On 13 April 1945 the Red Army completed the liberation of Vienna. Today, we once again want to express our gratitude for this and, further, in the memory of all the fighters who fell in that struggle, commit ourselves to a socialist future.
From official Austria the commemoration of the liberation of Austria by the Red Army has been replaced by the horror of the last phase of the war. 60 years after the liberation, historical revisionism is increasingly grabbing at everything possible. Hardly any historian or politician, and certainly not the media, are standing up to the massive re-writing of history: they are part of this re-writing, the complete reversal of cause and effect. If you listen to the underlying tone of the celebrations, articles, speeches and documentation, you could almost believe that Austria was the only country that suffered from the war.
Whoever complains about the horror of the end of the war should not hide from its criminal pre-history: it began with the persecution of political opponents, above all communists and social democrats, and continued through racism and the systematic mass murder of Jews, Sinti and Roma. On 21 June 1941, after the annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia, the victorious war against half of Europe, the heavily armed German troops attacked the Soviet Union – as they expressed it – “to finally destroy Jewish-Bolshevik domination”.
Comrade Winterberg has already mentioned in his speech the extent of the losses. The siege of Leningrad alone cost a million lives. In the Soviet Union, the fascists left two million square kilometres of scorched earth behind them, and in this earth, in Babi Yar and innumerable other places, they left murdered children, women, men and old people.
So who caused this suffering? What were the reasons for it? Who made money out of this war – who made money out of forced labour and murder? It was an imperialist war and it was a war against the construction of socialism. And they don’t want working people to think about that, because the truth is a precondition for active struggle. The truth must remain hidden, above all today, when “EU interests” are to be defended in Yugoslavia and elsewhere.
A toothless anti-fascism, free of the original content of anti-capitalism and anti-racism, serves better when working people, also in Austria, are schooled in the erosion of democracy internally and the warlike activities externally. And such a toothless antifascism is ultimately no threat to the re-emergence of fascism.
Now as before, the fact remains that fascism is inseparable from the interests of capitalism. The relationship between imperialist economics and reactionary politics, the role of monopoly and finance capital, was and remains decisive.
It could only be the Soviet Union that defeated fascism, and thereby also created the basis for a socialist community of states. The main burden of the anti-fascist war was borne by the Soviet Union.
For the liberation of Vienna and Austria, we do not thank the Allied Powers as a whole, as it is deliberately abbreviated today – we thank the heroic Red Army under the leadership of Joseph Stalin. For three years, two thirds of the German Wehrmacht fought continuously against the Soviet Union.
The opening of the second front by the Anglo-American landing in Normandy in 1944 was not primarily aimed at ending the war as soon as possible and with the fewest possible victims, because they could have done this according to the agreement with the Soviet Union in 1942. Their main aim was to pre-empt the occupation of the whole of Germany by the victorious Red Army. The efforts of the imperialist politicians in the US and Britain, who were pursuing their own capitalist objectives, were responsible for the policy of postponing the opening of the second front. In this light, the Normandy landings already acquire an element of politics that very soon expressed itself as the “cold war” against the Soviet Union and the states that were on the road to socialism as a result of the liberation.
But what put the Soviet Union in the position to hold out and to win against Germany fascism, then the most powerful military machine in the world?
The people of the Soviet Union were fighting for their homeland, for the maintenance of socialist achievements, but at the same time for freedom for human rights, for the culture of workers and people of all countries who were oppressed by fascism. They were for the most part politically conscious people and knew what they had to win and to lose.
The Soviet Union was rapidly industrialised with long-term planning and huge communal effort. This created the basis for the fight against fascism. Peasants and workers knew what the war was about.
While the monopolists on both sides of the imperialist powers made their profit – it is enough to mention Opel/General Motors in the German Reich and the US – the leadership of the socialist Soviet Union was fundamentally different from any capitalist country and the objective of the Soviet Union was fundamentally different. A result of this was that in the entire period of its existence the Soviet Union never waged an unjust war, which not only consolidated its international esteem, but also its support by progressive forces in the whole world.
On this plaque is says: “Eternal honour to the soldiers of the Soviet Army, who fell for the freedom and independence of the peoples of Europe in the fight against the German fascist occupiers” and it reminds us that the younger generations must continue the struggle for peace, against capitalism and war under the circumstances we face today.
For socialism instead of barbarism!
[14 April 2005, Vienna]