20 MARCH 1942, Page 7



ALL is not well with Anglo-Russian relations. We can ignore that or gloss it over ; or we can face the fact frankly and set about seeing how to put what is wrong right. Some causes of misunderstanding stand out plain. When Russia was attacked last June there were many Russians who, completely unaware of what post - Chamberlain Britain stood for, wondered whether we had not come to some sort of agreement at their expense with Rudolf Hess, after all. In his latest book, Moscow, '41, Alexander Werth repeatedly refers to these suspicions, suspicions that were only gradually allayed, first by the alliance signed by Sir Stafford Cripps on July 12th, and, later, by the Beaverbrook mission. The Russian attitude to this country im- proved very considerably between June and October. The Russian people began to hear something about Churchillian England, about the Battle of Britain, the London blitz, and the work of the R.A.F. and the Navy. Mr. Werth talks in his book about the surprise he felt when the article on the London blitz he had spontaneously submitted to the Russian Foreign Office appeared in Izvestia the next day. Clearly, the Russians were willing to tell their people about Britain and our war-effort.

But when one comes to think of it, what, and how much, was done at this end to popularise England with the Soviet people? Apart from individual attempts by a few British journalists in Moscow, how much British " propaganda " was ever submitted to the all-powerful Russian Press and wireless? Of all the officials at the British Embassy, was there anyone who established anything like close contacts with the high Russian officials in charge of these two powerful machines? There was no British Press Acer in Moscow, and whatever the M.o.I. may have sent to Moscow probably failed, in the absence of adequate personal contacts, to receive much attention from the Russians. One or two British newsreels and documentaries were shown in the Russian cinemas, but nothing much. Resistance, prejudice, routine, suspicions--the heritage of years of strained Anglo-Soviet relations—are to be found on the Soviet side, and they have to k reckoned with. The task of breaking down these barriers is a I'M), important one, and little has been done towards it yet. Sir Stafford Cripps did about as much as was possible on the Political side, but on the " propaganda " side little has been done to improve Russian public opinion in relation to Britain, except a few isolated cases, or when the Russians themselves, notably 'I'lexis Tolstoy, wrote occasional articles about the " spirit, of don " and similar subjects. The task may seem hopeless to fie, but it is not. What is needed is the right kind of human tact—and tact. As far as can be seen, little on these lines ever been attempted. When Sir Walter Monckton went to

Kuibyshev he arrived there at the most unpropitious moment, and left after a very brief stay.

No doubt conditions for British " propaganda "—and by this I mean the creation of the maximum goodwill among the Russian people towards Britain—are by no means as favourable today as they were last summer and autumn. A great deal has happened since then. The Russians, since the battle of Moscow, have acquired a certain sense of superiority, and tend to charge us with not pulling our weight in the common struggle. Ever since last July they have demanded action, and more action, from us.

They have always asked for a " second front " on the Continent of Europe. Sir Stafford Cripps and Lord Beaverbrook and, more recently, Mr. Eden no doubt explained to them, each in his own way, the difficulties of the problem. Beaverbrook got Stalin to accept aid in equipment instead of the " second front " ; but every time the Russians argued that the latter was infinitely more acceptable to their public opinion than so many tanks and 'planes. Every time they emphasised that the Russian did not admit the existence of any ratio between so many tanks and so many human, lives. There is some danger that this state of affairs may create certain isolationist moods in Russia ; Stalin's Order of the Day of February 23rd contains a clear warning that if we and America do not take a more active part in the war this year (and not in '43 or '44) Russia may sink into isolationism after driving out the Germans, and not take any further interest in the organisation of European security in conjunction with us.

That is a grave warning, for, obviously, it will be impossible for us to organise Europe without Russian co-operation. Even assuming the overthrow of the "Hitler clique "—and Stalin does not even commit himself to that, but merely trusts that the German people will throw it out—nothing less than the closest co-operation between us and Soviet Russia can build up some form of lasting security in Europe, and solve the " German problem." This can be satisfactorily solved only as part of a general world solution, which includes an economic solution. If we fail to pull our weight—and Stalin's speech clearly contains hints at this—he may have to fall back on opportunist solutions, trusting that "Hiders come and Hiders go," and that, after their present experience in Russia, the Germans will think twice before attacking her again. There is nothing in Stalin's Order to justify the assumption of one British commentator, that • the Red Army will, after chasing the Germans out of Russia, proceed, for the education of the German people, to " go right into Germany and smash up for ever the mechanism of Hitler mili- tarism. They mean to stop there until the job is done, and when they retire, to leave in charge trustworthy Germans, who will see to it that no Fascist raises his head again." It is possible that the Russians will do that, but the prediction finds no support in Stalin's Order, or any other document. Significantly, Litvinov has suggested that the Russians will " sweep on to Berlin" if the Allies act simultaneously. But if not—?

Clearly, there is disappointment rather than bitterness in Stalin's Order. A complete, international solution of the post-war problem—including that of Germany and European security— would suit Stalin infinitely better than any partial, temporary, isolationist expedient ; but there seems little doubt that when he wrote his Order, he had small faith in us. No doubt, tanks and aeroplanes had been reaching Archangel from England ; but, as against this, America had practically stopped all shipments. To the Russian soldiers, Singapore was a shocking affair, and there was perhaps an exaggerated tendency not only to condemn British strategy and organisation, but also to say that " Russian soldier's wouldn't have surrendered so easily."

There have been other causes of complaint. The Russians were made to believe all last year—and certain official utterances at this end encouraged them in this belief—that the R.A.F. would " bomb Germany to blazes " during this last winter, and that (who was it who said it?) "what London had got would be child's play compared with what Berlin was going to get." None of this happened. We blamed the weather. The Russians, in- tensely suspicious, may well have said to themselves that perhaps there was a " gentlemen's agreement " between Berlin and London. I am, in fact, convinced that some Russians did believe that.

In short, there is an immense job for us to do in Russia, the job of explaining to the Russian Government, and, if possible, to the Russian people, that it was the weather ; that our Navy and Air Force are doing things, and are suffering heavy losses ; that we must not be finally judged by Singapore, and the escape of the Scharnhorst ' and Gneisenau ' ; that we are not relying on the Russians to win the war for us in 1942, or failing that, on the Americans to win it for us in 1943. At the same time, we must show what our difficulties are, especially since Japan entered the war, and what the limitations of this island are, and our and America's resources. Above all, we must not allow the Russians to get the idea that any responsible person in this country hopes for an easy Anglo-American victory over Germany in 1943, after the Germans have weakened themselves in Russia in 1942. Whether we open up a second front in Europe this year or not, we must convince the Russians that we are really doing everything within our powers, such as they are. Here is a task for diplomacy and propaganda—a job for first-rate men, a job for men with understanding, knowledge, and a capacity to see the other fellow's point of view. And if we can get some wholehearted help in this work from our American friends, it will make the task ten times less difficult. •