By Peter Krawchuk
Interned Without Cause: The Internment of Canadian Anti-fascists
during World War Two, was first published in Ukrainian as Bez
vyny vynuvati in the newspaper Life and Word. It was
translated into English by Pat Prokop, and first appeared in English in
serial form in the monthly journal The Ukrainian Canadian under
the title Convicted Without Trial. It was published as a book in
1985 by Kobzar Publishing Company.
Copyright for Interned Without Cause is held by the
estate of Peter Krawchuk. We thank Larissa Stavroff, the authorís
daughter and executor, for her invaluable assistance, and for granting
permission to post this book on the Socialist History Project website.
The book included several pages of photographs of internees which we
have not posted here due to the poor quality of the images.
About the Author
Peter Krawchuk was born in western Ukraine in 1911. After he
emigrated to Canada in 1930, he became active in the Ukrainian
Labour-Farmer Temple Association (ULFTA), joining the staff of
Ukrainski robitnychi visti (Ukrainian Labour News) in 1936. Over the
next six decades, he wrote dozens of books, pamphlets and articles about
the Ukrainian Left in Canada. He was president of the Association of
United Ukrainian Canadians, the ULFTAís successor organization, from
1979 to 1991.
Peter Krawchuk died in Toronto in February 1997, not long
after publication of his major work on the Ukrainian left in Canada,
Our History: The Ukrainian Labour-Farmer Movement in Canada, 1907-1991.
Interned Without Cause is a first-person account of an
important but little-known episode in Canadian history: the arrest and
imprisonment, without trial, of members of the Communist Party of Canada
between 1940 and 1942.
The following excerpt from
The Left in Canada in World War II, by John Riddell and Ian Angus,
provides background to the events described in Interned without
Until 1939, Stalinís foreign policy aimed to build alliances
between the democracies and the Soviet Union against German fascism
and Japanese imperialism. As part of the effort to win the
confidence of the "democratic capitalists," the parties of the
Communist International favored suspending the class struggle in the
In February 1939, for example, Canadian Communist Party leader
Tim Buck wrote:
"The first duty of our statesmanship today is to bring
CAPITAL AND MANPOWER TOGETHER... Can this be done in Canada? I
say: Yes... We communists will oppose any group that aims to
overthrow our present system." [The Clarion, February 2,
In August 1939, Stalin suddenly changed direction. Having failed
to win an alliance with Britain, he signed a treaty with Germany.
Germany invaded Poland just days after the Stalin-Hitler pact was
The change was so sudden that the Communist Party at first didnít
realize that it had happened. When Hitlerís armies invaded Poland,
Tim Buck immediately sent a telegram to Mackenzie King urging "full
support to the Polish people," and called on Canadians to oppose any
compromise between Britain and Germany. [The Clarion, Sept 2
and 9, 1939]
But news of the new direction soon arrived and by mid-September,
the CP was raising the slogan "Withdraw Canada from the Imperialist
"The danger of fascism for the people of Canada comes not
from the German imperialists, but from the Canadian capitalist
class. Canadian capitalism, not German capitalism, is our main
enemy." (Toronto Clarion, Jan. 20, 1941)
This stand led to the party being outlawed. Many of its leaders
were imprisoned without trial, and others, including Tim Buck, fled
to the United States.
The CP allied itself with the anti-conscription forces led by
Quebec nationalists. When the mayor of Montreal was arrested for
urging Quebecois to refuse to register for military service, a
headline in the Communist Party newspaper read: "Mayor Houdeís
Actions Foreshadow Mighty Anti-War Movement in Canada." (Toronto
Clarion, September 26 1940)
But then the line reversed again. On June 22, 1941, Hitlerís
armies invaded the Soviet Union, and the Communist Party of Canada
became the most pro-war party of all. Once again it campaigned to
suspend the class struggle to support the war.