Soviet complicity in the death of Anne Frank

Secret Cables of the Comintern, 1933-1943

Secret Cables of the Comintern, 1933-1943
by Fridrikh I. Firsov, Harvey Klehr, and John Earl Haynes, Yale University Press.
Fair use of image © Yale University Press

Russian archivist and historian Fridrikh I. Firsov and American historians Harvey Klehr and John Earl Haynes are sharing their research into the recently available Soviet WWII archives in their forthcoming book Secret Cables of the Comintern, 1933-1943.

Their research is creating a more complete and accurate history of the Holocaust including Soviet complicity.

Understanding Soviet complicity through the story of Anne Frank and her family

The government of the Netherlands admitted Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. Among them were the Frank family who fled in 1933.

The Frank family should have been safe and found a new life in the Netherlands.

Instead in 1940 with the direct assistance of their Soviet ally, the Nazis overran Holland.

Soviet material assistance:

To conquer the Netherlands, the Nazis used Soviet oil to fuel military vehicles and aircraft, Soviet fodder for the horses which pulled the wagons that provided 90% of the supplies for the Nazi troops, Soviet grain to feed the Nazi troops, and critical raw materials from the Soviet Union for the construction of military vehicles, equipment, weapons, and ammunition.

Prior to the attack on Holland, the Soviets allowed the Nazis to develop and test weapons on Soviet soil to evade the disarmament provisions of the treaties that ended WWI.

Soviet political support:

Soviet political support for their Nazi ally is the subject of Secret Cables of the Comintern, 1933-1943.

In an interview with BBC History Magazine, archivist Firsov reports that:

These records reveal the extent to which foreign communist parties were Soviet puppets whose job was to support Soviet foreign policy.

They show how, on Moscow instructions they changed from being anti to pro-fascist and how they desperately tried to portray Nazi Germany as a positive force against imperialism and for world peace.

The Dutch Communist Party followed Soviet orders and supported the Nazis. However, the Dutch Communists had almost no influence on the Dutch government’s commitment to armed neutrality and the Dutch Communists appear to have provided little or no support to the Nazis during the invasion.

In other countries, the effect was more deadly.

On orders of the Soviets, the U.S. Communist Party aligned with pacifists, isolationists, Nazi sympathizers, anti-Semites, and others to oppose U.S. action against the Nazis.

The result was by the time the U.S. joined the war against the Nazis in late 1941, the Frank family was trapped in Amsterdam and millions of other European Jews were already dead.

About the only hope for rescue of the Frank family and other surviving Jews was the military defeat of the Nazis. Amsterdam was so far behind Nazi lines that not until the Allies and Soviets militarily defeated Nazi Germany in May, 1945 were Canadian troops finally able to liberate Amsterdam.

That was much too late for the Frank family and six million other Jews. In 1944 German and Dutch Nazis found the Franks’ hiding place, arrested and deported them to slave labor or death camps where all died except Anne’s father Otto.

Acknowledging the Soviet Union’s share of Holocaust responsibility

The Soviet’s share of responsibility passed to the Russian Federation, the Soviet Union’s successor state, in the same way that modern postwar Germany was held responsible for the crimes of its Nazi predecessor.

In addition, a few existing political parties view themselves as the successors to the WWII era pro-Soviet Communist Parties.  As tiny, marginal, and irrelevant as most are, they still share responsibility for their predecessor’s support for the Nazis and opposition to U.S. military action during almost two years of the Holocaust.

Both the Russian Federation government and successor Communist Parties try to avoid responsibly and deflect attention from their two Holocaust years of Nazi alliance by focusing on the Soviets’ war with the Nazis after the Nazis ended the alliance or claims of being “premature antifascists” because of the Soviet Union’s and worldwide Communist Parties’ participation in the Spanish Civil War against Spanish fascists.

While both may wish their Nazi alliance history to disappear down one of George Orwell’s 1984 memory holes we have the power to hold them accountable by sharing as complete and accurate a history of WWII and Holocaust as we can.

Enabling genocide yesterday and today

In her blog Assessing Atrocity Alexis Herr discusses the issue of enabling ongoing genocide:

Globalization and Inaction During Genocide: Breaking a Bystander Mold

Understanding the history of enabling genocide adds insight to enabling present day genocides.

Holocaust history and my family history blog

I occasionally post about Holocaust history in my family history blog to honor the memory of my later father Felix A. Cizewski.

His service in 45th Signal Company provided support to the 45th Infantry Division’s combat units who liberated Dachau.

After liberation he was stationed near Dachau for about 2½ months on occupation duty. He may have shared in the care of the liberated survivors,  especially the almost 9,000 Polish speakers as my late father was fluent in Polish.

For more information:

Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center

Virginia Holocaust Museum

Revised: January 18, 2014



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2 Responses to “Soviet complicity in the death of Anne Frank”

  1. systemschangeconsulting Says:

    I’m curious whether the Soviets did anything to liberate the Netherlands after their break with the Nazis. Truly a complicated relationship.

    • Leonard H. Cizewski Says:

      After the Nazis broke their alliance with the Soviets about the only practical thing the Soviets did to liberate Holland was to order the Dutch Communist Party to engage in armed resistance.

      That assistance was double-edged.

      I am not familiar with the specific history of the Dutch Communist Party but in countries such as neighboring France Communist resistance fighters would often refuse to coordinate with national resistance commands. For example, most resistance organizations ordered that individual Nazi soldiers not be ambushed and murdered because such actions were militarily insignificant and brought massive retaliation against nearby civilians whom the resistance could not defend.

      Communists refused to follow such orders and continued to ambush individual Nazi soldiers provoking Nazi retaliation against defenseless civilians.

      Communist resistance units were also uncooperative because they were often planning 1917 Bolshevik style coups in the chaos between the collapse of the Nazis and the reestablishment of control by the governments in exile. In Poland and Yugoslavia Communist partisans may have assassinated or turned in to the Nazis members of anti-Communist resistance groups who might oppose a postwar Communist seizure of power.

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