“Tsar to Lenin” is printed in large letters on the posters and fliers advertising the screening by Mehring Verlag of the film by the same name at the upcoming Leipzig Book Fair. The unique documentary of the Russian Revolution will be accompanied by a lecture discussing the meaning of the film and the contemporary significance of the October Revolution.
“When one raises the question of the October Revolution in discussions, one is immediately confronted with various political questions,” said Iason, who is helping to build for the meeting along with other members of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) and supporters of the Sozialistische Gleicheitspartie (SGP).
Ben raised a similar question. The 21-year-old philosophy and music student views the October Revolution as an important event “which then led into a dead end.”
“Perhaps the high ideals of the revolution failed in the realisation,” he suggested. Representatives of the IYSSE explained that one must understand the rise of Stalinism as a counterrevolutionary tendency in response to the isolation of the revolution.
Ben thought it was important to take up the ideas behind the revolution, “in order to counter growing nationalism and neoliberalism.” He felt that equal education opportunities for everyone and enlightened media are also necessary. It is especially important to counter anti-Islam sentiment and see instead what people have in common, he said.
Lucie, who studies medicine, thinks that the peace and security of recent decades are in danger. “Terrorism is the result of the wars that the West has waged in Afghanistan and in Iraq.” The possibility of a major war has once again become very real. “This is exactly why the question of revolution is posed once again,” Stolpe explained. “We are confronted today with the same problems that led to World War I and to which the October Revolution was the answer,” he said.
During the discussion, an elderly lady came up to the IYSSE table, which was decorated with meeting posters. “Lenin,” she called. “He wasn’t so bad!” The lady introduced herself as Anneliese Jahr. She said that she will turn 84 in a few weeks and that she had studied in the Albertina Library as a young history student.
She has seen the film The Young Marx and was very excited. “Marx was so farsighted. He foresaw everything that is happening once again,” she said.
“The situation today is like it was then, in the times of the October revolution,” she continued. “The right wing is on the rise. The situation is very dangerous. Trump wants to wage war against China. And when one looks at the way Germany is arming itself, it is right in the middle of it all. I am very afraid I will end up having to go back into the bunker.”
She spoke emotionally about how her family had to flee the former Eastern territories to the German town of Neuruppin in 1945. As a young girl, she also witnessed how the Jews were rounded up and taken away. “It was horrible,” she said. In Neuruppin, she remembers the SS soldiers and later the Russian soldiers. The latter treated the children well and gave them food.
When representatives of the IYSSE spoke to her about the effort at Humboldt University to rewrite history and to portray the Eastern Front as a reaction to the warfare of the Soviet Union, Annaliese reacted with shock. “It is criminal that something like that is taught,” she said. “The students cannot know what it was like then. Students definitely have to read about how it really was and oppose any repetition.”
Details on the Tsar to Lenin showing in Leipzig here (in German)
Order the centenary edition of Tsar to Lenin here