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Fourth International, October 1945


News from the International


From Fourth International, Vol.6 No.10, October 1945, pp.317-319.
Transcribed, marked up & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.


The Trotskyists at Buchenwald

La Verité in France and La Lutte Ouvrière in Belgium are currently carrying accounts of the experiences of our comrades who have returned from the concentration camps in Germany which attest to lively political activity on the part of the European Trotskyist even in these hell holes; to the real state of mind of the German masses, and to the true aspirations of the proletarian revolutionists in Germany Below we confine ourselves for the present to excerpts from an interview with comrade Marcel Beaufrere, published in La Verite of May 11:

Is it true what they say about Nazi tortures? Were you tortured yourself? What do you think of these methods?

Ans. – I was beaten and tortured continually for ten days after my arrest by the Gestapo. Only complete exhaustion halted their curiosity about La Verité and the Fourth International. If I had dropped a single unwarranted word, it meant death. Tortures of all kinds were common in the camp, from marches in the snow to typhus injections ... It’s the return to barbarism, the inevitable consequence of the morbid will to survive of a class condemned to oblivion. As long as capitalism remains, such barbarism is bound to grow. In all cases – the Poulo Condor camp, where thousands of Indo-Chinese revolutionists perished, the Gurs camp, where the Spanish revolutionists starved to death, and this most monstrous one of all at Buchenwald, first created for German Communists – the responsibility lies with the same decadent bourgeoisie. I often thought at Buchenwald of these words of Trotsky’s: “If the proletariat doesn’t take power, we shall witness such a degree of barbarism that it will seem preferable to invent one big cage of millions of cubic yards, put all of humanity within it, and plunge it to the bottom of the seas.”

How did the German population behave towards you?

Ans. – The German population almost entirely lived in ignorance of the conditions in which we existed. If you doubt that, it is only necessary to ask the foreign workers deported to Germany who lived in the neighborhood of such camps. They were stupified at our appearance when we were at last liberated ... Then there was of course the Nazi propaganda which presented us as the most dangerous type of common criminals. Nevertheless, little by little, some contact with the civil population was secretly established by the inmates which permitted us to discern attempts at solidarity with us. No Buchenwald inmate will be ably to deny the numerous acts of kindness shown us by the population of Weimar after the bombardment of August 24, 1944, which resulted in 500 victims at the camp. It must be remembered that fraternization of any kind whatsoever was an heroic act under conditions of terror which penetrated right into the midst of families ... Hatred of the SS detachments was general. Even officers of the regular army confided to us that they considered them bandits. On July 20, the SS abandoned the camp to ransack the barracks of the regular army nearby ... One private guarding us said to me that everyone was fed up with the war, that we were all really prisoners – in the same prison – the guards as well as the inmates ... After the liberation, the population seemed to be in utter confusion. Nothing seemed to really have changed for them: the Allies had kept the Nazi mayor of Weimar, the Nazi police and the Nazi functionaries, for the most part ... Towards us, after our liberation, there were many signs of sympathy. Many small shopkeepers plied us with bread, milk and sausages. The American propagandists who depict them as fawning before the conquerors are spreading lies which all the comrades from Buchenwald can easily expose. It was a matter of genuine sympathy which they had long felt and only then had a chance to show.

What about the German political prisoners?

Ans. – At Buchenwald there were about three to four thousand German political who had been interned for 12 years! Buchenwald, like Dachau, had originally been built for them and tens of thousands passed through them ...

At the time of my departure the German Communist Party had not yet appeared publicly ... Old German communist militants sought out our Trotskyist comrades and told them: “The time has come for you to make a public appearance.” They asked for political discussions with our leaders at the camp. We accepted on condition that those who failed to maintain their dignity as political prisoners be excluded. A declaration of our German comrades which called for a German Soviet republic found a profound echo among the mass of the German Communists in the camp and a great many among them made arrangements to keep in touch with the Trotskyists upon their return home.

A final question: What about the French deportees?

Ans. – There were two camps within the camp so to speak: the bourgeois, to which the reformist socialists clung also, and the other made up of CPF and trade union militants in the main. The latter, due to their disciplined coherence, had a remarkable underground organization ... in collaboration with German communist comrades, they saved thousands of workers’ lives.

We Trotskyist organized ourselves into cells of several different nationalities and spearheaded the struggle for internationalism at the camp. As a whole, the French showed an increasingly disheartening chauvinist trend. But an important section of CPF militants reacted vigorously against this trend and fought for an internationalist policy ... I am sure that many of these militants will break with treacherous Stalinism soon and will aid us in building a powerful revolutionary proletarian party.

Comrade Beaufrere concludes with the hope that, in returning, the many admirable CP militants will not forget their experiences and allow themselves to be swayed by the jingoism of Thorez and Duclos. He recalls to them how they worked day and night to produce a remarkable mimeographed issue of L’Humanité in protest against the chauvinist outpouring of a certain Simonin, a bourgeois journalist who had previously returned to France. The L’Humanité of Buchenwald, he recalls, said:

“There are two Germanies: the Germany of Hitler which must be exterminated. the anti-Fascist Germany which must be helped.”

General Foch, comrade Beaufrere concludes, once said that he was much closer to the Prussian Junkers than to the French communists. We, comrades, must make our choice too, at the side of the German communist, against the French bourgeois, even if he calls himself a “resistant.”

The above were the first statements made by comrade Beaufrere after two years spent in Hitler’s jails, upon his return to take up his tasks as a Trotskyist militant in France.


Comrade M. Perthus, in an article printed in several publications of the European Trotskyist, reports on the reconstitution of the Dutch section of the Fourth International, the Committee of Revolutionary Marxists, of which be is one of the outstanding leaders. Here is the gist of his article:

After the German invasion, a wave of nationalism swept over the labor movements of the Netherlands. The Social Democrats and the Stalinists after June 1941, virtually gave up every semblance of an independent existence, merging in the bourgeois “National Front.” All revolutionary forces opposed to the “National Front” worked through the Revolutionary Socialist Workers Party (RSAP) of Sneevliet who had broken with the Fourth International and later cooperated in the international field with the Spanish POUM and similar centrist organizations. The RSAP carried out a courageous and militant policy line under the Nazi occupation and its leaders conducted themselves with great courage in the face of arrest and persecution. Sneevliet and several other leaders finally were seized and fell heroically before Nazi firing squads.

Politically, the RSAP was not homogeneous. Different political tendencies developed within it, the most important of which were the Spartacus group and the Committee of Revolutionary Marxists, The former developed in the direction of the historic tendency of Dutch ultra-leftism made famous by its founder, H. Gorter, in his polemics with Lenin. The Committee of Revolutionary Marxists, on the other hand, developed to the full position of the Fourth International. In 1942, the RSAP split. The CRM as an independent organization declared for affiliation with the Fourth International. It published 46 illegal numbers of its central organ De Rode October.

Since the “liberation” comrade Perthus writes, a wave of class struggles has swept Holland, following quickly in the wake of the retreat of the Nazi forces. Strikes of miners and metal workers took place in Brabant and Limbourg provinces even before the rest of the country was “liberated.” Recently mass strikes have taken place in Amsterdam and Rotterdam as well. The labor movement is being revived on a local scale, as broken-down communications prevent its immediate integration on a national scale. But everywhere the evidence of a sweeping left swing of the masses is clear. The CRM is in the process of reorganizing itself on a national scale and has high hopes of winning new forces soon for the establishment of a revolutionary party. In June of this year contact was established finally with the European Executive Committee and the CRM formally affiliated through it to the Fourth International.


Our comrades of the Revolutionary Communist Party (Parti Communiste Revolutionnaire), Belgian Section of the Fourth International, are in the forefront of the struggle for solidarity with the German workers, and against the attempts to utilize them for slave labor. In the mining regions, where the Trotskyist are particularly influential, this struggle has been taken up by the rank and file miners in a very practical fashion.

Recently the Belgian government announced that 30,000 German prisoners would be sent to work in the pits of the Borinage and other coal regions. A wave of protest gripped the pits. Typical of the reaction of the coal diggers is this resolution adopted at the Anderlues pits:

“The miners of pit no. 6 at Anderlues, assembled before going down to work, protest against the introduction in to the mines of German prisoners;

“declare that that their place is in the mines, factories and shops of Germany and that the aim of the capitalist leaders, in sending the prisoners into the mines, is above all else to sabotage working class resistance;

“declare that they will accept work alongside them (the Germans) only on condition that they be given the same conditions of work as the Belgian miners and, above all, the same right to organize;

“demand that the trade union organizations utilize every means of organizing the resistance of the workers, including the general strike and occupation of the mines; demand the immediate calling of a conference of delegates with the following as its agenda: 1) Foreign workers; 2) Conscription of Labor and adjustment of wages to the real cost of living; 3) reconversion premium; 4) refund of taxes for the war years;

“decided send this resolution to the labor press.”

As against the chauvinistic campaign of the capitalists and their lackeys, the Belgian miners counterpose class solidarity with the German workers.

For their internationalism and for their clear-cut class struggle position, the Trotskyist leaders are subjected to a campaign of persecution by the Stalinist top officialdom of the miners’ union. Thus, they ordered the expulsion of comrade Davister, leader of the Charleroi district of the union, on charges of singing the Internationale at a union meeting, and broke up the locals that were supporting him. Now they are attempting to employ similar tactics against comrade Malengreau, one of the leaders of the United Miners Union of the Borinage district. The charge against him is that he spoke for the proclamation of the Republic in the recent crisis, which the Stalinist officials declared to be out of line with the “no politics” policy under cover of which they attempt to foist their own reactionary position on the union. The same kind of a campaign is also under way against comrade Victor Bougard, chief delegate of the Anderlues mines. Needless to say, our comrades, however, are receiving ample backing from the rank and file in their struggle for trade union unity based on the full exercise of the democratic rights of the membership.

The activity of the PCR, on the industrial front, on the political front and among the youth is reflected in every issue of their excellent paper, La Lutte Ouvrière. Of special interest is a column entitled Au Travail pour le Parti (Working for the Party) by comrade Danielle, who records for each issue some of her outstanding experiences in the day to day activities which we here call Jimmie Higgins work. In one of her recent columns, Danielle tells of an experience with an American soldier in a streetcar who watched her distributing party leaflets (calling for a workers’ government in reply to the Fascist attempts to reinstall King Leopold).

“He undoubtedly was aware of what was going on,” she writes, “clapped his hands on seeing me and shouted OK repeatedly. At the next stop he got off with me and offered to give me a band with the leaflets. I was glad to accept the offer and we were very successful. In his country they also have to fight Fascism, he told me, and it was a real pleasure to give a foreign sister anti-Fascist a hand. For me it was the first living example of proletarian fraternization that I ever experienced.”

The Belgian comrades also report successful mass meetings exposing the Stalinist slander campaigns against them. One such meeting at Gilly, at which more than 500 workers heard comrades Jules Davister and Bougard present the Trotskyist case, was particularly interesting. The Stalinists had announced meetings to be held at the same time in three different parts of the city. Nobody showed up at their meetings. Finally, about 40 of them came to the PCR meeting and attempted to harangue the crowd from the rear of the hall The Trotskyist chairman asked them to wait their turn in the discussion. They refused and attempted to disrupt the meeting. Thereupon the workers in the hall took things into their own hands, booted all the forty Stalinists into the street and came back to conclude the meeting with lively applause for the Trotskyist orators, who presented the program of the Fourth International. Comrade Florent Galloy, recently returned from Buchenwald, chaired this meeting.


Continuing their aggressive campaign for complete legalization, our comrades of the Parti Communiste Internationalist (Internationalist Communist Party), French Section of the Fourth International, have issued an excellent pamphlet entitled La Lutte des Trotskystes Sous La Terreur Nazie (The Struggle of the Trotskyists Under the Nazi Terror). The pamphlet simply gives the record of the Trotskyist in that struggle, with a long list of its heroic martyrs, accompanied by photographs and facsimiles of the many publications distributed by the PCI in the underground. The presentation of this record is the most eloquent testimony possible against the vile and frenzied campaign of slander and calumny by means of which the Stalinists are attempting to obtain the suppression of the Trotskyist movement in France by the de Gaulle government.

The pamphlet further points out that the Stalinists are organizing physical terror, including assassination, against our French comrades and charges the GPU with inspiring it. Explaining the deep-rooted social causes of the persecution they face, our comrades call upon the workers of France to rally to the Defense Committees which are being set up in order to combat the terror and to obtain complete legalization of the Trotskyist movement.


After a considerable amount of spade work which began in 1943, the Trotskyist movement in Egypt is moving ahead steadily toward the establishment of a full-fledged section of the Fourth International.

The movement took root when a group of intellectuals who became convinced of the correctness of the Trotskyist program came into control of the magazine Magalla el Gedida in 1943. The Magalla had long been published as a cultural review presenting Stalinist policy and had a wide circulation not only in Egypt but also in Palestine and in Irak. Under its new editors the magazine fought Vansittartism (anti-Germanism) throughout the war under the slogan “No New Versailles, No New Munich.” It took a firm stand in solidarity with the 18 arrested Socialist Workers Party leaders in the Minneapolis case and publicized their revolutionary testimony in several of its issues. Also outstanding was its support of the strikes of the British miners. For taking these positions, the Magalla was suppressed by order of the Military Governor on May 6, 1944.

Deprived of their publication, but with new recruits, our comrades decided to participate in the elections of December-January last winter. They organized support for the candidacy of Dr. Fathy el Rarely in the Mahkamet el Saveda constituency along the lines of a “Socialist Front.” The Stalinists at first joined this front but later withdrew because of its program: “Sliding Scale of Wages”; “Trade Union control of social legislation”; “Equal rights for women”, etc. The police inaugurated a regime of terror, in which they disbanded meetings of the front and carried through mass arrests. The candidate failed in the elections, but the parliamentary campaign brought new layers of youth and workers in contact with the Trotskyist program.

In February, Trotskyist groups were organized on a functioning basis in Alexandria and in Cairo. The Egyptian Fourth Internationalists are at present preparing for their first national conference.

The progress of the comrades is particularly remarkable because it was made in the face of constant terror and the loss of two outstanding militants: Comrade Azmy el Douery, who died last summer after a long illness, and comrade Bokhor Manasce, who was arrested for his revolutionary activities last December and is still languishing in jail.


La Lutte Ouvrière, which devotes many columns in every issue to a round-up of news from our sections, gives us the first detailed news of the arrests and convictions meted out to the courageous Swiss Trotskyists for their anti-war struggle. In Switzerland too, the cadre of the Fourth International gave proof of its devotion and its tenacity. The arrested comrades have recently been freed and, we have heard, are in the process of reorganizing their forces for the tasks ahead. Here is the gist of La Lutte Ouvrière’s story about them in its issue of July 14:

Between October 1939 and May 1940 our Swiss comrades published several numbers of Informationsbriefe fuer Revolutionaere Politik (Revolutionary Policy News-Letter). In one of these, our comrades condemned the class character of the Army, in line with the Marxist analysis of the capitalist state, and put forward a program of soldiers’ demands which have long been part of the Leninist policy of struggle against imperialist war and the workers’ struggle within the bourgeois army. Among other things, our comrades denounced the particularly odious record of a reactionary officer who since then deserted the army, absconding with funds belonging to it, and who was later court martialed.

On the basis of this letter, 50 homes were raided and 20 arrests were made. For more than 11 months our comrades were held incommunicado. Finally, 13 Trotskyist appeared as the accused at a trial in Lucerne. They were charged with “forming an organization to undermine discipline in the army,” with “calling for mutiny,” with “communist propaganda endangering the security of the state” and finally, because of their affiliation to the Fourth International, with “foreign propaganda.”

The leader of the group, comrade Walter Nelz, was condemned to two-and-a-half years imprisonment and five other comrades to lesser terms, seven being acquitted. The sentence was appealed to a higher court, where one more comrade gained acquittal, comrade Nelz had his sentence reduced to two years, two other comrades receiving one year each, one comrade nine months and one comrade four months.

The Swiss review Der Aufbau, from which our Belgian comrades quote these facts, contrasts the sharp treatment accorded the Swiss Trotskyist with the leniency shown Hitler’s agents by the Swiss authorities. As everywhere else, class justice operates characteristically in the bourgeois “democracy” of Switzerland. As in America, England and elsewhere, its sharpest fangs are directed against the best working class representatives, the vanguard fighters of the Fourth International.


Excerpts from an eyewitness account:

A few general impressions of life in Greece today. The economic situation is very tense. The shops in the big towns, Athens, Salonika, etc., are crammed with foodstuffs, brought in by UNRRA, but at prices that only the wealthy can afford. It’s just one huge black market, with no attempt at price control or rationing.

Prevailing wage rates at the moment vary from 200 Drachmas (for the lower paid laborers) to 500 Drachmas for the higher paid workers, etc. The present exchange rate is about 500 Drachmas to the dollar. Contrast these wage levels with prevailing prices of essentials: The Greek standard of measurement is the “Oka” – approximately 2.8 lbs



140 D. per Oka


1,200 D. per Oka


350 D. per Oka


100 D. per Oka


120 D. per Oka


360/400 D. per bar

Various fruits

70/200 D. per Oka


800 D. per Oka

Chocolate and cigarettes are unheard of luxuries for the mass of the workers, costing 200 D. per bar or packet of twenty – a full day’s pay for many. A good suit of clothes costs 70,000 D. – or the equivalent of seven months’ pay. A shirt will cost 2,500 to 7,500 D., and a pair of shoes 12,000 to 25,000 D.

This disparity between prices and wage levels has created a great wave of unofficial strikes. During the last few weeks there have been strikes of street car men, ice factory workers, shoemakers and electricity and power workers. This is all the more remarkable because, following in the Metaxas and German-occupation tradition, the workers are organized in a single Government controlled “trade-union” – a Greek Version of the Labor Front of Dr. Ley. The street car men’s strike was very solid. The Greek police ran a skeleton scab service very inefficiently for a few days, but completely failed to break the strike, and the strikers obtained their demands. An interesting sidelight on this strike was that most street cars driven by these police had pictures of the Greek king plastered on them. – Such is the “impartiality” of this notoriously reactionary force.

Democracy, freedom of speech, etc., just don’t exist. The newspapers of the EAM (National Liberation Front) and the KKE (Stalinists) are just tolerated by the Government, but only because the Government is well aware of the treacherous role played by these Stalinist flunkeys. Papers of the International Communist Party (Fourth International), the only revolutionary party in Greece, are illegal. Members of that party are persecuted, hounded and quite frequently killed by both the Government and the Stalinists.

During the latter part of June, the main newspaper offices of both EAM and the KKE were wrecked, the issues all burned and the staff beaten up by gangs of hoodlums that organize their terror under the benevolent eyes of the Greek Government. On that same evening the KKE held a demonstration 30,000 strong! To the open provocation against the working class, their only reply was a mild protest to the Government. In contrast to this cowardly position, the ICP issued a call to the workers to form Workers Defense Guards for resistance to the fascist gangs.

A trip through the interior of Greece was very revealing. It is a country of mountains and valleys, some of the latter very fertile but in great need of development. Agriculture is carried on by very primitive methods. I saw quite a few villages – composed entirely of small round huts made of thatch, similar to those popularly associated with tropical colored peoples. Communications are in a very bad way. Good roads hardly exist, and the few railway lines have been so thoroughly wrecked that it will take years to restore them to working order.


A national conference of Spanish Trotskyists, working within France in close contact with workers across the border, took place this Spring. Fifteen delegates from all parts of the country participated in the sessions which adopted a fundamental thesis on the tasks in Spain and a program of action. the conference was highly successful organizationally as well as politically and laid the basis for big steps forward among the Spanish workers. The conference adopted as the name for the organization “Comunistas Internacionalistas (Sección Espanola de la IV International)”. It decided on regularization of its popular newspaper Lucha de Clases and on the publication of a theoretical organ Comunismo, several issues of which have since appeared. Finally, it addressed an Open Letter to the Revolutionary Workers inside the POUM, which calls upon the proletarian militants in this centrist organization to join our comrades in re-evaluating their party and the events in Spain and to consider the program of the Fourth International as a basis for discussions oriented towards a joining of forces.


A German section of the Fourth International is in the process of formation after the many years in which Trotskyist groups within Germany and in exile were forced to exist almost in complete isolation from one another. Many new forces participating in this process represent the old cadres of the former Communist Party of Germany (KPD). A leader of the latter says in Quatrième Internationale,

“The International lives in spite of everything, despite Hitler, despite the war, despite imperialism, despite the degeneration of the party, despite Stalin. The International lives and wants to help you, German proletarians, in your fight to finally achieve your October.”

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