MIA: Encyclopedia of Marxism: Glossary of Events



Berlin: 1929 (aka "Adventurism in Berlin")

On May 1-3, 1929, the Social Democratic authorities had prohibited the traditional May Day parades and demonstrations in the streets. The Social Democratic-dominated trade unions, which represented the great majority of the organized labor movement, decided to hold their May Day celebrations indoors.

The German Communist Party refused to be a part of any indoor meetings – instead they took to the streets and called for a boycott of the union gatherings. The party explained on July 1, 1929, in the paper The Militant:

"May first will be a general test of the coming civil war both for the proletariat and the police. If we do not succeed in getting hundreds of thousands into the streets, a fascist terror regime will shortly break out in Germany that will be much worse than in Bulgaria and Italy"

As workers marched in the streets of Berlin, they were clubbed and shot down by German Police. Twenty-seven were killed over three days, and hundreds were injured. The Communist Party responded by calling a general strike, however met with little success with some 50,000 workers throughout the country participating.

The Communist Party called another strike to honour those killed in the May Day marches, however only 2,000 workers attended. The Comintern hailed this serious of events as a glorious day in the history of the proletarian revolution.


Berne International Conference

The first postwar conference of right-wing socialists (who during the war had been social-chauvinists and centrists), who called for restoring the Second International. The Conference met in Berne (the capital of Switzerland) from February 3 to February 10, 1919.

One of the main items on the agenda at the conference was the question of democracy and dictatorship. In his report on the question Branting explained that the dictatorship of the proletariat could not lead to socialism. Kautsky and Bernstein wanted the conference to condemn the Bolsheviks and the socialist revolution in Russia. Branting moved to resolution which, while greeting the revolution in Soviet Russia, denounced the dictatorship of the proletariat and supported the ideology of bourgeois democracy. Branting's resolution received a large number of votes.

A group of delegates led by Adler and Longuet tabeled a resolution suggesting that the conference refrain from taking a definite stand on Soviet Russia in view of the lack of information about the situation there. The conference decided to send a commission to Russia to study the economic and political situation in the country, and to include the question of Bolshevism in the agenda of the next Congress. The commission consisted of Adler, Kautsky, Hilferding and others. While agreeing to admit the commission, the Soviet government requested the admittance of the Soviet commission to those countries whose representatives were on the Berne commission. The Soviet government, however, received no reply to its request. As it turned out, the commission of "auditing dignitaries from Berne", as Lenin called it, never came to Russia.

During the First Congress of the Communist International, the Berne conference was criticized, in particular its support of imperialist intervention and war in Soviet Russia.