Jams O’Donnell: The Good Soldier Cushing

I have been working my way through the late Shaun Downey‘s telling of the Red Cushing story. We started at the end of the Spanish Civil War, with Thomas “Red” Cushing, veteran Irish Republican fighter, joining up with the Americans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Then, in the next installment, he got disillusioned with the Brigade’s Communist officers, and headed off to join the British Army to fight Hitler instead. Shaun then cut to Cushing as a POW alongside Stalin’s son, whose suicide he claims he played a bizarre part in.

Some months later, in 2009, Shaun went back to fill in the gaps.

It’s been a while since I wrote about Thomas “Red” Cushing. I promised to do so a lot earlier but hey ho! This is the first of a group of posts covering Red Cushing’s time between leaving Spain disillusioned and his time in Sachsenhausen with Yakov Stalin. This is taken from his autobiography “Soldier For Hire” (John Calder 1962) (more…)

Published in: on May 3, 2013 at 4:57 pm  Comments (1)  
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Jams O’Donnell: Red Cushing and the several deaths of Yakov Stalin Part II

Here, in tribute to the late Shaun Downey, aka Jams O’Donnell, I continue his story of Red Cushing. In the first installment, Cushing joined the International Brigade. By the end of the second installment, he had wound up in Sachsenhausen concentration camp, alongside Stalin’s son. Read on: (more…)

Le Chemin de la Liberte

Via Martin Black, I came across this article.

Part of the "Chemin de la Liberte" in the Pyrenees

Every year, hikers trek the “Chemin de la Liberte” in the Pyrenees, to commemorate the 800 or so Allied airmen and Jewish refugees who risked their lives on a 60km (40 miles) route escaping Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II.

“The good escaper,” says a 1944 British military document called Tips for Escapers and Evaders, “is the man who keeps himself fit, cheerful and comfortable.”[...]

Reflect on what it was like, for example, to be shot down over Belgium when you are only 19 years old. Your parachute works – something of a surprise in itself, since you have had only the most rudimentary training – and when you land you find yourself behind enemy lines, with most of Nazi-occupied Europe between you and freedom.

You have to ask someone for help, even though you know they are risking their lives if they give it to you. And if you are lucky and they do not turn you in, there is still the long journey south to negotiate, past German checkpoints and patrols with, at the end of it all, the climb over these massive mountains.

Or think of the Jewish families who attempted the Pyrenees just one step ahead of arrest and deportation to the death camps.

I was told the story of a woman who carried her two-year-old daughter across in November snow. When the child cried in the cold their guide said she should be suffocated because the noise might alert the German patrols.

And what of the French helpers? One local supporter of the Chemin remembered his mother hiding escaping Allied airmen in her mountain bed and breakfast, where she was providing lodgings for German troops at the same time. (more…)

Corin Redgrave and the falsification of history

Jim Denham versus Foyle’s War.

Tings and tings

Killing and dying for “the old lie” - World War and the triumph of militarism over anti-fascism.

Spain is nice at this time of year - the BNP and Spanish fascism.

Beijing Coma – can the symbols of classic socialism still be symbols of emancipation, despite their blood stains?

Oscar Wilde on socialist songs – Up, ye People! or down into your graves!

The partisan poet – Adam Kirsch on Abba Kovner.

Ethel MacDonald and Bob Smillie – and Guy Aldred and Fenner Brockway. More Guy Aldred.

Carlo Tresca – The Dilemma of an Anti-Communist Radical.

The sweet and the cruel - Ian Buruma on Occupied Paris.

The Labour Party between the wars - ideological contours.

A postcard from Coyoacan – Trotsky’s last home in Mexico.

TROTSKY’s STUDY – WHERE HE WAS SITTING WHEN HE WAS MURDERED  WITH AN ICE PICK

Translated novels - including Victor Serge’s Unforgiving Years.

Stalin’s Terror – a review by Peter Taafe.

David North on Robert Service on Leon Trotksy (and on James Burnham on Isaac Duetscher on Leon Trotsky) – not sure if I’ve already posted this one.

Open letter to Havana - on Stalinist slurs against the Freedom Socialist Party.

The Black Marxist Tradition – an interview with Cedric J Robinson.

You don’t play with revolution, Alfie – Lady Poverty on CLR James on Marxism. (And here’s James from AK.)

The Search for the Tassili Frescoes – Afrocentrist history and CLR James at Federal College.

The John Hope Franklin File - the FBI, anti-communism and black history.

Stalin: Why and How – Boris Souvarine.

The myth of Mondragon - Louis Proyect debunks Spanish autogestion?

Poplarism - a review of Janine Booth’s book.

Half a century of Hausman’s – from the North East London radicals, from Permanent Revolution.

A Rebel’s dream – Ian Birchall on Ernest Mandel.

George Padmore – forgotten fighter.

Reasoning otherwise - Canadian radicalism 1890-1920.

More years of the locust - Permanent Revolution on Jim Higgins on the origins of the IS.

Decline – Scott McLemee on Cornel West. Plus more from Michael Tomasky.

New from AK: Italian anarchism 1864-92, French anarchism 1917-45, Zapatismo and the Panthers.

Flag Day in Lawrence, MA, 1912 – a slice of IWW history.

What is the CNT? Two from Christie Books:

Facts About the Spanish Resistance 2 – What is the CNT? by José Peirats

Anarchists in LondonThe Anarchists in London 1935-1955 by Albert Meltzer

European histories: 1934, 1959, etc

From The Commune:

The last week has seen much media coverage of the seventieth anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, largely devoted to nostalgia and a hefty chunk of British (and Polish) nationalism. What is rarely commented on is the dynamics of political struggle within the countries participating in the bloodbath, and less still the activity of the workers’ movement, which did not in fact purely and simply support the Allies, and had to resist authoritarian measures imposed to varying degrees by each state enforcing wartime control measures.

While some of the struggles that took place had an immediate and significant effect on the outcome of the war, others which totally failed are equally worth remembering. While popular culture venerates Nazis-turned-good, as in the 2008 Tom Cruise film Valkyrie which depicts the 20th July 1944 attempt to assassinate Hitler by aristocratic militarists who had lost faith in their Führer, less well-known are the stories of those who fought Nazism from start to finish, from a position of far less power, severe privations and heavy repression. How many people know that the first action in defiance of the Holocaust was nothing to do with the Allies (who infamously refused to bomb the train tracks to Auschwitz and did little to stop it), but a two-day general strike started by communist dockworkers and tramdrivers in response to raids of Jewish homes in Amsterdam in February 1941? [READ THE REST]

From Eurozine:

The Hungarian Quarterly 195 (2009)

Two books dealing with the state security apparatus in communist Hungary emphasize the extent to which its members, from informants and their handlers up to high-ranking politicians in the Ministry of the Interior, were subordinate to the Communist Party hierarchy, writes historian and journalist Sándor Révész. This radically calls into question the common treatment of “informants” as scapegoats and shifts the focus to Party officials, many of whom became respected politicians after 1989.

“The sources show clearly that a much wider circle of people than the network of agents were responsible for the disadvantages, and even vilification, suffered by thousands of people”, writes Révész. “This makes it hardly surprising that researchers pushing for freedom of information on state surveillance find little support. The response to publications that do find their way to a wider readership is jittery, with researchers generally being accused of the very thing that is least true of them, i.e. that they are only interested in unmasking and pillorying those who were recruited into the informer network.”

After 1956, writes Révész, the covertly totalitarian Kádár regime strove for omniscience as opposed to omnipotence, which in turn entailed a new form of policing. “If a legitimate, constitutional opposition is not allowed to exist, then every activity, person and group represents a threat to national security should it carry the seeds of dissidence.” The lesson to be learned “is that no general conclusions can be drawn about the possibility of refusing to cooperate with the state security services”.

Also:

Slavenka Drakulic on Tito. Timothy Snyder on totalitarianism’s Baltic killing fields. Ben Peck on the Hitler-Stalin pact. Nada Prlja on the red bourgeoisie in Yugoslavia and the coming black communism

In other news: Lyndon LaRouche’s creeps peddle softcore Holocaust denialism – an Armenian Holocaust survivor is arrested for stopping them.

European archives

From La Bataille Socialiste, I recently found ena.lu: European Navigator, a collection of documents on the history of the idea of Europe, which has much of interest to those who are interested in the topics of this blog.

The section “1945-1949″ has a section called “Europe in the ruis”, which has a sub-sub-section on the resistance movement, that includes the Italian anti-fascists’ Ventotene Manifesto (also here). It includes a 1944 document written by militants from resistance movements of several European countries who meet secretly in Geneva to discuss the problems related to the reconstruction of a democratic, federally-based Europe after the war, taken from Europe speaks: issues on behalf of the ISK, Internationaler Sozialistischer Kampfbund (Militant Socialist International). Also in “1945-1949″, in the Cold War sub-section, is a space about the Greek civil war, with fascinating documents and photographs.

There is also a sub-section on federalist movements, which includes a space on the Movement for the Socialist United States of Europe, whose President was André Philip, with texts from the Brussels left newspaper Le Phare Dimanche, and from Marceau Pivert. The officers of the movement in 1947 were Bob Edwards and John Mcnair (UK, ILP – both had fought with the POUM in Spain, as part of the ILP Contingent), Jef Last (Holland – Last, another veteran of Spain, had been in Sneevliet‘s RSAP, but I’m not sure where he was in 1957), Witte (Demetrious Yotopoulos, leader of the Archeiomarxists, Greece), Enrique Gironella (POUM, Spain) and Henri Frenay (France, involved in the Combat group during WWII and I think involved in the Democratic and Socialist Union of the Resistance by 1947).

Historical and archival notes

Yes, I know there are more important things going on in the world today, but here are some tidbits from the history of struggle. From the archive of struggle, no.9.

Many via Entdinlichung.

Liberation!!

On A Raised Beach: Liberation


This weekend sees the 64th anniversary of the liberation of Paris, 24th August 1944. Most people know that the Allies allowed General Leclerc’s Free French forces to head the entry into the city but not so many know that among them was the ‘9ème compagnie de marche du Tchad’ which was made up of exiled Spanish anarcho-syndicalists who had been interned in France at the end of the Civil War [when, as they struggled across the border, a French officer remarked 'And this rabble calls itself an army!' and got the response: 'We held back the fascists for three years. How long will you last?'] Pictured is one of their half-tracks, ‘Guadalajara’, outside the Hotel de Ville. In spite of driving on into the Third Reich and helping to topple Hitler, they did not see the victorious powers topple Franco, who had perhaps already become ‘their son of a bitch’.

See also: Durruti speaks, Italia

Published in: on August 22, 2008 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  
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