[Marxism] Martin Monath: A Jewish Reistance Fighter Among German Soldiers | Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Oct 11 15:09:44 MDT 2019

Recently, Pluto Press came out with Nathaniel Flakin’s “Martin Monath: A 
Jewish Reistance Fighter Among German Soldiers.” It pays tribute to 
another Jewish Trotskyist who displayed incredible heroism and 
dedication to proletarian internationalism. Like Leon, Monath was a left 
Zionist starting out, but became convinced that Zionism was a hopeless 
illusion. And like Leon, he was caught by the Gestapo in his youth and 
died at their hands.

Flakin has performed a yeoman’s service by digging through archival 
materials, the few letters that Monath wrote, and memoirs by his 
contemporaries to help bring this obscure figure to life. While there is 
virtually nothing in this biography that refers to the current period, 
we cannot help but consider the parallels to Trump, Orban, and Modi’s 
persecution of the “other”. If being a revolutionary in 1941 France or 
Belgium required enormous courage, there are other difficulties we face 
today. We have few worries about being hauled off to a torture chamber 
in countries like the USA or England. Instead, we have to swim upstream 
to defend a revolutionary socialism that has become unfashionable. Our 
problem is indifference rather than repression. We are grateful to 
Nathaniel and his comrades at Left Voice for having the iron will so 
necessary to defend the ideas of Karl Marx in a period when the spirit 
of compromise and pragmatism infect so much of the left.

The first paragraph of Flakin’s Introduction sets the tone for the rest 
of the book:

	It is late 1943 in Brittany in north-western France. For three years 
the population has been suffering under the Nazis’ increasingly brutal 
occupation regime. In the city of Brest, however, there are astounding 
scenes of fraternization: Young French workers and equally young German 
soldiers greet each other with raised fists. An illegal newspaper 
reports from Kerhuon, ten kilometers from Brest: “On August 6, German 
soldiers marched through the city and sang the Internationale,” the 
anthem of the revolutionary workers’ movement. Between 25 and so German 
soldiers from the Brest garrison had organized themselves into illegal 
internationalist cells. They obtained identification cards and weapons 
for the French resistance. They felt so confident that they began to 
ignore the basic rules of conspiracy. They met in groups of ten. “It was 
madness,” recalled their comrade Andre Calves, decades later.


More information about the Marxism mailing list