Pat Adler: 1926-2015 – staunch communist and friend of China

In celebrating the life of this resolute revolutionary, we aim to follow the example of one who gave her life to the cause of socialism.

Proletarian writers

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Proletarian writers

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The working class of Britain, China and the whole world lost a staunch champion and resolute fighter on 20 December 2015, when Comrade Pat Adler passed away in Beijing at the age of 89 after a long illness.

Patricia Sarah Elizabeth Davies, known to her family in Britain as Betty, and to her family, friends and comrades in China as Pat, was born into a working-class and socialist family in Newport, south Wales, on 18 November 1926.

Having passed her 11+, Pat was able to continue to high school and graduated in geography from Bristol University after World War II.

Pat joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and was one of the first teachers at the then new Kidbrooke comprehensive school in south London. She also helped to build the railways in post-war Yugoslavia, took part in a World Festival of Youth and Students in Moscow and taught English in the Bulgarian capital Sofia for one year.

In 1962, as a CPGB member, Pat travelled to Beijing, intending to teach English for a few years. In Beijing, she met and fell in love with an outstanding communist and brilliant economist, Sol Adler, who had also moved to China in 1962. They married in 1963 and both of them dedicated the rest of their lives to China’s socialist revolution and construction.

Sol Adler (6 August 1909-4 August 1994) was born in Leeds and joined the communist movement before moving to the United States and becoming a naturalised US citizen. He was posted to China in the 1940s as a representative of the US treasury, during the Chinese people’s war of resistance to Japanese aggression, during which time he actively supported the resistance struggle led by the Communist Party of China.

On his return to the US, Sol was accused of being a Soviet intelligence agent in the McCarthy persecutions and was stripped of his US citizenship. Forced to leave the US, he taught at Cambridge university for several years before moving to China. On coming to China, he said:

“I have come to settle in China for three reasons: First, I have all along had great trust and confidence in the Chinese people and their leaders; second, I have all along had unshakeable faith in the cause of socialism; and third, I hope to stay in China for as long as possible and work for world peace and the friendship between the Chinese people and the peoples of the world. I want to devote my whole life to the cause of socialism.”

Both Sol and Pat were considered as personal friends, as well as comrades, by senior Chinese leaders, including Chairman Mao Zedong and Premier Zhou Enlai. In particular, Sol played a leading role in the work of translating Mao’s Selected Works.

Pat taught at the Beijing Foreign Studies university, along with her friends and comrades David and Isabel Crook. (See Comrade Isabel Crook: 100 years old and still fighting for communism, 15 December 2015)

A memorial meeting to celebrate Pat’s life and work was held at the university on 11 January. Attended by some 100 people, it began with all present singing the Internationale. Speakers came from the university, the international department of the Chinese Communist Party’s central committee and the foreign experts bureau of the state council (cabinet). Among those present was also Comrade Tang Wensheng (Nancy Tang), who was Chairman Mao’s English interpreter.

Pat was a good friend of our party, and a message from our central committee was read out at the memorial by Comrade Michael Crook. It stated, in part:

“The Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGB-ML) extends its sincere and heartfelt condolences to the comrades, friends and colleagues of Comrade Pat Adler gathered in Beijing and joins with you in honouring and celebrating the great life of a proud daughter of the British working class, a dedicated teacher in both Britain and China, a staunch and lifelong communist, a long-tested proletarian revolutionary, a sincere friend of the Chinese people, and an active participant in China’s socialist revolution and socialist construction.

“Comrade Pat Adler came to China in 1962 as a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) and China remained her home. She devoted her all to China and to introducing its achievements to the world. She mixed with Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou and with ordinary workers and peasants with equal ease.

“We remember her as a dedicated and principled comrade who loved life and people, was modest and sincere, and possessed a great sense of humour. Pat was pleased to meet with members of the CPGB-ML and to know that once again a genuine Marxist-Leninist party existed in Britain. She read our publications and her support and friendship was very much appreciated and valued by us.”

Comrade Isabel Crook, Honorary President of the CPGB-ML and Pat’s close friend and comrade for more than six decades, gave a speech full of fond and personal memories, as did Roger Shapiro, whose parents Michael Shapiro and Liu Jinghe had acted as ‘match makers’ to Sol and Pat. (See Celebration and social to honour Comrade Jack Shapiro, Lalkar, September 2007)

Towards the end of the proceedings, the Red Flag was sung and a number of Pat’s many poems were recited. A correspondent in Beijing writes: “Pat lives in our memories, and her kindness, her warmth and her revolutionary spirit will be long-lasting.”