Is the name of the place where my ancestors are buried. In English the name translates to Glory to the Young Communists Park. It lies off of Vulitsa Revolutsiya or Revolution Road. The park was a Jewish cemetery with headstones but after the war with 25 million homeless thanks to the second imperialist assault on the Soviet Union in a generation, the surviving townspeople had to use the Jewish and Christian gravestones to re-build their homes. They also had to tear down the town church and use the bricks.
Now the park lies by the river and is dotted with trees. There are several Jewish gravestones that some townspeople brought back and laid on the edge of the park.
Most liberal accounts of the “Holocaust” end here, or perhaps recall the traditional life of the shtetl before the genocide. Or point one in the direction of Jewish rebirth in Israel.
However, as a communist I have no nostalgia for the feudal life of the shtetl nor do I look to zionism as the savior of the Jewish people. I do not think stalinism was a solution either, as that system tended towards anti-semitism and other national repressions. However, the Soviet Union, including the Bielorussian SSR was an advance over capitalism, let alone feudalism. The problem was, the Soviet Union lacked political democracy even though it was a real advance in social democracy. With a stunted political democracy, eventually the bureaucracy ruling the USSR degenerated, the citizens became demoralized and the bureaucracy ended up selling out to the worst kind of western capitalism, a la the Friedman school of the University of Chicago.
Except for the Bielorussian SSR, now renamed Belarus. After a short period of laissez faire capitalist chaos, the people elected the former chair of a collective farm and the government and people set about reversing the privatizations in favor of a populist/Soviet direction. Belarus is now probably the most social state in the former USSR and one of the most social states in the world.
Taxes are a flat 15%, education, healthcare, recreation is free, most people do not pay rent nor mortgage, the subway in Minsk is 40 cents, food is cheaper than the U.S. and is organic. Up to 80 percent of the workforce is in the public sector. There are troubling reports that the government is going to force people back on to collective farms a la the 1930s, but compared with the rest of the former USSR and even many countries in the west, Belarus is doing well.
In part, my people played a role in making Belarus what it is today.
In 1939, when the Soviet Union took back the territory they had lost under Brest-Litovsk, western Belarus was liberated from the yoke of Polish semi-feudal oppression. The Polish petit-bourgeoisie had rejected the October Revolution and chose Pilsudski, the Polish General, instead. Pilsudski and his supporters colonized the territories east of Poland, ie western Belarus and western Ukraine.
The Poles dominated Nyesviz and the other towns and the countryside of western Belarus, excluding Jewish townspeople from proportional representation and appointing colonial governors to safeguard the interests of Polish colonists, Belarusski and Polish nobility and landlords and Jewish capitalists.
Repression of Jewish workers was a chronic feature of life under Polish occupation along with the imprisonment of the Left. Pogroms were encouraged by the Christian clergy as a way of keeping Jewish workers in check.
Poland occupied western Belarus until they were kicked out by the Red Army. One could say that the stalinists/Great Russians now occupied western Belarus and that would be accurate to a point, but only to a point.
For along with the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact and the division of Poland between the two powers, came the destruction of the old order in western Belarus, which was for the good.
From 1939 to 1941, young Jews in particular were galvanized in support of the new order and went to the aid of the NKVD.
I am grateful to this Polish reactionary in providing evidence of the Jewish role in overthrowing the old order.
One can see that in general, my ancestors were in the forefront of liberating Belarus from capitalism.
I’m sure that there were excesses and crimes, but on the whole, the Jews worked to remove the worst elements of this region, laying the ground for the social gains and progressive attitudes of the population of this region today.
It is a testament to my ancestors work in their last hours that Belarus remains the most social state in the former USSR and one of the most social states in the world today, despite being a poor, small, landlocked country. Despite being dominated by oligarchs from oil and gas interests to their east.
For, although my ancestors were exterminated, wiped off the face of the earth, the communist vision that most of them stood for still remains in the social conquests that remain in Belarus to this day. I would like to think that their values live on in the hearts of the people of Belarus and in their refusal to follow the rest of the world down the path of capitalist degradation and alienation.
Today my ancestors lie under the earth of Park Slavy Komsomola, a fitting tribute to the flower of the Jewish nation that overthrew capitalism and were then destroyed by the capitalist system, but whose bequest still lives on.