Every year, people across the globe take to the streets on International Workers’ Day or May Day. Ever since it was first observed in 1886, May 1 has been an annual reminder of the struggles most workers of the world have had to go through. It came to India in 1923, and was first celebrated in Chennai.
But this rallying cry of workers has also been used as a propaganda tool, as the video above proves. Shot in 1938, a year before World War II, it shows Adolf Hitler arrive at a massive well-coordinated rally with Nazi flags flying over it. As Hitler makes his way to a podium, the audience comes together to spell out: “Gross Deutschland” or Germany is great.
In 1963, Fidel Castro and Nikita Kruschev stood side-by-side by the tomb of Vladimir Lenin to commemorate the occasion in Moscow’s Red Square. The missiles that brought the world to the verge of nuclear war, which Russia was alleged to have sneaked into Cuba, were showcased during the parade.
Historically, May Day has also been used as a form of protest. In 1971, many US citizens hit the streets to demonstrate against the Vietnam war. In 2016, Turkish protestors clashed with the police while trying to reach the iconic Taksim square. In the Taiwanese capital of Taipei, labour unions used the occasion to protest against low wages and long working hours, while many cities in Germany expressed dissent against the far-right movement in the country.
“Deserted” is how the presenter describes Fleet Street the video above, a news broadcast from a May Day protest in London in 1969. A newspaper strike had been called in protest against a government white paper on trade unions. “The street of papers and not a newspaper in sight,” the voiceover says.