A detailed, vivid, on-the-ground portrait of the first month of Nazi rule in Germany from Arne Swabeck. Born and raised in Denmark, Swabeck was on an extended tour of Europe during the crisis of 1933 and sent back these reports printed over four issues of the Militant.
‘Labor Writhes Under Nazi Whip’ by Arne Swabeck from The Militant. Vol. 6 Nos. 26-29. May-June, 1933.
Fascists Attack in the Guise of “Defense”
Only seven weeks were required for the German counter-revolution to complete its first stage. The Hitler government emerged on January 30. At its pompous session in Potsdam on March 21, the Reichstag sealed the fate of parliamentary democracy and conferred full power upon the government. That period decided for the time being the issue of Communism or Fascism in Germany. With that commences an entirely new historical period for the working class which will have its serious repercussions throughout the world. The German workers retreated without a struggle. The Communist party leaders were revealed as the organizers of defeat. Fascism remained the victor and has now been able to consolidate a virtual dictatorship.
But the Stalinist leaders continue in their previous course. In a manifesto issued from their place of refuge, dated March 15, it is said that:
“Our party has fought in brilliant fashion … Despite the pompous declarations of the government, March 5 is not a victory for Fascism, it shows on the contrary that the masses of the toiling people are resolved to wage the struggle boldly and courageously.”
And from the Stalinist headquarters it is maintained in Pravda of March 6:
“The working masses of Germany cannot be intimidated either by provocation or slander. They are on the side of the Communist party and under its leadership will put an end to the Fascist regime.”
It is necessary to make a correction here. The working masses were prevented from being on the side of the Communist party by the fatal policy of its leadership. And it is well to add that the new tasks in Germany will belong to the new Communist party which in no case will be organized by the Stalinists.
For the moment the sad truth must be recognized. It was the empty boastful phrases of Stalinism which contributed so much to render the party impotent of leadership. They have nothing to do with a Marxian analysis because they are not based upon reality and can result only in adding further confusion to the demoralization created by the serious defeat suffered. Above all, they do not correspond with the complete failure of resistance.
Parliamentary democracy took leave in a blaze of torchlights, accompanied by the roar of guns and ringing of churchbells, blessed by the sermon in the Potsdam church over the text: “If god be with us (the Fascists) who can be against us.” And the god who is always on the side of the strong bayonets found his rightful place in Fascist Germany. Hitler also lifted himself into this general setting and made a venture into the stratosphere by dedicating his address to the people “on the elevation of the soul.” Now he will proceed the more ferociously on terra firma, in destroying the only progressive class and exterminating its organizations. He has already opened a number of concentration camps in which the most active Communist fighters and social democrats are to be interned and kept under the Fascist lash. One of these camps is located at Dachau near Munich. It has “accommodations” for 5,000. The other is located at Heuberg in Wurtemberg. While the activities took place in Potsdam, 400 Communist prisoners were on their way to the latter camp.
Fascist Strategy in Name of “Defense”
Chronologically one can trace the sweeping rapidity of the Fascist rise to the full fledged dictatorship and to the just as rapid, disorganized retreat of the Communist and social democratic movements. Its blunt strategy could become possible only in view of the failure of the proletarian leaders, Communists and Socialists alike. Their common failure prepared the road for Fascism. To recount this strategy has value not so much from the point of view of merely recording what has passed, but primarily for the sake of assimilating the lessons of these events for the future tasks.
As soon as Hitler and his lieutenants entered the government they set as their first aim the control of the police, not for the national coalition, but for the Fascists themselves. This they accomplished in the name of the defense and security of the people, strange as it may seem. Having the affairs of the interior regime of Prussia well guarded in the hands of Goering, they proceeded to appoint police commissioners for the other states, Bavaria, Wurtemberg, Saxony, etc. These were not just mere chiefs of police but fully authorized commissioners whose powers were symbolized by the act of von Epp, commissioner for Bavaria, in appointing a new government for the state. Elsewhere within the various states and cities followed in rapid succession the removal of the elected governments, legislators, mayors and even regular functionaries and hired emlpoyees who did not swear to the Fascist colors. At first it took place by the more polite method of granting leaves of absence but later the victims were violently chased out. All were replaced by Fascists. Step by step with these inroads grew the suppression and complete proscription of the workers’ press, their meetings and their organizations.
The Communist press and even the Socialist press formerly counting of 192 papers is entirely proscribed. The Communist auxiliaries, the Reichsbanner and other socialist organizations are dissolved and prohibited. These actions were supplemented right along with the necessary emergency decrees. But in all of these the Fascists had fully learned the art of taking the measures in the name of the defense and security of the people. The Fascist strategy managed to put the working class organizations in the position of being the offenders – the terrorist monster against which they were defending the people. The workers who had cause to speak in the name of, and to take measures for, their own defense, and thereby the defense of the majority of the people, failed to do so. To put it more correctly, their parties to which they had given all their confidence – their workers’ parties and more particularly their party leaders – failed to give such leadership, failed to give any leadership at all. The Fascist strategy, although crudely and clumsily carried out nevertheless became superior. The working class’s lack of strategy, and where any was shown, its false strategy, hastened the defeat.
To fully comprehend the enormous chasm presented here it is necessary to make a historical comparison with the process of the Bolshevik revolution under Lenin and Trotsky. For example, at the time of the attempted Kornilov counter-revolution, the Bolsheviks mobilized the weight of the masses and through their deep antagonism to the Kornilovists impelled the Mensheviks to fight unitedly with them under the slogan of the defense of the people’s revolution. Also, at the time of the Kerensky attempt to strip Petrograd of its revolutionary soldiers, the Bolsheviks frustrated it under the slogan of the “defense of the revolutionary capital.” The subsequent breach with the army headquarter was made in the name of “defense of revolutionary order against counter-revolutionary attempt.” And again, up until the very last days before the insurrection, the heavy attacks were made in the name of defense under the immediate leadership of formally established “Defense Committees.” The Red Guard was organized and as late as October 22 defined to be: “An organization of the armed forces of the proletariat for the struggle against counter-revolution and the defense of the conquests of the revolution.” No class-conscious worker will today deny the historical right and correctness as well as effectiveness of the Bolshevik strategy carried on in the name of defense. Yet these lessons have already been lost to the proletariat. Its leaders falsified the lessons of October.
Workers’ Leaders Lacked Strategy Against Fascists
The German working masses instinctively knew their enemy and were seeking the means of defense; but the leaders failed and disarmed the workers each in their own way. The social democrats prevented the workers from preparing the defense, counselled patience and trusted in the constitution for which, however, they said they would sound the call to fight should Hitler violate it and resort to “illegal” methods. The social democratic leaders who had long ago given up their pretense to socialism and become completely bound up with bourgeois ideology had thereby also long ago abdicated the last pretense of actually leading a fight for the defense of the democracy, So when the last shreds of democracy went down in the torchlight blaze and gunpowder smoke, trampled upon by Fascist heels, their miserable position became fully revealed.
But Hitler found the Weimar constitution, written by the social democrats, sufficiently flexible to serve his purposes. He could, by the failure of his opponents, carry out all measures necessary to complete the first stage of the consolidation of his power, including the crushing of the Communist party and the throttling of the social democrats.
The Communist party leaders started from the absurd idea of concentrating the main fire against the social democratic party as the twin brother of Fascism. It was precisely the deep antagonism between the social democratic workers and Fascism which should have been made the bridge to the united working class defense. But even this simple historical lesson had been lost to the party leaders. Their bloated exaggeration of party strength and frivolous proclaiming of the general political strike could not become a substitute. On the contrary, it threw confusion and demoralization into the ranks and accelerated the party catastrophe. In the industries and within the mass organizations, from which the united working class defense should proceed, the party policy had torn up its own roots. Save for its election victories, which were empty, it was in reality isolated from the masses long before the decisive hour had arrived. So much so, that Goebbels, the new Fascist minister for culture and propaganda, could declare, in a speech on March 31: “We broke Communism with one blow and we have isolated the social democratic party from the people.”
The Party in the Industries
How well was the party rooted in the industries? We remember that for some years there has been within every German factory, shop, mill and mine a factory council established by the factory council law. This law, it is true, imposes definite limitations as to their powers but nevertheless they have been in the position of functioning as important organs of struggle. In a certain sense they have furnished an embryo structure of future Soviets. Naturally they should be an important basis for Communist party activities. And there is also the place to actually gauge the strength of the revolutionary party. But it is precisely in this field that its fatal weakness was most glaringly demonstrated.
In this we can now much more clearly perceive the disastrous fallacy of the so-called united front from below practiced by Stalinism. The actual results prove a thousand times stronger than words that this sort of policy contradicts all tenets of genuine united front policy. The so-called united front from below was only a mask to cover up the refusal of the Stalinist leaders to build the bridge of the workers’ unity of defense, composed of all organizations, Communist, social democratic and trade unions.
Actual working class unity against Fascism under the conditions existing in Germany would have unmasked all of the bureaucratic incompetent leaders. And in this the Communist party leaders, equally with their prototypes of social democracy, feared for their positions and prestige. But from this state of affairs Fascism gained enormously in strength and self-confidence and the social democratic lenders escaped exposure. Elections to the Factory Councils The factory council elections particularly demonstrated the Communist party’s weakness. One can argue, and with considerable justification, that in the Reichstag elections held March 5th, the party could not at all mobilize its full strength because of the pressure of the Fascist terror. But within the shops and factories at the factory council elections matters are different. That is at the source of production and exploitation where the workers are the most accessible and where they respond in the most direct sense to a correct revolutionary program. That it at the very foundation, where the class struggle receives its dynamic expression. At the present time it is necessary to add that with the increasing suppression of all of the rights of ordinary democratic channels and the general campaign of terror the party was duty bound to increase its efforts to connect the more solidly with the masses in the industries. In turn it was to be expected that the contacts below would be the stronger expressed. The party, however, was not rooted in the industries. That was proven by the factory council elections held during this period of seven weeks. To attempt to give a picture, I am presenting a cross section of these election results, reporting mainly the larger concerns.
In the “Leuna Werke,” a chemical factory and one of the biggest concerns in Germany, the factory council election results were the following: The Reformist ticket received 2,981 votes, Communists 884, Christian trade unions 285, Fascists 2,094 and Steelhelmets 1,043.
In the “Wolfen Film,” the second largest chemical concern, the results were the following: Reformists 942, Communists 1,795, Fascists 439, Steelhelmets 198 votes.
In the Hamburg Street Railway council elections the Reformists received 4,319 votes, the Communists 189, the Fascists 158, others 106.
At the Elevated Railroad in Hamburg the results were Reformists 1,152, Communists 416, Fascists 160 votes.
At the Troisdorf Dynamite factory the Reformists received 1,249 votes, the Christian trade unions 309, the Communists 189 and the Fascists 199.
At the Bremen Street Railway council elections the Reformists received 869 votes, the Fascists 160, the Steelhelmets 106 and the Christian trade unions 72.
At the Phoenix Rubber Factory, Marburg, the Reformists received 1,595 votes and 13 delegates, the Fascists elected one delegate, others none.
In the various Kiel factory council elections out of a total of 61 delegates elected, 57 were Reformists and 2 fell to the Fascists.
These results are only a general cross section, if a more complete tabulation was to be made the results would show even less favorable for the Communists.
The Party and the Factory Councils
When we add the total votes cast in these factories where exact figures are given we have the following results: The Reformists scored a total of 13,098 votes, the Communists 3,403 and the Fascists 3,210. There is a serious weight expressed in these figures but not on the side of the revolutionary party, despite the elections taking place at the most acute moment of attacks upon the workers. That more than anything else perhaps gives the lie to the delusions of grandeur contained in the empty boasts of the party leadership conjuring up altogether non-existing victories in this field. Thus for example the Wedding party congress held in June 1929 declared:
“The factory council elections in which the Communist Party of Germany came forward for the first time in the sharpest struggle against reformism as the bearer of the united front of the organized and unorganized, became a triumphal march in the most important industrial fields and large factories. The labor masses elected countless red factory councils under the banner of struggle against the state power, the employers and reformism.”
Nothing more, nor less. The only trouble is that it was an attempt to ascribe to the party a strength it did not possess which subsequently had to be admitted by the party controlled trade union Left wing congress. Such is the method of inflating one’s own strength out of all proportion and simultaneously minimizing the strength of the enemy. It is typical of the self-complacent bureaucracy but it is mortally dangerous to the party – as the events have now so decisively proven. Against this the Left Opposition has many times warned: The way to get strong is not to begin by the mistake of exaggerating one’s own strength.” Not only that, but the policy of consistently separating the militant minority from the bulk of the trade union membership in the factories by their separate red election lists, even though appearing under the grand name of “unity lists,” contributed heavily to the isolation of the party and to the disorganization of the movement. One can say chat though the party apparatus never followed a consistent policy it certainly managed to be consistent in its mistakes, even to the extent of disarming the workers.
The factory councils are now compelled to beat a hasty retreat, in many places already passing into oblivion set aside by the Fascists; nothing else could be expected when the Reformists are left in practically undisputed control. Here again they admonished the workers to remain neutral politically and not to fight. “Do not let yourselves be irritated, your rights and your duties are guarded by the constitution and by the factory council law,” so said the Hamburg trade union leaders. And this at the very moment when the councils are bruskly dissolved or reorganized, by the method of the worker elected representatives being jailed and tortured and replaced by Fascists. No, those who sat safely so far behind were not irritated, only frightened and paralysed. But even the reorganizations are only temporary measures. Not even Nazi councils, so close to the rank and file workers, where class ideology may again penetrate, can be tolerated. That the Fascist dictatorship is in deadly earnest about their attempt to destroy all working class organizations one need not doubt for a moment.
The Fascists and the Trade Unions
The Fascist and the workers organizations are the two opposite poles, mutually exclusive. Within the latter the trade unions form the great reserve. Even these the Fascists cannot tolerate as they will always offer a basis for struggle against capitalism, including the mere struggle for reform demands. Capitalist society has reached its decay stage and is under ever greater difficulties in granting any reform concessions. At this moment this is the most marked in Germany. Hence, Fascism is called upon to perform its mission.
In its approach to the trade unions it is also completing the counter-revolution by stages, encountering no obstacles whatever from the miserable functionaries who are now the lackeys  of Hitler as they once upon a time were to the Hohenzollerns. In this respect, the lead was given by the president of the German trade union federation, Leipart. The day after Hitler had arrived in power he said:
“The present government may carry through a period of no agreements perhaps even further reduction of wages; they may even bring out reactionary plans from the storage room of antiquated ideas and make arrangements which oppose the rights and liberties of the German working class. But the German workers know that after a long period of social ascent can also sometimes follow reverses, yes even temporary conscious retreats.”
In other words, the German workers have had their good times, now they should submit and accept the bad times.
But even such lackey service is not sufficient. Today the Fascists exact a much heavier tribute than did once the Hohenzollern. The methods of suppression, first applied to the Communists, the social democrats and then the auxiliary organizations, each in their turn, has also commenced against the trade unions. The rank and file membership, also in this instance showing their alarm at the Nazi advance and showing their readiness to fight, respond and gather in masses at their headquarters at each attack. That does not at all suit these frightened lackeys who are much more alarmed about the rank and file action than by the Nazi attacks and prefer to sell-out to the latter.
Their answer is leaflets, in which they plead with the workers to stay at home and not to resist. “Congregating at the headquarters,” said the Berlin leadership, “will be taken advantage by the Communists. What do they seek at our headquarters?” And the sad truth is that to the bulk of the membership the Communists have appeared as the disorganizers of the movement.
Thus the road is cleared for the Nazis. They pursue their destruction so far unhampered. Perhaps the clearest indication of how they proceed by stages to destroy the present union basis and to transfer the unions into pure organs of the Fascist state is given by the Bavarian government appointed by police commissioner von Epp. Its first act was the trade union decree in which the unions are ordered to “resume their functions,” but on the following conditions:
They are to make no direct or indirect attempts toward contact with the prohibited political organizations, their late leaden or their members.
Their headquarters will remain occupied by the police whenever the authorities find such necessary.
All political activities are prohibited, the unions are not to hold any public meetings and regular membership meetings to be held only upon notification given to the police.
At any time the actions or decisions of the unions, including their finances, are subject to inspection by the Nazi established shop nuclei.
The Fatal Policy of the R.G.O.
In this work of destruction, the Nazis are proceeding quite unhampered as far as the militant minority is concerned. It is practically entirely outside of the trade unions, not merely by persecution or default but by deliberate and – particularly now proven – false policy.
That is the Stalinist policy of independent “revolutionary” unions. As in the United States the T.U.U.L., so in Germany the RGO, only in the latter case it proved much more fatally and much more criminally wrong, due to the more advanced political conditions and due to the larger scale of the splits and of the isolation of the party from the masses. Otherwise the characteristics are common to both of these products of the “third period” era.
Trade unions to be effective must embrace all workers of the industries or at least a sufficiently decisive section. That will include workers of varying political opinions. The R.G.O., a rival union, based upon withdrawal of the revolutionary minority and based upon acceptance in advance of party policies and leadership, remained a paper organization playing no serious role at all in the class struggle. Its membership was composed only of Communists and only a very small section of the Communists at that. The R.G.O. could, therefore, not at all serve to connect the party with the masses, but on the contrary detached it and created a wall of separation.
The basic aim of the revolutionary party is to gain influence upon the working masses and particularly those organized in the trade unions. The R.G.O. became precisely the most formidable obstacle to this basic aim. Numerically feeble, it could of course not at all substitute for the mass unions. It was unable to even influence them because it was distinctly a rival organization.
The R.G.O. could naturally not remain immune from the typical Stalinist bureaucratic methods either. One party member relates how in the early part of this year the whole Berlin R.G.O. leadership was removed and a new one appointed in its place without the slightest explanation made to the membership.
A fatal injury to the movement is the record of this R.G.O. policy. Its consequence contributed heavily to the party’s impotence in face of the Nazi advance, to its being wiped out without a struggle and to the defeat of the working class as a whole. Long ago the Left Opposition demanded a change in this course and as, the only correct one, for the R.G.O., to immediately return to the trade unions in order to take up the Left wing activities within them.
That is still, despite all the positions lost, an imperative necessity. It does not diminish with the transformation of the trade unions into organs of the Fascist state. On the contrary. It increases in importance. So long as they represent a form of organization gathering workers within their ranks, they constitute a field for revolutionists to work in and to learn how to be able to do the work, skillfully, carefully – well planned and courageously executed. To fight every inch for the existence and functioning of the trade unions, to fight for existence and functioning of the factory councils, helping to give expression within them to the working class needs and connecting up therewith the democratic remands which inevitably must arise – that is the job at present. Now that Fascism in in power, it is an especial necessity to utilize every means available for flank attacks until the proletariat can again gather its forces. That the workers will respond heroically, has already been shown even in these difficult days by local strikes and demonstrations against arrests and against attacks upon the factory councils.
But the Stalinist party and Comintern leaders have not changed their course in regard to the R.G.O. It was commissioned to initiate the anti-Fascist congress scheduled to be held in Prague but prohibited by the Czecho-Slovakian government. Naturally, it is to be assumed that efforts will be made to hold the congress in some other country. But no matter where it will be, when initiated by the R.G.O. it cannot even mark a serious attempt to really rally a mass response to this gathering, not to speak of initiating subsequent actions. As far as a genuinely united working class action against Fascism is concerned, this congress called by the R.G.O. is condemned in advance to sterility and Impotence.
The New Turn
The formula and practice of the united front from below also became untenable by the logic of events, and – what irony of “fate” pursuing Stalinism – an important part of this was the fact that the initiative to offer an organizational united front had been left to the Second International. But in giving up the “united front from below” the Stalinist leaders made a volte face and decided that in approaching the socialist leaders for united action they would renounce the fundamental political right of mutual criticism.
These examples alone are sufficient to prove Stalinism as utterly oblivious of a Marxian policy or of a revolutionary strategy. It swings in jerks and spasms from one opposite position to another, forced by the blow of events. Naturally it cannot maintain working class confidence and it becomes entirely impotent of giving any leadership whatever in a serious revolutionary situation. Any old hand organ can change its tune by merely turning a small switch, but it remains nevertheless a hand organ. Centrism with its turns, half-turns and false turns nevertheless remains Centrism.
Even this change in the united front tactic, partial as it is and with its falsity to boot, still rests within the framework of Stalinist theory and policy. In other words, the partial change rests upon its old false foundation. The united front tactic cannot, of course, express the sum total of revolutionary policy and although it was at the present period the most acute question it makes up nevertheless only a part of the whole content of a Marxian policy. But here it is necessary to add that in changes of strategy or tactic in a revolutionary situation, when events usually move with lightning speed, the question of time becomes an important element: sometimes a matter of life and death. And in this instance it was a matter of life and death. Even this partial change, if made in time, could perhaps have given the impulse to a genuine united front and moved the masses forward to an extent which would have gradually enabled them to tear into the foundation of Stalinist policy, at least in Germany. But, as we know, the party leaders then tenaciously opposed any such change, branded it as counter-revolutionary and removed or expelled comrades who tried to apply the united front on a local scale, as we shall show by some concrete examples.
Now, however, the events in regard to this specific question have already moved beyond its timeliness in Germany itself. By this we do not at all mean to assert that nothing further can be done. Quite the contrary. What must be brought out, however, is the fact that the German social democratic leadership after the consolidation of the Hitler dictatorship have broken with their own International, the Second International, over the issue of opposing the latter’s protest against the dictatorship. In this they hoped to ease the road for themselves personally. Though Hitler cannot at all use these miserable creatures, except insofar as they can serve for the future destruction of the working class movement, they have capitulated completely to him.
That means that they have to all intents and purposes put the final touches to the liquidation of their own organization. One can therefore no more speak of a united front in Germany from organization to organization as far as the social democratic party is concerned. It is now necessary to commence on a new foundation. A timely, and a real change, by the Communist party, however, could unquestionably have brought the millions of social democratic workers into united action with the Communist workers, avoided the heavy price the proletariat now has to pay, and matters might have looked entirely different today.
The series of previous failures, the many stupid blunders, the whole system of false orientation, policy of theory of Stalinism, brought the German party to its fatal position of impotency in face of the Fascist onslaughts. Some German comrades even today seek to partly absolve the party from guilt in its present catastrophe by saying: “It was not unwilling to fight but it was unable to fight.” Precisely that is the issue. The party was unable to fight because its leadership over a long period of time, by its bureaucratically imposed false policy, theory and concept, had succeeded in finally disarming the party. And when the vanguard is disarmed, the mass faces certain defeat. In all of its objective consequences this can mean nothing else than Stalinism having experienced its August 4th in Germany.
Lessons of Some Practical Experiences
Many comrades, party member’s, discuss freely with us the experiences of the past mistakes. In this they are also trying to draw the lessons which may be appropriated for the future. Their reports are particularly illuminating as to how the Stalinist tactic worked out in the practical activities. One comrade from Berlin, Heligensee, relates:
“The united front was correctly understood by the masses but it was sabotaged by the Central Committee. I will prove that by our district. There existed a united front built on a broad basis with the social democratic workers, in eluding the lower functionaries. It had organized a powerful mass self-defense corps, it conducted regular weekly discussion meetings, functionaries of both parties came together to confer about matters and joint demonstrations against Fascism were held. The sub-district committee reacted to this by removing all our local party functionaries, among them old and tried class fighters. The district leadership (Brandenburg) covered and protected the sub-district committee. A hunt for Trotskyites began with the slogan: ‘Those who have any relations with Trotskyists will be summarily expelled.’ The biggest part of the membership became stirred and asked: ‘We should discuss with the Nazis but not with our own comrades.’ Protest resolutions were adopted but filed by the district office never to be answered.”
Another party member could, in his report, make a valuable contribution which graphically illustrated how a united front correctly applied, will serve effectively to unmask the social democratic leaders. He relates from Dessau:
“We took action on the occasion of the constitution of the National Socialist government. Together with an important factory committee and the S.A.P. we had established a united front committee and we invited all the reformist organizations to participate in united struggle. The social democrats asked us for negotiations but submitted unacceptable conditions. We nevertheless went to carry on negotiations and we declared: To every one of these points with which the working class is in accord for a struggle against the Nazi government, the conditions submitted by you means a practical prevention of united action. The negotiations stranded because the socialist leaders would not budge. The next day there took place in our city the greatest demonstration seen for a long time directed against the government and also against the sabotage of the social democrats. Despite this outstanding success the district leadership removed the sub-district committee.”
These simple reports are important documents. They should serve as enlightenment for Communists everywhere.
What Is to Be Done Now?
However, an entirely new situation exists now in Germany and only fools will pay any attention to the Fascist boasts of abolishing the class struggle. The internal antagonisms of capitalist society are not diminishing but sharpening. They will become many times more accentuated in Germany by the existence of the Fascist regime. To perform its mission, it will pursue the attacks upon the present trade unions much further. A struggle to destroy the workers organisations is not performed only by murder, by arresting, and by breaking things up; but it is also accompanied by the inevitable attacks upon the workers’ standard.
That is certain to be expressed in attacks upon the working conditions gained, upon the wage level, upon the unemployment insurance, social insurance and so forth. The general statement previously often repeated by party leaders who felt confident that “Hitler would soon get out of business,” to the effect that he has no favorable economic perspective ahead of him, is, of course, true in its historical sense. But it does not preclude that Germany will in this present period experience a certain upward economic conjuncture. A reduction of unemployment would inevitably tend to increase the working class demands as well as the struggle for these demands.
In general, the capitalist economic system is developing its relation of forces not favorable to the Fascists but favorable to the working class. Thus the knights of the Swastika, despite their easy victory, will yet have the greatest difficulties ahead of them. Their suppressions and repressions will undoubtedly assume yet more violent forms. But it will not continue to remain a one aided affair. There are certain also to be struggles in the near future. What leadership then, fof the German working class?
Have we fully comprehended the extent, the scope and the implica tions of the defeat in Germany’? The two workers’ parties, the Communist party and the social democratic party are destroyed. It is Austria’s turn next. There Fascism is preparing its forces and gathering its strength while the working class leadership is failing as miserably as in Germany. The Comintern also here had the duty to propose a united front to the Second international and put the question of the defense of the Austrian working class on the very top of the agenda. If Austro-Marxism follows its German brethren to annihilation it will mean to the Second International the loss of its two strongest and socialistically developed parties – in other words a perspective of practical extinction. And the Communist International? Yes, to the Comintern the German party meant as much if not more than the German social democracy meant to the Second International. In this the Comintern, under the Stalin regime, has now suffered its most fatal blow. The party of the Soviet Union is so immersed in the false theory of “Building Socialism in One Country,” that it organized not one single demonstration in support of its German class brothers during their hour of greatest need. The party of the Soviet Union is paralyzecl by the dead weight of Stalinism.
Enormous tasks are arising for the Left Opposition. The sporadic activities now carried on by the remnants of the German Communist Party do not signify its recuperation on a new and illegal basis, but merely reveal the rear end of its former legal condition. What must therefore now be done was well expressed in the statement of a German Left Oppositionist:
“Above all we must immediately issue the directives for the building of a new party. None of the parts of the old apparatus will do for the future. I have discussed this with many class conscious workers, sterling fighters, and they are quite unanimous in asserting emphatically: yes, the building of a new party is an imperative necessity.”
The Militant was a weekly newspaper begun by supporters of the International Left Opposition recently expelled from the Communist Party in 1928 and published in New York City. Led by James P Cannon, Max Schacthman, Martin Abern, and others, the new organization called itself the Communist League of America (Opposition) and saw itself as an outside faction of both the Communist Party and the Comintern. After 1933, the group dropped ‘Opposition’ and advocated a new party and International. When the CLA fused with AJ Muste’s American Workers Party in late 1934, the paper became the New Militant as the organ of the newly formed Workers Party of the United States.
PDF of full issue 1: https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/themilitant/1933/may-13-1933.pdf
PDF of full issue 2: https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/themilitant/1933/may-20-1933.pdf
PDF of full issue 3: https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/themilitant/1933/may-27-1933.pdf
PDF of full issue 4: https://www.marxists.org/history/etol/newspape/themilitant/1933/jun-03-1933.pdf