Louis Fischer was a proletarian Jew born in Philadelphia in 1896, who became a famous political journalist in his time. From an Orthodox Jewish background, he initially embraced Zionism and served in the Jewish Legion in the British Army at the end of the First World War (Ben Gurion served in the same unit). Posted to Palestine in 1919-20, he rapidly became disillusioned with Zionism as a result of his experiences there (he foresaw the conflict with the Arabs). From 1921, he started a career as a journalist and went to the young Soviet Union where he lived for many years, becoming an enthusiastic partisan of the Soviet cause, although never a member of the Communist Party. In the mid-1930s he became disenchanted with the Stalinist dictatorship, first because of the Moscow Trials and the Great Terror, then because of Soviet chicanery during the Spanish Civil War (in which he participated as a member of the International Brigades), and finally because of the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 23 August 1939.
The book "Men and Politics" is Fischer's story of his life and work until 1941.
After the Second World War, Fischer became a fervent proponent of the cause of Indian independence, and is perhaps best known for his biographies of Gandhi.
Here is the extract from the book, starting on page 603:
Fischer's forecast of the course of the war was remarkably prescient, given that he was writing in 1941 and looking forward to 1942, not looking back on accomplished facts as we are. We was also writing before the United States formally entered the war against Germany (although after the initiation of undeclared naval war).Why did Hitler attack Russia?
It was not primarily the attraction of Soviet natural wealth that drew Hitler into Russia. Germany's need of grain and oil was not so urgent. The prospect of obtaining Russian raw materials for the prosecution of the war in 1942 or later certainly did enter into the Reichswehr's calculations. But this was not the chief reason for the Russian campaign.
Hitler wished to knock out Russia before America's threatening emergence as a decisive factor in the war. On June 22nd, 1941, there was not yet a western front except in the air. But in the spring of 1942 or thereafter, the increased flow of American munitions across the Atlantic, the intensification of the activity of the United States fleet, and Britain's own growing military power might have created a western front for Hitler, and that could have meant the risk of a two-front war, for Russia, encouraged by Germany's preoccupation with the western front and the consequent undermining of Germany's resistance, might have dared to stab Germany, Russia's traditional enemy, in the back. The main motive of Germany's invasion of Russia was the fear of an Anglo-American front. The more aid America sent to England the more Hitler had to worry about Russia. That may explain why American Communists opposed American aid to Britain. Likewise, the longer Hitler deferred his attack on Russia the greater the danger that America's advancing preparedness would prevent Japan from striking simultaneously at Soviet Siberia and that Britain's newly received armaments in the Middle East would keep Turkey from stepping into the Caucasus.
However, Hitler's thrust into Russia was inspired by more than one consideration. Hitler hoped that his concentration on Russia would revive appeasement in the Britain and pave the way to a truce in the west. The totalitarian mind, notoriously, does not change and does not think that changes in the democratic mind are lasting or serious. Throughout ugly years of appeasement, the British and French governments, and many others had listened to the Nazi fable that germany was the bulwark against Bolshevism. In consideration of this alleged service to capitalism, or to 'western civilisation' as Berlin styled it, certain statesmen in democratic countries were more inclined to connive at fascist aggression. 'Can we not resurrect this mood in London', Hitler thought. The invasion of Russia was a german bid for appeasement, for peace with England.
Rudolf Hess, Hitler's deputy and close personal friend, flew to Scotland on May 10th, 1941. That was six weeks prior to Hitler's declaration of war on the Soviet Union. Such a gigantic attack is not prepared in less than six weeks. Hess knew of the preparations, and he wished to visit his acquaintances of the Chamberlain era, through them get to see Eden or Churchill and suggest to them that now that Germany was 'combating the Communist menace', England ought to call off the war against Germany - until Germany would be ready to resume it. Always, the Nazi guiding aim was war on one front.
Hitler probably hoped to launch a similar peace offensive from Moscow. If he could crush Russia, he would say to the democracies: I have control of the Continent and its riches. I can stand here indefinitely. I cannot invade England, but you cannot invade the Continent. We can only go on bombing and blockading one another for a decade until we are both prostrate. Why not be sensible and come to an understanding?
Hitler sought the elimination of Russia as a first-class military power in order the better to withstand the Anglo-American siege or to lift it by negotiation. The Hess adventure, however, was a total failure, and Hitler's expectation of a renewal of the disastrous Chamberlain policy was dashed against the rock of British, and American, determination to see the war against fascism through to a finish.
It is interesting that Fischer, in November 1941, considered that if Germany had not attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, then the Soviet Union might well have attacked Germany some time after the Spring of 1942, when Germany would be becoming increasingly tied down by growing British strength and American naval activity. That is a view that is being increasingly accepted by some German leftist historians today.