Against Japanese and Italian Imperialism: The Anti-War Campaigns of Communist International Trade Union Organizations, 1931 – 1936

Holger Weiss


This essay discusses the international anti-war campaigns of the International of Seamen and Harbour Workers (ISH) and the International Trade Union Committee of Negro Workers (ITUCNW) against Japanese imperialism in Manchuria and Italian imperialism in Ethiopia during the first half of the 1930s. Both crises propelled international campaigns, ‘Hands off China’ and ‘Hands off Abyssinia’, that were orchestrated by the Third (Communist) International or the Comintern and the Red International of Labour Unions (Profintern) and their affiliated organisations such as the ISH and ITUCNW. Comintern / Profintern anti-war campaigns were organized under the banner of the prevailing ‘class-against-class’ strategy. In practice, this meant that the campaigns were both calls for international solidarity and at the same time attempts to position communist activities against those of the ‘social fascists’, i.e., socialist, social democratic, reformist and / or syndicalist controlled parties and trade unions.


anti-imperialism; anti-colonialism; anti-war; Comintern; Profintern; Manchurian crisis; Ethiopian crisis; seamen; harbour workers

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