Letter of Michel Raptis (Pablo)
to the Examining Magistrate

(December 1960)

From Fourth International (Amsterdam), No. 12, Winter 1960–61, pp. 4–5.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Why have I accepted all these responsibilities?

Here I owe an explanation which, while extending into the political field, seems to me necessary and even indispensable.

You are not unaware, Madame, as examining magistrate, that I belong to the Fourth International and that I form part of its leadership.

I had the honor of joining the historic movement of Leon Trotsky in my early youth, when I was a student at the Higher Polytechnic School of Athens in 1928.

It is from that time that I date my conscious life as a man, which I have wanted to devote to service in the cause of the oppressed and exploited of this world. I have endeavored ever since to make my actions as faithful as possible to that ideal of my youth, to the political ideas that I then embraced, and to the line advocated by the organization to which I belong.

Thus, at the time of the Second World War, which I spent in France, while continuing my studies at the University of Paris (from which I have two diplomas, first in urbanism, and then in statistics), I engaged in militant action against Nazi oppression and aided its victims to the extent of my powers, quite apart from their nationality or religion.

Numerous friends whom I made in France – among whom I feel honored to quote the names of Mr Jean Guehenno, the well-known writer and humanist, Mr Claude Bourdet, publisher of France-Observateur, Mr Laurent Schwartz, professor at the Sorbonne and scientist of world renown – will be able to testify to this activity.

Most of them, for that matter, have already had the kindness to testify in my favor by letters which they have sent to the Dutch Minister of Justice at The Hague.

Already at the end of the war and at the time of the upsurge of the emancipation movement of the colonial peoples, I found my place – quite naturally and unconditionally – at their side.

The right of each subject people to national independence seems to me a right that is both democratic and elementary, which was well defended by all means at the time of the Nazi occupation of Europe, and which cannot under any pretext be denied to the colonial peoples.

For this reason, as a member of the Fourth International, I am proud of having taken my stand, right from the beginning of the struggle of the Algerian people for its national liberation, in support of this just cause.

It is quite true that I exerted myself greatly for this cause, as did all the members of the international organization to which I belong, starting in 1954.

In the files seized in the apartment that I occupy in Amsterdam, the police found papers belonging to me personally which illustrate this activity, and which I should like to see included in the documentation concerning my case.

Among these papers I cite the memorandum that I sent to the Conference of the National Liberation Front in Tripoli in the summer of 1959, and the report that I wrote on my return from a trip to Morocco and Tunisia (dated March or April 1959) concerning the aid that we ought to bring to the struggle for self-liberation of the Algerian people. It is quite true that I wished to give impetus, in Europe and elsewhere, to Committees for Free Algeria, Committees for Algerian Prisoners in France, and Committees for Material Aid to Algerian Children and Refugees in Morocco and Tunisia.

I was an eye-witness to the atrocious conditions into which the masses of the Algerian people, fighting for their liberation, have been cast.

I know from direct sources the enormous tribute of blood and sacrifices paid in this war to which the Algerian people are subjected: more than 700,000 killed, more than 1,500,000 displaced persons in Algeria itself, more than 30,000 prisoners in France, and more than 200,000 refugees in Morocco and Tunisia, mostly old people, women, and war-orphaned children.

The war is certainly a cruel one on both sides, and I take no pleasure at all in the fact that it has made victims among the French laboring youth in uniform. But the Algerian victims are far in excess of those on the French side.

Furthermore, it cannot be forgotten that the Algerian people is fighting for its freedom and is therefore waging a just war, quite like the European peoples fighting for their liberation at the time of the Nazi occupation.

I know that the majority of the laboring people of France and the elite of its intellectuals, writers, artists, and scientists, are against the continuation of this abominable enterprise, and in favor of the right of the Algerian people to self-determination and independence.

My own active struggle in favor of this cause was in no way directed against the French people, among whom I passed a very considerable part of my life, but was aimed against the forces who, for their own selfish interests, are plunging thousands of human beings, both Arab and French, into blood, tears, and sufferings.

The interest that I have taken in, and the effort that I have been willing to make in favor of, the struggle for self-liberation of the Algerian people, are in conformance, I repeat, with the ideal of my youth, with the political ideals that I profess, and with the line of the organization to which I have the honor to belong.

For me, there could be no question of betraying any of my very reasons for existing, even though it be at the sacrifice of my freedom and, if necessary, of my life itself.

16 December 1960

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Michel Pablo
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Updated on: 26 March 2016