‘The Bloody First of May in Berlin’ by H. Kurella from International Press Correspondence. Vol. 9 No. 22. May 10, 1929.

Red Front militants, 1928.
‘The Bloody First of May in Berlin’ by H. Kurella from International Press Correspondence. Vol. 9 No. 22. May 10, 1929.

”Fights such as Berlin has not seen since 1919.” – “Street battles with armoured cars.” – “Bloody collisions from early in the morning until late into the night.” – “Barricade fighting in Wedding and Neukolin.” – “Police brutalities.” – “9 dead, 120 wounded, 1000 arrests.” That is how even the bourgeois press reports. And the conclusions? Incitement against the revolutionary workers is still further increased.

Zorgiebel wanted the peace of the graveyard on the 1st of May. Open air demonstrations are forbidden, the workers are advised to remain at home, the police will take “drastic action”. The Bourgeoisie set Zorgiebel a difficult task: not to allow the Berlin workers to appear on the streets on the 1st of May, on the very day when this demonstration of the international working class was being celebrated for the 40th time. The bourgeoisie commissioned him to carry out a trial o! strength; and for this purpose placed at his disposal all its means of power and unrestricted authority for its employment. Zoergiebel employed all the means, including armoured cars, with which the bourgeoisie had entrusted him. What did he accomplish with it all?

The Berlin working class did not give in. Already in the morning hours thousands and tens of thousands of workers gathered everywhere in the districts at the rallying points fixed by the May Day Committee. They encountered a tremendous force of police, mounted and on foot, an enormous number of armoured cars and patrol wagons, equipped with all the most modern weapons and criminal police with police dogs. But in spite of this, demonstration-processions are formed everywhere. The police, who already in the forenoon had made use of their firearms, attack the processions with the most ruthless brutality, forcing the masses back. But again and again the masses rally together, while the police proceed ever more brutally in order to disperse the crowds who are being continually reinforced by fresh arrivals. Killed and wounded are reported in Neukolin, in the Centre and in Wedding. Although the police resort to the most extreme measures and are able to drive the masses hither and thither, nevertheless they still encounter fierce resistance. Instead of the crowds being intimidated and driven back to their own miserable quarters, they are continually reinforced.

The centre of the town with the two main gathering points for the demonstrators, Alexander Platz and Potsdamer Platz, is “cut off” by the main forces o! the police. The most important streets leading from the proletarian districts and suburbs are barred by ten cordons of police. Nevertheless at various places the demonstrators from the outlying districts manage to break through the chain of police, as was the case at the Hackesche Markt. The police rush reserves to these spots and make use of their fire-arms. At Hackesche Markt there are four wounded, including two severely wounded.

Turning hoses on workers.

The workers do not succeed in concentrating all their forces from the outer districts in order to break through to the two central demonstration places. Nevertheless thousands gather at these two places; the police hold up the traffic for a time and clear the streets in the most brutal manner. In spite of this the two places of demonstration are again and again filled with crowds of demonstrators. This continual dispersal and reassembling of the workers lasts from 11 a.m. until 2 p.m., when the police make use of the fire-hydrants.

In the evening hours, in the proletarian districts, above all in Neukolin and Wedding, the masses are still on the streets. In order to defend themselves against the raging fury of the police who, as even the bourgeois press reports, are completely beside themselves and fire thousands of shots, barricades are erected. Many of these barricades are defended for hours. The police employ armoured cars, sweep the barricades with fire from 13 machine guns. The police make no distinction between those who have responded to the appeal of the Communist Party, and social democrats or simple passers by. Anyone who ventures to look out of window is immediately shot. A social democrat, a functionary of the Reichsbanner, is in this way killed by a bullet in the head.

What is the net result? The threats of the social democratic police president have been oi no avail. The assurance of the “Vorwarts” that the “unorganised”, although they vote for the Communists, will not follow their slogans, has again proved a piece of self-deception on the part of deceivers. The furious incitement against the “hand of Moscow”, by means of which the social democrats sought to induce the German workers to refrain from following the call to demonstrate which was decided on in Paris 40 years ago, has proved a miserable failure. Not thousands, not tens of thousands, but far more than a hundred thousand workers have appeared on the streets of Berlin, such working masses as the C.P. has rarely succeeded in mobilising, although the workers knew with what opponent they had to deal.

Thanks to Zoergiebel, there has taken place in Berlin, under the rule of the social-democratic police, the bloodiest May Day that has been witnesses since the international proletariat decided to celebrate the 1st of May as its own day. Today the bourgeoisie, and with it its social democratic police hirelings, are triumphing. Have they cause for triumph? The Berlin working class, and in fact the whole German working class, is filled with the greatest bitterness, which has already found expression in a number of protest strikes which have broken out in several factories, not only in Berlin but in the Ruhr district and in Hamburg.

Berlin, 3rd May 1929.

In consequence of the intense provocation offered by the Berlin police who raced round the streets armed with revolvers, clubs, hand and rifle grenades etc., and attacked the workers without any reason, fierce fighting again occurred at two points of the town where severe fighting occurred on the first of May, in Neukolin and Wedding. Towards evening yesterday the police cleared the streets around the Hermann Platz in Neukolin using their batons violently. They did this on several occasions and enraged the workers so by their brutality that alter dark fierce street fighting occurred to an even greater extent than on the 1st May. The police fired blindly into the ranks of the workers who showed themselves on the streets and directed fire upon the dwellings of the workers. The workers defended themselves and built a barricade in the Handjery Strasse which they manned and defended against the police attacks for several hours. The police used armoured cars and swept the streets with machine gun fire. Five workers were seriously injured. In Wedding too, once again in the Koesliner Strasse bloody collisions occurred. Here too the police fired repeatedly at the windows and balconies of the workers dwellings, using searchlights and flares in order to light up the street. Here too the workers set up barricades and defended themselves against their heavily armed attackers with the greatest heroism. The police used armoured cars and machine-guns here also, cordoned off the whole neighborhood and arrested everyone who fell into their hands. The indignation and anger of the Berlin workers is steadily rising and the bloody events of the 1st and 2nd May have been passionately discussed in the factories.

Under arrest in Berlin.

Last night a delegate conference of the large Berlin factories took place and numerous delegates reported upon the indignation of the workers in the factories and demanded a political mass-strike of the Berlin workers. A roar of indignation went through the conference when it was reported that on Thursday evening also blood had been shed in Neukolin and Wedding. After listening to a speech by comrade Heckert the conference decided to put forward the following demands: Election of revolutionary committees of action in all factories in order to organise the strike, abolition of the. police terror and the demonstration prohibition, withdrawal of the police from the working class quarters and the withdrawal of the armed flying columns from the streets of Berlin, immediate dismissal of Zoergiebel.

In Halle also a great delegate conference took place. The conference listened with the greatest indignation to the report of the police brutalities in Berlin and decided to declare a 24 hour strike on Saturday with the same demands as the Berlin workers.

In Chemnitz the. C.P. held a mass protest demonstration in which 25,000 workers took part. After listening to a speech by Max Hoelz who described the brutalities of the police, a procession was formed through the streets of the town. The police tried to break up the procession and a fierce fight took place which lasted for over half an hour. The police attacked with the greatest brutality but were continually repulsed by the workers. Numerous arrests were made. In Leipzig many protest demonstrations took· place in the factories. In the evening a mass protest demonstration took place in which the slogan of the Party for a political general strike as a protest against the bloody dictatorship of Zoergiebel was enthusiastically adopted.

Members of the “Red Front Fighters’ Association” and the police at the street battle on May 1, 1929 in Berlin.

The official organ of the Communist Party in Berlin, the “Rote fahne” was suppressed yesterday for a period of three weeks on the ground that its articles had supported the German Communist Party in its efforts to overthrow the State. The last number of the “Rote fahne” appeared this morning. Berlin, 3rd May 1929 (Evening).

The bourgeois “frankfurter Zeitung” was obliged to write the following in its yesterday’s issue:

“At Hermann Platz in Neukolin we were able to see for ourselves that the police attacked the passers by without warning and without requesting them to pass along. The police organised a sort of hunt. The same occurred in other parts of the town, for instance in the Alexander Platz. Although one can understand that the police who are being held in a constant state of preparedness for action and who are faced with a cunning and intangible enemy, are inclined to be nervous, and when a series of errors are accounted for by this natural nervousness, still there remains a great deal which must be sharply criticised.”

Street crossing in Berlin-Neukölln.

The nationalist “Nachtausgabe”, an organ very friendly toward the police, reports under the heading, “four people shot dead in Neukolin”:

“The shootings in Neukolin this afternoon have cost four people their lives. (to-day, Friday). In the first floor of a house in the Hermann Strasse two woman who were cleaning up were hit by bullets and killed instantly. At another house in the same street a woman who was standing on the balcony on the third floor was struck by a bullet and killed instantly. At the corner of the Nogat and Hermann Strassen a man tried to cross the road in order to get to his work. In the middle of the roadway he collapsed mortally wounded by bullets. Strong posts occupied all corners and marched along the pavements, their carbines ready to shoot at any moment at open windows etc., in order to nip any attempt at attack in the bud. Three women who ventured onto their balconies despite the warnings of the police, paid for their temerity with their lives.”

The bourgeois press reports that “The Prussian authorities; are considering whether it will not be necessary to suppress a number of communist organisations”. In the meantime the Red Front Fighters League has been prohibited in Prussia, Bavaria and Hamburg. The whole of the bourgeois press, including the Berlin “Vorwarts”, is conducting a furious anti-communist and anti-soviet campaign, and action against “Moscow” is demanded./

Street fighting in Berlin.

The German Communist Party has issued an appeal to the working men and women of Berlin which contains, inter alia, the following: “The bourgeoisie and their police socialists want to provoke you to take up a murderous battle, they want to provoke you to armed insurrection. The murderous plans have been prepared in cold blood for months previously. They wanted to entice you before the barrels of their machine-guns in order to be able to mow down hundreds of the best workers and thus drown the Berlin revolutionary movement in blood. The revolutionary proletariat will however, not let itself be provoked. The revolutionary proletariat will choose the moment for an armed insurrection which it considers favourable, and in this moment they will take up arms to repay the police murderers”.

International Press Correspondence, widely known as”Inprecor” was published by the Executive Committee of the Communist International (ECCI) regularly in German and English, occasionally in many other languages, beginning in 1921 and lasting in English until 1938. Inprecor’s role was to supply translated articles to the English-speaking press of the International from the Comintern’s different sections, as well as news and statements from the ECCI. Many ‘Daily Worker’ and ‘Communist’ articles originated in Inprecor, and it also published articles by American comrades for use in other countries. It was published at least weekly, and often thrice weekly. The ECCI also published the magazine ‘Communist International’ edited by Zinoviev and Karl Radek from 1919 until 1926 monthly in German, French, Russian, and English. Unlike, Inprecor, CI contained long-form articles by the leading figures of the International as well as proceedings, statements, and notices of the Comintern. No complete run of Communist International is available in English. Both were largely published outside of Soviet territory, with Communist International printed in London, to facilitate distribution and both were major contributors to the Communist press in the U.S. Communist International and Inprecor are an invaluable English-language source on the history of the Communist International and its sections.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/inprecor/1929/v09n22-may-10-1929-inprecor.pdf

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