Felix Morrow

Alibis Don’t Help Liars

(April 1939)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 28, 28 April 1939, p. 8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Earl Browder, generalissimo of the Communist Party, has produced a new alibi for Stalin’s refusal to open the doors of the Soviet Union to the Jewish and other refugees from fascist countries.

Browder’s latest explanation is best understood in the light of what has preceded it.

Our party organized a campaign to open the doors of America to the refugees. That campaign found no echo in the Communist Party. First of all because, as supporters of Roosevelt, the Stalinists would not raise a demand which he was known to be opposed to. Secondly, because they could scarcely call for opening America’s doors to the refugees without illumining the embarrassing fact that Stalin was refusing to open the doors of the Soviet Union to the refugees.

This line of the Stalinists did not go unquestioned by their own members and sympathizers. Letters poured into the Daily Worker and the Jewish Freiheit. After weeks of demands for an explanation, The Daily Worker on November 28, 1938 finally provided one, entitled The U.S.S.R. and the Issue of Refugees, by V.J. Jerome.

The nub of Jerome’s explanation was his statement that:

One must also realize that there are thousands of Jewish refugees who, though fleeing from fascist terror, are in their class status and outlook, bourgeois or petty-bourgeois and, consequently, may not wish or may not be able to adjust themselves to a Socialist economy and culture. And, of course, everybody realizes that, particularly in the present period, with the second imperialist world war already raging, the greatest vigilance must be observed against the penetration of carefully planted spies and other fascist agents.”

C.P. “Answer” Raises New Questions

When Jerome’s article appeared, far from silencing the questioners, it aroused a whole new series of questions. If, after twenty years, a so-called Socialist State cannot assimilate a few hundred thousand non-proletarian elements – and we are talking about penniless Jews fleeing from fascism! – that would mean that half of humanity has nothing to hope for from Socialism.

That this alibi for Stalin was completely false was evidenced not only by the fact that the doors of the Soviet Union were not opened to the proletarian Jews seeking to flee from Hitler, but also by the ensuing events: the doors of the Soviet Union remained closed to the Czechoslovak anti-fascists – including fleeing Communists! – and to the hundreds of thousands of proletarian Spanish fighters whose pleas from the concentration camps of France are unheeded by the Stalinist bureaucracy.

Browder Produces a New “Answer”

The hostile reception of Jerome’s alibi by the sympathizers of the Communist Party finally impelled Fuehrer Browder himself to wrestle with the question, in the New Masses of April 4. “There are a great many questions on why the Soviet Union doesn’t open its borders to the Jewish refugees,” he said.

And here is Browder’s answer:

“The answer is that more Jewish refugees are going into the Soviet Union than into all other countries combined.”

Previous justifications of keeping the doors of Russia closed having failed, Browder now claimed that the doors were open all the time!

Browder’s attempt to answer one challenge – that of Dr. S. Margoshes, editor of the Jewish Day – now appear in the New Masses of April 25:

All my observations and information support the claim that, considering exclusively the period since the beginning of the present fascist chain of aggressions and the rise of the current refugee problem, there are more refugees enjoying asylum in the Soviet Union than in France, Britain and the United States combined – and that this applies to Jewish as to all other categories. There are no official figures for any country that I have been able to find.”

How Browder Lies for His Boss

The dishonesty of Browder’s “answer” is easily demonstrated:

  1. The basic issue is: why doesn’t the Stalinist government of the Soviet Union open wide the doors to the refugees? Browder perverts the issue, instead, into an argument about whether the Soviet Union or the capitalist countries have admitted more refugees. Even assuming that the Soviet Union admitted more refugees than did the capitalist countries – and this would not have been difficult considering the arch-reactionary policy of the capitalist countries against admission of refugees – that would still not explain away the plain fact that millions of refugees seek refuge and the Stalinist government refuses to open its doors to them.
  2. Even to make plausible the claim that Stalin lets in more refugees than do Chamberlain, Daladier and Roosevelt, Browder has to use as a measure “the period since the beginning of the present fascist chain of aggressions” – deliberately vaguely defined without a date but apparently meaning since Hitler’s assumption of power in 1933. Browder does this so that in any further discussion he could point to immigration to the Soviet Union from Germany in 1933 and the public offer of refuge to the Austrian Schutzbund in 1934 – whereas if Browder were to speak of the years since 1935, he would not be able to point to a single public proof of immigration into Russia!
  3. In Browder’s statement that “There are no official figures for any country that I have been able to find” is concealed the fact that the Stalinist regime has no figures to offer to bolster Browder’s assertions – for the good and sufficient reason that false figures could easily be challenged while the true figures would reveal that Stalin’s prison doors open neither inward nor outward.
  4. Obviously realizing that his flat assertions carry no conviction, Browder retreats to a new alibi: “If the Jewish community leaders of the world want more refugees to go into the Soviet Union, it would be well for them to raise the question with the powers at the Evian conference, to see that the Soviet Union is invited to that conference, which regulates the immigration, and provide for their entrance into the Soviet Union in an organized fashion.” (New Masses, April 4)

This alibi is no better than his others. Why, in the name of socialism, does the Soviet government require an invitation to the Evian conference before it can open the doors of Russia to the refugees. The Evian conference is an absolute fraud, a piece of mumbo-jumbo organized by the capitalist powers, not to facilitate immigration but to duck the problem. It has done nothing for the refugees, because it is designed to do nothing. When Browder makes Soviet admission of refugees hinge on arrangements with the Evian conference he is putting off their admission forever.

Squirm as they may, the hirelings – of Stalin cannot conceal or mitigate the plain fact: the refugees from fascist terror, whether Jews or Czechoslovak Communists or Spanish Loyalists, are barred by Stalin from entering the “Socialist Fatherland.”

Last updated on 17 January 2016