Willi Münzenberg

The International Workers’ Relief and
the Relief Action in Aid of Japan

(1 November 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 69 [45], 1 November 1923, p. 793.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2023). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The International Workers’ Relief came into being as an organization of international proletarian solidarity at the time of the famine in Russia. Its energetic help, rendered possible by the readiness for self-sacrifice shown by the whole proletariat, saved hundreds and thousands of fives, and was the first magnificent proof that the workers of the world do not regard international solidarity merely as an accepted tenet, but that they are prepared to bring actual proofs of readiness for self-sacrifice.

The Japanese working class rendered excellent aid in this international relief action. Despite all suppression of the part of the Takahashi government, the Japanese proletariat did its best to collect money for the starving Russian workers and peasants. Workers and poor peasants, artists, writers, musicians, all offered their services to the Japanese auxiliary committee of the International Workers’ Relief, and the self-sacrificing action of the Japanese workers resulted in the collection of the sum of 30,000 dollars for the starving workers of Russia.

When news of the frightful earthquake reached Russia, the Russian workers unanimously felt that the moment had come to repay the help sent them by the Japanese proletariat during the famine in Russia, and to repay it with more than interest.

The Russian proletariat is daily expending large sums for the alleviation of the misery in Japan. The international proletariat encounters great financial difficulties in ameliorating the consequence of the earthquake for the Japanese working people, for the general economic situation is unfavorable. But provision must be made to bring help where it is most needed.

The Executive Committee of the International Workers ‘ Relief has appointed a commission to deal with the collections brine made tor the Japanese working people. This commission regards the following as the most immediate imperative tasks the various countries:

  1. Special committees are to be formed everywhere by representatives of the various labor parties, trade unions, cooperatives, intellectuals, and artists who are ready to work for the proletarian relief action in order that the organization of the Japanese Relief may be taken energetically in hand.
  2. The committees are to conduct extensive propaganda work far the Japanese Relief. The public, especially the working class, is to be enlightened concerning the consequences of the earthquake for the Japanese workers.
  3. Funds are to be collected at once, in part by means of agitation at meetings and in the press, in part by personal agitation. The Youth organizations, the women’s committees, the local organizations of the various parties, can render excellent service in this work. The auxiliary committees are to issue collection sheets, and to provide for the public acknowledgment of all sums sent in.
  4. The various auxiliary committees are to enter into immediate communication with the Japanese Relief Committee of the International Workers’ Relief in Berlin, and to send to these headquarters all material relating to the Japanese Relief action.

The Foreign Committee of the International Workers’ Relief assumes that every worker is thoroughly aware of the enormous importance of this relief action. Even though the difficulties in the way of rendering aid to Japan are very obvious, still we must not forget the old Russian proverb which says that: “If everyone in the village gives but one thread, the naked will have a shirt to cover him.”

We must prove that despite the thousands of miles distance separating us from our Japanese comrades, we nonetheless recognize the necessity of farther maintaining the Japanese tabor organizations, and of alleviating the hard fate of the workers of Japan, crushed by the frightful earthquake which has visited their country.

Last updated on 29 April 2023