We are passing through a period when the flames of the Third World War spread further, turning the Middle East into a bloodbath and slaughtering hundreds of thousands of workers and toilers. In order to draw attention to the ongoing imperialist war and encourage the correct attitude towards it, UID-DER holds seminars and events in many neighbourhoods. The most recent of these have been the events that continue to be held under the banner ‘From the hell of war to the workers’ revolution’ in all local offices. Attended by hundreds of workers from various industries, these events adressed the similarities between the current period and the period preceding the First World War and dealt with the question how this war prepared the ground for the workers’ revolution in Russia.
During the events, many striking examples were given that demonstrated how imperialist wars, both past and ongoing ones, were cooked up and how millions of workers, incited by nationalism, were deceived into supporting wars. At the beginning of the First World War, the soldiers departing for the front were accompanied by marching bands. Not long after, they confronted the true face of the war, realising that the war was no game and that they had no option but to kill or to be killed for the interests of the ruling class. However, thanks to the workers’ revolution in Russia, the deep despair in the hearts of millions in the midst of the hell of war was replaced by hope. With the revolution accomplished by the working class of the Tsarist Russia finding its echoe, more and more soldiers at the battlefronts joined those who refused to point a gun to their own class brothers. And they started to offer a hand of brotherhood to each other. It was out of the fear of revolution that the rulers had to put an end to the war.
Through screening of the short documentary that contained actual footage from the First World War and the October Revolution, and through songs and poems performed by UID-DER music band and activists, the horror of the war and the vigour of the revolution conveyed to the audience. The short documentary prepared for this event also contained the touching story of the soldiers who ceased fighting and celebrated Christmas together in 1914. Extracts cited from the letters sent by these soldiers to their families expressed the bitter cry of a generation that perished in the war. The documentary made a deep impact on the workers who participated in the event.
One of the most striking parts of the documentary was the part regarding the Ottoman Empire’s position during the war and its links to the present. In this part the documentary dealt with how the rulers of the Ottoman Empire dragged the country into the war, caused disasters such as the one in Sarıkamış in 1915, where 90.000 soldiers were frozen to death. Those rulers played off peoples from different ethnic and religious backgrounds against each other, causing indescribable cruelties that included the Armenian genocide and the forced deportation of 1.5 million Ottoman Greeks to Greece.
Captivated by a delusion of bringing back the huge empire, the over-ambitious rulers of the Ottoman Empire followed an aggressive adventurism in the war, leaving millions of toilers dead. As the narrator of the documentary stated: “At present, there are war-mongering rulers acting like Enver, Talat and Cemal Pashas of the past. They keep on dragging Turkey into the hell of war. Therefore, the danger of war is a burning issue for the working class.”
In a country like Turkey, where nationalism is provoked continuously and hostility against Kurds is considered equal to patriotism, these events brought the truths to the attention of many workers who found the opportunity to exchange their feelings, thoughts and the impact that the event created in their souls.
A dockworker from Mersin expressed his feelings by saying “They say that war means death. But it is always the poor, the workers and their children who lose their lives in wars. The employers and their families keep looking after their own comfort during wars. Even this fact alone shows that the war is not ours, but theirs. Why should we shed blood for capitalists?”
A student from a vocational high school said: “They don’t tell us about these things in the history lessons. Today, I learned our real history and what wars mean for us.”
A young worker from Ankara, who told he had recently come back from his compulsory military service, said that he used to think that military service was a sacred duty and that his way of thinking was completely changed thanks to the event.
A female worker from Sarıgazi said: “We can hardly confess even to ourselves that wars are staged for the interests of rulers. The facts explained in the presentation have been a slap in our faces. I’ve met the ruthlessness of war in all its clearness… Imperialists want us to fight each other, slaughter each other for exactly the same reason that they had forced peoples to kill each other in the past for their own interests. I’d like to thank everybody who contributed to the preparation of this event.”
The workers and students from Sefaköy told that they found the event very meaningful because it showed the way the working class should think and act against war-mongers. They explained that the workers should unite and strengthen the struggle, without sinking into despair.
Female workers from Gebze expressed their hatred against the rulers who ask them to sacrifice their children. They said that the escalating terror attacks and bombings are in fact a part of the ongoing war.
Wars are provoked by the rulers, but the bitter consequences they cause are suffered by the workers and the poor. These unjust wars are not the wars of us, the workers. The poor toilers of suffering peoples are not our enemies, but our class brothers and sisters. Today, through various mechanisms, the rulers prepare us to slaughter each other for the sake of their own interests.
The flames of the ongoing imperialist war continue to burn the poor and the workers of the Middle East. But, as the workers and toilers, we must draw the necessary lesson from bitter experiences of the past and break the plans of the rulers once again. We have to struggle against imperialist wars for our future. The events ended with the slogans such as “Stop imperialist wars!”, “Workers will bring peace to the Middle East!”