Ted Grant

Fascism menacing Germany?

Source: Socialist Fight, vol. 2 no. 1 (January-February 1960)
Transcription: Francesco 2009
Proofread: Fred 2009
Markup: Manuel 2009

The swastika together with anti-Jewish slogans has reappeared in Germany, on the walls of synagogues, churches, halls and schools. Hooligan and lunatic elements, all over the world, have followed suit. In London and other cities in Britain, in France, Holland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and as far afield as the United States and Australia there have been swastika daubings and anti-Semitic slogans. This demonstrates, at any rate, that the phenomena of anti-Semitism and fascism, are not specifically German.

The advanced elements in the world Labour Movement are afraid that once again a new fascist menace is appearing in Germany. The capitalist press, the leaders of the Communist Party and many leaders of the Labour Movement, including sincere Left-wingers, have posed the question as if this was something peculiar to the German character. Certainly the elements which backed, financed and organised Hitler are back in power in Western Germany. (But the capitalist rulers of Britain, France and the United States fearing the Socialist revolution in Germany, also supported Hitler financially and in other ways before he came to power. They supported the re-armament of Germany and her initial seizures of territory, as a basis for using her for war against Russia. They were just as responsible for the Nazis coming to power as the German capitalists).

Same old Nazi backers

The Anglo-American, French and German Governments have allowed the multi-millionaire backers of the Nazis, Krupp and Flick, to regain their property, privileges and power in the Federal Republic. 1,000 of the judges in the Federal Republic of Germany held judicial office under Hitler. People holding high positions in the police, civil servants, teachers and editors, were all concerned in the crimes of the Nazis, as they held high posts under Hitler. Two of the ministers in the present Christian Democratic Government, Herr Globke, responsible for the commentary for the Nuremberg racial decrees against the Jews and Professor Oberlander, the present Federal Minister for Refugees, were high up members of the Nazi Party. The Minister of the Interior Dr. Schroeder, who has been groomed by Adenauer and his successor, has also been a member of the Nazi Party. “A weeding out of former Nazis would almost denude some Federal Ministries of their civil servants. The Federal Foreign Office would be deprived of some of its acknowledged experts. The foreign and consular services would suffer severely so would the police force, the legal and teaching professions, and local government. Ironically the Bundeswehr (German Army)—about whose staffing most fuss has been made—would be least affected,” writes the Manchester Guardian of January 1st.

Former Nazis defended

The real situation was shown when the Social-Democratic deputies in the Bavarian Parliament’s legal committee moved that “the judicial apparatus be speedily cleansed from people having had an active part in legal crimes during the Third Reich.” They demanded the expulsion of 200 of Hitler’s special and military court judges and prosecutors from Bavaria’s legal apparatus. The Bavarian Minister of Justice Haas justified their retention on the grounds that they had “applied the law” on the basis of “what they regarded as right”…“In God’s name one must bear with them.” From a capitalist class point of view this is perfectly logical. The capitalists used the Nazis in the interests of their profits. If they do not support the Nazis now it is because these criminal maniacs are not necessary, at the present time, to hold down the working class in subjection, and destroy their organisations.

It must never be forgotten that the overwhelming majority of the working class in Germany was opposed to the Nazis. Before coning to power and organising the terror Hitler never even received a majority of the votes in Parliamentary elections. The middle class who supported him did so in desperation, because of the failure of the Social-Democratic and Communist Party leaderships to show a way out to the German people, on the road of socialism. Even at the last minute the failure of the Communist Party and Social-Democratic leaders to organise a United Front, to prevent Hitler coming to power at all costs, was responsible for Hitler’s victory. The Labour and Communist Party leaders in Britain, justified this betrayal.

Citrine at the Conference of the T.U.C. in 1933, after the coming to power of the Nazis, justified the refusal of the Trade Union leaders in Germany, to call a general strike, because he said it would have meant civil war in Germany!

The Communist Party leaders in Britain opposed the setting up of a united front in Germany, between the Communist Party and the Social-Democrats, which could have prevented Hitler from coming to power. They did this in obedience to the “theory” of Stalin of “Social-Fascism” which declared that the main enemy was not Hitler but the Social-Democrats. A few months before Hitler came to power the Daily Worker was still jeering, “It is significant that Trotsky has come out in defence of a united front between the Communist and Social Democratic Parties against Fascism. No more disruptive and counter-revolutionary class lead could possibly have been given at a time like the present.” They are as much responsible for the crimes of the Nazis as their brother parties in Germany.

Anti-German racialism

It is nauseating in the light of these facts to see the campaign to blur the class nature of fascism, and picture it as a peculiar aberration of the German people. The Daily Mail, which has a particularly vicious record of supporting fascism in Germany, Italy, Spain and Britain, in the pre-war period, is in the van of the yelping pack. The Daily Express, and the Beaverbrook press generally, are not far behind. But the most shameful of all has been the Daily Worker. These professed “Communists” are without shame or working class honour, in their eagerness to smear the whole of the German people. Their words are practically identical with those of the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. In its Editorial of December 31st the Daily Worker sneeringly declares:

“After the war it was common to hear the excuse: ‘we didn’t know what was going on’ from the Germans. (our emphasis) Today, the same sort of people who ‘didn’t know’ are trying to tell us that we should ‘not worry’ about the latest outbreak of anti-Semitism.

“Efforts to play down the meaning of what is happening can be expected from people who share the guilt of these filthy crimes.

“But it is a disgraceful and dangerous thing to find British papers (our emphasis) like the Daily Telegraph also attempting to whitewash these disgusting events… the need for all, of whatever political or religious outlook, to act to defend mankind against a revival of this murderous insanity?”

Class nature of Fascism

What is “disgraceful” and “dangerous” is the extent of the degeneration of the leadership of the Communist Party. Nowhere in their propaganda on this question do they put a class point of view. It is correct, of course, to appeal to the humanitarian instincts of the middle class, as well as the workers, but Fascism cannot be destroyed under any form it may take, unless at least the advanced elements in the Labour Movement understand how it arose, its capitalist nature and how to fight it.

To blame the whole of the German people for the crimes of the Nazis would be no better or worse than to blame the whole of the British people for the crimes of British Imperialism in Kenya, in the “internment camps” such as Hola, and the crimes of the bloodstained past of British Imperialism. Fascism means primarily the complete destruction of all working class organisations; trade unions, all working class parties and even clubs. It means the abolition of all the democratic rights they have won in struggle against capitalism in the last century: the right to strike, organise, demonstrate, free speech and press, etc.

These latest manifestations, at any rate, are a crushing condemnation of the Right Wing Socialist attitude, that capitalism has reformed itself. They come at a time when “prosperity” is at its height particularly in Western Germany, with its so-called “Economic miracle.” Just when the German Social-Democratic leadership has shamefully abandoned all pretence of standing for a fundamental change in the economy, these criminal outbursts indicate the subterranean processes taking place in capitalist society, in Germany, in Britain and other countries.

Special powers against the workers

The reason why the West German State is riddled through and through with former Nazi elements, lies in the capitalist structure of society. If they felt their power threatened by the working class, they would once again, in desperation, turn to totalitarian dictatorship as a solution; most probably in a somewhat different form with different slogans, because of the discrediting and exposure of the Nazi race maniacs.

There is only a remnant of 30 to 40,000 German Jews left compared with half a million before Hitler came to power. They are mostly old people. The Jews in Germany, before Hitler, were mainly middle class and professional people, who competed for jobs as doctors and lawyers, architects and accountants, with the so-called Aryans. With the failure of the workers’ organisations to show a way out of the economic crisis for Germany, Hitler won the middle class to his insane policy. But it would be difficult under these circumstances ‑ small numbers and lack of economic power ‑ to make a scapegoat of the Jews for the crimes of capitalism. That is why, probably, the Deutsche Reich Party of neo-Nazis, is concentrating on purely nationalist slogans at the present time, and leaving anti-Semitism as an under-tone.

The Mosley fascists disseminated Jew-baiting propaganda pre-war, and in the immediate post-war period. But now Mosley pretends that his “Movement” has never been anti-Semitic.

While the Adenauer Government has been very gentle and forbearing with the gangsters of fascism, giving high officials pensions and good conditions, they are preoccupied at the present time with preparing to fight the German workers with draconian legislation.

The Bonn Minister of the Interior is preparing to introduce legislation allowing dictatorial rule by decree. Special powers against strikes, powers to declare a “national emergency” in the event of a “Communist” uprising, and to inset any “national emergency”, “arising from inside or outside”. The vice President of the West German Constitutional Court, Dr. Katz, warned at the beginning of December that the present “Economic and political fine weather” in the Federal Republic could not last indefinitely, and that “labour troubles must be expected”. He demanded that special powers be given the Government for use if Parliament was prevented from exercising its function.

The new legislation would give the Minister power to direct labour, to maintain essential services, and food supplies. It would abolish the secrecy of the postal services, limit the rights of free speech, and assembly, and give the police the right to enter private dwellings without search warrants. It could be used against strikes, and trade union and working class demonstrations.

Nazi support negligible

The Social Democrats have been willing to concede special powers in the event of war. This is a betrayal. But they are opposing, without conducting a campaign on the question, the use of these powers in peace time, though (as the Communist Party, which is illegal in the Federal Republic, is very small) the legislation is aimed at the Labour and trade union organisations of the working class.

The trade unions, the German T.U.C., and the Social-Democratic Party, have been conducting a campaign demanding that all associated with Hitler’s crimes should be dismissed from the apparatus of the State. They have protested against the permeation of the State by former leading Nazis, and the control of industry by former fascist supporters. They have demanded energetic measures by the State against all guilty of racial or fascist incitement. They have not learned the terrible lessons of history. They are following in the footsteps of the pre-Hitler Social-Democrats, who appealed to the “State” to take action. The “State” took “action”. It gave power to Hitler at a time when his movement threatened to fall to pieces. The policy of relying on the State led to the destruction of the German Labour Movement.

At the present time the neo-Nazi support is negligible. The Deutsches Reich Party, which is the closest approximation to the Nazis received less than 1 percent of the votes, in elections in Germany. It has not got a single member of Parliament. They lost half of their votes in the Lower Saxony Province, between 1954 and 1958, in what was formerly their strongest base. Their total vote in the Federal election of 1956 was 300,000.

The real danger in Germany at the moment is the measure being prepared by the Government for use against the working class. The only way to fight against the danger of fascism is to fight against the system which breeds fascism. No bans or prescriptions will solve the problem, either in Britain or in Germany. To the bestial racialism and nationalism of the Fascists must be counterposed the international solidarity of the working class.

The “practical” way for the Labour Movement, of dealing with this menace, lies in the winning of the masses, including the middle class, to support a Socialist programme; for the overthrow of capitalism.