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E. R. Frank
[Bert Cochran]

Antoinette Konikow:
Our Dead Comrade was One of Rarest Spirits
of Our Time

From The Militant, Vol. 10 No. 28, July 13 1946, p. 3.
Digitized & marked up by Marty Goodman & David Walters for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

(The following is the memorial address delivered at the funeral of Comrade Antoinette Konikow by E.R. Frank, editor of Fourth International, who spoke on behalf of the National Committee of the Socialist Workers Party.)

Comrade Antoinette Konikow was one of the, rarest spirits of our time. Her entire conscious life, from the age of 19 when she first entered the working class movement in 1888, right up to the hour of her death, was devoted to the revolutionary struggle; was dedicated to the cause of socialism, the emancipation of mankind from the horrors and fears and terrors of capitalism and the creation of a new society oi brotherhood, of comradeship, of freedom, of peace and plenty for all.

The life and deeds of Comrade Antoinette Konikow seem almost unbelievable, unreal on the background of this society – this brutal and harsh and cynical class society we live in today which exalts the self-seekers, the scoundrels, the schemers, the liars and tyrants and oppressors. Look at the people who are pointed to as examples, who are honored and praised, and for whom statues and monuments are built! Why, nine times out of ten these people are nothing but hypocrites, worthless careerists whose main aim is to feather their own nests and save their own skins.

Antoinette Konikow was of a different mold. She was made of different clay. Her whole life she determined not by thought of her personal ambition or career, but of serving best in the great crusade to cleanse this earth of its evil and terrible plagues—of exploitation of man by man, of human degradation and want, of the scourge of capitalist wars.

Never Wavered

And in this holy crusade – the greatest and the noblest that there is in this world – she remained faithful and true throughout her life. Others fell by the wayside. Others grew tired, or lost faith or heart, or became terrified of the difficulties and dangers, or succumbed to the pressure or the blandishments or the fleshpots of the Stalinist bureaucracy or the capitalist powers-that-be, but not Antoinette Konikow. She never faltered. She never wavered. She never lost courage or strength.

The great revolutionary faith with which, as a young girl of 19, she first plunged into the struggle in Czarist Russia, she retained to the last. And through it all she retained her womanliness, her poise and her beauty. She provided us with constant living reassurance that the spirit of mankind, in its striving for truth, for justice, for the solidarity of humanity – that that is indestructible – and that the fight will go on despite everything, until It achieves its purposes, until victory is won, until this terrible plague of capitalism, with its tyranny, barbarism, with its famines and wars, is wiped off the face of the earth.

I still can see in my mind’s eye Comrade Konikow at our last Convention, in November 1944, the 11th Convention of the American Trotskyist movement, how, despite her advanced years, she stood up, youthful and self-confident in.spirit and told us how she had been battling for years, and how she was going to continue to battle until her dying day.

Inspires All

What a picture, what an inspiration for all of us, for the young men and the young women who are first mapping out their life’s courses, what an example to cherish and to emulate.

Many things will pass away and the names of many men and women high in bourgeois society, today famous and acclaimed, will be forgotten and, in a few years, be unknown. But Comrade Konikow will not only be remembered, but future generations who will study this present age of ours in wonderment as well as sorrow, will come to know of Antoinette Konikow as one of the truest and most loyal and devoted of the original band of pioneers who blazed the trail for the socialist society.

And now I must in the name of the National Committee of the Socialist Workers Party of which she was an honorary member, give the last word of farewell to this wonderful comrade, this great, indestructible revolutionary spirit. Of course, grief is in all our hearts. But it is not the grief of prostration, of helplessness. No, let us say farewell to Antoinette as she would want it. Let us say farewell standing upright, with our eyes dry and our fists clenched with resolution. And with the pledge on our lips that we will, regardless of everything, carry on the revolutionary ’ struggle to which she devoted her life.

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Last updated: 18 June 2021