Global Congress of Intellectuals

Francois Rabelais said that nature hates a vacuum. So does the history. The historic roller has travelled through Europe, changing the balance of power and shifting borders. The Jahrhunderthalle became the People’s Hall, because in those days everything was either of the folk or the worker.

“Children’s Smile – World Peace” is one of the popular slogans of the time. The word “peace” was speculated like a currency, perhaps that is why the Congress of Intellectuals organized in August 1948 had a second name “in Defense of Peace”. Writers, artists, scientists and politicians from 46 countries met not in Breslau, but in the Piast’s Wrocław. Communist authorities intended the event to prove international support for the rebuilt Poland, which remained under the influence of the USSR. Let us say that these image efforts were successful – about 400 eminent guests came to Wrocław, among them Bertolt Brecht, Irene Joliot-Curie, Tadeusz Kotarbiński, Anna Seghers, Jorge Amado, Zofia Nałkowska and Michaił Szołochow. And of course, Pablo Picasso, who got on the plane for the first time in his life.

The Congress of Intellectuals for the Defence of Peace took place simultaneously with the Exhibition of the Recovered Territories, marking a new take-off on the geopolitical timeline.

Scandal during the Congress

The Congress echo and the meaning sent through the waves of ether into the world were positive and certainly worthy of recognition. Unfortunately, the atmosphere of the event was disturbed by Aleksandr Fadiejew, an ardent stalinist. In his fiery, pro-communist speech, the Soviet writer attacked the United States and the “decadent art” of the West. This caused general indignation among the delegates, some of whom resigned from further participation in the Congress and left Wrocław. No wonder. No intellectual with self-respect can bear insults on Sartre. That is what a troublemaker Fadiejew had to say:

“… the shackles of American imperialists are to turn the world into a police station and its people into slaves of capital (…) If jackals could learn how to type, if hyenas could wield a pen, what they would create would certainly resemble the books of the Millers, Eliots, Malraux and other Sartres”.

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