27. FORTY YEARS LATER
Forty years have passed since the last antifascist walked out of Hull Jail into freedom. In that time great changes have occurred in the world and in Canada. Two new generations have grown up already. They know little or nothing about those who for many years actively fought fascism — Italian, German, Japanese — and its henchmen and admirers in Canada and yet found themselves behind barbed wire during the Second World War in which Canada fought against Hitler's Germany and its allies.
When they accidentally learn about this they can not get over their shock that such a thing could have happened in Canada. They pose the question "How could it be that the authorities, who waged war on fascism, interned antifascists? Why?" They want to know the truth. Among them are the children of men who were interned, who found themselves in the internment camps of Canada. These are the very reasons which prompted me finally to pick up my pen and recount, though briefly, why the antifascists were arrested and dispatched to internment camps.
I have endeavoured to relate as objectively as possible our sojourn in the camps. Of course, far from everything has been recollected, not all was preserved in memory after so many years because, after all, it is not possible for one person to observe and grasp with his own eyes all aspects of the life and conditions of the internees — Germans, Italians, French Canadian fascists and antifascists.
But even from these few fragments the reader can put together an approximate idea of how we lived there, how we defended our dignity and rights and how we fought for our release.
I wish to emphasize once more that the mothers and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters of the internees steadfastly and proudly endured all the misfortune that was connected with our isolation behind barbed wire. Their tenacity and constancy in the struggle for our release brought us courage in our struggles in the internment camps. Often depriving themselves, they aided us materially, which also made our lives easier.
At this point I would like to express thanks from my colleagues-in-misfortune and myself to all those comrades who remained free and continued political and organizational activities in difficult, complex and dangerous conditions, who preserved the organizational achievements, who kept contact with us, who helped us morally and materially, and who fought for our release.
Certainly, if one were to enumerate all their names it would be a very long list, for there were so many of those sincere and generous people!
(However unpleasant, nonetheless, for the sake of historical accuracy, I wish to note that after their release, in different years and for different reasons, some of those who were interned for antifascist activity left the progressive movement. Some like Pat Sullivan, Gerry McManus, Fergus McKean even took hostile positions and actively fought the progressive movement.)
The years have gone by. One after another, brave comrades have passed away. I do not know how many of us are left alive. Thirty per cent? At best! Thus of 40 interned Ukrainian antifascists no more than ten persons are left. But those who firmly remained by their previous positions, without regard for advanced age, take active part in cultural, educational, political and public activities, particularly in the battle to save peace and to avert the catastrophe of nuclear war. Even Dr. Howard Lowrie, now more than 90 years of age, does not pass up a chance to take part in a mass meeting of defenders of peace or some other event arranged by progressive organizations.
So it was, and with that I wish to conclude. May such events never be repeated in Canada!
Copyright South Branch Publishing. All