German Women to Their Sisters in Great Britain

By Klara Zetkin
(International Secretary of Socialist Women)

(December 1913)

From The Labour Woman, December 1913, p.111.
Thanks to John Partington.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Dear Sisters!

The working class women in Germany – as far as they believe in Socialism – have strongly the feeling that at this very moment they must send you a message of peace, fraternity and freedom.

Our minds are still horrified by the infernal pictures of slaughter and destruction which the recent wars in the Balkans have given to a century that boasts of civilisation and humanity. We have before our eyes the streams of foaming blood, the blood of men shed by men, and the flames of ravaged towns and villages, in our ears ring the painful sighs and the mad cries coming from waves of mutilated and dying men, thrown side by side with corpses and torn limbs; we hear the sobbing of wives and sisters, of mothers and children, bereaved of their beloved ones and bread-winners.

We remember that in recent months the people in the Great European States have more than once been at the very borders of the terrible abyss of a gigantic war, such as the world never has seen before. We remember and we tremble with horror. For the dreadful event which not yet has happened, may happen one day. Look at the hands and listen to the talk of the ruling and governing minority in all civilized countries! What are those hands occupied with?

They waste the money which they take out of the working people’s pockets in building barracks and Dreadnoughts; in buying field-artillery, naval-guns and all the most perfect instruments and means of mass-murder and mass-devastation on land, on sea, and even in the air; in drilling thousands and thousands of young workers to be one day the Cains of their brethren abroad. They prepare war by a furore of military and naval armaments, the expenditure on which crush the nations.

To keep the people willing to pay with goods and with blood the sacrifices of armaments and war, they talk always so that there shall be hostility and hatred between the nations. They shout that the vital interests of each country demand big armies and battleships, ready to carry death and ruin into other countries.

Dear sisters in England! The Socialist working class women in Germany are deeply grieved that so much talk of antagonism and hatred is rumoured about. But we assure you that we do not believe the stories that certain German newspapers and politicians tell us abnout the jealousy and the ferocious animosity of the British against our people. No we do not believe them in spite of all the new Dreadnoughts, in spite of all the outbursts of jingoism, reported from time to time. And we entreat you most earnestly not to take it as truth what certain English Newspapers and politicians tell you of the feelings of the people of Germany. We emphasize, they are not true, though dreadful guns and thousands and thousands of additional young men, forced into the Emperor’s uniform, seem to affirm it; it is a deceitful story with which half a dozen fanatic German jingoes abuse our papers and patience.

Who are the people? In Germany as well as in Great Britain the people are not the Upper-Ten, are not the princes, generals and other gold-braided officers, the mighty landlords, the powerful directors and share-holders of military and naval arsenals, the “kings” of gun, armour-plate, smokeless powder and aeroplane production. The people are not the small number of privileged ones, who pocket enormous profits, thanks to the fantastic expenditure on military and naval armaments, who fish guineas out of the blood-streams on the battlefields, and pluck their laurels from the land fertilised by rotting corpses.

The German people are the millions and millions of hard-toiling men and women, who live away from the wealth, the splendour, the beauty of our days, though without the working hands and brains of these millions neither abundant riches nor culture would exist. And amongst them the knowledge is spreading, that they must not look for their enemy across the frontiers, or across the North Sea; no, their implacable foe is intrenched in the institutions of their own Fatherland. It is Capitalism, it is the power of the possessing classes to exploit and rule the labouring people. They know this monstrous power is the common enemy of the wage-earners, the labouring people in all countries.

We bear the same chains as you, your burdens are our own evils, we share your fate. Therefore we suffer with you, and we hope with you and we take arms with you “against the sea of troubles.” Together with our husbands, sons and brothers we stand for peace and for fratetnity between the workers of all countries. Together with them we fight against Capitalism and for Socialism. We never shall forget how great and important is the part that the enlightened talents and the generous hearts of prominent Englishmen have contributed to making the National Socialist movement an immortal, invincible power. We have always present to our minds the struggles that working men and women in Great Britain are fighting against the capitalists for bread, right and liberty. “Labour unrest” reveals like an earthquake the volcanic forces that begin to move beneath the lucky hills, where the well-to-do minority dwells. Thus for the working people the time is full of capitalist threatenings and of Socialist hopes.

British sisters! We are convinced that you are with us in our feelings and aspirations. It shall be to the honour of us all to fight against national prejudice and hatred, to oppose with the utmost energy armaments and war. It shall be our happiness to battle in the first ranks of the holy war for the emancipation of the workers by the workers themselves. It shall be our consolation that our children nourished in the Socialist faith, will finish the work we began and will triumph where we have fought. Capitalism is the social war of all against all. The class-war of the workers means the fraternity of the workers of all countries.

Socialism is International Peace!

Last updated on 29.12.2008