As we mourn the death of Nelson Mandela we should remember the hypocrisy of Western leaders who will praise the man on his death but refused to take action to win his freedom from decades in an apartheid jail.

Thatcher called him a terrorist. Amnesty International held back from campaigning for his release because he advocated armed struggle.

The United States backed the apartheid regime that jailed him and fought against the ANC’s sister liberation movements as they struggled to free themselves from apartheid’s grip.

The ANC could count on the growing anti apartheid movement in the capitalist world and on the solidarity of the socialist countries. The contribution of the Soviet Union and the other socilaist countries, most especially the German Democratic Republic, to the liberation struggle defined these states, where the working class ruled, as politically and morally superior.

This extract from GDR solidarity: The German Democratic Republic and the South African liberation struggle by Dr. Hans-Georg Schleicher gives an overview of this solidarity


Anti-imperialist solidarity was one of the cornerstones of German Democratic Republic policy vis-à-vis the developing countries and the national liberation movements. Support for peoples fighting against imperialism and colonialism for national freedom and independence was enshrined in the GDR constitution.1 Based on its working-class traditions, the ruling SED in the GDR proclaimed ‘solidarity with the national liberation struggle against colonialism, racism and neo-colonialism’ as one of the basic foreign policy principles. The GDR leadership claimed an active role in the ‘world revolutionary process’ for the socialist German state. Even critical observers see such a role for the GDR, specifically as far as the support for the liberation struggle is concerned.

It was through the activities of the Solidarity Committee that the GDR became famous throughout the Third World for its aid to liberation movements, training of cadres, treating of wounded cadres, etc. In a way, the Solidarity Committee was the best advertising the GDR had for its Third World policies …2

The GDR pursued an enduring policy of supporting decolonisation and selfdetermination of African peoples and found itself in agreement with the majority of African and non-aligned countries. Individual features that were of general relevance for the GDR’s policy included shared ideological and political values with national liberation movements, its objectives internationally and in Germany, and its status as a junior partner of the Soviet Union. Last, the foreign policy of the GDR, including its relations with the liberation movements and southern African countries, was determined by its loyalty as a member of the Warsaw Treaty Organisation under Soviet leadership and by Cold War confrontations.

The GDR actively took sides in the struggle against colonialism and apartheid, often providing speedy and efficient support for liberation movements or friendly nations. In contrast to its political ambitions and activities, the GDR was always short of economic resources and had to try to compensate politically for the rather limited economic and financial means available. This was done by actively taking sides in African conflicts, by using centralised decision-making structures for speedy actions in support of liberation movements and others, and by relying on highly motivated people who tried to compensate for the lack of resources through personal engagement and improvisation.

Read further here http://www.vip-ev.de/text511.htm




One thought on “Solidarity with the struggle against apartheid

  1. I recall the hypocrisy of some on the British left who labelled Mandela as a bourgeois nationalist and neoliberal. The same sect members who now laud him.

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