From Workers’ International News, Vol.5 No.13, September 1943, pp.10-12. 
Transcribed by Ted Crawford.
Marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
Although the war has not yet been decided by military means, it is clear to the world that Hitler can no longer achieve victory. The tremendous significance of the fact that the Germans face defeat in the imperialist war, and the fears engendered by this world shattering prospect in the camp of both fascist and “democratic” imperialists, provides the urgent necessity to survey the Nazi regime under the impact of defeats, as well as the perspectives that confront the masses.
Many important facts demonstrate that Hitler and his camarilla are becoming more and more aware of their ultimate doom, and that they are preparing, so far as they are able, to stave off the day of defeat.
The first and most important evidence of this awareness on the part of Hitler was furnished by the promulgation of the “European Charter” and the “New Order.” This seemingly radical change in the National Socialist “philosophy” was a virtual admission on the one hand, of the failure of terrorism and quislings, and on the other, of Hitler’s need to establish a “permanent settlement” on the Continent so that an invasion by the Allies would be looked upon as an “intrusion” and as a harbinger of chaos. The “New Order”, like the Atlantic Charter, offers “recognition of the rights of all European States ... Permanent collaboration between the European peoples on the basis of their common interests and civilisations ... A just division of the earth’s goods ... Freedom of seas and trade ... etc., etc.”
But the European Charter, like the Atlantic Charter was buried as soon as it was born. Sullen acquiescence, sabotage, opposition and open warfare, faces Hitler throughout the length and breadth of Europe.
With the defeats on the military front there is a profound. difference in the morale of the Wehrmacht. The collapse of the Italian armies in Sicily and the retirement of Hitler’s forerunner Mussolini, must have decisive effects upon the German morale and upon the whole course of the war. A breach has been made in the invincible “Festung Europa.”
A significant political indication of the depth of the weakness of Hitler and his fear of the German military leadership, is seen in the suppression of the military weekly “Militaer Wochenblatt”. It was the recognised independent voice of the German General Staff. It was read eagerly by all foreign embassies, intelligence services and military circles. To see the friction, it is necessary only to quote the following criticism of the German High Command, which appeared in its columns as late us September 1941. Von Loeb wrote bluntly; that:
“Germany was not prepared for winter warfare in Russia, and there was no adequate transport available in the winter conditions that were to be met.”
The suppression at this period of a journal of such influence and tradition, shows that Hitler and his clique fear any possibility of an independent orientation on the part of the General Staff.
As a result of the military conquest of Europe, the economic penetration of German Finance capital has reached unprecedented proportions. In German occupied Europe there have emerged colossal trusts which equal in their capital, scope and ramifications, the giant combines of Wall Street. The various finance-capitalist groups in Europe have been forcibly “co-ordinated” into one economic machine, which is subordinated to the interests of German finance capital and its war needs. This has been carried out by that imperialist nation whose political superstructure corresponds perfectly to the needs of imperialism, i.e. fascist Germany. This unification has been carried through in ruthless imperialist fashion with economic devastation and suffering for the mass of the European people.
Europe has become economically and administratively unified under the heel of fascism. Its industries, its agriculture, its system of transport and communication, have become fused into an organised whole. Irrespective of a German victory or defeat all the economic forces drive towards a continuation of European unification.
Naturally, the productive results of this unification have been entirely subordinated to the needs of Germany’s war aims. Production is restricted almost entirely to war needs. While the productive forces have been freed from outlived “national” restrictions, they are at the same time dwarfed and distorted to produce materials for destruction. Europe’s vast potentialities have been increased, but the masses suffer from an ever increasing misery.
It is clear that the economic unification of Europe presents a tremendous potential force, that American imperialism must destroy, if it is to dominate the world. That is why America plans for Europe, include the dismemberment of Germany and the smashing of her economic hegemony over Europe.
At the end of 1941 and early in 1942 when Hitler imagined victory to be certain, the occupied and satellite powers were expected to supply divisions for the Russian front. The draining away of manpower led to a decline in war production and agricultural produce. Today the flow of war materials and foodstuffs to Germany is slackening. Occupied Europe, starving, its agriculture ruined, its machinery and equipment worn out, threatens to be not merely useless to the German war machine, but an actual liability.
Devastating air raids, the feverish preparations to meet invasion, Mussolini’s sudden denouement, the collapse of Italian fascism, together with the destruction of the German middle class, the mobilisation of all available man power for the forces, the substitution of 12 million workers recruited from occupied countries in place of Germany’s industrial population – all the factors have brought about an enormous change in the German Home Front.
Walter Funk, wile is in charge of war economy, is faced with the necessity of adjusting a failing economy, which must collapse under the tremendous strain of total war. His initial task has been an austerity drive, which has entailed the closing of 120,000 shops and restaurants. The ruin of the middle class, the backbone of the Nazi party and the regime, means a complete loss in the main social support of the regime.
Funk has also called up an additional 1,500,000 women. This too, inevitably undermines the regime built upon three K’s. (Kinder, Küche, Kirche).
The “Sauckel Scheme” working in the interests of Speer’s drive for increased production, scrutinises all men from 17 to 45. Sauckel, who is responsible for the prevention of sabotage in the factories and railways, as well as amongst the foreign slaves, has evolved a system of migrations, spies and terrorism unequalled in history.
The number of foreign workers and prisoners of war in Germany is 12 million. The vast majority of these foreign conscripts come from occupied Russia. In order to avoid the danger of “political contamination” these Soviet citizens are segregated not merely from the German workers, but also from the rest of the foreign slaves.
The Nazi party has recognised this danger and issued the following warning:
“Beware, German men and women, your walls are made of glass, and every word you speak, and almost every thought you think is noticed.”
This is an attempt by Goebbels to prevent the fraternisation which is inevitably taking place between the German and the foreign workers against the common oppressor. When Italian workers in Germany heard of the fall of Mussolini, they came out the streets of Berlin, burned pictures of the Duce and made bonfires the fascist insignia. The German workers, inspired by their Italian comrades, joined in the demonstrations adding portraits of Hitler and the Nazi flag to the bonfires.
The fraternisation between the German and foreign workers has raised fearful spectres before the fascist leaders. Dr. Ley, head of the Nazi Labour Front, said in his May Day speech:
“I do hope, at long last, we are growing out of that damned Marxist solidarity stuff, particularly as far as foreign workers are concerned. The line you ought to take with them is to stress your pride in being Germans.”
Another aspect of the same problem is clearly seen in the following extract from the TFTU Bulletin:
A Nazi controlled Brussels newspaper had for one or another reason to admit the experience of a Belgian worker: “The work demanded from us does not come up to the normal speed we are used to. When we began at a good, reasonable pace, the German colleagues immediately interfered: ‘Why the hurry, take your time.’ We fell in with their tempo, but after a while, automatically, we fell back to the more normal speed we are used to at home. Again, the German colleagues prompted us to go slow, until finally we did get used to adjusting our pace to theirs.”
It can be seen that not only is there collaboration between the German and foreign workers but that the German workers are determined to maintain their standards despite the war effort.
There are also many reports in the general press of the opposition of workers in Germany. The News Chronicle of 25/7/43 reports that thousands of anti-Hitler pamphlets were spread over Berlin and districts. It read:
“All energies against the destroyers of our nation. Down with Hitler.”
The fact that some leaflets were discovered in the woods, says the News Chronicle, indicates “an extensive underground organisation at work.”
From these sets the mood of the German masses is clearly indicated. On the surface Germany appears as a vast concentration camp functioning in twilight. Everything appears to he under control, fear seems to dominate, every sign of oppression is deeply suppressed, men and women disappear overnight and voices are hardly raised above a whisper. Hitler appears to conduct the war without, opposition. But this is merely a deceptive superstructure. Not much is heard of the opposition, except on selected occasions when the Nazi party deems it necessary to record executions to terrorise the population. Nevertheless it is known that during the last eight months one worker per day has been executed for high treason.
An important manifestation of the organised opposition in Germany is in connection with the students’ riots. The meaning of this will be better appreciated when it is remembered that the German universities were hot-beds of reaction, furnishing from their students and professors thousands of Hitler’s earliest and most fanatical followers. It is a significant fact that the Nazis thought it necessary to broadcast the news that in the Munich University:-
“Six students and a professor were shot and 10 other students had been imprisoned for periods of from 6 months to 5 years for high treason, encouraging sabotage and distributing seditious leaflets and failing to report the activities of their comrades to the authorities.”
It is reported that similar disturbances have taken place in the universities of Karlsruhe, Heidelberg and Leipzig.
The Government has announced that in future all university students will have to undergo a test to determine their political soundness. Only those politically reliable will be permitted to continue their studies.
Hitler is not alone in fearing the defeat of fascism; the Allied imperialists well as Stalin, also look upon the defeat of the fascist armies with fear and trepidation. They appreciate the dynamic forces of a German proletariat freed from Hitler. The defeat of the Nazi regime signifies the collapse if the bulwark of reaction in Europe. There is no section of the German administration, nor the German capitalist class which could rally the workers to its side. The German army and the Junkers have fully participated in Hitler’s crimes, and are thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the workers.
The Allied imperialists feverishly prepare from the outside. They have stated in advance their plans for Germany: they cannot allow an interim of “chaos and anarchy. To prevent a revolution in Germany, the Allies intend to impose a military dictatorship; Hitler’s SS and the Gestapo are to be replaced by British and American troops trained to “administer” the tortured German people. To prevent Germany becoming socialist the Allies are preparing to cut up Germany into a series of small principalities, which they hope will divide the German masses and ruin the economy of the country. They propose to disarm Germany industrially, which means the smashing of Germany’s key industries.
Despite their plans, however, it will be no easy task to subjugate the German masses after the downfall of Hitler. A military dictatorship is of itself a reflection of a deep crisis within society, and therefore cannot stabilise itself for any length of time. To dismember Germany and to destroy her industrial life means to plunge Europe into catastrophic impoverishment and to wipe out the gains of a century of industrial progress. The only justification for capitalism in its ascendancy has been its rapid extension of the means of production and the ushering in of a period of potential plenty. In its decay, the capitalist system threatens to destroy everything which it has achieved. The allied imperialists will baulk at nothing to achieve what they consider will be the permanent destruction of Germany’s industrial might.
It is not to be doubted that when the crisis breaks in Germany, workers will tread the road already taken by the workers of Italy. They will set up workers’ committees, establish their own press, wrest a minimum of democratic rights from whatever government replaces fascism as their temporary oppressor.
In this situation, Stalin is preparing his own solution for the German revolution. His setting up of the National Committee of Free Germany is nothing less than the exclusion of a revolutionary solution for Germany. Stalin intends to support a militaristic “democratic” regime that will help to suppress any revolutionary action on the part of the German masses. Instead of posing the internationalist revolutionary solution to the German workers, Stalin appeals to the German army to lead the movement: “True to the Fatherland and the people, this army must play the decisive role,” says the Moscow appeal to the army. One of the generals mentioned by the Russians in this connection is General Guderian, well known fascist general. Such an orientation suggests the possibility of Stalin making a deal with the so-called pro-Russian Generals.
Long ago the Hitler regime lost whatever mass basis it may have possessed. The German working class never supported Hitler. The systemic destruction of the middle class which has been taking place at an accelerated pace for the last ten years and the impoverishment and degradation of the remnants of this class has meant that inevitably the mass basis of the regime among the petit bourgeoisie has disappeared. As in Italy so in Germany, more and more the Nazi bureaucracy and the ruling class finds itself functioning in an atmosphere of hostility and hatred. The one thing that has paralysed the movement of the German masses has been fear of a new Versailles. The dilemma that Hitler has placed in front of the masses has been: toleration of his regime or victory of Anglo-American imperialism and new chains on the German masses.
While the German armies were obtaining a series of unparalleled military victories, the temporary toleration of, the Nazi regime by the workers and soldiers of Germany could be secured. The defeats which Hitler has suffered has shaken his regime to its foundations. In the coming period revolution is inevitable in Germany. But a revolution in Germany would have even more profound consequences than the fall of fascism in Italy. The explosions would be felt throughout the European Continent and beyond it. It is this that the ruling class of all countries regard with terror and foreboding. It is this that Churchill and Roosevelt, the Pope and Stalin, each for his own reasons and his own interests, are attempting to avoid and to find their own solution.
Despite all their efforts, the German revolution will break through. All the forces of the old Society are united in a conspiracy to suppress it. The bourgeoisie and their labour lackeys, the Stalinist bureaucracy and their “communist” flunkeys. Desperately the Nazis play their last card in Himmler who is to unloose the SS gangsters on the German people. All this will be in vain.
But the German masses will need a programme and a banner if the inevitable social revolution is to be victorious. Such a banner is provided by the slogan of a Socialist Germany and a Socialist Europe. The Fourth International alone has the programme which can lead Germany and Europe out of the impasse into which they have been plunged by world imperialism. Under its banner the German and European workers will conquer.
1. Rose Carson was the pseudonym of Rose Selner.
Last updated on 27.11.2005