Remembering 1945: No compromise with fascism, whatever form it takes
U.S. and Soviet soldiers meet on the Elbe River, April 25, 1945, effectively cutting Nazi Germany in half. Within days, Hitler would be dead and his Third Reich in ruins. | U.S. Army Photo

The following article appeared in the May 8, 1945 issue of the Daily Worker under the headline “The Worst Crimes in History.” It was printed on the day that the Nazis surrendered in Germany, thus ending World War II in Europe. In the piece, author Samuel Sillen says the best memorial to the millions killed in the fight against fascism is to make sure that fascism never returns.

Millions—many millions—did not live to share this hour of triumph. Millions were hounded, twisted, strangled, starved. Their ashes heaped in German ovens. Their skeletons clumsily piled in shallow ditches.

These were people like ourselves. They too could dream of sweeter days. They worked and laughed and loved. The children once hugged fuzzy teddy-bears.

People like ourselves, and they might have been ourselves, we were spared their fate. But we must never forget the monstrous crippling, the overwhelming and unutterable indecency which was the system of life under German fascism.

The front page of the May 8, 1945 “V-E Edition” of the Daily Worker. | People’s World Archives

Pity is not needed; we can spare the dead the last indignity of pity. Even hatred, the fierce hatred that we must all feel for the Nazi butchers, is not enough.

What we finally need, in this moment of rejoicing over the collapse of Nazi Germany, is a realistic understanding of the enemy that we have beaten to his knees. We need the kind of understanding that time will never erase.

And its essence, simply, is that there can be no compromise between humanity and fascist barbarism, whatever new form it may take. For it will take new forms.

The Hitlerites will not now be able to cripple men’s bodies, but they will not give up striving to poison men’s minds. They are plotting to undo our victory at the very moment we celebrate it.

To the burned and tortured victims of Nazism, we owe the same debt we owe to the children cheering in the streets today. And that is the grim resolve to make this a permanent triumph, an irreversible triumph.

To those who try to divide the victorious nations, we must reply…. The murderers must never murder again. We must see to it. The fight is still on. Next time, we may not be spared.


CONTRIBUTOR

Samuel Sillen
Samuel Sillen

Samuel Sillen (1911-73) was a writer for the Daily Worker and other left publications, often specializing in cultural content. In the 1930s, he was literary editor for New Masses. He founded and edited Mainstream magazine, which later became Masses and Mainstream. He was the author of several books, including “Walt Whitman: Poet of Democracy” and “Women Against Slavery.”

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