«Bund» of Poland - The case of Henryk Erlich and Victor Alter

of Henryk Erlieh and Vietor Alter, internationally known labour union leaders of Poland, ordered by a military court in the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (Russia). We scornfully reject the eharges, prescntcd to the court and accepted by it as':lustification of lhe verdic(, that Erlieh and Alter w~re actively or otherwise engaged in Nazi scrv1ce; or that lhey sympath1sed in any way or manner with Nazi aims or anything thai Naz.ism stands for ; or that Erlich and Alter were less than wholeheartedly devoted 10 the tt war elfort ofthe United Nations, including the U.S.S.R., in the present war to the finish on the Axis powers. Thousands of us knew these two leaders of labour in Poland personally and well, and all of us have watehcd theìr record, over many years, as determined fìghters ag.1inst Hitlerism, Fascism, and every form of tyranny, oppression and brutalitarianism. Out of this, our knowledge and firmconvietion oftheinnocence ofthe two men, indeed, oftheir proven loyalty to ali aims whieh we hold dear, we reject the validity of the rcason for the murder verdiet. We entertain no shadow of suspicion or doubt aboul thc innocence ofthe executcd men oflabour. We moum the Joss or Hcnryk Erlich and Victor Alter as a grave loss lo the cause or labour, democracy and humanity. Lest our protesi be misunderstood or be wilfully misrepresented, cither by enemies of American democracy or by Nazi agents sceking to con• fuse the public mind and to divide the Allicd nations, wc solemnly declare hcre that despite the grie~ous injustice perpetrated b)"the Soviet courtonthe1Y.-osenantsandlcadersoflabourweare,asc,·cr,loyaland dc.-otcdfothedeclaredandclearaimsofouroountry"salliance"·i1hthe So,·iet Union. and a\1 the Unitcd Nations, as expressed in the Atlantic Charter and given living meaning by President Roosevelt. Nothing can or will swcrve us from doing our utmost to securc, by common cffort. tota! victory in this war and lasting international peacc inthewakeofthewar. Our keen rcaction to this tragic occurrence does not deter us from placing all our-honour, labour, lifc itsclf-at the servic~ofthe Un~ted Nations against the Axis powers. Ncither can or w1ll the ternble judgmcnl and execution of our two friends and comrades-in-arms at thc hands of thc Soviet courts diminish our admiration for the heroie, indeed supcrhuman, achicvcments of the Russian people and thcir armed forces in this litanie strugglc against Nazism and aggrcssion and for frccdom. Free citi:zensof a grcat dcmocratie nation, we considcr il not only our privilegc bui duty as wcll to \"OÌCC our protesi against a greal wrong committcd by an ally, evcn as we togcther, and atone with our allies, fight to thc crowning end fora common and decisive victory." Thc enti re American democratie Press expressed its decpest indignation and protesi. Thus, for instance, thc grcat liberal magazine " The New Rcpublic;· of March 15th, 1943, wrote: •· lf Henryk Erlich and Victor Alter had becn born Frcnchmcn their names might have becn Leon Blum and Leon Jouhaux .... Both Henryk Erlich and Victor Alter were vigorously anti-Fascist and more partieularly anti-Nazi. Both warncd the Polish Governmcnt again and again of the 24 Biblioteca Gino Bianco