James P. Cannon

An Urgent Appeal

Aid the Revolutionists!

(June 1938)

Published: Socialist Appeal, Vol. II No. 26, 25 June 1938, p. 1.
Source: PDF supplied by the Riazanov Library Project.
Transcription/Mark-up: Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
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I received a letter the other day from a comrade, now in France, who was recently in the United States. I want to pass this letter on to the readers of the Socialist Appeal. It deals with a matter of paramount importance to all of us – the desperate situation of the hounded and persecuted revolutionists from fascist countries who have sought asylum in France. The unadorned story told in this letter is the most convincing argument that can be made for the “American Fund for Political Prisoners and Refugees” which was announced in the Socialist Appeal last week.

Here is the letter:

Paris, May 29, 1938.

Dear Comrade Cannon,

When I saw you in New York, I told you about the situation of the many German refugees; well that was from personal experience with them before I left to go to America. On returning to Paris, I am sorry to say that it is even worse now than it was then. Their lives have become more endangered and I am writing to you to ask for some help. I hope you will understand and will not mind.

The recent new laws have made things so bad that for them to work is now practically impossible. Once it was possible to work without the cards. But now one can’t do that and many of them are being sent out of Paris to other departments. They may be able to stay there for a very little while, but the general feeling is that before the year’s out all of them will have got an expulsion order, as the present trend is against them and all left thought or ways.

I was amazed at the change in Paris when I got back after four months. One of them got an expulsion and gassed himself and his wife. Another comrade found him, he was saved, but the wife died. They got him better and he came home again, only to do it again. This time they found him too late and so he is now dead.

Another one is very ill from under-feeding and not enough warmth or clothes. Another is still in prison, the second time this year! When he comes out I wonder what they will do with him; there is not much hope for him at all.

If you could collect some money for them, it would make matters very much easier. It is impossible to ask the French comrades as they are so hard up that they have not enough for themselves, but I thought you might be able to send some over ...

There really isn’t much to add to, such a letter. We have all known for some time that things were far from well with our refugee comrades abroad. The victims of reaction in Europe have cried for our aid for a long time now. We delayed too long with this burning task, to their detriment and our own shame.

Through accidental circumstances and no special merit of our own we still live in relatively favorable circumstances in America. That puts upon us the special obligation to share a part of our limited means with the vanguard fighters of Europe. We must not let them perish. They who have stood up against fascism in their native countries and now continue the fight in emigration are humanity’s best pledge for the future.

The committee that has been organized to aid them is composed of experienced and reputable veterans of the labor defense movement. They are going at their task with the conscientiousness for which they are well known, with energy and a firm will. I hope every reader of our paper will respond to their appeal.

The “American Fund for Political Prisoners and Refugees” has a legitimate claim to the support of every militant. Send something today – don’t wait till you can spare it – to George Novack, secretary, Room 1609, 100 Fifth Avenue, New York City.

Last updated on 30 July 2015