From Fourth International, January 1946, Vol.7 No.1, pp.14-15.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Ted Crawford & David Walters in 2008 for ETOL.
This January marks the 27th anniversary of the assassination of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg in 1918 by Junker hirelings of the Social-Democracy. There could be no better way to honor the memory of these two outstanding leaders of the revolutionary German working class than the publication of this manifesto recently issued by the principal European sections of the Fourth International. This proclamation of international solidarity with the German proletariat demonstrates that the Trotskyist alone remain true to the heritage of the martyred Liebknecht and Luxemburg and carry forward the work of the socialist revolution in their spirit.
Hitler-fascism lies prostrate – broken by armed power – and it would seem that a breathing space for humanity is possible. Finally, after 12 years of frightful suppression and five terrible years of war full of blood and tears, it would seem that the working people of Germany above all should be free to breathe and hope for a better future.
But it is turning out quite differently. The lie propagated through the years by Goebbels’ propaganda machine – that Hitler and the German people are one and the same – has now become the official pretext for the treatment imposed by the victorious Allied powers. Vansittart in England, Morgenthau in America, and Ehrenburg in Russia all preach with equal hatred that the entire German people bear the guilt for Hitler – s crimes. The partitioning of Germany, the annexation of territories, the forced agrarianization of Germany, the plundering of machines from factories, requisitioning of all types, the confiscation of arms, deportations, the evacuation of millions from their native homes, the hunger blockade, reparations running into billions – this is the “peace” given the German people under the excuse that they are collectively guilty.
German working people in the cities and on the farms! In this situation, we, the International Communists, feel obligated to stand by you with all the power and conviction of our class solidarity. Understand that we are not Social Democrats – who with cowardly opportunism support the label of collective guilt and act as agents of Anglo-American and French imperialism in Western Germany. Understand also that we are not Stalinists – who shout still louder under Russian command in declaring the German people guilty and who hail the annexations in the East carried out by the same Stalin who once declared he didn’t want an inch of foreign territory. We are Communists in the spirit of Lenin and in the tradition of the forever glorious Russian October revolution. We simply defend the basic principles of this revolution when we oppose all imperialist exploitation and assaults no matter from what power they come and no matter against whom they are directed.
Today it is you, the German proletariat, the proletariat of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg, who above all need the solidarity of the proletariat of other countries.
We International Communists wish to testify for you, the German proletariat, who have stood to a man through hundreds of class battles, bleeding at a thousand wounds, you, who have lost tens of thousands of your best representatives in concentration camps. We do this despite the fact that We know we shall suffer persecution and the lies of the prostitutes of the press and corrupt labor bureaucrats labelling us as “Hitlero-Trotskyites.” Let them attack us. Solidarity remains solidarity. And truth remains truth despite [them.]
Truth demands that we tell the world proletariat Hitler-fascism was not a pure “German” phenomenon, but the most violent dictatorship of German monopoly capitalism against the German working people. Hitler first waged war against the German proletariat before launching into World War. Hitler had to smash the German workers’ organizations and slaughter the entire workers’ leadership before he could build his war machine unmolested and then commit his war crimes. So long as Hitler directed his butchery against the German proletariat, the foreign capitalists backed him. It was the foreign capitalists who encouraged and did business with Hitler. The guilt of international capitalism in supporting Hitler-fascism is only underlined in retrospect when it plasters the label of “guilty” on the German people in order to squeeze billions in reparations out of them.
Truth further demands that we note the Second World War broke out when Hitler attempted in the interests of German monopoly capitalism to secure a world redivision of markets and spheres of influence. If Hitler, representing belated German imperialism on the world market, appears as the aggressor, the other imperialists cannot thereby be labelled peace-loving democrats, since they simply defended imperialist robberies made at an earlier stage. Their lack of innocence is all the more emphasized by the fact that scarcely did they militarily defeat their competitor Hitler than they began new imperialist quarrels among themselves, organizing new blocs and laying the foundation for another war. And these imperialist squabbles are being fought at the expense of the German proletariat in particular.
We International Communists therefore denounce as the main culprit above all the capitalist system which creates war and fascism. We say to the German proletariat and all other workers that the fall of Hitler-fascism has not assured world peace. Peace can be secured only through the struggle for socialism and the Socialist United States of the World.
But from the viewpoint of the working class, to fix responsibility it is necessary first of all to point to the former leaders of the German proletariat.
From the murder of Liebknecht under Noske to the administration of Severing, a straight path leads to the development of Hitler, a path passing through the whole coalition politics of the Social Democrats and their participation in the capitalist government. The Stalinist leadership on their part with their idiotic theory of “Social-fascism” contributed decisively to the victory of Hitler by deepening the split in the already broken class unity and thereby further weakening the German proletariat.
The German workers, despite the betrayal of their leadership, heroically defended themselves. The thousands of martyrs alone make the thesis of “collective guilt” an insult to these heroes of the German proletariat. Even up to the end, when the Allied armies were laying carpets of bombs over the workers’ sections and seriously paralyzing any full scale resistance against Hitler, the German revolutionary workers engaged in strikes and demonstrations against fascism. Deserters from the German army together with foreign workers rose against the SS. In some towns the workers in daring insurrections even seized power before the Allied armies arrived.
These same military powers, who blame the German people for not overthrowing Hitler, did everything to liquidate and suppress the news of these uprisings. In the final analysis the victorious imperialists, as well as the defeated Hitler-fascists and the now hypocritically democratic German bourgeoisie all find their main enemy to be the proletarian revolution. The treatment of the German people on the principle of collective guilt provides the fascists precisely with new possibilities to fish in the murky waters of nationalism. The danger is all the greater since if the German people are collectively guilty then the Nazis who are the real guilty ones can logically hope to escape punishment.
We warn the German proletariat not to trust this bourgeoisie which now declares itself to be democratic. These new “anti-fascists” in reality are the same capitalist cliques who are already utilizing their connections with the international trusts to reorganize their class front against the German proletariat, and who want to make a pact with the foreign imperialists to load German reparations on the backs of the German people.
We International Communists in the so-called victor countries, therefore see in you German workers and farmers victims whom we are duty bound to help.
In the spirit of Lenin we are ready to fight together with you for your release from the imperialist yoke.
We protest with you against the partitioning of Germany, against the confiscations, requisitions and against the billions in reparations.
We greet every instance of fraternization between the soldiers of the occupation armies and the German proletariat and at the same time ask these soldiers not to let themselves be used for imperialist and reactionary purposes against the German workers.
(A line is missing here in the leaflet – Translator) ... and forced labor. We demand trade union rights, decent wages, houses worthy of human dignity, and adequate food for all these German workers deported abroad for reconstruction work.
Together with you we demand the treatment of war prisoners in accordance with the humane Red Cross rules and their earliest possible release.
We are against the evacuation of millions of working people from their native homes. We demand the lifting of the hunger blockade which stifles the German workers and first of all their children, and threatens the world with epidemics. We are for brotherly mutual aid.
We are for self-determination of the German people.
We International Communists will fight for these demands wherever we are. We will try to organize the proletariat of all lands to conduct this struggle. We owe this to the teachings of a Liebknecht, a Luxemburg and the thousands of martyrs of the German proletarian revolution.
And in this spirit we call to the workers of the world: practice solidarity with the German workers! Help them to throw off their imperialist yoke.
German class brothers! We do not doubt that you for your part will build your organizations with renewed energy. Build strong, militant and unified class organizations. Above all steer your working class movement away from all coalition horse-trading with the bourgeoisie and the imperialists; for the task of freeing the working class still rests with the workers themselves. The independence and self-reliance of the German workers’ movement is of utmost importance today in fighting imperialist enslavement. Only with class independence, only in clear struggle and with clear class aims does the international character of the workers’ movement become manifest.
Just as Lenin after the collapse of the Second International built the Communist International, so today the Fourth International has replaced the Communist International after its degeneration and dissolution. This Fourth International has kept alive the heritage of Marx and Lenin. The German section of this International must be built up into a party to lead the German working class in the coming struggle to victory. That is the great task facing the German proletariat.
We know how difficult your struggle is under the harsh conditions of occupation. Freedom to organize, freedom of assembly and demonstration, freedom of the workers’ press and the right to strike-these are the democratic rights which you will have to win through mass action.
To solve the housing problem, to control the distribution of food, to supervise prices, to organize the rebuilding and reopening of factories, organize yourselves into a network of committees of all the working people.
Don’t let it come to pass that only Nazis and war criminals selected by the Allies receive punishment, but see to it that everyone who ever played a role as stool-pigeon or executioner of the German workers is punished. Only revolutionary workers’ courts are capable of convicting them. Understand that only as a united and solid proletariat can you stamp out fascism. Recognize that in itself “anti-fascism” means nothing. Fascism and imperialism can only be ended with the downfall of capitalism and the victory of international socialism.
(Signed by the following parties of the Fourth International)
Revolutionary Communist Party (British Section of the Fourth International)
Internationalist Communist Party (French Section of the Fourth International)
Communist Workers Party (Italian Section of the Fourth International)
Revolutionary Communist Party (Belgian Section of the Fourth International)
The Dutch, Irish, Spanish, Swiss, Greek and German Sections of the Fourth International
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Last updated on 8.2.2009