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Labor Action, 21 August 1944


Trotsky’s Unheeded Warning of ’31

(August 1944)

From Labor Action, Vol. 8 No. 34, 21 August 1944, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The world today would indeed be a different world if there were no Hitler, and the thought of such a possibility should properly torment those who were responsible for the brutalitarian nightmare that now racks the globe.

The Hitlerite hordes COULD have been beaten down if the German workers heeded the clear-cut and prophetic warning of Leon Trotsky to their growing influence and power. Learning of Hitler’s tremendous electoral vote in 1930, Trotsky hastened to issue what is on of the most heart-rending appeals in all political literature to the members and leaders of the Communist Party of Germany, which was then declaring that the Social-Democrats and not the Nazis were the main enemy of the working class.

This is what: he wrote in November 1931 in Germany, the Key to the International Situation:

The coming into power of the German ‘National Socialists’ would mean, above all, the extermination of the flower of the German proletariat, the disruption of its organizations, the extirpation of its belief in itself and its future. Considering the far greater maturity and acuteness of the social contradictions in Germany, the hellish work of Italian fascism would probably appear as a pale and almost humane experiment in comparison with the work of the German ‘National Socialists.’

Retreat, yon say, you who were yesterday the prophets of the ‘third period’? Leaders and institutions can retreat. Individual persons can hide. But the working class will have no place to retreat to in the face of fascism, and no place where to hide. If one were really to assume the monstrous and improbable to happen: that the party will actually evade the struggle and thus deliver the proletariat to the mercy of its mortal enemy, this would signify only one thing: the gruesome battles would unfold not BEFORE the seizure of power by the fascists but AFTER it, that is: Under conditions ten times more favorable for fascism than those of today. The struggle of the proletariat, taken unawares, disorientated, disappointed and betrayed by its own leadership, against the fascist regime would be transformed into a series of frightful, bloody and futile convulsions. Ten proletarian insurrections, ten defeats, one on top of the other, could not debilitate and enfeeble the German working class as much as a retreat before fascism would weaken it at the given moment, when the decision is still impending as to the question of Who is to become master in the German household.

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