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James M. Fenwick

The European Trotskyists During the War

An Heroic Record of Revolutionary
Resistance Against Fascist Terror

(1 April 1946)

From Labor Action, Vol. 10 No. 13, 1 April 1946, p. 4-M.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.

LEON TROTSKY once said that the Fourth International was like the apex of an inverted social pyramid upon which the whole weight of capitalist society pressed down.

Pressing upon the Trotskyists are all the economic and social means of coercion available to the bourgeoisie, the entire apparatus of the trade union bureaucracy, the totalitarian machine of the Stalinists, and all the thousand and one resources current society has at its disposal.

Despite all this, in virtually every country of the globe there exist gallant bands of men and women, inspired by the great emancipating doctrine of Marxism who, resisting all the bribes, threats, and persecution of the enemies of socialism, have chosen as their life work the struggle for the first human society, socialism. They are ranged within the parties of the Fourth International.

In the crucible of war all political parties are subjected to the severest proofs. The Fourth International came through the war incorruptible, able to hold its head high before the tribunal of the working class and say, “We discharged our revolutionary socialist obligations!”

Alone of all working class political parties, the parties of the Fourth International opposed the imperialist war, stating that it was a war for capitalist profits, and calling for the fraternization of workers and soldiers of all countries.

Unlike the social democratic organizations of World War I that collapsed under the patriotic capitalist pressure, the Fourth International opposed the bloody carnage from the earliest hour.

The Record of Our French Comrades

In France the first resistance paper to appear in illegality was La Verité (Truth), the organ of the International Communist Party, French section of the Fourth International.

Throughout the war our French comrades worked with model bravery, fighting in the resistance movement, conducting fraternization with German soldiers, taking up workers’ demands in the shops where that was possible, issuing La Verité and other papers, aiding workers sought by the Gestapo, forging identity papers, etc.

For their activity the French comrades paid a heavy price in persons shot by the Gestapo and the Vichy police and deported to the infamous concentration camps in Germany.

Following the close of the war our French comrades continued their struggle against French capitalism. Ceaselessly hounded by the French government, their paper illegal, and persecuted by the Stalinists, our comrades are showing a gratifying extension of their influence as demonstrated by recent election returns.

Though information is scanty because of the war conditions which obtain, news in the capitalist press reveals that our comrades in French IndoChina have been active in the nationalist struggles which have been taking place there. Their work has been complemented by the agitation of our comrades in France who have been waging a campaign in support of France’s colonial populations.

The Record of Our Belgian Comrades

In Belgium our comrades were very active during the occupation, especially in the mining areas, where Trotskyist influence has been traditionally strong. Conducting a struggle similar to that of the French organization, the Internationalist Communist Party, Belgian section of the Fourth International, published illegal papers in French, German, Flemish and Polish during the war.

The Belgian comrades similarly paid heavily for their loyalty to the international working class.

Following the war the Belgian comrades conducted agitation against the royalty, for a uniform pension, against the no-strike legislation of the Van Acker government, etc., basing their program upon the transitional demands of the Fourth International.

The Record of Our German Comrades

Because of the terrific repression to which German political parties were subjected, and because of the difficulties of communication today, not much is known of the activity of German Trotskyists. A little news has leaked out, however, showing that our German comrades held high the banner of international solidarity under the unprecedented repression of the German capitalists.

At the time of the siege of Aachen, for instance, a group of soldiers under Trotskyist influence deserted and formed a guerrilla band which fought the SS and the Gestapo. Trotskyist activity is likewise being carried on among German prisoners in France.

A great number of our German comrades remain, of necessity, in emigration in France, England, Switzerland, the United States, and South America. The majority of the Spanish section likewise exists in emigration.

The Record of Other Sections

Active sections of the Fourth International exist in Ireland and England. In England the group is exceptionally active. It publishes a paper, Socialist Appeal, and a theoretical magazine, Workers International News.

Trotskyist groups exist elsewhere throughout the British Empire. Sections exist in South Africa, Australia, India, etc. News concerning these sections has been relatively scanty up to the present because of war-time restrictions.

Despite nearly twenty-five years of the Mussolini dictatorship, which destroyed so much of working class thinking, a section of the Fourth International has been established in Italy.

A group exists in Holland.

Our Greek section has done heroic work, and has paid exceptionally heavily for it. Not only were our comrades persecuted by the Ovra, Mussolini’s secret police, but over a hundred were slaughtered by the Stalinists during the attack upon the ELAS and EAM in 1944–1945.

Such is the proud record of the Fourth Internationalist movement throughout the world. It is a living testimonial to the desire of the working classes of the world to establish socialism wherever mankind exists.

In many countries such as in the United States, where two Trotskyist tendencies – the Workers Party and the Socialist Workers Party – exist, there is more than one Trotskyist movement. Such a condition exists in Australia, South Africa, and Greece as well. In many of these countries it is heartening to note that unity negotiations are going on.

In the ensuing period we hope to see the political rearmament of the Fourth International along the lines developed by the Workers Party.

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