3rd of November 2018: 100th Anniversary of the Founding of the Communist Party of Austria

On 3rd of November 1918, in the mids of stormy years of revolution, which affected the workers and people all over Europa, the founding congress of the Communist Party of Austria (KPÖ) took place in Vienna / Favoriten the 10th district. Around 50 people joined to take this step, which should become very important in the history of the Austrian workers‘ movement, but also internationally.

100 years later, that historic event was legitimately celebrated! Readers and correspondents of the „Afa-Info Sheet“ visited on that special day various events which were held in Vienna on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the party: The celebration of today’s Communist Party of Austria, those of the Labor Party (PdA) and those of the 3rd November Committee. We are going to report on the first two in the November edition of our info sheet, but about the third one we will go into more detail right now, because we feel that one followed the spirit of all those Communists who founded the party 100 years ago and which led and defended it up to the 1950th as a Communist Party. At that time, the founders of the KPÖ recognized that the working class in Austria had no party of its own and concluded that the founding of the party must be the first step in the further development of the proletarian revolution in Austria. Despite difficult circumstances, under which the birth of the KPÖ took place, their founders announced in November 1918 full of revolutionary optimism:

„Workers! Our hour has come! Our will is ready for action! Woe to us if we let the hour pass useless! (…) Workers! Comrades! We founded the Communist Party. It wants the takeover of today’s economy and political power by the masses of the working people!“

This revolutionary optimism was also vividly expressed in the celebration of the 3rd November Committee. The celebration of the 3rd November Committee was held in Vienna with the participation of numerous activists and visitors from different parts of Austria. The very diverse composition of the visitors was particularly positive, from young to old, as well as the high proportion of migrants. What connected all the visitors, was the common historical reference point of 1918, and also today’s shared experiences in protests, struggles and initiatives: the effort to move forward in the class struggle and to make a contribution to the revolution and the revolutionary party in Austria. This was expressed not only in the enthusiasm of the visitors and in the discussions and talks in the breaks, but was above all in the contributions. These ranged from theater, to chants, musical interludes, to video presentations and collages. In addition, there was a video message from revolutionary youths and a message from maoist communists, both of which conveyed a great deal of seriousness and fighting spirit and were well- received. Above the stage was a banner with the inscription: „Everything for the revolution! Everything for the revolutionary party! „It was reflected in all contributions that this attitude finds expression in all big and seemingly small issues, including everyday politics. For Example that was shown by a very successful contribution, which was held by migrants and stood against the state racism.

The clear message of the event, to put proletarian internationalism first, also tied in well with the principles on which the founding of the party took place in 1918. Karl Steinhard, the founder of the KPÖ, also was a founding member of the Communist International in March 1919, which was founded and led by Lenin. It was also the KPÖ under whose leadership thousands of volunteers from Austria hurried to the aid of the Hungarian Soviet Republic and later of the Spanish Republic, when they were threatened by reaction and fascism. These are just a few examples that organizers and visitors have highlighted to show that „the Communist Party must always develop in the service of the world revolution“, like one speaker said. As another important principle the importance of women for the revolution had an important role in the event. Militant and proletarian feminists made various political and cultural contributions to the event and also very well represented the importance of revolutionary theory. For example, the brochure „Long Live the Proletarian Feminism!“ was advertised very successfully. Red women made and presented a collage of the history of the women’s movement from the founding of the KPÖ up to the present day. One female activist also made a large and extremely beautiful portrait of Erwin Puschmann, chairman of the domestic leadership of the KPÖ during fascism. Puschmann reorganized the Central Committee of the KPÖ under the extremely difficult conditions of Nazi fascism in Austria.

The room was decorated by the founder of the KPÖ, Karl Steinhard, as well as the aforementioned temporary domestic chairman Erwin Puschmann, so two central personalities of the KPÖ got an important place at the event. The images of the five most important international leaders of the working class, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, W. I. Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, were also appropriate, which also expound the ideological basis of the organizers, Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. With the contributions, which showed excerpts of the political activity of various activists and initiatives, it became clear that the five classics were represented not only by images, but with each contribution, which contained the teachings of the same and gave an expression of an attitude that has been increasingly important in Austria for several years.

Full of pride and determination one activist from the event told us her impressions: “That truly was a historical evening! 100 years ago with the founding of the KPÖ the working class built it’s revolutionary party. Even it later was taken away from us by revisionism, it’s our heritage and I think that was shown well today. We want to use it positive today, to held to reconstitute the party. Have you seen the activists today? They ask to resume this task. That’s it what our spearheads had left to us! If we look at the image of Karl Steinhard in the middle of the stage, then we remember that he had given to us a clear order. „

It is a special pleasure to us, that today, even the condition for revolution in many aspects are more inconvenient than 100 years ago, as many people gathered as at the foundation of the party. That left an remaining impression to the visitors and clearly showed, that the revolutionaries in Austria do not back off because of difficulties, but take up the troublesome legwork which has to be done to achieve the central slogan of the event: “Everything for Revolution! Everything for the Revolutionary Party!”

In that sense we want to give our heartily thanks to the organizers and everyone who contributed to the expression of that evening, that we could take part. As struggling antifascists we welcome that successful celebration for the 100th anniversary of the foundation of the Communist Party of Austria and want to recommend to all our reader to look closer at the strain of the revolutionaries to reconstitute the Communist Party!

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