A. Thalheimer

The Common Struggle of the German
and French Proletariat

(1 September 1922)

From International Press Correspondence, Vol. 2 No. 75, 1 September 1922, p. 558.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

If any time demanded an active common fighting policy between the German and the French working class it is the present. The German working class is no longer faced with ruin, but is already encompassed with it. The “guarantee policy" of Poincaré threatens to transform the German working class into a gang of slaves over whom the German-French capitalists will wield the lash, and whose slavery will be guaranteed at the same time by French militarism and the German Orgesh bands. Whether France herself forcibly seizes the booty, or whether she comes to a common understanding with the German capitalists, for joint exploitation, the results in both cases will lie the same for the German working class: Allied control of German finances, will inevitably lead to the severest and most oppressive taxation of the German working class. The occupation of the Ruhr, either by means of open force or by means of the well known colonial method of “peaceful penetration”, means the beginning of the dissolution of Germany.

The dangers for the French working class are no less immediate and serious. The French troops which occupy the strategic positions of the Ruhr will indeed not meet with any German army on the way, as Germany is militarily defenceless and the concealed weapons of the Ludendorff and Escher bands are intended to be used against the German working class. But on the road to the Ruhr, France will find herself confronted with England. No English government, no matter what secret agreements it may have come to behind closed doors, can venture to abandon the Ruhr to France and thus enable the strongest industrial and military rival of England upon the European mainland, to acquire an enormous increase of political, military and industrial power.

Not so immediate, but just as certain and pressing, is the reaction of the further ruin of Germany and its working class upon the French workers. The fate of the franc is bound up with that of the mark. The coolie wages of the German workers are already used by the French employees as the basis for a powerful and concentrated offensive against the working class. The restoration of the destroyed areas is already at a standstill, as a consequence of the cessation of German payments, and the policy pursued by Poincaré will certainly not fill the French treasury coffers any the quicker, but on the contrary. The crisis in the French iron and steel industry threatens to become permanent. It is harassed on two sides, by the competition of England as well as by that of Germany. With the widening of the gulf between England and France, is bound up the further increase of the burden of armaments, which is already greatly overtaxing the strength of France.

In this critical situation the working class of both countries have been left in the lurch by the “socialist” parties of the Second as well as of the 2½ Internationals, and by the leaders of the Amsterdam Trade Union International. The French reform-socialists (dissidents) grouped about Renaudel, Blum, etc. are indeed not in the camp of Poincaré but in that of Caillaux. The policy of “ fulfilment ” is sacred to them. They are in favor of the “gentle, peaceful" restoration policy which, so far as it is not an absurd utopia, will finally, and most inevitably, yet peacefully ruin both countries. As regards Germany, it is sufficient to call attention to the disgraceful fact that the German representatives of the Second International at the Berlin Conference of the three Internationals, submitted to the Communist International, in the form of an ultimatum, the demand that the fight against the Versailles Peace Treaty should not appear upon the common platform. In Austria, these parties and the trade unions affiliated to them, have brought things to such a pass that that country is quite given over to the surrounding capitalist slave dealers; and Germany, under their leadership, is on the road to the same abyss.

On this side of the Rhine as on the other, there are only the flags of the Communist International and of the Red International of Labor Unions that have not been lowered before the pirate flags of the imperialists. Only Moscow is fighting, fighting steadfastly and whole-heartedly against the capitalist insanity under which Europe is already collapsing.

At a joint conference of the central committees of the Communist Parties of France and Germany, which took place at Cologne, the two sections of the Communist International agreed upon the initiation of a common struggle, and appointed a committee among themselves, which has been assigned the special task of further carrying on the initiated activity in the closest possible unity.

Both Communist Parties are agreed upon the entire repudiation of the Versailles Peace Treaty. It is natural that the chief burden of the fight against the Versailles Treaty falls upon the shoulders of the French working class. They stand face to face with Poincaré and the Bloc National. They will conduct this fight as a proletarian class fight, not with, the slogans of the “Left”, and not as a section of the Left Bloc, but independently and with their own slogans. They will of course bid welcome to every proletarian organization which carries on the same fight. It follows from this that it is incumbent upon the French Party to extend and intensify its general fight, the fight against the capitalist offensive and against the wage tax.

The German Communist Party is already engaged in organizing the fight against the high prices and against the shifting of the reparations burdens upon the working class. The object of its attack in the first instance, lies within its own borders, against its own capitalist class. It is endeavouring to take advantage of the present crisis, in order to capture the next stronghold on the road to Socialism and the Soviet Dictatorship. Its fight, of course, is also directed against the fulfilment policy of Dr. Wirth. It repudiates, on principle, the Wirth fulfilment policy. In this connection it is aware that as long as the Versailles Treaty is not liquidated by the joint efforts of the working classes of France and Germany, even a proletarian government would be compelled to carry it out. But the limits are defined by the vital necessities of German economic life. The experiment of proving by its own ruin, the impossibility of the reparations demands could not be carried out by a proletarian government. The Wirth Government has undoubtedly succeeded in bringing about the ruin of its own economic life, and it succeeded so well, that soon nothing more will remain to be ruined. Whilst we are writing this, the dollar has already reached 2,400. The activities, therefore, of the two sections of the Communist International are linked together as one hand in the other.

The action commenced by the two Communist Parties in Cologne is but a beginning, probably with all the failings of a beginning. But whilst we are acting in unison we will learn in unison.

In any case, we are giving to the world a practical demonstration that our Communist principles unite us in practice, whilst the betrayal of Socialist renders the parties of the Second and 2½ Internationals, practically incapable of international action and renders their declamations about it but hollow phrases.

Last updated on 31 August 2020