Let me begin by fraternally greeting all friends and comrades present here, and particularly all those who with their generous and creative commitment contributed to this initiative to mark and celebrate in such a significant way the 70th anniversary of the Victory.
Friends and comrades,
Crowning the unstoppable advance of the Red Army towards Berlin, Nazi Germany signed its unconditional surrender on the night of 8th to 9th May 1945. Shortly thereafter, with the defeat of Japan, World War II ended.
The day of May 9, 1945, whose 70th. anniversary we now celebrate, went down in History as the Day of Victory, because it marks the defeat of Nazi-Fascism and its heinous project of exploitation, oppression and world domination and, in this way, the end of the most cruel and devastating war imposed by imperialism on Humanity.
In signalling the end of World War II we do not forget the 60 million dead, mostly civilians, the horror of the concentration and slave labour camps, the massacre of entire populations, the cruel suffering and deprivation inflicted on the peoples by Nazi-fascism.
As we not forget that Nazi-fascism was the most violent and terrible form of class domination ever generated by capitalism, which led Humanity to one of the darkest and most tragic pages of its History.
To evoke World War II is to remember that it was inseparable from capitalism’s greatest crisis hitherto known and that the rise of fascism was promoted and supported by monopoly capital in answer to this very crisis.
Fascism was the answer of the most reactionary and aggressive big business circles to fight the rise of the communist parties and of the labour movement and the great mass movements for profound social achievements and revolutionary changes, inspired by the October Revolution and the successes, achievements and accomplishments achieved by the Soviet Union advancing to build a new society.
Behind Nazism, the most brutal expression of fascism, was the great German financial capital which saw in anti-communism and Nazi xenophobic nationalism and its programme – the liquidation of freedoms and democratic rights, militarism and expansion and world domination - the instrument to implement its agenda of exploitation and oppression. Complicity and support by German big business to the rise of Nazism to power, which was accompanied by the connivance of the great capitalist powers with Nazi Germany, feeding and being co-responsible for creating the conditions that would lead to war.
But if we do not forget the crimes and the Nazi-fascist horror and the causes of its rise, we also have present the heroic and generous example of all those who resisted and fought, giving their lives if necessary, to free the world from Nazi-fascist barbarism - millions of men and women, youth, to whom we express our most grateful and heartfelt tribute.
And if we evoke those who resisted and fought, it would only be right, to remember and praise the decisive role of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, its people, its Red Army and its Communist Party which, at the cost of huge sacrifices and more than 20 million dead, bore the fundamental war effort giving a decisive contribution to the Victory.
It is worth recalling that it was on the Eastern Front that took place the biggest and most decisive battles of World War II – like those of Moscow, Leningrad, Stalingrad, Kursk and Berlin - where the overwhelming majority of Nazi-fascist hordes were defeated.
Nothing can erase the fact that it was the Soviet Union and its heroic people the chief architects of the Victory. Valuing the importance and contribution of the Coalition of Allied Countries that was created during the course of the War, when the Red Army went on the offensive, the fact remains that the efforts of the Soviet Union to isolate Nazi Germany and establish agreements and alliances that could prevent the outbreak of war were systematically ignored and then, later on, repeatedly delaying the opening of a second front.
Similarly, nothing can erase the heroic struggle of the anti-fascist resistance - as in France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Greece or China against Japanese militarism – which, facing the most cruel repression and the most brutal reprisals, courageously resisted the occupation forces. Resistance where the contribution of the communists was valorous and determining, with the labour movement, in one of the most exhilarating examples of commitment to the cause of freedom, from the start and on the front line, boosted the unity of the anti-fascist forces in the armed resistance against Nazi-fascism, and in which thousands and thousands of communists gave their lives.
The Victory over Nazi-fascism is a feat of extraordinary dimension and historical significance, which determined the evolution of the world situation in the second half of the 20th century and which still, 70 years later, deeply marks the present times.
The defeat of Nazi-fascism and the great prestige achieved by the Soviet Union and the ideals of socialism created a new situation on the world stage.
With the end of the War bursts, huge and impetuously, the conviction and yearning that would open, to all the peoples of the world, a new era of peace and freedom. Millions of human beings, previously excluded and stripped from any political and social intervention, had awakened to the struggle, grabbing the future in their hands.
The Victory over Nazi-fascism is followed by a vibrant affirmation of the anti-fascist forces, of peace, of national liberation, of democracy, of social progress and of socialism, opening the way to an extensive and large step forward in the fight for the emancipation of the peoples worldwide.
It is with the new correlation of forces resulting from World War II that the socialist camp in Europe and Asia is formed; that in Africa and Asia several peoples are freed from centuries old exploitation and colonial oppression, leading to the collapse of colonial empires; that the labour movement achieves enormous social, economic and political gains in the capitalist countries; that with the Charter and the United Nations a new world order fundamentally democratic, peaceful and anti-fascist is established - opening the way to progress and liberating advances never before achieved in the History of Mankind, which still mark the lives of millions men and women.
Advance in the emancipation struggle that was immediately faced with imperialism’s counter-offensive, of which the launching by the United States of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki are a terrible expression.
In signaling the 70th anniversary of the Victory over Nazi-fascist horror, it must be remembered the support given by the Salazar dictatorship to Franco’s hordes in the Spanish War and its collaboration with Italian Fascism and German Nazism during World War II, collaboration cloaked under the guise of a false «neutrality».
While Salazar decreed a national mourning for the death of Hitler, the Portuguese people celebrated the Victory with great jubilation expressing the hope that the defeat of Nazi-Fascism would drag with it the fascist dictatorship in Portugal.
Although strongly shaken by great workers' struggles that took place at the time - like the strikes of 1942 and 1943 and the great action demanding bread and staples in 1944 - weakened by the extent of the demonstrations at the end of the war and of the victory over Nazi-fascism, the Portuguese fascist regime survived thanks to the support of the great capitalist powers, to the point of Portugal becoming in 1949, a founding member of NATO, an aggressive alliance, a major expression of the so-called policy of «containment of communism» unleashed by imperialism with the «cold war».
But that did not stop the upsurge of the popular mass movement, the great struggles of the working class and the workers and the great anti-fascist united actions in defence of peace among which, following the war, we highlight the actions of the Defenders of Peace, the support to the Stockholm Appeal against the atomic bomb and the fight against the holding in Portugal of the NATO summit, in a process that continued until the overthrow of fascism, with the struggle against the colonial wars being its main expression.
With the April Revolution, the end of the colonial wars and the recognition of the right to immediate independence of the peoples subject to the Portuguese colonial rule, the Portuguese people made an invaluable contribution to the cause of peace.
The April Revolution was itself a courageous affirmation of sovereignty. However, the ties with imperialism, although heavily battered, were not cut. 38 years of right-wing policy tied the country to NATO and to the European Union, making Portugal a dependent country submitted to imperialism’s strategy. The struggle in defence of national sovereignty and independence, the rupture with the strategy of war and aggression of imperialism, for a patriotic and left-wing alternative to resume the ways of April, is the best contribution that the PCP can give to the cause of peace and freedom of the peoples.
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Victory is to defend the truth about what World War II represented, fighting the attempts of rewriting and falsification of History and drawing lessons so that such a tragedy never happens again.
As the PCP has firmly denounced, with the insulting equation of fascism with communism - that equates the oppressor with the resistant or the executioner with the victim - the idea is to hide and, if possible, even to condemn the role of the Soviet Union and of the communists in freeing the peoples from Nazi-fascist barbarism; is to hide a type of state organisation to which capitalism resorted to ensure the exploitation and oppression of workers and peoples; is to conceal the shameful connivance and complacency of the leading circles of capitalist powers before the terrible purposes and ambitions of Nazi-fascism; the aim is to repress, criminalize, outlaw not only the ideals and action of the communists but of all democrats who oppose oppression and exploitation.
As the reality proves, this dangerous and shameless falsification of History is riddled with anti-communism. Anti-communism which, as History shows and warns, is always anti-democratic. The defence of historical truth thus proves to be an integrating factor of the struggle, not only of the communists but of all democrats and anti-fascists.
That is why, being fully aware of what the Victory over Nazi-fascism means and represents for the emancipation of the workers and peoples, the most reactionary and aggressive circles of imperialism are engaged in a monumental falsification of this important historical period. Attempts to falsify that, as in the past, rely on the silent cronyism and active connivance of the ruling classes and the powers that represent them.
We can even see that the larger and more shameful is the falsification of the events surrounding World War II, the greater the urge to hide the capitulation of big business and their governments to Nazi-fascism; to hide that they were the ones who promoted militarism and the rise to power of the Nazi-fascists; that they were the ones who were passive in the face of fascist aggression against Ethiopia, Republican Spain, Austria or Czechoslovakia - with their policy of surrender in Munich - as well as Poland, which they abandoned to its fate in the expectation that the war would be directed against the Soviet Union, then the only socialist State in the world.
The systematic and deliberate falsification attempts of events surrounding World War II are part of the imperialist attempt to turn back the wheel of History.
70 years after the Victory, the world situation, distinguished by important differences resulting from new realities and the profound changes that have meanwhile taken place, has, however, some similar traits to the world situation that preceded World War II.
In view of the advance of fascist forces, the growth of militarism, the multiplication of imperialist wars of aggression; in view of rising attacks on basic rights, freedoms and guarantees under the pretext of «fighting terrorism»; in view of the institutionalization of supranational power systems at the service of big business and the major powers which, like the European Union, jeopardize national sovereignty and democracy; in view of the imperialist domination of information flows and the control of large media by big business, it becomes more necessary to know the historical truth and learn from the lessons of the past.
In today’s complex and volatile international situation, the danger of a major military conflict, a new world war, should not be underestimated.
The most reactionary and aggressive sectors of big business once again bet on fascism and war in response to capitalism’s crisis and as a way to prevent and address outbreaks of social unrest and revolutionary transformation that will inevitably erupt.
It is therefore necessary to continue with determination to fight so that a tragedy similar to the one which ended 70 years ago will never happen again - because war is not inevitable. As we emphasize, along with great dangers for peace and freedom there are also great possibilities for progressive and revolutionary developments, there are forces that if united and mobilized, could force imperialism to retreat and make way for a new era of peace and social progress, pointing to socialism and communism.
Reality is proving that imperialism's strong response to capitalism’s crisis is faced with the resistance of the workers and peoples. In various parts of the world people resist imperialist interference and take in their hands the defence of their rights and sovereignty, imposing in various ways setbacks and retreats to the strategy of imperialist domination.
70 years after the Victory over Nazi-fascism, the struggle for peace, against fascism and war, is of a pressing topicality, demanding that the forces of peace, of democracy and of social progress unite to bar the advance of xenophobic, racist, fascist forces and to prevent a major conflict.
A patriotic and internationalist party, the PCP will remain committed in Portugal and internationally, with its own action and within the international communist and revolutionary movement and of the anti-imperialist front, to contribute to the unity in action of the forces of peace and social progress in particular in the struggle for the dissolution of NATO; against the militarization of the European Union; for an end to foreign military bases; for disarmament and, in particular, for the abolition of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction; for the respect of the United Nations Charter and in particular for the sovereignty of states, ensuring the right of every people to determine, without foreign interference, their own path of development; and for solidarity with all peoples victims of oppression and interference and aggressions by imperialism, like the Ukrainian people and the Palestinian people.
In Portugal, strengthening the fight against imperialism’s aggressive policy, for disarmament and peace, involves the fight and defeat of the right-wing policy of submission to imperialism, the defence and implementation of a patriotic and left-wing political alternative, the unwavering defence of national sovereignty and independence, for a foreign policy and national defense abiding the Constitution of the Portuguese Republic, breaking with external constraints that prevent the free expression of the will of the Portuguese people and promoting peace, friendship and cooperation with all peoples of the world.
It is with this conviction and great confidence that the PCP calls on the workers and the Portuguese people to develop their emancipating struggle and to make the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Victory over Nazi-fascism a powerful statement of unity in defence of peace, against the threat of fascism and war.