Antoine Saadeh by gmoumdjian

VIEWS: 927 PAGES: 169

More Info
									Remembering Antoine (Antun) Saadeh
By Garabet K Moumdjian Translations from original Arabic Sources

INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………………………………………… PART 1, AT THE MAQASID COLLEGE, Ahmad Shuman Reminisces …………………….. PART 2, BEING THE WIFE OF A PROSECUTED LEADER, Mrs. Saadeh Reminisces …………………………………………………………………………. PART 3, ABDALLAH AL QUBERSI REMINISCES, MARCH 1, 1949, OR THE LAST FAREWELL SPEECH ……………………………………. PART 4, NAWWAF HARDAN REMINISCES, SAADEH ……………………………………. 03 04


51 80



INTRODUCTION Antoine (Antun in modern Lebanese colloquial Arabic) Saadeh (1903-1949) was the founder of the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) in the 1930’s in Lebanon, which advocated the creation of a Greater Syria. For him, the newly established Republic of Lebanon was an anathema, the creation of the French mandatory power, through the direct complicity of the Maronite Patriarchate. Saadeh, himself a Christian (Greek Orthodox) never looked into the issue from a pure religious perspective. He was more interested in the ideological and geopolitical framework of the Greater Syria he advocated as a complete entity. He believed that people living in his envisioned Greater Syria entity would forge a nation and a national identity regardless of their religious, confessional, or sectarian belongingness. Saadeh was condemned by a Lebanese military court and was shot to death in 1949. One might not be in agreement with the ideological and political frameworks of Saadeh (This author being one himself). However, even a cursory look at Lebanon today makes one ponder how right Saadeh was in his analysis of the situation in the 1930’s and 1940’s. The endemic problems that he feared at the time still exist today and a permanent solution for the Lebanese problem, if such a solution ever exists, is yet to be found. These translations are from original Arabic sources and SSNP publications dating back to the 1940’s and 1950’s.They represents some reminisces about him through the eyes of some of his friends and relatives There are some sections that are penned by Saadeh himself. I had undertaken the translations with the intent of publishing them online. Garabet K Moumdjian Sierra Madre, Ca 2008


PART 1 AT THE MAQASID COLLEGE Ahmad Shuman Reminisces I was a naughty boy as school teachers would usually say. I loved demonstrations, turning over trams, and stoning the Senegalese and French “missionaries of civilization” with stones and other objects. That is until I was injured in my hip one day by one of their spears. On another occasion it was the butt of a respectful rifle on my head. It had a sound that still buzzes in my ears until today. From that day on I became a troublesome person, I mean a nationalist. I used to wait for events. Those were occasions for demonstrations and protests against all the countries of the world. If, for example, an Egyptian fell of the roof of a house in the depths of Al Sa‟id We called for a populous demonstration in Beirut, during which we would turn over trams in protest of English occupation [in Egypt]. Or if a Tunisian or an Algerian cried fowl in the Arabic Maghrib, we would be in the midst of a battle on the boulevards of Bab Idris, Al Burj, and other places. This was the battle of hurrahs, pitiful life, and the fall of the government. Let those of us who fell fall, so that our free leaders live with wreaths of bay leaves and clay on their heads.

A- FINDING AN IDEOLOGY Omar Ibn Al Khattab [later the third Caliph of Islam] did not go to the Prophet Muhammad Bin Abd Allah to swear his allegiance to Islam and tell him “I submit” until he visited the heathen statutes of his former gods and knelt before them to weep like a child. It was as if Omar was saying farewell to them and to a piece if his youth that he had spend believing in them. Therefore, ideology for the believer is neither luxury, nor a council of friendship. It is not trading or playing the role of a middle man. It is also neither a clothing nor paint that covers the body. It is the ultimate bread of life. By this I don‟t mean that it is the bread that is grabbed by the teeth every day to be digested. It is not with this latter bread alone that one lives.


So, haw was it that I left this religion not to say the party? Yes, the party was almost a religion with its rubrics, initiations, principles, rules, philosophy, and beliefs. It is easier to swear at an adamant member of the Syrian Social National Party (Hizb Al Qawmi Al Suri Al Ijtima‟i] (SSNP hereafter), and his family then to ridicule any of his party‟s ideas or theories. This is so because these ideas and theories are treated like God given rules that accept no discussion whatsoever, let alone being criticized. My story dear reader is the story of tens of thousands of youth like me who opened their eyes on the negative reality of their fatherlands that had been bitten internally and externally by the sharp teeth of colonization. The dictate of government is in the hands of the colonizers in Syria, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Sophocles, Tatwan, Egypt, and the Sudan. Few collaborating Apes and monkeys have worn the robe of government and are ruling these nations. This was even before the seeds that were planted by Balfour in Palestine, which mushroomed into Israel at the end. Therefore, I was more than just a mere Arabian nationalist. I was one of those who believed that an Arabian Empire must be created. . In this sense, bilateral unifications such as unifying Lebanon to Syria was so logical that I did not allow my mind to discuss it even internally. Arab, Arabism, Nationalism, Freedom, and Empire were words that kept dinging in my ears while I was at home, on the street, on my student seat, and all anyplace else. This thinking was so intense that I thought I was a student of a Mawlawi Dervish Order whose students would internalize anything by swirling, dancing and repeating things indefinitely.

B- THE RESTLESS PARTY MEMBER The current engulfed me and many of my friends as well. I had a neighbor, Munir Idu, who was my age. He saw Arabs, Arabism, and the idea of an Arabian empire differently from my and my other friends‟ perspective. I asked him who he thought he was. He answered that he was a member of SSNP and that he does not believe in Lebanese or Arabic nationality.


I thought of him as a narrow minded, miserable fellow. He was a restless party member. As soon as one mentioned the SSNP his demeanor would change and the pupils of his eyes would swell out so as to enforce on you the idea that whatever the SSNP said was right. He would talk with his eyebrows, hands and feet. The nerves on his neck would swell to the extent that I at times feared that he would explode. This was the first time I knew that there was a party called SSNP. The party was an underground and secretive organization during its fledgling period. This was a necessity because of the existence of the “loving mother,” France, and its mandate over Lebanon. I had a lot of arguments with this restless neighbor and I hated the SSNP because of him. Every time I started reading the book “The Emergence of Nations,” which was written by the leader of the SSNP, and would point to him that the author relied heavily on Western sources and the scientific method—which I adhered too anyways— his animosity toward me would grow. As soon as the party‟s existence was uncovered in 1935 and Mr. Antoine Saadeh, lecturer in German language at the American University of Beirut, was apprehended on charges of forming an unlawful, secret party that would compromise the security of the state as well as rule and order in it, it became known that he was the leader of the SSNP. He was taken to court and was judged in front of a French magistrate who could not even prove one of the several accusations that were brought against him or his party, let alone accusing them of Fascism and Nazism. The leader and his cohorts spent several months in jail. This period, which, by default, became a springboard for the party to jump ahead? The educated, school and university teachers, intellectuals, literary figures, politicians from all walks joined the party and started to imbibe from its principles, goals, and philosophy, as well as its present and future projects. This phenomenon soon reached Syria, Palestine, and even Jordan and Iraq. The French fought it desperately. However, this “war” was an honest one. The leaders of the party were brought to the courts who had already compiled several accusations against them. One they were accused to be Fascists, while at another time as Nazists, pro-British, pro-American, even pro-Japanese, since Japan was an ally to Germany at the time. The judges would delve into these accusations and would not find even one that would prove to be germane to the party or its leader


I saw the party leader, Antoine Saadeh for the first time in my life during one of those court hearings in a military court, where he was talking to the judges in Arabic. Saadeh was courageous and honest. His voice was very rational. The judges had to respect him, even though they, at times, had to render pre-ordered judgments against him or the party. All this time, my dry attitude toward the party did not change. A heavy wall separated us. This was not because I felt that there was a vast valley separating me and the party. It was because I still felt that Saadeh's book was based solely ob Western sources that, for my opinion, was an anathema to his teachings in Arab nationalism. My stance toward the book was further solidified because it was printed in a very small font and had numerous western words scattered on its pages. All my trials to really study the book failed because of these circumstantial issues. The so called Syrian nationalism that the party advocated was not real to me. It was the essence of legends and archaic stories. It was not strange that lots of rumors would surface regarding the leader and the party. It was not strange that the educated and intellectual class would rally around it. Furthermore, it was not strange that all those who were sick of sectarian strife and political complacency would try to find a solution through it. Lastly, it was not strange that members of philanthropic and scouting organizations who were sick of the malignant character of their organizations to try to find their remedy by joining the party. I would dare say that the party was even more. Political parties formed before it were corrupt, segregating and were organized just to bring their leaders to governmental positions or secure jobs in some big companies in Lebanon or even abroad. One would go and soon another would fill his shoes. This would continue until the party would become an employment agency. All these helped the SSNP to forge its way ahead of all the rest. The Lebanese constitute a mosaic of different people with different feelings and slogans. The Lebanese Nation—if there is really such a thing—is forges from different “nations” of diverse beliefs and different goals. Each Lebanese is a writer, a poet and a politician as such. After all, is not Lebanon the country of light and knowledge?


Take ten Lebanese and talk to them. You will see ten flags rising before you. You will find ten different languages and ten different nationalities. Each ascertains its superiority, while neither would indulge the others. And what remains is this small piece of land called Lebanon. Its inhabitants are confused as to its origins. Who are they? What are they? To what nationality do they belong? C- PRONOUNCING THE TRUTH There has never been a consensus regarding the citizenship and the social reality of this country. The political moves were sectarian and tribal in nature. The reality had to be admitted to give peace to a populace divided among sectarian and tribal lines. Unity and nationality are two things that this people are thirsty for. It was for this reason that educated and intellectual people came to this party, which Antoine Saadeh formed in 1932. He called for a new nationality-- The Syrian nationality-- that people had forgotten. Saadeh asked himself this question. “Who are we?” It was the springboard of his national and social thinking. Moreover, it was the cornerstone upon which the party was built. There was a nationality chaos in the minds of the people. The answer came; we are all Syrians and from the same nation. This was one of the logical realities that Saadeh stressed. The people were divided; One Part admitting its Arab roots, while another stressed its Phoenician ancestry. Saadeh came to say that if being Phoenician was the thesis and being Arab was the antithesis—that is the two were diametrically opposed-- then admitting to their historical union, i.e. the Mediterranean and Syrian (Semite), would be a solution to the impasse. Moreover, Saadeh theorized, his theory would altogether abandon the continuing discussion, and bring a solution based on the latest social theories of the time.


However, Saadeh did not include the Jews in his new nationality. He stressed that the Jews were not equal to others that belonged to this nationality. Such a vagrant announcement would go as an anathema to the theory itself, since neglecting a group who possesses all the necessary elements to be within this nationality defaults the theory itself. According to Saadeh, there were lots of homogeneous migrations into Syria where people had melted within one national pot to be able to become one people and one land. The only massive migration that would not be considered homogeneous to this mix is that of the Jews. This migration is not tolerated because the Jews had melted within the pots of many peoples and nations before arriving in the area. Therefore, it is at odds with the other people of Syria. Its thinking is different, and its goals are contrary to the goals of the Syrian nation. Therefore the “new” Syrians must fight against this Jewish immigration by all means. This is what Saadeh meant in his explanation of the forth principle of the party, which states that the Syrian state is a unity of the Syrian people that was born through a long history, which predates our historical era. He, moreover, states, that the Syrian nation is one of the nations of the allencompassing Arab State. Hence, being one of the nations of this allencompassing Arab State does not undermine the absolute sovereignty of the Syrian state.

I already mentioned that the learned and intellectual circles had special interest in the SSNP. This is not a complement. The party was based on scientific notions within the American University of Beirut, where Saadeh used to teach. Thus he was able to attract faculty members as well as students. The party grew gradually and in secrecy. I had also mentioned that the chaotic political and social realities as well as the sectarian strife helped the growth of the party. With his new party Saadeh came to put an end to the ever existing sectarian strife. Of course Saadeh‟s ideology would produce its opponents. Opposition political currents would fight it relentlessly and on several fronts. The first front would be the foreign colonizing power, whose rule would not be possible without igniting sectarian strife, which would put the people of the


one nation against each other. This is the age long weapon of choice for any foreigner who wants to control a colonized people. As for the other fronts that fought against the party these were sectarian forces that were fighting for their existence. For them this was a life or death fight. The party had to fight a gruesome war against these forces. This was a war that was to be fought on the internal and external fronts. Those who fought the party stated that it was fighting a bloc that was the agent of Nazism and Fascism. The French colonizers tried hard to label the party as such. However, as was mentioned before, even the French judges who judged Saadeh could not pronounce such an agency, even though they imprisoned and tortured him in accordance with the directives of their superiors. This created a problem in the minds of many citizens who started to believe that the party was organized by Italian and German design. Perhaps this was due to the extreme organization of the party, and the way with which its members saluted leaders (by raising their arms high), which was contrary to the regular Lebanese, or Ottoman customary salutation. This added to the rumors that construed the party as Nazist or Facist. The party, however, continued its work without hesitation. The leader did not have the time to answer wrong-Sayers. He devoted his work and life to build his party and to attract the intellectual, literary, and even political circles, many of whose members had faith in Saadeh and soon swore allegiance to him and the party. The road these people chose was a long and tiring one. Only a select few could tolerate the difficulties. That‟s why some of the timid politicians and intellectuals who joined the party could not continue in its difficult path. They fell one after the other only to return to their previous situations that provided them with a place within the body politic of the state. None of these however could other a word of criticism to the party. Most of them remained silent and preferred their lucrative positions. The party was strong at the time through its leader, who embodied all his party's principals within himself. He was not upset or bothered that some of the newcomers were leaving, because he was sure of himself and his principles, which constituted the ideology of his party. Saadeh was very stringent on his principles and the ideology of his party. He would not negotiate on these principles. That is why he would not accept to

even a minute change from those principles. This was his credo from which he would not bulge even if Naameh Tabit—the man who had earned his confidence—himself asked for such a ideological change (Tabit was at the time being considered for the vice-presidency of the party together with Adil Usayran and Salah Labaki). It was thus that Saadeh did not hesitate to oust Tabit from the ranks of the party when he sensed that the latter was diverting from the principles set forth. It is noteworthy to mention the story behind the ousting of Naameh Tabit from the party. By so doing Saadeh showed that his principles and the party ideology were above any human consideration. It was in 1947 when the leader was on his way from Cairo after a long deportation that Naameh Tabit and Asad al Ashqar went to visit him. He met them at the Shepard Hotel where they talked with him about the political situation in Lebanon. Tabit suggested to Saadeh to have the party work on a strictly Lebanese base and to not antagonize the rulers upon his return to the homeland. Saadeh did not speak about the issue, since he felt that it was not an honest suggestion and had hidden agendas written all around it. . Moreover, he was sure That Naameh Tabit and Asad al Ashqar were acting on the initiatives of some politicians who wanted the SSNP to become a totally Lebanese party and shed aside its Pan-Syrian aspirations. Tabit thought that Saadeh had finally accepted his point of view. However, as soon as Saadeh reached Lebanon he gave his famous and historical lecture where he underlined his attachment to the principles of the party and his adamant stance in not redrawing its political path. This was a strong hit for Tabit and those who stood behind him. The Lebanese government released a subpoena for Saadeh's apprehension, while the latter moved to Duhur al Shuwayr and declared open rebellion against the government, the army, and the police. The government was forced to redraw its subpoena. Tabit continued to claim that the party‟s principles and ideology had to be reformulated, while his cohort, al Ashqar rejoined Saadeh. It was in this manner the al Ashqar remained while Tabit and another cohort, Ma‟mun Elias, were ousted from the party only to form the Lebanese Democratic Republican Party. The Tabit incident shows, if anything, that Saadeh was very dearly attached to his principles and ideological framework. He showed that these were not up for negotiation at any price, since they were sacred for him. This created a hula of sacredness around his personality. Some went as far as to say that Saadeh could become prime minister if only he would accept to change or divert a little from his principles.


He was even able to get millions of pounds—a big sum for those time—if he accepted a change in his principles. However, he would rather have his head cut off rather than attempt into such ludicrous negotiations. Saadeh‟ return to Lebanon was a big stride for the party. The leader and the party had chosen to stay and struggle. This was what Saadeh had formulated as “The right to struggle is the right to advance. Once again the party grew in numbers, while the incumbent governments tried to stop its advance and popularity, since the French had already given up on taming Saadeh and his youth. The Kata‟ib (Phalange) Party was started in 1936 for the specific reason of fighting the SSNP. The French gave the Phalangists money and weapons, as well as their marine forces base as a headquarters for the new party. It was not a secret that the Kata‟ib party was a pro French organization. It was hence comical for such a party that was in the pay of the French to come up with such rubrics as “the creation of a Lebanese nation,” and “a Lebanese identity,” as if nations and peoples are formed instantaneously rather than undergoing historical periods of formation. In this regard Saadeh says: “…there are neo-reactionary forces that try to destroy the reality. These are the French made Lebanese who believe in the “Lebanese Identity”, which tries to separate the Christians and the non- Christians from the rest of the Syrians. By creating such non-existent realities they not only marginalize a section of the people from its real identity, but even antagonize against the real identity and its continuation… The Lebanese isolationist ideology, i.e. spiritual and social isolation, and the idea of establishing a separate Lebanese identity and nationality based on this isolationist idea shows, if anything, the sickness of those who advocate it. The Syrian mind feels this psychological rift because it is an ideology that is against social logic and truth.” It was logical that such newly formed parties would use the situation to fight the SSNP and its ideology. However, the party did not care much about such actions, because it was on a different level then those around it.


D- THE TEACHER AND THE STUDENTS I was not surprised that the secrecy of the party was unveiled and everybody knew who those few SSPN members were. I was not surprised to know that a party such as the SSNP existed. That it advocated a Pan-Syrian nationality. I had been acquainted to these notions through the lectures that my teacher, Zaki al Naqqash, delivered at the Maqasid College during the 1930‟s. He thought us History and Geography and I used to feel this Pan-Syrian belongingness throughout his lectures. Zaki al Naqqash would become a radiant sun every time he used to speak to us about Pan-Syrianess, its history, its geography, its ruins, and its civilizations. He would stand in front of the class every morning and would say to us: “O children of life. Who is life for?” And we would answer: “To us.” Then he would continue: “And for whom are we.” And we would answer: “We are for Syria. At this point Naqqash would jump into the air by stating “Long Live Syria.” And we would follow: “Long live, long live, Long Live…” We would then go to our classes with the “Long Live” salutation still echoing in our ears. At the time we did not know that there was a secret party and that our teacher, al Naqqash was one of its first members. He was a first generation party member who believed in Saadeh‟s principles. So were his friends George Abd al Masih, Fakhri al Maaluf, Abdallah al Qubersi. In the beginning Zaki al Naqqash was a history teacher in a school in Nablus. In 1928 he wrote an article to the al Kashshaf [Scouting] magazine where he stated that despite the ups and down that Syria had lived the Syrian nationality or identity was and still is a very clear idea through Syria‟s history. Saadeh had read this article. So when he formed the party in 1932 and Abd al Masih and al Qubersi became his disciples, he remembered al Naqqash‟s article and asked al Qubersi about the author. When he was told that the author, Al Naqqash, was in Beirut, Saadeh send al Qubersi to him. Qubersi talked to al Naqqash about Saadeh and the party and al Naqqash went to Saadeh's house where he took his oath and joined the party with open arms.

Al Naqqash was not destined to remain with the party for long. As soon as the secret party became known and the leader and his disciples were imprisoned, al Naqqash had to leave, since the Maqasid College where he thought, refused to hire him if he did not leave the party. He even became an anti party figure on the surface in order to keep his position. However, deep inside him he was and remained a Pan-Syrian. I still remember how we met him after he was released from prison at the Maqasid College. The principal, Mr. Abdallah al Mashnuq, announced to us that the head-teacher, Mr. Naqqash, had been released. As soon as we opened the classroom door he shouted my children… my children…my children, and tears came down his cheeks. We were crying in our jubilation for his release. E- SAADEH’S RETURN… THE AWSOME CELEBRATION I still remember—I do not think anybody could ever forget—that big celebration that Saadeh got on his return from Argentina in March 1947. He was sent away for a long, period and forced to live as an émigré. Qaumis (SSNP members) from as far away as Aleppo, Homs, Hama, Laziqiyya, and Jabal al Druz, Amman, Damascus and elsewhere had come in trucks, busses, and cars to welcome him starting at the small airport at Bir al Abd and all the way to al Usur square in the heart of the capital Beirut. It was a splendid welcome that surprised everybody. SSNP membership grew as a result of Saadeh‟s return. I don‟t think that any leader in the Arab world had had such a reception as Saadeh did on his return from his forced exile. The celebration, if anything, showed how popular and charismatic he was with the youth and learned class. There, within the ranks of the wellcomers, stood the best intellectuals, doctors, attorneys, writers, pharmacists, journalists, and politicians of Beirut‟s known families. Even more, Politicians from different Arab countries were among the welcomers and well wishers. The celebration created more hatred toward Saadeh in the minds of traditional politicians, who started to agitate for a new round of fighting against Saadeh and his party.


F- AT THE KUL SHAY’ [EVERYTHING] MAGAZINE I was a journalist at the Kul Shay‟ magazine In 1948. My friend, Adib Qaddura was one of the important leaders of the party in the Beirut area. He was adamant in asking me to join the party. He would tell me: “You must join the party. You must.” I would answer: “Let me write for the time being. I am writing in your publication anyway.” One day I went to see him very early at his pharmacy. He met me saying: “I hope everything is well with you. Why are you so early today?” I told him: “yes, I am here to take my oath of allegiance.” He told me in his special Beiruti accent: “Did you see him.” I answered affirmatively. How was it that I met the leader? I was at the Kul Shay‟ magazine. Its owner and editor was my classmate Muhammad al Baalbaki. The leader, Antoine Saadeh used to write a column every Thursday under the rubric “The SSNP Leader Says.” His articles were one of a kind He wroth in depth and with integrity. It was in these articles that he first jotted down some of his most famous sayings such as: “The right to struggle is the right to advance,” “A medicine list does not make a doctor,” “Isolationism went bankrupt,” and “Arabism is bankrupt.” His articles were so popular that when we once met the famous Lebanese parliamentarian Habib Abu Shahla at he Burj Square in Beirut he asked me and Baalbaki: “What is the story behind Saadeh‟s articles that you are publishing every week in Kul Shay‟ magazine,” Baalbaki answered back: “You are welcome to write back answering him and I will definitely publish your writing.” Abu Shahla Answered back: “You think I am crazy? Why do I need to be involved in such a thing? Saadeh is a big man and a philosopher…” Every week I used to write my own article at the magazine under the general title “I say the truth,” where I used to write and analyze the Lebanese political scene. G- AN APPOINTMENT WITH THE LEADER One day, while working at Kul Shay‟ my friend Muhammad al Baalbaki asked me if I had seen the leader and listened to him. I told him I did not. He called the leader and got me an appointment to meet him. I remember that it was to be on a Thursday at nine and a half at night at his home near the al Khalidi Hospital in Ras Beirut.

It was my first meeting with the man. I still remember the feelings I got on meeting him and listening to his views. I saw myself in front of an extra ordinary man. He possessed charismatic character. Anyone who listens to him would be engulfed in his humanistic approach and purity of thought. He also liked a good joke. At our meeting Saadeh asked Baalbaki about the government that was to be formed and who will take part in it. Baalbaki mentioned such and such from the Maronites, such from the orthodox, and Muhi al Din al Nasuli from the Sunnis. Muhi al Din was not a favorite guy at the time because he had carried the “The Carpet of Mercy” during the burial procession of the Maronite president Emile Eddeh. So I jokingly asked Baalbaki why he is not considering al Nasuli from the Maronites. Saadeh started to laugh loudly for my joke. His face was so beautiful when he used to laugh. H- I SWORE ALLEGIANCE On the next day I gave my oath and swore allegiance to the party in the offices of Adib Qaddura and in the presence of the party‟s chief for Internal Affairs, Mustafa Ezzeddin. Abdallah al Qubersi, Tariq al Yafi, George Salibi and Fu‟ad Abi Ajram were also present. This happened in 1949, just months before Saadeh‟s execution. I learned later that Saadeh would ask Muhammad and Adib: “Do not leave this young journalist, Ahmad Shuman, away from the party. I think that was why Baalbaki kept insisting to me that I had to join the party. The new leader Jubran Jarih wrote about my joining the party in his book “With Antoine Saadeh: From 1932 to 1959. On page 56 he says: “The Egyptian journalist Ahmad Shuman was one of those who followed the party‟s path and the lectures and writings of its leader. He had very good and personal relations with several Qawmi members. From this viewpoint he was considered an insider to the party, its leadership, and its politics... “…Finally, Shuman decided that it was time to join the party However, the question was how he could join if he was not a Syrian to begin with. He applied anyway. We were surprised that the leader accepted the offer and


issued an exception order, which was the equivalent of granting him, Shuman, an honorary SSNP citizenship for him.” I- THE MODEL PARTY The SSNP was never a regular political, ideological party. It was something different. The leader wanted it to be a new school, which was destined to graduate a new generation of youth for whom organization and rules were sacred. These members would be the vanguards with their simple and pure way of life and submission to party rules and general civility. Being a person of clean and virtuous character was on the top of the list for Saadeh. He ruled by example and also solved issues between party members. He was adamant that SSNP members would always keep their reputations unblemished. He was very forceful regarding the party‟s rules. He would not refrain from ousting the nearest to him if that was necessary. High ranking party members were no exception to him. The rules were to be followed by all. These characteristics were the cornerstone upon which Saadeh built his party. SNNP members thought that they were always being watched if not by the government then by their own peers. The SSNP member would not lie, would not gamble, would not endanger people‟s fortitude, would not use the party for personal reasons, and would not spy for anyone. Members followed these rules not because they were afraid to be caught red handed, but rather out of love and respect for their leader and his principles that they had internalized. The SSNP then was not a regular party but rather a school for men. It thought its members to obey and to be at the highest level of integrity. For Saadeh these characteristics of himself and his comrades were the basis upon which the party was constructed. He firmly believed that if these characteristics were absent, any movement or political organization was destined to fail. For this reason he was very frank and very forceful toward his party members, because he wanted them to be as models for others to follow. There was another important basis upon which Saadeh‟s party was built. It was the basis of negating all aspects of sectarianism and purifying his

members‟ souls from it. SSNP members lived together without feeling the dividing forces of sectarian strife. A strife that was squeezing the country and separating its children from one another. Colonization was its biggest asset. It purred oil on the fire of sectarianism for its own purposes. This was the “divide and rule” policy that the French colonialists utilized. It wanted the Lebanese to be divided in to religious sects and political parties. It wanted them to fight against each other. Saadeh knew this illness and prescribed an antidote. He exemplified the antidote by his own character. He reached a place where no one thought a man could reach in this regard. He killed and extracted the cancerous cells of sectarianism from the souls of his party comrades. He infused them with the cells of national unity. Sectarianism and religious sects were wiped out from the SSNP dictionaries. This can be considered the miracle of Saadeh. Extracting the cells of division and infusing the cells of unity in the souls of the people. J- SAADEH’S EXECUTION Until this hour I cannot explain the feelings we were engulfed in on that notorious day when Saadeh was executed. We slept at night on the news of his arrest. The arrest that [the Syrian president] Husni al Za‟im had arranged in cohort with the Lebanese authorities. I met Mohammed al Baalbaki early in the morning at the Kul Shay‟ magazine offices. We were joking about the headline news of the daily newspapers that mentioned Saadeh‟s execution. We saw a picture of him in front of a military tribunal yet we never believed that a court proceedings and the execution could be so swift. We were wrong. We both started to cry. Baalbaki almost fell to the ground. Yes, until this hour, and over fifty years later I exactly remember the fear that struck us. Baalbaki was trembling in an emotional state. He had given his oath to the leader himself and became a party member only two days ago in a special ceremony in Damascus. My mind takes me to these events again. I and Labib Qaddura, the younger brother of Adib Qaddura, went almost every day to the place where our leader was executed. We sat on the very soil that was nurtured by his blood.

Days later we saw other comrades visiting the place too. It became a party tradition to visit the burial site of the leader at the St. Elias Church every year on the eighth of July… K- THE JULY 8TH DIRECTORATE The party developed a secret organization called the July 8th Directorate. After the execution of Saadeh, the members of this directorate met in secret at the home of the new general secretary Amin al Husayni (Abu Jihad) the directorate was run by Munir Ido, on of the first SSNP members. Several party members were taken into the directorate. I remember—since I was one of its members—asking al Husayni why other members like Kamil al Asaad, Bahij Taqiy al Din, and Nqula Rizqalla—all in the beginning of their political careers—were absent from the meetings of the directorate? The first was the son of the Shiite political leader Ahmad al Asaad. The second was just becoming a shining star as an attorney at law, while the third was the governor of the capital, Beirut. I remember that I told al Husayni that “if those guys are afraid to be known as SSNP members, we then don not need them at all!” Husayni replied to me saying that these guys had their special circumstances. That we understand their situation and it is better that their status be kept a secret. Husayni‟s home adjacent to the Raml [Sand] prison… The leader went into hiding there after the Jimmayzeh incident. The incident occurred when some of the party members had skirmishes with pistols with some Kata‟ib party members. The SSNP headquarters and its newspapers offices were in the Jimmayzeh area, which was a Kata‟ib stronghold. Anyway, Saadeh was wanted and he preferred to hide in Husayni‟s house. Husayni told me that at the time the leader would go to the roof and hear his party members in the prison singing the famous party anthem “Suriyya Laki al Salam” [O Syria, our salutations to you] and tears would come down his cheeks.


L- CURRENTS THAT SHOCKED THE PARTY AND DEMORALIZED IT The party had undergone several hardships and shocks during its existence. It always came out of them stronger. The deviation from the principles of the party that the Naameh Tabit, Ma‟mun Elias, and Asad al Ashqar triumvirate called for did not materialize. We have mentioned that these three were the nearest to the leader and almost the first members of the SSNP. However, they were pragmatic and wanted quick results. They were not ready for the long and tumultuous road Saadeh had anticipated. Moreover, the triumvirate‟s new policy of having the party deal only as a Lebanese entity and which Tabit elaborated so eloquently in the Baaaqlin meeting of 1944 were refuted completely by Saadeh in a lectures he delivered on January 7, 1948. It was during this lecture that he announced that he had dismissed the three musketeers from the SSNP. We know also that at least one of the “knights,” Asad al Ashqar came back to the leader when he was in Duhur al Shuwayr and pleaded him to accept him back into the party, since he now knew that he was wrong and that he would be “at the leader‟s disposal.” Al Ashqar went even further when he wrote about his encounter with the leader and said that it was Saadeh‟s wise decision that the party principles remained intact, and those who wanted to negotiate upon them—and I was one of them—were wrong in their estimation. The Triumvirate‟s work was the first trial for the party. However, a stronger shock came on the heels of al Maliki‟s death in 1955, when the SSNP was falsely accused of organizing the assassination. SSNP members in Damascus were tortured. This was happening at a time when the party was in its zenith in Syria. It had its cadres not only within the intellectual circles but also within the young officer corps of the Syrian army and the parliament. It was thus that the new General Secretary of the party, George Abd al Masih, planted the first seeds of division within the party after the martyrdom of Saadeh. This happened when George declared his rebellion on the party leadership. The leadership expelled him in the accusation that he was involved in the assassination of Colonel al Maliki. George continued his rebellion and separated himself and his cohorts from the party. This became known as rebellion of 1957.


M- THE TRAP THE PARTY FELL IN The revolution known as the Revolution of 1958 came. It divided the Lebanese deeply. This was a sectarian revolution that divided the country into two camps. The party tried to become the solution and the salvation from this cruel sectarian strife. People knew how the party looked at sectarianism. It was higher than the strife and it could really be the salvation. However, some of the party leadership lost their cool and allied themselves with one faction in the revolution. The SSNP was no more the party that despised sectarianism. The principles that Saadeh had fought for so hard was washed down the drain. Newcomers, mostly political opportunists, turned the party‟s principles and theories around. It was in vain that some true SSNP members tried to show that the party was innocent from such political manipulations. O my God! All I need is one drop of your peace to extinguish the fire in my soul. O my God! Your protection that has thought me to dismiss all fear is once again attacking my soul to fill it with fear, hatred, and suspicion. O my God! How can something like this happen? How is it that a person opens his eyes to see his child, a piece of his body that he nurtured with his blood, mind, soul, and every other facility of his self, so that the child grows to be a man? And when the child grows to be a man he [the parent] instead of observing the beautiful product of his labor sees the bitter reality that the child is not his. Neither has he had any attachment to his son, nor the son to him. This was the bitter cup that the members of the Qawmi Party had to drink from when they witnessed what their party‟s stance was during the events of 1958. They were totally disturbed, even fearful, that their leaders had gone to such shameful lengths that would become the coup-de-grace for the party, and make it the talk of the town. I therefore declared that I abhor this stance. This was not the party on whose ideology I had sworn to endeavor. The issue was not that simple. I wish it was, because that way it could have been solved through joking and smearing it as all such political problems are

solved in Lebanon. It was an issue of utmost danger. I had believed in the cause and had dedicated my life to it. It was on its doctrine and precepts that my whole life was based upon. I had faith in it. Nothing is harder on the self than being put in the position of condemning what you believe in. It does not make you happy. It is even less painful to be skinned rather than having your ideology being extracted from your mind and soul. N- I DECLARED MY WITHDRAWAL It was under these circumstances that I left the party in 1958. Adib Qaddura, a secretary of the party, followed in my footsteps. He also declared that his departure was in protest of the stance that party leaders adopted to stand beside [Lebanese president] Kamil Sham‟un. Abdullah Muhsin, another secretary of the party, and a group of his followers were also against taking sides with a section of the Lebanese, whom the party considered to be one of its diehard enemies; A section that had to be neglected, marginalized, and fought against like all other sectarians whatever their religious belonging. However, it must be stated that the party condemned the stance it observed during the revolution of 1958 when its leadership were freed from their prison cells to which they were condemned after the foolish coup d‟etat that they attempted in 1968. They even called for a general conference of the party at Melkart Hotel in 1969. However, the cadre came out divided from this conference because of the divergent ideas of the leadership regarding political and ideological issues. *****



The leader [Saadeh] decided to return to Lebanon. We [himself, his wife and two daughters] were still living in the Tukoman region in Argentina. He wrote to officials in Lebanon about his desire to return before the parliamentary elections. All this was to no avail. So he decided to do things himself. From Buenos Aires he traveled to Brazil, where, with the help of some friends he was able to obtain a return visa to Lebanon. He first traveled to Cairo where he was met by Naameh Tabit, Ma‟mun Elias, Asad al Ashqar and probably others from the party. He spent several days in Cairo. This is what I learned from the leader when I joined him seven months later. The leader started thinking of returning to the motherland in 1946. The war was over. He had started writing about this in “Ibr al Hudud” [Through the Borders]. He was aware that his were not accepted as he wanted letters by officials in Lebanon. He had already established relations with party chapters in Northern America and Africa. He used to receive copies of party publications in Tukoman. He was surprised at the political, ideological, and even executive mistakes that he saw in these publications. All these made him more eager to return to Lebanon and take care of the issues himself. This letter writing campaign took several months. Finally, a day was decided for the return. We had to sell our living quarters. The place belonged to an elderly Argentinean, who wanted to retire. The leader was able to negotiate with him in such a way that we were able to get back our initial investment plus some capital for our travel needs from him. The elderly Argentinean was an honest man. However, a very damning event happened before we left Tukoman. We were busy boxing the furniture to send them in wooden crates to Buenos Aires. Several locals were helping us. I was upstairs putting beddings into a crate, while the maid was playing with [my daughter] Elisar who was two years old at the time. I did not notice how [my other daughter] Safiyya, ran to me crying “Mama, Mama,” only to tell me that “Elisar was hit by a car and was

dead.” I ran out and saw Elisar in a corner with her head inside her arms. No one was trying to approach her. It was a crucial moment for me to carry my daughter in that situation, with her clothes covered in blood as if I was taking her to her burial place. Our happiness turned into sadness. The leader was at the corner of the street with some party members. Naaman Daw was a guest with us from San Juan. They all ran toward me. Some tried to call an ambulance, while others tried to find a doctor. It was at this moment that the driver of the car that hit Elisar came to us. He was an elderly person. We used his car to take my daughter to the hospital. Elisar was lifeless on our way to the hospital. We were told to take her to the children‟s section and have her under constant observation. They feared that she had a concussion and perhaps even a broken bone on her skull. While we were transferring her we heard her voice. We were Hopeful once again. I was completely done. I had no power in my legs. I thought I was paralyzed. My friends helped me get up. At the children‟s hospital a doctor treated Elisar and told us to leave her there until tomorrow. I refused to leave her there and took her back home. We called our doctor who also cautioned us of a possible of a skull concussion. He told us to take her to a hospital specializing in such cases. At ten that evening we transported Elisar to the new hospital. The leader was always beside her looking after her and always checking her pulse. I knew that in such cases blood spilling on the brain would affect the nervous system and the human pulse would slow. I sometimes thought that she was breathing and sometimes that she was dead. Next day I was really surprised when she called “Baba”. The leader jumped to her side and also took me in his arms in tears. How did the accident take place? When the maid went to bring her some milk, Elisar walked to the front door where people were going out and coming in. Nobody noticed when she went outside. She went to Safiyya to play with her. Because she was too small the driver did not see her crossing the street. He hit her and continued driving until somebody shouted at him to stop. Death became life again. She was normal within a couple of days. We went to Buenos Aires in December 1946.


When Saadeh decided to return to Lebanon before the parliamentary elections it was also decided that my daughters and I would travel later. We had very little time to prepare for his travel. I remember this incident only to show how frustrated we were while living in Tukoman. Elisar‟s episode showed us, if anything, that what Jubran Massuh did to us was nothing. Yes, he was the reason of our misery there. However, we were able to uncover his treachery and to recover our capital. Our return to Buenos Aires and from there to Lebanon was to continue the struggle that we had begun years ago. Our struggle was a noble and honest one. It was for the cause of a nation and the people of that nation. Saadeh traveled to Brazil to get his return visa. He got it only after much effort was spent on that matter, since all Lebanese consulates and embassies had received instructions not to grant him one. However, some influential friends were able to get it through the offices of Fu‟ad Lutfallah, Consul General of Lebanon in Brazil. It must be mentioned that Saadeh got his visa under the name Muja‟es, the name on his travel documents when he left Lebanon. The leader wrote to me about when he intended to travel to Lebanon and that he would write to me as soon as he reaches Beirut. His answer was very late. It had been twenty days and no news from him had yet arrived. I was in a very disturbed mood and was talking to nobody. Moreover, I had read in a Maronite magazine published in Buenos Aires that the leader “Muhammad Antoine Saadeh” had been arrested. Others said that he once again secluded himself in the mountains and that the authorities were relentlessly trying to arrest him… It was twenty days later that I received a note from some party members that the leader was OK and that he had asked them to drop the note to me. They informed me that the leader indeed had to relocate to his mountain retreat in order not to be arrested. Saadeh later wrote to me himself detailing all the difficulties that he had to endure on his return. He wrote at length about the political situation and the climate surrounding the parliamentary elections and how the national front did. In the last part of his letter Saadeh wrote to me that Naameh Tabit and Ma‟mun Elias were no longer honest toward him and the party. He also informed me to prepare myself and the kids to return to Lebanon by plane, since it was now more convenient and took a much shorter time.

I wrote him back asking what I should do with the furniture, since I did not know where and how he was living. He answered that I should return as soon as possible. He did not mention anything about the furniture. I traveled with my daughters, fourteen crates of books and other stuff. When I reached Beirut I found that the leader had no bed, no furniture, not even a chair. Nobody was able to give us anything, while prices of goods were high because of the World War. I asked him why he did not write to me to bring the furniture. He said that he asked about that to our friend, who did not give him an answer on time and so he could not inform me regarding them. It is years later now and I am telling you how I was sorry not to bring our furniture with me. Indeed, these pieces had memories all over them. My memories with the leader! I asked George Abd al Masih, the friend who did not answer my husband on time on why he did that. He told me that he did not think that it was an important issue at the time. He also said that how could he think at the time that those pieces of furniture would be so important for all of us, since the leader has now gone forever. It was therefore very hard for us to live like a family in Lebanon at the time... Was it not Naameh Tabit himself that advised my husband on not to bring the family home to Lebanon, because it was too risky. All these small things create the doubt that never leaves my mind regarding the leader and the actions of his closest associates. I can be wrong. But I can also be right in my suspicions… We prepared to travel and took the ship to Genoa. There I went ashore and looked for an Italian person, whose family had sent a gift to him from Argentina. I asked the person to reserve us a room in a nearby and cheap hotel. He did what I asked him to do. Ten days later we were on board of a small Greek ship. We were in first grade. But the smallness of the ship caused us much sickness. We could hardly use any water or the bathrooms. We complained when we reached Beirut and the captain was obliged to pay a fine. We reached Beirut when it was late at night. The captain did not want to dock in order not to pay for the night. We spent the night on board looking at the shore and trying to guess which light was emanating from what region. In the morning, while we had not yet set foot on Lebanese soil, I saw a lot of people looking at us from the

deck. A lady with a bouquet of flowers was there apparently for me. I was not thinking about the people. All I thought at the moment was where the leader is and if he is in good hands. Elisar dropped one of her shoes into the sea. A worker rescued it and gave it back to her. We came down. Party members welcomed us with the usual party salute. Now I could see their faces and start to recognize them. I saw Fayiz Sayigh, George Abd al Masih, Marcel Nassar, and Najla Ajami. Fayiz took us by the hand and we left the deck. After resting for some hours in Beirut we took the cars and climbed the mountain road. There were motorcycles in front and behind us. I knew that this was an official affair. We reached Duhur al Shuwayr where the leader was heavily guarded. When we reached the house I could not keep any official stance. I left everything in the car and ran to meet my husband and to see myself how he was doing in such circumstances. I ran to hold him and tell him not to leave me alone anymore. I ran to him as if knowing what his enemies, the enemies of our people, thought about this history making person. I ran to tell him that I was with him to the end. My embracing him was my certificate of loyalty to him. He was very pleased at meeting us. This you could see from the way he embraced the kids. He said he wanted us to be here in the summer. He was sorry that we were late. We entered the house that was his headquarters. I think it belonged to Jamil Yaaqub Muja‟es. After bringing everything in and settling down many people started to visit us from all corners of the country. People came in busses raising the party banners and singing its anthems. I saw all this and my heart was full with joy. I understood what Saadeh‟s mission had done with the people‟s thinking and understanding. Life was hard when all your moves are watched by guards. I did not have enough time with my husband alone. We would take some nightly trips while the guards were watching us from afar Some political figures used to visit us from time to time. I don‟t remember their names now. The deliberations were always regarding the arrest warrant and how to annul it. The leader would tell me that the government was ready to do that, depending on what kind of actions he [Saadeh] would take. The government wanted my husband to visit all security offices and to talk with the officials regarding his case, while the leader with say that the protocol

was that he, as a political figure, should not do what he was asked to do and that the government should initiate some sort of reconciliation between itself and the party. One day a governmental minister came and told my husband that the government was ready to talk with him regarding the arrest warrant and its annulment. The leader went to Beirut and came to an agreement with the government. Several days later we returned to Beirut. Our friends had already rented an apartment for us in Ras Beirut, neat the American University. It was on Jeanne d‟Arc Street, next to Dr. Mustafa al Khalidi‟s office in the Shuqayr building. ***** We settled in Beirut late in October. On November 2, the leader published a statement regarding the Balfour Agreement and urged the people to demonstrate against it. The Government was opposed to the demonstration and banned it. This was happening at the time that the issue of Fayiz Sayigh was being discussed within the party. The leader was intolerant regarding the latter‟s mistakes. Moreover, some of the graduates of the American University of Beirut [AUB] were already coming up with new ideas that the leader considered as unorthodox to the initial principles and the ideology of the party. It must be stated here that when Saadeh reached Cairo on his return from Argentina, a hot debate had ensued between him and Naameh Tabit and Ma‟mun Elias about the articles that Tabit used to sign as the general secretary of the SSNP during Saadeh‟s exile. Saadeh gad made it clear to both of them that Tibet‟s writings were against the principles and the ideology of the party. He told them that he had read those articles and those that Sayigh had written while he was in Tukoman and was very angry and despaired. Sayigh had gone as far as having his own ideas incorporated within the educational framework of new party initiates. Saadeh painstakingly wrote all these down and pointed how they were against party ideology while he was in Tukoman. He sent those extensive writings to Lebanon. However, the culprits did not budge. It was for this reason that Saadeh decided that he has to return to Lebanon under any circumstances, since not doing so would mean the end of the party he created.


Tabit and Elias did not change their stance or behavior toward the leader. Saadeh had no other choice but to expel them from the party. Saadeh‟s communication with party members from Tukoman was very slow. Moreover, his corrective writings were not being read or implemented in Lebanon. He had told me this several times. All these people would tell Saadeh is to remain in exile and to never return to Lebanon. When I returned to Lebanon I never saw Tabit or Elias. There issue was already determined. I must open a little window into the leader‟s family life during this period. As soon as we settled down in Beirut the leader started to give more care to his own family beside his bigger one, the party. Whatever his preoccupations with party matters he would find time to play with his little daughters. He would seem so playful that no one would think that his head was full of important political things or that dangerous events were happening around him. He would have Elisar sit on his knees and sing, recite a poem, or tell a story. He would then do the same with Safiyya. She used to talk in classical Arabic. That was what we had taught her to do. If I interfered with something about the story she would say that that part was not in the book. She would even bring the book to make her point. Sometimes, when the leader saw that I was brushing their hair, he would take the chore on himself. He was so emotionally involved with the kids that I only admired him for that. He would also create time for us. We would go together on small walks in the mountains. He used to do this anytime he saw that I was disturbed by his political undertakings. He would talk only about nature during those walks. No politics would cross his lips unless some comrade came to him to tell him something or ask about an issue. The only time he would speak about what happened with him during the day was when we retired to bed and were preparing to sleep. The arrest warrant for him was still in force at the time. He would sometimes spend the night at some other house. He would tell me about his intention only minutes before his departure. I would wait sleepless until his return. Upon my insistence he took me and showed me the tent that he used when

he spent the night outside. This was a place where he would go to escape detention. The place was deep in nature and had no roads. It was a frightening wilderness. When the government did not allow the SSNP from going ahead with the Balfour demonstration on November 2, 1947, the leader was harassed more and more by government agents. He started to lecture to people from his home. The lectures grew and the party rented a hall in Ras Beirut. This hall also was too small to handle the crowds that would come to listen to Saadeh. We had to put speakers outside the hall to accommodate the five hundred or so people who wanted to hear him. Meetings were going on all day at the leader‟s office. . From military training to administrative issues, to lectures to radio talks all took his time. His articles in the newspapers created an atmosphere of anger toward an incapable government. He did not leave the feudal lords out of his circle of criticism. The more the party grew in power the more the government would expand its harassment methods. Moreover, the government spent a lot of money to buy newspapermen and the radio station and make them write against Saadeh and the SSNP. All this came into the open in 1949. The party‟s central board members‟ activities were not commensurate to the leader‟s work. A lot had to be done during the negotiation sessions with the government. Board members were always busy with something else. At some point Saadeh put them on the spot, since everything was left on him and him alone. There were issues that were talked about in the central board meetings that I did not know at all. All I knew was that the rift between Saadeh and the central board widened to such an extent that he dissolved the body months prior to the events of 1949. How did the leader and his family live during this period? When I left Argentina I had some money with me from the proceeds of the furniture sale and what my brother had given me for just in case. I paid for our travel and stay in Genoa out of this money. . I had also received a check for $1,500 when I was in Brazil dining with some of our friends. I gave that check to Saadeh upon my return. When we decided to move to Ras Beirut Saadeh gave the check to some comrades who were tasked with finding us a house for rent. They paid some of the money for rent and the rest—most of the

money—was used for printing. The check was handled by comrade Rafiq al Ashqar. I had some money left and I was using it for our expenses. Soon this money evaporated and I mad nothing but the golden coins that my brother had given to me in Argentina. . I used the golden pieces too until they were gone. I was even going to sell my golden ring and watch to make ends meet when one of the good hearted party members, Fadil Antiba, said that that was enough. “Yesterday you sold your golden pieces. Today you are selling the ring and the watch. What are you going to do in two months?” The member told comrades that something had to be done and a pension must be decided so that the leader or his wife would not worry about daily living expenses. I was told that a decision was taken to pay my husband 150 liras on a monthly basis. I was told how I wanted to receive the money? I told that it would be best my friend Fayiza Antiba [Fadil‟s wife] would bring it to me. This was how we lived. We had to be extremely economical in our spending habits, since I also had to feed the guards in and around the house. I told the leader that the monthly allowance was not enough. He told me to ask comrade Zakki Nasif, who told me that he will take care of the issue. I found that I was pregnant just after settling in Beirut. I wasn‟t happy, since I knew that being pregnant in such a hot political situation was going to be trouble. . We did not have any furniture in the house. We had brought only those few things that were in the mountain home. Few months later these were asked back by their owners. We spent some time without even a bed for us or for the children. When I speak about those tiring days all I hear is the leader‟s encouraging words in these dire instances. He was sleeping on a broken bed and still he would not mind. He did not have something to cover himself at night because he had given everything to the guards. We were living in sub standard conditions. He would tell me that whoever is carrying a big cause on his arms does not care about such living conditions. Comrade Yussif Taj was really disturbed when he saw the leader sleeping on the broken bed one day. He directly went and bought beds and covers for us as well as a dining table and some chairs. Now at least we had a place where guests could sit if they visited us. The leader had gotten some money when he was in Duhur al Shuwayr in 1947. He gave it to the comrades during a meeting. His cousin, Elias Muja‟es did not allow it and took the money and put it in his pocket. Later

he took Saadeh to the monastery near Duhur al Shuwayr and told him that the monks were selling some parcels and that Saadeh had to buy one parcel with the money so that he could later build a house over it. It so happened. A house was erected on the land. However, Saadeh did not have time to live in that house. I used to see monks coming and going beside the house. I stopped one of them for guidance one day. He turned to me with tears in his eyes. He loved the leader and told me that he had a long talk with him at one time. He mentioned that he saw him as an extremely intelligent and selfless man. Hearing these remarks were very precious and made me really happy. Meetings at Duhur al Shuwayr with party members and political leaders took much of the leader‟s time. We would only see him alone late at night when the children were sleeping. He would go and kiss them and see that the windows in their room were closed. We would sit down to talk a bit. I would urge him to go to sleep since he would wake up early the next morning. He would say that it was important for him to sit idle those several minutes to empty his head and to have some time with me. . He would brief me about the most important events of the day, or about the activities of some of the comrades. I would give him my opinion regarding some issues. I think I forgot most of the issues we used to discuss. I only remember bits of it now. Days passed and the movement got stronger. The leader‟s responsibilities grew with time too. From writing to lectures to radio talks to meetings with leaders of religious sects he was really consumed. These activities made even Riad al Sulh, a shining political figure at the time, nervous, since a lot of his people were attending the SSNP events. I remember that Kamal Jumblat met the leader at the latter‟s office and had a long discussion with him about the party and its ideology. He had only words of amazement for the leader and his principles. He even admitted that his next visit would be the one for his taking his oath and be admitted to the party. However, couple of days later he announced the formation of his socialist party and mentioned the names of some of his closest colleagues in it. Saadeh wanted to have his home in Duhur al Shuwayr where he was born. He decided to build his home on that piece of land he had bought. He even went there when the foundation was laid. He could not continue overseeing the building because of his preoccupations in politics. . I was in Beirut looking after the kids. I was almost ready to give birth. Saadeh decided to

stay at the house of his cousin, Wadih Elias for a while and rest before returning to Beirut. It was during his stay at Wadih‟s house that our third daughter, Raghida, was born. I had her at home by Doctor Mustafa al Khalidi who was our neighbor. He was sad when Raghida was born, since he had said that this time the leader was going to have a son. He had to go and tell the leader himself…When he exited the house the guards wanted to hear the news of a son in order to start firing their guns as was the custom. The doctor told them nothing. When he met the leader Saadeh told him that there is no difference between a boy and a girl. Of course SSNP members wanted the leader to have a baby boy… Saadeh came to Beirut to see his newborn daughter. Abdallah Saadeh and his wife came all the way from Tripoli to congratulate us. Raghida was born at 10:30 at night on July 15, 1948. The summer was very hot in Beirut. The leader wanted us to go to Bayt Qasis in the mountains. The house he chose there was secluded and good for the family. We went there when Raghida was seven days old. Same thing happened here. Politicians would visit my husband and discuss politics with him, while newspapers allied with Riad al Sulh continued their smear campaign against Saadeh and the party. Abdallah al Mashnuq and Muhyi al Din al Nasuli would write bad things about my husband in "Beirut al Massa‟" [The Beirut Evening]. Kul Shay‟ would write against those writers, who tried to show the leader as somebody who does not believe and is against in Arabism and the seventy million Arabs it represents, since he would not say that “Palestine was lost to the Arabs,” as the leader announced in one of his lectures where he said that the Palestine tragedy is coming and we are not ready….The leader‟s articles about those very important issues brought many non SSNP members closer to him. One such person was Muhamad al Baalbaki who visited Saadeh several times. I want to emphasize that what the leader tried to say in his famous Palestine speech was that he foresaw the tragedy before it happened and wrote and spoke about it. Palestine was his motivation and he was sad that the Arab political circles did not take his words to wakeup and see the reality. . Saadeh started writing about Palestine when he was still a mere seventeen years old lad. He talked about Jewish ambitions regarding the land and the ignorance of Syrian leaders regarding this. It was a year after this episode

that what Arabs thought to have accomplished in their dreams became a solid tragedy when the League of Nations announced the division of Palestine into Jewish and Arab states. That day Saadeh would not talk to anybody. He was in a very deep sadness…This is how he accepted the sad news of that October day in 1948… I also remember the first coup d‟etat that Husni al Zai'm did against Shukri al Quatli in Damascus. The damascene newspapers published al Zai‟m‟s pictures and explained why he rebelled. Al Zai‟m even published his principles in the newspapers. These were exact replicas of SSNP principles. The coup d‟etat was not an important one even though it changed the government in Syria. However, I know that after the change in government the Syrians were not looking so friendly toward the Lebanese any more. It was at this historical junction that the leader started ordering his colleagues to work more for the party and the cause. The leadership was not aware of what Saadeh was telling them. It did not feel the responsibility that Saadeh wanted them to carry. I remember that at the time Saadeh said nothing about the coup d‟etat in Damascus so that he and the party would stay away from any turmoil. However, when the party‟s Ladies Auxiliary organized a celebration at the home of comrades Raja and Hiyam Nasrrallah at Hadas, where many prominent people talked. Qubersi asked Saadeh to also evaluate the event. His words were clear. He called the new regime that of the Mamluks [a poor choice at the time, yet one that needed courage to announce]. He was angry at the Abdallah‟s for organizing the event and putting him at that situation before he asked his opinion regarding the event. I was sitting beside him and heard him murmur that “this is irresponsibility at its zenith…” Days passed as if we were on the mouth of a volcano. The party felt that there was a conspiracy against it and the life of its leader, who openly stated that the government was against the party. The government was trying to sabotage all of the party‟s activities be those lectures, dinners at SSNP members‟ homes. It would cancel events at the last moment by sending in gendarmes to clear crowds. This is what happened at the event taking place at the home of comrade Janin Baltaji. The evening started normal with recitations, poems, and singing, when a group of internal security forces came in. the officer in charge declared the event over. The leader had already informed party security members to surround the internal forces and not let them out... The officer saw what the situation was and started

pleading with the leader to do as the government had ordered. However, Saadeh took to the podium and delivered his talk where he said that the event is going to continue and that the SSNP condemns the government‟s one sided actions that were against logic. Those present were encouraged by what the leader said and started to shout hurrahs in the presence of the internal forces whose demeanor had changed and they sat with the guests to eat from the food and sweets that were prepared for the event. I also remember that the leader‟s birthday celebration was decided to be celebrated on March one, 1949, at the Normandie Hotel. It was made known that many political and civic personalities were going to attend it. The SSNP had already secured a written permission for the event. Invitations were sent and all preparations were done... On March one, and just before the party was to start, the government ordered the party to be canceled. Once again internal security forces were sent to the hotel to enforce the government‟s decision. SSNP members were there to inform the guests that the party was transferred to another local, the house of comrade Iskandar Shawi in al Ashrafiyye area of Beirut. The party took place at the new location. I think Sami al Sulh was there too. One of our friends captured the event on an 8mm film. This friend was an Armenian that went with the last name of Hagopian. He was from America and was teaching at the American University of Beirut [AUB]. He had met the leader once. He and his wife started visiting us. They would also attend all our events. I remember when Prof. Hagopian and his wife came to visit me when I was a prisoner at the Sednaya Monastery [near Damascus]. I was in a very sad mood. As soon as I saw them I started to cry. So did Mrs. Hagopian while she hugged me. The Hagopians used to talk only in English. They were from The United States and were sent so that the husband would teach at AUB. Their mother tongue was Armenian. Therefore, I accepted them at the Patriarch‟s [Alexander Tahhan at the time] office in the presence of the head of the monastery, Sister Maria Hassunah. It was she, Sister Hassunah, that wanted me to accept my guests at the Patriarch‟s office an in his presence. We sat there talking in English. Sister Hassunah, who was there to observe me all the time, wanted us to talk in Arabic. I told her that these people are from the United States and they speak English and Armenian only. I was mad at the way things were going, especially when Mrs. Hagopian told me that when they arrived and asked to see me the sister took their passports and wrote their names on a paper. I told the Patriarch and the sister that I would


not receive any guests under such circumstances of spying on all my moves. The result was that they started to spy on me even in my personal room… When we went to the mountains after Raghida was born the leader was preoccupied with building his new house. I know that there was some misunderstanding between comrades Edgar Abboud and William Saba regarding the architecture of the building. This misunderstanding evolved to such an extent that neither would come to see the progress of the building while the other was present. Raghida was only days old at the time. The maid I had was only eighteen years old and was not an expert. The furniture was not suitable. I had to constantly be at our Bayt Qassis home. Therefore, I knew nothing about the issues between the architects. George Abd al Masih had to bring in the building materials since he owned a truck for such purposes. He also was not accurate in his promises. The building took much longer than what was expected. Abd al Masih was the one who continued overseeing the building after the leader was martyred. At the time I was not allowed to return to Lebanon [hence my exile at Sednaya Monastery]. And al Masih finally did a good job. He had the house ready before I could return to Lebanon after the fall of President Bishara al Khuri. ***** When troubled about events and politics Saadeh used to put writing aside and would take his dog, Nick, to a walk. He would usually head toward the sea. He liked to stroll alone, while the guards followed him at a distance. Sometimes he would ask me to accompany him. I would whenever I had the time, especially when the kids were asleep. Otherwise, I would encourage him to go alone, since our third daughter, Raghida, was still too young and needed my constant attention. Upon his return Saadeh would go to the kids and would ask me to sit with him at his office. I would read while he wrote. We would assume total silence while he was writing. He would look at me from time to time and our eyes would meet. He would have a smile on his face. I always wanted to create the best atmosphere for him to write. He would write until midnight. Sometimes, if he was not finished yet, he would tell me to go sleep while he continued with his writing. I would go to our chamber but would not go to sleep until he joined me and I was sure that he was sleeping. Those times that we spent in silence were the ones when we would really explore and understand each other. How many times would he come home at three o‟clock in the morning and would find me waiting for him. . He was

really comfortable at home, because he knew that he was away from the conspiracies that were being woven around him. I would sometimes sleep with the kids so that he would have full comfort in the bedroom. He would never go directly to sleep before he came to our room and kissed us each. If I was awake the first thing he would ask was why I waited for him for so long. If I felt that he wanted to speak about the events of the day we would go to the office and he would empty his heart in front of me… After March 1, 1949, signs of tiredness were apparent on his face. He would isolate himself in the office and would write and write. He was working on the second volume of his book, “Nushu‟ al Umam,” [The Formation of Nations]. He had already finished the research and had lots of notes on index cards. He was also anxious to write his memoirs. He told me that he wanted to relegate responsibilities to other party leaders and be done with it, since most of them were not up to his expectations or at the level of their responsibilities... Therefore, he presumed, it would be better for the party if he quit administrative work and dedicated himself to writing his memoirs and expanding on the part ideology. It was as if he was feeling the danger that awaited him. He wanted to leave behind as much ideological knowledge as he could…. All this writing and researching made him sick with a hard bout of influenza. He also developed sinus infection after spending some time during an event on the roof of one comrade‟s home. He had to be in bed. It was a long sickness. The newspapers continued their smear campaign on the party and the leader. Saadeh continued to rebuff those writers from his bed. Muhammad Yussif Hammud and Muhammad al Baalbaki would visit him and critique his articles before they were published. Saadeh would also read these articles to me before sending them for publication. I knew what his pain was and would be concerned regarding the retaliations to his articles. I had known the leader in many situations. However, at this juncture, when the smear campaign against him and the party was at its zenith, he had to be at the forefront in writing and answering the blasphemers regarding the issue of Arab nationalism. Saadeh was right in his predictions regarding Palestine. He had foreseen that a year before when he wrote his article about the tragedy in Palestine. This event had its profound effect on the leader, since


he saw what the Zionists were planning and nobody was ready to accept what he told them about that at the time. After he took care of Naameh Tabit, Elias Ma‟mun and Fayiz Sayigh, there were still comrades in the party who were uncertain if Sayigh‟s ideas were against the principles of the SSNP... Some questioned the issue of why there would be no tolerance inside the party to new ideas. Those people even met with Saadeh to express and discuss their ideas. It was as if Fayiz Sayigh was there again and discussing his ideas… We were invited to a luncheon at the home of a high ranking party member, Asad al Ashqar. Al Ashqar gave a speech and those present understood that he wanted to distance himself from all ideas related to Fayiz Sayigh. He wanted to make sure that Saadeh knew that he was not tainted with the ideas of those expelled from the party. At the end of April the leader addressed the central bodies of the party and put them at their responsibilities, since many questions had arisen regarding their activity levels within the workings of the party. They were supposed to take over lots of responsibilities and they were shying away from them. The leader wanted them to know that this was not a game. The leader was aware of the impotence of these central body members and had started training some university students and new graduates to take over. He had established a portfolio for each of them and was training them in that aspect. I would see many of those young people at the office working on projects that the leader wanted them to finish. I remember Hisham Sharabi and George Atiyyeh from amongst this group. Saadeh‟s main concern was the establishing of a printed mouthpiece for the party. He would tell me that a party organ would do a great deal for the organization and would be a crucial instrument in silencing the party‟s enemies. He would say that a party newspaper would make our voice reach to all people in all corners of the Arab world. We would thus be able to awaken the regular citizen from the torpor he is in. The party organ, “al Jabal al Jadid,” [The New Mountain] was printed at Faddul‟s printing house in al Jimmayzeh. The leader‟s articles were the most important piece that people would read. Even journalists and the intelligentsia waited for them. Some would tell how exited they were with


Saadeh‟s articles, while others, mainly enemies, waited for them in order to prepare smearing replies to fill their papers‟ pages. Saadeh used to oversee all activities at the newspaper offices. He would write the editorials and see what went on each and every page. . He would do this until evening. Then he would come home for dinner. This was his “quality time,” even if the food we ate was not of quality. We would eat potatoes, tomatoes, labni, cheese, and sometimes, if we were lucky, some ham and soup. His quality time was what he spent with his wife and kids. Raghida was almost six months old at the time. She was attached tremendously to her father. She would not go to sleep until he came to her. She would know if her father was at home, even if he was away from her. If Saadeh opened her room door even marginally she would call him and hug him. From Raghida he would go to the other daughters and play with them as well. Elisar would talk to him about what she did at school. When he asked her “do you like your school,” Elisar would say “yes. I like it. I want to play by myself, because the rest of the kids are dirty and they play with dirt.” She used to attend the Lebanese Ladies Kindergarten. Safiyya was in the second grade that year and was about six years old. She was very intelligent and had a photographic memory. She memorized stories and even long poems in Classical Arabic. She would act above her real age. She went to stroll with her father and would not bother him if he was busy. She liked to sit down with him in the guest room to have tea. We would go on a trip by the see. Saadeh had found this small, isolated Swiss tea house at the beach where they played classical music. He promised to take me there. We got used to the place. It gave us some quality time away from the hodge-podge of politics and intrigues. I remember today and say to myself why is it that we did not take more trips like this to change ourselves a bit. We liked nature and we wanted to be free as the birds. We knew that the leader was not for his family. He had a mission and we were to help him in his work. It was June 9, 1949. The government had already decided to “take care” of the leader. It worked with several Kata‟ib members who worked within the security forces. It so happened that the Kata‟ib were having a celebration at a café in al Jimmayzeh near the restaurant that Saadeh used to frequent

everyday during his work at the party newspaper. Some Kata‟ib members fired on the printing house. Saadeh was quickly taken out and put in a car that sped to another area while the firing continued. It was said that they even fired at the car transporting the leader, which continued its way. Saadeh came home at around nine at night. We were still in our apartment at the Shuqayr building. I was waiting for somebody to say something. No one talked until Saadeh himself told me what happened when we were alone for a moment. The movement of the comrades in the office was not normal. More and more comrades started to arrive. Phone calls were made to officials. The leader was asking some friends about what the situation was at the printing house. A phone call came and we were informed that the printing place was engulfed in fire. He told me to gather things while he started to gather his papers and other stuff from the office. At one o‟clock in the morning we got a phone call from a “friend,” who did not want to give his name saying that the government had given order for his detention and that internal security forces were on their way to his house. Saadeh told those around him of the news. He said that his personal papers were in a small suitcase. He came to my room and hugged my. He told the comrades to take all the guns that were in the house to some place else. Nobody wanted to do that. They wanted to keep the guns in case of a skirmish with the security forces. Saadeh said that it is better to transport the guns and not to lose them. This was the farewell that I was not used to. It was a farewell after all the work we had done. A farewell overtly fabricated by the government. The leader had a lot of problems within the party. More problems arose with politicians who were extremely sectarian. Saadeh had to endure all these problems alone, especially during the months after the June incident of 1949. I was afraid when he was away from home and from what people were saying behind my back making an effort so that I could hear them. I used to see the leader as a tired person. He was tired that his comrades were not up to par with his activities. He was tired that they were not doing their utmost for the cause and for the ideology upon which they had swore. These were the things that troubled me a lot during the last days… The leader left home a little after one o‟clock in the morning. We put the guns inside blankets and bedding sheets and comrades took them away through a back door in the garden so that they won‟t be confiscated by security forces. As soon as the last of the guns were taken I heard the heavy

boots of the security forces outside. There were about sixty SSNP members including some high ranking cadres in the house. I remember Jubran Jrayj. The security forces entered the house and took over. There were many of them. The first thing they asked was what were all of us doing there? The answer was that we were all SSNP members and had come to know what happened to the leader after the incident at the printing house. The officer said that he had orders to take all of us for interrogation. “You are all under arrest,” he said. “Please follow me to the center.” Jubran told him that nobody would go until we know what the charges are against us. The officer answered that that is what we will know when we go to the center. “However—he added—if you do not obey me there is going to be a fight and I would not be responsible for the consequences.” We answered that we will not go under orders and that we had to confer between us. Jubran and some other leaders talked and came to the conclusion that a fight would not be conducive, especially with so many armed security forces around. It was decided that we will go of our own right and let us see what this is all about. Scores of SSNP members were led to the military jeeps to take them to prison. That the security forces had brought so many military cars was an indication that they knew that many party members were at the leader‟s home. The last to be taken were the guards. I, my three sleeping daughters and the maid remained at home. When the guards were informed that they had to surrender they gave their two pistols to me. I quickly hid them on myself. After taking the party members and depositing them in the prisons the security forces returned and started a thorough inspection at our home. I told them that there are only women and children in the house and how dare they do what they were doing. I also asked them why the area's Mukhtar [Prefect] isn't with them as is customary in these situations. I was told by the officer in charge, Muhammad Jawad, that the prefect was not at his home and that they need nothing but Antoine Saadeh because he is wanted. I told them he is not at home and that I do not know where he is. Regardless they started searching the house and went from one room to another in groups. I asked them that I should be present wherever they were searching. I told them that they can plant something inside and I would not know about it. Nobody cared about what I said… It was obvious that they were looking for a person rather than the things they turned upside down. They opened closets and turned over beds. They did

this more than once and at different times. When they found nothing they went to the balcony and sat on the chairs until morning. After that the officer, Muhammad Jawad, went into the leader‟s office and started looking into his papers and files. I shouted at his face: “You told me that you were looking for the leader. So what are you doing now with the papers? I won‟t let you to go through his papers.” I said this thinking that I am speaking to law enforcement people who understood the law. They just left everything as is and went outside. Some surrounded the house while others remained on the staircase. I went into the office to look at what they have done. I noticed that some things were missing like some typographic letters used in printing that we had brought with us from Buenos Aires. The leader had arranged for renting a linotype machine to use with this letters to write his articles and make them ready for printing. The security forces had also taken a recording machine that the leader‟s friend in Brazil had given it to him as a present. In the morning I heard one security forces member telling his friend: “Look at this beautiful chandelier. I am going to take it home with me.” Not only the leader‟s house but the houses of many SSNP members in Beirut and the mountains underwent the same searches. It was ironic that even though the SSNP printing house was burned and our members were only defending themselves during the Jimmayzeh incident, the whole wrath of the security apparatus was on us rather than on the side that started the shooting. It seemed that it was an orchestrated effort that had been planned in advance. Some female comrades would come to visit me and inform me that the situation was the same and that the security forces were still hunting down SSNP members and arresting them. They also informed me that the government had ordered security forces to fire on my husband whenever he was seen on the pretext that he did not follow orders to surrender. Every move the government made was an indication that their primary target was to get rid of Saadeh. The leader had gone into hiding. Very few of his closest associates new where he was hiding. I used to contact him through a comrade named Joseph Haddad from Ain Anub. He was the most trusted of the leader‟s own bodyguards. . Haddad would then himself get in touch with another comrade—I think it was central board member Elias Jirji—so that my message would reach my husband.


I heard about Saadeh three days after the Jimmayzeh incident. I learned through the means I explained earlier that he was moving from house to house always wary of the security forces… I was alone in the house with my daughters and the maid. Officer Jawad would pay us visits almost every night and would do some unlawful searching, even though he knew that that was against the law. He would come without the prefect as was customary. We hadn‟t had a sense of sleep since June 9, 1949. One day I woke up on a strong noise only to see that they took off a door from its place. We had no sleep and even food tasted bad… When I heard the noise I jumped and opened my door only to see that a pistol was directed at my head. I recognized that it was officer Jawad. I told him what he wanted and he replied that he wants to search the house again. I yelled that the kids were sleep and they had done the searching a zillion times. This was the last time I saw officer Jawad. Frankly, I was happy that they were coming to search. I was sure that as long as they were searching, the leader was alive and well. I wished that he would leave the country to a far away and unknown place… Riad al Sulh wanted to find the leader. He had many people work on this project. We had a mole. She was named Edil Sariy al Din and was a new SSNP recruit. She was tasked by al Sulh for finding the leader. She tried to wow Fayiza Antiba and told her that that Majid Arslan had contacted her and told her that he was trying to lift the arrest warrant for Saadeh and that he needed to know where he was. After inquiring from her on why she is doing this she told me about Edil and her plan. I told her that I have to ask people to know about Saadeh‟s whereabouts since I don‟t know at the moment where he is. She went to her home where Edil was apparently waiting for her. When Edil came out from Fayiza‟s house empty handed Security forces went in and arrested her [Fayiza] and took her to prison. She remained there for about three months. Her brother, Rushdi, tried to have her released but to no avail. I wrote to Saadeh that same day about what Edil was doing. I also wrote that Fayiza was arrested. I also told him that Khalil Bishara al Khuri wanted to meet him and that he had asked this to an SSNP member who came and told me about it.


My neighbor Mrs. Tabbara came out to be a real friend during those tiring times. I told her that I might be arrested too. I instructed her to take care of my daughters and especially Raghida who was ten months old. I told her that in case I was arrested I had prepared a suitcase for the kids and that she had to take them to her house. She accepted without any hesitation. ***** Yusra Hakim and her brother Ahmad used to visit me. Yusra would tell me that she is ready to work for us and she would also put me in the general political atmosphere. Her brother, who was younger than her, was also enthusiastic, but he has not on the same level as Yusra. That was why I used to avoid him. I just listened to his news, which were not that accurate. He would even tell me that he wanted to get involved in some activities, which I did not condone. Yusra used to be more accurate than some comrades that I used to get news from. The female comrades that visited me would take my letters to other comrades or to a group of them that had to meet at some place unknown to me. I used to get some instructions from Saadeh, which I used to complete very carefully. This went on for some time. I used to meet comrades away from home and in different places. Only comrade Joseph Haddad was instructed by the leader to see me. He would visit me and ask for some documents or other stuff that the leader needed. He had to climb some walls so that he would not be seen by security forces who were watching our house. I used to wait for his visits so that I would now of the latest news about my husband. At least I would know that the leader was safe, since he would ask about things only my husband knew about. None of the female comrades knew about Joseph‟s visits. This continued until my husband relocated to the mountains. I did not know what part of the mountains he had relocated to. All I knew afterwards was that he was able to meet George Abd al Masih and things were arranged for him. It might be that his decision to go to Damascus was one of these arrangements. I could not confirm this when I met my husband in Damascus for a few hours one day shy of the [Husni al Za'im‟s] revolution on July 2, 1949. The house where I met my husband was a busy place with activities regarding the military coup that was about to take place. Therefore, I had no time to understand from Saadeh what the motives were behind the Jimmayzeh incident.


I knew from Joseph that the leader had traveled to Damascus. Then comrade Fu‟ad Zahlan came to tell me that Saadeh was in Damascus and that he was all right. Some days later Widad Shawwaf and her brother Qasim came to visit me. She told me that I have to travel to al Ladiqiyya [in Syria] to see the leader. I refused since they had no written request from my husband regarding my traveling. At the time I knew nobody from the Shawwaf family in order to be sure about Widad and her brother. They left and came the second day with a small note from my husband asking me to take the children and meet him in al Ladiqiyya after some time. I took the children and the maid, as well as some clothes. I put the beddings and kitchen utensils in neighbor‟s houses. I deposited the books that belonged to a Palestinian family—the Sabbagh family most probably—with the landlord, Mrs. Shuqayr. In order to pass the borders without making it known to the authorities that I was traveling I took Yusra‟s identity card and covered my face with a thick black silk scarf so that nobody could see my face. I came out from the house of Doctor Mustafa al Khalidi since my house was being watched constantly. Widad‟s uncle‟s wife and her mother, as well as Qasim were with us in the same car. We took the seashore route all the way to al Ladiqiyya. We went down as guests at the Shawwaf family house. I do not remember how long we stayed there until we were arrested. Anyway, I do not think it was more than three or four days. We met SSNP leader Elias Jirji who was passing through al Ladiqiyya on his way for a mission whose particulars were unknown to me. He told me that the leader is in Damascus and that he is in good health. I did not tell him that I was supposed to meet my husband in al Ladiqiyya. I did so thinking that the leader perhaps did not want anyone to know about that. Besides, Elias did not mention anything about Saadeh‟s visit to al Ladiqiyya. That night, July 1, 1949, I heard people pounding the front door at three in the morning. When Mrs. Maryam Shawwaf, Um Fu‟ad [Mother of Fu‟ad], opened the door Security forces entered the house and came to the door of the room where I was staying. They said they wanted to enter and search the room. I put my rob on and opened the door. My daughters were sleep with the maid in the same room... They came in and searched the travel trunks and even my handbag. They also searched SSNP leader Fu‟ad Shawwaf‟s room, arrested him, and took him with them. At that moment I felt that the Damascus government was not on our side any more. The way they searched the house was a hint that they thought that Saadeh could have been there and

that he was the real target. I noticed that one of the security force members was looking inside the big cabinets where a person could hide. The security forces were not allowing anyone from either entering or leaving the premises. Only Qasim, Fu‟ad‟s brother was left in the house. At six o‟clock in the morning the officer came in and told me that I have to go with them and that I had to prepare myself, the kids, and the maid too. A military pick-up was in front of the house. We were all put in it with our travel trunks. They did not want to tell me where we were going. Some hours later we were about to cross the Syrian/Lebanese border at the Dabbusiyye point. The officer turned to me and said that they were not going to give me up to the Lebanese authorities. He told me that he can take me back to Lebanon. I told him that he was tasked with a specific mission. If that mission is to give me up to the Lebanese authorities I am not afraid of that because I had done nothing wrong. If however, his mission was something else, why was he not telling me where we are going? He then told me that the [Syrian] government had instructed him to take me to Damascus. I said no. He said you will like it there… We were in the car for about eight hours. They took the Tartus-Safita-Homs road. We stopped in Homs. I asked them that the kids are thirsty and hungry. They refused. I had some food and water with me and I gave these to the kids. We finally reached Damascus and were taken to Barada Hotel. Our room was on the fifth floor. We had two beds, while the maid was given a separate bed at the next room. I was still confused and could not understand what was happening to us. Why were we led to Damascus? Why were we in a hotel, room not of our choosing? Several hours later I saw that we were under the strict control of the security forces. I made dinner for the kids and breastfed Raghida and went to bed without being able to close my eyes. The day‟s events were confusing my mind. At ten o‟clock I heard a knock at the door. I opened it and found a heavy bodied man waiting there. He told me that he is the police chief and that he had come to tell me that I was free and could come out and into the hotel anytime I wished. He added that all he can say was to thank me for my cooperation. I thanked him too. Several hours later SSNP leader Najib Shuwayri came to visit me. He told me that he might come tomorrow to take me and the kids to see Saadeh. . He said that he will be there at five p.m. on Saturday, June2, 1949. He came the

next day in his car and took us on a city tour in order to avoid any security forces following us. At eight in the evening we reached the Qubbani house. When we were inside I told comrade Najib that the new made was only with us for a week before all these things started. I told him that I was unsure that she could be trusted, especially since we were going to meet Saadeh. I also told him that I had seen her talking to the security forces at the hotel and that I was suspicious of her. He said it is all right. We went into the living room where my husband was talking with some of the party members. There were other comrades in the dining room looking into a big map and some other documents while talking and discussing issues. Saadeh stood to hug us one by one. He took Raghida in his lap and kissed her while she was asleep. He said he wished she was awake so that he can play with her. . He than put Safiyya and Elisar on each knee and started playing with them. I noticed that he was very tired and that tiredness was showing on his face. He left us and went to the dining table where comrades wanted his opinions regarding some issues. All of them look tired. It was obvious that we were living in dangerous moments. At ten Saadeh asked me to remain, while he instructed comrades to take the kids and the maid to the hotel. Najib went with the kids. We went to his room and sat on his bed talking about all the things that happened since the Jimmayzeh event. I learned how he traveled to Damascus with a crooked identity card with some friends. He told me how Husni al Za‟im welcomed him during the first meeting and gave him a pistol as a gift on their second meeting. He told me how he was enthusiastic to help the SSNP revolution in Lebanon and how he later backed from his previous stance. He told me how al Za‟im said to him that he could not help with the revolution in Lebanon, since he has to strengthen himself and his revolution in Damascus and that the revolution in Lebanon is the SSNP‟s business alone. Saadeh told me how he wrote to his comrades in Lebanon about al Za‟im‟s aloofness regarding the situation in Lebanon and that it maws better to postpone the revolution because Syria was not going to back it up. He told me how the comrades were furious at al Za‟im‟s treachery. He told me that after thinking a lot he decided to support the comrades since he could not leave them at this critical point and that he has to take the responsibility on his shoulders. Years later I remembered our talk when I was talking to George Abd al Masih in 1955. Abd al Masih told me that yes it was him who put Saadeh on the spot regarding the revolution in Lebanon.

I asked Abd al Masih why he told Saadeh that he must keep on with the revolution in Lebanon when he [George] himself had said to me that the SSNP was not ready for the revolution. Abd al Masih shouted at me and said. There was no way back. We told we would have hundreds of people and not even seventeen showed up. He concluded by saying that what had happened had happened and that was it… We talked until two o‟clock in the morning. I asked him if he had a plan for his safety in case the revolution failed. He told me when was it that the leader thought about his own safety? He did not answer me when I insisted upon my question. He gave me a sum of 6,000 Syrian Liras [pounds] and told me that it came from a comrade living overseas for the house to be built in Duhur al Shuwayr. Outside I found comrades Isam al Mahayiri, Najib al Shuwayri, and Edil Saab sitting in the living room. I told them that they have to come up with a plan to have Saadeh out of Lebanon in case the revolution failed. They asked me if this is what Saadeh wanted. I told them that he never thinks that way, but, are we ready to loose him? I reached my hotel room at three in the morning. I wanted to be beside my husband. I put the kids and the maid at the house of a comrade so that I can be near my husband. Next day was Sunday, July 3, 1949 Edil visited me at the hotel and I asked her to give me a room in her house. She said that she was sorry and could not offer me a room since she had other renters in the house. I asked the same thing from comrade Najib. I wanted to be away from the eyes of the security forces and be able to see my husband more. He promised that he will look into the issue and went. Next day Maaruf Saab visited me. We talked about what would happen if the revolution failed and on how could we keep Saadeh safe? This conversation too ended without a tangible result. On Tuesday the news of the revolution‟s failure were in all the newspapers. I was angry that nobody listened to me when I brought about the very important subject of this failure. When SSNP leader Ajjaj al Mukhtar came to visit me I shouted at him in a voice filled with pain and agony. „Take me to my husband. I want to be with him,” I told him. “Put me in any place but take me away from this hotel room,” I shouted and continued: “Just let me live in a room and know who their owners are.” Only one answer kept

coming to me; “Please be patient Mrs. Saadeh. Give us a couple of days and we will find you a house.” This is what comrade Najib Shuwayri told me too. I felt that none of them understood my true feelings and the disturbance that engulfed me. As soon as it was Wednesday I decided to do something against my conscience. I did this because at the time I believed that those who were telling me that they could not take me to the leader were seeing him every day but were not allowed to comply with my request of seeing my husband. I also believed that nobody was aware of the level of my disturbance. It was eleven o‟clock in the morning when Maaruf Saab and Bashir Musally visited me. Maaruf told me that Saadeh was going to meet Syria‟s new president, Husni al Za‟im at ten o‟clock that night at the Presidential Palace. This news came like a lightning on my head. I was thinking for a long time how high a price we had paid for allying ourselves with this stance-shifting person. As soon as I heard Maaruf talking about the meeting I shouted: “What kind of understanding can we have with this person who betrayed us more than once? How can we put our faith in him? I only see him as a person who shifts sides as it suites him. So how can we trust him after this revolution?” I pleaded to comrade Bashir: “I can not stay here for a minute. I want to go where Saadeh is. I want to talk to him. I want to tell him that I am very disturbed regarding his meeting with this Husni al Za‟im guy. What is the matter with you? You come and you go and you see my husband, while I, his wife, can not see him even for a moment.” Maaruf told me that they had no time and that the leader was now in a far place which only he knew. I told him: “do you have time if I throw myself from the balcony. Would not you be required to arrange for my funeral? Is not this a more consuming job than taking me to see Saadeh for ten minutes? I am getting mad at the way you are treating me. Maaruf told me that he can not take me and that he had no place for me. However, he said that comrade Bashir will take me to his home. He also mentioned before he left that he expects a lot of good from this meeting with al Za‟im. I told him that I do not expect any good from the meeting. “How,” I concluded would this meeting generate any good when all the meetings before the defunct revolution were bad?” I took my daughters and my maid and went to comrade Bashir‟s home. We decided to leave our suitcases at the hotel so that the guards would not notice that we were leaving for good. We also asked comrade George Baladi who

worked at the Ministry of Commerce near Barada Hotel to pay the hotel bill and bring the suitcases in the afternoon to comrade Bashir‟s home. Comrade Bashir‟s sister, comrade Usayma, and their relative Amal were at home when we arrived. So where Bashir‟s brothers, Munzir, Ziyad, and Walid. I was very happy to see all of them. The next day, Thursday, July 7, however, Security forces stormed the house just after we had our lunch. They ordered me to be transported to St Sednaya Monastery, which was a short distance outside Damascus. When they showed up I knew that something was very wrong. I thought that they might have apprehended Saadeh or even handed him over to the Lebanese government. I also was very disturbed since Maaruf Saab did not show up to tell me how the meeting went. So I asked the security forces why they were taking me to Sednaya. They told me that it was for my and my daughters‟ protection. I said that I was capable to take care of myself and my daughters and that they should not bother. They answered back that these were their orders and that they had to comply with them. Comrade George Baladi was with them. Actually he had brought them since he knew the owner of Barada Hotel and the security forces had asked him to take them to where I was staying. I asked George to ask Adib Chichakly about me being taken to Sednaya. George went and came back to tell me that Adib had told him that it was better for me to go with the security forces. I gave him the sum that Saadeh had given to me and that was earmarked for the building of the home in Duhur al Shuwayr. I told him to give him back to my husband. I also told him to tell Saadeh not to remain in the country and to go as far away as possible. I also instructed him to tell my husband that he should not bother about me. However, events had taken a negative direction. The conspiracy of killing Saadeh had already been arranged and I was still away from him. We went to Sednaya. The Monastery‟s Head Sister put us in a room with only one old bed. We stayed there for two days. We asked for some mattresses and were given some so that the children could have a better place to sleep. I saw that there was a policemen on guard outside the door at all times. I understood that we were under unofficial house arrest. We asked to transfer to another room with at least two beds. We transferred to our new room and we stayed there until we left Sednaya months later. *****



At the end of February 1949 my wife and children were the guests of Saadeh‟s wife, the First Lady of the party. I was still working one night at my office at the Maarad Street. The phone rang at 9 o‟clock. It was Saadeh speaking. He told me that the celebration for March 1 is next Sunday at the Normandy Hotel and that some governmental figures and journalists had been invited. He also told me that it was decided that the head of the radio station—whose name I don‟t recall now-- was to introduce him. “Is this possible when you are around,” he told me. I told him that the decision was that of the party‟s central committee. “That might be their decision, but mine is that you will introduce me. I am waiting for you. Your wife and kids are here. We are waiting…” I was happy that Saadeh‟s faith in me had not dwindled even though I was not completing my assignments in the party because I was preoccupied by my work. I got a taxi and rushed to his house. Saadeh‟s middle daughter, Elisar, was very upset that evening. She didn‟t give her father time to talk to me. I don‟t want that, I don‟t want that she was repeating. He carried her with gentleness and started playing with her in her bedroom until she was calmed down. He then told me a bout his decision that I should introduce him and told me that he was going to inform the president of the central committee about that. It is really strange how the Lebanese government persecuted the leader and the party. It is true that the Lebanese always gather the heavy price of their mistakes. When it ordered the closure of our “al Nahda” newspaper we replaced it with the al Jewel al Jadid.”…And now it ordered to prevent the March 1 celebration at the Normandy Hotel. When the National Security inspectors informed me of this decision they told me: “You can celebrate at the house but not at the hotel. You are forbidden to go out demonstrating on the street.”


It seems that after this order it was decided to have the march 1 celebration for SSNP members at the home of comrade Hani Baltaji in Ras Beirut, near the Hbeysh police precinct. A big crowd gathered in the halls and the garden of the house. While the leader was delivering his speech standing on a chair with comrades Jubran Jrayj and some of the knights of the party voices were heard from outside. Somebody told the leader that the police of the precinct wanted to come in and that they will use force if their request is not met. Saadeh ordered them to come in and asked the party members to be hospitable to them. The sergeant and three policemen came in while the others waited outside. Saadeh continued his speech in a very calm manner. The speech was considered as mental preparation for the revolution. What I remember of the event is that I was with the First Lady in the Eastern Hall. As soon as the police tried to enter and I tried to stop them she turned to me and said: “I want to fight with my husband.” The big celebration of March 1 to which government representatives, lawyers, doctors, journalists, and other important people were invited and that was supposed to take place at Normandy Hotel was transferred to the house of comrades Iskandar and Fu‟ad Shawi in al Ashrafiyye district of Beirut. It was decided that I introduce Saadeh and one of his first aids, Dr. Hisham Sharabi give the welcoming remarks. We left some comrades at the Normandy Hotel so that they can transfer those who didn‟t know of the transfer to al Ashrafiyye. I remember that Prime Minister Sami al Sulh arrived at the hotel and some comrades brought him to al Ashrafiyye. I also remember that Jean Tayyan, the leader of the lawyers‟ syndicate, was amongst those present. My speech was very poetic. I started it by how I perceived the victory of the awakening, which was being celebrated in the presence of a big crowd, while Saadeh was mounting a horse and was accompanied by horse riding army knights while entering the celebration square. The speech he gave that night was his farewell speech. It was the speech of March 1, 1949, after which we don‟t remember Saadeh delivering another speech. I want to reproduce this speech in its entirety, because what he said in it was a revolution in itself:


“The pot of awakening is boiling,” said Saadeh at comrade Baltaji‟s home. That pot was boiling indeed, because the waiting in Saadeh‟s and his SSNP members‟ chests had reache3d its peak… It had peaked as it had before during the reign of President Bishara al Khuri‟s and Riyad al Sulh‟s times. It was peaked because of accumulated layers of corruption and persecution against the party and the whole Lebanese people (the best example in demonstrating the situation would be the may 25, 1947 elections). This all proved without any doubt that there was the sincere urgency of a revolution against the rulers who persecuted the party and the people. The question that asserts itself is why all this talk about the revolution that was in the process of happening. Wasn‟t the party itself a statement of refusal to the status-quo in Lebanon, the Fertile Crescent, and the Arab world at the time? Wasn‟t the party‟s ideology and rules evidence enough that the reason for the revolution was to change the existing ruling elites and their educational, economical, and social, military, police, and secret infrastructures and to bring forth a new structure to replace what already was decaying with its sectarian, feudal, chaotic, tribal ailments that were degrading for the people and society at the same time? Could bringing forth such new government structures happen by mere speeches, political agitation and hurrahs? Or it could only be achieved with iron and fire when the hour of reality bangs. Wouldn‟t this happen when the party was at the zenith of its power with its cadre and popularity strong? Then of course, isn‟t there in Saadeh‟s speech at Bshamun, from the balcony of comrade Adil Mas‟ud in 1948, indications that the man had become a living martyr when he shouted: “Life is but only a proud stance. My life is worth only that to me.” Also, what were the indications in our Arab world, or the whole world for that mater, that informed us that the destiny of our land and people with the Sykes-Picot Agreement of World War I had stopped with the French army leaving our country? Wasn‟t the calamity of Hagana‟s and Aragon‟s bands‟ stealing the big part of Palestine enough to shake our people in the whole Arab world, which was boiling with the demand of ridding itself from the leaders who caused that calamity to happen?

Saadeh was cautioning even before his party was formed, about the loss of Palestine. The declaration of the formation of Israel on May 15, 1948 was enough to move all revolutionary forces to fight against the complacent existing regimes and to replace them with progressive regimes that know their responsibilities and how to react to devious programs of partitioning the Arab people and immerse it in new catastrophes. And more importantly, wasn‟t Husni al Za‟im‟s successful coup d‟etat and his program of separation of religion and state and his call to the youth to take responsibility, a strong indication for Saadeh to make his revolution happen in Lebanon, which would—in the case it succeeded—make it a beacon to its surrounding environment…

Saadeh asked me to visit my friend, former judge Nazim Raad, who had been appointed as head of the Lebanese police force. This meeting was to take place on June 9, 1949. My task was to inform Raad to the party meeting that the Kata‟ib party had announced for that day at a café near their headquarters in Jimmayzeh. I went to see Raad a day earlier. He met me and I told him about the danger of a clash between SSNP and Kata‟ib members because of the big crowd that would gather at the café. This danger was eminent especially since Riyad al Sulh was successful in finding a modus-vivandi between the Kata‟ib and the Najjadah parties, who were now united against the SSNP whose newspaper, al Jeel al Jadeed, was printed in Jimmayzeh, at the printing house of comrade Michelle Faddul. It so happened, that Faddul‟s printing house was directly opposite the café where the enlarged Kata‟ib meeting was to take place. Raad promised me to take the necessary measures in case anything happened on the condition that SSNP members would not be the ones to start any skirmish. I went to Saadeh and told him what had transpired during my meeting with Raad. The strange thing was that I was content with what Mr. Nazim Raad told me, since I new him as a friend and a very clean judge, who had been on the bench during our trial in December 1936, which resulted in a very just decision being rendered. So next day I went about my work. I didn‟t know

what happened during that cursed day until comrade Fawzi al Maaluf— former President of A.U.B.‟s Alumni Association and the son of a well respected family in whose ancestral home the SSNP was formed-- knocked on my door at 10 p.m. asking me to go directly to Saadeh‟s house. I was worried of such an order at this late time in the night. Nevertheless, we went to the leader‟s house only to see that it was full with party members with lots of weapons around. Saadeh was in his office angry, nervous, with lines showing on his forehead. The revolution was coming out of his eyes before his mouth. I sat down with the other Central Committee leaders. It was from their reports that I finally understood what had transpired that day. Apparently Saadeh was at his office at the newspaper when he saw a bunch of Kata‟ib members on the street. He decided to leave so that his presence would not be construed as a provocation for a skirmish. He went down with his driver, Ali Awad to take his car. As soon as the driver opened the car door and Saadeh got in the crowd became agitated at his presence and started throwing stones at the car. The driver, however, started the car and they were on their way, when the crowd passed the front door of the printing house and attacked by firing inside. Five of our comrades who worked at the newspapers were injured. They were taken to Otel Deaux Hospital under heavy police guard. Our comrades at the newspaper had no weapons to defend themselves. I remember that comrades Victor Asaad, Wadih al Ashqar, and Fu‟ad al Shawi were among the injured comrades that day. Comrade Jubran Jrayj was standing beside Saadeh. He was asked by us what he saw at the Kata‟ib headquarters since Saadeh had sent him over for surveillance. He said that the headquarters was surrounded by Kata‟ib members and police forces. He also said that he met Mr. Hamid Mu‟awwad, who told him that the Kata‟ib were preparing just in case the SSNP decided to attack the headquarters. The Kata‟ib was not wrong in their estimation. Saadeh had called upon many fighters. I saw them and their weapons as well as bottles filled with fuel and wrapped around with nails. Jrayj wanted us to be very cautious in what future steps we take. Saadeh calmed down. He asked me, Jrayj and comrade Ibrahim Yammut to go to the Jimmayzeh police precinct and to get permission to talk with our wounded comrades at the hospital.


He also ordered Jrayj and Yammut to go to the party office on Maarad Street to bring something from there. It was 11:30 p.m. by now. We first went to the Maarad office, and then stopped at the Jimmayzeh precinct. The roads seemed almost deserted since people feared SSNP revenge… At the precinct we were met by district attorney Asaad al Badawi. He was a professional and clean judge. He too was nervous. He asked me what I was doing there. I told him that I came to get permission to visit our wounded comrades since they might need help or something. Before answering me he was called over by police commissioner Isam Halwani who told him that it was better to send a police force to Ras Beirut. When the commissioner saw me he had already uttered his words. I quickly understood that that force intended for Ras Beirut was being sent against us… I looked inside the room where the attorney general went and I saw Sheikh Pierre al Jmayyil, and Mr.‟s Joseph Shader, Joseph Saadeh, and Jaques Shadid, all important Kata‟ib cadres. They were sitting in complete science as waiting for something very important. I went down to tell my comrades that it‟s best for us to go quickly to Saadeh, since a police force was being sent over to where he was. When we approached the big tree near the leader‟s house and to the south of al Khalidi Hospital we saw him and others with weapons. I asked the leader to leave the place at once to a safe place because I know that a police force was coming over to capture him. I explained to him what I saw at the precinct. We went to the front door of Dr. Fu‟ad Ghusn‟s house near the British Cultural Center. We were joined there with Edgar Abboud, Khalid Jumblat, Fu‟ad al Shawi, Kamil Abu Kamil, and comrade Miss. Mu‟azzaz Rawdah. Saadeh ordered al Shawi to go to the Kata‟ib headquarters in al Jimmayzeh to attack it. Of course this order remained an order and was never materialized. Saadeh got into a car while I and the rest of the above mentioned comrades stood aside. I asked him: “Don‟t forget to send us instructions on what to do.” He answered back: “My instructions will be as much as the information you send to me…” These were the last words of Saadeh that I heard. They were the last words of farewell.


The car raced away to the house of comrade Rawdah in al „Uzaii. When the police arrived at Saadeh‟s house they couldn‟t find him there. They apprehended everybody else in the house. The leader had ordered the rest of us to not sleep in our houses. My wife and two kids, Dayaa‟ and Hanan were visiting their uncle, Bishop Bulos al Khuri of Sayda and Sur, who resided at Jdeydet Marjaayun. It was almost 2:00 a.m. I asked myself where I can go to at this time. I went home with Duha, Sabah, and Atif. They slept while I thought about how we were all in the mouth of a giant volcano about to burst… I left my kids at their uncle‟s. I put Saadeh‟s letters to me—about 20—as well as other party documents into a suitcase. I had prepared two options in my mind; I could stay with my mother‟s uncle‟s brother, the good man Jirjis Shiykhani (A.K.A. Petromin) who lived in the middle of Wadi-Abu-Jamil, or I could try to stay at my old friend George Sarkis‟ (Kaftun) house. I went to the first house only to be met with cold faces even though I knew how much he loved me and my family. I knew that I was not welcomed. I later knew the reason of the coldness. Jirjis was a courageous, loving, and benevolent person. So was his wife. However, the apartment beside theirs‟ was rented by a policeman. That was dangerous for me and them. George Sarkis‟s home is somewhat isolated on a street forking from al Makhul Street. I went there and I was sure that I was going to my own home. Our lovely brother, who was Saadeh‟s bodyguard when the party was still underground, took me aside and whispered in my ear that he was being watched. He also told me that A.U.B., his work boss, has instructed employees to not have any relations with political parties whatsoever. I was sad. 40 years has passed since this event. George Sarkis is dead, yet he remains as one of the best friends I could remember. I understood the situation that my family and friends were put in on that day. I don‟t keep any grudge regarding them. I had to find a safe-house for me under any circumstances. I took my suitcase and went to the home of A.U.B.‟s pharmacist, my friend Michelle Ref1ah. I stayed in a room used for mixing pharmaceuticals. Soon comrade Nasri Surur, Comrade George Abd al Masih, came to visit me. I asked him to put all my papers into a tin can and close it firmly before burying it in the garden of their home so that it won‟t get any dampness from the ground. He did this with the help of his father. The sad thing was that Nasri was

apprehended as an SSNP member partaking in the revolution. Out of fear his father unearthed the documents and burned them. All the letters that Saadeh had written to me were thus destroyed. I later found one letter from him to me amongst the leader‟s papers and published it. It was a letter he wrote to me from Cyprus. In it he says: “If the British government hands me over to the French It would be as if you, Abdallah, were the one who did it.” The letter is published in his three volume letters collection. I had to find a place. I had an Idea. I went to the house of Francis Saleh, the fiancé of my wife‟s sister, comrade Miss. Leyla Barbir. He lived with his mother and a relative on Madam Currie Street, opposite the White house that remains until today. This house was destroyed several months ago. Francis Saleh-- whose name is going to be mentioned a lot in this memoirs—was a very calm nationalist. He was generous, secretive and artistic. He and his mother welcomed me to their home. He gave me a room that resembled a prison cell since I was unable to go out and come in to it during the day. I had to do this since his relative who lived there operated a tailoring atelier tailor with lots workers and customers visiting her during the day. My wife knew where I was hiding when she returned from Marjaayun that day. She was nervous and afraid… It had been 6 years since our release from the Miyeh-u-Miyeh Prison. We had forgotten the prison, its dirtiness, and its torture… Once again prison came to me in the form of my room with its closed curtains and windows. I could not see the sun all day long. Francis‟ mother and her relative would bring me my daily food and drink early in the morning before the workers arrived. They would also bring me all the newspapers published in Beirut. My wife had brought party publications and other books to me. Nobody, even my kids, was allowed to see me. My wife would only come with her sister and see me by taking all precautions. It was mainly from her that I was informed of what was happening outside. Riyad Sulh‟s government started an all-out-war against us. The intention was to get rid of Antoine Saadeh and his party. We were accused of the highest level of treason. The SSNP was “Lebanon‟s number one enemy.” Moreover, “It collaborates with the Jews” even though it was formed to fight

against them. The rulers didn‟t leave any rumor they didn‟t use against us. So did the Lebanese, Arab, and foreign newspapers. They wanted to vilify and humiliate us before giving us the coup de grace. My wife used to think that Riyad al Sulh was a personal friend of her maternal uncle, the lawyer Fahim Khuri-- who was one of the founders of “Ismat al Amal al Qawmi” party (The Esteem of National Work Party) together with Ali Nasir al Din, Salah Bayhum, Qustantin Yeni, Fu‟ad al Nakad, and Muhammad Ali al Ruz… Therefore, she was adamant in making her uncle interfere with my affair in order to save me from a more cruel punishment. She couldn‟t ask him at the beginning when the campaign against us was at its peak and he too was condemning us. Before Saadeh‟s announcement of the revolution, and in the presence of a legal certificate for the party to operate, lots of accusations were being thrown at the part. And even though the Attorney General of the Court of Appeals, Yussif Sharbil, did sign an order that we should not be watched. This continued up until the Jimmayzeh event. After that all hell broke lose. Even though we were the victims of that incident, we became the criminals. The real criminals were not prosecuted. Sharbil tried to find other means to finish us because he knew that he couldn‟t do it in a legal way. Regardless of this legal issue about which we knew later from people close to President Bishara al Khuri, the government‟s instructions to the police, security, and judicial forces were clear; Do whatever is deemed necessary to get rid of the SSNP. I remember, for example, that they went into high ranking comrade Inaam Raad‟s house and they started to cut of the carpets into pieces, they threw food stuff they found in the kitchen. They destroyed furniture. They did the same in the case of high ranking comrade Yussif al Ashqar too. They also took a big sum of money they found at the latter‟s residence. The two examples I give are for the sake of history. Many SSNP members‟ houses were treated the same way... Only with the help of some honest policemen and judicial employees did some of our members reach peace. I think that my and other high ranking party members‟ homes were left unharmed because of our political and social stature. Throughout my political career I was a lawyer and my syndicate never left me alone. In this

regards I have but to attest to the honesty and courage of some friends and mentors such as Najib al Debs, Jean Shalakh, Edmond Kaspar, Fu‟ad al Khuri, Fu‟ad Rizq, Nemr Wahbi, Fillip Saadeh, George Philipides, and Jebra‟il Nassar.

I said before, that during the first days of his hiding Saadeh was at the villa of Mu‟azzaz Berto Rawdah in al Uzaii. From there he moved to Aley. Before we talk about why he left to Damascus we must discuss the reasons behind that move. Damascus was living the era of Husni al Za‟im. This was the era of the first such revolutionary period in the Arab world that took place at the beginning of 1949. Our dear, old comrade Akram al Huwrani was one of the heroes of this new era. He later played an important role during the [Gamal] Abd al Nasser‟s era [in Egypt] where he was appointed as an advisor to Nasser. When he was elevated to such a position he forgot the SSNP and the ideology on which he had given his auth of allegiance. We were in favor of Husni al Za‟im‟s coup d‟etat because Akram was behind it. He came and told us how the new regime was tossing out all the decaying traditions of the past. He also spoke about how these revolutionary changes would topple the rulers of Lebanon, such as Prime Minister Riyad al Sulh and President Bishara al Khuri. From the beginning Saadeh knew that his movements were going to be rejected by these two ruling men. He knew this because they knew that Husni al Za‟im was a natural ally to Saadeh against both of them. That‟s why he left his home in Ras Beirut in April [1949] to live first at the home of a faithful—now deceased-- SSNP collaborator, Iskandar Nasrallah, who was the father of our—now deceased—comrade Raja Nasrallah and Amina Nasrallah (nee Muhsin—the latter being one of the high ranking female cadres of the party and a famous literary figure of the time, as well as the wife of ex party leader Abdallah Muhsin. Without asking for permission first I took my wife and children to al Hadas, a suburb of Beirut to meet Saadeh and see how he was doing, what was the situation after the surprising coup d‟etat in Damascus, since I was also the president of the political wing of the party.

We were just nearing the house where Saadeh was when we were greeted with hurrahs and whistling. Lots of comrades from al Hadas and Beirut had gathered outside the house. I saw our central committee member Fayiza Maaluf introducing the speakers from a speaker that was situated above the main entrance to the house. As soon as she saw me she announced that it was time for me to deliver my speech. As a practicing lawyer and an orator since my childhood I didn‟t hesitate to accept her challenge. I asked some comrades to take off my winter coat I was wearing. Al Za‟im‟s coup d‟etat came to my mind. I took the microphone and delivered a speech about the revolution in Syria. I remember that I started my speech by saying: „Any military coup d‟etat that is not preceded by a revolution of minds and souls is an unfinished revolution. The power that the revolutionaries get from the military is nothing but an extension to the will and power of the people. It is the people who will judge in the end. They will either stand or support the revolution so that it moves forward, or they will shun away from it at let it fail…” I concluded by saying: “Why did you call upon me to deliver this speech?" When the leader is among us it is he and only he that must talk to us and we will listen. Please Speak OUR LEADER…” Saadeh stood in front of that small crowd first to congratulate me for my oratory, something I am proud of until today. Then he announced: It is not bad that we are called dictators if we want to bring down corrupt dictators. We are proud that we fight against dictatorship and corruption wherever and whenever we find it.” This speech was recorded by central committee member Ibrahim Yammut and was published in one of our newspapers, al Binaa‟… When the speaking was over I went to Saadeh to ask him to leave. He took my hand and squeezed hard on it congratulating me for my speech. I realized that there was something else behind the congratulation. While in the car returning to Beirut I told my wife, Georgette: “Tonight I will receive a reprimand letter from the leader.” She said that I had done a good job Abd

that Saadeh seemed happy with what I have done. I told her that Saadeh showed his disturbance about what I said through how he held my hand. It was almost 11:00 p.m. and I was about to take off my clothes to prepare to sleep when I heard the door bell ringing. I told my wife that this is a messenger from Saadeh with the reprimand letter. She laughed mockingly while I opened the door. Comrade Fawzi al Maaluf brought me a letter printed on a typewriter (which is published in Saadeh‟s 3 volume letters collection0. I opened it and read two criticisms: First: As the president of the party‟s political wing how could I take a stance regarding Husni al Za‟im‟s revolution without first consulting with other members of the political commission and reaching a decision concerning our stance regarding that revolution. Second: How could I pronounce that “when the Leader is among us and when he is with us only he talks?” Aren‟t there other orators in the party? The party has scores of such talented people. Saadeh is not the only orator and thinker. And lastly, why put the leader into such a position before consulting him? I accepted the criticisms happily. Saadeh always taught us the right way, the way of the mind, reason, and responsibility. We still learn from him even at our middle life age. We kept learning from him even after his martyrdom. He is the model we always try to emulate. The letter had no negative effect on our relationship. Shortly after this he called upon me and comrades Abdallah Saadeh, Khalid Jumblat, Abdallah Muhsin, Adib Qaddura to meet him. He asked us to form a delegation under the presidency of comrade Abdallah Saadeh to quickly go to Damascus. As soon as we reach Damascus comrade Maaruf Saab would join us and we would ask for a meeting with Husni al Za‟im to congratulate him for the success of the revolution and ask him to assist us in our efforts to topple the existing regime in Lebanon and build a new government that would be a loyal ally to him and his government in Damascus. We all went in the same car on a Sunday. We all thought that our mission was going to be easy and successful. On our way we saw an official motorcade pass us by. Lebanese Prime Minister Riyad al Sulh was also heading to Damascus to meet Husni al Za‟im! This was a catastrophe. Our

mission became an impossible one. Sulh would be able to turn al Za‟im‟s beliefs upside down against us. We were not sure that we would be able to meet him since his time would be devoted to his meetings with the official Lebanese delegation. We sent comrade Adib Qaddura to the Orient Palace Hotel, which was one of the most elegant in Damascus at the time. We asked him to survey the situation for us. He knew Riyad al Sulh and he was able to meet him and the other members of his delegation. I must state here that Qaddura was married to the niece of Syria‟s ex president, Shukri al Quatli, who was ousted and imprisoned by Husni al Za‟im. We had to be very cautious in order not to have any contact with the official Lebanese delegation while in Damascus. Our mission had to be shrouded in total secrecy. We went to the Souk al Hamidiyeh area to find a restaurant and a hotel. Our intention was to meet with al Za‟im even if that was very late at night. At 5 or 6 p.m. we called the presidential palace. Comrade Adib talked personally with Husni al Za‟im Abd told him that we are in Damascus since morning. Al Za‟im answered that he had eaten heavily with Riyad Bek and that he wasn‟t feeling well. He asked us to postpone our meeting with him. We were very angry. We went to find a hotel. Comrade Abdallah Saadeh was inspecting the bedding with his nose to see if it was clean. A clean person of the soul searches for everything that is clean!!! We ate at a local eatery. We were surprised to see Mr. Abd al Rahman al Sulh, the son of Lebanon‟s ex Prime Minister Sami al Sulh, there. He was a very good friend and ally to Husni al Za‟im and was rumored to become the next prime minister of Lebanon. We were happy to meet him because he was also a friend and ally to us. He remained like that until his death… We returned to Beirut without accomplishing our mission. However, comrade Maaruf Saab had taken care of the situation in Damascus. The situation was opportune for us. Husni al Za‟im was searching for allies in Lebanon. Who else except our party could be that ally, especially since our comrade of the time, Akram Huwrani was with al Za‟im at the time. I had mentioned before that Saadeh was trying to find honest and serious means to get weapons for the revolution. The revolution in his mind was

either a dream or a big mistake. It could be the reason for the party‟s demise, since Riyad al Sulh and Bishara al Khuri used the implication of it to create the al Kata‟ib-al Najjadah alliance. Therefore, the revolution was a sacred duty now. How did I know that? Comrade Joseph Haddad from Ain Anub was from a loyal and known SSNP family. He was with Saadeh all the time. Saadeh sent him to meet me at comrade Jubran Jrayj‟s home, while the latter was imprisoned for some time. Joseph came to me with comrade Jubran's niece, and comrade Fu‟ad Qatrib. Joseph told me that Saadeh wanted to know where I was hiding so that he can send for me to join him at any given moment. Joseph also told me that comrade Iskandar al Shawi and others are in constant communication with our fighters, and that the revolution will be announced soon and that all comrades are waiting for Saadeh‟s order. Furthermore, Joseph also confided in me that many Syrian fighters would join us when the fighting starts. Comrade Joseph Haddad is still living. He is honest in his beliefs. He is a witness to what I mention here. I have to call upon him as a witness since some villains fabricated the rumor that Saadeh asked for me to join him while I opted to keep low and safe. This is nothing but a cheap lie…

Comrade Joseph Haddad told me That Saadeh is hiding in their house in Aley since several days. He also mentioned that he had to move to comrade Fu‟ad Zahlan‟s house because a stray bullet mistakenly fired from the rifle of one of his guards had created some commotion on the street, thus opening the door for speculations. Letters between Damascus and Aley were going back and forth. The contact in Damascus was comrade Maaruf Saab The president of the Damascus political wing of the party. Communications with Syrian military personnel (officers, soldiers) were conducted by Iskandar Shawi and Joseph Haddad. Saadeh had to meet Husni al Za‟im who was now insisting on meeting him. It was at the Zahlan house that a plan was drawn up of how to smuggle the Leader to Damascus.

When we were in Venezuela comrade Zahlan told me how he was able to smuggle Saadeh from Aley to Damascus. He said: “Saadeh put on a European hat and some dark colored sunglasses. He set in the back seat of the car while Um Hisham sat beside him. Honestly, I think Saadeh was frightened from the journey. We moved from Aley at 2:00 p.m. in June of 1949. The situation was very dire in Lebanon. The government had spies all over searching for Saadeh. All our friends had turned against us. Even the Communists feared us because they thought that we were Facist terrorists. They were betraying SSNP members by showing the police with their fingers about any of our members even if they had been out of the party or had nothing to do with it anymore. That is why Saadeh‟s fears were reasonable. “The plan was as follows: “Comrade Fu‟ad Zahlan‟s car (carrying Saadeh) would pass without stopping at the Masnaa checkpoint at the Lebanese Border. After that comrade Edgar Abboud, driving another car, would enter the checkpoint legally and wait to be allowed to pass. After this second car left the checkpoint. Saadeh would come down from Zahlan‟s car and get into Abboud‟s car. At the Syrian checkpoint at Jdeydet Yabus, SSNP members would wait for Saadeh with governmental officials to greet and to transport him to Damascus (The wife of comrade Fu‟ad Zahlan insists until today that her now deceased husband delivered Saadeh to our people at Yabus). The plan was successful. Saadeh got to the other car, while Zahlan returned to the Masnaa checkpoint to apologize for his behavior. Zahlan was a master in apologizing and making friends out of enemies. He was able to solve his predicament and show his and the car‟s identity cards and return. This was a well devised plan that enabled Saadeh to go through the border without any problems. He was now in the hospitality of the SSNP Damascus Branch and Husni al Za‟im himself. I don‟t have any details about Saadeh‟s stay in Damascus. I was told through a source whose accuracy I can‟t confirm, that Saadeh had all party leaders including Maaruf Saab, Jirji Qneyzih, Abdallah Muhsin, and Isam Mahayiri

(Who was the party‟s official spokesman in Damascus and he trusted him a lot) to a meeting where he discussed the issue of a coup in Lebanon after he listened to their points of view: “Let‟s say that one of you was walking with his sister or wife in an isolated place and had no weapon on him. An armed man approaches them and tries to rape the sister or the wife. Would you let this happen even though you know what will happen to you next?” All of them answered: “we would fight without a doubt.” Saadeh Continued: “The sister or the wife is not more precious than liberty in Lebanon. This liberty has been raped. Can we stay silent against those who rape freedom in our country?” The answer was: “No, never.” The source told me that this was unanimous answer of all who were present. “Let‟s go to revolution then. Let‟s get prepared.” The plan of the revolution—as it was related to me by some of those who were at this meeting and whom I met later in 1949 at prison or outside, like comrade Munir al Shaar—was as follows. 1. Take over the Rashayya Castle and the area under the leadership of comrade Zeyd al Atrash. 2. Take over the police precinct at Mashghara and move from there to Shtura to meet with the tribes that had promised to off the main road against the military. 3. Cut off the Aley-Beirut road from Ser Hammul where an SSNP force is stationed under the leadership of George Abd al Masih, whom Saadeh had raised to the level of second in command in the party. 4. Take over the police precinct at Mtayn under the leadership of now deceased comrade Emil Raad. 5. Take over the police precinct at Brummana. 6. Take over the police precinct at Ghbayri in Burj-al-Barajina. This plan had no similarities and no cross references to the plan that was prepared by Colonel Qaysar Zahran Yammin and given to Saadeh in my

presence at the end of 1948 or the beginning of 1949. Moreover, this can‟t be the whole plan. Most of those who took part in this revolutionary work— and most of them are under the ground—know more about the details. Under no circumstances could I envision that Saadeh would have foreseen victory by taking over some police precincts or cutting the road in couple of places. He most probably thought that these actions would make his allies move and the police and military forces would be divided and would join the revolution. So would do the forces opposing Bishara al Khuri and Riyad al Sulh who would come to back the SSNP effort and would thus rally around it. Saadeh was betting that the agony of the people will erupt just by announcing the revolution… Saadeh was right to bet that the Lebanese where exhausted and needed change. They wanted to at least change their lying rulers if not their whole system of lies and corruption that had transformed Lebanon into their own farm and were milking it dry (this last example was something that was repeated daily in the mouths of many people and is not my own invention). How was this plan executed? It was necessary, as a first step, to publish a call about the revolution and its goals. This call was published on July 4, 1949. This statement makes it clear without any doubt that Saadeh didn‟t intend to hand over Lebanon to Husni al Za‟im to annex to his Damascene Republic. Saadeh was not yet attempting to annex Lebanon to a Greater Syria or to bring forth the amalgamation of the two entities as some Lebanese were calling for. On the contrary, the goal was to correct the political situation in Lebanon by incorporating the SSNP‟s principles into the new government. The most important among these principles was the division of religion from the state and the cancellation of the sectarian, feudal system. Afterwards time would be devoted to take care of the economy and the political, social, and educational spheres, on the principal that Lebanon was a whole unit that could not be partitioned and that there are no sectarian or other boundaries among the people of the state. After this statement was made public and published SSNP forces started coming from Damascus by way of Deyr al Ashaa‟ir and Yanta. Saadeh was at the forefront of these forces. He made a small speech in Yanta and then returned to Damascus to wait for the results. I was told that comrade Isam al Mahayiri was beside him all the time.

At the decided hour the Mtayn, Ghbayri, Mashghara police precincts was attacked. It was really sad that the government knew about the whole plan. In Mashghara SSNP forces were surrounded and comrade Assaf Karam was killed. The rest were taken by the government forces. Comrade Sham‟un, President Kamil Sham'un's relative, was killed at Hammul. Others, like Adib al Jadaa, and Yussif Qa‟idbiyeh were apprehended. The same was the fate of those who attacked the Ghbayri and Mtayn precincts. The force send to attack and take over the castle in Rashayya was ambushed by internal security forces. Zeyd al Atrash and others escaped (I should mention here that comrade Munir al Shaar was in his hotel room in Damascus when the force that was to attack the castle in Rashayya passed in front of the hotel and he was taken with them even though he had no military experience). Some of Saadeh‟s aides such as Maaruf Saab, Elias Jirji, Isam al Maayiri, and Abdallah Muhsin went to Amman then returned to Damascus. All of them were trying to save Saadeh‟s life so he can remain as the head of the party and to work and to prepare for a second revolution. Saadeh got into a car that was to take him to Jordan. The driver was comrade Subhi Farhat. They had gone just 35 kilometers on their way to Daraa when Saadeh asked Farhat to return to Damascus. Farhat was hesitant. Saadeh insisted. I heard later that he told Subhi. :”How do you want me to escape with my life when my comrades are either dead or in prison…all those in prison could be executed. Do you want me to save my life and leave all these heroes to be hanged?” They returned to Damascus. (it seems that this last paragraph does not constitute the truth, as per what comrade Elias Jirji writes in his famous article printed in al Binaa‟ newspaper on August 8, 1988. Saadeh returned to Damascus. He didn‟t go to Amman. Elias Jirji repeated this in his book “Maasir Min Saadeh” (Reminders from Saadeh). What about the Lebanese government and President Bishara al Khuri and Prime Minister Riyad al Sulh? I used to read their positions in the newspapers al Hayat and al Nahar. They were furious that Saadeh would dare to declare a revolution against them and their rule. They left no big or small indecency that they didn‟t tie to Saadeh. They even found a traitor named Muhammad Araki who brought forth a fabricated letter that specified Saadeh‟s dealings with the Jews through comrade Jamil Yunis…


I heard with my own ears Prime Minister Riyad al Sulh saying that Antoine Saadeh will soon be caught… The story of those SSNP members that were apprehended during the fighting was even worse. What torture did they endure? I will only tell what a security force member and a friend told me about a comrade from Malaa‟ib family. He was caught while bleeding from a wound. They brought him to a police precinct not so far away from the Ministry of Defense near the Beirut Central Museum. They put him to the ground and started hitting him on the head with their heavy batons. They continued to do so until he was unable to take his head up. He was killed there in front of the police officers and other employees…

Here I get my information from their sources. Husni al Za‟im‟s brother-inlaw (aadil), Nazih Qansah, who was one of the closest people to al Za‟im, wrote a book that I read. I also interviewed SNNP Central Committee members Fu‟ad Abu Ajram, Adib Qaddura, Dr. George Salibi, and Prince Farid Shehab at his palace in Hadas who at the time was still occupying the post of director of National Security (Surety General). I also listened to Sheikh Munir Taqiy al Din who was present at Saadeh‟s trial. Finally, I listened to the famous Lebanese literary figure, Amin Nakhle and attorney Joseph al Khuri Salameh. I can therefore say that my information is pretty accurate and historically valid. Husni al Za‟im‟s Prime Minister, Muhsin al Barazi. He was related to Riyad al Sulh through his wife. Al Barazi was also a very close friend to al Sulh. This friendship was used to put pressure on al Barazi and through him on Husni al Za‟im. Then there were the issues of the Syrian-Lebanese economic relations and the negotiations concerning those relations. The Lebanese government was refusing some of the points of this yet to be signed economic treaty. It is interesting that during these negotiations the Lebanese government accepted all what it refused for the benefit of Damascus. Of course there was also the intervention of colonial powers that were disturbed by Saadeh‟s revolutionary and unifying treatises.


All these forces amalgamated and, with some money spent by al Barazi, effected Husni al Za‟im‟s judgment to the extent that he accepted handing over his friend, Saadeh, to whom he had given his personal handgun as a sign of friendship and loyalty. Husni al Za‟im was somehow persuaded that Saadeh would at the end kill him and would take his place. It was hence that a plan was devised to hand over Saadeh to the Lebanese government. The government would not only take custody of Saadeh but would also see to it that he was executed (I, comrade Qaddura and others heard this last statement from Prince Farid Shehab). Al Barazi writes in his book that Husni al Za‟im asked the head of the Syrian police, Ibrahim al Husayni, to have Saadeh killed in Damascus. I lately heard from the head of the Journalists syndicate, Muhammad al Baalbaki, that al Za‟im had threatened Riyad al Sulh that if the latter did not execute Saadeh as soon as possible he would take over Lebanon militarily. Saadeh had asked for an appointment with Husni al Za‟im to discuss with him a plan to continue the revolution [in Lebanon]. I was told that there was a plan by which many Syrian youth would go to fight in Lebanon under the SNNP banner. Comrades Maaruf Saab and Abdallah Muhsin advised Saadeh not to see Husni al Za‟im. He insisted…The head of the police, Ibrahim al Husayni, was already arranging for Saadeh not to leave his residence and to accompany him to al Za‟im where the trap was set. Comrade Subhi Farhat drove Saadeh to the presidential palace. As soon as Saadeh was taken into the palace Farhat was apprehended and imprisoned. Saadeh went inside and met al Za‟im who told him: “You have to arrange your work with your people.” Saadeh threw the handgun that al Za‟im had given to him as a present to his face and turned around to hand himself over to Prince Farid Shehab, Director of Lebanese General Security, and Nur al Din al Rifaai, director of Lebanese Internal Security Forces. At that moment Husni al Za‟im accomplished what I later called in one of my articles to be “the traitor of the 20th Century.” I say this because al Za‟im‟s treason—he himself being the leader of a revolution and a new president—has no historical equivalent neither in the 20th nor any other century… Saadeh was seated in the back of a car between the two directors while an armed guard sat beside the driver.

When the car reached Wadi al Harir (Silk Valley) that was Lebanese territory Nur al Din al Rifaai asked Saadeh to get out if he had a personal need. His intention was to kill him from the back and later give the excuse that Saadeh tried to escape. However, Prince Farid Shehab insisted that Saadeh did not get out (as he told us later). This way Saadeh was spared being killed in accordance with the plan set for him between Damascus and Lebanon. Saadeh was then taken to the Internal Security Forces central station near the National Museum. President Bishara al Khuri, Prime Minister Riyad al Sulh, and Defense Minister Prince Majid Arslan came to make sure that he was really caught and chained. Yussif Sharbil was the Attorney General of the Appeal‟s Court. The Interrogating judge was Mr. Adib Ufaysh, a classmate of mine. Both were fed all kinds of lies about Saadeh through the government, newspapers, and rumors. They were officers of law who were bound by the directives of their superiors. It is true that the judiciary is an independent power. However, that independence disappears in political cases and nobody cares amount it. I know Saadeh as I know myself. I don‟t think that he rejected any of the events of the revolution from its planning to its execution. If he wanted to get away from his responsibilities he would not have gone to the presidential palace in Damascus in the first place knowing that he would be handed over once there. He could have also gone to Jordan or to Argentina or any other country if he wanted so. However, the Lebanese government and the press intentionally tried to destroy his heroism by presenting him as someone who did everything to save himself from death. Those who really know Saadeh and possess a bit of intelligence would also know that Saadeh would have never undermined his integrity even if the price was his life… Now deceased syndicate leader Jean Shalakh told me that his very close friend, Prince Farid Shehab, had told him that after Adib Ufaysh had completed Saadeh‟s interrogation had asked him: “Antoine, You are an intelligent person and you know what your fate awaits you. Would you really tell me what your feelings are right now?” Without any hesitation Saadeh answered: “I will die, however, my party will remain.” Sharbil got angry at how political midgets rule the day while they don‟t know anything about heroes or heroism because there is a vast distance between them.


Saadeh‟s case was moved to a military tribunal on several charges each carrying a maximum sentence of death. I was told that he, Saadeh saw his own coffin in the yard of the military tribunal. It was a coffin made from wood that was taken from wooden boxes. I say this because I exhumed that coffin from the Mar Elias Cemetery… A friend of us, Col. Bridi, who was amongst the officers who were called to security duty at the military tribunal told me that he was thinking about how he could direct his machinegun at the tribunal and save Saadeh and take him away from all that was happening. Saadeh was put face-to-face with some of his accusers who—according to the military tribunal—were intimidated by his presence and were negating their previous accusations. It was said that Saadeh himself had negated some of his early statements, something that can never be believed. Saadeh had never escaped from what he said during his whole life. He defied death. Wasn‟t he who said” “Life is but a stance of integrity.” This was Saadeh‟s legacy in our life… The tribunal was a farce. The president, Col. Anwar Karam—who in 1958 became our ally and who died in our presence in Paris, where all of us had escaped after our second futile coup d‟etat in 1961—had Col. Rene Samrani, Ltn. Abd al Aziz Ahdab, and civilian judge Gabriel Basila at his side. The Attorney General was Yussif Sharbil, while Michele Talhameh represented the government (this was the person who wrote and published a poem in the Saint Joseph University Magazine in 1919 about Deyr al Qamar, where he said that “the city was the pearl in Syria‟s eyes!” I say and I mean that the tribunal was a farce. Now deceased great journalist and ex minister Abdallah Mashnuq invited us—Fu‟ad Abu Ajram, Adib Qaddura, and I-- to launch at the Bristol Hotel (in 1950) and showed us a copy of the Saadeh‟s final verdict written by Riyad al Sulh himself. I wish we had recorded his conversation with us that day… In his remarks about the heroes of the revolution such as Adib al Jadaa, Yussif Qa‟idbiyeh, Munir al Shaar and others, Attorney General Yussif Sharbil says that Saadeh talked for two hours in defense of those and other heroes. Saadeh was also defending himself and asked no attorney be delegated with that task. This is not right. Saadeh asked for Jean Tayyan to be his defense attorney. The latter refused. Saadeh than asked that famous law expert and Member of

Parliament Emil Lahhud to represent him as his defense lawyer The latter accepted to represent him and appeared at the military tribunal. He asked for a 24 hour period in order to look at the case and prepare his defense. The tribunal secluded itself and refused Lahhud‟s request. Lahhud protested this decision and left the building even though Saadeh asked him to stay beside him. Saadeh deserved and had the right to have someone of Lahhud‟s caliber beside him just for the record. However, Lahhud was also right in protesting and leaving, since he was denied the most basic precept of law, that of knowing his defendant‟s case, and defend him accordingly… Sheikh Munir Taqiy al Din told me that Saadeh gave a two hour speech in his defense. He left no accusation against him that he didn‟t negate. Moreover when Yussif Sharbil tried to mock him by stating the following piece of poetry: When under a leadership the ladybugs meet They think that they are a marvelous feat Saadeh answered him back with a poetic segment: Ladybugs remain cowards even if they fly While snails stand tall even as they die This I was told by Beirut‟s Attorney General Dimitry al Hayik. Lately, in yet another conversation, Beirut Municipality Head, Shafiq al Sarduk, also verified it. The poetic segment that Saadeh uttered remained in the minds of political figures for a long time. Col. Bridi, Director of Military Police, was changing guards every hour inside the courtroom while Saadeh was defending himself. He thought that Saadeh's sincerity would undermine the guard‟s integrity and they might rebel against their leaders… After this farce, this may be called execution under the pretence of the law. The tribunal rendered a unanimous decision to execute Saadeh. I already mentioned that Saadeh had seen his own coffin at the yard outside the courtroom. He also knew that the trial was nothing but a previously designed


plan. Therefore, his conclusion was that he was going to be executed by a firing squad. No one defies death. Saadeh embraced it without fearing it. This is the conclusion that can be surmised through those who were there at the time and according to the following events: 1. He was taken al Raml Prison under heavy security. The prison was surrounded by internal security police and the military. When he was finally in his cell He put his jacket under his head and went into a deep sleep. 2. Officer Kamal al Zahid, his friend since 1935, came with an aid to help him write the remaining of his [Saadeh‟s] book “The Emergence of Nations” that was published later. As Zahid came in awakened Saadeh, the latter said: “Are you still here Kamal.” “Yes, I am here. Is there any request that I can do?” Kamal replied. Saadeh asked for some tea. Kamal al Zahid later told me with tears in his eyes that he was astonished at a soon to be executed person going into a deep sleep as if the death verdict meant nothing to him. 3. The clergyman, Father Eliya Berbari was brought to the cell at 2:00 a.m. so that he can give Saadeh his last communion as was the tradition. Father Berbari tells how he got his last communion. He also tells of his last request to see his family; his wife and his daughters, and how that request was rejected…We knew all these from Sa‟id Taqiy al Din‟s article titled “The Clergy Who knew him Told Me.” 4. Judge Fu‟ad Bulos from Kfar Aqqa, al Kura came as a representative of the attorney general to register Saadeh‟s final will and testament. Saadeh left all what he possesses to his wife and daughters: Safiyya, Elisar, and Raghida. He had 400 Syrian Liras in his pocket. He gave them to the judge to be divided amongst his family equally. 5. When the hour of the execution came Saadeh was taken to the office of the prison‟s director with his hands chained. He asked for a cup of coffee. The officer in charge didn‟t allow him to speak a word. 6. The execution entourage went from al Raml Prison to the al Jenah area in al Ramlet al Bayda. It was a sandy yard surrounded by high

rocks. If I had enough money I would have bought that piece of land and leave it as is to remain a witness to that night. However, it is now filled with hi-rise buildings. 7. As soon as the entourage was in the yard Saadeh went ahead of his guards and stood on the wooden plaque that was to be his execution platform. 8. An Officer—most probably Bridi—came and asked him to fall down on his knees. There was some gravel under his knees. Saadeh asked the officer to remove them and he did. Saadeh thanked him. When the time came to close his eyes with a black scarf Saadeh refused to wear it and wanted his eyes to remain open to see the bullets that would pierce his chest as was later written in the an Nahar newspaper. 9. The sign was given and twelve bullets were fired. Saadeh fell to the ground. Officer Bridi approached him and fired a Bullet of mercy at his head. 10.After Saadeh‟s body was put into that wooden coffin, it was taken to Mar Elias of Batina Church that exists until today. The coffin was dripping blood even as it was lowered into the ground at the Mar Elias Cemetery. 11.I myself saw Father Berbari with swollen eyes from how much he cried since his encounter with Saadeh at his cell in the prison, the execution site, the execution, the funeral, until he reached his home. He told me that he couldn‟t sleep for 15 days. His interview which I mentioned above is enough to express his feelings… 12.Col. Bridi told me three months later that Saadeh asked him something. He only told me what that was years later when he was on his deathbed.

I was still hiding at Francis Saleh‟s home on Madam Currie Boulevard in Ras Beirut. I mentioned that I was feeling like a prisoner in that house turned atelier. My wife took pity on me and one night she sent my daughter, Hanna,

still ten months old to me accompanied by now deceased attorney comrade Emil Najm. I took the infant and started kissing her while she was screaming. The female workers had already left. There was no one in the house except me. Hanan was embarrassing me with her screaming. She had forgotten her daddy. I told Emil: “Take her back to her mother before she sends me to prison…” Another time, still at the beginning of my recluse in this hideaway, my wife came with her sisters Faridah, Dr. Tawfiq Farah‟s wife, and Leyla, Francis‟s fiancé. All three sisters took pity on me and my predicament since I was sitting between four walls with no friend till night. They asked me to go for a ride with them toward the airport. We took off in Leila‟s car. Faridah was singing “Ya Rabii al Shabab Ma Ahlak,” (O Spring of Life How Beautiful you are)…I was just opening my chest to the June evening breeze. We were now in the proximity of Beirut International Airport. We returned in one piece. Suddenly and out of nowhere a military police transport truck appeared. I was sitting in the back, between my wife and Faridah. Leila and her fiancé were in the front. I asked Faridah to continue singing and she did. I told her” Don‟t be afraid at all. If you fear that means that I will go to prison.” We reached the military police checkpoint that was now set up on the street. One of the military police looked at us and said: “How awesome. Are you riding for fun?” And he signaled us by his hand to cross the checkpoint. We speeded up and my wife told me that one of the military police was telling another: “It was Abdallah Qubersi.” I looked back and saw that nobody was following us. Later when I gave myself up in through Col. Bridi in September of 1949 he told me: “Do you remember your ride to the airport. One of my men knew you at the checkpoint. However, they decided to let you go. I used to tell them to treat you well if and when they saw you. After all, aren‟t you the military police‟s attorney when we are sewed? We must return your favor with a favor.” My days were gloomy. I read the newspapers. I read Victor Hugo‟s “La Miserable”… I also read [Tomas] Carlyle‟s writings about how mysterious the human being is. I just read without getting tired. I was also disturbed and finicky to the extreme. My nervousness rose after I heard the news of our defunct revolution. I was waiting for the news every day. On July 7, 1949, my wife came to tell me that al Hadaf newspaper, owned and edited by my friend, comrade Zuhayr Usayran, had published a news item, which stated that Husni al Za‟im had handed over Antoine Saadeh to

the Lebanese authorities and that the government ordered all issues of the newspaper to be confiscated. .. I told my wife: “What do you think.” She answered: “The leader is now trapped.” I quickly shunned her saying: “Can something like this happen when he [Saadeh] is a guest of and under the protection of a person like Husni al Za‟im. Moreover, Riyad al Sulh has now been saying for three days and to no avail that Saadeh will fall into the trap during hours. If he really got him he will announce it through the radio and all the newspapers. Therefore, I don‟t think that the leader is trapped. He is a man that knows how to take charge in difficult situations…” I confess now that al Hadaf‟s news item disturbed me a lot. I was disturbed because I knew that Riyad al Sulh had very good relations with the Usayran family and especially with Adel and Zuhayr Usayran (who later became the head of the journalists‟ syndicate. I didn‟t sleep that night. I thought that even if Saadeh was apprehended he couldn‟t be executed with such swiftness. When the sound of the twelve bullets that tore his chest was heard during that night I did not shiver but asked myself: “What were these bullets for?” It was o‟clock six in the morning and it seems that sleep had taken me for a little while when I heard a newspaper seller shouting: “Antoine Saadeh‟s execution today.” That was the cursed morning of July 8, 1949. I went out to the living room to find that the tailor relative was there alert, and with open eyes. I begged her to buy all the newspapers for me. She called the man and went down and brought all that he had for me to read. She was reading the front pages when my eyes caught a picture of Antoine Saadeh behind bars at the military court. I instantly understood that the man was sentenced to death. It was for the first time in my life that my nerves gave in. I passed out on my bed. The relative tried to wake me up by sprinkling some cologne on my face. I got up broken. I did not believe that Saadeh was executed and killed… Saadeh is dead and I am still alive?


The great person dies while we still walk the earth. How can a political person be executed and the law prohibits that? I don‟t believe… But I read and believed… I came to my senses. I am like this always. Serious events exhaust me. It happens for seconds and not even minutes. Then I retake control of my situation. Yes, the stress of the situation made me pass out. It happened because the event was something I could not handle even though I was seeing nightmares all night. I came back to my senses. I come back as a person who is used to strenuous situations. I return to continue the struggle… I asked Francis‟s relative to get me some lemonade and biscuits before the female workers arrive. I asked her to lock my door until the next morning. I told her I don‟t want to se anybody. Not even my wife. Let Francis go and tell her about my decision. I want to be alone with myself. I wanted to live that day with the martyred Antoine Saadeh… I drank a glass of lemonade and some paper and started writing a eulogy for our leader. I titled it “The Death of the Eagle.” I felt that a volcano was exploding inside me. I felt that sulfur and fire were coming out of my mouth. I felt like totally hysterical. This was the hysteria of revenge for the blood of my martyred leader. I wish I had a fighting commando group with me at that moment. I wish I had guns. I would have killed any person wearing the military uniform. The army killed my leader. Of course my thinking was not clear but rather euphoric. What had the army to do with this? The army only did its duty. It‟s not the army. It‟s who rules the army!!! I wrote 129 pages in 24 hours. I kept this writing because it reflected my raw feelings of the moment. I kept it until the second revolution of 1961. It was found by those who were sent to look into my papers. It was taken away and put in the depot of the military court. Even my good friend Michele Abu Shaqra could not find it for me even though he was the head registrar of the court.


If one day I find it. I would have published it as part of these memoirs. I started with Socrates…then with Jesus…then Galileo, then all the important thinkers of the world who were killed because they rebelled. Then and only then those who killed them absorbed their vision and thinking… I said in that writing that the era of Bishara al Khuri and Riyad al Sulh is an extension of 14th century witch-hunting. I was not exaggerating. I looked at all the laws of the time concerning the defense of individuals in front of military tribunals. I didn‟t find anything that could even distantly explain what was done on that cursed day. I was writing with a pen of fire and the ink of blood… What could we expect of a person who announces a revolution? What else is there for a leader of a defunct revolution except certain death…? What happened to Zapata in Mexico? What happens to the eagle when it delves down on vicious animals? *****




We finally reached the airport… Thousands of SSNP members had crowded both sides of the road leading to the airport entrance under the supervision of the party‟s security coordinator, George Abd al Masih. The airplane that was bringing Saadeh from Cairo started roaming above the airport. The hearts and eyes of SSNP members were with the plane. They wanted time to fly by in order for them to see Saadeh. After the airplane docked and national security procedures were completed and, after minutes that seemed like hours, we finally saw him. He walked in very sure steps surrounded by party central executive members Naameh Tabit, Fu‟ad Abi Ajram, Maaruf Saab, Abdallah al Qubersi, Abdallah Saadeh, Fayiz Sayigh, Elias Jirji, Ma‟mun Elias, Abdallah Muhsin, Jubran Jrayj, and others. We saw him coming towards us, the thousands of SSNP members waiting for him. He was there in his inspiring face and big stature. His right hand was high as he waived it at us. He had a smile on his lips. His eyes were inspiring confidence. He was bringing hope to all of us. He was the embodiment of heroism and knighthood. He brought with him the trust of victory. He started roaming amongst the waves of his followers who waived his pictures and the party flags. It was a scene to be remembered. It was an organized demonstration. He was finally inside the car of one of the party leaders. His convoy was led by police motorcycles to the home of central committee member Ma‟mun Elias in Ghbayri. We followed his entourage on foot. He came out of the car and went inside to the open hall surrounded with pine trees. The crowd waited for Saadeh to reappear and to talk to them. He finally came out from the second story balcony to talk to the gathered masses of people. The crowd started shouting as soon as Saadeh appeared on the balcony surrounded with high party officials. Saadeh once again waived his right hand at the crowd and everybody saw his comforting smile again.

“Long live Syria. Long Live Saadeh,” shouted the crowd. “O sons of life…who is life for…” -To us. -To whom we do live? -To Syria. -Who is our leader? -Saadeh is. -Long live Syria. -Long live, long live, long live… -Long live Saadeh -Long live, long live, long live. At this point Saadeh raised both his arms in a parallel fashion, a sign that he wanted us to stop. Everybody was silent. Fayiz Sayigh asked Saadeh: “O our honored leader. If I am standing here at this very special and happy moment, it is because the heart of every SSNP member is happy for your presence. If I stand here to explain to you how each and every SSNP member misses you, I am trying to the impossible. The feelings that this big crowd expressed is impossible to describe in words. I think that you understood that from the moment your plane touched the ground at the airport and we are looking at you whenever you go. At the midst of all this there is one thing that expresses everybody‟s wish: We are ready. There is no vote of confidence that is stronger than that given by the hearts and souls of this big crowd. Very near to where we stand sleeps a martyr. He was our first martyr. He will vouch for what I say: It is in his deep silence that our martyr cries; Saadeh, We are honest in our oath. We walk behind you till death, so that the nation can walk on our bodies toward life.” Saadeh hugged Sayigh with a smile on his face. A smile that showed how effected he was form his words. The crowd started shouting again. Showing their allegiance to what Sayigh had said. Saadeh then turned toward the crowd with his arms open in the air. Everyone knew that he was going to talk. The shouting stopped. A deep silence followed…


Comrade Asaad Rahhal from the Marjaayun Chapter was standing beside me. He said: I have my hand on my heart, because I am afraid that Saadeh will not be able to deliver an oratory after nine years in exile. I hope that he will at least speak as Sayigh did.” I told him: “I also hope that what you said is true.” Saadeh‟s voice was high-pitched and confident. “O SSNP members;” Should I say that his voice rang like a bell? Or like the music of angels that comes upon you from above. The pen is unable to describe what SSNP members felt when Saadeh started to speak. A voice filled with confidence, hope, and the feeling of a miracle. His was a voice full of heroism coming from the deepest part of his soul. He talked to the crowd from his soul and conscience. He talked to their conscience. This was the way that the SSNP members felt when they heard Saadeh. This was the way I felt. They greeted him with hurrahs and claps that was the explosion of their deep emotions. Saadeh asked them to stop and they did. “This day is the happiest day I saw in my life. I return after nine years of exile to rejoin this growing group. This is a group that declined to have its grave of history under this sun.” I already mentioned that Fayiz Sayigh was a big orator. The SSNP members were used to his eloquent oratory. However, as soon as these same members heard Saadeh‟s first utterances, Sayigh‟s image got dimmed and Saadeh‟s came to replace it… Saadeh was not doing oratory. Oratory was subdued under his voice. He was the master of the word. He and only he was the captain of the moment. His sentences were like those that were given from a deity sitting in heaven. Each word was a flowing spring giving us hope, faith, and heroism.


Sayigh‟s oratorical image got dimmed in front of us that day. It vanished totally so that Saadeh‟s would take its place. He was not a regular human at that moment. He seemed to be one of the legendary heroes of our nation. The nation‟s might had sent him to us so that he could lead its new awakening whose road had already been prepared… His head was high and unwavering as he talked to us from the second story balcony of that house. As if an electrical cord was laid between him and his listeners. He united with them as they united with him. He was able to tell them exactly what was going in his mind. He appeared to us as one of the huge figures of our nation‟s history who was reincarnated in a new form to talk to his people and to make them walk on the road of struggle and heroism. There is no doubt in my mind that on this day we saw him as the greatest orator in the world. I say this based on the effect that his words had on us, the crowd that was gathered to hear him. In jubilation and proud ness I looked at my friend Asaad Rahhal and I saw that he also was eyeing me. I said to him: “He is a great orator.” He answered back: “and nobody we heard before him or after him can be him. Now I know why Saadeh is called The Leader…” Saadeh continued his speech like a mature waterfall whose waters keep pouring down from the heights and controls the hearts and minds of his listeners and pumping confidence into them for the victory of the nation and life. When he was almost at the end of his speech we could not shout anymore because our thoughts were dried and our voices gone. Finally Saadeh asked us, his soldiers, to return to our ideological purity and the real struggle by uttering these words: “My word to you, O SSNP members, is to return to the struggle. How I would have wished to be able to shake the hands of each one of you and to know him or her personally. However, time is of the essence. But my goal today as in the past is to visit you in your villages and hamlets and to renew my faith in you.” Once again the hurrahs started to pour out of our dried throats. We didn‟t want him to stop. We didn‟t want him to go in. Whatever days and years

pass by one could not forget the spiritual height that each of us felt on that day. It had to end. Saadeh went in followed by the other leaders. A little while later I saw comrade Farris Maaluli, the Internal Deputy of the party looking around as if trying to fide someone. As soon as he saw me he signaled for me to approach him. It was very hard to maneuver my way through the crowd. I reached him after having to struggle to make way for me. -Saadeh wants to know and get acquainted to the leaders of the party chapters. Go and enter the house from the back door and present yourself as the head of the Marjaayun district. I didn‟t wait for another word from him. Once again I struggled to make my way to the back door where I met some of the other chapter directors who were talking to party‟s Central Executive member Abd al Masih. When almost all of us were there Abd al Masih led us to the stairs. We climbed and entered a big hall. Saadeh was sitting at the center of the wall opposite the door to the hall talking to central committee members who were debriefing him about the issues and once in a while listening to what he had to say to them. Saadeh stopped when Abd al Masih approached him and murmured some words into his ears. Saadeh stood up so that each one of us can shake hands with him and introduce ourselves. When it was my turn I approached him humbly. I was not believing that I am about to hold the hand of that great man whom we patiently waited to appear after a long exile. I saluted him and then introduced myself he held his hand to me and looked at me with gentle eyes. He strongly pressed on my hand with his. Then I heard him asking me: - Are you from Marjaayun itself Mr. Regional director?


All my shyness went away since I noticed and felt that he was so close to me. I thought that he is my brother, father, or friend, besides being my leader. I answered back: - No, Mr. Saadeh. I am from a village that is 15 kilometers away from Marjaayun. It is located on the peak of Mt. Aramun. It is named Rashayya al Fikhar. - I know a fried from Argentina who is from Rashayya al Fikhar. His name is Elias Fakhoury. He later relocated to Brazil. He was a very active comrade. - I know him by name only. - How many party groups do we have in the Marjaayun area? - 16. - Very well. Very well. I will cal upon you soon and we will talk at length about Marjaayun that I want to visit soon. - The people will come in droves to meet you. They will 
To top