L. Trotsky

Maria Reese and the Comintern

(November 1933)

Written: 10 November 1933.
Source: The Militant, Vol. VI No. 53, 25 November 1933, p. 3.
Transcription/HTML Markup: Einde O’Callaghan for the Trotsky Internet Archive.
Copyleft: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive (www.marxists.org) 2016. Permission is granted to copy and/or distribute this document under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0.

In her open letter, published by the newspaper Unser Wort Maria Reese spoke the harsh and bitter truth about the party to which she belonged until very recently. The German agency of the Comintern bureaucracy understood nothing, foresaw nothing, prepared nothing. Revolutionary work it replaced by hollow phrases and boastfulness. It fooled the workers and the party year in and year out. The Central Committee fooled even its own apparatus. People who occupied responsible posts in the party like Torgler, head of the parliamentary fraction, or Maria Reese herself, deputy of the Reichstag, believed honestly to the last moment that the Central Committee had its plans, that it had prepared the necessary fighting forces, that the Comintern knew whither it was leading the German workers. With Hitler’s coming to power and especially with the burning of the Reichstag by Goering’s agents, the revolutionary illusions of the best elements of the party fell into dust. The Central Committee left the party to the mercy of fate without leadership, without slogans, even without explanations. Another such treachery on the part of the leaders is unknown in the history of the revolutionary struggle. It is not hard to imagine the dark despair of the betrayed masses and the frightful helplessness of the party apparatus.

An Unbearable Contrast

The emigrant activity of Muenzenberg, Heckert and Co.: false reports, lying correspondence, hollow and sham congresses intended to throw dust into the eyes, could not but appear to Maria Reese as an unbearable contrast to the inner events in Germany. Maria Reese demanded a discussion on what occurred. She tried to obtain a change in the policy of masquerades to that of the revolutionary mobilization of the world proletariat against Fascism. At her every attempt she met just a blank wall. Reese then drew all the conclusions for her. self: she broke with the Comintern and placed herself under the banner of the Fourth International.

After that the Stalinist bureaucracy, which has nothing more to lose politically, “expelled” Reese from the Comintern. But also into this act these bankrupts introduced all the traits of vengeful and lying impotence characteristic of them. The main accusation against com. Reese consists in the fact that she joined the camp of “counter-revolutionary Trotskyism”. This estimation is not a new one! The “revolutionary” work of the Stalinists consists in systematic aid to Chiang Kai-Shek, Pilsudski, Citrine, Wels, Hitler. According to this logic, Marxian criticism of these crimes is “counter-revolutionary” work. But this is not all. The resolution adopted in the name of the German Communist Party, that is, by a few bankrupts hiding in emigration, accuses Maria Reese of “rendering aid to the government of Hitler and thus delivering to the latter party members and sympathizers”. The awakened German proletariat will brand this base accusation on the foreheads of the accusers!

Maria Reese is “expelled” for her courageous open letter and only after the appearance of this letter, that is, after she herself broke with the Comintern. To call the bankrupts openly by the name of bankrupts is a direct duty of a true and sincere revolutionary. If Reese’s letter can have any influence on the fate of the Communists persecuted by Hitler and particularly on the course of the Reichstag trial, it is only as invaluable testimony in favor of the accused. From the letter it is clear even to the blind how far removed the official party was from the thought of insurrection, from the preparation for an insurrection and consequently from such “signals” to insurrection as the Reichstag fire!

She Spoke the Truth

The Stalinist bureaucracy takes revenge for the fact that a responsible comrade who found herself until very recently in its ranks has openly and honestly spoken the truth about the leadership, the regime and the practices of the Comintern. The bureaucacy forgives, cowardice, forgery, treachery and betrayals under one condition: to bring no tales out of school. For these people the laws of mutual responsibility have long replaced the laws of revolution and of Marxism. The fight for inflated personal prestige, for posts and for an as. sured livelihood have pushed to the background the struggle for the proletarian dictatorship. Maria Reese convinced herself of it on the tragic experience of the German proletariat. Together with her thousands and tens of thousands of betrayed revolutionaries have gone through the same experience. In jails and concentration camps they are drawing a balance from the catastrophe lived through. The letter of Maria Reese calls them to courageous revolutionary conclusions. It is the duty of every revolutionary in the whole world to publish, reprint and circulate the letter of Maria Reese in all the languages in which the exploited and the revolutionaries speak.

November 10, 1933

L. Trotsky

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