By Michael de its Bedoyere
Who is Victor Kravchenko ?
TnE News of the World has per formed a useful service to its many millions of readert by publishing an article by Victor Kravchenko on Stalin's strategy. Kravchenko was sent in 1944 to the United States as a member oi a Soviet purchasing commission. He was the head of the Soviet's war-time Department of War Engineering Armament. But he did not return
with his comrades. Inetead, he has devoted his energies to enlightening the American people about the nature of the regime, of which he was a distinguished member. and about the plans which he himself, as a 15-year member of the Communist Party, was furthering.
Such testimony is not necessarily above suspicion. He may have had peisonal grievances, and it is certa.nly a wonder that the air of freedom does not intoxicate more of the few Russians who are allowed to travel abroad. But, after all, they are very carefully chosen! What is convincing, however, is the clarity of the picture which Kravchenko draws. In it there is none of the wooliDeis Attach characterises Western views of Russia (and, very notably, the vapid leading article which the News of the World itself publishes in an effort to avoid committing itself to its guest writer). Kravchenko has no sort of doubt that Stalin has no interest in anything save world conquest, and to the furthering of this end the fourth Five-Year-Plan is wholly devoted. But Stalin and the Party have a dlfficult job before them in persuading the Russian people to stand for another and apparently endless effort after the suffering of war. Hence the absolute need on the part of Russian propaganda to create a war of nerves atmosphere, to do everything that can be interpreted as a threat to the fatherland, to arouse the immensely strong Russian sense of patriotism.
KRAVCHENKO'S conclusions are realistic and sensible. He holds that it would be complete madness to hand over to Russia knowledge about thc atom bomb. He asks that we distinguish very carefully between the Russian people and the Party leaders. It is Communism, not Rueea, which is the danger. And he explaMs why the Communists hate Britain so. They see the LabourSocialist experiment as the greatest ideological threat to Communism throughout the world. Capitalism and the Right they know how to deal wah --in every sense of the word, no doubt. But if Democratic-Socialism succeeds, then the Communist offensive fails. For this reason, he insists that the answer to Russian Commun:sm is not to be found in swinging hack to the Right, but in strengthening the moderate parties. In this last point there is, it seems, a useful tip for Christians who ale too often tempted to believe that vigorous social reform is another way of selling the pass. Actually this constructive Catholic outlook gives Moscow its worst headache.
Test Election in Berlin
WE must, however, remember
that Kravchenko has been a good many months out of Russia, and though the Soviet over-all strategy of world conquest will probably never be changed, there
has been time for big changes of
tactics What is not often enouga realised is that Russia is at present threatened with playMg a losing game. The rapid development of new weapons and the turning of war into a highlyskilled science are changes wholly to her disadvantage for very many years. It is not only a question of the atom bomb but of all kinds of weapons and war techniques being worked out in the highly organised United States, all of which put into the shadow the still enduring tradition of Russian methods of warfare with masses of men and relatively inferior equipment.
II Stalin becomes convinced that be stands no real chance at present in the mad race, he will he perfectly prepared to retreat, as only Russia knows how to retreat.
But it will always be difficult for him to swallow the blow of the development of Democratic Socialism. Hence the very great interest of the Berlin elections next Sunday. The impotence of Communism in the parts of Germany where the Soviet has exercised no power has again been demonstrated in the British zone, and most tiresome for the Communist leaders must be the evidence of the great strength of the Christ'an Democrats. These, Stalin knows well enough, arc the real danger, for they possess the positive counter-philosophy which the Social Democrats lack. But in " Red " Berlin the Soviet has had ample time to work on the masses whom even Goebbels never wholly controlled. The officials, now to be submitted to election, are for the most part Soviet nominees so that everything that could be done to give advantages to the Sovietordered fusion between Communists and Socialists has been done. This Socialist Unity Party, which greatly disappointed its Russian backers in the Russian zone, will be strongly challenged in Berlin by the Social Democrats, the Chr'stian Democrats and even the Liberal Democrats. And even Pieck, the Communist leader, has admitted that he does not expect success.
The results of this vital election may therefore determine a great deal of
Soviet policy in Germany and Europe. A bad failure may force a policy of "sweet reasonableness " (of which there arc already hints) coupled with renewed, but temporarily more discreet, efforts to undermine European Democratic Socialism with special reference, of course, to all the Christian Democratic parties and our own Labour Party with its strong moral tradition. Tito may yet grow very unpopular with his former cemrades in the Kremlin.