Two in one?

Issue: 138

Leandros Bolaris

A review of Donny Gluckstein, A People’s History of the Second World War: Resistance Versus Empire (Pluto, 2012), £19.99

The Second World War (1939-1945) was the bloodiest conflict in human history. But for millions it was and still is the example of the “good war”, the just war—a war that put an end to Auschwitz, a war fought not only by regular armies but also by mass movements of anti-fascist resistance.

This tradition is still alive. In a country like Greece where the neo-Nazi party of Golden Dawn’s thugs got 7 percent in the last general election the memories of the anti-fascist resistance of EAM-ELAS (the National Liberation Front and its military wing) are an inspiration for the anti-racist and anti-fascist movement. Not only that but also the history of that period has become a battlefield between the “revisionist” “new history” which in various ways tries to absolve the right wing collaborators with the Nazi Occupation for their crimes, arguing that objectively nothing distinguishes “black” from “red terror”, and the historians who insist on setting the record straight and defending the anti-fascist credentials of the Greek left.

But for revolutionary Marxists then and now the same war is considered an imperialist one, the product of imperialist rivalries tuned to a crescendo by the pressures of the Great Depression of the 1930s. That was Leon Trotsky’s analysis and the tiny forces of revolutionaries—concentrated mainly in the ranks of the Fourth International—entered the war and the occupation in many European countries armed with it. For them the alternative to the crisis and to fascism was the proletarian revolution. And they had paid a very heavy price in blood for sticking to their internationalist and revolutionary principles.

Any Marxist interpretation of the Second World War has to integrate convincingly an explanation of the imperialist character of the conflict with the hopes, politics, struggles and views of the millions who had been caught in it. Donny Gluckstein’s book, A People’s History of the Second World War, is an attempt at such a synthesis. One can find interesting information in its pages—the chapters on Poland and Latvia, for example, or the one on India.

Gluckstein is very insistent on the fact that for the governments of the “Allies” the war had very little to do with democracy, anti-fascism, etc, and everything to do with the selfish interests and strategic calculations of the ruling classes. You don’t have to search hard to find proof of that: Greece entered the war in October 1940 on the side of the British Empire as a royal-military dictatorship. Ioannis Metaxas’s regime had close ideological ties with Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany -the “corporate state”, a mandatory National Youth Organisation, the fascist salute in all official ceremonies, etc.

Parallel wars?

But Gluckstein goes further than that. He claims that we can see the Second World War as two parallel wars, an imperialist one and a people’s war. This, he writes, “to use the language of dialectics”, means that the Second World War “represented a unity of opposites”.1 He argues that:

There is nothing startling about the idea that different sections of society had varying interests or behaved in different ways; nor that the formal declaration of war did not automatically suspend these differences. What was unique about the Second World War was that these tensions amounted to parallel wars rather than tensions within the same war.2

This, he argues, was in contrast to what had happened in the previous world conflagration. “The First World War did not create a people’s war alongside an imperialist war, but its opposite—people’s uprisings to stop an imperialist war”.3

But here the first question arises: if in the Second World War we witness a “unity of opposites” then what was its unifying element? What was its essence? To answer, as Gluckstein does, that the war was both an imperialist conflict and a people’s war is like going round in circles. The trouble is that through circular arguments like these we can easily end up accepting that the Second World War was an anti-fascist one: after all it was the American bombers and the Russian tanks that smashed the Nazi war machine and the vast majority of the resistance fighters considered their struggles as a contribution to that effort.

The problem with such an analysis goes deeper. Gluckstein devotes the first chapter of his book to the “The Spanish Prelude”. His opening words are: “To the extent that the Second World War was truly a fight for democracy against fascism then it did not begin in 1939 in Poland but in Spain three years earlier”.4 And he concludes:

One possible objection to the concept of the Second World War involving a people’s war might be that, in propaganda terms, all modern imperialist wars are presented as “progressive” and “democratic”. The Spanish experience shows that the current of people’s war that manifested itself during the Second World War had independent origins, and indeed developed in the face of antipathy from Allied governments.5

Well, no one disagrees that the motives of the people who fought the Nazis had “independent” origins (and that, of course, applies to a lot of people who fought for the Nazis, as Gluckstein makes very clear in the chapter on Latvia, for example). But if we follow his logic to the end, the beginning of the people’s war is not in Spain 1936 but in Austria 1934, when the Social Democratic Schutzbund fought the right wing Heimwehr and the federal army in the working class suburbs of Vienna and Linz. And why stop there? We can go further back and hear the first shots of “people’s war” fired by the workers’ detachments of Arditti del Popolo in Parma in 1922. Furthermore, the “Spanish experience” tell us something very different: that there was an alternative both to fascism and war and that was the workers’ revolution. In that sense, the defeat of the Spanish Revolution was more like an “epilogue” than a “prelude”.

Reluctant warmongers?

Reading the book sometimes you get the impression that the “democratic” ruling classes didn’t really want to fight the war. This is what Gluckstein says about the French ruling class, following a long line of left wing historians and commentators. The argument goes like this: France’s rulers were more afraid of the Popular Front than the Germans. The fact that the Popular Front was a corpse long before September 1939 and that the workers’ movement had been crushed—the epilogue was the defeat of the General Strike of 30 November 1938—contradicts these explanations.

Not that the French ruling class entered the war with optimism and the will to victory. They did not. They were afraid that a prolonged bloodbath would result in further deterioration of France’s status as a great power. That’s why the French prime minister, Édouard Daladier, signed the Munich Agreement in September 1938, at the same time as his government started the final attack on the working class gains from the Popular Front period.

The same goes for the “conservative mindset of French generals”. Yes, their mindset was very conservative, but the assumption that they thought “in terms of First World War trenches rather than the latest technology [and that] Hitler’s forces relied on planes and armoured columns that overcame these obstacles with terrifying ease” is simply wrong.6 Actually the French generals were planning to wage the decisive battles not in the trenches of northern France but on the open terrain of Belgium and Holland. That’s why they had concentrated near the borders all their elite, motorised and tank formations. The Maginot Line was never intended as the main front of the war but as a formidable barrier that could allow the employment of forces in other sectors. And, of course, the Germans’ attack when it came did not “overcome these obstacles with terrifying ease” because in the Sedan sector there were very few of them.7 It was not a Blitzkrieg in the strict sense but the implementation of the classic Napoleonic principle of concentrating overwhelming force at the weakest point of the enemy’s order of battle.

French imperialism lost the “Battle of France” and only then did the rulers of its state decide that the best course was to embark on the path of collaboration. The reasons for this defeat are manifold but not the ones Gluckstein implies. As for the workers, their mood in the months leading to the war was one of disorientation, apathy and cynicism, not eagerness to fight a “people’s war”. Of course, they hated the fascists but they were not willing to go to war to be massacred—for what? Gluckstein quotes the rejection of the Munich Agreement by the French Communist Party (PCF) approvingly, and then goes on to condemn its—no doubt—despicable welcoming of “German imperialism” as a “temporary ally”, as if the PCF stance in 1938 was somehow the “good one”.8

We have to look to Trotsky to find the basis on which we can build our explanation of the defeat:

The regime of the senile Marshal Pétain represents a senile form of Bonapartism of the epoch of imperialist decline. But this regime too proved possible only after the prolonged radicalisation of the French working class, which led to the explosion of June 1936, had failed to find a revolutionary way out. The Second and Third Internationals, the reactionary charlatanism of the “People’s Fronts” deceived and demoralised the working class. After five years of propaganda in favor of an alliance of democracies and of collective security, after Stalin’s sudden passage into Hitler’s camp, the French working class proved caught unaware. The war provoked a terrible disorientation and the mood of passive defeatism, or to put it more correctly, the indifferentism of an impasse. From this web of circumstances arose first the unprecedented military catastrophe and then the despicable Pétain regime.9

A war for global domination

And there’s a second question. Gluckstein seems to imply that anti-fascism “from below” had been the driving force of the people’s war. That would be a valid point if only the European and to a lesser extent the North American working class movement were involved. As Trotsky wrote shortly before his murder, referring to the US workers, “They bear a sentimental hatred against Hitler mixed with confused class sentiments. They have a hatred against the victorious brigands”.10 But what about the millions who took part in the Quit India movement? Why is there nothing in the book about the complexities of the Chinese Revolution in the 1940s? So why have just two parallel wars? Ernest Mandel has argued that we must grasp the Second World War as a combination of five separate conflicts, one “unjust” and four “just” ones: the unjust being the inter-imperialist war for world domination, and the rest the defensive war of the USSR, the struggle of the Chinese people, the national liberation wars in Asia and the same struggles in occupied Europe.11 It was a weak argument, but at least had the merit of pointing to the complexity of the conflict. Gluckstein manages to avoid the thorny questions of the USSR and China by giving us a more simplified version of Mandel’s account.

Claudio Pavone’s12 concept of the Italian Resistance as combining a patriotic war (against German invaders), a civil war (against the Fascist regime) and a class war (against the industrialists and landowners who had supported fascism for two decades) can be very fruitful in exploring the “contradictory consciousness” of the Resistance fighters and the complex ways that different elements in the consciousness of the workers can be combined during a revolutionary challenge to the existing social order. But whatever the ideas and feelings of those fighting in the Resistance, the reality of the imperialist war imposed itself in a very brutal way when the Allies announced in November 1944 that there would be no new operations in the north of Italy for the coming months and that the partisans should stand down and go home. The British and American generals had spoken and the partisans had to suffer the consequences as the Germans went onto the offensive against them.

Here’s another example: Marseilles, 25 May 1944. A demonstration by women protesting against food shortages triggers a general strike. The strike collapsed two days later after an Allied bombing raid that left 1,700 dead behind it. When two months later the Communist resistance organisations issued a call for a general strike on 14 July, the city remained silent.13 This raid did not shake the conviction of the Resistance or the city’s population in the justice of the Allied cause. But it did put a heavy obstacle in the way of the “people’s war”.

Gluckstein claims: “For its part the people’s war transmuted into a successful, sometimes violent, struggle for decolonisation plus a movement for the establishment of welfare states and decent living conditions”.14 A successful movement, it must be added:

It might seem that French imperialism had vanquished the people’s war completely, yet the impact of the latter was long-lasting. In the words of a resister, Stephane Hessel, the CNR [National Council of Resistance] programme of 1944set the principles and values that formed the basis of our modern democracy” with its wide ranging reforms in the economy, welfare and education. In 2010 Hessel suggested that despite the passage of 65 years it required the current economic crisis to threaten the final vestiges of this heritage. This statement is true for most of Western Europe, where a post-warsocial democratic consensusprevailed after 1945, and is today being fought over once more.15

Algerians may have a different opinion about the principles on which the Fourth Republic had been based after the war. Stephane Hessel may have an honourable record as a champion of many just causes—Palestinians in Gaza, for example16—but for any socialist to accept that the French state of today is somehow the thing that the Communist immigrant workers in the ranks of FTP-MOI [Francs-tireurs et partisans—main-d’œuvre immigrée], the famous urban guerilla unit,17 fought and died for, is hubris and opens the back door to ideological capitulation.18

As for the today legendary but always ill-defined “social democratic consensus” of the long post-war boom, the explanation lies in very different factors than the influence of the “people’s war”. Social “peace” (a low level of class struggle) and political apathy are not the same as “consensus”. The working classes in France and Italy had to endure decades of erosion of their trade union strength, living standards that always lagged behind the economic growth and the political isolation of the Communist parties before having the chance—literally—to strike back in 1968 and after and win some important and tangible gains.

There can be no doubt that the Italian workers in the north in 1943-45 fighting their war against the Fascist Italian Social Republic and the Wehrmacht, the activists and fighters in the National Liberation Front and its armed wing (EAM-ELAS) in occupied Greece, Tito’s partisans, a huge portion of French resisters (but not all) had a very different motivation from Churchill, Roosevelt or Stalin—not only motivation but also goals. For many, perhaps the majority, of the Italian workers in the north of Italy the prize of their struggle would be a Red Italy, one with workers in power (that applied to many activists of the Italian Communist Party [PCI]—the party leadership had to fight hard to defuse all these “ultra-left” notions). For EAM-ELAS fighters the goal was “Laokratia” (“people’s power”), a regime radically different from the pre-war Greece of stark class inequalities and state oppression. And this does not apply only to wartime Europe. The Huks19 in Philippines fought bravely against the Japanese occupation but also against “their” landlords and then, from 1946 to 1956, the American-backed regime.

But this is not the end of the story. First, the notion of a parallel war is very misleading. The French Resistance acted under the orders of the Allied High Command just before and during the Normandy landings in June 1944. Afterwards its armed forces, the FFI, were incorporated into the regular French Army under the command of officers many of who had nothing to do with the Resistance, even the Gaullist one. ELAS put itself voluntarily under the command of the British Army HQ in the Middle East.

It was not just a “marriage of convenience”. For the hegemonic political forces in all these movements, the Communist parties, the “military-technical” cooperation—subordination is more fitting—had been the expression of a political concept; namely that of the “anti-fascist”, “patriotic” war. And that concept had a “past” also; the Popular Fronts of class collaboration in the 1930s. The implementation of the Popular Front strategy in Spain, for example, meant the crushing of the revolution and the eventual victory of Franco.

The story of the heroic Italian Resistance is not only the strikes and the partisan struggle, the GAPisti and the insurrection, but also the Svolta di Salerno of April 1944 and the Rome Protocols of December 1944. The “turning point of Salerno” was the decision of PCI to enter the Badoglio government under King Emmanuel II after the return to Italy from Moscow of Palmiro Togliatti, general secretary of the party. The Rome Protocols put the partisans in the North under the command of the Allied HQ and committed the Resistance there to surrender all power to the Allies after the liberation. The story of EAM-ELAS was not just the “People’s Power” in the Greek mountains, the impressive general strikes and urban guerrilla warfare in Athens’s working class suburbs, but also the “Lebanon” and “Caserta” agreements, in May and September 1944 respectively. After a three day conference in Lebanon the EAM decided to enter the Greek government in exile as a minor partner with only four ministers and its delegation renounced the movement of the soldiers and sailors in the Greek armed forces in Egypt as a criminal act. In the other conference ELAS accepted a British general as a commander of all Greek forces and committed itself not to enter Athens. It was not only the “Red December” of 1944 in Athens, when ELAS fought the British army, but also the treacherous Varkiza Agreement of February 1945—the surrender of its arms and its disbandment, which laid the basis for defeat at the hands of the royalists and their British and American backers in the Civil War of 1946-9.True, the decisions for all these compromises and sell-outs had been taken by the Communist leaderships and thousands of militants in the base were instinctively critical and wanted to “go further”. But where and how? The politics of patriotic anti-fascist war put a limit, blocked and fragmented all the questioning, the objections, even the revolts of the rank and file.

The tragedy of the Greek revolution

There are two European countries where the Resistance clashed militarily with the Allies; Poland and Greece.20 The Greek case is unique because in contrast to Poland the movement there was not just left-leaning but almost totally dominated by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). Gluckstein is wrong when he writes that EAM-ELAS had been “less directly tied to communism than the Yugoslav partisans”.21 This point is important because many people have tried to explain the radicalism of the Greek Resistance by claiming either that the Communists did not control it or they were deeply split themselves.

When the Axis forces occupied Greece in the spring of 1941 there were around 2,000 Communists in jails and exile islands and around 200 free, organised in small and mutually hostile groups. In December 1942, at the time of the Second National Conference of the party, the “reconstruction” was complete, and its members were somewhere from 15,000 to 20,000. Then came a spectacular growth and by October 1944 party membership stood at 412,000. Also, there was a qualitative difference from Tito’s movement. Gluckstein quotes Milovan Djilas saying that when the partisans liberated Belgrade there was not even one party member in the city. On the eve of the liberation of Athens the KKE had 35,000 members in Athens, a city of around 600,000 inhabitants, and the local edition of the party’s paper had a print run of 40,000 to 60,000 copies.22 EAM in Greece included some tiny socialist and left groupings and various liberal politicians or professors but no one had any doubt that the “Party” was in command.

According to Hagen Fleischer the wing of the Agrarian Party that joined EAM by 1942 had become “a crypto-communist organisation”. It was a long process that began in 1935.23 This applies to ELAS as well. Its most famous chief Aris Velouchiotis (his real name was Thanasis Claras) was not “nominally a communist”.24 He had been a party member since the middle 1920s, Rizospastis (the party daily) journalist and member of the illegal apparatus of the party. He was “suspect” because of his conduct during his imprisonment under Metaxas’s dictatorship but during the occupation years he had been a loyal party member, who “took to the mountains” on the party’s orders. Stephanos Sarafis, the ELAS chief of staff, was an ex-Liberal colonel but joined the party in 1944 and remained a member till his death in 1957 (in 1951 he became a candidate member of the party’s Central Committee). All military commanders and “kapetanioi” of every big ELAS unit were party members by the end of the occupation.25

So the question is why such a tightly controlled movement came to fight the British Army in December 1944 for 33 days in Athens’s streets.

This conflict was not predetermined. The British government tried to co-opt EAM-ELAS again and again in various ways. They wanted Greece in their sphere of influence, of course, and the king restored to the throne, but there was nothing in principle to rule out the participation of EAM and KKE. Actually EAM and KKE went out of their way to cooperate, as did the PCF or PCI. Gluckstein refers to PEEA, the Political Committee of National Liberation. Its inauguration in March 1944 was intended as a lever to press the British and the royal government in exile in Cairo to accept EAM’s participation on equal terms.26 But for the base of the movement, and specially the left organisations of soldiers and sailors in the Greek army in Egypt and Palestine, that was the signal that at last “our power has been established” with the “Government of the Mountains”.

There were not just two protagonists in the Greek drama but three: the ruling class and the imperialists, the movement, and the movement’s leadership. For the ruling class the problem was that its state had collapsed. That was the case neither in France nor in Italy. There wasn’t any state institution which hadn’t been delegitimised in the eyes of the majority of the Greek population.

The movement’s centre on the other hand was not just the radicalised peasants—although they were a very important element of it—but a radicalised and very well organised working class. And the third protagonist, the leadership, had the difficult task of all reformist leaderships in analogous situations in history—to try to balance between the two opposite pressures; to try to defuse the radical edge of its base using it at the same time as a bargaining chip. A first sign of how things could get out of control was the Greek army’s mutiny in Egypt in 1944. And in the weeks after liberation in October, in the volcanic political and social atmosphere of Athens, the leadership lost control again. It was for a brief moment but enough to trigger the armed conflict and the “Red December”.

The movement was strong enough to force this confrontation but too weak politically to take it to the end. And part of this political weakness had been the idea that the war was an anti-fascist/democratic struggle of “our great Allies”. There’s a small incident in the first days of the “December events” that illustrates this. William Hardy McNeil, second military attaché of the US Embassy in Athens, describes how:

In the grey light of dawn on 6 December ELAS made its attack. Men clad in civilian clothes, and equipped only with rifles, made their way through the Royal Gardens, climbed the iron fence and started across Kifissia Boulevard, a broad avenue along which lay the Foreign Office, the Ministry of War and other key government buildings. The attack failed. One reason was that it was delivered half-heartedly, and by relatively few men. A more important reason was that when the attackers arrived near their goal they were thrown into confusion by the unexpected presence of British soldiers. Perhaps General Scobie [British commander in Greece] had knowledge of the leftists’ intentions. Whether he did or not, a few hours before the attack was started, British sentries were posted in front of all the principal government buildings. ELAS had no instructions to attack the British, and many of its members had no wish to do so. Consequently, when in the early morning light they saw the figure of a lone British soldier in front of each building, they did not know what to do. Some of the more reckless spirits pressed on, regardless; others hung back. The attack was consequently weak and easily repulsed by the police detachments which had been assigned to guard the buildings. The British sentries joined in the battle. Thus for the first time ELAS and British soldiers fired at one another, and began open warfare. 27

That was the tragedy of the Greek revolution, to use the famous words of Saint-Just: “Whoever half-makes a revolution digs his own grave”. This is what happened to Aris Velouchiotis. As a loyal party member he kept his doubts and disagreements to himself during the occupation; he sent two letters to the party Central Committee but nothing further. Then on November 1944 he organised a conference of “kapetanioi” of ELAS’s divisions in the town of Lamia. He proposed to move their units closer to Athens despite the Caserta Agreement (under its provisions ELAS heavily armed “mountain” divisions should remain well outside Athens). The conference ended up in confusion when one of the “kapetanioi” asked: “Is the party politbureau informed?”

Later Aris signed the order for ELAS’s demobilisation after the Varkiza Agreement but he didn’t obey the party’s order to go to Athens and become president of the ELAS Veterans’ Association. He tried to go to Albania, to “talk to the comrades there”. When he found out that the party was not helping him to do this he tried to organise a “New ELAS”. But not to fight. He put all his hope in the return of Zachariadis, the KKE “leader” (archigos—that had been his official title since the 1930s). Zachariadis returned and immediately denounced the “adventurer”, “déclassé” and “suspect” Velouchiotis. Denied any help by party organisations, Velouchiotis committed suicide on 16 June 1945 when he and his small group got surrounded by units of the National Guard.

Gluckstein writes: “What happened in Greece was not a difference of opinion within a single world conflict. It was two types of war clashing to such an extent that bombs, tanks, torture, rape and prisons decided the outcome”,28 and that “the opposition between the two wars here was total and violent”.29 But this again is a description, not an explanation. For that we have to use a different tool of analysis from the concept of the parallel wars. And that is the concept of an imperialist war triggering vast social upheavals, revolts and revolutions. But nowhere, and that is a real difference from the “Great War”, did these revolts end up in a successful workers’ revolution as in Russia or in a straightforward challenge to the capitalist social order as in Germany, Italy and Hungary, and nowhere did the radicalisation crystallise into new more or less mass revolutionary parties.


There’s no doubt that the Second World War had many differences from the previous one. The ideological factor, the battle against fascism, is not the only one. In contrast to the Great War, for example, it was a really global conflict. Its battles and campaigns raged from the Arctic Circle to the jungles of Burma and from Dakar to the Solomon Islands.30 Not only the fighting but also its consequences had a really global and devastating character. As Lizzie Collingham writes, “Most westerners have never heard of the famine in the Vietnamese region of Tonkin in 1943-44 which probably killed more peasants than all the years of war which followed”.31

Both world wars were products of capitalism in its imperialist stage. But the First World War came after a period of capitalist expansion while the Second World War came after the Great Depression of the 1930s, the worst crisis in the history of capitalism.

There are other differences. When the First World War broke out there was a spontaneous wave of enthusiasm in all countries. Huge crowds went to the streets to express their support to “their” governments, expecting a short and glorious campaign. There was no enthusiasm when the war finally came in September 1939. People knew what to expect; death, misery and destruction on a massive scale.

All these bring us back to the old question of the relationship of capitalism, crisis, fascism and war. Gluckstein has written a valuable book about the relationship between the Nazis and capitalism in Germany that every socialist and anti-fascist should read. One of the many strengths of Gluckstein’s argument in that book is that it examines German society from “above” and from “below” in order to prove that “Nazism was based on class forces operating within a capitalist framework” but also that it was “the product of a specific combination of circumstances”.32 But in his last book he fails to do such a thing. It is more a thesis about the viability of the concept of the “people’s war” and less a “people’s history” of the war. Like the famous “percentage agreement” between Churchill and Stalin, Gluckstein compiles a catalogue in which Greece is 100 percent people’s war, Yugoslavia is 90 percent to 10 percent imperialist war, France is 60 percent to 40 percent, Latvia is 100 percent imperialist war, etc. This is not convincing.

The link between the two world wars, especially the second, and capitalism has never been self-evident. But establishing it, not along general lines, but in detailed studies and works of broad synthesis, is necessary for revolutionary Marxists today. In this regard, Trotsky’s ideas and analysis are always a good place to start.


1: Gluckstein, 2012, p208.

2: Gluckstein, 2012, p209.

3: Gluckstein, 2012, p210, emphasis in the original.

4: Gluckstein, 2012, p15.

5: Gluckstein, 2012, p21.

6: Gluckstein, 2012, p85.

7: For these details and a very balanced discussion of this subject see Jackson, 2004.

8: Gluckstein, 2012, p87.

9: Trotsky, 1973a, p498.

10: Trotsky, 1973b, p302.

11: Mandel, 2011, p45. For a critique of Mandel’s book, see Hallas, 1987.

12: The account of Pavone’s views is based on Behan, 2009, pp56-60.

13: Jackson, 2001, p558.

14: Gluckstein, 2012, 214.

15: Gluckstein, 2012, p96: emphasis added.

16: But it would be useful to remember that Hessel had been a Gaullist agent of BCRA-the Free French intelligence service.

17: FTP was the armed wing of the Communist Resistance. MOI was the immigrant workers’ organisation of the Communist trade union federation CGT-U after the early 1920s.

18: And allows for some very bizarre, to say the least, formulations. The title of the chapter on France is “Imperial Glory versus Resistance Ideology”. Is that so simple? Was the “Glory of France” or of the republic something separate from its imperial glory, its colonies and the “civilising” influence of the French culture on them? The Free French were a part of the Resistance and the Gaullist ideological baggage was full of praise for “imperial glory”.

19: Hukbalahap-Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (People’s Army Against Japan), the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines. It is strange that in Gluckstein’s book there’s not even a mention of the Huks and instead Indonesia gets a full chapter, despite the fact that the national liberation struggle there started after the Japanese defeat and that almost all of its leaders, Sukharno included, had assumed a very ambivalent stance towards Japanese rule.

20: In Belgium the military confrontation had been averted in the last minute in November 1944. See Kolko, 1990, pp97-98.

21: Gluckstein, 2012, p41.

22: D Eudes’s numbers are just wrong as is much of his account-Eudes, 1972. My numbers come from Hadzis, 1977, pp52-57, KKE, 2005, pp461-462, and Bartziotas, 1983, pp263-264. Thanasis Hadzis was a candidate member of the party’s Central Committee and EAM’s general secretary from 1941 to 1944. Vasilis Bartziotas was a member of the politbureau of the party and secretary of its Athens organisation from 1943 to 1946.

23: Fleischer, 1995, p146. After its 6th Congress in December 1935 KKE decided to send all party members in the countryside to join the AKE (Agrarian Party) and dissolve the party cells in the villages.

24: Gluckstein, 2012, p40.

25: There are many more factual mistakes in Gluckstein’s account. For example, Metaxas was not a general but the prime minister when he and the king imposed their dictatorship on 4 August 1936. KKE leader Nicolaos Zachariadis did not formulate the “theory of the two poles” (a Greece balancing between Britain and Russia but recognising the “legitimate” interests of the British Empire) during the occupation but in June 1945 in the 12th Plenum of the party’s Central Committee. General Alexander’s talk about the “Rotterdamisation” of Athens was actually an explanation of the slow progress of operations during the December Days, not a part of “Operation Manna”. And of course, the British Army did not fire 2,500 shells and cause 13,700 civilian casualties in the first 24 hours of the conflict.

26: This explanation is buried in the notes of the chapter on Greece-Gluckstein, 2012, p230.

27: McNeill, 1947, pp145-146.

28: Gluckstein, 2012, p54.

29: Gluckstein, 2012, p213.

30: A J P Taylor in The Origins of the Second World War claims that there were two wars, the one in the West and the other in the East “overlapping in time”-Taylor, 1991, Kindle locations 612-616.

31: Collingham, 2011, Kindle locations 181-182.

32: Gluckstein, 1999, p2; p221.


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