Founding Declaration

In Memory of Comrade Malke Schorr

First Chairwoman of the Rote Hilfe Österreich

Dedicated to all those fighting for a free and solidary society

On the 14th of January 2018 the „Rote Hilfe Wien – Solidaritätsorganisation“ (Red Aid Vienna – Solidarity Organisation) was founded. It is the 100th anniversary of the January Strikes of 1918. In the course of these strikes the workers not only demanded better supplies but also an end to World War I. It was during that same year that the Danube Monarchy was swept away and the First Republic was founded.

The necessity for creating an organisation dedicated to helping the victims of Class Justice – especially after the defeat of the Bavarian and the Hungarian Soviet Republic – arose as early as 1919. The Revolutionary Red Cross was founded for this purpose and from it emerged the Rote Hilfe Österreich in 1923. In its early phase the main focus of its work was on supporting political refugees from countries like Italy, Hungary and Yugoslavia, who were fleeing from the respective authoritarian or fascist regimes in power there to find refuge in Vienna. Soon after, the same kind of support was also needed for members of the Austrian working class.

Now, on the 18th of September 2018, the eve of the protests against the EU summit in Salzburg, we, the Rote Hilfe Wien, take on our work. History does not repeat itself and today’s conditions are different than those of the 1920s, and yet we can’t help but notice an increasing tendency for systems to become more and more authoritarian. Many of the things that had never quite vanished from Austrian society, are once again utterable as well as doable. Isolating the country, Fortress Europe, the willingness and sometimes even the demand for letting those trying to cross the Mediterranean sea die miserably – all this is rapidly proceeding. At an equally fast pace the disciplining of internal affairs is developing under the primacy of “internal security”. We are concerned to see the armament and militarization of the police and the growing willingness of a large portion of society to tolerate or even actively back these measures.

Looking at all these developments, we deem it necessary to build networks of solidarity. To support all those people who are disadvantaged due to their political activities: those, for example, who lose their job, those who are banned from practising their profession, those who are put on trial and fined or imprisoned. Our understanding of political activity encompasses things like advancing the causes of the working class, inter- and anti-national solidarity, antifascist, anti-sexist, anti-racist, democratic and union struggles as well as the fight against anti-Semitism, militarism and war.

Solidarity is a weapon

It is our approach to doing political work. “It does not come with an after-taste of charity granted from a place of arrogant self-righteousness, always expecting to inspire humble devotion in its recipients. [Solidarity] is granted and received between two parties conscious of the solidarity among the Exploited and the Oppressed, given by all the people in the world who are fighting for a free future”, as Clara Zetkin wrote in a brochure published for the five year anniversary of the International Red Aid in Moscow 1928.

What does the Rote Hilfe want?

We, the Rote Hilfe Wien, have set ourselves the goal of being a solidary organisation that spans the whole political left. We want to give a hand to all those who are affected by state repression for engaging in political work, no matter what organisation they are part of or what direction they lean towards ideologically. By this, we are acknowledging that emancipatory movements are diverse and can be quite different from each other. But we are all fighting for a better world and are under constant threat of repression on the part of the state. This is a similarity that makes it necessary to organise across the political spectrum.

What does the Rote Hilfe do?

Apart from on political support, our main focus is on financial support. Trials costs a lot of money and energy and often result in high fines. We will usually bear half of these costs, provided that certain criteria are met. Everyone who shares our objective can become a member. If you’d like to support us in other ways, you’re welcome to contact us or stop by during our counselling hours. The same goes, of course, if you are affected by repression and are in need of support yourself.

We’re all in this together!

Join the Rote Hilfe!

Vienna, 18.9.2018