8th May: Let's Remember
70 years after ‘Victory in Europe’ day, we are republishing an article that first appeared in Révolution Internationale no. 15, in 1975.
This anniversary is always celebrated by the bourgeoisie and its media with an intense barrage of propaganda, aimed at preserving nationalist feelings and travestying what the Second World War really was: not a struggle between democratic humanity and fascist barbarism but a struggle between capitalist nations who, in the defence of their sordid interests, were quite ready to shed the blood of millions of proletarians, to whip up hatred and commit the worst kind of atrocities.
This is what is pointed out by this short text written by our comrade Marc Chirik, a militant of the communist left who, during the war, firmly defended the principle of proletarian internationalism, producing leaflets calling for the fraternisation of the workers of all countries.
In a whole number of countries, the bourgeoisie has made a big noise about the 30th anniversary of the victory over Germany. The left variety of this noise has been particularly virulent: in Eastern Europe, there were huge ceremonies marking the 8 May. In France, where the government has decided to remove this date from the official calendar, the guardian of the historic past of La Patrie, the so-called Communist Party, has thrown all its strength into a great national battle to annul this “scandalous”, “monstrous”, “ignoble and infamous” decision (cf L’Humanité 12 May 1975). Having stirred up chauvinism between the two world wars around the figure of Joan of Arc, the same party disputes with the rest of the bourgeoisie the right to speak for the nationalist cult and denounces the “anti-national policy of Giscard d’Estaing”. It is calling on all the “national and democratic forces” to fight this decision by Giscard “as a national duty for all patriots”. It reminds us that “the Communists fought in the Resistance alongside the Gaullists. They took the same risks. They shared a certain idea about France, its role, its future…” And it concludes that “the policy of M Giscard d’Estaing is leading to the betrayal of the common struggle that Communists and Gaullists waged against fascism for the independence and grandeur of France!”
Far more than the Gaullists, to whom it is extending its hand, the Communist Party is scaling the heights of the most repulsive nationalist hysteria.
For the bourgeois faction that displays the most virulent chauvinism, especially when it’s combined with antifascism, this is a time to remember. “Let’s remember”, it says to the proletarians, “how heroic you were in the defence of our interests”.
And indeed: let’s remember!
First, let’s remember the cause of this war, the crisis which began in 1929 and which plunged the whole world into unbearable poverty alongside stocks of goods which couldn’t be sold! Let’s remember the tens of millions of starving unemployed workers, going from town to town looking in vain for work!
Let’s remember the fascist barbarism with which the bourgeoisie responded to this crisis, as well as the antifascist hysteria, which both together led the workers of Spain, and then of the main countries of the world, to the slaughter.
Let’s remember the Stalinist and Hitlerite concentration camps, where tens of millions of human beings were exterminated!
Let’s remember the pact of September 1939 between the two brigands, Hitler and Stalin, between Nazi Germany and “socialist” Russia - the first clause of this pact being the dividing up of Poland, which directly resulted in the war.
Let’s remember the massacres between 1939 and 1945: 55 million dead, the greatest holocaust in the history of humanity!
Let’s remember the way this war ended: with the explosion of two atomic bombs which, in a fraction of a second, razed two Japanese cities to the ground, killing without distinction several hundred thousand individuals – either immediately or after atrocious suffering!
Let’s remember the “Liberation”, the purges and the sordid settling of scores, the slogans of the Communist Party: “á chacun son Boche!” – everyone should kill a German - “long live eternal France”, all the cries about freedom from fascism from the Trotskyists and the anarchists, the latter entering Paris with the Leclerc division, brandishing the image of Durruti!
Let’s remember the “Reconstruction”, the brutal super-exploitation for a crust of bread, with Stalinist ministers telling the workers “pull up your sleeves”, while the militants of the same party played the role of cops in the factories!
Workers, let’s remember the role the Stalinists played in the past as butchers, cops, torturers, exploiters, and be on guard against what they have in store for us tomorrow if we spring their traps, along with those of their fellow-travellers in antifascism and the Resistance, whether Trotskyists or anarchists!
Workers, let’s remember the past and look clearly at what awaits us if we leave our class terrain for the terrain of antifascism, of nationalism, of democratic illusions; if we are not capable of uniting on an international scale to confront and destroy the bourgeois state!
CM (May 1975).