that the Soviet Union experienced during the war – far more than any other participating nation.


The Race or the State

Many often link Fascism and Nazism together and even believe that Nazism is a form of Fascism. However, that is completely not the case. Both ideologies although developed during the same time period with similar motives have their very own definition. Nazism derived as the ideology of the NSDAP (National Socialist German Worker’s Party), most commonly known as the Nazi Party. Meanwhile, Fascism came about Benito Mussolini’s new political movement to bring Italy back on its feet through authoritarian rule. As stated in the beginning of “Benito Mussolini: What is Fascism, 1932,” the word fascism came from the word fasces, which is the symbol of bound sticks that were used as a totem of power in ancient Rome. The image of the fasces conveys power and jurisdiction, living up to the authoritarian and strict regime that dominated Italy with the influence of Fascist ideals.

Although Fascism and Nazism are two different ideologies, they share the same origins, and as a result, share similar positions. Both Italy and Germany came out as losers of the Great War. Germany suffered with the many restrictions and reparations that were placed on them as a result of Article 231 in the Treaty of Versailles. Italy, on the other hand, was on the winning side, but suffered significant a loss since they did not receive the land that they were promised when they joined the war. As a result, both nations suffered economically, politically and socially, as well with public humiliation. Nazism and Fascism in an effort to bring Germany and Italy back on its feet respectively as powerful nations once again after suffering such great losses after the First World War. Therefore, it makes sense why there are so many similarities between both ideologies. In Benito Mussolini’s “What is Fascism, 1932,” he states that “the nineteenth century was the century of Socialism, of Liberalism, and of Democracy, it does not necessarily follow that the twentieth century must also be a century of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy: political doctrines pass, but humanity remains, and it may rather be expected that this will be a century of authority…a century of Fascism. For if the nineteenth century was a century of individualism it may be expected that this will be the century of collectivism and hence the century of the State….” This excerpt shows the shift that was made in the twentieth century as a result of the perceived failure of Socialism, Liberalism and Democracy following the Great War and the Great Depression. Therefore, Fascism and Nazism were similar in the sense that both ideologies sought to replace individualism with collectivism. Another one of the striking similarities between Fascism and Nazism is the need for expansion. In both ideologies, expansion was the key to a prosperous nation. Lastly, extreme nationalism was another similarity between both ideologies. However, although both Fascism and Nazism shared these similarities, both are approached differently with different motives.

One of the key components of Nazism was the idea of Lebensraum. Lebensraum is directly translated as “living space.” It was the idea that territorial expansion was needed in order to gain living space for all people of the superior races. In the process of doing so, in Nazism it was believed to be a law of nature for the people of superior races to displace people of inferior races, especially if the people of the superior race were facing overpopulation in their given territories. Generally, the expansionist position of the Nazis was completely motivated by race. “The 25 Points 1920: An Early Nazi Program” repeatedly reiterated the importance for living space for all “members of the race” and place a special emphasis on clarifying who makes up the Aryan race and who does not, blatantly singling out the Jewish population. With this came the sense of extreme nationalism; Nazis believed in a greater Germany for all Germans (members of the race) and the need to collectively lead the nation to its supposed greatness. In Mussolini’s “What is Fascism, 1932” he states in regards to expansionism and nationalism that, “…For Fascism, the growth of empire, that is to say the expansion of the nation, is an essential manifestation of vitality, and its opposite a sign of decadence. Peoples which are rising, or rising again after a period of decadence, are always imperialist; and renunciation is a sign of decay and of death. Fascism is the doctrine best adapted to represent the tendencies and the aspirations of a people, like the people of Italy, who are rising again after many centuries of abasement and foreign servitude.” In this excerpt, Mussolini refers to the great defeats that Italy has suffered from in the past and makes the point that that can no longer happen again. Mussolini’s main concern is the state, and in order for Italy to rise as the most powerful power in the world, it must act with aggression and authority. With that being said, he goes on describing the need to mobilize the Italian masses in order to bring the state back on its feet. He even goes as far as personifying the state by stating, “the Fascist state is wide awake and has a will of its own.” Clearly, Mussolini creates a national character in order to help convince the Italian masses to help the state get to its supposed greatness.