In the Struggle for Socialist Revolution

Mitten im Sommerloch beginnt die Veröffentlichung des 6. Kapitels „Im Kampf für die sozialistische Revolution“, mit dem Wiederaufbau der linkskommunistischen Gruppe um Agis Stinas, die sofort eine internationalistische Arbeit beginnen. Beeindruckend ist, dass Parolen wie „Es ist der Kapitalismus in seiner Gesamtheit – und nicht eine der zwei Seiten –, der für das Gemetzel, für die Verwüstungen und das Chaos verantwortlich ist!“ – auf großes Interesse und Unterstützung treffen.

The reconstitution of the group

We, the militants who were in Athens (all those who escaped: Tamtakos, Voursoukis, Aravantinos, Rigas, Kallergis, Stinas) got together the next day and reconstituted the group. Our position in regard to the EAM and its army, as toward the nationalist movement in general, was strictly determined by our position in the face of imperialist war. There was no divergence there at all.

Two days later, with a typewriter and a duplicator which we had managed to get hold of, Tamtakos and I worked all night on printing the first publication of the group, in a hovel in Aigaleo. This was without exaggeration the first clear and limpid voice of socialist revolution in the nightmarish conditions of the second imperialist war, perhaps not only in Greece but in the whole world.

Our voice found an echo. Rapidly, old militants and young workers and students gathered under our flag. Those who were dispersed in the provinces descended on Athens, beginning with Tsoukas.

Our activity became bigger every day. Tracts, flyers circulated by the thousand. Slogans covered the walls. The cries of the khonia1 resounded in the night. People heard, saw and read other slogans than those that they had come to expect from the Stalinists and other nationalist organisations. In place of the slogans of nationalist hatred were those immortal slogans of fraternisation between peoples, of the transformation of the fratricidal war between peoples into a war of peoples against their exploiters The workers read the wall slogans and the tracts with an undeniable sympathy: “It is capitalism in its entirety which is responsible for the carnage, devastation and chaos, and not just one of the two sides!”; “Fraternisation of peoples and soldiers against the executioners who are killing the peoples!”; “Fraternisation of Greek workers and Italian and German soldiers in the common struggle for socialism!” ; “National unity is nothing but the submission of the workers to their exploiters!”; “Only the overthrow of capitalism will save world peace!”; “Long live the world socialist revolution!”…

At the end of the fourth or fifth month, the group got hold of some typographical characters and a hand press. Its journal, Workers’ Front, its tracts and its leaflets were printed from then on. Its voice, the voice of revolution, resounded in all the working class districts of Athens, Piraeus and Thessaloniki. A voice loud and clear.

During all that period of intense activity of the group, Mastr. and Sm., two old proletarian militants who had not previously belonged to our tendency, joined it and were on its central committee. Apart from the escapees, such as Thymios and Stam., all the members were young, boys and girls. Kids of eighteen went from the EPON2 and the school benches into our ranks in the full understanding of what they were doing, in full understanding of the ideas and the risks. They came to fight and die with us. The enthusiasm, the audacity, the self-sacrifice of these young people, was something we had only known in revolutions.

The internal life of the group was absolutely democratic, with regular weekly assemblies where we gave an account of our activity and criticised it, and where we decided future activity. Decisions were the result of real collective debate. And everybody applied them without distinction or exception. When the number of members grew, rendering the assemblies practically impossible in the absolute clandestinity in which we lived, representative conferences were held regularly, preceded by free debates. There was a publication committee for the journal, but every member could write in it.

Today we know that no other group in the world defended the principles of revolutionary defeatism with such clarity, courage and intransigence during the nightmare of the second imperialist carnage. Without doubt no other group had displayed an activity similar to, or on the same scale as, ours in conditions where death dogged our every step. We had been the only political group in the whole world who, in conditions infinitely more difficult and more dangerous than in 1914-1918, had continued the heroic tradition of Luxemburg and Liebknecht.3

The intellectual, moral and psychological situation of the popular masses was at the time very different from what we had known under the Metaxas dictatorship and in spring 1942, in the transfer section of Piraeus.

Under the dictatorship, from one end of the country to the other, up until the Italian invasion, the masses had fallen into passivity and indifference. Fear ruled the land. Fear had literally paralysed those who, linked in one way or another to the movement in the past, hadn’t been put under surveillance or arrested by the Security Police, as it paralysed the dilosias*. Whenever they happened to come across us they always had some exceptionally important work to do and did not have time to discuss. Twice I asked old comrades and friends to give me a place to stay for two or three days, at the time when we were checking if our house was under surveillance, but they refused both times. It is very easy to find excuses to justify their fear in front of their conscience. That state which the “ex-revolutionaries” had fallen into provoked more pity and disgust among us than indignation.

During the winter of 1941-1942 Athens and Piraeus were only populated by human wrecks, in the moral as well as physical sense. Human skeletons who begged, who cried and who died.

We knew the situation in those two towns. Those images were engraved in our brains. When, in the transfer section of Halkis, we discussed probable occasions when we could escape, some people, quite a few, said: “To go where? To do what? Beg? But who from?” Some of those comrades didn’t escape because of this, when they could have done so. They stayed, to quickly find themselves in Larissa and Haïdari. And from there to Kournovo and to the firing squads of Kaisariani.

But what we, the escapees, found in Athens was very different from what we thought we’d find there.

The economic situation had improved slightly. Nobody was dying of hunger anymore. The International Red Cross had organised soup kitchens for everyone. Each person, without exception or distinction, had a plate of beans or gruel every day at noon. The bakeries gave out a few grams of bread every day with a ration card. On Athens’ streets, in Monastiraki and elsewhere, you could find raisins, tinned food and other foodstuffs on stalls in the open air. The smokers could supply themselves with the tobacco of their choice, loose or in cigarettes, in open air “shops”. Some restaurants and tavernas were open and you could find something there. The black market also provided some not bad delicacies for those who could pay in gold pounds.

Prices rose day by day. The Bank issued currency daily, and almost every day it added more zeroes to the notes. A one drachma note became a ten, a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand, a million etc. The first word of a “merchant” coming to sell something was “I don’t have any small change”. That is to say thousand drachma notes. Two days later, or even the next day, it meant ten thousand drachmas. And so it went.

The economic situation had changed, but also, first of all, the people themselves. People had got back on their feet. They found themselves again, and with that their dignity, their courage and their determination to fight. And everyone knew that this time it wasn’t the phalanga or castor oil which awaited them, but the firing squad. Nobody was afraid though. Young people and women in particular displayed an unbelievable contempt for danger. In fact danger and death was normal. Even the “former”, the “ex”, and the dilosias became fighters again. How people change! Who can give a logical explanation for this phenomenon of the metamorphosis of cowards into heroes, so common in history and which is so decisive in peoples’ struggles for their emancipation?

Organisations were created. Duplicated or printed journals were circulated clandestinely. Slogans covered the walls and the asphalt of the street. Groups of partisans had already appeared in the mountains. Strikes broke out. Demonstrations were organised.

We found ourselves there at the beginning, and what characterised that period was the selfless solidarity of everyone towards everyone else, independent of political differences, and the free debates on the content, forms and methods of struggle. Alas, that period didn’t last long.

  1. “Funnel”, an improvised megaphone which enabled night time speeches to be made from the roof tops. [zurück]
  2. Panhellenic Organisation of Youth, the youth organisation of EAM. [zurück]
  3. [Anmerkung: Agis Stinas kannte offensichtlich nicht die Arbeit der linkskommunistischen Fraktion zu gleichen Zeit in Frankreich, siehe das Buch über „Die italienische kommunistische Linke“ [zurück]