This week in history: December 27 to January 2


25 years ago: Tanzania expels hundreds of thousands of Rwandan refugees

The Tanzanian government met the December 31, 1996 deadline for the forcible return of nearly half a million Rwandan Hutus from refugee camps in Tanzania, where they had been living since 1994. The refugees were forced to cross the border. by Tanzanian soldiers. in a military operation that began on December 15.

Refugees forcibly returned to Rwanda

Tanzanian soldiers have halted efforts by Hutu militiamen and exiled leaders of the ousted Rwandan government to move refugees further north and east, away from the Rwandan border. This was the second massive return of refugees to Rwanda, after the liquidation in November 1996 of most of the refugee camps in Zaire, where Hutu militias had been routed by armed Zairian Tutsis in rebellion against the president’s government. Zairian Mobutu Sese Seko.

Rwandan government troops searched most of the returning Hutus for weapons or evidence linking them to the massacres of the minority Tutsi population in 1994. Thousands of returning refugees were arrested on charges related to the events of 1994 .

Officials from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which administered the four huge camps on Tanzanian territory, admitted that they had abandoned their long-standing policy of opposing the forced repatriation of refugees and bowed to this. which a senior official called the “new realities” in Africa. He was referring to pressure from major imperialist powers, including the United States, to close camps and cut spending on food and shelter for refugees.

In November, more than 600,000 refugees left camps in Zaire and entered Rwanda after a rebellion broke the hold of Hutu militants in the camps.

The Benaco camp, one of the largest in the region, which once housed 165,000 people, was effectively emptied a few days after the operation on December 15. Some refugees who refused to leave the camp were violently expelled by the police, and many sick and elderly people had to wait to be transported to the border.

50 Years Ago: Former Nazi Officer Becomes United Nations Secretary-General

On January 1, 1972, the Austrian Kurt Waldheim became Secretary General of the United Nations. He replaced U Thant of Burma, who had served as the UN chief administrator since 1961. Although this fact was not widely known at the time of his election as UN Secretary-General, Waldheim had been a high-ranking Nazi officer during World War II and an accomplice in some of the greatest crimes of the Wehrmacht forces.

Kurt waldheim

Waldheim first became a supporter of the Nazi regime shortly after the German annexation of Austria, joining the National Socialist Federation of German Students (NSDStB) in 1938. Soon after he joined the Sturmabteilung (SA) , the paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, where he was promoted to the mounted corps. In 1941, he enlisted in the Wehrmacht army and participated in the invasion of the Soviet Union. After being wounded, he was transferred to Yugoslavia where he served as assistant to Nazi General Alexander Löhr, who was convicted and executed in 1947 for war crimes committed against Yugoslav partisans and the civilian population.

Waldheim was highly decorated by the Nazi regime, including receiving the Zvonimir Medal, an honor bestowed by the fascist regime of Ustaše in Croatia which collaborated with the Nazis and carried out its own massive extermination campaigns. His name also appears on the Wehrmacht’s “honor list” of those who have contributed to the success of military operations.

Managing to escape arrest at the end of the war, Waldheim uses his connections to join the Austrian diplomatic service. In 1956, he was appointed Ambassador of Canada, then later Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations.

Waldheim served as UN Secretary General for 10 years. He is seeking a third term in 1981 but loses. It was later, in 1985, when he ran in the Austrian presidential elections, that more details of his Nazi past became known and an investigation was carried out. In its final report, the investigating commission wrote:

The committee was not aware of any case in which Waldheim raised an objection or protested against an injustice of which it was clearly aware or took any countermeasures to prevent such injustice or at least to make its implementation more difficult. On the contrary, he repeatedly participated in illegal proceedings and thus facilitated their execution.

For more details, the author recommends: Kurt Waldheim (1918-2007): the former UN chief’s Nazi past covered

75 years ago: the United States and Great Britain merge their zones of occupation of Germany

On January 2, 1947, the areas of occupied Germany controlled by Britain and the United States were formally merged, following an agreement between the governments of the two nations the previous month. The resulting entity, called Bizonia, was to be economically and administratively integrated, notably through the creation of a new currency.

Bizonia Card

The formation of Bizonia effectively reversed the arrangements that the Allied Powers, including the Soviet Union, had put in place in the later stages of their war against Nazi Germany. At the 1945 Potsdam Conference, Allied leaders agreed that post-war Germany would be administered through the creation of occupation zones separate from France, Britain, the United States and Soviet Union. These were to oversee a protracted process supposedly aimed at demilitarization, denazification, decentralization and democratization.

During 1946, as the United States and Britain turned to aggressive Cold War policies, tensions with the Soviets increased. U.S. government officials condemned the Soviet Union for continuing to extract agreed reparations from Germany. With anti-Communist propaganda, they asserted that the Soviets wanted Germany to remain impoverished while the United States supported the country’s reindustrialization and prosperity.

The creation of Bizonia was angrily denounced by the Soviet leadership. Basing themselves on the Stalinist program of seeking a compromise with imperialism to advance the interests of the Soviet bureaucracy, they bitterly condemned it as a betrayal of the agreements reached at the Potsdam conference. France initially rejected offers to merge its occupation zone with Bizonia, fearing that its own imperialist interests would be undermined by the growing influence of the United States and a unified Germany.

100 years ago: the miners’ revolt in South Africa

On December 28, 1921, South African gold miners in what is now Gauteng Province began a strike that turned into a virtual insurgency over the next few months. Known as the Rand Rebellion or the 1922 General Strike, the uprising was quelled with military force, assassinations and legal machinations by the South African state.

A contemporary photograph of a demonstration by South African miners, published in a bourgeois newspaper hostile to strikers

The strike began after a drop in the price of gold in international markets prompted mine owners to cut the wages of white miners, who were better paid than black workers. The Chamber of Mines, the employers’ organization, has deliberately fomented racial divisions and threatened to give black workers access to jobs held by white workers. When the white miners began their strike, they made no effort to appeal to the black workers. The uprising was overwhelmingly made up of white workers and the slogan “for a white South Africa” ​​was widespread. Therefore, it did not attract the support of the African nationalist movement, including the African National Congress, which had been founded in 1912.

Leaders of the newly formed South African Communist Party, which had been founded on the basis of the unity of black and white workers, played a leading role in the strike, but the party adapted to the chauvinistic sentiments of many white workers. However, when white workers attacked black workers, the Communist Party published leaflets with the slogan “Hands off black workers!” “

By early January, the entire South African mining industry and most related industries had been closed. Due to the intransigence of the mine owners, the workers began to organize paramilitary self-defense units. The government declared martial law and troops, police and armed middle-class “citizen militias” were mobilized. On March 10, a large-scale insurgency took place. The paramilitary workers seize the stations and control the city of Johannesburg.

They were faced with brutal force by the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Jan Smuts. The aerial bombardments killed hundreds of people, including leaders of the Communist Party. The minors were forced to surrender and thousands were taken prisoner. Four strike leaders were then hanged in the ensuing crackdown.


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