Wednesday, 26 May 2021

"Ne por medaloj mi batalis..." - "I did not fight for medals"

La originala artikolo estas el Stano 

En 1945 Artjom Skaĵutin havis nur 21 jarojn. Krome li jam havis sep klasojn de vilaĝa lernejo, nefinitan militlernejon, tri medalojn kaj du vundojn. Sian vivon li rememoris sen bedaŭroj kaj plendoj.


Kampara infanaĝo
Mi naskiĝis la 7-an de aprilo 1924 en la vilaĝo Turuŝeva, tiutempe ĝi apartenis al Ŝatrova kaj nun al Isetska distrikto. La gepatroj estis kamparanoj. La familio laŭ tiamaj kutimoj estis ordinara – 11 homoj, inkluzive sep infanojn. Ni havis bovinojn kaj ĉevalojn. Kiam komenciĝis kolektivigo, oni decidis malkulakigi nin. La brutojn, konstruaĵojn – ĉion oni forprenis por la kolĥozo “Aktivulo”.

La patro forveturis al Tjumeno kun sia pli aĝa fratino Maria por serĉi laboron kaj tiel nutri la familion, sed malsukcesis. Do li mortis sola ĉi tie. La fratino longan tempon veturadis kun lia kadavro sur ĉaro de unu tombejo al alia – neniu deziris akcepti lin. Finfine en la Parfjonov-tombejo oni lin sepultis. Poste mi serĉis lian tombon por starigi monumenton, sed senrezulte – en plej bona kazo oni starigis tiutempe lignan krucon sen nomo kaj ĉio ĉi malaperis rapide.

Kvar klasojn mi finis en mia vilaĝo kaj poste devis marŝi al la vilaĝo Mostovka. Ni venis tien lunde kaj revenis hejmen vendrede, loĝante dum tiu periodo en luataj domoj. Ni prenis kun ni platkukojn – tio estis nia manĝaĵo por semajno. Tiel mi finis sepjaran lernejon.

La unua batalo
Oni rekrutigis min la 12-an de aŭgusto 1942. En Tjumeno oni sendis min al loka militlernejo kiel estontan oficiron. Sed mi ne havis tempon por fini eĉ reduktitan kurson, oni sendis nin antaŭtempe al fronto. Unue oni prenis unu grupon, poste alian. Oni diris ke tio ne koncernos nin, ke plej bonaj lernantoj ricevos tempon por fini la kurson. Sed poste ankaŭ nin oni forprenis, donis al ni serĝentan rangon anstataŭ tiu de leŭtenanto kaj sendis al fronto. Tio okazis en marto 1943.

Mi trafis la 145-an regimenton de la 66-a pafista divizio – ĝi ĵus eliris Stalingradon por rearanĝo. En Voroneĵa provinco tio okazis kaj poste ni ekmarŝis antaŭen.


La unuan batalon mi partoprenis apud Kursko. Ĉio komenciĝis la 5-an de julio 1943. Unue ni okupis defendajn poziciojn, germanoj penis forĵeti nin de tie. La 12-an de julio ni komencis ofensivon apud Proĥorovko. Mi jam estis komandestro de grupo en plotono de kontraŭtankaj fusiloj.

Matene ni vekiĝis kaj vidis ke la suno brilis fortege. Nu, kiam komenciĝis tanka batalo ĉio ŝanĝiĝis. La suno ne plu videblis, ĉie estis nur fumonuboj, brulodoro tia ke eĉ spiri estis malfacile.

Ni okupis ravinon, fosis tranĉeon. Antaŭen oni sendis grupon de Ŝerman – ni konis unu la alian ekde la militlernejo. Komenciĝis bombardado kaj ĝi trafis ilin, li tuj pereis. Mi domaĝis lin, ja li estis bona bubo. Poste jam niaj artileriistoj faris preparan bombardon kaj ni komencis ofensivon, sed tuj alfrontis mitralpafadon kaj kuŝiĝis. Tio estis grandkalibra mitralo, kun kuglo 16 mm. Oni ordonis al mi likvidi ĝin. La ordonon mi plenumis kaj tiel ricevis la unuan medalon “Pro kuraĝo”.

En tiu tago ni antaŭeniĝis ĝis la vilaĝo Koĉetovka (Belgoroda provinco) kaj okupis ĝin. Ni setliĝis en iu dometo rande de la vilaĝo, petis mastrinon kuiri terpomojn por ni, donis al ŝi monon, tamen ŝi plu grumblis – evidente ŝi nemalbone vivis kun germanoj. En alia rando de la vilaĝo, ĉe lago haltis tankistoj. Kiam komenciĝis bombardado, ili preskaŭ ĉiuj pereis. Sed la niaj tamen daŭrigis ofensivon, pripafado estis tiom forta ke germanoj fuĝis en aŭtoj laŭ fervojo.

Mitralisto
La duan medalon “Pro kuraĝo” mi ricevis ankaŭ pro mitralisto, pro likvidita pafejo. Kiam ni transiris ravinon, mi ekvidis tiun germanon de proksime – li ankoraŭ estis viva, la kapo ĉe la tempio trafita, li ĝemis. Kaj mi ekkompatis lin. Kvankam li ĵus kontraŭ ni pafis, sed… Tiam venis leŭtenanto, nia rotestro kiu komandis stabon kaj diris: “Mortpafu! Finbatu lin!” Sed kion fari, mi estis ankoraŭ bubo 19 jarojn aĝa. “Mi ne finbatos lin!” mi diris. Nun mi komprenas ke pro neplenumo de la ordono mi povus trafi militan tribunalon. Sed en tiu momento la nervoj estis streĉitaj ĝis ekstreme.

Helpis ke apude estis terkabano de tiu mitralisto. La leŭtenanto enkuris tien kaj eliris kun manoj plenaj je silkaj vestoj – evidente germanoj preparis sin al lavado. Do li malatentis min por momento. Kaj tiam helpis al mi bubo el Krasnojarsko. Li estis ĉasisto, por li ĉio ĉi estis senprobleme. Li alkuris kaj finbatis tiun germanon el fusilo. Nun mi pensas foje ke eble tiu ulo povus saviĝi, vivi plu, sed en tiu tempo… Mi bone memoras tiun ĉi kazon.

Vundoj
Poste estis rutino – ĉiutage ni iris de unu batalo al alia, ja milito estas milito. Nur iom mi ne atingis Poltavon – mankis 20 km. Oni poste alinomis nian divizion je la 66-a Poltava gvardea ruĝstandarda divizio.

Tiutage ni ĵus ekiris kaj germanoj tuj rimarkis nin. Infanterio evidente mankis al ili, do ili komencis rekte pripafi nin el tankaj kanonoj. Mi nur ekvidis kiel ekkriis nia mitralisto kaj subite en la okuloj ĉio malheliĝis, sango superverŝis la okulojn. Splitaĵo eniris la kapon super la frunto. Ĝi estas tie ĝis nun, mi povas ĝin palpi. Kuracistoj diris ke se ĝi ne ĝenas min, prefere ĝin ne tuŝi. Nu ni haltis, buboj bandaĝis min. Unu semajnon mi restis en hospitalo kaj poste oni sendis min al rezerva regimento.

Ĉiutage venadis “aĉetantoj”- reprezentantoj de trupoj, kiuj serĉis soldatojn. Sed min oni longan tempon ne forlasis. Mi eĉ kverelis tiam kun komandestro, diris ke mi mem foriros al fronto. Finfine mi trafis oficiran lernoregimenton, kiu samtempe estis la fronta.

La duan fojon mi estis vundita en Voroŝilovgrada provinco – nun ĝi nomiĝas Luhanska kaj ofte aperas en novaĵoj. Mi estis vundita ĉe la kruro, sub la genuo, sed ne grave – kuglo trairis la muskolojn sen tuŝi la oston. Mi nur perdis multe da sango, la boto estis plena je ĝi.

Mi ekkuris tiam direkte al hospitalo kaj ekvidis – la niaj sterniĝis surtere. Rekrutoj, ankoraŭ en civilaj vestoj, ili eĉ ne havis tempon alivestiĝi en militan uniformon. Mi alkuris al ili: “Kial vi kuŝas? Germanoj batas nin kaj vi ĉi tie…” Ili silentas. Mi venis pli proksimen kaj ekvidis ke ili ĉiuj estas mortaj, jam mortigitaj.

Medalo de Georgo Ĵukov
La Venkotagon mi renkontis en hospitalo en Pollando. La vetero estis bona, sunoplena. Kiel mi eksciis pri la venko? Tuj estiĝis bruego – ĉiuj eksciis en unu momento.


Poste ni iris al Germanio, tie mi trafis militpolicon en Frankenbergo. La eta, pura, komforta urbeto. Mi memoras ke ni venis tien kaj oni renkontis nin per la vortoj: “Ni nenion preparis speciale, do jen kion ni havas ĉi-momente”. Mi rigardis – kaj tie estis ovoj, kazeo, acidkremo! Ni ja dum marŝi al Germanio malsatis iom kaj ĉi tie jen… Tie mi servis preskaŭ du jarojn. Ni evakuadis germanajn militkaptitojn, gardis la ordon.

Foje kaze de la Venkotago oni transportis nin al Berlino, vicigis sur placo. Paradon gvidis marŝalo Georgo Ĵukov. Mi malofte survestis la medalojn, do ankaŭ tiutage iris sen ili. Ĵukov haltis apud mi: “Kie estas viaj medaloj, gvardeano?” Mi diris: “Kamarado marŝalo de Soveta Unio, mi militis ne por medaloj – por la patrujo!” Kaj malantaŭ Ĵukov sekvantaro iris – generaloj, koloneloj. Li ridetis: “Bone vi respondas. Premiu lin!” Tiel mi ricevis la trian medalon “Pro kuraĝo”.

Laborista vivo
Poste oni komencis po unuope voki “maljunulojn” [tradicia nomo de malnovaj soldatoj en la sovetia kaj rusia armeo] kaj prepari ilin por forsendo. Mi maltrankviliĝis, aliris majoron – ja kial oni ne vokas min? Li diris: “Atendu iom, poste vi dankos min!” Kaj vere estis tiel – ja tiujn ulojn oni sendis al la milito kontraŭ Japanio. Mi restis en Germanio.

En 1947 mi finfine malmobiliziĝis kaj revenis al mia vilaĝo. Ioman tempon mi laboris kiel inspektoro pri aĉetado de lakto en vilaĝo Isetskoje kaj en 1953 mi transloĝiĝis al Tjumeno. Mi edziĝis al samvilaĝanino kaj ĝis nun ni estas kune. Poste estis laboro, la tutan vivon mi estis laboristo. Mi ricevis apartamenton en kvinetaĝa domo kaj ĉi tie mi loĝas ĝis nun.


En la 1960-aj jaroj mi dungiĝis en TjumenNIIgiprogazo – mi laboris tie en lignaĵejo ĝis 1997. Veteranoj tiutempe en la instituto ankoraŭ haveblis, sed malmulte – ĉirkaŭ 15 homoj. En la Venkotago oni gratulis nin kaj regalis. Nun mi restas la lasta.

P.S. Mi interparolis kun Artjom Skaĵutin en februaro 2015 en lia hejmo, ĉar li jam estis tro malforta por iri eksteren. La 15-an de oktobro 2015 li mortis.



"I did not fight for medals"

In 1945 Artyom Skajutin was only 21 years old. In addition to passing through seven grades at a village school, an unfinished course at military school, he had three medals and two wounds. He remembers his life without regrets or complaints.

Peasant Youth

I was born on the 7th of April 1924, in the village of Turusheva, at the time it belonged to Shatrova and now it is in the Isetska district. My parents were peasants. The family lived according to the ordinary customs of the time - 11 people, including seven children. We had cows and horses. When the collectivisation policy began they decided to de-kulakise us. The cattle, buildings, everything was taken away and given to the "Activist" Kolkhoz.

Father travelled to Tyumen with my older sister Maria to look for work and feed the family, but they didn't succeed. So he died there alone. For a long time my sister travelled from graveyard to graveyard with his body on a cart - No one wanted to accept him. Finally, in Parfyonov a cemetery buried him.  Later, I searched for his grave or burial marker, but without success. In those days the best case was a wooden cross without a name, everything was quickly forgotten.

I passed four grades in my own village and after that I had to walk to the village of Mostovka. We went there on Monday and returned home on the Friday, in the week we stayed at confiscated houses. We took with us flat cakes, that was our food for the week, this was how I finished my seventh grade in school.

The first Battle

I was recruited on the 12th of August 1942. In Tyumen they sent me to a local military academy for future officers. But I didn't have enough time to even complete the reduced course, before long they had sent us to the front. First they sent away one group then later, another. They that should not concern us, as the best students would be given enough time to finish the course. But soon we were also deployed, given Sergeants ranks instead of the promised Lieutenancy and went to the frontlines. That happened in March 1943. 

I joined the 145 Regiment of the 66th rifle division - it had just left Stalingrad for reorganisation. This was being done in the Voronezh Oblast, and after that we began to advance.

The first battle I participated in was at Kursk. It all started on the 5th of July 1943. At first we occupied defensive positions, while the Germans tried to force us out of them. 12th of July, we began offensive operations near Prokhorovka. I was already a group commander in a platoon of anti-tank riflemen. 

In the morning when we awoke we saw the sun shining very brightly. When the tank battle began that all changed. The sun was no longer visible, everywhere there was only smoke and fumes, the smell of burning made even breathing difficult.

We occupied a valley and dug a trench. A group of Sherman tanks(1) were sent forward, I knew one of the men in that unit, we had met at the military academy. When the bombardment began they were hit and he perished immediately. I felt sorry for him, he was a good boy. Immediately after our artillery had finished its preparatory bombardment we launched an offensive but quickly ran into a machine gun post and had to lay down. That was a high calibre machine gun, with 16 mm bullets. I was ordered to destroy it, fulfilling that order was what earned me the firs medal "for courage".

In that day we advanced as far as the village of Kochetovka (Belgorod Oblast) and occupied it. We settled into some cottages at the edge of the village, and asked the mistress of the house to cook potato's for us, which we paid for, however she kept grumbling, evidently she had gotten along well with the Germans. The tank crews halted on the other side of the village by the lake. When a bombardment started nearly all of them were killed. But we continued to advance, our shooting was so heavy that the Germans fled in cars to the railway.

Machine Gunner

The second medal "for courage" I also received thanks to a machine gunner, due to an execution. When we were crossing through a valley, I spotted a nearby German. He was still alive but was hit in the temple, he sighed. I felt sorry for him. Even though he had been shooting at us, but then a Lieutenant arrived, he was in charge of our staff, he said: "shoot him! Finish him!" but what to do, I was still a boy, 19 years old. "I will not kill him!" I said. Now I understand that for not obeying that order I could have been sent to a military tribunal.  But in that moment my nerves were stretched to their extreme limit.

It helped that the machine gunner had a hut nearby. The Lieutenant ran in and came out with his hands full of silk clothes - apparently the Germans had been preparing to wash. So he forgot me for a moment. And then a boy from Krasnoyarsk helped me. He was a Cossack, for him nothing was a problem. He ran up and shot the German with his rifle. Now I think sometimes that that guy could have been saved, live on, but at the time,... I remember this case well. 

Wounds

Later, everything was routine, we went from one battle to the next, war certainly is war. I didn't reach Poltava for awhile, it was 20 km away. Later they renamed our division to the 66th Guards Rifle Division, and awarded the honourable name Poltava and given the Order of the Red Banner(2). 

We had just sett off when the Germans almost immediately noticed us. They were clearly lacking in infantry so fired upon us with tank cannons. I had only just seen them and shouted to the machine gunner when suddenly my eyes went dark, blood filled my eyes. A splinter hit the top of my forehead. It is still there, I can still feel it. Doctors say that if it doesn't bother me I should leave it alone and not touch it. When we halted some boys bandaged me, I rested for a week in a hospital and was then sent to reserve unit.

"Buyers" came everyday, representatives of units looking for soldiers. But I was not abandoned for a long time. I even quarrelled with a commander saying I would go back to the front myself. Eventually I joined an officer cadet regiment that was at the front. 

I was wounded for the second time at Voroshilovgrad - now called Luhansk Oblast and often appears in the news(3)-  I was wounded in the leg, beneath the knee, but not seriously, the bullet travelled through the muscle without touching the bone. I just lost a lot of blood, the boot was full of it.

I ran straight for the hospital and saw our soldiers lying about the ground. Recruits, still in civilian clothes, they did not even have time to change into their military uniforms. I called out to them "Why are lying about? The Germans are hitting us and you're here"... they were silent. I got closer and started to see that they were all dead, already killed.

Medal from Georgy Zhukov

I was in a hospital in Poland when Victory day arrived. The weather was good, full of sunshine. How did I learn of the victory? There was commotion at once, every one found out at the same moment. 

Later we were sent to Germany, there I met the military police of Frankenberg. The small clean, comfortable city. I remember that we arrived there and were met with the words "We have prepared nothing special, so here's what we have right now". I looked- and there was eggs, curd, sour cream! and we were a little hungry on the march to Germany. I served there for nearly two years. We evacuated German war prisoners and kept order.

Sometimes on Victory Day we were transferred to Berlin, and ranked in the square. For a parade led by Marshal Zhukov. I rarely wore my medals, so on that day I was without them. Zhukov halted in front of me: "Where are your medals Guardsman?" I said, "Comrade Marshal, I did not fight for medals, but for the fatherland!" and behind Zhukov his followers came - Generals, Colonels. He smiled "You answer well, reward him!" that was how I received the third medal "for courage".

Working Life

Then they began calling us "Old ones" [traditional for soldiers in the Soviet and Russian armies] and prepared us for demobilisation. I was unhappy with the Major and wanted to know why he would not call for me? He said: "Wait a little, later you will thank me!" and he was correct - the men he called up were sent to the war against Japan. I remained in Germany.

In 1947 I was finally demobilised and returned to my village. For some time I worked as a milk purchasing inspector in the village Isetskoye, and in 1953 I moved to Tyumen. I married a woman from the village and we are still together. Afterwards there was more work, I have been a worker my whole life. I got an apartment in a five storey house and still live there.

In the 1960s I was hired at TyumenNIIgiprogas (4) - I worked there in a carpentry until 1997. There were still some veterans at the institute, but few, about 15 people. On Victory Day we were congratulated and treated. Now I am the last.   

P.S. I spoke with Artyom Skajutin in February 2015 in his home, because he was already too weak to go outside. He died, on the 15th of October 2015.

Translated into English by Reddebrek.

________________________________________
1: I initially thought this was a case of mistaken memory since as far as I was aware Sherman tanks were delivered as part of lend lease in 1944, when this battle took place in July 1943. However after looking it up and asking for advice I've learnt that referred to the 76mm Sherman tank, while small numbers of 75mm Sherman and other American tanks like the M3 Lee were sent in small numbers to the Soviet Union via British convoys as early as 1942, and one person showed a detailed document on the subject of Sherman's in the USSR that had this passage

"The use of M4A2 tanks on the North Caucasus Front in the winter and spring of 1943 was rather rare. The first real use of M4A2 tanks in combat was in the summer of 1943 during the Battle of Kursk. The only unit with these tanks was the aforementioned 229th Tank Regiment. It is usually stated that it fought as a part of the 48th Army, but that is not the case. By early July the regiment was included into the 13th Army, which fought in the north of the salient. The regiment was supposed to support the 148th Rifle Division, but in practice ended up supporting its neighbour, the 74th Rifle Division. The regiment did not take part in the battle for Ponyri, remaining in reserve. The regiment lost 14 tanks burned and 17 knocked out between July 15th and 18th with 117 men lost. The report stated that tanks were chiefly lost after being hit with HEAT shells, which caused ammunition detonation that tore off the tanks' turrets."

The British Churchill tank also saw action in the battle.

2: The Ukrainian 22nd Mechanised Brigade traces its origins to this division.

3: I think this is a reference to the pro-Russian separatist movements in Ukraine of which Luhansk is at the frontline with insurgents controlling large parts of it. 

4: A division of Gasprom.

Friday, 21 May 2021

Wolf in Sheep's Clothing - the Last Post

 

I've been working my way through lists of war and anti-war films, I stumbled upon this Argentine short film about the Falklands conflict and was intrigued, can't think of many films that tackle it outside of films about the UK in the 80s which use it as a sort of footnote.

Its 16 minutes including credits and can be viewed on the directors youtube channel Santanna Brothers Films,

The Falklands War, 1982. In the heat of battle, a young British soldier, Mark, deserts his post, only to be captured by an injured Argentinean, Jose Francisco. Gradually the two men form an understanding of friendship and trust, until the arrival of a unit of British Paras, who force Mark to choose between his patriotic duty and his conscience. BAFTA Nominated film starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Kevin Knapman

The few reviews and snippets I've seen are of a similar vein and talk about its bleak message for example this off IMDB

This film tells us that there is no sides that are all good and all bad in a war.

 To put it bluntly its all nonsense. It doesn't tell us this at all, I don't even believe the Last Post qualifies as an anti-war or even war sceptical film. Its pretty blatant in showing who it thinks are the bad in that war. 

In outline its quite similar to many other stories about conflict, including some that are openly opposing conflict as an endeavour, two soldiers from opposite sides find themselves in close contact with each other and both isolated from their sides. There's tension as they try and navigate this frightening environment and eventually try to reach some common ground with language barriers being just one of the obstacles. Its similar to the film about the break up of Yugoslavia No Man's Land (also from 2001) about two Bosniaks and a Serb in a trench in between the lines.

But the issue is in the framing, the ugliness of war is all put on one side, the British who are clearly shown as the aggressors, Knapman and his unit are introduced night marching towards Argentine positions, the post where the surviving Gael Garcia Bernal is sheltering has already been neutralised with the rest of the Argentines already dead. The brief shots of Argentina depict it as a perfectly nice and ordinary nation, not the turbulent, brutal and crumbling dictatorship it was. And there isn't really much tension at all, Bernal surrenders quickly the two don't really bond beyond sharing a cigarette so there's not much in the tragedy of Knapman's decision at the climax when Bernal is murdered and his body used as a cruel and pointless insult to his loved ones, and that's it. Brits attack, Brits torment, Brits murder, Brits desecrate a corpse. 

My disquiet isn't that I don't find this believable, the really nasty Brit soldiers are Paras to make it even more believable that they would do such a thing. Its that this film seems to have been made to feed into Argentine myths of victimhood. Ever since losing the conflict many Argentine governments and cultural luminaries have put a lot of time and effort into constructing a myth of victimisation from British Imperialism, totally erasing the century or more of collaboration with the British government, the brutal military dictatorship that was in the middle of a bloody civil war against its own population and the invasion and occupation of the islands and the oppression of its civilian population. The only thing the Argentine government and military is shown to be at fault for is being out of its depth.

The Last Post, an Argentine film supposedly about the ill effects of war and uses this conflict as its platform fails to address or even acknowledge any of this and that's frankly cowardly if the intent wasn't deliberately made to appeal to this revanchist spirit. 


Saturday, 15 May 2021

Anarchist Tactic for Palestine by Albert Meltzer




Anarchist Tactic for Palestine

Written on the 25th of March 1939, by Albert Meltzer

The Arab revolution is centred on Palestine. The re-awakening of the Arab nation and the consequent nationalist revolution has brought the masses of Palestine in conflict with British Imperialism. Every movement against British Imperialism must be welcomed as the rulers of this country rule (or, synonymously, misrule) the larger part of the world’s colonial peoples. The opposition of revolutionaries to British Imperialism and its allies must be taken for granted.

The clashing of two nationalisms (Jewish and Arab in this case) has inevitably given rise to controversy abroad. In the Houses of Parliament sympathy is naturally pro-Zionist; as one MP is reputed to have said, when asked why he supported the Jews in Palestine against the Arabs: “In my constituency I have thousands of Jewish voters, I haven’t a single Arab”. The Labour Party, free from responsibility in the Government of a bloody suppression of all vestiges of Arab life, urges the Government to insist upon a policy of a Jewish National State. The majority opinion here seems to be pro-Zionist, perhaps because the Zionists are so definitely pro-Imperialist while the Arabs are vaguely accused of being pro-Fascist. It would be a surprise therefore, to read about the Government’s rejection of the Jewish side in the Palestinian talks (up to the moment of writing) if the Government had not to reckon with millions of other Arab and Moslem subjects in the Empire. Chamberlain’s policy of `Appeasement` has up to now not been primarily in the interests of the Democratic Imperialisms, and in the Palestine issue, again, he is far less concerned with the maintenance of Imperialism than his `Left` opponents!

What is the case for Zionism? Zionism represents the age-old desire of the Rabbis to return to the `Holy Land`. The significance of the word `Zion` (the Biblical and traditional name) will be noted. The Rabbis, whose jobs depend on the keeping-up of the race-barriers and the consequent survival of the religion, in the fear of assimilation, have fostered these artificial laws in order to maintain, by tribal `totems and taboos` a separate race. Naturally, they have failed, and Zionism is the way they are endeavouring to succeed. There is to-day no pure race, despite the claims of Hitler and the Rabbis. It will be noted that the revival of Judaism has only been a reaction to pogroms and persecution. In times and countries where there has been complete racial and religious toleration, assimilation has begun; intolerance always defeating its own ends.

Herzl began the move for `Back to Zion`. Was his primary concern for the refugees, then fleeing from the pogroms of the Tsar? On the contrary, Herzl refused far more suitable land in Africa, insisting on the `Holy` Land. Finally, the Balfour War Government promised Palestine to the Jews, as well as to the Arabs, when Turkey was defeated. Since the Mandate, the introduction of capitalist Western ideas has undoubtedly benefited the Arab workers, as has the introduction of the proletarian organisations of Europe. But this no excuse, whatever the Zionists may say. Capitalism introduced in this fashion benefited everywhere the working class; the same thing happening in Russia was hailed as a triumph of `communism`. It was nothing of the sort. Despite the coming of capitalist benefits, the struggle against capitalist malevolences must be fought.

Originally there was no agitation against Jewish immigration; moreover there was never previously any anti-Semitism in the Arab countries. Not until immigration became colonisation, and the aim of a Jewish state, did the trouble commence. The Zionist leaders, keeping up a pretence that they were struggling against Fascism, have been the motivators of Fascism in Palestine and have the responsibility for the heavy toll of wasted lives. Fascism? From the `Jewish Hitler`, Vladimir Jabotinsky, with his `Storm Troop` Revisionists to the Rothschild and Imperialist Zionists in London (who take good care to keep out of the `Holy` country), from the `Nuremberg` laws of the synagogue to the basic ideology of Zionism (nationalism based on race and not on country) the whole of the Jewish nationalist movement has been as fascist as any other nationalist movement which has left its early liberal phase. The labour leaders like Ben Gurion accuse the Arabs of being in the pay of Hitler and Mussolini and under that pretence act the Hitlers and Mussolinis. Meanwhile they dupe the masses of Jewish workers in the pogromist countries that there is only one future – Palestine – and furnish the excuses for the anti-Semitic governments.

Undoubtedly the Arab revolution must have the support of the workers abroad. Let us not be duped as `Revolutionary Socialists` have been duped, however. There is no hope for the future in a Palestine under the Grand Mufti and Company. There is no reason to suppose that a bourgeois nationalist government will do more for the working class than did the Imperialist government. The lesson of Ireland alone affords proof. The struggle must be against Imperialism first, against Zionism secondly, and lastly against the bourgeois nationalist government when created.

There is no evidence that the present nationalist movement is capable of such a task. The task is to forget the past and to build up a revolutionary labour movement in Palestine, without consideration of nationality. The only hope there for workers’ unity is a movement that will not include within its ranks the religious leaders of Judaism or Mohammedism, and exclusive of Jewish or Arab or British exploiters. From which side it will come remains to be seen, there is little hope of a revolution in Palestine becoming a social revolution. It may be necessary at the moment to struggle alongside the petty bourgeoisie against Imperialism, but it must be borne in mind that they can neither play a revolutionary role, and that neither the Nehrus in India nor the Muftis in Palestine can be considered as friends, but only as pawns, of the revolutionary-working class.

The programme of the new Palestinian labour movement must be for the overthrow of the Mandate; for autonomy; for a struggle against the autonomous government when created, for workers’ control and freedom. The anarchist tactic for the situation in Palestine is the only road that will lead away from the present debacle; the co-operation of the Arab revolutionaries throughout the Near East, in co-operation with anti-Zionist Jewish minority and all workers, of whatever race, will alone push forward the opportunity for a complete revolution.

25th of March 1939)

ALBERT MELTZER

 


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