• The Tiananmen Square massacre, 30 years on - World Socialist Web Site

    By Peter Symonds, 8 June 2019 - Thirty years have passed since heavily-armed Chinese troops, backed by tanks, moved through the suburbs of Beijing on the night of June 3–4, 1989, killing hundreds, probably thousands, of unarmed civilians. The military forces overwhelmed makeshift barricades with brute force as they made their way to Tiananmen Square—the site of weeks of mass protests by students and workers.

    Those barbaric events, which demonstrated the willingness of the Stalinist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime to do anything to stay in power, have gone down in history as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yet most of deaths during that murderous assault were of workers who courageously tried to halt the progress of troops to central Beijing. Estimates vary, but up to 7,000 were killed and 20,000 wounded.

    Moreover, in the reign of terror that followed throughout China it was the workers who received the harshest penalties, including lengthy jail terms and death sentences. Around 40,000 people were arrested just in June and July, mostly members of Workers Autonomous Federations that had sprung up in the course of the protests.
    Protesters in Tiananmen Square

    What is commonly depicted as the crushing of student protesters was in fact a wave of repression directed overwhelmingly against a mass movement of the working class. What had begun in April as student protests calling for democratic reforms had swelled into the millions as workers joined the demonstrations by mid-May, making their own class demands.

    The Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation was established on April 20 with a handful of workers and rapidly expanded to become a major organising centre by mid-May. On May 17, up to two million people marched through the centre of Beijing, the majority being workers and their families under the banners of their work units or enterprises. Reflecting the impact of events in Beijing, Workers Autonomous Federations were established in a host of major cities, including Changsha, Shaoyang, Xiangtan, Hengyang and Yueyang.

    While moderate student leaders were intent on pressing the CCP bureaucracy for concessions on democratic rights, workers were animated by concerns over deteriorating living standards, soaring inflation and a wave of sackings and closures. The regime’s embrace of the capitalist market since the 1970s had led to widening social inequality and rampant bureaucratic corruption and profiteering. Workers were bitterly hostile to the accumulation of privileges and wealth by the top CCP leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng, Zhao Ziyang, Jiang Zemin, Chen Yun and their family members, and were contemptuous of their claims to be communist and socialist.

    A statement by workers issued on May 25 expressed the rebellious currents in the working class. “Our nation was created by the struggle and labour of we workers and all other mental and manual labourers. We are the rightful masters of this nation. We must be heard in national affairs. We must not allow this small band of degenerate scum of the nation and the working class to usurp our name and suppress the students, murder democracy and trample human rights.” [1]

    Premier Zhao Ziyang had been sympathetic to the demands of student leaders and had counselled making small concessions to calls for basic democratic rights. However, no compromise was possible with the working class, whose unrest threatened the very existence of the regime. As the protest movement rapidly grew in size and confidence, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping removed his ally Zhao as premier, installed hardline Li Peng in his place and ordered the military to violently suppress the protests in Beijing and nationally.
    The crisis of Stalinism

    The resort to such extreme measures was bound up with the profound crisis of Stalinism, not only in China but internationally. In response to deepening economic and social crises, a turn was underway in China, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union toward the dismantling of centralised bureaucratic planning mechanisms, encouragement of private enterprise and establishment of market mechanisms.

    After assuming the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced his keynote policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness and transparency) that laid the framework for greater autonomy for enterprises outside the central planning mechanisms and, under the guise of democratic reform, sought to establish a base of social support for the regime among the petty bourgeoisie.

    Gorbachev’s pro-market restructuring also encouraged the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe in their plans for capitalist restoration, making desperate bids to resolve their mounting economic and political crises. These processes dramatically accelerated as Gorbachev signaled that the Soviet Union would not intervene militarily to prop up its Soviet bloc allies, as it had done in Hungary in 1956 to crush the workers’ uprising and in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to end liberal reforms. In December 1987, he announced the withdrawal of 500,000 Soviet troops from Eastern Europe.

    In a very short period of time, during 1989–90, the Stalinist bureaucracies in one Eastern European country after another moved to restore capitalism, dismantling what remained of nationalised property relations and centralised planning.

    In Poland, talks between the government and opposition Solidarity leaders resulted in a deal in April 1989 to hold limited elections. This paved the way for the installation in August of Solidarity leader Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister. He unleashed sweeping pro-market restructuring.

    Similar negotiations in Hungary, where the processes of pro-market restructuring were already advanced, led to a new constitution in August 1989. Multi-party elections in May 1990 resulted in a government that junked what remained of centralised planning and carried out wholesale privatisation.

    Amid a mounting economic and political crisis, Gorbachev visited Berlin in October 1989 to urge the East German government to accelerate pro-market reforms. Erich Honecker resigned as leader two weeks later. On November 9, the government announced the end of all border restrictions and Berlin citizens tore down the hated Berlin Wall. Before the end of the month, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl unveiled a plan to integrate East Germany with capitalist West Germany—a process that was completed by October 1990.

    The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria quickly followed. By the end of 1990, governments throughout Eastern Europe were giving full rein to the plunder of state-owned property, an influx of foreign capital and the dismantling of social services, leading to a precipitous deterioration in living standards.

    Gorbachev’s policies in the Soviet Union gave rise to intense pressures within the Stalinist bureaucracy and the emerging layer of entrepreneurs for a far speedier dismantling of all fetters on private ownership and market relations. This found expression in the installation of Boris Yeltsin in July 1991 and the implementation of pro-market “shock therapy.” In December 1991, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved.

    The break-up of the Soviet Union and collapse of the Stalinist states in Eastern Europe led to an orgy of triumphalism in the capitalist media proclaiming the end of socialism. Pundits, politicians and academics, who had foreseen nothing and could explain nothing, exulted over the triumph of the market, even going so far as to pronounce the end of history. In other words, capitalism supposedly represented the highest and final stage of human development. A new period of peace, prosperity and democracy would dawn, they all declared.

    The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), based on the analysis made by Leon Trotsky of Stalinism, had rejected the universal adulation of Gorbachev and warned that his policies were rapidly leading to the dismantling of the gains of the first workers’ state. Its perspectives resolution entitled “The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International,” published in August 1988, made clear that the breakdown of the Soviet Union was not a product of socialism, but rather of Stalinism and its reactionary autarchic conception of “socialism in one country”:

    The very real crisis of the Soviet economy is rooted in its enforced isolation from the resources of the world market and the international division of labour. There are only two ways this crisis can be tackled. The way proposed by Gorbachev involves the dismantling of state industry, the renunciation of the planning principle, and the abandonment of the state monopoly on foreign trade, i.e., the reintegration of the Soviet Union into the structure of world capitalism. The alternative to this reactionary solution requires the smashing of imperialism’s domination over the world economy by linking up the Soviet and international working class in a revolutionary offensive aimed at extending the planned economy into the European, North American and Asian citadels of capitalism. [2]

    In the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the ICFI identified the root cause of the crisis of Stalinism in the processes of the globalisation of production that had been underway since the late 1970s, which had undermined all programs based on national economic regulation. While the crisis of Stalinism was the most immediate and acute expression, these same processes lay behind the international embrace of pro-market restructuring by Social Democratic and Labour parties, and trade unions, and their abandonment of any defence of the social rights of the working class.
    Capitalist restoration in China

    The events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union had a profound impact in China, where processes of capitalist restoration had been underway since the 1970s. The CCP’s decision in June 1989 to use the military to brutally suppress the working class was in no small measure conditioned by its longstanding fear of a repetition in China of the mass strike movement in Poland in 1980–81 that led to the formation of the Solidarity trade union.

    China specialist Maurice Meisner explained that the involvement of masses of workers in the protests in Tiananmen Square on May 17 “did much to rekindle the ‘Polish fear’ among Party leaders, their decade-old obsession about the rise of a Solidarity-type alliance between workers and intellectuals in opposition to the Communist state. And that fear, in turn, contributed to their fateful decision to impose martial law.” [3]

    While Deng Xiaoping recognised the affinity of Gorbachev’s perestroika with the policies that he had already enacted, he did not embrace the political liberalisation of glasnost, fearing it would undermine the foundations of the CCP regime. When Gorbachev visited Beijing in mid-May 1989 to cement closer Sino-Soviet ties, the Chinese leadership kept him closeted from public view, anxious that his presence would give further impetus to the protests in Tiananmen Square. The rapid collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe only heightened the determination of the CCP bureaucracy to suppress any opposition.

    The roots of the crisis in China lay in the outcome of the 1949 Chinese revolution. The monumental events that brought the Chinese Communist Party to power ended more than a century of imperialist oppression that had mired the country of more than 500 million in squalor and backwardness. It expressed the aspirations of the vast majority of the population for economic security, basic democratic and social rights, and a decent standard of living. Decades of political upheaval and a war against Japanese imperialism from 1937 to 1945 had ravaged the country and left an estimated 14 million Chinese soldiers and civilians dead.

    Like the Soviet bureaucracy, however, the new CCP apparatus was based on the reactionary nationalist program of “socialism in one country,” which was a repudiation of socialist internationalism and Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution which underpinned the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.

    As a result, the course of the revolution and the subsequent evolution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) proclaimed by Mao Zedong in 1949 was distorted and deformed by Stalinism, which dominated the CCP in the wake of Stalin’s betrayal of the Second Chinese Revolution of 1925–27. Stalin subordinated the very young CCP to the bourgeois nationalist Kuomintang, resulting in crushing blows to the Chinese Communists and working class in April 1927, and again in May 1927. CCP leaders and members who supported Trotsky’s analysis of the tragedy were expelled.

    In the wake of the 1949 Chinese Revolution, the pragmatic, nationalist ideology of Maoism led China rapidly into a blind alley. Mao’s perspective of a “New Democracy” sought to maintain a bloc with the national bourgeoisie, but the CCP government was driven, under conditions of the Korean War and the internal sabotage by bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements, to go further than intended. By 1956, virtually every aspect of the economy was nationalised and subject to bureaucratic planning along the lines of the Soviet Union, but the working class had no say through its own democratic organs.

    The organic hostility of the Maoist regime to the working class was expressed in its repression of Chinese Trotskyists, all of whom were jailed in 1952 amid the rising resistance by workers. As with the Eastern European states, the Fourth International characterised China as a deformed workers’ state, a highly conditional formula that placed the emphasis on the deformed, bureaucratic character of the regime.

    The national autarky of “socialism in one country” generated worsening economic and social turmoil, and crises for which the CCP bureaucracy had no solution, leading to bitter internal factional warfare. Mao’s fanciful scheme for a peasant socialist society, which underpinned his “Great Leap Forward,” ended in economic catastrophe and mass starvation. His factional opponents, led by Liu Shaoqi, followed the Soviet model of bureaucratic planning with its emphasis on heavy industry, but this provided no alternative.

    The economic crisis was greatly worsened by the 1961–63 split with the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of Soviet aid and advisers, as the two Stalinist regimes advanced their conflicting national interests. In a last desperate bid to oust his rivals, Mao unleashed the Cultural Revolution in 1966, which rapidly span out of his control, leading to confused and convulsive social struggles that threatened the very existence of the regime. Mao turned to the military to suppress workers who had taken literally his edict to “Bombard the Headquarters,” resulting in mass strikes in Shanghai and the formation of an independent Shanghai People’s Commune in 1967.

    Incapable of resolving the immense economic and social problems wracking the country, and facing a military confrontation with the Soviet Union, the CCP bureaucracy forged an anti-Soviet alliance with US imperialism that laid the basis for China’s integration into global capitalism. While Deng Xiaoping is generally credited with initiating market reforms, Mao’s rapprochement with US President Richard Nixon in 1972 was the essential political and diplomatic pre-condition for foreign investment and increased trade with the West.

    The process of “opening and reform” went hand-in-hand with the imposition of strict discipline and emphasis on boosting production in workplaces. Maurice Meissner noted: “Factory managers dismissed during the Cultural Revolution were restored to their former posts, accompanied by calls to strengthen managerial authority, labour discipline, and factory rules and regulations—and to struggle against ‘anarchism’ and ‘ultra-leftism.’ There were dramatic increases in foreign trade and in imports of foreign technology. Veteran party leaders attacked during the Cultural Revolution were ‘rehabilitated’ at an increasingly rapid pace; by 1973, it has been noted, ‘the pre-Cultural Revolution cadres were running the government ministries.” [4]

    From 1969 to 1975, the value of foreign trade increased from $US4 billion to $14 billion per annum. From the end of 1972 until mid-1975, China imported whole industrial plants, valued at $2.8 billion, mainly from Japan and western Europe.

    Deng Xiaoping who had been ostracised during the Cultural Revolution as the “No 2 capitalist roader,” was rehabilitated, appointed a vice premier of the state council under Zhou Enlai. Deng led the Chinese delegation to a special session of the UN in 1974 where he declared that the “socialist bloc” no longer existed and China was part of the Third World. In the factional power struggle that followed Mao’s death in 1976, Deng emerged as the dominant figure in the Stalinist bureaucracy. He embraced US imperialism ever more closely, formalising diplomatic relations in 1979, launching a border war against neighbouring Vietnam, and defending US allies such as the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    From 1978, Deng greatly accelerated the “reform and opening” pro-market reforms. Four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were established in 1979 in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen, where foreign entrepreneurs and joint ventures produced goods for export and enjoyed tax breaks and other concessions. A similar system was later implemented in key port cities such as Shanghai. In the countryside, the collectivised communes were dismantled and restrictions removed on the operation of private enterprises. Prices for agricultural produce were lifted. In the cities, moves were made to transform thousands of state-owned enterprises into profit-making corporations. Private enterprises were permitted, the market was increasingly allowed to determine prices for consumer goods, and a “labour market” was initiated, allowing the hiring and firing of workers.

    The pro-market reforms led to the rapid rise of social inequality. Millions of former peasants were left landless and forced to seek employment in the cities. In the SEZs, where the capitalist market was given free rein, corruption and criminal activity was rampant, including smuggling, bribery and the theft of state-owned property. The sons and daughters of the top party leaders took full advantage of their political connections to establish their own business empires. With the lifting of price restrictions, inflation rocketed to 18.5 percent in 1988, to which the regime responded by drastically reducing credit and re-imposing import restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs, as private enterprises reduced their workforces or closed down altogether. Unemployment, the loss of job security, as well as skyrocketing prices, combined with disgust at the corruption and enrichment of CCP bureaucrats, fueled the social unrest that erupted in the mass protests by workers the following year.
    Capitalist restoration following Tiananmen Square

    In the aftermath of the bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square and the police dragnet throughout the country, the factional battle inside the CCP leadership sharpened in the next three years over Deng’s program of capitalist restoration. In ordering the troops against workers and students, Deng had removed his chief ally in pro-market restructuring, Zhao Ziyang, as premier. Former Shanghai party leader Jiang Zemin was installed as a compromise choice to the top post of CCP secretary general. The initiative shifted to the so-called hardliners—Li Peng and Chen Yun, who, in criticising Zhao, were also criticising Deng’s policies.

    However, in advocating restrictions on market relations, Li and Chen based their policies on the status quo ante and the nationalist perspective of “socialism in country,” which had already proven to be a dead-end. They were looking toward the Soviet Union, even as the deformed workers’ states in Eastern Europe were collapsing and Gorbachev’s policies were undermining centralised planning and nationalised property relations. Their so-called “Soviet faction” represented sections of the Chinese bureaucracy whose power and privileges resided in their control of key sections of state-owned industry and the central apparatus in Beijing.

    At the Fifth Plenum in November 1989, Li delivered the main report, based on the recommendations of a revived State Planning Commission. The adopted plan called for cutting inflation to 10 percent in 1990 and economic growth to 5 percent by maintaining tight controls on credit and balancing the national budget. Rural industries would not be allowed to compete with state-owned enterprises. While keeping the SEZs and “open door” policy in place, the new restrictions hit rural and provincial industries, particularly in the south of the country.

    While Deng no longer held any official party or state position, he still retained considerable political clout, especially in the southern provinces where the new profit-making industries were concentrated. Deng had sided with the hardliners in opposing any political liberalisation and, above all, supported the 1989 military crackdown, but he was adamant that the restrictions on private enterprises and foreign investment had to be completely dismantled.

    The snowballing crisis in the Soviet Union brought matters to a head. An attempted Stalinist putsch in August 1991 to oust Gorbachev and Yeltsin and wind back their program of pro-market restructuring ended in dismal failure. China scholar Michael Marti explained: “This one event changed the thinking about the political equation within the Chinese leadership, including that of Deng Xiaoping. The failure of the Soviet Red Army to support the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in its bid to regain control threw the CCP into a panic. The Chinese leadership feared that a precedent had been established.” [5]

    The factional battle lines were drawn. While the “Soviet faction” began to call into question the entire agenda of pro-market reforms, including the establishment of the SEZs, Deng insisted that the levels of economic growth were too low to maintain employment and social stability. “If the economy cannot be boosted over a long time,” he told a meeting of party elders as far back as late 1989, “it [the government] will lose people’s support at home and will be oppressed and bullied by other nations. The continuation of this situation will lead to the collapse of the Communist Party.” [6]

    Deng was also concerned that the crisis in the Soviet Union, following the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, would greatly change geo-political relations. Not only had Deng’s strategy sought to balance between the US and the Soviet Union, but his economic policies depended on a large influx of foreign investment, which could potentially shift to exploiting new opportunities opening up in the former Soviet republics.

    Along with provincial leaders in the southern provinces, Deng counted on the support of People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The generals had been shocked by the way in which US imperialism and its allies had deployed hi-tech weaponry in the 1990–91 Gulf War to rapidly destroy the Iraqi military. Their conclusion was that China had to invest heavily in modernising the PLA and only Deng’s policies could transform the economy and produce the growth needed to supply that investment.

    Deng set out on his “Southern tour” in January–February 1992, just 20 days after the formal liquidation of the Soviet Union in December 1991, accompanied by top generals, the state security chief Qiao Shi and party elder Bo Yibo. As he visited the SEZs and southern cities, he declared that there would be no reversal of economic policies in the face of the Soviet collapse. Dismissing concerns about growing social inequality, he is said to have declared: “Let some people get rich first.”

    In a showdown with Chen Yun in Shanghai, Deng reportedly shouted: “Any leader who cannot boost the economy should leave office.” Openly backing capitalist restoration, he declared: “We should absorb more foreign capital and more foreign-advanced experiences and technologies, and set up more foreign-invested enterprises. Do not fear when others say we are practicing capitalism. Capitalism in nothing fearsome.” [7]

    Deng prevailed, opening the door for wholesale capitalist restoration that transformed the whole country into a giant free trade zone for the exploitation of cheap Chinese labour. The crocodile tears shed by Western politicians over the Tiananmen Square massacre were rapidly cast aside as foreign investors recognised that the police-state regime in Beijing was willing to use any method, no matter how brutal, to discipline the working class. In 1993, the CCP proclaimed that its objective was a “socialist market economy,” giving a threadbare “socialist” disguise to its embrace of capitalism.

    In 1994, the CCP formally established a “labour market,” by legitimising the sale and purchase of labour power. State-owned enterprises were corporatised into companies run for profit. The unprofitable ones were restructured or shut down. The better equipped, in sectors not designated as strategic, were sold off or converted into subsidiaries of foreign transnationals. A small number were preserved as state-owned “national flagships.”

    Between 1996 and 2005, the number of employees in state- and collective-owned enterprises halved, from 144 million to 73 million workers. Along with guaranteed life-time employment, the “iron rice bowl” of cradle-to-grave services was also dismantled. Essential services that had previously been provided by state-owned enterprises—childcare, education, health care and pensions—were now left to individual workers.
    Chinese capitalism today

    The restoration of capitalism in China over the past 30 years has only exacerbated the underlying social tensions within Chinese society and compounded the political and geo-political dilemmas confronting the CCP apparatus.

    The extraordinary economic expansion of China to become the world’s second largest economy has rested, in the first place, on the immense gains of the 1949 Revolution that unified China for the first time in decades, created an educated and skilled workforce, and developed basic industries and essential infrastructure. The flood of foreign investment into the country transformed China into the sweatshop of the world and produced a massive 11-fold increase in the economy between 1992 and 2010. This rapid growth, however, did not reflect an inherent strength of the Chinese economy, but rather its role in the world economy, dependent on foreign investment and technology.

    The imperialist powers, above all the United States, were more than willing to exploit cheap Chinese labour as long as China’s economic expansion did not challenge their own established geo-political interests. However, the vast quantity of raw materials and energy that Chinese industries require from around the world have increasingly brought it into conflict with the US and other major powers, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and internationally. Moreover, as China has sought to create its own hi-tech “national champions” such as Huawei and ZTE, the US, under the Trump administration, has declared economic war on Beijing, not just in matters of trade. It has openly opposed Chinese plans to develop and expand hi-tech industries and to more closely link Eurasia to China through massive infrastructure projects under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

    The delusion promoted by CCP leaders that China could, through a “peaceful rise,” become a world power on a parity with the US has been shattered. China’s expansion has brought it into conflict with the global imperialist order dominated by the United States. Under Obama and now Trump, the US has begun using all means at its disposal to ensure its continued global hegemony. Trump’s economic war goes hand-in-hand with a military build-up in the Indo-Pacific, escalating naval provocations in the South China Sea, under the guise of “freedom of navigation operations, and more open preparations for a war between the two nuclear-armed powers.

    The CCP leadership has no answer to the mounting danger of war, other than desperately seeking an accommodation with imperialism, while engaging in a frenetic arms race that can only end in catastrophe for the working class in China and internationally. Capitalist restoration, far from strengthening China’s capacity to counter the US, has greatly weakened it. The regime is organically incapable of making any appeal to the international working class, as that would inevitably lead to social struggles by the working class at home.

    Having abandoned even its previous nominal commitment to socialism and internationalism, the CCP has increasing relied on whipping up Chinese nationalism to try to create a social base in layers of the middle class. There is nothing progressive about Chinese chauvinism and patriotism, which divides Chinese workers from their class brothers and sisters internationally, and within China from non-Han Chinese minorities. Its repressive measures against Uighurs, Tibetans and other ethnic groups have provided an opening that the US is seeking to exploit. Under the bogus banner of “human rights,” Washington is promoting separatist groups as part of its ambition to fracture and subordinate China to its interests.

    Thirty years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, the CCP leadership is terrified of a renewal of working-class opposition, the first stirrings of which have been seen in the more numerous reports of workers’ strikes and protests, and, significantly over the past year, in a turn by a layer of university students to assist workers in their struggles. Since 1989, the working class in China has vastly expanded to an estimated 400 million and as a proportion of the population. One indicator is the growth of the country’s urban population from just 26.4 percent of the total in 1990, to 58.5 percent in 2017.

    The CCP leadership boasts of having lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, using the UN’s very austere measures of poverty. Such benchmarks ignore the many factors that are fueling discontent among workers, including the common practice of late or unpaid wages, unhealthy and dangerous factory conditions, harsh corporate disciplinary practices, and the lack of basic social rights for tens of millions of internal migrants in the cities. All of these oppressive conditions are monitored and policed by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which functions as an arm of the CCP bureaucracy in workplaces.

    Capitalist restoration has produced a dramatic rise in social inequality: from one of the most equal societies in the world, China has become one of the most unequal countries. It is home to more dollar billionaires than any other country except the United States. While Chinese workers struggle to survive on the minimum wage of $370 a month, the wealthiest individual, Tencent chairman Pony Ma, has a personal fortune of almost $40 billion. These super-rich oligarchs, who in many cases have built their fortunes through naked corruption and the looting of state-owned property, are represented in the Chinese Communist Party and sit on powerful advisory bodies.

    The gulf between the super-rich and the vast majority of the workers and the poor is generating huge social tensions that, sooner rather than later, will explode on a scale that will eclipse the rebellion by workers and students 30 years ago. The lesson drawn by the Stalinist leadership from the 1989 events was that it had to suppress, through all available means, any expression of opposition that could become the focus of a broader movement against the regime. Incapable of meeting the pressing social needs of the majority of the population, the CCP has vastly expanded its police-state apparatus, now spending more each year on its internal security forces than it does on external defence.

    The working class must also draw the necessary political lessons from the defeat of that movement in 1989, which was rapidly assuming revolutionary dimensions. What was lacking was not determination, audacity and courage, nor numbers, which were rapidly swelling across China, but the essential problem facing the international working class in the 20th century—the absence of revolutionary leadership.

    James Cogan summed up the issue in his analysis “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre,” stating:

    Inexperienced politically and lacking a political perspective outside of opposition to the existing regime, the workers’ leaders advanced no alternative to, and deferred to, the student bodies. The workers of China knew in their life experience what they were against—Stalinism and capitalism—but they were not able to articulate any perspective for an alternative social order.

    Decades of domination by Stalinism and the active suppression of genuine Marxism in China meant there was no revolutionary socialist, that is, Trotskyist, tendency in the working class. No organisation within the country could spontaneously advance the program that was implicit in the actions and sentiments of the Chinese working class—a political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist regime and introduce major reforms into the economy for the benefit of the working class. [8]

    The essential political task of building a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class as a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International remains. None of the oppositional tendencies that emerged out of the 1989 protests offer a viable political perspective for the working class. Advocates of independent trade unions such as Han Dongfang, who was prominent in the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation in 1989, have underscored the political bankruptcy of syndicalism by lurching to the right and into the arms of US trade union apparatus, in other words of US imperialism.

    A layer of youth, intellectuals and workers have turned to Maoism, and its banal “revolutionary” slogans, for answers. Capitalist restoration in China, however, was not a break from Maoism. It flowed organically out of the dead-end of “socialism in one country.” Maoism could aptly be termed Stalinism with Chinese characteristics, with its hostility to the working class, its emphasis on subjective will, and above all its putrid nationalism. It is diametrically opposed to genuine Marxism, that is the perspective of socialist internationalism, which alone was upheld by the Trotskyist movement, including the Chinese Trotskyists.

    The establishment of a genuinely revolutionary party in China, as part of the ICFI, requires the assimilation of the essential strategic experiences of the international working class, of which the Chinese revolutions of the 20th century are a critical component. The CCP leaders are petrified that workers and youth will begin to work over the lessons of history. They attempt to censor and black out any knowledge and discussion of the events of 1989, and continue to perpetrate the lies of Stalinism about the course of the 20th century.

    The crucial political lessons of the protracted struggle of Trotskyism against Stalinism are embedded in the program, perspective and documents of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Workers and youth should make a serious study of the political issues involved, beginning with the documents of the ICFI on the Tiananmen Square massacre, republished this week on the World Socialist Web Site. We urge you to contact the International Committee of the Fourth International, which is the first step toward forging a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class.


    [1] Cited in “Workers in the Tiananmen protests: The politics of the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation,” by Andrew G. Walder and Gong Xiaoxia, first published in the Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No 29, January 1993.

    [2] The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International: Perspectives Resolution of the International Committee of the Fourth International, August 1988, Labor Publications, pp.30–31.

    [3] Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, The Free Press, Third edition, 1999, p.508.

    [4] ibid, p.389.

    [5] Michael Marti, China and the Legacy of Deng Xiaoping: From Communist Revolution to Capitalist Evolution, Brassey’s Inc, 2002, pp.47–48.

    [6] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 1”, 26 November 2012.

    [7] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 2”, 27 November 2012.

    [8] James Cogan, “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre: Political lessons for the working class,” 4 June 1999.

    #Chine #4689

  • If mayors ruled migration : Promises and gaps

    On 8th December 2018, two days before the UN Intergovernmental Conference to Adopt the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, some 80 cities around the world convened in Marrakech for the 5th Mayoral Forum on Human Mobility, Migration and Development. The cities signed a Mayors’ Declaration, identifying common priorities in the follow up and review process of the Global Compact. On that same occasion, a new initiative called the Mayors Migration Council was launched, to support cities’ engagement in international deliberations and policies concerning refugees and migrants. A couple of months afterwards, on February 9th, 2019, the mayors of the main Spanish and Italian cities launched an alliance to oppose the ‘closed harbours’ policy of the Italian Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini and to denounce the incapacity of the EU to address the situation appropriately.

    These are just two recent examples that show how city policies and mobilisation on migration can resonate well beyond municipal and national walls. Can cities’ international mobilisation rescue states (and the EU) from their failure in dealing with migration issues? Cities’ enthusiasts like Benjamin Barber, founder of the Global Parliament of Mayors, have no doubts about the governance capacity of city networks (CN henceforth): ‘Mayors can rule the world because cities represent a level of governance sufficiently local to demand pragmatism and efficiency in problem solving but sufficiently networked to be able to fashion cooperative solutions to the interdependent challenges they face’. Pragmatism and cooperative interaction are presented as the key assets of mayors, cities and, by extension, city networks’ mode of governing global challenges. On the basis of – the still scarce – existing research on city global mobilisation on migration-related issues and of the preliminary results of the MinMUS Project, we can identify the promises and challenges of transnational city networks for the building of a new multilevel governance of international migration.

    Is local policy more pragmatic?

    The idea that local governments must deal with the situation ‘as it is’, therefore taking distance from abstract – and presumably ineffective – ideological recipes, has underpinned the development of research on local migration policy. However, evidence is contradictory and, especially in the US, studies seem to show that pragmatic attitudes and accommodative solutions are just as likely to occur as decisions aiming at excluding migrants or simply ignoring the issue altogether. What a ‘pragmatic solution’ is cannot be easily established a priori, but will depend on policymakers’ interests, perceptions, and definitions of the situation.

    Data collected by the Cities of Refuge project on 27 transnational city networks in Europe show that the most networked cities are leaning towards the centre-left, progressive-side of the political spectrum. And even if membership usually outlasts political shifts, this might not correspond to active participation, as pointed out by research in the field of climate change mitigation. Furthermore, according to Cities of Refuge, cities that adhere to international networks have an average population of 1.5 million, meaning that they are primarily large cities. However, as noted by OECD, while nearly two-thirds of migrants settle in metropolitan and densely populated regions, asylum seekers are more spread across urban-rural areas.

    Territorial dispersal of asylum seekers reflects evidence on reception policies collected by the CeasEVAL Project. To face the sense of pressure generated by increasing inflows since 2011, national governments in both federal/regional countries (Germany, Italy and Spain) and centralised ones (Finland, Luxemburg, Greece and Bulgaria), have redistributed asylum seekers all over their territory, including small municipalities in rural and mountains areas. Even though the reaction of local populations has not necessarily been negative, CeasEVAL points out a high level of heterogeneity in the type of accommodation and quality of services provided, as well as in opportunities for effective integration. Policy learning and exchange of best practices would probably be of great interest to these ‘new immigrant destinations’; however, they often do not have the financial, human and political resources required to participate in international network activities.

    Hence, the international arena is a highly selective one, which risks excluding those – especially small – cities that might be more in need of accessing knowledge and other – mainly financial – resources in order to deal effectively with the challenges of migration and asylum. Modes of inclusion will also depend on the goals of city networks, which are extremely diverse.

    Cities as key players in the multilevel governance of migration?

    City networks gather together on a voluntary basis local authorities in order to pursue perceived collective interests or purposes. They lack authoritative power, and therefore have to rely upon horizontal coordination and mutual cooperation to carry out and implement their initiatives. As such, city networks are organisations which aim at realising quintessential multilevel governance policy processes: on the vertical dimension, they interact with institutions operating at different – local, regional, national and supra-national – territorial scales; on the horizontal dimension city networks establish new relations between cities and with non-public actors mobilised at a city level.

    To assess these hypotheses, the MInMUS project (website) has carried out an in-depth analysis of four transnational networks on migration, i.e.: the Migration and Integration Working Group of Eurocities, the European Coalition of Cities Against Racism (ECCAR), the Intercultural Cities Programme (ICC) and Welcoming America. Results show that these networks: 1) pursue different agendas and 2) are engaged in different types of policymaking processes.

    Regarding agendas, ECCAR and ICC are focused on the promotion of a specific type of local policy, i.e. anti-discrimination and interculture respectively; Eurocities seeks to represent main cities vis-á-vis the European Commission, being involved primarily in lobbying activities; whereas Welcoming America is concerned with soliciting grassroots participation and community partnerships. As for policymaking processes, Welcoming America prioritizes relations with actors such as NGOs, CSOs and private business, whereas Eurocities is more focused on relations with the European Commission and national governments. A more balanced pattern of multilevel political dynamics can be discerned in the other two cases. In particular ICC, starting from 2016, has adopted an explicit multilevel governance approach aimed at promoting cooperation and coordination both on the vertical, i.e. between different levels of government, and on the horizontal, i.e. with non-public actors, dimensions of policy-making.

    Multilevel governance, far from being the essence of city networking initiatives, is only one possible mode of policymaking interactions and it is not even the most relevant one. City networks may well find it more convenient or appropriate to pursue other types of policy interactions, centred on a vertical dimension as in the case of Eurocities or on the horizontal dimension as in that of Welcoming America. Multilevel governance seems easier to pursue in the case of networks that are already established as multilevel organisations. This is the case of ECCAR, launched by Unesco in 2004, and of ICC, officially started in 2008 as a joint initiative of the Council of Europe and the European Commission. Patterns of relations and modes of policymaking seem to reflect to a large extent the genesis of city networks and their distinctive policy agenda.

    Getting back to our initial question: Can cities’ international mobilisation rescue states (and the EU) from their failure in dealing with migration issues? While one cannot deny the key role played by cities in the managing of migration crises as well as in supporting integration and community cohesion more generally, city networks’ skewed membership that consists mainly of larger and politically progressive cities should make us cautious about their impact on improving migrants’ living conditions at a grassroots level. Furthermore, evidence suggests that the initiative of supranational institutions ‘from above’ has played a key role in favouring cities’ collaboration around specific policy issues such as interculture and anti-discrimination. Indeed, cities and their networks represent a new actor in the multilevel political dynamics around migration; yet whether and to what extent they will be effective in promoting collaborative multilevel governance relations and influencing national government and EU agendas on migration remains to be seen.
    #municipalisme #migrations #villes #collectivités_locales #asile #migrations #réfugiés #gouvernance

    Ajouté à la métaliste sur les #villes-refuge :

    ping @karine4

  • Turkey’s Policy in the Balkans: More than Neo-Ottomanism

    There is a fundamental misperception with regard to Turkey’s relationship with the Balkans. Turkey is not external to the region, the way Russia is for instance. Its history and geographic location make it a part of southeast Europe. Millions of Turks have their family roots in what was once known as ‘Turkey-in-Europe.’ This includes the founder of the republic, the Salonika-born Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. Ties run deep at the political, economic, and societal levels.

    All those connections have drawn Turkey to the Balkans, especially after the end of the Cold War. The notion that Turks are now coming back does not hold. Closer engagement in the region started under President Turgut Özal in the early 1990s. But back then, Turkey balanced between bilateralism and multilateralism. It invested in economic and security ties with friendly countries such as Albania, Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria while adhering to NATO as its response to the wars in ex-Yugoslavia. What changed under the Justice and Development (AK) Party, notably over the past decade, is the switch to bilateralism. That is understandable given the cracks in relations between Ankara and the West. All the same, it is concerning since it is coinciding with the push against the EU and NATO by Russia, which leverages history, religious identity and anti-Western rhetoric to legitimize its actions.

    Pundits and politicians often use ‘Neo-Ottomanism’ to describe Turkey’s forays. The label can be often misleading. Yes, Turkish President Recep Erdogan praises the Ottoman Empire and its legacy, domestically and beyond Turkey’s borders. But so did his predecessors in office. Within the country, liberals and Islamist conservatives alike all rediscovered the Ottomans from the 1980s onwards in questioning the Kemalist political order. The government has been reaching out to Balkan Muslims through TIKA, the Turkish developmental agency, and the Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet) for decades.

    Neo-Ottomanism is therefore the packaging, not the substance. Turkey’s objective is not to recreate the Ottoman Empire in the Balkans. That is far beyond the country’s resources and capacity. The region is gravitating in economic, social, institutional and political terms to the West. What we have instead is Erdogan using the Balkans to make a case that he is the leader of the wider (Sunni) Muslim community in Europe and the Middle East. The main audience is his electorate in Turkey and only secondly Muslims abroad. The pre-election rally he held in Sarajevo in the run-up to last year’s presidential and parliamentary elections is a case in point.

    But Turkish policy in the Balkans cannot be reduced to the promotion of Islamic solidarity. Erdogan’s main achievement is the fact that he has built relations with leaders from countries that are majority non-Muslim. In October 2017, for instance, he was welcomed in Serbia by President Aleksandar Vucic. The visit gave some credence to complaints by Bosniaks (Slavic Muslims) that Turkey loves to talk brotherhood in Bosnia but when it comes to investing money it goes for Serbia. Similarly, Erdogan has strong links to Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who hosted the EU-Turkey summit a year ago. Bulgaria and Serbia are interested in hosting an extension of the TurkStream gas pipeline, a joint Russo-Turkish venture. Greece’s Alexis Tsipras also received the red carpet treatment during his latest visit to Turkey where he discussed ideas on decreasing tensions in the Aegean.

    Despite its quest for strategic autonomy, Turkey is still partnering with Western institutions. In addition, Ankara has been supportive of the Prespa Agreement and newly renamed North Macedonia’s accession to NATO, its quarrels with the U.S. and other key members of the Alliance notwithstanding. Collectively, EU members Romania, Bulgaria and Greece account for the bulk of Turkish trade with southeast Europe, with the Western Balkans trailing far behind. Greece and Bulgaria see Turkey as key to stemming the flow of asylum seekers from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and further afield. They are highly supportive of the EU-Turkey deal on migration from March 2016, renewed last year.

    Does the authoritarian system built by Erdogan pose an ideological challenge in the Balkans? Perhaps yes. For instance, pressure on governments to close educational institutions and surrender, without due process, members of the Fethullah Gülen community, which is implicated in the coup attempt in July 2016, undermine the rule of law. At the same time, the authoritarian drift observed in the Balkans is an indigenous product. It is not imported from Vladimir Putin’s Russia nor from Turkey under its new ‘sultan’.

    #néo-ottomanisme #Turquie #Balkans

  • Dorothy Garrod (1892 –1968), archéologue, pionnière du paléolithique

    Dorothy Garrod, c.1913. Photograph by Newnham College, Cambridge

    Praise has been heaped upon paleoanthropologist Lee Berger for hiring a number of women for crucial roles in the excavation of Homo naledi in South Africa, but archaeologist Dorothy Garrod beat him to that gender-equalizing trick by several decades. Starting in 1929, she oversaw excavations at Mount Carmel, Palestine, and hired many local women to do the fieldwork. She appreciated their work, as well as the fact that their wages helped support their families. In 1996, Mary Kitson Clark, the last of those women still living, then aged 92, remembered Garrod as “small, dark, alive!”
    Garrod was born in England in 1892. In the First World War, her father, Sir Archibald Garrod, was stationed in Malta as the director of war hospitals. Dorothy Garrod spent time in Malta after the Great War, and developed in interest in archaeology. By that time, she had already earned a history degree from Newnham College, Cambridge. Returning to England from Malta, she enrolled at Oxford to study archaeology. She had lost three brothers in WWI, and she wanted to continue her family’s long legacy in academic achievement. After graduating from Oxford, she went on to work with the Abbé Breuil at the Institut de Paleontologié Humaine, Paris. At that time, France was perhaps the epicenter of prehistoric archaeology; archaeologists classified ancient artifacts based on a system devised by 19th-century archaeologist Gabriel de Mortillet. Breuil began to revise Mortillet’s system, and Garrod continued Breuil’s work.
    Breuil and Garrod ranked among the first archaeologists to think globally about human prehistory. That might not sound like much of a breakthrough today, but consider the times. Garrod began working with Breuil in the early 1920s. Anthropologists and paleontologists still believed Piltdown Man to be a valid human ancestor. Eugène Dubois had discovered Java Man (the first recognized specimen of Homo erectus) in the late 19th century, but for a variety of reasons (including Dubois’s own prickly personality), the find hadn’t enjoyed widespread acceptance. Charles Darwin had surmised that early humans arose in Africa, but his astute prediction wasn’t very popular among early-20th-century anthropologists. So after Raymond Dart described Australopithecus africanus in 1925, he had to wait decades for the fossil to be accepted as a human ancestor. In an age of widespread prejudice and eugenic enthusiasms, many Europeans eschewed ancestors outside Europe. For Garrod to excavate elsewhere was an innovation. And excavate elsewhere she did.
    Between 1923 and 1963, Garrod conducted archaeological digs in France, Britain, Gibraltar, Bulgaria, Lebanon, Palestine and Iraq. On Gibraltar, she excavated Neanderthal sites, including a child she nicknamed Abel. Perhaps her most important fieldwork occurred at Mount Carmel, Palestine. Fieldwork there picked up speed ahead of the construction of Haifa Harbor as archaeologists feared that the site would be quarried right out of the harbor’s way. In a Mount Carmel cave named Skhul, she found apparent remains of at least 10 modern Homo sapiens; in a nearby cave named Tabun, she found remains of at least two people with Neanderthal characteristics. She studied and classified some 92,000 artifacts from Mount Carmel, and the sites she oversaw there eventually yielded a nearly continuous succession from the Old Stone Age to the Middle Stone Age.

    #Dorothy_Garrod #archéologie

  • UNHRC adopts resolution to strengthen UN presence in Palestine
    March 22, 2019 4:14 P.M.

    BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted a draft resolution to strengthen the UN presence in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory, on Friday afternoon.

    The UNHRC requested “the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to strengthen the field presence of the Office of the High Commissioner in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip.”

    The Council requested the deployment of “personnel and expertise necessary to monitor and document the ongoing violations of international law” in the occupied territories.

    It condemned Israel’s “apparent intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against civilian protesters, including children, journalists and health workers, in Gaza.

    The resolution was adopted with 23 states in favor, 8 against, and 15 abstentions.

    The votes against the resolution were given by Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Fiji, Hungary, and Ukraine.


  • Crossing a Red Line: How EU Countries Undermine the Right to Liberty by Expanding the Use of Detention of Asylum Seekers upon Entry

    This week the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, in conjunction with ECRE and a number of European project partners, launched their report “Crossing a Red Line: How EU Countries Undermine the Right to Liberty by Expanding the Use of Detention of Asylum Seekers upon Entry.” By examining four case studies; Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary and Italy, this research explores how asylum seekers’ rights to liberty are undermined upon entry, with a specific focus on de facto detention.

    “Crossing a Red Line” explains that while there has been a significant decrease in asylum applications in Bulgaria, Hungary and Italy, the use of detention upon entry has been increasing since 2015 and continues to do so. Practises of de facto detention- which indicates the deprivation of an individual’s liberty without the requirement of a detention order- are widespread and specific to country context. Hot spots, transit zones, pre- removal centres, border zones at which migrants have been ‘pushed- back’ and boats- including search and rescue vessels- have all become spaces in which people can be detained. In other cases “protective detention” results in unaccompanied children having their freedom of movement restricted.

    With no procedural guarantees and no opportunity to seek judicial review, the only possibility for release from de facto detention is to leave to another country.

    The Hungarian Helsinki Committee argue that the increasing trend of using of detention measures for asylum seekers upon entry “is motivated by a range of different practical, political, and legal considerations”. In some cases it has been advocated as a mechanism to deal with unprecedented pressure on processing systems, in others it has become an important means to gain political support for governments that frames migration as a security issue. In the case of Greece and Italy, the increased rate of detention of asylum seekers at the border has also been the product of EU- level policy, namely the need to meet the requirements of the EU-Turkey statement and Dublin system.

    The report further questions these motivations; “Why do Member States prefer to use de facto detention despite the existence of a dedicated legal framework? Is it for the purpose of administrative convenience? In order to avoid procedural safeguards? In order to satisfy public appeal and communication needs?

    The report states that there is no evidence that the use of detention reduces the rate of arrivals to the countries in question, rather it serves as a deterrent only so far as pressure is moved from one entry point to the next. In the example of Hungary, the traumatic experience of being detained in ‘transit zones’ contributes to the fact that beneficiaries of international protection frequently leave the country within a few days of their release, to apply for asylum again in another EU country. The use of de facto detention therefore contributes to secondary movements across Europe and is inevitably is counter- productive to refugee integration.

    As ECRE’s previous policy note, “Taking liberties: detention and asylum law reform” found; “The damage caused by detention adds to an already heavy process of adjustment and takes significant time and effort to remedy” (

    Le rapport en pdf:

    #frontières_extérieures #UE #EU #asile #migrations #détention #rétention #camps #Bulgarie #Grèce #Italie #Hongrie #Fylakio #Evros #base_de_données #database #statistiques #chiffres

  • Rare Photos: European Refugee Camps in Syria — At The Height of World War II

    The whole world is aware that Europe is buckled under the biggest refugee crisis since World War II, with millions of people fleeing civil war and oppression in the Middle East, North Africa, and Western Asia, and landing on the continent’s shores by land and by sea. The UN estimates that more people have been displaced than at any time since the Second World War — there are close to 60 million war refugees, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.

    While there is no denying the fact that the current humanitarian crisis is the worst refugee crisis of our generation; with continuous comparison to World War II, it is imperative that we share a small yet important fact with you: at the height of World War II, the Middle East Relief and Refugee Administration (MERRA) operated camps in Syria, Egypt and Palestine, where tens of thousands of people from across Europe sought refuge.

    Yes, you read it right. Refugees crossed the same passageways [which the Syrians, the Africans, and the Asians are taking to reach Europe TODAY] 70 years ago — BUT they were the Europeans (largely from Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Turkey and Yugoslavia) trying to find solace in the Middle East.

    How The Refugees Entered The Camps:

    According to the International Social Service records, refugees from Europe had to register at one of several camps in Egypt, Palestine and Syria and obtain camp-issued identification cards, which contained their full name, gender, marital status, passport number, and their educational and work history.

    After registration, they had to undergo a refugee medical examination at makeshift hospital facilities — where they took off their clothes, their shoes and were washed until officials believed they were sufficiently disinfected. When they were declared fit enough to join the refugee camp, they were divided into living quarters for families, unaccompanied children, single men and single women.

    How They Survived:

    Refugees in MERRA camps received a half portion of Army rations each day; sometimes supplemented with foods that reflected refugees’ national customs and religious practices. ‘Rich’ refugees could buy beans, olives, oil, fruit, tea, coffee and other staples from camp canteens. On the rare occasion, during supervised visits to local shops, they could buy soap, razor blades, pencils, paper, stamps and other items. Some camps provided space for refugees to prepare meals; one camp in Aleppo reserved a room for women so they could make macaroni with flour, which they received from camp officials.

    How They Found Work & Developed Skills:

    Some, but not all, camps required refugees to work — though they were not forced to earn to make ends meet. GlobalPost reports:

    In Aleppo, refugees were encouraged, but not required, to work as cooks, cleaners and cobblers. Labor wasn’t mandatory in Nuseirat, either, but camp officials did try to create opportunities for refugees to use their skills in carpentry, painting, shoe making and wool spinning so that they could stay occupied and earn a little income from other refugees who could afford their services. At Moses Wells, all able-bodied, physically fit refugees worked as shopkeepers, cleaners, seamstresses, apprentices, masons, carpenters or plumbers, while “exceptionally qualified persons” served as school masters or labor foremen. Women performed additional domestic work like sewing, laundry, and preparing food on top of any other work they had.

    How They Acquired Knowledge:

    Margaret G. Arnstein, a prominent nurse practitioner notes that students in a few camps at El Shatt and Moses Wells were taught practical nursing, anatomy, physiology, first aid, obstetrics, pediatrics, as well as the military rules and regulations that governed wartime refugee camps.

    How They Entertained Themselves:

    In their free time, the men played handball, football and socialized over cigarettes, beer and wine in camp canteens. In their free time, children played with swings, slides and seesaws.

    How They Prepared For A Brighter Future:

    Education was a crucial part of camp routines. GlobalPost writes:

    Classrooms in Middle Eastern refugee camps had too few teachers and too many students, inadequate supplies and suffered from overcrowding. Yet not all the camps were so hard pressed. In Nuseirat, for example, a refugee who was an artist completed many paintings and posted them all over the walls of a kindergarten inside the camp, making the classrooms “bright and cheerful.” Well-to-do people in the area donated toys, games, and dolls to the kindergarten, causing a camp official to remark that it “compared favorably with many in the United States.”

    #quand_eux_c'était_nous #réfugiés_européens #histoire #syrie #camps_de_réfugiés #WWII #seconde_guerre_mondiale #photographie #deuxième_guerre_moniale
    ping @albertocampiphoto @philippe_de_jonckheere

  • UK sending Syrians back to countries where they were beaten and abused

    Refugees tell of being held in cages and even tortured in European countries including Hungary and Romania

    Britain is using EU rules to send asylum seekers from Syria and other countries back to eastern European states where they were beaten, incarcerated and abused, the Guardian has learned.

    Migrant rights groups and lawyers say the Home Office is using the rules to send people back to “police brutality, detention and beatings” in several European countries.

    The Guardian has spoken to refugees who were subjected to assaults as they travelled through Europe. The men tell of being held in “cages” in Hungary, waterboarded and handcuffed to beds by detention centre guards in Romania and beaten in Bulgaria.
    Britain is one of worst places in western Europe for asylum seekers
    Read more

    They now face being returned to those countries as, under the so-called Dublin law, asylum seekers are supposed to apply in their first EU country of entry.

    In 2015 more than 80,000 requests were made by EU countries for another government to take back an asylum seeker. The UK made 3,500 of these requests to countries around Europe, including Bulgaria, Romania, Italy and Hungary.

    The Home Office claims it should be entitled to assume that any EU country will treat asylum seekers properly.

    The charity Migrant Voice has collected testimony from several refugees who are fighting removal from the UK to other European countries. Nazek Ramadan, the director of the charity, said the men had been left traumatised by their journey and their subsequent treatment in the UK.

    “We know there are hundreds of Syrians in the UK who have fingerprints in other European countries,” said Ramadan. “Many no longer report to the Home Office because they are afraid of being detained and deported away from their family in the UK. Those who have been forcibly removed often end up destitute.

    “These are people who were abused in their home country, sometimes jailed by the regime there. Then they were imprisoned again in Europe. They feel that they are still living in a war zone, moving from one arrest and detention to another.”

    The law firm Duncan Lewis recently won a key case preventing forced removals back to Hungary because of the risk that people might be forced from there back to their country of origin.

    The firm is also challenging removals to Bulgaria because of what the UN refugee agency has described as “substandard” conditions there. A test case on whether Bulgaria is a safe country to send people back to is due to be heard by the court of appeal in November.

    The situation could get even more complex as an EU ban on sending asylum seekers back to Greece is due to be lifted on Wednesday after a six-year moratorium.

    Krisha Prathepan, of Duncan Lewis, said: “We intend to challenge any resumption of returns to Greece, as that country’s asylum system remains dysfunctional and the risk of refugees being returned from Greece to the very countries in which they faced persecution remains as high as ever.”

    The Home Office says it has no immediate plans to send refugees back to Greece, but is following European guidelines.

    “We have no current plans to resume Dublin returns to Greece,” a spokesperson said, citing among other reasons “the reception conditions in the country”.

    She added: “In April 2016, the high court ruled that transfer to Bulgaria under the Dublin regulation would not breach the European Convention on Human Rights. If there is evidence that Bulgaria is responsible for an asylum application, we will seek to transfer the application.”

    Mohammad Nadi Ismail, 32, Syrian

    Mohammad Nadi Ismail, a former Syrian navy captain, entered Europe via Bulgaria and Hungary, hoping to join his uncle and brother in Britain.

    In Bulgaria he was detained, beaten and humiliated. “They stripped us and made us stand in a row all naked. We had to bend over in a long line. Then they hit us on our private parts with truncheons.

    “They would wake us at night after they had been playing cards and drinking. Then they would come and hit us or kick us with their boots or truncheons.”

    One day he was released and took his chance to leave, walking for days to reach Hungary.

    But in Hungary he was locked up again. “They took us to a courtyard of a big building where there were five or six cages, about 8ft [2.4 metres] square. Most of the people were African. Some of them had been in there for four or five days. Luckily we Syrians were allowed out after one night and I headed for the UK.”

    In the UK Ismail met up with the family he hadn’t seen for three years and applied for asylum immediately.

    Then a letter came, saying his fingerprints had been found in Bulgaria and he would be returned. After a month in detention he now reports every two weeks, waiting and hoping that the UK will let him stay.

    “I will not go back to Bulgaria. I still have hope that I can stay here legally and rebuild my life with my family who have always supported me,” he said.

    ‘Dawoud’, 34, Iranian

    Dawoud (not his real name) was 28 when he fled Iran after his political activities had made him an enemy of the government. His brother and parents made it to the UK and were given refugee status.

    When he was told by border guards that he was in Romania he had no idea what that meant. “I had never even heard of this country,” he said. He was put in a camp where “water dripped through the electrics – we were electrocuted often. Children and families screamed. We lived in fear of the wild dogs who circled the camp, attacking and biting us. We were given no food; we had to go through bins in the town nearby for scraps.”

    He escaped once, to the Netherlands, but was sent back.

    “I experienced several beatings, on all parts of the body. There were people covered in blood and they were refused medical help. They even waterboarded me. I thought I would die.”

    Finally he managed to reach his mother, father and brother in the UK. For two years he has lived in hiding, too scared to apply for asylum for fear of being sent back to Romania. But a few months ago he finally reported to the Home Office. A letter informed him that a request had been made to Romania to take him back.

    Dawoud shakes as he talks about his fear of removal, saying: “When I hear people speak Romanian in the street it brings back my trauma. I once fell to the ground shaking just hearing someone speak. I will kill myself rather than go back.”

    Wael al-Awadi, 36, Syrian

    Wael travelled by sea to Italy and was detained on arrival in Sicily. “They hit us with their fists and sticks in order to make us give our fingerprints. Then they let us go. They gave us nothing, no accommodation, just told us: ‘Go where you like.’ So many Syrians were sleeping in the streets.”

    When he reached the UK he was detained for two months before friends helped him get bail. A year and a half later, when reporting at the Home Office, he was detained again and booked on to a plane to Italy.

    He refused to go and a solicitor got him out on bail. His appeal is due to be heard later this year. “I left Syria to avoid jail and detention and here I have been locked up twice,” he said. “I can’t understand it. Why can’t they look at me with some humanity? I am mentally so tired. My children call me from Syria but I can’t speak to them any more. It is too painful.”
    #réfugiés_syriens #UK #Angleterre #Dublin #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Bulgarie #Roumanie #Hongrie #Italie #renvois #expulsions #renvois_Dublin

  • Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Painting Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes | Earthly Mission

    Russia is demanding that Bulgaria try harder to prevent vandalism of Soviet monuments, after yet another monument to Soviet troops in Sofia was spray-painted, ITAR-Tass reported.

    The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia’s Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take “exhaustive measures” to prevent similar attacks in the future, the news agency reported Monday.

    #russie #bulgarie #mémoire #monuments #marrant

  • The History of Civilization Is a History of Border Walls

    When I joined my first archaeological dig at a site near Hadrian’s Wall in 2002, walls never appeared in the nightly news. Britain was still many years away from planning a barrier near the opening of the Chunnel in Calais. Saudi Arabia hadn’t yet encircled itself with high-tech barricades. Israel hadn’t started reinforcing its Gaza border fence with concrete. Kenya wasn’t seeking Israel’s help in the construction of a 440-mile barrier against Somalia. And the idea that India might someday send workers high into the Himalayas to construct border walls that look down on clouds still seemed as preposterous as the notion that Ecuador might commence construction on a 950-mile concrete wall along its border with Peru.

    No one chatted about walls while we cut through sod to expose the buried remains of an ancient fortress in northern Britain. I doubt that anyone was chatting about walls anywhere. The old fortress, on the other hand, was generally considered the crown jewel of British archaeology. For more than 30 years, sharp-eyed excavators at the Roman fort of Vindolanda had been finding writing tablets — thin slivers of wood upon which Roman soldiers had written letters, duty rosters, inventories, and other assorted jottings. At first, the tablets had represented something of a technical challenge; their spectral writing faded almost immediately upon exposure to air, almost as if written in invisible ink. But when the writings were recovered through infrared photography, a tremendous satisfaction came from the discovery that Roman soldiers complained about shortages of beer while the wives of their commanders planned birthday parties. The Romans, it turned out, were a lot like us.

    Archaeology, even at such a special place, was tiring business, but after work I enjoyed taking hikes along the wall. It was beautiful countryside — well lit by an evening sun that lingered late during the Northumbrian summer — and as I ambled over the grassy hills, occasionally enjoying the company of sheep, I sometimes imagined I was a lonely Roman soldier, stationed at the end of the world, scanning the horizon for barbarians while I awaited a resupply of beer. I’m ashamed to say that I took no detailed notes on the wall itself. It made for beautiful photographs, the way it stretched languidly over the countryside, but my real interest lay in other things: the Roman soldiers, the barbarians, the letters. If anything I saw in Britain was to hold any significance for my research, it seemed obvious that I would find it in the wet gray clay of Vindolanda. There I hoped only to discern tiny clues about a particular period of Roman history. Such are the modest goals of the academic. For the duration of my stay, my focus was on the clay. All the while, I was standing right next to a piece of a much bigger story, a fragment of the past that was about to rise up from its ancient slumber to dominate contemporary politics on two continents. I was leaning against it, resting my hand on it, posing for pictures by it. I just didn’t see it.

    It was my interest in the barbarians that finally opened my eyes to the historical importance of walls. The barbarians were, in the main, inhabitants of every North African or Eurasian wasteland — the steppes, the deserts, the mountains. Civilized folk had erected barriers to exclude them in an astonishing array of countries: Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Russia, Britain, Algeria, Libya, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Peru, China, and Korea, to give only a partial list. Yet somehow this fact had entirely escaped the notice of historians. Not a single textbook observed the nearly universal correlation between civilization and walls. It remained standard even for specialists to remark that walls were somehow unique to Chinese history, if not unique to Chinese culture — a stereotype that couldn’t possibly be any less true.

    By some cruel irony, the mere concept of walls now divides people more thoroughly than any structure of brick or stone.

    The reemergence of border walls in contemporary political debates made for an even more surprising revelation. Like most people my age, I had watched the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 with great excitement. To many of us, it looked like the beginning of a new era, heralded by no less towering an international figure than David Hasselhoff, whose concert united both halves of Berlin in inexplicable rapture. More than a quarter-century has passed since then, and if it had once seemed that walls had become a thing of the past, that belief has proven sorely wrong.

    Border walls have experienced a conspicuous revival in the 21st century. Worldwide, some 70 barriers of various sorts currently stand guard. Some exist to prevent terrorism, others as obstacles to mass migration or the flow of illegal drugs. Nearly all mark national borders. By some cruel irony, the mere concept of walls now divides people more thoroughly than any structure of brick or stone. For every person who sees a wall as an act of oppression, there is always another urging the construction of newer, higher, and longer barriers. The two sides hardly speak to each other.

    As things turned out, it was the not the beer or the birthday parties that connected the past to the present in northern England. It was the wall. We can almost imagine it now as a great stone timeline, inhabited on one end by ancients, on the other by moderns, but with both always residing on the same side facing off against an unseen enemy. If I couldn’t see that in 2002, it was only because we were then still living in an anomalous stage in history and had somehow lost our instinct for something that has nearly always been a part of our world.

    How important have walls been in the history of civilization? Few civilized peoples have ever lived outside them. As early as the 10th millennium BC, the builders of Jericho encircled their city, the world’s first, with a rampart. Over time, urbanism and agriculture spread from Jericho and the Levant into new territories: Anatolia, Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Balkans, and beyond. Walls inevitably followed. Everywhere farmers settled, they fortified their villages. They chose elevated sites and dug ditches to enclose their homes. Entire communities pitched in to make their villages secure. A survey of prehistoric Transylvanian farming villages determined that some 1,400 to 1,500 cubic meters of earth typically had to be moved just to create an encircling ditch — an effort that would have required the labor of 60 men for 40 days. Subsequently, those ditches were lined with stone and bolstered by palisades. If a community survived long enough, it might add flanking towers. These were the first steps toward walls.

    The creators of the first civilizations descended from generations of wall builders. They used their newfound advantages in organization and numbers to build bigger walls. More than a few still survive. We can estimate their heights, their thicknesses, their volumes, and their lengths. But the numbers can only tell us so much. We will always learn more by examining the people who built the walls or the fear that led to their construction.

    And what about these fears? Were civilizations — and walls — created only by unusually fearful peoples? Or did creating civilization cause people to become fearful? Such questions turn out to be far more important than we’ve ever realized.

    Since 2002, I’ve had ample time to reflect on the Roman soldiers who once guarded Hadrian’s Wall. They certainly never struck me as afraid of anything. Then again, they weren’t exactly Roman, either. They came chiefly from foreign lands, principally Belgium and Holland, which were in those days still as uncivilized as the regions north of the wall. Everything they knew of building and writing, they had learned in the service of Rome.

    As for the Romans, they preferred to let others fight their battles. They had become the definitive bearers of civilization and as such were the target of a familiar complaint: that they had lost their edge. Comfortable behind their city walls and their foreign guards, they had grown soft. They were politicians and philosophers, bread makers and blacksmiths, anything but fighters.

    The Roman poet Ovid knew a thing or two about the soft life, but he also had the unusual experience of learning what life was like for Rome’s frontier troops. The latter misfortune came as a consequence of his having offended the emperor Augustus. The offense was some peccadillo — Ovid never divulges the details — compounded by his having penned a rather scandalous book on the art of seduction. “What is the theme of my song?” he asked puckishly, in verse. “Nothing that’s very far wrong.” Augustus disagreed. Reading Ovid’s little love manual, the moralistic emperor saw plenty of wrong. He probably never even made it to the section where Ovid raved about what a great ruler he was. Augustus banished the poet from Rome, exiling him to Tomis, a doomed city on the coast of the Black Sea, 60-odd miles south of the Danube.

    Tomis was a hardscrabble sort of place, a former Greek colony already some 600 years old by the time of Ovid’s exile in the first century AD and no shinier for the wear. Its distinguishing characteristics were exactly two: First, it was about as far from Rome as one could be sent. Second, it lay perilously close to some of Rome’s fiercest enemies, in an area that didn’t yet have a border wall. Like northern Britain, the region of Tomis would one day receive its share of border walls, but in Ovid’s day, the only barriers to invasion were the fortifications around the city itself.

    Ovid suffered in his new home. It was one thing to live in a walled city, but quite another to be completely confined within those walls. In his letters to Rome, Ovid complained that the farmers of Tomis couldn’t even venture out onto their fields. On the rare occasion when a peasant dared to visit his plot, he guided the plow with one hand while carrying weapons in another. Even the shepherds wore helmets.

    Fear permeated everyday life in Tomis. Even in times of peace, wrote Ovid, the dread of war loomed. The city was, for all intents and purposes, under perpetual siege. Ovid likened the townspeople to a timid stag caught by bears or a lamb surrounded by wolves.

    Occasionally, Ovid reminisced on his former life in the capital, where he’d lived free from fear. He wistfully recalled the amenities of Rome — the forums, the temples, and the marble theaters; the porticoes, gardens, pools, and canals; above all, the cornucopia of literature at hand. The contrast with his new circumstances was complete. At Tomis, there was nothing but the clash and clang of weapons. Ovid imagined that he might at least content himself with gardening, if only he weren’t afraid to step outside. The enemy was quite literally at the gates, separated only by the thickness of the city’s wall. Barbarian horsemen circled Tomis. Their deadly arrows, which Ovid unfailingly reminds us had been dipped in snake venom, made pincushions of the roofs in the city.

    The birth of walls set human societies on divergent paths, one leading to self-indulgent poetry, the other to taciturn militarism.

    There remained a final indignity for Ovid: the feeble, middle-aged author was pressed into service in defense of Tomis. As a youth, Ovid had avoided military service. There was no shame for shirkers back in Rome, a city replete with peaceniks and civilians. Now aging, Ovid had finally been forced to carry a sword, shield, and helmet. When the guard from the lookout signaled a raid, the poet donned his armor with shaking hands. Here was a true Roman, afraid to step out from behind his fortifications and hopelessly overwhelmed by the responsibility of defending them.

    From time to time, a Chinese poet would find himself in a situation much like Ovid’s. Stationed at some lonely outpost on the farthest reaches of the empire, the Chinese, too, longed for home while dreading the nearness of the barbarians. “In the frontier towns, you will have sad dreams at night,” wrote one. “Who wants to hear the barbarian pipe played to the moon?” Sometimes they meditated on the story of the Chinese princess who drowned herself in a river rather than cross beyond the wall. Even Chinese generals lamented the frontier life.

    Oddly, none of these sentiments appear in the letters written by the Roman soldiers at Vindolanda. Transplanted to a rainy land far from home, they grumbled at times about the beer supply but had nothing to say about shaky hands or sad dreams. It was as if these barbarian-turned-Roman auxiliaries had come from another world, where homesickness and fear had been banished. Perhaps they had.

    Almost anytime we examine the past and seek out the people most like us — those such as Ovid or the Chinese poets; people who built cities, knew how to read, and generally carried out civilian labor — we find them enclosed behind walls of their own making. Civilization and walls seem to have gone hand in hand. Beyond the walls, we find little with which we can identify — warriors mostly, of the sort we might hire to patrol the walls. The outsiders are mostly anonymous, except when they become notorious.

    The birth of walls set human societies on divergent paths, one leading to self-indulgent poetry, the other to taciturn militarism. But the first path also pointed to much more — science, mathematics, theater, art — while the other brought its followers only to a dead end, where a man was nothing except a warrior and all labor devolved upon the women.

    No invention in human history played a greater role in creating and shaping civilization than walls. Without walls, there could never have been an Ovid, and the same can be said for Chinese scholars, Babylonian mathematicians, or Greek philosophers. Moreover, the impact of walls wasn’t limited to the early phases of civilization. Wall building persisted for most of history, climaxing spectacularly during a 1,000-year period when three large empires — Rome, China, and Sasanid Persia — erected barriers that made the geopolitical divisions of the Old World all but permanent.

    The collapse of those walls influenced world history almost as profoundly as their creation, by leading to the eclipse of one region, the stagnation of another, and the rise of a third. When the great border walls were gone, leaving only faint traces on the landscape, they left indelible lines on our maps — lines that have even today not yet been obscured by modern wars or the jockeying of nations for resources. Today, a newer set of walls, rising up on four continents, has the potential to remake the world yet again.
    #civilisation #histoire #murs #murs_frontaliers #histoire #frontières #livre #David_Frye

  • Is the ’Bulgarian Stream’ on its way?

    Turbulence is triggered by the statement of the President of Bulgaria, Rumen Radev, as recorded by Kommersant newspaper.

    According to him, both Bulgaria and Russia will only benefit from the ’resurrection’ of the rejected South Stream pipeline, which was intended to be the counterweight to the Nord Stream pipeline and to feed the Balkans and SE Europe more widely with Russian natural gas.

    If its revival is not feasible, it could very well, he argued, build a submarine pipeline under the Black Sea that will directly connect Russia with Bulgaria, irrespective of the Turkish Stream pipeline, which already links Russia with Turkey.

    #gaz #guerre_du_gaz #bulgarie #russie #gazprom #nabucco #mer_noie #crimée

  • How we #bootstrapped an #apparel business while working as programmers full-time

    Entering an industry with zero experienceOur first attempts at product photography and the images we launched with. We call it “Ghost Shirts” ?The idea to make a dress shirt that looks sharp but requires little no care at all, immediately resonated with me, as soon as Marin, my co-founder and ex-high school classmate, mentioned it on Google Hangouts.He was on a trip back to our home country of Bulgaria when it all started making sense to us. We started thinking about ways we can leverage the expertise and traditions the country has in tailoring and commit to seeing this idea through. We saw a great opportunity to combine affordable production costs, great quality and a way to give back and reconnect to our roots.A few months back we heard an advertisement on a popular US podcast, about a (...)

    #entrepreneurship #startup #entrepreneur

  • Statewatch News Online: Council of Europe: Prison statistics for 2016: increases in prison population rate and average length of imprisonment

    The Council of Europe’s recently-published annual prison statistics reports cover the year 2016 and show an increase from 2015 in the prison population rate (the number of prisoners per 100,000 of a country’s population), the average length of imprisonment, the number of entries into penal institutions and the proportion of prisoners serving sentences for theft.

    There were decreases between 2015 and 2016 in overcrowding, in the amount spent per day per prisoner, in the number of releases from penal institutions and in the proportion of prisoners serving sentences for drug offences.

    Council of Europe: European prisons are almost full, according to latest Council of Europe survey (press release, pdf):

    “European prisons are on average close to full capacity, with inmates occupying over 9 out of ten available places, according to the Council of Europe Annual Penal Statistics (SPACE) for 2016, published today.

    The survey shows that the incarceration rate grew from 115.7 to 117.1 inmates per 100,000 inhabitants from 2015 to 2016. This rate had previously fallen every year since 2012, when it reached 125.6 prisoners per 100,000 inhabitants.

    The incarceration rate is mainly influenced by the length of the sanctions and measures imposed. In that perspective, the average length of detention, which can be seen as an indicator of the way criminal law is applied, increasing slightly to 8.5 months.

    The countries where the incarceration rate grew the most were Bulgaria (+10.8%), Turkey (+9.5%), the Czech Republic (+7.6%), Serbia (+6.6%) and Denmark (+5.5%). The prison administrations where it fell the most were Iceland (-15.9%), Northern Ireland (-11.8), Lithuania (-11.1%), Belgium (-10.1%) and Georgia (-6.7%).

    On the other hand, overcrowding remained a serious problem in many countries. Thirteen out of 47 prison administrations reported having more inmates than places to host them.”

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 14

    The Dialectical Cycle

    In the steaming heat of the late summer of 1946 Karlshorst lived its normal life. In all the S. M. A. administrations and departments there was feverish activity. In the rush of work the officers with gold epaulettes forgot that Karlshorst was only a remote island surrounded with a foreign and hostile element. But when the time came for them to go on leave and return to the homeland they grew more conscious of the fact that far away to the east was an enormous country whose interests they were called on to defend outside its frontiers.

    Letters from the Soviet Union reported an unusual drought all over European Russia. Fears were being openly expressed for the harvest. The small allotments and market gardens, which provided produce for the great masses of the people, were withering in the sun. People stared anxiously into the sky and feared that they were in for a famine still worse than that experienced during the war. Letters from home sounded desperate, hopeless.

    A year had passed since my arrival in Berlin to work in the Soviet Military Administration. I was due for leave at the end of the summer. I could shake the dust of Berlin from my feet and relax at home for six weeks.

    Andrei Kovtun took his leave at the same time as I, and we agreed to travel together. We decided to stop in Moscow for a time, then to visit our hometown in the south, and to finish our holiday somewhere on the Black Sea coast. Andrei insisted on organizing our leave so as to spend it largely surrounded by memories of our youth.

    At the Berlin Schlesische station Andrei, relying on his M. V. D. uniform, went to see the military commandant, and quickly came back with two second-class tickets. His foresight was amply justified. All the carriages were packed. The majority of the travelers was taking a mass of baggage with them, and refused to be parted from it; they did not trust the baggage cars. Andrei and I each had two trunks filled mainly with presents for relations and acquaintances.

    Our train arrived at Brest without adventure, though the Soviet military trains running between Berlin and Moscow often came under fire and even attacks from Polish nationalists hiding in the forests. The first check of documents and baggage took place at the Soviet frontier post in Brest, where we transferred to another train. The M. V. D. frontier guards made a special point of thoroughly searching the baggage of demobilized military men, looking for weapons which officers and men might be taking home as trophies.

    Just in front of us a frontier-guard lieutenant checked the documents of a captain going on leave. “Why didn’t you leave your service weapon behind, Comrade Captain?” he asked.

    “I received no instructions to do so,” the captain answered with a shrug of annoyance.

    “On arrival at your destination you must hand over your pistol to the local commandatura when you register,” the lieutenant said as he returned the documents.

    “That’s peacetime conditions for you!” the captain muttered as we left the control-point office. “Everybody’s afraid of something or other.”

    While waiting for the Moscow train Andrei and I sat in the waiting room. Here there were many officers in Polish uniform, including the Polish square military caps. They were all talking in Russian, resorting to Polish only for swearing. They were officers of Marshal Rokossovsky’s Soviet forces stationed in Poland and dressed in Polish uniforms. Some of the Russian officers returning from Berlin fell into conversation with them.

    “Well, how are things with you in Germany?” an officer with an unmistakable Siberian accent and with a Polish eagle in his cap asked a lieutenant who had come from Dresden. “D’you find the Germans a handful?”

    “Not in the least,” the lieutenant answered casually. “They’re a disciplined people. Tell them they mustn’t, and they don’t. At first we thought we’d have to deal with unrest and even attempts on our lives. Nothing of the sort!”

    “You don’t say!” The fellow from Siberia shook his head, obviously astonished. “But our ’gentlemen’ give us more than we bargain for. Not a night passes without someone being knocked off or shot. And this chicken is of no help whatever” - he pointed to the eagle in his cap.

    “You don’t know how to treat them!” the lieutenant said with a hint of superiority.

    “It isn’t so simple as that!” another Soviet officer in Polish uniform intervened. “During the war years Rokossovsky had sixteen expressions of Stalin’s thanks in orders of the day, but during his one year in Poland he has had twenty censures! All because of the Poles. They shoot at you round corners, and you aren’t allowed to raise a finger against them, otherwise you’ve had it! Court-martial for you. That’s politics!” He gave a deep sigh.

    Shortly after the train for Moscow had started our documents were checked again, this time in the carriage. We had traveled only a few hours when the procedure was repeated a second time.

    Andrei sat silent in a corner seat, taking no notice of what went on around him, sunk deep in thought. A passenger glanced in, noticed the M. V. D. officer’s uniform, and pretended he had made a mistake, and went to look for a seat elsewhere. Even in the second class, where every traveler had a Party ticket, people preferred to keep a respectable distance between them and the M. V. D.

    Towards evening Andrei livened up a little - he had not uttered a word for a long time. We began to talk about the past. Gradually his reminiscences turned to Halina. I sat listening in astonishment. Evidently he had been thinking of her all the time, but only now did he openly talk about her. Time and distance had blunted his feelings a little, but now his heart was burning once more with that same former fire.

    The story of Andrei’s pre-war relations with Halina was somewhat unusual. She was an extraordinarily beautiful girl, with a pure and exalted quality in her beauty. Above all, her character was in perfect harmony with her appearance. Andrei worshipped her. But for a long time she was indifferent to his attentions and did not notice his slavish devotion. Then a strong friendship developed between them. Possibly his sacrifice and devotion won her, or perhaps she felt that his love was different from other young men’s flattering attentions.

    Their acquaintances all thought this friendship queer; the contrast between his angular figure and her spiritual beauty was too obvious. Nobody could imagine what bound them to each other. Again and again her girl friends reduced her to tears, for they took every opportunity of pointing out Andrei’s defects. His comrades openly congratulated him on his ’undeserved good fortune’.

    More than once this sort of thing led to their separating for a time. And then Andrei had no rest. He wandered like a shade behind her, not daring to go up to her, yet lacking the strength to turn away. Thus they went on, all but inseparable, down to the outbreak of war. The war flung him into the partisans and directed his unbridled emotions in another direction. The town in which she was living was soon overrun by German troops, and they completely lost contact with each other.

    “We’re continually striving towards something,” he now said abruptly. "We strive for power, for fame, for distinction. But that is all outside us. And when you come to a certain point you realize that all the time you’ve only been giving out from yourself. And you ask yourself: what have you gained for it all?

    “I’ve got a strange feeling. Putting aside everything else and thinking only of myself, I get the impression that all I’ve done in my struggle to climb higher has been for Halina’s sake. Now I shall lay this uniform and these orders at her feet.”

    He ran his eyes over his perfectly fitting uniform, brushed a speck of dust from the blue riding breeches, and said dreamily:

    “Now Halina has graduated as an engineer; she’s living in Moscow, she has work worthy of her, and a comfortable home. And what more can any woman achieve today? And now, to complete it all, a major in the State Security Service will turn up as a guard and defender of her well being. Don’t you think that’s quite a logical conclusion? And now, old friend, I’m hoping that life will repay me with interest for everything.” He clapped his hand down on my knee, then rose and stared through the window into the darkness ahead, as though he hoped to discern what fate had in store for him.

    I had noticed before that he had rather queer ideas of his position with regard to Halina. He had put all his ardour into his ambitions and had received no satisfaction from life in return; on the contrary, he was tortured by his situation, in which he was compelled to act against his own convictions. And so he had subconsciously begun to seek for some compromise with life, he had begun to convince himself that his old love and the happiness of married life would fill the void in his soul. To meet Halina again had become an obsession with him; he thought of it as the miracle, which would bring him salvation.

    “D’you know what?” He turned round sharply. “I simply must get hold of a bottle of vodka.”

    “But you don’t drink.”

    “It’s for you,” he replied abruptly. “I want everybody round me to be jolly. Damn it all, I’m not going to a funeral, I’m going to a wedding!”

    I tried to dissuade him. “So you want to insult me? Is that it?” he demanded. I could only hope that he was unlikely to find vodka at that time of night.

    At the very next station he went out; a few minutes later he returned with a bulging pocket. “Obtained in perfect agreement with regulations!” he grinned. “The station commandant had confiscated it from someone, and I confiscated it from him. The raspberry capband has its uses!”

    He filled the glass so full that the vodka overflowed. “I’m all on fire inside, and there’s something lacking,” he said. “You drink for me. You know, there are times when I feel an emptiness inside me almost physically.” He sat with his feet planted widely apart, his hands on his knees. “Sometimes I think about God, and I envy those who believe in Him. It’s better to believe in a non-existent but infallible God than in the scoundrelly pretenders of this earth.”

    “When did you go to church last?” I asked.

    "Some twenty years ago. My father took me. When I was a boy I knew all the prayers by heart.

    “Yes, the soul of a man is not a piece of litmus paper,” he sighed. “You’ve got no means of deciding straight off whether it will be red or blue. In my damned job one often has to think about a human soul. I’ve developed quite a psychosis: I’m looking for people who believe in something.”

    All around us there was silence. Our native land sped towards us.

    The train arrived in Moscow next day. We went into the sunlit square outside the station and stopped to look about us. The trams clattered past, cars drove by silently, and people were hurrying about their affairs. All the feverish life of the capital city was opened before us. It was all so everyday, so simple. We felt as though we had never left Moscow.

    Thanks to his M. V. D. uniform and the gold star of a ’Hero of the Soviet Union’ Andrei easily obtained a room for two in the Staraya-Moskovskaya Hotel on the farther side of the river Moskva, right opposite the Kremlin. Our window looked out on to the river, and beyond we could see the new Stone Bridge, the rows of trees beginning to turn yellow along the Kremlin Embankment, the pointed towers and gold cupolas behind the Kremlin walls, and a long white building staring with innumerable windows. That building housed the brain of our country, the laboratory for the creation of a New World.

    We spent our first day aimlessly wandering about the city. We were both impatient to see Moscow life with our own eyes. Only a year had passed since I had last seen Moscow, but that year had been so filled with experiences that I felt now as though I were getting to know my own capital for the first time. Somewhere in the depths of my being I felt mingled feelings of expectation, distrust, and anxiety; as though, despite everything, I was trying to find something here that would make me change my mind, would lead me to revoke a firmly made decision.

    That summer evening Andrei and I wandered into Mayakovsky Square. Before us the black cube of the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute loomed up in the dusk. In that stone chest the brain of Lenin, the ideologist and founder of the Soviet State, is preserved in spirit as a very sacred object. To the left of the square rose the editorial offices of Pravda.

    At roof level an illuminated sign was announcing the latest news. Nobody in the square paid any attention to it. But we craned our necks and began to read: ’The farmers report... the accomplishment of the plan for handing in the harvest... ’ Andrei and I looked at each other. Evening after evening, year after year, similar reports had been flashed along the roof of Pravda before the war. And it was still the same today. Hadn’t there been any war and all that the war connoted?

    “What does it say up there, little son?” An old, feeble, quavering voice sounded behind us.

    Beside Andrei a decrepit old man was standing. He was wearing a homespun coat of uncertain color, and a tangled, reddish beard framed his face and brightly twinkling eyes. His long hair hung down from beneath his old peaked cap.

    “My eyes are weak, little son, and besides, I’m not good at reading,” he murmured. “Tell me what it says.”

    He addressed Andrei in the tone that simple folk use to their superiors: with respect and wheedling sincerity.

    “Why haven’t you learned to read and write, daddy?” Andrei asked with a warm smile, touched by the old fellow’s request.

    “What do we simple people need to know them for? That’s what learned men are for, to understand everything.”

    “Where are you from, daddy?” Andrei asked.

    “My village is a little way outside Moscow,” the old man answered. “Nearly forty miles from here.”

    “Are you in town to visit your son?” Andrei asked again.

    “No, little son; I’m here to look for bread.”

    “Why, haven’t you any in your village?”

    “No, little son. We’ve handed over all our corn. Now all we can do is sell our potatoes in the Moscow market in order to buy bread.”

    “What’s the price of bread in the market now?” Andrei inquired.

    “Seventy rubles a kilo, little son.”

    “And how much did you sell your grain to the State for?”

    The old fellow fidgeted from foot to foot, sighed and said reluctantly:

    “Seven kopecks a kilo....”

    There was an awkward silence. We behaved as though we had forgotten his request that we should read the news to him, and walked on. In the middle of the square we came to a halt before a granite obelisk; it had a bronze plaque fastened to each of its sides. Andrei and I went closer to read the inscriptions on the plaques.

    “Little son, perhaps you’ll tell me what it says on those boards.” We again heard that feeble, aged voice behind us. The old man stood there like a shade, shifting from foot to foot.

    A smile slipped over Andrei’s face, and he turned his eyes back to the obelisk, intending this time to satisfy the old man. Slowly he read the first few words aloud, but then he broke off and read the further lines in silence.

    “What’s the matter, little son?” the old man asked with some concern. “Isn’t it written in Russian?”

    Andrei was silent; he avoided the old man’s eyes. In the dusk I too read the words. The plaques carried extracts from the Soviet Constitution, dealing with the rights and liberties of Soviet citizens. Hungry and ragged Moscow, this old peasant arrived in search of bread, and the bronze promises of an earthly paradise! I realized why Andrei was silent.

    The next day was a Saturday; we decided to find out where Halina lived and call on her. Through letters from mutual acquaintances I had learnt that she was working as an engineer in one of the Moscow factories. But when Andrei phoned the works administration they told him she was no longer working there, and refused to give any further information. On making inquiries at the Bureau for Ad-dresses we were amazed to be given an address in one of the out-lying suburbs, an hour’s journey by electric train.

    The sun was sinking behind the crowns of the pine forest when Andrei and I knocked at the door of a small timber-built house in a summer settlement not far from the railway. A negligently dressed, elderly woman opened the door to us, gave us an unfriendly look, listened to us in silence, and silently pointed up a rickety staircase to the first floor. Andrei let me go in front, and I could not see his face; but by the sound of his footsteps and the way he leaned heavily on the shaking banister rail I could tell how much this meeting meant to him.

    On the landing damp underwear was hung out to dry. Dirty pans and old rags littered the windowsill. A board door, hanging by rusty hinges, had tufts of wool blocking the chinks between the planks. I irresolutely took hold of the handle, and knocked.

    We heard shuffling footsteps. The door shook on its hinges and scraped over the floor as it was slowly opened; to reveal a woman simply dressed, with old shoes on her stockingless feet. She gazed interrogatively into the dimly lit landing. Then she distinguished men in military uniform, and the astonishment in her eyes was changed to fear.

    “Halina!” Andrei called quietly.

    The young woman’s face flushed crimson. She fell back. “Andrei!” a half-suppressed cry broke from her lips. She stood breathing rapidly and heavily, as though short of breath.

    Andrei avoided looking about him. He tried not to see the wretched furnishing of the half-empty room; he tried to ignore her old clothes and worn shoes. He saw only the familiar features of the woman he loved. All the world was lost in oblivion, sunk beneath the burning depths of her eyes fixed on him.

    How often during all the long years had he dreamed of her eyes! And now those eyes slowly took him in, from head to foot. They rested on the gold epaulettes with the blue facings, on the star indicating his major’s rank, on the brilliant raspberry band of his service cap. Her eyes turned to the M. V. D. insignia on his sleeve, then stared into his eyes.

    “Halina!” he repeated again as though in a dream; he stretched out both his hands to her.

    “Gregory, shut the door, please!” she said to me, as though she had not noticed Andrei or heard his voice. Her tone was cold, her eyes faded, her features set. She avoided Andrei’s eyes and, not saying a word, went to the open window at the far end of the room.

    “Halina, what’s the matter?” he asked anxiously. “How is it you’re living here... in such conditions?”

    “Perhaps you’d better tell your story first,” she answered. She seemed to be finding our visit a torture.

    “Halina! What’s the matter with you?” A growing alarm sounded in his voice.

    There was a long silence. Then she turned her back on us and said in a voice that was almost inaudible as she gazed out of the window:

    “I’ve been dismissed... and exiled from Moscow.”


    “I am an enemy of the people,” she said quietly.

    “But what for?”

    Another silence. Then, like a rustle of wind outside the window:

    “Because I loved my baby....”

    “Are you married?” His voice broke with the despair of a man who has just heard his death sentence.

    “No.” The word came softly.

    “Then... then it’s not so bad, Halina.” The fear in his voice turned to a note of relief.

    There was another silence, disturbed only by his panting breath.

    “Look at that!” She nodded at a small photograph standing on the table. Andrei followed her glance. From the simple wooden photograph frame a man in German officer’s uniform smiled at the major of the Soviet State Security Service. “He was the father of my child,” she said from the window.

    “Halina... I don’t understand.... Tell me what happened.” He dropped helplessly into a chair; all his body was trembling.

    “I fell in love with him when our town was under German occupation,” she answered, after turning away from us again. “When the Germans retreated I hid the child. Someone informed on me. And of course you know the rest....”

    “But where is the child?” Andrei asked.

    “It was taken from me.” Her voice choked. Her shoulders shook with dry sobbing.

    “Who took it from you?” There was a threat in his tone.

    “Who?” she echoed him. “Men in the same uniform as you’re wearing.”

    She turned her face to us. It had nothing in common with the face of the gentle and friendly girl we had known in past days. Before us stood a woman in all the nakedness of her womanly pain.

    “And now I must ask you to leave my house.” She stared fixedly at Andrei’s motionless figure. He sat with shoulders bowed as though under the blows of a knout, staring at the floorboards: his back huddled, his eyes expressionless, and his body lifeless.

    The sun was glowing orange beyond the window. The branches of the dusty pines swayed silently. The sun lighted up the fluffy hair of the woman standing at the window caressed her proudly carried head, the gentle outlines of her neck, the frail shoulders under the old dress. The light left in shadow all the wretched furniture of the half-empty room and all the signs and tokens of human need. At the window stood a woman now farther off than ever, but now more desired than ever. On a chair in the middle of the room slumped a living corpse.

    “Halina... I’ll try...” he said thickly. He himself had no idea what he could hope to do, and he was silent again.

    “We have nothing more to talk about,” she answered quietly and firmly.

    He rose heavily to his feet, looked helplessly about him. He muttered something, held out his hand as though asking for something, or maybe in farewell. She looked away, taking no notice of his hand. There was another long silence.

    I crept out of the room as though from the presence of the dead. Andrei followed me. As he went downstairs he clung to the wall like a blind man. His face was ashen; words came incoherently from his lips. Our steps sounded hollowly on the creaking stairs.

    In the train he stared with glassy eyes out of the window and was obdurately silent. I tried to distract his thoughts with talk. He did not hear my voice; he took no notice of me whatever.

    As we made our way to the Moscow Underground station he broke the silence by asking: “Which way are you going?” I guessed he wanted to get rid of me, but I also felt that on no account could I dare to leave him to himself.

    We returned to our hotel. All the rest of the evening I followed him like a shadow. When he left the room for a moment I unloaded our pistols, which were lying in the table drawer. He would not have any supper, and went to bed unusually early. But he tossed and turned and could not sleep. He wished to escape from this life at least in his sleep, to find release from his torment; but he could not.

    “Andrei, the best thing would be for you to go home tomorrow,” I said.

    “I have no home,” came from his bed after a long silence.

    “Then go to your family,” I persisted.

    “I have no family,” he said thickly.

    “Your father...”

    “My father has disowned me.”

    Andrei’s father was a man of the old school, hard as oak and as obstinate as a mule. When the years of collectivization arrived the old cossack had preferred to leave his native soil to live in a town, rather than join a collective farm. In the town he had become an artisan. No repressive measures, no amount of taxation could drive him into an artisans’ cooperative. “I was born free, I shall die free!” was his one answer. He had given all his strength to bring up his son, in the hope that the lad would be a comfort to his old age. But when he heard that his Andrei had gone over to the enemy he disowned him.

    All night Andrei tossed and turned in his bed. All night I lay in the darkness, not closing my eyes, fighting to keep from falling asleep. The hours passed. The ruby stars of the Kremlin towers shone in through the open window. As the sky turned pale and the first feeble light stole into the room, I saw that Andrei was still awake. He had buried his face in the pillow, and his arms hung helplessly down, one on either side of the bed. In the silence I caught words that came strangely from his lips, words that I remembered from times long past, the time of my childhood. They came in a passionate whisper: “Lord, incline Thine ear and hear my prayer, for I am miserable and weak.”

    For the first time that night I closed my eyes. I would not hinder a man who stood on the confines of this world. And again in the early morning stillness I heard a whisper that had nothing earthly in it, the words of a long forgotten prayer: “Lord, forgive thy sinful slave...”

    On the farther side of the river the Kremlin clock chimed in answer.

    While in Berlin I had exchanged very little correspondence with Genia. She was too sensitive to the least hint of insincerity and mental reservations; moreover, there was still a military censor-ship, and that had to be taken into account. A frank description of my present life and of our impressions of the real world around us would have been unforgivable lunacy. And we had no private life in Karlshorst that I could write about. Both she and I were too young and too fond of life to write each other insane letters out of sheer amiability.

    So I preferred to use the nights when I had a twenty-four-hour turn of duty in the staff headquarters, and was alone in the commander-in-chief’s private office, for getting direct telephonic contact with Moscow and talking to Genia. On such occasions we had long conversations that had no connection with the marshal’s office, or policy. The people tapping the telephone could go on reading their novels unperturbed.

    On returning to Moscow I looked forward impatiently to seeing Genia again. And in preparing for my first visit I spent a long time pondering what to wear - my military uniform or civilian clothes. I finally decided in favor of the civvies.

    I found only Anna Petrovna at home. She was feeling bored, and she took the opportunity to ply me with questions concerning Berlin, and simultaneously to retail the latest Moscow news.

    Now the family was reunited. Genia’s father, Nikolai Sergeivich, had returned home after the conclusion of operations against Japan. But even now, when he was stationed in Moscow, his wife knew as little as ever about his duties and activities, and she lived in constant dread of his being sent off again in some unknown direction and for an indefinite period.

    After lunch Genia decided that she and I would go off into the country for the rest of the day. I was very grateful to her for taking me to her parents’ country house, for the small summer villa outside the city had been the scene of my first meeting with her, in the early days of the war. She herself drove her sports-model Captain.

    When we reached the villa she began to question me at great length and in unusual detail about life in Germany. All my explanations and descriptions failed to satisfy her. Suddenly, quite unexpectedly, she gazed into my eyes and asked: “But why are you so thin?”

    “I’m feeling fine!” I replied. “It may be just overwork.”

    “No, it isn’t that.” She shook her head. “You look really bad. You’re keeping something from me.” She gazed at me closely, as though trying to read my thoughts.

    “Maybe there is something,” I assented, touched by her anxious tone. “But if there is I haven’t noticed it.”

    “But I do,” she whispered. “At first I thought it must be some-thing coming between us... Now I see it’s something else. Forget it!”

    And I did forget it. I was boundlessly happy to see the familiar walls around me, and to hear only Genia, to think only of Genia.

    As the evening twilight settled over the forest and shadows began to steal through the room she decided to celebrate my arrival with a supper.

    “Today you’re mine.” She flashed her eyes at me. “Let father be annoyed because we’ve gone off! Let him know how mother worries when he’s not at home! I’ll show him!”

    We had hardly sat down to eat when we heard the sound of a car approaching. Genia raised her eyebrows anxiously. The car stopped outside, and a moment later Anna Petrovna entered. She was followed by Nikolai Sergeivich and a colleague of his, Colonel-General Klykov. They were all in a very cheerful mood, and the house was filled with their laughter and talk.

    “Now isn’t this wonderful! We’ve only just arrived, and the table’s already laid!” Klykov laughed and rubbed his hands. “Nikolai Sergeivich, your daughter’s a treasure!”

    “D’you think she’s prepared all this for us?” Nikolai Sergeivich answered. “You must excuse us for interrupting, Yevgenia Nikolaevna,” he said very formally, turning to his daughter. “Would you permit us to join your company?”

    “And you’re a fine one!” he added, turning to me. “Get into civilian clothes and you immediately forget your army regulations! You know your first duty is to present yourself to your superiors! Ah, you youngsters....”

    “But we were just getting ready to go home,” Genia began.

    “Then why have you laid the table? For us?” Her father roared with laughter. “So we drive here, and you go back there! You think you’re clever, my girl. But I’m no fool either. Just to punish you we’ll spend all the evening with you.”

    Anna Petrovna set to work to prepare supper. They had brought cans and bottles of a striking diversity of labels with them. All the lands of eastern Europe were represented: Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary. These commodities were not spoils of war, but normal peacetime production. There were American conserves too, obviously the remnants of lend-lease deliveries. None of these things could be bought in the Moscow shops, but they were available in abundance in the special distribution centers to which generals had access.

    “Well, Gregory, now tell us all about it from the beginning.” Nikolai Sergeivich turned to me when the dessert arrived. “What is life in Germany like?”

    “Not too bad,” I answered vaguely, waiting for him to be more definite in his questions.

    “In any case he has a better apartment there than we have,” Genia intervened.

    The general ignored her, and asked: “What’s Sokolovsky doing?”

    “What Moscow orders,” I replied, involuntarily smiling. “You people here should know best what he’s doing.”

    Obviously I had given Nikolai Sergeivich the opening he was fishing for. He sat turning over his thoughts. Genia looked about her with a bored air.

    “Germany’s a tough nut.” General Klykov broke the silence. “It’ll be a long time before we crack it. The Allies won’t clear out of western Germany without giving trouble, and there isn’t much to be expected simply from eastern Germany. Not like the Slavonic countries: no sooner said than done! I think our first task is to create a strong bloc of Slavonic states. If we form a Slavonic bloc we shall have a good cordon sanitaire around our frontiers. And our positions in Europe will be strong enough to prevent any repetition of 1941.”

    “My friend, you’re always looking backward, but we’ve got to look forward.” Nikolai Sergeivich shook his head reproachfully. “What do we want a Slavonic bloc for? The old dreams of a pan-Slav empire! Today we’re in the epoch of the communist advance along the whole front. Eastern Europe and the western Slavonic states are of interest to us now chiefly as providing a favorable base for penetration and further action.”

    “So far the masters are pursuing a quite clear pan-Slavonic policy,” the colonel-general retorted. Like all the upper circles of Moscow he resorted to the vague term ’masters’ to denote the Kremlin and the Politburo.

    “That’s what policy’s for, to conceal the ultimate aims,” Nikolai Sergeivich said. “It would be a crying shame not to exploit our possibilities today. One half of Europe belongs to us, and the other half is inviting us to take it over and give it order.”

    It was now quite dark outside. Moths fluttered through the open window and beat against the lamp glass, burning their wings. A drowsy fly crawled over the table, moving its legs painfully. The fly had no aim, it simply crawled.

    “There’s Europe!” the general said with a contemptuous smile, and he unhurriedly picked up the fly between two fingers. “You don’t even have to catch it, you simply take it.”

    “But tell us frankly, Nikolai Sergeivich, what do you need that dead fly for? What good will it be to you?” the colonel-general asked.

    “Of course we’re not greatly interested in western Europe as such,” the general answered after a moment’s thought. “It’ll probably be more difficult to plant communism in the Europeans than in any other peoples. They’re too spoilt economically and culturally.”

    “There you are! You yourself admit it’s very difficult to make Europe communist,” Klykov expressed his thoughts aloud. “If we intend to build communism seriously there we’ll have to send half the population to Siberia and feed the other half at our expense. And what’s the sense of that?”

    “We need Europe so as to deprive America of her European markets, and then she’ll go under economically. But in any case...” The general was silent, thoughtfully rolling the unfortunate fly between his thumb and fingers. Then, as though he had come to a definite decision, he flung the fly away and repeated: “But in any case... neither you nor I know what the masters are thinking. And it’s just as well that we don’t,” he went on after another pause. His tone suggested that he knew more than he proposed to say.

    “Communist theory lays it down that the revolution should develop where there are the best prerequisites for it: in the weakest link of the capitalist system. And at the moment that isn’t in Europe. Today Asia is ripe for revolution. There we can gain the greatest possible successes with the least risk and the least expenditure. Asia is waking up nationally, and we must use this movement in order to further our objectives. The Asiatics are not so cultured and spoilt as the Europeans.”

    He paused again, then went on: “It’s more important to have Asia in our hands than Europe. All the more so as Japan has dropped out of the running. Today China is the key to Asia. Nowhere else in the world are the prerequisites for revolution so favorable as in China.”

    “All right, I give you China,” the colonel-general said in a joking tone. “And what will you do with it?”

    “China is an enormous reservoir of vital forces,” Nikolai Sergeivich replied. “It would be a tremendous thing to have such a reserve at our disposal, for the army and for industry. And, above all, that’s the way we shall force America to her knees.”

    “So America’s giving you trouble again?” Klykov laughed.

    “Sooner or later our roads will cross,” Nikolai Sergeivich answered. “Either we must renounce our historical mission or follow it through to the end.”

    “All the same, I assume that our post-war policy is directed towards ensuring the security of our frontiers, both in the West and in the East.” The colonel-general held to his views. But he prudently made his remarks sound more like a commentary on Kremlin policy than an expression of his own attitude.

    The general put on a smile of superiority. “Don’t forget, my friend, that one can build socialism in one country, but communism only in all the world.”

    “What’s the world to do with you, when you’re a Russian?”

    “We’re communists first, and Russians only second....”

    “So you need the whole world.” The colonel-general drummed his fingers ironically on the table.

    “That is the general line of the Party,” the general answered coldly.

    “Our policy during the war...” Klykov put up a feeble opposition.

    “Policy can change with circumstances, but the general line remains the general line;” the general would not let him finish. “It has to be so,” he went on slowly. “It’s a historical necessity. We’ve already exhausted all the possibilities of internal development. Internal stagnation is equivalent to death of old age. Either we finally retreat on the internal front, or we go forward on the external front. That is the law of dialectical development that applies to every state system.”

    “You’re going too far, Nikolai Sergeivich. You’re placing the interests of the state system above those of your people and your country.”

    “That’s why you and I are communists,” Genia’s father said slowly and firmly, raising his glass as though to confirm his words. Klykov pretended not to notice this invitation, and felt for his cigarettes. Anna Petrovna and Genia sat listening to the conversation with bored expressions on their faces.

    “What you’ve just said, Nikolai Sergeivich, is one thing in words, but in reality it means war,” Klykov said after a long silence. “You underestimate the external factors-America, for instance,”

    “And what is America?” Nikolai Sergeivich asked. “An agglomeration of people who represent no nation and possess no ideals, and whose basis of unity is the dollar. At a certain stage her living standards will fall inevitably, the class antagonisms will grow sharper, and then favorable conditions will arise for the development of the class struggle. The war will be shifted from the front to the rear of the enemy.”

    “And that’s what you and I are generals for - to wage war,” he added.

    “A general should be a citizen of his country first and foremost.” Klykov drew at his cigarette and sent the smoke curling up to the ceiling. “A general without a native country is...” He did not finish the sentence.

    During the war Colonel-General Klykov had successfully commanded large Soviet forces in the field. Shortly before the war ended he had been recalled from the front and given a comparatively subordinate post in the Commissariat for Defense. Generals on active service were not subjected to such changes without reason.

    Before leaving Moscow to join the S. M. A. I had met Klykov more than once at the home of Genia’s parents. Whenever the talk turned to politics he had always been very moderate, taking the attitude that the war was one of defense of the national fatherland. At that time, just about the close of hostilities, there was a good deal of rather independent discussion, or rather surmise, as to the U. S. S. R.’s future policy. It is hardly to be doubted that Klykov had been rather too frank in expressing his opinions, which did not entirely coincide with the Politburo’s secret plans, and that this had been the reason for his recall to the rear, closer to the Kremlin’s ever-watchful eye.

    “But we won’t argue about that, Nikolai Sergeivich,” he said in a conciliatory tone, after a long pause. “In the Kremlin there are wiser heads than yours or mine. Let them decide.”

    They fell into a long silence. Anna Petrovna sat turning over the pages of a periodical. Genia looked at the clock, then at the moon rising through the trees. At last she could stand no more, and she jumped up.

    “Well, you can go on dividing up the world, but we’re going home.”

    “Why, is the moon making you restless?” her father laughed. “Off you go, then, only don’t get lost on the way. If anything happens, Gregory, I shall hold you responsible.” He jokingly wagged his finger at me.

    A minute or two later we drove off. In the moonlight, the shadows of the trees fell spectrally across the ground. Here and there the windowpanes of summer villas gleamed through the trees. The car bumped over the hummocky forest road. I sat at the wheel, not speaking.

    “What were you so dumb for this evening?” Genia asked.

    “What could I talk about?” I asked.

    “What others talk about.”

    “I can’t repeat the sort of thing your father says. And I mustn’t support Klykov.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because I don’t happen to be Klykov. Your father would never stand from me what he takes from Klykov. Klykov gives expression to very imprudent views.”

    “Let’s forget politics!” she whispered. She put her hand to the dashboard and switched off the headlamps. The night, the marvelous moonlit night, caressed us with its silence. I gazed into her face, into her eyes, veiled in the half-light. My foot slowly released the accelerator.

    “If you don’t close your eyes again...” she murmured.

    “Genia, I’ve got to steer the car.”

    Instead of an answer, a neat little foot was set on the brake pedal. The car slowly pulled sideways and came to a stop.

    I spent the next few days visiting my numerous Moscow friends and acquaintances. Everywhere I was bombarded with questions about life in Germany. Although occupied Germany was no longer ’foreign’ in the full meaning of the word, and many Russians had already seen the country with their own eyes, there was no falling off in the morbid interest the Russian people showed in the world on the farther side of the frontier.

    This interest and the exaggeratedly rosy ideas of life abroad were a reaction from Soviet Russia’s complete isolation. Moreover, the Russians have one trait, which is seldom found in other nations: they are constantly seeking to find the good sides of their neighbors in the world. The Germans used to regard this as evidence of the primitive ways of thought in the East.

    After I had satisfied my friends’ curiosity as far as possible I turned to questioning them about life in Moscow. But while they were very ready to listen to my guarded accounts of life in Germany, they were very unwilling to answer my questions about life in Moscow. The general mood was joyless. Everybody had hoped that living conditions would improve after the war. But now there were signs of famine. And in addition, the papers were again talking hysterically of a new war danger.

    When my friends learned that we in Berlin were in the habit of meeting Americans, talking to them and even shaking their hands, they stared at me as if I were a ghost, and did not know what comment to make. Although there had been a considerable cooling off in relations between the Allies during the first twelve months after the war, the very fact that we lived in the same city did to some extent mitigate the growing tension in official relations.

    But in Moscow the one-sided and continual abuse in which all the press and propaganda weapons were indulging was leading the people, despite their own personal convictions, to think of the Americans as cannibals. The propaganda poison was having its effect.

    One evening I went as usual to see Genia, and found all the family making ready for a journey. Anna Petrovna explained that they were going next morning to see Nikolai Sergeivich’s parents, who lived in a village between Moscow and Yaroslavl, and she invited me in her husband’s name to go with them. I knew already that his parents were simple peasants, and that, despite their son’s attempts to persuade them, they had refused to move to Moscow, preferring to remain on their land and continue as peasants.

    I readily accepted the invitation, though Genia turned up her nose a little and made no comment. I had observed already that she was not fond of visiting her grandparents, and did so only because her father wished her to. She had grown up in the Moscow milieu, and was completely alien to her peasant origins.

    Early next morning Nikolai Sergeivich, Anna Petrovna, Genia and I drove in the general’s limousine out of Moscow. We passed through the suburbs with its factories and small houses, and plunged into the forests surrounding the city. Towards midday, after a long journey over by-roads, we drew near to our destination. Bumping over the potholes, the car crawled into a village street. It was enveloped in a deathly silence; there was not a sign of life anywhere. No domestic animals, no chickens, not even a dog to be heard. It seemed to have been deserted by its inhabitants.

    Our car stopped at one of the houses on the outskirts. With a groan the general climbed out and stretched his legs after the long drive. Anna Petrovna gathered her things together. Genia and I waited for them to lead the way. There was no sign of life in the hut. Nobody came out to welcome us.

    Finally, the general went up the steps of the porch and opened the unfastened door. We went through a dark entry smelling of dung. The general opened the living-room door without knocking. In the middle of the room a girl about eight years old, bare-foot and straight haired, was sitting on the floor, swinging a cradle hanging from the ceiling. She was singing under her breath. When she saw us she stopped, and stared half in wonder, half in alarm, without rising.

    “Good morning, my child,” the general said to her. “Have you lost your tongue?”

    In her confusion she only stuck her finger into her mouth.

    “Where is everybody?” Nikolai Sergeivich asked again.

    “They’ve gone to work,” the child answered.

    At that moment we heard a noise behind us, and a pair of legs shod in worn feltboots began to stir on the enormous Russian stove that filled half the room. A muffled coughing and groaning came from the shelf for a few moments, then a shaggy, gray head was stuck out from behind a cloth curtain.

    “Ah.... So it’s you, Nikolai!” an aged, rather hoarse voice said. “So you’ve come again!” It was the general’s father. The old man’s face showed no sign of pleasure at the sight of his son.

    “Who else should it be?” the general thundered with forced gaiety as the old man climbed down from the stove. “I’ve brought something for you, Sergei Vassilievich. Something for the pain in your legs. You won’t refuse a bottle of vodka, I’m sure!”

    “Bread would have been more acceptable than vodka!” the old man grumbled.

    “Marusia, run to the chairman of the collective farm” - the general turned to the child - “and ask him to release all our people from work today. Tell him the general’s arrived.”

    “The general... the general....” the old man mumbled in his beard. He laid his hand affectionately on Genia’s head. “You’re looking well, dragon-fly. So you haven’t forgotten your old grand-dad in that Moscow of yours?”

    I went to the car and brought in the packets and bundles of presents we had brought with us. One after another the rest of the family arrived, all the general’s numerous kindred and their grown-up children. They all seemed rather awkward, and showed no sign of pleasure at the arrival of guests. The last to enter was a man who had been wounded in the war, and now walked with the aid of a stick. He was the general’s cousin, and the collective farm store-keeper.

    As usual in the country, the oldest man of the family issued the orders. The grandfather waved to one of the women:

    “Lay the table, Serafima. We’ll have dinner now we’ve got guests.” Turning to his son, he remarked: “I don’t suppose you’ve eaten potatoes for a long time, Nikolai? Well, you can have some now. We haven’t any bread, so we’re eating potatoes instead.”

    “What’s happened to your corn then?” Nikolai asked. “Haven’t you received anything yet from the collective farm?”

    “Received anything...” the old man muttered. “The collective farm handed over everything down to the last grain to the State, and that still left it in debt. We haven’t met our delivery plan. We’re managing with potatoes at present, but when winter comes... we haven’t any idea what we’ll eat.”

    “Well, don’t worry!” the general reassured him. “We’ve brought bread with us.”

    “Ah, Nikolai, Nikolai! If you weren’t my son I’d show you the door! Brought your bread to make a mock of us country-people, have you? You know our custom: the host provides for the guest. You’ll eat what we eat. And no arguments! Don’t turn up your nose at our food.”

    With a sweeping gesture he invited everybody to sit down at the table, on which Serafima had set a huge iron pot of steaming beetroot soup. Next to it she placed a pot of potatoes boiled in their jackets. Then she arranged earthenware plates and wooden spoons round the table. The general was the first to sit down.

    He was the most talkative of all the company, and tried hard to show that he was perfectly at home in the house where he had been born. He joked as he peeled his potatoes, readily held out his plate for Serafima to fill with the ’beetroot soup’, which apparently had been made without meat or fat. For some time only the clatter of the wooden spoons was to be heard.

    “What’s a dinner without vodka?” the general exclaimed at last, and he rose and went across to his packages. “We’ll throw back a glass all round, and then we’ll feel more cheerful.”

    All the men in the house readily accepted his invitation, and the bottle was swiftly emptied. A second followed it. The plain peasant food was quickly disposed of. The general again resorted to his packages, and littered the table with cans of preserves labeled in all the languages of Europe. His old father watched him glumly, and tried to protest; but then he held his peace and, staring at the strange labels, confined himself to the brief remark: “You’ve done some looting....”

    The plentiful supply of vodka had its effect; they all found their tongues.

    “Well, Nikolai, tell us. They say there’s a smell of war around again,” the old man asked, a little more amiable after several glasses of vodka.

    “We’re a long way off war at the moment, but we must always be ready for surprises,” the general replied. “We’ve won the war, now we must win the peace,” he added self-importantly.

    “What sort of world?” his father asked, screwing up his eyes cunningly. “That old story again... ’proletarians of all countries unite... ’?” (The Russian word ’mir’ has two meanings: ’peace’, and ’world’; the old man deliberately twists his son’s remark.)

    “Why of course, we mustn’t forget the proletarians of other countries,” the general said sluggishly, conscious of the ineptitude of his remark. “Proletarian solidarity,” he added, avoiding his father’s eyes.

    “Of course, of course.... My belly tells me every day that we’re proletarians. But as for the solidarity! D’you mean that others are to go hungry with us? Is that it?”

    “Let’s have another drink, Sergei Vassilievich,” his son proposed, realizing that there was no point in arguing with him. He filled his glass again.

    “But tell me just one thing, Nikolai.” His father went over to the offensive. “I don’t say anything about our having shed our blood and gone hungry in this war. God be thanked that it ended as it did. But tell me one thing: did the soldiers want to fight at the beginning, or didn’t they? You should know the answer, you’re a general.”

    The general stared silently at his plate.

    “Nothing to say?” the old fellow crowed. “The soldiers didn’t want to fight. And you know very well why. Because they’d had enough of that song long before. You can’t fill your belly with songs.”

    “But all the same we won the war,” the general said in his own defense.

    “Nikolai! I’m your father, and you needn’t tell me lies. Have you forgotten what was promised us during the war? Why were the churches opened again? Why have you been given Russian epaulettes? Why have you tsarist ribbons on your chest? You hid behind the backs of the Russian people! We were promised land and freedom. That’s what we fought for! And where is it all?” He banged his fist down on the table, making the glasses jingle. “Where is it all?” he shouted again, furiously pointing a skinny finger at the potato skins littered about the table.

    “You can’t have everything at once,” the general feebly protested.

    “What do you mean by that? You can’t have everything at once!” The old man exploded like a gunpowder barrel. “D’you mean it’s going to be still worse?”

    “Oh no.... But when everything’s been destroyed it can’t all be restored at once;” the general made his retreat.

    “Ah, now that’s a different story! But you began at first with the old song: Solidarity! Proletariat! We know it all by heart. We even know it backward!”

    The general said no more, but apathetically chewed a bread-crust. The old man could not get over his excitement. With a trembling hand he helped himself to a glass of vodka and tossed it off. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then looked about him to see if anyone was daring to oppose him. But they all sat staring indifferently into their empty plates.

    “Don’t tell me any of your fairy-stories, Nikolai!” the old fellow said decisively, with a challenging stare across the table. “I know all that you’ve been up to! D’you think I don’t know how for the last twenty years you’ve been going about the world with a flaming torch? D’you think I don’t know where you got all those gewgaws from?”

    He pointed to the orders on his son’s chest. “When you were lying in that cradle,” he nodded to the cradle hanging from the ceiling," we didn’t only have bread in the house, we had everything in plenty. Now you’ve become a general, but the child in that cradle is crying with hunger. What’s happened to your conscience? Answer me! Have you exchanged your conscience for those gewgaws?"

    “Grand-dad, where could I find a basket?” Genia, who had been sitting silent next to her father, asked the old man. She rose from the table to go out.

    “What, dragon-fly, had enough?” Her grandfather gazed after her. “Go and pick some mushrooms in the forest, then we’ll have mushrooms as well as potatoes for supper.”

    Genia stood at the door with a basket on her arm, and nodded to me to go with her. As I left the room I heard the old man say:

    “I tell you, Nikolai, I don’t want to hear any more about the proletariat in my house. If there’s anybody who’s the last, the very bottom-most proletariat, it’s us, and not anybody else. If anybody’s got to be set free, it’s us! Get that? Put that in your pipe and smoke it!”

    Genia and I walked out of the village. The forest began almost at the last house. The sky was overcast with gray. The air was autumn-ally clear, and pervaded with the scent of rotting leaves and dampness. Genia had flung a kerchief over her head, knotting it beneath her chin. She took off her high-heeled shoes and dropped them into her basket, and went on in front without saying a word, cautiously stepping with her bare feet through the grass.

    I followed her, my eyes delighting in her supple figure. We went deeper and deeper into the forest, and at last came to a clearing littered with the great, mossy trunks of felled trees; all around them was a wilderness of wild berries, mushrooms, and grasses.

    “But what does father come here for at all?” Genia broke the silence. She walked aimlessly along with bent head, gazing at the ground. “Granddad always entertains him with this sort of performance, and father seems to like it.”

    “Perhaps he likes to see the difference between what he was and what he is now,” I suggested.

    “I’ve had enough of this comedy, long since!” she went on. “And this time it’s all the more unpleasant because you’ve seen it.”

    “Genia!” I called quietly.

    She turned round so swiftly and so readily that she might have been waiting for the call. Her chestnut eyes were fixed on me with a look of expectation.

    “Genia, what comedy are you referring to?” I asked, feeling an unpleasant suspicion rising in my mind. She stood embarrassed, disturbed by the tone of my voice. I took her by the hands and set her against a large, mossy stump rising as high as her head. She humbly stood as I had placed her.

    “Don’t you see it for yourself?” She attempted to avoid my question.

    “But it the comedy itself you mind?” I gazed into her eyes and saw that she was expecting, yet fearing, my question. “Which one do you think is the comedian?”

    “I... I don’t know, Grisha....”

    “Genia, which one do you regard as the comedian?” I repeated harshly.

    “I’m sorry for granddad,” she whispered, lowering her eyes. I could see that this talk was torturing her. “But it’s all so silly...” she added, as though excusing herself.

    “So you think your grandfather is a comedian?” I insisted.

    “No; he’s quite right. But...” Tears came into her eyes.

    I had a feeling of relief, mingled with a warm tenderness. I took her head between my hands and kissed her on the lips. I had no wish to go on tormenting her, by forcing her to disavow her own father. There was no need for me to say more.

    “D’you know what, Genia?” I said, as I played with a strand of her hair. “I’m very grateful to you at this moment.”

    “Why?” she whispered in surprise.

    "I was afraid for you. I was afraid you’d say something else....

    “I felt really upset for the old man,” I added thoughtfully. “Before the war came, each of us lived in his own nest, and each built his life to the best of his ability. During the war everything was changed, everybody was threatened and everybody was equal in the presence of death. In those days of blood and evil I experienced so much good from people I didn’t know at all, from simple people like your grandfather. The war brought us together in a brotherhood of blood. Now I feel sick at heart for these people.”

    A gray pall crept across the sky. The scent of rawness rose from the earth. A bird fluttered about for a moment, then flew off. “You and I are on top,” I went on quietly. “We must never forget that. Our being on top and remaining there only makes sense if we don’t forget it. I think your father has. And I was afraid you bad too....”

    The rustles of the autumnal forest stirred through the glade. I looked at Genia’s bare feet, at her peasant’s kerchief, at the basket standing beside her. In her hands she held a sprig of ash berries which she had broken off as she walked along.

    “I’d be tremendously happy if you were only your grandfather’s granddaughter and lived in that hut,” I said.

    She pressed closer to me, as if she were cold.

    “For then I’d know you belong to me,” I whispered into her ear. “You know, I often think of the first days we met. When you were simply Genia, a delightful girl who was a soldier’s friend. D’you remember how I knocked at your door, straight back from the front, in a soldier’s dirty greatcoat? I was always so proud of you... A soldier’s little wife...”

    “Grisha, tell me quite frankly.” As she learned against the mossy stump she bore little resemblance to the saucy and carefree girl I had once known. She spoke quietly, seriously. “You’ve come back from Berlin completely changed.... And you talk so little... I feel that something’s getting you down. What is it?”

    “Genia, it’s because I’m sorry that our friendship will never be anything more than that...”

    “What’s preventing it?”

    “When I first met your father I was proud of him. I thought of him in those days as an example to be followed...”

    “And now?” She looked into my eyes with a strange look.

    I did not answer at once. I could not yet put what I felt into words. “That you should leave the life you’re living now and belong only to me... I can’t insist that you should do that,” I said quietly. "But if you were to include me in your life, it would be the end for all of us.

    “So my father stands in the way?” she said with a strange calm. The words came as an answer to my own thoughts. I remained silent, gently stroking her shoulders. The leaves of the birches rustled quietly. The cloudy sky was silent. Ants crawled aimlessly over the stump.

    “Don’t be afraid, Grisha. I’d come to the same conclusion my-self.” Her voice betrayed her weariness. “There’s just one thing I want to say: it isn’t my father that stands between us. What has come between us is something that long since came between me and my father. I am only a woman and a daughter. But I feel differently about that.” She was silent for a moment, then she went on: “I’ve told you once already I’m an orphan...”

    She raised the sprig of mountain ash to her face and brushed her cheeks with the cluster of berries. The air was fresh with the autumn. We stood silent in the forest glade, forgetting what we had come there for.

    “And so you’ve quite made up your mind?” she asked at last.

    I only shrugged my shoulders impotently.

    “But supposing I throw up everything and come to you in Berlin?”

    “My position there is too insecure. I can’t risk your future...”

    She played thoughtfully with the cluster of orange berries. Her eyes gazed over my shoulder into the distance.

    “I shall never forget you, my dear,” I began, and was not at all sure whom I was trying to comfort, her or myself. My heart quivered once more with all the pang of a soldier’s parting, with sadness and tenderness, as in times past. But now the girl’s body did not quiver and caress me as it had done in the past. It was lifeless and cold.

    “Don’t be angry with me,” I pleaded. “It’s very difficult for me too. Very...”

    She raised her head. The emptiness in her eyes slowly gave place to the irresistible call of life. “If it has to be so,” she whispered, “the soldier’s little wife won’t cry.” She smiled through her tears. Then she set both her hands on my shoulders and threw her head back as though she were looking at me for the first time. A burning kiss scalded our lips.

    After a fortnight in Moscow I suddenly felt a griping void and restlessness. I hurried to put my affairs in order, feeling rather like a man afraid of being late for a train.

    Andrei Kovtun had already left Moscow. After his meeting with Halina he had wandered about for several days as though in a trance, dead to everything around him. I had great difficulty in persuading him to take the train to Sochi on the Black Sea, to spend the rest of his leave in a sanatorium. Even when I saw him off at the station he did not smile, and as he shook my hand he gazed aside.

    When I left Berlin to return to Russia I had not felt any need of a rest. But now, after a fortnight in Moscow, I felt desperately tired and in need of a break.

    One morning towards the end of the third week I hurriedly packed my few belongings and took a trolley-bus for the Central Aerodrome. I had already phoned and found out that there were always free places in the S. M. A. planes flying from Moscow to Berlin. And now, just as I had done more than a year before, I stood in the airport office, entering my name in the passenger list.

    With a pain in my heart I went to a telephone kiosk and called up Genia. When I heard her familiar voice I said:

    “Genia, I’m phoning from the airport. I’ve been urgently called back to Berlin.”

    “Don’t tell lies,” I heard her say. “But I’m not angry with you. Only it’s a pity you didn’t give me a parting kiss...”

    I was about to say something, but she had already rung off.

    Half an hour later our plane was airborne. This time the pilot did not make a farewell circle above Moscow. This time I did not gaze out of the window. And I did not look forward with any feeling of pleasure to what lay ahead of me. I tried to avoid thinking of what I had left behind me.

    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • The death of #Rebin_Mitran

    The young man in the photo who is raising up his fist is Rebin Mitran, an Iraqian Kurdish citizen who got a refugee status in Bulgaria. He died on the 1st of March in Sofia, the capital city of Bulgaria, very likely because of the low temperatures, which were minus 18 degrees during that time. He was found lying at Botevgradsko shose Blvd. in a very bad condition. He was transported to the municipal Crisis Centre for Homeless People in Zaharna Fabrika district where he died later that night.
    Rebin was one of many refugees in Bulgaria who could not cope with the harsh situation there. Without social money or the lack of health care his condition got worse day by day. Rebin said he had relatives in Germany and he thought about living there. Besides that, he had a mother in Iraq, who died a few months ago. His story shows very clearly that having a refugee status means not much in Bulgaria.
    #Bulgarie #mourir_de_froid #SDF #mort #décès #réfugiés #asile #migrations #hébergement #logement #sans-abri

  • Orange snow creates eerie post-Apocalyptic scenes in eastern Europe | Toronto Star

    à Polyana dans les Carpates ukrainiens

    The photos and videos haven’t been edited by the latest Instagram filter or otherwise digitally manipulated. Orange-tinted snow did blanket parts of Eastern Europe on Friday and over the weekend, creating eerie post-Apocalyptic scenes and baffling people from countries like Russia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and Moldova, the BBC reported.

    Documentation of the strange snow appeared all over social media, with some making jokes about “skiing on Mars,” according to CNN.

    While orange snow seems unearthly, meteorologists said the phenomenon actually occurs about every five years and that this instance was caused by sand from storms in the Sahara Desert mixing with snow and rain, according to the BBC.

    Unlike past occurrences, however, the concentrations of sand are much higher this time, with people even complaining of getting it in their mouths, the BBC reported.

  • From Graffiti to Politics, Anti-Semitic and Neo-Nazi Speech Is Becoming More Visible in Eastern Europe · Global Voices

    Recent events in Eastern Europe show a rise in antisemitism rhetoric, including in European Union (EU) members like Bulgaria and other EU candidate countries.

    In November, monuments to the Soviet army in the cities of Plovdiv and Sofia, Bulgaria, a country that was a close ally of the USSR during its existence, were vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti. Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, instead of condemning the graphic show of anti-Semitism, used the fact to try to revise the history of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews during World War II.

  • En 2017, un tiers des demandeurs d’asile placés sous procédure Dublin

    Les premières données statistiques sur la demande d’asile publiées le 16 janvier 2018, font apparaître plusieurs évolutions significatives. Il s’agit de données provisoires, les chiffres consolidés étant diffusés au printemps dans les rapports d’activité de l’Office français de protection des réfugiés et apatrides (OFPRA) et de la Cour nationale du droit d’asile (CNDA).

    Le ministère de l’Intérieur indique qu’un total de 100 412 demandes a été enregistré par l’OFPRA, soit une hausse de 17% par rapport à 2016. Les demandes de réexamens (7 582) sont relativement stables (+4%) tandis que les premières demandes (73 689) connaissent une hausse importante (+15%) tout comme le nombre de mineurs accompagnants (19 141 / +33%) rattachés aux dossiers de leurs parents. Le record de premières demandes établi en 2016 (63 935) est donc dépassé : jamais la France n’a enregistré autant de demandes d’asile.

    Les principaux pays d’origine des premières demandes enregistrées à l’OFPRA sont l’Albanie (7 630, +29%), l’Afghanistan (5 987, +6%), Haïti (4 934, stable), le Soudan (-24%) et la Guinée (+62%). La Côte d’Ivoire connait la hausse la plus significative parmi les principaux pays d’origine : le nombre de demandes, qui avait déjà fortement augmenté entre 2015 et 2016 (+48%), progresse de 111% (3 243).
    #statistiques #chiffres #Dublin #Règlement_dublin #asile #migrations #réfugiés #France #2017
    cc @isskein

    • Push for transfers at any cost – the Dublin system in 2017 : AIDA Comparative Report

      The 2017 Dublin Update, published by the Asylum Information Database, releases figures for 18 European countries revealing an increase in transfers in the aftermath of European Union and domestic political commitments for a stricter enforcement of the Dublin system.

      Germany continues to spearhead the Dublin system with a record-high 64,267 outgoing requests to other countries. France issued 41,500 requests, Austria 10,490 and Greece 9,784. With the exception of Greece, the majority of countries make marginal use of the family unity provisions (0.4% of requests in Slovenia, 1.5% in Switzerland, 4.1% in the United Kingdom) and the humanitarian clause of the Dublin Regulation (0% in Spain and the United Kingdom, 0.1% in Slovenia, 0.2% in Hungary and 0.9% in Romania). Most states overwhelmingly rely on the irregular entry criterion and applications previously made by asylum seekers in other countries.

      The number of transfers implemented in 2017 was 7,102 for Germany, 4,268 for Greece, 4,201 for Sweden and 3,760 for Austria. While the “transfer rate” of effective outgoing transfers to outgoing requests was 43.6% in Greece and 35.8% in Austria, Germany’s rate was only 11%, thereby indicating that the vast majority of Dublin procedures do not result in a transfer.

      The costs of this policy are palpable. Beyond pointing to an excessive and often unreasonable use of administrative and financial resources on the part of asylum authorities, the continued push for more Dublin transfers has translated into an expansion of abusive practices and deterioration of procedural safeguards in some countries. Asylum seekers are given transfer decisions before being able to lodge their asylum applications or to bring forward vulnerabilities or family links under a new procedure applied by Italy in its north-eastern region bordering Slovenia and Austria. In France, people are increasingly placed in detention during the weekend to be effectively deprived of the possibility to access legal assistance and challenge their transfer in France.

      Finally, the Dublin Update illustrates the widely disparate approaches taken by European states with regard to the safety of countries such as Hungary, Bulgaria and Greece.

      “The presumptions of mutual trust and equivalent standards have never held throughout the life of the Dublin system. Yet, to date, many governments continue to apply the Dublin Regulation even in the face of strong evidence of substandard asylum systems and reception conditions. These tactics at best subject asylum seekers to unduly long Dublin procedures never leading to a transfer; at worst, they send them to countries where their human rights are in jeopardy”, says Minos Mouzourakis, Senior AIDA Coordinator at ECRE.

      Voici quelques données :

      –-> Bizarre ce tableau pour la #France... où il semblerait, en regardant ce tableau, qu’en 2017, aucun « outgoing transfert » ait été effectué...
      #Europe #rapport

      In France, people are increasingly placed in detention during the weekend to be effectively deprived of the possibility to access legal assistance and challenge their transfer in France.

      #rétention #détention_administrative

      La #Suisse est en train de perdre son titre de #champion_des_renvois_Dublin (sic)
      #efficacité (sic)

    • On me répond que les statistiques de transferts Dublin pour la France ne sont pas disponibles... du coup, pourquoi ne pas le mentionner plus clairement sur le tableau au lieu de laisser croire que la France n’a transféré aucun dubliné ?

    • Petite précision d’une amie sur les dublinés à #Grenoble :

      Je dirais plutôt que la catégorie n’est pas renseignée comme s’ils n’avaient pas les chiffres.
      A Grenoble, on estime à 20% environ les transferts effectifs ; c’est à dire 20% de personnes en Dublin sont arrêtées, ensuite elles sont systématiquement transférées. Il n’y a plus de libération du CRA sans expulsion. Et ça tient au fait qu’ils entrent au CRA apres 18h et en sont embarqués vers 6h du matin.

    • How do Member States Return Unwanted Migrants? The Strategic (non‐)use of ‘Europe’ during the Migration Crisis

      This article analyzes how Member States have used the opportunities and avoided the constraints of the EU’s multilevel governance architecture to return unwanted migrants. Drawing on sociological approaches to the EU and a broad understanding of return policies, we investigate the ways in which the northern Member States, notably Germany and Austria, have increasingly relied upon the EU’s operational and financial resources to achieve their goal of pursuing a bold return policy. A key ‘usage’ of Europe has been the pooling of political and financial power to externalize and informalize its return policy. At the same time, the northern Member States’ deliberate – yet widely under‐researched – ‘non‐use’ of Europe, such as using and maximizing national leeway, has been an equally important strategy to reduce migratory pressure and achieve higher return rates.

  • Asylum statistics 2017: Shifting patterns, persisting disparities*

    Despite reports of asylum applications “dropping off drastically” in the European Union throughout 2017, statistics published by national authorities seem to reveal a more complex picture across the continent.

    Germany witnessed a dramatic decrease in applications registered last year (222,683) compared to the year before (745,545). It should be recalled that the majority of people lodging applications in 2016 had in fact arrived in 2015. Nevertheless, Germany still spearheads Europe’s reception of people seeking protection, far ahead of countries such as Italy and France.

    Significant reduction has been witnessed in 2017 compared to 2016 in Hungary (29,423 to 3,397) and Bulgaria (19,418 to 3,700). On the other hand, more claims were received in Italy (123.482 to 130,180), France (85,244 to 100,412), Belgium (18,710 to 19,688), Norway (3,460 to 3,546) and Slovenia (1,308 to 1,476).

    Substantial drops in overall recognition rates were marked in Germany (71.4 to 53%) and Sweden (77.4% to 46.9%) in the course of 2017, even though the main nationalities of persons seeking asylum in those countries have remained the same. Conversely, countries including Belgium (59.5 to 64.6%), Italy (39.4 to 40%), Hungary (8.5 to 29.7%) and Poland (16.6 to 19.5%) had higher recognition rates in 2017 compared to 2016.

    Asylum seekers from Afghanistan continue to face an ‘asylum lottery’ as their chances of obtaining a form of protection (Recognition Rates) ranged from 83.1% in France to 58% in Belgium, 47% in Germany and 30% in Hungary. Decision-making in countries such as Bulgaria, where Afghan claims are treated as “manifestly unfounded” and face “strikingly low” recognition rates, has attracted concern from the European Commission, as per a letter to the Bulgarian authorities.
    #2017 #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Europe #statistiques #chiffres

    • Press Release: EASO releases overview of 2017 EU+ asylum trends

      In 2017, EU+ countries recorded 706,913 asylum applications [I]. This is a decrease of 43% compared to 2016, and the second consecutive year with fewer applications after the unprecedented influx in 2015 and 2016. Despite this decrease, the 2017 total remained at a slightly higher level than the number of applications lodged in 2014, indicating that the asylum-related inflow in the EU+ remained considerable.

      In the EU+ as a whole, monthly applications remained stable throughout the year.The monthly number of applications varied from 49,042 in December to 66,443 in March. A seasonal trend, with higher numbers of applications over the summer, was less visible than in the previous three years. The stable trend at EU+ level, however, conceals stark variations at a country level.

      About 55,000 applications, or 8% of the total, were repeated applications by persons who had already lodged an application previously in the same EU+ country. At least 3.5 % of all applications concerned claimed unaccompanied minors (UAM)[II].

      Syria was the most common country of origin of applicants for the fifth consecutive year, with more than 98,000 applications. Despite a considerable decrease compared to 2016, twice as many Syrians lodged an application for international protection in the EU+ as any other citizenship. Iraqi, Afghan and Nigerian nationals each lodged more than 40,000 applications in 2017. These four main countries of origin together constituted one in three applications throughout the EU+ in 2017. The top ten countries of origin also included Pakistan, Eritrea, Albania, Bangladesh, Guinea and Iran. Of these ten citizenships, only Bangladeshi and Guinean citizens lodged more applications in the EU+ in 2017 than in 2016.

    • Richiedenti asilo nell’UE 2017: continuano ad arrivare dai Paesi con i peggiori “indici di pace”, ma per loro è crollo degli esiti positivi

      I nuovi dati EASO su richiedenti asilo ed esiti in tutto il 2017 nel territorio dell’”UE+” a confronto con gli indicatori del Global Peace Index. Nell’anno gli esiti positivi in prima istanza sono crollati al 40% di tutte le domande esaminate, perdendo 17 punti percentuali rispetto al 2016. Ma intanto i richiedenti protezione continuano ad arrivare dai Paesi con gli indici di pace militare e sociale più bassi al mondo.

  • The Italian Council of State confirms its position on Bulgaria as a not safe country for the transfer of asylum seekers under the #Dublin Regulation.

    With the decision n. 5085 of the 3rd of November 2017, the highest administrative Italian court annulled the transfer to Bulgaria of an asylum seeker under 604/2013 Regulation, confirming its orientation as already expressed last year with several other pronunciations ( n. 3998/2016 Reg. Prov. Coll., n. 3999/2016 Reg. Prov. Coll., n. 4000/2016 Reg. Prov. Coll. and n. 4002/2016 Reg. Prov. Coll.).

    In this decision the Council of State affirmed that “there are no reliable elements that led us to believe that the condition of asylum seekers in Bulgaria can be considered respectful of fundamental human rights and can lead to a concrete risk of suffering inhuman and degrading treatments as foreseen in art. 3 par. 2 Reg. n. 604/2013”.

    This is particularly relevant if we think that the administrative judges went beyond the informations provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In fact, in the opinion of the Council of State, this informations “doesn’t provide enough convincing elements regarding the effective respect of the reception standards in order to avoid the doubt that, up to now, there are still systemic deficiencies in the asylum seekers reception system” in Bulgaria.

    This decision, that follows the legal precedents of the European Courts of Human Rights, reaffirms the fundamental principle that a judge must annul the transfer decree every time there is the reasonable doubt that in the outgoing country exists habitual infringement of human rights. According to these considerations, the highest administrative Italian court took in consideration the informations and data, used by the claimant during the appeal, gathered by the international N.G.O.’s and by the decisions of the European high courts.

    The Council of State, in the present case, confirmed that there were a risk of suffering inhuman and degrading treatments in the eventuality of a transfer of the claimant to Bulgaria and for this reason annulled the transfer decree.

    reçu via la mailing-list Migreurop, le 13.11.2017 (email de Lucia Gennari)
    #renvois_Dublin #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Bulgarie #pays_sûr #Italie

    • Consiglio di Stato : annullato il trasferimento di un richiedente asilo verso la Bulgaria

      Il Consiglio di Stato italiano conferma il proprio orientamento sulla Bulgaria quale Paese non sicuro ai fini del trasferimento di richiedenti protezione in applicazione del Regolamento Dublino.

      Con sentenza n. 5085 del 03 novembre 2017, la più alta Corte amministrativa italiana ha annullato il trasferimento verso la Bulgaria di un richiedente asilo ai sensi del Regolamento 604/2013, confermando, con tale pronuncia, il proprio orientamento già espresso lo scorso anno con le sentenze consecutive n. 3998/2016 Reg. Prov. Coll., n. 3999/2016 Reg. Prov. Coll., n. 4000/2016 Reg. Prov. Coll. e n. 4002/2016 Reg. Prov. Coll.

      Nella sentenza il Consiglio di Stato afferma che “non vi siano elementi affidabili per ritenere che le condizioni dei richiedenti asilo in Bulgaria offrano sicure garanzie di rispettare i diritti fondamentali dello straniero e siano tali da scongiurare il fondato rischio di trattamenti disumani e degradanti, siccome prevede l’art. 3, par. 2, del Reg. UE n. 604 del 2013”.

      Tale assunto risulta particolarmente rilevante anche alla luce del fatto che il Collegio va oltre le informazioni che erano state fornite dal Ministero degli Affari Esteri, su richiesta dello stesso Collegio. Secondo il Consiglio di Stato, infatti, tali informazioni “non forniscono elementi tali da rassicurare convincentemente circa l’effettivo raggiungimento di livelli di accoglienza tali da scongiurare il fondato dubbio che sussistano, a tutt’oggi, carenze sistemiche nelle condizioni di accoglienza dei richiedenti”.

      La sentenza, collocandosi nel solco della giurisprudenza della Corte Europea dei diritti dell’Uomo, afferma come a garanzia di incomprimibili diritti fondamentali dello straniero operi un principio di cautela tale per cui il giudice deve annullare il provvedimento di trasferimento di uno straniero tutte le volte che sussista il ragionevole dubbio che vi siano nel Paese di rinvio carenze sistemiche.

      In base a tali considerazioni, la più alta Corte amministrativa italiana ha ritenuto prevalenti le informazioni, evidenziate dalla difesa del ricorrente, diffuse da organizzazioni internazionali nonché le decisioni di altre alte Corti Europee sul punto.

      Il Consiglio di Stato, pertanto, ha ritenuto sussistente il rischio di trattamenti inumani e degradanti per il ricorrente qualora lo stesso dovesse essere rinviato in Bulgaria e per tale ragione ne ha annullato il relativo trasferimento.

      Per ulteriori informazioni sull’azione potete contattare l’avv. Loredana Leo, 3470339581/

    • Italy: Council of State suspends a Dublin transfer to Bulgaria due to deficiencies in the Bulgarian asylum system

      On 3 November 2017, the Italian Council of State suspended ( the Dublin transfer of an Afghan national from Italy to Bulgaria. The applicant had previously appealed against the transfer decision before the Regional Administrative Court of Lazio, without success. In March 2016, the Council of State granted suspensive effect to the appeal and instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to provide a report on the conditions faced by asylum seekers in Bulgaria, which was submitted in April 2017.

      The Council of State found, contrary to the lower’s court interpretation, that nothing in the documents submitted before it allowed the Council of State to be fully reassured that the conditions faced by asylum seekers in Bulgaria would not amount to inhuman or degrading treatment within the meaning of Article 4 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. The Council acknowledged the substantial improvements in the Bulgarian asylum system in the recent months, but stated that recent reports still point to poor reception and integration conditions. The Council also relied on decisions from other national courts, such as the Administrative Court of Appeal of Bordeaux (case no.16BX03424), the Federal Administrative Court of Switzerland (case no. E-305/2017) and the Constitutional Court of Austria (case no. 484/2017), which all recognised the existence of serious deficiencies in the Bulgarian asylum system in the context of a Dublin transfer. Therefore, the Council of State quashed the transfer decision to Bulgaria.

      Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. We would like to thank Loredana Leo and ASGI for bringing this case to our attention. A summary of the decision can be found in Italian here.

  • Russia Wants Bulgarians to Stop Painting Soviet Monuments To Look Like American Superheroes | Earthly Missio

    Ce n’est pas nouveau, mais ce genre de détournement « d’infrastructures publiques » mémorielle est intéressant à suivre, comprendre, analyser.

    According to a report by the Moscow Times, pranksters in Bulgaria are repainting Soviet-era monuments so that Soviet military heroes look like American Superheroes. Needless to say, the Russians are not too happy about it:

    Russia is demanding that Bulgaria try harder to prevent vandalism of Soviet monuments, after yet another monument to Soviet troops in Sofia was spray-painted, ITAR-Tass reported.

    The Russian Embassy in Bulgaria has issued a note demanding that its former Soviet-era ally clean up the monument in Sofia’s Lozenets district, identify and punish those responsible, and take “exhaustive measures” to prevent similar attacks in the future, the news agency reported Monday.

    #crime_de_lèse_majesté #soviétisme #mémoire #estonie #urss #ex-urss

  • Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court ruled against Dublin transfer of a single mother to #Bulgaria

    On 29 August 2017, the German Federal Constitutional Court ruled on case 2 BvR 863/17 concerning a Syrian mother with four minor children (of 4, 9, 11 and 16 years of age) who had a Dublin transfer to Bulgaria confirmed by the Administrative Court. The applicant successfully complained before the Federal Constitutional Court, which rejected the lower court’s decision and remitted the case to that Court for a new decision.
    #Bulgarie #renvois #expulsions #renvois_Dublin #Dublin #asile #migrations #réfugiés #Allemagne

  • Europe’s human rights court struggles to lay down the law
    Nearly 10,000 judgments covering 46 countries have not been implemented.

    The most sophisticated system in the world for defending human rights is facing a test. So far, it’s failing.

    Nearly 10,000 judgments of the European Court of Human Rights have not been put into effect by national governments. Some of those cases were ruled on as far back as 1992, and they cover all but one of the 47 member countries of the Strasbourg-based Council of Europe, the court’s parent body and the Continent’s leading human rights organization.

    The failure to implement these judgments — detailed in a Council of Europe database — means that practices have continued across Europe, in many cases for years, after being ruled violations of human rights. These range from segregating HIV-positive prisoners in Greece, to police brutality in Bulgaria, to not properly investigating deaths of prisoners in Romania.

    One case in particular could soon elevate this problem to a bigger political stage. The court ruled in 2014 that the detention of Ilgar Mammadov, an opposition leader in Azerbaijan, was a human rights violation — but he is still in prison three years later.