Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Brunswick, Maine, United States

I'm back to work for the Global Network. Will continue to help Lisa Savage for US Senate campaign on my free time. Trying to self-isolate as much as possible. Best wishes and good luck to you all.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

The Young Guards museum in LPR



We spent a good part of today in the city of Krasnodon which is in the Lugansk People's Republic (LPR).  About 100 members of the Teachers Union have been meeting over the past two days and our small foreigners delegation (hosted by Labor leader Andrey Kochetov) was invited to join them for a moving tour of the Young Guards Museum in Krasnodon.

The two buses carrying us all from Lugansk to Krasnodon (about an hour drive) first stopped at a memorial of victims following the 2014 US directed coup d'etat in Kiev.  A hill top memorial listing more than 200 names of young and old from the Krasnodon area has been established to remember those who were killed in 2014-2015 by Nazi death squads (and the Ukrainian regular Army) that attacked the region.  We were given flowers to place at the site and each were asked to ring a large bell in their memory.


The self-defense forces in the LPR eventually drove the Nazis and regular Army out of the Krasnodon area.  But today the attacks on the Donbass region continue along the 'contact line' where the US-backed Ukrainian forces continue shell various villages inside the LPR and Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) controlled territories near the Russian eastern border.

We heard from one man who told the story that during the 2014-2015 period long lines of refugees flooded the one road leading into Russia trying to escape the attacking fascist forces that worship the memory of the WW II western-Ukrainian Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera.

The Russian government set up camps just inside their border and provided food and medical care for the fleeing people.  Some have stayed in Russia and others returned to the LPR once the Nazis were pushed out of the area.

At the museum in Krasnodon we were first taken to see a huge stone monument that covers a former coal mining hole where Nazis in 1943 threw 71 bodies of 'Young Guards' (ages 14-22) who had been leading resistance to the German occupation of Krasnodon that began in July of 1942.  Some had been tortured and beaten to death while others were thrown into the 23 meters deep mine pit alive.


The Young Guards became legendary in the former Soviet Union for their dedicated and courageous resistance actions against the Germans.  During their time, before being killed, the Young Guards did some of the following:

  • Hung red flags around the city in defiance of the Nazi occupiers
  • Burned down the Labor Exchange building that had lists of local workers.  The Germans wanted to round the workers up and send them to Germany as slaves. Many lives were saved by this action
  • Nazi's tried to reopen a coal mine but the Young Guards sabotaged the effort
  • The Young Guards freed 70 prisoners
  • Printed and distributed more than 5,000 flyers communicating with the local people
In all there were about 80 Young Guards.  They were ultimately betrayed by someone which led to their roundup - only eight of their group survived.  The Nazi extermination of the Young Guards happened just two weeks before the Soviet Army liberated Krasnodon from German control.

After a group lunch at a local restaurant we returned to the the museum auditorium for a program.  One speaker reminded the assembled, "We have to preserve our history in order to survive."

Throughout the program the word 'fascism' was repeatedly used by various speakers.  After all, people living in the LPR and DPR have historic memory of the fight against the Nazis during WW II and since 2014 they again have been facing the Nazi death squads - facilitated by the US-NATO war machine.


Another speaker in the program said, "In an information war like at the present, the goal is to destroy the spirit, so we have to defend it."

During the intense period of 2014-2015, when today's Nazis attacked Krasnodon, they repeatedly tried to destroy the Young Guards museum and memorial statue.  Just outside the museum is also a grave site where the bodies of those found inside the deep mine pit were buried.  Some of the mothers of these young people requested to be buried there as well.  So when the attempts to attack the museum were recently happening the Nazis also tried to destroy the burial memorial.  Luckily local people were able to successfully protect the museum and surrounding shrines.


Unexpectedly in today's program at the museum the three guests from the US and Ireland were also invited to speak to the assembled teachers.  When it was my turn I said that I was angry at my own government for its role in creating the present Ukrainian civil war and promised that when I returned home I would continue to share what I have learned with my fellow citizens as well as friends in other nations.

Most people know little to nothing about what is going on in the Donbass today.  What little some might know is filtered through western propaganda that maintains the people of LPR and DPR are 'separatists' being aided by an invading Russian military.  Since arriving here I've seen no military of any kind but that might change as we move closer to the 'line of contact' in coming days.

I did see one man in jungle fatigues today limping down a street in Krasnodon and Andrey said to me, "There are many such wounded here in the LPR."

Bruce

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