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Herbert Solow

Statement of Non-Partisan Labor Defense
on German Deportees

(May 1934)

From The Militant, Vol. VII No. 20, 19 May 1934, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

An international conference of workers’ youth organizations met in Laren, Holand on Feb. 24. It was dissolved by police and all foreign delegates were deported. Four were German political refugees – one a member of the League of Communist Internationalists, three members of the Sozialistische Arbeiter Partei. They were delivered to Hitler’s border policy. No word has been heard of them since. If still alive, they are surely in grave danger.

Having been informed from abroad of this event, our Committee drew up a protest statement and demand for asylum in Holland for German political refugees. The protest was delivered on April 17 to the Consulate General in New York with a request for forwarding to Holland.

The organizations which signed the statement were: American Workers Party, Communist League of America, Communist Party Opposition, Jewish Workers Party (Poeli Zion Left), League for Industrial Democracy, National Unemployed League, Provisional Committee for Non-Partisan Labor Defense, Spartacus Youth Clubs, Workers Unemployed Union of Greater New York, Young People’s Socialist League of America. In addition, there were signatures by Alex Bail, Editor of The Workers Age; Hoger Baldwin; James P. Cannon, Editor of The Militant; Herman Guild, General Organizer of the Amalgamated Food Workers Union; and Carlo Tresca, editor of Il Martello.

More signatories could have been obtained had it not been for the need for speedy registration of the protest stressed by European correspondents. It is of interest that in Europe the protest movement embraces liberals (League of the Rights of Man), Social Democratic parties, independent labor parties, the C.P.O., the Communist Internationalists, anarchists and trade unions (Confederation Generale du Travail etc.).

Two organizations approached by our Committee – the Socialist Party and the Labor Conference to Combat Hitlerism (chiefly the garment unions) declined to sign the joint protest but sent to the Dutch Ambassador separate protests based on information supplied by our Committee.

The Communist Party U.S.A. ignored our Committee’s request for its endorsement of the protest, as did the National Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners. The International Labor Defense expressly refused endorsement. In a letter of April 11, Wm. L. Patterson, its National Secretary, wrote:

“I am afraid ... our presence ... would force the withdrawal of Miss Fox (Secretary of the L.I.D.) and others who are inclined toward her point of view.”

This letter was received by our Committee April 16. A reply was sent at once, pointing out that the I.L.D. was refusing to support an action “which has deservedly won the support of diverse elements opposed to Fascism, and which is an essential part of the fight against Hitlerism,” and that whoever withholds or withdraws from the action must bear the responsibility for his attitude. Notice of endorsement by collect telegram was urged.

On April 19 a letter came from Patterson deprecating the need for protest on the ground that the four German deportees “still remain free from jail and torture,” and refusing endorsement on the following ground:

“The leadership of the I.L.D. regards you (the Secretary of our Committee) as an enemy of the working class. It regards you as a provocateur, an agent of the enemy, desperately seeking to secure a foothold within the ranks of the working class, in order to better carry on your disruptive tactics. It regards many of those in your united front as of the same character.”

On April 25 a letter was sent to Patterson asking the source of his statement that the four deportees are free from jail. No answer has been received.

Our Committee is informed that the Revolutionary Socialist Party and the Independent Socialist Party of Holland have jointly retained Attorney B.J. Stockvis of Amsterdam to go to Germany for information as to the fate of the deportees He appears not to have obtained any as yet.

We are informed that the Spartacus Youth Clubs, the Young Peoples Socialist League and other labor youth organizations plan further joint action in this matter. Our Committee will gladly cooperate in further action, whose need is unquestionable.

We further suggest that all organizatious which have not yet come into the protest movement send statements to the Dutch Ambassador or the local Consul. Full information on the case, and copies of the joint protest are available in this office. It should be realized that, whatever the Consul does “officially,” he will forward all protests. It is important that there should be many.

The parties which retained Attorney Stockvis for the German trip ask financial aid for his work of investigation and defense. Our Committee will gladly transmit funds to Holland and render and accounting to all contributors.

It is our hope that this protest is only the first of many actions against Fascism and capitalist oppression in which we will be able to cooperate with other organizations.


Herbert Solow,
Sec’y. Provisional Committee
for Non-Partisan Labor Defense

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