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Paul G. Stevens

In the World of Labor

(10 March 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 14, 10 March 1939, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The Case of Peter Forster: G.P.U. and Refugees

In June 1938, two courageous anti-Fascists, Emil Bargatski and Peter Forster, fled the concentration camp at Buchenwald near Weimar, An armed storm trooper tried to prevent their escape. He was laid low with a shovel. It was the only chance these anti-Fascists had of getting out of the Hitlerite hell, where thousands of socialists and communists, Jews as well as Catholics are forced to submit daily to the sadistic outrages of the Nazi degenerates.

Bargatski was caught and beheaded shortly thereafter. Forster managed to cross the border into Czechoslovakia. Immediately after the Sudenten crisis broke out, Forster appealed to the Soviet consulate for an entry permit to the U.S.S.R. Time and again he was given the run-around. In the meantime, the Communist Party and the Stalinist “Red Aid” made ample use of him in public meetings, where he was drummed up for collection purposes, instead of being guarded against the ever-watchful Gestapo.

Early in September, he was given to understand by the Czech government that it would be best for him to get out of the country. Again he made frantic efforts to get the necessary papers from the Soviet consulate. Again he was told to wait. Even a temporary visa was refused him. An attempt to flee in a plane headed for Russia was stopped by the Czech foreign office at the airport.

“Munich” came and the Czech government, which had previously refused to turn him over to the Gestapo, finally agreed to deliver him to the German authorities “on condition that his life be spared.” Meaningless condition! A few days later, Porster was beheaded in a Weimar prison.

The fate of this valiant anti-Nazi fighter has recently been made public by Erich Wollenberg, German revolutionist and author of a recent work on the Red Army, in which he served as an officer for many years. Wollenberg also gives us an insight into the behind-the-scenes machinations that are back of the Forster case.

It seems that High Commissioner Malcolm, who is in charge of evacuating the German emigrants in Czechoslovakia, has as his secretary a certain German emigrant by the name of R. Katz. This Katz has been in the employ of the Stalinist G.P.U. since 1931, working for it in the “Red Aid” organizations, and finally landing, after being catapulted through various People’s Front committees, as Secretary of the “Emigrants’ Recognition Committee” in Paris.

This gentleman goes over the lists of emigrants to be evacuated. Naturally he had charge of the Forster case. Quite naturally, no refugee who has ever had any kind of a clash with the Stalinists stand a chance of getting a square deal from this corrupt and conscienceless tool of the Kremlin. Dissident communists, revolutionary socialists are practically doomed in advance, if their case has to be handled by Mr. Katz. How many Trotskyists and other anti-Stalinist refugees have already suffered rank betrayal by this G.P.U. agent into the hands of Hitler’s Gestapo is not known.

Forster is dead. But thousands of non-conformist anti-Fascist Germans are still at large in Czechoslovakia. They must not be allowed to share his fate.

You can do your part to prevent this, by giving every ounce of moral and material aid to the American Fund for Political Prisoners and Refugees.

New Repressions Against the 4th Internationalists in Indo-China

Readers of the Appeal are aware of the terrible treatment accorded our comrade Ta Tu Thau, municipal councillor of Saigon, by the French colonial authorities In Indo-China. Half-paralyzed, Ta Tu Thau carries on the struggle from prison.

Now word comes from Tonkin, that another leader of the Indo-Chinese Fourth Internationalists has been jailed in the hell-holes of French imperialism in the Far East. Comrade Thai van Tam has been arrested in that city and sentenced to a long term in prison for a series of anti-imperialist articles he published in Thoi Dam, the organ of the Fourth International in Tonkin. The articles were written at the time of the September crisis, when mobilization was decreed in Indo-China because of French fears of Japanese attacks in case of war, Japan being allied with Hitler.

Comrade Tam was one of the founders of the Communist Party in Indo-China and the first editor of its paper. He broke with the Stalinists after the suppression of the Indo-Chinese Congress and organized the first Fourth Internationalist group in Tonkin.

Neither the arrest of Ta Tu Thau nor that of Tam has succeeded in stemming the growth of the Bolshevik-Leninists in Indo-China. The banner of the Fourth International seems to be firmly implanted among the oppressed in the colonies. An active movement for the liberation of the two great Indo-Chinese class war prisoners has been organized by our comrades in Indo-China as well as in France.

Universal Suffrage as Practiced in Eastern Europe

On November 6 last, elections to the Polish Sejm (parliament) took place. The character of elections in this Bonapartist state, hope of the Stalinists and the “democrats” against Hitler’s threat to Eastern Europe, may best be illumined by a little court incident reported from Warsaw.

The day after the elections, the worker Baranowski was hauled up before a magistrate. The charge: He stood in front of a polling place all day, constantly taking something out of one pocket and putting it into the other. Finally, some enterprising dick decided to arrest him. At the police station, he was frisked. But, instead of infernal machines, it was found that his pockets were full of ... raw peas. In court, Baranowski maintained that he simply liked to chew raw peas. But witnesses were introduced who testified that Baranowski passed the peas from one pocket to the other, in order to determine the exact number of voters entering the polling place. Naturally, the court believed the witnesses, and not Baranowski.

But even so, the magistrate was perplexed when he came to the verdict. Not for long, however. Since no law exists punishing unbelief in official figures, Baranowski was sentenced for “an attempt to obstruct normal traffic.”

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