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Interned Without Cause, by Peter Krawchuk

The Internment of Canadian
Anti-fascists During World War Two

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.

Socialist History Project Introduction

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 Trial.

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 capitalist democracies.

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, 1939]

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 signed.

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 War!," proclaiming:

"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.


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