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The Home Front Volume I

CHAPTER 13 — Russia and the War

page 574

Russia and the War

AT the start of June 1941 it was thought that Hitler’s next target would be Suez, menaced now from Libya, Crete and Vichy-held Syria, where German infiltration was reported. To forestall this, on 9 June Free French and British troops entered Syria and Lebanon, advanced steadily against mild resistance and on 23 June took Damascus.

Meanwhile there was speculation about relations between Russia and Germany. The Russo–Japanese neutrality pact in mid-April 1941 was seen as Russia’s effort to secure its eastern borders in apprehension of trouble from the west, and Churchill in a speech on 9 April1 suggested that Hitler might suddenly turn from the Balkans to seize the Ukraine granary and the Caucasian oil fields. A good many newspapers2 had reports and comments on German and Russian activity, such as troop movements and diplomatic coolnesses, with Russian inscrutability mentioned fairly often. There were also suggestions that it might all be a German screen for a sudden strike elsewhere. The Auckland Star on 14 June warned that the apparent inactivity of Germany in relation to Syria was suspicious: where the Germans were not obviously active they were sometimes most dangerous. As the Southland Times of 11 June remarked, these were difficult days for newspaper readers, with facts, rumours and propaganda jostling together on the cable pages. The New Zealand Herald of 16 June, commenting on a new flood of speculation, said: ‘Very wisely, people are no longer inclined to jump to the conclusion that the two thieves of East Europe are about to fall out…. people have reached the stage where only seeing is believing’. There was no suggestion that the USSR could be an ally useful to Britain; rather, its vulnerable resources were a danger. ‘The only sort of eastern war that could possibly help the Allies is a long-drawn-out campaign’, said the Press on 16 June, ‘and then it is quite obvious, it would page 575 be Russia, not the west, that would be in need of support. A Russia, master in its own house and immobilising many units of the German Army, may well be the best Great Britain can hope for in the east.’

On 22 June 1941, when the German lightning was loosed against Russia, New Zealand was probably less surprised than the Russians, caught unmobilised, their aircraft destroyed on the ground.3 Moscow reported Russian withdrawals and heavy German losses. These disasters were, of course, not explicit: Britain and the Commonwealth for a year had stood almost alone, losing heavily in the air, in the Atlantic, lately in Cyrenaica, Greece and Crete; any diversion, any respite, was heaven-sent. With little outside sympathy going to either Russia or Germany, John Gunther4 could broadcast from New York that this was probably the most popular war in history.5 New Zealand papers generally agreed that little could be expected of Russia militarily, and that Germany had attacked because it needed Russian resources for the decisive battle against Britain. Thereafter they differed in the details considered and in tone, ranging from an almost benign tolerance in the Evening Post to sharp scolding in the Auckland Star. Treaty-breaking, territory-grabbing Russia, said the Star, could now complain only that Germany had got its blow in first. Germany’s large-scale expenditure of men and resources would help Britain, but it would be in the highest degree imprudent to pin faith on Russia, which has a poor record as an ally, and would, if victorious, spread the Communist plague throughout Europe. The best to be hoped for from the Russian–German conflict is that it will last long enough to exhaust them both.

The New Zealand Herald said that there could be no sympathy when thieves fell out and double-dealers came to blows. It was the British navy’s blockade that had forced Germany to this colossal gamble which would give Britain well-earned and welcome respite. While Russia was in no sense Britain’s ally, London and Moscow were joined in defence against the same aggressor; it was in Britain’s interest to give the Soviet all possible support and German attempts to confuse the issue by talk of saving the world from Bolshevism should be rejected.

page 576

The Press had little sympathy for the present rulers of Russia whose short-sighted opportunism had brought this disaster on themselves, but ‘a mad dog is not less dangerous because he bites someone who deserves to be bitten’, and Hitler’s efforts to switch the war to a crusade against Bolshevism would be resisted. He had entered this new conflict to make use of his vast inactive army (260 divisions), to wrest from Russia sufficient booty to match the American supplies, in arms and materials, that could ultimately give Britain superiority. Meanwhile Russia’s full engagement in the west would leave Japan with greater freedom in south-east Asia.

The Otago Daily Times wrote of Russia as a notoriously perfidious nation, doubting the worth of its enormous but ill-equipped forces; wrote of Hitler’s idle armies, his need of resources, his need of quick success if this mid-summer adventure were not to turn, like Napoleon’s, to dismal winter rout. Most observers, the Southland Times stated, believed that the Russian economy could not stand a war of endurance, but possibly the Red Army could be supported in a brief conflict, or could hold out long enough to deprive Hitler of the quick victory essential to his purpose. It speculated about Hess’s6 journey to Scotland in April 1941 to ‘switch’ the war against Russia and saw Britain’s reply in the Royal Air Force’s massive raids of the last 11 days. British people were not likely to regard the Russians as their allies in a war of liberation, and it was ironic that the admirable Finns were now ranged with Germany against the nation that had basely attacked their freedom.

Apart from stock generalities, the Dominion thought the new conflict ‘a very valuable interposition in this most critical year’, and that the possibilities were not easily calculable. The Evening Post on 23 June, warning that Hitler’s chances against Britain in the next two years would be immensely improved by Russian supplies, said: ‘that automatically converts Russia into Britain’s co-operator. Hitler himself has driven Russia and Britain together. Even if they were at opposite ends of the Socialist–Capitalist scale—which they are not, since Britain today is classless—these two countries would still find themselves aiming at the same immediate goal, national freedom, and therefore compelled to help each other…. The paramount fact is that Britain and Russia must pull together.’ Hitler’s double somersault was aimed at the sympathies of anti-Communists in the British Empire and the United States, but ‘in this stark fight, anti-Communists and Communists should both forget yesterday and tomorrow; they should strike today.’

page 577

The Post’s editorial was the only one among the main dailies on that Monday, 23 June to reflect Churchill’s broadcast made on the night of 22 June. He had opposed Communism for 25 years, and would take back no word of it now, but he spoke, in his own heavy but moving way, of homely, hard-working people in 10 000 Russian villages threatened by the hideous onslaught of the German war machine, ‘the dull, grim, docile, brutish masses of the Hun soldiery pouring on like a swarm of crawling locusts’, under a sky full of German aircraft. He declared:

Any man or State who fights against Nazidom will have our aid. Any man or State who marches with Hitler is our foe…. It follows, therefore, that we shall give whatever help we can to Russia and the Russian people.7

By 24 June, most New Zealand papers were approving Churchill’s lead. His ‘prompt and realistic’ statement should clarify the issues, said the Southland Times; it was probably his most sagacious utterance, said the Dominion. His qualities as statesman and orator were never more clearly revealed, said the Press, explaining that in view of Russia’s past attacks on Finland and the Baltic states it was hardly surprising that some British papers and semi-official statements had at first assumed that Britain would be detached from the new conflict; but Churchill had grasped the essential reality, that ‘any State or man who fights against National Socialism is Great Britain’s ally.’ Hitler’s claim that he was the champion of Europe and civilisation against Bolshevism had served him in the past, but he should not be allowed to use the trick again. The Evening Post repeated the warning against anti-communist propaganda, while the New Zealand Herald attacked Bernard Shaw’s rash statement that Britain and America could sit back and smile while Stalin smashed Germany;8 the British could not count on stubborn Russian resistance, could not relax, but must seize the opportunity to increase their own attacks. This ‘no slackening’ note was also sounded by the Otago Daily Times, the Evening Post and the Press. The Otago Daily Times accepted Churchill’s principle: ‘any man or state that fought against Hitler was our ally, while those that fought for Hitlerism were our foes. Expediency in this hour of crisis would sanction no other approach to the task of ridding mankind of the evil that is rooted in Germany.’

The Auckland Star, however, was not pleased with Churchill. Recalling that he was reported to have said, ‘To save England, I’d pact with the Devil’, the Star suggested that either his sense of the dramatic had for once played him false, or he was contemplating page 578 such a pact. If Mr Churchill wished to evoke sympathy for the Russian people he should have pointed out that they are unhappy beyond all other peoples in that they have to suffer the hideous onslaught of the Nazis after having suffered for a generation the hideous onslaughts of the Communists. There is, in fact, little in the way of hardship, deprivation and oppression that the Nazis could impose on the Russian masses that they— all except the members of the privileged bureaucracy—have not already experienced at the hands of their own tyrannical gangsters.9

Britain and Russia were both fighting Nazi Germany, but this was all that they had in common. It would be exceedingly dangerous to British unity and to resistance in occupied countries to allow the false impression that there was anything else. Next day the Star continued its attack. Churchill had not consulted the Dominions before making his declaration, nor had Fraser or Menzies10 consulted their Parliaments before endorsing it.11 New Zealand’s Parliament and people should be fully consulted before any commitment which could involve their forces, and if there were any question of an alliance with Soviet Russia New Zealand’s answer should be an emphatic ‘No’. Russia was now fighting for the preservation of the Stalin regime, Britain and the Dominions had no obligations to the Soviet and its shifty policies; there was need for the utmost caution in Britain’s dealings with the Kremlin.12

With these editorial presentations it is useful to consider the directions that the press had received through the Director of Publicity. On 16 June, the British Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs gave the Dominion governments confidential information already issued to the press in Britain. In the event of war between Germany and Russia, hopes should not be raised of effective Soviet resistance, though Germany’s long-term difficulties in trying to hold even part of Russia should be stressed. In no circumstances should Russia be called an ally, but merely another country attacked by Hitler despite treaty obligations, with which therefore Britain had a common interest against the aggressor. Any support for the USSR would be on account of that common interest, in no way implying ideological affinity. This advice was sent to editors on 18 June.13

page 579

Whatever subtleties and withholdings there were in official counsels in Whitehall and Wellington on the degree of co-operation that should exist between Britain and Russia—whether they were allies or merely shared an enemy—these fine distinctions were not grasped by most New Zealand readers of newspapers. They read, on 25 and 28 June, of Roosevelt pledging all possible aid to Russia and of British military and economic missions going to Moscow to ‘coordinate the common war effort’.14 They read of Hugh Dalton15 saying that the British Labour party opposed communism but ‘today the Red Army and the Red Air Force are our comrades in arms, they and we are out on the same errand—to crush the German war machine….’16 As noted already, the term ‘ally’ had been used by the Press and the Otago Daily Times on 24 June; the Press, examining the inner conflict of the situation, repeated it on 26 June:

Fear and detestation of Communism on social and religious grounds are deep rooted in the democracies—far more deep rooted than fear and detestation of Fascism, National Socialism and their variants.17 For this reason and also because Russia, since the outbreak of war, has been guilty of numerous acts of unprovoked aggression, the democracies are embarrassed by their new ally…. [They] must remain resolute, cool and realistic. To deny that the situation… involves them in a conflict of ideas and loyalties would be foolish. But … this is the dilemma the German Government sought to create and will exploit ruthlessly. It is necessary to lay hold of one all-important truth, which is that a swift German victory over Russia will be a military and economic disaster to the democracies. By the iron logic of war, Russia is our ally and must be enabled to hold out.

Two days later the same paper, discussing the political difficulties inherent in the ‘involuntary alliance’, could see that Russian attacks on German bases in Finland during the past few days were self-defence of the same order as was the British attack on Syria. Deploring that Britain should be at war with Finland, lately so heroic, the page 580 leader added ‘Russia’s departure in 1939 and 1940 from her previous policy of non-aggression was the result, not of a revival of Russian imperialism, but of fear of Germany and a desire to improve her strategic frontiers.’18

The idea that although sharing an enemy Britain and Russia were not allies was officially ended by the Anglo–Soviet agreement of 12 July 1941, for mutual assistance of all kinds in the war and for no separate peace. Nash, as Acting Prime Minister, welcomed it, saying that New Zealand had been consulted in the arrangement and that at this stage any obstacle to making common cause against the aggressor would be absurd; Hitler had succeeded by isolating his victims, striking them down singly in a series of victories that would have been impossible in the face of a collective peace system. Now other threatened nations might be encouraged to band together with Russia and the British Commonwealth.19

The treaty had no immediate relevance for New Zealand, though a few local Russophiles advocated establishing trade and diplomatic connections with Russia. It was the logical development of Churchill’s declaration on 22 June. The New Zealand Herald, repeating his ‘any man or State who fights against Nazism [sic] will have our aid’, said that the treaty put on Britain no more obligation than was already freely assumed without asking any return by Churchill, and was overwhelmingly endorsed by the Empire. Opposition to Communism was no barrier to helping Russia against the common enemy. As a precedent, in 1914 most people repudiated the principles of Tsarist autocracy and loathed the system by which it was maintained, yet Britain and Russia fought as allies. Now, with an equally great difference in beliefs, they had combined in something less than a formal alliance against Hitler’s Germany; to have done anything else would have cleared the way for Nazi world domination.20

The Press explained that the pact had little practical significance for distance and lack of surpluses made material assistance impractical; at present there could be only diplomatic and technical collaboration. Its real importance was that ‘finally and unequivocally, it proclaims Britain and Russia to be allies, thereby removing the excuse for fruitless and dangerous controversy over the propriety of aiding a country which is nominally Communistic in political and economic structure.’ The real obstacle to closer relations was not political creeds but Russia’s aggression against Poland: if Russia would recognise page 581 the right of Poland to self-determination, the front against Hitlerism would acquire a unity it did not then possess.21 The Evening Post was much warmer. The pact was an event to be heavily underlined, ‘an object lesson on a tremendous scale of how two opposed “ideologies” act when confronted with the common danger of extinction.’ Self-preservation was imperative, with qualities of immediacy above all other laws: ‘different peoples with different ideas now fight the same fight for freedom.’22

The critical Auckland Star, pointing to the treaty’s limited scope, was thankful for the absence of pretence and high-sounding preamble about long-standing friendship, fundamental identity of purpose, and joining hands to build a better world. It added, that until three weeks ago the Soviet was far more friendly with Germany than with Britain. The Star suggested raising volunteer forces, to fight in Russia, from those in Britain and the Dominions who had long professed keenness to help the Soviet; some in New Zealand had told military service appeal boards that they would take up arms only for such a purpose. The government might well consider helping them on their way. ‘As a gesture it would not be without value and the financial commitment would be small. It might turn out to be nil, for local Communist bellicosity is usually most impressive on paper.’23

New Zealanders also read news from overseas. The cable news in the Auckland Star on 21 July included a Sydney item in which Federal Attorney-General W. M. Hughes, a strong anti-Communist, gave ‘stinging rebuke to people who would sooner be beaten by Hitler than saved by Russia’. Mr Hughes said:

A small section mainly composed of ‘the nicest people’ view the pact between Russia and Britain with grave concern. They see in Russia the menacing shape of Communism, and, gathering their robes about them, hasten to pass by on the other side. In their eyes it is better that Nazi-ism should win the war than that the Soviet armies should help to save us…. God save us from such narrow-minded, futile and treacherous counsels. I welcome an alliance with this great Power. I hail it with unbounded satisfaction. After Greece and Crete, Germany, as all the world knows, was preparing to attack Suez, the gateway to India, Australia and the Far East. The battle for Suez was to be the signal for an assault on Singapore by the other partner in the Axis. Then Germany swung her mighty war machine against Russia. We must make page 582 a supreme effort to take the utmost advantage of this Heaven-sent opportunity to strike at Germany…. If we let this chance slip, we may not get another.24

At the end of July a treaty was signed which attempted to unite the USSR and the Polish government-in-exile against Germany. It did not define borders but the USSR recognised that the territorial changes of 1939 had lost validity, while the Poles repudiated any agreement with a third power directed against Russia. The two governments established diplomatic relations and agreed to aid each other in the war. New Zealand papers approved, some even seeing post-war value in it, but the Auckland Star reminded that pacts had become as cheap as tram tickets.25

Only New Zealand’s Russophiles had even brief hopes that the Red Army would hurl back the invaders. The majority, though dismayed, were scarcely surprised by the swiftness of the German advance, smashing to the Baltic, to Leningrad, across the Ukraine, and towards Moscow. Reports asserted that these gains were won against very heavy German losses, and made much of Russia’s ‘scorched earth’ policy. Meanwhile the nightly bombings of Britain had eased, while reverses in Libya early in June heightened thankfulness that Russia was draining off pressure. Russia, absorbing the enemy, causing heavy losses and denying resources, obviously at enormous cost, became admirable. Moreover, it was rightly realised that Hitler wanted Russian supplies, notably of grain and oil, to achieve the conquest of Britain; Russia’s survival became vital. Stories and pictures of Russians burning the harvest, slaughtering cattle and horses, destroying industrial plants and blowing up their much-valued great dam on the Dnieper, roused grateful respect, even in those who normally regarded Russia with suspicion and hostility.

‘If the Russian armies are destroyed in the present campaign— an outcome which is not wildly improbable … the Axis and its partners will be supreme from the coast of France to Behring Strait’, said the Press gloomily on 2 July, adding: ‘Only the Russian armies, and behind those armies the dogged patriotism of the Russian people stand between Hitler and conquests on a scale which would make the conquests of Caesar and Jenghis Khan and Napoleon seem relatively insignificant.’ ‘Today it is the Russians who say of the Germans: “They shall not pass”’, wrote the Evening Post on 11 July. ‘No opinions about Russia’s yesterday, and no dread of Russia’s page 583 tomorrow, need prevent the sincere wishes of freedom-lovers going forth to the Russia of today, standing like a giant dam against the surging might of the German flood.’ Faith rather than calculation inspired hope that somehow Russian suppleness would defeat the German thrusts and that Russia would fill the military role vacated by France.

Smolensk, Kiev, Odessa: their battles lasted long enough for their names to become familiar. After six weeks of war, the Press stated that from the fog of claims and counter-claims one undisputed fact emerged: on every important sector of their front Russian armies were counter-attacking. Also, Hitler’s propaganda offensive, his anti-communist crusade, had failed. In Whitehall and in the United States some reactionaries and isolationists had tried to separate their interests from Russia’s, and some Catholics had threatened the alliance with the wrath of God, but these were ‘only the sputters of a damp squib’.26 Its news-versifier, Whim-Wham (Allan Curnow),27 wrote:

The Blitz hangs fire, the Armoured Cars and Tanks
That should have sped
To Moscow halt before a Traffic Sign,
The Sign that said:
“Road closed. No Fascist Vermin past this Line!”
The Light shows Red.28

Towards the end of August, when Russian forces retreated across the Dnieper, leaving, it was claimed, most of the Ukraine ‘a desert’, The Times was quoted as saying that Russia was now bearing the main weight of the war, making voluntary sacrifices for the common cause of a type almost unknown in history. The scorched earth policy meant desolation over tens of thousands of square miles, homelessness and misery for hundreds of thousands of souls, inconceivable immolation of stored wealth and the fruits of painfully won progress. ‘Though our own lot has been hard, we have not yet been called on to make such sacrifices. It must be our aim to repay them by every means in our power.’ Russia’s resistance was more tenacious than anything achieved in land warfare during the past two years. ‘Her cause is our own. She can count on the undivided sympathy of the whole British people in the dark and dangerous period through which she is passing. This sympathy must be expressed in deeds, page 584 not words. We must afford her support in every field in which she stands in need.’29

When, early in September, the Germans struck at Leningrad, threatening to turn it into rubble, the New Zealand Herald threw away all reserve in praising the start of that remarkable siege:

Paris, a city not as populous as Leningrad, shrank back from the ordeal and opened its gates … the former Slav capital of Russia is not shrinking at becoming Golgotha…. Once again the world is enrapt at Russian resolution, Russian determination, Russian doggedness. First they throw in that altar to industry … the Dnieper dam. Now they stake their ‘city of light’, all the social and cultural advances so painfully made, and the shrine and home of Lenin’s revolution—Leningrad.30

A little later, on 22 September, the Herald recalled that at the beginning of the war it was widely thought that if Stalin could hold out for three months he would have conferred inestimable benefit on the Allied cause. Now, although buffeted and bruised the Red armies have not been broken…. Their dogged spirit has earned the gratitude and admiration of the whole world…. But admiration and gratitude are not enough. In Britain and America, public opinion demands that the Red Armies be given more material support…. Apart from any higher motives, simple self-interest dictates ‘all aid to the Soviet’.

Here the Herald, like many British newspapers and speakers, especially from August onwards, mingled its salutation to Russian doggedness with pleas for assistance to maintain it. From the start, Stalin and Maisky,31 the ambassador in London, had urged Britain to open a second front.32

The Auckland Star, its tone cooler than the Herald’s but without the hostility of two months before, counselled against such importunings. Hitler’s progress in three months was impressive; without deprecating Russia’s resistance to date or discounting the probability that it would continue, all British people must wonder where the page 585 Nazis would be in another three months, for the Russian campaign was but a means towards destruction of the British Empire. It was natural to ask why Britain did not do more to help Russia in this extremity and in London there were public demands that the government should act to lighten the pressure on Russia. This advocacy overlooked the enormous demand for weapons from Britain’s own forces, nor was there shipping enough for a landing in Europe. Britain’s fight, to be effective, must be in North Africa. The recapture of Cyrenaica and the occupation of Tripoli would be far from Russia but would have far-reaching consequences.33

Norway, Dunkirk, Greece: these could not be risked again. But air raids were intensified; a Royal Air Force wing, with a few New Zealanders in it, went to Russia34 and British munitions, plus some from America, were sent both through the Persian Gulf and Iran and in convoys beset by ice and the Norway-based enemy to Archangel and Murmansk. There were public assurances, such as September’s ‘tank week’ when all tanks made went to Russia, that all possible aid was being given but, as the Press said on 3 October: ‘the obvious facts of the situation are against any optimistic view of the extent to which Russia can be helped with vital war supplies in the near future.’ The initial difficulty was in transport; as well, American production was only beginning, and Britain needed all its own tanks.

It was hardly a substitute that, late in July, the ‘V for Victory’ campaign had been launched to quicken fighting hearts in enemy countries, to check collaboration and to worry garrison troops. ‘V’s were scrawled on walls and the morse signal, … –, splendidly presented in Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, was tapped and whistled. Said Churchill on 19 July: ‘The V sign is a symbol of the unconquerable will of the occupied territories and a portent of the fate awaiting Nazi tyranny. As long as the people of Europe continue to refuse all collaboration with the invader it is certain that his cause will perish and that Europe will be liberated.’35 Goebbels promptly adopted the ‘V’ as a sign of belief in German victory.36 In New Zealand it was just another slogan, appearing on cars, on official desks, in advertisements and offices, and Truth complained of ‘Beethovenish fatuity while Russia staggers’.37

As German forces struck deeper, British opinion grew restless over Russia’s bearing the brunt alone. This was particularly sharp among page 586 working-class voices. There was agitation against some members of the British government suspected of being so clouded by anti-Russian prejudice that they could not bring themselves to help Russia enough to keep her in the fight as a serviceable ally, men such as Lieutenant-Colonel Moore-Brabazon,38 Minister of Aircraft Production, who had hoped that the German and Russian armies would exterminate each other.39

In general, New Zealand papers, while noting this uneasiness,40 saw the importance of Russia as a fighting ally, but accepted the restraints of distance; a second front was impossible.41 The likelihood of Russian reverses setting Japan off on further adventures was not forgotten.42 The New Zealand correspondent of September’s Round Table said that expectation that a major Russian defeat would send Japan grabbing for spoils had caused New Zealand to draw closer to America.

It is generally recognised that the fate of peace in the Pacific area may be decided by the battles raging for Leningrad, Moscow and the Ukraine. Indeed, with the local press filled with news from the Nazi–Soviet war and also with news of the ‘Far Eastern’ situation, it is significant that the vast majority of readers seem primarily interested in the war news from the Russian front. Consciously or unconsciously New Zealanders seem to have a good grasp of the factors which may ultimately govern the issue of peace or war in the Pacific area, and the maximum aid to Russia is strongly supported by nearly all sections of the community.43

Apart from newspapers, what reaction was there to Russia’s entry? The executives of several trade union bodies passed resolutions of support for Russia, while pledging full co-operation with their own government. The Wellington Trades and Labour Council also called on the workers of Germany and Italy to make common cause with workers in all other countries for the overthrow of the German and Italian dictators.44 Longburn freezing workers, solemnly endorsing page 587 the utterances of Winston Churchill, sought all possible help for Russia, whose defeat would bring dire consequences to the working people of the whole world.45 A few unions, such as the Canterbury Clothing Workers’, whose president, John Roberts, was an ardent non-communist supporter of aid to Russia, sent fraternal greetings to their Russian counterparts and received replies.46 The Canterbury Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants proposed diplomatic and trade relations, and declared solidarity with Russian workers.47 Wellington university students in an annual meeting carried with acclaim an expression of solidarity with the Soviet Union in its titanic struggle, and sent a telegram of salutation to heroic Leningrad and its student defenders. Leningrad University expressed deepest gratitude for this solidarity and confidence in victory.48

The Communist party, of course, found the whole situation transformed. Overnight, the imperialist war became a holy war. ‘This is the decisive moment in world history,’ declared the national secretariat on 23 June. Since defeat of Russia would mean the triumph of capitalist barbarism, while Russian success would mean a new era of socialism, speedy Russian victory was now the primary aim. Despite confidence in the USSR’s mighty forces and the solidarity of workers everywhere, including Germany, there must be no complacency or inactivity. Communists should no longer oppose military measures for the defeat of Germany; they should also demand a full military alliance with the Soviet; they should maintain a resolute and vigilant struggle against the pro-Nazis and capitulators of the imperialist camp, who might still try to switch the war, and they should demand an end to prosecutions, the release of political prisoners and return of the People’s Voice.49

New Zealand Communists now turned from what the Standard of 24 June had dubbed their ‘senseless activities’, and called for unstinted effort on all sides, for production committees throughout industry to improve efficiency,50 and for collaboration between the party and the New Zealand Labour movement. Production committees increased, not solely in response to comradely pressure, achieving useful low-key improvement, but did not become a salient feature of industry; collaboration proposals were firmly rebuffed.

A joint declaration by the national executives of the Labour party and the Federation of Labour in October51 called for redoubled efforts page 588 in field, factory and workshop as the only way to give maximum assistance to Russia in its magnificent fight against Hitlerism.

We unhesitatingly extend the same measure of assistance to the people of Soviet Russia as to the other nations that have been attacked by Hitler….

We are convinced that the most effective way to help Russia is by assisting to the maximum the New Zealand Government’s war effort…. The whole resources of the British Commonwealth are pooled to defeat Nazism.

Assistance to Russia or to any other country can only be achieved by co-ordinated effort on the part of the fighting forces plus the efforts of the workers in field, factory and workshop….

We endorse the statement made to the British Trade Union representative by M. Maisky, Soviet Ambassador in the United Kingdom, and also the message from the Moscow Women’s Conference that the best way to help Soviet Russia is to work harder and produce more in every sphere of economic activity.

The only way to assist Soviet Russia is to help to build up and fully equip our New Zealand forces, to increase the production of goods and services in New Zealand; and to do everything in our power to bring the country’s war effort up to the highest possible level.

New Zealanders could help Soviet Russia, Great Britain, the other Dominions and themselves by working harder at their everyday jobs, to produce more food, more wool, coal and timber, ‘more of all kinds of useful commodities’, and make more use of ships by turning them round more quickly.

All this was directing pro-Russian fervour into existing channels, making help to Russia part of broadly increased effort, not a new and special target. Official Labour went on to stress that its approval of Russia’s fighting valour did not extend to local Communists. Suggestions for common action with the New Zealand Communist party had been carefully considered but rejected. For two years the British Commonwealth had borne the brunt of a titanic struggle, all sections working together with the sole exception of the Communist party. In September 1939 that party had declared resistance to Hitlerism; a little later, without consulting the rank and file, it had declared the war ‘imperialist’, thereafter using every means to obstruct and weaken the war effort, unmoved by the sufferings of the British people. When Russia was attacked, this policy was reversed, again without consulting the rank and file. The Communist party had thus shown ‘its irresponsible and unstable character’, while, unlike the Labour movement, its policy was not determined by democratic methods or with reference to the needs and purposes of the people of New Zealand. The Labour movement concluded that no page 589 useful purpose could be served by collaboration or association in any way with the Communist party or its subsidiary organisations.

The statement has been quoted fully because it explains clearly the distinction held right through New Zealand between goodwill towards fighting Russia and distaste both for the Stalin regime and for local Communists in their new-found zeal for the war, distaste expressed with equal force by a trade union leader such as Arthur Cook,52 and a Presbyterian such as the Rev Gladstone Hughes.53 Although the Trades Council of Auckland, followed by those of Gisborne and New Plymouth, disapproved of the Labour statement,54 the statement was confirmed strongly by the Federation of Labour’s conference in April 1942 where Angus McLagan said to local Communists ‘Get into the war effort and show us that you are sincere, and after you have shown us we might take up a different attitude towards you.’55

Despite these snubs, the New Zealand Communist party did its best to associate itself with Labour at large in the war effort. In November 1941 it advocated a united Labour movement, full support of the Anglo–Russian alliance, and the uniting of Pacific peoples against aggression; real intensification of New Zealand’s war effort, with an end to inefficiency and waste in production, plus fullest democratic rights for the people, democracy within the armed forces and maintenance of the best possible living standards for workers and farmers.56 In May 1942, an enlarged session of the National Committee again resolved to stiffen the war effort by strengthening the labour movement. The working class should establish fraternal relations with other working people, particularly the farmers, wholehearted support going to their demands for higher guaranteed prices, along with increasing effort to win the support of trade unionists. Success for Labour in the coming election was a prominent aim, to provide the most favourable conditions for the growth of a wide people’s movement, for working class unity and political understanding, and acceleration of a total war effort.57

Enthusiasm for Russia’s resistance caused a number of non-Communists to join the new Society for Closer Relations with Russia. page 590 At its inaugural meeting on 22 July 1941 in Wellington, chaired by W. E. Barnard, the Speaker of the House and president of the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs, representatives of cultural groups and business and professional people were addressed by H. Atmore,58 Independent member for Nelson, who had taken a leading part in its formation. A provisional executive was set up, comprising, besides Atmore and Barnard, Mrs C. Stewart,59 Mrs J. H. Stables,60 Rev P. Paris, Rev W. S. Rollings61 and C. G. Scrimgeour.62 It was to organise other branches into a country-wide body, publicising various aspects of Russian affairs, improving morale and widening support for the Anglo–Russian alliance through the promotion of cultural, diplomatic and economic relations. A letter to Nash as Acting Prime Minister suggested diplomatic relations and trade with Russia, and the offer of any surplus goods not needed by Britain or the Commonwealth.63

That sympathetic interest in Russia now extended far beyond the usual dedicated supporters was made clear by the Society’s reception. Early in August 1941, with Smolensk and Kiev still holding out, Wellington’s Town Hall was filled for its first public meeting. The Red Flag was unfurled, the Internationale was played on the grand organ, after the National Anthem, and the meeting sent its greetings and admiration to the people of Russia in their magnificent struggle. A Professor of Education, W. H. Gould, spoke of the need to offset Hitler’s anti-Bolshevik crusade, Percy Paris denied that Russians were godless, claiming rather that they were deeply and incurably religious and were now saying to the so-called religious nations. ‘You show me your faith and I will show you my works’. Scrimgeour said that Russia was Britain’s greatest ally, without whom thousands more New Zealanders might already have been killed or captured. Atmore criticised criticism based on ignorance, and suggested that in the work of the Society, as in other social fields, New Zealand might lead the world.64

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At Christchurch on 20 August the Civic Theatre was so crammed that an overflow meeting was arranged in the adjacent Council Chambers. The Mayor presided over speeches from Atmore, John Roberts, the local union leader who had visited Russia in 1939, and Winston Rhodes,65 a leftist university lecturer. Greetings and admiration were sent to Russia, and the New Zealand government was asked to initiate diplomatic and trade relations.66 On 8 September in Dunedin the new gospel was received by an enthusiastic meeting of about 2000.67

New Zealand was not, however, swept off its feet. At Auckland, an Aid to Russia Committee which sprang up at the end of June was denied access to halls. At the same time the Rationalist Society, which for years had held Sunday evening lectures and discussions in the Strand Theatre, was turned from this meeting place on City Council instructions.68 The decision of the Mayor and town clerk in refusing the Town Hall to the Aid to Russia Committee was dubiously upheld in a Council meeting, the Mayor using his casting vote after a councillor who had spoken for granting it had left early.69 The protests of the groups concerned were reinforced by the New Zealand Freedom Association. Its president, R. M. Algie, said that he found himself identified with people whose views he regularly opposed, but his Association fought consistently for free speech, not only for itself but for anyone prepared to exercise it within the law, as an inalienable British right.70 The Auckland Star, though far from Russophile, also reproved: ‘It would appear that the hall was refused because half the council disapproved of what they believed the speakers intended to say. That can scarcely be defended.’71 On Sunday 24 August, in the Domain, some 3000–4000 people heard Aid to Russia speakers from Labour organisations and the Communist party, plus John A. Lee, speaking in front of the Red Flag, flanked by the Union Jack and the New Zealand Ensign.72 Meanwhile it was decided that the Aid to Russia Committee would again apply for the Town Hall, under the auspices of the more acceptable national Society for Closer Relations with Russia.73 On 4 September, while fighting flared at Leningrad, 3000 Aucklanders met in the Town page 592 Hall. They heard Professor W. A. Sewell74 read Maisky’s thanks for the message from Wellington’s meeting, then point out that while Churchill welcomed Russia as an ally, there were those to whom victory for Bolshevism was worse than victory for Nazism, those who hoped that Germany and Russia would destroy each other, and others who grudgingly accepted Russia’s aid. He himself believed that while Russia lacked democratic traditions, it had organisations and human qualities making for a future with a creative ideal, and he hoped that New Zealand and Russia, despite imperfections on both sides, could help each other towards a better social order. Atmore explained Russia’s course since 1917; Dr Alexander Hodge, a prominent Baptist, and Rev Percy Paris explained that there was much religion in Russia: Roy Stanley,75 unionist and Communist, explained that the purges of 1937 had got rid of the Fifth Column in Russia and urged that the truth about Russia should be spread, that there should be closer trade and diplomatic relations and a definite western front. Contributions for expenses totalled £111.76

Branches of the Society for Closer Relations with Russia were established in many centres, large and small, including places such as Karapiro, Waihi, Seacliff, Gisborne and Te Aroha,77 and some sustained their activity. After the first enthusiasm, meetings were much smaller; they were not rallies, but routine lectures and discussions on various aspects of Russian life.78 By March 1942, in Hastings and its district there were 60 members; on 19 February, 30 people, despite heavy rain, came to a lecture and discussions on the constitution of the USSR, and on 2 March ‘a fair number’ heard the headmaster of Havelock North school speak on education in Russia, while the chairman of the Town Board presided.79 The Society also produced pamphlets: for instance, How the Soviet People Live and Work by Margaret Jordan, a Lancashire mill girl who had spent eight years in Russia during the Thirties. This pamphlet, its 16 pages introduced by ‘Uncle Scrim’, was the third ‘and most informative’ up to mid-October 1941.80

Although the Society for Closer Relations with Russia included a number of respected citizens, besides its more notorious intellectuals and unionists, it was eyed askance by the establishment. For page 593 instance, the Wellington City Council turned down a request by the Thorndon branch to show a Russian film at a theatre on the evening of Sunday 12 October 1941. Councillor W. Appleton81 thought that the Russian film (which none of the Council had seen) was being used for propaganda. The Society could have the hall for lecture purposes, but propaganda was another matter. Though Russia was Britain’s friend today, they had to look further ahead: he was also against the showing of pictures on Sunday. Councillor R. A. Wright82 agreed with him.

What is this society? Who are these people? Russia today is our ally and we are in sympathy with the fight Russia is making, but there is an element in the community that seems to be using the fact that Russia is our ally for other purposes altogether, and they have to be watched very closely…. Let them run the picture in the ordinary way and if it is a good picture people will go to see it. We want to be extremely cautious in what we are doing. We know nothing about the picture and nothing about the people who are running the organisation.

Here the signatories to the letter were named, and Councillor Wright conceded that one, a well known Justice of the Peace, seemed to be all right. Councillor J. D. Sievwright83 objected to pictures on Sunday but said, ‘I am in favour of Russia. Russia has turned over; Russia is capitalistic. They are paying the working man in Russia today according to the quality of his work.’ Councillor R. H. Nimmo’s suggestion of a preview was not taken up, and in the end it was decided that a ‘March of Time’ film could be shown. The voting was 7:7, and the Mayor gave his casting vote for showing it.84 It would take the American invasion to bring New Zealand to any general acceptance of films on Sunday.

The trade unionist Aid to Russia Committee which aroused the free speech issue at Auckland had counterparts in Wellington and a few other places, but John Roberts of Canterbury, who proposed such committees in about 16 districts, was disappointed by the response, save among the miners of the West Coast.85 In November 1941 the Federation of Labour appealed for money to provide an page 594 ambulance in Russia, but contributions were modest: by the end of March 1942 they totalled only £277 2s.86

The Catholic Church’s hostility to the new alliance matched Communist party enthusiasm. Catholic pages had held many attacks on the villainy and duplicity of godless Russia and the fatuity or worse of those insufficiently aware thereof, such as the British government.87 Zealandia, on 3 July 1941, could not allow the ugly facts of past years to be forgotten in Churchill’s flights of rhetoric. The Church agreed with all forms of government and all civil institutions ‘provided that they safeguard the rights of God and the Christian conscience’, but Russia for 24 years had sought to root out religion of every kind and all emotions and traditions in which human hearts had hitherto and everywhere found inspiration; ‘the immense driving energy of the State is used to kill the soul of freedom and make man an animal and a slave.’ The late Holy Father Pius XI had stressed in 1936 that ‘The first peril, the greatest and the most general, is certainly Communism in all its forms.’ Russian people were in fact more to be pitied than damned, because they had endured a terrorism beside which the infamies of Ivan the Terrible paled into insignificance.

If then our political spokesmen have it in mind so to aid Russia in its combat as to place this tyranny firmer in the saddle, then we deserve and shall receive the censure of future generations. To aid Soviet Russia even against our common foe is to invite the curse of God upon ourselves.

To those who say that Germany’s victory over Russia would mean our defeat, we would reply that it is better to go down in honour because of our allegiance to God than to stand victorious in the world after selling ourselves to the devil.88

A further article said: ‘the lies, perfidy and persecution of the Nazis should in no wise blind us to the greater crimes of Bolshevist Russia. … What virtue is to be denied Hitler and bestowed on the bloodthirsty Georgian bandit who loved the Russian peasantry so intensely as to put to death over 800 000 of them and starve by deliberate famine another 3 000 000? How can any wise leader forget these things? How shall we? Why should we?’89

Other pages in the same issue described the wretched lives of Russian women, denied the consolations of religion, the security of permanent marriage, the joy of caring for their own children, ‘forced page 595 to pass their lives in the monotonous grind of a factory where the constant beat, beat, beat of machinery can spell madness to those temperamentally unsuited for it.’ Abortions were common and children were often abandoned to the cold charity of the State, or to the streets, where for crimes such as robbery 12-year-olds met the same punishments, even death, as hardened criminals.90 On 10 July and again on 21 August, Zealandia exposed the ‘loyalty’ of Communists in Britain and New Zealand, which was not to their own country but to the Comintern: those who for two years had opposed and jeopardised the war effort now cried aloud for aid to Russia.

There was strong Catholic disapproval of the Society for Closer Relations with Russia, whose respectable members increased the danger of its propaganda. Behind this sudden cultural enthusiasm, Zealandia perceived the building of a wider communist front, using four sorts of people: Communists, small in number, but in key control; fellow-travellers, usually middle-class intellectuals such as professors, clergymen, politicians and in general people susceptible to public acclaim, who followed directions unquestioningly; ‘stooges’, whose names had publicity value, used as decoys and to tone down extremists; innocents providing, for various misinformed reasons, the mass of support and on whom the other three classes exerted a proselytising influence.91

The New Zealand Tablet was equally critical. On 30 July it allowed that stark realism might demand that the Russian people be afforded all reasonable aid in their fight. That, however, did not make it necessary for politicians or press to whitewash the unspeakable tyranny which had dominated Russia for 24 years, or to ignore the openly professed aims of the godless system that sought to extend its sway over the whole earth. As for the newly formed Society for Closer Relations with Russia, there was nothing in cultural, diplomatic or economic fields to be learned from Russia. ‘Do we need further instruction in the art of State-slavery by studying the Red brand of trade unionism, social security or new education?’ What need was there to know about a system which had an OGPU station in every factory, more political prisoners than in the rest of the world put together, rigid censorship, purges and mass arrests as part of daily life? What had New Zealand to learn from a country which boasted that it was moving from agrarianism to industrialism? ‘One of the most glaring weaknesses of Labour Party politicians in this page 596 country is that they are industrially-minded. They look to Russia for inspiration when they should be looking to Portugal and Eire.’ The Tablet recalled a warning it had given in December 1938: so long as Russia was dominated by a poisonous social system, just so long would the counter-poisons of totalitarianism continue to penetrate further into the world. It concluded:

Today what we need is not a blind acceptance of the stupid idea that all is well with Russia and that her Government is one with which we can and should ally ourselves, but that while being thankful that Hitler’s preoccupation with Russia is giving us a much needed breathing space, we should work and pray for the liberation of the Russian people from the physical degeneration and moral putrefaction which the Red regime had imposed upon them.92

On 6 August the Tablet claimed that British Catholic sources were speaking in the same vein, though the phrases quoted were much milder, and on 27 August 1941, in an article called ‘The Other Foe’, assailed the wave of sentimental propaganda deceiving hundreds of ordinary people whose lack of judgment resulted from their so-called education. The Nazi attack on Russia, while advantageous militarily, had almost unnoticed created a serious new danger to New Zealand: people were being hoodwinked as to the ultimate aims of atheistic Russian communism, which included the overthrow, through accredited agents waiting for the right moment, of the government of the country, replacing it with a government submissive in all things to Moscow. No Catholic could view without uneasiness the facilities being given to such advance guards of Moscow as the Society for Closer Relations with Russia.93

The Rev D. N. H. Gascoigne,94 a leading figure in Roman Catholic education, drew firm distinction between military aid to Russia, which was proper, and any acceptance of Russian materialism. Materialism, denial of the supernatural, was the supreme evil; in its womb was conceived Nazism and Communism and no man could say what other fantastic ‘isms’ it would produce; the mere crushing of one form of it would not help mankind out of the present clogging morass, and it must have no place at the peace tables. Materialism had seeped into education and its infiltration into the minds of page 597 sincere men who would claim to be Christians had been clearly shown during the last few weeks, in the spectacle of men in responsible positions advocating closer relations with the country which more than any other had exiled God and Christianity. Lest it might sound unpatriotic to speak anything against Russia, he firmly linked himself with the unchallengeable Churchill who would unsay no word of 25 years’ opposition to Communism. It was right, however, at the present moment, to expend all energies in crushing the monster, Nazism.95

In reply, W. E. Barnard, supported by several others whose letters were not printed, wrote that without Russian aid the war would probably not be won, and the general gratitude which the mass of New Zealand people was showing towards the Russian people was well deserved. ‘It has nothing to do with materialism; it has much to do with the saving of the lives of thousands of New Zealand boys, and of our country and nation as a whole’; victory, which probably could not be won without the might of Russia, would incidentally save the Catholic Church. This was not a time for criticism, but rather for words of good cheer, which British, if not New Zealand, leaders did not hesitate to give. ‘In common with other members of the Society for Closer Relations with Russia, I take off my hat to the Russian people as they fight for their country—and for ours.’96

Though there was no public government comment on this Catholic criticism, the Director of Publicity on 8 July warned Zealandia that phrases such as ‘bloodthirsty Georgian bandit’ must not be applied to Stalin; and on 4 September he also warned the editor of the New Zealand Tablet.97 Several Labour bodies wrote to the government in protest,98 while the West Coast Trades Council drew the attention of the Federation of Labour to ‘these seditious and subversive press statements’, and called on the government to apply the laws relating to such offences evenly or else repeal such laws altogether, pointing out that other men were serving lengthy prison sentences for saying or printing a great deal less.99

These admonitions by no means silenced official Catholic hostility, but though articles highly critical of Russia continued to appear, their tone was quieter, and there appeared a few statements from page 598 overseas leaders who did not feel that they compromised their Church by accepting the alliance. Thus Zealandia on 18 September gave the views of the Rev Dr John C. Heenan,100 broadcasting to the United States: it was absurd to talk of Christian civilisation as though its fruits could be enjoyed only by practising Christians; already the Allies were pledged to help China, which was not a Christian country. The moral code of Christianity was of universal application; all should work out their own salvation, and as some devils were exorcised by suffering, so it was possible that the sufferings of war would restore to Russia the Christian inheritance once its proud possession. Two months later, the Archbishop of Liverpool101 declared that while opposition to Communism must be rigidly uncompromising, Britain and Russia were fighting to end the terrorism darkening the globe; Russia was its latest victim, and were Nazism to triumph all knew the fate that would befall Christian churches and schools.102

However, there was still strong criticism of Russia and Communism, much of it drawn from overseas publications. For instance, the Tablet on 22 April 1942 quoted Britain’s Catholic Times as accepting the Russian alliance as a political and unpalatable fact and aid to Russia as a military necessity, but regretting the hypocrisy of whitewashing ‘one of the greatest aggressors and bloodiest dictatorships in the world.’ Again, on 13 May 1942, extracts from the London Catholic Herald warned admirers of Bolshevism that they were building a huge concentration camp in which they and their children would be imprisoned, in the service of despotism and the machine. ‘We must be opposed to Bolshevism as it is, because Bolshevism as it is is the crown of the post-Reformation errors, as is also Nazism…. Of course, we pay tribute to the courage of the Russian people and… acknowledge the truth that the Bolshevik ideal is more soundly based than some of us had supposed.’103

New Zealand’s government was fairly circumspect in praise of the Russian resistance. On 6 August 1941, Atmore asked Nash, as Acting Prime Minister, to consider sending from the people of New Zealand a message of good will and hearty congratulations to the people of Russia on the magnificently promising fight that they were making. Such a message would be a ‘timely gesture of recognition’ page 599 of the tremendous value of Russia’s sacrifice of lives and resources in its co-operation in the battle for freedom, co-operation which must save the lives of young men of New Zealand, Britain and the Allies generally, and which was saving Britain from heavier bombing. Nash replied that the government associated itself with the Prime Minister and people of Great Britain in appreciating the magnificent fight being made by the Russian armies and would, on an appropriate occasion, send a suitable message.104

Later in the same session J. A. Lee asked the Prime Minister ‘Whether he considers the time is now appropriate for the House to express to the people of the U.S.S.R. its high appreciation of the valiant struggle which the people of Soviet Russia are making against Fascism.’ Lee added that the House of Commons recently had cheered a reference by Churchill to the Russian resistance. Fraser answered that it was proposed to ask the House by appropriate resolution to express appreciation of the part played by all the Allies, including Russia, ‘the people of which are so heroically facing such tremendous odds.’105

The sending of such a message is not indexed in the Parliamentary Debates, but on 9 July 1942 Sullivan reminded the House that, on the motion of the Prime Minister, a resolution had been adopted and forwarded to the proper quarter, expressing the appreciation of New Zealand at the magnificent achievements and heroism of the Russian people in the mighty struggle for world freedom.106

As the weeks and months passed, besides day-by-day news from the Russian front and comment thereon, newspapers were sprinkled with information about Russia, some of local origin, some from overseas. In general, Russia’s fighting spirit was highly praised, there was guarded approval of some aspects of its regime and re-appraisal of some past misdeeds. Notably, the 1939 pact with Germany, previously so villainous, was now seen as a device to gain much-needed time and as the result of British suspicions and go-slow policy in negotiating a defence agreement; seizures in Poland and the Baltic states were justifiable defence moves.107 Churchmen, led by Dr Lang, page 600 the Archbishop of Canterbury, found a new spirit of religious toleration in hitherto godless Russia, and elements of effective Christianity in Communism.108 Joseph Davies,109 former American Ambassador in Russia, as quoted in an American periodical, declared that the purges and treason trials of 1937–8, which had horrified the world, had in fact removed potential quislings, the present absence of betrayals proving Stalin’s amazing foresight.110 Articles on Russia’s young fighting generals began to appear from overseas sources.111

Notable among the enthusiastic reports and widely published were several by Ralph Ingersoll,112 editor of the New York PM, who had recently visited Russia.113 These described such features as the defence of Moscow; Soviet strategy (giving ground in order to preserve its army and to keep on inflicting casualties); the scorched earth policy; transportation of industry away from war zones; the need for supplies from the Western Allies; Russian morale and discipline (for example, no roads clogged with refugees); some Russian virtues (notably racial tolerance) and Russian limitations, such as ignorance about the rest of the world. The reliability or otherwise of Russian communiques was assessed, and there was an hour-long interview with ‘straightforward’ Stalin. Russia’s deep-rooted distrust of Britain and America was examined, with the conclusion that the Soviet government believed that those countries wanted to defeat Hitler, but only after the Soviet had been destroyed. There were statements which many were glad to hear: ‘There will be a Russian army intact in the field and under present management a year from today.’114 Or, ‘Russia has long since given up the idea of revolutionising the world over night. There is universal scorn in Russia for the recent activities of the American and British Communist parties which, the Russians feel, made asses of themselves for years.’115 Another Ingersoll article explained that Russian society was by no means classless, but privilege was based on ability, with engineers as the new aristocrats, and that the revolution had set free scores of millions for the hundreds page 601 of thousands whose opportunities were curtailed.116 Repeatedly it was stated that the past was past, it was the present and the future that mattered. The resistance of the Russian armies and people was itself a justification: if their system was as objectionable as had been believed, would they fight so hard for it?117 There were also hopes that Russia, purged by suffering and benignly influenced by wartime contact with the democracies, might emerge from the conflict liberalised and mellowed.118

The worth of Russia’s fight was confirmed by statements such as that of New Zealand’s new air chief, Commodore R. V. Goddard, early in December that, with the German air force busy in Russia, British factories could speed up production unhampered, so that Britain’s air force at least equalled and probably exceeded that of Germany considerably earlier than could have been expected but for the fighting in Russia.119 Perhaps the seal of respectability was a cable to Maisky in London that the Dominion Council of the RSA ‘records its profound admiration for the magnificent resistance of our Russian ally to the onslaught of the common enemy, and confidently looks forward with all our Allies to a crowning victory.’120

Despite all the talk of German losses, the Russian retreat was obvious, and New Zealanders drew what comfort they could from remembering Napoleon. When on 21 July 1941 the Germans claimed Smolensk, about 200 miles west of Moscow, the Press said that it must be assumed that the fall of Moscow was on the cards, adding that Moscow had no strategic value, it was only a city in the middle of a great plain; if Russian morale and transport and administration could survive the loss of the capital, ‘the story of 1812 will be repeated in its essentials’. In fact, the lines east of Smolensk held, and during August the main German drive was towards Leningrad, and across the Crimea and Ukraine. Between 20–2 September, New Zealanders read that Kiev was ‘occupied’ or ‘evacuated’ with no immediate mention of several hundred thousand Russians encircled there.121 Early in October the drive on Moscow was resumed. Minhinnick showed punter Hitler proffering a swastika-decked shirt to bookmaker Mars: ‘“Moscow Push” for der page 602 Vin—und I poot der shirt on it’, with ‘Russian winter’ already darkening one corner of the cartoon.122 News of attack and counterattack swayed on through November, while in the south Kharkov was taken late in October and Rostov on 19 November.

On 27 November the New Zealand Herald summarised the moves on Moscow: at the start the German commander von Bock123 had covered 400 miles in a few weeks, then was held for more than two months by Marshal Timoshenko124 around Smolensk in one continuous and bloody battle. On 2 October, Bock drove afresh, gaining another 150 miles, then bogging down still 60 to 100 miles short of Moscow; now he was trying again, but with lessening returns. ‘The miracle in all this has been the maintenance of Russian morale. Surely few armies could have endured so much and still be capable of resistance, and—more than resistance—of fighting back.’ Now that the Russian winter had arrived there might be a comparative pause while reinforcements and supplies were building up, aided by aircraft and tanks and motor vehicles from Britain and America.

Three days later, mounting American–Japanese tension was shouldered from the headlines with news that Rostov, ‘gateway to the Caucasus’, was recaptured. Russia had not waited for the spring, German armies were falling back through the Ukraine, withdrawing from Moscow. From 8 December when war burst into the Pacific with a succession of disasters, the Russian counter-attack, coupled with the British drive across North Africa to reach Benghazi on Christmas Eve, gave comforting balance. On 22 December the Press, while pointing out that in comparison to the huge area overrun by the invasion the territorial gains of the Russians were insignificant, stated that the retreat of German armies along the whole front was ‘the most important recent development in the war situation’, relieving vital areas and restoring unity to the Russian armies. The German High Command, said the Press, had in its over-belated assault on Moscow made its first real blunder in the war.

By the end of January 1942, only the Russian news gave comfort. Rommel had struck back, retaking Benghazi on 28 January, and New Zealanders had to balance Russia’s gains against Japan’s. The page 603 former lost nothing in presentation, so much so that there was criticism of Russia for not tackling Japan as well. The New Zealand Herald said on 9 December that since Britain, at the Soviet’s request, had declared war on Finland, Hungary and Romania, it would be strange indeed if Russia did not repay the obligation. When Litvinoff125 thereafter declared that Russia would concentrate on Germany, the Auckland Star on 18 December thought that being fully engaged with Germany, the fundamental Russian enemy, was probably the decisive reason for Russia’s inactivity in the Pacific, though air and submarine support would be particularly helpful at this time. The Press noted disappointment in Britain and the United States. Russia alone could strike at Japan itself, and with Russian help the democracies could probably bring Japan to its knees in months. But the decision was not unexpected: Russian losses had been appalling, and Britain’s unwillingness to open a second front in Europe must affect Russia’s reaction to suggestions that Japan should be compelled to fight in Siberia.126 The Evening Post thought that Russia might have good military reasons for avoiding a further war and must be the judge of her own ability to fight on two fronts: any New Zealanders who wished for a Russian diversion to save themselves from possible Japanese bombs should remember the bomb-stricken lives of Russians within Hitler’s reach. But a few days later, as Japan’s attack widened, the Post reflected hopefully on Japanese vulnerability, and the chance of further surprises.127 The Otago Daily Times considered the Soviet’s refusal of new commitments, because of traditional suspicion of the West and recent preoccupation with Germany, to be shortsighted in the strategic sense. It thought that in time Russia would be persuaded to recognise this; meanwhile it should be remembered that so far Russia was fighting not in a disinterested cause, but in its own defence.128

Previously, only workers and leftists had looked to Russia as a model. Now Churchill, warning against disunity after Singapore, pointed to Russia which in dire straits had kept its unity, kept its leaders and struck back. He was echoed by the Evening Post—‘In the one country, Russia, where he found no quislings or defeatists, Hitler has been beaten back.’129 An article likened Stalin’s order to attack, when the Germans were battering at the gates of Moscow, page 604 to Foch at the Marne;130 Fraser said that the Russians’ tenacious and indomitable fight was a stimulus to all.

Over-confidence in the strength of Russia probably reached its extreme expression in the Evening Post on 28 February: ‘The only war front on which the Allies can look with any satisfaction is also the only front whose results could liquidate Hitlerism within the limits of the present year… on the Russian front the European war could be won outright between now and December.’ The Auckland on 5 March was more realistic. Soviet forces had shown a ‘recuperative ability and a fighting spirit which compel a wondering admiration’, but though they had had the initiative for many weeks Kharkov, Kursk, Smolensk and Novgorod were still in enemy hands, Leningrad was still besieged. The Press a month later summed up the winter’s achievements: the Russians had kept the Germans fully extended, and had made deep salients in the front, which meant that the Germans also held forward strong points. The magnification in the public mind of Russian gains, and the widespread impression that the Germans were on the run, were in part wishful thinking, but some news reports, notably by the BBC had been over-emphatic, including recent talk of imaginary pincer movements and cities about to fall. In plain fact, while the Russians had greatly improved their December positions, every advance had been costly and at no stage had German withdrawal hinted at a rout. The Russian inability to take Rzhev, Orel, Kharkov and Taganrog, all of whose impending fall had been constantly suggested for the last two months, showed clearly that they had not enough men or material to attempt more than slow attrition.131

April 1942 passed with reports of hard fighting for at best small gains, the Germans still holding the key positions, Smolensk, Kharkov and most of the Crimea, springboards for the offensive that was already rumbling. Early in May, as the expected thrust began, the New Zealand Herald sang its last panegyric over the winter campaign: the phrase ‘Russia’s glory’ was not Churchillian extravagance but a title justly conferred and honourably earned, that would never wither or grow old. From 22 June till December, the raw Red Army had withstood the assault of the mightiest military machine and given ground, given hundreds of miles, but kept cohesion, kept its lines unbroken. The first electric sign of its swift recuperation was on 28 November when Timoshenko’s columns recaptured Rostov, lost a week earlier. There, German troops for the first time since page 605 1918 were forced into disorderly retreat; and on 7 December, in the approaches to Moscow, they gave up the vast battle begun two months earlier. The push continued, slowly; the German line was twisted and in places bitten into for as much as 150 miles. The Germans had been repulsed on the grand scale, with losses that would contribute much to their final undoing. ‘Let that proud Russian record be remembered in the great trial of strength now impending. It is an assurance and a guarantee. It is Russia’s glory.’132

Now in the black summer of 1942, the Russians were forced back from the Kharkov approaches, from the Kerch peninsula, from the Don bend; gallant Sevastopol fell at the end of June, Rostov on 28 July, opening the way to the Caucasus, and the Germans pressed on to Stalingrad. Rommel drove the 8th Army back into Egypt, British losses there and in Singapore precluding the second front urgently requested by Russia. In the Pacific there was no good news until the Coral Sea and Midway battles of May and June. Amid these disasters, on 12 June the signing of a 20-year Anglo– Russian Alliance was announced, renewing pledges against a separate peace, promising co-operation after the war, and claiming ‘full understanding’ on the urgent task of creating a second front in Europe in 1942.133 Leading papers welcomed the treaty mainly as a sign of improvement in Allied relations with Russia, which they noted had been cooler in recent months with complaints of idle armies on one hand, and of secretiveness on the other. If Russian impatience for a second front had eased, clamour in Britain and New Zealand for hasty Anglo–American intervention was unnecessary. Post-war cooperation, though an admirable intention, was far away and beset with difficulties. What mattered were the short-term aspects of the treaty: good understanding between fighting allies.134

On 22 June, with the Russian war a year old, the New Zealand Herald wrote:

The United Nations salute Russia today with admiration and gratitude for the magnificent fight the Soviet has made against the main Axis forces for 12 months past. It is not too much to say that the dour defence of the Red Armies last summer and page 606 autumn, and their counter-offensive sustained all through the rigours of winter on the steppes, saved the Allied cause.

Recalling the outlines of the war, the Herald praised Timoshenko and the triumph of Russian morale, and continued:

M. Stalin personifies that morale. He is the Joffre or Haig135 of this war, imperturbable, unshaken by retreat and seeming disaster, a man of cool brain and iron nerve…. All the world owes the Russian soldiers and workers a great debt…. Somehow that debt must be paid and it must be paid now…. The Allies… have undertaken to open a second front in Europe this year. The hope and prayer is that they will be able to move in time and in sufficient force.

The other main dailies did not produce such salutations on this anniversary, but in Auckland, Wellington and Dunedin the Society for Closer Relations with Russia held well supported and well reported public rallies, those on the platforms including Labour members, representatives of churches and of unions, and Communist party members.

The need for a second front before Russia was crushed out of the battle continued, as the summer campaign mounted, to be anxiously considered by papers, such as the Evening Star on 24 June: ‘Can we do more to help the Russians? Dare we let them struggle much longer without affording the untold relief… {of} a second front in Europe?’ Always there was awareness that the second front must be sound, there could be no more Norways or Dunkirks, but too much delay could be fatal. ‘The possibility that the Soviet forces, so stubbornly enduring, will yet wear the Germans down, remains, but there is now less ground for hoping for it’, wrote the Auckland Star on 15 July. The desirability of a second front had never been doubted, the Allies were committed to it. ‘It is a question of when and where. The need for it now is extreme. Will the United Nations make the attempt? They have to weigh its cost, under present conditions, against the cost of the indefinitely long war which would probably be the consequence of a German victory over Russia.’ Ten days later the Star stated that the situation in Russia had deteriorated ‘in a shocking degree’, and again on 27 and 31 July urged strongly that unless Russia were soon relieved the war must last much longer. Meanwhile the Press, discussing various attitudes towards a second front, quoted an apposite and deadly Chinese newspaper comment: ‘There’s plenty of noise on the staircase but nobody comes down’, and warned that if events did not soon dispel the present bewilderment of the Allied page 607 peoples, they would face a major crisis in morale.136 The New Zealand Herald on 23 July said that there was too much talk about limitless Russian manpower and resources. German advances were depriving Russia of food, of industry, and were threatening oil. ‘The Allies may not be fully ready, they may have to risk paying a high price, but some substantial attempt should be made to divert a considerable part of the deadly Axis concentration at present directed against Russia…. They must throw everything they can muster into the balance to prevent it tipping further.’ A week later, the Herald described ‘Russia at Bay’ with a warmth that a year earlier could have come only from a communist pen. It recalled the response to Stalin’s broadcast of 3 July 1941,137 which response confounded the expectations of those who thought that the terrible rigours of the Soviet experiment, the miseries attendant on collectivisation, the ruthless purges of the Red Army and the Communist party, would cause the regime to dissolve under invasion. The Russians had rallied to their leader; the upsurge of national spirit, inspired by the passionate belief of a new generation in their revolutionary experiment, had been proof against terrible losses and retreats, even those caused by the blunders of Russian generals. Traditionally, the humble folk of Russia had always fought invaders with almost religious fervour. Now ruler and people appeared identified. In spite of their past hatred of collectivisation the peasants gave no help to Hitler, though they left most of the earth-scorching to the Army. The Red Army had fought a dogged retreat—its men were the best rear-guard fighters in the world—and in their extremity they expected help from the West. There would be heavy hearts in the Red Army if the difficulties of a second front in 1942 proved insuperable. Keeping Hitler from the Caucasus would keep him from the Persian Gulf and prevent the Middle East, bridgeway between two continents, from falling to the enemy of civilisation.138

The experimental Dieppe raid of 19 August 1942, though its failure was minimised at the time, lessened the calls for a second front. The Germans drove on. Headlines on 12 August said that Maikop oilfield was a blazing inferno; Baku was threatened, Stalingrad was expected to fall. In Stalingrad, explained the New Zealand page 608 Herald on 28 August, political, moral and industrial forces were combined in a symbol which the indomitable spirit of Russia was fighting passionately to uphold. A fortnight later the Herald, looking forward eagerly to the respite of winter, said that it was now too late for a major offensive against Moscow or against Baku, while Rommel in the desert had probably been short of reinforcements because of heavy demands by von Bock; ‘For all this, the Allies have to thank the dour defenders of Stalingrad.’139 Stalingrad news became the first that very many New Zealanders looked at when they opened their newspapers. Fighting in the streets was reported about 21 September, with comment from New York that one of the war’s great climaxes was ending, that Stalingrad’s fall would be as important and as dismal a milestone as the fall of France.140 But a month later, headlines were proclaiming, ‘Stalingrad Still Stands’. The closer the Germans approached the city, the tougher became the resistance of the Russian army and workers, wrote the Auckland Star: their spirit and their sacrifice in this war’s ‘Verdun’ had so far enabled the city to stand, despite the German’s overwhelming superiority in aircraft and tanks that should have enabled them to drive into the city by sheer weight of equipment. In the greatest battle of the war to date the Russians had confounded German expectations of a decisive victory; Russia’s heavy losses, however, would mean that ‘the brunt of the fighting must in future be borne by Britain and the United States’.141

Apart from cable news and comment, which was plentiful and which stressed that Russians were inspired by deep rooted patriotism, much older than Communism, overseas articles appeared on various aspects of Russian life, such as one from a Daily Herald correspondent that included a sympathetic portrayal of Red Army commissars. Puzzled Englishmen, amid tales of Russian heroism, were asking if these stories were mere propaganda, or, if true, were Russians ordinary people, or mechanical supermen or slaves, careless of death because of an anthill discipline that regulated every reaction? The answer given was that, despite a few bad patches as in all armies, the general level of courage was amazingly high. Russians were the most human of human beings, full of vitality and candour and loving a joke, but like Oliver Cromwell’s Ironsides, they knew what they fought for and loved what they knew. ‘And if they don’t page 609 it is the fault of the Army Political Department and there is likely to be a devil of a row about it.’ Army commissars in all ranks, part chaplains, part welfare officers, part pep-talk men, who went over the top with the rest, could inspire waverers to become heroes, not insensible to danger but in Plato’s sense of knowing when and when not to be afraid. This was in curious contrast to the haphazard system of pep-boosting in the British Army but was by no means alien to British long-term tradition and character.142

Other articles, such as one from the The Times quoted by the Press on 23 December 1942, said also that Red Army soldiers fought with greater spirit because they knew of the great material progress their country had made in the last 15 years. Such references are merely indicative of the mass of information and misinformation on Russia passed about in print and conversation, making it easy for many willing New Zealanders to think that a valuable ally in a tight place was less black than formerly painted.

In this climate, it was not surprising that in 1942 Russia’s national day, 7 November, was saluted in various ways. There were editorials in many newspapers, Russian flags were flown on public buildings along with the New Zealand Ensign, and some even appeared on business premises.143 Auckland’s Mayor presided over a meeting of 2000 called by the Society for Closer Relations with Russia, with speakers from all the political parties.144 In Wellington, at a governmental morning tea attended by consuls, legislators, civic and military leaders, the Prime Minister expressed New Zealand’s high appreciation of the tremendous sacrifices and fighting spirit of the USSR, with special mention of grim determination and desperate valour shown at Stalingrad. He added that from his own knowledge of Churchill and Roosevelt he was certain of their strong determination to strike in support of Russia. He announced that £25,000 from New Zealand’s patriotic funds was going to Russia for medical assistance.145

From 23 October Alamein and Rommel’s retreat, plus United States troops landing in North Africa on 9 November, captured the headlines, but a few weeks later came the astounding news that the Russians had again turned from defence to attack, both north-west and south-west of Stalingrad, and that the Germans were retreating ‘helter-skelter’. On 26 November newspapers told that the Red Army was within sight of the greatest victory of the war: Stalingrad had been relieved after three months’ siege, and Russian pincers, more page 610
In his broadcast, Mr. Churchill revealed that when he was leaving the Kremlin in August he promised to send M. Stalin a telegram when he had decisively defeated Rommel in Egypt. M. Stalin promised to send him a telegram when the Russians had made their counter-offensive. Both these messages had been sent and thankfully received.

reply paid

than 100 miles west of the city, were closing in on about 300 000 Germans. On 1 December, Minhinnick showed the exchange of happy news: a beaming Stalin held a telegram, ‘Pommelled Rommel. Winston’, while a beaming Churchill held another, ‘Socked Bock. Joe’.146

By Christmas, the Russians were attacking from north of Moscow to the Caucasus, the Eighth Army was again in Benghazi, the Japanese were effectively crushed in Guadalcanal, and in New Zealand fire-watching was ended. A buoyant, confident spirit was abroad in the crowds, commented the New Zealand Herald on 26 December, in marked contrast to the atmosphere of last Christmas. Newspapers, in end-of-the-year summaries and forecasts, gave their highest tributes to Russia. Thus the Press on 31 December 1942:

… it is safe to say that public opinion has been cheered and inspired by nothing else as it has been by the long, resourceful, obdurate resistance at Stalingrad… and by the series of counter-offensives which now threaten [the enemy]… with immense losses and, perhaps, irreparable defeat…. The time for the United Nations to strike home has come.

As Russian advances continued early in 1943, editors and others began to look afresh at the problems inherent in post-war collaboration with Russia. At a large meeting called by the Society for page 611 Closer Relations with Russia in Christchurch, W. E. Barnard said, ‘It is not enough to treat the Soviet Union as a good, brave and faithful ally in time of war, to be dropped in peace. It must become a permanent friend of the British Empire.’147 But, as the New Zealand Herald explained on 5 February, despite the 20-year treaty and assurances by statesmen that in the post-war world collaboration with Russia would be essential, there were in the British Empire and the United States people who feared the consequences of Russian victory in Europe, and there were Russians who feared that some interests among the Allies hoped for a permanent weakening of both Germany and Russia. Misunderstandings with Russia were not new, but Germany could be held in check only by military alliance: failure to achieve this in 1939 had led to the attack on Poland. Good relations depended on an understanding, free from bias, of Russian problems and achievements. ‘An eventual Russian invasion of Germany may have certain undesirable consequences’, but both Britain and Russia were mainly concerned to prevent any future attack by Germany on the peace of the world. There would, however, be difficulties over Poland, the Baltic states and Soviet influence in the Balkans, which would require the Allies to consult fully with Russia and Russia to abandon suspicion of the West.

This from the Herald, which had been the most warmly pro-Russian daily paper for eighteen months, indicated that the old-established cracks were waiting to re-open. The 25th anniversary of the Red Army’s foundation (23 February 1943) was marked on Sunday 21 February by mayor-presided meetings of the Society for Closer Relations with Russia and by a broadcast from the Prime Minister. This blended the now familiar tributes to dauntless Russians with references to Britain as the rock fortress after Dunkirk, and to New Zealanders in Greece, Crete, Libya and Tripoli, concluding with phrases on post-war friendship and a peace settlement worthy of all who fought for it.148

In March–May 1943 hard fighting in Tunisia competed with the Russian theatre where, as in the spring of 1942, the Russian drive waned before heightened German pressure. Kharkov, lately repossessed, was lost again by 16 March and there was renewed protest from Moscow on the absence of a second front. The Russians, said the New Zealand Herald on 12 March, argued not unreasonably that, ‘the latest German counter stroke could not have been made if the Allies had been actively engaging the enemy in the west.’ A few days later, this paper also remarked that the demand within the page 612 British Empire for a second front varied with the fortunes of war on the steppes: Russia’s difficulties had to be patent and present to produce sympathetic reaction; ‘only when the danger is clearly marked on military maps does the demand for a second front go up.’149 The Auckland Star also, having pointed out that Axis forces were vastly larger in Russia than in Africa, said that the latest developments again emphasised the great need to relieve Russia by diverting part of those forces.150

On the other hand, optimistic if vague hopes that the war might be over before very long awakened old anxieties about Poland. It was said not infrequently that things would be very bad after the war unless real understanding with Russia were reached under the binding pressure of a common enemy; and there were warnings against the Allies being diverted into quarrelling while Hitler was undefeated. America’s Vice-President was reported on 9 March 1943 as saying that a third world war appeared to be inevitable unless the Western democracies and Russia reached a satisfactory understanding before the present conflict ended. The Evening Post, commenting on this, urged that there should be no diversion from the war itself: everywhere the friends of Nazism hoped for the breakup of the Anglo–American–Russian confederacy: Russia’s accusation that the Western Allies did not do enough to take off the weight of German attack, and their retort that the Russian press did not sufficiently acknowledge Allied material help, stood ready-made for manipulation by Axis mischief-makers.151 The Evening Star also deplored premature American concern over attitudes that Russia might take at the peace tables, plus fears that Britain might concede the Baltic states and Bessarabia to Russia. The Evening Star held that if Russia insisted on control of these territories neither Britain nor America could prevent it, so that the question was, in essence, academic. ‘The Allies have enough troubles to go on with without making new ones now…. There has been too much mutual distrust in the past.’152

Russian–Polish distrust, from various causes, was simmering early in 1943, but it was brought to an overflow boil in April by Goebbels’s revelation of mass graves in the Katyn forest near Smolensk allegedly of thousands of Polish officers taken prisoner by the Russians in September 1939. They had been retained in camps when the ordinary Polish soldiers were freed, and had since disappeared. page 613 Russia refused proposals to have these graves, in German-held territory, investigated by the Red Cross, and relations between Russia and the Polish government in London were broken off. Pro-Russians and others could see Goebbels trying to split the Allies, while Moscow, dismissing the charges as fabrication by the hangmen of Berlin, at no time gave fully satisfactory explanations.153

New Zealand newspapers looked at both sides but were mainly concerned that the breach should be closed; dissension must not weaken the Allied war effort, or complicate post-war problems. The New Zealand Herald said that the source of the allegations was tainted and the breach must at all costs be healed; the process would call for wisdom all round, plus moderation from the Poles and patience and understanding from Russia, which must remember that the rights of small countries were among the first things for which the war was being fought.154 The Press held that it was futile to defer tackling Russo–Polish problems till the war had been won; the spirit of wartime collaboration could make easier solutions essential to an equitable conclusion of the war.155

Fears that Russia would ride rough-shod over Poland were to persist, darkening with the abortive Warsaw rising in August 1944,156 darkening still more after the falling-away from agreement at Yalta early in 1945.157 At the world’s end New Zealand papers from time to time pleaded for reason, wisdom and dexterity in the war’s leaders. Meanwhile, Western relations with Russia were eased when on 22 May 1943 the Communist International, with its target of world revolution, dissolved itself as out of date; a dissolution that Roosevelt and Churchill had wanted, which Stalin now called timely and which the West welcomed as evidence of Russian good will.

Early in July 1943 the Germans launched their summer offensive where it was expected, in the Kursk salient north of Kharkov. It failed, and within a few days the Russians were moving west, taking Orel, Belgorod, Kharkov, Taganrog, the Donbas area and Smolensk page 614 before the end of September. On 10 July the Allies landed in Sicily, and on 3 September were to invade Italy. These Mediterranean moves captured the news columns, but the New Zealand Herald on 21 July reminded that:

Successes in Italy should not be allowed to obscure the fact that a far weightier contest is proceeding in Russia…. This summer for the first time the Russian pack has been able to hold the German forwards. More than that, it is now pushing them back over their own line.

In mid-August the Herald, without referring to Polish problems but remarking Russia’s absence from the current Quebec conference, said that it had been clear for some time that the Soviet and the democracies were not working in full accord. The main cause of this coolness was the latter’s failure to open a substantial second front, for which the military case was undeniable. The Russians could hardly be blamed for thinking that their allies should do more, but Britain and America would not withhold their fire a moment longer than necessary. Churchill had said that it was always difficult for the elephant to understand the manoeuvres of the whale: the Soviet did not sufficiently realise the huge expenditure of power in the never-ending battle of the Atlantic, did not sufficiently acknowledge the mighty in-flow of Anglo–American material, and undervalued bombing attacks on Europe. Further, while requiring the democracies to declare war on all its enemies, Russia persisted in neutrality with Japan, though if American bombers could work from its eastern territories they could soon crush Japan’s flimsy cities. ‘In fact’, concluded Russia’s New Zealand champion, ‘the Russians have at least as much need to show understanding as the democracies.’ These had made ‘the fullest and frankest disclosures of their plans to their great fighting ally; are they not entitled in return to the removal of Russian secretiveness and suspicion?’158 At the same time the Otago Daily Times claimed that the Russians, although ‘in their present mood of sacrificial exaltation’ they might not recognise it, had been greatly helped by the Allies, not only with material but by the German fear of impending invasion which ‘must have been a potent and perhaps the predominant force in hastening the German withdrawals.’159

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A few days before the foreign ministers of the three powers at last met together in Moscow in October 1943, the Auckland Star discussed the conflict presented by Russian affairs. It praised the glowing achievements of the Soviet armies, won at colossal cost; the Russians were fighting for themselves, but the direct consequence of their struggle was that Britain and the United States had gained priceless time in which to bring their forces to bear. They would be ‘churlishly unimaginative if they did not feel a lively sense of gratitude’, and a marked change had come into people’s feeling: they wanted to believe, as before they had not, that the barriers which divided them from the Russian people were not substantial, that they had been broken down, and that the way was clear for full scale collaboration in peace. It was therefore chilling that Pravda had dismissed as ‘absurd assumptions of chatterboxes’ suggestions that Russia’s frontiers and the future of the Baltic states would be discussed at the forthcoming conference. Clearly the Soviet meant to have complete freedom of action in eastern Europe, rejecting the principles of self-determination on which post-war collaboration with Britain and America would have to be based. The Russians had evidently made up their minds against collaboration that was not on their own terms.160

At about the same time, the New Zealand Herald again set out the roots of difference. ‘Marshal Stalin keeps informing the democracies that, if they are to work together in the future, they must fight together in the present.’ The demand for a second front powerful enough to divert 60 German divisions from Russia was kept in the forefront by the Soviet, which grudged all force spent against Japan, did not appreciate the cost and necessity of the Atlantic battle and gave only modest value to the bombing and Mediterranean campaigns. Exasperation at the stubbornness and blindness of this continental outlook would be eased if the losses suffered by the Soviet over 28 months were realised. Britain and America understandably wished to avoid the blood-baths of a 1914–18 onslaught, preferring to expend money and machines. Russia, having no choice, had to spend men as well as material—spend them ruinously.

Until the democracies prove their willingness to take up a larger share of the land battle, Russian suspicion will remain—the cruel and, as we know, unworthy suspicion that she is being left to exhaust herself while the Anglo–Saxons conserve their strength against the peace conference…. The Russians argue that if they … are left to win the war they cannot be debarred from framing the peace … to guarantee their security in single-handed defence. page 616 The logic of this argument from the Russian viewpoint cannot be gainsaid, even if it leaves out so much that is militarily and politically relevant.

The Herald hoped that Eden161 and Hull had brought the necessary assurances to Moscow.162

The conferences, firstly of foreign ministers in Moscow in October 1943, then of the Big Three leaders at Teheran a month later, appeared reassuring. There was much cordiality; collaboration was to be improved by consultative councils, strategy to be co-ordinated and, most important for the public, it was stated from Teheran: ‘We reached complete agreement as to the scope and timing of operations that will be undertaken from the east, from the west and from the south.’163 Polish problems apparently were shelved. It was made known that relations between the USSR and the Polish government in London had been resumed a little earlier, but there was no public statement on Poland, and though in fact an agreement of sorts was reached on the approximate future frontiers of Poland, the question of Polish government was not tackled. There was in New Zealand general satisfaction that co-operation extending into peacetime was promised, but it was realised that agreement so far was only on broad principles and would have to face the trials of practical application. ‘The foundation has been laid. The structure must now be erected’, said the New Zealand Herald on 7 December. Many would think that there should have been more specific declarations on political questions, for if military victory was guaranteed, the more reason to draft the shape of the peace. ‘Instead the world is put off with fine sounding generalities. Principles are stated but not their application.’

The Press, on 3 November, noted that after the enemy’s unconditional surrender, until a ‘system of general security’ to embrace ‘all peace-loving States’ could be established, the Allies promised to consult with a view to joint action, and to use their military forces only for organising international peace and security and only after joint consultation, but not necessarily agreement. While approving the heightened collaboration, the Press saw that the old problem of sovereign rights, with a nation’s claim finally to judge what these demand and warrant, was raised by the very formula designed to solve it. After Teheran, this paper held that Russia’s absence from page 617 Cairo a few days earlier, where Britain, the United States and China had planned for the Pacific, showed that Russia did not intend to enter the war against Japan, but it must be supposed that Russia at Teheran was in agreement with Cairo discussions. Teheran therefore promised ‘total settlement, after total victory’.164

Russia’s national day in 1943 was not celebrated with medical funds or State morning tea, but a government message was sent to Moscow of heartfelt admiration for the high courage and military skill of the USSR, of pride in sharing this victory of free men, and of belief that wartime unity must be extended and confirmed in peace. Nash, as Deputy Prime Minister, also made a warm statement about inspired people and leaders, who out of unparalleled hardship turned what seemed certain defeat into certain victory; the great example of Russia’s working people, who, on short commons, gave their intelligence, muscles and spirit to save that which they prized, had special mention, with hopes that New Zealand would do likewise in the difficult days of transition to peace.165 At Auckland, the Trades Council held a rally in the Town Hall that raised £1, 100 to buy sheepskins for Red Army winter clothing. Sir Ernest Davis, who had already contributed 250 skins from his own farm, hoping to encourage other sheepfarmers, gave £100. King Koroki166 gave £50, as did the Auckland Communist party and Waihi’s Society for Closer Relations with Russia. Several Auckland trade unions each gave £25.167

At Christchurch a public meeting in Sydenham Park, with trade unionist John Roberts of the Society for Closer Relations with Russia presiding, collected £27 and recorded its belief that the Soviet people, who had marched from the bondage and misery of Tsarism to the freedom and happiness of socialism, must after the war take the lead in building a world where neither bondage nor war would have a place.168

With guilt about the second front eased by the Teheran declaration and finally assuaged by the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, the newspapers continued to comment on Russian advances and strategy, and occasionally to worry about Russia’s attitude towards self-determination, the Balkan states and Poland. In mid-February Stalin soothed some uneasiness by saying that Russia had no intention of expanding into central or western Europe but that page 618 its strategic needs required territorial and political readjustments in eastern Europe, on which it would insist. He spoke of readiness to come to terms with Mikolajczyk’s169 Polish government and to hand over administration of Polish territories west of the Curzon Line as soon as they were free of the enemy.170

This was warmly greeted by the Evening Post. The ‘Bolshevik bogey’ invading western Europe, flaunted by Hitler and his henchmen, had no substance. Events of the last dozen years, which could now be viewed in some historical perspective, confirmed that Stalin and most present-day Russians were realists. They did not, like Trotsky,171 desire to impose the Russian system ‘willy-nilly on the rest of the world’, but sought an independent Russia taking its proper place. The need for military defence, the first essential of such a policy, explained territorial adjustments secured in anticipation of Hitler’s invasion. Readiness to come to terms with Mikolajczyk’s government and to hand over liberated territory at least indicated willingness to discuss the problem amicably. ‘Stalin’s “sense of realities” should not preclude a settlement satisfactory to both nations.’ Independence recently granted to the Soviet’s 16 republics, enabling them to have their own army formations and to deal directly with foreign powers,172 was seen by the Post as reflecting Stalin’s perception that spiritual unity, the distinctive feature of the British Commonwealth, was more enduring than political unity imposed by force. Other papers were silent on this occasion but the Post’s hopefulness exemplified the anxiety, albeit fitful, of many New Zealanders to believe that Russia would prove an ally not only strong in battle but reasonable in victory.

As during the past two years a sprinkling of articles, mainly originating overseas, told of Soviet effort—for example, how half-starved workers at Leningrad held on and won173— and of Soviet leaders, several glorifying Stalin.174 There were a few articles and speeches regretting world publicity given to reports of coolness and suspicion page 619 between Russia and the Western Allies. For instance, in May, Frank Milner,175 Rector of Waitaki Boys’ High School, speaking of the necessity for post-war friendship with Russia, disapproved of some recent American utterances: such phrases as ‘the Russians are not playing the game’ did not help international relations and he was surprised at a great paper like the New York Times printing ‘such piffle’. He reminded that German propaganda was trying to drive a wedge between Russia and the West.176 There were also reminders, giving the numbers of tanks, trucks, aircraft, etc, of the British and United States aid that had helped Russia’s advances. Sidney Holland spoke in these terms during April,177 and Churchill’s account of Imperial aid, reported on 12 May, stimulated reports and comments on both British and American aid.

Meanwhile the deep ground swell against Communism as such persisted, expressed for instance in Straight Furrow: ‘Let us remember that the stubborn resistance of the Russians no more justifies Communism than the stupendous assault of the Germans justifies Nazism’.178

In the event, on 13 April 1944 it was announced that New Zealand was to exchange a ministerial representative with Russia, being the last of the British Dominions and the last of Russia’s allies to make this move.179 Behind the announcement lay nearly three years of diplomatic manoeuvring, official delays and minor public interest.180 On 22 April the name of the new minister to Moscow was announced, C. W. Boswell, the 58-year-old former schoolteacher and Labour member of Parliament for the Bay of Islands from 1938–43. It was claimed that he was well fitted to express New Zealand’s feelings of good will towards the government of the USSR and to discuss social and economic subjects, with special interest in educational and cultural matters.181 The appointment was greeted with some scepticism182 and there was a flurry of interest over the proposed scale of furnishings proposed for the legation building—seen by Sidney Holland as ‘such a wicked waste of public money’.183

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The mission in Moscow operated until 1950 when it was discontinued. Boswell, the first minister, reported fully on his impressions of Moscow and the aspects of Russian life in which as a longstanding Labour party member he had a special interest.184 Efforts to initiate trade, particularly in primary products, were frustrated largely because the little surplus from what was committed to the United Kingdom was allocated through the International Emergency Food Council to a group of countries that did not include Russia.185 Although, both in the House186 and out of it,187 there were complaints that Boswell sent no useful information and served no worthwhile purpose, he in fact reported copiously on the Russian scene; the Prime Minister, however, did not publicise his comments. It is for a future diplomatic historian to assess the long-term significance to New Zealand of this first, war-inspired, mission to Moscow.

1 Eade, Charles, The Unrelenting Struggle, p. 102

2 Southland Times, 12 Apr, 11 Jun 41; NZ Herald, 15, 17 Apr, 10 May, 11, 13, 16 Jun 41, pp. 7, 9, 9, 7, 8, editorial; Press, 17 Apr, 4, 16 Jun 41, pp. 7, 6, editorial; Dominion, 10 Mar, 15 Apr, 12 May, 16, 17 Jun 41, pp. 7, editorial, 7, 7, 6 & 9; Otago Daily Times, 31 May, 4, 14, 16, 17, 19, 21 Jun 41, pp. 9, editorial, 9, 4, 5, 7, 9; Auckland Star, 14, 16 Jun 41, pp. 7, 6; Evening Post, 12, 16 Jun 41, pp. 8, 7

3 The greater part of the Russian air force was wiped out in the first few days; the Russians lost thousands of tanks; hundreds of thousands of, perhaps as many as a million, Russian soldiers were taken prisoner in a series of spectacular encirclements during the first fortnight, and by the second week of July some German generals thought the war as good as won. Werth, Alexander, Russia at War 1941–1945, p. 137

4 Gunther, John (1901–70): writer, journalist, war correspondent; b USA; war correspondent London 1941; with General Eisenhower’s HQ, to British Eighth Army and invasion of Sicily 1943

5 NZ Herald, 23 Jun 41

6 Hess, Rudolph (1894–): Deputy Leader of the Nazi Party 1933–41; flew Scotland 1941, interned, sentenced life imprisonment for war crimes 1946

7 Evening Post, 23 Jun 41, p. 7

8 NZ Herald, 24 Jun 41, p. 7

9 Auckland Star, 24 Jun 41

10 Menzies, Rt Hon Sir Robert, Kt(’63), PC(’57), CH(’51) (1894–1978): member Aust HoR 1934–66, PM 1939–41, 1949–66, Min External Aff 1960–1

11 Fraser, in England at the time, said that within two minutes of Churchill’s broadcast he cabled his government, asking it to endorse this policy, and in a few hours received a pledge of full support. NZ Herald, 27 Jun 41, p. 8

12 Auckland Star, 25 Jun 41

13 WHN, ‘Censorship of the Press’, chap V, p. 1, quoting SSDA to UKHC, 16 Jun 41, D14

14 Evening Post, 25, 28 Jun 41, pp. 7, 9

15 Dalton, Edward Hugh John Neale, Baron Dalton (’60), Forest and Frith, Co. Paletine of Durham (1887–1962): barrister, economist, Cabinet Minister, author; MP (Lab) 1924–31, 1935–59; barrister, war service, university posts in economics 1914–31; chmn National Exec Lab party 1936–7; Min Economic Warfare 1940–2, Pres Bd Trade 1942–5, other ministerial posts to 1950s

16 Evening Post, 30 Jun 41, p. 7

17 For example: On the morning of Monday 23 June 1941 in the Railway Department a fellow-clerk asked the author ‘What do you think of the news?’ Thinking it quite trite and obvious that having anyone else in the fight on our side was a gain, I said that it seemed the best for months. He replied ‘It’s terrible! I’d rather go to prison than fight with them. They’re not Christians.’

18 Press, 28 Jun 41

19 Evening Post, 14 Jul 41, p. 8

20 NZ Herald, 15 Jul 41

21 Press, 15 Jul 41

22 Evening Post, 14 Jul 41

23 Auckland Star, 14 Jul 41

24 Ibid., 21 Jul 41, p. 8

25 Auckland Star, 2 Aug 41

26 Press, 4 Aug 41

27 Curnow, Thomas Allan Munro (1911–): poet, university lecturer, playwright, literary journalist

28 Press, 9 Aug 41, p. 8

29 Quoted by Evening Post, 23 Aug 41, p. 9

30 NZ Herald, 5 Sep 41

31 Maisky, Ivan Michaelovich (1884–1975): diplomatic service London 1925–7, Tokyo 1927–9, Finland 1929–32; Amb Britain 1932–43; Asst Commissar Foreign Aff 1943–6

32 Nicolson, p. 188: ‘I go to see Maisky at the Soviet Embassy…. He is worried at our inability to help. We have sent thirty-six aeroplanes and pilots. What is that? In July Stalin wrote to Churchill asking for a diversion in France. In September he wrote again saying that if we did not draw off some of the German divisions, Russia would be in a bad way. He begged us to give him 25 to 30 divisions either at Murmansk or in Caucasus. We had refused. We were now reconsidering our refusal.’

33 Auckland Star, 20 Sep 41

34 Press, 17 Sep 41, p. 7; NZ Herald, 12 Nov 41, p. 9; Dominion, 26 Nov 41, p. 5 (photo)

35 Press, 21 Jul 41, p. 6

36 Ibid., 22 Jul 41, p. 7

37 Truth, 23 Jul 41, p. 1

38 Moore-Brabazon, John Theodore Cuthbert, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara (’42), of Sandwich, PC, GBE, MC (1884–1964): pioneer motorist & aviator, with innumerable positions in these fields; Min Transport 1940–1, Aircraft Production 1941–2

39 Press, 4 Sep 41, p. 5, reporting the UKDaily Herald

40 Ibid., 26 Aug 41, p. 7; Evening Post, 20 Sep 41, p. 8; NZ Herald, 13 Oct 41, p. 8; Truth, 24 Sep, 8 Nov 41, pp. 2, 31

41 Evening Post, 19 Aug, 10 Oct 41; Press, 12 Sep, 14, 28 Oct 41; NZ Herald, 25 Oct 41; Otago Daily Times, 8 Nov 41

42 Auckland Star, 27 Sep 41; Standard, 27 Nov 41, p. 1

43 Round Table, vol 32, p. 190

44 Evening Post, 26 Jun 41, p. 10

45 Ibid., 27 Jun 41, p. 8

46 Standard, 9 Oct 41, p. 6

47 Press, 30 Jul 41, p. 6

48 Evening Post, 5 Jul 41, p. 8; Press, 10 Sep 41, p. 6

49 See p. 62

50 In Print, 12 Nov 41, 15 Apr 42

51 Standard, 23 Oct 41, p. 1, and leaflet, nd

52 Cook, Hon Arthur, MLC: Gen Sec NZ Workers Union 18 years to retirement 1942; elected by FoL to be its rep at Trade Union Congress in UK 1943, presumed lost when ship taking him there was torpedoed off the Azores

53 Standard, 12 Feb 42, p. 12; Auckland Star, 3 Jul 41, p. 9

54 In Print, 26 Nov, 3, 17 Dec 41, pp. 1, 5, 2

55 Standard, 16 Apr 42, p. 2

56 In Print, 12 Nov 41

57 Otago Daily Times, 13 May 42, p. 2

58 Atmore, Hon Harry (1870–1946): MP (Lib, Indep) Nelson 1911–14, 1922–; Min Educ 1923–31

59 Stewart, Mrs Catherine Campbell Sword: b Scotland 1881, to NZ 1921; MP (Lab) Wgtn West 1938–43

60 Stables, Mrs Margaret May, JP (1873–1957): b Ireland, to NZ 1874; lifelong social worker, Save-the-Children Fund of London since 1921, kitchen named after her in Saratov (USSR) for work done; member London Council, Pres Fund, Wgtn; Dom chmn CORSO; 1st woman in NZ to sit on bench in court 1948

61 Rollings, Rev William Swift (d 1944 aet 73): b Aust, to NZ 1913; Pres Baptist Union 1922–3

62 Scrimgeour, Colin Graham (1903–): Methodist Min from 1923; began broadcasting 1930, Director 1ZB 1934–6, Controller Commercial Broadcasting 1936–44; TV, radio administrator Aust, China, 1945–59; ret NZ 1968, TV consultant from 1969

63 Dominion, 23 Jul 41, p. 8

64 Evening Post, 7 Aug 41, p. 11

65 Rhodes, Harold Winston (1905–): b Aust; lecturer then Prof English CUC 1933–70; Nat Pres NZ–USSR Soc

66 Evening Post, 21 Aug 41, p. 11

67 Ibid., 9 Sep 41, p. 6

68 Auckland Star, 11, 12 Jul 41, pp. 3, 6; Evening Post, 30 Jul 41, p. 11; In Print, 17 Sep 41

69 Truth, 20 Aug 41, p. 23

70 Auckland Star, 1 Aug 41, p. 2

71 Ibid., 12 Aug 41

72 Evening Post, 25 Aug 41, p. 7

73 Auckland Star, 21 Aug 41, p. 8

74 Sewell, Professor William Arthur (1903–72): b UK; senior lecturer Cape Town Univ 1926–32, Prof English Auck 1934–46; chairs of English in Greece, Turkey, Lebanon 1946ff; 1st Prof English Waikato Univ 1965–9

75 Stanley, Roy (d 1964 aet 65): former Sec Auck & NZ Carpenters Unions

76 Auckland Star, 5 Sep 41, p. 2

77 In Print, 5, 12 Nov 41; Otago Daily Times, 10 Nov 41, p. 10

78 eg, Press, 4 Mar 42, p. 7

79 In Print, 18 Mar 42

80 Ibid., 15 Oct 41

81 Appleton, Sir William, Kt(’50) (1889–1958): accountant and company director; Wgtn Hospital Board 1923–9, Harbour Board 1938–50 (& chmn), City Council 1931–44; Mayor of Wellington 1944–50

82 Wright, Hon Robert Alexander (d 1947 aet 84): printer & publisher; MP (Nat) Wgtn 1908–11, Wgtn Suburbs 1914–38, Min Education 1926–8; Wgtn City Council from 1913; Mayor of Wellington 1921–5

83 Sievwright, James Dickson, JP (d 1947 aet 85): b Scotland, to NZ 1870; former journalist; Wgtn City Council from 1941

84 Evening Post, 7 Oct 41, p. 8

85 Standard, 16 Apr 42, p. 2

86 Ibid., 2 Apr 42, p. 11

87 eg, Zealandia, 12 Dec 40, p. 1, 9 Jan, 20 Feb, 24 Apr, 1 May 41, pp. 4, 4, 4, 1; NZ Tablet, 28 May, 18 Jun 41, pp. 9, 3–4 & 11

88 Zealandia, 3 Jul 41, p. 4

89 Ibid.

90 Ibid., p. 6

91 Ibid., 28 Aug 41, p. 4

92 NZ Tablet, 30 Jul 41, p. 5

93 Ibid., 27 Aug 41, p. 5

94 Gascoigne, Dr Noel Hamlyn (1910–80): Roman Catholic educ specialist; ordained 1935, Dir Catholic Educ (NZ) 1939; Port Chaplain Wgtn from 1939; on scholarship to Catholic Univ Washington USA 1950; curate Palmerston North 1952–4; Seatoun Presbytery Wgtn 1954–68

95 Evening Post, 22 Aug 41, p. 7

96 Ibid., 26 Aug 41, p. 6

97 C & P 3/5, vol 3, pp. 2–3

98 Ibid.

99 Grey River Argus, 20 Aug 41

100 Heenan, His Eminence Cardinal John Carmel (1905–75): Archbishop Westminster from 1963

101 Downey, Richard (1881–1953): b Ireland; vice-rector Liverpool Catholic Seminary; Archbishop Liverpool from 1928

102 Zealandia, 20 Nov 41, p. 1

103 NZ Tablet, 13 May 42, p. 17

104 NZPD, vol 259, p. 737

105 Ibid., vol 260, p. 1251. The date of this exchange is not obvious, as it is recorded, undated, in ‘Addendum’. It must have been after 13 September 1941 when Fraser returned from abroad. The session closed on 17 October and Parliament was prorogued on 29 October.

106 Ibid., vol 261, p. 526

107 Auckland Star, 23 Jul, 14 Aug 41, pp. 8, 11

108 Dominion, 8 Oct 41, p. 8

109 Davies, Joseph Edward (1876–1958): US diplomat; Amb Russia 1936–8, Belgium & Min Luxembourg 1938–9; special envoy of Roosevelt with rank of ambassador to confer with Marshal Stalin May–June 1943, and of Truman to confer with Churchill June 1945; special adviser to President and Sec State, with rank of ambassador, at Potsdam Conference 1945

110 Press, 1 Nov 41, p. 9

111 eg, ibid., 22 Jul 41, p. 6

112 Ingersoll, Ralph McArthur (1900–): journalist and press mngr; Vice-Pres, Gen Mngr Time Inc 1935–8; overseas service 1943–5 on staffs Field Marshal Montgomery, Gen Bradley

113 NZ Herald, Evening Post, Otago Daily Times, 3–11 Nov 41, passim

114 NZ Herald, 5 Nov 41, p. 9; Evening Post, 4 Nov 41, p. 6

115 Evening Post, 8 Nov 41, p. 6; NZ Herald, 11 Nov 41, p. 9

116 NZ Herald, 29 Nov 41, p. 15

117 This argument persisted. For instance, R. M. Macfarlane, Labour member for Christchurch South, said in March 1944: ‘we must realise that the Russians have something to fight for. There must be something in the material improvement of society in Russia to cause the Russians to wage such a magnificent fight.’ NZPD, vol 264, p. 327

118 Dominion, 29 Nov 41, p. 10

119 Evening Post, 3 Dec 41, p. 11

120 NZ Herald, 1 Nov 41, p. 10

121 Werth, p. 203, says that the Germans claimed 665 000 prisoners, while Russian statistics reduce them to 175 000; ‘One cannot help suspecting that the truth must lie somewhere half way between the Russian and German figures.’

122 NZ Herald, 8 Oct 41, p. 8

123 Bock, Field Marshal Fedor von (1880–1945): commanded German Army Group Centre June–December 1941, April–July 1942 after replacement, then dismissed

124 Timoshenko, Marshal Semyon Konstantinovich (1895–1970): Russian army officer; C-in-C Western (Central) Front July–November 1941; in charge operations South-western & Southern fronts 1941–2, Northern 1943, 2nd and 3rd Ukrainian 1944

125 Litvinoff, Maxim Maximovitch (1876–1951): Russian diplomat; Foreign Office Russia from 1918; Foreign Min 1930–9; Ambassador USA, Min Cuba 1941–3; Deputy Commissar Foreign Affairs 1943–6

126 Press, 15 Dec 41

127 Evening Post, 15, 19 Dec 41

129 Evening Post, 16 Feb 42

130 Ibid., p. 4. Foch, commander-in-chief of the Allied Forces in France, in 1918 at the Marne in a precarious position, ordered advance. A corps commander protested that his men were tired out. Foch replied, ‘So are the Germans. Attack!’

131 Press, 7 Apr 42

132 NZ Herald, 13 May 42

133 The Evening Post on 12 June 1942 remarked that 19 out of 20 readers would assume that this meant large-scale landings in Europe within the year, but it could also mean 1000-bomber raids or a series of commando attacks

134 Press, 13 Jun 42; NZ Herald, 13 Jun 42; Auckland Star, 12 Jun 42; Otago Daily Times, 13 Jun 42

135 French and British commanders-in-chief, France, 1915–16

136 Press, 16 Jul 42

137 In this speech Stalin told of large territories lost under Germany’s surprise attack, claiming that Germany had paid heavily for them and promising that this invader, like Napoleon and Kaiser Wilhelm, would be defeated. He stressed that this was a life and death national struggle, a war for the fatherland, against enslavement, to which everything must be subordinated; all effort must be put forth and everything of use removed or destroyed in the path of the enemy. It gave the bewildered Russian people a great sense of direction and purpose.

138 NZ Herald, 1 Aug 42

139 Ibid., 11 Sep 42

140 Ibid., 21 Sep 42, p. 3

141 Auckland Star, 21 Oct 42

142 Ibid., 29 Oct 42, p. 4

143 Press, 9 Nov 42, p. 6; Otago Daily Times, 9 Nov 42, p. 2

144 Auckland Star, 9 Nov 42, p. 4

145 Evening Post, 7 Nov 42, p. 8

146 NZ Herald, 1 Dec 42

147 Press, 14 Jan 43, p. 4

148 Dominion, 22 Feb 43, p. 4

149 NZ Herald, 16 Mar 43

150 Auckland Star, 12 Mar 43

151 Evening Post, 10 Mar 43

152 Evening Star, 22 Mar 43

153 Werth, pp. 584–8, 598–604. In June 1945 New Zealand papers quoted a Stockholm paper, which claimed Schellenberg, a lieutenant of Himmler, as its source, saying that the Katyn graves were a Nazi fake: bodies from German concentration camps were dressed in Polish uniforms and taken there. Auckland Star, 28 Jun 45, p. 5. However the findings of a German investigation in April 1943, that the bodies were indeed those of Polish officers, were generally accepted. Michel, Henri, The Second World War, p. 482. Thus the Evening Post on 26 April 1980 (p. 8) reported that two solemn requiem masses in Wellington on 27 April would mark the 40th Anniversary of the Katyn Forest massacre of 14 500 Polish prisoners-of-war by Soviet forces.

154 NZ Herald, 28 Apr 43

155 Press, 30 Apr 43

156 See p. 1219

157 See p. 1245

158 NZ Herald, 16 Aug 43: it repeated some of these arguments on 2 Sep 43

159 Otago Daily Times, 25 Aug 43. Werth, pp. 672–4, says that Stalin told Eden in October 1943 that he did not ignore the fact that the threat of a second front had in the summer of 1943 pinned down some 25 German divisions in France besides the 10 or 12 tied up in Italy. After crushing the German offensive at Kursk in July 1943 the Soviet no longer regarded the second front as vital to its survival.

160 Auckland Star, 16 Oct 43

161 Eden, Robert Anthony, 1st Earl of Avon (’61), KG(’54), PC, MC (1897–1977): English statesman; Sec State For Aff 1935–8, Dom Aff 1939–40, War 1940, For Aff 1940–5; Leader HoC 1942–5; Sec State For Aff & Deputy PM 1951–5; PM & 1st Lord Treasury 1955–7

162 NZ Herald, 20 Oct 43

163 Ibid., 7 Dec 43, p. 3

164 Press, 6 Dec 43

165 Evening Post, 8 Nov 43, p. 5

166 Koroki, Te Wherowhero (1912–66): 5th Maori King, hereditary high chief of Waikato

167 Auckland Star, 5, 8 Nov 43, pp. 4, 4; NZ Herald, 8 Nov 43, p. 4

168 Press, 8 Nov 43, p. 4

169 Mikolajczyk, Stanislaw (b 1901): acting Vice-Pres Polish National Council London to 1941; Deputy PM, Min Home Affairs 1941–3; PM 1943–4; Vice-Premier 1945–7; Pres International Peasants Union 1948

170 Evening Post, 21 Feb 44, p. 5

171 Trotsky, Leon [Lev Davidovitch Bronshteyn] (1879–1940): Russian revolutionary; co-organiser with Lenin of 1917 November Revolution, Commissar for Foreign Affairs in new govt; resigned after signing Treaty of Brest–Litovsk with Germany; Commissar Military and Naval Affairs 1922ff, instrumental in organising Red Army and restoring navy; ousted by Stalin from Politburo 1926; expelled from Russia 1929; assassinated in Mexico 1940

172 Evening Post, 2 Feb 44, p. 6

173 Standard, 9 Mar 44, p. 3

174 Ibid., 13 Jan 44, p. 7; NZ Herald, 10 Feb, 16 Mar 44, pp. 3, 3

175 Milner, Frank (1875–1944): Rector Waitaki BHS from 1906

176 Press, 5 May 44, p. 6

177 Ibid., 12 Apr 44, p. 2

178 Straight Furrow, 15 Apr 44, p. 33

179 National Executive NZ Society for Closer Relations with Russia, Evening Post, 22 Jul 44, p. 6

180 See War History Narrative, ‘NZ and Europe’, p. 38ff

181 Evening Post, 22 Apr 44, p. 8

182 eg, NZ Herald, 24 Apr 44; Evening Post, 24 Apr 44

183 Press, 13 Jul 44, p. 4; Dominion, 15 Jul 44, p. 8

184 See WHN, ‘NZ and Europe’, pp. 49–50

185 Ibid., pp. 65, 67, 70–3

186 NZPD, vol 268, p. 141

187 NZ Herald, 25 Jun 45