Category Archives: Yugoslavia

Bruce Franklin’s Introduction to “The Essential Stalin”

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Please note the posting of this introduction to the book “The Essential Stalin” does not necessarily imply support of Franklin’s political line.

 — E.S.

I used to think of Joseph Stalin as a tyrant and butcher who jailed and killed millions, betrayed the Russian revolution, sold out liberation struggles around the world, and ended up a solitary madman, hated and feared by the people of the Soviet Union and the world. Even today I have trouble saying the name “Stalin” without feeling a bit sinister.

But, to about a billion people today, Stalin is the opposite of what we in the capitalist world have been programmed to believe. The people of China, Vietnam, Korea, and Albania consider Stalin one of the great heroes of modern history, a man who personally helped win their liberation.

This belief could be dismissed as the product of an equally effective brainwashing from the other side, except that the workers and peasants of the Soviet Union, who knew Stalin best, share this view. For almost two decades the Soviet rulers have systematically attempted to make the Soviet people accept the capitalist world’s view of Stalin, or at least to forget him. They expunged him from the history books, wiped out his memorials, and even removed his body from his tomb.

Yet, according to all accounts, the great majority of the Soviet people still revere the memory of Stalin, and bit by bit they have forced concessions. First it was granted that Stalin had been a great military leader and the main antifascist strategist of World War II. Then it was conceded that he had made important contributions to the material progress of the Soviet people. Now a recent Soviet film shows Stalin, several years before his death, as a calm, rational, wise leader.

But the rulers of the Soviet Union still try to keep the people actually from reading Stalin. When they took over, one of their first acts was to ban his writings. They stopped the publication of his collected works, of which thirteen volumes had already appeared, covering the period only through 1934. This has made it difficult throughout the world to obtain Stalin’s writings in the last two decades of his life. Recently the Hoover Institute of Stanford University, whose purpose, as stated by its founder, Herbert Hoover, is to demonstrate the evils of the doctrines of Karl Marx” completed the final volumes in Russian so that they would be available to Stanford’s team of émigré anti-Communists (In. preparing. this volume, I was able to use the Hoover collection of writings by and about Stalin only by risking jail, directly violating my banishment by court injunction from this Citadel of the Free World.)

The situation in the U.S. is not much different from that in the U.S.S.R. In fact the present volume represents the first time since 1955 that a major publishing house in either country has authorized the publication of Stalin’s works. U.S. capitalist publishers have printed only Stalin’s wartime diplomatic correspondence and occasional essays, usually much abridged, in anthologies. Meanwhile his enemies and critics are widely published. Since the early 1920s there have been basically two opposing lines claiming to represent Marxism-Leninism, one being Stalin’s and the other Trotsky’s. The works of Trotsky are readily available in many inexpensive editions. And hostile memoirs, such as those of Khrushchev and Svetlana Stalin, are actually serialized in popular magazines.

The suppression of Stalin’s writings spreads the notion that he did not write anything worth reading. Yet Stalin is clearly one of the three most important historical figures of our century, his thought and deeds still affecting our daily lives, considered by hundreds of millions today as one of the leading political theorists of any time, his very name a strongly emotional household word throughout the world. Anyone familiar with the development of Marxist-Leninist theory in the past half century knows that Stalin was not merely a man of action. Mao names him “the greatest genius of our time,” calls himself Stalin’s disciple, and argues that Stalin’ s theoretical works are still the core of world Communist revolutionary strategy.

Gaining access to Stalin’s works is not the hardest part of coming to terms with him. First we must recognize that there can be no “objective” or “neutral” appraisal of Stalin, any more than there can be of any major historical figure during the epochs of class struggle. From the point of view of some classes, George Washington was an arrogant scoundrel and traitor to his country, king, and God, a renegade who brought slaughter and chaos to a continent; Abraham Lincoln was responsible for the deaths of millions and the destruction of a civilized, cultured, harmonious society based on the biblically sanctioned relationship with the black descendants of Ham; Sitting Bull was a murderous savage who stood in the way of the progress of a superior civilization; Eldridge Cleaver, George and Jonathan Jackson, Ruchell Magee and Angela Davis are vicious murderers, while Harry Truman, Nelson Rockefeller, Mayor Daley, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon are rational and patriotic men who use force only when necessary to protect the treasured values of the Free World.

Any historical figure must be evaluated from the interests of one class or another. Take J. Edgar Hoover, for example. Anti-Communists may disagree about his performance, but they start from the assumption that the better he did his job of preserving “law and order” as defined by our present rulers the better he was. We Communists, on the other hand, certainly would not think Hoover “better” if he had been more efficient in running the secret police and protecting capitalism. And so the opposite with Stalin, whose job was not to preserve capitalism but to destroy it, not to suppress communism but to advance it. The better he did his job, the worse he is likely to seem to all those who profit from this economic system and the more he will be appreciated by the victims of that system. The Stalin question is quite different for those who share his goals and for those, who oppose them. For the revolutionary people of the world it is literally a life and-death matter to have a scientific estimate of Stalin, because he was, after all, the principal leader of the world revolution for thirty crucial years.

I myself have seen Stalin from both sides. Deeply embedded in my consciousness and feelings was that Vision of Stalin as tyrant and butcher. This was part of my over-all view of communism as a slave system, an idea that I was taught in capitalist society. Communist society was not red but a dull-gray world. It was ruled by a secret clique of powerful men. Everybody else worked for these few and kept their mouths shut. Propaganda poured from all the media. The secret police were everywhere, tapping phones, following people on the street, making midnight raids. Anyone who spoke out would lose his job, get thrown in jail, or even get shot by the police. One of the main aims of the government was international aggression, starting wars to conquer other counties. When I began to discover that this entire vision point by point described my own society a number of questions arose in my mind.

For me, as for millions of others in the United States it was the Vietnamese who forced a change in perception. How could we fail to admire the Vietnamese people and to see Ho Chi Minh as one of the great heroes of our times? What stood out not about Ho was his vast love for the people and his dedication to serving them. (In 1965, before I became a Communist, I spoke at a rally soliciting blood for the Vietnamese victims of U.S. bombing. When I naively said that Ho was a nationalist above being a Communist and a human being above being a nationalist, I was pelted with garbage and, much to my surprise, called a “dirty Commie. But we were supposed to believe that Ho was a “tyrant and butcher.” Later, it dawned on me that Fidel Castro was also supposed to be a “tyrant and butcher” although earlier we had been portrayed as a freedom fighter against the Batista dictatorship. Still later, I began to study the Chinese revolution, and found in Mao’s theory and preaches the guide for my own thinking and action. But, again, we were Supposed to see Mao as a “tyrant and butcher” and also a “madman” the more I looked into it, the more I found that these “tyrants and butchers” – Ho, Fidel, and Mao – were all depicted servants of the people, inspired by a deep and self-sacrificing love for them. At some point, I began to wonder if perhaps even Stalin was not a “tyrant and butcher.”

With this thought came intense feelings that must resemble – what someone in a tribe experiences when violating a taboo. But if we want to understand the world we live in, we must face Stalin.

Joseph Stalin personifies a major aspect of three decades of twentieth-century history. If we seek answers to any of the crucial questions about the course of our century, at some point we find Stalin standing directly in our path. Is it possible for poor and working people to make a revolution and then wield political power? Can an undeveloped, backward nation whose people are illiterate, impoverished, diseased, starving, and lacking in all the skills and tools needed to develop their productive forces possibly achieve both material and cultural well-being? Can this be done under a condition of encirclement by hostile powers, greedy for conquest, far more advanced industrially and, militantly: and fanatical in their opposition to any people s revolutionary government? What price must be paid for the success of revolutionary development? Can national unity be achieved in a vast land inhabited by many peoples of diverse races, religions, culture, language, and levels of economic development?

Is it possible to attain international unity among the exploited and oppressed peoples of many different nations whose governments depend upon intense nationalism and the constant threat of war? Then, later, can the people of any modern highly industrialized society also have a high degree of freedom, or must the state be their enemy? Can any society flourish without some form of ruling elite?

These questions are all peculiarly modern, arising in the epoch of capitalism as it reaches its highest form, modern imperialism, and becoming critical in our own time, the era of global revolution. Each of these questions leads us inevitably to Stalin. In my opinion, it is not going too far to say that Stalin is the key figure of our era.

All the achievements and all the failures, all the strengths and all the weaknesses, of the Soviet revolution and indeed of the world revolution in the period 1922-53 are summed up in Stalin. This is not to say that he is personally responsible for all that was and was not accomplished, or that nobody else could have done what he did. We are not dealing with a “great man” theory of history. In fact, quite the opposite. If we are to understand Stalin at all, and evaluate him from the point of view of either of two major opposing classes, we must see him, like all historical figures, as a being created by his times and containing the contradictions of those times. .

Every idea of Stalin’s, as he would be the first to admit, came to him from his historical existence, which also fixed limits to the ideas available to him. He could study history in order to learn from the experience of the Paris Commune but he could not look into a crystal ball to benefit from the lessons of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. And the decisions he made also had fixed and determined limits on either side, as we shall see.

To appraise Stalin, the best way to begin is to compare the condition of the Soviet Union and the rest of the world at two times: when he came into leadership and when he died. Without such a comparison, it is impossible to measure what he may have contributed or taken away from human progress. If the condition of the Soviet people was much better when he died than when he took power, he cannot have made their lives worse. The worst that can be said is that they would have progressed more without him. The same is true for the world revolution. Was it set back during the decades of his leadership, or did it advance? Once we put the questions this way, the burden of proof falls on those who deny Stalin’s positive role as a revolutionary leader.

As World War I began, the Russian Empire consisted primarily of vast undeveloped lands inhabited by many different peoples speaking a variety of languages with a very low level of literacy, productivity, technology, and health. Feudal Social relations still prevailed throughout many of these lands. Czarist secret police, officially organized bands of military terrorists, and a vast bureaucracy were deployed to keep the hungry masses of workers and peasants in line.

The war brought these problems to a crisis. Millions went to their deaths wearing rags, with empty stomachs, often waiting for those in front of them to fall so they could have a rifle and a few rounds of ammunition. When the Bolsheviks seized power in 1917, the entire vast empire, including the great cities of Russia itself, was in chaos.

Before the new government could begin to govern, it was Immediately set upon by the landlords, capitalists, and generals of the old regime, with all the forces they could buy and muster, together with combined military forces of Britain, France, Japan, and Poland, and additional military contingents from the U.S. and other capitalist countries. A vicious civil war raged for three years, from Siberia through European Russia, from the White Sea to the Ukraine. At the end of the Civil War, in 1920, agricultural output was less than half that of the prewar poverty-stricken countryside. Even worse was the situation in industry.

Many mines and factories had been destroyed. Transport had been torn up. Stocks of raw materials and semi finished products had been exhausted. The output of large-scale industry was about one seventh of what it had been before the war. And the fighting against foreign military intervention had to go on for two more years. Japanese and U.S. troops still held a portion of Siberia, including the key port city of Vladivostok, which was not recaptured until 1922.

Lenin suffered his first stroke in 1922. From this point on, Stalin, who was the General Secretary of the Central Committee, began to emerge as the principal leader of the Party. Stalin’s policies were being implemented at least as early as 1924, the year of Lenin’s death, and by 1927 the various opposing factions had been defeated and expelled from the Party. It is the period of the early and mid-1920s that we must compare to 1953.

The Soviet Union of the early 1920s was a land of deprivation. Hunger was everywhere, and actual mass famines swept across much of the countryside. Industrial production was extremely low, and the technological Level of industry was so backward that there seemed little possibility of mechanizing agriculture. Serious rebellions in the armed forces were breaking out, most notably at the Kronstadt garrison in 1921.

By 1924 large-scale peasant revolts were erupting, particularly in Georgia. There was virtually no electricity outside the large cities. Agriculture was based on the peasant holdings and medium-sized farms seized by rural capitalists (the kulaks) who forced the peasants back into wage Labor and tenant fanning. Health care was almost non-existent in much of the country. The technical knowledge and skills needed to develop modern industry, agriculture, health, and education were concentrated in the hands of a few, mostly opposed to socialism while the vast majority of the population were illiterate and could hardly think about education while barely managing to subsist. The Soviet Union was isolated in a world controlled by powerful capitalist countries physically surrounding it, setting up economic blockades, and officially refusing to recognize its existence while outdoing each other in their pledges to wipe out this Red menace.

The counterrevolution was riding high throughout Europe Great Britain, and even in the U.S.A., where the Red threat was used as an excuse to smash labor unions. Fascism was emerging in several parts of the capitalist world, particularly in Japan and in Italy, where Mussolini took dictatorial power in 1924. Most of the world consisted of colonies and neo-colonies of the European powers.

When Stalin died in 1953, the Soviet Union was the second greatest industrial, scientific, and military power in the world and showed clear signs of moving to overtake the U.S. in all these areas. This was despite the devastating losses it suffered while defeating the fascist powers of Germany, Romania, Hungary, and Bulgaria. The various peoples of the U.S.S.R. were unified. Starvation and illiteracy were unknown throughout the country. Agriculture was completely collectivized and extremely productive. Preventive health care was the finest in the world, and medical treatment of exceptionally high quality was available free to all citizens. Education at all levels was free. More books were published in the U.S.S.R. than in any other country. There was no unemployment.

Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, not only had the main fascist powers of 1922-45 been defeated, but the forces of revolution were on the rise everywhere. The Chinese Communist Party had just led one-fourth of the world’s population to victory over foreign imperialism and domestic feudalism and capitalism. Half of Korea was socialist, and the U.S.-British imperialist army, having rushed to intervene in the civil war under the banner of the United Nations  was on the defensive and hopelessly demoralized. In Vietnam, strong socialist power, which had already defeated Japanese Imperialism, was administering the final blows to the beaten army of the French empire. The monarchies and fascist military dictatorships of Eastern Europe had been destroyed by a combination of partisan forces, led by local Communists, and the Soviet Army; everywhere except for Greece there were now governments that supported the world revolution and at least claimed to be governments of the workers and peasants. The largest political party in both France and Italy was the Communist Party. The national liberation movement among the European colonies and neo-colonies was surging forward. Between 1946 and 1949 alone, at least nominal national independence was achieved by Burma, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Laos, Libya, Ceylon, Jordan, and the Philippines, countries comprising about one-third of the world’s population. The entire continent of Africa was stirring.

Everybody but the Trotskyites, and even some of them would have to admit that the situation for the Communist world revolution was incomparably advanced in 1953 over what it had been in the early or mid 1920s. Of course, that does not settle the Stalin question. We still have to ask whether Stalin contributed to this tremendous advance, or slowed it down or had negligible influence on it. And we must not duck the question as to whether Stalin’s theory and practice built such serious faults into revolutionary communism that its later failures, particularly in the Soviet Union, can be pinned on him.

So let us look through Stalin’s career focusing particularly on its most controversial aspects.

“Stalin” which means “steel-man,” was the code name for a Young Georgian revolutionary born as Joseph Visvarionovich Djugashvili in 1879 in the town of Gori. His class origins combine the main forces of the Russian revolution.

His father formerly a village cobbler of peasant background, became a’ worker in a shoe factory. His mother was the daughter of peasant serfs. So Stalin was no stranger to either workers or peasants, and being from Georgia, he had firsthand knowledge of how Czarist Russia oppressed the non-Russian peoples of its empire. .

While studying at the seminary for a career as a priest, he made his first contact with the Marxist underground at the age of fifteen, and at eighteen he formally joined the Russian Social-Democratic Labor Party, which was to evolve into the Communist Party. Shortly after joining the party in 1898, he became convinced that Lenin was the main theoretical leader of the revolution, particularly when Lenin’s newspaper Iskra began to appear in 1900. After being thrown out of his seminary, Stalin concentrated on organizing workers in the area of Tiflis, capital of Georgia, and the Georgian industrial City of Batumi. After one of his many arrests by the Czarist secret police, he began to correspond with Lenin from exile.

Escaping from Siberian exile in 1904, Stalin returned to organizing workers in the cities of Georgia, where mass strikes were beginning to assume a decidedly political and revolutionary character. Here he began to become one of the main spokesmen for Lenin’s theory, as we see in the first two selections in this volume. In December 1904 he led a huge strike of the Baku workers, which helped precipitate the abortive Russian revolution of 1905. During the revolution and after it was suppressed, Stalin was one of the main Bolshevik underground and military organizers, and was frequently arrested by the secret police. At the Prague Conference of 1912, in which the Bolsheviks completed the split with the Mensheviks and established themselves as a separate party, Stalin was elected in absentia to the Central Committee, a position he was to maintain for over four decades. Then, on the eve of World War I, he published what may properly be considered his first major contribution to Marxist-Leninist theory, Marxism and the National Question.

Prior to World War I, the various social-democratic parties of Europe were loosely united in the Second International.

All pledged themselves to international proletarian solidarity. But when the war broke out, the theory Stalin had developed in Marxism and the National Question proved to be crucial and correct. As Stalin had foreseen, every party that had compromised with bourgeois nationalism ended up leading the workers of its nation to support their “own” bourgeois rulers by going out to kill and be killed by the workers of the other nations. Lenin, Stalin, and the other Bolsheviks took a quite different position. They put forward the slogan “Turn the imperialist war into a civil war.” Alone of all the parties of the Second International, they came out for actual armed revolution.

In February 1917 the workers, peasants and soldiers of Russia, in alliance with the liberal bourgeoisie, overthrew the czarist autocracy, which had bled the country dry and brought it to ruin in a war fought to extend the empire. The liberal bourgeoisie established a new government. The next few months led to a key moment in history. Most of the parties that claimed to be revolutionary now took the position that the Russian proletariat was too weak and backward to assume political power. They advocated that the proletariat should support the new bourgeois government and enter a long period of capitalist development until someday in the future when they could begin to think about socialism. This view even penetrated the Bolsheviks. So when Stalin was released from his prison exile in March and the Central Committee brought him back to help lead the work in St. Petersburg, he found a heavy internal struggle. He took Lenin’s position, and, being placed in charge of the Bolshevik newspaper Pravda, was able to put it forward vigorously to the masses. When the Central Committee finally decided, in October, to lead the workers and soldiers of St. Petersburg to seize the Winter Palace and establish a proletarian government, it was over the violent objections of many of the aristocratic intellectuals who, much to their own surprise and discomfort had found themselves in an actual revolutionary situation. Two of them, Zinoviev and Kamenev, even went so far as to inform the bourgeois newspapers that the Bolsheviks had a secret plan to seize power. After the virtually bloodless seizure by the workers and soldiers took place, a third member of the Central Committee, Rykov, joined Zinoviev and Kamenev in a secret deal made with the bourgeois parties whereby the Bolsheviks would resign from power, the press would be returned to the bourgeoisie, and Lenin would be permanently barred from holding public office. (All this is described in John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World, which was first published in 1919. I mention this because Zinoviev, Kamenev, and Rykov were three of the central figures of the purge trials of the 1930s, and it is they who have been portrayed as stanch Bolsheviks in such works as Arthur Koestler’s Darkness at Noon.)

During the Civil War, which followed the seizure of power, Stalin began to emerge as an important military leader.

Trotsky was nominally the head of the Red Army. Behaving, as he always did, in the primacy of technique, Trotsky took as one of his main tasks winning over the high officers of the former czarist army and turning them into the general command of the revolutionary army. The result was defeat after defeat for the Red forces, either through outright betrayal by their aristocratic officers or because these officers tried to apply military theories appropriate to a conscript or mercenary army to the leadership of a people’s army made up of workers and peasants. Stalin, on the other hand, understood the military situation from the point of view of the workers and peasants, and with a knowledge of their capabilities and limitations.

In 1919 Stalin was sent as a special plenipotentiary to the key Volga city of Tsaritsyn. His mission was simply to assure the delivery of food supplies from this entire region. What he found was a disastrous military situation, with the city not only surrounded by the White Army but heavily infiltrated by counterrevolutionary forces. He saw that the food supply could not be safeguarded unless the military and political situations were dealt with. He instituted an uncompromising purge of counterrevolutionary elements within both the officer corps and the political infrastructure, took personal command of the military forces over the heads of both the local authorities and Trotsky, and then proceeded to save the city, the region, and the food supply. Trotsky, furious, demanded his recall. As for the citizens of Tsaritsyn, their opinion became known six years later, when they renamed their city Stalingrad.

After this episode, rather than being recalled, Stalin was dispatched far and wide to every major front in the Civil War. In each and every place, he was able to win the immediate respect of the revolutionary people and to lead the way to military victory, even in the most desperate circumstances.

Certain qualities emerged more and more clearly, acknowledged by both friends and enemies. These were his enormous practicality and efficiency, his worker peasant outlook, and the unswerving way he proceeded to the heart of every problem. By the end of the war, Stalin was widely recognized as a man who knew how to run things, a quality sorely lacking among most of the aristocratic intellectuals who then saw themselves as great proletarian leaders. In April 1922 he was made General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. It was in this position that Stalin was quickly to become the de facto leader of the Party and the nation.

Stalin’s career up to this point is relatively uncontroversial in comparison with everything that follows. But nothing at all about Stalin is beyond controversy. Most of his biographers in the capitalist world minimize his revolutionary activities prior to 1922. At least two influential biographies, Boris Souvarine’s Stalin (1939) and Edward Ellis Smith’s The Young Stalin (1967), even argue that during most of this period Stalin was actually an agent for the czarist secret police. Trotsky’s mammoth biography Stalin (1940) not only belittles Stalin’s revolutionary activities but actually sees his life and “moral stature” predetermined by his racially defined genetic composition; after discussing whether or not Stalin had “an admixture of Mongolian blood,” Trotsky decides that in any case he was one perfect type of the national character of southern countries such as Georgia, where, “in addition to the so-called Southern type, which is characterized by a combination of lazy shiftlessness and explosive irascibility, one meets cold natures, in whom phlegm is combined with stubbornness and slyness.” The most influential biographer of all, Trotsky’s disciple Isaac Deutscher, is a bit more subtle, blaming Stalin’s crude and vicious character not on his race but on his low social class:

The revolutionaries from the upper classes (such as Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin, Rakovsky, Radek, Lunacharsky, and Chicherin) came into the Socialist movement with inherited cultural traditions. They brought into the milieu of the revolution some of the values and qualities of their own milieu-not only knowledge, but also refinement of thought, speech, and manners. Indeed, their Socialist rebellion was itself the product of moral sensitiveness and intellectual refinement. These were precisely the qualities that life had not been kind enough to cultivate in Djugashvili [Stalin]. On the contrary, it had heaped enough physical and moral squalor in his path to blunt his sensitiveness and his taste. (Stalin, Political Biography, p. 26)

Although there are vastly different views of Stalin’s career up to this point, his activities are relatively less controversial, because they are relatively less important. Whatever Stalin’s contribution, there is still a good chance that even without him Lenin could have led the revolution and the Red forces would have won the Civil War. But, from this point on, there are at least two widely divergent, in fact wildly contradictory, versions of Stalin’s activities and their significance. Most readers of this book have heard only one side of this debate, the side of Trotsky and the capitalist world. I shall not pretend to make a “balanced presentation,” but instead give a summary of the unfamiliar other side of the argument.

Everyone, friend and foe alike, would agree that at the heart of the question of Stalin lies the theory and practice of “socialism in one country.” All of Stalin’s major ideological opponents in one way or another took issue with this theory.

Actually, the theory did not originate with Stalin but with Lenin. In 1915, in his article “On the Slogan for a United States of Europe,” Lenin argued that “the victory of socialism is possible first in several or even in one capitalist country alone.” He foresaw “a more or less prolonged and stubborn struggle” internationally that could begin like this in one country: “After expropriating the capitalists and organizing their own socialist production, the victorious proletariat of that country will arise against the rest of the world-the capitalist world-attracting to its cause the oppressed classes of other countries, stirring uprisings in those countries against the capitalists, and in case of need using even armed force against the exploiting classes and their states.”

Of course, at the end of World War I most Bolsheviks (and many capitalists) expected revolution to break out in many of the European capitalist countries. In fact, many of the returning soldiers did turn their guns around. A revolutionary government was established in Hungary and Slovakia.

Germany and Bulgaria for a while were covered by soviets of workers, peasants, and soldiers. But counterrevolution swept all these away.

Trotsky and his supporters continued to believe that the proletariat of Europe was ready to make socialist revolution.

They also believed that unless this happened, the proletariat would be unable to maintain power in the Soviet Union.

They belittled the role of the peasantry as an ally of the Russian proletariat and saw very little potential in the national liberation movements of the predominantly peasant countries of Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Their so-called “Left opposition” put forward the theory, of “permanent revolution,” which pinned its hopes on an imminent uprising of the industrial proletariat of Europe. They saw the world revolution then spreading outward from these “civilized” countries to the “backward” regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Meanwhile there also developed what was later to be called the “Right opposition,” spearheaded by Bukharin, Zinoviev, and Kamenev. They were realistic enough to recognize that the revolutionary tide was definitely ebbing in Europe, but they concluded from this that the Soviet Union would have to be content to remain for a long time a basically agricultural country without pretending to be a proletarian socialist state.

Stalin was not about to give up on socialism in the Soviet Union simply because history was not turning out exactly the way theorists had wanted, with revolution winning out quickly in the most advanced capitalist countries. He saw that the Soviet revolution had indeed been able to maintain itself against very powerful enemies at home and abroad. Besides, the Soviet Union was a vast country whose rich natural resources gave it an enormous potential for industrial and social development. He stood for building socialism in this one country and turning it into an inspiration and base area for the oppressed classes and nations throughout the world. He believed that, helped by both the example and material support of a socialist Soviet Union, the tide of revolution would eventually begin rising again, and that, in turn, proletarian revolution in Europe and national liberation struggles in the rest of the world would eventually break the Soviet isolation.

There are two parts to the concept of socialism in one country. Emphasis is usually placed only on the part that says “one country.” Equally important is the idea that only socialism, and not communism, can be achieved prior to the time when the victory of the world revolution has been won. A communist society would have no classes, no money, no scarcity, and no state that is, no army, police force, prisons, and courts. There is no such society in the world, and no society claims to be Communist. A socialist society, according to Marxism-Leninism, is the transitional form on the road to communism. Classes and class struggle still exist, all the material needs of the people have not as yet been met, and there is indeed a state, a government of the working class known as the dictatorship of the proletariat (as opposed to the government of capitalist nations, the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie).

Neither Lenin nor Stalin ever had any illusion that any single country, even one as vast and potentially rich as the Soviet Union, would ever be able to establish a stateless, classless society while capitalism still had power in the rest of the world. But Stalin, like Lenin, did believe that the Soviet Union could eliminate capitalism, industrialize, extend the power of the working class, and wipe out real material privation all during the period of capitalist encirclement.

To do this, Stalin held, the proletariat would have to rely on the peasantry. He rejected Trotsky’s scorn for the Russian peasants and saw them, rather than the European proletariat, as the only ally that could come to the immediate aid of the Russian workers.

When the Civil War ended, in 1921, with most of the Soviet Union in chaotic ruin, Lenin won a struggle against Trotsky within the Party to institute what was called the New Economic Policy (NEP), under which a limited amount of private enterprise based on trade was allowed to develop in both the cities and the countryside. NEP was successful in averting an immediate total catastrophe, but by 1925 it was becoming clear that this policy was also creating problems for the development of socialism. This brings us to the first great crux of the Stalin question.

We have been led to believe that in order to industrialize at any price; Stalin pursued a ruthless policy of forced collectivization, deliberately murdering several million peasants known as kulaks during the process. The truth is quite different.

When the Bolsheviks seized power, one of their first acts was to allow the poor peasants to seize the huge landed estates. The slogan was “Land to the tiller.” This, however, left most land in the form of tiny holdings, unsuited for large-scale agriculture, particularly the production of the vital grain crops. Under NEP, capitalism and a new form of landlordism began to flourish in the countryside. The class known as kulaks (literally “tight-fists”), consisting of usurers and other small capitalists including village merchants and rich peasants, were cornering the market in the available grain, grabbing more and more small holdings of land, and, through their debt holdings, forcing peasants back into tenant farming and wage labor. Somehow, the small peasant holdings had to be consolidated so that modern agriculture could begin. There were basically two ways this could take place: either through capitalist accumulation, as the kulaks were then doing, or through the development of large-scale socialist farms. If the latter, there was then a further choice: a rapid forced collectivization, or a more gradual process in which co-operative farms would emerge first, followed by collectives, and both would be on a voluntary basis, winning out by example and persuasion. What did Stalin choose?

Here, in his own words, is the policy he advocated and that was adopted at the Fifteenth Party Congress, in 1927:

What is the way out? The way out is to turn the small and scattered peasant farms into large united farms based on cultivation of the land in common, to go over to collective cultivation of the land on the basis of a new and higher technique.

The way out is to unite the small and dwarf peasant farms gradually but surely, not by pressure, but by example and persuasion, into large farms based on common, cooperative, collective cultivation of the land with the use of agricultural machines and tractors and scientific methods of intensive agriculture.

There is no other way out.

To implement this policy, the capitalist privileges allowed under NEP were revoked. This was known as the restriction of the kulaks. The kulaks, whose very existence as a class was thus menaced, struck back. They organized terrorist bands who attacked the co-operatives and collectives, burning down barns when they were filled with grain, devastating the fields, and even murdering Communist peasant leaders.

Even more serious than these raids, the kulaks held back their own large supplies of grain from the market in an effort to create hunger and chaos in the cities. The poor and middle peasants struck back. Virtual open civil war began to rage throughout the countryside. As the collective farm movement spread rapidly, pressure mounted among the poor and middle peasants to put an end to landlordism and usury in the countryside for good. In 1929 Stalin agreed that the time had come to eliminate the kulaks as a class. He led the fight to repeal the laws that allowed the renting of land and the hiring of labor, thus depriving the kulaks both of land and of hired workers. The ban on expropriation of the large private holdings was lifted, and the peasants promptly expropriated the kulak class. The expropriation of the rural capitalists in the late 1920s was just as decisive as the expropriation of the urban capitalists a decade earlier. Landlords and village usurers were eliminated as completely as private factory owners. It is undoubtedly true that in many areas there was needless violence and suffering. But this did not originate with Stalin. It was the hour of Russia’s peasant masses, who had been degraded and brutalized for centuries and who had countless blood debts to settle with their oppressors. Stalin may have unleashed their fury, but he was not the one who had caused it to build up for centuries. In fact it was Stalin who checked the excesses generated by the enthusiasm of the collective movement. In early 1930 he published in Pravda “Dizzy with Success,” reiterating that “the voluntary principle” of the collective farm movement must under no circumstances be violated and that anybody who engages in forced collectivization objectively aids the enemies of socialism. Furthermore, he argues, the correct form for the present time is the co-operative (known as the artel) , in which “the household plots (small vegetable gardens, small orchards), the dwelling houses, a part of the dairy cattle, small livestock, poultry, etc., are not socialized.”

Again, overzealous attempts to push beyond this objectively aid the enemy. The movement must be based on the needs and desires of the masses of peasants.

Stalin’s decision about the kulaks perfectly exemplifies the limits under which he operated. He could decide, as he did, to end the kulaks as a class by allowing the poor and middle peasants’ to expropriate their land. Or he could decide to let the kulaks continue withholding their grain from the starving peasants and workers, with whatever result. He might have continued bribing the kulaks. But it is highly doubtful, to say the least, that he had the option of persuading the kulaks into becoming good socialists.

There can be no question that, whatever may be said about its cost, Stalin’s policy in the countryside resulted in a vast, modern agricultural system, capable, for the first time in history, of feeding all the peoples of the Soviet lands. Gone were the famines that seemed as inevitable and were as vicious as those of China before the revolution or of India today.

Meanwhile, Stalin’s policy of massive industrialization was going full speed ahead. His great plan for a modern, highly industrialized Soviet Union has been so overwhelmingly successful that we forget that it was adopted only over the bitter opposition of most of the Party leaders, who thought it a utopian and therefore suicidal dream. Having overcome this opposition on both the right and “left,” Stalin in 1929 instituted the first five-year plan in the history of the world.

It was quickly over fulfilled. By the early 1930s the Soviet Union had clearly become both the inspiration and the main material base area for the world revolution. And it was soon will prove much more than a match for the next military onslaught from the capitalist powers, which Stalin had predicted and armed against.

This brings us to the second great crux of the Stalin question, the “left” criticism, originating with Trotsky and then widely disseminated by the theorists of what used to be called “the New Left.” This criticism holds that Stalin was just a nationalist who sold out revolution throughout the rest of the world. The debate ranges over all the key events of twentieth-century history and can be only touched on in an essay.

Stalin’s difference with Trotsky on the peasantry was not confined to the role of the peasantry within the Soviet Union.

Trotsky saw very little potential in the national liberation movements in those parts of the world that were still basically peasant societies. He argued that revolution would come first to the advanced capitalist countries of Europe and North America and would then spread to the “uncivilized” areas of the world. Stalin, on the other hand saw that the national liberation movements of Asia, Africa, and Latin America were key to the development of the world revolution because objectively they were leading the fight against imperialism.

We see this argument developed clearly as early as 1924, In “The Foundations of Leninism,” where he argues that “the struggle that the Egyptian merchants and bourgeois intellectuals are waging for the independence of Egypt is objectively a revolutionary struggle, despite the bourgeois origin and bourgeois title of the leaders of the Egyptian national movement, despite the fact that they are opposed to socialism; whereas the struggle that the British ‘Labor’ movement is waging to preserve Egypt’s dependent position is for the same reasons a reactionary struggle, despite the proletarian origins and the proletarian title of the members of hat government, despite the fact that they are ‘for’ socialism. To most European Marxists, this was some kind of barbarian heresy. But Ho Chi Minh expressed the view of many Communists from the colonies in that same year, 1924, when he recognized that Stalin was the leader of the only Party that stood with the national liberation struggles and when he agreed with Stalin that the viewpoint of most other so-called Marxists on the national question was nothing short of “counterrevolutionary” (Ho Chi Minh Report on the National and Colonial Questions at the Fifth Congress of the Communist International).

The difference between Stalin’s line and Trotsky’s line and the falsification of what Stalin’s line was, can be seen most clearly on the question of the Chinese revolution. The typical “left” view prevalent today is represented in David Horowitz’s The Free World Colossus (1965), which asserts “Stalin’s continued blindness to the character and potential of the Chinese Revolution.” Using as his main source a Yugoslav biography of Tito, Horowitz blandly declares: “Even after the war, when it was clear to most observers that Chiang was finished, Stalin did not think much of the prospects of Chinese Communism” (p. Ill).

Mao’s opinion of Stalin is a little different:

Rallied around him, we constantly received advice from him, constantly drew ideological strength from his works…. It is common knowledge that Comrade Stalin ardently loved the Chinese people and considered that the forces of the Chinese revolution were immeasurable.

He displayed the greatest wisdom in matters pertaining to the Chinese revolution. . . . Sacredly preserving the memory of our great teacher Stalin, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people . . . will even more perseveringly study Stalin’s teaching …. (“A Great Friendship,” 1953)

It is possible that this statement can be viewed as a formal tribute made shortly after Stalin’s death and before it was safe to criticize Stalin within the international Communist movement. But years later, after the Russian attack on Stalin and after it was unsafe not to spit on Stalin’s memory, the Chinese still consistently maintained their position. In 1961, after listening to Khrushchev’s rabid denunciations of Stalin at the Twenty-second Party Congress, Chou En-lai ostentatiously laid a wreath on Stalin’s tomb. Khrushchev and his supporters then disinterred Stalin’s body, but the Chinese responded to this in 1963 by saying that Khrushchev “can never succeed in removing the great image of Stalin from the minds of the Soviet people and of the people throughout the world.” (“On the Question of Stalin”)

In fact, as his 1927 essay on China included in this collection shows, Stalin very early outlined the basic theory of the Chinese revolution. Trotsky attacks this theory, which he sneers at as “guerrilla adventure,” because it is not based on the cities as the revolutionary centers, because it relies on class allies of the proletariat, particularly the peasantry, and because it is primarily anti-feudal and anti-imperialist rather than focused primarily against Chinese capitalism.

After 1927, when the first liberated base areas were established in the countryside, Trotsky claimed that this revolution could no longer be seen as proletarian but as a mere peasant rebellion, and soon he began to refer to its guiding theory as the Stalin-Mao line. To this day, Trotskyites around the world deride the Chinese revolution as a mere “Stalinist bureaucracy.” The Chinese themselves do acknowledge that at certain points Stalin gave some incorrect tactical advice, but they are quick to add that he always recognized and corrected these errors and was self-critical about them. They are very firm in their belief that they could not have made their revolution without his general theory, his over-all leadership of the world revolutionary movement, and the firm rear area and base of material support he provided. Thus the only really valid major criticism comes from anti-Communists, because without Stalin, at least according to the Chinese, the Communists would not have won.

Stalin’s role in the Spanish Civil War likewise comes under fire from the “left.” Again taking their cue from Trotsky and such professional anti-Communist ideologues as George Orwell, many “socialists” claim that Stalin sold out the Loyalists. A similar criticism is made about Stalin’s policies in relation to the Greek partisans in the late 1940s, which we will discuss later. According to these “left” criticisms, Stalin didn’t “care” about either of these struggles, because of his preoccupation with internal development and “Great Russian power.” The simple fact of the matter is that in both cases Stalin was the only national leader anyplace in the world to support the popular forces, and he did this in the face of stubborn opposition within his own camp and the dangers of military attack from the leading aggressive powers in the world (Germany and Italy in the late 1930s, the U.S. ten years later).

Because the U.S.S.R., following Stalin’s policies, had become a modem industrial nation by the mid-1930s, it was able to ship to the Spanish Loyalists Soviet tanks and planes that were every bit as advanced as the Nazi models. Because the U.S.S.R. was the leader of the world revolutionary forces, Communists from many nations were able to organize the International Brigades, which went to resist Mussolini’s fascist divisions and the crack Nazi forces, such as the Condor Legion, that were invading the Spanish Republic. The capitalist powers, alarmed by this international support for the Loyalists, planned joint action to stop it. In March 1937, warships of Germany, Italy, France, and Great Britain began jointly policing the Spanish coast. Acting on a British initiative, these same countries formed a bloc in late 1937 to isolate the Soviet Union by implementing a policy they called “non-intervention,” which Lloyd George, as leader of the British Opposition, labeled a clear policy of support for the fascists. Mussolini supported the British plan and called for a’ campaign “to drive Bolshevism from Europe.” Stalin’s own foreign ministry, which was still dominated by aristocrats masquerading as proletarian revolutionaries, sided with the capitalist powers. The New York Times of October 29, 1937, describes how the “unyielding” Stalin, representing “Russian stubbornness,” refused to go along: “A struggle has been going on all this week between Joseph Stalin and Foreign Commissar Maxim Litvinoff,” who wished to accept the British plan. Stalin stuck to his guns, and the Soviet Union refused to grant Franco international status as a combatant, insisting that it had every right in the world to continue aiding the duly elected government of Spain, which it did until the bitter end.

The Spanish Civil War was just one part of the world-wide imperialist aims of the Axis powers. Japan was pushing ahead in its conquest of Asia. Japanese forces overran Manchuria in 1931; only nine years after the Red Army had driven them out of Siberia, and then invaded China on a full-scale.

Ethiopia fell to Italy in 1936. A few months later, Germany and Japan signed an anti-Comintern pact, which was joined by Italy in 1937. In 1938, Germany invaded Austria. Hitler, who had come to power on a promise to rid Germany and the world of the Red menace, was now almost prepared to launch his decisive strike against the Soviet Union.

The other major capitalist powers surveyed the scene with mixed feelings. On one hand, they would have liked nothing better than to see the Communist threat ended once and for all, particularly with the dirty work being done by the fascist nations. On the other hand, they had to recognize that fascism was then the ideology of the have-not imperialists, upstarts whose global aims included a challenge to the hegemony of France, Britain, and the United States. Should they move now to check these expansionists’ aims or should they let them develop unchecked, hoping that they would move against the Soviet Union rather than Western Europe and the European colonies in Asia and Africa?

In 1938 they found the answer, a better course than either of these two alternatives. They would appease Hitler by giving him the Sudetenland of Czechoslovakia. This would not only dissuade the Nazis from attacking their fellow capitalists to the west, but it would also remove the last physical barriers to the east, the mountains of the Czech Sudetenland. All logic indicated to them that they had thus gently but firmly turned the Nazis eastward, and even given them a little shove in that direction. Now all they had to do was to wait, and, after the fascist powers and the Soviet Union had devastated each other, they might even be able to pick up the pieces. So they hailed the Munich agreement of September 30, 1938, as the guarantee of “Peace in our time”-for them.

Stalin had offered to defend Czechoslovakia militarily against the Nazis if anyone of the European capitalist countries would unite with the Soviet Union in this effort. The British and the French had evaded what they considered this trap, refusing to allow the Soviet Union even to participate at Munich. They now stepped back and waited, self-satisfied, to watch the Reds destroyed. It seemed they didn’t have long to wait. Within a few months, Germany seized all of Czechoslovakia, giving some pieces of the fallen republic to its allies Poland and Hungary.

By mid-March 1939 the Nazis had occupied Bohemia and Moravia, the Hungarians had seized Carpatho-Ukraine, and Germany had formally annexed Memel. At the end of that month, Madrid fell and all of Spain surrendered to the fascists. On May 7, Germany and Italy announced a formal military and political alliance. The stage was set for the destruction of the Soviet Union.

Four days later, on May 11, 1939, the first attack came.

The crack Japanese army that had invaded Manchuria struck Into the Soviet Union. The Soviet-Japanese war of 1939 is conveniently omitted from our history books, but this war, together with the Anglo-French collaboration with the Nazis and fascists in the west, form the context for another of Stalin’s great “crimes,” the Soviet-German non-aggression pact of August 1939. Stalin recognized that the main aim of the Axis was to destroy the Soviet Union, and that the other capitalist nations were conniving with this scheme. He also knew that sooner or later the main Axis attack would come on the U.S.S.R.’s western front. Meanwhile, Soviet forces were being diverted to the east, to fend off the Japanese invaders. The non-aggression pact with Nazi Germany, which horrified and disillusioned Communist sympathizers, particularly intellectuals, in the capitalist nations, was actually one of the most brilliant strategic moves of Stalin’s life, and perhaps of diplomatic  history. From the Soviet point of view it accomplished five things:

(1) it brought needed time to prepare for the Nazi attack, which was thus delayed two years;


(2) it allowed the Red Army to concentrate on smashing the Japanese invasion, without having to fight on two fronts; they decisively defeated the Japanese within three months;


(3) it allowed the Soviet Union to retake the sections of White Russia and the Ukraine that had been invaded by Poland during the Russian Civil War and were presently occupied by the Polish military dictatorship; this meant that the forthcoming Nazi invasion would have to pass through a much larger area defended by the Red Army;


(4) it also allowed Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which also had been part of Russia before the Civil War, to become part of the U.S.S.R. as Soviet Republics; this meant that the forthcoming Nazi attack could not immediately outflank Leningrad;


(5) most important of all, it destroyed the Anglo-French strategy of encouraging a war between the Axis powers and the Soviet Union while they enjoyed neutrality; World War II was to begin as a war between the Axis powers and the other capitalist nations, and the Soviet Union, if forced into it, was not going to have to fight alone against the combined fascist powers. The worldwide defeat of the fascist Axis was in part a product of Stalin’s diplomatic strategy, as well as his later military strategy.

But before we get to that, we have to go back in time to the events for which Stalin has been most damned-the purge, trials. Most readers of this book have been taught that the major defendants in these trials were innocent, and that here we see most clearly Stalin’s vicious cruelty and paranoia.

This is certainly not the place to sift through all the evidence and retry the major defendants, but we must recognize that there is a directly contradictory view of the trials and that there is plenty of evidence to support that view.

It is almost undeniable that many of the best-known defendants had indeed organized clandestine groups whose aim was to overthrow the existing government. It is also a fact that Kirov, one of the leaders of that government, was murdered by a secret group on December 1, 1934. And it is almost beyond dispute that there were systematic, very widespread, and partly successful attempts, involving party officials, to sabotage the development of Soviet industry. Anyone who doubts this should read an article entitled “Red Wreckers in Russia” in the Saturday Evening Post, January 1, 1938, in which John Littlepage, an anti-Communist American engineer, describes in detail what he saw of this sabotage while he was working in the Soviet Union. In fact, Littlepage gives this judgment:

For ten years I have worked alongside some of the many recently shot, imprisoned or exiled in Russia as wreckers. Some of my friends have asked me whether or not I believe these men and women are guilty as charged. I have not hesitated a moment in replying that I believe most of them are guilty.

To those who hold the orthodox U.S. view of the purge trials, perhaps the most startling account is the book Mission to Moscow, by Joseph E. Davies, U. S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1936 to 1938. Davies is a vigorous defender of capitalism and a former head of the U. S. Chamber of Commerce. An experienced trial lawyer, he points out that, “I had myself prosecuted and defended men charged with crime in many cases.” He personally attended the purge trials on a regular basis. Most of his accounts and judgments are contained in official secret correspondence to the State Department; the sole purpose of these dispatches was to provide realistic an assessment as possible of what was actually going on. His summary judgment in his confidential report to the Secretary of State on March 17, 1938, is:

….. it is my opinion so far as the political defendants are concerned sufficient crimes under Soviet law, among those charged in the indictment, were established by the proof and beyond a reasonable doubt to justify the verdict of guilty of treason and the adjudication of the punishment provided by Soviet criminal statutes. The opinion of those diplomats who attended the trial most regularly was general that the case had established the fact that there was a formidable political opposition and an exceedingly serious plot, which explained to the diplomats man! of the hitherto unexplained developments of the last six months in the Soviet Union. The only difference of opinion that seemed to exist was the degree to which the plot had been implemented by different defendants and the degree to which the conspiracy had become centralized. (po 272 )

Davies himself admits to being puzzled and confused at the time because of the vast scope of the conspiracy and its concentration high into the Soviet government. It is only later, after the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, in the summer of 1941, that Davies feels he understands what he actually occurred.

Thinking over these things, there came a flash in my mind of a possible new significance to some of the things that happened in Russia when I was there.

None of us in Russia in 1937 and 1938 were thinking in terms of “Fifth Column” activities. The phrase was not current. It is comparatively recent that we have found in our language phrases descriptive of Nazi technique such as “Fifth Column” and “internal aggression.”…

As I ruminated over this situation, I suddenly saw the picture as I should have seen it at the time. The story had been told in the so-called treason or purge trials of 1937 and 1938 which I had attended and listened to. In reexamining the record of these cases and also what I had written at the time from this new angle, I found that practically every device of German Fifth Columnist activity, as we now know it, was disclosed and laid bare by the confessions and testimony elicited at these trials of self-confessed “Quislings” in Russia.

It was clear that the Soviet government believed that these activities existed, was thoroughly alarmed, and had proceeded to crush them vigorously. By 1941, when the German invasion came, they had wiped out any Fifth Column which had been organized.

All of these trials, purges, and liquidations, which seemed so violent at the time and shocked the world, are now quite clearly a part of a vigorous and determined effort of the Stalin government to protect itself from not only revolution from within but from attack from without. They went to work thoroughly to clean up and clean out all treasonable elements within the country. All doubts were resolved in favor of the government. (p. 280)

In 1956, at the Twentieth Party Congress, when Khrushchev launched his famous attack on Stalin, he dredged up all the denunciations of the purge trials circulated for two decades by the Trotskyite and capitalist press. He called Stalin a “murderer,” a “criminal,” a “bandit,” a “despot,” etc.

He asserted the innocence of many who had been imprisoned, exiled, or shot during the purge trials. But in doing so, he conveniently forgot two things: what he had said at the time about those trials, and what Stalin had said. On June 6, 1937, to the Fifth Party Conference of Moscow Province, Khrushchev had declared:

Our Party will mercilessly crush the band of traitors and betrayers, and wipe out all the Trotskyist-Right dregs. . . .We shall totally annihilate the enemies-to the last man and scatter their ashes to the winds.

On June 8, 1938, at the Fourth Party Conference of Kiev province, Khrushchev avowed:

We have annihilated a considerable number of enemies, but still not all. Therefore, it is necessary to keep our eyes open. We should bear firmly in mind the words of Comrade Stalin, that as long as capitalist encirclement exists, spies and saboteurs will be smuggled into our country.

Earlier, at a mass rally in Moscow, in January 1937, Khrushchev had condemned all those who had attacked Stalin in these words: “In lifting their hand against Comrade Stalin, They lifted it against all of us, against the working class and the working people”

As for Stalin himself, on the other hand, he had publicly admitted, not in 1956, but at least as early as 1939, that innocent people had been convicted and punished in the purge:

It cannot be said that the purge was not accompanied by grave mistakes. There were unfortunately more mistakes than might have been expected.” (Report to the Eighteenth Congress.)

That is one reason why many of those tried and convicted in the last trials were high officials from the secret police, the very people guilty of forcing false confessions.

There are certainly good grounds for criticizing both the conduct and the extent of the purge. But that criticism must begin by facing the facts that an anti-Soviet conspiracy did exist within the Party, that it had some ties with the Nazis, who were indeed preparing to invade the country, and that one result of the purge was that the ‘Soviet Union was the only country in all of Europe that, when invaded by the Nazis, did not have an active Fifth Column. It must also recognize that capitalism has since been restored in the Soviet Union, on the initiative of leading members of the Party bureaucracy, and so it is hardly fantastical or merely paranoid to think that such a thing was possible. The key question about the purges is whether there was a better way to prevent either a Nazi victory or the restoration of capitalism. And the answer to that question probably lies in the Chinese Cultural Revolution of 1966-67. Instead of relying on courts and police exiles and executions, the Chinese mobilized hundreds of ‘millions of people to exposé and defeat the emerging Party bureaucracy that was quietly restoring capitalism and actively collaborating with the great imperialist power to the north. But while doing this, they carefully studied Stalin, both for his achievements and for what he was unable to do. For Stalin himself had seen as early as 1928 the need to mobilize mass criticism from below to overcome the rapidly developing Soviet bureaucracy. It is also possible that the two goals the purges tuned to meet were mutually exclusive. That is, the emergency measures necessary to secure the country against foreign invasion may actually have helped the bureaucracy to consolidate its power.

In any event, when the Nazis and their allies did invade they met the most united and fierce resistance encountered by the fascist forces anyplace in the world. Everywhere the people were dedicated to socialism. Even in the Ukraine where the Nazis tried to foment old grievances and anti-Russian nationalism, they never dared meddle with the collective farms. In fact, Stalin’s military strategy in World War II like his strategy during the Russian Civil War was based firmly on the loyalty of the masses of workers, peasants, and soldiers.

Everybody, except for Khrushchev and his friends, who in 1956 tried to paint Stalin as a military incompetent and meddler, recognizes him as a great strategist. ‘

Nazi military strategy was based on the blitzkrieg (lightning war). Spearheaded by highly mobile armor, their way paved by massive air assaults, the Nazi army would break through any static line at a single point, and then spread out rapidly behind that line, cutting off its supplies and then encircling the troops at the front. On April 9, 1940, the Nazis, vastly outnumbered, opened their assault on the combined forces of Denmark, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Great Britain. By June 4, virtually the last of these fighting forces had been evacuated in panic from Dunkirk and each of the continental countries lay under a fascist power, the victim of blitzkrieg combined with internal betrayal. Having secured his entire western front, and then with air power alone having put the great maritime power Britain into a purely defensive position, Hitler could now move his crack armies and his entire air force into position to annihilate the Soviet Union.

The first step was to consolidate Axis control in Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania were already fascist allies. Italy had overrun Albania. By early April 1941 Greece and Yugoslavia were occupied. Crete was seized in May. On June 22, the greatest invasion of all time was hurled at the Soviet heartland.

One hundred seventy-nine German divisions, twenty-two Romanian divisions, fourteen Finnish divisions, thirteen Hungarian divisions, ten Italian divisions, one Slovak division, and one Spanish division, a total of well over three million troops, the best armed and most experienced in the world, attacked along a 2,000-mile front, aiming their spearheads directly at Leningrad, Moscow, and Stalingrad. Instead of holding a line, the Red Army beat an orderly retreat, giving up space for time. Behind them they left nothing but scorched earth and bands of guerrilla fighters, constantly harassing the lengthening fascist supply lines. Before the invaders reached industrial centers such as Kharkov and Smolensk, the workers of these cities disassembled their machines and carried them beyond the Ural Mountains, where production of advanced Soviet tanks, planes, and artillery was to continue throughout the war.

The main blow was aimed directly at the capital, Moscow, whose outskirts were reached by late fall. Almost all the government offices had been evacuated to the east. But Stalin remained in the capital, where he assumed personal command of the war. On December 2, 1941, the Nazis were stopped in the suburbs of Moscow. On December 6, Stalin ordered the first major counterattack to occur in World War II. The following day, Japan, which had wisely decided against renewing their invasion of the Soviet Union, attacked Pearl Harbor.

From December until May the Red Army moved forward, using a strategy devised by Stalin. Instead of confronting the elite Nazi corps head on, the Red forces would divide into smaller units and then move to cut off the fascist supply lines, thus encircling and capturing the spearheads of the blitzkrieg.

This was the ideal counterstrategy, but it depended on a high level of political loyalty, consciousness, and independence on the part of these small units. No capitalist army could implement this strategy. By the end of May 1942 Moscow was safe and the fascist forces had given ground in the Ukraine.

In the early summer, the Nazi forces, heavily reinforced, moved to seize Stalingrad and the Caucasus, thus cutting the Soviet Union in two. The greatest and perhaps the most decisive battle in history was now to take place. The siege of Stalingrad lasted from August 1942 until February 1943. As early as September, the Nazi forces, which were almost as large as the entire U.S. force at its peak in Vietnam, penetrated the city and were stopped only by house-to-house fighting.

But unknown to the Germans, because Soviet security was perfect, they were actually in a vast trap, personally designed by Stalin: A gigantic pincers movement had begun as soon as the fascist forces reached the city. In late November the two Soviet forces met and the trap snapped shut. From this trap 330,000 elite Nazi troops were never to emerge. In February 1943 the remnants, about 100,000 troops, surrendered.

The back of Nazi military power had been broken. The Red Army now moved onto a vast offensive which was not to stop before it had liberated all of Eastern and Central Europe and seized Berlin, the capital of the Nazi empire, in the spring of 1945.

It was the Soviet Union that had beaten the fascist army. The second front, which Great Britain and the U.S. had promised as early as 1942, was not to materialize until June 14, after it was clear that the Nazis had already been decisively defeated. In fact, the Anglo-American invasion was aimed more at stopping communism than defeating fascism. (This invasion took place during the same period that the British Army “liberated” Greece, which had already been liberated by the Communist-led Resistance.) For under Communist leadership, underground resistance movements, based primarily on the working class, had developed throughout Europe. Because the Communists, both from the Soviet Union and within the other European nations, were the leaders of the entire anti-fascist struggle, by the end of the war they had by far the largest parties in all the nations of Eastern and Central Europe, as well as Italy and France, where the fascists’ power had been broken more by internal resistance than by the much-heralded Allied invasion. In fact, it is likely that if the Anglo-American forces had not invaded and occupied Italy and France, within a relatively short time the Communists would have been in power in both countries.

As soon as victory in Germany was assured, in May 1945, much of the Soviet Army began to make the 5,000-mile journey to face the Japanese Army. At Potsdam, July 17 to August 2, Stalin formally agreed to begin combat operations against Japan by August 8. On August 6, the U.S. dropped the first atomic bomb on Japan, in what is now widely considered the opening shot of the so-called “Cold War” against the U.S.S.R. On August 8, the Red Army engaged the main Japanese force, which was occupying Manchuria. The Soviet Army swept forward, capturing Manchuria, the southern half of Sakhalin Island, and the Kuriles, and liberating, by agreement, the northern half of Korea. Except for the Chinese Communist battles with the Japanese, these Soviet victories were probably the largest land engagements in the entire war against Japan.

The Soviet Union had also suffered tremendously while taking the brunt of the fascist onslaught. Between twenty and twenty-five million Soviet citizens gave their lives in defense of their country and socialism. The industrial heartland lay in ruins. The richest agricultural regions had been devastated.

In addition to the seizure of many cities and the destruction of much of Moscow and Stalingrad, there was the desperate condition of Leningrad, which had withstood a massive, two-year Nazi siege.

Once again, the Soviet Union was to perform economic miracles. Between 1945 and 1950 they were to rebuild not only everything destroyed in the war, but vast new industries and agricultural resources. And all this was conducted under the threat of a new attack by the capitalist powers, led by the nuclear blackmail of the U.S., which opened up a worldwide “Cold War” against communism.

Spearheaded by British and rearmed Japanese troops, the French restored their empire in Indochina. U.S. troops occupied the southern half of Korea and established military bases throughout the Pacific. Europe itself became a vast base area for the rapidly expanding U.S. empire, which, despite its very minimal role in the war (or perhaps because of it), was to gain the greatest profit from it. One European showdown against the popular forces occurred in Greece.

Here we meet another “left” criticism of Stalin, similar to that made about his role in Spain but even further removed from the facts of the matter. As in the rest of Eastern Europe and the Balkans, the Communists had led and armed the heroic Greek underground and partisan fighters. In 1944 the British sent an expeditionary force commanded by General Scobie to land in Greece, ostensibly to aid in the disarming of the defeated Nazi and Italian troops. As unsuspecting as the comrades in Vietnam and Korea who were to be likewise ‘assisted’, the Greek partisans were slaughtered by their British allies who used tanks and planes in an all-out offensive, which ended in February 1945 with the establishment of a right-wing dictatorship under a restored monarchy. The British even rearmed and used the defeated Nazi “Security Battalions.” After partially recovering from this treachery, the partisan forces rebuilt then guerrilla apparatus and prepared to resist the combined forces of Greek fascism and Anglo-American imperialism. By late 1948 full-scale civil war raged, with the right-wing forces backed up by the intervention of U.S. planes, artillery, and troops. The Greek resistance had its back broken by another betrayal not at all by Stalin but by Tito, who closed the Yugoslav borders to the Soviet military supplies that were already hard put to reach the landlocked popular forces. This was one of the two main reasons why Stalin, together with the Chinese, led the successful fight to have the Yugoslav “Communist” Party officially thrown out of the international Communist movement.

Stalin understood very early the danger to the world revolution posed by Tito’s ideology, which served as a Trojan horse for U.S. Imperialism. He also saw that Tito’s revisionist ideas, including the development of a new bureaucratic ruling elite, were making serious headway inside the Soviet Union. In 1950, the miraculous postwar reconstruction was virtually complete, and the victorious Chinese revolution had decisively broken through the global anti-Communist encirclement and suppression campaign. At this point Stalin began to turn his attention to the most serious threat to the world revolution, the bureaucratic-technocratic class that had not only emerged inside the Soviet Union but had begun to pose a serious challenge to the leadership of the working class. In the last few years of his life, Joseph Stalin, whom the present rulers of the U.S.S.R. would like to paint as a mad recluse, began to open up a vigorous cultural offensive against the power of this new elite. “Marxism and Linguistics” and “Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.” are milestones in this offensive, major theoretical works aimed at the new bourgeois authorities beginning to dominate various areas of Soviet thought.

In “Economic Problems of Socialism in the U.S.S.R.,” published a few months before his death and intended to serve as a basis for discussion in the Nineteenth Party Congress of 1952, Stalin seeks to measure scientifically how far the Soviet Union had come in the development of socialism and how far it had to go to achieve communism. He criticizes two extreme tendencies in Soviet political economy: mechanical determinism and voluntarism. He sets this criticism within an international context where, he explains, the sharpening of contradictions among the capitalist nations is inevitable.

Stalin points out that those who think that objective laws, whether of socialist or capitalist political economy, can be abolished by will are dreamers. But he reserves his real scorn for those who make the opposite error, the technocrats who assert that socialism is merely a mechanical achievement of a certain level of technology and productivity, forgetting both the needs and the power of the people. He shows that when these technocrats cause “the disappearance of man as the aim of socialist production,” they arrive at the triumph of bourgeois ideology. These proved to be prophetic words.

In his final public speech, made to that Nineteenth Party Congress in 1952, Stalin explains a correct revolutionary line for the parties that have not yet led their revolutions. The victories of the world revolution have constricted the capitalist world, causing the decay of the imperialist powers. Therefore the bourgeoisie of the Western democracies inherit the banners of the defeated fascist powers, with whom they establish a world-wide alliance while turning to fascism at home and the would-be bourgeoisie of the neocolonial nations become merely their puppets. Communists then become the main defenders of the freedoms and progressive principles established by the bourgeoisie when they were a revolutionary class and defended by them until the era of their decay. Communists will lead the majority of people in their respective nations only when they raise and defend the very banners thrown overboard by the bourgeoisie-national independence and democratic freedoms. It is no Surprise that these final words of Stalin have been known only to the Cold War “experts” and have been expunged throughout the Soviet Union and the nations of Eastern Europe.

A few months after this speech, Stalin died. Very abruptly, the tide of revolution was temporarily reversed. Stalin’s death came in early March 1953. By that July, the new leaders of the Soviet Union forced the Korean people to accept a division of their nation and a permanent occupation of the southern half by US forces. A year later, they forced the victorious Viet Minh liberation army, which had thoroughly defeated the French despite massive U.S. aid, to withdraw from the entire southern half of that country, while the U.S. proclaimed that its faithful puppet, Ngo Dinh Diem, was now president of the fictitious nation of South Vietnam. When the Chinese resisted their global sellouts of the revolution, these new Soviet leaders first tried to destroy the Chinese economy, then tried to overthrow the government from within and when that failed, actually began aimed incursions by Russian troops under a policy of nuclear blackmail copied from the U.S. In Indonesia, the Soviet Union poured ammunition and spare parts into the right-wing military forces while they were massacring half a million Communists, workers, and peasants.

And so on, around the world. Meanwhile, internally, they restored capitalism as rapidly as they could. By the mid-1960s, unemployment had appeared in the Soviet Union for the first time since the first Five Year Plan. By the end of the 1960s, deals had been made with German, Italian, and Japanese capitalism for the exploitation of Soviet labor and vast Soviet resources.

From an anti-Communist point of view, Stalin was certainly one of the great villains of history. While he lived, the Red forces consolidated their power in one country and then led what seemed to be an irresistible world-wide revolutionary upsurge. By the time he died, near hysteria reigned in the citadels of capitalism. In Washington, frenzied witch hunts tried to ferret out the Red menace that was supposedly about to seize control of the last great bastion of capitalism. All this changed, for the time being, after Stalin’s death, when the counterrevolutionary forces were able to seize control even within the Soviet Union.

From a Communist point of view, Stalin was certainly one of the greatest of revolutionary leaders. But still we must ask why it was that the Soviet Union could fall so quickly to a new capitalist class. For Communists, it is as vital to understand Stalin’s weaknesses and errors as it is to understand his historic achievements.

Stalin’s main theoretical and practical error lay in underestimating the bourgeois forces within the superstructure of Soviet society. It is ridiculous to pose the problem the way we customarily hear it posed: that the seeds of capitalist restoration were sown under Stalin. This assumes that the Soviet garden was a Communist paradise, totally free of weeds, which then somehow dropped in from the skies. Socialism, as Stalin saw more keenly than anybody before, is merely a transitional stage on the way to communism. It begins with the conquest of political power by the working class, but that is only a bare beginning. Next comes the much more difficult task of establishing socialist economic forms, including a high level of productivity based on collective labor. Most difficult of all is the cultural revolution, in which socialist ideas and attitudes, based on collective labor and the political power of the working people, overthrow the bourgeois world view, based on competition, ambition, and the quest for personal profit and power and portraying “human nature” as corrupt, vicious, and selfish, that is, as the mirror image of bourgeois man.

Stalin succeeded brilliantly in carrying through the political and economic revolutions. That he failed in consolidating the Cultural Revolution under the existing internal and external conditions can hardly be blamed entirely on him. He certainly saw the need for it, particularly when the time seemed most ripe to make it a primary goal, in the 1950s. But it must be admitted that he underestimated the threat posed by the new intelligentsia, as we see most strikingly in the “Report to the Eighteenth Party Congress,” where he unstintingly praises them and denies that they could constitute a new social class.

This error in theory led to an error in practice in which, despite his earlier calls for organizing mass criticism from below, he tended to rely on one section of the bureaucracy to check or defeat another. He was unwilling to unleash a real mass movement like the Chinese Cultural Revolution, and, as a result, the masses were made increasingly less capable of carrying out such a gigantic task. All this is easy to say in hindsight, now that we have the advantage of having witnessed the Chinese success, which may prove to be the most important single event in human history. But who would have had the audacity to recommend such a course in the face of the Nazi threat of the late 1930s or the U.S. threat after World War II, when the Soviet Union lay in ruins? In 1967, when the Chinese Cultural Revolution was at its height and the country was apparently in chaos, many revolutionaries around the world were dismayed. Certainly, they acknowledged, China had to have a cultural revolution. But not at that moment, when the Vietnamese absolutely needed that firm rear base area and when U.S. imperialism was apparently looking for any opening to smash China. And so it must have looked to Stalin, who postponed the Soviet Cultural Revolution until it was too late.

It is true that socialism in the Soviet Union has been reversed. But Stalin must be held primarily responsible not for its failure to achieve communism but rather for its getting as far along the road as it did. It went much further than the “left” and the right Opposition, the capitalists, and almost everybody in the world thought possible. It went far enough to pass the baton to a fresher runner, the workers and peasants of China, who, studying and emulating Stalin, have already gone even further, as we are beginning to see.

Why Yugoslavia was Expelled from the Cominform

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“After prolonged discussion the Information Bureau adopted a resolution Concerning the Situation in the Communist Party of Yugoslavia which was made public by press and radio. The resolution contained a series of profound criticisms of the policy of the Yugoslav Communist leadership, and above all of the four figures who in a literal sense dominated the Party—Tito, Kardelj, Djilas and Rankovic.

The Main Criticisms

The Resolution state that in the recent period preceding the meeting of the Communist Information Bureau the leadership of the Yugoslav Communist Party had: “pursued an incorrect line on the main questions of home and foreign policy, a line which represents a departure from Marxism-Leninism.”

It approved the action of the C.P.S.U.(B) which had taken the initiative in expoising the incorrect policy.

It pointed out that in a whole number of ways the Yugoslav Communist leaders had been pursuing an unfriendly policy towards the Soviet Union and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. It revealed that, for instance, slanders were being spread about the Soviet military experts who were visiting Yugoslavia on the invitation of the Yugoslav authorities, that a “special regime” had been instituted for Soviet civilian experts in Yugoslavia, who were being watched and followed by Yugoslav security police, that representatives of the Information Bureau in Yugoslavia, like Yudin, the Editor of its journal For a Lasting Peace, for a People’s Democracy, were being shadowed by secret police, and that similer treatment was being dealt out to official Soviet representatives in Yugoslavia. Yugoslav Party and Government statements on the U.S.S.R. And the C.P.S.U.(B) remained friendly on the surface and were expressed in terms of gratitutde and admiration. But at the same time anti-Soviet propaganda was being spread inside the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party: there was talk of the “degeneration” of the Soviet Union and of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, these slanders being couched in the old language of counter-revolutionary Trotskyism.

The resolution outlined three ways in which Tito, Kardelj, Djilas, Rankovic and other Yugoslav leaders were rejecting the experience of the international labour movement, and above all the experience of building socialism in the U.S.S.R., and were turning from both the theory and practice of Marxism-Leninism.

(1) They were putting forward a theory of a smooth and peaceful transition to socialism, in the style and tradition of the Mensheviks and of Ramsay Macdonald.

“They deny that there is a growth of capitalist elements in their country and consequently a sharpening of the class struggle in the countryside.”

(2) They were refusing to recognise any class differentiation among the peasantry. Yet if their aim of building socialism was a sincere one, they would have had to differentiate, both in theory and practice, in their attitude towards different categories of peasants.

“The Yugoslav leaders are pursuing an incorrect policy in the countryside by ignoring the class differtientation in the countryside and by regarding the individual peasants as a single entity, contrary to the well-known Leninist thesis that small, individual farming gives birth to capitalism and the bourgeoisie, continually, daily, hourly, spontaneously and on a mass scale.”

(3) They were rejecting, both in theory and practice, what had been taught consistently by Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin, and confirmed by the whole history of the working-class movement, that the working class is the only consistently revolutionary class, and that only under its leadership can the transition to socialism be realised.

“Concerning the leading role of the working class, the leaders of the Yugoslav Communist Party, by affirming that the peasantry is the ‘most stable foundation of the Yugoslav State,’ are departing from the Marxist-Leninist path and are taking the path of a populist, kulak Party.”

The resolution then proceeded to criticise in the severest terms the conception of the role and organisation of the Communist Party itself, revealed in the theory and practice of the Yugoslav Communist Party.

It showed how the Party was being dissolved into the wide Popular Front organisation:

“In Yugoslavia…the People’s Front, and not the Communist Party, is considered to be the main leading force in the country. The Yugoslav leaders belittle the role of the Communist Party and actually dissolve the Party into the non-Party People’s Front.”

Inside the Party what the resolution called a “Turkish regime,” a system of military despotism exercised by a small power-group from above, had replaced the Marxist-Leninist principles of democratic centralism. A system of issuing commands from above, which had to be obeyed without questioning or discussion, had replaced criticism and self-criticism within the Party:

“There is no inner Party democracy, no elections and no criticism and self-criticism in the Party.”

Far from heeding the criticisms of the C.P.S.U.(B) and of the other fraternal Communist Parties, the Yugoslav leaders witheld this criticism from their own members, took it as an insult and rudely rejected it without discussion:

“Instead of honestly accepting this criticism and taking the Bolshevik path of correcting these mistakes, the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia, suffering from boundless ambition, arrogance and conceit, met this criticism with belligerance and hostility.”

The resolution made it quite clear that the Yugoslav Communist Party was not expelled from the Communist Information Bureau because of its mistakes and incorrect policy. Any individual, Communist Party branch or even Central Committee can make mistakes. It was not even expelled because it would not accept the criticisms made. It often takes time, a prolonged period of deep discussion, for a Party organisation or member to come to understand and correct a mistaken policy.

But to refuse to discuss criticisms made by some of the most leading and experienced Communists in the world, above all the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, to withold those criticisms from the membership, to refuse to come and meet with the representatives of the other eight Communist Parties, was a course of action which could not but place the Yugoslav Communist leadership outside the family of Communist Parties:

“…the leaders of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia have places themselves in opposition to the Communist Parties affiliated to the Information Bureau, have taken the path of seceding from the united socialist front against imperialism, have taken the path of betraying the cause of international solidarity of the working people, and have taken up a position of nationalism…the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia has placed itself and the Yugoslav Party outside the family of the fraternal Communist Parties, outside the united Communist front, and consequently outside the ranks of the Information Bureau.”

The resolution closed with a stern warning. Nationalist elements, previously disguised, has in the course of the first half of 1948 reached controlling positions in the leadership of the Yugoslav Party. The Party had broken with its international traditions and taken the road of bourgeois nationalism. Tito, Kardelj, Djilas, Rankovic and their group were hoping to curry favour with the Western imperialists by making concessions to them. They were putting forward the bourgeois nationalist thesis that “capitalist states are a lesser danger to the independence of Yugoslavia than the Soviet Union.” They were turning from friendship with the U.S.S.R. And looking westwards. Such conduct could only have one end:

“…such a nationalist line can only lead to Yugoslavia’s degeneration into an ordinary bourgeois republic, to the loss of its independence and to its transformation into a colony of the imperialist countries.”

This warning seemed harsh to some people at the time. But in the three years that have elapsed since the first publication, it has been confirmed in every detail. The logic of history is inescapable. Between the camp of peace and the camp of war there is no third path. And the nationalist policy of Tito’s gang led straight to the camp of reaction.

 – James Klugmann, “From Trotsky to Tito,” page 8-11.

Enver Hoxha on Earl Browder

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“The first current which preceded the modern revisionism in power was Browderism. This current was born in the United States of America and took its name from the former general secretary of the Communist Party of the USA, Earl Browder.

In 1944, when the victory of the peoples over fascism was clearly on the horizon, Browder came out publicly with a program which was reformist from start to finish. He was the first herald of that line of ideological and political capitulation which American imperialism was to strive to impose on the communist parties and the revolutionary movement. Under the pretext of the alleged change in the historical conditions of the development of capitalism and the international situation, Browder proclaimed Marxism-Leninism “out-dated”, and called it a system of rigid dogmas and schemes. Browder advocated giving up the class struggle and called for class conciliation on a national and international scale. He thought that American capitalism was no longer reactionary, that it could cure the ills of bourgeois society, and could develop in democratic ways for the good of the working people.

He no longer saw socialism as an ideal, as an objective to be achieved. American imperialism with its strategy and policy had disappeared completely from his field of vision. For Browder, the big monopolies, the pillars of this imperialism, constituted a progressive force for the democratic, social and economic development of the country. Browder denied the class character of the capitalist state, and considered American society a unified and harmonious society, without social antagonisms, a society in which understanding and class co-operation prevailed. On the basis of these concepts Browder also denied the need for the existence of the revolutionary party of the working class. He became an initiator of the disbanding of the Communist Party of the United States of America in 1944.

“The Communists,” he wrote, “foresee that the practical political aims they hold will for a long time be in agreement on all essential points with the aims of a much larger body of non-Communists, and that, therefore, our political actions will be merged in such larger movements. The existence of a separate political party of Communists, therefore, no longer serves a practical purpose but can be, on the contrary, an obstacle to the larger unity. The Communists will, therefore, dissolve their separate political party, and find a new and different organizational form and name, corresponding more accurately to the tasks of the day and the political structure through which these tasks must be performed.”(E. Browder)

Browder took the Conference of allied powers which was held in Teheran in 1943 as his starting point and justification for the formulation of his bourgeois liquidatory theory and made a completely distorted and anti-Marxist analysis and interpretation of the results of this conference.

Browder presented the agreement of the anti-fascist allies to carry the war against Hitlerite Germany through to the end as the beginning of a new historical epoch, in which socialism and capitalism had found the way to co-operation within “one and the same world”, as he expressed it. Browder presented it as a duty to ensure that the spirit of co-operation and peaceful coexistence between the allied powers, which emerged from Teheran, should be applied not only between the Soviet socialist state and those capitalist states, but also within the capitalist country in relations between antagonistic classes. “Class differences and political groups now no longer have any importance,” said Browder. He considered the achievement of “national unity”, without incidents and in an atmosphere of class peace, the sole objective which the communists, should set themselves, and he understood this national unity as a bloc uniting the groups of finance capital, the organizations of monopolists, the Republican and Democratic parties, and the communists and trade union movements, all of which, without exception, he considered “democratic and patriotic” forces. For the sake of this unity Browder declared that communists must be ready to sacrifice even their convictions, their ideology and special interests, that the American communists have applied this rule to themselves first of all. “The political aims which we hold with the majority of the Americans,” says he, “we will attempt to advance through the existing party structure of our country, which in the main is that of the peculiarly American ‘two-party’ system”. (E.Browder)

Confused by the relatively peaceful development of American capitalism following the well-known reforms which the American President Roosevelt undertook in order to emerge from the economic crisis at the beginning of the 30’s, as well as by the rapid growth of production and employment during the war period, Browder drew the conclusion that American capitalism had allegedly been rejuvenated, that now it would develop without crises and would ensure the raising of the general well-being, etc.

He considered the American economic system to be a system capable of resolving all the contradictions and problems of society and fulfilling all the demands of the masses. He equated communism with Americanism and declared that “communism is the Americanism of the 20th century”. According to Browder, all the developed capitalist countries could resolve every conflict and go gradually to socialism by using bourgeois democracy, for which American democracy had to be the model. Therefore, Browder considered that the task of American communists was to ensure the normal functioning of the capitalist regime, and declared openly that they were ready to co-operate to ensure the efficient functioning of the capitalist regime in the post-war period, in order to “ensure the greatest possible lightening of obligations which are a burden on the people”. According to him, this lightening of burdens would be done by the “reasonable” American capitalists, to whom the communists must extend the hand of friendship.

In conformity with his ultra-rightist concepts and submitting to the pressure of the bourgeoisie, after the disbanding of the Communist Party. in May 1944, Browder announced the creation, in place of the party, of a cultural and illuminist association called the “Communist Political Association”, justifying this with the argument that the American tradition allegedly demanded the existence of only two parties. This association, organized as a network of clubs, was to engage mainly in “activity of political education on a national, regional and local plane”.

The Constitution of this association says: “The Communist Political Association is a nonparty organization of Americans which, basing itself upon the working class, carries forward the tradition of Washington, Jefferson Paine, Jackson and Lincoln under the changed conditions of modem industrial society,” that this association “…upholds the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution and its Bill of Rights, and tile achievements of American democracy against all the enemies of popular liberties.” (The Path to Paece, Progress and prosperity, New York 1944 pp.47-48) Browder wiped out all the objectives of the communist movement. In the program of the Association there is, no mention of Marxism-Leninism, the hegemony of the proletariat, the class struggle, the revolution or socialism. National, unity, social peace, defence of the bourgeois Constitution and the increase of the capitalist production became its only objectives.

In this way, Browder went over from open revision of the fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism and the revolutionary strategy and tactics to the organizational liquidation of the communist movement in the United States of America. Although the party was re-formed at its 13th Congress in June 1945, and the opportunist line of Browder was formally rejected, his influence was never eliminated in the Commumst Party of the USA. Later, especially after 1956, the ideas, of Browder flourished again and John Hayes in an article entitled “The Time for Change Has Come”, (Political Affairs, October 1956) once again demanded in the spirit of Browderism the turning of the Communist Party of the USA into a cultural and propaganda association. And in fact, that is what the Communist Party of the USA is today an organization in which the revisionism of Browder combined with that of Khrushchev prevails.

With his revisionist concepts about the revolution and socialism, Browder gave world capitalism direct aid. According to Browder, socialism arises only from some great cataclysm, from some catastrophe, and not as an inevitable result of historical development. “We do not desire any catastrophe for America, even if such a thing would lead to socialism,”. he said. While presenting the prospect of the triumph of socialism as very remote, he advocated class collaboration in. American society and throughout the world. According to him, the only alternative was that of-‘ development by evolution, through reforms and with the aid of the United States of America.

According to Browder, the United States of America, which possessed colossal economic power and great scientific-technical potential, had to. assist the peoples of the world, including the Soviet Union, for their “development”. This “aid”, said Browder, would help America maintain high rates of production after the war, ensure work for all, and preserve the national unity for many years. To this end, Browder advised the magnates of Washington that they should set up a “series of giant industrial development corporations for the various devastated and undeveloped regions of the world, Europe, Africa, Asia, Latin America.,”(The Path to Peace, Progress and Prosperity, new York 1944, pp.21) “If we can face realities without flinching, and revive in modern terms the grand tradition of Jefferson, Paine, and Lincoln, then America can face the world united, assuming a leading part… in the salvation of mankind…” (E.Browder, Theheran, Our Path in war and Peace, New York 1944 p.128) In this way, Browder became the spokesman and propagandist of the grand strategy of American imperialism, and its expansionist neo-colonialist theories and plans.

Browderism directly assisted the -Marshall Plan- through which the United States of America aimed to establish its economic hegemony in the different war-devastated countries of Europe, Asia, Africa, etc.

Browder advocated that the ,countries of the world, and especially the countries of people’s democracy and the Soviet Union, ought to soften their Marxist-Leninist policy and accept the -“altruistic” aid of the United States of America, which, according to him, has a colossal economy and huge surpluses which can and should serve all peoples(!).

Browder tried to present his anti-Marxist and counterrevolutionary views as the general line of the international communist movement. Under the pretext of the creative development of Marxism and the struggle against dogmatism, he, like all the earlier revisionists, tried to argue that the new epoch after the Second World War required a communist movement which would reexamine its former ideological convictions and relinquish its old “formulas and prejudices”, which, according to him, “cannot help us at all to find our way in the new world”. This was a call for rejection of the principles of Marxism-Lemnism.

Browder’s views encountered the opposition of the communist parties of several countries, as well as of the revolutionary American communists themselves. Browderism was exposed relatively quickly as undisguised revisionism, as an openly liquidationist current, as a direct ideological agency of American imperialism.

Browderism did great damage to the communist and workers’ movement of the United States of America and some Latin-American countries. Upsets and splits occurred in some of the old communist parties of Latin America, and these had their source in the activity of opportunist elements who, weary of the revolutionary struggle, grasped at any means with which American imperialism provided them to quell the revolts of the peoples and the revolution, and to spread decay in the parties, which were working for the education and preparation of the peoples for revolution.

ln Europe, Browderism did not have the success it had in South America, although this seed of American imperialism was not left unabsorbed by those disguised anti-Marxist and anti-Leninist reformist elements who were awaiting or preparing the suitable moments, to deviate openly from the scientific Marxist-Leninist ideology.

Although in its own time Browderism did. not manage to become a revisionist current with broad international proportions, the other modern revisionists who came later revived its views and made them their own. These views, in various forms, remain the basis of the political and ideological platforms of the Chinese and Yugoslav revisionists, as well as of the Eurocommunist parties of Western Europe.”

Enver Hoxha, “Eurocommunism is Anti-Communism”

Tribute to Stjepan Filipović

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Filipović was a Croatian Partisan who was executed during World War II. He was the commander of the Yugoslav Partisans’ Tamnavsko-Kolubarski unit in Valjevo. He was captured on February 24th, 1942 and subsequently hanged on May 22.

As the rope was put around his neck, Filipović defiantly thrust his hands out and denounced the Axis forces as murderers, shouting “Smrt fašizmu, sloboda narodu!” or “Death to fascism, freedom to the people!” He urged the Yugoslav people to resist and implored them to never cease resisting. At this moment, a subsequently famous photograph was taken.

A member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia since 1940, he was posthumously declared a People’s Hero of Yugoslavia. The town of Valjevo has a statue dedicated to him.

Stjepan Filipović (Jan. 27th, 1916 – May 22nd, 1942)

Revolutionary Communist Party of Turkey (TDKP): On the hidden inter-imperialist war and the imperialist plan for Yugoslavia

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Article originally printed in 1999

The Nato operation on Yugoslavia has in fact proved once again to be a concealed and indirect inter-imperialist war. It seems that all imperialists were united behind this operation which was claimed to be for humanitarian reasons. However, different plans set for the solution of the problem continue to show the conflicts between Russia, European Union and the US.

In this process, old conflicts between the EU and the US have emerged with new appearances. Especially after the disintegration of the USSR, Germany, planning to be more influential in Central Asia and the Caucasus and to get its share from the oil and natural gas resources, tried to control the conflict in the Balkans to open the path for its own interests. This led to a confrontation with the US which has similar objectives in mind. While the US has won the support of Britain, Germany received the occasional support of Italy, Austria and France, in accordance with the changing balance of power. While the US tried to use Nato as an instrument for achieving its plans, the EU tried to keep Nato under its control via the UN. Faced with this complicated and changing combination of allies Russia supported Yugoslavia in order to strengthen its influence in the Balkans, and to create the ground for an alliance against Nato. Based on the fact that this problem was not a regional one but a problem related to imperialist plans on the Caucasus, the Middle East and Central Asia, Russia’s aim was to stop the attack at its beginning and to spoil the US and EU plans on Yugoslavia.

Obviously, the US and Britain, its closest ally, are more concerned about the new status of Kosova vis-a-vis Yugoslavia, than the sufferings of the Kosovar people.

A divided Kosova with a lose connection with Albania is the most desired result for the US. In terms of the “post-war status-quo”, the KLA will be the most suitable base for the US, playing the role as a military and political power tied to the US. This puppet organisation, which is as racist and nationalist as Serbian aggressors, is a suitable instrument for provoking new conflicts and wars in the region.

The US is planning to create a strong base in Albania and Montenegro to control the Adriatic with Kosova in the east and Macedonia in the south.

In terms of this “ultimate goal”, the “solution” of the problem in Kosova will actually be the beginning of new problems. Because it is very likely that, after Kosova, the US will spread its expansionist policies towards Montenegro, resulting in internal problems there to break its weak link with Serbia. However, attempts in this direction will obviously encounter the resistance of Europe and especially Greece. That is why the European powers were opposing the US, and stressing the idea of restricting the Nato operation and stopping it as soon as the minimum objectives were achieved.

The aims of the Nato operation had different meanings for its members, and there was no agreement on how it should be conducted. For example, Germany and France suggested that the operation should be conducted under the auspices of the UN, and it should aim to stop the Serbian attack and to secure the return of the Kosovar people to their homeland. They wanted civilian observation groups of the UN in the region, not the Nato military forces. This policy is obviously in line with France’s old plan to diminish Nato’s role of “world gendarme”. France is trying to put Nato under the control of the UN, while the US and Britain want to give Nato a more active role. This conflict of ideas appeared once again in late April at the Washington Summit where Chirac’s definition of the UN Security Council as the authority to give official permission to Nato operations taking place outside the territories of its member states was immediately opposed by Solana, the Nato General Secretary.

Another important outcome of the Summit was that it showed that the US plans were not restricted with Kosova and Yugoslavia. In the meetings with the leaders of Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Slovenia and Romania, Clinton discussed the “restructuring of the region”, and an agreement was reached. When this new plan, agreed at least as a concept, is joined together with the status that is planned for Kosova-Albania, Macedonia and Montenegro, an effective pressure will be put on Greece in the north of the peninsula. For this reason, Greece, is trying to take measures to counter this possible pressure by trying to form alliances against the Middle East policies of the US, and signing nonaggression treaties with Syria, Armenia and Iran.

The post-war plans, on the other hand, remind us the imperialist “aid” packages, classic examples of which were the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine implemented after the Second Imperialist War. Obviously, it is one of imperialism’s oldest methods to destroy and control the war-experiencing countries with wide scale economic, political and military programmes in order to make these countries more dependent. It seems that the EU is trying to take measures in order not to let the US get the biggest share in this area. Without doubt, Yugoslavia will be included in this “aid package” as the country suffering most from the destruction of the war. However, this will be with the condition of a change of the regime in this country, which will be used as another means of pressure and which will lead to a new conflict in determining which imperialist power will be the most influential on Yugoslavia.

These two consequences, in fact, contain a lot of contradicting elements, and show that in the forthcoming period the contradictions between the US and the EU will emerge in new forms, not only in the Adriatic region but also in the Balkans and the Middle East, including Turkey and Greece. This means that the Balkans will continue to be a region of new conflicts and wars, meaning more oppression and massacres for peoples.

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‘New race for colonies begins in Africa’

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Western ‘neo-colonial’ powers – particularly France – have started to reach back to West Africa, masking their colonial ambitions as ‘humanitarian intervention to protect human rights,’ Ken Stone from Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War stated to RT.

Earlier this week, France sent its special forces to Cameroon in search of seven French tourists who were kidnapped in the north of the country on Tuesday. Paris accused the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram of being behind the abduction. On Thursday, the kidnapped tourists were reportedly found alive in an abandoned house in Nigeria.

France – whose presence in Africa used to be rather strong – still has several military bases and hundreds of troops on the continent. In the past several years, Paris’ has intensified its activity in former colonies.

First, there was its mission in the Ivory Coast. And in January this year, France launched a military operation in Mali to help the local government fight Islamist rebels. Finally, this week its troops entered northern Cameroon. 

RT asked Ken Stone from Hamilton Coalition to Stop the War if French involvement in West Africa has become a trend.

Ken Stone: Yes, I’m afraid so. And the trend is called ‘neo-colonialism.’ It’s a part of the old colonial powers reaching back to Africa for its resources where they used to operate a century ago.

France was the colonial power in West Africa and during its many decades there it literally enslaved the people of West Africa to work in their mines, in their factories and on their plantations.  In fact, slavery wasn’t even abolished in Mali until 1905.

After WWII, the colonial powers of Africa were kicked out by national liberation movements which were somehow supported by the former Soviet Union.

However, after the Soviet Union collapsed and the US war on terror began, the former neo-colonial powers were once again flexing their muscles. And they were starting to reach back to Yugoslavia, and to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and now into West Africa.

If the main product of Mali, for example, were mushrooms, there would be no French troops there or in Niger. But the main export is uranium. And that’s very important to the French. And that’s why the French are there, that’s why NATO is there, that’s why – unfortunately – Canada is there as well.

I think the main point is this is unfortunately a trend. Like the 19th century race for colonies, we have we have the 21st century race for colonies beginning. That’s a tragic fact.

RT: With militants being active in Algeria, Mali, Nigeria, and Cameroon – what is really happening in West Africa?

KS: It’s a complicated situation. Many of the national boundaries that were drawn by the colonial powers have no parrying at all on the location of the indigenous nations of Africa. So, people are divided on different sides of boundaries. Most people don’t even recognize many of the boundaries in the Saharan region and the sub-Saharan region.

There’s a further problem. The West has introduced Al-Qaeda-type terrorists into Africa where they want them, where they didn’t exist in any significance before. So that has created a can of worms.

The main point though is that the Western powers – the European neo-colonial powers, the US and NATO – have no right to act as the police of the world.

In the 19th century race for colonies, they said that they had the white man’s burden to carry on their shoulders to civilize the people of Africa. In the 21st century they call it the “humanitarian intervention to protect the human’s rights.” Those are both frauds and the Western countries really have absolutely no say in what goes on in West Africa. They should have no say.

RT:  What are the chances the special-forces deployment in Cameroon could escalate into a full-scale operation, like in Mali?

KS: It could. But it’s not likely. Ever since their colonial rule ended, the French’s had a policy of ‘force de frappe’ – which is striking force, an expeditionary force, a special force – where they go in and they deal with a certain immediate problem and they leave. They do not have the stomach to maintain an occupation for a long period of time.

The problem for neo-colonial powers like France is that the so-called ‘rebels’ or Jihadists or whoever it may be, merely have to melt into the bush wait and out the expeditionary force. And when the expeditionary force leaves they come right back in. And the problem is that there is no permanent fix to this.

Source

On the deaths in Stalin’s USSR

joseph-stalin-1949

In the West, when Stalin’s name is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the “millions of deaths” under his “ruthless regime”. For decades, fascist and capitalist propagandists alike perpetuated this vision of Stalin as a monster, employing the best World War 2 and Cold War propagandists to slander Stalin’s role as a statesman. What is the truth behind this claims? I hope to shed some light on the matter.

As has been now resolved, the varying numbers of deaths under the Stalin administration are a product of propaganda, and have hence been wildly exaggerated. The evidence found in Russian archives, opened up by the capitalist roader Yeltsin, put the total number of death sentences from 1923 to 1953, the post-Lenin Soviet Union, between 775,866 and 786,098a. To this we must add up the 40,000 who may have been executed without trial and unofficiallyb. If we add up the numbers, what we get achieve is 800,000 executions in a period of 36 years, less than the lives claimed by the dictatorship of the CIA-backed anti-communist Suharto in Indonesia in a time span of 2 years. This is not to say the deaths are to be condoned, but it raises an important question: if less lives have been claimed by the Soviet Union under Stalin than Suharto’s Indonesia, why is Stalin demonized to that extent when Suharto is rarely even known among pro-capitalists?

We shall answer this question in a future post about cultural hegemony, let’s now continue with our examination of Soviet deaths. Because the figure of 800,000 executions includes those persons sentenced to death but had, for instance, their sentences reduceda, this too may be an overestimation. In fact, in a research by Vinton, evidence has been provided indicating that the number of executions was significantly below the number of civilian prisoners sentenced to death in the USSR, with only 7,305 executions in a sample of 11,000 prisoners authorized to be executed in 1940 (or around 60%)c. In addition, 681,692 of the 780,000 or so death sentences were issued during the Great Purge (1937-1938 period)a.

Initially, the NKVD, under Yezhov’s orders, set a cap of 186,500 imprisonments and 72,950 death penalties for a 1937 special operation to combat the threat of foreign and internal subversion. The operation was decided upon after the discovery of Bonapartist plots against the government, led by Tukhacevsky, whose links with opportunist factions within the Party caused total panic. The NKVD’s orders had to be carried out by troikas, 3-men tribunalsa. As the troikas passed sentences before the accused had even been arrested, local authorities requested increases in their own quotas, and there was an official request in 1938 for a doubling of the amount of prisoner transport that had been initially requisitioned to carry out the original campaign quotas of the tribunalsd.

However, even if there had been twice as many actual executions as originally planned, which I would doubt, the number would still be less than 150,000. Many, in fact, may have had their death sentence refused or revoked by authorities before arrest or execution could take place, especially since Stalin, Molotov and Beria later realized that excesses had been committed in the 1937-38 period (the Great Purge), had a number of convictions overturned, and had many of the responsible local leaders punishede. Soviet records indicate only about 300,000 actual arrests for anti-Soviet activities or political crimes during this 1937-1938 interval. With a ratio of 1 execution for every 3 arrests as originally specified by the NKVD, that would imply about 100,000 executions. Since some of the people sentenced to death may have already been in confinement, and since there is some evidence of a 50,000 increase in the total number of deaths in labor camps over the 1937-38 interval that was probably caused by such executions, the total number executed by the troika campaign would probably be around 150,000a. There were also 30,514 death sentences passed by military courts and 4,387 by regular courts during the 1937-38 period, but, even if all these death sentences were carried out, the total number remains under 200,000. Such a low number seems especially likely given the fact that aggregate death rates from all causes throughout the Soviet Union were actually lower in 1937-38 than in prior yearsf, possibly a result of universal health care, vaccination and an improvement in living standards.

Assuming the remaining 100,000 or so death sentences passed in the other years of Stalin’s administration (1923-1936 and 1939-53) resulted in a 60% execution rate, as per the Vinton sample, the total number executed by the Soviet Union during the period would be about 250,000. Even with the thousands executed between 1917 and 1921, it is plausible that the number of unarmed civilians killed between 1917-1953 amounted to considerably less than a quarter million given that thousands of these victims may have been Soviet soldiers, given that many may have been armed bandits and guerrillas, and given that at least 14,000 of the actual executions were of foreign prisoners of warc.

A USA former attache to the Soviet Union, George Kennan, has stated that the number executed was really only in the tens of thousandsg, and so it is very likely that the true number of people killed by the Soviet Union over its entire history (including the thousands killed in Afghanistan) is too small for the country to make it even in the top ten in mass murders (unlike the United States of America, but that’s for another day). There were no doubt many innocent victims during the 1937-38 Stalin purge, but it should also be mentioned that there is substantial evidence from the Soviet archives of Soviet citizens advocating treasonable offenses such as the violent overthrow of the Soviet government or foreign invasion of the Soviet Unioni. In addition, the Soviet Union felt itself so threatened by subversion and imminent military invasions by Japan and Germany (which occurred in full force in 1938 and 1941, respectively) that it perceived a need to undertake a nationwide campaign to eliminate potential internal enemies. Moreover, these external threats were further fueled by the fact that the Russian nobility and czarists (over a million of whom had emigrated after the communist revolution in 1917) had given financial aid to the German Nazis in the 1930s for the purpose of using them (once they had successfully taken power in Germany) to help them overthrow the Soviet governmentj. Forged documents and misinformation spread by Nazi Germany to incriminate innocent and patriotic Soviets also contributed to Soviet paranoiak. It must also be remembered that Soviet fear of foreign-sponsored subversion in the 1930s existed within the context of guerrilla warfare fought against the Soviet Union by some of the same groups of people who had fought with the foreign invaders against the Soviet Union in the 1918-22 Foreign Interventionist Civil War. While the 1937-38 purges were very repressive and tragic by almost any measure, they may have helped prevent the fascists from inciting a successful rebellion or coup in the Soviet Union. Such a threat was a very real one given that the German Nazis did succeed in using political intrigues, threats, economic pressure, and offers of territorial gains to bring other Eastern European countries into their orbit, including Bulgaria, Romania, and Hungary, as well as Yugoslavia for a short period of timeh, given that the Soviet Union had been subjected to a brutal 1918-22 civil war which was launched by rebels who were supported by over a million foreign invading troops from over a dozen capitalist countries, given that there was a large amount of sabotage committed by Soviet citizens in the 1930s, and given that there were a significant number of Soviet dissidents who were in favor of overthrowing the Soviet government even if it required an invasion by Germany or some other foreign poweri. In addition, many people may have worked independently to sabotage the Soviet Union in the hope that they would thereby contribute to a foreign overthrow of the Soviet Union, especially since Nazi Germany did make extensive efforts to incite uprisings, cause subversive actions, and create ethnic conflicts in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Despite the Soviet Union’s success in defeating the subsequent invasions by fascist Japan (in 1938) and Germany (1941-44), the danger posed by the Nazi spies and saboteurs in Eastern Europe is illustrated by the fact that the CIA considered them so effective that it adopted virtually the entire Nazi network into its own system of terrorism in Eastern Europe after World War IIl.

Evidence from the Soviet archives indicates that the officials responsible for the political repression of the 1930s sincerely felt the victims were guilty of some crime such as sabotage, spying, or treason, and many of the executions of the Great Purge were reported in the local Soviet press at the time. Even when there was proven to be no direct connection between the accused and the fascist foreign powers, there was often a strong belief that the suspects were foreign sympathizers who were working on their own (without formal direction) to contribute to the overthrow of the Soviet Union. It should also be noted that much of the 1937-38 repression, often called the Great Purge, was actually directed against the widespread banditry and criminal activity (such as theft, smuggling, misuse of public office for personal gain, and swindles) that was occurring in the Soviet Union at the timem. In addition to the executions, there were also many imprisoned, and hundreds of thousands of people were expelled from the Communist Party during the Great Purge for being incompetent, corrupt, and/or excessively bureaucratic, with such targeting of inept or dishonest Soviet bureaucrats being fairly popular among the average Soviet citizensi. Like the myths of millions of executions, the fairy tales that Stalin had tens of millions of people arrested and permanently thrown into prison or labor camps to die in the 1930-53 interval are untrue. In particular, the Soviet archives indicate that the number of people in Soviet prisons, gulags, and labor camps in the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s averaged about 2 million, of whom 20-40% were released each yeara. This average, which includes desperate World War II years, is similar to the number imprisoned in the USA in the 1990s and is only slightly higher as a percentage of the population. It should also be noted that the annual death rate for the Soviet interned population was about 4%, which incorporates the effect of prisoner executionsa. Excluding the desperate World War II years, the death rate in the Soviet prisons, gulags, and labor camps was only 2.5%a, which is below that of the average citizen in Russia under the tsar in peacetime in 1913f. This finding is not very surprising, given that about 1/3 of the confined people were not even required to workn, and given that the maximum work week was 84 hours in even the harshest Soviet labor camps during the most desperate wartime yearso. The latter maximum (and unusual) work week actually compares favorably to the 100-hour work weeks that existed even for “free” 6-year old children during peacetime in the Gilded era and industrial revolutionp(shoutout to libertarians), although it may seem high compared to the 7-hour day worked by the typical Soviet citizen under Stalini.

In addition, it should also be mentioned that most of the arrests under Stalin were motivated by an attempt to stamp out crimes such as banditry, theft, misuse of public office for personal gain, smuggling, and swindles, with less than 10% of the arrests during Stalin’s rule being for political reasons or secret police mattersa. The Soviet archives reveal a great deal more political dissent permitted in Stalin’s Soviet Union (including a widespread amount of criticism of individual government policies and local leaders) than is normally perceived in the Westi. Given that the regular police, the political or secret police, prison guards, some national guard troops, and fire fighters (who were in the same ministry as the police) comprised scarcely 0.2% of the Soviet population under Staline, severe repression would have been impossible even if the Soviet Union had wanted to exercise it. In comparison, the USA today has many times more police as a percentage of the population (about 1%), not to mention prison guards, national guard troops, and fire fighters included in the numbers used to compute the far smaller 0.2% ratio for the Soviet Union. In any event, it is possible that the communist countries of Eastern Europe would have become politically less repressive and more democratic (especially over time), if there hadn’t been overt and covert efforts by capitalist powers to overthrow their governments, including subversion conducted in the USSR as late as the 1980s that the USA government admitted to in the 1990s. These efforts at violent subversion were initially carried out mostly by the British (before World War II) and then later more so by the USA through the CIA, which did succeed violently overthrowing a very democratic communist government in Chile in 1973. If the communists had truly been as evil and dictatorial as they are portrayed to be in the capitalist press, the peaceful revolution of 1989 in Eastern Europe (with virtually no related deaths except in Romania) could never have occurred.

Sources:

a: Getty, Ritterspom, and Zemskov, “Victims of the Soviet Penal System in the Pre-War Years: A First Approach on the Basis of Archival Evidence”

http://sovietinfo.tripod.com/GTY-Penal_System.pdf

b: Hellmut Andics, “Rule of Terror”

c: Louisa Vinton, “The Katyn Documents: Politics and History.”

d: Amy Knight, “Beria, Stalin’s First Lieutenant”

http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/nceeer/1993-804-08-Knight.pdf

e: Robert Thurston, “Life and Terror in Stalin s Russia”

f: Stephen Wheatcroft, “More Light on the Scale of Repression and Excess Mortality in the Soviet Union in the 1930s”

http://ebooks.cambridge.org/chapter.jsf?bid=CBO9780511626012&cid=CBO9780511626012A025

g: J. W. Smith, “Economic Democracy: The Political Struggle of the 21st Century”

http://www.abebooks.co.uk/9780765604682/Economic-Democracy-Political-Struggle-21st-076560468X/plp

h: Marshall Miller, “Bulgaria during the Second World War”

i: Sarah Davies, “Popular Opinion in Stalin’s Russia”

http://books.google.com/books/about/Popular_Opinion_in_Stalin_s_Russia.html?id=yTGgOwH_mwgC&redir_esc=y

j: Leslie Feinberg, “The Class Character of German Fascism”

<a href=”http://www.workers.org/ww/1999/fascism0304.php

k: Christopher Andrew and Oleg Gordievsky “KGB: The Inside Story”

l: Von Schnitzler, “Der Rote Kana”

m: John Arch Getty, “Origins of the Great Purges”

http://books.google.com/books/about/Origins_of_the_Great_Purges.html?id=R5zx54LB-A4C&redir_esc=y

n: Edwin Bacon, “The Gulag at War: Stalin’s Forced Labour System in the Light of the Archives”

o: R. J. Rummel, “Lethal Politics”

p: Marx and Engels, “Das Kapital”

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1867-c1/index.htm

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1885-c2/index.htm

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1894-c3/index.htm

q: Numbers taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demography_of_the_Soviet_Union, which in turn cites Andreev et al, “Naselenie Sovetskogo Soiuza, 1922-1991″

Source

International Conference of Marxist-Leninist Parties and Organizations (ICMLPO): On the International Situation

The most significant development in the world capitalist economy, since the last meeting of our Conference is undoubtedly the intensification of the symptoms that prove the trend toward a new recession in all fields, after a certain rise in the second quarter of 2009, followed by a period of stagnation. Despite the trend towards a rise in the second quarter, world industrial production shrank 6.6% in 2009 and rose 10% in 2010. The industrial production of June 2010 exceeded its previous level before the crisis of 2008. But starting from the first quarter of 2011, the growth lost momentum and fell to 0.4% in the last quarter of that year. In 2011, world industrial production declined by half (5.4%) compared to the previous year. In the first quarter of 2012, after a weak rise, the growth declined. The growth was 1.8% in the first quarter, 0% in the second and 4% in the last quarter of 20l2. All the data show that, despite fluctuations, a decline persists that began in the first quarter of 2011, which led to zero level in the middle of this year [2012] and is heading for a new period of decline.

Industrial production in the European Union, which is a larger economic power than the U.S.; in Japan, which is third largest world economic power; in India, one of the largest economies in Asia, have had consecutive declines in the third quarter of 2011 and in the first two quarters of 2012 compared to the same period last year. Industrial production in Brazil, the largest economy in Latin America, has also entered into decline in the last two quarters. North African countries like Tunisia and Egypt, and other countries such as Argentina, Colombia and Peru, are in similar situations.

The rate of growth of industrial production in China, in the first and second quarters of 2012, was 11.6% and 9.5%, while it was 14.4% in 2010 and 13.8% in 2011. The downward trend continued in July, 9.2% and in August, 8.9%. China, which grew by 12.9% and 12.3% in the crisis years (2008 and 2009), was, along with India, one of the factors that prevented a further sharpening of the crisis and that allowed the world economy to enter into a new period of growth. The situation in that country has changed considerably. Now it is a country that is accumulating stockpiles in the steel industry, which is facing a slowdown in the construction sector, which has important holes in the financial sector. Those countries that saw lower growth rates despite the stimulus measures to revive the domestic market, are now unable to play the same role as before. The industrial production of Mexico and the Confederation of Independent States (CIS), including Russia, continues to grow. However, while the industrial production in the major countries and the volume of international trade are falling, for these countries also, a decrease is expected.

Unlike simple commodity production, a more rapid growth in the production of the means of production, compared to consumer goods, is a condition for expanded reproduction. But with the capitalist mode of production producing for an unknown market, with the sole purpose of obtaining profits, a consistent development of the two sectors is impossible and this is one of the factors that makes crises inevitable. In the last three years, as well as before, these two sectors have not developed consistently. In the first sector, demand has fallen, the volume of growth has fallen, stockpiles are accumulating and capacity utilization has fallen. In 2010 and 2011 the steel industry, an important component of the production of means of production, grew faster than the consumer goods sector. According to data from the World Steel Union, the growth rate in production was 15% in 2010 compared to the previous year, but in 2011 the figure fell to 6.2%. In January raw steel production saw a sharp drop to 8%, and it has stayed at 0.8% in the period from January to May of 2012. In August of 2012 raw steel production fell 1% in relation to 2011. In the same period, raw steel production rose 3.3% in Japan (a significant increase if one takes into account the major fall due to the tsunami) and 2.6% in India. It has fallen by 1.7% in China, 3.8% in the U.S., 4.4% in the EU, 7.1% in Germany, 15.5% in Italy and 3.8% in the Confederation of Independent States (CIS). The iron stockpiles in Chinese ports reached 98.15 million tons (an increase of 2.9%) belonging to the steel complexes. And stockpiles of Chinese coal are at their highest level in the last three years.

In manufacturing, a very important element of the production of the means of production, production and demand have declined in many countries. This decline has been one of the reasons for the cooling of industrial production in Germany, for example. In the capitalist mode of production, the agricultural sector, by its level of development and its technical basis, is always behind industry. Agricultural production is largely affected by the natural conditions, climate changes, droughts, storms and other natural catastrophes. Agricultural production is increasingly under the control of the monopolies and the speculative maneuvers of finance capital. In 2010 world agricultural production, including the production of cereals, has shrunk due to various factors such as bad weather or the expansion of plots reserved for bio-fuel production. On the other hand, in 2011, agricultural production has progressed thanks to better weather conditions, and also to increased demand and higher prices due to speculation. For example, wheat production increased by about 6%.

In 2009 the volume of world trade has declined 12.7%. According to data from the World Trade Organization (WTO), that volume registered a growth of 13.8% in 2010, and only 5% in 2011 (according to figures from the CPL, the growth was 15.2% in 2010, and 5.8% in 2011). The volume of world trade has grown by 0.5% in the final quarter of last year, and by 0.9% and 0.5% in the first and second quarter of 2012 respectively. During the first two months of the third quarter (June and July), the volume of world trade recorded a negative growth of -1.5% and -0.2% compared to the previous months.

World industrial production reached and surpassed the pre-crisis level of 2008, in June 2010, while the volume of international trade did not surpass this until November 2011. If we compare the data of July 2012 with the level reached before the crisis of 2008 (that is, April 2008), we see an increase of 9.5% in world industrial production and an increase of 5% in the total volume of growth in world trade.

The data on the increase of the volume of world trade is one of the most important that shows an evolutionary trend, although it does not exactly reflect the volume of growth of world trade. These data show that for the last three years, the world capitalist production has increased rapidly and that the capitalist world is once again facing the problem of overproduction, which is the source of all its crises. Decreased production, closing or reduction in work capacity of enterprises, rising unemployment and poverty; needs in abundance and the restriction of markets are the inevitable consequences of overproduction. The sharp slowdown in world industrial production has been shown above. The events in North Africa and the austerity measures taken in countries like Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal, etc., are factors that are aggravating this process and its consequences.

Towards a New Financial Crisis

The crisis of 2008 broke out as a financial crisis, at the same time as the crisis deepened in other sectors, such as industry and trade, it developed with contacts in the finance sector with serious consequences for the following period. The most destructive consequences for the monopolies and the eventual collapse of the financial sector were avoided by transferring of billions of dollars into the coffers of the monopolies by the capitalist States. This rescue operation was only possible by accepting a debt to financial markets with very high interest rates, and the issuance of money into the markets. The end result is an extreme State debt, an increase in the debt and interest burden, a rise in the price of gold and the loss of value (devaluation) of almost all currencies.

Countries at different levels have entered a vicious circle that has elements of new currency and financial crises, in which they can finance their budget deficit, their debts and interests, having to borrow again. The capitalist world began a period of growth starting in the second quarter of 2009, with the weight inherited from the 2008 crisis. However, this period of growth has enabled recipient countries to breathe a little, turn the wheel that was on the verge of suffocating them. The growth of the world economy stopped and even lowered the price of gold for a moment. In some countries, such as China that had a significant growth rate, the ratio of the public debt to GDP decreased. But in other countries, such as Japan and the U.S., a substantial debt has continued, even during the period of growth of the capitalist world economy. The U.S. public debt represents the sum of $16 billion (the debt of Germany, which grew until the second half of this year, is 8 billion). Other capitalist countries are in a similar situation. The increasing debt is almost the condition of financial sustainability and economic growth. And this is the path that is leading directly to a new financial crisis that may profoundly affect all sectors of the economy.

The highly indebted countries have not been able to achieve a period of growth after the financial crisis and the fall in world industrial production that took place between the second quarter of 2008 and the second quarter of 2009; this period has led to a financial crisis that has affected the other sectors of the economy that has led them to bankruptcy. The first example of this process was in Greece, where the weakness was such that the industry, very weak, was largely liquidated when it joined the EU. After the 2008 crisis, in 2009, the economy of this country did not grow, and by the end of the year it was on the verge of bankruptcy. This country, followed by others such as Portugal, Spain, Hungary, etc., has not been able to get out of the crisis and stagnation. However, important differences should be noted in its debt in relation to the GDP.

Austerity measures never seen before, except in times of war or crisis as deep as 1929, have been imposed on the indebted countries. The result of these measures has been to impoverish the people, destroy the economy and reduce the internal market and foreign trade. These austerity plans have been applied (despite the opposition and struggle of the working class and peoples) under the control of the creditor imperialist powers, the international institutions such as the IMF, World Bank and European Union, and above all with the support of the collaborator monopoly bourgeoisie and its representatives, these enemies of the people. They have transferred billions of dollars to foreign banks, completely betraying the national interests. The national pride of the people, their right to sovereignty and independence have been trampled upon. A country like Britain that had a strong financial sector, but since mid-2011 has seen its industrial production and its economy reduced, has been forced to march along with the countries implementing austerity measures.

The significant decrease in the volume of growth of world industrial production, which began in the second quarter of 2011, is developing the elements of a new international financial crisis and is contributing to the degradation of the situation of the highly indebted countries. They failed to enter a period of growth parallel to the process of growth of the world capitalist economy following the crisis of 2008-2009. While the debate over the future of the Euro and the European Union is sharpening, the communiqués on the economic trends of the advanced capitalist countries and the indebted countries have sown confusion in the stock markets, barometers of the capitalist economy. Although world industrial and agricultural production and the volume of international -trade have exceeded the highest level before the crisis of 2008, the indices of the most influential stock markets remain below that level.

Although we are not yet experiencing the outbreak of a financial crisis of major proportions, everything makes it appear that the process is advancing towards such an eventuality. The U.S. Federal Reserve Bank (FED) has announced that it will not raise interest rates and that it will start a process of purchasing bonds for an amount of $2,000 billion dollars, at the rate of $40 billion per month. Japan has announced a similar measure and has begun a program of buying bonds to the tune of $695 billion.

Germany has had to relax its rigid policy towards the indebted countries and the European fund for the intervention in countries facing difficulties has increased. China, along with measures of revival that it has already applied, announced a new investment package to renovate its infrastructure. The price of gold is rising again. In 2008, the intense intervention of the capitalist States began after the outbreak of the crisis. Now, however, the capitalist States have gone into action before the shocks and bankruptcies at the same level as in 2008 start in the major capitalist countries and worldwide. However, these interventions, which can have some influence on the process of development, cannot change the orientation and the inevitable outcome.

The Sharpening of the Inter-Imperialist Contradictions and the Growing Danger of Conflicts

Uneven, unbalanced development is the absolute law of capitalist development. This process after the crisis of 2008 was not balanced, it deepened the antagonistic contradictions in the evolution and development of the relations between sectors, countries, regions, production and markets, etc. The industrial production of the advanced capitalist countries, including the U.S. and Japan, except Germany (ignoring the high level of 2008), did not reach the level of 2005. Germany, which has exceeded the pre-crisis level and has had a growth in industrial production of 11.5% in 2010 and 9% in 2011, has consolidated its position within the European Union and the Euro zone. Without separating itself from the bloc led by the United States, it has penetrated into new markets, new fields of investment, sources of raw materials, basing itself on its economic and financial strength, and above all, on its technical superiority in the industry of machine construction.

As in previous years, China, both because of its industrial production and its economy in general, was the country that had the most significant growth among major economies. It has modernized and increased the technical basis of its industry, and it continues to reduce the difference in its level of development with the other imperialist powers. Russia is going through a similar process. For the United States and its allies, these two countries, one considered as a vast market and production area with a trained and cheap work force, and the other a solid country, appear today as their main rivals to fight against.

The inevitable result of the change in the balance of power is the great demand for a piece of the pie by the emerging forces, using all means to get it and a new redivision of the world according the new balance of power. The recent development of the world economy is another factor that exacerbates the contradictions and the struggles among the major imperialist powers. Last year in the Middle East, in Africa and the whole world, the rivalry and struggle to expand their sphere of influence has accelerated. The production of weapons, the arms race is intensifying. China and Russia have renewed the technical basis of their arms industry. According to a report by the Congress of the United States, arms sales by these countries have tripled in 2011.

China, which increasingly needs more raw materials, energy and fields of investment for its growing economy, and Russia, which is slowly recovering, are intensifying their expansionist desires and their efforts to get their piece of the pie. Therefore, it is a top priority for the U.S. and its allies to prevent China, a young imperialist power in full development, and Russia, from achieving new markets in the field of energy and raw materials. When the Obama administration states that beginning next year the priority strategic objective for the United States will be Asia, and that the deployment of the U.S. military will be renewed according to the new situation, this is merely affirming that reality. The crisis of the archipelagos shows the level of tension between Japan and China; Japan has declared its intention to improve its military capability. The military maneuvers in the region have intensified.

The consequences of the change in the balance of power in the world have been clearly visible since last year. Russia and China were forced to accept Western imperialist intervention in Libya, even though that intervention was contrary to their interests. The intervention ended with the overthrow of the Gaddafi regime, the near collapse of the country, the destruction of its economy, the degradation of working and living conditions, the transfer of the country’s wealth into the hands of the Western imperialist States, etc. Russia and China lost a good part of their positions, including their oil agreements. After the fall of the Gaddafi regime, Mali has been dragged into war and divided. But the main objective is Syria. The attempts by the Western imperialist powers to topple the Syrian regime and put in a puppet government to fully control the country are intensifying. The United States and its allies have mobilized all their forces within Syria and outside of it in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. They are stirring up the religious contradictions, they use and manipulate the popular discontent towards the regime and they try to prepare the ground for a military intervention as in Libya. Meanwhile Russia is arming Syria, strengthening its military base located in that country and sending more warships to the Mediterranean.

To bring down the Syrian regime, put in place a puppet government, dominate the oil-rich Middle East, control the eastern Mediterranean, block the expansion of China and Russia in the region and expel them as they did in Libya, to encircle Iran, weaken its influence and liquidate its closest allies, are very important objectives. Syria is the only country in the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean where Russia has a military base. This small country has become a place of intense struggle between Russia and China on the one hand, and the United States and its allies on the other. The Middle East is a powder keg on the verge of religious conflicts.

Contrary to what they did in Libya, Russia and China are opposing a military intervention that would alter the balance in the Middle East and result in the domination of the United States and its allies over Syria. But they have left the door open for a possible compromise that would guarantee their interests and renew the Syrian regime which is having more and more difficulties to survive.

As the case of Afghanistan, former Yugoslavia, Iraq, Ivory Coast and Libya show, the imperialist interventions that have had the support of the liberal “defenders” of freedom and democracy, of the pseudo-socialist parties that emerged from the former revisionist parties, have resulted in increased military budgets at the expense of the workers, in the destruction of the productive forces of those countries, in many disasters, the impoverishment and decline in all social aspects. The aspiration of the peoples for the right to sovereignty and national independence, democracy and freedom has never been the concern of the occupiers. Their objective was to further prolong their system maintained by the defeat inflicted on the working class in the middle of the last century, a defeat that guaranteed their super-profits, the expansion of their spheres of influence and the weakening of their rivals. The imperialist powers, which are using all means to achieve this goal, do not lack in demagoguery and low maneuvers to disorient the people’s anger.

Now a period of sharpening of inter-imperialist contradictions is beginning, which economic-financial and political-military interventions will multiply. It is increasingly important to fight against such intervention, to develop the united fight of the workers and peoples, in both the advanced and backward countries,.

Organize the Resistance of the Workers in the New Stormy Period

The army of unemployed is growing on the world level, especially in countries in total-debt crisis, in the countries in which the economy is declining, stagnating or is in crisis. In Greece and Spain, unemployment has reached 25%. In these countries, unemployment among the youths, including college graduates, reached 50%. In the Euro zone in the second quarter of 2012, the level of unemployment reached 11.2%, according to official figures. In countries such as Egypt and Tunisia, where manufacturing has fallen from 9.6% to 7.5% in the first quarter of this year (2012), the number of unemployed continues to grow. In South Africa, the most developed country on the continent, the unemployment rate exceeds 25%.

In the current period, in almost all fields, from education to health care, drastic measures have been taken, the retirement age has been delayed and pensions have fallen. The gains of the working class worldwide are targeted for cuts or elimination. While direct taxes on the workers are increasing, no measures are taken to disturb the local and international monopolies, when even within the framework of this system one could increase taxes on the banks and the local and foreign monopolies. Wages continue to fall, etc. Many countries are suffering from a process of absolute impoverishment.

In recent years practices have been imposed worldwide such as sub-contracting labor, precarious and part-time work, an increase in the age for retirement, etc. In Germany, for example, one of the most developed countries in the world that has had significant growth rates in industrial production, according to the Federal Administration of Statistics, 15.6% of the population lives below the poverty line, a figure that rises to 26% among the immigrant population.

Last year, on a world scale and in each country, the workers and peoples movement has developed with various demands, in different forms and also at different levels. The struggles carried out in those countries with a “debt crisis” have been outstanding for their broad social base, for their responses and the experiences gained. The miners’ strike in South Africa, the youth movement and the strikes in Chile, the popular movements in Tunisia and Egypt, etc. are powerful examples of the workers and peoples struggles.

Starting with Greece, Spain and Italy, in various countries with a “debt crisis,” strikes, general strikes and huge demonstrations have taken place. In Greece and Spain, hundreds of thousands of people have expressed their anger in front of the parliaments on the days when these were voting for austerity measures. But the workers and peoples movement, despite some more advanced attempts, has remained within the framework of peaceful demonstrations, general strikes of one or two days and limited resistance. The strikes of long duration, the resistance or occupation of factories, have been limited to one enterprise or one sector.

The austerity measures have affected not only the proletariat and semi-proletarian masses of the cities and countryside; they have also affected the petty bourgeoisie and non-monopoly bourgeois strata. Even the less dynamic strata, the traditional base of the bourgeois parties, have been mobilized given the current situation. The social base of the struggle against the bourgeoisie in Power and against imperialism has expanded, to the point where in some dependent countries the mobilization has taken the character of a movement of the whole nation, except for a handful of monopolists. The conditions are maturing for the working class and its revolutionary parties, as representatives and the vanguard of the nation, to decide to organize and advance the movement and the united front of the people.

But despite the great movement, the groups of international finance capital and the local monopoly bourgeoisies have not given in (except in the recent delay of the austerity measures in Portugal). They have decided to implement these measures even at the cost of demeaning the image of the parliaments and weakening their social base. However, the masses are realizing through their own experience the impossibility of repelling the attacks with one or two day strikes or through peaceful demonstrations. Sharper forms of struggle and unlimited general strike are beginning to be considered by the more advanced strata.

It is clear that the bourgeoisie in Power, with their hostile character towards the people, is assuming a position of national betrayal. The traditional parties of the bourgeoisie and parliaments have lost credibility and the mass support for those parties is weakening (especially toward those in government that are implementing austerity measures). The social basis of monopoly capital is weakening. Among the masses who have felt their national pride hurt by the imperialists, the discontent, anger and will to struggle against the major imperialist powers, beginning with the United States and Germany, against institutions like the IMF or the EU, and against the local monopoly bourgeoisie that is collaborating with them, is developing.

The trade union bureaucracy and reformist parties and social trends are following a backward line of “least resistance,” not only in their forms of organization and struggle, but also at the level of political demands and platform. Clearly, this attitude is contributing to weakening their influence among the workers. The attacks and harshness of the social conditions are also affecting the lower strata of the labor bureaucracy and aristocracy and are sharpening the contradictions within their ranks.

The struggles in the countries with “debt crisis” are being developed on a program of protest against the bourgeois governments and parties, against institutions such as the IMF and the EU that are imposing draconian measures and they are demanding their withdrawal. At first this was natural and understandable in the context of a spontaneous movement. But the inability to go beyond those narrow limits is one of the major weaknesses of the movement. This weakness can be overcome with the work of agitation that shows the masses the way out of this difficult situation in which the people and the country find themselves, denouncing the social forces that are an obstacle to that way out. This work of agitation is reinforced by putting forward appropriate demands, slogans and forms of struggle among the masses.

Especially in Greece, certain small groups (that also have weaknesses) have proposed relatively advanced demands and platforms. But the forces capable of influencing the movement are not even concerned with organizing the work necessary to promote the fight on all fronts. The absence or great weakness of a revolutionary class party, has been felt strongly, as it cannot influence the movement.

Linked to the evolution of the world economy, the period that is beginning will be one of further degradation of the living and working conditions for the workers and peoples, a period of intense economic and political attacks, of discontent, anger and militancy among workers, as well as sharpening of inter-imperialist contradictions and conflicts. We must draw lessons and conclusions from the recent developments and the historical experience of the working class and peoples; we must advance, renewing our work and reorganizing our parties.

Tunisia, November 2012

Source

Nikos Zahariadis: Tito Clique’s Stab in the Back to People’s Democratic Greece

From For a Lasting Peace, For a People’s Democracy!
No. 15 (42), 1 August, 1949

Nikos Zahariadis
General Secretary,
Communist Party of Greece

Every inhabitant of Greece knows very well that monarcho-fascism would not have been able to hold out for a few months had it not been for the all-round and open aid of the American and British imperialists.

Our main difficulties arise from the fact that the Anglo-American imperialists are stubbornly trying to retain a foothold in Greece. The country is highly important to them for strategic reasons, and they are trying to turn it into a vital bridge head against the People’s Democracies and the Soviet Union. Churchill’s old plans in this respect, for instance, are well-known. However, foreign imperialism’s positions in Greece were badly shaken last year by the military defeat of monarcho-fascism in the Grammos-Vitsi area and by the collapse of its strategic plan for 1948. The People’s revolutionary movement and the democratic army extended and consolidated their positions in Peloponnesus, Rumelia, Thessaly and on the islands of Samos and Eubeia.

This placed the monarcho-fascist regime in a critical position. In their reports General Papagos, Vendiris, Tsakalotos and others openly admitted that army morale had been shaken. Hundreds of men and officers were shot. King Paul himself was compelled to speak about the moral crisis in the army. The Athens clique was in severe economic difficulties and the political crisis was steadily sapping the foundations of monarcho-fascism. Both at home and abroad, people who were by no means our friends began to realise that the only way out for the reactionaries was to reach a peaceful settlement and conclude an agreement.

The treachery of the Tito clique was disclosed at the very moment when the crisis of monarcho-fascism was coming to a head. Tito’s treachery meant serious new difficulties for our people’s democratic movement, for it strengthened the determination of the Anglo-American imperialists to retain, at all costs, their hold on Greece for the very purpose of making full use of the Tito clique and extending their base in the Balkans. At the same time the Tito clique’s over to the camp of imperialism raised the deflated hopes of monarcho-fascism.

The people’s democratic movement of our country has never, since the time of the first occupation, known of such a cunning and foul enemy as the Tito clique. The Great Serbia chauvinism of the Titoites in relation to the resistance movement in Greece was evident as far back as 1943, when the leadership of the Yugoslav Communist Party declared that the people of Aegean Macedonia could only win their liberation within the framework of Yugoslavia. The corollary of this was that it was the prime duty of all Macedonian patriots to fight against the Communist Party of Greece and EAM and instead to collaborate with the Tito agents.

This was the directive followed by Tito’s man in Aegean Macedonia, Tempo (Vukmanovic). This was the directive applied in practice by their chief agent, Goce. Today is it being carried out by Goce-Koramidjiev gang. During all these years the Tito clique sent thousands of its agents into the Communist Party of Greece and into EAM with the job of undermining the Communist Party of Greece and splitting the unity of the people’s liberation movement.

It is clear that Greek reaction and Anglo-American imperialism could not have found a better ally than the Tito clique. The following detail is extremely characteristic: in October 1944 when the British landed in Greece, Tempo at the head of the provocative movement against the Communist Party of Greece, informed the Communists of Aegean Macedonia that he has asked Tito for two divisions to occupy Salonika. This was before the December events; the British were not sure that they could hold Greece. Preferring to see Salonika occupied by Tito than in the hands of ELAS, the British parachuted weapons onto the aerodrome at Grupista. These were sent on to Vapsori by Tito’s agents – Tempo, Goce and Pios – to be used against ELAS. Even during the Hitler occupation Goce and Pios formed groups of Macedonian and collaborated with Tempo. It can be regarded as an established fact that, as a consequence, Evans, former representative of the British military mission in Macedonia, insisted on the network of these groups being extended. It was at the help of these groups that Goce, Pios and Keramidjiev carried out their disruptive activities against the people’s liberation movement in Greece.

In December 1944 Tito, who dreamt of snatching Salonika from people’s democratic Greece, did nothing to help us fight the British, in spite of all his earlier pompous statements. If anything, he stepped up his slander campaign against the Communist Party of Greece, especially Aegean Macedonia.

Tito organised the mass emigration of Macedonians to Yugoslavia thus depriving Aegean Macedonia of its Macedonian population. Incidentally, the Greek monarcho-fascists have been trying to the same thing for many years, hoping to change the ethnical composition Aegean Macedonia. Then again, the Titoites are trying to recruit agents from these refugees who, after the necessary training, are sent to Greece to operate against the Communist Party of Greece, EAM and our people’s revolutionary movement.

Since 1943 the Greek Communist Party and revolutionary movement have been two fires: on the one side the foreign imperialists and monarcho-fascist, on the other- the Tito clique and its executive organ, the Goce- Keramidiev gang which had and still has hundreds of Yugoslav intelligence servicemen in Aegean Macedonia. In 1944, acting on orders from Skopje, Goce crossed over to Yugoslavia with his detachment. Today Goce and Keramidjiev have their headquarters in Skopje.

Time and again the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece drew the attention of the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party to the counter-revolutionary actions of these agents, proved by irrefutable documentary evidence, and demanded that their activities should be stopped. The Central Committee of the Yugoslav Party, however, did not do a thing to cut short these provocation actions.

It has been proved beyond doubt that Hristos Vlachos, who in 1947 in Salonika killed Yannis Zevgos, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Greek Party, was an agent of the Yugoslav intelligence, service and had received his instruction from Skopje. He arrived in Salonika on orders of the Yugoslav intelligence, placed himself at the disposal of General Zervas, an agent of the British Intelligence Service, and later murdered Zevgos. Five monarcho-fascist officers, some of them murderers of the people, escaped to Yugoslavia from a war prisoner’s camp with the help of Rankovic. The Central committee of the Yugoslav Party stated that it knew absolutely nothing about this, even though we gave them details of the date and the exact spot where the monarcho-fascists had crossed the border. Border officers and soldiers had informed us that the monarcho-fascists had crossed into Yugoslavia.

We have captured dozens of Yugoslav intelligence officers. In December 1948 two Yugoslav agents, Gunaris Menos and Gallios Mitsos, were detained in Prespa. These agents disclosed the names of the Yugoslav intelligence officers who had sent them and the assignment they had been given.

The Communist Party of Greece has at its disposal other damning proof of the treachery and disruptive activity of the Tito clique against the revolutionary movement in Greece. The nationalist gang of the treacherous Yugoslav leadership was always a mortal enemy to the Communist Party and people of Greece. Recent events are fresh evidence that the Tito clique helped and is continuing to help Greek and international reaction against the Greek people more and more openly.

In its communiqué of July 6, 1949 the General Headquarters of the Democratic Army stated that on July 5, 1949 monarcho-fascist troops used Yugoslav territory in order to bypass units of the Democratic Army in the Kaimakchalan area. The same day the “Free Greece” telegraph agency, basing itself on an official document (the report of lieutenant colonel Petropulos, commander of the monarcho-fascists’ 516th battalion, to General Grigoropulos, commander of the 3rd army corps), reported that on July 4, 1949, that is, on the eve of the day when the monarcho-fascists crossed Yugoslav territory, a meeting of Yugoslav and monarcho-fascist Greek officers had been held in the area of Popovolossi and Kaimakchalan. This meeting was attended by British and American officers. The Tanjug agency did not refute this fact, neither did the representative of the British Foreign Office when asked about this meeting. Again, neither did Tito deny it in his speech at Pola (Istria), on July 10, 1949. Like the Tanjug agency, he merely tried to refute the fact that an agreement had been reached allowing the monarcho-fascist to use Yugoslav territory.

Such was the Belgrade version when the United Nations Balkan Commission in Athens published its communiqué on July 21, 1949. The sole aim of this communiqué was to cover up Tito’s collaboration with the monarcho-fascists, a collaboration that had been laid bare by the General Headquarters of the Democratic Army and the Free Greece radio on July 6, 1949. This communiqué of the Balkan Commission is highly significant since, to begin with, for the first time in its history the Commission admitted that the monarcho-fascists had violated the Yugoslav frontier in the Kaimakchalan area on many occasions. It claimed, however, that this had been done by artillery and aircraft and not by infantry. Secondly, the communiqué admitted that a meeting of monarcho-fascist and Yugoslav officers had been held in the Kaimakchalan area.

After the Tito clique’s betrayal of the Greek people’s liberation struggle had been exposed in the eyes of progressive mankind and the Yugoslav people, the Yugoslav leaders found it necessary to mobilise yet another provocateur. On July 24, following the example of Tito and Djilas, Kardelj also made a statement to Tanjug on the Greek question. He denied everything: the agreement with Tsaldaris, the negotiations in the Kaimakchalan area, and the use of Yugoslav territory by the monarcho-fascists. He concluded by giving the Jesuit assurance that the Belgrade Government “continues to sympathise” with the movement of the Greek people, but that it “cannot force its assistance on them” and that “the agents of the Information Bureau who slandered Tito” are responsible for this.

We have never doubted the sympathy of the Yugoslav people. As for those who are responsible, “The Times” makes it clear when it writes that in his statement at Pola, Tito gave the Americans the necessary guarantees in advance for the dollars which he needs.

In order to mask their treachery, the traitors Tito, Djilas, Kardelj and company would have the world believe that morale of the Greek democrats is at a low ebb and that they are losing confidence in victory. As a matter of fact these Titoites are doing everything to undermine the morale of the Greek democrats. Tito’s treachery and his long-standing subversive activities against the people’s democratic movement in Greece are causing us serious difficulties. Tito has a deadly hatred for the Geek people’s liberation movement and is viciously fighting against it. But he is mistaken, and so are his monarcho-fascist allies and their common masters, if they think that they will be able to crush us.

Throughout Greece – in Rumelia, Thessaly, Peloponnesus, Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace and on the islands – the Greek Democratic Army is continuing its struggle against the enemy with unshaken courage in the face of enormous difficulties. A broad strike movement covering tens of thousands of factory and office workers is gaining strength in the cities. Hundreds of thousands of peasants who are literally starving to death in the cities where they have been forcibly driven by the monarcho-fascists, hate the Athens Government with all their soul. Reaction in Greece is in the throes of an economic, political and moral crisis from which it can find no way out. The Greek Democratic Army will come face to face with monarcho-fascism in the great battles that will be fought in Grammos and Vitsi.

We are fight because we want peace, because we want to establish democracy and the independence of Greece. Reaction is out for war. It wants to crush us at all costs and is using the Tito clique for this purpose. Thanks to the assistance and solidarity of progressive mankind, including the Yugoslav people, the people of Greece will be victorious both in war and will win a people’s democracy and national independence.

Source

Why Yugoslavia Was Expelled from the Cominform

Below is a commonly-reprinted argument, the idea that the Titoites broke with the USSR over the question of not helping the Greek Communists enough.

Is this true? Not according to Nikos Zahariadis, General Secretary of the KKE and the symbol of Marxism-Leninism in Greece. This Yugoslav-leaning article will be followed by his essay.

— Espresso Stalinist.

Jun 28, 1948:
Yugoslavia expelled from COMINFORM

The Soviet Union expels Yugoslavia from the Communist Information Bureau (COMINFORM) for the latter’s position on the Greek civil war. The expulsion was concrete evidence of the permanent split that had taken place between Russia and Yugoslavia.

The Soviet Union had established COMINFORM in 1947 to serve as a coordinating body for communist parties in Russia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Poland, Italy, France, Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia. Most Western observers believed the organization to be the successor to the Communist International (COMINTERN had been dissolved by Russia in 1943, in an effort to placate its wartime allies–the United States and Great Britain). With the hardening of Cold War animosities after World War II, however, the establishment of COMINFORM signaled that the Soviet Union was once again setting itself up as the official leader of the communist bloc nations. In addition, the inclusion of the Italian and French communist parties served notice that the Soviet Union wished to have a strong say in political developments outside of its eastern European satellites. Yugoslavia was an original member, but that nation’s leader, Josef Broz Tito, proved to be reluctant in following the Soviet line. Throughout 1947 and into 1948, Tito harshly criticized Soviet leader Joseph Stalin’s lack of assistance to communists fighting for power in Greece. When Tito refused to tone down his complaints, Stalin ordered Yugoslavia expelled from COMINFORM.

After its expulsion, Yugoslavia continued to chart a communist, but distinctly independent, pathway in its domestic and foreign policies. The United States was delighted with the Soviet-Yugoslavia split, and actively courted Tito with economic and military aid in the late-1940s and 1950s. […]

Source

Tito Clique’s Stab in the Back to People’s Democratic Greece

Nikos Zahariadis
General Secretary,
Communist Party of Greece

From For a Lasting Peace, For a People’s Democracy!
No. 15 (42), 1 August, 1949

Every inhabitant of Greece knows very well that monarcho-fascism would not have been able to hold out for a few months had it not been for the all-round and open aid of the American and British imperialists.

Our main difficulties arise from the fact that the Anglo-American imperialists are stubbornly trying to retain a foothold in Greece. The country is highly important to them for strategic reasons, and they are trying to turn it into a vital bridge head against the People’s Democracies and the Soviet Union. Churchill’s old plans in this respect, for instance, are well-known. However, foreign imperialism’s positions in Greece were badly shaken last year by the military defeat of monarcho-fascism in the Grammos-Vitsi area and by the collapse of its strategic plan for 1948. The People’s revolutionary movement and the democratic army extended and consolidated their positions in Peloponnesus, Rumelia, Thessaly and on the islands of Samos and Eubeia.

This placed the monarcho-fascist regime in a critical position. In their reports General Papagos, Vendiris, Tsakalotos and others openly admitted that army morale had been shaken. Hundreds of men and officers were shot. King Paul himself was compelled to speak about the moral crisis in the army. The Athens clique was in severe economic difficulties and the political crisis was steadily sapping the foundations of monarcho-fascism. Both at home and abroad, people who were by no means our friends began to realise that the only way out for the reactionaries was to reach a peaceful settlement and conclude an agreement.

The treachery of the Tito clique was disclosed at the very moment when the crisis of monarcho-fascism was coming to a head. Tito’s treachery meant serious new difficulties for our people’s democratic movement, for it strengthened the determination of the Anglo-American imperialists to retain, at all costs, their hold on Greece for the very purpose of making full use of the Tito clique and extending their base in the Balkans. At the same time the Tito clique’s over to the camp of imperialism raised the deflated hopes of monarcho-fascism.

The people’s democratic movement of our country has never, since the time of the first occupation, known of such a cunning and foul enemy as the Tito clique. The Great Serbia chauvinism of the Titoites in relation to the resistance movement in Greece was evident as far back as 1943, when the leadership of the Yugoslav Communist Party declared that the people of Aegean Macedonia could only win their liberation within the framework of Yugoslavia. The corollary of this was that it was the prime duty of all Macedonian patriots to fight against the Communist Party of Greece and EAM and instead to collaborate with the Tito agents.

This was the directive followed by Tito’s man in Aegean Macedonia, Tempo (Vukmanovic). This was the directive applied in practice by their chief agent, Goce. Today is it being carried out by Goce-Koramidjiev gang. During all these years the Tito clique sent thousands of its agents into the Communist Party of Greece and into EAM with the job of undermining the Communist Party of Greece and splitting the unity of the people’s liberation movement.

It is clear that Greek reaction and Anglo-American imperialism could not have found a better ally than the Tito clique. The following detail is extremely characteristic: in October 1944 when the British landed in Greece, Tempo at the head of the provocative movement against the Communist Party of Greece, informed the Communists of Aegean Macedonia that he has asked Tito for two divisions to occupy Salonika. This was before the December events; the British were not sure that they could hold Greece. Preferring to see Salonika occupied by Tito than in the hands of ELAS, the British parachuted weapons onto the aerodrome at Grupista. These were sent on to Vapsori by Tito’s agents – Tempo, Goce and Pios – to be used against ELAS. Even during the Hitler occupation Goce and Pios formed groups of Macedonian and collaborated with Tempo. It can be regarded as an established fact that, as a consequence, Evans, former representative of the British military mission in Macedonia, insisted on the network of these groups being extended. It was at the help of these groups that Goce, Pios and Keramidjiev carried out their disruptive activities against the people’s liberation movement in Greece.

In December 1944 Tito, who dreamt of snatching Salonika from people’s democratic Greece, did nothing to help us fight the British, in spite of all his earlier pompous statements. If anything, he stepped up his slander campaign against the Communist Party of Greece, especially Aegean Macedonia.

Tito organised the mass emigration of Macedonians to Yugoslavia thus depriving Aegean Macedonia of its Macedonian population. Incidentally, the Greek monarcho-fascists have been trying to the same thing for many years, hoping to change the ethnical composition Aegean Macedonia. Then again, the Titoites are trying to recruit agents from these refugees who, after the necessary training, are sent to Greece to operate against the Communist Party of Greece, EAM and our people’s revolutionary movement.

Since 1943 the Greek Communist Party and revolutionary movement have been two fires: on the one side the foreign imperialists and monarcho-fascist, on the other- the Tito clique and its executive organ, the Goce- Keramidiev gang which had and still has hundreds of Yugoslav intelligence servicemen in Aegean Macedonia. In 1944, acting on orders from Skopje, Goce crossed over to Yugoslavia with his detachment. Today Goce and Keramidjiev have their headquarters in Skopje.

Time and again the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Greece drew the attention of the Central Committee of the Yugoslav Communist Party to the counter-revolutionary actions of these agents, proved by irrefutable documentary evidence, and demanded that their activities should be stopped. The Central Committee of the Yugoslav Party, however, did not do a thing to cut short these provocation actions.

It has been proved beyond doubt that Hristos Vlachos, who in 1947 in Salonika killed Yannis Zevgos, a member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Greek Party, was an agent of the Yugoslav intelligence, service and had received his instruction from Skopje. He arrived in Salonika on orders of the Yugoslav intelligence, placed himself at the disposal of General Zervas, an agent of the British Intelligence Service, and later murdered Zevgos. Five monarcho-fascist officers, some of them murderers of the people, escaped to Yugoslavia from a war prisoner’s camp with the help of Rankovic. The Central committee of the Yugoslav Party stated that it knew absolutely nothing about this, even though we gave them details of the date and the exact spot where the monarcho-fascists had crossed the border. Border officers and soldiers had informed us that the monarcho-fascists had crossed into Yugoslavia.

We have captured dozens of Yugoslav intelligence officers. In December 1948 two Yugoslav agents, Gunaris Menos and Gallios Mitsos, were detained in Prespa. These agents disclosed the names of the Yugoslav intelligence officers who had sent them and the assignment they had been given.

The Communist Party of Greece has at its disposal other damning proof of the treachery and disruptive activity of the Tito clique against the revolutionary movement in Greece. The nationalist gang of the treacherous Yugoslav leadership was always a mortal enemy to the Communist Party and people of Greece. Recent events are fresh evidence that the Tito clique helped and is continuing to help Greek and international reaction against the Greek people more and more openly.

In its communiqué of July 6, 1949 the General Headquarters of the Democratic Army stated that on July 5, 1949 monarcho-fascist troops used Yugoslav territory in order to bypass units of the Democratic Army in the Kaimakchalan area. The same day the “Free Greece” telegraph agency, basing itself on an official document (the report of lieutenant colonel Petropulos, commander of the monarcho-fascists’ 516th battalion, to General Grigoropulos, commander of the 3rd army corps), reported that on July 4, 1949, that is, on the eve of the day when the monarcho-fascists crossed Yugoslav territory, a meeting of Yugoslav and monarcho-fascist Greek officers had been held in the area of Popovolossi and Kaimakchalan. This meeting was attended by British and American officers. The Tanjug agency did not refute this fact, neither did the representative of the British Foreign Office when asked about this meeting. Again, neither did Tito deny it in his speech at Pola (Istria), on July 10, 1949. Like the Tanjug agency, he merely tried to refute the fact that an agreement had been reached allowing the monarcho-fascist to use Yugoslav territory.

Such was the Belgrade version when the United Nations Balkan Commission in Athens published its communiqué on July 21, 1949. The sole aim of this communiqué was to cover up Tito’s collaboration with the monarcho-fascists, a collaboration that had been laid bare by the General Headquarters of the Democratic Army and the Free Greece radio on July 6, 1949. This communiqué of the Balkan Commission is highly significant since, to begin with, for the first time in its history the Commission admitted that the monarcho-fascists had violated the Yugoslav frontier in the Kaimakchalan area on many occasions. It claimed, however, that this had been done by artillery and aircraft and not by infantry. Secondly, the communiqué admitted that a meeting of monarcho-fascist and Yugoslav officers had been held in the Kaimakchalan area.

After the Tito clique’s betrayal of the Greek people’s liberation struggle had been exposed in the eyes of progressive mankind and the Yugoslav people, the Yugoslav leaders found it necessary to mobilise yet another provocateur. On July 24, following the example of Tito and Djilas, Kardelj also made a statement to Tanjug on the Greek question. He denied everything: the agreement with Tsaldaris, the negotiations in the Kaimakchalan area, and the use of Yugoslav territory by the monarcho-fascists. He concluded by giving the Jesuit assurance that the Belgrade Government “continues to sympathise” with the movement of the Greek people, but that it “cannot force its assistance on them” and that “the agents of the Information Bureau who slandered Tito” are responsible for this.

We have never doubted the sympathy of the Yugoslav people. As for those who are responsible, “The Times” makes it clear when it writes that in his statement at Pola, Tito gave the Americans the necessary guarantees in advance for the dollars which he needs.

In order to mask their treachery, the traitors Tito, Djilas, Kardelj and company would have the world believe that morale of the Greek democrats is at a low ebb and that they are losing confidence in victory. As a matter of fact these Titoites are doing everything to undermine the morale of the Greek democrats. Tito’s treachery and his long-standing subversive activities against the people’s democratic movement in Greece are causing us serious difficulties. Tito has a deadly hatred for the Geek people’s liberation movement and is viciously fighting against it. But he is mistaken, and so are his monarcho-fascist allies and their common masters, if they think that they will be able to crush us.

Throughout Greece – in Rumelia, Thessaly, Peloponnesus, Epirus, Macedonia, Thrace and on the islands – the Greek Democratic Army is continuing its struggle against the enemy with unshaken courage in the face of enormous difficulties. A broad strike movement covering tens of thousands of factory and office workers is gaining strength in the cities. Hundreds of thousands of peasants who are literally starving to death in the cities where they have been forcibly driven by the monarcho-fascists, hate the Athens Government with all their soul. Reaction in Greece is in the throes of an economic, political and moral crisis from which it can find no way out. The Greek Democratic Army will come face to face with monarcho-fascism in the great battles that will be fought in Grammos and Vitsi.

We are fight because we want peace, because we want to establish democracy and the independence of Greece. Reaction is out for war. It wants to crush us at all costs and is using the Tito clique for this purpose. Thanks to the assistance and solidarity of progressive mankind, including the Yugoslav people, the people of Greece will be victorious both in war and will win a people’s democracy and national independence.

Source

Prelude to Genocide: How Capitalism Caused the Balkan Wars

The U.S. claims that the Balkan people are gripped by irrational hatreds. And that the U.S. (the self-appointed “cop of the world”) and their allies have no choice but to step in, bomb, impose, threaten and dictate. The imperialists insist that the people of the Balkans need outside forces to dominate them–to save them from themselves! It is an imperialist self-justification–based on crudely turning history upside down. It blames the people for the suffering imposed on them by capitalism.

The Balkan region of southeastern Europe is a complex “jaguar skin” of different nationalities. The Catholic northern part of Yugoslavia–including Slovenia and Croatia–had longstanding links to Austria and Germany to the north. The southern part of Yugoslavia had long historical ties eastward toward Greece, Turkey and the northern Slavic countries of Bulgaria and Russia.

History has created pockets of national hatreds here–the same way some towns or counties in the U.S. are known as white racist towns. But the hatreds of these rural backwaters did not need to infect and polarize the whole country. But over the last ten years, waves of war have washed over the Balkans, subjecting the masses of people to “ethnic cleansing” by death squads and now large-scale bombing by the U.S. and its NATO allies.

The origins of this warfare are not ancient–they are quite modern. These wars are caused by the capitalist rivalries of various ruling classes of the republics of former Yugoslavia–coldly egged on, armed, and backed by imperialist powers, like Germany, the U.S. and Russia.

This article looks at the history of Yugoslavia since its founding after World War 2. It shows that capitalist development caused tensions and inequalities within Yugoslavia and how reactionary war emerged from the power grabs of various bourgeois nationalist forces there.

Behind the Civil War

The nationalities living in the Balkan mountain area can unite–and they proved it. These peoples created a powerful multinational guerrilla movement during World War 2 to defeat the German Nazis and Italian fascists who occupied the region for three years. The peoples of Yugoslavia pinned down many divisions of Nazi troops–and ultimately freed themselves, guns in hand, in a communist-led resistance war. Modern Yugoslavia was build out of that unity–bringing together six nations and several other significant nationalities.

There was no reason why a new, progressive, multinational unity could not have been built. The key would have been uniting on the basis of the interests of the masses of people–along the road of socialism and proletarian internationalism.

But there was, unfortunately, never any real socialist transformation in Yugoslavia. The leaders of the new Yugoslavia, headed by Josef Broz Tito, betrayed the revolution and took the capitalist road–straight into the embrace of U.S. imperialism. This laid the seeds for the wars of today.

The Titoites broke the Yugoslav economy into small independent units. In agriculture, early experiments in collectivization were reversed–by 1957 virtually all the farms were in private hands. Nationalized industry was “privatized.” Individual factories were officially operating under “workers’ self-management.” But the policy was set by directors, and the real control was exercised by the market mechanism of capitalism. Without socialist planning, profit decided where investments flowed, what was produced, and who got to work. In reality “worker self-management” meant that wages were tied to factory profits–they were a form of piecework. Factories, industries and whole regions were competing with each other and profit was in command. And, more importantly, the proletariat did not have state power. It was impossible for them to revolutionize society.

The World’s First Experience with “Capitalist Roaders in Power”

By 1948 Tito was sharply criticized by the world communist movement, then led by Joseph Stalin. Meanwhile Tito was praised and supported by the imperialists–who were waging all kinds of warfare against revolutionary and socialist forces around the world. Tito claimed that he would walk a “non-aligned” path between East and West. But in fact, his Yugoslavia quickly became dependent on the imperialists–politically, economically and militarily–tied to the world capitalist market while he huddled under the U.S. “nuclear umbrella.”

For the first time in history a victorious armed movement led by supposed communists had come to power, but it set up a capitalist society. This was the first experience with “revisionism in power”–meaning a capitalist ruling class that claimed to be leading a socialist society.

The development of Yugoslavia was closely studied by revolutionaries like Mao Tsetung. In 1955, Khrushchev, a top leader in the Soviet Union, visited Yugoslavia and praised Tito. Within a year, Khrushchev himself had seized complete power in the Soviet Union and took it too down the capitalist road.

In 1963 under Mao’s leadership, the Chinese Communist Party sent an open letter called–Is Yugoslavia a Socialist Country?–to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. In that polemic, Mao’s forces wrote: “The restoration of capitalism in Yugoslavia will make all Marxist-Leninists see better and enable people to realize more keenly the necessity and urgency of combating modern revisionism. So long as imperialism exists, there is apparently no ground for saying that the danger of the restoration of capitalism in the socialist countries has been eliminated.”

Capitalist Roots of National Antagonisms

Under the weight of growing debt to the West, the Titoites carried out new “reforms” in 1965. They moved to make their currency convertible to Western currencies–so that investments could more easily flow in and profits could more easily flow out. After 1968, foreign capitalists could invest directly in the private sector. Yugoslavia became the first revisionist country to set up a stock market. These innovations of the capitalist road are now being carried out in the rest of Eastern Europe.

Yugoslav proletarians were sent off as cheap labor for northern Europe–they basically became an “export commodity.” By 1971, over a million Yugoslavs were immigrant workers, over half of them in West Germany.

According to World Bank statistics, the wealthiest 5 percent of Yugoslav households earned 25 percent of the national income in the 1970s, while the poorest 20 percent of the population earned less than 7 percent. This was one of the most extreme income gaps in Europe–in fact, according to the World Bank, even India’s income distribution gap was not as big!

The northern nations of Yugoslavia–Slovenia and Croatia–were more highly developed industrially and agriculturally. The three southern national areas–Macedonia, Montenegro, and the Albanian region of Kosovo–were far more undeveloped and poor. Serbia, the largest national grouping, is in between North and South and is also a relatively poor area. These divisions within Yugoslavia got even more acute because of the capitalist development pursued by Yugoslavia. The rich got richer and the poor got poorer. Over decades, this created a powerful basis for antagonism between the nationalities of the country and for the growth of reactionary nationalism.

Investment flows where the profits are greatest. The industrial northern nations developed rapidly after 1945, while the poorer southern republics stagnated. When the 1990s started, per capita production in Slovenia was three times as high as it was in poorer regions like Macedonia. By 1970 the per capita income of the average Slovene was over six times that of the average Kosovar. Kosovo lives in Third World conditions–comparable to Bolivia or Morocco–while in Slovenia the standard of living is closer to that of neighboring Austria.

The villages in the poorer peasant regions of the south emptied. People went north for lousy jobs and barrack-like living conditions as “guest workers”–within the supposedly “equal” Yugoslav federation. These “guest workers” make up 15 to 20 percent of the Slovenian workforce and are treated like dirt.

The old phony-communist system of Yugoslavia was based on state capitalism and a complex system of balancing bourgeois national interests. Inevitably, that old federation became strained. Bourgeois forces leading each republic tried to shift wealth toward “their” nations.

Inequality Gives Rise to Political, then Military Conflict

In the 1980s the conflicts intensified because of classic “IMF crisis.” Yugoslavia sank deeply into debt to the International Monetary Fund and other international imperialist lenders–to the tune of $1.8 billion. The lenders demanded that capitalist Yugoslavia take “austerity” measures to pay back the debt, and this inflamed the conflict in the country.

The masses themselves were not especially gripped by national hatreds–certainly not at the beginning. Large parts of the population had intermarried. In urban areas people moved away from religion–which had been a form through which national hostilities had been expressed. Many people no longer identified with one or another nationality–but simply considered themselves “Yugoslavs.” Sarajevo, the capital of Bosnia was famous for this kind of multicultural fusion. Today, the masses of people there still fondly remember the days when people lived and worked together peacefully.

Meanwhile, under the surface, the inequalities between Yugoslavia’s regions and the rival ambitions of the different national capitalist forces within Yugoslavia created conditions for an eruption.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, and imperialist power shifted in Europe, it tore old Yugoslavia apart. Warring bourgeois camps sprang out–claiming to protect the survival of different national groups–while they pursued their own interests and sought to divide the people along national lines.

After Tito died, an extremely reactionary movement won the leadership of the state-capitalist forces in Serbia. Led by Slobodan Milosevic, this political current insisted that the time had come for the Serbian nation (meaning the Serbian national bourgeoisie operating within the larger Yugoslavian state) to grab for itself–and impose its will by force. Milosevic, like most ruling class figures in the former Yugoslavia, was a former revisionist–meaning that he had been part of the ruling Yugoslavian party, the “League of Communists,” which was a phony communist, state capitalist government institution.

Some forces argue that the U.S. is attacking Serbia to enforce economic privatization and the elimination of “socialist” remnants in Yugoslavian society. These analyses are completely off the mark.

There is no socialism in Yugoslavia today and there never was. Yugoslavia has been controlled by running dogs of the U.S. and enemies of real communism for its whole history. Yugoslavia built its economy along capitalist and free-market lines over 40 years ago. And today, there is certainly nothing socialist at all about the economy of the Serb-dominated Yugoslav federation or the politics of local capitalist-nationalist reactionaries like Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic is the top representative of the Serbian capitalist ruling class which is attempting a reactionary power grab in the region–and has collided with some larger interests of NATO’s imperialist/capitalists –especially those ruling Germany, Britain and the U.S.

In 1989 Milosevic made Kosovo a symbol and a starting point of this regional power grab. As he came to power within the Yugoslavian federation he revoked the autonomy that Kosovo had exercised within Serbia. He started to systematically impose a Serbian domination on the Albanian majority of Kosovo. He brutally suppressed a powerful strike among the Kosovo miners, expelled Albanians from the universities, imposed Serbian police and troops on the province–and generally made it clear that his government intended to drive Albanians from Kosovo. There were repeated incidents of police murder, as the cops acted like an occupying force.

All this signaled that military force was being applied to turn Yugoslavia into a Greater Serbia. It greatly accelerated the development of separatist sentiments among the ruling classes of the other nationalities (like Croatia, Slovenia and Macedonia). The masses of people feared that they would soon be targeted for their nationality.

The capitalist forces controlling Slovenia and Croatia thought they could get a better deal outside of the Yugoslavian federation. They were encouraged, backed, and armed by newly reunited German imperialism. Once Croatia and Slovenia seceded, the Yugoslavian federation started to unravel. The Federal army command, dominated by Serbian officers, emerged more and more as the real power holding the Yugoslav federation together. Warfare erupted in waves.

First came war between the Serbian-dominated Yugoslavian army and the governments of Croatia and Slovenia that declared independence from Yugoslavia. That war ended with independence for both Croatia and Slovenia.

Then, a three-sided war erupted within the most multinational republic, Bosnia, as Serbian and Croatian militias fought to drive other nationalities out, and annex parts of Bosnia to their republics.

Both the Croatian and Serbian nationalists developed death-squad like forces that carried out “ethnic cleansing”–murderous terror campaigns designed to force the masses of people to flee multinational areas and group with their own nationality.

With major German and U.S. military backing, the Croatian forces were able to fight the Serbian/Yugoslavian army to a stalemate–inside and outside Bosnia. This led to the 1995 Dayton Accords where the U.S. and Milosevic together imposed a defacto partitioning of Bosnia between Croatian and Serbian forces–and cut the very ground out from underneath the Bosnian Muslims (who the U.S. claimed to be helping).

The third wave of fighting has now erupted in Kosovo–as Milosevic moved to defeat the armed Albanian forces resisting his reactionary nationalist moves. The campaigns of suppressing Albanians accelerated. Serbian death squad forces, like “Arkan’s Tigers,” made their appearance with high-level government support. This fighting is particularly troublesome for U.S. interests because it threatens to destabilize Macedonia–and carried a great risk of disrupting U.S./NATO alliances in this region.

This bitter series of Balkan wars is a living example both of how capitalism leads to the domination of one nation over another and how imperialism inflames conflicts among the people into reactionary war.

Reactionary Polarizations

The bitter events of years of civil war and ethnic cleansing have deepened painful chasms between the peoples of various nationalities that can only be overcome through tremendous struggle and revolutionary leadership. Progressive sentiments, opposition to ethnic cleansing and desires for unity are often heard among the masses of people throughout this whole region–along with considerable hatred of reactionary nationalist forces leading the governments of Serbia and Croatia. However, despite that, the political and military initiative has remained in the hands of those bourgeois nationalist forces.

Within these intense and often many-sided conflicts–there are forces who have been fighting for just causes. In particular, the Bosnian Muslims and the Albanians of Kosovo have been fighting in self-defense, and have raised just demands for self-determination and independence to guarantee the security of persecuted peoples.

The whole situation in the Balkans cries out for an armed, determined multinational force with a internationalist vision of solidarity between the peoples and a program for defeating reactionaries and building a new society. Unfortunately, there is no Marxist-Leninist-Maoist party in the Balkans today to lead such an armed struggle. One will have to be built. There is no shortcut out of this situation. Support for imperialist intervention and occupation will only deepen the divisions, confusions and sufferings among the people–and it will only strengthen the position of imperialism in the world as a whole to impose its interests on oppressed people.

Many millions all over the world are watching the bitter sufferings of the Balkan people. And there is a way for them to help create the conditions for something better. It is to firmly and forcefully oppose the interventions and intrigues of the U.S. and NATO. It would be a great contribution to the future of the Balkan peoples to make it as difficult as possible for the Great Powers to bomb and occupy, infiltrate local movements and governments, build up their favorite local reactionaries, and impose their interests over the bones of the people.

Source

Forbidding the “G-Word”: Holocaust Denial as Judicial Doctrine in Canada by Ward Churchill

“Where scholars deny genocide, [they] contribute to the deadly psychohistorical dynamic in which unopposed genocide begets new genocides.”

—Roger W. Smith, Eric Markusen and Robert Jay Lifton, “Professional Ethics and Denial of the Armenian Genocide” (1995)

Denial of genocide has become a matter of increasing concern in recent years, primarily as a result of efforts by a relative handful of neo-Nazi “scholars” to rehabilitate their ideological heritage by advancing arguments and “evidence” that the Hitlerian Holocaust of the early 1940s never occurred. (1) So insidious has Holocaust denial been considered by many governments that they have criminalized it, and prosecutions of deniers have occurred in France, Canada and elsewhere. (2) The United States bars known deniers from entering the country, and has supported civil litigation against individuals and institutions engaging in such activities. (3)

A related but far less noticed phenomenon has been the efforts of a significant number of ostensibly more reputable scholars to indulge in a sort of reverse denial. According to this group, the Holocaust undoubtedly occurred, but it was something experienced exclusively by Jews. (4) Here, the fates of the Gypsies, Slavs, homosexuals and others at the hands of the Nazis are routinely minimized and consigned to the ambiguous category of “non-genocidal suffering.” (5)

In their more extreme formulations, proponents of Jewish exclusivism hold not only that the Holocaust was a uniquely Jewish experience, but that it is history’s sole instance of “true” genocide. Exclusivists have gone on record, explicitly and repeatedly, denying that everything from the extermination of the Pequots in 1637, to the Turkish slaughter of more than a million Armenians between 1915 and 1918, to the more recent genocides in Cambodia, East Timor, Bosnia, Rwanda and Kosovo aren’t really examples of genocide at all. (6) Hence, while neo-Nazis deny a single genocide, exclusivists deny many.

There are of course other distinctions to be drawn between Holocaust deniers and those championing the exclusivity of suffering embodied in the Nazi Judeocide. Although their influence often exceeds their actual numbers, (7) the propagandists of neo-Nazism are by any definition a tiny fringe group. Those promoting ideas of Jewish exclusivism, on the other hand, comprise substantial majorities at the very hearts of the academic and media mainstreams. Moreover, their outlook has been adopted as official or quasi-official policy by numerous governments, including most prominently those taking the strongest stands against neo-Nazi deniers. (8) In sum, the Holocaust uniqueness postulations of Jewish exclusivism have assumed the status of an orthodoxy in historical/sociological interpretation, while those of neo-Nazism have not (and hopefully never will).

The reasons for this are not especially mysterious. The magnitude of their people’s catastrophe has generated among Jews an understandable need to find spiritual meaning in the experience, a matter which had led many to an unfortunate perversion of their own tradition in which they, a “chosen people,” were uniquely selected by God to endure the Holocaust. (9) More pragmatically—or cynically—others have realized that such suffering can be translated into a kind of “moral capital” and used to political advantage, particularly in garnering support for the Israeli state. (10) There is thus a clear, and often quite overtly expressed, desire among many Jews to claim an absolute monopoly in terms of genocidal suffering. (11)

For the elites of gentile societies, meanwhile, affirming the pretensions of Jewish Holocaust exclusivism carries with it an automatic absolution: If only the Nazi Judeocide can be qualified as genocide, it follows that only Nazis have ever been perpetrators or beneficiaries of the crime. The point is not insignificant. Genocide has been all but universally decried as a not merely “incomparable,” but an “unthinkable” offense, (12) one defying any possible redemption of those committing it (which is of course why neo-Nazis seek to “prove” their ideological forebears did not engage in it). As the Germans have long since discovered, the citizenry of no nation can take pride in a history besmirched by genocidal comportment. (13) Nor can any citizenry be counted upon to conveniently acquiesce in contemporary policies of genocide carried out in their name.

Far more than mere conceptions of “national honor” are at stake. Among those wishing to see themselves as “good people”—which is virtually everyone—the very term “genocide” provokes such deep and generalized revulsion that any official admission of its descriptive applicability to the national character, even historically, might threaten the hegemony upon which systemic stability largely depends.14 Genocide must therefore be denied at all costs, most often by explaining it away as being or having been something else altogether. For this purpose, constraining perceptions of genocide to the terms set forth by Jewish exclusivism serves non-Jewish interests as readily as Jewish.

Definitional Distortions

Genocide is not an old word, having “naturally” evolved over time to hold meanings contrary to its own. Nor was it meant to serve as a synonym for mass killing. When Raphaël Lemkin coined the term in 1944, he went to considerable lengths in explaining that it was intended to describe policies and processes designed to bring about the dissolution and disappearance of targeted human groups, as such. He wrote “Genocide has two phases, one, destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor.” (15) If these two conditions have been fulfilled, a genocide has occurred, even if every member of the targeted group has survived the process in a physical sense.

Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aimed at the destruction of the essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be a disintegration of political and social institutions—of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. Genocide is directed at the national group as an entity, and the actions involved are directed at individuals, not in their individual capacity, but as members of the national group (emphasis added). (16)

In 1946, Lemkin was retained by the United Nations Secretariat to draft an international convention codifying the crime. Therein, genocide—that is, “policies aimed at eradicating targeted ethnical, racial, national, religious or political groups”—was defined in a twofold way: “(1) the destruction of a group,” and “(2) preventing its preservation and development.” (17) The offending policies were themselves grouped in three categories, all of equal gravity:

· Physical Genocide, meaning outright extermination as well as the imposition of “slow death measures (i.e., subjection to conditions of life which, owing to lack of proper housing, clothing, food, hygiene and medical care or excessive work or physical exertion are likely to result in the debilitation and death of individuals; mutilations and biological experiments imposed for other than curative purposes; and deprivation of livelihood by means of looting or confiscation of property).

· Biological Genocide, meaning the prevention of births among the target group (i.e., involuntary sterilization or abortion, as well as compulsory segregation of the sexes).

· Cultural Genocide, meaning destruction of the specific characteristics of the group (i.e., forced dispersal of the population; forced transfer of children to another group; suppression of religious practices or the national language; forced exile of writers, artists, religious and political leaders or other individuals representing the culture of the group; destruction of cultural/religious shrines or monuments, or their diversion to alien uses; destruction or dispersion of documents and objects of historical, artistic or religious value, and objects used in religious worship). (18)

The draft was then turned over to a committee composed of nation-state delegates to be “revised and condensed” before its submission to the U.N. General Assembly. During this process, the United States and Canada, acting in concert, were able to arrange deletion of almost the entire provision on cultural genocide, as well as all explicit references to slow death measures.19 As the matter was finally framed in international law on December 9, 1948, “genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:”

(a) Killing members of the group;

(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;

(c) Deliberately inflicting on members of the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part;

(d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;

(e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group. (20)

Strikingly, even in this greatly-truncated delineation, only one in five criteria pertain to direct killing. Eighty percent of the legal definition of genocide thus devolves upon nonlethal policies and activities. The responses of the U.S. and Canada to this are instructive. The United States simply refused for forty years to accept the result. Finally, in 1988, embarrassed at being the only country so openly rejecting the rule of law, it attempted a ratification in which it claimed a “right” to exempt itself from compliance whenever convenient. (22)

Canada also submitted an invalid ratification, but much earlier, in 1952. The subterfuge in this case was to write domestic implementing legislation in such a way as to excise from the country’s “legal understanding” those classifications of genocidal policy in which Canada was actually engaged, retaining only those involving “physical destruction… killing, or its substantial equivalents” (that is, Article II(a), (c) and (d) of the 1948 Convention).

For purposes of Canadian law, we believe that the definition of genocide should be drawn somewhat more narrowly than in the [already much narrowed] international Convention so as to include only killing and its substantial equivalents…The other components of the international definition, viz, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of a group and forcibly transferring children of one group to another group with intent to destroy the group we deem inadvisable for Canada. (23)

In 1985, the parliament went further, removing the prohibition on involuntary sterilization (1948 Convention, Article II(d)) from Canada’s genocide statute. (24) No country, of course, whether it be Canada or the U.S. or Nazi Germany, holds a legitimate prerogative to pick and choose among elements of international law, electing to abide by some and not others. It possess even less of a right to unilaterally “revise” the Laws of Nations in conformity with its own preferences. As the Nazis were informed at Nuremberg, the requirements of customary law are binding, irrespective of whether individual sovereignties wish to accept them. (25)

Nonetheless, taking the cue from their governments, a range of “responsible” scholars shortly set themselves to the task of deforming Lemkin’s concept even further. In 1959, Dutch law professor Pieter Drost published a massive two-volume study wherein he argued that usage of the term “genocide” should be restricted to its physical and biological dimensions, and that cultural genocide should be redesignated as “ethnocide,” a term he erroneously attributed to “post-war French scholars.” (26) Thereafter, biological genocide was also quietly dropped from discussion as writer after writer defined genocide exclusively in terms of killing. (27) Forty years of this continuous “genocide equals mass murder” distortion has yielded an altogether predictable effect, not only on the popular consciousness but on that of many otherwise critical activists and intellectuals. This last is readily evident in the recent release of a book by Native Hawaiian sovereigntist and professor Haunani-Kay Trask, wherein genocide is defined as simply the “systematic killing of a people identified by ethnic/racial characteristics.” (28)

Friends of the Lubicon

Questions arise as to whether, after all this, Lemkinesque understandings of genocide still prevail at all, and if so, whether they retain the capacity to galvanize public sentiment. The answers rest, to some extent, in a handful of examples. In 1968, as part of the Russell Tribunal’s verdict condemning U.S. aggression in Vietnam, Jean-Paul Sartre concluded not only that was the policy itself genocidal, but that colonialism as a system inherently produces genocidal results.29 Considerable support was lent to the latter of Sartre’s findings in 1980, when the Tribunal published a report on conditions imposed upon the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere.30

Still further expansions on the theme have accrued through publications like Cultural Survival Quarterly, and in the Native resistance movements which emerged during the 1980s in places like Wollaston Lake, James Bay and Big Mountain, Arizona.31 Perhaps the most potent example, however, concerns the experience of a tiny Cree band at Lubicon Lake, in northern Alberta, who have been confronted with sociocultural eradication as the result of maneuverings on the parts of both the federal and provincial governments to allow the Daishowa Corporation, a transnational manufacturer of paper products, to “deforest” their traditional territory (within which government-sanctioned oil and gas exploration had already wrought a noticeable degree of havoc).32

After fruitlessly attempting to negotiate a resolution with both the corporation and participating governmental entities, the band, working through a non-native Toronto-based organization calling itself Friends of the Lubicon (FOL), announced a boycott of Daishowa products in 1991. The FOL made the genocidal impacts of the corporation’s planned clearcutting of Lubicon territory the centerpiece of its effort, developing a well-conceived media campaign to put its message across. As a Canadian court later put it, the “results of the Friends’ campaign against Daishowa…were, in a word, stunning.”33 Not only did typical Canadians prove quite capable of understanding nonlethal modes of genocide, they displayed a pronounced willingness to decline to trade with businesses complicit in such processes. On this basis:

Approximately fifty companies using paper products (mostly paper bags) from Daishowa were approached by the Friends. The list of these companies reads like a Who’s Who of the retail and fast food industries in Ontario—Pizza Pizza, the Liquor Control Board of Ontario, Cultures, Country Style Donuts, Mr. Submarine, Bootlegger, A&W, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Woolworth’s, Roots, Club Monaco, Movenpeck Restaurants and Holt Renfrew, to name but a few. Every one of the companies approached by the Friends joined the boycott of Daishowa products. All but two did so…before their stores were picketed…Pizza Pizza was subjected to picketing outside its store on two occasions; Woolworth’s had a single store picketed on two occasions…Both Pizza Pizza and Woolworth’s joined the boycott.34

By 1994, the boycott was costing Daishowa millions of dollars annually in lost sales.35 Under such circumstances, it stood to lose money rather than profiting by cutting timber on Lubicon land. One result was that, although Daishowa had indicated that it would commence logging operations “as soon as the ground freezes over” in the fall of 1991, not a tree was felled.36 As FOL leader Kevin Thomas observed in 1997, the success of the boycott demonstrated clearly that there are viable alternatives for those genuinely opposed to genocide. Rather than simply bearing “moral witness” to what is happening half-a-world away in Tibet or Kosovo, it is entirely possible “to actually make a difference by focusing attention mainly on what our own government is doing right here at home and undertaking direct action to stop it.”37

“This can have a precedential effect,” Thomas suggests. “Halting genocide in one place helps lay the groundwork for halting it in all places. But, for this to happen, it’s essential that people be made aware of what genocide actually is. We’ve all been pretty systematically misled on that score, but if we’re confused, if we can’t recognize genocide for what it is when it’s happening right in front of us, there’s no way in the world we can change anything for the better. That’s why there’s been so much effort expended on keeping everybody confused about it: business as usual pretty much depends on an ability to perpetrate genocide more-or-less continuously, without its being recognized as such and, as a result, without its encountering significant opposition from average citizens.”38

Judicial Repression in Canada

The lesson was lost on neither the corporate nor the governmental sectors of Canada’s status quo. Consequently, naming Thomas and two other key organizers as principle defendants, Daishowa filed a SLAPP suit against the FOL on January 11, 1995. Citing millions in lost revenues and a steady erosion in its client base as damages, the corporation contended that the three men had conspired to employ illegal tactics such as an illegal secondary boycott, and were guilty of defamation by using the word “genocide” in their public outreach efforts.39

Even before the defendants had an opportunity to file a response to the allegations against them, a temporary injunction was issued to prevent them from engaging in boycott activities of any sort for ninety days. By then, Daishowa’s attorneys had requested an interlocutory injunction to extend the prohibition for the duration of the suit. This motion was “substantially dismissed,” but the FOL was ordered not to describe Daishowa’s planned activities as genocidal until a final ruling had been made.40 The following trial ended with one of the more brilliantly obfuscatory rulings in Canadian history.

At one level, Judge J.C. MacPherson’s lengthy verdict was a study in liberal legal scholarship, rejecting in an almost contemptuous tone each of Daishowa’s claims that the FOL’s boycott techniques had been in themselves unlawful. On the contrary, he concluded, “the manner in which the Friends have performed their picketing and boycott activities is a model of how such activities should be conducted in a democratic society.”41 All of this progressive cant, however, was simply a gloss meant to disguise the unmistakably reactionary core of what the judge had to say: that the FOL’s characterization of Daishowa’s corporate policy as genocidal constituted “an enormous injustice…bordering on the grotesque…cavalier and grossly unfair to Daishowa.”42 Having thus found that the FOL had indeed defamed the corporation, he forbade them—and everyone else in Canada—from ever again employing such accurate terminology to describe what the corporation was doing.43

It was not that MacPherson was unaware of the “plight” in which Daishowa’s activities had placed the Lubicons. Indeed, he remarked upon it at some length.

The essential subject matter of everything the Friends say and do is the plight of the Lubicon Cree…There can be little doubt that their plight, especially in recent years, is a tragic, indeed a desperate one…The loss of a traditional economy of hunting, trapping and gathering, the negative effect of industrial development on a people spiritually anchored in nature, the disintegration of a social structure grounded in families led by successful hunters and trappers, alcoholism, serious community health problems such as tuberculosis, and poor relations with governments and corporations engaged in oil and gas and forest operations on land the Lubicon regard as theirs—all of these have contributed to a current state of affairs for the Lubicon Cree which deserves the adjectives tragic, desperate and intolerable.44

Nor was he unaware that imposition of such conditions by “governments and corporations engaged in oil and gas and forest operations” conforms quite precisely with both the etymological and legal definitions of the crime of genocide, even under Canadian law. In his verdict, the judge quoted Raphaël Lemkin, the 1948 Convention and the relevant Canadian statute all three, only to disregard them, along with testimonies of a whole series of expert witnesses,45 in favor of the “plain and ordinary meaning of the word ‘genocide’” contained in Webster’s Dictionary. This, he insisted—although the dictionary actually didn’t—was “the intentional killing of a group of people.”46

MacPherson never specified the point at which he believed the content of abridged dictionaries had come to outweigh black letter legal definition in Canadian jurisprudence.47 Less did he explain how, using his “common sense” approach, anyone is supposed to distinguish between the Nazi extermination of the Jews and such relatively trivial phenomena as the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (both involve the “intentional killing of a group of people,” and would thus seem to be equally genocidal under the judge’s “plain, ordinary” and utterly absurd interpretation).48 Nevertheless, he went on to assert that characterizations of genocide deriving from other definitions—those found in international law, for example—do not constitute “fair comment” about perpetrators and their activities.49

It follows that organizations like the FOL, devoted not only to direct action but to what even the judge described as a broader “educational” purpose, are left with an ability to confront genocidal processes only by referring to them as something else (which is to say, in effect, by implicitly denying that they are genocide).50 In the alternative, should such groups—or, presumably, the victims themselves—insist upon calling things by their right names, perpetrators have been perfectly positioned by MacPherson’s judicial prevarications to claim “damages” and/or take other legal action against them.

The Wages of Denial

As prominent exclusivist Deborah Lipstadt has noted, the “general public tends to accord victims of genocide a certain moral authority. If you devictimize a people, you strip them of their moral authority,” and thus a substantial measure of their ability to attract public support.51 Lipstadt was writing from an explicitly Jewish perspective, of course, and of her own people’s natural desire to be compensated in various ways for the horrors of the Nazi Judeocide. Her point, however, is equally valid with respect to any genocidally victimized group. Moreover, where genocide is an ongoing process—as with the Lubicons—the need for public support goes not to securing compensation, but survival itself.

This is by no means an academic consideration. Cumulatively, one result of a half-century of “scholarship” by people like Lipstadt has been the functional devictimization of literally hundreds of indigenous peoples, even as their very existence has been systematically extinguished. Refused moral authority by those better stationed to monopolize it for themselves—and thus unable to command public attention, much less support—a truly staggering number of Native societies have been pushed into oblivion since 1950.52 It is in some ways a perverse testament to the effectiveness of exclusivist propaganda that most such passings—whether physical or “merely” cultural—have gone not only unprotested but unnoticed by the general populace.

In this, the convolutions of legalism have played their role. Arcane preoccupations with the standards of proof required in establishing perpetrator intent, and exactly what scale, mode, tempo or proportionality of killing should be necessary for instances of mass murder to be considered “genuinely” genocidal, have done far more to mask than to reveal the realities of genocide. (53) Small wonder that there has never been a concerted attempt by the international community to enforce the 1948 Convention. Now J.C. MacPherson places his personal capstone on the whole sordid situation, entering a ruling which by implication transforms law from its potential as a weapon against genocide into one with which those engaged in it can shield themselves from any sort of effective exposure and intervention.

Denial of genocide, insofar as it plainly facilitates continuation of the crime, amounts to complicity in it. This is true whether the deniers are neo-Nazis, Jewish exclusivists, renowned international jurists or provincial Canadian judges. Complicity in genocide is, under Article III of the 1948 Convention, tantamount to perpetration of genocide itself. It is formally designated a Crime Against Humanity, those who engage in it criminals of the worst sort. There is no difference in this sense between a J.C. MacPherson, a Deborah Lipstadt and an Adolf Eichmann. (54)

And what of the victims? Unquestionably, any group faced with the prospect of systemically-imposed extinction holds not only the right but the obligation to defend and preserve itself by the best means available to it. Afforded the moral currency attending its circumstance, it may well be able to undertake this task both nonviolently and successfully. This, surely, is a primary lesson of the recent collaboration between the Lubicons and the FOL. Denied such currency, however, the victims can hardly be expected to simply “lie down in a ditch and die.” (30) To paraphrase Martin Luther King, Jr., those who endeavor to make the success of peaceful resistance to genocide impossible only make violent resistance inevitable. They can have no complaint, morally, ethically or otherwise, when the chickens come home to roost.

____________________________________________

Endnotes:

1. Pierre Vidal-Niquet, Assassins of Memory: Essays on the Denial of the Holocaust (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992); Deborah Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory (New York: Free Press, 1993).

2. In France, there was the 1981 trial of Robert Faurisson, the country’s leading denier, for defaming Holocaust witnesses and scholars. In Canada, the most notable cases have been the 1985 prosecutions of James Keegstra, an Alberta school teacher who’d spent fourteen years indoctrinating his students that the Holocaust was a “hoax,” and Ernst Zundel, a Toronto-based publisher who is one of the world’s leading purveyors of such tripe. See Nadine Fresco, “Denial of the Dead: On the Faurisson Affair,” Dissent, Fall 1981; Alan T. Davies, “A Tale of Two Trials: Antisemitism in Canada,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Vol. 4, 1989.

3. The primary case in the U.S. was Mel Mermelstein v. Institute for Historical Review, et al., Superior Court of California, Civ. No. 356542 (Feb. 1981); British “historian” David Irving is among those barred from entering the United States because of his record as a denier.

4. See, e.g., Martin Gilbert, The Holocaust: A History of the Jews of Europe During the Second World War (New York: Henry Holt, 1985); Leni Yahil, The Holocaust: The Fate of the European Jewry, 1932-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990).

5. This happens by way both directly and by way of omission. In Deborah Lipstadt’s Denying the Holocaust, for example, there is not so much as an index entry for Gypsies, despite the fact that this smaller people was subject to exactly the same Nazi racial decrees as Jews, were exterminated in precisely the same manner and in the same places as Jews, and, proportionately, suffered equivalent or greater population losses; Ian Hancock, “Responses to the Porrajmos: The Romani Holocaust,” in Alan S. Rosenbaum, ed., Is the Holocaust Unique? Perspectives in Comparative Genocide (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996). For direct assertions, see, e.g., Michael Berenbaum, ed., A Mosaic of Victims: Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis (New York: New York University Press, 1990).

6. Although there are literally hundreds of iterations of the notion available from other authors, the most comprehensive assertion that the Nazi Judeocide is “phenomenologically unique” has been that advanced by Steven T. Katz in his massive The Holocaust in Historical Context, Vol. 1: The Holocaust and Mass Death Before the Modern Age (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).

7. A poll conducted in Italy during the fall of 1992, for example, revealed that nearly 10 percent of the country’s adult population have been convinced that the Holocaust never happened; Jewish Telegraph News Agency, Nov. 11, 1992.

8. Examples of official policy include the quid pro quo entered into between the governments of Israel and Turkey by which the Israelis ban public characterizations of the Armenian genocide as genocide. In exchange, the Turks pronounce the Nazi Judeocide as the “real” genocide. Working together, the two governments were able to prevent the Armenians from being listed as victims of genocide in the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.; Roger W. Smith, Eric Marusen and Robert Jay Lifton, “Professional Ethics and the Denial of the Armenian Genocide,” Holocaust and Genocide Studies, No. 9, 1995. Insofar as it has received not inconsiderable governmental support and endorsement, the Holocaust Memorial Museum itself, though nominally private, may be viewed as an example of quasi-official policy.

9. See, e.g., Arthur A. Cohen, The Tremendium: A Theological Interpretation of the Holocaust (New York: Holmes & Meier, 1981); John Roth and Michael Berenbaum, The Holocaust: Religious and Philosophical Implications (New York: Paragon House, 1989). For critique, see John Murray Cuddahy, “The Holocaust: The Latent Issue in the Uniqueness Debate,” in Philip F. Gallagher, ed., Christians, Jews and Other Worlds: Patterns of Conflict and Accommodation (Landham, MS: University Press of America, 1988); Arno J. Mayer, Why Did the Heavens Not Darken? The Final Solution in History (New York: Pantheon, [2nd ed.] 1990).

10. The term “moral capital” is taken from exclusivist writer Edward Alexander, The Holocaust and the War of Ideas (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction, 1994) p. 195.

11. E.g., Yehuda Bauer, “Whose Holocaust?” and Edward Alexander, “Stealing the Holocaust,” both in Midstream, Vol. 26, No. 9, 1980.

12. Roger Manvell and Heinrich Fraenkel, The Incomparable Crime; Mass Extermination in the 20th Century: The Legacy of Guilt (London: Hinemann, 1967); Israel W. Charney, How Can We Commit the Unthinkable? Genocide, the Human Cancer (Boulder, CO, Westview Press, 1982).

13. See generally, Richard Evans, In Hitler’s Shadow: West German Historians and the Attempt to Escape from the Nazi Past (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1989).

14. As the Italian theorist Antonio Gramsci described it, hegemony functions by way of a master narrative designed to convince the great mass of people that the prevailing order is natural, right and thus inevitable. Any concession by ruling élites that there is anything fundamentally wrong with the order over which they preside would of course undermine the very belief system upon which their own ascendancy depends; Walter L. Adamson, Hegemony and Revolution: A Study of Antonio Gramsci’s Political and Cultural Theory (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980) esp. pp. 170-9.

15. Raphaël Lemkin, Axis Rule in Occupied Europe: Laws of Occupation, Analysis of Government, Proposals for Redress (Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1944) p. 79.

16. Ibid.

17. U.N. Doc. A/362, June 14, 1947.

18. Ibid. For further discussion, see Robert Davis and Mark Zannis, The Genocide Machine in Canada: The Pacification of the North (Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1973) pp. 15-21.

19. On Canada’s role, see Canada and the United Nations (Ottawa: Dept. of External Affairs, 1948) p. 191. Overall, see M. Lippman, “The Drafting of the 1948 Convention and Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” Boston University International Law Journal, No. 3, 1984.

20. U.S.T. _______, T.I.A.S. _______, 78 U.N.T.S. 277 (1948), Article II. The Convention’s third article makes it a crime not only to perpetrate genocide, but to conspire or attempt to commit it, to incite it, or to be otherwise complicit in its perpetration; for text, see Ian Brownlie, ed., Basic Documents on Human Rights (Oxford: Clarendon Press, [3rd ed.] 1992) pp. 31-4.

21. Lawrence LeBlanc, The United States and the Genocide Convention (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1991) pp. 7-12.

22. There can be no question whether parliament was aware its Native residential school policy violated Article II(e) of the Genocide Convention, the prohibition on forced transfer of children. The issue was raised repeatedly during the debates on ratification; Canadian Civil Liberties Association, “Brief to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, “April 26, 1969, p. 6. Yet this is one of the provisions deleted from the Canadian genocide statute, ostensibly because it had “no essential relevance to Canada where mass transfers of children to another group are unknown”; Special Committee on Hate Propaganda in Canada (1948); quoted in Davis and Zannis, Genocide Machine, p. 23. For background, see J.R. Miller, Shingwauk’s Vision: A History of Native Residential Schools (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1996).

23. Special Committee on Hate Propaganda in Canada (1948); quoted in Davis and Zannis, Genocide Machine, p. 23.

24. Criminal Code, R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46.

25. As the matter was put by a principle advisor to the chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg, many of the charges brought against the Nazis were based in upon their violation of “customary international law—a system [evolving] under the impact of common consent and the demands of world security. Acquiescence of all members of the Family of Nations is not necessary for this purpose. All that is needed is reasonable proof of the existence of widespread custom”; Sheldon Glueck, “The Nuremberg Trial and Aggressive War,” Harvard Law Review, No. 59, Feb. 1946, pp. 396-456. This rule was affirmed by the International Court of Justice with respect to the Genocide Convention in an Advisory Opinion issued on May 28, 1951: “The principles inherent in the Convention are acknowledged by civilized nations as binding on [any] country, even [those] without a conventional obligation.” In effect, “reservations” to the Convention like that attempted by the U.S., or attempts to limit its scope by deleting portions of it in domestic implementing statutes, as Canada has, have no legal validity at all; see generally, Robert K. Woetzel, “The Eichmann Case in International Law,” Criminal Law Review, Oct. 1962, pp. 671-82.

26. Pieter N. Drost, Genocide (Leyden: A.W. Sythoff, 1959); The Crime of State (Leyden: A.W. Sythoff, 1959). In actuality, Lemkin himself coined the term “ethnocide” in a footnote on page 79 of Axis Rule—the same page on which the neologism “genocide” itself was invented—explaining therein that the two words are synonyms. Interestingly, subsequent researchers have simply repeated without further investigation Drost’s false attribution of “ethnocide” to French scholarship, as well as his unfounded contention that it describes something other than genocide; see, e.g., Kurt Jonasohn and Frank Chalk, “A Typology of Genocide and Some Implications for the Human Rights Agenda,” in Isador Walliman and Michael Dobkowski, eds., Genocide and the Modern Age: Etiology and Case Studies of Mass Death (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1987) pp. 7, 37.

27. Frank Chalk, “Definitions of Genocide and Their Implications for Prediction and Prevention,” in Yehuda Bauer, et al., eds., Remembering for the Future: Working Papers and Addenda, 2 vols. (Oxford: Pergammon Press, 1989) pp. 76-7.

28. Haunani-Kay Trask, From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and Sovereignty in Hawai’i (Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, [rev. ed.] 1999) p. 251.

29. Jean-Paul Sartre and Arlette El Kaim-Sartre, On Genocide and a Summary of the Evidence and Judgments of the International War Crimes Tribunal (Boston: Beacon Press, 1968). Although he was highly critical of Sartre’s “overgeneralized” formulation, Leo Kuper, one of the more astute analysts of genocide, by-and-large incorporated it into his own books: Leo Kuper, Genocide: Its Political Uses in the Twentieth Century (New Haven, CT, Yale University Press, 1981); International Action Against Genocide (London: Minority Rights Group, [rev. ed.] 1984); The Prevention of Genocide (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985).

30. Russell Tribunal, Report of the Fourth Russell Tribunal on the Rights of the Indians of the Americas (Nottingham: Bertrand Russell Foundation, 1980).

31. Cultural Survival Quarterly is the journal of Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Cultural Survival, Inc. On the resistance movements, see Miles Goldstick, Wollaston: People Resisting Genocide (Montréal: Black Rose Books, 1987); Boyce Richardson, Strangers Devour the Land: The Cree Hunters of the James Bay area versus Premier Bourassa and the James Bay Development Corporation (Post Mills, VT: Chelsea Green Publishers, [rev. ed.] 1991); Ward Churchill, “Genocide in Arizona: The ‘Navajo-Hopi Land Dispute’ in Perspective,” in my Struggle for the Land: Native North American Resistance to Genocide, Ecocide and Colonization (Winnipeg: Arbiter Ring, [rev. ed.] 1999).

32. The story of the Lubicon is quite complex; see John Goddard, Last Stand of the Lubicon Cree (Vancouver/Toronto: Douglas & McIntire, 1991).

33. Daishowa Inc. v. Friends of the Lubicon, Ontario Court of Justice (Gen. Div.), File No. 95-CQ-59707, Verdict of Judge J. MacPherson (Apr. 14, 1998) p. 21.

34. Ibid., pp. 21-2.

35. Thomas Claridge, “Judge to Rule May 19 on Lubicon boycott: Daishowa says $3-million annual sales lost,” Toronto Globe and Mail, May 1, 1995.

36. FOL briefing paper distributed by the Sierra Legal Defense Fund, beginning in 1996 (copy on file).

37. Conversation with Kevin Thomas, June 14, 1997 (notes on file).

38. Ibid.

39. Christopher Genovali, “Multinational Pulp Company SLAPPs Suit Against Activist Group,” Alternatives Journal, Vol. 22, No. 3, 1996.

40. Daishowa Inc. v. Friends of the Lubicon (1995), 30 C.R.R. (2d) 26 (Gen. Div.). The corporation immediately filed an appeal which resulted in reinstatement of the injunction against the FOL’s boycott activities more generally. This higher court ruling was later expanded to prohibit the defendants, their attorneys, and even selected expert witnesses from publicly discussing the case; Christopher Genovali, “Daishowa Tries to Gag Critics,” Alternatives Journal, Vol. 23, No. 2, 1997.

41. Verdict, p. 50.

42. Ibid., pp. 72, 68, 76.

43. Ibid., p. 76.

44. Ibid., pp. 42-3. MacPherson’s description of the situation in which the Lubicon have been placed should be compared with the explanation offered by the Saudi delegate to the drafting committee of what was/is meant by the language contained in Article II(c) of the 1948. This includes not only the “planned disintegration of the political, social or economic structure of a group or nation,” but the “systematic debasement of a group, people or nation”; quoted in Davis and Zannis, Genocide Machine, p. 19.

45. Among the expert witness submissions MacPherson ignored were an article, “Modern Genocide,” prepared by the McGill University law faculty and published in Quid Novi on November 30, 1987 (submitted in evidence as Defense Exhibit 30; Thomas Affidavit); a 1990 letter to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney prepared by the late James J.E. Smith, Curator of North American Ethnography for the Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation, in which it is concluded that “social and cultural genocide” is being perpetrated against the Lubicons (Defense Exhibit 4; Ominiyak Affidavit); a 1995 affidavit prepared by Dr. Joan Ryan, an anthropologist who combined 15 years experience documenting the destruction of Lubicon society with the very dictionary definitions the judge relied upon in arriving at an diametrically opposing conclusion. Both Dr. Ryan and I presented direct testimony during the trial. None of this is so much as mentioned in the Verdict.

46. Verdict, p. 71. MacPherson in fact quotes three different dictionaries, none of which posits “intentional killing” as synonymous with genocide. Webster’s refers to “the deliberate and systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group (emphasis added).”

47. MacPherson claims to have followed the dictum that “defamatory meaning must be one which would be understood by an ordinary and reasonable person”; Verdict, pp. 70-1. He neglects to mention, however, that the rule pertains only to instances where the terms at issue are not defined in law; R.E. Brown, The Law of Defamation in Canada (2nd ed., Vol. 1, p. 52).

48. Even MacPherson seems a bit uncomfortable with his definition. He suggests at one point that “physical destruction” rather than direct killing alone might add up to genocide. But then, apparently realizing that the sorts of conditions he’s already conceded the Lubicons are suffering would all too obviously fit this description, he simply drops the subject; Verdict, p. 71.

49. Ibid., p. 76.

50. Ibid., p. 39. This clearly goes to compelling the employment of euphemisms, the purpose of which is well-known. The Nazis, after all, referred to their Judeocide as the “Final Solution,” the transport of Jews to Auschwitz and other extermination centers as “Resettlement,” the literal killing therein as “Special Handling.” Such innocuous terminology was designed to obscure genocidal reality and thus constrain the probability of popular revulsion and unrest.

51. Lipstadt, Denying the Holocaust, pp. 7-8.

52. In the United States alone, nearly a hundred such peoples have been declared “culturally extinct” by the federal government during this period; Raymond V. Butler, “The Bureau of Indian Affairs: Activities Since 1945,” Annals of the American Academy of Political Science, No. 435, 1978, pp. 50-60.

53. The implications were brought out clearly in March 1974, when, in one of the few instances where charges of genocide were filed with the U.N. Secretariat, the International League for the Rights of Man, the Inter-American Association for Democracy and Freedom and several other organizations accused the government of Paraguay of physically exterminating the Aché Indians. Paraguay’s formal response to these allegations was that, “Although there are victims and victimizer, there is not the third element necessary to establish the crime of genocide—that is ‘intent.’ As there is no ‘intent,’ one cannot speak of ‘genocide’”; Paraguayan Minister of Defense, quoted in Norman Lewis, “The Camp at Ceclio Baez,” in Richard Arens, ed., Genocide in Paraguay (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1976) pp. 62-3.

54. Those who experience a visceral reaction to my “overstated” comparison should recall that Eichmann was not accused of actually killing anyone. Rather, he was convicted of having devoted his bureaucratic and technical expertise—that is, his intellect—to organizing the delivery of Jews and others to extermination centers; Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (New York: Penguin, 1964).

55. Unidentified Lubicon, quoted in Thomas Affidavit, p. 24.

Molotov on Yugoslavia

“In 1953-1954 I spoke out [against reconciliation with Tito’s] Yugoslavia at the Politburo. No one supported me, neither Malenkov nor even Kaganovich, though he was a Stalinist! Khruschev was not alone. There were hundreds and thousands like him, otherwise on his own he would not have gotten very far. He simply pandered to the state of mind of the people. But where did that lead? Even now there are lots of Khruschevs. . .”

“Tito is now [1970s at three different talks–ed.] in a difficult situation. His republic is going under, and he will have to grab onto the USSR for dear life. Then we shall be able to deal with him more firmly.”

“Nationalism is causing him to howl in pain, yet he himself is a nationalist, and that is his main defect as a communist. He is a nationalist, that is, he is infected with the bourgeois spirit. He is now cursing and criticizing his own people for nationalism. This means that the Yugoslav multinational state is breaking up along national lines. It is composed of Serbs, Croatians, Slovenes, and so forth.”

“When Tito visited us for the first time, I liked his appearance. We didn’t know everything about him at the time. . . .”

“Tito is not an imperialist, he is a petty-bourgeois, an opponent of socialism. Imperialism is something else again.”

 — Albert Resis intro. & ed., Molotov Remembers: Inside Kremlin Politics, Conversations with Felix Chuev (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1993), pp. 83-4.

Liberal Holocaust: Imperialism and the Democratic Party

This is a good article from a website that is now down. I disagree with several parts, particularly the labeling of North Korea as a “Stalinist dictatorship,” referring to the Soviet Union as an “empire,” saying that Titoite Yugoslavia was a “Leninist revolution” and denying the genocidal actions of the Milošević government. Regardless, this article makes a very important point about the Democratic Party, and exposes their true imperialist warmongering nature.

 — Espresso Stalinist 

Many people involved in US anti-war movement(s) have this naive belief that Democrats are not imperialists, that US imperialist policies, such as those pursued by the Bush administration, are just a recent deviation or limited to Republican administrations. In fact, the Democratic Party has a long and bloody history of imperialism. Democrats are imperialists and mass murderers. Nor is this limited to the more conservative democrats; left-liberals have done the same. Liberal governments have slaughtered millions.

Starting shortly before the end of World War Two, Democrats began recruiting many Nazi war criminals and using them to help expand the American Empire. Hitler’s intelligence chief in East Europe Reinhard Gehlen was used by the US, after the war, to build an intelligence network against the Soviets in East Europe. They also dropped supplies to remnants of Hitler’s armies operating in Eastern Europe, to harass the Soviet bloc. Other Nazi war criminals employed by the US included Klaus Barbie, Otto von Bolschwing and Otto Skorzeny. Some of these Nazis later made their way to Latin America, where they advised and assisted US-backed dictatorships in the area.

Harry Truman kicked up anti-communist hysteria, which lead to McCarthyism (which occurred during his administration) and helped start the Cold War. He supported numerous dictatorships, including Saudi Arabia. US involvement in Vietnam started under Truman with the US providing support for the French invaders and the CIA carrying out covert actions. In 1950 his administration issued the ultra-hawkish NSC 68. The subversion of Italian democracy was done by his administration – fearing electoral victory in 1948 by the Italian Communist party, the CIA funded various leftover Mussolinite Brownshirt thugs and other former Nazi collaborators, successfully manipulating the results to ensure pro-US candidates won. A secret paramilitary army was formed to overthrow the government just in case the Communists managed to win anyway.

In the years after World War Two a rebellion against the British puppet government in Greece broke out. This client state was largely staffed by former Nazi collaborators who the British had put back in power. The UK was unable to defeat the left-wing insurgency (which had previously fought an insurgency against the Nazi occupation during World War Two) and asked the US for help. In 1947 Truman invaded Greece and proceeded to crush the revolutionaries, keeping the former Nazi collaborators in power. Truman attempted to justify this by portraying the guerillas as mere pawns of Moscow and therefore a form of covert aggression, but he had no real proof of this. The claim is also based on a double standard: when the USSR (allegedly) covertly supports revolutionaries in another country it constitutes “aggression” and is wrong, but when the US (or UK) send actual military forces to another country in order to prop up unpopular dictatorships this is somehow perfectly just.

At the end of World War Two Japan withdrew its forces from Korea, resulting in a brief period of self-rule. A provisional government was set up in Seoul, but it had little power. Across Korea, workers took over their factories and peasants took over their land. Self-managed collectives were organized. This did not last long, as the US and USSR quickly partitioned the country into a North and a South, under the occupation of each power. In the south Truman installed a brutal military dictatorship, run mainly by former Japanese collaborators, complete with death squads, torture chambers and suppression of all opposition. The United States and its client state suppressed an insurgency, leveled whole villages and massacred thousands of innocent Koreans. The Soviets followed a similar policy in the north, where a Stalinist dictatorship was imposed. Forces from each empire repeatedly clashed until war broke out in 1950. Truman & his propagandists tried to portray the war as an attempt to defend South Korea from Soviet/Northern aggression, but the very existence of South & North Korea was the result of aggression by the US & USSR. The Korean War was an inter-imperialist war between rival empires fighting for territory, rather like a turf war between rival mafia dons, in which lots of ordinary people (who had no real stake in the war) were sent to die for their elite.

These policies of mass murder continued in both the subsequent Eisenhower administration and the next democratic administration, Kennedy. Like every other president since World War Two (and many prior to that) he supported numerous puppet dictatorships that slaughtered thousands – Mobutu, the Shah, etc. Kennedy backed a coup against the democratically elected government in the Dominican Republic because it was too independent. And lets not forget the Bay of Pigs and the many terrorist campaigns against Cuba.

Kennedy also escalated US involvement in Vietnam. During Eisenhower’s term the Vietnamese defeated US-backed French invaders and the war with France was brought to an end. The country was partitioned in two, with the Vietnamese nationalists/Communists taking over the north and the French puppet government temporarily ruling the south. Elections were to be held to reunite the two, but the US intervened to prevent this (because the Communists would have won free elections) and put in power a right-wing dictatorship headed by Ngo Dinh Diem which relied on a reign of terror in order to stay in power. In the late ’50s popular rebellions erupted against this dictatorship. By the time Kennedy came to power the survival of Diem’s dictatorship was increasingly precarious and so Kennedy escalated the situation from state terror to outright aggression. The US military, mainly the air force, was sent to crush the resistance. This failed to defeat the resistance, so Johnson fabricated a bogus attack on US destroyers by North Vietnamese forces and used this as an excuse to escalate the war, launching a full-fledged ground invasion of the south and began bombing the north. US forces set up concentration camps (called “strategic hamlets”) and committed numerous atrocities during the war. Even John Kerry testified:

“Several months ago in Detroit we had an investigation at which over 150 honorably discharged, and many very highly decorated, veterans testified to war crimes committed in Southeast Asia. These were not isolated incidents but crimes committed on a day-to-day basis with the full awareness of officers at all levels of command. … They relived the absolute horror of what this country, in a sense, made them do. They told stories that at times they had personally raped, cut off ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Ghengis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks, and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. … We rationalized destroying villages in order to save them. … We learned the meaning of free fire zones, shooting anything that moves, and we watched while America placed a cheapness on the lives of orientals. … We fought using weapons against those people which I do not believe this country would dream of using were we fighting in the European theater.”

Kerry has since claimed that Vietnam was an exception to the norm, but the evidence presented in this article shows otherwise. This testimony is corroborated by numerous other primary sources, including many Vietnam veterans. Colin Powell admitted these atrocities occurred and defended them, writing in his memoirs (My American Journey):

“If a helo [helicopter] spotted a peasant in black pajamas who looked remotely suspicious, a possible MAM [military-aged male], the pilot would circle and fire in front of him. If he moved, his movement was judged evidence of hostile intent, and the next burst was not in front, but at him. Brutal? Maybe so. But an able battalion commander with whom I had served at Gelnhausen, Lt. Col. Walter Pritchard, was killed by enemy sniper fire while observing MAMs from a helicopter. And Pritchard was only one of many. The kill-or-be-killed nature of combat tends to dull fine perceptions of right and wrong.”

In addition, Powell defends the torching of civilians’ huts in his memoirs. There are also many Vietnam veterans who strongly deny that the United States committed any kind of atrocities or wrongdoing in Vietnam at all, but they are not the first murderers to strongly deny murdering anyone. These are the kinds of atrocities the Democrat’s foreign policy leads to.

Democrats (and Republicans) tried to portray the war as a result of Chinese (or even Soviet) aggression that had to be stopped or else it would cause a “domino effect” leading to “Communist” conquest of the globe. This is shear fantasy.

Vietnam became independent in 1945 and for a brief period of time the whole country was united under the rule of Ho Chi Min and his fellow nationalists and Marxists. Then France invaded, with US support, leading to the creation of “South Vietnam,” which was a foreign puppet from day one. Attacks on it by Vietnamese were no more “aggression” than attacks on the Vichy government by the French resistance. Communists in China didn’t come to power until 1948, whereas Vietnam declared independence in 1945, so portraying the war as “Chinese aggression” is particularly absurd. Eventually, China did provide weapons, money and advisors to Vietnam (as did the USSR), but merely giving supplies to people fighting for independence hardly constitutes “aggression.” If China giving some weapons and supplies to a Vietnamese movement with substantial popular support constitutes “aggression” then what are we to make of the US, which went well beyond sending weapons and sent over 100,000 troops to keep in power a deeply unpopular puppet government? By this kind of logic, the American war for independence constituted French aggression because France gave the rebels support, just as China & Russia gave the Vietnamese support, except France went even further and sent warships to fight the British and help the US win the war. The Vietnam War was a brutal colonial war, started mainly by democrats, against a people struggling for national liberation.

Even if we ignore Vietnam, Johnson was still a murderous warmonger. In 1965 Johnson launched a secret war on Laos, which would eventually drop more bombs on it then were dropped during World War Two, in order to defeat the leftist Pathet Lao. When a popular rebellion erupted against the US-backed dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, LBJ invaded and defeated it, keeping a US puppet government in power. In Brazil LBJ supported and encouraged a fascist coup against the mildly reformist Goulart administration. Johnson also backed a right-wing coup in Indonesia. The previous ruler, Sukarno, committed the crime of trying to stay neutral in the cold war and desiring to build a strong Indonesia independent of foreign powers. So he was removed and general Suharto seized power. The US helped Suharto liquidate dissent and gave him lists of “subversives” to kill. Between 500,000 and a million people were massacred by Suharto in the period following the coup, with the covert help of the Johnson administration. When the Greek ambassador objected to the President’s plan for a resolving a dispute over Cyprus LBJ told him:

“Fuck your Parliament and your Constitution. America is an elephant. Cyprus is a flea. If these two fleas continue itching the elephant, they may just get whacked by the elephant’s trunk, whacked good. … We pay a lot of good American dollars to the Greeks, Mr. Ambassador. If your Prime Minister gives me talk about Democracy, Parliament and Constitutions, he, his Parliament and his Constitution may not last very long.”

In 1965 the Greek king, aided by the CIA, removed Prime Minister George Papandreou (who’s foreign policy was too independent for Washington) from power. In 1967 the Greek government was forced to finally hold elections again, but when it looked like George Papandreou was going to win again a military coup prevented him from coming to power. George Papadopoulos, leader of the coup and head of the new military dictatorship, had been on the CIA payroll for 15 years and was a Nazi collaborator during World War Two.

Carter, the so-called “human rights” president, was also an imperialist warmonger. He continued US support for brutal tyrants in Argentina, El Salvador, Guatemala, etc. Carter supported Pol Pot’s forces after they were thrown out of power due to a war with Vietnam. Under Ford Indonesia invaded East Timor and proceeded to slaughter 200,000 people. Although this invasion occurred under Ford, the worst atrocities happened under Carter’s reign. As atrocities increased, he increased the flow of weapons to the Indonesian government, insuring they wouldn’t run out and could continue massacring Timorese. Carter also backed the massacre in Kwangju by the South Korean military dictatorship. Many of the things which liberals like to blame Reagan for were actually started under Carter. Deregulation began under Carter, as did US support for the Contras in Nicaragua. Six months before the Soviets invaded he also initiated US support for the Islamic fundamentalist terrorists/”freedom fighters” in Afghanistan which would later include Bin Laden.

Bill Clinton was a mass murderer and war criminal, too. He backed numerous dictatorships, continued the proxy war against Marxist guerillas in Columbia and bombed more countries than any other peacetime president, including Iraq, Yugoslavia, Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Clinton laid siege to Iraq with sanctions, “no fly zones” and bombings, killing 1.5 to 3 million people. UN-approved sanctions on Iraq were originally imposed at the start of the Gulf War in response to the invasion of Kuwait, but continued after the end of the war at US (and UK) insistence. The United States used sanctions as a weapon against Iraq. One military intelligence document titled Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities noted:

“Iraq depends on importing-specialized equipment-and some chemicals to purify its water supply … With no domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United Nations sanctions to import these vital commodities. … Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease and to certain pure-water-dependent industries becoming incapacitated, including petrochemicals, fertilizers, petroleum refining, electronics, pharmaceuticals, food processing, textiles, concrete construction, and thermal power plants. Iraq’s overall water treatment capability will suffer a slow decline, rather than a precipitous halt … Unless water treatment supplies are exempted from the UN sanctions for humanitarian reasons, no adequate solution exists for Iraq’s water purification dilemma, since no suitable alternatives … sufficiently meet Iraqi needs. … Unless the water is purified with chlorine epidemics of such diseases as Cholera, Hepatitis, and Typhoid could occur … Iraq could try convincing the United Nations or individual countries to exempt water treatment supplies from sanctions for humanitarian reasons. It probably also is attempting to purchase supplies by using some sympathetic countries as fronts. If such attempts fail, Iraqi alternatives are not adequate for their national requirements. … Some affluent Iraqis could obtain their own minimally adequate supply of good quality water from northern Iraqi sources. If boiled, the water could be safely consumed. Poorer Iraqis and industries requiring large quantities of pure water would not be able to meet their needs. … Alternatives are not adequate for their national requirements.”

This and other documents show that the United States intentionally used sanctions to destroy Iraq’s water supply with full knowledge of the consequences. In addition to water problems, the sanctions also interfered with the importation of basic necessities like food and medicine. The UN itself, the organization that implemented the sanctions (due to US/UK insistence), reported that they resulted in mass death. UNICEF found that on average 5,000 children died every month as a result of sanctions. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported in 1995 that 567,000 children in Iraq had died as a result of the sanctions. Those sanctions continued until the invasion in 2003, killing even more. This began under the first Bush administration, but most of it occurred under Clinton’s administration.

In 1996, faced with mounting humanitarian concerns that threatened to end the sanctions, an “oil for food” program was implemented. Officially, this was supposed to allow Iraq to import a limited amount of food and supplies in exchange for limited amounts of oil but in practice it did little to alleviate the suffering of Iraqis caused by the sanctions. Everything imported by Iraq had to be approved by a UN sanctions committee that, due to US/UK influence, frequently stopped or delayed importation of needed supplies. All money Iraq made from the sale of oil was kept by the UN in an escrow account with the bank of Paris and was not at the discretion of the Iraqi government. Some of this was used to pay for administrative costs related to the sanctions and about a third were used to pay reparations to Kuwait, the remainder was inadequate for Iraq’s needs. In 1998 Dennis Halliday, the first head of the UN’s “oil for food” program resigned because the sanctions continued to result in a humanitarian catastrophe. In 2000 Hans Von Sponeck, the new head of the “oil for food” program, resigned for the same reason. On the May 12, 1996 edition of “60 minutes” journalist Lesly Stahl asked Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s secretary of state,

“We have heard that a half million children have died [from sanctions on Iraq]. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” Albright’s response was, “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Clinton attacked and dismembered Yugoslavia, using a “divide and conquer” strategy to install US/NATO puppet governments ruling over its corpse. During and after World War Two Yugoslavia underwent its own Leninist revolution, independent of Soviet tanks, and eventually evolved a market socialist economy based on a limited form of worker self-management. Most of the economy was run by enterprises that were officially worker owned, with elected managers, and sold their products on the market. Yugoslavia was a federation of different nationalities in southeastern Europe, with six different republics united under a federal government.

As the Soviet empire declined and fell western financial institutions such as the IMF and World Bank began pressuring Yugoslavia to implement neoliberal capitalist reforms such as privatization, austerity measures and so on.

Yugoslavia implemented these on a limited basis. These programs lead to a declining economy that opened the door for opportunistic politicians to whip up nationalism for their own benefit, scapegoating other nationalities for economic problems. They also stressed relations between the federal government and the republics because money that would have gone to the republics instead went to servicing Yugoslavia’s debt. The United States and Western Europe took advantage of this to encourage the breakup of Yugoslavia into NATO protectorates.

In 1990 separatists won elections in Slovenia, Bosnia and Croatia. The new Croatian government began to persecute the Serb minority living in Croatia, even bringing back the flag and other symbols from when it had been a World War Two Axis puppet government (run by a fascist organization called the Ustase) that attempted to exterminate the Serbs (who were regarded as “subhuman”). Croatian President Franjo Trudjman refused to condemn the Ustase and claimed, “the establishment of Hitler’s new European order can be justified by the need to be rid of the Jews.” Croatia and Slovenia declared independence in 1991. West Europe and then the US recognized Slovenia and Croatia as independent states despite warnings from the UN that this would encourage Bosnia to declare independence and bring about a civil war, which it did.

The Yugoslav federal government fought a small ten-day war with Slovenia, after which Slovenia was allowed to leave Yugoslavia. Croatia and Bosnia fought bloody civil wars with the Yugoslav government. In Bosnia the main forces fighting against the federal government were Croat fascists, supported by Croatia, and Islamic fundamentalists, led by Alija Izetbegovic, who aimed to turn Bosnia into a theocracy similar to Iran or the Taliban. Most of Bosnia’s Serb minority sided with the Yugoslav federal government. The US covertly backed the Islamists and fascists by secretly supplying them with weapons and even flying in Muslim ‘holy warriors’ from Afghanistan so they could join the Jihad. Initially the Islamists and fascists in Bosnia worked together against the Serbs and Yugoslav government. Later they started fighting each other, but US & West European pressure eventually put a stop to that. When the Yugoslav government started winning the war NATO sent in the air force to bomb them and support the separatists. Many atrocities were committed on both sides of the war, but Western governments and media emphasized and exaggerated Yugoslav and Serb atrocities while downplaying or ignoring atrocities committed by the separatists.

In 1995 the war came to an end, in a defeat for Yugoslavia. Under a UN fig leaf, NATO “peacekeeper” troops occupied much of the former Yugoslavia while Bosnia was made into a de-facto NATO colony, occupied by NATO troops and with a “high representative” responsible to foreign powers in charge of the country. Yugoslavia was dramatically shrunk, with only two out of six Republics, Serbia and Montenegro, remaining in the union (Macedonia had been allowed to peacefully leave the union in the early ’90s but at this time was still largely outside the Western sphere of influence).

The next phase of Clinton’s conquest of Yugoslavia began in the late ’90s when the CIA began covertly supporting the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), a terrorist organization that has been linked to Osama Bin Laden. The KLA launched a guerilla war in the Kosovo province of Serbia, advocating independence for Kosovo. In 1999, under the guise of “peace negotiations,” the US/NATO issued an ultimatum demanding Yugoslavia allow NATO troops to occupy the entire country. Yugoslavia obviously refused this unreasonable demand and Clinton used this refusal as an excuse to begin a major bombing campaign against Yugoslavia. After several months of bombing pulverized the country a peace deal was reached allowing NATO “peacekeeper” troops to occupy Kosovo (but not the rest of Yugoslavia), effectively turning the province into a NATO protectorate. A year later a revolt led by US-funded groups and politicians overthrew the Yugoslav government, putting pro-US/NATO leaders in charge. The new government abolished Yugoslavia and became a Western puppet. This conquest was completed shortly after Clinton left office, when KLA forces attacked Macedonia. Macedonia saw the writing on the wall and allowed NATO troops to occupy it. Clinton succeeded in not only ripping Yugoslavia apart, but in achieving US/NATO domination over the Balkans and in forcing an economic system favorable to Western investors on the region. A wave of privatization has swept over the former Yugoslavia, transforming it into a corporate capitalist economy colonized by Western capital.

The standard excuse Clinton used to justify the military interventions in Yugoslavia was that it was supposed to stop “ethnic cleansing”/”genocide” allegedly being perpetrated by the Serbs/Yugoslav government. This is obviously bogus because the US helped instigate the conflicts that lead to the various massacres in the war and also because Clinton largely turned a blind eye towards atrocities committed by separatist forces (like the massacres in Gospic and Krajina). It is also not credible because Clinton ignored other genocides (such as Rwanda) and even funded Turkey’s genocide against the Kurds, which occurred at roughly the same time and resulted in the slaughter of tens of thousands of Kurds.

The death toll of the democrats is quite large:

Greek Civil War: 160,000 (Truman)
Korean War: 3 million (Truman)
Assault on Indochina: 5 million (started under Truman, accelerated under Kennedy & LBJ)
Coup in Indonesia: 1 million (LBJ)
East Timor: 100,000 (Carter)
Kwangju Massacre: 2000 (Carter)
Argentine Dirty War: 30,000 (mostly Carter)
Iraq sanctions: 1.5 million (mostly Clinton)
Turkish Kurdistan: 40,000 (mostly Clinton)

That’s at least 10,8022,000 killed by democrats, 9,292,000 if one only counts the liberal governments (Clinton wasn’t really a liberal). For comparison, the Nazi holocaust killed roughly 6,000,000 Jews. And this is just the tip of the iceberg; these are only the most famous incidents over the last couple of decades. If you add up the total from periods preceding this and the less famous incidents the number get much, much higher. If you add in starvation (a direct result of capitalism) it gets even higher.

Democrats could have stopped the congressional authorization for the Iraq war (via filibustering) but instead lots of them defected to the warmongers’ side. They could have stopped many of the nasty things the Republicans are doing by filibuster but choose not to. Many democrats actively supported the war. Most of those who did oppose it offered little opposition, chickening out when the shooting started and either abstained or voted in favor of the pro-war “support our troops” resolution in March. Even Dennis Kucinich, leader of the “anti-war” opposition in the house, abstained from the vote instead of voting against it. It was only after Bush’s war started going sour that vocal criticism began to come from democrats, which is completely opportunistic. Bush’s lies and fabrications about the Niger Uranium had already been exposed prior to the war, but it wasn’t until after the invasion was completed and the democrats needed an issue to attack Bush with that they started whining about it.

The Democratic Party, the party of slavery, has a long history of mass murder and empire building. They are not an alternative to the American Empire. Especially on foreign policy, there is remarkable consistency between republican and democratic administrations. If the Nuremberg standards were applied every President since World War Two, both democrat and republican, would have to be hung. Both parties have the same basic goals; they just disagree on minor details. It would have been much harder for Bush to conquer Iraq (perhaps politically impossible) if Clinton hadn’t been waging war against it for his entire term. The policies implemented by the US government have more to do with the specific circumstances of the time period then with which particular individual happens to occupy the white house. If a democrat is elected he will inherit this Pax Americana and it is unlikely that he would dismantle it (or even be capable of dismantling it). A vote for the democrats is a vote for imperialism and war (as is a vote for the Republicans).

“My Life With Enver” Nexhmije Hoxha’s Memoirs (Part 4)

12. Towards a free life – in the mountains

After being on duty with the partisans in the mountains, I left Tirana on March 20th; the city I would not return to until its liberation. Along with my joy, I also felt an emptiness in my soul. I was leaving the city in which I had grown up and gone to school, I was really close to the people of Tirana. I had fought with them for their freedom, their happiness and for a safe future for its youth. I had also helped in their struggle for the emancipation of the Albania Woman and for the independence of our long-suffering homeland. Would I ever come back to see a liberated Tirana, free from invaders and spies, without the terror, the curfew, the arrests and the imprisonments?

I was quite sure that this day would eventually come, not only to Tirana, but also to all Albania, because we were fighting a war with the backing of the entire population. However, at this particular moment, was the day of liberation in the near or distant future?

With a false identity card in my pocket and my mind loaded down with all these questions, I took the bus. I left behind the Tirana where, the Party, the guerilla units, and my life as an underground activist had been founded and headed for Korca. With me was a comrade (whom I never met) who was taking a letter from Gogo Nushi and Nako Spiro to Enver. He had been appointed as the courier who made the connections between the Korca district and the Center in Tirana. His name was Arsen Leskoviku.

Our journey took us passed Elbasan and, up to this moment, we had had no problems. However, just before entering Librazhd, we were stopped by an armed patrol. There were three of them; one was a German and the other two Albanians who were wearing the uniform of the Albanian militia. They asked for our identity cards. The German took mine and began moving it in his hands. He raised his eyes, and looking straight at me said, “Yugoslav?” I nearly had a heart attack! The name on my identity card was Vera – a name that the Slavs use as well. I thought that they would ask me to get off the bus and take me for interrogation to the post office nearby and who knows then what would have happened. I hastened to explain. Although he was not Italian, for some reason I spoke to him in Italian, thinking that I could better communicate with him. I remember telling him,

“No, no, albanese, Vera, stagione, estate o primavera”

(No, no, Albanian, Vera is a season; summer or spring).

So I waffled on a bit. Finally he returned the identity card to me. I breathed a sigh of relief, and, after a while, I turned my head and glanced at the comrade who was with me. He had recovered himself and was quite calm; he just closed his eyes as if to say: “Good…”. I smiled slightly as if to say: “We’re safe…”.

We arrived in Korça in the evening and stayed that night in the home of a school friend. The next day, at dusk, we set off for Panarit, where Enver and some comrades from the Central Committee and General Headquarters were. A team of 4-5 partisans was waiting for us outside of the town. They knew the area very well and were to accompany us on the journey from village to village. After we had greeted each other, the partisans told us that armed frontists had been seen in the area and this was why we had to talk softly and walk carefully.

We walked in a single file for a very long time without stopping in order to get away from the town. The worst thing was that the night was so dark that we were not able to see and it was difficult to follow the path. One comrade fell. He apparently walked too close to the edge of a hole in the ground, slipped, uttered a sharp ‘oh!’ and then there was silence. We were shocked. We went to the place where he had fallen but we couldn’t see anything. We called out in low voices; “Arsen, hey, Arsen!”, but there was no reply. We became even more worried. Down in the hole nothing was visible. We tried to locate his body with the butt of a rifle, but it was in vain. Then the partisans found some long sticks and, in the darkness they measured the depth of the hole with them. After coming up with the idea of holding one another hand-by-hand, one of us managed to get down into the hole. When we were told that Arsen’s body had been located we were very relieved and we hoped that he was alive.

They managed to pull him up with great difficulty. I remember when they laid him down, they gave him a drop of raki that one of the partisans kept with him in his water bottle and used as medicine for various wounds. Arsen groaned. They checked out to see if he had broken a leg or an arm but he screamed only when they touched him on one of his hips. They held his mouth closed so as not to be heard. As he told us afterwards, he had been hurt badly in one hip when he had fallen because he had had a tin of meat in his knapsack and it was this knapsack that he fell on and severely bruised his hip. What could we do? The comrades carried him on their backs in turn to the nearest village where we would spend the night. As soon as we entered the specified base, the women of the house put a bed near the fire and laid Arsen down on it to help him rest up. With the light of an oil lamp the comrades checked him for any other injuries and massaged his hip with raki and olive oil until he felt somewhat better. When we realized that he didn’t have any other serious injuries, we started joking with him.

We told Arsen that we would sequester his tin of meat because it was “cold steel” that kills and might take prevent someone from fighting.

“Look, this has interrupted your journey with us; you must stay here and will have to eat chicken soup of course, that is, if the frontists have left any chickens in the village.”

Laughing, he fell asleep.

We slept for three hours and, after taking the letter from Arsen, we set off before dawn in order to avoid any confrontation with the frontists. After so many years I don’t remember which villages we passed through or the length of the journey.

In Panarit – to Enver

We finally arrived in Panarit, where Enver was living. This village was located on a mountainside. It was said that this was a big village, but I didn’t share this idea, because I couldn’t see many houses.

The house where the headquarters was located was quite big; it had two or three floors, together with a barn, and was completely built of stone. They led us into a big room, in the middle of which was a large fire, where entire trunks were turned into fairly hot embers, and which gave the room pleasant warmth. It was able to bring one back to life and make you feel relaxed after the long and tiring journey. In such a place, the warmth created a feeling of satisfaction, something that I had not felt before in these years of war. This room in Albania is called a ‘room of fire’, and around the big fireplace with no chimney, the women cooked and stayed. These rooms didn’t have any ceilings, but only roof timbers which were blackened by the smoke). Around the fire sat several comrades who worked in the headquarters along with partisan guards and companions. I recognized among them, comrade Behar Shtylla. He stood up immediately and went to inform Enver about our arrival.

You can imagine how impatient I was to meet Enver. But Behar came back and told me that Enver was in a meeting.

Meanwhile the comrades found us a place near the fire and, one after another, brought some homemade bread, which was very soft, some fresh sheep cheese, honey and nuts. I especially enjoyed the fresh cheese and the toast. Then the friends began talking and joking. They even had an argument as to whose life was more difficult; that of the partisans in the mountains or that of the underground activists in the towns. I myself thought that the life of the underground activists, under the continuous worry of fascist encirclement, repeated controls, the dangers of arrest or the maltreatment of the families who sheltered them, was more difficult. But the partisans were correct because they lived in the mountains, marched and fought in very bad places, in the winter’s cold and frost, usually poorly dressed, in bare feet and with empty stomachs.

One of them said: “This fire and this food are like a dream for us…”

Of course he was right, and the local peasants didn’t spare what they had in their houses, in order to honor and respect the partisans of the mountains.

While we were talking, Enver came in. He was smiling as always. He was really surprised when he saw me. As he told me later; he had thought that Naxhije had come. She was a leading comrade of the Party in Korca. So after the first surprise, we hugged each other with nostalgia, forgetting to keep the “secret” of our relationship. Seeing us that way, the comrades laughed… Just to give a formal meaning to my coming, in front of the others, Enver asked:

“Did you bring the letters we wanted? Come.”

He took my hand and we went out. We went to the house where he was living and sleeping with the other comrades. The house was up in the hills so we had to do a bit of climbing. It was a small bungalow, but to go inside you had to go up some stairs built over a rock, which was covered with wide stone slabs. The house was painted with lime, and the doors and windows were made of pinewood, which, in that fresh mountain air and under the heat from the sun, gave off a pleasant scent that allowed you to breathe freely. There were too many things there that made me feel very comfortable and happy.

We went into Enver’s room. It was white because the walls were painted with lime. The sheets on the bed were snow-white, so were the embroidered curtains. On the settee was a fringed haircloth; while on the floor was a small carpet. Enver asked immediately about the letters. He looked at them quickly.

“I will read them carefully later”, he said

and then wanted to hear my report about the situation at the Center. I told him many things, and then we talked a bit about ourselves and satisfied our yearning. The women of the house brought us corn bread, sheep’s yoghurt and eggs. In that fresh and healthy climate, one had had an increased appetite and I very much enjoyed the food. I said to Enver jokingly:

“I saw in the house at headquarters that you don’t live too badly…”

Enver replied, “The peasants are friendly and hospitable and, although they are poor, they are very kind and we owe them a lot”.

The next day I went down to some of the buildings. I don’t remember if they had been a school or a cantonment. A course was being held with party personnel from the field and the army, at which, political and ideological lectures were being given in order to increase the educational level of our comrades.

During the three or four days that I stayed in Panarit I met many comrades I had known in Tirana. Here in the mountains among the partisans, comrades and peasants I felt different. Here you could move calmly and freely, something that could not be done in Tirana, because it was filled with terror.

During our talks in Panarit for three-four days, Enver told me that they had started preparations to set up a meeting larger than the Second National Liberation Conference of Labinot. (He meant the Congress that was going to be held in Permet).

“In this meeting we will make very important decisions for Albania.” But we will have to work hard in order to do this. So I think it is not necessary that you return to Tirana now. I think that you should go to Permet and from there to Zagorie. There you will find the Headquarters of the Gjirokastra-Vlora Area, and you will work there, dealing mainly with the youth and the organization of anti-fascist women, in the field and near the units acting in that area.”

I was happy about this because in this way I would continue living a free life in the mountains, villages and areas where the breeze of liberty had started to blow.

I set off for Permet and Zagorie and, for two months I worked very hard and joyfully in these two areas from which I have unforgettable memories. Memories from the historic Congress of Permet (24 May 1944) where I took part as a delegate, and from my activities during the German Operation of June in the Zagorie mountains. But I will not refer to them in these notes because I do not have many memories about my personal and direct meetings and conversations with Enver, who, during this period, was very busy. He had much of the responsibility for the preparations, development and compilation of the resolutions for the Congress of Permet, which was to be of great historical importance for the victory of the National Liberation Anti-fascist Movement, and for the future of our people.

13. Unforgettable days in Lireza – among the youth

After the Nazi operations of June, Enver, together with the leadership of the National Liberation Anti-fascist Council, the main members of the General Headquarters and some members of the Central Committee of the Party, left Odrican and went back to Helmes (a small village in Skrapar district, with 10-12 houses situated on a mountain side below Marta Pass).

After the Congress of Permet, in early July, while I was working in Zagorie, I got news from Nako Spiro telling me to set off immediately for Helmes in the Skrapar district. In time of war orders were not given to discussion. So although I was used to the wonderful people of the Zagorie region, with whom I had worked and lived for a long time, I set off to Helmes. We walked from village to village and after two days reached the destination.

Helmes village seemed to me like a beautiful relaxing oasis. It was full of greenness, with trees that gave it a special grace. The apple trees were full of fruit and the branches were nearly breaking. Also, the grapes, even though they were not properly ripened, made your mouth water when you saw them. We sat for a moment near the drinking fountain. The water was very cold and it flowed freely along the side of the cobblestone street. We refreshed ourselves and relaxed there from the long journey. After a while some comrades came and took me to the offices where Enver and his comrades worked. It was a two-floor stone built house.

In one of the offices, on the first floor, was Enver with Nako. We hugged longingly. They asked me about the affairs and the situation in the regions in which I had been. Then they told me why they had called me there: The First Congress of the Union of the Albanian Anti-fascist Youth had to be prepared. Enver told me of the importance of this Congress, which, as he put it, would give new ardor and strength to the union of anti-fascist youth for the final war to liberate the whole country. It would also create new perspectives for the youth in the construction of a new, democratic national Albania, and its future. Nako talked about the procedures we had to follow for sending out notifications, for choosing delegates, for the preparation of the Congress’ documents, and reports that would be held, etc. Then the next day he asked me to go to the Lireza field (the place where the Congress would be held) in order to see the field and to decide what measures had to be taken in the construction of some work cabins and also to see where to put the tents for the delegates to sleep in. He also wanted me to see what we could do about the equipment and decoration of the Congress setting.

Lireza was a large plateau surrounded by mountains. I thought that it was a suitable place, because it was so large and many people would be able to stay there. Also, quite a few activities could be organized. During the construction and modifications that I have already mentioned we stayed down in the village. The comrades who worked there slept in two houses. Enver and two other comrades slept in a small bungalow, which was a little down from the center, where the offices were. While I was staying in Helmes, I slept in the common room of Enver and his comrades. The landlady, Nuriham, had two nice swarthy sons. They wore long shirts that reached and covered part of their legs because they did not have anything else to wear under it. Nevruzi who was four or five years old used to collect cigarette butts that the comrades and partisans threw away and, wanting to imitate them, he would sometimes put one of them on his mouth and laugh. Enver lit a butt once for him and he nearly suffocated because of its smoke, so he never put them on his mouth again. He also has a photograph of this embarrassing moment with the cigarette butt on his mouth. We laugh whenever we see that photograph.

During a visit to Skrapar, years after the Liberation, we saw that Nevruz had become a Party instructor. He looked different, was serious, handsome, neat and tidy and was wearing a suit. We were really glad to meet him again. We reminded him of the difficult days during the War in his house and the jokes we shared with him. Of course he didn’t remember many things, but we talked about what his parents had told to him.

When the first buildings in the Lireza field were built, such as the kitchen and the hut,we went up there. Here the comrades of the youth leadership would work in the preparation for the Congress. Everything was built with timber and planks taken from the nearby forest, with the help of the peasants and some partisans who were skilled in these kinds of things. We stayed in a relatively big hut. There was a wide wooden bed above the floor in one part of it, in which we would sleep. Naturally, we couldn’t even think about a mattress, but we were able to lay a piece of carpet or a hair-cloth down that the peasants had brought, and we used blankets that we had taken from the defeated Italian army as covers. The blankets were necessary up there in Lireza, because, although it was summer (late July, early August), it was really cool, especially at night. The beautiful Lirez was enhanced even more when the delegates started to arrive. If only you could have seen that beautiful field. The tents looked like white flowers and, at night, were lit up by the partisan’s fires. That field bubbled with the songs and voices of the youth who had come from all over the country. In this way, warming themselves by the fire, talking and singing, the youth often stayed up till the early hours of the morning.

This was understandable because the majority of the delegates were partisans. It was their custom, after the long tiring marches, to get together at night around the fire, where they were able to relax and spend some precious moments after battling with the enemy. It was also a time to remember, to meditate and honor fallen comrades and family members who they had buried. That is why their songs were full of, not only grief, but also of optimism and the joy for the future, nostalgia and honor for missing comrades, and also their promise of revenge. These partisan songs, sung around these fires were, at the same time, hymns for the glory of the fallen, and also hymns for the faith and determination to accomplish the liberation of the country and the rebuilding of a new Albania. This is why my generation remembers with nostalgia, those partisan fires. They were marvelous moments that generated feelings of an inner happiness for everyone and for the special reason, that they were part of the big war, the war for Liberty, for the Motherland, for lofty human ideals!

Now, as I write this in my dark prison cell, my eyes are fill with tears when I remember the bright flames of those partisan fires, which will be forever remembered, not only for me, but by all my contemporaries who were part of that glorious time of songs around the partisan fires. It is also memorable to those of the younger generations who keep alive the glorious work of the partisans and martyrs, who risked their young lives for Liberty. The attempts of those who try to distort and deny this glorious history of the National Liberation Anti-fascist War are failures and will not have a long life…

The blissful environment in the unforgettable Lireza continued for nearly a month. This was because many delegates from the North arrived late due to the difficulties in moving around the country at that time. Many cultural activities were organized; lead by our good comrade Pirro Kondi and some other comrades. A Field Radio was set up as well as a Press Table, where news, announcements, literary creations of the delegates such as poems, songs, caricatures etc. could be read by the youth.

While the delegates were entertaining, singing and playing, we were working without rest for the preparation of the Congress, and not only for the Congress’ documents, but also preparing and giving lectures to the youth on different topics. We were really pleased because the delegates were very interested in all of these matters.

After some days, other comrades of the youth leadership in the field and in the partisan brigades such as Liri Belishova, Ramiz Alia, Alqi Kondi, Fadil Pacrami etc., arrived. We all joined the delegates. We sat and stayed with them, talked, played, sang and joked together because we were young and had the same ideals. There was nothing better than that populated Field with the flower of our people, with the brave and beautiful youth, who knew how to fight, to sing and dance and to learn about the preparations for the nation’s future.

I remember very well the reception of Major Ivanov, the chief of the Soviet military mission to the General Headquarters of the Albanian National Liberation Army. He had come from the Greek border, had crossed the Marta Pass, and went down to Helmes where the Headquarters was. The Albanian youth gave him a warm reception because they considered him as the representative of Stalin’s Red Army, whom we loved and admired for the defeats being caused to Hitler’s armies on the Eastern Front.

The anticipated day, 8 August 1944, finally came. The Congress for the Union of the Albanian Anti-fascist Youth opened its proceedings. I, along with the other participants, still remember today that beautiful “hall” with no doors or windows, built with the timber that still emitted the fresh forest scent and with its roof of fern branches. The chairs for the delegates were made in a similar fashion, with new wooden planks taken from the forest, as was the long table of the Presidium. The pathway to the hall’s entrance was lined with lime painted stones. A group of young partisan boys and girls stood along the sides of the pathway, with rifles and submachine guns as honorary bodyguards. This gave a special solemnity to the entrance of the delegates to the Congress hall and to the beginning of its proceedings.

The hall immediately became full of the lively voices of the youth, who were very enthusiastic and were not able to restrain themselves from singing and cheering. Their enthusiasm was, however, indescribable when Enver Hoxha, together with Dr. Nishan, accompanied by Nako Spiro, came into the hall. Many delegates were seeing the commander for the first time. Some of them couldn’t hold back their tears of joy. Then, after the applause and ovations, silence reigned in the hall, until it was interrupted by Enver’s sonorous voice and his passionate words. He talked to the youth’s hearts as only he knew, touched the delegates, and made opened their eyes to the marvelous future that was waiting for them; Albania’s future and that of its long-suffering people.

The impressions from this Congress are many. I remember I remember returning to Lireza on the 45th anniversary of this memorable event. I found the Lireza field just as beautiful as I remembered, however, many of the delegates of that first Congress in those unforgettable days, were not there for this anniversary. Some had died and some had not come because of old age, disease or some other inability. Even those who had come now had gray hair and were bent because of the years of war and hard work. But something had remained unchanged: their hearts and their souls were the same as they were 45 years ago. That’s why when we met together, along with the tears of nostalgia there was much joy and cries of happiness. Some remained embraced for a long time because they had not seen each other for decades. Each of them were reminded of those beautiful days and, in bringing back their memories, they behaved like those young boys and girls of 1944. They were very happy and spoke with honor and respect of each other.

The organizers of this meeting had tried to create the same premises as those of 45 years ago during the Congress; the wooden huts, the tents etc., whereas, the “hall” of the Congress was somewhat improvised. We experienced the same emotions and memories as then, but something was missing. Enver was not there, but even though he was not there physically, he was present at every moment and at every talk, because all remembered and talked about him lovingly, and, with much longing. In the evening the atmosphere was the same as during the Congress, because the partisan fires were lit, and around them boomed again the beautiful songs of the youth, intertwined with the beautiful songs of the people from all regions, south and north, since the participants came from all around Albania. There were not only some of the former delegates of the Congress, but also young school boys and girls, workers and peasants, who had given their souls, their zest and their joy to the Party. We looked at these young boys and girls and tried to follow their songs and dances, and, even though we were old, we felt young again amongst them. To tell the truth, while they stayed near the fires till dawn dancing, singing and joking, we elders took naps. It was the passionate youth to whom we had turned over the baton in order for them to continue this beautiful party, which has remained memorable to all of us. Near the end of the party I couldn’t help but go to visit Helmes. The comrades joked:

“You will go on foot as then, or…?” “Aha – I said smiling – I can’t…”

There was now a modern mountain road with many bends, which was needed in order to utilize forests in those parts. During the Youth Congress, there used to be a goat trail leading to Helmes, it was so steep that you could not walk upright. But, in those days, I flew from stone to stone because there was Enver who was attracting me like a magnet. I stayed there, alone for an hour with a gun in my arm. Then I walked up. I walked slowly, not because it was tiring, but because it was difficult to be away from Enver.

When I went to Helmes now, after 45 years, I didn’t have my previous vitality. The families that used to live there had moved to new places. There were only two or three of the old houses remaining; those used as offices by the Central Committee and the General Headquarters and the house where Enver used to sleep. Going around these houses, the streets and under the shade of the trees, it seemed to me like I was witnessing a silent film. The silent and unvoiced view of these places could not bring back the happiness of those days; on the contrary, it created within me a grueling emptiness. Those who give life to a place are the people who live there.

But old friends would never let you get bored. Old people, women and children came towards me, holding my hands, everybody wanting to take me in their house. It was difficult to choose where to go first. If I visited only one, the other would be annoyed. Those people who, during the war, gave us shelter in their houses, risking their own lives, giving us food and whatever they had, had great hearts and were very generous. I found these things again among these good and friendly people, who even now were doing what they could to please me. They gave me grapes, nuts, and delicious liquid honey in honeycombs. They had heard I was coming to the village and had cooked many things. They had also cooked pancakes to be eaten with the honey, and buns with fresh cheese, and many other things.

After the Congress, the chosen Secretariat (Nako Spiro, First Secretary and other members: Nexhmije Xhuglini, Liri Belishova, Pirro Kondi, Fadil Pacrami, Alqi Kondi, Ramiz Alia) was called to a meeting by Enver Hoxha, who was the Secretary General of the Albanian Communist Party.

In my opinion this was the most important meeting of the Youth leadership, for its analysis of the activities of the Communist Youth and also for the perspectives revealed by Enver for the future work of the organization of the Union of the Albanian Anti-fascist Youth. At the end of the meeting Ramiz Alia and I were designated to work with the youth in the field and in the partisan units in the Central, North and Northeast of Albania. On October 2nd, 1944, in Priske, the activists of the UAAY (Union of the Albanian Anti-fascist Youth) for South and Southeast Albania gathered and there were 86 delegates. The meeting was successful however; the offices of the Nazi invaders were informed immediately about this meeting. Priska was hit by German field artillery, and the shells fell around the house where we were sheltered. This was often done by the Nazis who knew where the First Corpus Headquarters of the National Liberation Army (whose Commander was Dali Ndreu and Commissar Hysni Kapo) was. Also located in the same area was a part of the British Mission led by Smith. In one of these shellings, within the family of the patriot Hysen Hysa (uncle Ceni, who is immortalized so well by Shevqet Musaraj in “The National Front Epic”), 11 people were killed.

14. In Berat – Meeting with the Prime Minister

In the historical liberated town of Berat I found an extraordinary enthusiastic and joyful atmosphere. The streets were crowded with partisans wandering in the streets that were full of citizens and many children. You could also see many women with black headdresses embracing the partisans as if they were their sons.

I was taken to the building where the General Headquarters was located, which, as I was told, was also the seat of the new Democratic Interim Government, chosen a week earlier, at the historical meeting of the National Liberation Anti-fascist Council. During the proceedings of that meeting, I was marching with the Congress delegates when I heard that the National Liberation Anti-fascist Committee had been reorganized into a Democratic Government, and that, Enver was its Prime Minister.

I am unable to describe my feelings at that moment. I was very happy that our National Liberation Movement, the war, the activities and sacrifices of our people in these years, under the leadership of the Communist Party, were being crowned with the creation of a new democratic power of the people and were going towards the final victory against the foreign enemy and their collaborators. On the other hand, seeing that Enver was given other high responsibilities, I was a bit worried and not too clear. This is something which I can’t explain even now. When I met and fell in love with Enver I had never thought he would become leader of the country and its prime minister, etc. I was worried and I asked myself this question:

“Would I be worthy as his friend in life, in his work, and to the public…?”

The idea of this responsibility burdened me, and made me feel insecure and skeptical about myself. A new complex was added to my timid nature; that of being a responsible and worthy wife for Enver Hoxha. I have to say that even 45 years after our marriage, I wasn’t able to free myself of this complex. In everything that I did or wrote, I tortured myself because of this insecurity:

“Is it OK? How can I improve it?”

It may seem strange, but these emotions became even stronger when I had discussions or I had to speak in plenums, and in Congresses, etc. in the presence of Enver. I was afraid of bothering him or of raising issues with which he disagreed. To avoid this emotional feeling as much as I could, especially in solemn moments, I asked sometimes asked Enver to look over my speeches or I read to him some parts of it that I wasn’t sure of. Even though he was very busy he seldom refused the help I asked. As he was for everyone, he was a teacher for me too, anytime, and for anything.

When I arrived at the location of the seat of the Democratic Party I saw that it was a big house that had been the house of feudalistic large landowners. Opening the door of a big room on the second floor they told me:

“This is Enver’s room, stay here and relax until the Government meeting finishes. We will inform Enver about your arrival.”

The room was small, simply furnished, well lit from a high window, and had white curtains. There was a bed in one corner; near it were a night table and an antique lampshade. Along the opposite wall were a desk, a chair and nothing else. I waited there for a while but I had nothing to do, so I went out into the wide hall, lit by some large windows. In the middle of hall was a large heavy wooden table. In the wood of this table were carvings of some mythical animal images. Near to the table were some big heavy doors. One of them was open and I was able to see the well-furnished room inside. I returned to Enver’s room and saw that he had chosen one of the smallest and most simple rooms. I waited, for what seemed to me, an endless amount of time. It was three months since I had last seen Enver, when I left Helmes. At last the door opened and I saw Enver. He had put on a well-sewn military uniform. We hugged with longing not wanting to be separated. We were very happy. After a moment, I said suddenly:

“Congratulations comrade Prime Minister…, but I liked those partisan shirts and breeches more and…when you were called Commander.”

We joked a bit and then started talking about various and numerous problems. He told me about the developments at the National Liberation Anti-fascist Council meeting, about the decisions taken and the importance that they had for Albania, which was on the verge of liberation, and its future. I told him about the situation in the areas I had been and the work we had done.

After talking about these things he took my hand saying:

“Come, I will show you the house so you can choose a room.”

As I mentioned, they were big, with curtains, rugs, heavy covers and furniture, which I didn’t like because they gave the rooms a medieval suffocating atmosphere. So I said to Enver laughing but hearty:

“I like your clean and simple room…”

He laughed and said: “I can understand that quite well…….. It is getting near the day when we should have our own house…”

The following day I went to the offices where the comrades who had arrived early for the organization of the First Congress for the Union of Albanian Anti-fascist Women were situated. Comrades such as Liri Gega, Naxhije Dume, Fiqret Sanxhaktari etc. Four partisan comrades from Yugoslavia had come to take part in this Congress. They had grades and were wearing smart military uniforms. Their appearance was much better than that of our partisans, who were no less brave, but did not have any grades.

Liri invited me to meet the guests in the Yugoslav military Mission. There I was introduced, for the first time with the new representatives of the Mission, Velimir Stojnic and Niaz Dizdarevic. I knew that Dushan Mugosha had left Albania and at the request of Koci Xoxe we wrote some letters of greetings to him, but I didn’t know that Milan Popovici had also left. During my visit I noticed that the Yugoslav Mission resembled an inn without gates, where our comrades came and went as they would in their own houses. It had become a club for meeting and talking. This impressed me a lot.

When I got back home I asked Enver immediately about Miladin. He said that he had left in a very depressed state because the new comrades who came to the mission had criticized his work in Albania with regard to our Communist Party. They had said that the Central Committee of the Yugoslavian Communist Party had decided to remove them from Albania and that they had come themselves as substitutes him and Dushan in their relationship with our Party. They would also perform the official function as representatives of the Yugoslavian Military Mission like the British, Soviets and Americans during the war. While talking with Enver I told him that, like many comrades, Liri Gega also went frequently to the Yugoslav Military Mission even though they didn’t have any important duties to complete, and that they behaved as if they were in their own houses. Making no comments Enver said:

“They can do whatever they want, but you do not have anything to do there…”

I was impressed by the way he said that. From his tone you could feel discontent and disapproval. But while I was in Berat, I wasn’t aware of what was happening around him and against him, in the background.

On November 4th, the First Congress of the Union of Albanian Anti-fascist Women was opened. All the preparations had been made by Liri Gega and Naxhije Dume. I was not called upon to view the documents, nor was I to be presented with the organizational measures, even though I had been appointed as a supervisor of the commission that the First National Conference set up for the organization. This was, I thought, because I had come late to Berat. These comrades did not inform me or call me to come to the Congress and I thought that this was unintentional because of the difficulties of communication in this time of war. If I hadn’t received Enver’s letter in which he wrote: “See you at the Women’s Congress…” I wouldn’t have gone to Berat and I wouldn’t have taken part in the Congress, because I wouldn’t have known about it. I received another surprise when the Congress’ bodies were chosen. I was not proposed to be in its presidium, but I was appointed, along with comrade Vito Kondi to the Congress’ secretariat. I decided not to bring all these matters to the attention of Enver.

Enver did not say a word to me about what was happening in Berat. I am unable to say if he did this so that I would not be worried, or to respect the principle that the affairs of leadership affairs were things that should not be discussed with one’s wife.

Being at that time a member of Central Committee of the Communist Youth and of the Secretariat of the Union of Albanian Anti-fascist Youth, I remarked to Nako Spiro that, it had been a long time since we had held a meeting; perhaps, because like me, some of the comrades had been kept very busy since the Youth Congress in Helmes…

Nako stood up and invited me to walk with him alongside the river. We walked in silence for some time. Apparently he didn’t know how to begin.

During our walk along the Osum bank, he finally broke his silence and said:

“Well, you are not going to work with the youth anymore…”

Greatly surprised by this sudden news, I interrupted him and said:

“How come? Now we are on the verge of Liberation I can hardly wait to get back to Tirana to work with the Youth…. When was this decided?”

I was continuing to speak in this manner, rather hastily and somewhat upset.

“Just a minute,” he said, “The Central Committee has decided that you should take part in the Ideological Commission at the Central Committee of the Party, led by Sejfulla Maleshova.”

Then he told me about the importance of this commission, but I was getting angry with Enver too, because he hadn’t told me anything about this change. When returned to the seat of the new Government and General Headquarters, I told Enver what Nako had said to me. Enver tried to calm me down, telling me about the functions of this commission, its relationship to the Central Committee, and, at the same time, that it was part of the Ministry of Culture, whose minister would be Sejfulla, and I would deal with Tirana Radio, education etc.

The treatment I had received at the Women’s Congress and this sudden news left a bitter taste in my mouth, but at that time I did not understand why they were happening, because no one, not even Enver had told me what was going on backstage in Berat. Later, everything became clear. Apparently, they wanted to leave Enver out of the State and Party leadership, and they didn’t want to have me among them informing Enver of their actions against him.

15. Capital Liberation. The new Democratic Government in Tirana

On 17 November 1944, after 19 days of violent fighting, we got the long-awaited news of the Liberation of Tirana. We were very happy that day. While Enver was greeting the partisans and the people in the yard from the window of the Seat of the General Headquarters, I went to his room, locked the door and cried for all the dead comrades, remembering each one of them. Some were killed heroically in fighting at the barricades; some were massacred, hanged or tortured. It seemed unjust that they were not there, that they were not alive celebrating and enjoying this victory. Although I didn’t swear an oath at that moment, I have never forgotten those strong feelings of love and pain that I felt on that day. Not even when I was tired, when I was facing difficult moments, including these tough years of loneliness in prison, and my old age. I have told myself:

“That’s OK. Their dreams for the liberation of the nation were realized, and I will continue fighting for those friends of mine who were killed during the struggle and will die with honor, like them.”

The day after we got the wonderful news of the liberation of the capital, Fiqret Sanxhaktari (Shehu) came to Enver and asked permission to go to Tirana. Since the fighting had ended, she wanted to be near Mehmet because she had become engaged to him in Permet, during the Congress. Giving her permission, Enver turned to me and said:

“Nexhmije, why don’t you go along with Fiqret? I will be very busy here, so meanwhile, you can stay with your parents,” he added laughing, “because it is getting near the time we will be going to our own house.”

So I decided to leave Berat.

We set off in a mille cento car. A comrade came with us. I remembered that the Ura Vajgurore bridge or whatever it was called at that time was completely destroyed, so we crossed the river by raft. From the Krraba Pass until we arrived in Tirana we past many smoking burnt-out tanks. We also saw quite a few German corpses. We arrived in the centre of Tirana at Skanderbeg’s square, and decided to take walk in order to see how badly our capital had been damaged and also because we had missed it a lot. What I noticed immediately was the beautiful minaret of the mosque near the clock tower. Only half of it remained because a shell had damaged it.

The Germans had built a bunker in the centre of the square where all the streets intersected. It was nearly level with the ground, with holes for looking out or to put the muzzles of the machine guns through. I wasn’t able to see the entrance for the soldiers because it seemed too narrow to enter from above. Perhaps they had built a tunnel under the square, connected to the town hall, which stood where the National Historical Museum is today. It was said that in this bunker, the enemy had put up a strong resistance, and had killed and injured many partisans, who had bravely attacked that bunker in the middle of the capital. Finally it was captured, and one of our artists had painted a picture of the victorious partisan on the wall of the bunker, as a memorial to their courage.

In Royal Street, now called Barricades Street, you could see the rubbish left from the harsh war fought in that streets – as I was told – by the guerilla units, in cooperation with professional partisan teams, and helped by young volunteers and anti-fascist women from Tirana.

I left Fiqret in Bami Street, later called “Qemal Stafa”. I hastened to my house, in Saraceve Street, thinking to surprise to my parents. But they weren’t there! They hadn’t yet come back from the free areas, where they had had to go with my sick brother. He was an underground activist. They left Tirana when they heard the news that they were to be arrested. As I was later informed, my house had been searched seven times, often under the direction of Man Kukaleshi, the number one in the Qazim Mulleti. The reason for these searches was that there had been a report of a spy living in our alley, who had said that we had a radio transmitter in the house. Maybe he had noticed the activities going on with the people who exchanged letters, communiqués, and leaflets, etc. with my mother. And also, many who stayed there, such as the couriers of some districts used the house as their base, as I have written earlier.

As I didn’t find anyone at home, I headed towards the house of Enver to surprise his parents. They lived in a bungalow with two rooms with view of the ring road, opposite Bije Vokshi’s house, where the Albanian Communist Youth Organization had been established. I entered the house happily and when they saw me they were really surprised and very pleased. Immediately they asked me numerous questions about Enver. The father, uncle Halil, was interested in knowing about the new Government which had been created in Berat, and also about the ministers, some of whom he knew, because they were from Gjirokastra: such as Dr Nishani and others.

One time Ane said to her husband:

“Why don’t you tell the bride what that frontist said about the Government?” “Come on, forget that bastard,” he responded angrily.

It was understood that he didn’t want others to remind him of that frontist so he didn’t talk about it. As I was told later a former friend of his from Gjirokastra, who was a frontist now, had told uncle Halil ironically:

“Have you heard Halil, Enver has become the Prime Minister of the new Government”. “

“He has done his best,” uncle Halil had responded, “Don’t you like it?”

“Heh,” said the frontist on leaving, “a mountain Government, a wet Government…”

That’s why uncle Halil was angry. But the frontists and their friends have now seen for 45 years what this mountain government is and what it could achieve. They have tried for so long to destroy it but they can’t take from the people’s souls the conviction about the benefits that the government brought to the country…

Now the liberated Tirana would wait for the new Democratic Government to come from Berat. The long-awaited day came. The government arrived in the capital on November 1944. It was a nice November morning, when all the members of the Government leads by Enver, arrived in the square between the ministries and walked to the Dajti hotel where, in front of the hotel steps was placed a simple tribune decorated with flags and laurels. The inhabitants of the capital were overwhelmed with an indescribable enthusiasm. The partisans helped to give the atmosphere a sense of great liveliness. They had fought for the liberation of Tirana, felt proud of their deeds and celebrated by singing partisan songs.

A group of martyrs’ mothers went up to the Government members. The moment when these mothers embraced Enver and the other members as if they were their sons was very touching and moving. They wished them heartily:

“May you have a long life…may free Albania have a long life!”

then the mothers sat in front of the tribune where there were many people waiting impatiently to see the leaders of this new democratic state. Among them were a group of young women dressed in beautiful and varicolored national costumes. One of them was holding a red flag with the sublime eagle in the middle. Below, at the side of the Avenue’s bridge over the Lana River, were lines of partisan battalions who had taken part in the Liberation of Tirana. They were to parade in front the members of the Government and the General Commander, Enver Hoxha.

The moment came when the members of the Government, of the National Liberation Front Leadership and of the General Headquarters reached the tribune. Enver Hoxha, Dr. Omer Nishani, Myslim Peza, Haxhi Lleshi, Baba Faja Martaneshi; Mehemet Shehu, Medar Shtylla and others were presented to the cheering and applauding crowds. Along with some comrades, I watched the ceremony from the balcony of the Dajti Hotel.

From the tribune in front of the cheering crowd, Enver Hoxha delivered his first historical speech before the people of Tirana. In his speech as the Prime Minister of the Interim Democratic Government in Berat, Enver had issued the call:

“More bread! More culture!”

Whereas in his speech in the liberated capital, among other things he said:

“Today opens a new page in our history, and it is up to us to make it as glorious as our war against the occupier. This will be a war for the reconstruction of Albania, a war for the boosting of the economy, for the increase in the cultural and educational levels of our people, for the progress of its political, economic and social levels… Let the whole of Albania become a building site, where young and old people understand they no longer work for foreigners, but for themselves and the construction of their own country . . . No honest Albanian citizen should remain out of the Front. On the occasion of the 28th November festival, on the occasion of the liberation of Tirana, the leadership of the Albanian Antifascist National Liberation Council gives a general amnesty to all the members of the National Front, Legaliteti and other organizations who were cooperating with the occupier. From this amnesty are excluded all the war criminals who have killed, burnt, dishonored or stolen the people’s wealth.”

The people looked at the leader carefully, the Commander, for whom they had heard so much during the war. They followed him with an unseen enthusiasm. Together, with the people of the suffering population and who were broken by the war, but whose eyes sparkled because of the joy of freedom and the presence of the members of the Government, had come some of the defeated, who, with the end of the war, had lost political and economic power.

I remember that during the ceremony, when the leaders of the state mounted the tribune, a rather ridiculous incident occurred. We saw that on one side of the tribune there was a former minister of Zogu, Ferit Vokopola, and also a merchant from Tirana, Ali Bakiu. I knew both of them. In the merchants shop we used to buy notebooks and other school items. I had also bought a violin there, because this was wanted by every student preparing to become a teacher. The former minister was the father of one of my classmates. When the organizers of the ceremony saw them both they laughed but became somewhat concerned as well. Actually, the merchant from Tirana was allowed to stay because he had helped the National Liberation Movement; he was an anti-fascist, whereas the former minister left the tribune after they told him politely that his place was not there.

On the occasion of the arrival of the new Government in the liberated Tirana, in the evening of the 28th and 29th of November a large reception was organized in the Dajti Hotel. In addition to the new authorities, of the Government and the Front etc., there were Commanders, Commissars, and distinguished partisans from the battles with the Nazis and Fascists long with martyrs’ mothers and relations. All the Allied Missions in Albania were invited, the British, Soviet, American and Yugoslav.

At this reception, for the first time, I was with Enver, making our matrimonial relationship official. The main authorities of the country and the foreign guests sat in one corner of the big hotel hall. In the middle of it, where we were, and in all the other halls of the hotel, people sang and danced with uncontrolled enthusiasm.

All the members of the allied missions were enjoying themselves, especially those of the British Mission who were represented by quite a few. At this time it was their right to be happy. For months they had wandered in the mountains, sleeping in towers and Albanian huts, far from their families and living under the terror of being bombed by Nazi planes. They looked a bit ridiculous but it was also very nice – when they joined in our southern folk dances dancers and tried to move their legs as we did. Of course they wanted to dance the modern dances, as well; the tango, waltz etc. but most of those who were in the hall had come from the mountains, and those young partisans knew that those dances were not appreciated by the general population at that time. One of the British officers thought that Madam Hoxha knew one of these couple dances, and, according to the rules, asked permission from Enver. Unfortunately, I had never danced that kind of dance so I felt really embarrassed until the music ended.

In the corner where we were sitting, Enver and Dr. Nishani engaged a representative of the British Mission to see if he could handle Albanian raki. They themselves drank two glasses for the big festival and then told the waiter to fill them with water. So while they were drinking water, the Englishman was drinking raki until he was completely drunk, and everyone started laughing heartily. The guest tried to hold his liquor but, in the end, he vomited. While he was vomiting Dr. Nishani made one of his sarcastic comments: “The Englishman vomited the colonies.”

It is a well-known fact that after the Liberation, the relationships of our state leadership with the allied military missions were close and correct, and not only with the Soviet and Yugoslavian mission but also with the British representatives but somewhat less with the Americans, whose rank was lower. The United States had thought it would be “reasonable” that their emissaries should be of Albanian origin, failing to predict that the local Albanians would not put up the haughty advice and interference of these Albanians, who were rather pompous and came from over the ocean.

Enver as the leader of the new Government and Foreign Minister, taking me with him, decided to make some goodwill visits to the allied missions. I remember the visit to the British Mission chief, Jacobs. The Mission was located in a villa between “Qemal Stafa” stadium and the now Albanian Television Station. He was a good host to us. They served their famous tea and biscuits. At that time we had serious problems with the western allies in such matters as the recognition of the Government, the upcoming elections, the conditions for the UNRRA aid etc. As far as I remember, we didn’t mention these problems during this visit, because they might have caused some irritation to our relationships. We discussed the role of the allied missions during the war, about the British Mission and their members who had been in Albania and near the General Headquarters. Enver talked about them and Jacobs told us where some of them had now moved on to other missions; to Egypt near the Mediterranean Allied Headquarters, to Italy, and, in some cases, back to England.

In the second half of 1991, when my children and I had left our house and were settled in a flat, two English journalists came to visit me. At that time I didn’t wish to receive journalists, but they informed me that they had a “last will” from a former officer of the British Mission during the National Liberation War. I became curious so I accepted their request. One of them was a journalist, the other a photo reporter working for “The Sunday Times”. The journalist took from his pocket and showed me a photo of a young officer, who, as he told me, was his father, a former member of the British Mission in Albania during the war. This man, as his father had told him, had jumped with a parachute somewhere near Elbasan (maybe in the Biza field where the allies dropped supplies), but while landing he had been hurt and had been sent to a partisan hospital. According to them I had helped him and I had given him a toothbrush. His Dad had told him about the life in Albania, the partisan’s war and had told him that he had been at the dinner party in the Dajti Hotel for the wedding of Enver Hoxha and myself. Before dying he had told his son to visit to Albania and to come and thank me, and as a souvenir he gave me a toothbrush, new of course.

His father had confused me with someone else, but I couldn’t disappoint his son, so I said: “…Thank you…” and some other friendly words about the Englishmen I had known in Elbasan, Berat, Helmes etc. I also told him that we did not organize a dinner for our wedding at the Dajti Hotel, but that it had been a welcoming reception to celebrate the new Democratic Government in the liberated Tirana, and I told him playfully that maybe I had danced with his father.

When I was sent to prison, I read a small newspaper from our foreign friends and also saw the photographs of these two friends of Albania with some others. They had organized a demonstration with placards etc., demanding my release, in front of a building where there was a delegation of the Sali Berisha Government.

16. Our partisan wedding

When the new Government came to Tirana, the majority or, better to say all of its members, stayed in the Dajti Hotel. Enver had a bedroom with an anteroom. I remember staying there all December, until the relevant offices were set-up, and we got our house. We were given a house in New Tirana, on “Ismail Qemali” street. It had been the house of an engineer or director of the “Belloti” firm. We lived there for 30 years.

Enver and I decided to hold our official wedding on the New Year Eve (1944-1945), and we told our families this. They were surprised and said: “Wait a minute, we’re not ready!” We told them that we didn’t want a wedding ceremony or anything special. In fact, our families were correct because they finally had an opportunity to marry off their only son to me, an only daughter. That is why they insisted that we should celebrate twice, because we had survived the war. Enver said:

“Many young comrades like us were killed in the war that is why we can’t have a wedding ceremony”.

So they had to accept our partisan wedding. Nevertheless they did manage to do something.

On the 30th of December my family invited the family of my uncle to dinner, Arif Xhuglini, and his children. I remember that, after dinner, my uncle’s wife took me aside and wanted to tell me about the mysteries of the first night of the wedding, as it had been done to her. As she started talking I felt very embarrassed so I interrupted her saying:

“No, no I don’t want…” and left.

It seemed banal to me to stay and listen those things, maybe I felt ashamed at that time. Later when I became more interested in traditions and social customs and it also become part of my job, I said to myself:

“Why didn’t I let her talk in order to better understand the knowledge and concepts existing then about the relationship between man and woman?”

Because, I think that, the simpler the people from the cultural point of view, the more simplified are these intimate relationships. This doesn’t mean that simple people do not fall in love, do not have passions, what I mean is that, along with the expansion of the cultural horizon, intimate relationships “get complicated”, are cultivated and smartened up more than nature has given to us humans, more than nature has given to the animals, and much higher than the natural instinct of every living being to breed.

Something nice happened the following day, on December 31st. in the morning, when some members of Enver’s family had come to take the “bride”. They were Enver’s sisters Farihe and Sano. We waited on them hospitably and treated them with different kinds of sweets, according to the custom. We laughed very much when they told us what Enver had done:

“We asked him to give us his car, but he wouldn’t allow this. Now what should we do? We had to take a brougham…This is what your Enver did to us…”

and my sisters-in-law laughed. What could they do because there were no taxis then?

The moment of my leave came. It was more emotional than I had imagined. This way of leaving and separation from my family and my little house created strange impressions and caused strong emotions to me. “The partisan bride” was leaving her house. I had put on a military fabric jacket, which I had used as a coat. At the end of the road there was a hidebound horse and an old carriage waiting for the “Prime Minister’s bride”.

While the brougham was walking in the streets of the city, many ideas came to my mind. Maybe that was the strangest journey I have ever had and …the most beautiful. A strong pen is needed along with a calm spiritual state to describe the movement of that carriage carrying a bride who had just come from the mountains, to describe the minutes of that December day that were for me, a wedding day, but for Albania a real spring, the spring of freedom. The further we journeyed from my house the more confused my thoughts became and my heart beat very quickly… I have remembered this strange journey all these years; a journey that was taking me towards a new life.

Enver’s parents, his other sister, and her children were waiting for us at home. What about the bridegroom? He didn’t come to get me and he didn’t wait for me at the house either. He had gone to the office! This wasn’t acceptable.

My mother in law, whom I called Ane as did Enver, gave me a wedding ring of her own. It had white precious stones, but, as a partisan, I felt ashamed to put on my finger. I did put it on my finger but I gave it to my daughter later when she got married. For all of my life I haven’t worn a ring. Enver never gave me one and I never gave one to him either. He said playfully:

“Why do we need them; they are like chain links.”

The truth is that neither he nor I had the possibility to buy them. Enver’s father gave me a pendant with multi-colored stones, which had been an earring. He kept the other earring for Sano. Ane had made a satin quilt. Whereas my mother came with a necklace that she had had when she got married, and had also bought me some clothes at Bege’s, which, as I remember, was a small shop, but the most modern for those time. She also bought some pajamas there for Enver, which he never wore because they were too small for him. Because of this he teased my mother saying that she didn’t buy fairly for the bridegroom! According to the customs of the time, my mother sent to my parent’s in-law and sister’s in-law, towels, handkerchiefs, socks and other items. So, after everything, I didn’t leave without a proper ceremony. On the New Years Eve, Enver and I were alone. I will never forget that night, which was not only the night of a New Year but also of a new life.

As we had planned; the following day we held the official celebration of our marriage. Two employees, who had civil status, came to officiate in this. At the small ceremony that had been organized where two close friends of Enver; Dr. Omer Nishani and Baba Faja Martaneshi, who had come for the New Year and had been happy to be the witnesses of our marriage. From that time on, Omer used to call me “Enver’s wife “. On January 1st and 2nd, comrades from the political bureau such as Mehmet with Fiqret, Hysni, Vito, Nako and some others, came to congratulate us on our marriage and also to wish us all the best for the New Year. An unexpected self-organized “delegation” from Dibra also came to visit us. A group of my father’s cousins and some other citizens had come visiting. They were five or six people, lead by my father’s cousin, Mersin Qyflaku. He had known Enver from the time the Zajmi Mosque was being used as an undercover base and Enver had used Mersin’s yard to get into a “mile cento” car that would take him to Peza. Also in this group was one of the leaders of the Muslim Community, whose name I am unable to remember, but he was from Dibra. I was surprised to see that one of the visitors was Zija Dibra, who was a cousin of my father on his mother’s side. He was the brother of Fuat Dibra who, during the German occupation, was chosen to be Regent, together with Mehdi Frasheri, Lef Nosi and Pater Anton Harapi.

During the war, the Nazi invaders wanted to organize this Regency to fool the Albanian people into thinking that they were being governed by Albanians. The comrades of the Central Committee, Gogo Nushi, Nako Spiru and Sejfulla Maleshova sent me to talk with him (because I knew him) and appeal to him on behalf of the National Liberation Front not to accept this function.

Both brothers, Zija and Fuat Dibra, were not permanent residents of Tirana. They lived in Istanbul, where they had their palaces. My grandmother had told me that they were so rich that they didn’t count their gold, but weighed it using a large measuring cup. Fuat Dibra spent most of his time in France and Switzerland, and as I have heard from my father that he spent his fortune recklessly, not only in helping patriotic societies with emigration matters, but also living a life of luxury in Swiss hotels and sanatoriums, where he had gone to be cured of tuberculoses. One day the gold ran out and his family were destitute. Their old wooden house in Istanbul was even burned to the ground.

The brothers came very often to Albania especially since the time of Zogu. Fuat Bay Dibra lived at his cousin’s, Fuat Shatku’s wife, who had been a former minister during the time of Zogu. She was the aunt of Shyhret Turkesh, who had married the well-known scholar, Professor Eqrem Cabej. So we were related. I had been in this house at an earlier time with my mother. Shyhret’s aunt knew I was a communist and underground activist like her niece, that is why she welcomed me. I told her the reason why I had gone there, and she said that he was ill, but nevertheless, they hadn’t left him alone. She said that Mehdi Frasheri went there almost every day and pressed him to accept the post of regent that they had proposed. She took me to see him in his room. It was a half room, very dark, lit only by a small electric lamp, which was weaker than a candle. He was lying in a narrow bed completely covered with a dark blanket and his face turned to the wall.

Razia said slowly:

“It is useless to talk to him, he is tired because of the illness, and most of the time he feels sleepy from the medicine, and he doesn’t want to talk to anybody.”

I understood that it was impossible to try to talk to him in the state that he was in, so I left. I told this to my comrades. After a short period of time, he died. However his name was listed as a member of the quisling Regency. Nevertheless, Sejfulla Maleshova wrote an article about him in the newspaper of the National Liberation Front “Bashkimi” (The Union), where he mentioned his patriotic activity in the past, without mentioning that he ended his life as a quisling regent.

And now in our house came the regent’s brother, to congratulate on the Liberation of Albania and our wedding. We didn’t behave badly towards him, we treated Zija Dibra like the others, considering also the fact that he had not been involved in politics but had tried to keep his family’s capital. Actually, like his brother, he was a failure in politics.

The press of the time wrote that Enver had made a political marriage; marrying a girl from the North.

Understandably it was impossible to think of a honeymoon at that time. We had hardly had the chance to live together and find a house of our own. This is why we started working immediately.

17. New bride – In Enver’s family

After leading a nomad’s life for three years –as an illegal and a partisan – I finally was part of the family. When Enver was dismissed from his job in Korca and came to Tirana, he opened his shop “Flora”, and brought his family; mother, father and his single sister Sanije from Gjirokastra. They rented a house, a short distance from the place where Vojo Kushi was killed and close to the house where the Communist Youth was founded. This was quite a small house with only two rooms. In the garden was a small hut that was used as a kitchen. Enver lived at this house for only a short time until the end of October 1941, when he was obliged to go ‘underground’ to avoid arrest. He never set foot in that house again.

After the liberation, when we moved to the “Belloti” house in ‘Tirana e Re’ (New Tirana), Enver sent for his parents and sister to live with us. His middle sister, Haxhire, continued to live in the small house with her three fatherless children; her husband having been killed in his shop in Berat. Later, as she had nothing to live on, we sent for her and the children to come and live with us. Zylo, the daughter of his uncle was also invited by Enver to come and live with us. This was because he thought that he owed his uncle a favor as he had helped him with his education and also because he was a well educated patriot.

The house that we moved into was not so spacious. The women and the children slept in the largest room, while, in a smaller room slept Enver’s father. One of the other two rooms was our bedroom, whereas the other became Enver’s studio, where he welcomed comrades and held meetings with them. Koci Xoxe moved into a house close to ours. He lived with his father, stepmother, wife and her mother and his two children, who were born before the Liberation. He had two other children after that. Koci’s family was a modest one, his father was a tinsmith by profession, a craft passed down to his only son. Koci’s wife, Sofika, was a kind woman, who, even at a young age, was rather stooped, because of working hard at the handloom, making carpets for others. She could not get used to the high post that her husband had and said smilingly:

‘Wow, Xoxo has become… a celebrity!’

Indeed Xoxo put on great airs, which he always did in a very serious manner.

Koci’s father, called Barba…, I don’t remember his full name, seemed to be hardworking, able-handed and still kept working in his old age. Uncle Halil, Enver’s father and Koci’s father became close friends. Over a glass of raki or a cup of coffee they told old stories about their families or about the cities where they had lived. Uncle Halil, out of curiosity had asked him one day:

‘What’s the matter with our sons? They keep arguing, I have heard them shouting when they get together at our home…’

However, Barba minded his own business.

We did not get our monthly payment until some months after the Liberation. Some of the comrades of the Party leadership, members of the Government and of the Anti-fascist National Liberation Council continued to live and eat at the “Dajti” Hotel, others at another hotel later called the “Vollga”. Canteens were set up by Naku Spiru, such as the one for the Youth Central Committee and its administration, where people could eat for a low nominal charge..

However, our family and that of Koci Xoxe had only the one cook, a middle-aged man, called Lluka. He was supplied by a state managing center and he cooked the same things for both of the families; a first and a second course for lunch, whereas, for breakfast and dinner we each had a glass of milk, an egg and some cheese.

The house where we moved was unfurnished. It had belonged to an Italian engineer, who had left with the Italian army after the surrender of the fascist Italy, and a merchant from Korca called Petro Katro had removed the furniture. This furniture was taken away from him and became state property and was then distributed to various places. Later, many comrades, bought some pieces of this furniture from the government. We bought the bedroom and the dining room furniture. While we settled down with these items, Koci’s house was empty and had only some old bits and pieces and some small carpets, which had been brought from Korca. Noticing this situation, Enver said to his mother:

‘Ane, what about cutting the rug of the hall in two and give one part to Koci?’

She replied, ‘It’s a pity to cut up such a rug, it will get spoiled, let them find another rug for Koci.’

They found and brought two rugs to Koci’s, which were so thick that they had to saw off the bottoms of the doors.

There’s another funny story about this rug, which Enver tells. Two peasants from Elbasan came for a visit; Ali Disha and others, who had hosted and protected Enver and some friends in their house, during the war. They wanted to take their shoes off before entering the house but Enver smilingly said,

‘No, no!’, and, taking them by the hand said ‘Do come in and walk comfortably on this rug because it used to belong to Shefqet Verlaci”.

Actually, it wasn’t his but he mentioned his name because the peasants from Elbasan had suffered a lot because of Shefqet Verlaci a landowner, who, right up to the end was in the service of the fascist invaders, and even became a Prime Minister under them.

During the first 3 or 4 years after the Liberation, the meetings of the Political Bureau were held in our house. This was rather uncomfortable because of our large family. Therefore, Koci moved to another house nearby. Into his old house, which was next to ours, Enver and the family moved, however we all dined together. A woman was employed to do the cooking for us. She boasted that because she was from a big house, she would be able to do a very good job for us. She, thinking that perhaps she was a great cook or perhaps that we, as communists, would treat her as an equal, decided to sit down with us at our meals at the other end of the table, facing Enver. And this was not all. She kept up a constant chatter at the dining table! Enver once looked at me as if to ask ‘Where did you find her?’ I did not know her at all; those who dealt with our houses and related matters sent her to us. She did not stay long. When Enver’s sister, along with her children, came to live with us, she did the cooking for quite some time.

Sterjo Gjokoreci, a senior communist, who had been for several years in the Soviet Union, was responsible for matters of supply and other economic issues. He was fluent in Russian so he was also Enver’s translator at the meetings with Stalin, even at the tête-à-tête ones and also at dinners and walks, which Enver describes in his book “With Stalin”. Sterjo was totally honest and systematic for whatever expense or object that he brought into the house. In his special file you could read about the shirt, tie or socks that he had bought for Enver or the specific authorization that he had made for to buy me a suit for my wedding etc. With this authorization in my hands, I went to the store of the big merchant from Korca, Sheko, where I picked up some blue cloth, which I am still wearing, even in the photo on the cover of this book. The off-the-peg white shirt was a wedding present from Koco Tasko, from his shop, which he opened with the money of Sano’s trousseau, given by Enver to offset the expenses of the activities of the Korca Communist Group.

This photo has a story of its own, both beautiful and painful at the same time. That is the first photo after our wedding and is a memory from a Soviet camera operator who was in Albania to film the most gripping moments of the fighting for the liberation of Tirana and of the historic events to come. Unfortunately, the plane in which he was flying was shot when passing over Montenegro and thus he lost his life and all the work he had done in Albania. I do not know if any examples of his work still exist, or even if he sent some of it to Moscow in batches.

I don’t remember after how many months, the state began to pay us on a monthly basis and I don’t recall what our salary was after the Liberation. However, I do remember that at the time when Enver was the prime Minister, Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign affairs, he earned 35,000 (old) Lek. I earned 20,000 (old) Lek when I was the Director at the Ministry Of Culture and later as a Director of Propaganda, Education and Culture at the department in the Party Central Committee. Each of us earned 2,000 Lek as deputies. Later, Enver suggested cutting off this honorarium for the deputies living in Tirana, and were paid only for the usual mileage when they were on duty. For the out of town deputies who came to Tirana for the meetings of the Assembly accommodation and mileage costs were given to them. Later the salaries were reduced to that point that, at Enver’s suggestion and in accordance with Lenin’s recommendations written in his books; the salaries of the highest Party and State functionary could not be higher than 2 – 21/2 times the average of the salaries of the workers in the top category and therefore Enver received 16,000 leks while I received 13,000.

During the early years our salaries were quite enough for us, but we could not save anything. This was because, in addition to Enver’s family, we had to maintain my family, including my father who had a low pension along with my mother who was a housewife and my brother who was studying in the Soviet Union. We also had to maintain the two families of the two widowed sisters of Enver; Haxhire, with her three children, and Fahrije, and her two sons, Luan and Fatos who attended the university.

Earlier I have mentioned that Enver loved his eldest sister very much and admired her cleverness, wisdom and the culture. This she had picked up from her husband Bahri Omari who had emigrated to Italy some years earlier because he was an anti-Zogist. When Italy invaded Albanian, Bahri Omari returned to his home country, he socialized with his immigrant friends, many of whom had been appointed as members of the High Council, which was set up by the invaders. When Balli Kombetar was created, Bahri Omari was at its center. Enver in his book ‘Laying the Foundations of the New Albania’ has described in detail his efforts to convince intellectuals and politicians to join the Anti-fascist National Liberation Front and fight to liberate Albania. He did the same with Bahri Omari.

Enver send word with his sister and her son, Luan, in order to convince him to withdraw from his circle, and come up to the mountains to fight as some of his friends had done, such as Dr. Omer Nishani and others. However Bahri Omari held fast to his position.

In one of Enver’s letters that he sent me after there had been an ambush by a partisan unit in which Bahri Omari was wounded in one arm, he wrote

‘I do not feel sorry for him as a political figure, but I do for Fahrie and her sons. I am not going to intervene in any way… This is not particularly nice of me towards Fahrie…but there’s nothing I can do. I struggled for two long years trying to show him the correct way, but his head was like a cave..’

However, Bahri was not only an activist of Balli Kombetar, he also became Minister of Foreign Affairs under the quisling Nazi Government of Rexhep Mitrovica.

Thus was created the deep conflict between his sister, Fahrie and our families. It has been asked; ‘Could Enver really do nothing to rescue him?’ The charges against him were very serious; not only was he a quisling, but, just as important was the fact that he had signed the order to blow up Durres Harbor after the Nazi forces withdrew. Couldn’t his friends have done something?

Koci Xoxe asked Enver

‘What we are going to do with Bahri Omari?’

Enver replied ‘I did my best, he wouldn’t listen, now it’s up to justice.’

When Bahri was sentenced to death, Ane said to her son, Enver:

‘I am going to Fahrie for some days…’

She said this not as though she was asking permission but as a decision that was up to her.

While Sano also asked ‘Can I go too?’

‘Do go!’ Enver replied.

Some days past and I asked the same question,

‘Enver, may I go to Fahrije?’

‘Surely!’ he replied and he added sadly

‘I am really sorry for Fahrie and the family…’

When I arrived, there was Bahri’s sister and many other cousins from the Omar family. They were motionless, when I came in. I do not remember if I shook hands with them, but I hugged Fahrie. She kept a straight face, and, being a wise woman she never argued about this, but she did not set foot on our house for a long time afterwards. She came only when her father was sick. Enver also went to see her. It was easy for their mutual brother-sister affection to bloom again. Enver asked her about her health, because, after the war, she had problems again with tuberculosis, which was cured by the well-known pulmonologist of that time, Petraq Leka. Then she came occasionally, then later, more often and, finally she came regularly as a daughter of the house. She stayed for days and satisfied her longing for her parents, sisters and brother. She loved me too, and opened her heart to me about any problems that worried her. She showed her wisdom and self-control again even though she was going through a very difficult stage of her life.

It was Enver’s 60th birthday. She welcomed and kept the house open for the guests. The following morning, before leaving, she came up to my room and after a while told me,

‘Vera (one of my pseudonyms in the war, which the Enver’s family still uses), I have got something like a small ball, here at my breast. I felt it for the first time when we were at Durres beach. At first I thought it was just a minor injury from the mattress or something but now it seems to be something else…’

I was completely taken aback. I stood up and as I checked her I noticed the lump which was hard to the touch. I kept a straight face, and said calmly

‘You should see the specialist to check it. Don’t worry, you know that such lumps can sometimes occur and they can be benign”.

I arranged the medical check up and the tests for her, but unfortunately, it was malignant. She was operated on. Enver did not want to send her abroad (he was rather strict with his family, in every aspect). The chemotherapy for the tuberculosis affected her health, and, even after she was sent abroad, she did not recover. After languishing for six months, she gathered all her spiritual and physical strength and welcomed Enver, standing and smiling assuring him that she was all right. She, and we knew that this would be the last time that we met her. By midnight, she closed her eyes forever, while in the arms of her sons. In the morning, her sons came and consoled Enver, maybe thinking that he wouldn’t be able to bring himself to go to their house. On the contrary, as soon as he had met with the comrades of the Political Bureau who had come to console him and who also went to see her sons, Enver, and all of the family, went to Fahrije’s house to console them. Enver went there prior to, and after the funeral, and for two or three days he stayed there during the afternoons and for hours he welcomed whoever came to console Fahrie’s sons.

Enver’s mother was gentle, calm and patient. She had lost her son, Beqir, at 27, due to tuberculosis. He was older than Enver and, whenever he was mentioned, she wept. She wore a ring, which had a photo of him in it. She was illiterate, but very clever. She had a natural cleverness. Her memory was extraordinary, and this was something that Enver inherited from her. It was nice to interact with each other. I have written about this in the preface of Enver’s book ‘Childhood Years’. I was told that she was hardworking around the house, a good hostess and cook. Now she did not do any housework. Sometimes you could see her sitting by the fireplace sewing or patching clothes for the family. She could thread a needle even when she reached her nineties. Although she had difficulty with her hearing, one could not tell this even when she was chatting with many women within the same room.

Enver made time to take care of his parents, especially Ane (his mother). Almost every morning, with his bag under his arm leaving for work, he would go into her room and to say good morning or chat with her for a while. In the evenings, as well, half an hour prior to dinner, we went together to his parents who we usually found by the fireside; Ane sitting on the corner ottoman, and, at the other side was the uncle (Enver’s father) sitting on a soft pad. In the evenings, Enver’s father wore his nightgown (not pajamas) and a black fez on his head, as all the Moslem men did before Zog in 1936 after which the law made it compulsory for the men to wear a trilby hat and for the women to take off the yashmak (an example set by Qemal Ataturk). During these evening get-togethers I found out that Enver’s parents were married from the cradle, as usually happened in Albania. The way this happened was: that two friends, having coffee or a glass of raki, one sad because his wife had given birth to a daughter and the other quickly comforting him would say, ‘Don’t worry, I will ask her hand in marriage for my son…’ so they were connected by an arranged marriage. Enver played jokes on his father about this and asked,

‘So tell us, did you play together when you were little?’

His father pursed his thick lips and smilingly replied

‘I threw pebbles towards her so that she would go inside…’

Enver went on joking ‘Wow were you jealous or a fanatic? When she grew up straight and tall, did you like her? You were very short indeed…’

He replied to this with irony ‘It’s not a big deal; she also wore a pair of yellow high heel boots, which you could notice from far away…’

‘That’s why you did not allow her to walk past the market, even though she was covered head to toe…’

‘He wreaked havoc about this’ Ane told me, ‘One day when somebody told him ‘I saw Gjylo walking by the market’. I went to the market (the town center) only once in my life while we were living there.’

I had heard that the people of Gjirokastra were good thrifty housekeepers but also stingy ones. Enver liked to tell a joke about this, although I don’t know if it was true or made up. Somebody from Gjirokastra was related by marriage to someone one from Libohova. The in–laws visited them after having done the shopping at the market. The hostess had cooked some very delicious, but rather small, meatballs. The men sat down at the dining table, the man from Gjirokastra noticed that his guest was eating the meatballs two at a time. He could not keep himself from saying:

‘How do you climb the stairs there in your town?’ He answered, ‘One by one or two at a time, it depends on the stairs…’

Enver knew his father’s habits well and one evening he said

‘You have not yet shown your wooden chest to your daughter in law…’

He had a small wooden chest like the ones from long ago; tin layered and decorated with circular head nails with a semi-spherical lid. There were also goat skinned chests and larger ones usually given to the bride. Ane had one like this, but bigger, which she had sent to Gjirokastra and placed it in the room where Enver was born. The uncle took the chest from his room and placed it where he was sitting by the fireplace. You could find anything in it ranging from pieces of letters, letter rolls that had become yellow with age, nails, rivets and shoe-slabs etc.

‘What are these, what do you need them for?’ Enver teased him.

‘You ask me what do I do with them. Well, when Naim’s (his fatherless nephew) shoes wear out they need to be mended…The women waste time looking for nails to fix the curtains in the kitchen…I did not buy these but collected them here and there and placed them in this wooden chest.’

‘What about the letters?’ Enver asked.

‘The ones that you are holding are the land-patents of the fields that we own in…’ he mentioned a village that I don’t remember now.

‘What do you need them for uncle, they are of no value. Don’t you know that the land belongs to the people who farm it, thus their place is here…’ and threw them into the fire.

The uncle nearly burnt his hands trying to retrieve them, but they made a beautiful flame and burned. The uncle was annoyed and angry with Enver.

‘They were of no harm to you, they were just a souvenir from Mullah Beqiri’s time (Enver’s grandfather).’

One Sunday, Enver said to his mother

‘You have not shown the ‘ bride’ that national costume, the vest that you embroidered…’

Sano went to get it from the white sheet in which it was wrapped. The loose breeches of Gjirokastra and Dibra are not made of a white, thin and stiff cloth like the ones from Tirana or Elbasan. In general those of Central Albania made of satin, light colored, such as cream, lilac, with light pink or blue flowers etc. The cherry colored, velvet vest was embroidered with charming designs of golden threads by Ane and looked as though it had just been made.

‘The daughters of the house had worn it for their weddings and next in line to wear it was Sano, but unfortunately, she had not yet found her match…’ Ane ended her story, on a rather sad note.

Sano never did manage to wear this costume because she did not get married. She had been unlucky; firstly Enver, her only brother, was away from the family because of his job and studies, then came the war. She did not even become a partisan because Enver left her to take care of their elderly parents. After the war, partially because of her age, but I think that was more due to the fact that Enver had official assignments and so people found it difficult to approach her since they may have thought that we were aiming too high.

Thus, Sano did not get married. She had attended only elementary school, but you could not tell this as she was clever and read a lot, especially magazines and newspapers. At the beginning she hesitated to go to work, considering her educational level too low. However, Enver insisted that she worked, not only because of the economic aspects but also the principle aspect, which was the employment of women. By working Sano set a good example to other women. She worked at the registry office in Tirana and, although she did not earn much there, Enver and I let her keep her salary for her personal needs. Sano worked in a modest manner and never showed herself off as Enver’s sister. Sano was accepted as a Party member thanks to her work and modesty. She was active in the activities of the Democratic Front organization and that of the Woman in the neighborhood. She was always in contact with people and aware of their needs because of her work and these activities in the neighborhood. She often talked about these at lunchtime or dinnertime and she never held back her criticism of the governmental bodies that did not find solutions for particular problems.

Sano persistently defended her opinions even when Enver contradicted her –

‘It’s not like you think…’ she went on and sometimes

Enver loudly replied ‘Who knows better, you or I?’.

Sano did not gave up and replied quietly ‘That’s what I think…’

I had to play the referee, on one side I advised Sano

‘Don’t go too far when we are dining, he is tired…’

and on the other side when I was alone with Enver, I would say to him

‘Why do you tease her, she has her own personality, I am glad that she has her own opinions.’

Enver laughed and said ‘I tease her so that she gets used to other criticisms…’

Enver’s attitude was sometimes principled but Sano was not to blame. Once, when we were dining, Sano looked really happy and Enver asked

‘What’s up?’, she told him that she had been to the Party Conference of Tirana and had been elected to the labor presidium.

Enver replied immediately ‘Were not other communists in the organization of Tirana to be elected for the presidium?’

Enver was referring to the opportunism of the Party Committee but Sano was justifiably offended and replied indignantly

‘I did not request to be elected’ and stood up and left.

We went on commenting on this but Enver put this to an end by saying

‘I’m irritated because they do things meant to please me, but what do all those communists, who have great merits, say about this?’

During all the years that I lived with Sano, I was convinced that even when time passes a brother likes to tease his younger sister, whom he loves very much. In my personal library I have a small hard covered book of La Fontaine’s tales, which Enver had sent to Sano when he was in France. In it he has written:

‘As a memory…, poor you if you ruin it…’

I do not have the exact dedication now but I remember these words quite well.

Anytime that Enver got sick, she sat at the top of the staircase and burst in tears. I tried to comfort her and begged to go in her room because she stood in the way of the medical staff. When Enver passed away I stayed close to her, much more so than I stayed with my children. I was very sorry for her, as she had not experienced the joys of love, a family and of her own children. My imprisonment was a fatal blow to her. After 5 years of solitude, during my imprisonment, despite her old age, she enjoys welcoming communists, comrades and friends of Enver or new friends of our family.

Enver’s mother and father were very different characters. Ane was careful, quite neat in her way of dressing and eating and somehow authoritarian, while uncle Halil was totally different. He never changed his suit unless his wife and daughters insisted and he never laced his shoes.

‘Where on earth are you going dressed like that?’ Ane would say.

We laughed at his words ‘What did I do?’

He wore his old hat, even though Enver had given him one of his. One day Enver said,

‘Will you throw that old hat away or what…’

He did not take Enver’s words seriously until, one day he saw Enver taking the scissors and cutting it up. Enver said smilingly,

‘If you like it so much then wear it like this…’ Uncle smiled too.

Basically, he was one of those people that are called good-natured, calm, popular, who liked to socialize with the common people. He was very honest regarding financial matters. At the beginning, when we had our salaries, he did the shopping even for my mother who lived near by. He was not too lazy to go to the third floor and give back the change to my mother even if it was just a one lek!

Every evening, when we went into their room, we found uncle Halil reading. He had a wooden chest full of old quran books in Turkish or Arabic, which could have belonged to father Ceni (Hysen Hoxhes) Enver’s uncle, who was educated, chairman of the town Hall, and of the law-courts. Even Enver’s father was called Mulla Halil, a title used for educated people. When I had submitted for translation one of these ‘qurans’ to the only translator of the old Turkish language who was from Berat, he had told me that this was an amusing writing. In one of my photos of my youth, which I had sent to Enver’s family, his father had written on the top of this ‘marsh Allah’ , I do not remember the other words. We had sent this photo together with other objects to the small and low house, where Enver’s family had lived before the Liberation. I do not know what happened to it and to the other relics that we had submitted to this museum.

During his evening visits, Enver played backgammon with his father or sometimes he said ‘Let’s sing a song!’ Uncle started singing quietly and Enver sang along with him in a thick voice. I remember that one of songs from Laberia which Enver liked singing was that of ‘Cerciz dhe Bilbilenjte’. Uncle liked telling the stories that he read in his ‘qurans’, such as the Persian-Greek wars, episodes from the battles of Alexander the Great and those about the Imams in Arabia, of Ali and his sons, Hysen and Hasan. Maybe these readings had encouraged him to follow the Bektashi sect (Moslem sect) and to go to the Tekke (holy place). He was not that religious; he did not fast, but left the table any time that we ate ham or pork dishes. He discussed for a long time with his second daughter, Hatixhe, whether or not she had properly washed the casserole in which pork had been cooked. On the other hand, he always visited his Christian friends at Easter time and came back with his pockets full of red painted eggs, which amazed and made our children very happy.

Enver was in Moscow when our first child was born. When he returned to Albania, in the midst of the boisterous happiness within our households, the uncle said

‘Now we are three men…’

Enver not realizing or not having heard this at that moment or just to tease his father, said startled,

‘What do you mean by, we became three men?’ The uncle added smiling ‘Three men, I, you and your son…’ ‘But what name shall we give him?’ Enver replied.

‘Ane and I have found a name for him, Beqir (in the memory of their dead son).”

I stiffened, I did not like that name at all. Enver and I had agreed to name him Ilir. Enver, smiling, winked at me and said to him:

‘All right, we’ll name him Beqir but he will have also another name…Ilir.’

The uncle took him in his arms and sang something to him, a ‘Moslem prayer’ that we did not understand then he whispered three times at his ear ‘Beqir, Beqir, Beqir.’ We registered our son at the registry office with the name Ilir and, except uncle, we never called him Beqir.

Even though Enver did his best to look after his father, he had a weakness for his mother. When we went downstairs, before dinner, he sat beside her on the ottoman and embraced her, and trifled with her braid, which she had thrown over her shoulders under her headdress. She turned her head and kissed him on the cheek. The same kind thing happened even when Enver was at his early sixties.

In the early days, when I was a ‘young bride’ in the house, Ane, after having kissed Enver had said to me

‘Dear bride, don’t worry about this as I have clean lips.’

I could do nothing but smile at the implication of her words. However, she could not upset me because she was so meticulous about her personal hygiene, clothes, bedding and covers. I could even go so far as to say that a nurse could not be more sanitary. She ate with such delicacy as if she had grown up in a noble family or maybe abroad. Her eldest and youngest daughters, Fahrie and Sano, had taken after her in this aspect. On the other hand, the other daughter had not inherited anything from this. When the others pointed this out to her, she replied

‘It’s not so easy, I have other things to do, I cook, do the washing up…’

She resembled her father in appearance and in character.

Enver ‘hated’ black clothes. He did his best to convince Ane to take them off but she wouldn’t listen. One day, when she was present, he requested me to find a light colored cloth to make a dress. As it was summer, I bought a grey cotton fabric with some small black stripes on it and we made a dress for her. Ane wore it for only a day and she, smiling said,

‘It seems to me as if I am wearing my nightgown’.

Sometimes Enver asked Ane to grill cheese on the fire-iron, as we sat by the fireplace. This was very nostalgic and reminded him of his childhood. Enver, being a diabetic, could not eat things that were not included in his diet, so he encouraged the children, saying,

‘Do go to Ane, she will grill cheese on the fire-iron.’

The word ‘fire-iron’ used in this case brought up lengthy debates regarding the various meanings that were given to some objects in some dialects. For example, we from Dibra use this word to name the object used to ignite the fire in the fireplace or in the stove, whereas in Gjirokastra it has another name. You could imagine how my grandmother and my mother-in law communicated with each other. Enver usually asked Ane,

‘What did you do today? Did anyone visit you? Did you go anywhere?’

She replied that she had visited my mother. Enver asked Ane about her visit

‘What was said there?’

She told him about any topic that she had discussed with my mother

‘There was the grandmother, too, but I did not understand a word of what she said and she did not understand a word of what I had said.’

This might sound strange but the younger generations of the last three or four decades have overcome the problems of dialects. These problems have been brought to an end thanks to schooling, communication, and above all, the historical decision to process and standardize the literary language.

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