A History of the German Republic, Arthur Rosenberg 1936
The decisive battle between the generals and capitalists on the one hand and the democratic working classes on the other was not fought out for several years to come. It was preceded by a period covering the years 1928-29, in which it seemed as if the hopes of the SPD would at last find realisation. The middle-class block, which had ruled the Reich uninterruptedly since the autumn of 1923 with or without the support of the Nationalists, now collapsed as a result of internal dissensions. The middle classes were once again compelled to hand over the political leadership of Germany to the Social Democrats.
Throughout the entire year 1927 Stresemann worked tirelessly to obtain the results that were intended to follow upon Germany’s entry into the League of Nations and the conclusion of the Locarno Pact. His aim was the transformation of the temporary settlement of the reparations question effected in the Dawes Plan into a definite and permanent solution, the liberation of Germany from foreign supervision, and the withdrawal of the Allied troops from the remainder of the occupied area of the Rhineland. The negotiations upon which he embarked for this purpose proved extremely lengthy and difficult. In conducting these negotiations Stresemann wished to have behind him the support of a thoroughly reliable majority in the Reichstag. Moreover, his hopes of bringing his work to a successful conclusion in cooperation with the Nationalists grew fainter and fainter. The Nationalist Party Committee had shown time and again that it was lacking in purposefulness and in a definite political programme. It oscillated between the demands of industry and fear of the Racist opposition. At any moment Stresemann might find his diplomatic negotiations disturbed by a vote of want of confidence on the part of the Nationalists. In that event foreign opinion would be unable to place any further confidence in a German Minister for Foreign Affairs who lacked the support of a majority of his own parliament.
It was for these reasons that Stresemann wished to see the middle-class-block government replaced by a ‘Great Coalition’ through the inclusion of the Social Democrats in the government. Although Stresemann remained to his last breath a convinced believer in the sanctity of private property, he found the predominant influence of the great capitalists increasingly embarrassing the longer he continued to control foreign policy. He found himself more and more at variance with the influential men in his own party – the People’s Party – in which the officials of the industrial associations took the lead. Stresemann indeed played with the idea of separating the small independent manufacturers whose livelihood depended upon the ability they displayed in the conduct of their own businesses from the vast combines and limited liability companies. He thought of founding a new and genuinely republican party comprising the moderate elements in the middle classes and also the remaining Democrats. The Democratic Party that in 1919 was the leader of the middle classes had meanwhile sunk to a state of complete political insignificance. It depended for support more especially upon the Jewish middle classes in Berlin, Frankfurt-on-the-Main, etc, who were not socialists but were excluded from the right parties as a result of the anti-Semitism rampant within them.
At the close of 1927 Stresemann’s new party still remained an unfulfilled wish. Hence he was compelled to work with the People’s Party as he found it. The next political crisis nevertheless revealed the gulf separating Stresemann from his own party inasmuch as he acted independently and without paying much attention to the wishes of the party representation in the Reichstag. The party continued to support his foreign policy, while at the same time it disliked the notion of a change in the internal balance of political power that would restore a decisive voice in affairs to the working classes. On the other hand, Stresemann’s ideas met with the support of influential members of the Centre. The Centre was certainly not prepared to return to Erzberger’s policy; but it shared Stresemann’s distrust of the Nationalists, and desired the establishment of a new coalition government whose members would work together in greater harmony.
The break-up of the middle-class block in the Reichstag at the beginning of 1928 was a masterpiece of parliamentary tactics. Not all that passed behind the scenes in those days has yet been fully revealed. It would appear that Stresemann held all the trumps in his hand; and at the same time feared to compromise himself too deeply or to appear in the public eye as the destroyer of the block. The actual dissolution of the block occurred as the result of a proposal that was certainly not numbered among the most prominent political issues of the day. The Centre desired a new Reich education law that would strengthen the influence of the Church over the schools. The Nationalists gave their active support to the proposal. The People’s Party opposed it. Certain National Liberal traditions dating from the days of the Kulturkampf were still alive among the propertied classes in western and southern Germany, and these classes were opposed to any further extension of the power of the Catholic Church. The German Catholics had no need of a new education law, since their rights and privileges in regard to education were already sufficiently secure. The education law was therefore in no sense a matter of life and death for the middle classes. The inability of the People’s Party and the Centre to agree upon the new measure would in other circumstances have caused it to be allowed to lapse.
It is, moreover, obvious that if the struggle had really turned upon the education question the result would have been on the one hand a bitter conflict between the Centre and the People’s Party, and on the other hand still closer union between the Centre and the Nationalists, who were in agreement over the education question. In reality, the exact contrary took place. The Centre and the People’s Party remained on good terms despite their inability to agree upon the education question. At the same time the Centre announced the dissolution of the block to the accompaniment of fierce attacks upon the very Nationalists who had given it faithful support in the education question. The truth is that the education question merely provided the occasion for a new constellation of the political parties. Its real cause lay in Stresemann’s own wishes and in the necessities of foreign and economic policy. The members of the Nationalist Party saw in the collapse of the block a condemnation of the existing party leaders. Hugenberg and his followers were thus able to seize the leadership for themselves.
After the dissolution of the block the Reichstag was dissolved and new elections were held in May 1928 which resulted in the greatest victory gained by the SPD since 1919. The SPD obtained over nine million votes. In other words, it had increased its success at the elections in December 1924 by more than a million votes. The KPD also gained a further half million votes, and secured in all 3.25 million votes. In comparison with nearly 12.5 million votes cast for the so-called Marxists, the Nazis only obtained 800,000. In the middle-class camp the People’s Party and the Centre sustained small losses. On the other hand, the Nationalists suffered a heavy defeat. The votes cast for them sank from 6.2 million at the previous election to 4.4 million. Their defeat was the punishment meted out to them by the electorate for their indecisiveness and unreliability. Nevertheless the great majority of the voters who deserted the Nationalists did not turn to the left, but gave their votes to local agrarian or middle-class candidates. In the new Reichstag 73 Nationalist and 45 People’s Party deputies found themselves sitting beside no less than 51 deputies, representing tiny right-wing parties with varying agrarian and middle-class programmes. The elections to the state parliaments and the communes revealed a similar disintegration of the great historic parties of the right. Although the electorate had no longer any confidence in the Nationalists, nor indeed very shortly afterwards in the People’s Party either, they remained anti-republican, racialist and anti-Semitic. These millions of deserters from the right parties went over to the National Socialist camp on the occurrence of the great economic crisis.
The elections in May 1928 made it appear as if class-consciousness and the determination to realise the socialist state in Germany had increased in the working classes. Anyone who thought thus was doomed to bitter disappointment. Among the nine million SPD electors there were very few who sincerely wished for a socialist revolution. The workmen supported the SPD simply because they were in general satisfied with existing conditions, and were willing that the SPD and the independent trade unions should defend the day-to-day interests of the working classes within the stabilised conditions of capitalist society. Nor did the views of the majority of KPD electors differ greatly from those of their SPD comrades. Under Stalin’s influence the KPD had become wholly pacific in its policy in recent years. At the time of the plebiscite over the expropriation of the former ruling dynasties the KPD had made common cause with the SPD, and the reward for its action now came to it in the form of an additional 500,000 votes. While the right under Hugenberg and Hitler summoned the people to revolt against the existing form of government, the left was obviously satisfied with that form of government: an unnatural state of affairs that promised to bring grave perils for the republic in its train.
Stresemann looked forward to a political future that would see the moderate elements in the working classes cooperating with the independent central mass of the middle classes in the governance of the country. The opposition would be composed of a Communist left wing and a right wing that comprised the great capitalists and the Racist parties. In 1928 the political situation was not so simple. The ‘Great Coalition’ had yet to be formed out of the Social Democrats, the Centre and the People’s Party in their existing shapes, and in combination with various more or less trustworthy lesser political groups. If the socialist working class wished to cooperate in the government, it would have to be prepared to enter into an alliance with the great capitalists in the People’s Party; and between these two would stand the Centre, which had in no sense become a reliable democratic factor again, but whose leaders were at all times ready either to return to a strengthened middle-class block, or to lend their support for any experiments in dictatorship. Hindenburg and the Reichswehr had also to be included in any calculation of political forces.
Nevertheless the SPD leaders were prepared to accept the consequences of their electoral victory and to enter the Reich government. The tactics followed by the party leadership since 1924 appeared to have been vindicated. Even the party’s obstinate refusal to abandon the position it held in Prussia, in the other states and in the communes seemed justified in the event. The Prussian system of government could now be introduced into the Reich. The Centre and the republican middle classes led by Stresemann were once more willing to collaborate with the SPD. The monarchical and racist counter-revolution had been driven into opposition. Hindenburg was compelled to accept a Social Democratic Chancellor. Nevertheless the Reichswehr made no move. The situation that had existed in 1919, when the socialist working class had wielded the predominant influence in the state, seemed to have returned, and this time to the accompaniment of ordered and stable conditions that were very different from the obscure and critical state of affairs which had confronted foreign and economic policy in the months immediately following upon 9 November.
It could be objected to this optimistic view of the political situation that in reality the break-up of the middle-class block and the elections in May 1928 had not changed the political balance of power in the slightest degree. The strong fortresses of the Reichswehr and the great capitalists had not capitulated. Prosperity in Germany depended upon foreign loans and was therefore at the mercy of foreign capitalists. The intermediaries between the German nation and the American financiers were not the independent trade unions, but the great banks in Berlin, Dr Schacht and perhaps even Stresemann. Whenever they wished to bring pressure to bear upon the masses, the capitalists had only to cut off the life-bringing supply of dollars. In these circumstances it became necessary to ask what benefits could result to the SPD from its participation in the Reich government. The left wing of the SPD had meanwhile recovered from the defeat sustained in 1923 in Saxony and Thuringia. It gained a leader of outstanding personality and ability in Paul Levi, who ever since 1924 had been a Social Democratic member of the Reichstag for a Saxon constituency. Although the left expressed grave concern over the proposed entry of the SPD into a coalition government, the majority of the party was resolved not to miss the opportunity and to join the Reich government.
The negotiations leading up to the formation of the government were of exceptional difficulty as a consequence of the internal dissensions within the People’s Party itself. But Stresemann negotiated directly with the SPD, carried his own party with him, and thus enabled the new government to take office in June. The Social Democratic leader Hermann Müller became Chancellor. Severing became Minister for the Interior; Hilferding, Finance Minister; and Wissell, Minister of Labour. Stresemann retained the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and his friend Curtius became Minister for National Economy. The Cabinet also included two Democrats, a member of the Centre and a member of the Bavarian People’s Party. The position occupied by the SPD within the government was thus extremely strong. The political leadership reposed in Social Democratic hands and also the control of finance, administration and social policy.
The chief task confronting the new government was to achieve the aims in foreign policy for which Stresemann had been working. On the other hand, the Great Coalition had no specially important tasks awaiting it in domestic and economic affairs. If the working classes had possessed the real power in the Reich in the summer of 1928, it would have been possible to pursue such aims as a radical reorganisation of the Reichswehr, the removal of Hindenburg, the expropriation of the former dynasties, and the restoration of the eight-hour day. The existing balance of political power forbade any thought of such objects. Hence the Great Coalition had only to maintain law and order, to defend republican institutions and to protect the relatively favourable living conditions that resulted for the working classes from stabilisation. Moreover, if the alliance between Social Democracy and Stresemann could be maintained over a long period, the nation would gradually accustom itself to the middle-class republic which would then acquire a stability akin to that enjoyed by the French republic.
After stormy conferences and lengthy negotiations, Stresemann finally achieved his aim. The Dawes Plan was replaced by a definitive settlement of the reparations question that bore the name of the American financier, Young. The payments demanded from Germany in the Young Plan were still large, and their termination would be reached only in the year 1988. For the greater number of these years Germany was required to find annually sums amounting to between 1.5 and 2.5 milliard marks. In return Germany once more became master in its own house. All the controls imposed by the Dawes Plan disappeared. The Reparations Commissioner left Berlin; the Reich railways and the Reichsbank were restored to Germany; and in 1930 the last detachments of the Allied army of occupation marched out of the Rhineland. The fundamental objections to Stresemann’s policy since 1924 applied still more strongly to the Young Plan. Nevertheless the Young Plan marked an inevitable stage on the path followed by Stresemann in foreign policy. The annual payments which Germany bound itself to make until 1988 were in themselves sufficiently oppressive. At the same time the essential preliminary condition for the punctual performance of these payments continued to be the receipt by Germany of foreign loans. In this sense the Young Plan failed to alter the existing situation. On the other hand, the Rhineland was freed from foreign troops and foreign supervisors no longer stood upon German soil.
In 1929 Hugenberg and Hitler summoned the nation to a plebiscite for the purpose of rejecting a settlement of the reparations question that imposed an intolerable burden of debt upon succeeding generations. The Nationalist opposition failed just as completely to arouse the masses by its protest against the Young Plan as the departure of the army of occupation from the Rhineland in the succeeding year failed to produce a state of genuine national enthusiasm. It became obvious that the great majority of the nation had become comparatively indifferent to national issues. The privations suffered by the nation during the years 1919-23 in consequence of the continual demands of the Entente did rouse the masses because they were affected in their daily lives, and because each individual understood the connexion between the inflation and the misery induced by reparation payments. Since 1924, however, the attitude of the nation to questions of foreign policy had changed completely. Stabilisation had caused the nation to forget reparations. The workman and peasant no longer felt that he had to be content with poorer conditions of livelihood merely because of the payments that had to be made under the Dawes Plan. The Allied army of occupation in the Rhineland did its utmost to make itself invisible and the populace was indeed hardly conscious of its presence. It is absolutely untrue that the nation, and especially the younger generations, were oppressed by a feeling of national inferiority, and that the political changes that have taken place since 1930 are traceable in their ultimate origins to this inferiority complex. It was hunger and unemployment rather than any inferiority complex that after 1930 really united and awakened the masses – young and old, manual labourers and brain workers. Hitler’s government was subsequently able to base its foreign policy largely upon a German-Polish rapprochement despite the fact that Poland did not make Germany a single real concession in return for its friendship. Nevertheless Hitler’s supporters in East Prussia and Silesia remained quiet and did not protest against the Leader’s Polonophil policy. It is always possible that the time may again come in which the livelihood of the nation will be determined by considerations of foreign policy. Until that happens, however, the nation will tolerate any form of foreign policy that leaves it undisturbed in its daily life without displaying too great a concern for the national honour.
It is true that this simple fact has been concealed beneath a symbolic covering peculiar at all times to German political life. The masses in Germany are in the main incapable of seeing things as they really are, and are prone to attach symbolic meanings to them. Political symbolism of this kind – it is also discernible to some degree in France but hardly at all in England – invariably indicates political backwardness in a nation. Throughout the World War the German nation was divided between the supporters of a victorious peace and those who desired a peace by compromise. Behind the parole ‘Peace with Victory’ lay concealed the supporters of the monarchy and of militarism. Similarly the parole ‘Peace by Mutual Understanding’ became the rallying-point of the supporters of a democratic revolution. The cry ‘Germany, Awake!’ has not been identical since 1930 with ‘War with France and Poland’, but with the battle-cry ‘Down with the SPD and the Centre’. The whole militaristic apparatus of parades, uniforms, banners and songs was not intended to serve the purposes of a revanche, but only the eventual victory over ‘Marxism and the Jewish spirit’. At the same time it is undeniable that German foreign policy since 1933 has at times greatly increased the danger of war. All that it is sought to prove here, however, is that a sense of national injury and inferiority has not been the primary cause of the counter-revolution, and that the militaristic external appearance of the counter-revolution does not by itself signify a desire for war.
At the end of August 1929 Stresemann at a conference in the Hague obtained the assent of the creditor states to his most important demands. Simultaneously the first signs of the world economic crisis made their appearance. With the great financial collapse on the New York Stock Exchange in the autumn of that year, the dam was broken and the floods swept everything before it. Germany could no longer obtain foreign loans. In consequence of a lack of working capital and of foreign money, industry was forced to restrict its output. The home market suffered a similar collapse. The number of the unemployed rose with terrifying rapidity. In 1929 the average number of unemployed already totalled two millions, and in 1930 it rose to three millions. These figures were further swelled by millions of short-time workers. Moreover, the newly-impoverished towns could no longer afford to pay the farmer an economic price for his produce. Artisans and professional men were also involved in the crisis.
The Reich government became aware of the approaching crisis during the latter half of 1929 in the form of a decrease in the yield of taxation. Former Finance Ministers had been able to count upon the fulfilment of their financial forecasts. Hilferding found himself confronted with the problem of finding sufficient money with which to pay official salaries on the first of each month. Everywhere there arose a cry for economy. Nevertheless it was not clear at whose cost economies were to be effected. The great capitalists wished, as in 1923, that the masses should carry the burden of the crisis. The People’s Party demanded a reduction in the taxation imposed for social purposes. Unemployment insurance caused a fierce quarrel to break out between the SPD and the People’s Party at the beginning of October that was settled on 2 October by a compromise effected by Stresemann at a meeting of Reichstag deputies of the People’s Party. On the same night Stresemann succumbed to an apoplectic stroke.
On the following morning the Vossiche Zeitung wrote that Stresemann’s death was far more than a loss for the Reich and was in truth a catastrophe. It is not an exaggeration to say that the constitutional middle-class republic lost in Stresemann its greatest champion at the most dangerous moment in its history. The unprecedented series of personal losses that dogged the footsteps of the republic was at the time of Stresemann’s death accompanied by a similar loss in the labour world. In February 1930 Paul Levi, the leader of the left wing of the SPD, died suddenly. In recent years Levi had increasingly grown in stature as a proletarian statesman. He pursued a policy that was as realist as it was resolute. He called upon the socialist working-classes to resume class warfare if they wished not only to preserve their own existence, but also the democratic republic. Levi was also fully alive to the fact that this aim was only to be attained by means of a socialist mass movement, and not by the foundation of new sects within the socialist faith. In future crises Levi would have been followed by the majority of the proletariat just as Stresemann would have been followed by the moderate elements in the middle classes. After Rosa Luxemburg and Liebknecht, Eisner, Erzberger and Levine had fallen victims to the counter-revolution, the senseless hand of disease laid Stresemann and Levi in the grave.
As in 1923, so now the course of events followed each other in a regular sequence. The great capitalists and the generals desired to see the Great Coalition replaced by a strong and purely middle-class dictatorial government. Fresh humiliations were heaped upon the SPD to render its continued participation in the government impossible. When the Reich government towards the close of the year found itself again without funds, and was forced to try to borrow money from the banks to satisfy its immediate necessities, Dr Schacht answered its demands with an unconditional ultimatum. The Reich government was required to fulfil certain demands before it received any money from the banks. Schacht’s ultimatum was a terrible humiliation for the Great Coalition in existing circumstances. It was obvious that the democratic republic existed no longer and had been replaced by a financial dictatorship. The People’s Party also simultaneously demanded Hilferding’s resignation of the Ministry of Finance.
The precedent of 1923 repeated itself. On both occasions Hilferding was the first victim of the capitalist counter-revolution. Although Hilferding’s proposals for the reconstruction of the Reich finances were thoroughly sound, the great capitalists were resolved not to tolerate any socialist – and especially a theoretical Marxist – as Finance Minister in a time of crisis. In these circumstances the SPD should have resigned from the government by the close of 1929. Its failure to do so was actuated by the hope that the sacrifice of Hilferding would obtain a new lease of life for the Great Coalition. Hermann Müller remained Chancellor. Hilferding was succeeded as Finance Minister by a trustworthy representative of the great capitalists, who was a member of the People’s Party. That party resumed its attack upon the Great Coalition in the following year. In March 1930 the Great Coalition broke up over the old controversial issue of unemployment insurance. It was succeeded by a dictatorial middle-class-block government under the Centre deputy Brüning.
All the hopes set by the masses upon the retention of an ordered existence were rudely dispelled by the economic crisis that in 1929 swiftly overwhelmed the country. Their disappointment was all the greater because since 1924 the belief had gained currency that after the terrible experiences of the wartime and inflation periods the road to settled conditions had finally been found. The embitterment of the workers and the middle classes assumed dangerous heights. The blame for their disappointment was cast upon the existing republican system, upon the parties which supported it, upon the high officials and also upon the profiteers and capitalists. In their anger and bitterness these classes sought revolutionary expression for their feelings.
The peasants were the first to be caught up by an agitationist movement even before the advent of the great economic crisis. During the inflation the peasants had paid off their mortgages, and were able as the owners of goods having a real value to protect themselves in the determination of prices against all currency depreciations. Stabilisation made an end to this easy form of agricultural business. Their confidence in the continuance of the general prosperity induced the peasants to accumulate fresh debts on which they were forced to pay high rates of interest. They had in addition to meet the high taxes required for the maintenance of an expensive administrative apparatus. The time gradually came closer when many peasants would no longer be able to support the burden of taxation and interest pressing so heavily upon them, and would be confronted with the prospect of a forced sale of their farms.
The proud and independent peasantry of the Prussian province of Schleswig-Holstein were the first to revolt. As early as 1928 mass demonstrations of the peasants took place in Schleswig-Holstein to protest against high taxes and exorbitant rates of interest. The peasants refused payment of taxes, opposed compulsory sales of their farms by force of arms, and threatened to set fire to their buildings and farm stock rather than surrender. The movement was a spontaneous peasant rising free from any political colour and from the control or inspiration of the existing agrarian associations. The hatred of the peasants was directed against the ‘system’, against the state which was ruining them, and against the police forces sent to disperse their meetings and to auction their farms. The peasants united themselves in a new and very loose form of association called the ‘Countryfolk’ (Landvolk). Excitement grew from month to month, until finally the more revolutionary peasants became dissatisfied with passive resistance and demonstrations. A number of ‘Countryfolk’ members under the leadership of Claus Heim organised bomb attacks on tax collectors’ and provincial councillors’ offices, as well as upon other external manifestations of the ruling system. These bomb attacks only resulted in material damage. A bomb was, however, found within the Reichstag, and the political police were finally able to track down the conspirators and bring them to justice. Claus Heim, whose demeanour during his trial and afterwards was admirable, was sent to penal servitude.
After 1929 the unemployed and short-time workers once more became accustomed to organising street demonstrations in support of their demands. The excitement in the urban middle-classes led to unexpected political consequences. In Erfurt, for example, an industrial town in Central Germany, there lived a man named Schmalix, who published a newspaper in which he bitterly attacked the municipality and its highly-paid officials. Towards the close of 1929 municipal elections were held throughout Prussia, and Schmalix put forward his own list of candidates in Erfurt. Schmalix and his fellow-candidates won nine seats and received nearly as many votes as the SPD candidates. In Osnabrück another newspaper proprietor and editor also put forward his own list of candidates. He was only able to find four friends possessed of sufficient courage to place their names with his on the list. At the election he and his friends received so many votes that they would have been qualified to occupy seven seats on the town council! Nor were Erfurt and Osnabrück exceptions to the general rule. In 1929 and 1930 there were millions of electors who thought as did the supporters of Schmalix, and who were equally filled with a fierce hatred of the existing form of government. These millions gave their votes without further reflection to those candidates whom they believed to be genuine enemies of the existing order.
The hatred of the state and its officials, and of the corrupt system of profiteering, was not confined solely to the workers, peasants and lower middle classes. It was shared by thousands of poor students who could not hope to find any employment as long as the present state of affairs lasted. The spirit of revolt also found its way into the Reichswehr. A certain Lieutenant Scheringer, who subsequently became famous through the circumstances of his personal career, embodied the opinions of a large number of young officers who desired to do away with the corrupt system of government and who did not shrink from disobedience to their superior officers in order to achieve this end. Scheringer and his friends sought to establish secret relations with the Nazis. Subsequently Scheringer lost faith in the Nazis and became a Communist. He was imprisoned, and was one of the victims of 30 June 1934. Scheringer was one of the many ‘voyagers into space’, a sincere idealist who could not master the contradictions of German politics.
Hence the years 1929 and 1930 again saw, as in 1923, the gathering together of all the elements of a great national revolution against the existing system of government. Once more the SPD and the KPD proved themselves incapable of seizing a great historic opportunity. The Communists had embarked on another change of policy since 1928 under Russian influences. The course was now set towards the left. As long as Stalin had based his internal policy on a compromise with the propertied peasantry in Russia, the Communist International had also obediently pursued a policy of conciliation. In 1928, however, Stalin resolved upon a war to the death with the reactionary large peasant farmers in Russia, and consequently the Communist International again adopted a revolutionary policy. If after 1928 the KPD had only pursued the truly revolutionary policy of uniting the masses on a broad political programme in preparation for a subsequent attack upon the existing system of government, there can be no doubt that the party would have been able to achieve great results. But the Stalinist KPD officials never believed in the possibility of a revolution. The KPD had therefore neither a plan for gaining the sympathies of the masses nor a programme for the future. After 1928 the KPD only indulged in a noisy agitation that found its sole supporters among the utopian-radical members of the unemployed. The KPD had nothing to offer to the employed workmen (who after all were still in existence), the clerks, the intellectuals and the middle classes. Increasing unemployment brought the KPD the support of those among the unemployed who desired above all else that their misery should be proclaimed from the house-tops. A policy of this kind cannot furnish the base for carrying through a revolution and establishing a socialist order of society.
The tactical situation of the SPD when confronted with the new wave of revolutionary emotion was even more unfavourable. Two events that took place in Berlin during the year 1929 served to show with appalling clarity the impossible nature of the position into which the SPD had manoeuvred itself. Throughout the spring of 1929 acts of violence on the public streets had increased in proportion to the increased discontent among the unemployed. The Chief of the Berlin Police therefore forbade public demonstrations and processions. The First of May is the traditional day for a public demonstration on the part of the socialist working classes. Nevertheless the Social Democratic Chief of Police refused to relax his prohibition even for this one day. The KPD leaders wanted to seize an easy opportunity of displaying their revolutionary enthusiasm, and therefore ordered their supporters to ignore the prohibition. The fate of the working classes, nevertheless, did not really depend upon whether or not the May Day celebrations were held in the open or in a hall.
The counter-revolutionary police officials behaved in their customary fashion on 1 May. They ordered their men to shoot down the unarmed demonstrators. Twenty-five persons were killed, including several passers-by. Although the Prussian government had sought to obviate such occurrences by prohibiting public demonstrations, the Social Democrats incurred the responsibility for the bloodshed. In the eyes of the revolutionary working men in Berlin it seemed as if the days of Noske had returned, and deep resentment was felt against a Social Democratic Chief of Police, who apparently replied to the complaints of starving workers with machine-guns. Actually 1 May 1929 showed that, despite all the efforts of the Social Democratic Prussian Minister for the Interior, the Prussian Defence Police (Schutzpolizei) had not become a trustworthy instrument of democratic policy.
Towards the end of the same year Berlin was startled by a great municipal scandal. It appeared that a firm of tailors named Sklarek had made enormous profits out of goods supplied to the municipality. A number of leading municipal officials had directly or indirectly been in receipt of bribes. Among the accused there were Social Democratic as well as Communist and middle-class officials. A member of the Democratic Party in the person of Böss, the impulsive and incapable Chief Burgomaster of Berlin, was heavily involved in the scandal. The Sklarek scandal burst like a bomb upon a world that had looked with disfavour for years past upon the municipal officials and their huge salaries. This scandal now seemed to justify the belief that the masses were allowed to starve while the municipal officials and the capitalist profiteers lived on the fat of the land. And it was because the SPD was looked upon as the party that specially upheld the ‘system’ that the masses ignored the criminals from the ranks of the Democrats, Nationalists and Communists, and turned their eyes solely upon the Social Democrats who stood in the dock. A ‘Sklarek’ fur worn by the wife of the Chief Burgomaster acquired a symbolic significance in the collapse of the Weimar Republic similar to that attaching to the diamond necklace of Marie Antoinette in the history of the French Revolution.
The moderate men among the organised Social Democratic workers did not allow themselves to be influenced by the noisy Racist agitation against their own party. Not indeed that these men were themselves satisfied with all that happened within the republic; but they were capable, after calm reflection, of distinguishing between the sincere efforts on behalf of law and order made by the Social Democratic Minister for the Interior and the excesses of the police. They were well aware that even in a peaceful mass movement there are always to be found a few ‘black sheep’. The party’s obligation came to an end with the expulsion from its ranks of the compromised members. In the eyes of the serious thinkers among the Social Democratic working classes the accusation that it was their own party that was the embodiment of capitalist corruption and the oppression of the people seemed little short of insane. The real truth as they saw it was that the existing evils in Germany were only present because the SPD had not been strong enough to destroy capitalism. Nevertheless these men, especially if they were still in employment, refused to consider the possibility of another revolution. In their opinion the proletariat was too weak and disunited for such an undertaking; the Communists could not be trusted; and, finally, the workman was helpless when confronted with the Reichswehr artillery. Nothing remained, therefore, except to steer cautiously through the perilous rapids of these critical days.
These were the views held by the most influential among the Social Democratic workers, by the majority of the trained party and union officials, and also by the party committee. Once more it would be mistaken to attempt to place the blame for the misfortunes that overtook Social Democracy from 1929 to 1933 upon any individual leader. The controlling right wing of the party did not possess a single man capable of imposing his will upon the masses. The most outstanding men were the Prussian ministers, Severing and Braun, and they lacked the personal authority enjoyed in the prewar days by such men as Bebel and Liebknecht among the working classes. It is possible to approve or to condemn the policy of the majority of the Socialist Party. Nevertheless it is necessary to remember that it was the policy of a large body of the working class, and that it is to be explained by the whole historic evolution of the German proletariat.
The calm and common-sense attitude displayed by the socialist workers amidst a storm of political indignation is certainly worthy of admiration. These were the men who did not betray their convictions subsequently under the reign of the counter-revolution. Nevertheless there are occasions in the history of nations and classes when ordinary prudence and cleverness does not suffice. The average Socialist official during the years 1929-31 really did not see the wood for the trees. He was fully cognisant of the difficulties and needs of the present, and was completely blind to the mighty wave of revolutionary feeling that was sweeping over the land. Behind all the loud complaints of the ‘system’ there lay concealed a sincere hatred of the capitalist state. The counter-revolution was only able to make use of this state of feeling because the Socialists were incapable of putting themselves at the head of the despairing masses.
The unemployed who remained faithful to the SPD (and the election results showed that their numbers were considerable) as well as the revolutionary socialist employed workmen, for the most part supported the left-wing leadership. The Social Democratic employed workers who supported the official policy of the party leaders thus found themselves isolated on an island surrounded by the angry waters of revolution and counter-revolution. For the hungry masses on the left desired a revolution, and the capitalists on the right wanted a counter-revolution. The whole nation was indeed in the grip of one or other of these movements. The moderates among the socialist workers and their leaders were alone upon the island of the Weimar Constitution, and were compelled to watch the entire force of the storm break upon them from both sides.
The SPD should at least have abandoned this unfortunate island. It was not sufficient that in the spring of 1930 the SPD left the government. For as long as the Social Democratic ministers in the state governments, the Social Democratic burgomasters and the Social Democratic chiefs of police remained in office, the broad masses of the nation looked upon the SPD as the party responsible for the Weimar Constitution and its enforcement. The SPD should have withdrawn its members from all their offices and employments in the state and municipal administrations simultaneously with the withdrawal of its ministers from the Reich government. At the same time, the independent trade unions should have made their preparations for a general strike. It is, however, doubtful whether the SPD after twelve years’ association with the constitutional republican administration was capable of resorting to such desperate means. A party that could not sever its connexion with the constitutional state could hardly act as the leader of a new revolutionary movement.
The revolutionary masses who could find no home with the Communists or the SPD joined the National Socialist movement. Tiny groups like the Landvolk in Schleswig-Holstein or the Schmalix Party in Erfurt were only intermediate halts on the road that led to Hitler. Throughout the years 1924-28, in which the North German Racist Party and the other Racist associations fell into decay, Hitler contrived to keep the Nazi Party alive. It was tiny and unimportant. Neither the Reichswehr nor the capitalists afforded it any support. And it was this very lack of support that enabled its leaders to attack existing institutions ruthlessly and without any reservations. At the time of the great political crisis in 1929 the People’s Party and the Nationalists, who had now also become ‘system’ parties in the eyes of the populace, lost their authority over large numbers of their right-wing supporters. Every association and tendency that had had anything to do with the vacillating policy of the Nationalists was compromised in the eyes of the people, and even the Stahlhelm, which emphasised its hatred of the Weimar Constitution, exercised little influence over the revolutionary masses after 1929. It is highly characteristic of the state of feeling in these days, that even a man like Captain Ehrhardt had lost his popularity with the masses since he had allied himself with Kahr and the Stahlhelm.
The Nazis were not only the sole unused-up force in the Racist and counter-revolutionary movement and therefore entitled to harvest the seed that had been sown since 1919 by all the other Racist and Nationalist groups. They were also the sole Racist organisation that appeared in the eyes of the masses to be inspired by anti-capitalist sentiments. At the time of the founding of the National Socialist Party in 1920, the usual Racist students and Free Corps men were joined by a number of convinced National ‘Socialists’. These latter were men who sincerely desired the introduction of socialism, but who saw in the SPD the ally of a ‘liberal’ capitalism and in the KPD the agent of the Russian Bolshevists. It was these men who introduced into the Nazi Party programme, alongside the customary Racist catchwords, definitely socialist proposals.
The National Socialist Programme of 1920 called for the nationalisation of the trusts, the abolition of unearned incomes and the ‘slavery of interest’ (Zinsknechtschaft), the immediate communalisation of the great stores, etc, etc. When the party organisation extended over the whole country after 1929, its leaders resumed their former relations with heavy industry and the great banks. At the same time many thousands of convinced socialists joined the party in the hope that Hitler would realise the objects which the Marxist parties had failed to achieve. The National Socialist Party thus came to have one foot in the revolutionary camp and one foot in the camp of the counter-revolution. Although this naturally conferred upon the party great strength and power, it was also the cause of its steadily increasing internal dissentious. In 1929 three main tendencies could be discerned within the party itself. The right wing was composed of outspoken representatives of the capitalists of the great landowners and the Prussian-militarist counter-revolution. Hitler carried this right wing with him in concluding his alliance with Hugenberg. It is comprehensible that socialist activities were not to be expected from a Nationalist Opposition led by Hitler and Hugenberg. The genuinely socialist left wing of the National Socialist Party under the leadership of the brothers Strasser definitely refused to enter any alliance with Hugenberg. Otto Strasser eventually came so sharply into conflict with Hitler that he left the party as early as 1930. His brother Gregor at first remained in the party in company with thousands of other National Socialists who still hoped to seize a favourable opportunity of detaching Hitler from his alliance with Hugenberg. Many of the left-wing supporters thought that it was necessary to make Hitler so powerful that he would be able and willing to dispense with Hugenberg. In that eventuality the way would be open to a socialist revolution. In its daily agitation the party made use of the phraseology of the left wing and addressed the impoverished peasants and students, unemployed workers and shop assistants, in the style employed by the KPD.
The central position between these left and right wings was occupied by the former Free Corps men and their followers. The SA was their special province. Its numbers rose with enormous rapidity after 1929, and it soon overtopped all other defence associations even including the Stahlhelm. In the SA, unemployed students and workless proletarians (including many former utopian-radical Communists) met together under former Free Corps leaders. The spirit of the SA was that of the Black Reichswehr of 1923 combined with certain nebulous socialist ideas. From the outset the SA were a cause of grave anxiety to the party leaders and the capitalist right wing.
After 1929 the capitalists and great landowners doffed the democratic cloak which they had been forced to put on at Stresemann’s insistence, and came forward openly in support of a dictatorship. It is necessary to ask why the ruling classes entertained this hatred of democratic government. In the existing political conditions the SPD and KPD had no prospect whatever of achieving a majority in the Reichstag. Why, therefore, did the middle-class parties not unite to form a strong counter-revolutionary block? In this way they could have obtained everything they wished for and at the same time have spared themselves the unpleasantnesses resulting from a breach of the constitution and the employment of force. If the Reich Association of Industry had really desired the formation of such a coalition, the differences of opinion between the various middle-class parties and groups would have been composed. The capitalist classes, however, were firmly resolved upon a dictatorship.
In a country like Germany, where practically three-fourths of the total electorate are workers and clerks, the rule of a middle-class parliamentary majority is only possible if the capitalist parties adopt a democratic manner and make all sorts of promises to the poverty-stricken masses. If an attempt has been made in the Reichstag to carry through capitalist legislation of an extremist nature by constitutional means, the government would not only have been opposed by the SPD and the KPD, but also by many middle-class deputies who would have hesitated to advocate avowedly anti-democratic legislation before their constituents. It was not only the SPD and the KPD that rendered a dictatorship inevitable, but also the left-wing Nazis and the Christian workers. If the dictatorship made an end to Marxism, it simultaneously liberated the capitalist from any necessity to have regard to the popular tendencies in their own parties. The Christian trade unions and the left-wing Nazis, indeed even the Free Corps men, subsequently experienced in their own persons that their power ceased at the moment in which the capitalists were freed from the counterweight of the so-called Marxists.
After the break-up of the Great Coalition in 1930, the capitalists and great landowners were unanimously of the opinion that a dictatorship was imperatively necessary. At the same time, differences of opinion manifested themselves over the nature and governmental methods of this dictatorship. A section of the capitalists and landowners had already found their way into the camp of Hitler and Hugenberg. Another section, and a greater, preferred the methods of the so-called Popular Conservative (Volkskonservativen) movement. Hitler and Hugenberg wanted to make a dramatic and definite break with the republican past. They wanted the forcible deposition of the democratic Prussian government and the other state governments in so far as these were not supporters of the Nationalist Opposition; the ruthless suppression of the SPD, KPD and the independent trade unions; and the crushing of every form of opposition with the help of the Reichswehr, Defence Police, Stahlhelm and SA. But in 1930 the great majority of the capitalists were still unwilling to adopt methods that involved a swift and relentless use of force.
Since 1928, Hugenberg had been in control of the destinies of the Nationalist Party and the opposition to him had come from the former supporters of the Dawes Plan. The position within the party was therefore the reverse of what it had been in the stabilisation period when Hugenberg and his friends had been in opposition to the more moderate party leaders. The moderate Nationalists, who had been the supporters of the middle-class block from 1924 to 1928, took to themselves the high-sounding name of Popular Conservatives. Their principal demand was for the strengthening of the authority of the President of the Reich. The new Reich government ought in their opinion to be the creation of Hindenburg’s personal choice and not the result of parliamentary negotiations. It would be the duty of this government to take the necessary measures to meet the crisis, and especially to insist upon ruthless cuts in wages, salaries and expenditure for social purposes. In event of a refusal on the part of the Reichstag to pass the necessary legislation, giving effect to these proposals, the entire programme was to be put into operation by means of emergency decrees signed by the President of the Reich.
The Conservatives were resolved to carry out their task of reconstruction relentlessly and, if necessary, to crush any armed rising with the help of the Reichswehr. If, however, the crisis was to be overcome at the expense of the broad masses of the people, it was desirable to avoid complicating the situation unnecessarily by drastic measures directed against the labour parties, the trade unions and even the Prussian government. The Conservatives and the influential industrial circles united with them had no confidence in Hugenberg’s rigid fanaticism and would rather break up the Nationalist Party than assist in his experiments. The leaders of the Conservatives in the Reichstag entered into relations with the People’s Party and with the group of Christian trade unionists led by Stegerwald who sympathised with the idea of a dictatorship. In the spring of 1930, Hugenberg and Hitler therefore led the extreme Nationalists and the Nazis while the Conservative block comprised the moderate Nationalists, the Centre, the People’s Party and the tiny middle-class groups. The decisive position between the two main tendencies within the counter-revolution was held by Hindenburg and the Reichswehr generals.
In the spring of 1930 the Conservative block were far stronger in the Reichstag than the Hugenberg block. The Reichstag was composed of less than 500 members, of whom about 200 were Marxists and about 40 determined supporters of Hitler and Hugenberg. If the Conservatives made common cause with the Centre, and also mobilised all the middle-class groups on their side, they would be able to count upon the support of nearly half the members of the Reichstag. And if a few undecided Nationalists could be induced to desert Hugenberg’s camp, the Conservatives and their friends would be in the majority. Moreover, the sympathies of the great industrial associations were on their side. Since the generals also preferred to march with the big battalions, the Reichswehr gave its decision in favour of the Conservatives and against Hugenberg and Hitler. Hindenburg appointed the new Reich government in accordance with the proposals of the Conservative block.
The Conservatives did not demand the post of Chancellor for themselves, and instead relinquished the formal leadership of the new government to their friends from the Stegerwald group in the Centre Party. Stegerwald did not aspire to the Chancellorship, and instead took the Ministry of Labour. The Chancellorship was given to Stegerwald’s political right-hand man, Brüning. The new Chancellor took into his Cabinet, in addition to Stegerwald, prominent members of the Conservatives and of the People’s Party. The Reichswehr Ministry was again entrusted to General Groener. In his capacity as Chancellor Brüning shared all the astonishing political illusions that had been cherished for years past by the Christian trade union leaders. These men actually believed that the Christian trade unions would in all circumstances prove to be the indicator in the political scales. In reality, Brüning from the very outset of his chancellorship at the head of a counter-revolutionary and dictatorial government was the prisoner of the industrialists, bankers and great landowners. He obediently included in his emergency decrees all the demands made by the big business interests.
In a similar situation during the winter of 1923-24, Stresemann had also made many concessions to the counter-revolutionary forces. But he had always remained master of the situation and had finally discovered the way out of it. Brüning did not share Stresemann’s brilliant political gifts. It was Stresemann’s strength that he never allowed himself to be influenced by popular symbols and party cries. Brüning, on the contrary, believed in such phrases as ‘duty’, ‘service’ and ‘loyalty’, with which the feudal and capitalist reaction in Prussia had been accustomed for two centuries past to disguise their autocratic rule. Stresemann was a judge of men both at home and abroad. Brüning did not understand either his own nation or foreign countries. Since Brüning invariably made psychological mistakes in his handling of men and events, and also showed himself incapable of appreciating the true factors in a situation, it follows that he threw away Stresemann’s great legacy in foreign policy and also brought the nation into a more desperate situation than the economic crisis alone warranted. There is indeed an astonishing resemblance between Brüning and the Imperial Chancellor Theodore von Bethmann-Hollweg. The chancellorship of Bethmann-Hollweg prepared the way for the destruction of the German Empire. Brüning’s two years’ tenure of the chancellorship sufficed to nullify the programme of the Conservatives and simultaneously to destroy the last remnants of the Weimar Republic.
The revolutionary movement in Germany in the spring of 1930 was weakly and inadequately represented by the KPD, the left-wing SPD and the left-wing National Socialists. On the other hand, the counter-revolution was embodied in the two powerful coalitions, Conservatives and Reichswehr and ‘Hugenberg – Hitler’. The sole surviving champion of the republican constitution was the right-wing SPD. Future developments roughly followed the following course: the counter-revolution allowed the misled revolutionaries to destroy the Weimar Republic and then assumed power itself.
The programme for a drastic reduction in national expenditure drawn up by Brüning was put into operation by means of emergency decrees signed by President von Hindenburg in accordance with the provisions of Article 48 of the Reich constitution. His action was a flagrant breach of the constitution. For Article 48 applied only to cases of armed revolt and its framers never contemplated that the normal legislative procedure of the Reichstag would be superseded by the President’s right to issue emergency decrees. The counter-revolutionaries were fully aware that this action was unconstitutional. Unfortunately Article 48 had already been similarly abused in 1923 at the time of the stabilisation of the mark. In 1928 the former Chancellor, Dr Luther, published an account of the manner in which the currency was stabilised in which he wrote inter alia:
On 30 November 1923 the new government under Marx as Chancellor came into office. I was again Finance Minister. Since the new enabling act was not available for immediate use, the necessary tax regulations were issued by means of Article 48 of the Reich constitution. This article confers upon the Reich President the right to issue decrees having the force of law. Obviously these decrees require the counter-signature of a minister. It must be admitted that at the time these clauses (of Article 48) were drafted the authors only had in view police or other measures for ensuring public order. In reality, this article proved extremely useful in times of urgent necessity in rendering possible the enforcement of economic measures, especially taxation.
Nothing could be clearer than this statement. The utilisation of Article 48 for the purposes of economic and fiscal legislation is indeed unconstitutional but nevertheless ‘very useful’. Brüning, his Cabinet colleagues and the men behind him in 1930 acted on this principle. A motion was introduced into the Reichstag in July proposing the withdrawal of Brüning’s emergency decrees. It was supported by the Social Democrats, the Communists and the Hitler – Hugenberg coalition. The result of the voting showed that Brüning had failed to secure a sufficient number of Nationalist supporters. The government was defeated by a majority of 236 to 225 votes. Brüning then dissolved the Reichstag. The elections for the new Reichstag were held on 14 September 1930 when the crisis and the embitterment among the masses had mobilised millions of voters who had formerly taken no part in parliamentary elections. The number of votes cast rose from 31 million in 1928 to 35 million at this election.
If the general situation is recalled, the losses sustained at the polls by the Social Democrats do not appear very large. The total number of votes cast for them sank from nine million to 8.25 million. Increased unemployment resulted in giving the Communists an additional 1.25 million votes. The Communist vote rose from 3.25 to 4.25 million. The race between the opposing horses from the Nationalist stable resulted in a dead-heat. Hugenberg obtained 2.5 million votes and 41 seats in the Reichstag, while the Conservatives, who had joined in the fight under various slogans, obtained approximately the same number of votes and seats. The outstanding feature of this election was the success achieved by the Nazis. The Nazi vote increased from 800,000 to 6.5 million, and they gained 107 seats. Of the four million new voters at least three million cast their votes for Hitler, and in addition about 2.5 million voters deserted the right parties in his favour. Nevertheless the Nazis did not gain any notable number of votes at the expense of the so-called Marxist parties. But the fact that three million new voters cast their votes for the one party very clearly reveals the existing state of public opinion. A few individual results serve to throw an interesting light upon these elections. In Schleswig-Holstein – the home of Claus Heims – the Nazi vote rose from 32,000 to 240,000. Hugenberg obtained 55,000 votes, the Conservatives 70,000, the Social Democrats suffered small losses, and the Communists gained 32,000 votes. In East Prussia agrarian distress caused the Nazi vote to rise from 8000 to 235,000. Although the Nazis also achieved important successes in the cities and industrial districts, they still remained in the minority there. The Sklarek scandal gave the Communists 750,000 and the Nazis 400,000 votes in Greater Berlin. Nevertheless the SPD also received 750,000 votes. Thus the total ‘Marxist’ vote in Greater Berlin on 14 September was almost four times as large as the Nazi vote.
A united front SPD – KPD that ruthlessly waged war upon Brüning’s dictatorship and capitalism might still have decided the destiny of the German republic by compelling the new Nazi electorate to decide between capitalism and socialism. The necessity for any such decision would have broken up Hitler’s following and deprived the counter-revolution of its popular basis. Since, however, the KPD leaders did not want a revolution, but only wished to follow the easy road of making propaganda against the SPD, and since the right-wing Socialist leaders mistrusted the power of the proletariat and preferred the ‘lesser evil’, no such united socialist fighting front came into existence. Moreover, left-wing Socialists were hemmed in between the majority in their own party and the official KPD, and therefore rendered incapable of action.
The new Reichstag was composed of 150 supporters of the Hitler – Hugenberg block, 220 Marxists and about 200 supporters of Brüning’s government. The Conservatives did not fear either the SPD or the KPD, but the competition of the Hitler – Hugenberg block, which had scored such a notable success at the polls. The struggle between the Conservatives and Hugenberg’s supporters was, however, a domestic concern of the great capitalists and their friends among the territorial magnates. The SPD regarded the Conservative government as the lesser evil, and therefore gave its support to Brüning in his struggle with the Hitler – Hugenberg block and the KPD.
On 18 October 1930 the majority in the Reichstag composed of Brüning’s supporters and the Social Democrats resolved to refer the question of the emergency decrees to a special commission of the Reichstag and to pass to the order of the day without discussing the proposed vote of no confidence that lay upon the table. The Reichstag thus abandoned the struggle with the unconstitutional dictatorship of Brüning and his friends by a majority vote. The same hour saw the death of the Weimar Republic. Since then one dictatorship has succeeded to another in Germany.
The leading Social Democrats, who were convinced that the socialist proletariat was too weak to embark upon open warfare, indulged themselves in hopes that the existing crisis would run the same course that had been followed by the crisis of 1923. They were prepared to ‘tolerate’ the emergency decrees in a similar fashion to that in which they had formerly ‘tolerated’ the enabling act. If Brüning in his struggle with Hitler and Hugenberg only contrived to avoid making any really serious mistake, it was possible – so they argued – that some fortunate concatenation of circumstances would permit of the resuscitation of the Weimar Republic. These men forgot that in 1924 democracy in Germany was not rescued by their endeavours, but by the intervention of the New York Stock Exchange. In 1930-31, American financiers were neither willing nor able to rescue the Weimar Republic for a second time.
The middle-class republic established in 1918 in Germany was the creation of the working classes. The middle classes themselves had either fought against it or only half-heartedly supported it. The middle-class republic collapsed in 1930 because its destiny had been entrusted to the middle classes, and because the working classes were no longer strong enough to save it. Although the working classes comprised three-quarters of the entire nation, they were unable to unite either upon their political ideals or their political tactics. The counter-revolution triumphed because the working classes squandered their immense forces in internecine warfare.
1. For the policy of the years 1928-29 cf Gustav Stresemann, Vermächtnis, Volume 3 (Berlin, 1932-33). For the economic crisis: Sternberg, Der Niedergang des deutschen Kapitalismus (Berlin, 1932). For agrarian questions: Topf, Die grüne Front. Der Kampf um den deutschen Acker (Berlin, 1933). For the currents within the working classes, cf the two Socialist periodicals, Die Gesellschaft (which was in close connection with the party leaders) and Der Klassenkampf (the organ of the left SPD).