Give Peace a Chance – Josip Broz

While peace is an easy word to utter, it can have a rather complex meaning behind it. One would have a hard time understanding a person who spent a great deal of his life warring, can be considered as someone who contributed greatly to peace in the world. Better yet, how does a locksmith’s assistant earn his place in history as one of the greatest statesman of the 20th century?

These two questions refer to one specific man. A man who turned the wheels of history and who, to this day, still remains a debatable subject. This man goes by the name Josip Broz, or more known by his partisan nickname TITO. A working class hero, A leader of Yugoslav Communist party, A commander of the partisan Yugoslav Liberation Front, A Marshal of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia, and indeed, a person who contributed a lot to the peace building process, both nationally and internationally.

Throughout the war, TITO led a Yugoslav wide resistance against the Nazi-fascist occupation of Kingdom of Yugoslavia. He inspired thousands of people to join the ranks of the Liberation front, which also carried a social and revolutionary agenda behind it. Flanked by both invaders armies, as well as domestic traitors. TITO managed to lead the resistance through all the hardship and pain. He unified different South Slavic nations under the slogan of “Brotherhood and Unity” which would later become the core elements of his peace building process.

Firmly convinced into the idea, that these nations will coexist and prosper together in a new, socialist federation of Yugoslavia, he created the “so called” Workers brigades right after the war to build New Yugoslavia from the ruins of the old. Workers brigades inspired many from all the Republics to voluntarily participate in the rebuilding of the homeland, raising new infrastructure from the ground. These brigades helped foster values in people such as solidarity, comradeship and mutual help. Even though these brigades were voluntarily, many joined in because they all wanted to partake in shaping the pillars of the not only new homeland, but alas, the whole society. By motivating people to work together, Tito tried to consolidate the idea of brotherhood and unity between the nations of Yugoslavia with Relay of Youth.

Relay of Youth is nowadays perceived as one of the tools used to solidity Tito’s cult of personality, but its fundaments hold a much bigger meaning. The Relay of Youth or Štafeta Mladosti was organised to celebrate the Day of Youth, a holiday dedicated to Yugoslav youth and also celebration of Tito’s birthday. It was celebrated on the 25th of May each year, with the first Relay to be held in the 1945. Through the principle of rotation, each year the relay baton started its journey in a different place of SFRY and was carried through numerous places and

altitudes by young people, who either achieved great feats in sports, were remarkable students or were prominent activists on the socio-political field. The relay went through all the major cities in all of the Socialist Federative Republics, ending its journey at the Stadium of the Yugoslav People’s Army in Belgrade on the 25th of May. The ceremony saw thousands of Yugoslav youths participating in sports and cultural activities. Prior to the main event, many of sports activities and cultural events of Yugoslav youth had already been underway in the spirit of brotherhood and unity slogan. At the stadium, the relay was presented to Tito himself as birthday congratulation. At that day, members of Tito’s youth or commonly referred as Pioneers, were admitted to League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia and were accompanied by different festivities taking place. Even today, the generations who lived through Yugoslav era, remember Relay of Youth with great enthusiasm and speak of it highly, being proud to have participated in it.

While domestically, Tito pursued prosperity between all the Yugoslav nations and strived to suffocate the nationalist tendencies that had long haunted the Balkans region. He also decorated himself as international leader, being one of the founders of Non-aligned movement, navigating between both blocks of the ‘Iron curtain’. The initiative was aimed to promote an independent path in world politics during the power struggle between two blocks.

The movement consisted of former colonial countries and Yugoslavia. It promoted values such as; the right of people’s to self-determinations, sovereignty and territorial integrity. It condemned and opposed imperialism, racism, occupation and interventions, as it believed in the peaceful coexistence between all the peoples and nations. It gained its momentum when it was steered by the trio Tito, Nasser and Nehru, thus consolidating itself as an important actor in the then tense bi-polar international community.

Today there are many controversies related with TITO. Was he a dictator who was banning freedom of speech or was he a pacifist who gave his best at the moment to achieve better a society, fair for everyone?

There is no consensus about this question, and we cannot expect it anytime soon. It seems that Tito’s name is being equally frowned upon as it is being cheered in former Yugoslavia territory. Although Tito’s times if you will; is remembered by many as some kind of a golden age. Not from purely materialistic perspective, but how people treated each other no matter the nationality. How there was a very stable middle class and how directors & business owners

could not afford that much more than their workers but almost no one was deprived, yet the whole country was making progress in all fields.

After TITO’s death it took just one decade until Yugoslavia fell apart. The war started and the entire area took far too many steps backwards in every field imaginable. Some countries managed to recover faster than their other counterparts, yet most of them are still struggling.

In whose interest was the war and why the war happened is a subject for future articles. The undeniable fact however, is that TITO was first and last person in known history to have achieved an era of peace and thriving through one country consisting of seven very different nations with several different religions, numerous different cultures and customs. They lived, loved, created, built, grew food, cried, laughed and worked together for community. ‘’Brotherhood and unity’’ was one of the mottos and it seems Yugoslavs really believed in it. Will we ever again be able to have that kind of trust in mutual compassion and solidarity, even altruism if you will; remains to be seen.

Notable quotes:

I am the leader of one country which has two alphabets, three languages, four religions, five nationalities, six republics, surrounded by seven neighbours, a country in which live eight ethnic minorities.

We have spilt an ocean of blood for the brotherhood and unity of our peoples and we shall not allow anyone to touch or destroy it from within.

None of our republics would be anything if we weren’t all together; but we have to create our own history – history of United Yugoslavia, also in the future.

Wars of conquest are negative, the subjugation and oppression of other nations is negative, economic exploitation is negative, colonial enslavement is negative, and so on. All these things are accounted negative by Marxism and condemned. All these phenomena of the past can, it is true, be explained, but from our point of view they can never be justified.”

Patrik Bole is a second year student of International relations in the University of Ljubljana, Slovenija. His primary fields of interests are history, political ideology and foreign policy.

Eva Amalija is studying entrepreneurship and is very involved with economical inequality and injustice. Although she lives in very small city in Croatia her voice is being heard all across the region and even further since she was elected Vice president for internal coordination of GoD

 

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Give Peace a Chance – Clara Zetkin

This week’s articles shall provide a look back on pacifist actors out of the social democratic sphere. Who have shaped generations, therefore, they will be honored and their virtue described here by the “Graduates of Democracy”, a group of young and enthusiastic future change makers.

The perception and remembrance of historic figures can change over time. The contemporary view of them can be altered by more in-depth knowledge about their actions, e.g. achieved through scientific research, or through the portraying of abridged versions often used for political gain.

Their actual significance can even diminish to an accessoriness. Especially when they are simply used as a gauge for ‘pro or contra’ any political position. As happened with the persona of Clara Zetkin (1885 – 1933), a social democratic politician, anti-fascist, peace activist and woman rights advocate.

The conservative Finance Minister of Saxony (a Federal State of Germany) proposed recently to change the street name of a provincial revenue office, from ‘Clara-Zetkin-Street’ into ‘Orphanage-Street’, as the building appears to historically have been one. The politician of the CDU explained that he deems the name Clara Zetkin, as the taxation location address, “not quite motivating to pay taxes”[1]. However, Georg Unland might be also stimulated by a profound dislike of a communist heroine.

Besides the scorn of the public, it didn’t take long for a proper, although ironic, retaliation from the local Young Socialist Group in nearby Dresden. They were quick to demand a name change also at the Federal Finance Ministry located in the state’s capital at ‘Carolasquare’. Because Carola’s name tag, wife of King Albert of Saxony (1828 – 1902), apparently considered by the JUSOS (german Abbreviation of the Young Socialists) is not very ‘engaging to pay taxes either’. Stefan Engel chairman of the youth organization explains: „There is probably hardly a group in history who paid less taxes than the then ruling royal house.”[2] Consequently, the group not only suggests but has already composed a new street sign and presented to the public. They propose ‘Clara-Zetkin-Square’ for the new address of the Ministry of Finance. Claiming that the name of a democratic elected parliamentarian, antifascist and resistance member shall be a preferable choice.

To get an understanding of this person and which parts of her work are still meaningful for us today, we shall dive into her biography. Her ancestry is already a story of Europe and the migration of its people, of course not uncommon, while these family stories seem too often forgotten or ignored. The father of her mother took part in the French Revolution and served subsequently in the Napoleonic Wars. She personally lived in Leipzig, Zurich, Paris, Stuttgart and Moscow.

Born as Clara Eißner in a village in east Saxony, she was influenced by her educated mother and later by the en vogue socialist thinkers in Leipzig.  At the age of 21 she became a member of, then just three years existing, Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei Deutschland (predecessor of the Social Democratic Party Germany, SPD). Active in the far-left wing of the party and keen to keep women’s rights at the forefront of the causes guiding the party, she worked closely with Rosa Luxemburg (1871 – 1919). She was eager to criticize bourgeois feminism, as this one did not focus enough, in her perception, on the emancipation not only from men but also from the dependency on capital.[3]

On the congress oft the Second International 1989 in Paris, she was one of only six female delegates out of the 400 total. Her well acknowledged speech on the „Question of workers- and Women rights in the present” had a tremendous impact on the female emancipation theory. It was a milestone of the explicit inclusion of woman into the socialist movement.

On the first International Conference of Socialists Women, she was elected chairwoman of the International Woman Secretariat. In 1909 at the Second International Socialist Woman Congress she proposed successfully to implement an International Woman’s Day. This day is worldwide known and adhered to, especially after the renewed proclamation through the United Nations General Assembly in 1977. Her action and agitation was also a reason why this day over the years was constantly an occasion to express opposition against discrimination, armament and the War in general and not merely for claiming woman (voting) rights.

While the First World War raged through Europe, she rejected the party’s policy of Burgfrieden (a truce with the government, promising to refrain from any strikes during the war).[4] Against the Party Leaders will she organized in March 1915 a conference of women from all war part-taking countries in Bern. Her consequent agitation to stop the war led to her imprisonment, which was quickly overturned after massive public protest. The constant discontent among leading figures led to a party split and created the Spartacist League, led by Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, which became the German Communist Party (KPD). Mrs. Zetkin followed her close friends and then was engaged more in the communist international movement. Here she became even a member of the executive committee.

1919 she was among the very first female parliamentarians getting elected into parliaments. In the constitutional assembly of Wurttemberg, she held the first speech ever by a woman in front of a German parliament. 1920 to 1933 she was a member of the Reichstag. In the age of 75, as president of seniority, she constituted the last democratic elected parliament of 1932 bearing the NSDAP as the majority party. She warned that the capitalistic social order will soon collapse and fascism will take over if not all democratic forces join the fight against them.[5] A year later she died in exile in Moscow.

To conclude with the name tagging, it is worth it to mention that besides many statutes, streets, parks and women activism related prices in Germany, also the chamber of the party Die Linke (The Left) within the German Bundestag bears her name.

Clara Zetkin sets an example, a life fully devoted to improving the life of disenfranchised members of the working class. Along historic influence exercised onto the politics of woman rights, she showed a clear unalterable standpoint against war. Her peace activism still sets an example of how to believe in communication and exchange among people despite the darkest prospects. Against all odds, she kept on working and promoting her firm beliefs.

Pacifism, a virtue not often publicly endowed by politicians these days, especially in our western liberal democracies. We live in a time where ‘the responsibility to protect’ has unanimously become the justification for the use of lethal force. Governments are killing innocent people along ‘dangerous terrorists’ through drone strikes in Yemen, ‘preventing humanitarian disasters’ by a bombing campaign and subsequently regime change (into chaos) in Libya or if not deemed sufficient to invade or bomb like in Syria, arming rebel groups instead.

However, politicians who bring forward very diplomatic, disengaging policies for international relations are popular among young people though, if we consider Bernie Sanders for an example. Admittedly not such figures on the left and with more or less pacifistic ideals have arisen in Europe. Actually many are either befriending or practice disdain towards foreign powers.

 

Sebastian Stölting is studying political science at dresden university. He attended the 2016 edition of the School of Democracy.

 

[1] http://www.sz-online.de/sachsen/wie-georg-unland-clara-zetkin-besiegen-will-3528872.html

[2]https://www.facebook.com/JusosDresden/photos/a.331389090209507.104851.316176935064056/1518916051456799/?type=3&theater

[3] Marilyn Boxer, “Rethinking the Socialist Construction and International Career of the Concept “Bourgeois Feminism” American Historical Review. Feb2007, Vol. 112 Issue 1, p131-158.

[4] Timeline of Clara Zetkin’s life, at German History Museum https://www.dhm.de/lemo/biografie/clara-zetkin

[5] http://www.bpb.de/gesellschaft/gender/frauenbewegung/35316/clara-zetkin

Give Peace a Chance – Willy Brandt

This text tells the story of Willy Brandt, who was born in 1913 in Lübeck with the name Herbert Ernst Karl Frehm. As a young men he became involved in several socialistic youth organizations. In 1930 he joins the SPD (Social Democratic Party of Germany) which he left on year later because he was disappointed of the small resistance against the conservative coalition of Hitler’s NSDAP and the DNVP.

 

In 1933 Adolf Hitler became Reichskanzler of the Weimar Republic. The first step to the reign of terror which should bring the whole world to chaos was done. Brandt went in to exile to Oslo and joined the resistance. At the same time he gave Himself the name Willy Brandt which he kept until his death. He started writing critical text and reported for the socialistic POUM in the Spanish civil war. 1938 the Nazi regime decided to denationalize him. Brandt was stateless.

 

After the Second World War Brandt decided to go back to Germany to write about the Nuremberg trials. Back in his home country he started to get in contact with several SPD members. In 1948 Brant obtains the German citizenship back and starts to get involved in politics again. He becomes member of the parliament, major of berlin, minister of foreign affairs and in 1969 ultimately the first social democratic canceler of the FRG. In comparison to the former canceler Adenauer he changed the foreign policy to the opposite.  While Adenauer rose the claim that the FRG and its elected parliament was the only legitimate representation for all German people in east and west, Brandt acknowledged the GDR as a state. His goal was to find the commonalities not what separates them. He also wanted the GDR to be part of the rapprochement.
For many people this was the start of the reuniting process that ended with the fall of the berlin wall in 1989.

Even though the Biography of Willy Brandt is worth to be told entirety it would go beyond the scope of this article. But there is one incident in 1970whose pictures went across the globe.

A small gesture expressing so much that it is shown year in and year out and which still takes peoples breath away. And even after so many years some people can’t watch it without fighting back some tears. It was a small gesture that stood for a recommencement. It stood for a Germany that took leave of the idea to be great power.

On December the 7th 1970 Willy Brandt was in Warsaw to sign the “Warschauer Verträge” to acknowledge the border between Poland and Germany.
Part of the visit in Poland was also a remembrance ceremony at the Monument of the Ghetto Heroes. He monument commemorates the Jewish people who stood up to the suppression and the barbarous and cruel imprisonment during the occupation of Poland by the Nazi regime. During the fight 12000 died. 30 000 where executed by the SS. Another 7000 where brought into concentration camps.

Brandt himself was not guilty for these crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis. He himself was a victim, a refugee who joined the resistance. He always fought for another Germany without nationalism and imperialism. It could have been a commemoration ceremony like many before.  Brandt could have lain down a collar, have a minute’s silence and then leave. But it went different.
He walked to the memorial, lay down the collar, paused for a moment and then fell down on his knees. He didn’t say a word because no words where needed. It was not a controlled kneel down rather a breakage. It seems paradox that just this man clear of debt asked for forgiveness. Not for himself but for the whole nation. Later in his memorials brand wrote:” “Carrying the burden of the millions who were murdered, I did what people do when words fail them.”( „„Am Abgrund der deutschen Geschichte und unter der Last der Millionen Ermordeten tat ich, was Menschen tun, wenn die Sprache versagt.“). It seems paradox because he wasn’t guilty. He did not need to ask for forgiveness. But it was also paradox because it had a unique effect.
In a speech in honor of the 65 Birthday of the German “Grundgesetz” the German-Iranian Author Navid Kermani tried to explain this paradox.

Normally the rank of a state is defined by the military power, by force or by size. People are proud because a state is great. And during the time the different German nations always tried to gain recognition in the international system this way. Finally they reached it by doing the complete opposite. Brandt laid down all his pride and felt ashamed.

This gesture brought back some of the dignity that Germany hat lost because of all his atrocity.

Brandt received the Nobel peace prize for his indefatigable commitment for the international understanding. Until his death he did not stop fighting for a peaceful and united Europe. Even today he is seen as an outstanding personality not only for the German social democracy. Beyond national and ideological boarders he was a well-respected statesman.

 

I agree, this would be a perfect happy end. The country that is guilty for two world wars, is guilty for the most terrific genocide in the history of mankind. This country faces is guilt begs for forgiveness in an act of subservience and accepts its responsibility as a pioneer of the European idea. Sadly this is not the end. The anti-European forces are getting Stronger. The hateful language of Nationalism is rising again, even in Germany.

If Willy Brandt would alive he would be shocked. And maybe he would repeat the words of his Nobel price speech: “A good German cannot be a nationalist. A good German knows that he cannot refuse a European calling. Through Europe, Germany returns to itself and to the constructive forces of its history. Our Europe, born of the experience of suffering and failure, is the imperative mission of reason.

(“Ein guter Deutscher kann kein Nationalist sein. Ein guter Deutscher weiß, dass er sich einer europäischen Bestimmung nicht versagen kann. Durch Europa kehrt Deutschland heim zu sich selbst und den aufbauenden Kräften seiner Geschichte.“ )

 

Jonas Fritz is in his third semester at Johannes Gutenberg- Universität in Mainz. His subjects are  politics in his major an communication in his minor. He is a memher of the Graduates of Democracy who attended the 2016 edition. Besides his engagement in the German SPD and their youth organisation he is also the Head of Social Media at the European Student Think Tank.











 

Give Peace a Chance – Jean Jaurès

Fervent défenseur d’une armée de milices défensives, pacifiste passionné par la chose militaire, membre d’une génération d’hommes élevés dans le souvenir des régions perdues d’Alsace et de Lorraine et nourris d’un revanchisme nationaliste, mais aussi grand lecteur du capitaine Henri Mordacq [1], Jean Jaurès maîtrisait la question militaire sûrement mieux que la majorité de ses contemporains. Il était l’héritier d’une tradition républicaine ayant érigé la Levée en Masse de 1793 en paradigme du sacrifice civique à la défense nationale et, comme tous les français d’alors, n’ignorait ni l’héroïsme des soldats de 1870 ni les massacres commis par eux lors de la Commune de 1871 ; et cette mémoire conflictuelle – où le soldat-citoyen est tout à la fois enfant sacrifié, supplicié de Bazeilles et nettoyeur de barricades – est au cœur même de la richesse du pacifisme Jaurésien. Rien n’affirme par ailleurs plus la pertinence de ce dernier que le sort qu’eût à subir son auteur, assassiné par un obscur militant nationaliste à l’aube du premier conflit mondial. Continue reading “Give Peace a Chance – Jean Jaurès”

Give Peace a Chance – Sophie Scholl and the White Rose

My grandfather grew up in a socialist, anti-Nazi family at the time of the Third Reich in Germany, and I remember the stories he used to tell me about the resistance. .
One story that I remember vividly was about a young, courageous woman who, at the tender age of 21, was executed by the Nazis for fighting against their tyrannical regime. Her name was Sophie Scholl, and she was a student of biology and philosophy at the Continue reading “Give Peace a Chance – Sophie Scholl and the White Rose”

Give Peace a Chance – Kagawa Toyohiko

Kagawa Toyohiko (1888-1960) is recognized as Japanese Christian pacifist, Christian reformer, and labor activist whose achievements led him to be nominated to the Noble Peace Prize in 1954 and 1955 and Noble Prize in Literature in 1947 and 1948 for writing over 150 books.

However, what distinguish Toyohiko are not particularly his achievements as much as of his long life efforts holding into principles and believes rejected by his family, society and Continue reading “Give Peace a Chance – Kagawa Toyohiko”

Yrjö Kallinen – Socialism, Pacifism and Theosophy

Yrjö Henrik Kallinen was born in 1886 in Northern Ostrobothnia, Finland. His father, whose Socialist ideas caused him a significant amount of problems, making the task of supporting his family all the more difficult, was among the early pioneers of the workers’ movement. The values and experiences of Kallinen’s childhood home had a central role in shaping his political thinking. As Kallinen later said, he had been ‘an active and ardent member of the Social Democratic Youth since just about its early beginning’. His formal education did not go beyond the first years of primary education, but his natural curiosity fueled his lifelong project of educating himself. He even went on to become a Counsellor for Education. Continue reading “Yrjö Kallinen – Socialism, Pacifism and Theosophy”

Give Peace a Chance: William Butler Yeats

When people think of William Butler Yeats they usually think of the Poet and the nobel prize winner, many forget he had a completely different side. He was a nationalist, a senator as well as a Pacifist. One cannot ignore the Irony of Yeats being one of the 20th Century’s key english language poets whilst he openly fought against English tradition in Ireland and the British role in the Great War. Yeats’ disconnection from the war resonates with most irish people, we know everything there is to know about the Great War and how it devastated europe socially, politically, geographically but still Ireland, far away from the real conflict was mostly unaffected. Yeats’ pacifism was rare for an Irish person because we were not exactly central to the conflict, we actually ended up useing the War to our advantage by rising up against the British. Again, Yeats’ pacifist attitude toward World War One is strange because he was such a Nationalist and although he did not openly support the violence of Irish Rebellion leaders he condemned the actions of the British. It could be argued that he was just a pacifist for Conflicts not involving his own nation. Continue reading “Give Peace a Chance: William Butler Yeats”

DOLORES IBÁRRURI: LA PASIONÁRIA

“ […] No os olvidaremos, y, cuando el olivo de la paz florezca, entrelazado con los laureles de la victoria de la República española, ¡volved!…

Volved a nuestro lado, que aquí encontraréis patria los que no tenéis patria, amigos, los que tenéis que vivir privados de amistad, y todos, todos, el cariño y el agradecimiento de todo el pueblo español, que hoy y mañana gritará con entusiasmo: ¡Vivan los héroes de las Brigadas Internacionales!”

 Dolores Ibárruri, La Pasionaria; Mensaje de despedida a las Brigadas Internacionales 1/11/1938

Dolores Ibárruri was a relevant figure during the Civil War she was elected Vice-President of the Republican Courts in 1937. During this period she became a myth for a part of Spain, being famous for her harangues in favour of the Republican cause. Her motto was “No pasarán!” coined during the defence of Madrid in which she strongly opposed the capitulation of Colonel Casado

Continue reading “DOLORES IBÁRRURI: LA PASIONÁRIA”

Lech Walesa

En ce jour du 11 novembre ce n’est pas seulement l’armistice et la fin de la guerre que nous fêtons mais aussi le début de la paix. Hommes de pouvoir, militants ou encore combattants, les personnes aux origines de cette paix ont tous eu des horizons divers. Médaillés, élevés au statut de chevalier ou encore lauréat du prix Nobel de la paix, nombreuses furent les distinctions pour saluer le combat et le courage de ces Hommes. Continue reading “Lech Walesa”