W. Munzenberg

Relief for Russia

Two Important International Congresses in Berlin

(30 June 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 56, 30 June 1922, pp. 417–418.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
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In a short time two international congresses are to be held in Berlin, which deserve the attention of the labor organizations and the working class, far beyond the circle of those immediately interested therein. On the 5th of July, the “International Workers Relief Committee for the Famine-Stricken in Russia” will hold its third International Conference in Berlin. This Conference will differ from the previous ones (the first took place in September 1921 and the second at the beginning of December 1921), not only with regard to the delegates assembled there, but also in the questions to be considered. These questions extend far beyond the limits of a small, restricted conference.

With regard to the delegates: – at the first two conferences only a few European countries were represented by individual delegates. For the coming conference on the 5th of July, every European country has already sent its delegation consisting of several persons. For the first time moreover, the oversea countries will take part in the conference. The delegates from Argentina have already set out and the five delegates from North America have already arrived in Berlin. The conference thus assumes the proportions of a little international congress. After the All-Russian Famine Relief Committee had decided at its conference, in the beginning of June, to continue with its famine relief activities, it approached the International Workers Relief Committee with the question as to how they should carry on their work. In the negotiations between the representatives of the latter Committee and the President of the All-Russian Famine Relief Commission in Moscow, the former declared that at the conference on the 5th of July they would move on their part, like the A.R.A., the Nansen Organisation and the International Trade Union Federation that they should not interrupt their relief work but continue with it. In view of the great sacrifices which individual groups of workers in various countries have made and in view of the possible relations that may set in, the delegates of the Workers Relief Committee at the same time declared that an alteration should take place in the relief activity; that in the first place they should restrict themselves to the organization and upkeep of a number of children’s homes which would maintain 1,000 children. The chief interest of the future work must be concentrated upon supporting the industrial working class in Russia who are suffering so severely, and providing them with food, clothing and boots. The Delegates of the Foreign Committee as well as the President of the All-Russian Famine Relief Committee considered as of special importance, the problem of supporting the economic restoration of Soviet Russia by the international working class.

The results obtained by the Foreign Committee in Russia up to now, in the way of economic relief have already been mentioned in the press on several occasions. It will be the most important task of the International Conference on the 5th of July to extend these modest attempts undertaken at present with such scanty means, to a great systematic and an effective activity. No one entertained the absurd idea that by means of a loan through the international working class or by similar means, it will be possible to rescue Soviet Russia and to reconstruct her. But no one doubts that the international working class can furnish positive help to Soviet Russia in her economic defensive struggle against the colonization policy of the imperialist powers. There can be no doubt as to this, after what has already been accomplished in Russia by the Workers Relief Committee. The great problem which the International Conference has to solve on the 5th of July is how to meet the perils of a policy of illusion, and how to mobilize all the economic forces of the workers in favor of Soviet Russia, in closer and stronger connection with the political and revolutionary struggle in every country and turn it to immediate practical benefit for Russia.

Of still greater importance will be the general congress convened by the foreign representatives of the All-Russian Central Famine Relief Committee for the 9th July, in Berlin. At the session of the 13th of June, the President of the All-Russian Central Famine Relief Committee, Kalinin, decided to invite the following organizations and institutions to this Conference:

  1. The Governments and Parliaments which have voted or granted supplies for the Famine Relief.
  2. The A.R.A. (American Relief Administration).
  3. The Nansen Organization.
  4. The International Red Cross.
  5. All the Red Cross organizations which have in any way taken part in the famine relief work.
  6. The American and English Quaker Societies.
  7. The International League for Children’s Relief.
  8. The Amsterdam Trade Union International.
  9. The Artists’ Relief Committee.
  10. The International Workers Relief Committee and its National Relief Committees.
  11. A number of individuals such as Professor Einstein, Käthe Kollwitz, Anatole France, etc.

The All-Russian Central Relief Committee will in a short thesis formulated by a special representative, furnish the Congress with information as to the present situation in the famine districts as well as the feeding, the supplying of seed corn for the Winter months of 1922–23, and the agricultural and industrial reconstruction in the famine areas, the care of the children, the struggle against disease etc. The Congress will then consider the ways and means by which the foreign countries can help Russia in overcoming all these difficulties. Three special delegates will be sent by the All-Russian Central Famine Relief Committee to both congresses, one of these delegates being Comrade Smidovitch, Commissioner for Food Supplies in Russia. It is a mere coincidence that the two congresses should take place at the same time with the assembling of the experts at the Hague. Although the attention of the political world and the general public, will be devoted to the proceedings at the Hague, there is little doubt that for the support and practical assistance to Russia, the two congresses at Berlin are of greater importance than the farcical proceedings at the Hague.

Last updated on 5 May 2020