VANGUARD - Expressing the viewpoint of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist)
For National Independence and Socialism •


Farewell Marie Shapiro, comrade and internationalist

In December, 2008, the working class of the world, but particularly of Great Britain and Australia, lost a comrade who had spent her life in their service. Though few would know her name, Marie Shapiro made an enormous contribution to the cause of communism. 

Marie was born in London on December 11, 1913 of Polish parents who returned to their homeland the following year. In fascist Poland Marie saw the suffering of her own people, but she also heard the stories of the great Soviet working class which was creating a new society under the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, led by Josef Stalin. At sixteen she secretly joined the Polish Young Communist League, demonstrating an unwavering bravery that would stand her in good stead all her life. Not long after she served nine months in a Polish prison for distributing leaflets proclaiming May Day. 
Her parents obtained a British passport for her, and she was expelled from Poland as a British citizen. By that stage she was already a member of the Polish Communist Party. 
Marie’s aptitude for foreign languages and the law saw her accepted at the Sorbonne, but without funds she was unable to remain in Paris, and journeyed to London. Her independent spirit was irrepressible. Determined to support herself rather than live off the charity of her English relatives, Marie become a seamstress. She joined the Tailor and Garment Workers’ Union and also the Communist Party of Great Britain, and actively recruited her fellow workers to both organisations.
Yet already she knew that communism, not economism, was the way forward. Trade unions were, and are, great mass organisations and training grounds for the working class, but ultimately only a strong Marxist-Leninist party could lead beyond the day-to-day battles within capitalism to socialism, where the dictatorship of the proletariat could liberate the vast majority of people for the first time and pave the way for the classless society of communism.
In 1933, a year after her arrival in London, she met the man who would become her lifelong partner, comrade and best friend, Jack Shapiro. For both, Yiddish was their first language, and they mixed with the progressive element of the East London Jewish community, who were helping to awaken the English working class about the horrors of rising fascism in Germany and Italy.
In 1936 Franco attacked the Socialist Government in Spain. Both Marie and Jack were determined to join the International Brigades and fight in Spain. They took Spanish lessons before approaching the party. To their bitter disappointment they were told that they could do much more for Spain if they stayed in England. Nine of their group went to Spain, but only four returned. Their sacrifice made Marie more determined never to waver from the struggle for communist internationalism for which her comrades gave their lives.
After World War Two, Jack and Marie made their first of ten trips to the fledgling People’s Republic of China, but it was in the bitter battle against the revisionism that eventually led to the collapse of socialism and the outlawing of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union, that they became staunch supporters of and contributors to our party. They recognized the leading international role played by Ted Hill, the founding chairman of the CPA (ML), in repudiating revisionism.  
Hill exposed the bankruptcy of the secret speech of Khrushchev at the 20th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1956, just three years after Stalin’s death. While using the name of Marxism-Leninism, Khrushchev  rejected key Marxist-Leninist concepts such as the dictatorship of the proletariat while espousing the path of peaceful transition to socialism, despite Lenin’s searing critiques of  such wishful thinking in classics like ‘The State and Revolution’. 
Both Jack and Marie deeply studied the Marxist-Leninist classics and applied them to British conditions, but revisionism had a near stranglehold of the British communist movement at that time. 
Jack became Vanguard’s decades long ‘British Correspondent’, but not a word of his that was ever published passed without Marie’s sharp scrutiny. Many drafts were developed before the articles met Marie’s approval. It was in every way a partnership right to the end. 
Jack and Marie remained active in many progressive campaigns. Marie was never idle, but it was not until the last years of her life, when she was terribly ill that that she gave her support to the newly formed Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) that had risen above revisionism and begun to chart a way forward.
Jack and Marie lived in frugal comfort, ensuring a constant flow of finance to support our party’s work, but able to provide support for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. 
We send our condolences to Jack, to her daughters Doreen, Susan and Rosalind and to her seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren, and to the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) who have lost a comrade small in size, but mighty in communist stature.