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The article reviews the proceedings of the Second World Conference on the History of the Resistance Movement, held in Milan in March 1961. Historians and participants in the Resistance Movement attended the Conference from 20 countries. The Conference agenda included a general report on the elaboration of this problem by the French historian Henri Michel, reports by historians from the U. S. S. R., the U.S.A. and Britain - the three Great Allied Powers of the war period, and national reports made on behalf of historians of other countries, which participated in the anti-Hitler coalition.
The author examines each of the four principal problems on which the attention of the Conference was focussed.
The first of these problems is that of the historical role of the Resistance Movement and its significance for the destinies of Europe. Henri Michel's report contained the important admission that the Resistance Movement had played a big part in changing the character of the second world war which began as an imperialist war between two groups of capitalist powers. However, while admitting the moral force of the Resistance Movement, Henri Michel denied its significance as an armed force, which had made a definite contribution to the defeat of the nazi armies.
The author of the article voices his resolute opposition to these views of Henri Michel. The Resistance Movement vastly influenced the progress and outcome of World War II. It was a vivid manifestation of the decisive role played by the popular masses in the historical process. Millions of men and women took part in this movement. Apart from inflicting heavy losses on the nazi aggressors and facilitating the achievement of victory, they made this war a war of liberation, determined its specific features and ensured the emergence of a mighty coalition of freedom-loving nations headed by the U. S. S. R. The Resistance Movement organically combined the national and internationalist aspirations of its participants. The national aspirations were reflected in the inflexible determination of the patriots to liberate their native land from the fascist aggressors. The internationalist aspirations found their expression in the ardent desire to assist other peoples in their struggle against nazism, to help the great Soviet people that bore the brunt of the war against Germany and its allies and make their own contribution to the common cause of achieving victory over the imperialist aggressors.
The second problem is the heroic struggle of the peoples of the U. S. S. R. and its significance for the Resistance Movement. The overwhelming majority of the participants in the Milan Conference stressed the vast importance of the heroic struggle of the peoples of the U. S. S. R. for the development of the Resistance Movement. Acknowledging the irrefutable historical truth, Henri Michel said that in the war years the Soviet Union had been the hope of all freedom-loving nations and, hence, the generally recognized inspirer of the entire Resistance Movement; its role in this movement, said Henri Michel, is beyond any comparison with that played by Britain and the U.S.A.
The majority of the Conference delegates approved the following periodization of the history of the Resistance Movement, which reflects the role of the Soviet Union. According to this periodization, the history of the Resistance Movement in Europe comprises the following four major periods.
The first period - from the outbreak of World War II to nazi Germany's perfidious attack on the U. S. S. R. - was a period of the birth and initial development of the Resistance Movement. The second period - from nazi Germany's attack and the beginning of the Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War to the defeat of the German troops in the Battle of Stalingrad - was marked by the mighty spread of the Resistance Movement and the armed struggle waged by the patriots against the nazi invaders. The third period - from the victory scored by the Red Army at Stalingrad to its powerful offensive launched in the summer of 1944 and the opening of the second front in Europe - was a period of the powerful upsurge of the Resistance Movement and the broad development of the armed struggle waged by the peoples against the aggressors. And, finally, the fourth period - from the offensive mounted by the Soviet troops in the summer of 1944 and the
opening of the second front in Europe to the end of the war - was marked by broad popular uprisings and the mass armed struggle against fascism.
Henri Michel's report failed to bring out the entire significance for the Resistance Movement of the heroic struggle of the peoples of the U. S. S. R. In contradistinction to this, the reports by historians from the socialist countries showed the close interconnection between the Soviet Union's Great Patriotic War and the Resistance Movement. The principal factors that made possible the emergence of such a mass and powerful movement as the Resistance were the existence of the U. S. S. R. and the general crisis of capitalism.
The third problem concerns the motive forces of the Resistance Movement and the part played in it by various political parties. A lucid and detailed analysis of these questions was given only in the reports by Marxist historians. They convincingly proved that the Resistance Movement was a broad, genuinely democratic movement embracing people of different party affiliations, political convictions and religious beliefs. - The Resistance Movement embraced industrial workers and farm labourers, intellectuals, petty and middle bourgeoisie, but the chief force was represented by workers and peasants, particularly the working class headed by the Communists. The Communists held a prominent place among the leaders of the Resistance Movement and played an outstanding part in this movement precisely because they were ardent patriots and champions of people's national rights, because they were the most consistent fighters for the great cause of human freedom, national independence and democracy. The Communists were entitled to assume the role of popular leaders in the Resistance Movement precisely because they are always marching in the van of the great movements of our era.
The attitude of the Allies to the Resistance Movement in Europe likewise figured as an official item on the agenda of the Milan Conference. The Soviet report vividly and convincingly showed the Soviet Union's attitude to the Resistance Movement. The Soviet Union regarded the struggle of the peoples in the occupied countries as an important component element of the general struggle against fascism and at the same time as a manifestation of popular will. The Soviet Union regarded the Resistance fighters as its equal partners and allies in the struggle against the common enemy. The Soviet Union regarded the Resistance as a lawful and just movement.
The Soviet Union's attitude to the Resistance Movement fundamentally differed from that of the British and U.S. governments. While formally recognizing the Resistance Movement and rendering it certain military and technical assistance, the U.S. and British governments at the same time tried to limit the aims and scope of the movement and resolutely opposed the broad development of its most effective form, namely, the armed struggle. These governments oriented themselves on bourgeois elements and refused to support the working people-the decisive force of the Resistance Movement.
The American and British historians could not unconditionally justify the policy of their governments and endeavoured to give an objective picture of the progress of events in their reports. This explains the important admissions arid exposures, which appeared in their reports side by side with veiled attempts to justify the official Washington and London policy towards the Resistance Movement during the war.
The discussion of the question of interrelations between the three Allied Powers - the U. S. S. R., the U.S.A. and Britain - and the Resistance Movement during World War II proved highly instructive. It fully revealed the fundamental difference between the Soviet policy, on the one hand, and that of Britain and the U.S.A., on the other, towards the Resistance Movement.
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G. A. DEBORIN. Summarizing the Results of the Second World Conference on the History of the Resistance Movement // London: Libmonster (LIBMONSTER.COM). Updated: 20.09.2018. URL: https://libmonster.com/m/articles/view/G-A-DEBORIN-Summarizing-the-Results-of-the-Second-World-Conference-on-the-History-of-the-Resistance-Movement (date of access: 25.06.2022).