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Fourth International, September 1946


Leon Trotsky

The Fake Hunt for War Criminals


From Fourth International, September 1946, Vol.7 No.9, p.284.
Transcribed, edited & formatted by Einde O’Callaghan in 2009 for ETOL.


Today when Europe is covered with debris and smoking ruins, the worst pyromaniacs in history are busy seeking out the criminals responsible for the war. In their wake follow their servants – professors, members of parliament, journalists, social-patriots and other political pimps of the bourgeoisie.

For many years the Socialist movement predicted the inevitability of the imperialist war, seeing its causes in the insatiable greed of the property-owning classes of the two chief camps and, generally, of all capitalist countries. At the Basle Congress, two years before the war exploded, the responsible Socialist leaders of all countries branded imperialism as bearing the guilt for the impending war, and threatened the bourgeoisie with the socialist revolution which would descend upon the bourgeoisie’s head as the proletarian retribution for the crimes of militarism. Today after the experience of the last five years, after history, having laid bare the predatory appetites of Germany, is unmasking the no less criminal acts of the Allies, the state-Socialists of the Entente countries continue in the wake of their respective governments to discover the war criminal in the person of the overthrown German Kaiser. On top of this, the German social-patriots who in August 1914 proclaimed Hohenzollern’s diplomatic White Book to be the holiest evangel of the peoples are nowadays following in the footsteps of the Entente Socialists and are with vile subservience indicting the overthrown German monarchy, which they had so slavishly served, as the chief war criminal. They thus hope to obscure their own role and at the same time to worm their way into the good graces of the conquerors. But in the light of unfolding events and diplomatic revelations, side by side with the role of the toppled dynasties – the Romanovs, the Hohenzollerns, and the Habsburgs – and of the capitalist cliques of these countries, the role of the ruling classes of France, England, Italy and the United States stands out in all its boundless criminality.

– (From the Manifesto of the 1st Congress of the Communist International, March 1919; L. Trotsky, The First Five Years of the Communist International.)

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