Remembering Julius Fučík (1903-1943)
Julius Fučík was a man who was murdered twice. He was murdered in flesh by the Nazis, desperate to silence the resistance of which he was a part. Four decades later, he was murdered in spirit by his own countrymen desperate to prove their loyalty to their new found faith- corporate capitalism. Yet, Fučík and his works refuse to wither away into history. His words still have the power to invigorate and inspire the human spirit; his words still haunt the enemies of freedom. The lucid clarity and the absolute conviction of his works are hallmarks of Fučík. For whatever he was, Fučík was never ambiguous. It is that clarity regarding the state of affairs that defined him as a man, a materialist and a marxist. He had no illusions about the world around him. He knew it to be horribly flawed; and that cosmetic changes were not a solution. Julius Fučík was no idealist; he was no romanticist. He was a communist. To him, words were weapons against oppression, tools for shaping a better world.
Julius Fučík was born in a upper class household on February 23, 1903. He began his transformation from a plebeian to a proletarian early in his teens. He grew up seeing a world order built on contradictions. He represented a suppressed culture and an oppressed people, reeling under Austro-Hungarian totalitarianism. His countrymen, who were filled with a zest for life were forced to fight in the streets for food. Senile men in palaces were sending young peasant boys to their death in wars far away from home. Disillusionment with the social order and religious dogma lead him to renounce his Christian upbringing at 16. By 19, Julius Fučík was a member of the nascent Communist Party. A four month stay in the Soviet Union made him an ardent admirer of Soviet style collectivization. He believed what he saw in the USSR, was a people reclaiming their rightful place under the sun. These experiences resulted in V zemi, kde zítra již znamená včera (In a Land, Where Tomorrow is Already Yesterday); a work that wholeheartedly praised the Soviets and the leadership of Joseph Stalin. From 1929, right upto the outbreak of the Second World War, he would serve as the co-editor of the party mouthpiece Rude Pravo (The Red Law).
It is thus very difficult to write about Fučík as an impartial observer. One cannot escape the fact that his struggle was mankind's struggle. His works are not just an account of his personal resistance against fascism, but virtually a chronological development of the Czechoslovakian resistance movement. Through his works, he warns you of the dangers of 'apoliticalness'. He details how his country was betrayed; or to put it more aptly 'sold out' by the imperialists to Nazi monstrosity. He tells you as to why the Czechoslovakian authorities chose to collaborate with the Nazi invaders. He describes the efforts of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia to put up an armed resistance against the Nazi juggernaut.
His 'Notes from the Gallows' remains a moving account of the Czechoslovak resistance against fascism. As you read, six decades of time and the vast distances of space that separate you from him break down. You become comrades-in-arms with Fučík. The personal and the political merge. Every word is a nail driven into the coffin of fascism. Written on lavatory papers while he was in Gestapo captivity, it was smuggled out of his jail cell by sympathisers. The work is a testament to the human spirit and a resistance in itself. It talks of the inhuman atrocities of the Third Reich and the heroic resistance put up by Fučík and his comrades. It details how brave human beings even under inhuman torture supplied the Nazis with bogus information to buy their comrades in the resistance much needed time. The fragility and preciousness of freedom becomes evident. Every hope becomes so sweet, every longing so bitter, every moment so precious and every thought so poignant. Fučík continued his struggle even under captivity. He made it a point to see that the Nazis were not able to shatter the hopes of his comrades. In one part of his work, Fučík describes the special May Day exercises that were performed (imitating the actions of the hammer and the sickle) to keep the moral and the hopes of his fellow prisoners high. Every act was a rebellion; every act was a political statement to his enemies. Forever the revolutionary, Fučík in the Nazi show trial reversed the tables on his torturers and proclaimed his own verdict on the 'murderous circus' of fascism – death. In a last act of rebellion he sang the Internationale as he was led to his end on the 8th of September 1943.
Comrade Julius Fučík, mankind loves you, and we are vigilant!
Bodhi salutes Julius Fučík on the day of his martyrdom!