The 3 Histories of the International Red Aid [EN/FR/DE]

The 3 Histories of the International Red Aid [EN/FR/DE]


The Belgian Red Aid Presents The 3 histories of the
International Red Aid The first International
Red Aid, 1922 Soviet Russia,
December 29, 1922 the idea of a solidarity
association for revolutionaries exposed to repression is launched. Soon, this idea was taken over
by the Communist Internationale. At its first conference, the
Red Aid defines its policy “particularly emphasizes the political
significance of the Red Aid as one of the most
important levers of the united front to attract the
broad masses of workers and farmers without distinction of party, to the solidarity with the imprisoned
revolutionary fighters.” The organization therefore wants to be
as open as possible and therefore opens to socialists and anarchists, despite its centralized structure. Julian Marchlewski, a co-founder
in 1893 with Rosa Luxembourg from the Socialist Party of Poland, who had taken part in the 1905 revolution, was one of the co-founders of
the Spartacus League in Germany and will be the first president
of the Red Aid. When Julian Marchlewski, died in 1925, Red Aid had branches in Germany,
Austria, Bulgaria, Spain, France, Great Britain,
Mexico, Norway, Netherlands, Poland, Sweden,
Soviet Union and even in the USA. 1919-1920 the years of crisis
in the USA. Mass strikes result
in bloody clashes with police and employers militias
in several cities. Many strikers were killed. In retaliation, bombs explode at the
Mayor’s office in Seattle and Cleveland. A car bomb explodes in Wall Street,
resulting in 38 dead and 200 wounded. This unleashed a repression
against the anarchists. But also against trade unionists,
communists and American socialists. Some were imprisoned, others
forced into exile. Bill Haywood, one of the leaders of the
Colorado’s Miners Federation and of the International
Workers of the World is convicted to 14 years
inprisonment for “spying”, but actually for opposing to the entry
of the US into the war in 1916. Haywood se réfugia
en Russie soviétique Haywood took refuge in Soviet Russia and was actively
involved in the Int’l Red Aid activities. On 5 May 1920,
two Italian anarchists Nicola Sacco and
Bartolomeo Vanzetti are arrested,
imprisoned for robbery. They were sentenced to death July 14, 1921,
despite the lack of evidence. A solidarity movement is developing
and the Red Aid plays a leading role. May 26, 1926, a gangster, from his cell, confesses being the author of the robbery but justice refuses to consider
these confessions. Despite extensive international mobilization and
multiple postponements of the execution, Sacco and Vanzetti were executed on the electric
chair the night of August 22 to 23, 1927, sparking an immense outrage. In 1927 China was shaken by
major revolutionary waves against the warlords who are
tearing the country apart, the Communist party made an alliance
with the nationalist party Kuomintang, whose troops, led by Chiang Kai-shek,
advanced on Shanghai. At that moment the city was controlled by a general
linked to English and French imperialists. The Communist Party organized and
managed a workers insurrection. But when Chiang Kai-shek’s troops
entered the city, they turned against workers forces. Thousands of political and trade
union activists are murdered and Red Aid campaigned for the
victims of repression. Clara Zetkin chairs the Red Aid at
the death of Julian Marchlewski. Feminist and Opponent to the WW1, participant to the Spartakus League
and the Second International, then member of the German
Communist Party. She will lead the International
Red Aid until her death. The first International Congress was
held in Moscow in November 1932, at the event of the 10th anniversary of
the International Red Aid. At that time, Red Aid accounts for 71 national
sections totaling 14 million members. These different sections were mobilised
to support workers’s struggles, political prisoners and their families, and to organise commemorations for the
strikers killed by the police. The case in Adalens, Sweden,
could be used as an example. During a general strike in may ’31,
the army took the side of the strike-breakers by shooting into the crowd
killing 5 strikers. Same case in Roux, Belgium. 10th of July 1932, the state-police
facing the miners opens fire at the order of the
Socialist City-Counselor and kills Louis Tayenne,
a local worker. A year after, Red Aid called for a rally to pay tribute
to Louis Tayenne, 10.000 people attented. This event is filmed by Jean Fonteyne and the commemoration
of Tayenne’s death is taking place each year. In 1931 nine young workers
aged 13 to 19 years were charged for raping two
white women in Alabama. One of the women will later admit that police officers
had forced them to accuse blacks or be themselves
charged for vagrancy. Eight of the nine defendants were sentenced to death
at the end of a rather caricature trial. The crowd celebrated the verdict in front of
the court to the sound of the KKK Orchestra. The International Labor Defense (ILD),
which is the American branch of Red Aid, decided to denounce
this judgment, the aim being to gather black and
white workers against racial injustice. The ILD lawyers obtained a new trial
and for the first time in Alabama, Blacks accused of raping a white woman
escaped the electric chair. Nevertheless they had to serve
long prison sentences. International Red Aid will give
this case a global impact, what resulted in a decisive step in
the fight against segregation in the USA. Autumn 1934, proletarian insurrections take place
in Madrid, Catalonia and Asturias. In the first two cases, the counter-revolution
triumphs quite easily. However, soviets are organized by anarchist,
communist and socialist insurgents in the Asturias
mining region. This uprising culminated
in October 1934 when the Miners’ Red Army
controlled a territory of some 1,000 km² around Oviedo
and south of this city. The colonial army bloodily
suppressed the uprising. The repression that follows, ordered
by the government, is terrible: 1,000 dead and
20,000 prisoners for whom the International
Red Aid campaigns. The danger that fascism represents
significantly increased responsibilities, tasks, but also the echo and the
popularity of International Red Aid. New national sections appear,
while those not suffering directly from
the fascist repression as in Poland, Italy and soon in
Spain and Germany, are booming. In France, staying into the
logic of the Popular Front, Red Aid became
“Secours Populaire Français”. The Red Aid campaigns to
denounce Nazi crimes, as well as those requiring the
discharge of Communist militants Dimitrov and Thaelmann, had a great impact. The Thaelmann Committee,
established in Paris, March 34, organized a number of meetings bringing together a total of more
than 100,000 people in 1935. Thousands of Political
and workers militants need to flee fascist
Germany and Italy. Red Aid hosts them, helps them
to find work and lodgings and organises departure for
many of them to USSR. In Moscow they are welcomed in the House of Political
Migrants, which is depending from Red Aid. When the fascist military uprising
triggered the civil war in Spain, July 17, 1936, Red Aid is first
in line to help Republican Spain. In France, Mexico, Switzerland,
Great Britain, actually in the whole world, Red Aid members are collecting food,
clothing and medical supplies to be send to Spain by rail
and boatloads. In Spain during the war, the Spanish, Basque and
Catalan Red Aids, are of tremendous
importance. Artists and intellectuals
close to Red Aid write books and produce
filmed documentaries to expose the
anti-fascist cause, such as the film about
the defense of Madrid. Another picture denounces
a phenomenon previously unknown, the bombing of civilian
populations. The main activity of
the Spanish Red Aid was to give assistance to the children and
families of the anti-fascist fighters, they also created 275 hospitals,
blood transfusion centers, mobile clinics and
dental offices. The cultural, political, medical
and social role of Red Aid will continue
throughout the war and its members will be victims of severe repression after
the victory of fascists. At that time In Germany, the Red Aid
suffers from Nazi repression. By the thousands, members were
sent to concentration camps. Many will be executed,
as Johanna Kirchner who had been imprisoned by Vichy and handed
over to the Gestapo in 1942. Johanna Kirchner is one of the few leaders of the
Red Aid originating from the socialist party. The German Red Aid maintains
a clandestine activity consisting in the assistance to political
prisoners and their families. Wilhelm Beuttel rebuilt
the underground Red Aid but was arrested by the Gestapo
in 1943 and executed in 1944. 1941 in Brussels, the Independent Front created
in clandestinity will regroup all of the
anti-Hitler resistance with the exception of the right-wing
Catholic royalist right wing. In 1942, the Independent Front creates an organization
for victims, and their families, of Nazi repression, for recusants to forced labor,
illegals, persecuted and others. It will be called ‘Solidarity’.
Red Aid dissolves in this new larger organization. THe 2nd International Red Aid, 1970 In the 70s, in the midst of
growing struggles in Europe, in order to help the activists arrested
during demonstrations and strikes, Red Aid groups are created
in several countries. These groups were generally
constituted of militants of front organizations and
intellectual supporters. Such a rebuilding
occurred in France under the chairmanship of the former commander
of the communist armed resistance, expelled from the
Communist Party, Charles Tillon and
Jean-Paul Sartre’s membership. Dario Fo and Franca Rame participated
in the Italian Red Aid and Sergio Spazzali who died
in exile in Miramas, himself a lawyer of Red Brigades
and also a Communist militant. Unfortunately the 70’s Red Aid groups will dissolve one after the other because of political divergences, repression, and the general
undertow of struggles. Only the German Red Aid passes this episode and keep
their activity to date. The 3rd International Red Aid, 2000 At the initiative and invitation of
the Spanish Red Aid in December 2000, a first meeting for the reconstruction
of the International Red Aid is held in Lyon. Delegates of solidarity
groups from Spain, Belgium, France, Switzerland and
Italy participate. The Commission and the Platform for
an International Red Aid were created during this meeting. At the Commission’s initiative
for Red Aid the first International Conference of
Basel was held in November 2005. 42 delegates from 25 organizations
coming from 7 different countries participated at this first conference that will later become
regular meetings. The International Red Aid leads solidarity campaigns such as the campaign for the
revolutionary long time prisoners Georges Abdallah and Marco Camenisch, the solidarity campaign with
collective political prisoners for PCPM in Italy and
Revolutionary Struggle in Greece In addition to the campaigns,
International Red Aid is also a framework where reflections
are conducted, studies are carried out,
know-how is shared. The Red Aid activists are regularly
themselves a police target. Militants were imprisoned in
recent years in Germany, Spain, Belgium and Switzerland. In Spain, Red Aid is now illegal. This repression is added to other
difficulties inherent to the coordination of the transformation of
independent groups into a centralized organization. As they all are forces with history, political culture, militants’ realities and lots of very different struggles, we need to move forward gradually, not making a new step after having tested
the strength of the previous step. Thus we have, together, provided 15 years of international revolutionary
solidarity activity, and that’s why we can be here today. International Red Aid’s work includes support to communist, anarchist,
antifascist, unionists militants facing repression, but also in raising resistance levels of militant
forces facing repression, it therefore also includes analyzing developments and evolution of legal,
technical and organizational methods of repression. One of the main fronts of the revolutionary
struggle is its fight against repression, in order to optimise this, political
divergencies must be left aside to gain a solidarity unity facing the class enemy. Smash capitalism, build solidarity!

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