Anarchists fighting in the imperialist Second World War

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cantdocartwheels's picture
cantdocartwheels
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Aug 10 2007 22:33
Alf wrote:
I would say in response to can'tdo that there is a huge gulf between max's post on the resistance in world war two and the anti-Christmas leaflet.

I nearly pissed myself laughing when i saw this

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The question of internationalism is a life and death one for the working class, and the second world war is still the acid test for whether or not you maintain a consistently internationalist position - a test which numerous anarchists failed at the time and continue to fail.

So say fighting in the warsaw ghetto uprisings was wrong because it wasn't internationalist? So when the fucking waffen SS came to liquidate the ghetto and take every man woman and child to the gas chambers in Treblinka and Auschvitz what should they have done, handed out fucking leaflets? Jesus you lot are proper mental arent you.
Not that i really give a fuck what you think about WW2 tbh since this seems like a fairly pointless debate typical of some weird left communist obsession with our ''grand historical mission'' but your ridiculous 'purism' and obsession with rhetoric is pretty offensively mad when applied to this subject.

yoshomon
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Aug 10 2007 22:34

I just watched a documentary about Jewish partisan fighters in Vilna during WW2. They talked about Polish anti-Nazi partisans who would shoot at them (and try to conduct mini-pogroms within the "resistance") and how all of the partisan groups were Polish/Lithuanian/etc nationalists or taking orders from the USSR or whatever. While I found stories of their resistance within the ghetto - and their efforts at industrial sabotage and helping people escape - to be very inspiring, I could not take the same inspiration from the descriptions of the partisan groups. It's impossible for me to say what I would do if I had lived in Poland during WW2 because it's so totally divorced from my lived experience, but I think that participation in most of the partisan groups seems at odds with internationalism and ended up being a pawn for a variety of political forces that were not liberating in the least.

yoshomon
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Aug 10 2007 22:39
cantdocartwheels wrote:
So say fighting in the warsaw ghetto uprisings was wrong because it wasn't internationalist?

Who said this?

rata
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Aug 10 2007 22:42
yoshomon wrote:
I just watched a documentary about Jewish partisan fighters in Vilna during WW2. They talked about Polish anti-Nazi partisans who would shoot at them (and try to conduct mini-pogroms within the "resistance")

We are talking about anti-fascist partisans here. The usage of the word partisan only describes formation, not the ideology.

maxcrosby
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Aug 10 2007 23:03

Alf:

"...The Christmas leaflet seems to come from a totally different approach to politics, one devoid of a class standpoint and practice. Unfortunately the result of this contradiction is likely to be that the approach of the Christmas leaflet serves to discredit the effort to defend internationalism contained in the original post or similar contributions."

This is a bizarre leap of logic consistent with what I repeatedly found with publications of the ICC back when I regularly read them, in the early 1980's.

In fact, if you had to choose between the two, what would you prefer -- to relive a proletarian defeat from more than sixty years ago, and one where most of the participants are now dead or to put it mildly, highly inactive? Or to get a message out among living, breathing wage-earners of today, relevant to their immediate lived experience?

The Christmas leaflet is akin to the best, earlier efforts of the people behind Detroit's 'Fifth Estate,' and 'Processed World' here in San Francisco, back in the days when they were authentic subversive efforts. It seeks to communicate an antagonism to the market among contemporary proletarians who are among other things never going to participate in libcom forums.

I noticed that in all the bagging on the Christmas leaflet there were no proposals that came up with anything better -- just foam-spewing and carpet-chewing.

Given the character of the feeback I got on the libcom forum thread I won't allow any of that to affect whether I ultimately do the Christmas leaflet at Union Square or not. And I don't want to see this thread go off into another dialog of the deaf the way the other thing did, so that's all I've got to say on the Christmas leaflet here.

maxcrosby
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Aug 10 2007 23:38

Are we on the terrain of who-is-the-stupidest-libcom-poster now?

Sorry, someone like Jack is too easy a target.

Now, back to the issue at hand...

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Aug 10 2007 23:48

The Warsaw ghetto uprising - depite the fact that it was led mainly by Jewish nationalist groups - was essentially a popular revolt, albeit a desperate one with little perspective other than 'to die with honour'. The attitude of the internationalists towards such an event could only be one of solidarity while showing that it was a product of a profound defeat for the working class. It was also a product of the fact that the Jews of Europe had been abandoned to their fate by the Allies, despite their claim that they were fighting to war to save the victims of fascism.

This is a different matter from a policy of support for the political aims and methods of the resistance, which was throughout the war a direct instrument of one imperialist bloc against the other.

The internationalist position during the second world war was not abstract purism. It involved agaitation towards the working class and the soldiers in uniform on both sides. it involved partcipation in class movements during the war, such as the dockers strikes in Amsterdam and the great strikes in the north of Italy in 1943.

Neither is this just a matter of archival interest. The question of war is hardly less relevant today than it was sixty years ago, and a damned sight more important than Christmas.

maxcrosby
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Aug 10 2007 23:55

So, giving out some leaflets to rain on the parade at a public corporate Christmas event will get in the way of the ICC's anti-war agitation among enlisted people, Alf?

maxcrosby
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Aug 11 2007 00:04

This thread is deteriorating fast -- thanks, Jack.

What did I "fall" for, anyway?

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Aug 11 2007 00:09
maxcrosby wrote:
What did "I" fall for, anyway?

Fixed

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Aug 11 2007 00:12
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I just watched a documentary about Jewish partisan fighters in Vilna during WW2. They talked about Polish anti-Nazi partisans who would shoot at them (and try to conduct mini-pogroms within the "resistance") and how all of the partisan groups were Polish/Lithuanian/etc nationalists or taking orders from the USSR or whatever. While I found stories of their resistance within the ghetto - and their efforts at industrial sabotage and helping people escape - to be very inspiring, I could not take the same inspiration from the descriptions of the partisan groups.

That wasn't uncommon - before the final Warsaw Ghetto uprising, a few children broke out of the Ghetto and made contact with Polish partisans in an attempt to get them to supply weapons, and potentially even attack from the outside while the Jews were attacking from within the Ghetto. The partisans weren't interested and were incredibly antisemitic.

rata
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Aug 11 2007 00:13
Alf wrote:
The Warsaw ghetto uprising - depite the fact that it was led mainly by Jewish nationalist groups - was essentially a popular revolt

While the partisan movement in, for example, Yugoslavia was what?

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Aug 11 2007 00:32
cantdocartwheels wrote:
Alf wrote:
I would say in response to can'tdo that there is a huge gulf between max's post on the resistance in world war two and the anti-Christmas leaflet.

I nearly pissed myself laughing when i saw this

cantdo - your attitude on lots of threads like is isn't very helpful (I'm thinking of one previous one on unions for example). You act rudely and dismiss arguments as "mental" or "mentalist" on non-flaming forums. But then often, as you've done here, you didn't actually get the argument you're fighting against, so you create a strawman and attack that, like you've done here:

Quote:
So say fighting in the warsaw ghetto uprisings was wrong because it wasn't internationalist? So when the fucking waffen SS came to liquidate the ghetto and take every man woman and child to the gas chambers in Treblinka and Auschvitz what should they have done, handed out fucking leaflets? Jesus you lot are proper mental arent you.

Not that i really give a fuck what you think about WW2 tbh since this seems like a fairly pointless debate typical of some weird left communist obsession with our ''grand historical mission'' but your ridiculous 'purism' and obsession with rhetoric is pretty offensively mad when applied to this subject.

Now if you'd been polite here it wouldn't look so bad for you when it turned out that you'd misinterpreted Alf's position.

On a practical level then - if you'd been an anarchist in Italy, would you have possibly sacrificed yourself being cannon fodder before the Allied assault, which when victorious put loads of the old fascists back in power, and formed a secret fascist army to take power should the working class get too powerful again? I sure as fuck wouldn't have. I would've tried to keep my head down until I could've engaged on political activity on a class terrain, for example in industrial struggles after the war.

That maxcrosby posted some stupid shite about looting doesn't mean everything he says is wrong - even if he is kevin keating - he probably thinks the Earth is round too, for example.

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Aug 11 2007 01:22
revol68 wrote:
there were afteral many members of the anarcho syndicalist ZZZ involved

Interesting, I'd never heard of this before (although its obviously not surprising). Do you know of any books/articles about them? The stuff I mentioned came from accounts from Warsaw Ghetto survivors, incidentally.

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Aug 11 2007 01:25
Asher wrote:
revol68 wrote:
there were afteral many members of the anarcho syndicalist ZZZ involved

Interesting, I'd never heard of this before (although its obviously not surprising). Do you know of any books/articles about them? The stuff I mentioned came from accounts from Warsaw Ghetto survivors, incidentally.

I've got a supplement from the ozzie rebel worker about them which is pretty good, short but good. It's on my massive list of things to scan i don't have time to scan...

bit about zzz here:
http://libcom.org/history/pilarski-alfons-1902-1977

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Aug 11 2007 02:29
maxcrosby wrote:
Now, back to the issue at hand...

Christmas shopping is worse than ethnic cleansing.

Fixed.

yoshomon
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Aug 11 2007 06:42
rata wrote:
yoshomon wrote:
I just watched a documentary about Jewish partisan fighters in Vilna during WW2. They talked about Polish anti-Nazi partisans who would shoot at them (and try to conduct mini-pogroms within the "resistance")

We are talking about anti-fascist partisans here. The usage of the word partisan only describes formation, not the ideology.

Polish nationalist partisans fighting against fascist Germany... thus anti-fascist partisans (partisans fighting against fascism), right?

yoshomon
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Aug 11 2007 06:51
revol68 wrote:
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Also Yoshomon I don't know what documentary you watched about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising but it seems to have overplayed anti semitism of the wider polish partisans, there were afteral many members of the anarcho syndicalist ZZZ involved, there is no doubting the nationalist resistance had anti semitic elements but I feel the documentary might be overplaying it, i;ve seen many zionist ideologues do the same in order to reinforce the idea that they were completely abandoned by the gentiles.

The documentary was about Jewish partisans from the VILNA ghetto, not Warsaw. They tried to organize a revolt in the ghetto but were unable to (most of the people in the ghetto sided with the 'jewish council' which collaborated with the nazis). You could be right that the documentary overplayed anti-semetism, but I don't think that's the case. The whole thing was basically interviews with people who were actually involved, and they came from a variety of political backgrounds (communists, left-zionists, right-zionists, socialists, etc). There were definitely cases of solidarity from 'the gentiles' that they talked about too.

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Aug 11 2007 07:37
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Now if you'd been polite here it wouldn't look so bad for you when it turned out that you'd misinterpreted Alf's position.

On a practical level then - if you'd been an anarchist in Italy, would you have possibly sacrificed yourself being cannon fodder before the Allied assault, which when victorious put loads of the old fascists back in power, and formed a secret fascist army to take power should the working class get too powerful
again?

Huh? italian communist and italian partisans made concerted efforts to liberate Italy and large numbers were wiped out by the Waffen SS before and after the offical surrender. the allies commitment to recpaturing the rest of italy in 1943 is also questionable since they were concentrated on re-opening the second front in France, hence the Italian Armistice in september. In fact most of the communists carried out those uprisings specifically because they guessed that the italian government would continue to have fascist influences after the war or at least had a fair inkling about it after the armistice.
Libcom has this interesting article btw http://libcom.org/history/articles/italian-resistance-anarchist-partisans-1943

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I sure as fuck wouldn't have. I would've tried to keep my head down until I could've engaged on political activity on a class terrain, for example in industrial struggles after the war.

The greek partisans did this, they laid down their arms and decided to enagage in industrial struggles post war. It didn't exactly work for them did it since they ended up wth a fascist dictatorship, one which is very much in living memory and most definitely not just veiwed simply as a historical anachronism.
Would you also argue that german and spanish workers should have ''kept their heads down'' during WW2 and waited to be liberated by the allies. If not then why is this logic being applied to italian workers and not germans.
Plus you are effectively viewing it from hind sight as if the outcome of the war was some sort of historical inevitability, i doubt communists in nazi occupied europe had that particular luxury, up till early 1943 it had looked like the Nazis were going to conquer russia. Also Say hitler had been assasinated or there'd been a military coup in German in '43 following defeat at stalingrad or after kursk and the italian armistice, what do you think would have happened. Not that i'm going to massively indulge in what if scenarios here, but i think its important not to view history in such an entirely teleological fashion. The outcome of WW2 was the consequence of the concious actions of millions not some inevitable process.

Also, as regards ''keeping your head down'' again you're missing the point, fascism was busy rounding up militant trade unionists or anarchists. Its not like these guys had much of a choice whether they joined the resistance or not. If you had had a record of writing for an anarchist publication or being a militant trade unionist there is a pretty high chance you would have been deported to a labour camp. If they new you'd volunteered to fight in spain, you'd have just been shot. In additon to this no-one is suggesting you had some great duty to martyr yoursekf in the fight against fascism, or that you r me would necesarily have done so, but i'm not going to condemn people that did and argue that they were stupid because they should have laid low.

In addition when max crosby talks about the resistance and partisans he isn't just talking about france and italy, he quite clearly applying his ''logic'' to the whole of nazi occupied europe aswell. I can't see how this is remotely acceptable or why it should be treated politely. For example, would you say these lot should have ''kept their heads down'' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghetto_uprising i'm sure you don't think so.

ps i do take your point about the tone of my reply to alf though

jeremytrewindixon
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Aug 11 2007 07:48

What rata and revol68 said......

Except, rata, that I don't see why liberalism has to be "bourgeois" but that is a pretty minor point...........

rata
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Aug 11 2007 08:05
jeremytrewindixon wrote:
Except, rata, that I don't see why liberalism has to be "bourgeois" but that is a pretty minor point...........

I don't think liberalism has to be "bourgeois". I said that I'm using it in that sense in cases when I'm using it pejoratively.

rata
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Aug 11 2007 08:17
yoshomon wrote:
Polish nationalist partisans fighting against fascist Germany... thus anti-fascist partisans (partisans fighting against fascism), right?

Wrong. In Yugoslavia during WWII you had Chetniks, Serbian nationalist monarchists, who were in the beginning also fighting Germans (latter they joined them), organized in something you could call partisan form. But they weren't anti-fascists, they were chauvinists. Non of what you could call antifascist ideology had hegemony in their ranks for sure. Same goes for the Poles you are mentioning.

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Aug 11 2007 09:19

I think that one of the interesting things about leftist ideas of anti-fascism, and partisans in the Second World War is the penetration of bourgeois ideology that is prevalent in the west. In Turkey most workers that you discuss this issue with are very clear. It was an inter-imperialist war. I think that the reason for this is the fact that they aren't burdened with decades of anti-fascist propaganda.

For those who think that communists, and anarchists were right to oppose the first war, they question of what differentiates the Second war really has to be asked.

I think that that is the place where a discussion can start. Otherwise, we will continue to see the same sort of moralism as we have already seen on this thread.

Devrim

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Aug 11 2007 09:29
Devrim wrote:
For those who think that communists, and anarchists were right to oppose the first war, they question of what differentiates the Second war really has to be asked.

What are you talking about? Who hasn't ''opposed'' the second world war on this thread?

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Aug 11 2007 09:52
cantdocartwheels wrote:
What are you talking about? Who hasn't ''opposed'' the second world war on this thread?

Oh, I am sorry. I just presumed that those who were supporting the partisans were taking up a position on the side of the allied powers. After all, virtually all of the partisans, including the CP ones, cooperated with them, and were formally under their command. You must be talking about a different Second World War, my mistake.

Devrim

Mark.
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Aug 11 2007 10:39
rata wrote:
If you were a German soldier you were involved in a collective crime, and thus a legitimate target for any resistance movement.

Does this mean any German soldier in any situation was a legitimate target?

Mark.
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Aug 11 2007 10:49
cantdocartwheels wrote:
The greek partisans did this, they laid down their arms and decided to enagage in industrial struggles post war. It didn't exactly work for them did it since they ended up wth a fascist dictatorship, one which is very much in living memory and most definitely not just veiwed simply as a historical anachronism.

I think this is misleading. The partisans initially laid down their arms with the disbandment of ELAS but went back to war soon afterwards. The Greek Civil War dragged on until 1949. The repression that followed was partly a consequence of the decision to go back to war. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_Civil_War

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Aug 11 2007 14:22

"what else could these people do but fight"?

But fight how, and for whom? In occupied France, Holland and Italy there were internationalist groups who carried on political activity and rejected the resistance. They also faced concentration camps and death. Joining the partisans was a political choice. Of course many workers joined them with the best and bravest of intentions, but the internationalists did what they could with their limited resources to argue against this choice.

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Aug 11 2007 15:20

To have working class armed resistance there has to be a movement of the working class, and you have already said that most workers who were pushed towards joining the resistance did so because of the absence of such a movement. The Warsaw ghetto uprising was not a class movement, although it was more than just the action of the partisans. In the situation the Jews were in at that moment, there was no real possibility of a class movement, so people made their choices, to fight or to try to escape. I wouldn't condemn either choice. Even in the death camps there were desperate acts of resistance - the gas chambers were blown up at Birkenau for example. There were also some mass break-outs. Yes, 'if we'd been there', if we had been prisoners, we can say we would have tried to do whatever we could to have survived or escaped or struck back at the murderers. We can also mention that thousands and thousands of ordinary people (especially in Poland, despite the reality of Polish anti-semitism) risked their lives in more mundane actions like hiding Jewish children. Very often they didn't see it as a political act at all, just an expression of what Orwell calls 'common human decency'. But they were no less heroic than the desperate fighters in the ghetto or the people who blew up the gas chambers.

These choices were not expressions of an 'armed working class resistance'. They were forced on people because of the terrible defeat the working class had suffered. The revolutionaries of the time understood this up to a point but it took a while for them to understand the depth of the defeat and the ability of the bourgeoisie to learn the lessons of the first world war and October 1917: in other words, to nip any threat of proletarian mass movements in the bud, through terror bombing as in Germany, through leaving the Nazis to do their dirty work for them as in Italy. But this could not have been fully grasped without going through the whole horrific experience. The internationalist groups were convinced that the proletariat would rise at the end of the war, and they were not altogether wrong about this. And they were certainly right to have insisted that this was the only perspective for a real resistance against the barbarism of the war.

As for your comments about 'printing out leaflets', this is always being thrown out in these discussions and shows a real disdain for the activity of revolutionaries. Internationalists produced leaflets and journals to distribute among the working class because they understood the need for the development of class consciousness as a basis for opposing the war. They understood the need for the class to begin to defend itself and to connect back to the internationalist spirit of 1917-18 when class action brought an end to the war.

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Aug 11 2007 15:53
Devrim wrote:
cantdocartwheels wrote:
What are you talking about? Who hasn't ''opposed'' the second world war on this thread?

Oh, I am sorry. I just presumed that those who were supporting the partisans were taking up a position on the side of the allied powers. After all, virtually all of the partisans, including the CP ones, cooperated with them, and were formally under their command. You must be talking about a different Second World War, my mistake.

Devrim

Are you saying that because the ghetto and labour camp uprisings were, in theory, ''formally under allied command'' therefore they should be opposed?