The Second World War: A Marxist History by Chris Bambery

The Second World War: A Marxist History by Chris Bambery

Author:Chris Bambery [Bambery, Chris]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: History, General, Military, World War II, Modern, 20th Century, Non-Fiction, War, Marxism
ISBN: 9780745333021
Amazon: 074533301X
Goodreads: 17933952
Publisher: Pluto Press
Published: 2013-10-14T23:00:00+00:00

The sharing of power also had important consequences for the Labour Party itself, particularly in the fields of defence and foreign affairs. The assumption of the wartime coalition – acceptance of the almost total dependence on the United States, the belief that Britain was still a great power and a strong ally of the Americans with a world-wide role to play – were to form the basis for the post-war bi-partisan foreign and defence policy.10

British strike figures fell from 1,354,000 days lost through industrial action in 1939 to 941,000 in 1940. Nevertheless, the class tensions of the 1920s and 1930s had not disappeared but were submerged. The strike figures rose to over a million in 1941 and in 1942 outstripped the total for 1939.11

All of the Axis powers lagged behind their opponents in the creation of state-directed war economies. Hitler hoped to wage expansionist wars without cutting domestic living standards, which continued to rise slowly until 1942. He was haunted by the revolution of 1918–19 which ended Germany’s war and toppled the Kaiser. The Nazis suppressed all labour rights and organisation but were not prepared to depress living standards (though German workers had to work long hours in order to maintain them). Limits were put on the numbers of women working in industry, unlike in the Allied countries, because their place under Nazi ideology was in the home. Generous benefits were accorded to wives and families of servicemen. The various factions of the Nazi state were divided as to how to deal with the working class. One wing, represented by General Georg Thomas, head of the War Economy Office at the Ministry of War, wanted to prepare for war by systematic state control of the labour market, the conscription of civilian workers to work in war industries, decreed reductions in wages, and so on. Such measures were introduced in several steps in 1938–39, culminating in a War Economy Decree issued in September 1939.12 Yet these measures, Tim Mason argues, failed thanks to working-class opposition:


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