Centenary Congress, Brussels, September 5, 1966
The Centenary of the foundation of the Socialist International was celebrated at the Ninth (Ceremonial) Congress which had an audience of over 2000 people.
The Congress was opened by Léo Collard, Chairman of the Belgian Socialist Party, and speeches were then made by representatives of four continents: Lord Attlee for Europe; Lee Kuan Yew for Asia; Djim Monar Gueye, representing Léopold Senghor for Africa: and Gordon Bryant for Oceania. A message was received from Victor Raul Haya de la Torre who, but for a last-minute indisposition, would have spoken on behalf of the Latin American countries. Other speakers were Carlo Schmid on the history of the International; Omer Becu on the relations between the Socialist International and International Confederation of Free Trade Unions of which he is the General Secretary; and Bruno Pittermann, the newly elected Chairman of the Socialist International. Special tribute was paid to the former Secretary of the International, 94 year old Camille Huysmans. Representatives of the International Union of Socialist Youth from different countries pledged themselves in English, French, German, Dutch and Spanish to carry on the work begun by the pioneers and continued by succeeding generations for the attainment of social justice, peace and liberty everywhere. The Congress ended with the singing of the Internationale to the accompaniment of the Belgian Radio Orchestra which had performed earlier in the proceedings. A “pot-pourri” of Socialist songs and a symphony specially composed for the occasion, both the work of Arsène Souffriau, made a profound impression. Many parties have purchased tapes and scores for their own use.
Centenary Celebrations, Brussels, September 5-6, 1964
On the invitation of the Belgian Socialist Party, the centenary of the foundation of the International Working Men’s Association in London in 1864 was celebrated by the Socialist International in Brussels on September 5-6, 1964.
The first day’s celebrations consisted of the Ceremonial Congress (reported above) and of the official opening of the Centenary Exhibition. The Exhibition traced the development of the Socialist International and its member parties over a century: the 1300 exhibits were publications of every description – newspapers, minute books, posters, photographs of persons, places, meetings and events in the history of the Socialist movement, cartoons, badges, diaries, letters etc. The Chairman of the Socialist International, Bruno Pittermann, opened the Exhibition and paid tribute to the work of Julien Kuypers who had organised it. Julien Kuypers said that thanks were due to member parties of the Socialist International for their generosity in loaning priceless material to form a unique exhibition.
Along the roads of Belgium that weekend, contingents of young Socialists from many countries marched on Brussels from the four points of the compass. At a ceremony on Sunday morning, September 6, in the centre of Brussels, Guy Mollet, Vice-Chairman of the Socialist International welcomed the assembled marchers on the International’s behalf. On Sunday afternoon, the Belgian Socialist Party organised a great outdoor demonstration. The procession contingents from many member parties of the Socialist International, as well as from all sections of the Belgian Socialist movement – youth, women, cooperative, trade unions, friendly societies – with bands, banners, flags and floats, took about four hours to pass the stand.
The Polish Socialist Party in exile held a rally on the same day in Brussels, at which were represented the exiled Social Democratic Parties of Czechoslovakia, Lithuania, Hungary and Ukraine.
Also associated with these centenary celebrations was an exhibition entitled “The World Cries for Peace” which was held in Antwerp on October 17-26. The theme was the cost of war and its futility as a means of resolving conflicts. The Organising Committee obtained the cooperation of the UN, UNESCO, the ICFTU, the International Cooperative Alliance, IUSY and the Socialist International. Among those who spoke at the opening ceremony were Henri Fayat (Belgium) and the Secretary of the Socialist International.