Arthur MacManus

To the Memory of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg

Moscow’s Tribute

Source: The Communist, February 03, 1923.
Publisher: Communist Party of Great Britain
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2007). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

MOSCOW is the home of the remarkable. But surely even its rich history records nothing to surpass the Commemoration Ceremony of to-day.

The custom, as secure ingrained in the life of this great republic as was the Holiest of the Holy Days of the Ancients, is on Jan. 15th each year to do honour to the memory of the Martyred Liebknecht and Luxemburg. In every factory and workshop we learned that meetings would be held, where expression would be give to the esteem and regard in which the memory of those dead comrades is held by the cream of the revolutionary proletariat, the Russian workers.

But what took place was astounding to one who is now gradually getting to know this great people.

Working away in an office in the Mokhovaya, the headquarters of the Communist International, one was startled by the sound of cheering and the strains of the International. The telephone rings—a message to go upstairs immediately.

A hurrying and rushing through the corridors—arrival at the room of the Secretariat, and in reply to my query as to the reason of the telephone call I am directed to the window.

And what a sight!

The entire square in front of the Kremlin and the Mokhovaya was thronged with people, who are displaying a multitude of banners. I was informed that a deputation had called with the information that the workers of the various factories and workshops had decided to call and bring in person their greetings to the Communist International.

A corps of speakers was immediately mobilised and we made our way to the balcony. Our arrival was the sign for a thunderous burst of cheering, such as only those who know Russian cheering can appreciate.

It starts with a great burst, and runs around the entire square, rising and falling as group after group takes it up. Then the military band strikes up the International and everybody stands bareheaded still at attention, the soldiers at the salute.

Comrade Piedneitsky at the first moment of silence announced comrade Maffia, from Italy, and the meeting had started.

Just as he had got well under way, one became aware of the strains of the International once more and with fresh cheering three more contingents arrived from different directions.

Maffia was allowed to continue and then followed Doriot, from France; Hoemlund from Germany; MacManus from Britain; Serrati, from Italy; Shatzkin, from the E.C. of the Communist Youth; than Bucharin.

What a reception awaited Bucharin!

And the speeches; well, they were all devoted to the great work of the martyred comrades whose memory we did honour to, and to the European situation—the occupation of the Ruhr, the significant movements of the troops of the various countries, the struggle before the German proletariat, and the revolutionary potentialities of the situation.

Intermittently the chairman had to make appeals to the bottom sections of the crowd after they had heard some of the speeches to parade back away around the city to make room for the other contingents which kept arriving from all directions. At such moments, when the various entrances to the square were blocked, those in the square would muster behind their banner and march past the Comintern building. When the square refilled there would be more speeches, exodus, then the same again; and so on for four and a half hours.

Never have I beheld such a demonstration. Hundreds of thousands of people passed through the square. The picture, when—at the end of the German comrade’s speech the band struck up the International followed by a terrific burst of cheering which disturbed the thousands and thousands of birds which eternally hover over the Kremlin causing them to flutter over the meeting like a great black animated cloud was such as never to be forgotten.

Some of us spoke twice, some thrice, and still they thirsted for more. Verily this people does take its revolution and its obligations seriously.

As each section passed the balcony they would jerk out their greetings in a sonorous staccato, which indicated many rehearsals even of such a detail.

The unemployed in Britain might copy this method with profit as it is one way in which a mass can be its own deputation and deliver its own message intelligibly.

Again the practice of every workshop and factory having its own banner is a development on our trade union banners, while I blush to think of comparing the inscriptions. Improvisation is an art in this country, which spares one the pain of looking on the anachronistic incongruities as well known in Hyde Park. Mayhap it took the revelation here to awaken these qualities and that a similar transformation may take place in Britain on the morrow of our revolution! Another pressing point in favour of an early revolution, even if but a small one.

When the speakers were all tired out and throat-sore the meeting ended and I retired to write this hasty impression. And now as I write at ten o’clock at night the bands are still playing in the streets and the crowds still singing.

What more enduring a monument could any revolutionary desire than the songs of comradeship from the fervent breasts of a nation in freedom and the homage of a nation of revolutionary achievement.

Moscow did justice to the honour and memory of Karl Liebknecht still Rosa Luxemburg.