Thoughts on Winning the Stalin Peace Prize

By Paul Robeson

"Here's My Story,"
January 1953

Many friends have asked me how it feels to have received one of the International Stalin Prizes' "for strengthening peace among peoples." Usually I say-as most prize winners do- "It's a great honor." But of course, this award deserves more than just passing acknowledgment.

Through the years I have received my share of recognition for efforts in the fields of sports, the arts, the struggle for full citizenship for the Negro people, labor's rights and the fight for peace. No single award, however, involved so many people or such grave issues as this one.

The prize is truly an international award. The committee of judges includes the Soviet academician, D. V. Skobeltsyn, president; vicepresidents Kuo Mo-djo of China and Louis Aragon of France; and the following members: Martin Anderson Nexo, the greatest modern Danish humanist; John Bernal of England; Pablo Neruda of Chile, one of the world's greatest poets; Jan Demborsky of Poland; Michael Sadovyany of Roumania; and A. A. Fadyeev, a leading Soviet novelist.

And the prize winners include outstanding figures from many lands. It is a matter of pride to share the award with such distinguished leaders as Yves Farge of France; Sayfuddin Kichloo, spokesman for the All-Indian Congress of Peace; Eliza Branco, a leader of the Fedn. of Brazilian Women; Johannes Becher, one of the foremost writers of the German Democratic Republic; Rev. James Endicott, fearless Canadian minister and fighter for peace, and Ilya Ehrenberg, the leading Soviet novelist and journalist.

Most important, it must be clear that I cannot accept this award in a personal way. In the words of an editorial written by A. A. Fadyeev in Pravda: "The names of the laureates of the International Stalin Prizes are again witnesses to the fact that the movement for peace is continuously growing, broadening and strengthening. In the ranks of the active fighters against the threat of war, new millions of people of every race and nationality are taking their place, people of the most widely differing political and religious convictions.... The awards to Eliza Branco and Paul Robeson reflect the important historical fact that broader and broader sections of the masses of the Western Hemisphere are rising to struggle for freedom and independence, for peace and progress; peoples that endure the full weight of the attempts of imperialist reaction to strangle the movement of the masses against a new pillaging war, being prepared by American billionaires and millionaires."

I accept the award, therefore, in the name and on behalf of these new millions who are moving into the organized fight for peace in our hemisphere and especially in the United States.

One of the most decisive steps in the development of the peace movement in our country was taken in connection with the Peking and Vienna Congresses of Peace.

The American Peace movement reached out its hands across the borders to join with the millions of peace fighters in the world peace movement. Gradually it has become crystal clear that the mighty strength of the world movement representing peoples of all lands is strength for us here. As Americans, preserving the best of our traditions, we have the right- nay the duty-to fight for participation in the forward march of humanity.

We must join with the tens of millions all over the world who see in peace our most sacred responsibility. Once we are joined together in the fight for peace we will have to talk to each other and tell the truth about each other. How else can peace be won?

I have always insisted-and will insist, even more in the future on my right to tell the truth as I know it about the Soviet peoples: of their deep desires and hopes for peace, of their peaceful pursuits of reconstruction from the ravages of war,. as in historic Stalingrad; and to tell of the heroic efforts of the friendly peoples in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Albania, Romania, Bulgaria, great, new China and North Korea-to explain, to answer the endless falsehoods of the warmongering press with clarity and courage.

In this framework we can make clear what co-existence means. It means living in peace and friendship with another kind of society-a fully integrated society where the people control their destinies, where poverty and illiteracy have been eliminated and where new kinds of human beings develop in the framework of a new level of social living.

The telling of these truths is an important part of our work in building a strong and broad peace movement in the United States.

Like any other people, like fathers, mothers, sons and daughters in every land, when the issue of peace or war has been put squarely to the American people, they have registered for peace. Whatever the confusions, however great the hysteria, millions voted for the Stockholm petition, millions more wanted to. At every step the vast majority have expressed horror at the idea of an aggressive war.

In fact, because of this deep desire for peace, the ruling class leaders of this land, from 1945 on, stepped up the hysteria and propaganda to drive into American minds the false notion that danger threatened them from the East. This propaganda began before the blood of precious human beings stopped flowing in the mighty struggle against fascism.

I, myself, was in Europe in 1945, singing to the troops. And already one heard rumblings of the necessity of America's preparing for war against the Soviet Union, our gallant ally. And at home in the United States we found continued and increased persecution, first of leaders of the Communist Party, and then of all honest anti-fascists.

But the deep desire for peace remained with the American people. Wallace was hailed by vast throngs when he resigned from Truman's cabinet in protest against the war-mongering of the then Secretary of State James Byrnes, now the Negro-hating governor of South Carolina. Seven to eight million peace lovers put Wallace on the ballot in almost all of the 48 states in 1948. The cry for peace forced Truman to take over (demogogically, of course) the Progressive Party platform. In addition he hinted he would send Vinson, one of his trusted lieutenants, to Moscow, to talk peace.

We know how Truman betrayed the American people in their hopes for peace, how he betrayed the Negro people in their thirst for equal rights, how he tore up the Bill of Rights and subjected the whole American people to a reign of FBI-terrorization.

The Korean war has always been an unpopular war among the American people. We remember the unforgivable trickery in the use of the United Nations to further the purposes of "American century" imperialists in that land-quite comparable to the taking of Texas from Mexico, the rape of Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Hawaii. At one point American peace sentiment helped to stop Truman from pursuing use of the atom bomb in Korea and helped force the recall of MacArthur.

Yet in 1952 the American people again allowed themselves to be taken in-this time by Eisenhower. He, too, promised in the campaign to do all he could to end the Korean slaughter. The vote shows that millions of American believed him. But already he has betrayed their trust and moves as fast as possible toward an extension of the war. There are real threats of attempting to support France on a major scale in Indo-China. All this comes as no surprise if one looks at those who guide him-Dulles, one of the architects of the whole Far Eastern policy; Dewey, the man so feared in 1948, and certainly unchanged, and the whole array of American Big Business at its worst.

All these factors become increasingly clear to great sections of the American people and certainly present a tremendous challenge to the peace forces in this land. If we move swiftly, correctly, courageously, a mighty united front of the people can be built for peace. The latent but growing sentiment can be harnessed, organized.

I am especially confident that the Negro people can be won for the fight for peace. Having voted mainly for Stevenson, they have little to expect from Eisenhower, especially an Eisenhower partly dependent upon the Dixiecrat South-sworn enemies of the Negro people. We know that war would mean an end to our struggle for civil rights, FEPC, the right to vote, an anti-lynching law, abolition of segregation.

And today the Negro people watch Africa and Asia and closely follow the liberation struggles of the rising peoples in these lands. We watch the United Nations and see the U.S.A. join with the western imperialist nations to stifle the liberation struggles. We cannot help but see that it is Vishinsky and the spokesman of the Eastern European Peoples Democracies who defend and vote for the interests of the African and Asian peoples.

I know that if the peace movement takes its message boldly to the Negro people a powerful force can be secured in pursuit of the greatest goal of all mankind. And the same is true of labor and the great democratic sections of our population.

Yes, peace can and must be won, to save the world from the terrible destruction of World War III. The prize which I have just received will spur me on to greater efforts than ever before to serve the cause of peace and to aid in building a triumphant peace movement in the United States.

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