Karl Radek


The German Junkers Take Command

(20 September 1923)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 3 No. 61 [39], 20 September 1923, pp. 671–672.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.
Public Domain: Marxists Internet Archive (2023). You may freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit “Marxists Internet Archive” as your source.

The German Chancellor, Herr Stresemann, first made his bow to the sovereign Reichstag, but after having fulfilled this duty he boarded a train and proceeded to Mittelwald in Bavaria, where the Bavarian Prime Minister, Herr von Knilling, is spending his holidays The Fascist Völkische Beobachter asks derisively why Herr Stresemann did not first visit the Saxon Prime Minister, the social democrat Zeigner, but gave precedence to one of the heads of German counter-revolution, the head of that Bavarian government which publicly expressed its lack of confidence in the Stresemann government immediately after it was formed.

Herr Stresemann was able to reply to this that the Social Democratic Party Committee, was quite capable of itself keeping the worthy Zeigner within bounds, but that it was incumbent on the chancellor himself to come to an understanding with the counter-revolutionary elements.

In order to facilitate this task, the coalition government has communist organizations dissolved, communist newspapers prohibited and factory councils persecuted, although the Minister for Finance, Herr Hilferding, declared at the recent conference of the Second International in Hamburg that socialism is no longer a final goal, but is already being attained by the factory workers who are endeavoring to take control of production.

All the efforts made by the Stresemann-Hilferding government to pacify the German counter-revolutionists have not only been entirely unsuccessful, but have encouraged the counter-revolutionists to such an extent that they are openly preparing to overthrow the Stresemann government. Here we do not speak of the press of the German National and National Socialist Parties which have stated their attitude to the Stresemann. Hilferding government with refreshing candour. Candour has always been a virtue of these counter-revolutionary organizations. We speak of the decision arrived at by the German National People’s Party, which met on August 28 in the Reichstag and, after first hearing the speeches of Messrs Hergt, Helferich, Schiele and Reichert, adopted an official program of subversion.

What does this program contain? With reference to foreign politics it makes the following demands: Annulment of the Versailles Peace, arming of the German people, continuation of the resistance in the Ruhr by every means available. This foreign political program is, however, a mere blind. When Kapp chased the Ebert government out of Berlin in 1920, he at once announced that his government would fufil the terms of the Versailles Peace as far as possible. And Kapp’s advisers at that time were the same Dr. Helfferich who is now the political leader of the German National People’s Party, and the same Colonel Bauer who is now the leading strategist of the nationalist military secret societies. And there is no doubt whatever that if the Fascist coup were successful, Herren Hergt and Helfferich would try to come to an understanding with the Entente. They have now drawn up a fighting program against the Entente, hoping thus to regain the support of the masses of officers and nationalist intelligentsia who left the junker pary to join the extreme nationalist organizations.

The main item of the program is to be found in the domain of economic policy. What the workers left the factories in the first week of August, the junkers granted the new taxes in their alarm lest there might be a revolution. Now they declare with characteristic impudence that this was done solely for the purpose of reinforcing the defensive struggle in the Ruhr and on the Rhine, and ot enabling better order to be maintained at home. “The premises are no longer the same.” The French are still in the Ruhr and on the Rhine; order at home is threatened more than ever; only one thing is changed: the reactionaries have got over their fright, and therefore the German Nationalists declare that they demand postponement of tax payments, and that the national food supplies can only be assured if the present government is replaced by one capable of gaining tne confidence of the junkers. At the same time they demand that the creation of a really valid currency should be placed in the hands of the economic professions.

What does this mean, in reality? That the junkers are declaring a tax and food boycott of the Stresemann-Hilferding government, and demand that the attempt be made to create a currency by the alliance of the large landowners with the iron and coal barons.

In order to win the petty bourgeoisie for this real program, it is made to contain a demand for the provision of housing and fuel for the winter for the poorer population, the banishment of the Jews and placing of their dwellings at the disposal of the war-disabled and the victims of the Ruhr war (Herr Helfferich is going to keep his villa at Grünewald). Finally. the program demands war against all profiteers and spend thrills, the junkers of course excepted.

And how is this program going to be realized? A dictator is to be appointed, and, should the Reichstag not agree to this, the people shall decide the matter. The gentlemen do not state how the people are going to decide. But this may be gathered from the explanation: "Where state protection fails, the order-loving and really working population will take the protection of their home and work into their own hands.” As this same resolution contains the passage, “we shall meet die attempt at a second revolution with relentless resistance”, we can infer with a high degree of probability that Herr Helfferich does not intend to place himself under the protection of the proletarian defence units, but of the Fascisti.

This declaration acquires its greatest significance if we remember the cautious attitude of Herr Helfferich and Herr Hergt during the Kapp Putsch. They risked gaol by acting as advisers to the counter-revolutionary rebels, but they did not place themselves openly at the head of the Putch. They did not think that the right moment had come. And at the time when the German National Party was formed by Wulle, Gräfe and Henning, they still did not think that the moment had come to take up an open programmatic attitude. They excluded Wulle, Gräfe and Henning from their party. But now they are of the opinion that the hour has struck, the moment come for them to place themselves at the head of the counter-revolution.

The Fascist press is pretending to adopt a waiting attitude in regard to this decision. It opines that the question is not what the German Nationals say, but what they will do. All this is merely a manoeuvre intended to conceal from the petty bourgeois masses the fact that the old guard of bread profiteers is taking over the leadership of the German National and National Socialist movements. This fact is, however, extraordinarily important for the characterization not only of the acuteness of the social antagonisms, but also of the nature of the German National movement. It is a petty bourgeois movement, but it merely forms a means for the seizure of power by the junkers. The junkers themselves have already coalesced, in their party, with heavy industry and finance capital. The names of Helfferich and Reichert alone suffice to tell us this. Stinnes and his press are still holding back, but it will not be long before they reply to the appeal, and the Fascist front will be in marching order. But the same moment will unmask and destroy it. The petty bourgeois masses will recognize whom they are serving: the bread and coal profiteers.

Last updated on 30 April 2023