Tag Archives: WWII

Leon Trotsky: The Workers’ Militia And Its Opponents (1934)

As we’ve been going through the always inspiring and illuminating writings of Bolshevik revolutionary and founder of the Red Army Leon Trotsky searching for works that can illustrate the need for multiracial union-based workers defense squads to beat back the rising tide of fascism in the US, we have been learning and re-learning so much that it is amazing.  So many of the 1930s-era arguments against the creation of a workers militia to smash fascism are being repeated almost word-for-word every day on Twitter!  We know that in the USA, thanks to advertising and television and its inducement of short-attention-spans in way too many workers here, the idea that something written about political events of 70 years ago could remain relevant in 2017 seems absurd.  You want “NEW!” and “IMPROVED!” political science, right?  But just as the works of Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein are still considered to be among the finest examples of scientific writing on their subjects to date, so it goes with political science.  And as it is absolutely necessary for a doctor or a physicist to study the history of developments in her field of expertise in order to more fully understand the modern approaches and discoveries, in political science we can obtain a wealth of vitally important information from the writings of the top revolutionaries of the past two centuries and apply that information directly to today’s political challenges.  It may come as a surprise, but the fundamental class structure of a capitalist state hasn’t changed much in the past 175 years or so: we still have the working class majority, a smaller petit-bourgeoisie (middle class small business owners) and a relatively tiny capitalist class to whom the majority of the national wealth is funneled year after year.  The actors change but the roles do not; petit-bourgeois politicians and businesspeople have the same complaints and roles in 2017 as they had in 1917 – with relatively minor differences in scenery and plot.  It’s like seeing a modern production of a Mozart opera, in which the clothing of the 1700s is replaced by hip-hop fashion: it looks very different but the music and lyrics remain the same.  And we are sure that our very perceptive readers will find themselves surprised to hear Trotsky, writing in 1934 (in this case) making incisive comments which, if the names of the old politicians were replaced with current US politicians, you would imagine the article was written last week.

In political science, the famous warning that “those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it” carries full force.  We assure those of you who laugh at us for using the events of 1934 as a warning in 2017 that you ignore these works at your peril.  The options for modern politicians – working class, petit-bourgeois and bourgeois – have NOT changed in the past century.  If the working class does not overthrow capitalism in 2017, and the fascists are allowed to grow, the result will be largely the same as what occurred in Germany in 1933.  The USA has a whole slew of would-be Hitlers jockeying to reprise his role in the 2017 production of “The Collapse of Bourgeois Democracy”.  The working class has its own contingent of feckless, class-collaborationist fake-socialists and pro-capitalist trade union “leaders” eager to show what they can bring to the roles of Scheidemann and Noske.  Today’s anarchists have their Bakunins, Berkmans, Makhnos and Goldmans; and the revolutionary socialists have their own up-and-coming Stalins, Kollontais, Lenins, Maos, Guevaras, and Trotskys.  All of these actors will be vying for the hearts and minds of the masses of workers, without whom there will be no play. 

“History repeats itself: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.” We do not intend to fall into the same traps that our ancestors fell into; more than that – we do not intend to lead YOU into those same traps YOUR ancestors fell into!   So that we do not do so, we must study the development of the various class forces in the past who were faced with essentially the same collapse of bourgeois democracy and essentially the same rise of fascism we are facing today around the capitalist world.  In Germany in the late 1920s and early 1930s the Communist Party refused to make a united front with the Social Democrats and form armed workers brigades capable of smashing Hitler’s gangs, paving the way for the rise of Nazi Germany.  Fascism then rose in France as well, paving the political road to the wartime Nazi-collaborationist Vichy government.  Why did bourgeois democracy fail throughout Europe in the 1930s?  Was the rise of fascism inevitable?  Is it inevitable now?  By studying the historical record of the workers movement as it struggled to overcome the obstacles hurled into its path during the interwar period of 1918 -1939 we can answer these questions. These tragic errors of the 20th century need not – and must not be – repeated in the 21st century.

— IWPCHI

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THE WORKERS’ MILITIA AND ITS OPPONENTS

From Whither France?, 1934

To struggle, it is necessary to conserve and strengthen the instrument and the means of struggle — organizations, the press, meetings, etc.  Fascism [in France] threatens all of that directly and immediately.  It is still too weak for the direct struggle for power, but it is strong enough to attempt to beat down the working-class organizations bit by bit, to temper its bands in its attacks, and to spread dismay and lack of confidence in their forces in the ranks of the workers.

Fascism finds unconscious helpers in all those who say that the “physical struggle” is impermissible or hopeless, and demand of Doumergue the disarmament of his fascist guard.  Nothing is so dangerous for the proletariat, especially in the present situation, as the sugared poison of false hopes.  Nothing increases the insolence of the fascists so much as “flabby pacificism” on the part of the workers’ organizations.  Nothing so destroys the confidence of the middle classes in the working-class as temporizing, passivity, and the absence of the will to struggle.

Le Populaire [the Socialist Party paper] and especially l’Humanite [the Communist Party newspaper] write every day:

“The united front is a barrier against fascism”;
“the united front will not permit…”;
“the fascists will not dare”, etc.

These are phrases.  It is necessary to say squarely to the workers, Socialists, and Communists: do not allow yourselves to be lulled by the phrases of superficial and irresponsible journalists and orators.  It is a question of our heads and the future of socialism.  It is not that we deny the importance of the united front.  We demanded it when the leaders of both parties were against it.  The united front opens up numerous possibilities, but nothing more.  In itself, the united front decides nothing.  Only the struggle of the masses decides.  The united front will reveal its value when Communist detachments will come to the help of Socialist detachments and vice versa in the case of an attack by the fascist bands against Le Populaire or l’Humanite.  But for that, proletarian combat detachments must exist and be educated, trained, and armed.  And if there is not an organization of defense, i.e., a workers’ militia, Le Populaire or l’Humanite will be able to write as many articles as they like on the omnipotence of the united front, but the two papers will find themselves defenseless before the first well-prepared attack of the fascists.

We propose to make a critical study of the “arguments” and the “theories” of the opponents of the workers’ militia who are very numerous and influential in the two working-class parties.

“We need mass self-defense and not the militia,” we are often told.

But what is this “mass self-defense” without combat organizations, without specialized cadres, without arms?  To give over the defense against fascism to unorganized and unprepared masses left to themselves would be to play a role incomparably lower than the role of Pontius Pilate.  To deny the role of the militia is to deny the role of the vanguard.  Then why a party?  Without the support of the masses, the militia is nothing.  But without organized combat detachments, the most heroic masses will be smashed bit by bit by the fascist gangs.  It is nonsense to counterpose the militia to self-defense. The militia is an organ of self-defense.

“To call for the organization of a militia,” say some opponents who, to be sure, are the least serious and honest, “is to engage in provocation.”

This is not an argument but an insult.  If the necessity for the defense of the workers’ organizations flows from the whole situation, how then can one not call for the creation of the militia?  Perhaps they mean to say that the creation of a militia “provokes” fascist attacks and government repression.  In that case, this is an absolutely reactionary argument.  Liberalism has always said to the workers that by their class struggle they “provoke” the reaction.

The reformists repeated this accusation against the Marxists, the Mensheviks against the Bolsheviks.  These accusations reduced themselves, in the final analysis, to the profound thought that if the oppressed do not balk, the oppressors will not be obliged to beat them.  This is the philosophy of Tolstoy and Gandhi but never that of Marx and Lenin.  If l’Humanite wants hereafter to develop the doctrine of “non-resistance to evil by violence”, it should take for its symbol not the hammer and sickle, emblem of the October Revolution, but the pious goat, which provides Gandhi with his milk.

“But the arming of the workers is only opportune in a revolutionary situation, which does not yet exist.”

This profound argument means that the workers must permit themselves to be slaughtered until the situation becomes revolutionary.  Those who yesterday preached the “third period” do not want to see what is going on before their eyes. The question of arms itself has come forward only because the “peaceful”, “normal”, “democratic” situation has given way to a stormy, critical, and unstable situation which can transform itself into a revolutionary, as well as a counter-revolutionary, situation.  This alternative depends above all on whether the advanced workers will allow themselves to be attacked with impunity and defeated bit by bit or will reply to every blow by two of their own, arousing the courage of the oppressed and uniting them around their banner.  A revolutionary situation does not fall from the skies.  It takes form with the active participation of the revolutionary class and its party.

The French Stalinists now argue that the militia did not safeguard the German proletariat from defeat.  Only yesterday they completely denied any defeat in Germany and asserted that the policy of the German Stalinists was correct from beginning to end.  Today, they see the entire evil in the German workers’ militia (Roter Frontkampferbund) [i.e., Red Front Fighters: Communist-led militia banned by the social- democratic government after the Berlin May Day riots of 1929].  Thus, from one error they fall into a diametrically opposite one, no less monstrous. The militia, in itself, does not settle the question.  A correct policy is necessary. Meanwhile,the policy of Stalinism in Germany (“social fascism is the chief enemy”, the split in the trade unions, the flirtation with nationalism, putschism) fatally led to the isolation of the proletarian vanguard and to its shipwreck.  With an utterly worthless strategy, no militia could have saved the situation.

It is nonsense to say that, in itself, the organization of the militia leads to adventures, provokes the enemy, replaces the political struggle by physical struggle, etc.  In all these phrases, there is nothing but political cowardice.

The militia, as the strong organization of the vanguard, is in fact the surest defense against adventures, against individual terrorism, against bloody spontaneous explosions.

The militia is at the same time the only serious way of reducing to a minimum the civil war that fascism imposes upon the proletariat.  Let the workers, despite the absence of a “revolutionary situation”, occasionally correct the “papa’s son” patriots in their own way, and the recruitment of new fascist bands will become incomparably more difficult.

But here the strategists, tangled in their own reasoning, bring forward against us still more stupefying arguments. We quote textually:

“If we reply to the revolver shots of the fascists with other revolver shots,” writes l’Humanite of October 23 [1934], “we lose sight of the fact that fascism is the product of the capitalist regime and that in fighting against fascism it is the entire system which we face.”

It is difficult to accumulate in a few lines greater confusion or more errors. It is impossible to defend oneself against the fascists because they are — “a product of the capitalist regime”. That means, we have to renounce the whole struggle, for all contemporary social evils are “products of the capitalist system”.

When the fascists kill a revolutionist, or burn down the building of a proletarian newspaper, the workers are to sigh philosophically: “Alas! Murders and arson are products of the capitalist system”, and go home with easy consciences. Fatalist prostration is substituted for the militant theory of Marx, to the sole advantage of the class enemy. The ruin of the petty bourgeoisie is, of course, the product of capitalism. The growth of the fascist bands is, in turn, a product of the ruin of the petty bourgeoisie. But on the other hand, the increase in the misery and the revolt of the proletariat are also products of capitalism, and the militia, in its turn, is the product of the sharpening of the class struggle. Why, then, for the “Marxists” of l’Humanite, are the fascist bands the legitimate product of capitalism and the workers’ militia the illegitimate product of — the Trotskyists? It is impossible to make head or tail of this.

“We have to deal with the whole system,” we are told.

How? Over the heads of human beings? The fascists in the different countries began with their revolvers and ended by destroying the whole “system” of workers’ organizations. How else to check the armed offensive of the enemy if not by an armed defense in order, in our turn, to go over to the offensive.

L’Humanite now admits defense in words, but only in the form of “mass self-defense”. The militia is harmful because, you see, it divides the combat detachments from the masses. But why then are there independent armed detachments among the fascists who are not cut off from the reactionary masses but who, on the contrary, arouse the courage and embolden those masses by their well-organized attacks? Or perhaps the proletarian mass is inferior in combative quality to the declassed petty bourgeoisie?

Hopelessly tangled, l’Humanite finally begins to hesitate: it appears that mass self-defense requires the creation of special “self-defense groups”. In place of the rejected militia, special groups or detachments are proposed. It would seem at first sight that there is a difference only in the name. Certainly, the name proposed by l’Humanite means nothing. One can speak of “mass self-defense” but it is impossible to speak of “self-defense groups” since the purpose of the groups is not to defend themselves but the workers’ organizations. However, it is not, of course, a question of the name. The “self-defense groups”, according to l’Humanite , must renounce the use of arms in order not to fall into “putschism”. These sages treat the working-class like an infant who must not be allowed to hold a razor in his hands.  Razors, moreover, are the monopoly, as we know, of the Camelots du Roi [French monarchists grouped around Charles Maurras’ newspaper, Action Francaise, which was violently anti-democratic], who are a legitimate “product of capitalism” and who, with the aid of razors, have overthrown the “system” of democracy.  In any case, how are the “self-defense groups” going to defend themselves against the fascist revolvers? “Ideologically”, of course. In other words: they can hide themselves.  Not having what they require in their hands, they will have to seek “self-defense” in their feet.  And the fascists will in the meanwhile sack the workers’ organizations with impunity.  But if the proletariat suffers a terrible defeat, it will at any rate not have been guilty of “putschism”.  This fraudulent chatter, parading under the banner of “Bolshevism”, arouses only disgust and loathing.

[NOTE: “The Third Period”: According to the Stalinist schema, this was the “final period of capitalism”, the period of its immediately impending demise and replacement by soviets. The period is notable for the Communists’ ultra-left and adventurist tactics, notably the concept of social-fascism.]

During the “third period”  of happy memory — when the strategists of l’Humanite were afflicted with barricade delirium, “conquered” the streets every day and stamped as “social fascist” everyone who did not share their extravagances — we predicted: “The moment these gentlemen burn the tips of their fingers, they will become the worst opportunists.”  That prediction has now been completely confirmed.  At a time when within the Socialist Party the movement in favor of the militia is growing and strengthening, the leaders of the so-called Communist Party run for the hose to cool down the desire of the advanced workers to organize themselves in fighting columns.  Could one imagine a more demoralizing or more damning work than this?

In the ranks of the Socialist Party sometimes this objection is heard: “A militia must be formed but there is no need of shouting about it.”

One can only congratulate comrades who wish to protect the practical side of the business from inquisitive eyes and ears.  But it would be much too naive to think that a militia could be created unseen and secretly within four walls.  We need tens, and later hundreds, of thousands of fighters.  They will come only if millions of men and women workers, and behind them the peasants, understand the necessity for the militia and create around the volunteers an atmosphere of ardent sympathy and active support.  Conspiratorial care can and must envelop only the technical aspect of the matter.  The political campaign must be openly developed, in meetings, factories, in the streets and on the public squares.

The fundamental cadres of the militia must be the factory workers grouped according to their place of work, known to each other and able to protect their combat detachments against the provocations of enemy agents far more easily and more surely than the most elevated bureaucrats.  Conspirative general staffs without an open mobilization of the masses will at the moment of danger remain impotently suspended in midair.  Every working-class organization has to plunge into the job.  In this question, there can be no line of demarcation between the working-class parties and the trade unions.  Hand in hand, they must mobilize the masses.  The success of the workers’ militia will then be fully assured.

“But where are the workers going to get arms” object the sober “realists” — that is to say, frightened philistines — “the enemy has rifles, cannon, tanks, gas, and airplanes. The workers have a few hundred revolvers and pocket knives.”

In this objection, everything is piled up to frighten the workers.  On the one hand, our sages identify the arms of the fascists with the armament of the state.  On the other hand, they turn towards the state and demand that it disarm the fascists. Remarkable logic!  In fact, their position is false in both cases.  In France, the fascists are still far from controlling the state.  On February 6, they entered in armed conflict with the state police.  That is why it is false to speak of cannon and tanks when it is a matter of the immediate armed struggle against the fascists. The fascists, of course, are richer than we.  It is easier for them to buy arms.  But the workers are more numerous, more determined, more devoted, when they are conscious of a firm revolutionary leadership.

In addition to other sources, the workers can arm themselves at the expense of the fascists by systematically disarming them.

This is now one of the most serious forms of the struggle against fascism.  When workers’ arsenals will begin to stock up at the expense of the fascist arms depots, the banks and trusts will be more prudent in financing the armament of their murderous guards.  It would even be possible in this case — but in this case only — that the alarmed authorities would really begin to prevent the arming of the fascists in order not to provide an additional sources of arms for the workers.  We have known for a long time that only a revolutionary tactic engenders, as a by-product, “reforms” or concessions from the government.

But how to disarm the fascists?  Naturally, it is impossible to do so with newspaper articles alone.  Fighting squads must be created.  An intelligence service must be established.  Thousands of informers and friendly helpers will volunteer from all sides when they realize that the business has been seriously undertaken by us.  It requires a will to proletarian action.

But the arms of the fascists are, of course, not the only source.  In France, there are more than one million organized workers.  Generally speaking, this number is small.  But it is entirely sufficient to make a beginning in the organization of a workers’ militia.  If the parties and unions armed only a tenth of their members, that would already be a force of 100,000 men.  There is no doubt whatever that the number of volunteers who would come forward on the morrow of a “united front” appeal for a workers’ militia would far exceed that number.  The contributions of the parties and unions, collections and voluntary subscriptions, would within a month or two make it possible to assure the arming of 100,000 to 200,000 working-class fighters.  The fascist rabble would immediately sink its tail between its legs.  The whole perspective of development would become incomparably more favorable.

To invoke the absence of arms or other objective reasons to explain why no attempt has been made up to now to create a militia, is to fool oneself and others. The principle obstacle — one can say the only obstacle — has its roots in the conservative and passive character of the leaders of the workers’ organizations.  The skeptics who are the leaders do not believe in the strength of the proletariat.  They put their hope in all sorts of miracles from above instead of giving a revolutionary outlet to the energies pulsing below.  The socialist workers must compel their leaders to pass over immediately to the creation of the workers’ militia or else give way to younger, fresher forces.

A strike is inconceivable without propaganda and without agitation.  It is also inconceivable without pickets who, when they can, use persuasion, but when obliged, use force.  The strike is the most elementary form of the class struggle which always combines, in varying proportions, “ideological” methods with physical methods.  The struggle against fascism is basically a political struggle which needs a militia just as the strike needs pickets.  Basically, the picket is the embryo of the workers’ militia.  He who thinks of renouncing “physical” struggle must renounce all struggle, for the spirit does not live without flesh.

Following the splendid phrase of the great military theoretician Clausewitz, war is the continuation of politics by other means.  This definition also fully applies to civil war.  It is impermissable to oppose one to the other since it is impossible to check at will the political struggle when it transforms itself, by force of inner necessity, into a political struggle.

The duty of a revolutionary party is to foresee in time the inescapability of the transformation of politics into open armed conflict, and with all its forces to prepare for that moment just as the ruling classes are preparing.

The militia detachments for defense against fascism are the first step on the road to the arming of the proletariat, not the last. Our slogan is:

“Arm the proletariat and the revolutionary peasants!”

The workers’ militia must, in the final analysis, embrace all the toilers.  To fulfill this program completely would be possible only in a workers’ state into whose hands would pass all the means of production and, consequently, also all the means of destruction — i.e., all the arms and the factories which produce them.

However, it is impossible to arrive at a workers’ state with empty hands.  Only political invalids like Renaudel can speak of a peaceful, constitutional road to socialism. The constitutional road is cut by trenches held by the fascist bands. There are not a few trenches before us.  The bourgeoisie will not hesitate to resort to a dozen coups d’etat aided by the police and the army, to prevent proletariat from coming to power.

[NOTE: Pierre Renaudel (1871-1935): Prior to WWI, socialist leader Jean Jaures’ righthand man and editor of l’Humanite. During the war, a right-wing social patriot. In the 1930s, he and Marcel Deat led revisionist “neo-socialist” tendency. Voted down at the July 1933 convention, this tendency split from the Socialist Party. After the fascist riots of February 6, 1934, most of the “neos” joined the Radical Party, the main party of French capitalism.]

A workers’ socialist state can be created only by a victorious revolution.

Every revolution is prepared by the march of economic and political development, but it is always decided by open armed conflicts between hostile classes.  A revolutionary victory can become possible only as a result of long political agitation, a lengthy period of education and organization of the masses.

But the armed conflict itself must likewise be prepared long in advance.

The advanced workers must know that they will have to fight and win a struggle to the death. They must reach out for arms, as a guarantee of their emancipation.

[Source: https://www.marxists.org/archive/trotsky/works/1944/1944-fas.htm#p1   Corrected and emphasis added in bold type by IWPCHI]

 

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Hero of the USSR, Sniper Liudmila Pavlichenko: Fascism – What It Is And How I Fought It

Soviet History: The Great Patriotic War
Lieutenant Liudmila Pavlichenko to the American People

From “Soviet Russia Today”; volume 11, number 6 (October 1942).

These simple, strong words of Liudmila Pavlichenko bring home to us in America the epic struggle that our great Russian allies are waging for us today. I wish you could hear them in Lieutenant Pavlichenko’s own ringing voice. I wish you could see that beautiful face with its warm brown eyes that glow with such love when she talks of her comrades that have fallen before Odessa and Sevastopol, that burn with such hatred when size talks about our enemies and their beastly deeds. I wish you could see hat sturdy, valiant figure—a figure that has been a shield to us. This girl has stood alone, in deadly danger, day after day from dawn till after dark, picking off our enemies—309 of them. Four times she has felt in her own flesh the steel of our enemy. Her wounds only stiffen her will. I wish you could feel the warm clasp of that firm hand whose unerring aim has meant so much to us. I wish you could see what happens when she pronounces the word Fritz.” Her whole being is filled with outrage against the monstrous crimes she has seen committed, and with the determination that unites her countrymen today in the flaming purpose to wipe the horrors that Hitlerism has brought on humanity forever from the earth.

Liudmila Pavlichenko knows that her visit here is a contribution to the winning of the war. But she does not feel very good about being safe and comfortable over here while her comrades keep on fighting. And I am afraid she does not feel very good about our part in the war. She knows it is our war. She knows that the heroic defenders of Stalingrad are fighting for us as well as for themselves, that their defeats are our defeats, their victories our victories. But she is not sure we know this. We must help to make her visit here worth while—these precious weeks she is spending away from the fighting front where she feels that she should be. We can do that first and foremost by multiplying n hundredfold our efforts toward the immediate opening of a Second Front—the only way we can discharge our debt to our allies, to ourselves, to the future. We can do it, each one of us, by multiplying a hundredfold our efforts in. whatever sphere of work we are making our contribution to the war. Not many of us are called upon for as difficult a task as Liudmila Pavhichenko’s. Let us dedicate ourselves to winning the war as wholly as she and her people have done.

We salute you, Liudmila Pavlichenko, for all that you have done and will do in our common cause. The strength and inspiration we draw from your presence among us will help each one of us to be a better fighter against the enemies of mankind. Your visit here, with your fellow—heroes, Lieutenant Pchelintsev and Lieutenant Krasavchenko, is a new link in the friendship between our two countries which is so essential to winning the war and building an enduring peace. To your victory—and ours!

JESSICA SMITH

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You ask me first of all to say something about the urgency of the Second Front. Of course there is nothing more important. The opening of a Second Front is the only way we can be sure of a speedy victory over the enemy who threatens the freedom not only of my country, but of America, England, China—all the United Nations. There is much talk about a Second Front. Our people are still hoping and counting on it—but they are wondering when the talk will be translated into action. One thing must be clearly understood. We urge a Second Front not because we are weak, not because we lack confidence in our own strength, but because we want to bring this bloody war to an end more quickly. Think of how much blood has been shed, how much destruction and horror has been spread, how much cruelty and torture inflicted on innocent people— on old people and children. The sooner the monster fascism can be destroyed, the less blood will be shed—and that means your blood as well as ours.

Every day that passes without a Second Front increases the danger to you, increases the cost you will have to pay later for the defeat of Hitlerism. Remember that right now nine-tenths of all the armies of Hitler are engaged in our country—and not only the German armies. Hitler gathers his troops from all of Europe—from Hungary, Denmark, Italy, Rumania, Finland. Now, before our armies are further weakened, is the time to strike in Europe.

Stalingrad is a vital point for us and for you. I know our people are fighting and will keep on fighting as they did before Odessa, before Sevastopol, before Leningrad. Do not forget what each day of fighting means to our common cause. All the roads to all these cities were heaped with German corpses—the dead and the dying. The Germans do not rescue their wounded quickly from the battlefield, as we do. They advance over the bodies of their own wounded. It is that way at Stalingrad. It is important to you in America that we are killing so many of the enemy. Yes—we shall keep right on. But do not expect miracles of us. Our people are dying by the thousands too. The blow from the West must be coordinated with ours without any delay. Of course we have received help from your people, war supplies and medicines, for which we are very grateful. But the scale of the battles that are going on is very great history has never seen anything to compare with them. And the help we have received from outside is not enough. It is not only technical and material help that is important today. We need the help of people—of the armies of our allies fighting in the field.

I can’t help feeling that the American people are still too indifferent to the war and what it really means. I do not believe the American people as a whole entirely understand what war is like. Most of you so far only feel it as an inconvenience—doing without gasoline, being a little limited in the amount of sugar you use. You do not know what it is to have bombs falling all around you. You do not know what it is to see babies murdered, women and girls ravished by the Hitlerite beasts. You do not know what it is to find the charred bodies of your own comrades burned and tortured beyond recognition, to see rows of brave, fine people—people you knew—hanging along the roadside. You do not know what it is to walk into a home for old people won back from the Germans, as I did on the Sovkhoz Ilyichka, near Odessa. It was early morning, and the sun was just rising, and we went in to set the people there free. But what we found were the bodies of 108 old people, shot and tortured, slashed to pieces, blown up by grenades .

108 people, all of them old and ill. And so depraved are those Hitlerites that the old women had all been raped. Things like this could sometime happen to you if Hitler wins more victories.

And yet so many Americans still think of the war as something going on somewhere a long way off, where Russians and Germans are fighting each other. But we fight for your freedom too, we fight for the freedom of all the countries of Europe, of all the United Nations. And we are fighting alone.

Some people with whom I have talked seem to think the ocean is an obstacle of some kind. I think it is like a road—like your good American asphalt roads—perhaps better. You can go under it as well as over it. Look at all the submarines Hitler has sent to your shores. You have the great stretches of the ocean itself, you have the air above it to fly through, and the undersea passageway. I think you have a broad highway to a Second Front in Europe.

We have always admired you Americans for your great fighting qualities. You fought gloriously for freedom in your Revolution and Civil War. It is good to have such fighting traditions. But we feel that now also you must wish to fight for freedom as you fought in the past. Hitler threatens not only the USSR, he threatens you. I read your papers, and I do not see anything written there about the great danger to your country. It is all about the danger to Stalingrad. But that is your danger, too. How can we make the American people understand? It is not enough to write and talk—cry out at the top of your voice, tell about those children and old people, the millions of Hitler’s victims and what they have suffered.

And you must learn to hate the enemy as we did. Hatred did not come to us all at once. We are a peace—loving people, and we had to learn to hate. But fierce hatred rose within us after we saw with our own eyes what the Hitler beasts could do. Now we hate the enemy too much to fear him. When you are out there at your post you know that it is either you or your enemy who is killed. Our whole people know that today.

I have been asked often since I have been here how I feel when I kill a German. The feeling I have after killing a Nazi is the feeling of a hunter who has killed a beast of prey. Every time my bullet fells a Nazi I have the feeling that I have saved lives. Any people who have had Nazis trampling over their land know that. For the Nazis kill children, women, old men. To let a Nazi remain alive in your land is to abet the murder of your own people. Only the dead Nazi can be trusted to leave the innocent unharmed. Every Hitlerite killed is a step forward on the road to the liberation of mankind.

I have been asked to write something about my own life. If this will help in any way toward a better understanding of our people and our present struggle, I am glad to do this. Here is my story.

I am a Ukrainian. I was born twenty—six years ago in the town of Belaya Tserkov near Kiev. I have a younger sister, Valentina, who is now working in a munitions factory. I am proud to say she is reckoned as one of the best workers on the staff. My mother was a teacher. My father was a worker in a St. Petersburg factory when the revolution occurred. He took part in it and also in the Civil War. After we won and the country settled down, he was given an executive position which required traveling from place to place in the Ukraine. We all traveled with him. Every year of my early schooling was spent in a new school in a new city. But all this traveling around taught me a lot, and I finished school a year and a half ahead of the average. And this in spite of my being a tomboy and rather unruly in the class room. I’m afraid I was a trial to my teachers.

I was keen on sports of all kinds, and played all the boys’ games and would not allow myself to be outdone by boys in anything. That was how I turned to sharpshooting. When a neighbor’s boy boasted of his exploits at a shooting range I set out to show that a girl could do as well. So I practiced a lot.

When I was eighteen we finally settled down in Kiev. I had a choice of continuing my studies or going to work. I chose factory work and got a job in an arms plant, becoming a skilled turner. While at the factory, I continued my athletic activities and kept up my marksmanship. A funny incident occurred at this time, when my friends dragged me off to a nearby shooting gallery one day. Twelve prizes were offered. There were the usual stationary and moving targets. I bought fifteen bullets and won all the twelve prizes. The man who ran the place turned pale with alarm and astonishment as he unfastened one prize after another, and piled them up beside me. After letting him hand me the twelfth, I felt sorry for him and gave him back all the prizes.

After a few years in the factory, I was given an opportunity to enter the Military Engineering School. But war and military affairs were far from my thoughts in those days. I was interested in history and entered Kiev University in 1937. I dreamt of becoming a scholar, a teacher.

At the university I continued my athletic activities as before. I was a sprinter and a pole vaulter as well as a marksman. To perfect myself in shooting, I took courses at a sniper’s school.

I was in the city of Odessa when the war broke out. I had gone there to complete researches on my diploma thesis on Bogdan Khrnelnitsky, a great Ukrainian patriot and an important figure in the history of my country. At the very moment of the German invasion I was in a sanitarium where I had gone to recover from an illness. The moment I heard the news I stopped feeling ill. When I applied to the doctors of the sanitarium for a discharge, they refused. I didn’t feel that the time could be spared for arguments and appeals. I knew the war had done more to cure me than they could. So I took French leave.

They wouldn’t take girls in the army, so I had to resort to all kinds of tricks to get in. But I finally managed it. I served first with one of the volunteer detachments called “destroyer squads” organized in cities and districts close to the front, to dispose of German paratroopers. My detachment was later merged with a regular Red Army unit. I was a member of the 25th, the Chapayev Division.

Two Rumanian mercenaries of the Nazis helped me to become a sniper. To prove that I could qualify I was told to show my skill on a group of Rumanians. When I picked off the two I was accepted. They are not figured in my score total because they were test shots.

I have to admit I was scared in my first real baptism of fire. I was in range of hot German fire and I cried out to our machine gunners to cover me with return fire and save me. But I soon learned the steadiness and coolness required of our snipers. My sniper’s score began when I intercepted a German scouting party of three men. The Germans had laid down annihilating fire on a certain spot that they were determined to sweep bare. When they thought nothing there remained alive they sent out these scouts to reconnoiter to see if they could safely occupy the place. I spotted them and asked for the assignment to pick them off. Receiving permission I crawled to a spot from which I could cover them. I got two of the three. They started my score which now stands at 309.

Sniping is dangerous because we are hunted as well as hunters. The presence of a sniper can demoralize troops and everything is done to get rid of him with concentrated fire from all arms, even artillery, when his exact position is known; or by setting snipers of their own against him. A considerable part of my action has consisted of duels with enemy snipers.

It requires great endurance and willpower to be in exposed and difficult positions for fifteen or twenty hours at a stretch. And when you are in your position you must be under rigid self—control not to waste a shot or a movement. The slightest start may mean death. Your day begins before dawn, so that you can reach your position and build up your camouflage before there is light, and it ends after nightfall so that you can return under cover of darkness.

The Nazi hunters have often stalked me. One duel with a German sniper lasted three days. It was a hunt to the death. If either of us had a suspicion that the other had detected his position that position was shifted. That was one of the tensest experiences of my life. Finally he made one move too many.

Another time they assigned a squad of five Tommy gunners to get me. They camouflaged themselves and decided that they had set a clever trap for me on a road they thought I would pass on. They were right but I had my own way of using the road. I detected the trap, got into a position where their bullets couldn’t reach me and poured lead into what became a trap for them. I got three and when the two survivors ran for it, I got one of them. I searched the four bodies for the papers of the men and brought them back together with four tommyguns.

Once another sniper, Leonid Kitsenko, and I got quite a haul of Nazi officers. Following their communication wires to a dugout we took a position that commanded that particular field headquarters. Two officers came along to submit reports. Our shots dropped them. A man ran to their aid and we got him. An officer dashed out to see what the shooting was about and he joined them. The others fell into panic and for a while offered us perfect targets, as they milled around. Finally they concentrated protective fire around the spot while they abandoned the dugout, lugging out their files, and other equipment.

Our chief quarries were the enemy scouts. They and their snipers used many tricks to fool us or to get us to reveal ourselves. A German tin hat would appear, just a fraction of it, and we would think “I’ll get that Fritz !” Then the tin hat would waggle like the head of a toy elephant and disappear. We soon learned not to fall for this. One of their scouts whom I was hunting, after trying the helmet trick sent a cat out, either to distract me or to fool me into belief that nobody would be around where a cat could parade by so unconcernedly. Finally the scout tried his last trick. A dummy of a German soldier, in full uniform and even with a rifle in position, was raised and dangled before me. Then I knew that my man was there. I kept the spot covered but held my fire. The puppeteer now felt safe. He put his field glass to his eye. I shot at the flash of the lens. And that one had his last look at Soviet soil.

Yes, it is dangerous work, but things went better as I got used to the fire and German tactics. I have been wounded four times, twice rather heavily. I carry a scar, over the bridge of my nose, from the fourth wound, which I received during the evacuation of Sevastopol. In addition to the four wounds I suffered shell-shock which temporarily affected my hearing, but I was able to take treatments right on the front lines, and stayed in action.

Odessa and Sevastopol will remain in my memory forever. We defended Odessa till October. Then orders came to evacuate. We took positively everything with us aboard ship. The airmen took all the old airplane parts they could carry with them, and the cavalry took even old horseshoes. So we went aboard and started for Sevastopol.

Much has been written about Sevastopol. The history of wars can show nothing to compare with its defense. We were but one Russian to every ten Germans. Fifteen hundred planes flew over the long-suffering town every day. The air shook with incessant cannonading, exploding shells and bombs. The sun was blotted out by clouds of dust and earth. We hadn’t enough shells or food, but we hung on. The city had ceased to be—there was nothing save a heap of ruins—but still we hung on, battling from our stand on the ruins, shooting from behind every building, every elevation or mound.

Not a clod of Sevastopol ground was given up without a fierce fight not a step did we retreat without orders! We mowed down the Hitlerites like ripe grain. Drunk with blood as with ,vodka they swept headlong to death. Fresh German divisions were driven in to take the place of those fallen—there was no end to them! The Germans had to pay a high price —too high—for the heaps of brick and ash, the ruin that was once Sevastopol. Our 150 snipers alone accounted for a 1,080 of them. By that time I had trained a considerable number of snipers. Up to now I have trained eighty snipers and their combined score is well over the two thousand mark. By that time even the Germans knew of me. With their German stupidity they tried to bribe me. Their radios blared into our lines: “Liudmila Pavlichenko come over to us. We will give you plenty of chocolate and make you a German officer.” When they got no answer to that, they turned to threats. Their last message to me was: “Liudmila Pavlichenko, you will not escape us. When we catch you we will tear you in 309 pieces.” They even knew my score!

They might have known that they would not have that opportunity. Ten Germans managed to ambush a comrade of mine, Nikolai Koval. They didn’t get him alive. He blew himself up with a hand grenade and took six of the fascist beasts with him. Now I have come to America, the country which my people admire as one of the most advanced and democratic countries of the world. We are proud to be united with the American people in the fight against fascism.

Pavlichenko during her American tour, Washington, D.C., 1942.

There is a long tradition of friendship between our two countries. The United States and the Soviet Union have never fought against each other. This friendship must be deepened and strengthened after Hitlerism has been defeated by our common efforts. I think our country has understood America better than America has understood us. Our people have always been interested in the Americans, in studying their history and their life. I have studied quite a lot of American history myself, and I do not feel strange here.

I have come to your country as the representative of Soviet youth. I hope my visit may have some useful results. I am troubled to be idle now when everything and everyone is required by my country in the fight against the Hitlerites. I am impatient to be back. Later, when peace comes, I want to visit your beautiful country and see many things there is no time to see now—and enjoy myself a little and get to know your people better.

There isn’t time now. Perhaps then your people will get to know me better, too. Now I am looked upon a little as a curiosity, a subject for newspaper headlines, for anecdotes. In the Soviet Union I am looked upon as a citizen, as a fighter, as a soldier for my country. Yes, I am impatient to be back. I have 309 Hitlerites on my score. But the score is not finished, my work is not over.

In closing I have a special message for American women. I would like them to know first about our mothers. Soviet mothers love their children enormously. I know how much my mother loves me—and yet she writes to me: “I want to see you more than anything—but don’t come home until you come with victory.” And when their sons are killed our mothers do not stop to mourn—they work all the harder. Soviet mothers send their sons to the front, and if necessary their daughters too, without tears in their eyes. They know that it is necessary. While women are not regularly a part of our armed forces, many are fighting in one way or another. There are many, many cases where mothers whose sons are at the front become guerrilla fighters. Our women were on a basis of complete equality long before the war. From the first day of the Revolution full rights were granted the women of Soviet Russia. One of the most important things is that every woman has her own specialty. That is what actually makes them as independent as men. Soviet women have complete self-respect, because their dignity as human beings is fully recognized. Whatever we do, we are honored not just as women, but as individual personalities, as human beings. That is a very big word. Because we can be fully that, we feel no limitations because of our sex. That is why women have so naturally taken their places beside men in this war. We have a tradition, too, to live up to. There was Durova, the Russian woman guerrilla, who fought against Napoleon’s invading armies in 1812, and Dasha Sevastopolskaya who fought in the heroic defense of Sevastopol in 1854-55. So in today’s war our women have carried on these traditions—and added something. The names of many of them have already been immortalized Lisa Chaikina, Tanya (Zoya) Kosmodemianskaya, Maria Baida, Nina Onilova, Valya Phillipova—and scores of others. Our women have proved that we can master machines and technique as well as men can, that we can have as much will and determination as men can, that we can kill our enemies as well as men can. It seems strange to many Americans that women go into battle. They seem to think the war has changed them into some strange kind of creature between a man and a woman. But we are still feminine beings. We can still wear nice clothes and have polished fingernails in the proper time and place. We remain women and human beings as before. The war has made us tougher, that’s all.

Women behind the lines have almost entirely taken the place of men at machines. They are locksmiths, turners, locomotive engineers, miners. Now they do all the things that used to be men’s specialties—and they even manage to increase productivity 500 to 1,000 per cent. They know they are working as we are all working for our victory, for our army, for our freedom.

And on behalf of all these Russian women fighting in our common cause, I express the wish that American women should replace the men at the machines as our women do, that American women should understand as our women do that their sons and husbands at the front are fighting for universal freedom. That they should hurry and help defeat our common enemy—and do away with Hitlerism—and that such help can come only through opening the Second Front! American women must understand that if the Second Front is not opened now, the United States will face much greater suffering and losses later.

SOURCE: https://www.marxists.org/archive/pavlichenko/1942/10/x01.htm

9 August 2016: 71st Anniversary of US War Crime in Nagasaki

The images of the US war crimes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki usually focus on everything except the most important thing: the horrific effects of the nuclear bomb on human beings.  We see pictures of the bomb being built, the smiling fools proudly handling nuclear material that is so radioactive it is killing them while they pose for photos; the planes used, the happy crews of the planes… everything but the actual victims of the bombs.  These photos are graphic depictions of the horror of nuclear war in human terms.  This is what the human race will suffer through if we do not overthrow the capitalist system worldwide before the capitalist classes of the world go at it once again in their unending mad quest for profits.  World War Three does not have to happen: it is up to the workers of the world to prevent it from happening.  We have a choice between building an egalitarian socialist world or of sticking with a capitalist system that has already plunged the planet into two world wars.  The fate of the entire human race depends on what this generation of the 21st century decides to do.

14-year-old-girl horribly burned by Nagasaki bomb 11aug45_Ohmura Navy Hospital, Nagasaki_Getty Images_56888454714-year old girl at Ohmura Navy Hospital, Nagasaki, Japan, 11 August 1945.  Horribly burned by Nagasaki A-bomb, her skin hangs off her body in strips.  [Source: Getty Images]

Man receives treatment at Kozen Elementary School in Nagasaki_Getty Images_171480363

Man receives treatment at Kozen Elementary School in Nagasaki_Getty Images_171480363

August, 1945, Nagasaki_small boy receives treatment for burns_171480368

August, 1945, Nagasaki_small boy receives treatment for burns_Getty Images_171480368

Bones and ashes of victims_Nagasaki_Getty Images_171480389

Bones and ashes of victims_Nagasaki_Getty Images_171480389

— IWPCHI

6 August 2016: 71st Anniversary of U.S. War Crime – the A-Bombing of Hiroshima, Japan

To commemorate the 71st anniversary of the US war crime of the dropping of the atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan, we present excerpts from the book “Hiroshima Diary” by Dr. Michihiko Hachiya.  On August 6, 1945 Dr. Hachiya was the Director of the Hiroshima Communications Hospital, one of the few facilities that was not completely leveled by the nuclear blast.  At home at the time of the explosion, not far from ground zero, Dr. Hachiya was severely injured.  Unable to work in the days after the attack, he began to keep a diary of the events taking place around him.  These excerpts are personal accounts of witnesses in Hiroshima on August 6th and 7th – eyewitnesses to the immense human toll of the bombing , which we do not see in many photographs.  Photographs of the thousands of dead taken immediately after the blast are kept hidden from the public, though they do exist.  Immediately after the end of WWII, the US Government began a massive propaganda campaign in an attempt to get US citizens comfortable with the idea of surviving as victors in a nuclear war with the USSR and China.  Graphic images of what happens to human beings in a nuclear war were not allowed to be shown; instead, children were taught to “duck and cover” under their flimsy school desks when they saw the flash from a nuclear bomb.  At home, people were encouraged to build air raid shelters and bomb-proof bunkers under their homes, and to keep them stocked with canned goods and water so they could survive the immediate effects of the A-bomb.  But the oral and written histories of Hiroshima and Nagasaki tell a different story: one of unimaginable horror and human suffering that was inescapable for almost everyone within 5 miles of the center of the explosion.  Today’s nuclear weapons are many times more powerful than the bombs dropped on Japan; so these eyewitness accounts give us only a hint of what would happen in a modern nuclear war.  As the capitalist world hurtles toward World War III we offer this brief look at what lies in store for all of us unless we the workers put an end to the capitalist system of exploitation, poverty and war and establish a global coalition of egalitarian socialist workers republics in its place.

The US Government, which launched wars in Korea that killed 3 million, Vietnam (another 3 million); backed dictatorships throughout South and Central America and the Caribbean that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of workers and trade union leaders; organized the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of workers in the Philippines and Indonesia; and has killed over 1 million in Iraq and hundreds of thousands in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Syria tries to sell the big lie that ISIL/ISIS are ruthless killers!  The most ruthless mass-murderers on this planet – the US capitalist class and their blood-soaked government – slaughtered more workers in two days in August 1945 than ISIL/ISIS – vicious as they certainly are – has killed in the past two years!  And more often than not, the US political party in power that ends up happily leading workers into a slaughterhouse at the behest of their corporate owners is… the “lesser evil” Democratic Party!

U.S. capitalism must die so the working classes of the U.S. and the world may live!  Workers of the world, unite!

— IWPCHI

**********************

[Excerpts from “Hiroshima Diary – The Journal of a Japanese Physician – August 6-September 30, 1945” by Michihiko Hachiya, M.D., Director, Hiroshima Communications Hospital; Translated and edited by Warner Wells, M.D., University of North Carolina School of Medicine.  University of North Carolina Press, 1955.]

Mushroom cloud rises over Hiroshima, Japan, August 6 1945. Photo taken by Enola Gay tail gunner S/Sgt. George R. (Bob) Caron. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Mushroom cloud rises over Hiroshima, Japan, August 6 1945. Photo taken by Enola Gay tail gunner S/Sgt. George R. (Bob) Caron. Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Don’t go,” I said. “Please tell us more of what occurred yesterday.”

It was a horrible sight,” said Dr. Tabuchi. “Hundreds of injured people who were trying to escape the hills passed our house. The sight of them was almost unbearable. Their faces and hands were burnt and swollen; and great sheets of skin had peeled away from their tissues to hang down like rags on a scarecrow. They moved like a line of ants. All through the night, they went past our house, but this morning they had stopped. I found them lying on both sides of the road so thick that it was impossible to pass without stepping on them.”

View of Hiroshima A-bomb from Honkawa Elementary School, taken 30 seconds after bombing.

View of Hiroshima A-bomb from Honkawa Elementary School, taken 30 seconds after bombing.

I lay with my eyes shut while Dr. Tabuchi was talking, picturing in my mind the horror he was describing. I neither saw nor heard Mr. Katsutani when he came in. It was not until I heard someone sobbing that my attention was attracted, and I recognized my old friend. I had known Mr. Katsutani for many years and knew him to be an emotional person, but even so, to see him break down made tears come to my eyes. He had come all the way from Jigozen to look for me, and now that he had found me, emotion overcame him.

He turned to Dr. Sasada and said brokenly: “Yesterday, it was impossible to enter Hiroshima, else I would have come. Even today fires are still burning in some places. You should see how the city has changed. When I reached the Misasa Bridge this morning, everything before me was gone, even the castle. These buildings here are the only ones left anywhere around.

Effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. View from the top of the Red Cross Hospital looking northwest. Frame buildings recently erected. 1945, US Department of Defense

Effects of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. View from the top of the Red Cross Hospital looking northwest. Frame buildings recently erected. 1945, US Department of Defense

[…]

Mr. Katsutani paused for a moment to catch his breath and went on: “I really walked along the railroad tracks to get here, but even they were littered with electric wires and broken railway cars, and the dead and wounded lay everywhere. When I reached the bridge, I saw a dreadful thing. It was unbelievable. There was a man, stone dead, sitting on his bicycle as it leaned against the bridge railing. It is hard to believe that such a thing could happen!”

He repeated himself two or three times as if to convince himself that what he said was true and then continued: “It seems that most of the dead people were either on the bridge or beneath it. You could tell that many had gone down to the river to get a drink of water and had died where they lay. I saw a few live people still in the water, knocking against the dead as they floated down the river. There must have been hundreds and thousands who fled to the river to escape the fire and then drowned.

The sight of the soldiers, though, was more dreadful than the dead people floating down the river. I came onto I don’t know how many, burned from the hips up; and where the skin had peeled, their flesh was wet and mushy. They must have been wearing their military caps because the black hair on top of their heads was not burned. It made them look like they were wearing black lacquer bowls.

And they had no faces! Their eyes, noses and mouths had been burned away, and it looked like their ears had melted off. It was hard to tell front from back. One soldier, whose features had been destroyed and was left with his white teeth sticking out, asked me for some water, but I didn’t have any. I clasped my hands and prayed for him. He didn’t say anything more. His plea for water must have been his last words. The way they were burned, I wonder if they didn’t have their coats off when the bomb exploded.”

[…]

Somebody asked him what he was doing when the explosion occurred. […]

I was the ranking officer in the local branch of the Ex-officer’s Association, but even I didn’t know what to do because that day the villagers under my command had been sent off to Miyajima [the next village towards Hiroshima from where he was in Jigozen, approximately 10 miles southwest of ground zero – IWPCHI] for labor service. I looked all around to find someone to help me make a rescue squad, but I couldn’t find anybody. While I was still looking for help, wounded people began to stream into the village. I asked them what had happened, but all they could tell me was that Hiroshima had been destroyed and everybody was leaving the city. With that I got on my bicycle and rode as fast as I could towards Itsukaichi. By the time I got there, the road was jammed with people, and so was every path and byway.

Again I tried to find out what had happened, but nobody could give me a clear answer. When I asked people where they had come from, they would point towards Hiroshima and say. ‘This way.’ And when I asked where they were going, they would point toward Miyajima and say, ‘That way.’ Everybody said the same thing.

Hiroshima Street Scene with injured Civilians. Credit: Australian War Memorial, CANBERRA ACT 2601

Hiroshima Street Scene with injured Civilians. Credit: Australian War Memorial, CANBERRA ACT 2601

I saw no badly wounded or burned people around Itsukaichi, but when I reached Kusatsu, nearly everybody was badly hurt. The nearer I got to Hiroshima the more I saw until by the time I had reached Koi [a railroad station on the very western limits of the city] they were all so badly injured, I could not bear to look into their faces. They smelled like burning hair.

The patient's skin is burned in a pattern corresponding to the dark portions of a kimono. Credit: National Archives and Records Administration 519686

“The patient’s skin is burned in a pattern corresponding to the
dark portions of a kimono.”  Credit: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration 519686

[…]

The area around Koi station was not burned, but the station and the houses nearby were badly damaged. Every square inch of the station platform was packed with wounded people. Some were standing; others lying down. They were all pleading for water. Now and then you could hear a child calling for its mother. It was a living hell, I tell you! It was a living hell!

Today it was the same way. […] I left Koi station and went over to the Koi primary school. By then, the school had been turned into an emergency hospital and was already crowded with desperately injured people. Even the playground was packed with the dead and dying. They looked like so many cod fish spread out for drying. What a pitiful sight it was to see them lying there in the hot sun. Even I could tell they were all going to die.”

[…]

Dr. Hanaoka made an appearance. “Let me tell you, if I can, what happened,” he said. “I stopped by the Red Cross Hospital on my way here. It is swamped with patients, and outside the dead and dying are lined up on either side of the street as far east as the Miyuki Bridge.

Between the Red Cross Hospital and the center of the city I saw nothing that wasn’t burned to a crisp. Streetcars were standing at Kawaya-cho and inside were dozens of bodies, blackened beyond recognition. I saw fire reservoirs filled to the brim with dead people who looked as though they had been boiled alive. In one reservoir I saw a man, horribly burned, crouching beside another man who was dead. He was drinking blood-stained water out of the reservoir. Even if I had tried to stop him, it wouldn’t have done any good; he was completely out of his head. In one reservoir there were so many dead people there wasn’t enough room for them to fall over. They must have died sitting in the water.

Even the swimming pool at the Prefectural First Middle School is filled with dead people. They must have suffocated while they sat in the water trying to escape the fire because they didn’t appear to be burned.

Dr. Hanaoka cleared his throat, and after a moment continued: “Dr. Hachiya, that pool wasn’t big enough to accommodate everybody who tried to get in it. You could tell that by looking around the sides. I don’t know how many were caught by death with their heads hanging over the edge. In one pool I saw some people who were still alive, sitting in the water with dead all around them. They were too weak to get out. People were trying to help them, but I am sure they must have died. I apologize for telling you these things, but they are true. I don’t see how anyone got out alive…”

Hiroshima victim photographed 1951

Hiroshima victim photographed 1951

 

 

Conversation with a Young US Student Considering Becoming a Wage-slaving “Whore” for a Banker-pimp

Ah, the life of a wage slave is not pleasant once you know how badly you're getting screwed by your capitalist "friends". Recent Trends in WEALTH Distribution in USA, 1989-2013. Federal Reserve Bulletin, p. 11.

Ah, the life of a wage slave is not pleasant once you know how badly you’re getting screwed by your capitalist “friends”.   Having difficulty understanding this graph, young wage slave?  If so you are indeed stupid.  Recent Trends in WEALTH Distribution in USA, 1989-2013. Source: Federal Reserve Bulletin – Changes in US Family Finances 2010 -2013:_Survey of Consumer Finances_scf14

There are two kinds of workers in the working class in the capitalist world: wage-slaves and communist revolutionaries. Which are you?

This question is of some importance to the future – if there is to be a future – of the United States of America.  Unless the wage-slaves of the United States pull their heads out of their asses, become worker-revolutionaries and overthrow the US capitalist class that is hell-bent on murdering workers all over the world in pursuit of profits, the world will soon be forced to do to the United States what the world did to Hitler’s Germany in 1945. When we say “Capitalism Must Die so the Working Class May Live” we mean it. There is – literally – NO FUTURE for the working class under the capitalist system! We either overthrow capitalism or we’re all going to be shadows on a wall someday – sooner than most people think.

In case you forgot what the world had to do to kick the ass of the last gang of capitalist criminals that tried to rule the world by force, here’s a photo of just one city in Germany at the end of World War II: Cologne.

Cologne's cathedral stands undamaged in a sea of total destruction, 24 April 1945. This is what USA's big cities will look like if US capitalist class force world to put an end to its reign of terror. Source: U.S. Signal Corps; U.S. National Archives.

Cologne’s cathedral stands undamaged in a sea of total destruction, 24 April 1945. This is what USA’s big cities will look like – except that not even the cathedrals will be spared –  if US capitalist class forces the world to put an end to the US’ reign of terror the way Hitler’s Nazi capitalist regime was finally put down. Source: U.S. Signal Corps; U.S. National Archives.

Beautiful, isn’t it? If you think this can’t happen to the United States of America(TM), “The World’s Only Superpower(TM)”, we’re here to tell you: you’re wrong. If you think that the US capitalist class – your masters, representing less than 0.45% of the world’s population – have the “right” to run the entire planet as if it was their own lemonade stand… in the name of “Freedom(TM)” and “Democracy(TM)”, of course! – and can pull that off for any length of time – you’re even dumber than we think.  Fortunately for you and for the whole world, your ignorance is 100% curable. You’d better get started on your cure before it’s too late. Time is not on the side of the working class. You’ve let the capitalists run the tables for far too long, and the window of opportunity for you to take power out of their hands is rapidly closing.

In the interest of waking you, the US working class from your self-perpetuated ignorance and capitalist mass-media-induced apathy, we present the following political equivalent of a slap upside the head. Enjoy! And show it to your fellow dumb-ass wage-slaves!

*********

Freedom. Hah! “The Land of the Free(TM)”! Ha ha! This capitalist USA isn’t the “land of the free” it’s the land of the stupid-ass wage-slaves.

You don’t think you’re stupid, young wage-slave? That figures! You’re so dumb you don’t even KNOW you’re a wage slave living in a capitalist country! There’s a 50% chance that you believe that shameless Wall St. sock puppet Barack Obama is a socialist! You think you’re “free”, too, don’t you? Well here’s a news flash for you: you ARE stupid; you live in a capitalist country; Obama’s NOT a socialist; and you’re not free. Got that? The hell you do!

The stupid wage-slave workers of the USA don’t have any idea what “freedom” is, and there is more than a little bit of evidence proving that if there is such a thing as “freedom”, the vast majority of the 200 million active US wage-slaves don’t want to have anything to do with it. As soon as they leave high school – in many cases even before – the vast majority of them do everything possible to strip themselves of what little “freedom” they will ever possess, gleefully wrapping themselves in chains they’ll have to drag for the rest of their lives by taking on college tuition loans, home and car loans and by starting families at a young age. Doing even just one of these things – not to mention doing all of them at once as so many stupid young US wage-slaves do in this horrendous capitalist nation-state of the USA – is fatal to the pursuit of individual freedom. Apparently, for most workers, this is the easiest route and one they feel most comfortable taking, because it relieves them of any ability or necessity of making any real choices as to how they will live out their lives. Like their wage-slave, slave and peasant ancestors going back thousands of generations, they prefer the chains of slavery to the frightening unpredictability and terrifying responsibility of actual freedom. That’s why wage-slaves are so common, and communist revolutionaries are so few.

Calling the United States of America the “Land of the Free(TM)” is one of the sickest jokes ever played on a dull-witted public. And here’s another news flash for you stupid wage-slaves of the United Snakes of America: there is no nation of Earth with wage-slaves as dumb as you are!  Every other major industrialized nation in the world has a working class that has organized revolutionary workers parties that represent the interests of the working class in their state and national governments.  You are so stupid you think you don’t need to do the same; you’re all convinced that you can just settle for the political impotence of “speaking truth to power”.   You literally have no clue what you’re up against under capitalism – and what’s more – many of you just don’t care. If that’s not dangerously stupid, what is?

Going to college, young slave? Great idea! No doubt your high-school counselor showed you a list of the most sought-after job skills here in the “Land of the Free”. Let’s just put aside the fact that the list you were shown was probably out of date by at least a half-decade by the time your counselor showed it to you. If you are a “smart” wage-slave, you picked a “career” for yourself by selecting from the top of the list of the most highly desirable college degrees sought by the major corporations running this “free country” of ours. What a smart young wage-slave you are! Ha! You didn’t know it but you were fucked from that moment on! Your stupid-ass wage-slave parents couldn’t warn you because they don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground either. They fell for every lie they were ever told by the US capitalist class, and they are so far in debt they’ll never break even if they work 3 jobs for the rest of their lives. They haven’t read a non-fiction book since they left school and they think they know all they need to know – in other words, they are complete and utter dumbfuck wage-slaves, at the mercy of the greedheads that own the companies they work for and a government that is out to crush them. They – and you – will struggle your whole lives for a tiny piece of the 25% of the national wealth being fought over by 90% of the population. That is all of the national wealth not owned by those at the top 10% of the upside-down US income pyramid – the US capitalist class.

The problem is: in every high school in the land, smart young wage slaves are being shown that very same “pick-a-career” list; and a huge number of your fellow proto-wage-slaves are making the same decision you just made. So by the time you come out of college in 4 or 6 or 8 years, there’ll be so many people holding that same degree that the supply of newly trained wage slaves in your specialty will have outstripped the demand. It could take you months or even years to get a good-paying job in your chosen field – if ever. And if you think that’s sickening, realize this: the sick thing about it is that over-supplying the demand for every job is PRECISELY one of the top goals of the capitalist class – because that’s how they keep wages down and profits up! Like we said: you were fucked from the time you laid eyes on that “pick-a-career” list!

But why worry? You’re going to be a “free” citizen of the “free” world! A young, bright-eyed college grad with all the world open to you to conquer! Right? Wrong.

But here’s another little problem: thanks to the fact that you live in “The Land of the Free(TM)” – perhaps the MOST unapologetically, viciously, heartlessly “capitalist” country in the world – the education you just received here in the “land of the free” wasn’t “free” at all. You owe the university – or the bank you borrowed the money for your college tuition from – tens of thousands of dollars right now.  And that money you owe isn’t just going to sit there doing nothing while you look for a job that will enable you to pay off your huge debt. It’s growing like a cancer. In the capitalist world, loans – as you may now be dimly aware – are “interest-bearing”. Not for you, but for your banker-pimp! Oh, we forgot to tell you: did you know that you’re now a wage-slaving whore for a banker-pimp? You are, young wage-slave! Freedom? Ha! And the longer you are forced to wait to get a job, the larger your debt to your new banker-pimp becomes! Wow! Imagine that! You haven’t even started your career yet and already you are no longer “free” at all! From the moment you signed the papers on that loan, you became a whore for your banker-pimp – and, bitch, you’d better get your ass out on the street and start paying off your pimp or your credit rating is going to get shot to hell. What’s a “credit rating”? It’s how your capitalist bosses and banker-pimps keep you on your knees sucking corporate cock for the rest of your life! More on that another time.

You didn’t go to college? Aren’t you clever! Actually you’re probably actually NOT very clever or you’d have been channeled into the college-track by your school counselors long ago. For some reason, it was decided that you were not “college material” – probably because you were either dumb or a shitty student or you happened to be not white-skinned – or some combination of these things. So you are going to get your “freedom” 4, or 6 or 8 years before your fellow wage-slaves who went to college! Lucky you! Ha ha ha!

You get to immediately sell your labor-power in the capitalist marketplace. Problem is, the only thing you know how to do is read and do basic math! So you’re only qualified to work at low-wage jobs – and there are literally millions of dumb High School dropouts or barely-graduateds just like you looking for jobs too. It’s a “free market” for labor! Isn’t that fun? Actually, it isn’t at all fun, as you will soon find out. You will be working for whatever wages your future series of greedy capitalist-pimps feel like paying you, for the rest of your “life”.

Unless you join a union, that is. You don’t like unions? Ha ha! Well we hope you like poverty, dumbass! Because that’s what you’re gonna face – for the rest of your long, stupid life as a wage-slave if you can’t land a decent-paying job in a non-union factory of some kind. And those jobs are scarce and getting scarcer every day – and there are millions of stupid people like you fighting over those few jobs.

You had better re-think your opinion of unions. First of all, you could sign up for an apprenticeship program at a number of unions. There, you’ll get paid to go to school for four years, learning a trade.

“Wha- wha- whaaat? Did you say I would get PAID to go to school?”

Yes, little wage-slave! Union apprenticeships aren’t like those criminal “internships” many of your fellow wage-slaves got suckered into where they work their asses off for free. The union apprenticeships PAY YOU to go to school. And once you graduate, you will be making the most money it is possible to make in a regular job for the vast majority of wage-slaves. It’s a great deal, and beats the shit out of the “Great Capitalist College Swindle(TM)”!

“Great! Thanks for telling me about that – I’d never heard of such a thing! I’m joining a union apprenticeship program! I’m going to be making excellent money and have a good job guaranteed when I’m done with my apprenticeship, while those stupid college students are stuck with their huge debt and no job!”

Uh, wait a minute young wage-slave. No one is going to guarantee you a job under capitalism. Ever. They call this the “free world” but, as you are about to find out – nothing in it is “free” – especially wage-slaves like you. Your ability to get a full-time job at the end of your apprenticeship will depend on the vicissitudes of the capitalist economy – and your willingness to kiss your bosses ass like a good wage-slave. If you’re in a construction trade, it’s a “boom-or-bust” situation. Sometimes you’re going to work 60 hours a week for years on end; other times you’ll be out of work for years on end. But look on the “bright side”: at least you won’t have to pay off an enormous debt like the college wage-slaves.

“Great! The economy is strong right now and it probably will be when I complete my apprenticeship in 5 years. I’m going to have it made! I’m so happy I’m not going to wait 5 years – I’m going to marry my high-school sweetheart right now, buy a house, have a couple of kids and start enjoying my freedom here in the “land of the free” right away!”

Uhhhh… hold on there now, dumbass! How are you going to enjoy your “freedom” by getting married and buying a house and having kids? Every one of those things is going to increase the amount of money you’re going to have to make in order to keep your family alive. Especially buying a house! And kids! Forget about it! “Freedom” that ain’t! Under the capitalist system it’s a ball and chain for life!

“What do you mean? Buying a house is part of the “American Dream”! It’s what living in a free country is all about. You own your own house, instead of just paying rent to a landlord! Homeowners have more freedom than renters! And having kids isn’t that expensive; we’ll find a way to make it work. Everyone tells me this, so it must be true!”

Well, we must say, in the defense of honesty: nearly every worker in the United States is a stupid-ass streetwalking pimped-off wage-slave.  They believe everything their banker-pimp masters tell them to believe. The fact is that it has always – in most places and historical periods in the US – been cheaper in the long run to rent than to buy a house. And if you care at all about protecting what little “freedom” a wage-slave actually has in a “free” capitalist country, you might consider the ramifications of becoming owned by a bank through a mortgage on a house. If you rent and have to move to another town or state for a new job, you can pretty much just pack up and go; if you are “owned” by a banker-pimp through a house, you have to sell it before you move or you’ll end up paying for two homes. Selling your house could take months or even years and will quickly eat up any savings you were somehow able to accumulate – if you had any. And having kids! Did you know that for every kid you have you and your spouse will have to make approximately an additional $12,000 to $15,000 a year per child – precisely at a time when your family’s income will be cut in half because your wife is pregnant? And even if your wife doesn’t permanently lose her job when she takes her pregnancy leave and gets back to work quickly, you will now have to pay thousands of dollars a year for child care. Under the capitalist system, having kids is a great way to say “goodbye” to “freedom” for the next 20 years.

“Gee! No one ever told me that! I wonder why?”

Oh, you have much to learn, young wage-slave. But that doesn’t make you special. All of us worker-revolutionaries were dumbass wage-slaves too, once; we’d all been fed a bunch of lies by our stupid wage-slave families who all had been pimped out for decades by their banker-pimps; they all claimed that they were “free” people living in a “free” country, too. Living in a capitalist country is the opposite of “freedom” for a worker-wage-slave. You can only survive under capitalism if you have a job; and NO ONE can or ever will guarantee you that you WILL have a job. Even the most fortunate and shamelessly docile wage slaves get laid off at least once in their lives during the inevitable periodic economic crises that shake the capitalist world to its foundations.

“Yikes!  That’s scary!  I had no idea how unstable the capitalist system has been!  But how is owning a house giving up your freedom? I’ve always been told the opposite. Everyone says that you must own a car to enjoy your freedom, and that renting is slavery compared to owning your own house. You mean to tell me that those are lies?”

Yes, those are indeed lies – monstrous lies – not made any less monstrous by the fact that so many stupid-ass wage-slaves believe them to be true.
The capitalist system is a form of economic exploitation of workers for the benefit of the wealthy people who own factories and other businesses. All wealth is based upon the extraction of profits from the wage-labor of wage-slave workers like you. In order to force workers to spend their lives making the rich people richer, they dangle things like new cars and houses in front of stupid-ass wage-slaves and tell the slaves that they can only have true “freedom” if they own these things. In order to own these things they must be obedient wage-slaves willing to give the best years of their lives over to slaving in a capitalist enterprise for as many hours as the capitalist wishes to force them to work. The gullible wage-slaves are trained to believe that by working hard, they will acquire their freedom. The Nazis had this slogan over the entrance to Auschwitz: “Arbeit Mach Frei” – “Work will make you free”. It is a lie. Work under capitalism is a form of slavery in which workers are given the choice of either pimping themselves out to the highest capitalist bidder or of being homeless.

“You’re talking philosophy; how does this relate to owning a home or a car?”

When you take out a loan to buy a car, you sign a portion of your working life over to your banker-pimp, who then forces you to keep on working and turning over a large portion of your paycheck to him so his capitalist bosses can live like kings while you struggle to buy your “freedom” – something which you will never achieve in a capitalist country no matter how hard you work. Buying a new or used car with a loan makes you a whore for a banker-pimp for a few years. Buying a HOUSE, on the other hand, makes you a whore to a banker-pimp for a number of DECADES! Until you completely pay off your loans, you don’t own that car or house at all – YOUR BANKER-PIMP OWNS YOU THROUGH THAT CAR OR HOUSE! And if you don’t keep working and keep kissing your capitalist-pimp’s ass at the place where you work, you’ll be fired or laid off and, being unable to make the car payment or mortgage, the banker-pimp will take away your car or house and use them to enslave another sucker. And you’ll be homeless and as propertyless as those renters you laughed at who decided not to give up their tiny amount of “freedom” by becoming a whore for a banker-pimp like you did.

“Wow! My dad always said that “his banker” was a great guy who got him a great deal on his mortgage!”

Your dad is a typical dumb wage-slave who has been tricked into thinking that he “got a great deal” from his banker-pimp. In fact, here’s what your dad’s delusion is based on. The banker-pimp knows from dealing with your dumbass wage-slave dad that he’s such a completely housebroken, obedient and hard-working wage-slave that if the banker-pimp cuts the interest by a mere 1/4% on his home mortgage, your dad – out of slavish gratitude – will probably also come back to the banker-pimp whenever he thinks he needs to buy a new car or if he needs to take out a second mortgage on his house for some guaranteed-to-eventually-happen, unavoidable reason – like if he or your mom gets sick and needs expensive medical treatment. Plus, the banker-pimp knows your dad is taking good care of the banker-pimp’s house, keeping it in excellent physical shape with the money being lent to him at interest by the banker-pimp. So if the day ever comes that your dad can no longer make payments on the house, the banker-pimp or his successors will swoop in and take the house back and sell it to another stupid-ass wage-slave who thinks he will obtain “freedom” by “owning” a house. There are so many ways that people can get screwed out of their homes that it would take me a year to describe them all to you. The home “ownership” scam run by the banker-pimps of the capitalist world is one of the principal swindles employed by the capitalists to keep their wage-slaves docile, obedient and hard-working.

“Ow! My brain is starting to hurt! You commies are liars who try to make all the good things in life look awful!”

Well why don’t you go home and think about it in your “free time” – if you have any! Ha ha ha! We haven’t told you about the many, many lies of the capitalists who are enslaving you, young wage-slave! If you ever get sick of being a wage-slave, feel free to stop by and learn more about the phony “land of the free” bullshit sold to all wage slaves by the bought-and-paid-for propagandists of the capitalist class. And here: read this.

The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx

The Communist Manifesto?  I don’t know… I’ve always been told that was nothing but commie propaganda.  Frankly I’m frightened by the prospect of reading it!  And it’s so old – this is 2016! What good is something written way back in 1848?”

Well, yes it is of course “communist propaganda”.  You’re frightened to read a book?  How absurd!  Old?  The basic writings of the capitalist ideologue Adam Smith – which is “capitalist propaganda”– were written 75 years BEFORE the Manifesto!  And yet every communist has read Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”…

Read the introduction by Trotsky as well; he explains that, of course, some of the Manifesto is outdated, but most of it remains remarkably informative and useful even today.  It’s still one of the best introductions to the nature of the capitalist system and basic socialist ideas available, and it’s only about 50 pages. It’s like “Google Maps” for orienting yourself in the capitalist world you live in, young wage-slave.

“OK thanks. I’ll take a look at it. What a conversation! Next thing you know you’ll be telling me that the police are not here to “protect and serve” the workers!”

They’re not here to “protect and serve” the workers! The police were organized to protect the private property and property rights of the capitalists and to “serve” as the armed force to be used to keep the workers from rising up AGAINST their banker-pimp and capitalist masters…

“That’s enough of your propaganda! Let me go read the Manifesto and we’ll talk about that another time! This is too much for me to take in at once!”

Ha ha! We felt the same way when we first heard all this years ago when WE were young, dumbass wage slaves! Nearly everyone starts off in the same way. Almost everyone in our party – except those lucky ones whose parents had cast off their chains to become revolutionary workers – grew up as dumb wage-slaves who believed that wage-slavery was “freedom”, too. Our political education only really began when we first read the “Communist Manifesto”. We had heard all kinds of horrible lies about what the “Manifesto” contained. We were shocked to find that what it actually contained was some excellent information that exposed the reality of the place in capitalist class society that we were born into as sons and daughters of working-class parents. It shocked and awakened us to the reality of life as a wage-slave in capitalist class society and it will do the same for you. Before we read it, we felt like one of the famous blind men encountering the elephant of capitalism – we didn’t even know its name WAS “capitalism”! That’s how dumb WE were! The Manifesto made it possible for us to see the capitalist world as it truly is for the first time in our lives. It’s been great talking with you. By reading the Manifesto you are taking the first step in throwing off your chains and in becoming a revolutionary worker instead of a dumb wage-slave. We hope you enjoy the book!  When you’re done with it, we’ll talk again!

—IWPCHI

What the Immediate Aftermath of Hiroshima Looked Like

These photographs were taken in Hiroshima immediately after the bomb exploded.  They show what nuclear war looks like from the perspective of the victims.  [Source: WordPress.com, Iconic Photos, “Hiroshima, August 6, 1945”]  It is not necessary to explain these images.  We append a copy of a statement made by the photographer Yoshito Matsushige describing his experiences that day.

The mushroom cloud rising over Hiroshima as seen from below.  Photographer unknown. 6 August 1945.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yoshito Matsushige was a 32 year old cameraman for the Chugoku Newspaper at that time. He was at his home in Midori-cho, 2.7kilometers from the hypocenter when the A-bomb was dropped. He walked around the city right after the bombing and took five photographs which have become important historical documents.

MATSUSHIGE:  “I had finished breakfast and was getting ready to go to the newspaper when it happened. There was a flash from the indoor wires as if lightening had struck. I didn’t hear any sound, how shall I say, the world around me turned bright white. And I was momentarily blinded as if a magnesium light had lit up in front of my eyes. Immediately after that, the blast came. I was bare from the waist up, and the blast was so intense, it felt like hundreds of needles were stabling me all at once. The blast grew large holes in the walls of the first and second floor. I could barely see the room because of all the dirt. I pulled my camera and the clothes issued by the military headquarters out from under the mound of the debris, and I got dressed. I thought I would go to either either the newspaper or to the headquarters. That was about 40 minutes after the blast. Near the Miyuki Bridge, there was a police box. Most of the victims who had gathered there were junior high school girls from the Hiroshima Girls Business School and the Hiroshima Junior High School No.1. they had been mobilized to evacuate buildings and they were outside when the bomb fell. Having been directly exposed to the heat rays, they were covered with blisters, the size of balls, on their backs, their faces, their shoulders and their arms. The blisters were starting to burst open and their skin hung down like rugs. ”

Crowd of junior high school girls, victims of attack on Hiroshima. 6 August 1945.
Photographer: Yoshito Matsushige

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Some of the children even have burns on the soles of their feet. They’d lost their shoes and run barefoot through the burning fire. When I saw this, I thought I would take a picture and I picked up my camera. But I couldn’t push the shutter because the sight was so pathetic. Even though I too was a victim of the same bomb, I only had minor injuries from glass fragments, whereas these people were dying. It was such a cruel sight that I couldn’t bring myself to press the shutter. Perhaps I hesitated there for about 20 minutes, but I finally summoned up the courage to take one picture. Then, I moved 4 or 5 meters forward to take the second picture. Even today, I clearly remember how the view finder was clouded over with my tears. I felt that everyone was looking at me and thinking angrily, ‘He’s taking our picture and will bring us no help at all.’ Still, I had to press the shutter, so I harden my heart and finally I took the second shot.”

Victims of US atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima immediately after the blast. “Most of the victims who had gathered there were junior high school girls from the Hiroshima Girls Business School and the Hiroshima Junior High School No.1.”   August 6, 1945.  Photographer: Yoshito Matsushige.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Those people must have thought me duly cold-hearted. Then, I saw a burnt streetcar which had just turned the corner at Kamiya-cho. There were passengers still in the car. I put my foot onto the steps of the car and I looked inside. There were perhaps 15 or 16 people in front of the car. They laid dead one on top of another. Kamiya-cho was very close to the hypocenter, about 200 meters away. The passengers had stripped them of all their clothes. They say that when you are terrified, you tremble and your hair stands on end. And I felt just this tremble when I saw this scene. I stepped down to take a picture and I put my hand on my camera. But I felt so sorry for these dead and naked people whose photo would be left to posterity that I couldn’t take the shot. Also, in those days we weren’t allowed to publish the photographs of corpses in the newspapers. After that, I walked around, I walked through the section of town which had been hit hardest. I walked for close to three hours. But I couldn’t take even one picture of that central area. There were other cameramen in the army shipping group and also at the newspaper as well. But the fact that not a single one of them was able to take pictures seems to indicate just how brutal the bombing actually was. I don’t pride myself on it, but it’s a small consolation that I was able to take at least five pictures.

Soldier at table with victims of US atomic bombing of Hiroshima, 6 August, 1945.
Photographer: Yoshito Matsushige

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadow left on steps of bank where victim of US atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima was vaporized. 6 August, 1945
Photographer: Yoshito Matsushige

“During the war, air-raids took place practically every night. And after the war began, there were many foods shortages. Those of us who experienced all these hardships, we hope that such suffering will never be experienced again by our children and our grandchildren. Not only our children and grandchildren, but all future generations should not have to go through this tragedy. That is why I want young people to listen to our testimonies and to choose the right path, the path which leads to peace.”  [Source: AtomicArchive.com, “Testimony of Yoshito Matsushige”]

 

Additional sources:

http://pegasus.phys.saga-u.ac.jp/peace/matsushige.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoshito_Matsushige

 

IWPCHI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering US War Crimes – Hiroshima and Nagasaki, August 6 and 9, 1945

Hiroshima before the A-bomb, 1945

As recently as 15 or 20 years ago, it was common in the United States for the national news, both print and broadcast, to take the time to commemorate the mass murders of Japanese civilians committed by the United States in August, 1945 at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The news annually broadcast an obligatory item including a brief mention of the “regrettable necessity” of dropping the bombs in order to end the war in Japan.  The horrifying video of the bomb exploding, along with a couple of images of shadows on walls and a woman’s back showing the pattern of her dress stenciled onto her skin by the searing heat of the world’s first wartime use of nuclear weapons were always shown to illustrate the terrifying power of nuclear weapons.

Now, it seems that the US government – and the citizenry – have “gotten over” their moral pangs of regret for committing two of the most terrible war crimes in world history: the deliberate annihilation of a quarter of a million people, the vast majority, civilians.  The US news media was largely silent about the commemoration of the 67th anniversary of the Hiroshima bombing yesterday.

On August 5th, CNN posted a video of an interview with “the last surviving crew member” of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.  This is how Hiroshima looks through the twisted lens of the CNN editorial team: “how did the Hiroshima bombing affect the crew members of the plane that dropped the bomb?”

Hiroshima after the A-bomb, August 6, 1945

The video is typical of the current genre of Hiroshima and Nagasaki memorials broadcast in the US the past 20 years or so.  Where once there was an obligatory weak showing of anguish over whether it was acceptable that the US government dropped the bomb on a nation that was so close to surrendering anyway or if it had been a terrible miscalculation.  Many commentators once made the point that if the Hiroshima bombing was a regrettable necessity, certainly there was no excuse for Nagasaki.

Nowadays, however, the memorials revolve around a single, long-disproved myth: that if the A-bombs hadn’t been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the war would have continued for a long time and the US would have been forced to invade Japan as it had invaded Normandy, taking massive casualties and causing far more than 300,000 deaths.

The myth gets a full retelling by Captain Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk in the CNN video.  “”It would have been another… years before the war had have been over.  The point is: We dropped the bombs and saved a lot of lives.  We… and the Japanese… would have had a bloodbath if we had invaded Japan.  And they knew we were coming; they knew where we were gonna land; and they had their guns waiting for us.” [Source: CNN, “Crew member who dropped atomic bomb on Hiroshima shares his story”, 5 August, 2012].

Hiroshima radiation burn victim

“Dutch” Van Kirk’s rather strikingly passionless version has all the elements of the original government version.  And like another famous American nicknamed “Dutch”, Van Kirk seems to have forgotten a few details over the years.  He remembers turning “on a westerly heading” as a map shows the Enola Gay’s trajectory heading north-northwest almost all the way from its takeoff on Tinian Island and then turning turning north to north-northeast ;  he also doesn’t emphasize that his plane wasn’t the only B-29 to fly across the Pacific to Hiroshima that day: 2 other bombers had made the same run.  One,“The Great Artiste”, was carrying instruments to measure the effects of the blast; another,Victor 91 carried photographers and scientists who were to document and observe the explosion.  He is also either not a student of history at all or he’s a liar when he revoltingly says that “we dropped the bombs and saved a lot of lives”.

Total destruction in Hiroshima

No, Mr. Van Kirk, you didn’t “save a lot of lives”.  You murdered almost 300,000 people in cold blood – most of them civilians.  And it is quite absurd to state that by killing 300,000 people you “saved lives” that would have been lost if the war had continued.  The US military, racist to the core against Japanese and Chinese people had chosen four targets – all of which were selected due to their large concentrations of industrial workers and civilians.

What every schoolchild and every adult in the United States must know, and what the US Government and the capitalist press will never tell anyone is that the story about the “need” to drop the A-bomb on Japan in 1945 is pure horseshit.  To make that claim back in 1946 perhaps could have been excused due to the massive secrecy surrounding the two attacks; but to tell that story in 2012 when everyone who takes 5 minutes to look into it can quickly find out what a bald-faced lie it is, well that is nothing short of making an attempt to falsify history.

Boy with burned back and legs

The proof that the US did not “need” to drop even one A-bomb on Japan – and that the US Government knew this in July of 1945 –  is manifold, extensive and easy to find on the Internet.  And we will present as much of it as we can right here as part of our commemoration of two of the worst US War Crimes ever: the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The working class of the United States must never forget the fact that the US government – run at the time by the so-called “friend of labor” Democrat Franklin Delano Roosevelt – did everything it could to whip up extreme racist hatred of the Japanese people during WWII.  From racist children’s cartoons to disgusting propaganda posters; from radio shows to the round-up and imprisonment of over 100,000 US citizens of Japanese descent, racist US policies were imbued throughout the society from bottom to top for the duration of the war and beyond.

Shadows on Bridge in Hiroshima

This systematic dehumanization of the Japanese people paved the way to a whole series of savage war crimes committed by the government of the United States of America in which hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians were wantonly slaughtered in massive firebombings cities known to be composed largely of non-military targets.    All the racist propaganda had one aim: to prepare the workers of the United States to allow the US Government to commit any kind of military atrocity anywhere in the world so that the racist US ruling class could emerge from the smoldering ruins – of other people’s countries – victorious at the end of WWII.

It is the responsibility of those who would lead the long-overdue struggle to overthrow the racist U.S. capitalist class to always remind workers of the long and bloody history of the US bourgeoisie.  From the Salem Witch Trials and murders to the genocide of the Native Americans; from the horrors of the slave trade to the betrayal of Reconstruction and the rise of Jim Crow; from the Ku Klux Klan to the Japanese Internment; from Hiroshima to the Korean and Vietnamese Wars; right on down to today’s anti-Muslim hatred and the continued racist treatment of African-Americans and immigrant workers; racism is like a blood-red thread running through American history.  For people of color, there never were any “good old days” in racist America.  And all that racism leads, inexorably, to savagery like the mass-murders at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

That is why the Independent Workers Party says today: “Workers of the World, Unite!”  We can either fight for a future in which we have a civilized world where all the working people of all lands, ethnicities and creeds can live in harmony and mutual respect and love, or we can have a world like we have had for the past several hundred years: one in which racist hatred has led to barbaric acts being committed again and again against the “enemy of the moment”.   Which future, fellow worker, will you choose to bring into existence for your great-grandchildren to live in?

IWPCHI

[to be continued]