The Communist Party of Britain expresses its deep concern at the Resolution ‘On European Remembrance’ passed by the EU parliament on 19 September 2019.
The resolution gives direct support to the repressive anti-socialist measures already in operation in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, in EU Associate Member, Ukraine and which are in the process of introduction in Hungary. These measures make the dissemination of Communist materials a criminal offence. In Poland the maximum prison sentence is currently being increased from three years to four. In all cases the laws equate Communism and Nazism.
The EU parliament’s resolution justifies this repression by reference to the Non-Aggression Pact between Germany and USSR signed in August 1939 and claims that this makes the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany equally responsible for the carnage of the second world war. It invokes the deaths that occurred in the Soviet Union in the decades before the Second World War to equate Communist and Nazi ideology as anti-human and totalitarian.
The resolution, reflecting the new right-wing composition of the EU parliament, is based upon, and gives legal sanction to, a gross falsification of history that directly relates to our own country.
It is therefore important to point out that the Soviet Non-Aggression Pact with Germany was signed by the USSR two weeks after Britain had refused to conclude a military treaty with the Soviet Union for mutual assistance in resistance to Nazi aggression. It occurred eleven months after the British prime minister, Chamberlain had signed a non-aggression pact with Hitler, the Munich agreement, pledging the two countries never again ‘to go to war with one another’.
Nor should we forget, In the spirit of historical remembrance, why the Soviet Union signed the pact and its consequences for the peoples of Europe. It saved Europe from fascism.
Without the two years of additional industrial-military preparation and the defeat of Japanese imperialism in Manchuria, the Soviet Union would not have been able to repel the inevitable Nazi attack and the USSR’s oil and mineral resources would have fallen under Nazi control. It was only as a result of those two years that the USSR’s had the strength to defeat the industrial-military power of Germany.
Britain and the US did not invade Nazi occupied Europe until June 1944 – three years after the assault on the Soviet Union in summer 1941. Meanwhile 5.5 million German soldiers had died on the Eastern front. Less than half a million died on the Western front. The Soviet Union itself lost 22 million citizens. It was the Red Army that liberated those in the Nazi concentration camps and played an indispensable part in the liberation of Europe.
It is equally important, in the interests of historical truth, to be clear about the responsibility for deaths in Russia before 1939. In 1919, exactly 100 years ago, it was Britain that created and financed the armies that sought to destroy the young Soviet republic in a war that lasted till 1921, Without this intervention there would have been no civil war in Russia. Nor would there have been the remobilisation of the forces of extreme reaction, responsible among other atrocities for the killings of up 100,000 people in the Jewish communities of South Russia, and a conflict which cost the lives of up to two million Russian citizens. This was the primary responsibility of the British government. It does not excuse the deaths that occurred In the Soviet Union in 1936-37. But if these are to be remembered, Europe should remember the many more deaths that occurred as a result of the British and subsequently French intervention.
British Communists therefore ask all those who value truth and wish to honour those who fought against fascism to repudiate this motion and call on the British Labour Party and trade union movement to formally condemn it.
The Resolution was initially promoted by parties that take a hard-line neo-liberal and Conservative position such as Poland’s Law and Justice Party, Berlusconi’s Forza Italia and the Austrian Freedom Party. Instead of opposing it, Social Democratic parties sought to amend it and thereby became shamefully complicit in it.
The European United Left/Nordic Green Left group of MEPs voted against as a block and condemned it ‘in the strongest possible terms’. It commented: ‘the text of the proposed resolution justifies the undemocratic bans against Communist Parties in some member states and, by extension, legitimizes repression against left-wing organisations and resistance across Europe in support of socially progressive causes and against the real threat of the far right.’
Hence, as it stands, the resolution directly undermines attempts to alleviate the persecution of communists in Eastern Europe and actively encourages the spread of anti-Communist legislation elsewhere in the EU.
Politically and strategically, in the current economic crisis, the Resolution seeks to drive a wedge into the trade union and labour movement across Europe, to divide socialists, communists and social democrats in order to protect neo-liberalism and prevent the development of united political movements arising from support for public sector, socialist interventions and to assert the democratic rights of labour over those of capital.