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Communist party

Popular Front and World War II

In 1935 the Seventh World Congress of the Comintern announced another change of direction. It now stressed the need for a "popular front," a movement to create political coalitions of all antifascist groups. In the United States, the Communists abandoned opposition to the New Deal; they reentered the mainstream of the trade union movement and played an important part in organizing new unions for the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO), for the first time gaining important positions of power in the union movement. As antifascist activists they attracted the support of many non-Communists during this period.

The party's attacks on Nazi Germany ended abruptly with the signing of the Hitler-Stalin nonaggression pact in Aug., 1939, and World War II, which immediately followed, was denounced as an "imperialist" war caused by Great Britain and France. American defense preparations and aid to the Western democracies were vigorously opposed as "war-mongering," and Communist-dominated unions were quick to go out on strike. However, when Germany attacked Russia in June, 1941, the Communist position on the war changed overnight from "imperialist" to "democratic." The party, under the leadership of Earl Browder, now went all out in its support of the war. Strikes were opposed as a hindrance to the war effort, and in 1944 the U.S. Communist party "disbanded" as a political party to become the Communist Political Association.

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The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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