Ernest Germain

Jewish Question Since World War II

(July 1946)

From Fourth International, Vol.8 No.4, April 1947, pp.109-113.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

The following article is the concluding chapter written by Comrade Germain for the book The Materialist Conception of the Jewish Question, by A. Leon. This book (published in French, but still unpublished in English) was completed in December 1942. A. Leon, the author, was the national secretary of the Belgian Trotskyist party. The Gestapo arrested him in June 1944 and he died a martyr’s death in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz. – Ed.

Years of incessant persecution and indescribable humiliation, the life of hunted beasts as the “normal” form of existence, deportations, “death trains,” gas chambers, crematoriums, antitank ditches filled with corpses; massacres in which not a family was spared and a balance sheet frightful in its clarity: 5 million dead out of 6 million European Jews – that is what the Second World War has meant for the Jewish population of the old continent.

Human imagination, quick as it is in grasping the horrible, has difficulty in picturing concretely the meaning of this balance sheet. It is impossible to compress this unprecedented crucifixion of millions of human beings into a few vivid images.

Separated from the overall picture of a world in agony, the fate of the Jews not only appears cruel, it seems unbelievable. Reason refuses to admit that material interests could have coldly dictated the extermination of these countless defenseless beings. The fanaticism of the SS, their blind submission to orders of their leaders are called upon for aid in giving the semblance of an explanation for the tragedy which Europe has just lived through. But the interpretations do not even approach the horrible reality. They are based on the assumption that the destruction of European Jewry constitutes a sudden and unique catastrophe in the troubled history of this people. Lack of understanding of the past is transformed into illusions about the future, and all this while a new and terrible threat already hovers over the surviving Jews in the entire world.

The Fate of the Jews Is a Symbol of the Fate of Humanity

Although the Jews have been stricken more sorely than any other people, they have lived these most tragic hours of their history in a period when all humanity is struggling through a frightful crisis which threatens like a tidal wave to engulf everything that Twentieth Century civilization has so slowly constructed. Alongside of five million murdered Jews are sixty million victims of imperialist war. The barbaric treatment of the Jews by Hitlerite imperialism is only an extreme expression of the barbarism of the general methods of imperialism in our period.

As against the Jewish deportations we now find the deportation of millions of Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia. As against the return to the yellow star we now find the branding of all Germans by external markings in many countries in Central Europe. The death trains have again begun moving but this time in the opposite direction and with a different human freight. The burning of books has been renewed by the Americans. All the atrocities of Nazism, from the execution of hostages up to the burning of entire villages “as reprisals” have been faithfully reproduced by the emissaries of Anglo-American imperialism, whether it be in Indonesia, the Philippines or Korea.

Far from being a phenomenon isolated from the destiny of humanity, the tragedy of the Jews is only the herald to other peoples of their coming fate, if the decline of capitalism continues at its present rate. Maddened by the blood of its millions of victims, world imperialism has progressively brought entire social layers to a point of barbarism where human life no longer has the slightest value and where corpses are as common a sight as pedestrians crossing a street in a great city. This rapid transformation of human reflexes has nothing to do with the specific explanations generally made for it.

The calm of an SS officer playing chess while thousands of women and children are being burnt a few hundred feet away in crematoriums is identical with the calm of a British officer as he steps over cadavers cluttering the road to his night club in Calcutta. The American “reporter” filled with curiosity, rushes to the ruins of Hiroshima in search of sensational headlines for his paper, but isn’t stirred for a moment by the idea that he is walking over the pulverized remains of 100,000 human beings who disappeared into thin air in a few seconds ... Humanity has gone a long way since the days when it was outraged by the fate of the victims of the Crimean War.

Responsibility of All Governments for the Fate of the European Jews

It is not alone the methods of cruel oppression on the part of American imperialism and the barbaric mentality resulting from it that bring it closer and closer to those of Nazi imperialism. The very fate of the Jews of Europe was determined as much by the calculations of American imperialists as by the direct massacres of Hitler. For months hundreds of thousands of Jews could have been saved: in Rumania, Bulgaria, Hungary and the unoccupied French zone. These hunted unfortunates had their eyes turned towards the only road for escape: across the seas. To every voice which condemns the crimes of Hitler must be added the voices of those who accuse London and Washington. While these governments knew what was being prepared against the Jews and exploited it for their propagandistic ends, they did not make the slightest gesture to help those who could have been saved, but on the contrary bluntly refused to grant them passage across the ocean.

Against the few thousands who were able to escape – the rich, those who had “connections” in the United States – there are hundreds of thousands against whom the door was slammed shut, who were driven back from Palestinian shores and were returned to the Nazi hell.

If Hitler constructed the trap for the Jews, it was the Anglo-Americans who sprang it. The blood of the innocent falls on their heads as well as upon the Nazis.

But the responsibility of the imperialist governments goes far beyond this simple refusal of direct aid. An American diplomatic mission remained in Germany up to the end of 1942. The Red Cross regularly sent its trusted agents and inspectors into German prisoner-of-war camps. Despite numerous cases of violation of “international law,” there can be no question that in a general way the lot of war prisoners of all nations, excepting Russia, was “tolerable” in Germany and was very close to that of German prisoners in the United States and England. That is particularly true in regard to the lot of officers. (The class nature of society is nowhere expressed so sharply as in camps.) The imperialists observed the rules of the game insofar as they themselves were involved. Why was this rule of reciprocity not invoked for the Jews? Why didn’t the British and American governments, allies of the Polish government, make the German government understand that reciprocity would also be invoked in the case of civil internees, of whom the Germans in Allied countries numbered in the hundreds of thousands? The truth is that in practice the Anglo-Saxon imperialists completely washed their hands of the fate of the unfortunate Jews of Europe, viewing them only as a propaganda subject at the opportune time. They did not even try to exert any one of the great many pressure levers at their disposal in behalf of the Jews.

The epic revolt of the Warsaw ghetto is painted up by the whole democratic press of the world. But in the last appeal that the Warsaw fighters made to the world, they accused the British, Polish, and Soviet governments, they accused the “official” leaders of the Polish national resistance movement of having deliberately refused them weapons that they had been demanding for weeks for the continuation of their struggle against the SS hangmen. Let their last pathetic words: “Brothers, all the governments are guilty,” be engraved in the heart of each Jewish worker, of every class conscious worker in the world. The responsibility for the massacre of the Jews is borne, equally with Nazism, by all the governments of the earth, by all of imperialism, by the entire regime of capitalism in its death agony as it plunges into barbarism. [1]

The Tragic Lot of the Survivors in Europe

After the terrible ordeal it has just experienced, European Jewry is reduced to less than a million beings. Of these 900,000 Jews, at least half have lost everything in the tempest: jobs, property, means of existence, families, homes. The vision of these people is clouded forever. The war has brutally cut all the roots that nourished them in their social environment. If they cannot develop new roots elsewhere, these people are condemned to perish.

Those who have been lucky or courageous enough to return to their homes or to come out of their individual hiding places feel themselves surrounded by hidden hostility. It would be ridiculous to hold Nazi propaganda responsible for this. Certainly the latter has left traces in the primitive minds of many layers of peasants and backward workers. But the basis of anti-Semitism, lucidly etched in its social contours and traced back to its historical origins in this book of A. Leon, continues to persist more than ever after this war which has been so devastating for the position of the petty bourgeoisie. “The elimination of Hitler can change nothing essentially in the position of the Jews. A temporary improvement in their lot will in no wise affect the continuation of all the profound roots of Twentieth Century anti-Semitism.” These prophetic words written by Leon in 1941 have just had their confirmation in the uninterrupted series of pogroms which have rocked Poland, Hungary and Slovakia since “liberation,” in which more than 20,000 people have already fallen victims.

After having momentarily “softened” the terrible crisis in which “Aryan” artisans and small business men found themselves in Central and Eastern Europe, by the closing of Jewish businesses, these strata were in their turn hard hit by monopoly capitalism. “Mobilization for total war” led to the suppression of several hundred thousand small businesses. Deportations of the entire labor force to Germany uprooted millions of petty bourgeois. Restrictions, red tape, constant contraction of the free market in raw materials and consumer goods, the disastrous effects of inflation – all these contributed during the last years of the war and the first post-war months to make the position of the artisans and small businessmen of Central and Eastern Europe more precarious than ever. But the more precarious their position becomes, the more fiercely do they resist the return of their former Jewish competitors. The newspapers recently reported that all the small shops in Budapest were forced to close their doors because they no longer could withstand the vertiginous inflationary spiral. Is it astonishing that under such conditions their hatred against the small Jewish businessmen is exacerbated when the latter, upon returning from the concentration camps, attempt to reopen their shops and thereby to compete with them for the already too meager share of the national income? The general stagnation of economy since the war, accompanied even by a slight de-industrialization, robs the surviving Jews of the possibility of proletarianization or of passing into other professions, at the same time that it prevents any resumption of their former positions. There is no way out for them. If the high clergy, the dispossessed provincial nobles and other reactionary elements are successful in arousing great layers of the Polish, Slovak and Hungarian population against the Jews as “Communists” and “Russian agents” it is solely because the social base of anti-Semitism remains intact.

“On the Planet Without a Visa”

The surviving Jews in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, are desperately seeking a way out of their misfortune far from the land which has witnessed tragedy for their families. Even worse is the situation of more than 100,000 Jewish fugitives in Germany who, one year after their “liberation,” continue to live under the infamous conditions of concentration camps, and are subjected to a thousand and one frauds on the part of the military authorities. This has created a scandal reaching right into the bankers’ circles in New York; and the government of the United States has been compelled to send a Commission for an on-the-spot investigation. The Commission has come and gone, its report has been read and discussed, but the 100,000 expatriated Jews who do not want to return to Poland continue to remain in the German camps suspended between a horrible past and an unknown future. The problem of the surviving refugee Jews urgently demands a solution: the imperialist governments haven’t even broached the problem.

When military aims were involved, 48 hours was more than enough in an imperialist staff to decide upon the voluntary or forced displacement of millions of human beings. But a year has not been enough for the “specialists” of capitalism to find some place on earth where several hundred thousand victims of Nazi barbarism can reconstruct their lives. For every government the cause of the surviving Jews is becoming a shameful instrument of blackmail against a rival power. England and America invite each other to show hospitality by opening the doors of the countries which they control to refugees. But in the calculations determining imperialist policy, the solution of human problems does not occupy the thousandth place.

But this problem also has great economic and social importance. Under present conditions it is excluded that the survivors will regain their former professions. The question is posed of their professional re-education. But it can be posed from the economic standpoint only in countries which are industrially very advanced, in which the integration of two or three hundred thousand men into the process of production is a rather usual matter. If barbaric capitalism refuses to “take the risk” because of the threat of unemployment, it is for the proletariat, for the workers’ movement of these countries, to advance this demand of elementary humanity: “Open the doors of the United States, of Canada, of Australia, of the five continents to the victims of Nazi persecution!” The working class, struggling against the plague of unemployment by demanding the reduction in working hours, will have no difficulty in integrating several hundred thousands of Jews. On the contrary, it will thereby make of them very valuable allies for the general struggle against capitalism which is responsible for their fate and for the blind alley in which all humanity finds itself.

The development of anti-Semitism, the result of definite social and historic causes, is producing the spread of Zionist nationalism among the despairing and declassed petty bourgeois Jewish masses. The brutal equalization of Jews of all strata in the extermination camps sharpened nationalism even among Jewish workers, in the degree that international solidarity remained too weak on the part of the workers of other nations. It is up to those who find themselves in a favored position as compared with the Jewish workers to take the leadership now and bring about freedom of immigration into their countries for the survivors. This is the best way to win the Jewish workers from the Zionist Utopia.

Palestinian Immigration Is No Solution

If thousands of Jews in Europe are now demanding the right to migrate to Palestine, the primary reason for this is that the doors of the rest of the world are closed to them. It is also the product of the incredible persecutions of these past years and of the relative passivity of the world proletariat.

The war caused a brief period of uneasy prosperity in Palestine, as it did in the whole Middle East, as a result of the isolation of these countries from the world market and their transformation into vast military arsenals of the Eighth Army. Wartime “prosperity” in the United States gave birth to the illusory plans of Messrs. Wallace and Company, who forecast at least “60 million jobs” for Americans; similarly, the ephemeral prosperity experienced by Palestine has been the starting point for an ambitious plan aiming to install a system similar to TVA and to make the country habitable for one and a-half to three million new inhabitants. But no sooner has the war ended than the forecasts of Leon on this subject have been verified point by point. The problem lies not in the elaboration of plans for rendering the deserts of the world habitable, but in carrying out these projects, in bringing about such new and enormous development of productive forces under the conditions of decaying capitalism, with a world market already surfeited by permanent overproduction, with great international monopolies ready to crush every new competitor no matter where he raises his head. Within one year after the war, the “prosperous” industry of Egypt is already experiencing a relatively greater degree of unemployment than in the most industrialized countries in the world.

Every little step ahead that Palestinian economy would make while conditions on the world market are not yet normal, would be transformed into a supplementary source of economic crises. The central concrete problem for Palestinian economy in the coming years will not at all be that of “making the country able to absorb 100,000 men per year,” it will be the problem of assuring a livelihood to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who will be victims of the economic crisis. We confidently predict that despite the artificial influx of American capital, even this problem will prove insoluble.

If solution of the problem of the Jewish survivors of Europe by immigration into Palestine is impossible from the economic point of view, it is even more so from the socio-economic point of view. The forces opposing this immigration have a crushing superiority over the Palestinian Jews and over world Zionism. Consistent Zionist leaders feel this strongly themselves and precisely for this reason have entered upon the desperate road of terrorist guerrilla action.

We must re-read the prophetic paragraph hi which Leon analyzes these obstacles to Zionist plans in order to understand how thoroughly events of the past months confirm what he wrote. “In Palestine, Jewish nationalism collides with Arab nationalism; economic development of the country produces the growth of the Arab population, its social differentiation, the growth of a national capitalism.” Let us note that whereas the different Arab feudal parties in Palestine succeeded with great difficulty in putting their mutual differences in second place in order to unite before the Jewish “common enemy,” it is the Arab bourgeoisie of Egypt, of Lebanon, of Syria, and even of Palestine which is beginning to take increasing leadership of the anti-Zionist movement and giving it unity and cohesion. Every new economic development in the Near East can only aid in the formation of an Arab bourgeoisie firmly united by common interests and make the obstacles to the creation of a Jewish state more insurmountable than ever.

The illusion of building a prosperous country in the midst of a world in decline becomes the absurd illusion of building a “Jewish state” in the midst of an Arab nation twenty times as populous and in process of reaching the same state of advancement.

In the past the Zionists counted, even during the war, upon the support of British imperialism. In reality, the latter “merely uses the Jews as a counterweight to the Arab threat, but does everything to raise difficulties for Jewish immigration.” No one today can doubt the exactness of this analysis. At the moment when the position of the British empire in the Arab world – decisive link between India and the Mediterranean – is threatened at one and the same time by American imperialism and the Soviet bureaucracy, it is a matter of life and death for the City to have the Arab factor on its side. Inevitably British concessions to the Jews will tend to diminish, not to increase. Neither in the name of “justice,” nor in that of “past promises,” nor because of terrorist threats, will the British risk losing their control of the Suez Canal and of their last oil fields.

Disappointed by the English, the Zionist leaders are turning to the Americans, and are prepared even to throw themselves tomorrow into the arms of the Stalinist bureaucracy for a temporary support. Vain attempts. If American imperialism pretends to support the Zionist cause now, it is far less because of the electoral calculations of Truman than as a factor of the systematic penetration carried on by Americans in the Near East. Already strongly intrenched in Saudi Arabia, the oil magnates have likewise turned avid eyes on Iraq, Trans-Jordania, and the entire Arab world. They are ready and willing to gain entry there on the back of the Zionist movement. They are ready and willing to raise difficulties for the British on the Arab side by forcing them to act contrary to the interests of the native population. But their goal is not that of favoring the Zionist cause but that of competing with the British for the “friendship,” that is to say the right of exploitation, of the Arabs. In a general way, the same thing may be said of the Soviet bureaucracy. The choice between 20 million Arabs and less than a million Jews is in no way doubtful. For every great power, temporary “help” to the Zionists is only a wedge for gaining entry into Palestine only to obtain the support of the Arabs at the next stage. On the international chessboard, the Zionist cause is lost in advance.

The Working Class Movement and the Palestine Question

So long as Arab society remained in a primitive state, the domination of British imperialism appeared to be safe. Here the City had a favorable arena for demonstrating its classic and clever art, the product of centuries of experience, of exploiting the differences between various royal dynasties, between various families of landed proprietors, between various religious sects and various desert tribes. Unity of the Arab world against imperialism was never realizable in pre-capitalist society.

The rapid industrialization of the Middle East and the creation of an Arab bourgeoisie have overturned the conditions of the problem. Imperialism must withdraw to new positions. The demonstrative departure of imperialist troops from Egypt and Lebanon are a clear indication of what is in process of change in this part of the world. But if the Arab bourgeoisie is able to achieve unity as against Zionism, it is far from being able to do so as regards imperialism. It finds itself in its turn suspended between British rule on one side and the rise of the young proletariat on the other. The great strikes in Egypt; the Jewish-Arab strike in Palestine, the general and insurrectional strike in Iran have clearly demonstrated to the bourgeoisie that the proletariat is threatening. Under continuously deteriorating conditions from the economic standpoint, it is not only incapable of improving the lot of the working masses but finds itself compelled to worsen them further. Rising from the miserable stupor in which he has been living for centuries, the fellah, transformed into a proletarian, has become aware of his quality as a man, and is refusing to return to the village. The terrible social crisis which is shaking the Middle East can only end in an alliance of the Arab bourgeoisie, the landed nobility and British imperialism against the threat of the people. Only the Arab proletariat will be able to unite the popular masses of the six countries around itself in order to launch the assault against the imperialist position. Only the Arab proletariat can successfully conduct the struggle for complete and immediate independence of the Arab world.

This consequently indicates the immediate duty of the Palestinian workers’ movement: to integrate itself in the overall workers’ movement of the Middle East against British imperialism. An obstacle on the road to unity of the Jewish and Arab proletariat, Zionism at the same time bars the road to this integration, and prevents the concentration of all Palestinian working class forces around the slogans: Immediate and complete independence for Palestine! Immediate withdrawal of all British troops! Election of a Constituent Assembly by direct and secret vote! All intermediate formulae, such as the “bi-national state,” represent at bottom only the refusal to give up a nationalist position in favor of the general interests of the proletariat and will rebound directly against their authors.

Only a position by the vanguard of the Jewish workers calling for Palestine independence will allow it in the next stage to pose the question of Jewish immigration to the Arab workers in a sovereign Palestinian Assembly. Only the Arab masses, once they are freed from the imperialist yoke, will have the right to decide whether or not they are opposed to the immigration of Jewish workers. But the division of the Palestinian working class movement along nationalist lines can only act to stimulate opposition by the Arab masses to this immigration. The Jewish workers of Palestine must be forewarned! If they do not integrate themselves into the workers’ movement of the Middle East in time, the unity of the Arab world against imperialism may take place over their heads, with the complete destruction of their position. Caught between the Arab hammer and the British anvil, Palestinian Jewry heads for certain ruin if the Jewish proletariat does not take its class road.

The Threat of the Future

Exterminated in Europe, mortally threatened in Palestine, the Jewry survives in fact only in the United States and the USSR. But even in these two remaining centers, a dark future looms. The massive integration of Jewish petty artisans and businessmen in Russia since the period of the First Five-Year Plan into the lower layers of the bureaucracy exposes them particularly to the hatred of backward layers of the proletariat and peasantry. The rising tide of anti-Semitism in the USSR and the episodic utilization that Stalin made of it in his fight against the Left Opposition have been sufficiently described so as not to require repetition. They were tragically verified at the time of the Nazi invasion into the Western Ukraine where veritable massacres of the Jewish population took place even before the SS “resolved” the Jewish question in their own fashion.

The conglomeration of well-to-do peasants and high bureaucratic layers (which include only a tiny minority of Jews), constituting together the nucleus of an eventual exploitive class in the USSR, will unavoidably exploit to the hilt a renewal of anti-Semitic moods in a civil war or an open struggle against the regime.

Like all the other reactionary forces which Stalin has recalled to life, anti-Semitism will rebound violently against himself. Galvanized by the hatred of the new candidates for exploitation, confronted by the “Jewish authors” of the October Revolution, stirred by a new fanatical religious mysticism, this anti-Semitism may well sweep away the whole Jewish population of Western Russia at the moment when the regime begins to crumble under the combined blows of imperialism and the internal enemy. One can predict with certainty that a breakdown of the Soviet regime will take place over the corpses of Russian Jewry.

In American post-war society the gigantic forces – 15 millions of organized workers on the one side and the greatest capitalist power in the world, Wall Street, on the other – are testing their strength in constant skirmishes that are preludes to the class war which will ultimately decide the fate of humanity. As soon as the working class passes over to organized political activity, the necessity of mobilizing the backward and petty bourgeois strata of the country against the politicalized proletariat will become a life-and-death question for the American bourgeoisie. Heir to the “liberal” and “humanitarian” spirit of Jefferson and Lincoln, it will not, however, hesitate for a moment to set up its shock troops by exploiting the basest instincts, the mainsprings of the most debased racism and obscurantism that still slumber in American society. The potential presence of these forces is adequately shown by such movements as the Ku Klux Klan, the organization of Father Coughlin and that of Gerald L.K. Smith.

In “society,” in the polite meaning of the word as well as within the 60 Families, the anti-Semitic spirit is already very powerful. It is practically impossible for a Jew to get into certain “stylish” universities, to belong to certain clubs or to get a job in certain business and banking houses. Among the lower layers of the petty and middle bourgeoisie, who will on the morrow furnish the most dangerous contingents of American fascism, this sentiment is far less defined, but it developed enormously in the Army as well as within the country itself during the war. American Jews are established in certain well-defined branches whether it be as artisans, businessmen, intellectuals or workers. A violent social crisis, by sharpening competition and increasing unemployment in these branches, would make the militant anti-Semitism of these layers into a terrible potential force which would require only a political party to transform it into a crushing dynamic force.

Let it not be said that “the Americans will never go as far as the Nazis.” Even a timid semi-liberal like Sinclair Lewis understands “that it can happen here.” Ruling social classes pushed to the wall, and classes as rich and cynical as the American bourgeoisie, will stop at no infamy or cruelty in order to continue their rule, even if only for a few years.

Let one read the hundreds of published reports on the “systematic education in cruelty” of American soldiers to the Japanese, which so closely resembles the attitude of the German SS to the Jews; let one study concretely the degeneracy and cruelty – reaching unsuspected depths – of certain American occupation troops in Germany and Japan, and he will conclude “that not only is it possible but probable” that an American fascist movement will excel in technical perfection in the exploitation of anti-Semitism.

If the next decade does not witness the proletarian revolution in the United States, it will prepare hecatombs for American Jewry which will surpass Auschwitz and Maidanek in horror.

The Jewish Question Can Be Resolved Only as Part of the Solution of the World Crisis

These perspectives may appear too somber, too frightening. They pose as a possibility the complete extermination of the Jewish people in the next decade or two. But what Auschwitz and Maidanek mean for the Jews, the atomic bomb signifies for all humanity. The perspective of the disappearance of the Jews from the earth is part of the perspective of the destruction of the human species.

But if the Jewish tragedy is only the symbol and to a certain measure the “mirror of the future” for humanity, the only way out which still remains open to humanity is at the same time the solution of the Jewish question. The somber possibility outlined above is only one of the alternatives posed before humanity. It presupposes a previous defeat of the world proletariat and above all of its most powerful army, the American working class. The class struggles in all the countries of the world, which will decide the fate of humanity in the next decade, will at the same time, decide to one degree or another the fate of each people in particular.

The peculiarities of Jewish history have only determined a special subordination of the future of this people to the outcome of the unfolding social struggles. Fundamentally, however, they do not make the destiny of the Jews any less [1*] dependent on a victory or defeat of the proletariat than is the case with the people of Russia or of China.

It is unnecessary for us to introduce any changes in the solution of the Jewish question as A. Leon has outlined it in the conclusion of his work. That socialism [2*] will first pass through a period during which the Jews will go through a process of assimilation and of “national-cultural renaissance” – this perspective no longer constitutes a subject for discussion save among incurable dreamers who will continue to discuss such subjects as the sex of angels on the very eve of their being reduced to atomic dust. The problems which are posed before the Jewry, like those which are posed before humanity, demand such radical solutions and are so urgent that no one dares any longer to seek refuge behind a propaganda for temporary palliatives. But all those who still continue to call revolutionists illusory thinkers will find, if they have not already done so, that there is no illusion worse than an expectation of viable solutions from a regime which is no longer able to introduce improvements in anything except machines for death.

The ordeals through which humanity has just passed have stultified many minds and paralyzed many wills. The petty bourgeoisie and especially the intellectuals have been the most affected. Those who were in the habit of thinking of the world as “rational” are themselves losing their reason in face of such irrational decay. But it is not these sceptics who will determine the fate of humanity. The will to struggle of the working masses of the entire world has already affirmed itself more mightily than ever during the year which has followed the end of hostilities. It is upon this will to struggle of the proletariat that the vanguard must fix its hopes and growth.

As the most sorely wounded, the Jews have especially allowed themselves to be carried away by the psychosis of despair and demoralization, which has been further sharpened by the specific social structure of this people. But in a few years, the immediate effects of the nightmare will disappear. The collapse of Palestinian hopes will become obvious. Whereas for the moment there exist only negative poles which repel each other, by that time the positive pole, that of the international revolutionary proletariat, will have already confirmed its attractive force with striking victories. Since we have no reason to doubt the fate of humanity, let us also not doubt that the Jewish working masses, after passing through a series of disappointing experiences, will recognize that their future is indissolubly linked with that of the proletariat and the revolutionary movement, and that they will again, as in the past, take an important place in this movement, and will owe their final emancipation to a devoted struggle for the cause of socialism.

July 1, 1946


1. At the final minute, prior to their total annihilation, the last survivors of the Jewish people of Poland issued an appeal for aid to the entire world. It has not been heard.

“We know that you, Jewish workers of Palestine and elsewhere, are suffering cruelly for our incredible martyrdom, unparalleled in the annals of history. But let those who had the means of helping us and failed to do so know that we are thinking of them. The blood of three million massacred Jews cries for vengeance and they will be avenged. And the punishment will strike not only the Nazi cannibals but also all the powers who did nothing to save a people condemned to complete extermination by the Hitlerite criminals. They limited themselves to a few hypocritical phrases. We who are the last to die will never forget that and will never forgive it. May this last voice out over the abyss reach the ears of all humanity.” (The Extermination of the Jews of Warsaw, p.58, published at Brussels by E. Botte.)

Notes by MIA

1*. In the original printed version the word “more” was printed in error instead of “less”.[See A Correction, Fourth International, Vol.8 No.5, May 1947, p.159.}

2*. In the original printed version the word “capitalism” was printed in error instead of “socialism”. [See Two Corrections, Fourth International, Vol.8 No.6, June 1947, p.169


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