Foreign Affairs: 100 Years
The Future of History
Can Liberal Democracy Survive the Decline of the Middle Class?
THERE is something fascinating, and at the same time almost frightening, in the completeness of the pattern woven by the Fates about the two sets of Russo-German negotiations which took place at Brest-Litovsk twenty years apart, in 1918 and now again in 1939. Almost all the elements of great drama are presented -- tragedy and betrayal, irony and fleeting sardonic wit, and the inevitable Nemesis of knaves. There lacks, however, the crowning glory of a third act in which virtue is rewarded. For the element of virtue was ever absent from Brest.
They met at Brest-Litovsk in that gloomy December of 1917 -- defeated Russia, exhausted Austria, hectoring, self-assured Germany. And from their discussions was born a treaty un-equalled in modern times for its unashamed brutality, yet which, with the exception of the Treaty of Versailles, has had consequences and repercussions more important and far-reaching than any other peace settlement since the Congress of Vienna; a treaty which is affecting the course of events in Europe at the very moment of writing, and of which the ultimate results still remain among the unpredictables.
When the representatives of Bolshevik Russia first faced the delegates of the Central Powers across the conference table they did so with the foreknowledge of diplomatic defeat and the hope of world revolution. Old Russia had died and the new Soviet State was yet a-borning. The military might of the Hapsburg and Hohenzollern Empires was apparently at its peak. Only the greater power of an awakened proletariat could bring it down. Toward this end the Bolsheviks unsuccessfully geared their tactics. Delay, exasperation, and interminable conversation were their only weapons. Yet, in the hands of such master procrastinators as Joffe and Trotsky, this armory was not to be despised. Pitted against the diplomatic genius of Central Europe, the Bolsheviks gave a good account of themselves, matching cunning with cunning, and prevarication with prevarication.
For Germany the vital necessity was a speedy peace which should conclude the war on the Eastern Front and release all available military forces for concentration against England and France. A war on two fronts, even against a defeated Russia, was no longer considered strategically possible. The supreme and final effort must be made in the West. To this end Germany had facilitated the return of Lenin in the famous "sealed train," in order that he and his colleagues might undermine the political structure of Russia from within, and, by promoting chaos, bring the desired goal of a separate peace appreciably closer.
But Germany had her ambitions also. Peace with Russia she must have, but at her own price and on her own terms. Russia lay prostrate before her; within her grasp were the occupied provinces of the Baltic, and the newly proclaimed Kingdom of Poland, ready to be erected into semi-independent states subject to German domination. Before the enchanted gaze of Hindenburg and Ludendorff stretched the fertile lands of the Ukraine, the oil and grain of the Caucasus and of Rumania. Higher still ambition vaulted; not only should Russia be encircled by a chain of German dependencies, but she should herself be partitioned and thereby eliminated as a political threat to Germany.
But above all, the raison d'être for this policy of naked brigandage was declared to be the destruction of Bolshevism in non-Russian lands. The advance of the German armies in February 1918, which preceded the final Soviet capitulation, was declared to be in the interests of civilization and against the Bolsheviks. They were coming, announced the commander in chief, as saviors not as conquerors, sworn to put down the tyranny "which has raised its bloody hand against your best people, as well as against the Poles, Lithuanians, Letts and Estonians."
The avowed object of Germany in 1918, therefore, was to restore the ancient Kingdom of Poland and to protect Lithuania and the Baltic States against the horrors of Bolshevism. It was under this guise that she dictated the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk on March 3, 1918, whereby Russia acknowledged the loss of all the above territories to Germany, and of the districts of Kars, Batum and Ardahan to Turkey; in addition she recognized the independence of Finland, the Ukraine and Georgia. It was with this declared aim that Germany cut off Russia completely from the Black Sea and very nearly from the Baltic also.
Yet even as the Bolsheviks placed their reluctant signatures to this brigands' peace -- which Adolf Hitler was later to describe as "immensely humane" -- the first slight whisper of Nemesis could be discerned: "It is your day now," cried Karl Radek in the indignant face of General Hoffmann, "but in the end the Allies will put a Brest-Litovsk treaty upon you" -- and, he might have added, not only the Allies.
In little more than a year Radek's prophecy had been fulfilled. The germ of Bolshevism, which Germany had helped introduce into the body politic of Russia, was destined to infect the blood stream of Germany also. It worked with terrible rapidity, and the internal collapse on the German home front which followed -- and did not precede -- the final defeats in the field, was directly attributable to the influence of Moscow. The proud empires of the Hohenzollerns and the Hapsburgs disintegrated in the revolutions of 1918, and the Treaty of Versailles sealed the humiliation of Germany. Harsh and Draconian though it was, however, and pregnant with the seeds of future war, the Treaty of Versailles was in no way comparable in severity with the Treaties of Brest-Litovsk and Bucharest. Nor was it in any sense as unjust a peace as the Central Powers would have imposed on the Allies had the rôles been reversed. The terms forced upon Russia and Rumania were mild to those which would have been dictated by Germany in Paris or London, as witness the revealing remark of a German staff officer in reply to the protests of the Rumanian delegation. "A harsh peace," he said, "you call it a harsh peace? Just wait till you see what we are preparing for France and England!"
It was in these days of dark despair in Germany which followed the ratification of the Treaty of Versailles that the germ of a strange rapprochement was engendered. In the shifting of power which followed the collapse of the monarchies of Central Europe, Germany and Russia found themselves drawn together as outlaws, and as a result of this involuntary juxtaposition there followed an almost inevitable liaison between the German and Soviet General Staffs.
This was largely the child of General Hans von Seeckt, the creator of the Reichswehr, and was one of the strangest anomalies of the Weimar period. Immediately following the war, the military leaders of Germany were sharply divided on the Bolshevik issue. General Hoffmann, who had been an eyewitness of the German Revolution, and knew too well the devastating effects of Bolshevik propaganda upon his own troops, regarded Moscow as the root of all evil, and advocated the sinking of differences between Germany and the Allies in a crusade against a common enemy. The possible results of such a policy are worth consideration, for, had Germany been allowed to exploit Russia from the outset, it is improbable that she would have reached that state of desperation which made National Socialism an almost inevitable evil. General Gröner also had seen Bolshevism at first hand during his service as Chief of Staff in the Ukraine after the Treaty of Brest, and viewed both it and its works with fear and repugnance.
General von Seeckt, too, had served on the Eastern Front -- had he not been the hero of the "break-through" at Gorlice in May 1915, for which Falkenhayn took the credit? But he had fought the Tsarist armies and not the Bolsheviks. He knew the Russians to be good fighters, whether they were well or badly led, and saw in the new Red Army something which, properly handled, could be made a valuable instrument for his policy. Germany, he argued, had been virtually ostracized from the European society of nations and must needs, therefore, consort with the other outlaw, the Soviet Union. Moreover, the U.S.S.R. was the one state which was friendly to Germany, unfettered by the Treaty of Versailles and possessed of full liberty to manufacture and use those categories of weapons and military equipment which that treaty forbade to the Reichswehr. On the other hand, the Red Army only lacked that experience and discipline which German training could impart to make it a very considerable factor in Germany's future policies. Admittedly, the Soviet Union was a dangerous ally, but she was better at that juncture than no ally at all.
Thus, in two short years, the animosities engendered at Brest-Litovsk were forgotten and the liaison with Russia became the keystone of the new policy of the German Army. Seeckt first propounded the idea to his staff and collaborators as early as February 1920, during the outcry against the surrender to the Allies of the Kaiser and the other so-called "war criminals" of Germany. Seeckt informed his lieutenants, in terms which are today significant, that if the Government of the Reich consented to hand over the leaders of the Old Army, the Reichswehr must oppose it by every means in its power, even if such action entailed the reopening of hostilities. In this case the German troops in the West would retire fighting, step by step, to defensive positions behind the line of the Weser and the Elbe. But in the East they would launch an offensive across Poland, join hands with the Red Army, and, having crushed the Poles, would march westward to meet the French and British.
These desperate measures of Seeckt's never materialized, since the Allies did not press the issue of surrender, but in them lay the germ of that threatened "Red Army on the Rhine" with which the Reichswehr was to make such play in future years. Moreover, Seeckt found in Baron von Maltzan, head of the Eastern Department of the German Foreign Office, a ready ally. Between them they so worked upon Walter Rathenau that the Treaty of Rapallo, signed with the Soviet Union during the Genoa Conference in April 1922, set the official seal upon the unofficial relations which had already existed between the two General Staffs. The treaty was complemented by a secret military agreement which enabled Seeckt to send each year to Russia a certain number of officers to act as instructors for the Red Army, and a further number to gain all possible experience in the handling of heavy artillery, tanks, armored cars and other weapons forbidden to Germany under the Treaty of Versailles. The German Nationalist Party warmly endorsed Seeckt's views as an alternative and corrective to Stresemann's policy of conciliation to the Allied Powers; and Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, the first German Ambassador to Moscow following Count Mirbach's assassination after Brest-Litovsk, was among the most able and fierce opponents of Locarno and a correspondingly enthusiastic supporter of the Reichswehr policies. The greatest triumph of this school of thought was its ability to persuade Stresemann to conclude with the Soviet Union a treaty of neutrality and nonaggression after the premature and unsuccessful attempt to admit Germany to the League of Nations in March 1926.
This strange mariage de convenance continued with considerable felicity for eleven years and only terminated in abrupt divorce with the advent of Adolf Hitler. But throughout this period the German General Staff was actuated by pure expediency. No accusation of pro-Bolshevism could be levelled against them; they treated with the Soviet Union on a purely technical basis, yet maintained a stern watch on any possible infiltration of Communist doctrines into the ranks of the army.
With the downfall of the Weimar Republic in January 1933, and the foundation of the Third Reich, a change in Soviet-German relations was not unexpected, partly owing to the fact that a clandestine circumvention of the military clauses of the Treaty of Versailles was no longer necessary and partly because of the very definite attitude of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party to Bolshevism and the Soviet Union. Basing his policy on his own declared thesis of "Mein Kampf" and the complementary doctrines of Alfred Rosenberg, the Fuehrer proclaimed a deathless war against Communism and a return to the imperialistic designs of Ludendorff at Brest-Litovsk regarding a Lebensraum for Germany in the Baltic Lands and the Ukraine.
There followed the period of the Russian "Return to Europe," in an effort to counterbalance the growing Nazi menace. The recognition of the Soviet Union by two members of the Little Entente (Rumania and Czecho-Slovakia) in 1934, the Soviet entry into the League of Nations later in the same year, and finally the Soviet treaties of alliance with France and Czecho-Slovakia in 1935 were gradations in the schemes of Barthou and Laval to build up a European system which should present a united front against the growing aggression of Nazi Germany. These moves found their counterpart in the formation of an anti-Comintern Pact whereby, first Germany and Japan in November 1936, and later Italy, Spain, Manchukuo and Hungary, combined to resist the insidious forces of the Communist International.
In these years (1933-38) hundreds in Germany were imprisoned and many executed on a charge of "Communism," while in Russia an even greater number met their deaths on the accusation of "Fascist" sympathies. At no point in German-Russian relations could there have been a more complete divergence of ideological doctrines, at no time could the chances of a political rapprochement have been less apparent.
Yet throughout these same years there were those in both countries who sought to bring about just such a rapprochement. One element in the German General Staff still hankered after the good old days of the Seeckt liaison, and it was on this point, among others, that Seeckt's successor, General von Hammerstein-Equord, fell out with Hitler and retired in 1934. Nor was this factor entirely absent from the quarrel between General von Fritsch and the Fuehrer four years later. In Russia it was found necessary to purge from the military machine Marshal Tukhachevsky and six of his more brilliant general officers, who sought to reëstablish a closer relationship with their "opposite numbers" in Germany.[i] And during the mysterious Moscow treason trials of 1936-38, members of the Old Bolshevik Party, including Karl Radek, pleaded guilty to charges which included the wish to buy peace with Germany and Japan at the price of the cession of the Ukraine to the first and the Maritime Province to the second.
It was not, however, until after the Czech crisis of September 1938 that a material change occurred in Soviet foreign policy. Up to that time, the guiding hand of Litvinov had directed Russian influence in favor of collective security and united action. After the rebuff of Munich, when Russia was excluded from the discussions which partitioned a state with whom she was in technical alliance, Stalin withdrew to his tent and awaited the inevitable approach of war which would place him in the strategic position of being courted by both sides.
He had not long to wait. The annexation of Bohemia and Moravia in March 1939 destroyed the last flickering hopes in London and Paris of reaching an agreement with Germany by the way of appeasement and laid bare the necessity of preparing on a grand scale for the approaching showdown. Great Britain and France endeavored by their guarantees to Poland and other threatened states to build up a "peace bloc" which should deter Nazi Germany from further aggression; and in their efforts to buttress this formation they sought Soviet coöperation.
Stalin's price was high. He demanded a free hand in the Baltic States, cloaked under the guise of a "guarantee." The states concerned recoiled from such a protective power and sought refuge in treaties of non-aggression with Germany and in pronouncements of neutrality. At the same time, Poland and Rumania, for whom Russian assistance was sought, refused to countenance the passage of Red troops through their territory, knowing full well that the slogan of Joseph Stalin was akin to that of Surtees' celebrated Mr. Jorrocks: "Where I dines, I sleeps." The negotiations for an Anglo-French-Soviet Pact reached an impasse, and Stalin turned an ear to other offers.
It is not yet possible to state at what point the decision to conclude a Nazi-Soviet entente was reached, but there is evidence to show that tentative advances of increasing warmth had been in process since the beginning of 1939. The early approaches were abortive, but after the annexation of Bohemia and Moravia, it would appear, the course of the negotiations began to run more smoothly. Litvinov, the Soviet apostle of collective security, "resigned" in May, and the activities in the early summer of the disgruntled Czech leader, General Syrovy, as entrepreneur between Moscow and Berlin, were followed by the sudden and secret visit to Moscow of Herr von Papen in July. Slowly but surely the realization of the incredible became a possibility.
For both parties a rapprochement involved the abandonment alike of fundamental principles and active policies. The basic doctrines of "Mein Kampf," the dreams of a German exploitation of the Ukraine and the Baltic, the proud boastings of the Anti-Comintern Pact, even the foundations of the Rome-Berlin Axis, must find a common grave with the Russian protestations of collective security, the "People's Front," and the anti-Fascist line of the Third International. The Pelion of perjury was piled upon the Ossa of betrayal. Before the winds of military expediency and the grumbling hunger of territorial aggrandizement, the veil of ideology was torn away, revealing the naked community of totalitarian imperialist interests.
For Soviet Russia a European war could be only advantageous. Her perpetual nightmare of a united front of capitalism against Communism would be banished and the field would be freed for the fulfillment of the age-long desire of Russia, whether Tsarist or Bolshevik, for seaports free from winter restrictions. With England, Germany and France fully occupied, the Baltic and the Balkans would become fields for Soviet expansion. Even the old ambition of the control of the Straits might be realized at last.
For Germany the principal urge was that same military necessity which actuated her policies at Brest-Litovsk in 1918 -- the essential need to avoid a war on two fronts, and to concentrate on the West all available forces at the earliest possible moment. With the growing realization in Berlin that Ribbentrop's oft-repeated boast, "The British will not fight," was at last to be proved false, the need for an agreement with Russia became the more imperative, first, in the hope of frightening the Western Powers into accepting the results of a "lightning war" in Poland as a fait accompli; secondly, in securing Germany's Eastern border in the event of a war in the West; thirdly, in obtaining an unhampered source of supply.
The demands of the German Supreme Command for a neutralization of the Soviet Union grew more pressing and the bargaining in Moscow became more hectic. The warning which Hitler had himself given in "Mein Kampf" was thrown into the discard. "A Russo-German coalition waging war against Western Europe, and probably against the whole world on that account, would be catastrophic," he had written. And again: "The fact of forming an alliance with Russia would be the signal for a new war. And the result of that would be the end of Germany." Yet by June it was known in Berlin that the Nazis had made an offer to the Soviets for the partition of Poland and the possession of the Baltic States. By August 16 the German Secretary of State, Baron von Weizsaecker, was able to inform the British Ambassador that "the U.S.S.R. would even, in the end, join in sharing the Polish spoils." A week later the apparently impossible had been achieved. The results were dire. Poland was invaded by Germany on September 1, and by Soviet Russia on September 17.
And so they met again at Brest-Litovsk. But how different was the scene of September 18, 1939, and that of March 3, 1918 -- how great the contrast!
Then it was Germany, autocratic and stern, who called the tune for victorious ally and defeated enemy alike. Now a new Germany, desperately anxious for Russian aid, faced a rejuvenated Soviet state, a Russia enigmatic and powerful, whose favors must be paid for on her own terms. In 1918 the Soviet delegates wept before the demands of Hoffmann that they surrender Poland and the Baltic States. In 1939 Hitler had already conceded to Stalin as a sphere of influence those very Baltic States which Hoffmann and Kühlmann had annexed in order to protect them from Bolshevism, and was prepared to acquiesce in the return of Polish territory to Russia. The first agreement of Brest-Litovsk opened the door for Germany to the rich lands of the Ukraine and the grain and oil of Rumania; the second shattered the Fuehrer's dream of a Ukrainian dominion and barred the way to an advance into Rumania save through Hungary. Germany in the interval had abandoned the monarchical principle, destroyed the republic and had sought uneasy refuge in dictatorship. In Russia, the much despised régime of 1918, whose end had been so confidently predicted, remained mighty and sinister, though the source of its dictatorship had shifted from the proletariat to a single mysterious individual in the Kremlin. In sum, the passage of twenty-one years between the two meetings at Brest marked the transfer of ascendency of power from Germany to Russia.
The speed and depth of the Soviet advance was a source of surprise and anxiety to the Germans. The first line of demarcation as announced on September 19 followed the ethnographic frontier, but this was followed three days later by a further concession by Berlin of a line much farther to the West, following the Vistula and running through the city of Warsaw. The definite frontier, as finally fixed by the Ribbentrop-Molotov Agreement of September 29, allocated the former White Russian and Ukrainian districts to Russia and to Germany the districts of Poland with a predominantly German and Polish population. This line is approximately that of the old "Curzon Line" of 1919, which was intended by the Paris Conference as the definite frontier between Poland and Russia.
Thus the Soviet Union had extended its limits two hundred miles westward into Central Europe and had acquired a common frontier with Lithuania, East Prussia, Hungary and Rumania proper (in distinction from Bessarabia). Red troops pushed rapidly forward, accompanied by the military organizations of the political police, and began to Sovietize the new districts.
And here the irony of Fate surpassed itself, for, according to reports, the supervision of this process has been entrusted to Karl Radek, that impish Bolshevik sprite who travelled in the famous "sealed train" with Lenin, who threw the final challenge into Hoffmann's teeth and who later barely escaped the bullet of Stalin's executioner on a charge of "Fascism." Of the great actors in the early drama of Brest, all but three have died, the majority of them tragically. Of the survivors, Richard von Kühlmann ekes out a precarious existence in Nazi Germany; while Trotsky leads, in his Mexican exile, a life of dynamic hatred and bitter vituperation. It has remained for Radek alone to pass through the whole gamut of fortune from power to prison and to power once more, and to come at last again to Brest-Litovsk.
It would be both foolish and useless to minimize the advantages accruing to Germany from her new agreement with Russia. It must be recognized that economic collaboration is extremely close. Germany is supplying technicians and industrial advisers, and Russian raw materials are entering Germany. The possibility of joint pressure on the Baltic and Scandinavian countries to restrict their trade with Britain is a very real one, and the chances of Nazi-Soviet action against Turkey must not be ignored. Even if the rôle of Russia were confined to a purely benevolent neutral, Germany could be very well content. But the Soviet Union is prompted by no philanthropic impulse. Her supply of raw materials to Germany will continue, it may be assumed, just so long as Germany can pay for it either in gold, or in kind, or in political concessions, or as long as Russia wishes to prolong the war for her own ends. Despite the fulminations of Molotov on October 31, the ultimate advantage to Germany of her new liaison may be highly questionable. "He must have a long spoon that shall dine with the devil;" moreover, the price of the meal is high. Hitler, in the rôle of Faustus, can never regain possession of his own soul, whereas Stalin, as Mephistopheles, can abandon his charge at will.
The second Nazi-Soviet agreement of September 29 contained provision for the parties to "consult each other regarding the necessary measures" to be taken in the event of the failure of German peace overtures to Great Britain and France and the consequent prolonging of the war. At the cost, therefore, of a few skirmishes in eastern Poland, a banquet to Herr von Ribbentrop and the promise of diplomatic consultation and trade promotion, Stalin has regained either possession or virtual control over practically all the territory lost at Brest-Litovsk in 1918. The price which Lenin paid for the peredyshka ("breathing spell") has been redeemed. The military control of the Baltic States is now Russia's, along with the naval domination of the Baltic. Combining new nationalism with old Bolshevism, the Soviet Union in its forward march is rooting out and destroying the marks of German civilization in the Baltic lands which have existed for many generations. Germanism is in retreat in Eastern Europe and what were once the proudest bastions of "Teuton culture" against "Slavic savagery" are hauling down their flags. Even the fortress of Memel, newly acquired by Germany from Lithuania, is being dismantled. Before the advance guard of the Red Army, the German population of the Baltic lands, which composed the great majority of the upper and middle classes, is returning to the Fatherland, disillusioned, bewildered, yet obedient. National Socialism has surrendered to its Bolshevik ally the German heritage of a thousand years.
Such is the Soviet revenge at Brest-Litovsk in 1939 for Brest-Litovsk in 1918.
Nor is there any indication that Soviet ambitions are satisfied with naval bases on the Baltic Sea. The demands made upon Finland clearly indicate that the Kremlin looks forward to nothing less than an attempt to reach out across northern Scandinavia to ice-free ports on the Norwegian coast, and thus Russia may be in a position to dominate Germany's lifeline from two directions; perhaps compelling Germany to "protective" occupation of Denmark in retaliation.
In the Balkan Peninsula, also, the repercussions of the most recent return of Russia to Europe are severe and the full consequences unpredictable. The rapid advance of the Red Army cut off Rumania from the threat of a German advance through southern Poland, yet this can scarcely be the cause of great relief to Bucharest. It merely means that Rumania has been definitely included within the Russian, as opposed to the German, sphere of influence, and that any partitioning which is to be done will be directed from Moscow instead of from Berlin.
In the unhappy position of a cat which has eaten not one but three canaries -- Bessarabia, Transylvania and the Dobruja -- Rumania is the object of the irredentist ambitions of the Soviet Union, Hungary and Bulgaria. There seems more than a possibility that Russia will invite the other two states to make joint demands upon her for the restitution of territories acquired as a result of the treaties of 1919. The direction of Soviet attention to Bulgaria is particularly disturbing. Should Rumania accede to Russian and Bulgarian demands and re-cede Bessarabia and the Dobruja, she will be all but cut off from the Black Sea; and since any agreement between Moscow and Sofia would presumably be patterned on those with Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, Soviet political influence and Soviet military and naval control will extend, for all practical purposes, along the whole western coast of the Black Sea. Russia will become the virtual territorial neighbor of Turkey in Europe. And should she go one step further and find means to press to a successful conclusion Bulgaria's claims upon Greece for the return of the Dedeagatch district, then she would have the use of a port upon the Aegean also.
Viewed in this light, the recent Anglo-French-Turkish alliance takes on an added significance. A special protocol excluding the possibility of war between Turkey and Russia arising out of the implementation of the pact gives evidence of the desire of Turkey to keep on good terms with Moscow. Yet the appearance of the Soviet Union as a near neighbor in Europe and as her only other rival in the Black Sea, coupled with the threats from Berlin and Moscow that Turkey may become a second Poland, cannot be viewed at Ankara with anything but anxiety, especially as Russia is said to press for the return of the Kars and Ardahan districts ceded to Turkey under the Peace of Brest-Litovsk.
The many historical parallels between the Brest-Litovsk agreements of 1918 and 1939 include one which is of very great, perhaps supreme, importance for Germany. In 1918, Ludendorff, carried away by the vistas of power and riches opened up by the treaties with Russia, the Ukraine and Rumania, lost sight of the primary object of the peace, the freeing of Germany's hands in the East. In order to enforce a victors' peace and to exploit their new acquisitions to advantage, the Germans were compelled to retain on the Eastern Front a million men at a time when the addition of half that number to their armies in the West would have changed the course of history. Lured away by the will-o'-the-wisp of ambition, Germany found herself inextricably bogged down in a slough of dilemmas. She sank in them deeper and deeper.
The same is true in 1939. Without doubt Hitler imagined that his pact with Stalin ensured that hostilities would be restricted to the East. In this event he would have ample opportunity to watch and checkmate his new ally at the close of the Polish campaign. But should Great Britain and France refuse to be terrorized by the bogey of Nazi-Soviet coöperation, Germany would in any case have her rear protected and her hands entirely free to fight in the West. Such was the reasoning behind the pact on the German side. But neither of the hoped-for premises have been realized. The war was not confined to the East. And in turning to the West, Hitler today must have a most uncomfortable feeling of insecurity in the rear. Apart from the army of occupation normally required for maintaining the Poles in a proper state of subjugation, Germany must keep continual watch and ward, in both military and political spheres, upon her ally. Nowhere in the East and Southeast of Europe is German influence paramount, nowhere are German interests secure. The twin ghosts of Bolshevism and Pan Slavism beset the uneasy dreams of German diplomacy. Only the first existed in 1918. Today the threat is dual.
The repercussions within Germany of the German-Soviet "pact of mutual suspicion" and of the 1939 agreement of Brest-Litovsk can only be conjectured. But the confusion and bewildered panic of many can be conjectured. What can be the reactions of the Communist who has suffered persecution for seven years? Of the Party member who for an even longer period has imbibed the anti-Bolshevik doctrines of the Fuehrer? Of the conservative elements who shut their eyes to many of the brutalities and defects of the Nazi system on the score that it at least provided a bulwark against Communism? Above all, of the intelligent General Staff officer who recalls the effect of too close contact with Bolshevism in the past and wonders whether Germany is once more preparing for herself a "stab-in-the-back"? In the answers to these questions may lie the germ of the future peace.
For the second time within a quarter of a century Germany has played with the fire of Bolshevism in pursuit of her desperate attempt to achieve world domination. Her first experiment ended in the Revolution of 1918. Her second may have even graver consequences, for it is but a short step from National Socialism to National Bolshevism. The only harvests Germany has garnered at Brest-Litovsk have been Dead Sea Apples and the Grapes of Wrath.
[i] See Balticus: "The Russian Mystery: Behind the Tukhachevsky Plot," FOREIGN AFFAIRS, October 1937.