"Communazi" became magazine shorthand for their collaboration, dark slang connecting the two totalitarian ideologies of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany after they ratified the Hitler-Stalin Pact.
That faux-peace agreement and its secret protocols, signed 70 years ago on Aug. 23, 1939, divided Eastern Europe between the Nazis' swastika and the communists' hammer and sickle. The pact shocked Western Europe and the U.S., but Poland, in the land trapped between the armies of National Socialism and Marxist Internationalist Socialism, understood the immediate implications. Poland's two old enemies, both with territorial and imperial ambitions, were setting the political conditions for war.
And war came on Aug. 31, 1939, when the Germans faked a Polish attack on a German border outpost, giving Berlin a pretense. The panzers attacked in the early hours of Sept. 1, beginning what Nazi propagandists' dubbed the Poland Campaign and what contemporary history books call World War II.
The term "communazi" is illustrative, for both murderous, anti-liberty ideologies demand state control of the economy, culture and media, and both crush individual autonomy. The communists' clever spin that enthralled Western intellectuals was to "redefine" democratic and liberal terms to camouflage their authoritarian goals. George Orwell called it Newspeak in his classic novel, "1984." Even the revelations of the summer of 1989, when Eastern Europe began to slip from the Soviet Union's post-WWII grasp, failed to shake many of the Marxist faithful in the West.
The Hitler-Stalin Pact did not shake Marxist true believers in 1939, either. After Poland fell, with first Germany claiming territorial spoils, then Russian troops moving in from the east, Western communists kept faith with Moscow.
Time Magazine wrote on April 15, 1940, the month before the German assault on France, "Active new (France) Premier Paul Reynaud last week ordered Minister of Interior Henri Roy to get ready a decree making any further Communist or Nazi agitation in France punishable by long imprisonment or death. Police said current Red propaganda in France almost exactly duplicates Nazi propaganda urging the Allies to make immediate peace." The Time article specifically addressed the "communazi" phenomenon.
The communists, with their Nazi allies, were undermining Western defenses with propaganda and political agitation.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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