10. The obscure complicity between Nazism and Communism
The day after the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, which Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira had clearly forecast, he had put forward another disconcerting prediction: “the Russian-German alliance was a clumsy act. It is possible that within a short time Hitler and Stalin will return to being enemies, to impress the bourgeois and to divert public opinion.”122 On 18 May 1941 he renewed his prediction in the Legionário:
"As everyone can see, the Russian-German collaboration is reaching its peak, because of the active intervention of Russia next to Germany in Asian politics. O Legionário had already some time ago forecast what is happening now. But just now, when this collaboration seems to have reached its zenith, we dare to add for our readers something that will surely surprise them: at the point at which these relations now stand, it is possible that they may last for a long time just as it is possible that Germany could suddenly attack Russia, without any of this confuting the reality of the Nazi-Communist symbiosis. Whoever lives will see" (123).
A month later, on 22 June, with “Operation Barbarossa”, Hitler opened a sudden offensive against Soviet Russia, convinced that he would liquidate it in a few weeks, after which he would throw himself against England with all his forces. Meanwhile the United States was involved in the lightning Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour on 6 December 1941. The conflict thus began to be “world-wide” and in August of 1942 Brazil also joined the war on the side of the allies.124 Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira expressed the only authentic significance that the intervention of his country could have:
"Brazil will obtain victory if it fights with cross in hand. This is the sign with which we will win. (…) Let us not fight to kill: we fight and kill in order to live. And, in order to live, we must continue a burning struggle against everything in Brazil which could bring about de-christianization.125 Brazil will only be genuinely Christian, if it be Roman, Catholic, Apostolic. And, therefore, our civilization will only continue to be Christian if Brazil continues within the fold of Holy Mother Church." (126).
In 1942, the Anglo-American landings on the Moroccan and Algerian coast marked an important success for Churchill who had opposed, in spite of Stalin’s insistence, opening another front in Europe. (127) The Italo-German forces were forced to surrender in Tunis and the Anglo-Americans prepared for the new landings in Sicily, which resulted in the fall of Fascism on 25 July 1943. Italy, which had become a battlefield after the armistice of 8 September, split in half. A new ground offensive was needed to beat Germany. Not trusting the Russians, Churchill’s proposals requesting landings in the Balkans were not listened to this time. On 6 June 1944 the allied landings took place on the Normandy coast.
In the progress of the war, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira saw the confirmation of the old thesis of the Legionário on the ambiguous relationship that bound the two enemy-brothers: National Socialist Germany and Communist Russia. In this relationship he saw a link that went far beyond a convergence of political or diplomatic interests, but touched the very core of the great question of the twentieth century: the moral struggle between the Catholic Church and its enemies animated by a mortal hate towards Christian civilization. "We have only one option: Christ the King or the Anti-Christ. And for us, the Anti-Christ is nazism as much as it is communism" (128).
When, at the beginning of 1944 in Russia, in the Balkans, in Italy, the German army is forced to retreat and Hitler’s defeat seems by now irreversible, Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira emphasizes how, faced with the impossibility of victory, Hitler tried to open the road to the Soviets rather than to the Western allies.
"This paladin of anti-communism prefers Russian expansion to Anglo-American, as an outcome of the war he cannot win. So much so that, in spite of losing immense ground in Russia as well as whole armies, he prefers this to removing immobilized troops in the European zone who await a second onslaught. Each inch Hitler loses in Russia is, in part, due to his maintaining troops in Western Europe that delay the opening of a second front. In other words, faced with two adversaries, it is up to him to choose between the advance of one or the other. He chose the communist advance, and, thus, remains in total control of the Western front where everything is quiet, and defends — inch by inch no doubt — the Eastern front in the measure possible. Let us take this conclusion: Hitler prefers the advance of Russia to the Anglo-American coalition. Defeated, he tries to influence the configuration of tomorrow’s world. This is his ultimate crime" (129).
As the war continued, the propaganda of the left tried to emphasize throughout the world the anti-Nazi role of Stalin and of Soviet Russia to show it as the “liberator” of Western Europe. Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira observed that, while the Allies got bogged down in Italy, the USSR spread out over the eastern front, extending its influence over central Europe. The Nazis defended Italy inch by inch, while abandoning entire provinces in central Europe to the Russians. Nazism “is committing the supreme treason of slowly surrendering Europe to the bolcheviks" (130).
While the Red Army advanced towards the Bay of Riga and the confines of East Prussia, in December 1944 Hitler launched the Ardennes offensive against the West.131 All available reserves were transferred to the Eifel, without worrying about weakening the eastern front. On 12 January 1945, the Soviet war machine routed the German army between the Memel and the Carpathians and in three weeks it spread as far as the Ode (132).
"While the nazi debacle continues” observed Dr Plinio “we stress an important aspect of the military operations. The nazis, ever faithful in their sympathy towards communism, defend the Eastern front much less than the Western or Southern front. This has brought about a series of ‘triumphs’ that augment the Soviets prestige with the bystanders while the brave Anglo-American soldiers advance under veritable machinegun fire in northern France or central Italy" (133).
In February 1945 Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill met in Yalta. Invaded on two sides, the Third Reich surrendered between 7 and 8 May, while Hitler committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin. After the two American atomic bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August, Japan, having reached the end of its resources, also surrendered.
The Second World War lasted exactly six years, from the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 to the Japanese surrender on 2 September 1945. Like the First World War, the Second too was an ideological and revolutionary war, whose ultimate aim, apart from the opposing fronts, was, as Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira had foreseen, a violent attack on Christian values and institutions. The Brazilian leader insists on 13 May 1945 in the Legionário:
"This war was, moreover, an ideological fight, in which Catholic opinion was pressed between the pincers of a terrible dilemma: either nazism or communism. Our Lady, ‘who crushed all the heresies around the world’, wished one of the points be broken in the month of Mary: nazism died. We should now ask her to break the other point by crushing communism" (134).
Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira’s anti-Fascism had nothing in common with the progressivist type that was becoming popular in the wake of the Liberation Armies.135 Faced with the collapse of Nazism, he was already looking towards the next adversary from whom he felt the potential of a serious threat to the West. The fight against communism, which he had begun in the 30s would from that time be the dominant note of his apostolate.
While the Soviet troops were advancing on Berlin, he wrote:
"Once the hateful nazi scourge is overthrown, the objective is to eliminate communism. To this end, everything should be sacrificed, absolutely everything that logically and licitly one can sacrifice" (136).
"The fight against communism” he writes on 10 March 1946 “should be more unyielding, clearer, more tenacious than ever.”137 “Socialism today” he adds a few months later “just as nazism yesterday, and liberalism even before, has a thousand faces. With one it smiles at the Church and threatens it with another, and argues against her with yet another. Against this new socialism, just as against liberalism of old, the attitude of Catholics the world over, but especially in Europe, can only be one: a resolute, frank, inflexible, and fearless combat. Socialism is not a wild beast that can be tamed or domesticated. It is an apocalyptic monster combining the falsity of the fox with the violence of the tiger. We must not forget this lest events teach us a very painful lesson..." (138).
With Pius XII, the Brazilian thinker sees the foundation for the reconstruction on the return to the natural and Christian order denied by modern totalitarianism (139).
However, with the peace treaties, Europe returned to the contradictory equilibrium of Versailles. As Pius XII noted: “Very few were the times in world history that the sword had drawn such a clear dividing line between winners and losers.”(140)
An iron curtain, according to the expression of Churchill, by now crossed the continent from North to South. The Europe that was being born would take a very different direction from that hoped for by the Pope and the Church of Rome.
(122) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, "Anti Komitern!", in O Legionário, no. 363, 27 August 1939.
(123) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, 7 dias em revista, in O Legionário, no. 453, 18 May 1941.
(124) Brazil was the only Latin-American country (except for Mexico which, however, only took part in air operations) to take part directly in the war, by sending a contingent to Italy of 20-25,000 men attached to the United States Fifth Army.
(125) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, "Guerra!", in O Legionário, no. 520, 30 August 1942.
(126) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, "Civilização Cristã", in O Legionário, no. 546, 24 January 1943.
(127) J. GUIFFAN, "Histoire de l'Europe", p. 217.
(128) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, 7 dias em revista, in O Legionário, no. 519, 23 August 1942.
(129) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, "O santo do diabo", in O Legionário, no. 601, 13 February 1944.
(130) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, "O discurso de Churchill", in O Legionário, no. 617, 4 June 1944.
(131) When General Guderian warned Hitler of the threatening Soviet preparations on the Vistula, the Führer resolutely refused the suggestion to suspend the counter-attack (Basil H. LIDDELL HART, "Storia militare della seconda guerra mondiale", it. tr. Milan, Mondadori, 1996, p. 997).
(132) Ibid., pp. 927-935.
(133) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, 7 dias em revista, in O Legionário, no. 625, 30 July 1944.
(134) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, "Regina Pacis", in O Legionário, no. 666, 13 May 1945.
(135) On the continuity between Fascism e progressivist antifascism, cf. Augusto Del Noce, Fascismo e antifascismo. Errori della cultura, Milan, Leonardo, 1995. “The result of antifascist unity, in the terms in which it is presented today — Del Noce wrote in 1971 — can only be a reversed Fascism, a fascism dissociated from the national cause. We would be faced with the completeness of Fascism, as a total dissolution” (ibid., p. 98).
(136) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, "A grande missão", in O Legionário, no. 652, 4 February 1945.
(137) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, "O discurso do sr. Winston Churchill", in O Legionário, no. 709, 10 March 1946.
(138) Plínio CORRÊA DE OLIVEIRA, "A falsa alternativa", in O Legionário, no. 723, 16 June 1946.
(139) According to Pius XII, real peace is not the result of a pure equilibrium of forces, but, “in its ultimate and deepest meaning, a moral and legal act” (Radiomessage to the Universe of 24 December 1943, in IP, La pace internazionale, p. 398) that can only be achieved “from the principles and norms dictated by Christ and implemented with sincere mercy”. Encyclical Summi maeroris, of 19 July 1950, in IP, La pace internazionale, p. 542.
(140) Pius XII, Address to the Sacred College of 24 December 1946, in IP, La pace internazionale, p. 463.