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Interned Without Cause, by Peter Krawchuk

11. ELECTION OF THE SPOKESMAN

In May 1941 the struggle among the various German groupings reached a climax. Alfred Alius's group from Arbeiter Front began to accuse ever more openly Hans Brendel's group from Deutsche Bund of betraying national-socialist ideals. The Arbeiter Front group demanded the re-election of the camp spokesman. Elections were called for Sunday, May 18, in the movie hall. The candidates were Hans Brendel and Alfred Alius.

Agents for both groupings campaigned for their candidate. It often came to heated arguments, even physical fights. For example, Alius's supporters beat up Brendel's agent Werner Dix. They said their candidate was supported by Hitler's Minister of Labour and leader of the Arbeiter Front in Germany, Robert Ley, who had personally sent Alius from Nazi Germany to Montreal to take the post of Fuehrer of Arbeiter Front. They told the Germans "If you vote for Brendel, never return to Germany, because you'll breathe your last in Dachau."

Brendel's agent answered, "We are Germans. We also want victory for national-socialist Germany. Hitler is our Fuehrer. But what will happen if Germany loses the war? We live in Canada. We have our families, businesses and property here. We must consider this and thus must co-operate with the camp administration."

As a result, the campaign of the agents for Brendel's group was accepted more than that of the agents for Alius's group since the main part of the internees was composed of precisely those Germans who had no little wealth in Canada.

Of course, the election of the spokesman also concerned us antifascists, for these reasons: 1) the administration had not officially recognized our representative; 2) a victory by Alius's group could sharpen relations between the Germans and ourselves; 3) incited riots, for which Alius's group often called, could have tragic results for us.

Brendel's group also knew what results the elections could have for us, hence they secretly sent their representatives to our leadership to learn our position. The leading committee called a meeting of the antifascist group to discuss the matter. Discussion developed. Some argued that it was necessary to support Brendel since the election of Alius could have harmful results for us. Others said that we ought not to take part in the elections; rather we should boycott them saying that we were not interested in the Germans' internal struggles the one group and the other were Nazis, our worst enemies.

After a lengthy discussion, a motion was passed that the antifascist group would not take part in the elections but would extend its campaign for the recognition by the administration of its separate spokesman. With that the group totally removed itself from the Germans' electoral battles to decide who would be spokesman Brendel or Alius.

The commandant was interested in the election of Brendel as spokesman. The Italians, who did not desire riots in camp, supported Brendel. The results of the elections were as follows : Hans Brendel received 354 votes; Alfred Alius 234; there were 8 spoiled ballots; 70 prisoners did not take part in voting. Therefore, in all there were 666 prisoners who had the right to vote in camp at that time. Besides the antifascists, who numbered around 40, there were another 30 prisoners (several Slovaks and Germans) who did not take part in the voting.

Of course, the election results sharpened even more the internal struggle among the German groupings.

Continued...

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