Big Red smear, campaign
• • •
in Britain and Europe
By DOUGLAS HYDE
HIT by the consequences of the Hungarian revolution, Communists in Britain and throughout Western Europe generally are taking their revenge on the Hungarian refugees by smearing them in every possible way.
I have just returned from a quick trip to the Continent Where I met people prominent in the fight against CommuniSM in Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, and Denmark. All had the same story to tell: Everywhere the Communists are doing all in their power to discredit and disrupt
the helpless victims of Russia's aggression in Hungary.
And already by these and other means they are consolidating and re-activising their own depleted forces.
Most of us are familiar with
the spectacular drop in the mem
hership of the giant Communist Parties of Italy and France. I discovered that at least as spectacular have been the Communist losses in almost every other West European country too.
For example, because of their activities during a long general strike last year, the Communists in Denmark had for the first time for years been growing rapidly, then came the revolt in Hungary and some 25 per cent, of the party's members resigned.
As is the case in all Communist Parties, the New Year is the time when members take out their new membership cards. It is far easier simply to fail to take out a new card than it is to resign, and it is clear that all over Europe thousands of Communists are taking this course.
In Britain, so far, only 58 per cent. of the party's members have renewed their membership cards.
The crisis in the Communist Party is real. But, as usual, the Communists are using even their reverses to serve their cause. There is plenty of evidence to show that they are now deliberately publicising their losses in order to make their opponents think that they are a spent force.
Moreover, by launching vigorous new campaigns on domestic issues in every country of Europe, they are holding and rallying their working-class followers, who have remained much more loyal to the party than have its intellectuals And everywhere they are venting their spleen upon the refugees from Hungary, whom they have such good reason to fear and dislike.
In particular, they are using the inevitable difficulties which accompany the settling in of large, mixed groups of people who have been suddenly uprooted—difficulties which Stella Musulin, described in Tim CATHOLIC HERALD last week.
Austria has, of course. been the country to which most of the refugees have first fled. When they arrived, the Catholic Austrian people in their generosity sacrificed enormously on their behalf.
An Austrian woman I met last week told me how a workingclass housewife with two coats would take it for granted that she should give one for "the refugees". More, she would equally take it for granted that she should give the new one. for which she had saved up so long, and keep the old one for herself. And the Communists, turning many workers against the refugees or at the best confusing their feelings about them, say: "Look how well dressed these Hungarian refugees are. Their clothes are better than those of our own workers. These are the people we were asked to sacrifice for."
In most cases, of course, the refugees concerned are ones who left everything and if they are now better dressed than some Austrians, it is because of the generosity of the Austrians themselves.
It is incredible, but it works.
The Communists of Hungary, as was to be expected, infiltrated the ranks of the refugees. Today they deliberately make their presence known, possibly exaggerating their own numbers, so that people in receiving countries begin to doubt the wisdom of helping the refugees at all.
This tactic has been sited with particular effect in Switzerland.
In Denmark the Communists have persuaded trade unionists to demand that Hungarians should not be employed in industry lest Danish workers be rendered unemployed.
The same is already beginning to happen in those parts of the British coalfields which are Communist-dominated.