Obstruction of Justice: How the British Government Protected 8,000 Soldiers of the Waffen-SS Galitsia Division
Ukrainian volunteers of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division-SS Galitsia march past (L to R) Fritz Freitag, Heinrich Himmler and Otto Wachter
Amid the continued support given to the fascist politicians and military of Ukraine by western governments, many people are asking how such a betrayal of the sacrifices of the Allies in World War Two could take place. However, what most people are unaware of, in large part due to an ever-more corrupted media, is that these governments have a shocking history of protecting the perpetrators of some of the most terrible crimes of that war. One of the most egregious examples of this practice of shielding war-criminals from justice was confirmed in 2005 with the declassification of British Home Office papers showing that the British government…
Communists in the global North have typically gone through several progressing periods of disillusionment with bourgeois historical perception and a growing recognition of its general untruth. Unlearning anti-communism is a long and difficult process full of twists, turns, and even an occasional catharsis of immediate negation. “Wait, so it was the Dalai Lama that was bad?” All of this unlearning involves a scale of study that most people would recoil from, even to get a degree in one or another bourgeois indoctrination scheme. Communist history is the most slandered political history that exists, and for reasons that Marxists should readily understand. After all, if you were in the ruling class of a system that exists through exploitation of the rest of the population and general murderous domination, wouldn’t you also produce an endless stream of lies about an alternative system that posed an existential danger to you?
The years of reaction (1907-10). Tsardom scored victory. All the revolutionary and opposition parties have been defeated. Depression, demoralization, splits, discord, renegacy, pornography take the place of politics. There is an increased drift toward philosophical idealism; mysticism becomes the shell of counter-revolutionary sentiments. But at the same time, it is precisely this great defeat that gives the revolutionary parties and the revolutionary class a real and very valuable lesson, a lesson in historical dialectics, a lesson in the understanding of the political struggle and in the skill and art of waging it. One gets to know one’s friends in times of misfortune. Defeated armies learn well.
The revolutionary parties must complete their education. They have learned to attack. Now they have to realize that this knowledge must be supplemented with the knowledge how to retreat properly. They have to realize — and the revolutionary class is taught to realize it by its own bitter experience — that victory is impossible unless they have learned both how to attack and how to retreat properly. Of all the defeated opposition and revolutionary parties, the Bolsheviks effected the most orderly retreat, with the least loss to their “army,” with its core best preserved, with the least (in respect to profundity and irremediability) splits, with the least demoralization, and in the best condition to resume the work on the broadest scale and in the most correct and energetic manner. The Bolsheviks achieved this only because they ruthlessly exposed and expelled the revolutionary phrase-mongers, who refused to understand that one had to retreat, that one had to know how to retreat, and that one had absolutely to learn how to work legally in the most reactionary parliaments, in the most reactionary trade unions, cooperative societies, insurance societies and similar organizations.
Something has changed, fundamentally. This is evident. What is it? Before, they all wanted to be the ploughmen of history, to play the active parts, each one of them to play an active part. Nobody wished to be the ‘manure’ of history. But is it possible to plough without first manuring the land? So ploughmen and ‘manure’ are both necessary. In the abstract, they all admitted it. But in practice? Manure for manure, as well draw back, return to the shadows, into obscurity. Now something has changed, since there are those who adapt themselves ‘philosophically’ to being ‘manure’, who know this is what they must be and adapt themselves. It is like the problem of the proverbial dying man. But there is a great difference, because at the point of death what is involved is a decisive action, of an instant’s duration. Whereas in the case of the manure, the problem is a long-term one, and poses itself afresh at every moment. You only live once, as the saying goes; your own personality is irreplaceable. You are not faced abruptly with an instant’s choice on which to gamble, a choice in which you have to evaluate the alternatives in a flash and cannot postpone your decision. Here postponement is continual, and your decision has continually to be renewed. This is why you can say that something has changed. There is not even the choice between living for a day as a lion, or a hundred years as a sheep. You don’t live as a lion even for a minute, far from it: you live like something far lower than a sheep for years and years and know that you have to live like that. Image of Prometheus who, instead of being attacked by the eagle, is devoured by parasites.
“I wanted to interpret the restlessness, the turbulence of the period that is 1971 and what it is due to. I wanted to have a genesis. The anger has not suddenly fallen out of anywhere. It must have a beginning and an end. I wanted to try to find this genesis and in the process redefine our history. And in my mind this is extremely political. I found a continuing link in the film—a young man of 20, uncorrupted. He has lived this age of 20 for the last 1000 years or more. He has been passing through death and squalor and poverty. And for the past 1000 years or more he has bridged despair and frustration. For him the history of India is a continuous history not of synthesis but of poverty and exploitation…I took three or four stories of poverty: grinding, ruthless, unrelenting poverty, poverty that is not glamorous. We have always been trying to make poverty respectable, and dignified…You can find plenty of this in Bengali literature. As long as you present poverty as something dignified, the establishment will not be disturbed. The establishment will not act adversely as long as you describe poverty as something holy, something divine. What we wanted to do in CALCUTTA-71 was to define history, put it in its right perspective. We picked out the most vital aspect of our history and tried to show the physical side of hunger is the same. Over time, the physical look of hunger is the same. But there is a marked change in the people—their perception changes. In a way I call this the dialectics of hunger, the dialectics of poverty. How people move from resignation and from callousness to cynicism and being beaten-down, and anger and self-destruction… and finally to anger and violence which can become very creative in the process.”
It is under the overarching steel frame of the Howrah Bridge, amid the routes of the sedate trams that plod through the crowded streets, and within the amphitheatres of sport and leisure that Mrinal Sen’s sentient gaze in Calcutta 71 situates the corollary of centuries of humiliation, exploitation, and oppression – the history of Calcutta’s impoverished working class. Collating together the political sentiments of the urban workers, the rural poor, and the dispossessed lower middle-classes, Calcutta 71 emerges as a chronological narrative that charts the evolution of class-consciousness. Here, this development is located within a wide range of historical and geographical settings: the disintegrating slums where the urban poor strive to maintain a semblance of dignity as depicted in the 1933 episode, the vacated houses of the rich in which the lower middle-class family live in the 1943 episode, and the migratory route of rice smugglers from the countryside to the city in the 1953 episode. Though the separate episodes of Calcutta 71 are recounted in chronological order, they are distinctive in form and structure, and therefore defy the constraints of normative linearity. It is the very graduation of political consciousness necessary to overturn the existing order of post-colonial Indian society formed in the image of middle-class and elite interests that links them together.
In combination with the separate episodes and their distinctive plots, Sen uses a variety of techniques – depending heavily on collision editing where successive shots of the poor dying from starvation during the Bengal Famine of 1943, symbols of political parties (such as the Indian National Congress, Communist Party of India (M), and Communist Party of India (M-L), and stylised rock music are interspersed amongst the dialogues of the characters, most markedly perhaps in the fourth episode. In one particular instance, an upper-class young woman attending the politician’s party complains about the discomfort she underwent while collecting funds for Bangladeshi refugees on behalf of her organisation, she concludes with a laugh that afterwards they (the troupe of women engaged in the collection of funds) demanded that they each be offered a Kwality Wall’s ice-cream for their efforts. Immediately, the screen jumps to a tracking shot of bunker beds at a refugee camp where the starving either lie or sit huddled together, and the tempo of the background music from the rock band at the party soars coupled with the off-screen echo of the woman’s voice. This aforementioned example which illustrates the use of dialectic through the superimposition and interplay of contrasting scenes of poverty and prosperity is methodologically influenced by Eisenstein and Soviet Montage theory. In so far, the combined impact upon the viewer is that of the synthesis – where the hypocritical nature of elite philanthropic work is made visible. Through the lens of spatiality, the contrasting environs of elite philanthropy and the abject misery of the poor are at distinctive odds with each other, engendering a critique of social inequality that suggests it is enmeshed in the segregated geography of Calcutta. In this guise, the container of the filmic medium and the particularities of the visual techniques it offers can be read as the tools of a clandestine didacticism. The theatrical image of the assassinated revolutionary who appears in the final scenes serves to identify the dialectic, drawing from the collated experiences of misery that have been shown on film, a new experience, a gradual development of the revolutionary consciousness of anger.
Solanas and Getino had identified the role of revolutionary cinema as engaged in the transformative process by “providing thrust and rectification” not simply illustrating or reproducing images of a pre-existing situation. Along this vein, Sen’s film is as much a representation of the socio-political causes that contributed to the growth and popularity of the Naxalite movement in Calcutta as it is in itself a call for mobilisation vis-à-vis a didactic interpretation of these causal events. In the denouement, the revived revolutionary who had been declared dead in the first scene of the film speaks out to the audience, both the audience of the party which he has interrupted and the audience of the film. He recounts the circumstances of his death but does not reveal the names of his murderers and instead explains, “I want you to find out their names on your own. And on this search even though you may feel pain and sorrow, at the very least you won’t be able to indulge in idleness. Tell me, why are you all so idle, why so worriless, why so blind? As citizens of this nation do not you wish to avenge my death? Do not you feel anger or even guilt?” A collaged trajectory of the previous episodes are presented in brief clips, at the end the disembodied head of the revolutionary emerges again floating in a sea of darkness, he prophecies that “A language is evolving out of the depths of death, it is the language of protest – it asks ‘How much longer?’” The screen jumps to scenes of public demonstrations and the figurative presentation of a group of advancing soldiers who chase the revolutionary down the streets, and eventually murder him again. In this sense both the visuality and aurality of the medium of film are conducive in producing the sense of unease, a deep-seated instinctual and emotional response. This is not a practice in the art of escapism, the grit of reality is juxtaposed with the jarring nature of the fantastical – the man who speaks from the dead and the advancing masked men who represent the killing force of the Indian army – the result is an agitation of the audience that morally draws them within the revolution itself. The camera, as Solanas and Getino’s called it, had become an “inexhaustible expropriator of image-weapons” and the projector, “a gun that can shoot 24 frames per second.”
Calcutta 71 directed by Mrinal Sen (Calcutta: D. S. Productions, 1972)
 Getino and Solanas, “Toward a Third Cinema,” 6.
Calcutta 71 directed by Mrinal Sen (Calcutta: D. S. Productions, 1972).