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December 11, 1983

Thousands of Women Will Reclaim Greenham Common on Sunday 11th December '83

This poster advertises direct action at Greenham Common in December 1983, when female activists used mirrors to "turn the base inside out," one of many forms of action taken to protest against the deployment of Cruise missiles at RAF Greenham Common.

September 29, 1983

Press Information: CND [Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament] Mass Demonstration, 22 October 1983

This CND press release announces a major demonstration in October 1983 to be held in Hyde Park. The event is described as "just a small part of a worldwide protest movement of millions of people mobilising during United Nations Disarmament Week."

November 16, 2020

Interview with Robert Einhorn

Robert Einhorn is a former US diplomat. He served as the head of the US delegation to ACRS. 

June 1, 1967

Lecture about the Situation in Persia by Dr. Bahman Nirumand, followed by a Discussion, on the Eve of the Shah’s Visit to West Berlin (Excerpts)

In West Germany as in other capitalist democratic countries in what now is called the Global North, an increasing number of students were more and more radicalized in the 1960s. They were not exceptional: in some countries—think for instance of Italy—some workers underwent a similar evolution. Moreover, some students and workers met and communicated in various forms and place like cafés, dorms, or factories, where some students had to work. And both students’ and workers’ radicalization led them in various ways away from established social democrat, socialist, and communist parties.

But there were differences, too. In West Germany, so-called “new leftist” German students like Rudi Dutschke (1940-1979) were from the early 1960s most distinctly influenced by texts by decolonizing actors-intellectuals like Ernesto “Che” Guevara (1928-1967) and Frantz Fanon (1925-1961). Their worldview was shaped by fellow students from recently decolonized and postcolonial countries, as Quinn Slobodian’s Foreign Front: Third World Politics in Sixties West Germany (2012) shows. Among these students were Iranians, for many Iranians wishing to study abroad opted for West Germany following World War II. This pattern built on sturdy modern political, economic and cultural Iranian-German relations from the nineteenth century to the early Second World War. Hence, in the 1960s, West Germany became a key arena for Iranian exile politics. In the university town of Heidelberg, Iranian students with France- and Britain-based colleagues in 1960 founded a body that would be known as the Confederation of Iranian Students, National Union (CISNU) from 1962, when US-based Iranian student bodies joined and Tehran students were associated. CISNU was in the 1960s-70s a leading force outside Iran opposing Muhammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919-1980; r. 1941-1979)—a story told by Afshin Matin-Asgari’s The Iranian Student Opposition to the Shah (2002). In parallel, in the 1960s the shah was able to become the autocratic ruler he had wanted to be from the 1940s.

In West Germany, one analysis of the shah’s state was the ironically titled Persien, Modell eines Entwicklungslandes [Persia: Model Development Country], publishedin spring 1967 by Bahman Nirumand. Born in 1936, Nirumand was a high school and then university student in Germany from 1950 to 1960, then moved back to Iran to work as an academic and journalist, and in 1965 escaped back to Germany fearing arrest for co-leading the underground Marxist-Leninist group Goruh-e Kaderha. In his book Persien, he argued that changes like the land reform of 1963 are a reformist façade hiding an anti-democratic repressive capitalist regime, which is backed by equally repressive capitalist Western states led by imperialist Washington. In fact, to him, Iran illustrated how Third-World and First-World elites together repress their people—a truly global pattern.

To be sure, Vietnam constituted the key anti-imperialist cause for organizations like the Sozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund (SDS), which in 1961 had been evicted by the mainstream Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) and by 1966 was part of West Germany’s ausser- (i.e. extra-) parlamentarische Opposition. Even so, when the German government announced a visit by the shah for early June 1967, the SDS soon decided to support Iranian student protests. These were legally “problematic” because West Germany’s 1965 Aliens Act drastically limited foreigners’ right to political activism. What began as a teach-in about Iran in West Berlin on June 1 and as a protest against the shah on June 2 became aturning point in postwar German history. On June 2, the police did not only condone pro-shah loyalists’ violence against the demonstrators. It also shot dead a demonstrator, Benno Ohnesorg, intensifying students’ fears about a fascist rebirth and causing the student movement to grow swiftly and become more radical.

The text printed here is a translated excerpt from the German-language audio file of the teach-in on Iran of June 1 at the Freie Universität (FU) Berlin. Opened by Gabriele Kuby (born 1944), a member of the FU’s General Students Committee, the teach-in featured Nirumand, who spoke for about an hour and a half on the world’s current economic-political condition for which Iran was a case in point, and Hans-Heinz Heldmann (1929-1995), a German lawyer representing Iranian and other foreign students politically active in Germany. Followed by a few notes on other political matters, these two lectures were then discussed by the students; Dutschke, since 1965 a leading SDS member, drew a parallel between Vietnam and Iran. Attended by about 2,000 students, the teach-in had a strongly mobilizing effect on the protests the next day, June 2.

July 2, 1957

Remarks of Senator John F. Kennedy in the Senate, Washington, D.C., July 2, 1957

On July 2, 1957, US senator John F. Kennedy made his perhaps best-known senatorial speech—on Algeria.

Home to about 8 million Muslims, 1.2 million European settlers, and 130,000 Jews, it was from October 1954 embroiled in what France dubbed “events”—domestic events, to be precise. Virtually all settlers and most metropolitan French saw Algeria as an indivisible part of France. Algeria had been integrated into metropolitan administrative structures in 1847, towards the end of a structurally if not intentionally genocidal pacification campaign; Algeria’s population dropped by half between 1830, when France invaded, and the early 1870s. Eighty years and many political turns later (see e.g. Messali Hadj’s 1927 speech in this collection), in 1954, the Front de Libération Nationale (FLN) launched a war for independence. Kennedy did not quite see eye to eye with the FLN.

As Kennedy's speech shows, he did not want France entirely out of North Africa. However, he had criticized French action already in early 1950s Indochina. And in 1957 he met with Abdelkader Chanderli (1915-1993), an unaccredited representative of the FLN at the United Nations in New York and in Washington, DC, and a linchpin of the FLN’s successful international offensive described in Matthew Connelly’s A Diplomatic Revolution: Algeria’s Fight for Independence and the Origins of the Post-Cold War Era (2002). Thus, Kennedy supported the FLN’s demand for independence, which explains its very positive reaction to his speech.

And thus, unlike the 1952-1960 Republican administration of Dwight Eisenhower (1890-1969) that officially backed the views of NATO ally France and kept delivering arms, the Democratic senator diagnosed a “war” by “Western imperialism” that, together with if different from “Soviet imperialism,” is “the great enemy of … the most powerful single force in the world today: ... man's eternal desire to be free and independent.” (In fact, Kennedy’s speech on the Algerian example of Western imperialism was the first of two, the second concerning the Polish example of Sovietimperialism. On another, domestic note, to support African Algeria’s independence was an attempt to woe civil-rights-movement-era African Americans without enraging white voters.) To be sure, Kennedy saw France as an ally, too. But France’s war was tainting Washington too much, which helped Moscow. In Kennedy’s eyes, to support the US Cold War against the Soviet Union meant granting Algeria independence. The official French line was the exact opposite: only continued French presence in Algeria could keep Moscow and its Egyptian puppet, President Gamal Abdel Nasser, from controlling the Mediterranean and encroaching on Africa.

1936

Salim Khayyata, 'Oppressed Ethiopia, or The Start of The Final Fight Against Colonialism in the Period of its Downfall' (Excerpts)

Following a year-long buildup of tensions, Fascist Italy conquered Ethiopia between October 1935 and May 1936 in a brutal war that included the use of airplanes and chemical weapons. Its “success” came 40 years after Ethiopia had defeated Italian troops, making this ancient African center of Christianity a paragon of successful anti-imperialism. The war formed part of broader Fascist Italian aspirations in the Mediterranean and Africa, renewing Ancient Rome’s empire. European powers, including the French and British empires, and other countries condemned Italy’s attack, and at the League of Nations adopted some economic sanctions against Italy. After all, Ethiopia had become a League member in 1923. But those sanctions were feeble, exemplifying how inter-state power politics could bypass the League’s collective security engagements, doubly if an aggressed country was non-white. (In fact, France had signaled it would not react massively already before Italy’s attack.) Italy withdrew from the League and concluded separate deals with France and Britain, which above all wished to keep Italy content to deal with the emerging Nazi challenge of the post-World War I order in Germany and on the continent.

However, the war triggered massive protests around the world, most intensely by African and leftist organizations. It was the most serious proof to date of the threat posed by Europe’s extreme right-wing-ruled states, especially Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. Arabs, too, commented extensively on this case, as Haggai Erlich’s Ethiopia and the Middle East (1994) has shown. People who like the Egyptian Yusuf Ahmad had Muslim sensitivities condemned Ethiopia for always having maltreated Muslims and opined that for them, Fascist rule would be preferable. Ahmad’s book, Al-Islam fi al-Habasha [Islam in Ethiopia] was financed by Italy and praised inter alia by Shakib Arslan (excerpts of a book of whose are included in this collection). Critique of Italy’s colonial war came mainly from liberal nationalists and leftists. Among the latter was Salim Khayyata.

The text printed here is a series of key excerpts from the introduction to his Arabic book Al-Habasha al-mazluma, aw fatihat akhar niza‘ li-l-isti‘mar fi dawr inhiyarihi [Oppressed Ethiopia, or The Start of The Final Fight Against Colonialism in the Period of its Downfall]. Born in 1909 in the United States to migrant parents, Khayyata returned with them to Tripoli, Lebanon, in 1922. He became a member of the Communist Party of Syria and Lebanon (CPSL). As noted in Tareq Ismael’s The Communist Movement in the Arab World (2011), the CPSL was founded in 1924, following French North Africa (1919), Egypt (1922), and Palestine (1923). A writer, Khayyata published inter alia in the leftist journals al-Duhur and al-Tali‘a, both of which he also edited for some time in the 1930s. (This collection’s document on the 1939 Anti-Fascist Congress in Beirut is from the latter journal.) Torture in a French prison in Lebanon early on in World War II left him very impaired mentally. He passed away in 1965.

June 17, 2020

Interview and Discussion with Andrzej Olechowski

Discussion with Polish Minister Andrzej Olechowski about his life and Poland in the 1990s.

June 2, 1989

Telegram No. 048 725 from the Czechoslovak Embassy, Beijing

Saul describes the economic situation in China in the context of the Tiananmen Square protest movement.

August 28, 1980

Note, M. Suslov et al to the CPSU Central Committee

Suslov describes the "tense" situation in Poland and proposed steps to use military and police force to quell the protest movement.

January 17, 1990

National Intelligence Daily for Wednesday, 17 January 1990

The National Intelligence Daily for January 17, 1990, discusses the latest developments in the Soviet Union, East Germany, and Iraq. One withheld section of this NID, "Special Analysis: Albania: Intimations of Another Romania," was released in 2019.

Pagination